April 3, 2022

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When I first started teaching, I thought I’d be wise to keep my personal journalism stories to myself. I thought a good professor should focus on the rules, best practices and theories, not personal “back in my day” anecdotes.

How happy I was to be so wrong. I’ve consistently found that real-world anecdotes (well, interesting ones) are well-received by students and often lead to increased engagement.

That’s why I was delighted to find this excellent Journalist’s Resource series — six behind-the-scenes profiles of journalists and publications in the running for a Goldsmith Award, given annually by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard.

These six finalists will each get a $10,000 each prize, while a top winner will get $25,000. Winners will be announced Tuesday.

Here are the stories about the finalists, along with journalists’ tips at the end of each story (two examples: “Avoid covering news stories in a way that portrays members of the public as victims and government agencies as villainous. Instead, look for opportunities to show audiences that public policy problems often are more complicated than they seem,” and “Keep chipping away. Your work matters. It’s important. It can save lives.”)

I hope you’ll agree that these journalists’ stories — driven by curiosity, powered by perseverance and fueled with a sense of justice — would make great classroom fodder.

The doc to watch


I might have burst into happy tears late into “The Queen of Basketball,” a short documentary from The New York Times that won an Oscar last Sunday. I’m hard-pressed to sit still for 22 minutes, much like some of your students, but this one was totally worth it. Besides just being incredibly joyous to watch, this film is a master class on how to fill visual spaces. You can talk to your students about the intro, the pacing, the revelations, archival footage, b-roll, character development and so much more.

After you watch it, then and only then should you click this link for a lesson on why it’s so important to tell these stories now. I think both will resonate with your students.

We’ve all been there

From the Tufts Daily: “Somerville landlord sues students over Tufts Daily coverage.” Hang in there, Tufts Daily students!

The harassment is real

Although I am skeptical about just how far some leaders are willing to go, I am continuing to follow this topic with interest: “Publishers Are Getting Organized to Protect Female Reporters from Digital Harassment” (Adweek). Have any of your students reported any kind of harassment? Do you feel well-equipped to help them?

No wonder they aren’t talking

Did you see this important piece? State schools would be especially wise to take a read. “Gagged America | Policies show employee speech heavily restricted across government.”

Who’s behind it?

I found this piece in CJR to be interesting and helpful, and I bet your students would, too: “Who’s behind this website? A checklist.”

Data journalism help

My friend David Simpson, director of student media at  Georgia Southern University, recently dropped this onto the College Media Association listserv (and this is your reminder that if you’re advising a student media outlet, you belong in CMA):

“After attending the great Google Tools breakout at (CMA’s recent spring conference in New York City), I got inspired to put together a lot of info in one place for students with zero data knowledge.” You can read his document here.

Three more years

The Scripps Howard Foundation announced recently that it’s extending its support of two collegiate investigative units at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University.

The two schools launched their Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism three years ago, and each school will receive $3 million to continue their work for the next three years.

From a release: “Since the programs launched, student journalists have produced numerous investigations, such as Printing Hate, a thorough exploration of the racist pasts of some newspapers, and COVID’s Invisible Victims, exploring the pandemic’s impact on America’s homeless residents. The student journalists’ work has been recognized with nearly a dozen national journalism awards.”

Headlines about higher ed

Great journalism to share with your students

Diversity, equity and inclusion

This week in fact-checking

This meme made me chuckle.

Here’s a fun fact: April 2 is International Fact-Checking Day (it’s purposefully the day after April Fools Day) and since that was on a Saturday this year, the International Fact-Checking Network opted to celebrate fact-checking and media literacy for a full week. You can read more and find exercises here. Of course, to celebrate, I’d recommend an in-class showing of our Campus Correspondents’ fact-checking video masterclass, or even better, host a Campus Correspondent in your classroom before semester’s end.

The Lead

This week, we focused on: “Catching up from spring break? Here’s a short reading list for student journalists.” Subscribe to The Lead, Poynter’s weekly newsletter for student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.

One last thing

Now I finally speak emoji.

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

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