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A Confetti Carnival of Journalism #jcarn – The role of Universities…

21 Jan picture-11

What a great first Carnival of Journalism! It’s intimidating to try and do a round-up post. There is no way to capture 50+ bog posts (and counting). As you may recall – I’m using the Carnival in part to introduce attendees at a future roundtable to be held at the Reynolds Journalism Institute in April. I wanted to highlight and include EVERYONE’s post in this round-up, but in an effort to introduce conference attendees digitally I’m highlighting their names in red. This is just so they can identify each other so when we meet in April we can skip introductions and go head first into conversation. Stay tuned for info on the event and how ‘open’ it will be for more participants.

Without trying to add to the preamble – This exercise (which will continue in February) is truly inspiring, humbling and I believe a great way for us to mingle with colleagues. Future hosts might not be able to summarize EVER post. But for this first few – I will attempt to try.

Let the Carnival Begin!

Yin: I’d like to start by highlighting Brian Boyer‘s post as a benediction. What happens in a sci-fi future. “What is media literacy in that world? What does journalism become, when everything is ephemeral, when the Tweets wash over your mind, neighbor to your own thoughts?”

Yang: Contrast this with Chris Wink from Technically Media. You’d be hard pressed to find somebody who loves Philadelphia as much as this guy and it shows in his post which tries to imagine what Temple University would look like now if it took on the mantle of being an information hub in its communities today.

Re-Yin: Matt Thompson, who has a voice of gold, points to an interesting future where education itself is revolutionized through the “Wikiversity.” This provides fertile ground upon which college courses can include the community in a two way mutually beneficial relationship. Josh Braun, my old Seed Magazine cohort, brings up similar issues and wonders how this future where online education takes hold might divert University attention to national communities of interest.

Re:Yang: If you’re ever in a Jon Stewart rally Andrew Pergam is a great guide through the crowd. If you want to imagine a world where universities leverage their brick and mortar space in collaboration with newspapers read Andrew’s post. “It all seems so logical: If you want to connect with your neighbors, invite them over.” Megan Taylor chimes in here as well – suggesting that certain courses be open to the community of non-students.

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Yin: Jessica Partnow from Common Language Project gives us the history of her foray into academia as a startup nonprofit adopted by the University of Washington. “And, many meetings and classroom visits and a yearlong trial period later, the CLP’s three cofounders became full-time employees of the University of Washington in September 2010. A year and a half into our partnership, we’re finding a balance that we think could become a model for partnerships between journalists and universities all over the country.”

YangDan Sinker, who I pray has not shaved his beard, gives us a candid look inside the academy from somebody who worked for 13 years at a punk magazine and is now an assistant professor. The post is filled with interesting tidbits including “things are awesome when they’re complicated. And right now, few things are as complicated as being a journalism student.”

Yin: The ever fun Kim Bui from KPCC explains her dive into journalism via the student newsroom. Her post echoes parts of Dan’s in its “best of times worst of times” assessment of curriculum. “I feel for students these days. But I also know that those requests for more knowledge come from this: We need journalists with a sense of experimentation.”

Yang: Chris Amico interviews Matt Mansfield who runs the DC bureau of the Medill News Service, part of Northwestern University’s school of journalism. Students participate in the program in their fourth and final quarter as a capstone course. They’re Capitol Hill credentialed and their work appears in mainstream publications. The students’ work is collected here.

Both Chris O’brien, my virtual neighbor on Farmville, and Adam Tinworth share positive feelings about the position students find themselves in provided that universities become/remain safe heaven for students to try new things and, to be blunt, screw up from time to time.

Student Views

The indefatigable and recently graduated Suzanne Yada had a blossoming of links that give us the students view of j-school in her first post. In her second post (over-achiever) she creates a scenario for how a university program could become its own publisher.

Picking up where Suzanne left off: Lauren ‘future designer of all things cool’ Rabaino started with two questions: ‘Why’ and ‘How’ do universities play a role in our community? In a thought experiment she examined how university information was disseminated before (academic studies, journals) and how it is spread today – directly. “Everyone can find a way to give back to the community in more ways than just publishing information…..The big challenge comes in getting universities to change the way they’ve always shared information. There needs to be incentivization.”

Much like Lauren – Daniel ‘better hire me later in life’ Bachhuber started with the Why and How of universities role. This was a great post – the first four graphs are insight wrapped in clarity. This is followed by sharing specifics and learnings from the much talked about Local East Village NYU journalism project. p.s. Seriously dude, hire me when you’re basically in charge of it all.

Natalie Yemenidjian writes a no holds barred assessment of what you can get from a journalism student and tells her own true story.

Mai Hoang gives honest regrets about her student experience and some recommendations for how programs can institutionally address where it seems she got the short end of the stick. She also points to her experience with Open Journalism and the Open Web, perhaps fitting into Matt Thompson’s post earlier.

From the Professors

While on the opposite side of the academic fence (recent professor) Seth Lewis uses almost the same words as Suzanne Yada, “Create opportunities for students to fail – in a good way.” And that was just one of two direct recommendations Seth makes in his post.

Chris Anderson, also the recent professor, contributed by un-earthing a post he wrote in 2009. Two funny things stand out about this. First: Everything still holds water. Second: I commented on it back then!

Personal hero Steve Fox (at night he fights crime under the name “The Silver Fox”) focuses on media speed advocating for a slow accurate news. As his old boss said “I would rather be second and right than first and wrong.”

Meanwhile Alfred Hermida, if memory serves was an original Carnival-blogger, gave us a view of teaching from the University of British Columbia. Go Canada!

Reading Andy Dickinson always made me smile. It’s probably the delightful British accent (in my mind). This month’s topic set his mind racing, dreaming up an ideal scenario for his students and pacing back and forth about the realities of media literacy training, the benefits, who it’s for and more.

Carrie Brown-Smith has a litany of fantastic to the point recommendations. My personal favorite “consider making riskier hires of younger and digital-savvy folks with big ideas…”

While we often focus on the general big ideas Mark Berkey-Gerard wrote a post that brings to light many of the barriers in between ideas for student journalism and reality. Journalism students need room to make mistakes but the public deserves great reporting the first time around. How can we mitigate these?

Related – Charlie Beckett, a name that I love as it rolls off your tongue, shared a cautious view about the state of media literacy and the barriers that exist to achieving it. “This is not a counsel of despair or pessimism….I agree with the Knight Foundation that we should “integrate digital and media literacy as critical elements for education at all levels through collaboration among federal, state, and local education officials.” But if we do so then it has to be more than programming night schools and lap tops in elementary classrooms.”

Nicole Blanchett Neheli a professor in highlights a program in Dublin called “FOMACS” which she says can be an integral resource for a community. Perhaps it’s a program that has flow under the larger journo-education radar?

Lyn Headley who has to suffer the weather in San Diego shares some insight into the impracticality of academics but how it meets/creates and can even deflate a tension with the uber practicality of journalism.

Jack Rosenberry shares his plans to start the first community-facing student-led journalism work in his community at the University of Rochester. Good luck Jack! Hopefully some of the other posts will help your thinking.

Donica Mensing sees “journalism faculty and students acting as facilitators, connecting communities of particular needs with appropriate faculty and students in the university. In the process, greater two-way information flow will foster more applied and more relevant research and teaching.”

The outlier views

Always the positive contrarian Conor White Sullivan seems to be suggesting that the mission of universities has changed in response to how we view “learning” and what people go to college for. Tuition paying students want: a Network, a coming of age tradition, accreditation, external pressure (get outta your mom’s house) and curriculum. This leaves little room for serving a community. Ideas are shared on what it could look like, but again it requires a re-think of what we call ‘education’ if it’s to serve the broader community.

Related Lisa ‘I quote her too often’ Williams hones right in on the money of universities and frankly – how much of it they have. They’re sheltered from some economic realities. Just like Spiderman; with great power comes great responsibility.

Matt Bernius writes a brief meditation on what Anthropologists can do to increase journalistic activities. As a self-proclaimed “non-journalist” this is an IMPORTANT post for us to look at closely if we expect other disciplines to take up journalistic mantles.

Ying: Fellow Columbia J-school alum Vadmin Lavrusik made a specific recommendation that I conquer with, journalism schools should partner with real world practitioners to give journalism students real experience.

Yang: Eliot Caroom takes the Yang side of student/professional collaborations pointing to various barriers or pitfalls when you partner a university journalism program with a private outside partner.

Sally Duros wins the ‘most reported out’ blog post award. Her contribution includes several quotes from a professor at DePaul University on how growth and change is sometimes stunted within academic institution.

Jack Lail, who I met via the first COJ, shares an historical tid-bit about how in 1994 the University of Tennessee helped play an informing role for the community creating something called KORRnet (which sounds awesomely T-2ish. I’m glad it didn’t become self-aware).

If you feel like you want some visual elements check out Paul Bradshaw’s post which includes a video and slideshow. I particularly liked the section on “community isn’t post code.”

Juana Summers post doesn’t talk about universities because, as she argues, at that point it’s too late. Instead – she hones in on what is possible and should be taught re: media literacy in high-school.

Also focusing on media literacy Will Sullivan, my housemate extraordinaire, pointed to Stonybrook as a leading pioneer in the space. He also offered me a Red Bull to keep me up so I could do this wrap-up.

Finally: Several posts including one from Jason Barnett, Jake Dobkin, Ellyn Angelotti, Victoria Baranetsky and Anneke Toomey were collected in this “confetti” post.

Ryan Sholin, now twice a father (correct?) writes about Santa Cruz. “What happens when thousands of undergraduates looking for a good time seasonally invade a small California town with its ethos firmly planted in 1968 and its economy floating unabated in the real estate bubble of 2004-2007? Find out on the next episode of “Keep Santa Cruz Weird.”

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How fitting…. from their lives.

It’s no surprise that our Canadian friend Craig Silverman focused on a specific aspect of news literacy; bullshit detection. It’s a great read and spot on. “Bullshit, you see, is everywhere.” He finishes with two concrete suggestions – make bullshit literacy (echem… media literacy) a core course for university students and make fact-checking a core component of journalism courses. If you find an error in Craig’s post you win 10 journo-points.

Michael MuckRock Morisey cuts right to the chase with four specific recommendations including a cut of potential intern-ponzi schemes (something that I think is on everyone’s mind) to letting researchers blog directly or even share primary documents.

From Andre Natta a nugget at the end of his post which caught my eye: “The university may just become one of the most trusted voices in the community as the number of outlets continues to rise….”

Harking on this same thought Denise Cheng, who has a smile to light up the room, asks “who are you serving” when it comes to larger universities. Not be outdone her SECOND post focuses on the role of the college newspaper, how it can help serve those communities as well as the students. Take a moment and recall your college newspaper then read Denise’ piece. Makes me nostalgic #journo-nerd.

Steve Outing focuses on the innovation call for univiersities, a fitting call for him to make with his first hand experience running the  Digital Media Test Kitchen at Boulder. Also chiming in for innovation is Hans K. Meyer. “I remember the lessons from MyMissourian and Dr. Clyde Bentley: Universities need to push the journalism envelope when the industry cannot.”

Jacob Caggiano points to some of the interesting work being done in Washington (and also points to Jessica’s Common Language Project). Breaking down Knight Foundation’s specific recommendations we see how a few programs coming from The University of Washington are hitting some of them square on the head.

Michelle Minkoff’s data-driven philosophy might be the cornerstone of the preamble to her post which imagines journalism students not focusing on breaking news but in-depth explainer pieces. It could tie in nicely with both Steve Fox’s and Mark Berkey-Gerard’s questions about where student journalism can go wrong. “But data doesn’t just mean numbers. It’s the solid facts behind what makes a system work.”

Using her little brother as an anecdote Erica Zucco hits home and puts into perspective changes in the media environment children inhabit. Not to be an old grouch, but to point out just want media literacy entails now. I love the HAKAS reference!

Jen Reeves, who has more energy than most, writes about the blessings and curse of working in a newsroom. Again with great power as a journalism teacher comes the responsibility.

Confetti Post of Journalism – Carnival #1

20 Jan Picture 1

The following posts come from COJ members who don’t have an appropriate blog to publish this content. Others may be added as posts come in.

The Role of Universities

This first post is from Jake Dobkin

I think that historically, universities have been successful as “hubs of journalistic activities” in two basic ways: through their association with college newspapers and magazines and through their journalism schools.

Most college newspapers and magazines are independent of their schools.  That is as it should be- you can’t report fairly if you’re getting money from the administration.  But this presents an opportunity for journalism non-profits like Knight- one of the best ways to encourage journalistic activities in and around campus is through the support of these newspapers and magazines.  Some of that support has already happened- I’ve noticed a number of college-oriented projects have won Knight grants, for things like content-management systems with college-oriented feature-sets.
But I think it’d be a mistake to restrict funding to just the traditional campus newspapers and magazines- some of the most interesting stuff going on is happening at non-traditional campus media projects.  Here I’m thinking of startups like Bwog and Ivygate, which are sources for great stories that the mainstream college papers often miss.  More support for non-traditional college outlets would go a long way to enhancing journalism innovation on campus.
\As for j-schools, there’s been a lot of improvement over the last five years.  The two programs I’m most familiar with, at Columbia and CUNY, both emphasize web journalism, entrepreneurial journalism, and related areas of study.  Now, I still believe that you don’t need a j-school degree to compete successfully in the new internet journalism economy- most of the best writers, editors, and publishers I’ve met never studied any formal journalism.  So I think one opportunity Knight and related foundations could encourage is outreach between the j-schools and the non-j-school-educated practitioners working in the field.  Here, I mean sponsoring more short courses and symposiums, over a weekend or a week, or online, where ideas can be exchanged.  The working journalists could probably benefit from some formal education (I know our editors and reporters could, especially in certain areas, like how to run a real investigative journalism project, or the about the best ways to get info out of the government.)  And likewise, I think students and professors at the j-schools could always benefit from hearing how things really work in the field- especially at the web outlets, where our practice evolves every week.

Managing the Hub. What is missing if Universities become hubs of journalism?

By Jason Barnett of The Uptake

I am honored to be part of the Carnival of Journalism, and hope my experience as a journalistic entrepreneur adds something to this conversation.

I am intrigued by the issue of how Universities can play a bigger role in their communities information needs and how they can be hubs of journalistic activity. This topic is close to our work at The UpTake as we sent a proposal to the Knight News Challenge in 2010 titled “Networked Journalism Schools” that went directly at this issue.

We were not successful in getting any funding for it, most likely because the project was very ambitious. We have seen the advantages of these forces teaming up in a real way for a long time now.

The problem is, however, not an easy one to solve and to do it right real ambition and institutional change is needed.

It is no secret that the journalistic industry has been and still is in great flux, nor is it a surprise that the ways people are communicating has dramatically changed in the last few years. The role the internet, and it’s endless force of creation has brought
industries to it’s knees and created new ones out of thin air. Our great-grandchildren will be writing books about how we managed to get through all this, as we surely can’t fully appreciate our current situation.

Universities are not immune to this upheaval. Institutions are slow to accept change and are reflexively resistant to it when it feels forced upon them and/or when they feel technically inferior to their own members. The way students are communicating and
sharing information has been and continues to be so some degree totally foreign to how traditional forms communication and decades of institutional memories and tenure tracks have cemented.

How then are we all to move forward? We need to find the innovators and bring them into positions of power within these institutions, and the institutions need to be prepared for all the change and pain that requires.

If the goal is to have Universities become community hubs of journalism, then they need to embrace the ways their students, people physically in their geographic region and those people who self-identify as community members are experiencing community
now. There will be a unique set of requirements for each institution, but in the general outline, we may find a needed set of key skills.

In my mind, the most overlooked and generally dismissed skill is that of the community organizer. We can talk till we’re blue in the face about how Universities should engage with Journalism, and how journalism can effectively cover a given community or
what new hot online tool we “OMG gotta have now!”, but there is no “hub” without a professional, constantly present, deeply engaged community organizer interacting with the needs of the given institution and it’s community. These roles are regularly put into
an “intern” position, or budgeted at the entry level (i.e. no power), or are attempted to be solved by “crowd sourcing” the job entirely. We even see these roles sometimes shunted off into the “PR” department where we get someone who understands spin and
marketing, but rarely really knows anyone they are marketing to.

The trick of this community organizer, is they also need to be fluent in the traditions of the institutions, the communities, and the needs of journalism. They have to dive physically into the community and be savvy to the ever changing pallet of online tools.
These under appreciated folks don’t need to be journalists, or professors, or University administrators, but they need to understand and work with them all.

Ideally, what the presence of a professional community organizer does, is let everyone do what they are good at. Universities to be leaders in research and teaching, newsrooms to cover news, and those trained and experienced in building thriving relationships in place to pull them together.

I don’t want to give the impression that all we have to do is hire the right person, because even accepting this type of role into the position of influence that is required is a large institutional change. Universities may be more familiar with some of these roles
in their every day student relations, but news rooms, on average, are not. Institutions have to be willing to change, to allow their teachers, administrators, their editors and journalists to engage with their communities with the guidance and leadership
of the community manager. If Universities are to become information hubs for their communities and hubs for journalistic activity, then the institutions have to embrace what it means to actually be an average member of that community and hand over
the leadership to those trained and experienced to managing thriving community relationships.

As some of the other Carnival bloggers have mentioned, there are attempts being made and experiments moving forward. I do feel there is a willingness to attempt big ideas and take on hard tasks. Maybe my opinion and experience running a news organization
that attempts to operate as I spelled out here can add something to this conversation.

Post by Ellyn Angelotti from Poynter.

Teaching the craft of social media is more than understanding how to best communicate a story in 140 characters or less. It’s even more than finding the right thought leaders to engage with.

Social media gives anyone with internet access the opportunity to share their perspectives and information about their communities. However, the accessibility of publishing via social media has created a firehouse of information overload in news. Which is why developing critical thinking skills in tandem with social media is imperative for universities to teach their students in order to properly integrate digital and media literacy in their journalism education programs.

Many universities are on board with incorporating social media into the classroom. And a few are even advancing the craft of social media into journalism education to the next level. My favorite example comes from Simran Sethi’s service-learning courses at the University of Kansas (my alma mater) which are cross listed in other departments and often include a mix of both journalism and non-journalism students. The class pushes beyond the typical college journalism course of graded assignments or projects and becomes an interactive experience with includes an authentic immersion in social media. For example, this past semester, students in Sethi’s “Diversity in Media” course (cross-listed with the school of social welfare), analyzed how media shapes societal thinking by challenging or reinforcing stereotypes and address such topics as the use of social media in communities of color. And for the course’s grand finale, Sethi and her students collaborated with UNITY to organize Diversity in the Digital Age virtual summit exploring digital diversity with speakers from dynamic backgrounds and experiences.

Finding and leading people to the multiple perspectives people share about their communities is one of the strengths of social media. It’s often even easier for students to report using social media because sources are so much more accessible with email, Facebook and Twitter accounts. But journalism doesn’t stop there. Teaching students how to improve the way they tell stories about people who are not like them and seeking sources that require more than a DM or an email is a constant challenge in the craft of storytelling — and at times goes against the grain of the immediate and accessible nature of social media.

Educators should better equip students with the skills they need to advance the craft of social media to include critical thinking in their storytelling process — suspending judgment, analyzing multiple perspectives, recognizing bias and seeking to overcome these biases– all attributes that journalism and communities strongly depend on.

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Carnival of Journalism Post #1

by Victoria Baranetsky

This month’s Carnival of Journalism (an online jamboree of journalists who respond to a given prompt) directed respondents to reflect on the Knight Commission‘s recommendation that universities should “Increase the[ir] role…as hubs of journalistic activity” and “integrate digital and media literacy….”
As someone who has spent the majority of the past ten years as a student in several departments (including journalism), I think this wonderful recommendation could be achieved if universities promoted all graduate faculties and students to create subject-
specific blogs.

The idea is for universities to endorse, organize, and fund department-specific blogs, providing a forum for graduate students and their faculty to write about new research and developments in their respective fields. This not only creates a university-wide introduction to journalism but also integrates digital and media literacy, fulfilling the two-prongs of the Knight Commission’s recommendation.

Even more important than satisfying these prongs, however, this tactic puts the intellectual aims of the profession first. First, blogging provides academics with an opportunity to share their field-specific research and ideas quickly with a broad audience
of academics within their own profession and the wider public.

“I’m very pleased at being able to [blog]…but being a scholar is about a lot more than just publicizing to the public,” one blogging professor stated. “It’s about coming up with new ideas. But I think part of what scholars ought to do is they ought to try to spread their views to the public at large.”

Simultaneously, blogs provides young burgeoning academics an ideal setting to develop their own writing craft and try out budding ideas in what might be seen as a virtual seminar.

“Blogging began as a way for us to lightly discuss summer research or daily politics,” said a Harvard History Ph.D. blogger, Kristen Loveland about her co-authored blog Ph.D. Octopus, “but [it] has become a really important place where we can test out ideas like
the relationship between ethnic particularism and universalism or the application of space theory to the crises of capitalism and so on, and then get challenges or suggestions from co-bloggers and readers.”

Additionally, it would teach graduate students how to tailor their writing to non-academic audience and reach a broader audience, further helping to break down the seemingly impermeable boundaries between the ivory tower and the wider public. As Loveland
stated, “it is also a great way to say hello to a world beyond our departmental walls.”

“What we want to be able to do is make sure that the teaching is driving technology,” said Katie Vale, Director of the Academic Technology Group at Harvard, reported to the Harvard Gazette. “We want to be able to solve educational problems through the use of technology and encourage faculty to try new and different pedagogical methods, such as using clickers for active learning.”

In essence, the blogs would simply be a new pedagogical method that not only benefits journalism, as the Knight Commission intended, but first and foremost focuses on satisfying the educational aims of each field. This latter factor is what would ensure this
project’s lasting success.

The main impediment to this suggestion is that for far too long, academics have long deemed their blogging counterparts to be inferior, ridiculing bloggers as the pajama-media (despite the fact that many professors’ dress is similarly unkempt), making the
task an unappealing endeavor. Instead of publishing on blogs, academics and future academics reserve their writing for the more esteemed peer-review or student-run journals. However, times have changed.

Despite the initial gag reflex with which many academics responded to the Internet, a number have recently turned a new leaf and entered the brave new world of blogging (See a list of professors who blog here). For some, academics like Professor of History
Claire B. Potter, at Wesleyan University who writes often on her blog Tenured Radical, this turn to the Internet has been transformative, as she explained in one of her blog entries.

For others, the shift has also proven to be widely successful. For example, blogs like TaxProf Blog and FemaleScienceProfessor have accrued a substantial following. Other blogs, like the The Volokh Conspiracy, have even awarded professors like Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law at UCLA, online celebrity with traffic of over 25,000 unique visitors each weekday.

In conjunction with their new-found respect for blogging, many professors have also abandoned student-run journals, because of the cumbersome requirements they make on faculty submissions and their often-criticized bias and inability to select worthy articles. Most of these professors have begun publishing on online databases like the Social Science Research Network. Such databases are a sign that blogging is becoming normalized within the profession.

However this growing trend with individual professors has been slow to catch on institutionally. Many universities have not officially endorsed or organized such sites. And universities are especially slow to support graduate student blogs.

Instead, students and departments have been left to develop blogs on their own time, rather than incorporating the practice within their educational programs. That is not to say that there haven’t been some student-blog successes despite the lack of institutional
support.

For example, a group of graduate students from the History Ph.D. programs at Brandeis, Harvard, and New York University created the blog, PhD Octopus, which has gotten much attention recently. In fact, PhD Octopus received this year’s “Best New Blog”
award from the Cliopatra Awards List for History Blogging, run by a group of historians.

As one PhD Octopus contributor Kristen Loveland explained, the blog’s ease in getting started, was likely influenced by the fact that blogging has become a norm within the community of history academics, as evidenced by the Cliopatra Awards.

Despite their success, Loveland agrees that institutionally there is little to no support in the universities for this activity. All of the work is done in the student’s free time and without any tie back to their work in the classroom.

Similarly, Ms.JD.com a non-profit dedicated to helping women in law succeed, has created a blog updated by articles from group they call Writers in Residence, composed of law student and lawyers (the author of this post is included in the group). Similarly,
this model, a blog for persons with a shared academic interest, would be quite easy for a university to pick up.

However, PhD Octopus, Writers in Residence, and other blogs like it are in the minority. Therefore, universities should begin to accept the power of pajama-writing and get in bed with the blogosphere.

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