Saturday, July 30, 2011

Style, and Its Keeper

Ever wonder why we, as journalists, need to toil over the rules of writing, grammar and punctuation laid out in the Associated Press Stylebook?

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi writes a lovely explanatory piece on the book and its chief architect: "David Minthorn is the Grammar and Style Expert for the Associated Press."

--Chris Harvey

The Evolution of the Newspaper

It seems as though printed journalism is a dying art. Newspapers are hard to find on the University of Maryland campus during the summer. Students must go onto the Internet to read the daily news.

Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of AJR, talked to class recently about the state of the industry and said printed newspapers "are in danger" because of dwindling readership and advertising.

Most newspapers are being published online, which allows articles to be corrected and updated faster. And that's where readers have drifted.

Newcomers like Twitter raise more questions about delivery. Tweeting information may not seem very conventional, but The Washington Post and other news organizations use it as a way to quickly get out the latest stories. Twitter allows for instant updates of stories, in bursts of 140 characters or less.

So the real question is, how long until print is no longer used?

And will everything on the Internet be explained in fewer than 140 characters?

Bias Due to Ads?

We had a guest speaker today who shared the experience of launching a magazine. Amanda Nachman, creator of College Magazine, described her early magazine career running to local pizza shops selling ads. She said local advertising was the magazine's chief source of revenue at the beginning. As publisher and editor, she was the one responsible for selling the ads, and she had the final say on editing the stories.

The general question raised here is if these ads had an influence on what was being written in the articles of the magazine and if the magazine sometimes was biased toward those restaurants or other local businesses if it was the chief way of bringing in money.

Newspapers had a long history of separating the business side of the operation from the editorial, to help allay fears of bias.

The lines have been murkier for small start-ups, and they have grown murkier still as content has moved online.

Related story from AJR: Navigating the Future

Friday, July 29, 2011

Major Decisions

"Your major doesn't determine your path in life." Amanda Nachman, founder of College Magazine and a University of Maryland class of '07 graduate, gave our journalism class these words of advice in a lecture today.

As an English major who also took courses in the business school at UMD, Nachman combined her writing and entrepreneurial skills to ultimately enter another field. By combining her interests, she managed to become a successful journalist without ever entering journalism school. College Magazine has had several print editions published and launched a popular website that provides unsure college students with helpful tips.

Nachman concluded her speech with three closing points: "Get experience, dream big, and believe in yourself."

This USA Todayarticle, posted on the website just over a week ago, buttresses Nachman's counsel on believing in yourself when it comes to choosing a college major. The article encourages students to pick a field they enjoy learning about and working with, no matter what family, friends and teachers may say and explains why it is important to do so: Five Reasons Why

--Danette Frederique

Newspaper Articles Vs. Magazines

While listening to Rem Rieder speak today about American Journalism Review, the magazine that he edits and is the vice president of, one thing he spoke about really caught my attention.

When Rieder spoke about the difference between writing for news articles and for magazines, I got very excited because I think it would be very interesting to write for a magazine. I think this because writing news articles is too stiff and limiting for me. I feel as though I am restricted in what I can say, since I cannot give opinions, the work must be written in a very specific manner, and honestly sometimes the stories you have to write about are just not very interesting.

I think that writing for a magazine would be lots of fun, especially when looking at the magazine that Amanda Nachman has created.

Nachman is the founder of College Magazine, a very interesting magazine about college life and related aspects. When I was reading through those magazines, I could not put them down. They were funny, interesting and very easy to relate to.

I really appreciated today's speakers because after listening to them talk. I think I have found a style of journalism that really clicks with me.

I would be interested to hear the classes' thoughts and how you all feel about news articles vs. magazine articles? Do you feel as though the structure and straight forwardness of the news article helps you and gives you comfort, or does the more freelance and opinionated style of writing for a magazine article excite you?

College: A Platform for Entrepreneurial Success

During college years, most students are heavily focused on remaining on top of their heavy workloads while balancing their social lives and extracurricular activities.  However, as College Magazine founder Amanda Nachman demonstrated, college can be the opportune time to launch a business and take action on entrepreneurial dreams.

As a University of Maryland student, Nachman founded the magazine during her senior year.  Initially the idea for the magazine came from a class project; however, she became very passionate about her idea and decided to pursue it seriously.

Nachman took her business plan to the university’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the School of Business, and presented what she had come up with. She emerged with positive feedback, and decided that with a few minor changes, her product could have some potential.

Today, College Magazine has switched to an electronic form and has become extremely popular and widely read.

Nachman serves as a success story to other aspiring entrepreneurs in college.  During a recent lecture, she advised students that the best time to begin a business was during college.  Although it may seem like a lot to handle at an already stressful point in your life, the resources to start a business are most abundant in college. There are many learned professionals surrounding you who would be willing to assist you in your quest for success.

Related Story from Maryland Newsline: UMD Competition Awards Young Entrepreneurs Mentoring, Money

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Follow Your Dreams, Seriously

College Magazine's creator, 26-year-old Amanda Nachman, was a guest speaker in our class today. The young entrepreneur gave us her hard-working story on how she got to where she is today. Nachman started out as a college student here at the University of Maryland. In her junior year, Nachman gained an increasing urge to provide a real, relatable source of information for college students.

"I want to be able to tell a freshman what a keg party is," she said, as one of her examples.

One Friday while Nachman was still a student at the university, she attended "Friday Pitch" at the School of Business' Dingman Center with a group of friends. After pulling an all-nighter, the students' hopes were to get their idea for this magazine approved by the judges. When the judges embraced their proposal, Nachman knew they had something.

Her computer-savvy friend joined the team, and that's when the kick-off began. With the young entrepreneurs relying initially on local pizza shops to buy ads for the magazine, they kicked off College Magazine. They began one of what would become many editions of the print magazine in College Park. After that came editions for campuses in D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Nachman said she became even more assured that her magazine was a hit when she observed students placing it in their bags, instead of tossing it straight into the garbage.

After four long years of hard work and determination, Nachman has advice for the would-be small business owner.

"Don't let funds be your reason for not starting up what you want to do ...that's loser talk," she said. "If you're passionate about something and you want to make it happen, make it happen."

--Savanna Mickens

Pay Walls and Journalism

A few major publications have instituted pay walls, fees for reading online content, on their websites to compensate for the decrease in print revenue as traffic moves online.

The intent is to make enough money to keep the news industry alive, whether it be online or print or broadcast. It is widely known that advertisers are the key source of income for a newspaper. But pay walls could lower the amount of visitors to a site, and fewer visitors could mean fewer advertisers. Which, in turn, means papers could lose money by trying to charge people money.

One strategy in imposing pay walls is to push readers back to the print product, according to American Journalism Review's Paul Farhi. Another is to use the targeted advertising that paid registrations allow to boost online advertising fees to make a profit.

Recently, the New York Times began charging for prolonged online access, mobile applications and tablet subscriptions. According to a Columbia Journalism Review article about a panel discussion involving Publisher Arnold Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson, the Times' goal is not to convince more readers to buy the paper every morning.

“We made this decision to create a new revenue stream that provides us with the opportunity to continue to invest in the journalism that we create each and every day,” Robinson was quoted as saying.

A part of that new revenue stream is the price of premium advertisements. When readers register with a pay wall, a newspaper has access to their consumers’ demographics, which they can then sell to potential advertisers. Online newspapers also have “a 24/7 clickstream of their digital reading, researching, and shopping behavior,” according to a Newsonomics article written by Ken Doctor.

Farhi writes about a news provider that began charging for online content, but with a different objective in mind. A Rhode Island newspaper charged readers 38 percent more to read the paper’s website than to have a print subscription. In this case, the publisher wanted to push the readers back to the newspaper, Farhi quoted Newport Daily News Publisher Albert K. Sherman as saying.

In this day and age, it seems impossible for a news provider to do away with its online presence altogether. In order to compete with online news providers, which include Yahoo! and AOL and Google, papers seem to need an online home.

The pay walls could be disasters in the making or the salvation of newspapers-- only time and circulation numbers will tell.

--Rachel McCubbin

Shifting to the Web

We had two guest speakers come to our class today: Amanda Nachman, founder of College Magazine, and Rem Rieder, editor-in-chief of American Journalism Review. They talked to us about the steps they took to get to their current jobs.

Nachman said that getting her magazine up and running was tough, due to costs for printing and her salary, which were partially covered by selling ads to local businesses. As she grew readership for the magazine from College Park to campuses in additional cities (Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia), she found her time consumed by the need to sell ads in each of those markets. So she shifted her focus this year to creating a strong website, for which she could sell national ads.

Lately, that re-examination of a publishing platform is what just about every news publication -- including newspapers and magazines -- are doing.

So will print news die in our lifetimes, due to a shift in reading habits from print to online?

Some do believe more print publications will die in this digital revolution, while others believe that paper publications will last for a while, so long as we still have trees.

Social Media and the New Breed of Journalists

Lately in class we've had several discussions about the presence of social media in the newsroom and its use as an aid for journalists. We know that it can be useful for distributing news quickly and sharing links to important stories and news, but an article in The Economist examines the benefits of social media, and how it is turning regular people into journalists and editors.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter level the playing field, making it possible for nonjournalists to share information, sometimes even faster than traditional news sources, as in the case of President Obama's announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden.

This shift of the masses to the media is even more pertinent with the launching of the new social networking venture, Google Plus, which is said to be similar to Facebook; possibly better.
As more and more social networking sites emerge, some news will be easier to come by and more accessible.

Could social networks eliminate the need for online journalists?

Could the social networking sites that started as a friend to journalists everywhere be their downfall?

--Ifeoluwa Olujobi

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Liberal vs. Conservative in the Media

During the town hall meeting held at Ritchie Coliseum last Friday, President Obama mentioned how a lot of the time people only receive their news from one side. He talked about how many conservatives only watch conservative channels like Fox, while many liberals only watch channels such as MSNBC, and neither side every gets to hear the other side's opinion.

To me, this statement by the president seems very true. From my experiences, it seems as though many people only want to hear their side of the argument, and never want to listen to the opposing side.

However, I personally do not think the problem is that people do not want to change the channel, I think the problem is people have to change the channel in order to hear both sides. News channels should not be biased towards either side, they should just be accurate and truthful. Yet accroding to a survey (link below), a large group of people think that news is becoming more biased and inaccurate.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Obama: The U.S. 'Does Not Run Out Without Paying the Tab'

President Obama urged the crowd to back his deficit-cutting plan.
(Photo by Savanna Mickens)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - President Obama said Friday that a combination of spending cuts and tax increases would be an ideal compromise in ongoing debt negotiations. 

“Obviously, [the debt ceiling] is dominating the news,” Obama said, during a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland. “Most people here … your No. 1 concern is the economy. That’s my No. 1 concern.”
Congress and the White House are working to formulate a plan that would increase the debt ceiling by an Aug. 2 deadline. Obama said defaulting on government loans “is not an option for us.” 

“The United States of America does not run out without paying the tab,” he said.

He said the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations will have to do their part with higher taxes. “This isn’t about punishing wealth; it’s about asking people who have benefitted the most over the past decade to share in the sacrifice,” he said.

In the question-and-answer session, he said he was willing to cut some domestic programs and defense spending.

“Some of these cuts will just eliminate wasteful spending, weapons we don’t need, fraud and abuse in our healthcare system,” Obama told a diverse crowd, which included Gov. Martin O’Malley, University President Wallace Loh, College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows and students, faculty and staff.

But, he added, "I've agreed to target programs I also think are worthwhile." Just like a family, "you've got to tighten your belt, make some tough choices," he said.

Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot, when stopped after the speech, said Obama's comments were fine, but added, "He needs to be stronger. He needs to have muscle."

During the meeting, the Republican National Committee's research department repeatedly tweeted rebuttals to what one audience member called "an obviously successful presidency." The posts reported that 2.5 million jobs were lost since Obama took office in 2009, and unemployment rose to 9.2 percent.

Obama said making sacrifices and concessions does not mean giving up convictions.

“In 2010, Americans chose a divided government,” Obama said. “But they didn’t choose a dysfunctional government.”

The president encouraged the youth in the crowd to remain positive and have confidence in the values of America.

“We’ve gone through the worst financial crisis in any of our memories,” Obama said. “I just want all of you to remember: America has gone through tougher times, and we have always come through.”

Some of those younger audience members left feeling uplifted.

Darla Bunting, 25, a third grade literacy teacher from Southeast Washington, was one of the lucky few called on to ask a question during the chat. She asked about how residents of lower-class neighborhoods can achieve their own American dream.

Afterward, she said she appreciated what Obama said about spending cuts and deficits. "There are so many unfair advantages for the wealthy," she said, "while families in the middle to lower class are left with almost nothing."

Others, though, left wanting more from Obama.

Marie Vasquez, 20, of the Dominican Republic, said she wanted to know what the president plans to do about immigration policy. An international student, Vasquez said she wants to pursue a doctoral degree and hopes for more opportunities to stay in the country.

--By Rachel McCubbin and Sonia Su, with Angelique Spencer, David Winters and Jeremiah Meyers

Obama Urges Crowd at UMD to Get Behind His Debt-Reduction Plan

President Obama told a crowd at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum Friday that he needed help urging Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy to reduce the deficit. "There's simply too much debt on America's credit card," he said, during a town hall meeting. "Neither party is blameless... but both parties have a responsibility to solve it." (Photo by Young Scholars student Ifeoluwa Olujobi)

Voices from the Line Outside Ritchie

Yohannes Aemro
Yohannes Aemro of College Park
(Photo by Allison Wedwaldt)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A few hundred people lined up early this morning outside Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland to get a shot at a good seat for President Obama's town hall. Enduring the heat wave, the earliest arrived at 5:10 a.m. -- more than three-and-a-half hours earlier than the scheduled door opening at 8:45 a.m. - to ensure that the general admission ticket they had stood in line for earlier in the week would get them close to the president.

Many at the front of the line said they wondered what the president would say about the debt ceiling and the national deficit.

“I am very curious about what he has to say. He always inspires people and always goes all the way for the middle class and students," said Yohannes Aemro, 21, of College Park, Md., a facility maintenance staff member at the University of Maryland and the first to arrive. "I want to support him. … I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be good.” 

Many of those gathered at the front of the line said they were strong supporters of Obama and largely supported the Democratic Party’s agenda. 

Dylan Goldberg, 20, of Columbia, Md., a government and politics major at the University of Maryland,  was one of those who said he supports the Democratic Party. After arriving at Stamp Student Union at 8 p.m. on Wednesday to camp out for tickets, he arrived at Ritchie Coliseum at 5:30 a.m. this morning to get a good seat for the talk.

Goldberg,  a board member of the Howard County Community Action Council, said he is concerned about what welfare programs would be at risk if the U.S. government were to default on its debt and how communities would deal with a blow to funding. “Being a part of the Community Action Council, I want to bring back [Obama’s] ideas to the community, give advice and give a plan to the people who need help,” he said.

Emily Englin of Silver Spring
(Photo by Allison Wedwaldt)
University of Maryland student Michael Sikorski, 18, of Ellicott City, Md., said he is also very interested in politics and wanted to see Obama. Sikorski, who was president of the Young Democrats Club at his high school, said he attempted to camp out overnight for Friday's 11 a.m. event, but was told by police that he was not permitted to do so. Instead he arrived at 7 a.m. and was one of the first 20 people in line.

The mood outside was noticeably enthusiastic and partisan. Said Emily Englin, 16, of Silver Spring, Md., at the end of an interview: “Obama 2012!”

--By Allison Wedwaldt and Matt Smith

Our Class and Obama

With the surprise announcement this week that President Obama would be coming to the University of Maryland for a town hall talk, I decided to shift items around on our Intro to Mass Comm syllabus so that this talented group of high school students would have a shot at covering the event.

Because we were uncertain if we'd get any press credentials, 15 students in the class camped out overnight Wednesday night to get first-come, first-served admissions tickets distributed to the public. We were also able to secure two press passes from the White House -- for a blogger and a photographer. So nearly all of our students will be inside Ritchie Coliseum for the 11 a.m. event.

This morning, two students got up early to talk to the folks at the front of the line outside Ritchie Coliseum. We thought they might have some interesting things to say. We hope to post summaries of their conversations soon. After Obama's chat (which will be streamed live), we'll post some of his comments, comments from spectators and photos.

Check back in a bit for updates!

--Chris Harvey

Some Blogs Done Well

As you ponder what makes a good blog post, I thought some examples of professional blogs done well might help:

* Poynter's Romensko does a terrific job at aggregation: It provides summary briefs on focused topics and links to multiple sources in each post. Everything is attributed, often with direct quotes, back to the original source.

* The Washington Post's  Post Tech, written by Cecilia Kang, is a reported blog; it's in essence very short stories with lots of links back to sources.

* Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine is written much more as a short opinion column. But again, it's focused on one topic, its details are extremely specific, and there are numerous links back to sources for each point made.

All, because they are blogs, allow for reader interaction--comments.

On our blog, the comments come from those in the class.

As newbie journalists, please try to model your posts more after either Romensko's or Kang's examples.

And if you're having trouble finding the link button on our blogging tool, it's five icons to the right of the Italics button. Simply highlight the words you want to link from in your post, then cut and paste the URL of the link into the pop-up box.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Journalism and Women's Work

Dr. Carol Rogers of the University of Maryland College of Journalism recently talked to us about women and minorities in the media. When we did the newspaper activity - looking at bylines and sources quoted on the front page of The Washington Post - it made me think about gender and journalism.

Katharine Weymouth, chief executive officer of Washington Post Media, runs a news company in a male-dominated field. Yet women - even at her newspaper - often don't make the front pages, either as writers or sources.

Proving Libel

In class the other day we learned that libel exposes someone either to hatred, shame, disgrace, contempt, or ridicule; it injures reputation, implies a lack of chastity or mental capacity, it accuses someone of being a criminal or having a disease.

Respected newspapers do their best to make sure their stories are accurate and fair. If they make a mistake, they will put the corrections on the second or third page or on another prominent spot in the newspaper.

But some tabloid newspapers and magazines purposely seem to stretch the truth to attract readers.

During the last presidential election, the Globe, for instance, published false accusations about President Obama's birthplace, and the National Enquirer raised questions last year about his faithfulness.

How come these tabloids can write such defamatory comments and get away with it?

--David Winters

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is it Hard to Be Social and a Serious Journalist?

From our reading on romances between a journalist and a reporter, we learned that it's tough to mix your personal life with work, especially when your romancer works in an area that you cover as a journalist. If this were to happen, you should talk to your editor and figure out what to do.

But what about friendships? Couldn't they too influence how you feel about an issue and cause you to be swayed when writing an article?

This issue is even more important as a high school journalist. If you are covering the basketball game and your best friend is on the team, then you would be more inclined to interview him or her about the game. You would most likely agree with their viewpoint, even if it was only about a basketball game and not a political issue. But still, this could be a considered as a violation of the code of ethics.

Please express your stance on where the line is drawn between friendships and reporting.

Copy and Paste

I came across this article in the Columbia Journalism Review that related to today's discussion on ethics and how to stay out of trouble when reporting. This article in particular covers the topic of plagiarism with the 2010 nonfiction book A Sea in Flames.

Colorado editor Amanda Mascarelli was reviewing the work before it was put on shelves nationwide and found various quotes from an article written the year prior in Nature magazine.

This article got me thinking whether or not this was an act of plagiarism. On one hand, there were several quotes that were obviously recognizable from the article published in Nature but on the other hand, the author was using a news story to incorporate how reporters interpret oil spills. I would love to hear your opinion on this topic seeing that we just discussed this recently in class and is very relevant to our curriculum.

Cable News Networks

We talked today in class about journalistic integrity and not allowing personal opinions to interfere with news reporting.

In today's cable news world, the bias has grown to such an extent that certain networks have developed reputations for having a particular viewpoint. Fox News has become known for favoring conservative opinions, while MSNBC has recently emerged as a liberal counterpart.

Fox News has been accused of not covering certain issues that may negatively reflect on Republicans, conservatives, and owner Rupert Murdoch. Recently, Murdoch has come under fire in the UK for a phone-hacking scandal, a story that has been broadly covered ... except in media outlets that he owns. There have been reports by the Associated Press that while Murdoch's outlets, such as Fox News, have covered the story, it has not been nearly as regularly discussed as it has on other networks.

With this example, and the release last year of a University of Maryland study that found that the average Fox News viewer is less well informed on many public policy topics as viewers of NPR, PBS and MSNBC, it raises an interesting question as to the value of some of this news.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on what you think of this and whether or not you feel the development of cable news has had a positive or negative impact on [objective] journalism.

Related link:
Article on the coverage of Murdoch scandal:

Bias in the Media

In a recent interview on Fox News, comedian Jon Stewart and "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace discussed bias in the media. This interview relates to the theme that we faced throughout today's class, because it shows how important it is for news [reporting] to be neutral.

Although Stewart makes jokes about both Republicans and Democrats, people believe he has a liberal agenda. Chris Wallace questioned both his motives and his credibility throughout the interview because of this knowledge.

I also find it interesting how Fox News can be found credible by so many, even though its Republican bias is vastly apparent. This is a link to the full interview  Feel free to comment on what you thing about it.

The Split in Pakistan

Fighting; there never seems to be an end to it. Countries fight other countries, there is violence between continents, but the most devastating type of battle is between people in the same country.

As we note the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, internal violence is rampant in Karachi.

The city has 18 million people, and for the most part, they are either Mohajir or Pashtun. The Mohajirs have been in Pakistan for many generations, and they have economic stability, while the Pashtuns are people who fled from their native land in the northwest. Over the past four days, 100 people have died in the city of Karachi.

So the question is, what do you believe the true conflict to be?

History repeats itself, and there is never a straightforward answer.

Source: A July 19, 2011, Washington Post article, "Violence in Karachi Exposes Deep Divides," by Karin Brulliard.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aren't Bloggers Journalists Too?

In April 2011, The Huffington Post, an online news website and blog run by AOL, was targeted with a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York by Jonathan Tasini on behalf of thousands of uncompensated bloggers. The case, Tasini v. AOL Inc., raised significant unsettled questions about the rights of writers in the digital age. These freelance writers believe that they deserve to be paid for the content they’ve contributed to the site, which helped The Huffington Post achieve its $315 million sale price. However, a spokesperson for Arianna Huffington, the website’s founder, said, “As we’ve said before, our bloggers use our platform — as well as other unpaid group blogs across the Web — to connect and help their work be seen by as many people as possible. It’s the same reason people go on TV shows: to promote their views and ideas.”

The Huffington Post business model, in which most bloggers are not paid for their work, alarms and concerns many journalists. Does this model fit into the future of journalism, as news becomes increasingly online-based? Do bloggers deserve to be paid for their work, especially when reporting for a major online news establishment such as The Huffington Post? Or was Arianna Huffington correct in believing that The Huffington Post is simply another online forum for bloggers to “promote their views and ideas”?

Feature Story Pitches

Class, you've got two feature story pitches due Friday at 9 a.m. Each should give a paragraph of detail about what the story might focus on, and include possible sources (people and paper).

I'd like one of the two pitches from each of you to be about the weather. Use your creativity to turn the topic into a story. To get started thinking, I'd suggest thinking about how the heat wave has been affecting certain groups or people -- the very young or the very old; folks who have to work outside all day; farmers and their crops; folks who have to dress up in silly (and hot) outfits and stand on street corners to sell their wares; folks who sell hot dogs outside all day on the National Mall. You get my drift.

Check out the National Weather Service site for a starting point, to get perspective on just how how hot it's been, compared to previous years here, and compared to other parts of the country. Then do some searches to see what others have been writing about the heat. Then start looking around and talking to people.

For inspiration, read this story written on a daily deadline by two undergrads in my news bureau four years ago. One concentrated on the text, one concentrated on the photos and audio. It was a nice read: They were seniors in college. I don't expect your story to be quite so nuanced--or so filled with multimedia. We won't have time to learn audio editing in your three weeks here!

Start thinking and searching!

How Far We've Come

Today, Dr. Carol Rogers visited our class as a guest speaker on media coverage of women and minorities, and the role of women and minorities in newsrooms. In the beginning, she mentioned Nellie Bly, the pioneer of a new kind of investigative reporting. I knew the name sounded familiar, and once she mentioned her undercover work in a women's asylum, it all came back to me.

It was my junior year in high school, and I'd watched a video in Sociology class about Bly and the asylum in which she stayed. Showers were buckets of cold water dumped on her, and time was spent in a dark, small room for hours on end. Nevertheless, Dr. Rogers' telling of the story was still surprising. A lot of that surprise comes from the fact that journalism in many ways has changed drastically over the years.

At the same time, the exercise we did at the end of class [analyzing male and female sources quoted on the front page of the Washington Post, and male and female bylines] made me realize how there are still issues with gender roles. Why is it that men seem to dominate the papers?

In what other ways haven't we changed since Bly's time?

And why do you think we haven't changed such ways? Are we losing the activism--specifically, feminism--and the determination that once pushed Bly to go to such great lengths for change?

Obama Is Coming to UMD

So the president of the United States of America is coming to host a town hall meeting in Ritchie Coliseum on Friday at 11 a.m.

For some reason, he didn't yet disclose the subject of the meeting.

Who else is sad that it's during class?

Why do you think Obama, with access to so many prestigious venues, chose UMD? He is known for targeting a younger audience; this may be a chance for him to get exposure to young voters with the 2012 presidential election coming up.

Opinions please!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pivotal Broadcasters

We talked today about the eloquence of CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow, in his radio dispatches in the early 1940s from London, which were filled with the ambient sounds of bombings and air raid sirens. We also discussed CBS "Evening News" Anchor Walter Cronkite's deft handling of news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy --and of the then-unheard-of round-the-clock coverage the network gave the story. I wanted to give you links to re-visit some of this sound and footage at your leisure:

Edward R. Murrow in London, from the Internet Archive

Walter Cronkite on the Kennedy assassination:

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Do You Get Your News?

How do you get your news each day? Be specific, please, with news sites/stations/papers you frequent, and/or media types. Do you find news on Facebook or other social media first? On TV news shows or satire shows? On newspapers or websites?

Feel free to write your answer as a well-worded few paragraphs that are comments to this post.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Welcome Summer 2011 Class!

Class, this site will be used throughout this summer journalism course to post ideas, questions and comments about the media.

I'll expect each of you to start at least one thread of discussion pertaining to the media during the next three weeks-- and to comment on others' threads. I'm not looking for wild rants; I'm looking for reasoned analysis, buttressed by facts, attribution and links to primary sources.

Remember that the world can see this site, but only the class can comment to it.

Please use professional standards and courtesies in your comments: No personal attacks on people, please. No hate comments or profanity. And try to follow rules of grammar and style.

Also: Please remember that your mini profiles don't belong in this post creation area; they should be published as profiles.

Looking forward to an interesting class!