November 22, 2020

Good morning and happy post-Election Day! The newsletter is a bit short this week as I took some time off and I was fortunate enough to be allowed back into the captain’s chair to help run Poynter.org last week so my colleagues could have a little downtime following a long Election Day Week.

Being allowed back into the fold of the editorial team is special. I came to Poynter in the summer of 2018 to serve as editor of the site, and I only stepped away to pick back up the mantle of college journalism for Poynter — two of the greatest jobs/honors of my life. I’m wondering if any of you might want to consider volunteering over the long holiday break for a stint at your local TV or newspaper? I know that getting back into the newsroom game helps me stay current with trends (and know that yes, even in the few months that I’ve been away, things have changed!).

If any of you do this or have done this, I’d love to hear about it, especially if there are takeaways for other professors.

In the meantime, it’s November! You are so close to the end of the semester, and with a new presidency decided and positive vaccine news last week, it feels like an end to the unknowns is coming — and not a moment too soon.

We’ve been testing some really exciting (seriously) new tools for your spring semester. I can’t wait to unveil them for you in an upcoming newsletter. Just know we’ve got your back in a major way for the spring. I’m going to take off part of next week for the Thanksgiving break, so your next newsletter will arrive in December. Eat some pie!

A heartwarming must-read

The title says it all: “It gave me a purpose and quite literally saved my life a few times.” Why Student Media Matters. This blog entry from Dynamics of Writing made so many people feel seen. From author Vincent Filak: “I asked people I know who have gone in myriad directions after their educational careers came to a close if they ever worked in student media and, if so, why it mattered to them. … I expected a few responses from a few other people, but not much. I was stunned when I got dozens …” Read it for a truly affirming experience.

Networking alert!

Make sure your student editors have seen this:

 

The campus wild

I love this from the Daily Nebraskan. The lead: “Feral cat enthusiasts can rest easy knowing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s feral cat colony remains cared for in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Maybe a story for your team checking on the feral cats on campus? (Don’t all campuses have some kind of feral cat colony? Am I wrong? Statistics on America’s campus feral cat colonies are hard to come by.)

When your mind’s in the gutter

Florida International University professor Mark Scheinbaum wrote to tell me that his class enjoyed a debunking discussion about the urban legend of alligators in New York sewers. That takes me back to a simpler time when you’d simply tell people, “Snopes it!”

The takeaway: If you’re going to teach about mis- and disinformation (and you should!), remember to keep it light sometimes. Here’s the Snopes article Scheinbaum said they used in class.

College Headlines

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Great journalism to share with your students

One last thing

Don’t forget to send me your students’ great work before the end of the year — it can be individual stories, group project, multimedia … I want to share it all! (You can just reply to this newsletter or email me at ballen@poytner.org.)

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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…
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