January 22, 2023

This week marks the birthday of my mom, a loyal reader of this newsletter. Hi, Momma!

I am terribly lucky to have a mom who is incredibly spirited, hilarious and strong. That, along with my perfectly shaped eyebrows, is one of the privileges I enjoy.

My mom and dad wholeheartedly support my journalism career, and always have. But also they created a home environment that encouraged my growth into a person who emulates all the classic qualities in a journalist.

They rewarded my constant curiosity with books and activities on everything I was interested in, from geodes to sharks to the paranormal.

They accepted my innate distrust of authority — even theirs — with grace and goodwill.

I can hear my mom’s voice asking me repeatedly during my childhood, “Yes, but how do you know that for sure?,” teaching me to question my sources at all times.

Perhaps more than anything else, they fostered my love of reading.

One of my earliest memories was learning that during our weekly trip to the library, I would have to return my new favorite book. I was horrified. I wasn’t super clear on how libraries worked, so I hid in my room, trying to trace the characters and words with my little 4-year-old hands in an attempt to keep my book.

That afternoon at the library, my mom told the circulation desk that we’d managed to lose the book and that she’d need to pay for it. It’s the only time I can ever remember my mom telling a lie, because she deeply values the truth and honesty. But she also loved that I loved that book. It’s still in my bedroom at home.

This week I just wanted to start you off with an appreciation of my mom, and give a shoutout to the folks who got us where we are now — attempting to inspire the next generation of journalists and bringing the best journalistic qualities to our work every day. Curiosity. Fearlessness. Honesty. A love of words. And most of all, a commitment to bettering the world. My mom has taught me that we can all play a role in making our worlds a little better for everyone around us, and we should.

All that to say: If you can, call your mom. And happy birthday to mine.

Links, resources and ideas

I was happy to shepherd this piece from William Paterson University associate professor Nicholas Hirshon on Poynter: “A special academic journal documents the history, and promise, of investigative journalism.” (Psst: Pitch to me! It’s fun!)

Thinking about AI? Jeremy Caplan’s latest Wonder Tools newsletter has this cool writeup: “7 ways to Use ChatGPT.” There’s also this from The New York Times: “Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach.” And … bless: “A college student created an app that can tell whether AI wrote an essay” (NPR)

If you teach podcasting, you’re probably familiar with “Tools for Podcasting,” the free e-book from American University’s Jill Olmsted. Though it is available as a PDF download, Olmsted recommends that people read it via the Open Textbook Library to get the latest real-time adjustments and improvements. Pick your platform!

Speaking of podcasts, do you listen to the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information’s “Why Don’t We Know”? Season 2 is coming up, in which Pulitzer Prize winner Sara Ganim “digs into data gaps and secrecy and how that hinders progress and makes our justice system a little less just.”

University of Illinois professor Chris Evans compiled this PDF that outlines the different ways in which student media select their editors, in case any of you are curious about the way that process works across many different campuses.

This Washington Post story proves universities can move faster than a glacier! “Yale University unveiled sweeping changes Wednesday that will allow students suffering from mental health problems to take time off without losing health insurance or facing a daunting application process for reinstatement — policies that have been under increasing fire from students and alumni.”

I got this from NLGJA, The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, which is hosting its third annual Student Conference. They wrote, “This virtual gathering will take place from March 3-4 and will feature opportunities for students to learn from industry experts, connect with fellow student journalists, and explore the intersections of the media world and LGBTQ identities. Sessions will feature discussions on topics like deciding whether journalism school is right for you, taking care of your mental health and navigating identity in the newsroom. Students will also have the opportunity to connect with recruiters from top news organizations at the Internship & Career Fair. Registration is available here and is free for NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists Student Members and $25 for non-members.”

I’ve posted it before and I’ll post it again: American Press Institute’s “Forming a community advisory board for your newsroom” has great takeaways perfectly suited for campus papers.

I saw some great scoops last week that shone a light on economic disparities and the power brokers behind them. See “Inside the Controversial Sales Practices of the Nation’s Biggest Title Lender” from ProPublica, and “How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low” from The New York Times.

If you’re so inclined, here’s a fascinating little read about Gen Z’s woeful readiness for the workforce. How can we as educators help fill in a few of these gaps? (I’m personally super interested in helping students and recent graduates understand more about contracts and salary negotiations.)

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass

What are your students saying about increased TikTok bans on college campuses? In this week’s Professor’s Press Pass, I suggest some discussion questions for you that get past the surface-level complaints your students might have. Professor’s Press Pass is a subscription service that arms you with robust discussion questions pulled from the week’s headlines about the most interesting and pressing ethical and business issues facing journalists today.

One last thing

Ice Cube would surely approve.

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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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