November 6, 2022

I am probably not alone when I admit I feel a little yucky as a journalism practitioner right about now. Remember when election nights were fun? (Heck, remember when election nights were just one night?) The news leading up to elections had an air of excitement, of possibility, of change.

Now, it just feels dreary.

Polls dominate the news.

Polls aren’t to be trusted.

Election deniers are a threat to democracy.

There’s no real threat to democracy — we are being too dramatic.

There’s actually a serious threat to democracy — and journalists aren’t doing enough.

It feels like the only thing we can really agree about as a country is that we all need a nap. And when we, as a nation, don’t want to get out of bed, that’s a clear sign that we’re depressed. Coming out of a global pandemic, fighting among our loved ones over politics, battling the realities of inflation just to have the basics to live — it’s enough to wish someone would set our clocks back and just magically grant us one more sweet hour of dreamtime. Hmm.

But you know me. I’m a broken record about hope and gratitude, about privilege and humility. So this week, I’ll just tell you that I recently got to go to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where I watched a student I’ve been working with remotely deliver a workshop on internet falsehoods. In real life! I’ve known Kobe McCloud virtually for the better part of 2022, but this is the first time I ever got to shake his hand hug him and watch him work.

McCloud is one of Poynter’s MediaWise Campus Correspondents, who, along with seven teammates, have given more than 100 college classroom presentations this year, impacting thousands of students. Their work is making a difference for students like those at Howard, who responded enthusiastically with questions and comments about their own experiences with mis- and disinformation online. The entire experience of being at the nation’s preeminent HBCU, meeting Kobe IRL and even carving out a little alone time later that day to wander around the monuments on the National Mall all served to remind me that it’s critically important to do little things we love in the service to democracy and education.

After visiting Howard, I came upon The Three Soldiers statue on the National Mall, which I discovered while writing this cutline has a controversial history. You learn something new every day! (Photo by Barbara Allen)

And let me remind you — do something this week to make yourself feel alive and important. Hand over your class to student presentations and admire from the back of the room. Take the long way through campus to catch the last of the changing foliage. Visit a campus newsroom, or offer to help students polish their portfolios during your office hours.

Self care takes a lot of forms. Find yours and embrace it as the crush of The Midterms is upon us. And maybe sneak a nap in.

Classroom resources

Here’s a great template for investigating dorm room mold at your campus: “MOLD U | Across the state and nation, mold is making college students miserable” (The Post and Courier, South Carolina)

If — like me — you’re always looking for compelling ways to prove to your students that bias exists in all kinds of different ways, check out this tool from CJR that measures the newsworthiness of your disappearance. In other words, if you didn’t show up for class tomorrow, what would the media do? It’s a short tool that only asks four questions but shows what outlets are likely to cover your disappearance and how many stories such an event would generate. I suspect it would be pretty eye-opening as an in-class exercise. (Proceed with caution that you don’t tokenize anyone.) Here’s a nice synopsis of why CJR created this.

Trend alert (though it hardly feels like internet self-diagnosis is all that new): “Teens Turn to TikTok in Search of a Mental Health Diagnosis” (New York Times)

“The First Amendment Right to Record Police”: This is a helpful two-minute video from our friends at First Amendment Watch at NYU and the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University.

Here’s what happens when student reporters get out and investigate. Love this.  “Stanford knew about the campus imposter for a year. He kept coming back.”

Affirmative action is on dockets and in the news. Here’s a roundup for context, should you need it.


The Pandemic Generation Goes to College. It Has Not Been Easy. (New York Times)

Everyone Is a Climate Reporter Now | That’s why journalism schools need to incorporate climate science reporting into their standard curricula (Nieman Reports)

How HBCU Gameday went from a passion project to a profitable business (Better News)

One last thing

Click here for an easy test to determine whether you’re getting old. (You are.)

Resources for educators

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Barbara Allen is the director of college programming for Poynter. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of She spent two decades in…
Barbara Allen

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