Alma Matters is a Poynter newsletter designed to provide ideas, news and ideas to members of the journalism education community. Subscribe here to get Alma Matters delivered.
The world of college journalism was rocked this week by the sudden death of Kelley Lash, 46, media director and student adviser at Rice University. His former students shared their memories, while college newsroom advisers across the country took to the College Media Association mailing list to share memories and pain.
I didn’t know Lash very well, but I didn’t want to send out this newsletter without acknowledging what a generous and special person she was in a group of people who excel at being generous and special. Here’s what a few other advisers shared:
“Kelley summed up everything we try to do as advisers. I will always remember when Kelley contacted me a few years ago after one of my students from Colorado State was tragically killed. But that’s what she was with her time and support. What a loss.” Jim Rodenbush, Indiana University
“Kelley was so lively. … (She) kind of found a way to connect with everyone, which is probably why she was such a good and popular president and board member, and why the following tips relied so much on she. — Steven Chappell, Northwest Missouri State University
“Sorry. Devastated. Everything. Sitting here, I kind of want to sum up Kelley’s impact. … It’s impossible. … She was fierce and kind and committed to this organization and its members perhaps more than anyone I know. never knew. Chris Evans, University of Illinois
“Kelley was the heart and soul of college media and CMA. She was a ‘can do’ person as well as a ‘what can I do for you’ leader. … Kelley, you were taken from us too soon. We will miss you, but we promise to carry the torch of college media high in your honor. You lived your life to make college media a better place, and we will love you forever. — Laura Widmer, Associated Collegiate Press
Do you have Ukrainian or Russian students on campus? What an ideal time to discover and get their impressions of what is happening in their country of origin.
I have seen several stories of Ukrainian adoptions, but have yet to see any from students studying abroad in the United States. It could be solid gold if you can find them.
Nieman Lab put together “Some Resources for Following the War in Ukraine” and Muckrack had a good list of resources in his daily newsletter:
Both could be primers to get your student reporters up to speed before any interviews. There is also that Reuters Institute Twitter feed“As Russia attacks Ukraine, here is a thread with resources and news articles that may be useful to journalists today. Please share and add suggestions.
The NBCU Academy has this behind-the-scenes video of its reporters: “Andy Eckardt, NBC News Deputy Editor for Europe, and Sue Kroll, NBC News Senior Coordinator, spoke with the NBCU Academy about safety, good story and how to keep spirits up in a tense environment.
Savvy readers let me know of a few more contests and rewards that I left off my list last week.
Former NPPA President Tom Hardin wanted to make sure you were aware of all the National Press Photographers Foundation scholarships and grants, which you can read about here. And Kim Fox reminded me that the Broadcast Education Association offers cash scholarships to students and faculty.
Possible story or mission: The United States Department of the Interior has announced plans to rename more than 600 federal geographic features that include an offensive Indigenous term. You can read his announcement and see the list here. Are any places near your school affected? How are local indigenous communities reacting?
Jeremy Caplan’s Wonder Tools newsletter is often eye-opening for educators, and this week has me wondering if any of you have relied on Adobe’s Spark Video to simplify your homework or work. Here’s more.
Thinking a recent viral story didn’t add up, Wired’s Matt Reynolds delved into the true story of the man who threw up his dentures in a trash can only to find them in the mail more than a decade later. Or did he? This story is a great example of the media failing to check basic facts and getting too caught up in the humor and weirdness of a story to realize that it’s probably not really true.
I may be biased because this is from my home country, but if you’re looking for an example of a fantastic short story to show your students, this AP story by Sean Murphy shows you how it’s done: “A US House candidate in Oklahoma has apologized after learning she got drunk at a sleepover over Valentine’s Day weekend for middle-aged girls, scolded several of the children and vomited in a basket.”
Here’s a great Instagram post from my friends at MediaWise with tips for spotting (not sharing) misinformation and disinformation about Ukraine and Russia.
This week, we featured “Where is the Student Publication Audience? Most of them don’t read the printed newspapers. In it, Taylor Blatchford thoughtfully urged students to think about where their readers were and meet them there. If nothing else, make sure your journalism students see and internalize this graphic: “Change is hard and breaking traditions can be painful. …Even if your publication has been in print daily since the 1800s, you are not you don’t have to keep doing it if it doesn’t make sense anymore. And if your publication has decided to reduce printing problems, it’s important not to see this as a failure. You redirect your resources and focus on reaching your readers.
Subscribe to The Lead, Poynter’s weekly newsletter for student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.
In this week’s Professor’s Press Pass, we spotlight a HuffPost guest columnist — a congressional candidate from Pennsylvania who reveals she once worked as a college stripper. We ask students to think about the impact this revelation might have on how this candidate is treated or mentioned in the media.
You can take part in this and over 50 other classroom lessons with a Professor’s Press Pass subscription, which costs $12 a month or $100 for a year, with a new case study published every week.