Legendary newspaper cartoonist dies

Region 7 lost a media legend this week when Amadee Wohlschlaeger died at home in suburban St. Louis. He was 102.

Amadee Wohlschlaeger

Amadee Wohlschlaeger

The name may not be familiar to you, but ask your parents or grandparents, or even great-grandparents. Wohlschlaeger was among the last sports cartoonists from when hand-inked illustrations of athletes appeared in the newspaper more frequently than photos. He drew for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and also The Sporting News when it was called “The Bible of Baseball” and produced in St. Louis. He frequently won national recognition for his work.

In all, he spent more than 70 years with an ink pen in his hand.

A part of his cartooning legacy persists today in the Weatherbird, a small, pithy cartoon accompanying the daily weather forecast on the Post-Dispatch’s front page. The Weatherbird, which first appeared in 1901, is the oldest continuous cartoon in the United States. Wohlschlaeger drew it from 1932 to 1981. Much of that time he drew different birds for each edition of the newspaper, and there were four or five editions a day.

Because he spelled his own name wrong once in an illustration, Wohlschlaeger switched to signing his work “Amadee” and people called him by that name thereafter.

Current Weatherbird artist Dan Martin told the Post-Dispatch, “Anybody who knew him would agree that he was a larger-than-life personality.”

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Five Region 7 honorees are among national MOE recipients

Missouri had three honorees and the states of Iowa and Nebraska had one each to represent Region 7 in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2013 national Mark of Excellence Awards, which were announced Tuesday.

2013 Mark of Excellence AwardsAllison Pohle of the University of Missouri-Columbia was a finalist in the feature-writing category among large schools for her work, “Kirkwood Father Tries to Find Meaning in Daughter’s Death;” the staff of VoxMagazine.com at the Missouri School of Journalism was a finalist in the online feature reporting category for “Matters of Faith;” and Vox Magazine’s iPad app was chosen best digital-only student publication.

Suhaib Tawil of Iowa State University was a finalist in the general news photography category among large schools for “ROTC Training During Spring 2013.”

Jenna Jaynes of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was a finalist in television feature reporting for “Nebraska’s First Male Color Guard Member Lives His Dream.”

The national awards recognize exceptional collegiate journalism in all 12 of SPJ’s regions over the previous calendar year and are chosen from among the top regional winners. This time, instead of first-, second-, and third-place awards, SPJ named winners and finalists for each category.

If judges determined that no entries were excellent by SPJ’s standards, a category was left blank. All judges have at least three years’ worth of professional experience in their respective fields and are not permitted to review entries from their own regions.

School divisions were based on cumulative undergraduate and graduate enrollment, with large schools having a minimum of 10,000 registered students. For some categories, school size was not a factor.

The winners in each category will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 4-6. A full list of MOE Award recipients appears in an SPJ news release.

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Convergence is the word at Region 7 conference

 

Convergence journalists at JCCC

Student backpack journalists at JCCC prepare to cover the day’s events at the Region 7 Spring Conference.

For three years, Johnson County Community College asked to host the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 7 Spring Conference, and when the moment arrived the 20,000-student campus in Overland Park, Kansas, delivered a grand performance.

JCCC is among the leading higher education institutions in the region on convergence journalism. The school placed its print, TV, and radio journalism components under one roof in 2012, and has used the word “convergence” in almost every discussion about media since. Consequently, convergence dominated the day.

Among the highlights, co-organizer Molly Baumgardner, JCCC’s journalism coordinator, started off with a presentation on good taste in journalism, explaining how the Seven Deadly Sins can kill a career before it starts. Sara Smith of The Kansas City Star reinforced the need for the three R’s — research, research, and more research — in writing entertainment reviews. And Maj. Bill Hisle of the Shawnee (Kan.) Police Department revealed the secret to dealing with public information officers.

Johnson County Community College is just a few blocks from the site of the 2011 Region 7 Spring Conference in Overland Park, Kansas.

Johnson County Community College is just a few blocks from the site of the 2011 Region 7 Spring Conference in Overland Park, Kansas. (David Sheets)

Other presenters included Mary Schulte, a photo editor at The Star, and Susan McSpadden, chief photographer for JCCC’s media relations department, explaining how wordsmiths can acquire the wisdom to become visual storytellers; and former Wichita Star reporters Dan Close and Laura Kelly recounting how the BTK serial killings changed their lives and their approach to journalism.

Maria Antonia, communications director for the Kansas City-based Bishop Sullivan Center and before that a veteran TV reporter and anchor in Kansas City, gave the keynote address ahead of the Mark of Excellence Awards banquet, which was catered by JCCC culinary arts students.

JCCC backpack journalists rushed from one event to the next to cover the conference for class projects. Their reports were posted by day’s end on YouTube.

The 2015 Region 7 Spring Conference is tentatively scheduled for Omaha, Nebraska, next spring.

 

 

 

 

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Region 7 early registration ends today

Region 7 ConferenceToday is the last day for early registration to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 7 Spring Conference, scheduled for April 25-26 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.

The student registration rate is $50 through today, while the SPJ member rate is $75 and the non-member rate is $100. After today, the rates go up to $75, $100 and $125, respectively.

Another early bird discount applies to the conference hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton at 10100 College Boulevard in Overland Park. Room rates are $89 until April 10, when they go up to $149. (Mention the Region 7 conference when making reservations.)

SPJ’s regional conferences offer the chance for Society members and prospective members to meet, greet, and share ideas. They close the gaps in distance between chapters, for at least one weekend, and foster a greater sense of community.

The conference starts with a get-together Friday evening at Hayward’s Pit Bar B Que, a Kansas City culinary landmark, at 11051 Antioch Road. Dinner will be covered in the registration fee, but bar drinks are separate.

Saturday’s sessions include advice and instruction on basic photojournalism, basic audio editing, job-searching, ethics, TV news coverage, and tips on dealing with public information officers.

So, register today, and save yourself some money.

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Media merger creates new St. Louis news source

St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis BeaconWith the merger of St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon comes an all-digital nonprofit news-gathering organization expected to do more than draw a new face on both operations.

The merger became official when the University of Missouri Board of Curators endorsed it Friday. Both sides began exploring the possibility with a letter of intent signed in October 2012.

UM owns and operates St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU, 90.7 FM) as well as three other National Public Radio outlets, in Columbia, Kansas City and Rolla. KWMU has been on the air since 1972.

The Beacon, an online newspaper and community engagement site, launched in spring 2008 with the backing of several former reporters and editors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who had left after the newspaper was purchased by Lee Enterprises from Pulitzer Inc., in 2005.

No name was announced, but a distinct brand on the combined effort is expected to appear in some form starting Dec. 10. For now, the online portal will resemble St. Louis Public Radio’s existing site, said Tim Eby, general manager of the station and head of the new operation. Margaret Wolf Frievogel, Beacon editor and co-founder, will oversee the newsroom.

“Many details remain a work in progress,” Frievogel said in a statement on the Beacon’s website. “But our purpose and principles are clear — to provide the solid reporting and thoughtful discussion St. Louisans need to understand the problems and opportunities we face. Our region is reinventing itself. So are we.”

Expect academia to play a prominent role in the reinvention, says Wayne Goode, chairman of the Board of Curators.

“By combining these operations with (the University of Missouri-St. Louis) College of Fine Arts and Communication and (the University of Missouri at Columbia) School of Journalism, we will maximize the research and academic potential of our journalism and communications disciplines,” Goode said in a news release.

The new venture’s staffing amounts to about 60, including 26 journalists. They will all be University of Missouri employees.

By joining the merger, the Beacon escapes a rough patch. Both the Beacon and the radio station relied chiefly on grants and donations, as will the combined operation. But in 2011, one of the Beacon’s principal donors, the Danforth Foundation, shut down after 84 years.

That year, the foundation gave the Beacon about $1.25 million.

Although the merger constituted a long journey, it ends with a short trip of a few yards. The Beacon’s staff and resources relocate to St. Louis Public Radio’s facilities from the building next door, The Nine Network (KETC, Channel 9), where the Beacon has resided nearly six years.

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Jayson Blair’s story is told again in a new documentary

A Fragile TrustWhen reporter Jayson Blair was exposed as a serial plagiarist in 2003, his employer, The New York Times, regarded the admission as “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.”

The resulting crisis in confidence cast a long shadow over not just the Times, but also over all of newspaper journalism and the efficacy of affirmative action hiring.

Blair’s case and its impact re-enter the spotlight this weekend in the documentary “A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jayson Blair at the New York Times,” a featured presentation at the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival on Saturday at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac cinema.

“A Fragile Trust” examines Blair’s case and the course he charted through journalism, which included attacks on his integrity going back to his college days, and the spectacle of his undoing in media nationwide. Woven through the narrative are tales of deception, drug abuse, mental illness, racism, and power struggles at the Times.

The documentary will be shown at 1:30 p.m. Among those interviewed are Blair and St. Louis-native Gerald Boyd, former Times managing editor, who with executive editor Howell Raines resigned in the wake of the Blair revelations. Film director Samantha Grant will answer questions from the audience after the showing.

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Gateway Journalism Review needs your help

Gateway Journalism Review logoMedia criticism is alive and well in the Midwest ― but it needs your help.

The Gateway Journalism Review, published continuously in magazine form since 1970, analyzes media behavior across a 16-state region, from Ohio to Oklahoma, from Arkansas to North Dakota.

It appears four times annually in print, as well as on a regularly updated website.

It is one of just three journalism reviews in the country, apart from the Columbia Journalism Review in New York and the American Journalism Review in the Washington, D.C., area.

And GJR depends on contributions for its content.

“GJR is a publication whose readers tend to be a mix of media professionals, academics, students and the general public,” explained the editor, Bill Babcock. “The style of all items is professional in nature rather than academic/footnoted.”

That means contributions should be:

  • Media-focused on topics involving journalism, new media, advertising, public relations and broadcast, among others.
  • Critically analytical in nature, rather than first-person or opinionated in nature.

Content is contemporary, too. Recent articles posted online involved reporter access, civil drones, and a debate over impartiality in the Edward Snowden case.

But monitoring the media over a 16-state area requires a wide network of writers attuned to media behavior in their regions, and so GJR seeks contributors who can help extend its reach and awareness beyond the St. Louis area, where the publication was founded.

Babcock says anyone interested in writing for GJR is invited to contact him at 618-453-3262, or by email at gatewayjr@siu.edu. The deadline for the next print edition is Dec. 5.

 

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Riverfront Times seeks news blogger

Riverfront Times logoWho says bloggers can’t be journalists?

At the Riverfront Times in St. Louis, a blogger helped keep the 36-year-old weekly newspaper on the public’s mind with his witty and sometimes irreverent Web writing about such topics as Confederate flag T-shirts, email-happy state senators, and the tribulations of a well-endowed bikini wearer at one Missouri water park.

Recently, said blogger, Sam Levin, bolted westward to the Golden State, leaving the 75,000-circulation RFT in desperate need of a reporter/writer at least as witty and prolific (six posts daily, about 30 weekly). No less than the RFT’s editor acknowledges this in his own blog post on the subject.

Chad Garrison, RFT editor

Chad Garrison, RFT editor

“The ideal candidate will be a strong writer whose work doesn’t require advance copy editing and someone with a Mark Zuckerberg-like understanding of social media as both a news gathering and promotional tool,” wrote Chad Garrison.

But above that in the same post, Garrison stressed, “We are looking for a candidate who is first and foremost a reporter ― someone who loves breaking news and picking up the phone to interview the folks involved. (In other words, someone who does more than just aggregate other people’s work.)”

So, if you think Garrison has you pegged, then send him a résumé and samples of your work to his email with the phrase “news blogger” in the subject line. Of course, it would be wise to first look over examples of Levin’s work to see the kind of writing style Garrison wants.

And, yes, a competitive salary, health insurance and 401k are included in the deal.

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Kansas’ student TV, newspaper now under one manager

University of Kansas logoFor the first time since their operations were consolidated, the student-run TV station and newspaper at the University of Kansas will have one manager.

Brett Akagi, a former assistant news director at KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Mo., fills a new role created by the merger of two positions: station general manager and newspaper faculty adviser, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.

The move advances the School of Journalism’s effort to create a single multimedia newsroom. That effort began in 2010, when the station, KUJH, and newspaper, the Daily Kansan, came under one roof.

The Daily Kansan’s previous adviser, Malcolm Gibson, did not have a supervisory role with the station. Gibson retired this spring after teaching at KU for 17 years.

Ann Brill, dean of journalism, told the Journal-World that the consolidation addresses market and budgetary considerations. These days, journalists are expected to be proficient with more than one media platform, as they often report for print and digital at the same time.

Akagi’s title is media director and content strategist, according to his LinkedIn page. Before landing at KSHB, he was senior video producer at the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis and taught print journalists there how to convert their stories to multimedia.

At KU, Akagi must balance control with oversight. KUJH is funded by the university. The Daily Kansan, meanwhile, is able to pay student workers and allows more editorial autonomy in the students’ hands than the station does. So, while Akagi may have the last word at KUJH, he only advises the Daily Kansan staff.

Trevor Graff, editor-in-chief of the Daily Kansan this fall, told the Journal-World he and Akagi already have discussed ways the two operations can work closer together on reporting projects. Although occupying the same building, KUJH and the Daily Kansan have separate work spaces.

 

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Regional conference returns to Kansas in 2014

Johnson County Community College logoThe spring conference returns to Kansas in 2014. But the host is unique for Region 7.

Johnson County Community College, based in Overland Park and the largest institution of higher learning in Kansas, with more than 30,000 students. has been selected the first community college to host the conference for the region, winning a bid process that began at the conclusion of this year’s conference in St. Louis.

JCCC representatives first suggested their institution as a possible venue two years ago when the Kansas City Press Club and the national SPJ headquarters co-organized the 2011 conference, also in Overland Park. This year was the first that JCCC made a formal bid.

Corbin Crable, coordinator of JCCC’s Department of Journalism and Media Communications, said he thought it made sense for his school to host the conference because of the diverse curriculum and the attention paid to multimedia in his department.

The journalism program consists of four faculty and seven adjuncts teaching 17 classes that range from video production to advanced reporting. JCCC also has a variety of media internships in the Kansas City area.

“And now that we have the green light, we’ll immediately move forward and have the conference just as we planned,” Crable said upon hearing of JCCC’s selection.

He said the tentative conference dates are April 25-26, and overnight accommodations would be at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 10100 College Boulevard. A pre-conference get-together would be that Friday at Hayward’s Pit Bar B Que, about a mile west of the hotel.

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