Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ideas for improving college papers

A dozen Western students are in Kansas City this week to attend the National College Media Convention, hosted by Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers. The students all are staff members of the Western Courier newspaper. They’ll return Sunday after soaking up three days of workshops and presentations.

They are Alisha Cowan, editor in chief; Dave Hodge, managing editor; Ed Komenda, news editor; Sarah Zeeck, opinions editor; Ken Woods, sports editor; Brent Busby, Edge editor; Adam Sacasa, photo editor; Zach Wingerter, copy editor; Rob Amaefule, assistant news editor; Karen Tablereau; Cody Boland, assistant Edge editor; and Martyn Davis, assistant photo editor.

They’re accompanied on the trip by Director of Student Publications Rich Moreno, who will attend professional development sessions designed for newspaper advisers, and journalism assistant professor Mark Butzow, who presented a talk Thursday for student reporters and editors on writing stories for news websites.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feb. 1 deadline for paid legislative internship

Students interested in a paid internship working for the Illinois State Legislature should starting collecting their thoughts and material for applying before the program's February 1 deadline.
*Interns receive a stipend of $2,026 per month with health insurance included.
* Interns earn 8 graduate credits in political studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
* Interns work as legislative staff with either the partisan staffs of the Illinois General Assembly or the Legislative Research Unit.

Interning with the Illinois Legislature prepares interns for a variety of career paths. Interns work closely with seasoned professionals in the unique environment of the State legislature.
* Interns provide research and analytical support to committee leaders and members.
* Interns analyze agency budgets and take part in crafting the state budget.
* Interns handle press and newsletters for assigned legislators.
* Interns gain personal access and build relationships with legislators, lobbyist and other state contractors.

Interning with Legislative Research Bureau primarily prepares interns for research career paths, while working with seasoned legal and communication professionals.
* Interns gain legal research skills.
* Interns respond to research requests from state legislators.
* Interns help write official state documents and resources.

Upon completion of the program, interns pursue a number of professional avenues.
* Interns are offered full-time positions on a legislative staff.
* Interns pursue careers in public policy with a state agency or lobbying firm.
* Interns pursue law degrees.
* Interns continue their educational pursuits.

The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program has a 35-year history and is considered one of the top internship programs in the United States.
* Applicants must complete their undergraduate degree by September 1, 2009.
* Applicants with advanced degrees are preferred.
* Applicants with a 3.0 GPA are preferred.
* Applications must be postmarked by February 1, 2009.
* Internships start August 16, 2009 and end June 30, 2010.

Application materials are available online. Check out details here --
or view the Institute's whole home page --

Four from NABJ/WIU visit D.C.

NABJ students tour monuments the day after the jobs fair. From left to right are Dameris Bagwell, Darryl Braxton, Robert Amaefule, and Shante Gill. The students were given train fare for the trip by English & Journalism interim chair Joan Livingston-Webber.


Four students, members of the newly formed Western Illinois University chapter of National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ/WIU), traveled to Washington, D.C., for a jobs fair on Thursday, Oct. 23, and Friday, Oct. 24.

NABJ/WIU President Rob Amaefule, Vice President Dameris Bagwell, and members Darryl Braxton and Shante Gill traveled with advisor Dr. Lisa Barr to the Howard University Communications Fair.

The trip also included a tour of C-SPAN facilities on Friday night and sightseeing of monuments at the Washington Mall.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Heroic journalist profiled in UK's Guardian

He exposed the My Lai massacre, revealed Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia, and has hounded Bush and Cheney over the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

It's no shock that some government officials describe Illinois native and veteran journalist Seymour Hersh as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist."

Check out Rachel Cooke's fine snapshsot of Hersh here --

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Twentysomething journalist' worth checking out

An interesting site for undergrads to visit focuses on discussions about news media today -- especially how it concerns imminent or recent grads.

Check out --

Friday, October 10, 2008

Education should be active, not passive

Here's a short post by a young journalist named Luke on the interesting site "Tomorrow;'s News, Tomorrow's Journalists," part of the web site that features young journalists and journalism students' thoughts:

My ideal journalism job

"Well, at this stage I am trying to be as flexible as possible in my training, and to learn as many different aspects of the job as possible, thus allowing me more options when I graduate, but I think that a number of different roles could be ‘ideal’ for me.

"I’m not sure if such positions exist but my ideal job would contain these aspects:
*Variety. Changing situations to face each day, being trapped in a boring ’same thing every day’ job will actually drive me insane.
*New technology. My heart is more in the new media side of journalism. Blogging, RSS, innovating, mash-ups and breaking new ground really appeal to me.
*Working with people. Meeting people and communicating is the probably best part of my day (especially at the pub :D).
*Images/Video. I’m just a picture and video kind of guy. Not that print doesn’t rock my boat, but I love using multimedia to tell a story. I just think it’s more effective.
*Being part of a team. I like being a go-to guy, to have specific expertise and to utilise it in a team environment. But also, you need to know what the rest of the team is doing as well.
*Lots of money. Hahahaha. Yes, I know. If we’re going to say our ideals we might as well shoot for the moon. But I think we should be paid a good sum, as it can be a very stressful and involved job.

"I’m going to call that short and sweet."

U of I prez tries to reassure campus

The American Civil Liberties Union, a teachers union, and scholar advocacy groups all recently said that the University of Illinois Ethics Office went too far in its interpretation and application of state law prohibiting state employees from political expression and participation.

So this week University of Illinois president B. Joseph White tried to put the flap in perspective, but since he conceded that there remain conflicts between the law and its campus use, it's perhaps not as reassuring as he intended it to be.

Here's a news story posted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education --

Thursday, October 9, 2008

WIU's Oct. 15 Journalism Day Targets Regional High School Students

Some 100 high school students from west central Illinois will participate in the Wednesday, Oct. 15 Journalism Day 2008 hosted by Western Illinois University's English and journalism department.

With the theme "Preparing for Multimedia Storytelling in an Age of War and its Aftermath," the 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Journalism Day offers high school journalists seminars and panels led by Western Illinois award-winning journalism faculty; a screening of "Forgiving Dr. Mengele" with filmmaker and educator Bob Hercules; and a pizza lunch followed by a tour of the Western Courier, the University's student-run newspaper, and the public radio and television stations on campus.

Hercules, the founder and co-owner of the Chicago-based television production company Media Process Group, will discuss the challenges of producing a film about Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, as well as the role documentaries play in today's multimedia journalism delivery environment.

"Western's journalism program offers unique opportunites for students to learn journalism skills and the role media plays in society," said Mohammad Siddiqi, journalism program director. "We also provide students with options to specialize in public relations and advertising."

The morning panels, which run from 9:30-10:05 a.m. in the University Union, include:

• "Evolution of U.S. Administrations' Rules for Modern Press Coverage During War (World War II – Present), by Lisa Barr, journalism assistant professor and Journalism Day coordinator, Algonquin Room.

• "Faces of the Enemy: Media Scapegoating and War," by Mark Butzow, journalism assistant professor, Board Room.

• "Go There: Mobile Journalism from the Scene," by Bill Knight, journalism professor, Capital Room A.

• "Media and the Walking Wounded: Telling a Survivor’s Story," by Hercules, Capital
Room B.

• "War and the Still Image," by Lisa Kernek, journalism assistant professor, Cardinal Oak Room.

• "Big Wars Need Big PR: Selling the 2003 Invasion of Iraq," by Mohammad Siddiqi, journalism professor, Fox Room.

• "From Idea to Advertisement: How Creative Concepts Become Breakthrough Ads," by Terri Simmons, journalism associate professor, Capital Room C.

For more information on Journalism Day, visit

Copy By: Bonnie Barker, WIU University Relations

"Forgiving Dr. Mengele"

A Special Journalism Day Presentation: On Wednesday, October 15th at 7 p.m. award-winning documentary and film producer Bob Hercules will screen and discuss his film, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” in the Heritage Room at the Student Union at 7 p.m. Following the film, there will be a special discussion with Hercules and the subject of the documentary, Eva Kor.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is 'gotcha' journalism, anyway?

The news media sure is taking a beating from one of the presidential campaigns, but it goes with the territory. It's interesting to us because the one having to endure hard questioning by prominent journalists (Sarah Palin) is someone trained in journalism back in the mid-1980s (her first career was as a sports reporter/anchor for an Anchorage TV station).

This week she implied "it would have been unethical" (my quotes) to do that when she was learning the craft of journalism back at the University of Idaho.

One of the Poynter Institute's go-to people on questions of ethics is Kelly McBride, who's first job out of college was in Idaho, by the way. Here is her reaction to Palin's assertion.

This term "gotcha journalism" gained footing when the media started reporting on the private lives (usually, the sexual exploits) of politicians and candidates in -- you guessed it -- the 1980s. (Miami Herald staked out Sen. Gary Hart's house and caught him fooling around after he'd denied having an affair).

I hope I've kept my politics out of this post, instead commenting on (defending or explaining) the climate politicians running for high office must face in recent decades. It's not new, and it's not legitimate to lump all hard questions (from Charlie and Katie) in with less-responsible gossipy stuff on blogs that spread rumors about candidates' private lives.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ad crunch affecting all media

Local TV stations' advertising revenues in the second quarter this year dropped 6.1%, and entwork TV dropped 4.8%, according to a new report about how the economy and related decline in advertisinig buys is affecting media across the board.

''Newspapers have certainly been hit hardest,'' said Mike Simonton, a media analyst with Fitch Ratings. ``Then I'd say next worst is radio, followed by TV stations, Yellow Pages and then even outdoor advertising, which was strong for a long time but now is having problems like everyone else.''

The main damage to newspapers has been the move to the web of classified ads, but the overall market for print is substantial.

"Newspapers are not going to go out of business,'' said Edward Atorino, a media analyst with Benchmark. "Fifty million newspapers are still being sold daily. There's still $45 billion in ad revenue.''

Here's the entire story from the Miami Herald --

Bailout coverage revives relevance of Kovach questions

What passes for thorough and impartial news coverage in the face of bipartisan Washington fear-mongering of the bailout of the financial industry brings to mind a terrific list of 12 questions about the future of journalism, which was written last month by Bill Kovach, former Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, a former editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

He asks, "How can journalists present engaging, verified information that diminishes messages of fear and self-indulgence?"

Here's the whole list from Kovach, a senior counselor to the Project for Excellence in Journalism and a founder of the Committee of Concerned Journalists:

1. Has language been freed of journalism’s unelected gatekeepers only to fall prey to those who proclaim and propagandize, who offer self-serving advertisements or self-referential assertions rather than the kind of independently verified information that emerged from the Age of Enlightenment?
2. Will political advertisements, YouTube videos, and television comedians such as Jon Stewart supplant the printed word as the preferred form of communication about public affairs?
3. When news devolves into a fragmented private dialogue among family and friends in cyberspace, can journalists think of new ways to help people make sense of overabundant, undifferentiated information?
4. Do journalists recognize that distribution is now determined by the portability of technology and by the end user, and that reported material and analysis must now be organized to serve many differing audiences?
5. Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand said that in a democratic society we “have staked everything on the rational dialogue of an informed electorate,” and philosopher Hannah Arendt added that “freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed.” How, then, can journalists use interactive technology to help citizens participate in verification and discussion? Can new tools engage the knowledge and experience of citizens as reporters, analysts, advisers? Can journalists using synthesizing technologies help citizens solve community problems?
6. Will our public education system take on the responsibility of educating students to think critically about their role in self government and about the type of information that role requires?
7. Can journalists use images, sounds, data mining, narratives, and interactivity in ways that connect their most serious work to the public? Can journalists see this as an opportunity to help people unlearn some of what they are being taught by the popular culture?
8. How can public affairs be reported in a way that enables citizens to track its impact on policy or test alternative outcomes? How can journalists present engaging, verified information that diminishes messages of fear and self-indulgence?
9. Will Internet aggregators such as Google develop algorithms that filter out propaganda designed to mold rather than to inform public-policy decisions?
10. What would persuade bloggers and other citizen practitioners to develop a commitment to independent thinking, verification, and ethical standards?
11. Can newspapers find an economic model to replace the loss of advertising to finance the work of editors and reporters who substantiate what is reported?
12. Will the public realize that the news they now acquire for free will rapidly diminish in quality and value if a new way is not found to fund its production by careful practitioners?