A panel of reporters, IU researchers and educators presented their reflections and findings from a recent trip to China at the April 25 meeting of the Bloomington Press Club. The group met at the Wells House on the IU campus.
Members of the Indiana contingent who traveled to Shanghai in March included IU School of Journalism professor Emily Metzgar; IU’s media relations manager George Vlahakis; Scott Kennedy, director of IU’s Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business; Herald-Times reporter Chris Fyall; Christine Davis of the Leadership Development Institute at the Kelley School of Business; and Greg Andrews of the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The conference was at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, but the group also visited Shanghai and surrounding areas to see Indiana and U.S. businesses at work in China.
Kennedy said the RCCPB hosted the Chinese for a conference in 2009 to promote legal awareness among entrepreneurs, but decided to focus on media this year for the conference in Shanghai. Metzgar and colleague Lars Willnat presented their research about Americans’ perceptions of China during the conference.
For reporters Fyall and Andrews, bringing the China story to their Hoosier newspapers was a challenge. Fyall said he worked to devise stories that would help Herald-Times readers relate to business issues in China.
“It was a challenge to make this an Indiana story, but not a challenge to find stories,” said IBJ’s Andrews. “For example, Indianapolis-based Lilly has 3,000 people in China, more than it has in any other one country outside the U.S.”
Vlahakis brought the story to IU audiences. He maintained a blog to share his impressions and photos with readers, documenting not only the business aspects of the trip but also the cultural.
Exploring the outback, meeting Aboriginal journalists and trying out local dance and cuisine are just a few of the adventures IU journalism students shared with members of the Bloomington Press Club at the March 28 meeting.
Associate professor Michael Evans’ class visited Australia over spring break to learn about culture and media “down under.” He brought eight students with him to talk about their experiences and show photos from the trip.
Evans, who has conducted research on the Inuit people of the arctic, has long been intrigued by Aboriginal peoples, especially those with active media groups. When conducting his own dissertation in the Arctic, other researchers suggested he also examine native culture in the outback of Australia. After several trips to do just that, Evans decided journalism students could benefit from the experience as well.
As they showed slides, students talked about what they saw. Lieran Ehmke talked about watching kangaroos – and later eating kangaroo meat. Chaz Mottinger explained how she and another student received instruction on video cameras while visiting the CAAMA Aboriginal media outlet in Alice Springs. Kourtney Liepelt recounted the camel-riding experience.
The luncheon was a day to celebrate IU journalism students. In addition to the Australia contingent, several other students who helped create a magazine last fall attended. Nancy Comiskey, their instructor, explained that the students collaborated on everything from design to content to editorial decisions create 812 magazine, which explore southern Indiana culture. The spring course students are hard at work on the next issue, she said.
The next meeting of the club is April 25 at the Wells House, Jordan Avenue and 10th Street, and guests will be five area journalists and professors who traveled to China to attend a conference in Shanghai.
A “CASA” is a special kind of volunteer — not a social worker, not a legal representative — but one who can influence the lives of children facing all kinds of dilemmas.
“CASA volunteers donate their time to put themselves in sometimes horrific situations, but each makes a difference, makes a child feel he or she has a voice,” said Court Appointed Special Advocates’ Kristin Bishay, director of the Monroe County group, who talked to Bloomington Press Club Feb. 28 at its regular meeting.
Bishay described CASA’s mission as ensuring that children in the courts system for whatever reasons are adequately represented, that their own wishes and needs are heard. CASAs gather court documents, reports from social services or other professionals, and talk to children who find themselves in court for reasons ranging from abuse to homelessness. CASAs are fact finders, monitors and advocates, Bishay said.
“After collecting all the information, CASA volunteers can explain what the child wants,” said Bishay. “What services are best for the child? What placement is best for the child? Sometimes, the CASA’s recommendation may be different from that of the courts or social services.”
Bishay shared several cases. One four-year-old wouldn’t talk, so the CASA sent the child to be tested by a speech and hearing professional, someone no one had thought to do. The child had severe hearing loss, which impeded her ability to talk.
Other children have been abused or abandoned by a series of relatives, have been in and out of foster care and often are woefully behind in school for these reason, Bishay said.
CASA volunteers undergo 30 hours of training and commit to two years working with the group, as that often is the life span of some cases.
Need continues to increase, Bishay said. CASA of Monroe County started in 1983 with eight volunteers serving 14 children. Today, it has 115 volunteers serving 399 children, but many cases are turned away because the group doesn’t have enough volunteers.
And not only do volunteers act for children, they also save the courts money. Bishay said 100,000 hours of volunteer work saved Monroe County’s court system more than $400,000 in fees that would have been spent on guardians ad litem. The courts provided CASA with $167,000 last year, about 42 percent of CASA’s annual budget. The nonprofit group conducts fundraisers to make up the remaining 58 percent.
School of Journalism associate professor Mike Conway talked about the future of television news at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Bloomington Press Club.
A former television news reporter and producer, Conway researches and teaches broadcast news, and shared some information about today’s news consumer with his audience.
For example, while people are getting more news online, they spend about 70 minutes a day consuming news, 57 minutes of it with traditional sources. And of those traditional sources, TV news accounts for more than half of those minutes.
“But in that category, there are three types of TV news: network, cable and local,” said Conway. “We hear a lot about cable news and while network news has been dropping, it still accounts for many more viewers than cable.”
He used cable personalities’ viewership to demonstrate: Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly draws about 2.9 million viewers each night and CNN’s Anderson Cooper about 1 million. Meanwhile, network’s NBC’s nightly news draws 10.5 million, ABC 9.1 million and CBS about 7 million.
Local news, both morning and evening, remains the most popular among viewers, with about 60 million viewers, especially those in lower education and lower economic demographics. Local news also is the most believable, according to its viewers.
“For local stations, the big concern is with their networks,” said Conway, who worked at several affiliates during his 20 years in broadcast. “Networks aren’t sure they need local affiliates any more. In the old days, networks paid affiliates well, but that’s not the case now.”
Technology and new media conglomerates are affecting local stations, who are worried about retransmission content. Cable and satellite companies don’t need local content to make money, only network access. Conway said Fox already is starting to cut out locals. Other networks are owned by large conglomerates for which news is not a major part of the business.
“A lot of companies in charge of media outlets are good at protecting the profit margins,” Conway said. “Ownership in local television will go through tough times, but will have to figure out a new model.”
Local TV used to make 40 to 50 percent of its revenue from local news. Now, that’s not the case, and often, the first reaction when numbers go down isn’t to innovate but to cut staff – usually in the newsroom.
Conway is author of The Origins of Television News in America: The Visualizers of CBS in the 1940s, which looks at development of the television newscast, specifically the people who experimented with the medium in its earliest years, developing what became the modern-day TV newscast. The book was nominated for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications’ Tankard Award last year.
A Terre Haute native and IU telecommunications alumnus, Conway received his Ph.D. at University of Texas. Conway also told members that as a senior in high school, he recieved a Bloomington Press Club scholarship.
IU School of Journalism professor Jim Kelly and two journalism students talked about a class that took a dozen students to Kenya last summer to learn about reporting the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the Bloomington Press Club meeting Nov. 22 in the State Room East at the Indiana Memorial Union.
Using a photo slideshow, Kelly described the course and the trip, the first of the School of Journalism’s courses to take students to Africa. But to report on health care issues, specifically HIV/AIDS, nowhere is more central to the issue than sub-Saharan Africa, he said, where rates of infection are among the highest in the world.
Kelly devised the course and travel component based on his own experiences leading workshops for journalists in Africa and Asia. For this course, he partnered with IU’s AMPATH project, which works in Eldoret, Kenya, to improve access to health care.
“Before the trip, we had guest speakers in class who talked to us about what to expect, about AMPATH and other topics,” Kelly said. Students also read about the region, the epidemic and current issues before embarking on the three-week trip.
The students did have a secret weapon waiting on them, though: Moi University students.
“In keeping with the AMPATH model, where local organizations pair with medical schools, the students paired with their counterparts at Moi University in Eldoret,” he said.
Working in teams of two, IU students and Moi students developed story ideas and then conducted newsgathering.
“It worked well because the Moi students spoke the language and knew how to get around,” said Lauren Stanley, who with Laura Sargent accompanied Kelly to the talk. “But many days, we’d head out together never sure of how the day would go.”
For most, each pair set off each morning to interview people at agencies or medical facilities, or to travel to villages to interview local people facing the disease or dealing with it in their families. Many of these villages were remote, Sargent said, places where a bus would drop off the two who then faced a long walk to villages.
Returning to IU House in Eldoret, the teams plotted their stories and photo packages. The resulting work was posted on the class blog, which students update while in Kenya, then polished and posted their final projects after their return.
Kelly plans to offer the course with the travel component in summer 2011.
The Sept. 15 fundraiser with author Gay Talese was a big success, raising about $1,000 (early estimate) for the Bloomington Press Club scholarship fund.
Attendees, including press club members, guests and some journalism students, chatted with Talese as they enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres on the stage at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater before the author’s lecture to the public.
Talese was the first speaker of the IU School of Journalism’s Speaker Series. He is author of many magazine and newspaper pieces as well as best-sellers Unto the Sons, Honor Thy Father and Thy Neighbor’s Wife, among others.
Nearly two dozen BPC members absorbed Indiana University history on a July 26 field trip to the Herman B Wells House.
Wells was IU president from 1937 to 1962, and he continued as chancellor until his death in 2000.
He remains a university icon. The university grew exponentially during Wells’ presidency, and his imprints on the university were numerous and long lasting. He recruited nationally-renowned faculty, supervised planning and construction, developed and preserved green space, and led desegregation on campus.
Starting in 1961, the federal-style house on 10th Street, across from IU’s Wells Library, was his home.
Leading the tour was BPC treasurer Sherry Rouse, the curator of campus art for the IU Office of Risk Management.
The two-bedroom house had been built in 1939 by Lloyd and Lillian (Riley) Setser. Lloyd was IU’s first full-time real-estate manager, and Lillian was an antique dealer and former schoolteacher.
The scalloped wood trim, French doors and secluded back yard reflected Wells, Rouse said. So did the art and antique furniture and glassware he acquired from near and far, not just for his house, but for other campus buildings.
After Wells’ death, furnishings were eventually dispersed and/or sold. Among Rouse’s duties, she said, was the long-term challenge to refurbish the house with period pieces, including some of Wells’ own furniture, art and glassware.
BPC members ate lunch above what was once Wells’ swimming pool, now a small banquet room at the rear of the house. Rouse then led members through the first-floor breakfast room, dining room, living room and study, before moving to the second-floor master bedroom, guest room and study.
A good investigative reporter is one of the biggest assets law enforcement agencies can have, Monroe County Sheriff Jim Kennedy told 37 Bloomington Press Club members and guests at the June 28 meeting.
Kennedy said when the media and law enforcement agencies work together, many good things can happen. But he also noted that people in these agencies need to know when the press is a friend and when it could be an enemy.
In his 40 years with various federal, state and local law enforcement entities, Kennedy said he and many others in the business have been to schools and special training sessions to learn how to deal properly with the media, and sometimes the instruction incorrectly labeled the media as an enemy.
“I have friends in the news media and have been blessed by that, and I have some reporters I don’t divulge everything to. The relationship must be based on trust,” Kennedy said.
He mentioned that not following federal and state open records laws on the part of some law enforcement agencies is “reprehensible and illegal” and as a result the relationships among media and the agencies are tenuous.
However, he said, “I’ve never had any real troubles with the media.”
Kennedy said that a large part of his job does not involve law enforcement as such but involves budgetary and personnel matters with county government.
For example, he oversees an annual budget of around $7 million, the largest share of which involves keeping the jail operating with its 60 full-time staff members. The correctional center serves about 850 meals a day to the approximately 250 inmates and staff members who work there, and this must be done within an allowance of $1.19 per meal.
Other departments that Kennedy supervises include the sheriff’s office itself with 32 deputies covering the 130,000 population of Monroe County; the Animal Control operation with its budget of more than $300,000; and the Central Emergency Dispatch Center, shared with the Bloomington Police Department and which is staffed by 10 full-time and one part-time dispatcher provided by the Sheriff’s Department with the remaining 13 employees being paid from city and other budgets.
Kennedy said he would like a larger staff of deputies, as at times only three are on duty in any one shift to serve the 394 square miles of the county. While Bloomington police might answer a call within three minutes for those in the city limits, sometimes it might take a sheriff’s deputy an hour to get to a distant place in the county, especially if the officers are attending to another call.
Also with regard to a tight budget, he said he regrets that his highest paid deputy makes less than the lowest paid IU police officer.
In order to stay within budgets, Kennedy said that while the Correctional Center is very clean, he has had to take some added belt-tightening measures to ensure inmate health and well-being. For example, he did away with a basketball hoop and a volleyball net in the courtyard because medical bills on a blown-out knee would cost the county $10,000.
Inmates are no longer involved in a work-release program, either, because many of them on such programs in the past would be responsible for bringing back to the jail contraband materials such as illegal drugs.
Kennedy said the county spends more than $500,000 in its latest budget for psychological help for prisoners, many of whom do not consider consequences of their behavior before committing crimes, the most common of which is theft. He said the recidivism rate for the inmates is about 67 percent.
He said he would like to see more emphasis on crime prevention to occur when people are much younger, even for elementary school-aged children rather than having to spend so many resources after people have become young adults.
Kennedy was introduced by Press Club President Del Brinkman as “perhaps the most qualified sheriff in the country” because he earned a bachelor’s in business from IU, a law degree from the IU School of Law, and is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy. He is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army and has earned a diploma from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
In addition to his holding the office of sheriff for the past three and a half years, Kennedy has also been a U.S. marshal, chief of the IU Police Department and chief of the Bloomington Police Department.
The next scheduled Press Club meeting is July 26 at the recently renovated Wells House across from IU’s Herman B Wells Library.
Music and arts columnist Peter Jacobi made sure the 35 Bloomington Press Club members at the May 24 luncheon meeting paid attention to his remarks by playing Joseph Haydn’s “Great Surprise” symphony just after he was introduced.
For Jacobi, surprise is one of 13 “wants” he lists as essentials in experiencing music and other artistic endeavors. And while it’s not possible usually to have all 13 wants fulfilled in a concert or performance, the more the better, Jacobi said.
Jacobi is a professor emeritus in IU’s School of Journalism, where he continues to teach one course each semester: magazine reporting in the fall and arts reporting in the spring. He attends hundreds of local performances each year while reviewing for the Herald-Times. He also writes columns for Editors Only magazine and others, and he is a writing and speaking consultant for various professional organizations. Before coming to IU in 1985, he was on the faculty of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and had also been news assignment editor for NBC and ABC affiliates in Chicago.
Because Bloomington audiences are so expert in many ways as well as so diverse, Jacobi said he tries to answer at least three main questions in each review: 1. What was the performance saying? 2. Was the effort worth it? And 3. Was it done well?
To do this, he said he tries to “illuminate, persuade (with verbal artistry), stimulate thinking, and get across the why and how and what has been transformed, — and is much more into description and narrative rather than argumentation in reviews.”
So in any art form, Jacobi said he looks for 13 wants:
Learn: People need to gain intelligence and be teased so that learning turns into pleasure.
Enjoy: Become enraptured and tickled by a performance.
Journey: People need to become travelers, to discover, to explore, to enter into another realm.
Be there: Become a participant with the performers or have a feeling of participation – and leave exhausted.
Meet the artist: To gain a oneness with someone other than the self. “Good art leads me to the artist. It takes me to the head and heart of the composer.”
See things anew: Sharpens viewpoints and perspectives that had not occurred to a person before. Takes one into a special world.
Imagine: To float, to drift between an awakened state and an imaginary state.
Surprised: To encounter the unexpected because it’s energizing to be enterprising … and to get a jolt.
Understand: Puzzles are solved, new meanings are encountered, and questions are answered.
Remember something: Maybe it’s an experience of the past or some other remembrance that is important to one’s life.
Trust: Wants honesty in art forms and not untruths.
Child-like perspective: Lack of inhibitions, blocking out customs, and restoring a youthful shine to language and art. Wants writers and artists to bring out the childhood excitement of new experiences.
Belief, faith, feeling and assurance: Bring stillness in the midst of chaos and wants art to entice, draw in, overwhelm and stimulate.
Following his prepared remarks, Jacobi answered some Press Club members’ questions. Some of his responses:
He doesn’t go to student recitals because there are so many of them, and while most are excellent, in fairness he can’t cover one while not covering many others.
A couple of highlights from his 25 years of reviewing locally include the set and costume designs of music professor C. David Higgins for Puccini’s La Boheme and the Orion Quartet’s playing of some of Beethoven’s latest works.
Quality of music students, especially pianists and violinists, seems to be getting better all the time.
To come to grips with some modern or avant garde music, one should at least try to attend a concert of groups like the New Music Ensemble. “Be adventurous; we can’t like everything.”
While he likes jazz music, he doesn’t review it because he claims he doesn’t know enough about it – and he thinks many of the bands are “over-miked,” and at concerts applause after improvised solos interfere with the listening experience.
He knew violin virtuoso Joshua Bell was a special talent when he heard him for the first time many years ago, and now that Bell is internationally renowned, Jacobi said he’s still developing: “He’s great but not satisfied. He’s more into music now. You can see (violin legend and teacher) Josef Gingold’s influence that music is not just to be played but to be loved.”
School of Journalism professor-in-residence Joe Coleman drew on his years as an international correspondent as he talked about crossing cultures at the April 26 meeting of the Bloomington Press Club.
Coleman, former bureau chief for The Associated Press in Tokyo, said the international correspondent is the cultural translator for his or her readers, illustrating cultural differences and showing their similarities across communities.
“One thing I liked to do was to use stories to communication and explain differences,” said Coleman, who came to IU a year ago to teach courses such as international reporting. Before, he was in Tokyo for several years and has reported from Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
While leading AP’s Tokyo bureau, he directed multimedia coverage of the Asian tsunami, global warming and events in North Korea.
But he told club members stories about how he learned to navigate around Japan, first by learning the language so that he could talk to people. Then, he observed.
“For example, I learned all about the park culture,” he recalled. Mothers don’t simply bring their children to the nearby park to play. Instead, Coleman said, they follow a ritual of acceptance from the other mothers, who have their own pecking order. Though an entertaining story, the park example also shows how other culture’s rituals may seem funny at first, but when one peels away to find the reasons and traditions, one understands more about the people, he said.
“And this makes better reporting, because you can show the differences that sometimes aren’t so different at all,” he said.
Coleman, a current press club member, has a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in English literature from Vassar College.
Also during the meeting, interns Darcy Marlett and Julia Haller recapped their experiences for the last year. Marlett, who interned with the American Red Cross, said she helped the local chapter dive into social media by setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as a Web site and blog.
Haller worked for Girls, Inc., where she updated press kits and other materials, including taking high-quality photos for brochures.