February 13, 2022

I want to tell you about a group of students doing really important work at USC.

Two years ago I had the privilege of working with USC Annenberg’s Media Center in the Poynter College Media Project. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a team there mobilized with a plan to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues head-on. They formed the Equity Desk, a group of students within the organization who make themselves available to counsel student journalists about best practices, and to flag potential issues with stories and content before they are published or aired.

I finally got to meet some of those students last week when I took a tour of the facilities, and I was so sincerely impressed and moved by their efforts that I blurted out that we should take their show on the road. So we’re going to!

The folks behind the Associated College Press spring conference in Long Beach, California, are going to give us time and space to let the Equity Board address their peers from across the country about how the group was created, staffed and embraced wholeheartedly by other student journalists. Our hope is that other student media organizations can learn from them and take back some of these important lessons to their student newsrooms.

Anchor Tatum Larsen broadcasts from the Annenberg Media Center at USC during a nightly newscast. (Photo by Barbara Allen)

While I was at USC, I was also lucky enough to get to watch their evening news broadcast, a sophisticated operation with literally dozens of students playing a part as several faculty advisers oversaw and helped.

USC student and executive producer Mimi Geller runs a nightly newscast at USC’s Annenberg Media Center. (Photo by Barbara Allen)

It was so inspiring to be back in a student newsroom and to watch them in action. Annenberg Student Media is a well-resourced and highly school-supported organization, but that shouldn’t diminish the very real accomplishments of these burgeoning journalists. If you haven’t sat in on a broadcast or dropped by your college station or newspaper in a while, maybe this week is a nice time to think about popping in on your publishing journalists and seeing what they’re working on. That peek behind the curtain may be just the thing to fire you up for the rest of the week. I know it was for me.

FIRE is on fire

Student editor Jared Nally. (Gary Rohman for FIRE)

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education scored a court victory in the case of the student editor and newspaper at Haskell Indian Nations College, which I wrote about last week in the Wednesday Poynter Report. Then their people sent me this release: “FIRE sues Texas university for withholding public records about how it censored a student publication – then took over its editorial independence.” Here’s a highlight: “While a faculty-edited publication isn’t necessarily a bad thing, taking over a formerly student-run publication certainly is. In redefining (Texan News Service)’s identity, the administration essentially stripped the publication of its editorial independence — all so the university could try to cover up an embarrassing situation.”

This is definitely one to watch.

Olympic dirt

Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken of Germany celebrate winning the silver medal in the luge doubles at the 2022 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

I was excited to dig into this compilation from the Global Investigative Journalism Network about the best Olympic exposés ever written. Perhaps there’s something in there for your classes as the winter Olympics continue?

Behind-the-scenes videos

Are you familiar with NBCU Academy? From their website: “NBCU Academy offers free online resources for students and professionals, from skills-based tutorials to in-depth analyses of industry trends in diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Its most recent piece, “Sports journalism at the Olympics,” offers advice from NBC Sports commentator and author Jimmy Roberts. I think you might also like “Behind the Story: ‘American Radical’” and “University of Alabama alums help rising tide of diversity at student paper.” All of their videos are free.

DuPont winners

I’m a sucker for lists of winners. Here’s this year’s 16 duPont winners — “the very best in audio and video reporting.” I got lost in here. I hope you and your students will, too.

Our loss, CNN’s gain

Frank LoMonte speaks with an intern in SPLC’s office in D.C. (Photo by Alex Sabatell, IRW)

Frank LoMonte has long been a champion of press rights, especially as they pertain to students, first as the leader of the Student Press Law Center, then as director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida. Now he’s on to even bigger things, announcing this week that he’s headed to CNN to serve as legal counsel. We can all say we knew him back when.

Student Press Freedom Day

Graphic provided by Student Press Law Center

Our friends at the Student Press Law Center are encouraging us to celebrate Student Press Freedom Day on Feb. 24. SPLC is offering a variety of resources on a dedicated website, including:

  1. Ten Things to Do Now to Support Student Press Freedom: a guide to things big and small to help raise awareness about student press freedom.
  2. Take Action: A 50-State Activist Guide: A state-by-state guide that gives tangible steps you can take to support student press freedom.
  3. SPF Day Talking Points: has key talking points on many of the themes and subthemes of SPF Day — easy to incorporate into op-eds, social media posts or other public discussion.
  4. SPF Day Toolkit: has sample social media posts and backgrounds, downloadable SPF Day logos in a variety of formats, and more.

Headlines about higher ed

Great journalism to share with your students

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Internship Database

This week, we’re featuring the Ida B. Wells Society Summer 2022 Investigative Reporting Internships. Organizations offering positions include The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, ProPublica, NPR, the AP and more. The deadline to apply is March 4 at 5 p.m. Eastern. These internships are 10- t0 12-week, full-time placements, open to students and recent graduates interested in investigative journalism. You also must be an Ida B. Wells Society member to apply, but membership is free.

You can find more internships in our Poynter’s Internship Database.

Lessons Learned


Amanda J. Crawford, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut, offered the following idea.

“Everyone who has taught knows that the act of teaching itself can be a strong learning tool. That’s why I ask students in my classes to take on some of the instruction, explaining a key concept, court case or a period in history to their classmates. For example, I currently teach a general education journalism history class with nearly 100 students. I assign them to work in small groups to research an important journalist in American history who isn’t covered very well in their textbook. They then present their research to the class in person or in a video, earning points for both the quality of their research and the creativity of their presentations. The presentations are integrated into the lecture and spread out throughout the semester, helping to add diversity to the curriculum and variety to each class. Plus, it can be a lot of fun!

Here is an example of an element from the very first project in this class last year, a song about pioneering journalist Nellie Bly that had the entire class in stitches.”

(If you have a lesson or teaching technique that you’d like to share with your peers, please email me at ballen@poynter.org.)

The Lead

With washable chalk, some athletes sprayed slogans like “We belong,” “You can’t cut me,” and “KSR” — in reference to the saying “Keep Stanford Rowing” — on the building that holds the office of the university president following a rally in support of 36 sports at Stanford. (Erin Woo / The Stanford Daily)

This week, we featured a column from Stanford students covering the school’s suspension and eventual reinstatement of 11 varsity sports: “This student paper got shut out by the athletics department. Here’s how they continued to break university sports news.”

Subscribe to The Lead, Poynter’s weekly newsletter for student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass


In this week’s Professor’s Press Pass, we ask students to watch “The Tinder Swindler” on Netflix and compare it to the original story in Norway’s VG. What are some of the ethical issues involved, and how does a two-hour documentary compare to VG’s unique presentation?

One last thing

Yikes, Texas A&M.

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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