September 12, 2021

I sure love parallelism.

I’m always looking for the perfect analogy to boil down a complicated, nuanced argument or situation to its core.

I was thinking about that (possibly annoying) tendency of mine this week as I reflected on a series of trainings I’ve been conducting on the road as part of our College Media Project.

In them, I’ve experienced the great moment of joy that comes from a group of students coming together intellectually. In one case, it was watching a group move suddenly from examining an issue through the framework of “what?” to the more interesting and compelling “why?”. In another instance, I saw the moment that students recognized the national importance of their topic, and how much deeper and more sophisticated their thinking needed to get.

In both instances, the atmosphere in the room shifted tangibly. There was suddenly more depth, excitement and energy. The possibilities had opened up — sometimes after hours and hours of discussion. But in the end, we got there.

I’ve been trying for a week to come up with a better descriptor of that sensation, that spark that can happen in the classroom when all the stars align and students simply start getting it. It’s magical and fulfilling, and it feels like paydirt for those of us toiling for such breakthroughs.

Whatever you call it, I hope you experience some this semester, whether it’s with a single student or a whole classroom. I hope you recognize your victory and give yourself just a few seconds in that moment to enjoy … that breakthrough, the leap, a spark.

And if you come up with a better analogy, please let me know? I’m driving myself bananas trying to come up with the right words. Happy Sunday!

Reminder: For the next several weeks, I’ll be engaged in training students at campuses all over the country as part of the Poynter College Media Project, so expect shorter updates. Thanks for your patience!

Personal and helpful

My friend Dave Simpson at Georgia Southern flagged this on the College Media Association listserv — a personal note from the editor of  The Daily Gamecock at South Carolina:

Hello, Gamecocks,

Last weekend, we lost one of our peers to suicide. In these times especially, it can be easy to feel hopeless or alone. Know that there are always people and resources available to you.

The Daily Gamecock would like to honor our peer’s life by publishing an article about them. If you knew the student and would be comfortable speaking on their life, please reply to this email, or email me personally …

The note appeared at the top of a newsletter and included a graphic with suicide resources.

Money for ideas

Have you thought about encouraging your students to enter the RJI Student Innovation Competition? A $10,000 award goes to its first-place team of student journalists. An upcoming Q&A can maybe help you decide if the competition is right for your students. From a release: “This year’s challenge is for students to tackle news literacy by helping people understand what journalists do and why we do it. RJI Director of Innovation Kat Duncan will answer questions about the competition in this Q&A.” Register here for the Sept. 14 Q&A, set for 11 a.m. Central. The competition closes at the end of October.

Poynter opportunity

We’re hosting an evening with Peter Alexander at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 23 on Zoom. This would be a great place for journalism professors and students — particularly broadcasters — to learn from NBC News’ chief White House correspondent.

Great journalism to share with your students

Diverse headlines

One valuable way that you can reinforce diversity, equity and inclusion in your classroom is by sharing journalism about, by and for diverse communities — not just stories that are predominantly by and about cisgender white people. Consider ways in which you could use these stories in your curriculum. Here are a few examples I saw this week.

Internship Database

This week, we’re featuring 12 different possibilities at The Wall Street Journal:

“We offer internships in reporting, graphics, data reporting, podcasts, video, social media, audience engagement and product design. Past reporting interns have covered markets, finance, business, economics, careers, sports, education, real estate, health, entertainment, technology, politics and national news.

“You don’t need to be an expert in business or finance to apply, but you do need to be curious and eager to learn. You should have completed at least one prior internship with a professional media organization, or published exceptional work with a campus news outlet or as a freelancer.”

One last thing

Have some fun playing around with this, fellow Gen-Xers and Matrix fans.

Resources for Journalists

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
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

More News

Back to News