April 11, 2022

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Last week I got to spend some virtual time with students at Clark Atlanta University, an HBCU in Georgia. The young journalists I spoke with were especially keen on getting advice about pitching freelance stories to editors, which interested me because it seems like freelancing in general is such a hot topic in journalism right now.

That’s why I reached out to Jacquie Marino, a professor at Kent State and a featured presenter at this year’s Teachapalooza. This semester, she taught an entire course on becoming a freelance journalist, and has written for Poynter about the topic.

I asked her to put together some pitching fundamentals that we could share with students, and she came up with this handout that I thought I’d pass along.

I hope you find it helpful, and that you’re having a good week in journalism education.

Speech concerns

Pedestrians pass the storefront of Gibson’s Food Mart & Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio, in 2017. (AP Photo/Dake Kang, File)

Oberlin College in Ohio has been ordered to pay $31 million to a bakery that students accused of racist actions. Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education both have good summaries. The issue here doesn’t involve student journalism directly. Rather, it gives pause for those of us who are in the business of suggesting that colleges have no business regulating student speech. That Oberlin may be out millions because it didn’t condemn student expression? Ouch. How might other schools react in the future, and what impact could this potentially have on student media? This will be one to watch.

I always feel like somebody’s watching me

Well this got my eyebrows up: “Documents show new details in ‘sweeping and disturbing’ UNC-Chapel Hill faculty investigation.” And yep, it’s about the journalism school.

I stand corrected

Here’s an interesting piece from Poynter last week: “Journalists need to rethink their relationship with corrections.” I’m curious how much time you spend teaching your students how to handle corrections requests. It’s actually a really interesting opportunity to engage them in discussions about trust, accuracy and ethics. How do you teach someone to stand up in a newsroom and say, “I made a mistake”? If you need a little more background, here’s a piece from Trusting News: “Make corrections a building block of trust with our step-by-step guide.”

This checks out

Remember this guy, the Sarah Lawrence cult dad? He’s been found guilty on multiple counts and will be sentenced in the fall. This story was so weird that I can’t stop following this case.

As does this

Loved this story this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the culture of college rankings: “Do the ‘U.S. News’ Rankings Rely on Dubious Data?” The subhead: “Researchers who submit to the publication say survey answers are subject to errors, ambiguity, and pressure to look good.” Ouch.

More than a threat

This story about the continued bomb threats at HBCUs and their impact on the mental health of students, parents and employees is heartbreaking.

For real

I’m curious if your students are using BeReal, an app that shares commonalities with social media but is looking to cut through the inauthenticity that plagues other platforms. BeReal essentially prompts users to photograph their current realities and avoid filters, careful framing, staged lighting and all the other tricks folks use on social media to make their lives look more interesting and glamorous than they really are. Sounds a little like, I don’t know, photojournalism? What do your students think of this app and its implications for authenticity? How does that dovetail with your lessons about good journalism?

Alternative storytelling indeed

Last week, Sarah Scire of Nieman Lab wrote “Alongside a subscriber-only investigation on eviction, USA Today publishes a free graphic novel.” Here’s her intro: “There’s been a lot of talk about the need to experiment with new forms in journalism, especially to reach younger and historically underserved audiences. That’s why a short, effective, and free graphic novel caught my eye this week.

Romina Ruiz-Goiriena, national housing and social services reporter for USA Today, studied thousands of eviction records with data journalist Kevin Crowe. Their analysis led them to a county in Washington state where the eviction rate for Black women is five times higher than for white renters. The resulting investigation was published as a longform article — available only to subscribers, thanks to the premium paywall Gannett, USA Today’s owner, erected in 2021 — and accompanied by unpaywalled tip sheets in English and Spanish. But what caught my attention was the free graphic novel about eviction written by Ruiz-Goiriena and illustrated by Ariana Torrey.”

1,000 words

Here’s a collection of images that won prizes in the World Press Photo awards. From the AP: “The winners were chosen out of 64,823 photographs and open format entries by 4,066 photographers from 130 countries.” There are some great shots in there for classroom discussion or lessons.

What Teacha has wrought

I will try not to bury you weekly with Teachapalooza solicitations — suffice to say it’s going to be awesome and I would simply love to have you in person or virtually. Magic happens in our hallowed halls — and here’s what I mean. I got an email recently from Andrea Otáñez, a teaching professor at the University of Washington, who’s helping to coordinate a Public Interest Communications Summer Institute, which will be at Howard University from June 22-24. The institute will feature professors and others who will gather to learn, share and collaborate in defining and building the emerging academic field of public interest communications.

Here’s why I mention it in the same breath as Teacha. Otáñez wrote: “I thought about you and Poynter because the group that is pulling this event together came straight out of Teacha. It started when University of Florida’s Ann Christiano presented her public interest communication program at Teachapalooza. … I completely connected with the idea of ‘public interest communication’ and we eventually renamed our program to become the Journalism and Public Interest Communication Program. Then a few years later, a few more Teacha colleagues started talking, we reconnected with Christiano and her colleague Angela Bradbury and here we are: this summer institute.”

Consider Otanez’s event, and consider attending Teacha, too. Who knows what ideas and collaborations will spring forth?

Headlines about higher ed

Great journalism to share with your students

Diversity, equity and inclusion

The Lead

The Seattle Times’ holiday pie project demonstrates the value of collaborating with visuals teams. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

This week, editor Taylor Blatchford wrote about how important it is for student journalists to work early and often with their peers who specialize in visuals — and she shares what she learned on her own journey. Yes, there are pies.

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

One last thing

Print is dead.

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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