Posts made in January, 2011

Building stronger reporting practices

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As teachers prepare for Scholastic Journalism Week and look for special lessons, articles from the Committee of Concerned Journalists could lead to lessons or teaching activities. Any or all of the concepts mentioned in the articles could lead to stronger reporting and practices.

As too many advisers and journalism programs have learned, it is not enough to show administrators that students have a right to free and responsible expression. Sometimes it requires demonstrating how journalism creates professional practices, meets educational standards and how these principles fit into the overall mission of schools.

Perhaps one or more of these articles might accomplish those goals for you:

• Don’t know much about history – and why that matters
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/don-t-know-much-about-history

• What the campaign is teaching me: The opposite of hate is journalism
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/what-campaign-teaching-me-opposite-hate-journalism

• Yikes! The sky is falling and we’re all going to die!
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/sky-falling-and-were-all-going-die

• The quaintness of fact-checking in the blogosphere
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/i-assume-therefore-i-blog-quaintness-fact-checking-blogosphere

• Do you know your stuff?
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/take-crash-course-real-world-101

• What’s not being said
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/when-basics-arent-good-enough

• Passion for journalism
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/passion-journalism

• Learning from our mistakes
http://www.concernedjournalists.org/learning-our-mistakes

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The problem with teasing the news

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When is using teasers bad news sense?

When they become the news, rather than deliver it.

At least that’s the argument Poynter makes when it reinforces the blog Journalistics regarding last week’s change in Zodiac signs.

It’s a lesson in ethics scholastic journalists could examine as they decide how to use social media to inform audiences of upcoming and current stories.

Writing in the Poynter article, Damon Kiesow noted coverage of the Zodiac “adjustment” swept media across the country. For example,a local Cleveland station pointed out how the signs of the 11 p.m. personalities had changed and how they felt about it.

“Instead of promoting the news, simply deliver it,” Kiesow wrote. “The best audience development strategy is to direct readers to your website or mobile app as quickly and easily as possible. Otherwise, as Wilson points out, viewers will simply bypass you for other sources.”

In Journalistics, author Kim Wilson wrote, “Social media users like to be involved in the news-gathering process, and when they see a hole in your reporting, they’ll fill it. Unfortunately, they will often fill it with someone else’s reporting.”

And, unfortunately for most media outlets, the initial story teases turned out to be misleading and incomplete.

Wilson also said traditional tease writing is not a way for social media – or traditional media – to accurately deliver a story. She links readers to ways she says news outlets can successfully use social media.

The stories and embedded links provide a worthwhile look at how incomplete, inaccurate and viewpoint-ridden social media teases can give audiences a sign something is not what it should be.

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Two articles relevant to importance of journalism

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Two recent articles can add some substance to the importance of journalism.

One, a guest blog in Education Week by Meira Levinson, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a call for schools doing more to promote civil dialogue through teaching more meaningful civics.

Journalism in its varied scholastic forms can – and does – just that.

“There needs to be space in the curriculum for students to be taught explicitly how to listen and respond to ideas with which they disagree,” writes Levinson, “look for common ground in apparently opposing positions, distinguish fact from opinion, evaluate a variety of sources of evidence, present their own opinions in ways that are respectful and promote mutual dialogue, and take effective and appropriate civic action.”

Levinson’s article could be the basis for arguments to continue or enhance journalism education in high schools.

The second article, a brief article from The Poynter Institute, presents an excellent source for guidelines to develop a newsroom checklist for social media before posting information.

Tho Poynter article links to Zombie Journalism, ideas from Mandy Jenkins, blogger and social media producer for TBD, a Washington, DC, local news start-up. At Zombie Journalism, Jenkins offers valuable ideas for checking a reporter’s social media accuracy and accountability.

Some points students should consider when tweeting:

  • Are any Twitter handles included? Do they go to the right accounts?
  • Does this tweet have/need attribution for reported facts?
  • Does this tweet need a hat tip for another Twitter account/news outlet who first alerted you to the info?

Two stories, both focusing on future and importance of journalism, and well worth your sharing with students.

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An essay of journalism’s future worth noting

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For an interesting discussion of and links to the future of journalism, check out this article by Michael Bugeja, director of the Journalism School at Iowa State University.

The issue and links involved all are part of a discussion journalists should have about saving – and growing – journalism programs, including the parts of journalism we ought to protect.

Poynter highlighted this piece by saying, j-school boss: “Journalism used to focus on what citizens needed to know, whether they liked it or not,” focusing on a statement from Bugeja.

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ASNE-Reynolds summer opportunities available

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Journalism teachers and advisers looking for a way to revitalize their media experience or add to their journalism background have a unique opportunity this summer at one of five fully-paid university programs.

The two-week Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, offered through the American Society of News Editors high school journalism initiative, is funded by Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Deadline for applying for the program is March 1. Further information, application materials and links to previous programs are available at hsj.org/reynolds.

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