April 17, 2020

Welcome to Alma Matters, a regularly updated feature on Poynter.org to assist educators and student media organizations.

Struggling and need advice? Have a tip or tool you want to share with others? Email me at ballen@poynter.org.

Prepping for doomsday, I mean, fall 2020 online

Everybody’s thinking it, but we just don’t want to say it out loud … from the Chronicle For Higher Education: 6 Steps to Prepare for an Online Fall Semester. From the story: “Colleges need to lead an open and honest dialogue with their communities to plan for the possibility that it will not yet be safe by late August or early September for students to once again crowd dormitories and classrooms.”

Say it ain’t so …

Internships: Sinking or sailing?

The internship scene is changing. A week ago, I checked in with some newspapers, most of which reported they were still planning to host interns over the summer. That’s still the case, but some other major papers have dropped their programs, so I updated the story with the latest list. Know of any others? Let me know at ballen@poynter.org.

A major goes remote

The Dow Jones News Fund announced that its class of 2020 interns will work remotely. In an email, the organization said remote work is the best way to protect the health and safety of interns and employers.

“Many of the Fund’s media partners have indicated they intend to remain in the program,” the email stated “Some are offering students the choice to work remotely or to defer the internship until later this summer, fall or next year to gain in-newsroom experience. Other media have made the difficult decision to withdraw their offers. In those cases, the Fund is seeking other employers to hire these interns.”

The fund’s site says it can accommodate between 75 and 95 participants each year.

Little ways you can help

Lisa Waananen Jones of Washington State University offered these tips for helping students out if they’re losing their internships. I love her suggestions of giving a portfolio critique, retweeting student work and paying a year’s dues to a professional group on behalf of the displaced student intern. There’s no reason those need to come only from the media organization that canceled the internship — working professionals could easily offer up their services to students … so professors, advisers and directors, will you help connect students for these services?

Or you could go big

In response to both canceled internships and the COVID-19 pandemic, one school is launching a news service staffed by its own students.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY announced this week that it’s launching a plan to cover underserved communities in New York and news deserts across America.

Newmark J-Corps will send up to 70 emerging journalists “to listen to and connect with communities on public health and economic topics, pointing out gaps in resources — and tackling the most essential reporting,” the school said in a release. And it’s paid.

Elsewhere in New York, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is collaborating with two nonprofit news organizations “to provide graduating students with paid internships and reporting grants to support their transitions to professional journalism.”

In partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News, the Columbia Journalism School Internship and Grants Program said in a release that it will provide support for as many as 25 full-time internships for 10 to 12 weeks, paid, at nonprofit news media companies. It also announced separately that the Columbia Journalism School is establishing a $50,000 fund, administered by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, “to award grants of up to $5,000 each so graduates can continue work on their theses or develop other freelance stories to be pitched for publication.”

What’s your school doing for displaced interns?

Speaking of summer jobs …

If your students have concerns about what they’re going to do this summer, Poynter expert Samantha Ragland and I will be hosting a quick Zoom session April 30 called “Job-Hunting During a Pandemic: How to Make Yourself the Best Candidate.” It’s free and we promise it really will be only 30 minutes long. Maybe Sam and I aren’t enough. If so, consider custom teaching from Poynter during these upcoming long summer months … you can find more information here.

One last Poynter plug

Has your student editor or leader applied yet for the Poynter College Media Program? Nine independent student media organizations will get to train in a free yearlong program led by yours truly that focuses on advancing student journalism. And we’ll give you $1,500. Apply here. (Students only!)

Be part of history

A new global study seeks to understand student media use in the time of COVID-19. The International Center for Media & the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism announced that it is teaming up with universities in the United States and Canada, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia “to launch a global study of how undergraduate and graduate students are using media during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a release.

The study will investigate student use of media in the realms of use, dissemination, education, entertainment, community engagement and communication. Professors interested in having their universities participate should contact researcher Bobbie Foster at bfost135@umd.edu for more information.

Remember, send me your questions, ideas, solutions, tips and your feelings about the alcoholic seltzer rage … I’ll try to help as much as I can in a future column! Hit me up at ballen@poynter.org or on Twitter, barbara_allen_

Till next time, stay away!

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