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Help Students Get Started Building Their Social Network

Darren Sweeney

When I started in the TV news business in 2000, the station I worked for barely had a working website. When I volunteered to get a site up and running, management told me, “Don’t post anything until after the news airs; otherwise no one will want to watch.”

Flash forward 14 years later and management now tells us all, “Think digital first.” Not only has the practice of how we gather and report news changed, but showing prospective employers just how “networked” you are can make you a more valuable player in the competitive news job market.

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SYMPOSIUM INTRO: Whither Old Textbooks? The Merits of Page-musty Smells vs. Tablet Texts

Lisa Carponelli-Lovell

The inevitable call comes from the bookstore. They needed your textbook adoptions for the next semester—yesterday. Often, it can be the decision that makes or breaks your newswriting and reporting class. Stick with the tried-and-true edition of your “old school” textbook or branch out and find something cheaper and more digital-friendly?

There is no shortage of journalism textbooks.

Please also see these related supporting essays:
“Book Club” Class Session in Media Writing Course
Sarah Maben

DIY Textbook
Catherine Strong

Text Review: Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method (Seventh Edition)
Maureen E. Boyle

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Undergraduate Transformations: Reported Observations from Advisers at U.S. Student-run Public Relations Firms

Sarah Maben and Kathleen Whitson

Abstract: Advisers from almost half of the student-run public relations firms in the United States provide insight into transformations that occur for undergraduates working at the firms. Literature on service learning, internships, campaigns courses, problem-based learning and experiential learning are used to build a theoretical background. Fifty-five advisers provided observations about student learning and career development. Common themes are discussed and considerations for future study are included. Adviser insights were mostly positive about student transformations, value of student experiences at firms and how the experiences assist or hinder post-graduation. Student growth was noted by increases in maturation, confidence, responsibility, problem-solving, leadership skills and teamwork. The value of the campus agency experience was reported as added experience and a complement to coursework.

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DIY Textbook

Catherine Strong Finding the right textbook to fit a practical journalism course can be tough, and is even more difficult for those teaching outside the United States. Often the textbooks are written too much for an American student and culture, even those stamped with the words “international edition.” In addition to covering digital and traditional […]

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Book Review: Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism

Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism
By Eric Newton
Knight Foundation & Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, 2013

Journalism is experiencing an era of significant upheaval. Long-established business models that relied too heavily on advertising revenues are breaking down; journalism organizations are cutting resources and employees; and audiences have developed different habits and expectations when searching for information. The digital age has presented journalism with an array of significant challenges, but it also has brought great opportunities, and it is crucial to recognize them.

That is the overarching theme of Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism by Eric Newton.

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Teaching in the Galapagos Islands, Summer Study Abroad

Experiential Learning: The Culture and Environment of the Galapagos, Reporting, Writing, Multimedia Sound Recording and Editing

Joseph B. Treaster

We had just finished lunch at a small restaurant in the Galapagos Islands and were walking down the main street when we saw a sea lion tottering on two flippers on the worn cement apron of an open air fish market.

The sea lion, dark brown and rising less than waist-high to the people gathered at the market, was a regular visitor. Along with a couple of scruffy pelicans, the rather elegant sea lion counted on bloody scraps of cut-up wahoo and snapper for afternoon meals.

Our group from the University of Miami was spending a little more than two weeks in the Galapagos Islands, a territory of Ecuador out in the Pacific Ocean on the equator, 600 miles from the mainland.

Charles Darwin did some of his most important work in developing his theories of evolution in the Galapagos and we were walking around in his footsteps. We climbed a volcano, swam with sea lions and penguins and explored an abandoned penal colony. We followed the migration of giant Galapagos tortoises, got within inches of blue-footed boobies and prehistoric-looking marine iguanas and got to know a lot of people who live and work in the Galapagos.

Our program embodies the concepts of experiential learning and the scholarship of teaching and learning. I and another professor teach students writing, research and critical thinking, the theory and practice of working with sound, Social Media and a range of digital editing skills. We immerse the students in the environment and culture of Latin America. What they see and experience becomes the subject material for multimedia projects designed to be published in the University of Miami’s environmental publication online, TheMiamiPlanet.org.

We take students from majors across the campus and show them how to move away from the ponderous essay style of writing that they have grown up with and begin to produce clear, straightforward material for a mass audience. What we have is an adaptation of journalism to benefit students who are preparing for a wide range of careers and most certainly will be expected to at least write effective memos and letters and be comfortable with the professional uses of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media and digital tools. Some of our students become markedly better writers and add to their inventory of digital skills. Others come away improved, but not great.

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A Happy Ending and Beginning: TJMC Gets a New Editor

Vivian B. Martin

I am in a lighthearted, optimistic mood as I sit down to write this, my last Editor’s Note, and not just because this experiment in open-source academic publishing that we launched in fall 2011 has survived small bumps along the way. Putting the journal into the capable hands of a successor fuels my elation, of course. But I also just returned from a panel of my program’s recent graduates, who discussed their jobs in print, TV and online newsrooms. In addition to giving students advice about working in campus media, being smart about internships, and even paying attention in class, they gave further encouragement. “There are jobs out there,” they assured the students, who have had their doubts.

The message of a future in journalism that is available for those who are willing to prepare was also welcome confirmation for faculty that we are getting students ready for the media world after graduation. As I think other JMC faculty can agree, such assurances are needed every now and then. Sitting at Open Houses where parents aggressively question the value of the degree we are there to promote, or coming across yet another listicle citing journalism as a worthless degree, or reading another screed about how journalism and mass communication educators are doing it wrong, can raise doubts in our own minds. When we are looking at the big picture, we know the students are building skills and mindsets that they will be able to take to many fields beyond journalism or public relations. Sometimes, as we are faced with assessment reports, calls for recruitment and retention plans, budget cutbacks just when we need to upgrade equipment to keep our programs up to date, or trying to launch some new partnership with industry or other venture that helps push us and our students into the future, the pieces to the puzzle don’t come together so smoothly.

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Understanding the Necessity of Free Speech Events

Theodore Petersen

In February 2012, the Florida Tech Crimson, the student newspaper I advise at the Florida Institute of Technology, hosted a free speech day on campus. I quickly learned how badly this campus needed the event.

The newspaper staff and I hoped the event would showcase the “free speech” status of the newspaper at this private science- and engineering-oriented university in Melbourne, FL. At a private university, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to student media the way it would at a public university. Student media groups do not have guaranteed First Amendment rights.

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