Posts Tagged ‘students’

SPJ in the classroom

Earlier this week, I was honored to be invited to speak at a teach-in for high school and college journalism educators on how professional and student media can work together.

It’s fitting that this year’s Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference was held in St. Louis. It’s the home, after all, of the Hazelwood school district at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows prior review of student publications. Across the nation, SPJ has been seeing more (and speaking out against) cases of censorship at student publications.

That’s why it’s even more important than ever for student journalists and their newspaper advisers to know that SPJ is here for them. Beyond issuing statements speaking out against censorship, SPJ offers tons of ideas for student activities, lesson plans and class speakers. Here’s just a sampling of what I shared at the conference:

  • Slice ‘n Dice Program in a Box: Bring together students and pros for networking, resume critiques and grub. Download everything you need, including directions, fliers and a sign-up sheet. Just bring in the pros and order the pizza.
  • SPJ Mentor Matchup: Not a lot of people seem to know about how SPJ pairs young reporters and seasoned veterans to help with real-life and newsroom questions.
  • First Amendment Free Food Festival: One of the most fun SPJ events I ever attended. Students are offered free pizza in exchange for symbolically signing away their First Amendment rights. A “goon squad” bans all talking in line (because there’s no freedom of speech), prevents friends from sitting together (no right to peaceably assemble), sends complainers to an empty complaint table (no right to petition for the redress of grievances), and breaks up student prayer circles (no freedom of religion) and even reporters trying to cover the event (no freedom of the press).
  • eCampus Video Training on Demand: From the basics of video techniques to the ABC’s of requesting documents, this is a go-to place for journalists to grow.
  • Journalist’s Toolbox: An all-encompassing guide for online resources for journalists. Highlights: Twitter for Newsrooms, YouTube Reporters Center and Writing with Statistics.
  • SPJ is also a great resource for finding class speakers (remember, the pros involved in SPJ are still excited about the business and have wide-ranging connections within the industry). Job shadowing and Skyping into classrooms (had fun speaking to my former high school journalism teacher’s class that way) are also options.
  • Probably the most important lesson of all: SPJ’s Code of Ethics could fuel a week or month or semester’s worth of journalism classes — Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable.
  • Speaking of students and pros working together, I am already working with some students on planning the 2012 Spring Region 7 Conference. It will be at Iowa State, probably the last weekend in March. Stay tuned for more details.
  • And I’d be remiss if it I didn’t plug the St. Louis pro chapter’s upcoming Student Bootcamp for college journalists Sept. 17 at Saint Louis University. Students from throughout Region 7 are invited to learn from the pros. Email Tammy Merrett-Murry at to find out more.


Students in Region 7 have winning ways

We had a great Mark of Excellence awards luncheon in Omaha, with a full house of students, advisers, and other regional conference attendees.  Our speaker was Joe Jordan, veteran investigative reporter and now at the helm of

So, without further ado:


—3rd Place ~ Rachel Dannen, Baker University:  —

—2nd Place ~ Reina Murphy, Chris Smith, Kelsey Epperson and Alesha Miller, Baker University: — —

1st Place ~ Adam Falk, University of Missouri:  — —“Play in a Day.” —Judges said: “The task is daunting: Begin with a script in the morning and prepare all day to present a play that night. Telling the story of a “Play in a Day” is no less difficult. But this entry does a wonderful job of capturing the nervousness, excitement, frustration and joy of putting it all together. Outstanding work.”


—1st Place ~ Xin Fen, University of Iowa:  — —“Readying for War.” —Judges said: “This entry is a winner because it offers solid reporting, a good range of sources, and determined efforts to find the source of an email scam targeting students. The package includes simple audio and video presentations to explain the story.”


—3rd Place ~ Len Goldman & Joe Bradley, University of Missouri —Columbia: —

2nd Place ~ Kelsey Epperson, Baker University:  — —

1st Place ~ Evan Bush, Adam Falk & Taryn Wood, University of Missouri:  — —“Pregame Playmakers” —Judges said: “Excellent enterprise coverage that spotlights the hundreds of people who help to put on a show for a major college football game. Excellent use of multimedia to tell these interesting stories.”


—3rd Place ~ Bethany Pint, Iowa State University:  —Iowa State Daily

—2nd Place ~ Staff, University of Kansas:  —University Daily Kansan

—1st Place ~ Daniel Johnson, University of Kansas:   —University Daily Kansan —“Jayhawk fights rock campus” —Judges said: “Comprehensive one-day coverage by one reporter. Included quotes from students, area business owner, university officials. A lot of territory was covered in a short period. Well done.”


—3rd Place ~ Jessica Opoien, Iowa State University:   —Iowa State Daily

—2nd Place ~ Jason Miller, Kansas State University:  —Kansas State Collegian —

1st Place ~ Daniel Johnson, University of Kansas:   —University Daily Kansan —“Overdrafts under review” —Judges said: “Fresh take on a story of interest to wide college audience. Well written and detailed. Covered all aspects and did not leave unanswered questions. Writer did great research for this story. Good use of quotes from various sources.”


—2rd Place ~ Aly Van Dyke, University of Kansas: —University Daily Kansan

—1st Place ~ Danny Valentine, University of Iowa: —The Daily Iowan —“The siren song of alcohol” —Judges said: “This in-depth story gave me chills as I read it. It really showed, demonstrated the seriousness of this problem on the campus of the University of Iowa. Wow!”


—3rd Place ~ Brandon Sayers, University of Kansas:  —University Daily Kansan

—2nd Place ~ Torey Robinson, Iowa State University: Iowa State Daily

—1st Place ~ Kim Norvell, Iowa State University:  —Iowa State Daily —“A fatal mistake” —Judges said: “The writer does an excellent job of bringing out the humanity of Shanda and the victims in the story. The story is emotional, but not overly so. Strong quotes and tight writing move the reader through the story.”


—2nd Place ~ Kyle Peterson, Iowa State University:  —Iowa State Daily —

1st Place ~ Brennan Stebbins, Missouri Southern State: University —The Chart.  —”Editorials on administration”   —Judges said: “Many proven effective opinion-writing techniques such as repetition, direct address, and strong, early calls to action in this series of editorials on the turmoil involving the university president.”


—2nd Place ~ Chance York, Kansas State University:  —Kansas State Collegian

—1st Place ~ Jessica Opoien, Iowa State University:  —Iowa State Daily —“Equality,” “Number” and “Plagiarism.” —Judges said: “Well-reasoned columns with clearly expressed thoughts and opinions.”


—2nd Place ~ Jack Nichol, Truman State University:  —The Index

—1st Place ~ Chris Smith, Baker University:  —The Baker Orange “—Perspectives on sports”  —Judges said: “This writer clearly understands two things about sports column writing: Sports are to be fun and the sports columnist can make them fun for his readers. He does a fantastic job of using humor, especially the acronym in the story about the dodge ball game.”


—1st Place ~ Collin Reischman, St. Louis Community College Meramec:   —The Montage —“Removed from the mat” —Judges said: “Really nicely done.  The writer covered most of the bases and did a good job of letting the reader know just how big the dismissal of the coach in a sport without a huge following really was.”


—3rd Place ~ Kayla Craig, Drake University:  —Drake Magazine —

2nd Place ~ Katy Steinmetz, University of Missouri:  —Vox Magazine —

1st Place ~ Chris Hamby, University of Missouri:  —Vox Magazine —“Keeper of the court” —Judges said: “Compelling story with a solid foundation. The strong writing carries the reader from beginning to end, building upon each new section as we go.”


—3rd Place ~ Julia Smith, Creighton University:  —The Creightonian

—2nd place ~ Rashah McChesney, Iowa State University: —The Iowa State Daily —

1st place ~ Darin Friedrichs, Drake University:  —Drake Magazine —“Morning after survival guide” —Judges said: “This series of photo illustrations did a good job of telling the story, and was well-suited for the targeted audience. A slight touch of humor enhanced them, rather than making light of the situations.”


—2nd place ~ Taylor Reeh, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM

—1st place ~ Becky Thiele, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —“Rain delays harvest” —Judges said: “Nice voice for broadcast work. Sound bites and and written words tell the story quite well.”


—3rd Place ~ J.P. Regan, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —

2nd place ~ Kyle Stokes, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —

1st place ~ Brandon Smith, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —“Low pork prices hurt farmers” —Judges said: “This was a very competitive category with little separating the high-quality work among the top three. This entry has strong, descriptive writing and does  good job explaining a complex topic in simple terms.”


—1st place ~ Lindsey Foat & Emily Coppel, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —“Life after prison” —Judges said: “This is superior work. Well written voice over, excellent use of natural sound — all woven together quite well to tell an interesting, informative story. I’d listen to quality work like this in a heartbeat.”


—2nd place ~ Shane Hoffman, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —

1st place ~ Brandon Spencer, University of Missouri:  —KBIA 91.3 FM —“Tailgaters Ride to Football Games in Style:  In the ZouBus” —Judges said: “Good concept & story”


—1st place ~ Alex Rozier, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Getting to know Alyssa Bustamante” —Judges said: “Very good live shot to set up the story.  Excellent selection of sound bites to show how emotional this case is.  Effective use of photographs to help tell the story. Nice job.”


—3rd place ~ Kenzie Cordt, University of Kansas:  —KUJH-TV

—2nd place ~ Kyle Stokes, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —

1st place ~ Kyle Stokes, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Cupp Chevrolet” —Judges said: “Good editing–good way to take national story and make it local, about real people in your community with good writing/video/sound”


—3rd Place ~ Kenzie Cordt, University of Kansas:  —KUJH-TV

—2nd Place ~ Renee Goodwin, Missouri State University:  —KOZK-TV

—1st place ~ Allan Thompson, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Hunting for hope” —Judges said” “Outstanding story, well conceived with excellent storytelling.  Very well shot and edited.  Great natural sound.”


—3rd place ~ Beth Ford, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —

2nd place ~ Xin Feng, University of Iowa:  —UITV —

1st place ~ Laura Nichols, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Marine vaccination injury”


—2rd place ~ Alex Rozier, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV

—1st place ~ Michael Kelly, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Fan Rumps” —Judges said: “It included several excellent news elements including conflict, impact, timeliness, proximity, prominence, helpfulness and human interest. It made good use of natural sound, featured a creative standup and creative cover footage.”


—1st place ~ Phillip Pulliam, Missouri State University:  —KOZK-TV —“Hotel of Terror” —Judges said: “Nice Halloween feature. Highlights some of what a patron might see without giving away too much.”


—2nd place ~ Alex Rozier, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV

—1st place ~ Mike Brannen, University of Missouri:  —KOMU-TV —“Nasty nine” —Judges said: “Good story… good integration of the Antlers and the Macon County crazies.  Good video.”

BEST ALL-AROUND DAILY NEWSPAPER (published at least four times a week)

—2nd place ~ University Daily Kansan: University of Kansas —

1st place ~ Iowa State Daily:  —Iowa State University —Judges said: “Great synergy between articles, photography and layout. Fine writing style on most stories, one that heightened interest. The story package on the hit-and-run and drunk driving was well executed, topped off with a fine editorial. One of the better college papers that I’ve read.”

BEST ALL-AROUND DAILY NEWSPAPER (published less than four times a week)

—3rd Place ~ The Baker Orange:  —Baker University —

2rd Place ~ The Truman Index:  —Truman State University

—1st place ~ The Creightonian:  —Creighton University Judges said: “All-around excellent newspaper. Clean, inviting design of pages, story packages and photo spreads. Good mix of news and features. Great photography.


—1st place ~ The Montage:  —St. Louis Community College, Meramec/—Carlos Restrepo, Editor-in-Chief —Judges said: “The Montage staff is publishing a well-designed, well-written and interesting newspaper.  Balanced coverage includes breaking news, controversial issues and excellent features.”


1st place ~ KBIA 91.3 FM:  —University of Missouri —”Taylor Reeh with Regional News” —Judges said: “Smooth delivery. Copy was well written, concise, well organized. This entry was as good or better than you’d hear on some commercial stations in mid- or small markets. Nice job.”


—3rd Place ~  —Drake University —

2rd Place ~ —Drake University

—1st place ~   —University of Kansas —Judges said: “An outstanding student publication.  Attractive, easy to navigate, and thorough.  Well done!”


—3rd Place ~ 515 Magazine, Drake University:  —Max Plenke, Editor

—2nd Place ~ Trend Magazine, Iowa State University:  —Staff

—1st Place ~ Drake Magazine, Drake University:  —Tara Richards, Editor —Judges said: “This entry is highly professional in quality of production and design and has a wide variety of features that would appeal to a broad audience. The writing is strong and the photography helps present the stories in a pleasing manner.”

Regional Excellence

Congratulations to students at the following schools! They have placed in the Region 7 Mark of Excellence Awards. We will announce 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each category at a special luncheon during regional conference April 9-10 in Omaha. First place winners are automatically entered into the national Mark of Excellence competition. See you there!

Kansas State University

General Column Writing-4 Year College/UniversityGeneral News Reporting-4 Year College/University

The University of Kansas

Best Affiliated Web Site-4 Year College/University; Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper- 4 Year College/University; Breaking News Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityBreaking News Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityFeature Writing-4 Year College/UniversityGeneral News Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityIn-Depth Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityTelevision Feature-4 Year College/UniversityTelevision General News Reporting-4 Year College-University

The University of Iowa

In-Depth Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityOnline In-Depth Reporting-4 Year College/UniversitySports Writing-4 Year College/UniversityTelevision In-Depth Reporting-4 Year College/University

Iowa State University

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper- 4 Year College/University; Best Student Magazine-4 Year College/UniversityBreaking News Reporting-4 Year College/University; Editorial Writing-4 Year College/UniversityFeature Writing-4 Year College/University;
General Column Writing-4 Year College/UniversityGeneral News Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityPhoto Illustration-4 Year College/University

Creighton University

Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper-4 Year College/University; Photo Illustration-4 Year College/University

Drake University

Best Student Magazine-4 Year College/UniversityBest Affiliated Web Site-4 Year College/University; Best Affiliated Web Site-4 Year College/University; Non-Fiction Magazine Article-4 Year College/UniversityPhoto Illustration-4 Year College/University

Truman State University

Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper-4 Year College/UniversitySports Column Writing-4 Year College/University

Baker University

Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper-4 Year College/UniversityOnline Feature Reporting-4 Year College/UniversityOnline Sports Reporting-4 Year College/UniversitySports Column Writing-4 Year College/University

Missouri State University

Television Feature Photography-4 Year College/UniversityTelevision Feature-4 Year College/University

St. Louis Community College

Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper-2 Year/Community CollegeSports Writing-2 Year/Community College

Missouri Southern State University

Editorial Writing-4 Year College/University

The University of Missouri

Radio Feature-4 Year College/University; Radio In-Depth Reporting-4 year College/University; Radio News Reporting-4 Year College/University; Radio Sports Reporting-4 Year College/University; Online Sports Reporting-4 Year College/University; Sports Writing-4 Year College/University; Non-Fiction Magazine Article-4 Year College/University; Online Feature Reporting-4 Year College/University; Television Breaking News Reporting-4 Year College/University; Television Feature-4 Year College/University; Television General News Reporting-4 Year College-University; Television In-Depth Reporting-4 Year College/University; Television Sports Photography-4 Year College/University; Television Sports Reporting-4 Year College/University

Register for the Region 7 Spring Conference in Omaha

Registration is now open for the Society of Professional Journalists Region 7 Conference, April 9 & 10 in Omaha! It’s easy to register:

Our sessions promise to help professionals reboot their careers in this tough economic climate and period of change in our industry.  Students will hear from recent grads about the job market, learn what to expect when they “get out there,” and recognize their peers’ outstanding work through the Mark of Excellence Awards.

I visited Omaha in November and I can attest that it’s going to be a great city for the gathering with lots to do if you’d like to bring your family along.  (See “The Heartland Beat” with just a sampling of activities

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have, and please tell your colleagues and any students you know about the conference!

Save the Date: Region 7 Spring Conference

I am starting to get excited about the Region 7 Spring Conference!

When: April 9-10, 2010

Where: Omaha, NE at the Doubletree Hotel downtown

Keep in mind, we are in the early stages of getting this together, so our plans are subject to change.  Still, I wanted to give you an idea of how things are shaping up!

We’ll kick things off Friday night with SPJ’s very own “Ethics Hold ‘Em,” a version of the game where everyone wins (ethically speaking)! See this link from a South Florida Pro chapter event for more

Folks in the region, Heather Porter at SPJ headquarters in Indianapolis, and I have come up with the following subjects/topics for our sessions:

Multimedia –  Ron Sylvester of the Wichita Eagle who will showcase some great ideas for taking traditional journalism forms to the next level.

FOI/SunshineCharles Davis and Randy Brown of the The National Freedom of Information Coalition and the FOI Advocate have a great presentation that will open your eyes to open records.

Diversity from the ground up: Hiring and beyond — I am assembling a panel that includes SPJ Diversity Committee Chair Pueng Vongs.  Looking for at least one more panelist!

Federal Shield Law — Working on a great keynote speaker who can enlighten us, whether we have a law by April or not.

First Jobs — Early career journalists talk about the strategies that worked for them when they embarked on their post college job hunt.

Entrepeneurship for Journalists — Carla Kimbrough-Robinson (you may have read her regular Quill column on career development) will share her strategies.

Of course the Mark of Excellence lunch where we honor student journalists from the region will be a highlight on Saturday!  We’ll wrap up the conference Saturday afternoon with a business session.  I hope we can rope in some Nebraska journalists to start a professional chapter!  If you know you are interested in getting in on the ground floor, it’s not too early to let me know.

You’ll notice that we are not building the conference around traditional media “tracks.” No broadcast-only or print-only sessions.  I expect multimedia and media convergence themes to be part of every session in one way or another.  Many of us are already working across two or more platforms.  As Ron Sylvester says, one day soon it’s likely we will ALL be multimedia journalists.

With all of the above in mind, any ideas for a tag line or conference “theme?” I await your ideas!  Watch this space for information about registration, hotel room rates and more.


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