October 16, 2022

Sometimes the mundane tasks of academia feel worlds away from the nerve-wracking excitement of breaking news.

That reminder was driven home for me last month as I sat helplessly on my couch in California and watched Hurricane Ian devastate my former home state of Florida. (The irony: I was so caught up in the journalism around the storm that I had a hard time producing this journalism! It’s part of the reason Alma Matters is a little late coming to you this month — that and a vacation to see family in the Pacific Northwest.)

I was awestruck and grateful to local journalists who displayed immense tenacity and dedication to covering their communities. National news organizations did the profession proud by showing up and drawing attention to the storm, the need to evacuate and Ian’s aftermath.

It was a painful reminder of the important role journalists have to keep people safe and informed, while also telling important stories about climate, disasters and the human spirit.

And all of it was produced by professional journalists who once sat in your classrooms.

In the crush of daily academia, it’s easy to lose touch with the reasons we teach about the news. There are papers to grade and newscasts to critique and resumes to edit (lightly, of course), all in the name of helping students get a job out there somewhere and do it well, possibly for decades.

These former students now serving as journalists covering Florida’s latest disaster are proof that what you are doing matters — every class, every week, every semester.

Keep it up — you are making a difference.


I’m hoping by now that the greatest amicus brief of all time has made its way into your inbox, your hearts and your classrooms.

Um, OK. “Marquette removes students from campus leadership posts in response to freshmen welcome event protest” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A rare happy ending to a student media/administration dust up! “Student news media must be protected. After a rumble, LSU prez gets it.” (Nola.com)

Love this. ​​“Federal court leaders agree to refund fees for online records” (Washington Post)

This is a heartwarming and exciting Twitter thread. Show it to your illustrative students.

Here’s a subhead we can all get behind: “A better way to teach writing? Try journalism | A PhD in literature argues that journalism, not ‘comp,’ is the most effective way to help college student learn to write” (Nieman Reports)

This is a good read. “The Inquisition: State intrusion on higher ed is nothing new. Decades ago, Florida lawmakers tried to purge campus ‘immorality.’” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Washington Post’s “How a Las Vegas newsroom set out to solve a colleague’s killing”  is pretty inspiring, with a particularly journalistic and bittersweet twist at the end.

Classroom  resources

Wow! “See the buzzworthy winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition” (NPR)

My first thought about this story about a controversy around an inclusive glossary was, “Can I get a copy?” But here’s the apparent source material.

How to Support Journalists Experiencing Online Harassment (Nieman Reports)

Introducing Nora J.S. Reichardt: Local 5 reporter comes out as transgender woman (WeAreIowa.com)

9 tips to debunk false claims made by friends and family (Washington Post)

A User’s Guide to Democracy (ProPublica)

A journalist’s guide to reporting on homelessness (Street Sense Media)

I mention them a lot, and for good reason. The NBCU Academy is virtually hosting its second Next Level Summit on Oct. 18. Sessions include topics like “Check the Source: Social Media as a Newsgathering Tool” and “Breakout Careers in Media & Technology,” there might be something that dovetails with your current lesson plans.

Story ideas

Does your college do this? “Withholding college transcripts for loan payment is ‘abusive,’ federal agency says” (Hechinger Report)

How will your students fare? “The No-Roe Reality and Student Mental Health: Restrictions on abortion access will negatively impact student mental health, and colleges and counseling centers must be prepared” (Inside Higher Ed)

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass

Two issues for you to consider this week that center around politicians and the media: Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, both senatorial candidates. Professor’s Press Pass is a subscription library of ethical and journalism business case studies designed for robust classroom communication. Subscriptions are $12 a month or $100 per year.

One last thing

If you didn’t know about Fat Bear Week, well, now you do.

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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