High school advisers report on preparing today’s students

July 26, 2011
advisers with Dvorak

High school publications advisers served as panelists to discuss their work overseeing student journalists. From left are Greg Mosley, Kathleen Mills, Joel Sanders and BPC member Jack Dvorak. (Photo by Jim Bright)

–by Jim Bright, BPC president

Three area high School journalism teachers say their students are as passionate as ever about working on their schools’ newspapers and yearbooks, and they’re taking away lessons that will serve them in the years to come.

The teachers, Kathleen Mills of Bloomington High School South, Greg Mosley of Brown County High School and Joel Sanders of Edgewood High School, were part of a panel discussion at the Bloomington Press Club meeting July 25. Member Jack Dvorak, IU School of Journalism professor and former head of IU’s High School Journalism Institute, led the discussion.

While most area high schools offer online editions of their school newspapers, students still love to see their stories and their bylines in print.

“Our students love to see the paper with their bylines in their hands,” said Sanders. “They feel a tremendous sense of ownership and pride in the newspaper, and they pick up lessons that apply to life in so many ways.”

The students also are learning skills as journalists.

“I love watching students gain confidence as reporters. They learn to ask tough questions – and to overcome the negative reaction they sometimes get from their sources,” Mills said.

Ison and Bright

The club presented National High School Journalist of the Year and Bloomington High School North graduate Victoria Ison with a mug and certificate. With her is Bloomington Press Club president Jim Bright. (Courtesy photo)

And they also are paying attention to the media’s larger role, advisers said.

“They learn about the media’s role in transferring information and in agenda-setting, and how the news media shape public opinion. They become smarter, more critical consumers of news,” said Mosley.

The club also recognized some young journalists during the meeting, including Victoria Ison, a 2011 Bloomington North graduate and National High School Journalist of the Year; Brooke Lillard, summer editor-in-chief at the Indiana Daily Student; and Kayleen Cohen, editor of IU’s yearbook, the Arbutus.

Weaver explains global journalists’ attitudes, practices

July 1, 2011

IU journalism professor David Weaver explained his research findings on global journalists and how U.S. journalists compare in attitude and practices. (Photo by Gena Asher)

IU School of Journalism professor David Weaver described his research and gave his answer to the question, “The Global Journalist in the 21st Century: Are U.S. journalists really that different?” at the June meeting of the  Bloomington Press Club.

The short answer is “no,” based on Weaver’s findings, but in his survey of more than 30,000 journalists in 31 countries, he and co-author Lars Willnat found plenty of ethical and practical differences.

“There may be no typical global journalist, but there are some signs of increasing agreements with some of their roles,” said Weaver, who has studied the lives of American journalists before, collaborating with several IU faculty over the years to publish four books that report on the journalist’s experience in different decades.

Weaver and Willnat will report the latest findings in the second edition of The Global Journalist in the 21st Century: News People Around the World, to be published this fall.

For the press club presentation, Weaver showed charts to describe the findings, which were gathered over two and a half years from surveys conducted independently in each of the countries. They looked at demographics, such as gender and nationality, as well as attitudes. Survey responses ranged from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

A few findings:

  • Is it acceptable to use personal documents without permission? 40 percent of U.S. journalists agreed, while an average of 23 percent of overall respondents agreed.
  • Is it acceptable to pay for secret info? U.S. journalists ranked far below the average with 32 percent agreed, but 60 percent of Indonesian journalists agreed.
  • Is it acceptable to claim to be someone else to get information? U.S. ranked far below the  average of 32 percent.
  • Is it acceptable to badger sources? The average who agreed was 37 percent, with the top three Korea, Hong Kong and the U.S.
  • Is it acceptable to go undercover as employees? The average was  44 percent agreed, with U.S. slightly above.

weaver and kibblerWeaver said the differences rest on the country’s politics and government, as well as cultural differences in the profession. This is why the authors recruited 80 chapter authors who live, work and teach journalism in those countries, to explain the data for each country.

“We can’t predict how journalists will answer based on the country they are in, though,” said Weaver. For example, Sweden and Demark are similar geographically and demographically, but the journalists surveyed had very different responses.

“You have to know the history, how journalists relate to government,” he said. “We asked chapter authors for explanations about why journalists in their countries replied a certain way.”

As for the U.S., Weaver said journalists are a bit older, more likely to be college graduates, and more committed to journalism as a profession than those of some other countries. They also are more likely to take seriously the watchdog role, more likely to be committed to reporting the news quickly, and less aggressive in paying sources or posing as someone else.

Interns report on nonprofit experiences

May 4, 2011

As they prepare to  leave their volunteer posts, the 2010-11 Bloomington Press Club interns reported on their experiences at the April 25 meeting of the Bloomington Press Club.

The club provides a $1,000 stipend to two students each year who then intern with an area nonprofit. IU journalism students Rachel Saltsgaver and Stephanie Kuschel spoke to members about the challenges and rewards of their programs.

Kuschel worked with Middle Way House, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Her tasks included creating newsletters, which required learning design and layout.

“But the best part was the people I worked with,” she said. “They were so knowledgeable and so passionate about what they do.”

Saltsgaver was an intern for Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a food pantry offering fresh and organic food to those in need. She created an online newsletter, mastering the software just about the time the organization switched to another program, she said. She also handled the social media for the organization, posting event news to Facebook.

“We have two major fundraisers, so I worked on those doing everything from taking photos to other publicity,” she said.

Saltsgaver, too, said she will aways remember the people she met, such as the 11-year-old who each year donates his birthday money to MHC.

“This year, he gave an amazing $600 to the organization,” Saltsgaver said. Software programs may come and go, she said, but “that’s the kind of thing I’ll never forget.”


Panel discusses culture, business climate in China

May 4, 2011
China panel

From left, Christine Davis, Scott Kennedy, Emily Metzgar and Greg Andrews talked to the club about their visit to China. (Photo by Jack Dvorak)

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.

They participated in a conference, “U.S.-China Business Cooperation in the 21st Century: U.S.-China economic and trade relations during the period of the post-global economic crisis,”  led by IU’s Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business and the Center for International Business Education and Research.

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.


Students share tales of ‘down under’

April 3, 2011
Australia trip by Michael Evans

Journalism students visited media outlets while in Australia. Here, Caitlin Peterkin (left) and Chaz Mottinger (right) learn about cameras from a CAAMA broadcaster. (Photo by Michael Evans)

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.


CASA volunteers advocate for children in legal dilemmas

March 6, 2011

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.

Kristin Bishay

Monroe County CASA director Kristin Bishay talked about the group at the last BPC 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.

Check out Monroe County CASA at its website.

Conway describes current TV news climate

February 6, 2011

Journalism professor Mike Conway talked about TV news at the Jan. 24 meeting.

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.

Conway used statistics to show how people consume news.

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.