April 18, 2021

Quick — explain how Title IX works!

If you’re anything like me, this question from a student would give me that real deer-in-the-headlights face, the one I hate to show because it’s 2021 and how do I not know everything yet?

I knew bits and pieces of the way the system worked, but I didn’t have a full picture of it nationwide, let alone at my own school.

I can only imagine how well our students understand it — I’m guessing far less.

I’m also guessing that when a newsworthy Title IX case pops up on campus, your school’s administrators probably aren’t going to hold your students’ hands and walk them through the convoluted process, one that involves closed hearings, nonpublic records and more uncertainty than what your students actually retained this academic year.

Good news! Poynter is here to help.

A few months ago, I started working with Sarah Brown of The Chronicle of Higher Education to create a course for your students, and we’re proud to announce that “Understanding Title IX” is ready.

Best of all? It’s free and short. I think your students can work through it in half an hour. Or it can serve as a ready-made lesson to go over together in class.

“Understanding Title IX” gives an overview of the federal law, outlines its history and most importantly, walks students through a typical process, outlining all the variables that might impact their reporting.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why it’s important that your students need to understand Title IX. Your school’s Title IX office is where athletic programs are disgraced and social change happens.

Assign it to them to work through and discuss during class, or take it yourself to brush up on your working knowledge of the law.

I promise that I’m not always going to assault your inboxes with Poynter products. But (who saw that coming?) I do always want to equip you with the best resources out there, and I think this is going to be a great tool for your kit.

Don’t miss the tip sheet at the end for story ideas your student publications can nail.

News for student investigative journalists

I got a news release from Journalism Mentors last week that’s good news for student journalists interested in investigative reporting:

Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. is partnering with the Media Mentors program at JournalismMentors.com to provide mentorship and guidance to journalists looking to build skills in data and watchdog reporting.

Media Mentors is a mentoring program from journalismmentors.com a website dedicated to fostering the next generation of media leaders. Mentors listed on the website have volunteered to offer half-hour, one-on-one sessions for advice, guidance or general questions about navigating the media industry.”

You can read more here.

The realities of online harassment

Last week I wrote about online harassment, and this week Nieman Reports is out with an article that’s a veritable must-read for advisers and professors working with student journalists: How Newsrooms, Journalists, and Their Peers Can Combat Online Violence.

Class project

Thanks to the Global Investigative Journalism Network, last week I read “Unforgotten”: Student Journalists Capture the Stories of 51 Women Slain in Chicago. It’s a profile about the students and professor behind “Unforgotten”: The Untold Story of Murdered Chicago Women from Roosevelt University. I love seeing students this invested in a topic and bringing light to tragedies that are too often overlooked by mainstream media.

About the worth of 1,000 words …

Here’s something that will go over well with your classes. Not to be too much of a homer, but the Tampa Bay Times has been tenaciously covering a dangerous lead smelting plant in April. In this new piece, they published photos and videos shared by current and former workers. It’s a good example of how clarifying visuals can be in telling a story, and what can happen when a reporter asks, “Hey, I wonder if you have any pictures or videos of that?” I’ve moved from thinking it never hurts to ask to thinking you should always ask.

Poynter College Media Project

A quick Poynter plug: Don’t forget to tell your student newsrooms about this opportunity to work with Poynter for support of a major project or investigation. It’s free and comes with a $1,500 grant.

How words matter

In What Words We Use — and Avoid — When Covering People and Incarceration, The Marshall Project writes, “The words we use to describe people being held in correctional facilities are among the most controversial in journalism. Reporters, editors and criminal justice professionals have long assumed that terms such as ‘inmate,’ ‘felon’ and ‘offender’ are clear, succinct and neutral. But a vocal segment of people within or directly affected by the criminal justice system argue that these words narrowly — and permanently — define human beings by their crimes and punishments.” This new stylebook could be an interesting classroom discussion topic, especially as it pertains to people-first language, which “avoids turning one aspect of a person’s life into an all-encompassing label.”

RELATED WEBINAR: The Words We Use to Cover Criminal Justice, Jails and Prisons 

Surveying the student media landscape

My friend Elizabeth Smith, an assistant professor at Pepperdine and rock star student media adviser, is involved in researching student newsrooms, as there’s a dearth of information on them. She emailed me this week, “College newsrooms have been surviving, and thriving, under extraordinary circumstances for more than a year. We are a team of researchers and college media advisers who are seeking to better understand the experiences of student journalists and their newsrooms. The following anonymous survey is for any current college journalists over the age of 18. If you are an adviser, please consider passing this along to the students in your newsroom. The survey takes between 5 and 7 minutes.”

Here’s the survey link:


If you have any questions, contact Smith directly. I’ll be sure to relay her findings back here.

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. Here are a few examples I saw this week.

College headlines

Great journalism to share with your students

Poynter’s Internship Database

From our friends at The National Catholic Reporter, a remote summer position with an extended application deadline: “The National Catholic Reporter seeks applications for the Bertelsen Fellowship, a year-long, paid internship that provides young journalists with the chance to report, write and produce for the nation’s leading independent source of news for Catholics. NCR is based in Kansas City, Missouri, but even before the pandemic many of our staff were working virtually from their homes around the country and the world. Application deadline extended until Monday April 19. More info here.”

The Lead

This week, editor Taylor Blatchford reflected on the last year in student media and the challenges faced by student journalists going forward.

Subscribe here to The Lead, our weekly student journalism newsletter, and encourage your students to do the same.

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass

This week we ask students to weigh in on the issue of profanity during live broadcasts. During the protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the slaying of Daunte Wright, two different networks handled profane sources two very different ways. What would students do in their situation? Do networks have an obligation to protect viewers from profanity?

Professor’s Press Pass is a catalog of case studies, discussion questions and PowerPoints about the most recent and pressing issues in journalism. A subscription is just $12 a month or $100 for an entire year. A subscription grants you full access to more than 20 case studies, with a new one added each week.

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 Poynter.org. She spent two decades in…
Barbara Allen

More News

Are we in a recession?

Plus, pay attention to soaring natural gas prices, what it means that the dollar is nearly on par with the euro, and more.

July 7, 2022
Back to News