JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention – Orlando 2015

JEA/NSPA Orlando

Friday – 

Session 1: Using Snapchat in your Newsroom

– started following to see what news organizations are doing on snapchat

– find an expert

– take a picture or video. Adding text

– “final five” – last 5 minutes of each class to promote what’s going on the website. Final 5 videos in newsroom

– incredibly easy – you can write and draw on images. Type or doodle

– Now This News account – good one to follow for headlines of the day. It’s all graphically oriented

– make it fun and use cross promotion of other social media accounts

– #protips

  1. Tell stories. Reach your audience in a relevant way. Have a beginning, middle and end with characters and focus. Give a behind the scenes look at your staff and promote your program. Dip into your archives. Find different content your audience will not see.

When covering sporting events, give context. Give the scores. Stay until the end and give a final score – always! Your story has to end.

Have an introduction.

  1. Create a geofilter. Make one for your school.

Easy to create but hard to get approved

Must be original

No logos or trademarks

No photos or hashtags

  1. Create good content

Tell a story

Make each snap count

90 seconds or less

Don’t follow people back

Avoid mixing horizontal and vertical snaps

Don’t assume audience knows what you are talking about

Cover the entire game

Finish a story before starting the next

Don’t just talk about that school

Be creative

  1. Follow and study
  2. Nowthisnews
  3. Newyorkermag
  4. Thenytimes
  5. Shonduras
  6. Fallontonight
  7. Whitneyupdate
  8. Thelittlehawk


  1. Archive and track

Download every snap story as its done. Do they as a staff

Helps transition to the next person in charge and to critique your work

Create a google spreadsheet

  1. Have some fun

Ex: ugly selfie contest for teachers


Presentation link:


Session 2: Covering the Controversy

Michele Dunaway

Teaches at Freedom of the Press School. No principal prior review


Be a chess master. Don’t think about your next move. Think 30-40 steps ahead and think about what can happen. Thinking through impact yourself is not censorship. It’s good journalism


Go to Editors Emergency Kit on SPLC website


There are two sides minimum to every story; often there are 5, 6, 7 or more sides to a story


Freedom of the press is not a freedom to push your agenda


Hold a meeting at the start to discuss all the steps ahead. It takes a team


Do not assign new staffers to cover controversy at all or without significant help


Get the facts; ignore the rumors


Use Pew Research Center to get information


Defend the First Amendment through example


Have people sign their quotes/notes at the end of the interview


Show you are a journalist – always have your press pass


Be willing to say no. Think things through – what is the impact?


Session 3: 50 Ways To Tell a Story

List posted at

– what is the story? A story is not a topic

– must have candid photos to tell a story

– incorporate student voices

– what questions do your readers need answered?

– not all items and news needs a lengthy amount of coverage

– fact boxes and lists. Ex: 9 things you didn’t know about

– make your lists not look like lists

– fact vs. fiction boxes

– statistics. Go to a large enough sample of statistics. Can’t get a candid photo? Make your type standout

– by the numbers. Package with numbers and stats

– poll. Make it an infographic

– great stories come from great conversations. Don’t interview; have a conversation

– biographies/profiles and autobiographies

– poor quotes come from reporters not engaging in conversations

– transcripts of a conversation. Have them talk with each other about what they know and are passionate about. Let the experts (“stars of your story”) tell the story

– roundtable conversations

– Q&A. Treat the type differently – no need to actually include the Q and A

– talk to people about their stuff

– behind the …. Ex: why did each player choose their numbers?

– Breakdown ex: field hockey equipment  or show me the money. Ex: how much does a musician spent on equipment and instruments?

– best compliment: huh, I didn’t know that

– charts

– ask the experts. Find the experts at your school to tell stories. They are the ones you want to talk to

– list ex: hipster survival guide. Use humor

– Do’s and Don’ts. According to experts, not the newspaper staff members

– don’t practice butt journalism – sitting on your butt in that newspaper room. Go talk to the experts and tell stories

–  Recipes. Doesn’t have to be just food. Can be recipes for success in various areas

– how to’s. Doesn’t have to be text based

– advice ex: how to get through production week of the school play. Make sure to include student voice

– step by step ex: whip/nae nae

– glossary – define words not everybody knows the definition of. Slang or lingo

– stories happen everyday. Be thinking technologically

– calendars – always include quotes and have photos. Paragraph form alone is too boring

– minute by minute ex: minute by minute coverage of a big game or event

– timelines. Sidebar of a feature story

– schedule ex: homecoming week

– checklist ex: quotes about preparing for a trip to convention

– quotes

– comparisons / scales. Quotes about the first day of school

– ratings ex: favorite cold weather drinks. It’s not about you – don’t rank based on your newspaper staff. Talk to your school

– compare and contrast  ex: student addicted to technology vs. student whose parents do not allow them to be on social media

– pros and cons ex: comparing classes

– he said/she said . It’s about getting different perspectives

– who knows best?

– utilize it social media

– tactical tweets. Pay attention to hashtags

– cover hangouts in your town

– graphs. Make sure to use storytelling quotes in your infographic. Make sure to include date when data was collected.

– regular graphs are boring. Use colors and creative fonts in infographics

– if can’t get candid photos (ex: sleeping info graphic), use creative visual designs

– maps ex: different group hangout spots in your school building

– matching ex: matching the facial hair of male teachers with that correct name

– photo diaries ex: grab from photos on students phones. What makes them happy?

– stem completion – finish this though. Works well with people who don’t give great quotes

– word association

– quiz ex: bathroom options based on school location

– this or that. Flow charts

– mod mania ex: breaking down all the items and things in a specific classroom



Session 1: How to be Awesome 3.0

Jonathan Rogers and Matthew Schott




– students amaze me. Let students take control of your newsroom. Until students make it their own, you are never going to be a great newspaper

– create hashtags and posters to inspire

– if adviser is up front leading the start of class, that’s a problem. Editors need to lead the class. The best publications have editors who take control

– if you want people to care about your newspaper, it has to be the editors – not adviser – telling staffers to quit doing homework and college applications in class. That shows that staff member doesn’t care.

– require everyone to tell an ad. 20% of what they sell goes to what they want – bean bag chairs, Keurig, lens, lights, etc.

– be different. Take different approaches to stories, how you sell ads, reward systems, you don’t have to be traditional. Think differently.

– “we’ve always done it that way” is poison

– push readability and make it easy to access and read

– convention is the time to think of ways to do things differently

– is your newspaper really geared towards teenagers? That’s your No. 1 question, not awards

– students know what their friends are doing and where they are going. What your adviser thinks is a good story might not be a good story to teenagers. Take control and reach your readers.

– push your boundaries and go where the story takes you. Be flexible and don’t force it to be what you started with

– be excited about your stories – always have 2 shorter ones and 1 bigger one in the works

– design: treat your page as you treat a story. Draft it. It needs to tell a story and do it differently. Have you talked to the writer of the story? Can’t just be making things look pretty. Make design a process . You won’t get it right the first time.

-“done” is the enemy of good journalism. You are never done; you’re just published.

– emotion and dominant image. Make sure personality comes through. Makes photos big

– make “friends” with people you cover. Establish those relationships. The more you create good relationships, the better to do your job

– find the right way to tell a story. I.E. 50 ways to tell a story. Post this list in your newsroom. Be different and don’t settle for 300 words, 2-3 sources, two line caption, etc.

– digital design, too. Have clicks on your content. SNO web design?

– embed pull quotes, videos, polls

– it’s cool to have a good homepage; more important to have your individual posts because that’s where people go through social media. Most people don’t go to your homepage 1st or at all

– need 5 hyperlinks at least in each post

– JEA Flipboard Magazine. Submit stories to See great online stories. NSPA stories currently listed

– Bring it all together. Get all your elements into one space

– Behance portfolio. A designer must. Behance is also a great place to find great deigns

– social media: most high school publications are lousy at it. Best at social media – ESPN Mike and Mike

– share, shares, share. Have to add Snapchat. Each story should get shared multiple times for staff and each members personal account. People trust your individual account as it has a face to it.

– put your feed on Apple News

– be proud of your work. People want to see it.

– more people are on Facebook than other platforms – don’t give up on it. Analytics prove this. The money is one Facebook as well (moms, dads, other adults)

– connect the digital world to print. Aurasma is a great connection, as well as QR codes. Let readers of your print products hear people sing and the stories that need sound to be complete. Video elements provide a “wow” effect. Use Aurasma and get more and more students (the right people) to download the app

– social media responsibility and branding: learn how to use it as people are watching you (such as college admissions offices)

– newspapers can use cutting edge technology; it doesn’t have to be an old product

– use social media and evaluate yourself

– use tweetdeck and hoot suite to create lists

– be sure to use Snapchat. Make it interactive. Tell stories – beginning, middle, end. Introduce yourself

– run web contests

– if you don’t have really good photos and quotes, you cannot have an awesome publication

– set up photoshoots

– with photos, you have to have photographers that are everywhere. You can’t just sit in that newsroom and take pictures. Practice what you do – take videos and photos. Invest in your equipment

– localize. Schools write about that same stuff – but each is localizing it. Don’t summarize – go ask people at your school. Tell a story your can tell, not that local daily newspaper

– be the authority of what happens at Coppell High School. Don’t ever get beat on CHS stories by local media. Will drive adviser nuts.

– use your phones – phone tripods, phone mics, buy accessories. No shaky videos with poor audio

– create a podcasting studio. It’s underdone in high school journalism . Have news and sports shows

– create student blogs with a focus. Movies, video games, food, health issues, punk music. Let their personalities come out. Great thing when students keep blogging after they graduate. Make it a catch name


Session 2: Deadlines Decoded 

Michael Giusti, Loyola New Orleans



Why do people miss deadline?

– lazy? Aren’t paid? (Paid college newsrooms have same problem), don’t care?

Nope – missed deadlines because system is broken

– key is not money or course credit; its management

– like puppies. Love them and train them

– make a mess; can’t yell at them. Short attention span. You didn’t catch them in the act

– missing a deadline is the same as a puppy accident in the corner



  1. Tend to motivational hygiene
  2. Train everybody properly
  3. Evaluate everyone’s needs
  4. Evaluate their needs
  5. Be predictable and consistent
  6. Involve them in the process
  7. Set a good example, but be reasonable


It’s not about working harder; its about working smarter.

No yelling – that doesn’t motivate


Motivational hygiene – things that help you do your job.

– equipment, policies, bad habits, newsroom environment, poisonous people, outside distractions


Training – focus on the training

– understand and define every step of the process, give tools to do it right, explicit and clear story assignments and deadlines, include TIME and DATE it is due. If you just say Wednesday, you get it late Wednesday night. Don’t delegate – do it as a leader

This is where most people go wrong and lose their staff


Follow through

– make sure you enforce your deadlines. The second they miss their deadline, you CALL (not text) the writer. If they don’t pick up? No VM but call back in 5 minutes. You caught them in the act of missing their deadlines. Make them cringe at missing a deadline. This is most important. Call them!


Focus on needs – why are people working for you? You need to understand this as a leader

– understand their need: need class credit, want to be a journalist, praise, social outlet, experience, etc. don’t assume you know this needs – ask them.


Understand expectations

– show the doing the things for you help them meet their goals. Connect the dots for them. Show them doing this now will lead them to what they want in the future.



– involve staff in the goal setting process. Unless they understand why something is  important, they won’t give you buy in

– make sure your goals are SMART-C: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time sensitive and challenging


Putting it all together

– make sure to call. Don’t ask why they missed deadline. To be frank, you don’t care and you don’t want lies and excuses.

– point out you didn’t get that story and get an ETA

– this should not be the first time you have checked in with staffer. Make sure you have called or texted as the deadline is approaching

– don’t ask “how is that story coming along?” Ask specific questions they have to answer. Communicate and assist along the way

– you must call!


For this to work

– be consistent, won’t work the first week, make it hurt to miss a deadline,

– don’t send group emails complaining about deadlines. Don’t lump in those who did meet deadline. Everything needs to be one on one. Don’t aid and comfort those who missed deadlines by grouping with other offenders

– don’t just enforce the “real” deadlines


Your goal

– reserve praise she they actually hit their deadline and always notice when they don’t hit deadline. Be consistent

– make deadline meaningful. Make sure you will check and read that story right when it comes I

– make sure deadline attainable. Make sure it is useful to you so you can do your job and give feedback. Make sure it lets other staff members (page designers) time to do their job.

– give time to work with your staffer


Golden Rule of Management

– scold in private; praise in public

– all that matters is how your staffers want to be treated but don’t lower your standards



– be honest. Only praise what deserves to be praised.

– give them the level of critique they can handle (based on experience)

– avoid judgmental words. Give real reasons to change

– say “we” and not “you”

– couch your criticism with “I think…”


Leading by example

– your staff will only work as hard as you work

– if you slip up, everyone will notice

– stick with it


But wait?

– document your communication and if they can’t meet deadlines, you let them. System is 80 percent and people are 20 percent. If you do all of your system 80 percent consistently and correctly, it’s on them to do their 20 percent


Enforcing deadlines with friends? Use the system the same way


Lying staff members? Don’t put them position where they can lie. Ask specific questions and make sure they give specific answers.


Always have a backup plan. Don’t give them leverage to think you must have the story regardless of when they turn it in.


Summer MOSAIC 2014 – Journalism I Hot off the Press News Showcase and Awards


9 a.m. session

Coding scrach



10:30 a.m. session


BabysittingPublisher (2)




egg drop2















Summer MOSAIC 2014: Journalism I – Hot off the Press


– Write a detailed story about yourself. Think “Everybody Has A Story.” What makes you unique and special? What stories do you have to tell?

– Have a classmate take a picture of you for your story

– Visit your assigned MOSAIC session and report. Talk to various people and write a detailed story about the experience this week. What is the most exciting thing about the session? What have the kids learned? What dos the  teacher want the session to accomplish? Try to talk to at least 3 different people and get good insight.

– Spend time observing the session so that you can record your observations into your story. Include as many details as possible so that your reader can close their eyes an experience this week at MOSAIC.

– Take several candid, action photos of your assigned session. Tell a story through photos of the class for the week.

– Write a short (paragraph) about the person you interviewed in class on Monday. Tell us about your partner and include their picture.

– Design your own newspaper page(s). You can use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Smore – any page design source you like. Come up with a name for your newspaper and design your page with your story, your MOSAIC session story and the short story about your partner on Monday. Include as many photos as you like with all of your stories so that your page is visually appealing. It’s your paper so be creative and make it look like you want it to look. Add colors and graphics if you like. Have fun with your design.

– On Friday, we’ll share our newspapers with the class and celebrate a great week!

Summer MOSAIC 2014: Journalism I – Hot off the Press

  • June : 4th-6th grade (9-10:30 a.m.), 6th-8th grade (10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • BREAKING NEWS: You are to report to the newsroom this week where you will meet your fellow reporters to tell the top stories of the week and produce the next edition of the CGA Mosaic Times. Reporters will write, take photographs and design the pages of this newspaper.
  • Note: Students are encouraged to bring items such as laptops, cameras, tablets or smartphones if they have access to them. However, it is not required that students have any of these items for the workshop.

Monday: “Everybody Has A Story” – what it means to be a journalist and a story teller. Looks at great examples of Coppell stories by exploring The Sidekick newspaper from Coppell High School. And tell your story.

Tuesday: “Being a backpack journalist” – today’s journalists can write, photography, video, design, they can do it all. Find your story and prepare to report it.

Wednesday: “You’re hired” – Welcome to the CGA Mosaic Times. Prepare to interview and write your story. Don’t forget your photographs.

Thursday: “A Day in D115″ – the newsroom comes alive as we report, write and edit our stories and begin designing our pages. Remember, it’s a race to get it right, not a race to be first.

Friday: “Deadline Day” – the exciting week comes to an end as we put the final touches on the first edition of the CGA Mosaic Times.

Wrap-up and awards!!

The Pyramid of Journalism Competence: what journalists need to know

This is a must read for all student journalists

What does a journalist need to know?

What defines “competence” in journalism?

When you graduate from a journalism school, what should you know how to do?

In the digital age, the answers to those questions are more important than ever. For more than three decades now, they have been near the center of conversation and debate at Poynter. Before we could figure out what to teach, we needed to understand – in the public interest – what journalists needed to learn.

This process was energized in 1997 by a call to action from Tom Rosenstiel, one of the leaders of a group called the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Over the next two years, the committee conducted “21 public forums attended by 3,000 people and involving testimony from more than 300 journalists,” according to the book “The Elements of Journalism” by Rosenstiel and Bill Kovach.

Poynter was asked to conduct one of those forums on a most challenging topic: What does it mean to be a competent journalist? And so we did.

In preparation for this conference on Feb. 26, 1998, the Poynter faculty, under my direction, built an edifice we came to call the Pyramid of Competence. This structure comprised 10 blocks. The cornerstones were news judgmentand reporting. The foundation also included language and analysis. The central stone was technology, between audio-visual knowledge andnumeracy. Closer to the top were civic and cultural literacy. At the apex wasethics.

The pyramid has had an interesting history, inside and outside the institute. Its most serious consideration came from the accrediting council of AEJMC. At a time when the standards for accreditation were under review, leaders such as Trevor Brown, dean at Indiana University, thought the ideas behind the pyramid would lead to a clearer articulation of educational “outcomes,” what students should expect to get out of a journalism education.

Much has changed in the world of journalism since the pyramid was constructed. New media platforms have been invented; business models have collapsed; arguments about who is a journalist abound. Pyramids may be tombs for dead kings, but they have a way of hanging around – for a long time.

What you are about to experience is the most up-to-date version of the Pyramid of Competence. It contains 10 sections, one for each of the competencies. It begins with a description and a definition, followed by a list of imagined courses that could impart that competency, topped off with an example of an essay that could be used to cultivate that area of journalistic knowledge.

You will find in these descriptions language that, we hope, is contemporary, including words such as “curation,” “aggregation,” and “data visualization,” language that was not part of journalism study when the pyramid was first created.

There were some key questions that were not resolved when the pyramid was built — and that remain unresolved. The big question is this: How many of these competencies should reside in any individual journalist? Or is it possible and desirable to imagine that these competencies can reside across a news organization, expressed in the work of specialists? In short, should the writer of the story also know how to develop an algorithm of data analysis and also be able to design a page?

Our tentative answer (perhaps I should restate that as “my” tentative answer) is that versatility is one of the most important virtues in contemporary journalism. That does not mean that the journalist need be an expert in all these areas. But it requires the journalist to be able to converse with colleagues in these areas across disciplines and “without an accent.” Competence is not a synonym for expertise.

We invite you to climb the Pyramid of Competence. Let us know how the world of journalism looks when you reach the top.

* * * * *

News Judgment

This competence resides in every academic discipline but is made manifest in powerful ways in the study and practice of journalism.

On any given day – or minute – the journalist (especially the editor) sorts through the events and concerns of the moment, hoping to determine which of them deserves the special attention of general and particular audiences.

Decisions on what to publish are based on two broad categories, expressed here in the form of questions:

• Is it important?

• Is it interesting?

There are, of course, important things that may not be interesting – a fluctuation in the money supply. Interesting things – celebrity divorces – may not be important. But on many days, the two categories will converge:

• The attacks of 9/11.

• The oil spill in the Gulf.

• The collapse of the economy in 2008.

• The election of the first African-American president.

• The rate of suicide of soldiers returned from war.

All these are terribly interesting and crucially important, relevant at some level to every person on the planet. Such stories deserve a standing at the top of the news ladder.

But these choices are obvious. The importance of news is relative. On some days news is slow so that an alligator attack across the state gets more attention than it may deserve. Then there are big news days when stories elbow each other for prominence. A significant tropical storm that hit Tampa Bay in 2001 got much less attention than usual because it happened the week of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

An editor with rich experience and refined news judgment will be able to see important news that is invisible to others. This is an invaluable civic, democratic, and commercial power. An expert is paying attention.

[News judgment describes the cognitive acts of understanding what matters: what is most important or most interesting. It is exercised in such practices as the generation of story ideas by reporters; by selection and play of stories by news editors; by the curation and aggregation of items on the Internet.]

Courses that would enrich news judgment

• Reporting I & II

• Advanced Reporting

• Editing I & II

• Investigative Reporting

• Computer-Assisted Reporting

• Work on School Publications

• Internships at News Organizations

• Media & Society

• News & Media Literacy

• Understanding Social Networks

An essay to read that would enhance news judgment

“From Politics to Human Interest,” by Helen MacGill Hughes

Reporting and Evidence

If news judgment sits as one cornerstone of the pyramid of competence, reporting serves as the other. In an academic context, reporting represents the gathering, verification, and distribution of evidence.

• Why is the price of gasoline so high?

• Where is the balance between personal privacy and national security?

• What were the root causes for the attacks on America on 9/11?

• Is Apple exploiting Chinese workers?

The answers to these questions cannot be simply asserted. Reporters and other news researchers must go out, gather evidence from reliable sources, check it out, and present it in the public interest.

Journalists of various types learn different methods of hunting and gathering information: documents (such as court records), minutes or notes taken at meetings, chronologies, interviews, public records, direct observation, participant observation, immersion reporting, data analysis, participation in social networks – these are just some of the methods journalists use to gain a meaningful picture of the world.

Science, law, economics, ethnography – each discipline offers a distinctive perspective on what constitutes good evidence. The big word for this in philosophy is “epistemology,” the philosophy of knowing. In journalism the questions might go simply, “How do reporters know?”

Academic study takes this to another level, “How do they KNOW what they know?”

[Reporting and Evidence represent the process and products of research.

The traditional methods of reporting all involve finding things out and checking them out, what Kovach and Rosenstiel describe as a discipline of verification, not assertion. Evidence involves tests of reliability, often based on knowledge of the sources. Reporters gather evidence, which is then tested against the standards of editors. Investigations, often to expose wrongdoing, require different standards of evidence than traditional reporting. Forms of evidence are gathered by photographers and documentary videographers, and, most recently, by computer-assisted and data-management efforts. Since standards of evidence differ in various disciplines, knowledge of a field outside of journalism – law, economics, biology – enrich all acts of reporting.]

Courses that would enrich reporting and evidence

• Reporting I & II

• Public Service Reporting

• Fact-Checking and Verification

• Computer-Assisted Reporting

• Scientific Method

• Ethnography

• Rules of Evidence

• Philosophy of Knowledge

• Quantitative Methods

An essay to read that would enhance reporting and evidence

“Getting the Story in Vietnam,” by David Halberstam

Language and Storytelling

The pyramid of journalism competence is built upon a foundation. One of its blocks is the effective use of language to express reports, stories, and other appropriate forms of communication.

Canadian scholar Stuart Adam argues that, at heart, journalists are a type of author, the work existing on a spectrum that extends from the civic to the literary. Competent journalists exhibit versatility in this area, demonstrating the capacity to write in different genres and for different media – long or short, fast or slow – for a variety of audiences and platforms.

A key distinction is between reports and stories. At the heart of journalism remains the neutral, unbiased report, still grounded in the traditional questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Using what semanticist S.I. Hayakawa termed “unloaded” language, the reporter sorts through the evidence to provide audiences with good information in the public interest.

The yang to the yin of the report is the story. The product of story is not information, but experience, and the effect is not just actionable knowledge, but empathy. This is created by the transformation of elements of reporting into narrative, so that who becomes character, what becomes scenic action, when becomes chronology, where becomes setting, why (always the most difficult) becomes motive, and how becomes how it happened.

There are forms of reportage and narrative that are expressed via other media and methods (we’ll get to these). But the written word on the page is the basis for all others.

[Language and Storytelling come to the journalist through normal intellectual development, but are enhanced by the practice of authorship, the study of language (including a foreign language), experimentation with a variety of narrative strategies in multiple genres across media platforms.]

Courses that would enrich language and storytelling

• Elements of Language

• Latin

• Composition I & II

• Surveys of English and American Literature

• Poetry

• Advanced Reporting

• Nonfiction Narrative

• Theories of Narrative

• Foreign Language

An essay to read that would enhance language and storytelling

“Politics and the English Language,” by George Orwell

Analysis and Interpretation

To quote the 1947 Hutchins Commission report, “It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact.” Context, meaning, trends, relationships, tensions all must appear on the radar screen of the discerning journalist. Some scoops are conceptual.

“Critical thinking” has become too vague a concept to describe this capacity. This form of literacy falls somewhere between analysis and interpretation and is often conveyed in arguments, commentary, opinion, and investigative reporting.

• How does a sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University resemble the one inside the Catholic Church?

• In what sense has global economics given us a “flat” world?

• Can the events of 9/11/2001 really be traced back to political and religious forces in Egypt, dating back to 1948?

The ability to see such questions, to analyze them and derive meaning from them, comes from the exercise of cognitive muscles toned in the gymnasia of traditional academic disciplines, from studies as diverse as evolutionary biology to anthropology to calculus to world literature.

Formal journalism study that is too narrow (with too many courses specifically about journalism) may result in short-term gains at the expense of long-term progress in a career. The aspiring journalist needs the enrichment of the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences; it is from those deep wells that the competent journalist can draw.

[Analysis and Interpretation describe the ability of the journalist to make sense of the often jumbled and chaotic movements of the day. In a deadline story or in a book, the journalist gains audience and credibility when he or she can discern trends, patterns, a higher or deeper level of meaning. This has no agreed-up name, but comes under phrases such as “sense-making,” “gaining altitude,” “conceptual scoops,” and “collateral journalism.”]

Courses that would enrich analysis and interpretation

• Myth and Literature

• History of Science

• Abnormal Psychology

• Quantum Physics

• Principles of Economy

• Art Appreciation

• Technology and Society

An essay to read that would enhance analysis and interpretation

“The Dark Continent of American Journalism,” by James W. Carey


Innumeracy can be as bad as illiteracy in a profession – especially one such as journalism that describes its members as watchdogs in the public interest. Corruption of power – by banks or governments – often involves the abuse of numbers. The ability to work with numbers – especially for those with a natural word orientation – enriches reporting capacity exponentially.

[If you do not know the meaning of the metaphor “exponential,” you may have some work to do.]

Let’s take the case of the young reporter who asks a state commissioner of education why the budget for pre-school education was cut last year. “Check your facts, please,” says the commissioner. “Our budget increased by one percent,” and that’s what the reporter put in a draft of the story. Until a more numerate editor asked “What was the inflation rate last year?” Turned out, it was 3 percent. So that in real dollars, the value of money to be spent on education did, indeed, decline.

More and more, the numbers tell the story. The analysis and presentation of numbers – described in the jargon “big data” – adds in the reporting of such diverse topics as to whether state lottery revenues actually contribute to education, to the probable winners in an electoral cycle, to whether or not a certain economic policy is discriminatory, to the workings of a successful fantasy football league.

A lack of numeracy has been described as the “dark hole” of journalism competence. It need not be that way. In fact, the analysis of numbers often reveals a secret part of the world that can be explored by reporters and storytellers. Reporter Mara Hvistendahl knew that in normal circumstances 105 boy babies are born for every 100 girl babies. Her research discovered that the Chinese port city of Lianyungang has a gender ratio for children under five of 163 boys for every 100 girls. Armed with such numbers she set off for Asia to report their human consequences.

[Numeracy is most often the ability to use computation skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) to understand the world. For some stories, higher skills are necessary, including the ability to report for numbers, understand probability and statistics, and work with basic economic concepts – such as adjusting for inflation. Journalists also make routine decisions about what information to include in print stories, and which ones to illustrate graphically.]

Courses that would enrich numeracy

• Probability and Statistics

• College Level Algebra (and more advanced courses in mathematics)

• Math for Journalists

• Econometrics

• Quantitative Social Science Methodology

• Investigative Reporting

An essay to read that would enhance numeracy

“The Scientific Way,” by Victor Cohn


It may be obvious to state the importance of technological literacy in the digital age, but consider the complexity of this: that many students raised with the Internet may be, in important ways, more technologically literate than their professors. Universities must grapple with who has the capacity to teach students about technology in the interests of journalism and democracy.

The key for journalism competence is to understand technology in two ways:

1. How technology undergirds changing forms of journalism – the way that the telegraph liberated news from geography and transportation.

2. How technology acts as a force that changes society – for better and worse – thus demanding coverage in the news itself.

The competent journalist must be prepared to work successfully in a variety of media platforms, from print to video to digital to mobile – including forms that have not yet been invented. Just as “computer assisted reporting” once enriched investigative work, there is now new potential in forms of computer programming, data analysis and display.

Technological innovations can be disruptive, placing demands on the competent journalist to manage change, and often to embrace it, but it does not require achieving escape velocity from enduring values and traditions.

What is called for here is neither technophilia nor phobia, but a techno-realism that recognizes the gains and compensates for the losses brought by new technologies.

[Technology literacy includes abilities in word processing, search and research functions, social networking, blogging, programming, mobile applications, data analysis and display, aggregation and curation.]

Courses that would enrich technological competency

• History of Technology

• Technology, Community, Culture

• Computer Science

• Introduction to Programming

• Computer-Assisted Reporting

• Introduction to Blogging

• Data Analysis and Display

An essay to read that would enhance technological literacy

“Into the Electronic Millennium,” by Sven Birkerts


Long before the invention of the written word, humans created forms of storytelling that took care of their informational and aspirational needs. Drawings on cave walls in France tell stories of the hunt and of the gods. Oral poetry – often recited to music – defined cultures and described heroes and enemies.

The audio and visual have evolved as crucial modes of journalism expression, a movement magnified by the Internet.

While there remains a place for journalism specialization, versatility is a virtue of the day. The backpack journalist collects photos, videos, sound, and writes texts. The cell phone is a tool that allows the collection of all these elements in the palm of the hand.

But one key feature of favorite technologies is their design. The world’s great designers have turned their attention from newspapers and magazines to websites and blogs to mobile technologies such as the iPhone and iPad. Audio and visual elements enrich everything from news navigation to data display to storytelling in multi-media and multiple media forms.

Radio remains a powerful medium for journalism worldwide, and famous networks such as the BBC and NPR now use text and visual elements on their websites.

This is one literacy in which collaboration is crucial and the best work undertaken comes from the marriage of writing, editing, and design.

[Audio-Visual literacy is expressed through photography and video, design and illustration, the use of color, creation of slide shows and other multi-media productions, the use of natural sound, and the use of music, when appropriate.]

Courses that would enrich audio-visual literacy

• History of Western Art

• 20th Century Art (Modern & Post-Modern)

• Theories of Color

• History of Photography

• Art and Craft of Photo Composition

• Multi-Media Reporting and Editing

• Music Appreciation

• Selected Masters of Classical Music

• Jazz

• Musical Performance (any instrument, including voice)

An essay to read that would enhance audio-visual literacy

“In Plato’s Cave,” by Susan Sontag

Civic literacy

The teaching of civics in American public or private schools has never been known as ideal – even in decades past. Civic literacy requires basic knowledge of such things as the separation of powers, the three branches of government, and how a bill becomes a law. It is enriched by a knowledge of American history and familiarity with the foundational documents of democracy, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, famous Supreme Court Decisions, the Emancipation Proclamation, etc.

Much of what journalists will learn about civics will come from the experience of covering beats such as city hall, the school board, and criminal courts. All this is necessary but insufficient to the achievement of civic literacy. In addition to official sources of power and influence, there are countless informal ones: the barber shop, the nail salon, the diner, the soccer field, the church choir – sources of social capital where the pulse of practical democracy can be taken.

[Civic Literacy requires knowledge of government, politics, social capital, social contracts, power, history, public life, civic culture, how audiences can be measured for public opinion, how media influence the constituent groups in society.]

Courses that would enrich civic literacy

• Introduction to U.S. Government

• Comparative Government and Politics

• American History

• World History

• Introduction to Democratic Theory

• Lippman, Dewey, and the American Social Contract

• Origins and Structures of Social Capital

• Introduction to Constitutional Law

An essay to read to enhance civic literacy

“Bowling Alone,” by Robert Putnam

Cultural Literacy

Professor James Carey would often argue that news and other forms of journalism were expressions of culture, increasing their value as objects of scholarly study and practical investigation. One of the purposes of journalism is to reflect the constituent elements within a society so that they can see each other and converse across differences.

It is not unusual for certain expressions of journalism to emanate from a particular cultural point of view. In America, in spite of changing demographics, that mainstream perspective often reflects the interests and beliefs of the white governing class, residing in centers of power such as New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

Recognizing the potential for self-interest and bias, journalists seek a cultural competence that allows them to operate with people and in places that are unfamiliar. To use the academic jargon of the day, they must learn to see The Other.

Often this is most easily understood and accounted for when journalists serve as foreign correspondents. When they travel to Asia, the Middle East, or South America, they may prepare themselves by studying the language and culture of the new setting. But the same learning across difference must occur when an American reporter travels to another part of the country.

In many towns, differences must be learned when traveling from one end of a street to the other.

[Cultural Literacy requires knowledge of and sensitivity to cultural differences, whether they are expressed by race, social class, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Key issues related to cultural literacy include assimilation and diversity, multi-culturalism, international understanding, and foreign languages.]

Courses that would enrich cultural literacy

• Introduction to Anthropology

• Gender Studies

• Class and Power in American Society

• From Slavery to Freedom

• Race and Culture in America

• Foreign Language

• Comparative Culture and Literature

An essay to read to enhance cultural literacy

“Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” by W.E.B. DuBois

Mission and Purpose

From the cornerstones of news judgment and reporting, up from the foundational blocks, through technology, and beyond civic and cultural literacy, the pyramid of competence reaches a pinnacle with an understanding of mission and purpose.

Journalism is a profession that often resides within a business, an enterprise that creates wealth that can be used to commit better journalism. While there has always been – and always will be – a tension between professional and commercial interests, all involved in the enterprise must achieve a clear vision of mission and purpose.

The exercise of craft without purpose can become irrelevant or even dangerous. When journalists operate in the public interest, they often commit their best work. A sense of purpose grows out of the practice of journalism, but also out of academic study, which includes familiarity with the canons of ethics, law, journalism history, standards and practices, and the study of principles of democracy, theories of liberty and justice, conversations about the social contract.

[Mission and Purpose derive from both practice and study. Sources of knowledge include media ethics and law, the First Amendment, the history of journalism (with special attention to its noble and heroic characters), principles of democracy, and a working knowledge of the role journalism plays in communities and municipalities.]

Courses that would enrich a sense of mission and purpose

• Studies in the First Amendment

• History of Journalism

• Media and Journalism Ethics

• Applied Ethics

• Principles of Democracy

• Theories of Justice

• Advanced Literary Studies

• Theories of the Press

• Civic Journalism

• Journalism and Society

An essay to read to enhance a sense of mission and purpose

“A Free and Responsible Press,” report of the 1947 Hutchins Commission

Correction: A previous version of this post contained a typo in a reference to 9/11/2001.


2014 JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention – San Diego


SD1Thursday, April 10

Keynote – Laura Castaneda

“The Devil’s Breath” documentary about the story not told in mainstream media about the lives lost of undocumented citizens in wild fires

A story that was very hard to tell but needed to be told

“When you become a journalist, you are going to speak out for the people who have no voice”

You get to go to places and meet people that the general public can only dream about.

(Internships) Don’t be on Twitter or Facebook. Put the phone in your bag and come in early and learn to ask questions .

Interns are a dime a dozen. Make a difference. Not everybody that leaves is invited to come back.

Get involved. Join various association chapters.

Rub elbows with people who have the jobs you want.

You are only as good as you last story. Always be digging and looking for the next one.

Teachers can teach you the skills. Teachers cannot make you passionate about journalism.

Don’t expect suits and ties to become your sources. Don’t expect them to give you the information you have to dig for.

Community activists open the door for you. Don’t forget about the taxi drivers and the janitors to give you the information you are looking for.

If you can’t get in the front door, you have to go through the side or the back. And you can’t be afraid to go through the side or the back.

(when speaking another language) Stop being afraid of making mistakes.

What can I put in my demo reel that is completely different from anybody else?

Always ask, “Am I causing harm to somebody and is it worth it?” That ethics thing will nag you the rest of your life.

Find a way to get the people on your staff to get off their butts and go talk to people.

People have a zillions stories.

Social media: Beware of the “red cup syndrome”

Advice: Brush up on your language skills. Get your passport ready and don’t be afraid to travel. Get in touch with bureaus in other countries.


Friday, April 11

9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Bobby Hawthorne “No Excuses” and “Let Me Tell You A Story”

Tell the real story

Don’t tell me what I already know. Don’t tell the story about the guy who is afraid of spiders. Tell the story of the guy who likes spiders.

Don’t give me a list of the best movies. Don’t publish lists!

Pie charts are not news. If you can’t tell what 25 percent is, you probably aren’t reading the news.

Hate “imagine” ledes or “John Lennon” ledes

Fewer words, more content. Every sentence, take out 20 percent of the words and add 20 percent of content.

No excuses: You have a choice

Remember, hard work trumps talent.

  1. Success isn’t about talent
  2. It’s about curiosity
  3. It’s about motivation
  4. It’s about persistence
  5. It’s about courage

Why? How? What it? Ask this for every story.

Ask the questions no one else is asking. Example: When interviewing somebody who is very successful, ask if they’ve ever failed at anything.

Ask for a story. Ask “What happened?” or “Really?”

You have to have a big eye and want people to read your copy.

You can’t do this job from the seat of your pants in the journalism room.

No good story came from a kid sitting behind a computer.

Get out and find the right person.

Find the defining moment. What was that moment when it all changed?

Never put “exciting” or “fun” in your publication. These words have no meaning.

If I can find it anywhere else, I’m not going to read your publication.

Schools are full of great stories.

1 p.m. Keynote – Larry Himmel – CBS San Diego

Assignment editor – assign the day’s news. Go and find good stories and you won’t get assigned ribbon cuttings at McDonald’s.

Being involved in journalism is an easy job to do because it’s always challenging. It’s always fun.

Lighter side of news is not what Justin Bieber did today but the stories people need to know.

Tell [your audience] what you see. Tell them what you feel. Tell them what others feel. You are their eyes and ears.

Greatest lesson: Don’t prejudge a story. Go into it open-minded.

You are going to get no for an answer but don’t take no for an answer.

Show empathy and ask, “Please let me help you tell your story.”

Saturday, April 12

9 a.m. Erik Anderson of KPBS San Diego “Learn or Burn”

Most important thing you can do now is being good at communicating. That skill carries with you.

10 second cell phone story (radio) – pretend your cell phone is dying and you have 10 seconds to tell the whole story. Twitter is kind of the same way.

10 a.m. Jim McGonnell “Designs That Rock”

Great for design but be careful not to overdo it. Subtle is best.

Use short stories. Only have long stories that are great and with great quotes. Use short, quick stuff.

STDs – Storytelling Devices. Give the information quick so the readers can move on.

Q&A’s are now very hot as long as you have good questions. Profiles, How To’s, advice, key players lists, by the numbers, quizzes, etc.

It’s how you present it to make it look good and not just text.

Google storytelling devices or check Newseum

Center of visual impact (or Dominant)


Be consistent with great pages all the way through your paper.

Don’t break into “blocks” (columns) with content that is unrelated.

Always have a headline over the story (not just attention getter)

Order of design (top to bottom of page)

–       Picture

–       Caption

–       Headline

–       Story

Utilize drop caps and alternative copy.

Justified text does no good for your newspaper. Flushed left text is good.

Armpit headlines. Don’t start headlines over the picture. Headline always needs to be over the story.

Don’t use lines just to split the page.

Notice the placement of all visuals with different stories and how they come together.

A little extra space on the sides to draw attention to your dominant design elements is OK.

Two minutes: Quick info and where to go in the paper.

No big black line splits!

Use good judgment. Example: Spongebob on cover of 9/11 anniversary page.

Not a great fan of photo spreads unless it’s a really big event.

Headers for each section

Tucking text for headlines (Main headline over second headline).

11 a.m. Scott Miller, MLB writer for Bleacher Report “Going Beyond The Game”

When you are trying to tell a story, watch. That’s when you pick up a lot.

Usually, the writer can write it better than the athlete can say it. Not saying you don’t need quotes but generally speaking it’s true.

Quotes are too often sports clichés.

“We didn’t get any respect all year” is useless.

As a journalist, find the interesting items those watching the game didn’t see or didn’t know.

Unique angles are hugely important today there is so much out there.

Read often and read different topics, not just sports. Model writers you like to find your voice. Read as much as you can to become a better writer.

You can’t do this sitting at home. Build your credibility by being out doing things. You find out interesting things by being there and talking to people and seeing things.

These stories help you get to know the team and coaches and give insight to your readers.

Get to know your subjects but don’t’ get too close to them as it compromises your ethics and credibility. You can be friendly with them but be careful about being too close.

Add color to your game coverage – don’t just get the final score.

Even when you think you know everything, there’s more to learn.

Curiosity goes a long way and makes you a ‘must read’ to your audience.

Just like life, some people you will click with, some people you won’t. That’s just the way it is.

Somebody won’t cooperate with a story or talk? Write the story anyway. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got.

Getting people to open up? A lot of it is just being yourself and being persistent. That’s how you get things others can’t.

If you hear “no” once, try coming in at a different angle.


2:30 p.m. Web Journalism

Pacemaker finalist: school with a staff (Southwest Shadow) of 5, school that started site in October (Sequoia High School Raven Report)

Tell people to comment or send letter if they say they don’t like a story.