Posts Tagged ‘The Diamondback’


Scrutinizing “news”: Students challenge U. of Md. information site

A pitched debate about information is happening on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.

The campus has a number of news sources, including an independent student newspaper, The Diamondback, which won SPJ’s overall Mark of Excellence best in show award this year.

The administration has created its own information source, called Maryland Today. It goes beyond press release portal — it’s presented as more of a news site or digital publication. It is produced by the school’s Office of Strategic Communications.

For several weeks, I’ve seen social media posts from current and past students, especially those who worked on The Diamondback, criticizing Maryland Today as spin and propaganda.

The pushback rose a notch last week with this piece in The Washington Post. Valerie Strauss of the Post handed over column space, mostly for a story and opinion piece by students in Dana Priest’s class. Priest is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner now teaching at College Park.

Priest scrapped a planned assignment and instead had her students scrutinize Maryland Today in her class called “From Censorship to Disinformation: The Global Battle for Political Power.”

The battle over PR vs. news on campuses is nothing new. This situation is different, though, because of the perception of Maryland Today as a journalistic attempt to compete against, or even try to blot out, existing news sources.

Students, in their story and opinion piece in the Post, examined Maryland Today for how it’s presented, whether it looks at all sides of a story, its ethics and its transparency — who is writing these stories? Maryland Today also was called out for not giving recipients the ability to opt out of a mass email.

This public dissection of Maryland Today on campus is fascinating. What was missing in the Post column, though, was a response from the Office of Strategic Communications.

(After the Post column was published, Priest tweeted that the Office of Strategic Communications has agreed to talk to her students, possibly on Monday.)

Curious, I checked on Wednesday with Joel Seligman, the associate vice president for strategic communications, to ask if he wanted to respond to the Post piece, in which students urged him to “study the dangers of state-sponsored disinformation.”

Students wrote: “In a small, local way, by pretending to be journalism and using the university’s millions to compete with the scrappy Diamondback, Maryland Today further weakens the free press.”

On Friday, Seligman wrote me back with responses on several points. I am posting them here in their entirety — maybe this will help further the debate.

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From Joel Seligman:

Maryland Today (today.umd.edu) is part of a full portfolio of communications for stakeholders of the university. Our comms all have the same goal — to make more people aware of the ways Maryland fulfills its mission as a preeminent public research university.

For example, a few of the communications* our team also produces —

— TERP Magazine, Award-winning publication mailed three times a year to faculty, staff, alumni and parents

— Legislative Briefs, emailed monthly to elected officials

— The Shell, emailed monthly to alumni

— umd.edu, the main website for the university

— UMD Right Now, a site for the working news media (https://umdrightnow.umd.edu/ )

 

Specifically to address Maryland Today:

— The primary audience is faculty, staff and students who are on the campus every day

— We have not had any factual errors reported to us — but errors are inevitable at some point and our writers/editors will correct them in a timely and appropriate manner when they happen

— The weekday email of Maryland Today has the highest open rate of any mass emails that we send

— The feedback from recipients is overwhelmingly positive

 

Specifically re: the criticisms:

— We do not agree with the writers of the opinion piece in the Post on the definition of news. “News” is in common usage for sites such as Maryland Today, including on the UMD Merrill College of Journalism site: https://merrill.umd.edu/news/college-news/ . Many universities actually name their products with the word news: see http://news.berkeley.edu/. (Note that we do not use the word “news” on the site, but I believe we could legitimately do so.)

— My view is that the critics in the Post piece are trying to convey that Maryland Today is not “journalism,” a word we have never used. It is not journalism.

— On the matter of identifying Maryland Today as a university communication, the “University of Maryland” universal navigation bar is at the top of the site, as it is with all of our sites. The text “Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays” has always been at the bottom of every page of the site. (We have made the text bigger, recently). The university’s logo and our office address appear on every page of the site as is the standard for all of the web pages we maintain. 

— On the matter of using red in our design which the writers in the Post say is the same color as the Diamondback — red is the color of the university and the dominant color on all of the university’s web pages.

— On the matter of using the same font as the masthead of the Diamondback — it is not the same font. Theirs is uppercase, ours is mixed case. We do use the same alphabet.

— On the matter of unsubscribing — I agree that we want people to be able to unsubscribe and we are working on that feature, timing TBD (it is not a violation of CAN-SPAM Act for the university to email its employees and students without an unsubscribe available…however, unsubscribe is a “best practice” and I wish we had it)

— On the matter of providing some bios of our staff, we are considering how best to do that. I like the idea but want to be fair across the board with the whole team, not just those who are assigned to working on Maryland Today.

 

As a final point, Maryland Today is in its infancy — less than 2 months old. It will evolve and get better thanks to input from all quarters, something we welcome for all of our work.

 

I’m looking forward to meeting with Dana Priest’s journalism class this Monday and will share the info above with them.

 

Thanks for including my thoughts.

 

Joel

 

* This list represents a small percentage of the overall output of our department which includes student recruitment marketing, alumni and donor marketing, digital, targeted email, media relations, social media management, advertising, video production, graphic design, editorial content, photography, producing Homecoming and Maryland Day and counseling the university’s leadership on matters pertaining to communication strategy.

Region 2’s Mark of Excellence winners/finalists

Congratulations to all of the Mark of Excellence winners and finalists from 14 schools in Region 2. Here are the results.

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Region 2 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Elon, North Carolina

4/11/2017

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the best collegiate journalism in Region 2 with 2016 Mark of Excellence Awards winners.

SPJ’s Region 2 comprises Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Honorees received award certificates on April 8 at the Region 2 conference. First-place winners from all 12 SPJ regions will compete at the national level.

National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, California.

MOE Awards entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. Judges were directed to choose entries they felt were among the best in student journalism. If no entry rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. Any category not listed has no winner.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, including both graduate and undergraduate: Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.

The list below details all Region 2 winners. If you have any questions regarding the MOE Awards, contact Abbi Martzall at amartzall@hq.spj.org or 317-920-4791.

This list reflects the spelling and titles submitted in the award entries.

Art / Graphics
Breaking News Photography (Large)
Winner: Fire on the Mountain – by Daniel Stein, The Breeze, James Madison University
Finalist: Israel Fest protest – by Josh Loock, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Richmond Greyhound shooting – by Andrew Crider, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Editorial Cartooning
Winner: Eva Shen, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Gareth Bentall, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Dan Kilbridge, American Word, American University

Feature Photography (Large)
Winner: Borneo’s Vanishing Forests: African Oil Palms – by Kent Wagner, Pulitzer Center’s Untold Stories, American University
Finalist: Trump’s shocking win sparks days of civil unrest in Richmond – by Casey Cole, Julie Tripp, Ali Jones, Erin Edgerton, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Tangier Island – by Diana DiGangi, WKTR.com via Capital News Service, Virginia Commonwealth University

Feature Photography (Small)
Winner: Quintana descending a ladder – by Hali Tauxe, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Matt and Kim in smoke – by AJ Mandell, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Kim Schifino crowdsurfs – by Jack Hartmann, Elon News Network, Elon University

General News Photography (Large)
Winner: SremmLife 2 takes on The National – by Geo Mirador, The Comonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn awards local hero Renita Smith – by Tom Hausman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: School Protest – by Andrew Crider, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

General News Photography (Small)
Winner: Trump has late election-night lead – by Diego Pineda, Elon News Network, Elon University

Photo Illustration (Large)
Winner: Identities of Islam – by Chris Simms and Kara Bucaro, The Towerlight, Towson University
Finalist: A Veiled Life – by Jaclyn Merica, Julienne DeVita, American Word, American University
Finalist: Down but not out – by Chris Simms and Jordan Stephenson, The Towerlight, Towson University

Photo Illustration (Small)
Winner: Phoenix in a Haze – by Stephanie Hays, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Photography (Large)
Winner: Touchdown – by Connor Woisard, The Breeze, James Madison University
Finalist: Goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier after Maryland soccer NCAA tournament loss – by Matt Regan, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Sophomore point guard Jonathan Williams – by Becca Schwartz, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Sports Photography (Small)
Winner: Emmanuel Rivera slams helmet – by Andrew Feather, Elon News Network, Elon University

Magazines
Best Student Magazine
Winner: 22807 – by Bri Ellison, Maddy Williams, James Madison University

Non-Fiction Magazine Article
Winner: Cultivating community isn’t that easy: D.C.’s public gardens and farms dividing communities – by Lindsay Maizland, American Word, American University

Newspapers
Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper
Winner: The Diamondback – University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: The Eagle – American University
Finalist: The Towerlight – Towson University

Breaking News Reporting (Large)
Winner: A murder-suicide stuns College Park – by Michael Brice-Saddler, Andrew Dunn, Natalie Schwartz, Mina Haq, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Months after Brexit, English residents find American political divide ‘appalling’ – by Mina Haq, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Reports of racist attacks in Anderson Hall prompt student outcry – by Katherine Saltzman, The Eagle, American University

Editorial Writing
Winner: The GW Hatchet staff, The George Washington University
Finalist: The Eagle editorial board, American University

Feature Writing (Large)
Winner: In age of Trump, profile of Maryland-born white nationalist grows – by J.F. Meils, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland’s unclaimed dead become body donors – by Eliana Block, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Tiny public school teaches K-8 rural, Amish students – by Vickie Connor, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Feature Writing (Small)
Winner: Victorian charm, a Berlin mainstay – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University
Finalist: Night riders: on patrol with Salisbury Police – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University
Finalist: Years of country fun with Lee Brice – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University

General Column Writing (Large)
Winner: Melissa Holzberg, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: Muktaru Jalloh, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Nickolaus Mack, Sydney Young, Naomi Zeigler, The Eagle, American University

General Column Writing (Small)
Winner: Enough with white men behind podiums; Visual transcripts; Civil discourse – by Jane Seidel, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Christian privilege; Show people they matter; Let’s talk about email signatures – by Cassidy Levy, Elon News Network, Elon University

General News Reporting (Large)
Winner: Complaints filed against unlicensed counseling director – by Ellie Smith, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: White nationalist posters found at the University of Maryland – by Ellie Silverman, Talia Richman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Ex-student sues UMD after expulsion for sexual assault – by Ellie Silverman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park

General News Reporting (Small)
Winner: Strength, energy defined Dennion on, off field – by Alex Simon and Tommy Hamzik, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Charlotte business owners grapple with new overtime pay rules – by Rachel Stone, Washington and Lee University, for The Charlotte Observer

In-Depth Reporting (Large)
Winner: Police use pepper spray on graduation party of mostly black students – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Foundation helps addicts recover as opioid deaths soar – by Sarah King, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Why experts say Virginia’s mental health system fell through the cracks – by Fadel Allassan, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

In-Depth Reporting (Small)
Winner: A shooting on campus – by Tucker Higgins; Kayla Sharpe; Sarah Smith, The Flat Hat, College of William and Mary
Finalist: Mount president’s attempt to improve retention rate included seeking dismissal of 20-25 first-year students – by Rebecca Schisler and Ryan Golden, The Mountain Echo, Mount St. Mary’s University
Finalist: Caught between fear and misunderstanding, Elon community addresses divisiveness after Election Day – by Emmanuel Morgan, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Column Writing
Winner: Callie Caplan, Kyle Stackpole, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Sophia Belletti, Zach Joachim, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Football needs improved results; Football suffers ‘humiliating’ defeat; women’s track & field best – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Writing (Large)
Winner: Two weeks in March: A team and a school unite in a championship – by Nora Princiotti, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: Straight from print: 700 and counting – by Vincent Salandro, The Eagle, American University
Finalist: While not mainstream sport, falconry has dedicated following – by Robbie Greenspan, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Sports Writing (Small)
Winner: How Elon hosted a USA-USSR women’s basketball game during the middle of the Cold War – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Kicking it in San Antonio – by Jordan Spritzer, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: LGBTQIA athletes find match at Elon – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University

Online
Best Affiliated Website
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: www.dbknews.com — The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: BreezeJMU.org – The Breeze, James Madison University

Best Digital-Only Student Publication
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Best Independent Online Student Publication
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: The Rockbridge Report – Washington and Lee University

Best Use of Multimedia
Winner: In poor health – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: 2016 convention coverage – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Anti-Trump protestors shut down highway – by Jesse Adcock, Julie Tripp, and staff, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Online Feature Reporting
Winner: Catholic Church in Ireland caught between tradition and modernity – by Michael Bodley, Meredith Stutz, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: ProtectUMD has 64 demands to aid vulnerable students. These are the stories behind them. – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Evolution of a fandom – by Danielle Ohl, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park

Online In-Depth Reporting
Winner: In poor health – by Capital News Service staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Discharging trouble – by Capital News Service staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Purple Line: a divided rail – by Brittany Britto and Jordan Branch, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Online News Reporting
Winner: Presidential election underscores Maryland’s wealth divide – by Zachary Melvin, Hannah Lang and Ben Harris, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Purple Line: a divided rail – by Brittany Britto and Jordan Branch, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland patients still waiting on medical marijuana – by Katishi Maake, Jake Eisenberg, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Online Sports Reporting
Winner: In football recruiting sweepstakes, Maryland has fallen short – by Ryan Connors and Troy Jefferson, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Nationals’ Bryce Harper is having a historically poor MVP follow-up – by Connor Mount and Charlie Wright, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Lizzie Bellinger: The strength behind the D.C. Current – by Chateau Mangaroo, www.mlultimate.com, George Mason University

Online Opinion and Commentary
Winner: Eleanor Fialk, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Big Brotha columns – by Marc Rivers, TruthBeTold.news, Howard University
Finalist: A-Greener-Merica column – by Jaclyn Merica, American Word, American University

Radio
Best All-Around Radio Newscast
Winner: The Dive, Mr. President – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Nov. 5, 2016, program – by Tenley Garrett, John Thomas, Jessa O’Connor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio Feature
Winner: Botanical Garden saves seeds for future conservation – by Liz Schlemmer, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: What is the Black College Experience? – by Jamai Harris, Howard University News Service

Radio In-Depth Reporting
Winner: In-depth coverage: UNC reacts to discrimination law – by Jessa O’Connor, John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio News Reporting
Winner: UNC study finds contaminated water in Wake County wells – by Jessa O’Connor, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Racial segregation survives death – by Faith Pinho, WMRA, Washington and Lee University
Finalist: Sexual assault while studying abroad common but rarely discussed – by John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio Sports Reporting
Winner: The psychology behind sports fandom – by John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Television
Best All-Around Television Newscast
Winner: Elon Local News, Oct. 31, 2016, broadcast – by Erik Webb, Elizabeth Bilka, Daniel MacLaury, Ashley Bohle, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: ELN Morning, Nov. 10, 2016, broadcast – by Audrey Rosegg Engelman, Daniel MacLaury, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: VCU InSight — by Darnell Myrick, Erika Robinson, Danielle Guichard and Nancy Gabaldon, WCVW-TV PBS, Virginia Commonwealth University

Television Breaking News Reporting
Winner: Spellings walkout – by Paris Alston, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Protests in Charlotte after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott – by Paige Pauroso, Andrew Feather, Kailey Tracey, Audrey Rosegg Engelman, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Prosecuting Baltimore Police misconduct reform – by Michael Stern, Alex Pacinda, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Television Feature Reporting
Winner: Gold star mothers – by Maggie Gottlieb, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland
Finalist: The missing half – by Hannah Burton, Ryan Eskalis, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television General News Reporting
Winner: Safe drones – by Sarah Dean, Maggie Gottlieb, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Dead sea lions – by Jaclyn Lee, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Phone scams target Elon students – by Paige Pauroso, Elon News Network, Elon University

Television In-Depth Reporting
Winner: Coal ash update – by Sharon Nunn, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Faces of the fair – by ViewFinder Fall ’16, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Forgiven – by Ricky Lasser, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television News and Feature Photography
Winner: My last chance – by Ryan Eskalis, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Twin sisters’ garden – by Drew Kurzman, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Television Sports Photography
Winner: Little tennis star – by Lindsey Sparrow, Sports Xtra, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: The Southern Barnyard Runners – by Hannah Burton, Mackenzie Happe, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television Sports Reporting
Winner: ESPN’s most powerful producer – by Jourdan Henry, Howard University
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland minor leagues attendance – by Michael Stern, Craig Weisenfeld, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

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