April 23, 2020

Alma Matters is a regularly updated feature on Poynter.org designed to assist educators, journalism students 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.

A spotlight on schools that are stepping up

Last iteration, I wrote about two schools making concessions for students whose summer internships were canceled. Here’s another: The Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri says it’s sponsoring up to five internships for Mizzou journalism students to work for a local news organization. And The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about two Mizzou faculty members, Damon Kiesow and Kathy Kiely, who pivoted hard to reimagine a capstone in which students reorganized to cover the state in four regions, working with local newspapers — and found someone to help fund it.

Mizzou is (unsurprisingly) stepping up — what else are schools doing? Students, what help are you getting from your administration?

Press your school to help you succeed this summer! Use your network. Talk to your professors and advisers.

Suddenly, lost summer

I’ve been covering and following the disintegration of many summer news internships. I’m so sorry if you were impacted. I’m collecting resumes and portfolios of affected students so that I can help spread the word about people who might be looking for summer help. (And if you’re one of those hiring managers, please let me know!) Shoot me an email to ballen@poynter.org.

Shameless self-promotion

The thought of getting through the summer without a news internship may be daunting. Put that time to good use. Start by signing up for my On Poynt session with Poynter faculty Samantha Ragland, “Job-Hunting During a Pandemic: How to Make Yourself the Best Candidate.” We’re going to bury you with good information, while still leaving plenty of time to answer your questions.

One tip from that session

Are you using Media Mentors? If not, you need to be. This program, a function of Journalism Internships, pairs students in real-time, one-on-one sessions with industry professionals who donate their time to better the future of journalism with career advice, work feedback and more. Be sure to read the FAQs so you get the most out of your session. Or sessions … no one’s counting.

Jumpstart next semester

Have you journalism professors heard about Jumpline? Neither had I, until a friend connected me with University of Texas professor Amy Sanders, who along with former Northwestern University faculty Andrew Mills founded this nonprofit dedicated to pushing the world of journalism education into a more modern age. They’ve got a great newsletter and are perfectly poised to help educators modify their teachings to deal with our new reality.

One more class idea

Want to help your students tell fact from fiction online? I manage a program that can match your school with a trained MediaWise Voter Project Campus Correspondent who can come give a short (30- to 45-minute) presentation in class, or meet with professors virtually to go over the materials and craft a lesson plan. It’s fun, peer-led and free. Email me if you’re interested at ballen@poynter.org or, if you’re sold, request a trainer for the spring semester here.

Ending with a laugh

Vincent Filak, author of the blog Dynamics of Writing, has a roundup of coronavirus news bloopers, gaffes and errors. Whatever you call them, at least one of them should crack you up. (My brain suddenly recalled, from the depths of my isolation, that a high-school ex-boyfriend thought Cat Butt would be a great band name. One of these clip begs to differ.)

Remember, send me your questions, ideas, solutions, tips and your feelings on sportscasters who resort to play-calling their dogs … 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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  • WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University is going into its ninth summer funding professional journalism internships, which we call fellowships, through the generosity of alumni and friends of the College Heights Herald and the Talisman. This summer, we have funded 10 such fellowships.