February 14, 2021

Happy Sunday, friends, colleagues, countrymen, those of you who inexplicably prefer barbecue chicken pizzas. This newsletter will tilt toward the short side this weekend, because last week was an abbreviated workweek for those of us at Poynter — our National Advisory Board convened virtually Thursday and Friday! We pretty much drop everything we’re doing to hear from the likes of industry trailblazers such as The 19th* CEO Emily Ramshaw, journalist and media executive Mi-Ai Parrish, ESPN senior vice president Rob King, George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs director of strategic initiatives Frank Sesno, New York Times deputy sports editor Mike Wilson, Washington Post opinion columnist David Von Drehle, Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting CEO Christa Scharfenberg and many others.

We are incredibly fortunate to work at a place that not only takes the time to hear from industry leaders in a controlled and thoughtful environment, but to work at a place where industry leaders give us their time and thoughts.

It’s always a big deal for us at Poynter, and I hope that what we discuss will filter through our work, teaching and writing over the course of the next year.

Let’s talk about the F-word

For many of us in college media, when we say the F-word is THE bad word, we’re actually talking about FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Frank LoMonte of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida writes Congress said “privacy.” But schools say “secrecy.” How FERPA went off the rails — and how Congress can restore sanity.

He writes: “Because the law was so sloppily drafted and has been interpreted in wildly conflicting ways by judges, it has become a blanket secrecy statute that makes schools and colleges less safe — the opposite of what its congressional authors intended.”

The guide to getting it right

The College Media Review has a nice look at “The Diversity Style Guide” by Rachele Kanigel, chair of the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University. It reads, “Originally a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism in San Francisco State University’s journalism department in the 1990s, the Diversity Style Guide was a collection of terms from other style guides that existed at the time. That original guide, which was available in PDF form but was never published, was updated and expanded into a searchable website, diversitystyleguide.com, in 2016. The goal of the website, which is still available and regularly updated, was to ‘make journalism more inclusive from the classroom to the newsroom.’”

It’s a great resource and can be used to reinforce a lot of your current teaching.

Celebrating a free student press

Feb. 26 is Student Press Freedom Day, which a whole bunch of student press organizations got together to promote. Here are their suggestions:

  • Spread the word that student journalists are rock stars: Visit StudentPressFreedom.org to see our toolkit with talking points, sample social media posts, and more.
  • Write an op-ed in support of student press freedom and place it in your local newspaper.
  • Share these 21 Excellent Stories of Student Journalism Against the Odds to lift up amazing work over the past year.
  • Join our press briefing Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. Eastern. We’ll be releasing a new white paper regarding the censorship and intimidation student journalists faced this past year.
  • Build community with other student journalists. Register for the Student Press Freedom Town Hall on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
  • Share a personal video testimonial responding to this question: “How did you show up for student journalism over the past year, and what were the odds you were fighting against?”
  • Use the hashtag #StudentPressFreedom and we’ll amplify your videos, op-eds and other content.

Potential classroom activity

The American Press Institute reported in 2018 after a series of surveys, “People often don’t know whether the content they see is news or opinion.” This week, the Wall Street Journal unveiled newsliteracy.wsj.com, a site dedicated to helping readers of the Journal and other publications tell the difference between news and opinion writing. They write, “We draw a clear line between news and opinion. The separation between these two independent departments helps ensure impartiality in our news reporting and freedom of perspective in our opinion pieces.”

I’d love for you to show your students the page and ask if they think the Journal’s methods will be effective.

In which we run the word ‘porn’ for the first time in this newsletter

Vince Filak had a really interesting write-up following the death of Larry Flynt last week. He writes in 3 reasons why porn mogul Larry Flynt matters to you in journalism, whether you like him or not, “To some, his efforts have created a wider array of protections for speech that otherwise could not have existed had he not gone to such outlandish lengths with his publications. To many, many more people, however, he’s a filth monger who exploited women, debased sex and profited greatly by abusing one of the most important rights of our society: The right to free expression.” This seems like a big ol’ can of worms to open up in class, but it might make for good asynchronous reading.

College headlines

Great journalism to share with your students

Internship database

New this week in the Poynter Internship Database: internships at American Public Media Group. Lots to apply for here, from working on specific shows to helping with regional membership and social media. “Smart? Curious? Want to make a difference in the world? Come work for us! We are American Public Media Group (APMG), the parent organization of a large, dynamic group of not-for-profit broadcasting entities.”

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass

New in this week’s Professor’s Press Pass: We examine the case of an Associated Press photographer assaulted by rioters while covering the U.S. Capitol riot. His partner that day appeared in this Poynter session to talk about the incident (and emphasize the importance of college media experience!). Students are asked to watch a video of the assault on one of the photographers, then discuss the issues faced by photojournalists who document history on the front lines.

One last thing

“I’m here live; I’m not a cat,” feels like a calling card for our times. So many friends expressed their great joy over this clip that I decided to Google “greatest cat memes of all time” to give you and your students a little levity this next week. Time has a nice list, as does (not surprisingly) SuddenlyCat. Both lists agree that Woman Yelling at Cat is the No. 1 cat meme of all time, which made me think that perhaps this week, you could assign your class some localizations of this meme — maybe based on the news, or your university community, or the way the school has handled the pandemic. It feels like that would be fun class activity in the middle of all the ice and snow and vaccine rollout malaise. Here’s a tool to get your students started — just search “woman yelling at cat.”

The good news is that there are vastly more cat memes than Bernie Sanders memes — something we can all rejoice in.

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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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