August 28, 2022

I spent the summer reading, thinking and writing about how journalists cover gun violence. How stories about war are framed. The potential ethical missteps of an elected official.

Does any of that sound like it’s going to fascinate your students?

OK, what if instead I presented it as a fascinating video deep dive, a high-end fashion spread and the nightlife scene in New York?


That’s my hope. For each case study in Poynter’s subscription Professor’s Press Pass, I scour the news media landscape looking for issues that tick all these boxes:

✅ Presents a potential journalistic conundrum

✅ Has numerous potential talking points

✅ Is compelling and interesting to emerging journalists

If I can say “yes” to all three issues, the situation just made my Professor’s Press Pass for the week.

For me, this is a labor of true love. There’s nothing more interesting to me than seeing something in the news that feels timely and relevant, and imagining how burgeoning journalists would discuss it.

Since I don’t have a classroom at my fingertips, that’s where you come in.

We’ve revamped our offerings based on user feedback and a focus group to make Professor’s Press Pass even more useful and dynamic in classes. A full subscription to our library is just $100 a year, or $12 a month. I update the library each week with new case studies — sometimes two.

I urge you to check out our free examples and decide for yourself if a subscription is a worthwhile investment. I design these specifically for you, the busy professor who may not always have time to comb through the news to find something exciting to talk about in class.

I got you! And in purchasing this subscription (or psst, telling your dean to buy one for you, or better yet, a bulk departmental pass), you support Poynter’s mission to help you raise up the next generation of journalists.

The best thing you’ll see today

If you take nothing else away from this week’s newsletter, please delight with me in this recently launched Poynter social media series highlighting a day in the life of a journalist. Whether you students prefer to consume it on Instagram or want to follow along on our newly launched TikTok, I think they’ll really enjoy these videos and I’ll continue to send them your way.

Editorial inspo

In my first kinda newsletter this academic year (Alma Matters Lite™), I wondered if local politicians in your area would ban reporters, including student reporters. Check out this fascinating response by The Cleveland Plain Dealer: “We reject the free speech-trampling rules set by J.D. Vance and Ron DeSantis for covering their rally.” Might keep that link handy in case your students are similarly afflicted by this scourge, or you want your students to read an inspiring editorial: “This was a rally for J.D. Vance, who wants to be your senator, who wants to take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. You know. The document that says Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of the press.

And here he was, staging an event in which he thought he could tell the press who they could interview.

No. Not happening. Not now. Not ever. And voters might want to remember this anti-American strategy when it comes time to vote this November and on presidential ballots in 2024.”

Greek drama

I’m really wondering how much of a trend this will become, and how student news organizations will cover it (or make a plan to cover it): “What to Know About Fraternities Cutting Ties With Their Colleges.” And maybe related: “Is There a Place for LGBTQ+ Students in Greek Life?”

Deep sigh, deep breath.

This Arizona law outlawing the photography/videography of police continues to rile me up every time it makes the news. Arizona schools, what do you think?

An unfortunately useful database

Here’s an interesting — if bleak — new tool at your disposal: “Mass Killings in America, 2006 – present.” Its overview states, “The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings database tracks all U.S. homicides since 2006 involving four or more people killed (not including the offender) over a short period of time (24 hours) regardless of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive. The database includes information on these and other characteristics concerning the incidents, offenders, and victims.” My mind immediately goes to state-by-state comparisons, correlations to local gun laws and a relation to violence (not that correlation implies causation, of course) and fact-checking those who say gun violence is “the worst” it’s ever been. I think it’s also good for your students to see a university/news media partnership and to understand how well-vetted databases are assembled and displayed.

Follow the money!

Here’s an easy assignment or story. The Chronicle of Higher Education is back with its annual salary database of college presidents (prepare to experience regret if you haven’t yet gotten into educational administration). Where does yours rank? If they aren’t on the list, can your students request that information and use it to compare?

Headlines about higher ed

Great journalism to share with your students

Student journalism roundup

Diversity, equity and inclusion

WriteLane podcast

Here’s an understatement: American policing is in the news these days. Lane DeGregory and her editor at the Tampa Bay Times, Maria Carrillo, wanted to know more about the kinds of people who wished to join police departments. DeGregory and photographer John Pendygraft spent six months with a class of cadets vying for spots on the St. Petersburg police force, and they discuss the effort in this recent episode of WriteLane.

One last thing

When original audio becomes an earworm AND comes with a delicious recipe, you know you have a winner.

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 She spent two decades in…
Barbara Allen

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