Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Journalism schools still popular

Journalism may be under stress, but students are still enrolling. Read about it here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What we learned!

The TOP SIX things we learned this semester (suitable for framing):

--How to tell a story (vs. dry facts)
--How to orchestrate the process (Writing isn't magic; there is a structure and process to go about doing it)
--Reporting is 50 percent time management and 50 percent luck (with a bit of talent thrown in!)
--There is a revolution going on in journalism and no one has the answers right now
--How to find and engage an audience
--Journalism affects people and has a responsibility to the public

Congratulations on completing a challenging class!

Monday, April 20, 2009

New deadline for final project and other info!

Lots of important information here:

--A reminder that there is a new deadline for our final projects -- Monday, April 27. Everyone should be ready to turn in their projects, and groups should be ready to give about a 15-minute presentation about them, with visuals to show the class. There will be no contest for best project -- just all final presentations on Monday.

--Remember that your contribution needs to meet the criteria I have laid out in two documents -- the suggestions for possible project contributions and the final project rubric. Your contribution needs to have original content -- not just be taken from another web site. Do the best you can in turning it in -- if it's an online visual, describe what it would look like or make a drawing, Indesign, Photoshop, Powerpoint or other type of page, and print out the printed material that would go on it. Spell it out for me so that I know what your concept is. Make it easy for me to give you a grade. Don't forget to grade yourself - and including references to your original content will help, and don't forget to grade your group.

--On Thursday, we will have the journalism division director in class with us, and perhaps other students and professors, to talk about the state of the business and your suggestions for the journalism curriculum. Please read the handout, which can also be found here. If you have not given an SOB presentation, you may turn in a paragraph on a topic related to the article, for extra credit. One place to get more info is on Journchat. There is also lots of information on this blog, including links. These handouts are available in a folder taped to my office door.

--If you missed class on Monday, we did an in-class, breaking news reporting assignment and turned it in for a grade. You may do the assignment as homework with the loss of a letter grade. The info is in a folder taped to my office door.

I will see everyone on Thursday. Attendance is mandatory. Please be prepared for our discussion on the NYT article and your own research, and be prepared to talk about your hopes/fears for the industry as well as your suggestions for the journalism curriculum.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A good example of a meeting story in The Washington Post

A good example of a meeting story can be found here. Thank you for pointing this out, Ethan!

Rubric for final project

Final project rubric

Reporting – Dr. Walker – Spring 2009

20 points – Your contribution to the overall project meets the general criteria in the list of possible projects, or is the equivalent in terms of work/effort (Generally, this means your part includes writing, research and/or finished visuals such as a cut video or narrated slideshow.)

20 points – You use proper journalistic writing techniques for headlines, blurbs, news summaries and sidebars/interviews

15 points – You and your group have an overall conception of the package that hangs together well and presents the information in the most effective and creative way

15 points – You include original material in each aspect of your project, including original photos/videos/interviews

10 points – You include a half page description of your contribution and a sentence or two on the group, and you grade yourself and the group

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Info on the Millstone Power Station

The Millstone Power Station is a nuclear power plant in Connecticut. First, here is the 76-page media manual produced by the plant.
You can read more about the classification levels of events here.
Read about how a nuclear power plant handles emergency situations here.
Here is some basic information about the plant location.
Sources of information:

Three Mile Island Anniversary - loads of background

The Poynter blog, E-media tidbits, recently did a long post on the anniversary of Three Mile Island, which relates to our final project. Go here for the link.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

All about me!

Link to the American Forum.

Story to "Webify"

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer

From "Romeo and Juliet" to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," literature, art and the movies have long found inspiration in the conflicts between parents and their offspring over whom the young people should marry.

Just in time for spring weddings, scientists decided to put what has become an entertainment cliche to an empirical test. Do young people and their parents really disagree about the qualities of a suitable mate?

In a study involving Dutch, American and Kurdish students, psychologists in the Netherlands found that the cliche is, in fact, true. Young Americans told the researchers that qualities they would find unappealing in a potential mate included low intelligence and physical unattractiveness. But they said their parents would object to a mate who was of a different ethnicity, was poor or lacked a good family background.

The responses of Dutch and Kurdish students were similar in that young people invariably considered the potential mate's attractiveness the most important quality, whereas parents uniformly paid more attention to the suitors' social background or group affiliation -- race, religious background and social class.

Shakespeare and Hollywood can duke it out about whether the young people or their parents are right -- "Romeo and Juliet" sided with the young people, whereas a number of recent books and movies have essentially taken the view that "Mom knows best" -- but the interesting question from a scientific perspective is why this conflict occurs at all.

Abraham P. Buunk, Justin H. Park and Shelli L. Dubbs at the University of Groningen, who recently published their findings in the Review of General Psychology, said the consistency of the conflict across cultures suggests the hand of evolution: Parents and offspring clash, the researchers argued, because their genetic self-interests, while overlapping, are not identical.

The reason young people care so much about intellectual and physical attractiveness, the scientists suggested, is that these characteristics are markers of genetic fitness. By contrast, they said, parents care about group affiliations because parents are primarily interested in whether an incoming member of the family is likely to make a good parent -- and a good all-around team player.

When a potential mate has both sets of qualities, parents and young people are likely to agree on the appropriateness of a match. But often, the researchers said, the qualities don't go hand in hand: The tall, dark and handsome guy might make the bride swoon but turn out to have a roving eye, whereas the bald and bespectacled fellow might never be a GQ model but could make a great dad and caregiver.

"When it comes to mating, the key is that the kinds of mates who score high on 'good genes' traits" -- such as attractiveness and sense of humor -- "tend to score low on 'good parent' traits, and vice versa," said Park, a social psychologist who studies relationships.

As with many aspects of evolution, the process by which parents and offspring reach their different conclusions is not a conscious one. Young people don't explicitly check with their genes about what to do; rather, their genes predispose them to find certain characteristics appealing, just as genes predispose parents to find other characteristics more suitable.

"The 'good genes' mates offer relatively higher reproductive payoffs to the offspring (while potentially imposing costs to the parents), whereas 'good parent' mates offer relatively higher payoffs to the parents," Park added in an e-mail exchange. "So, to the extent that parents try to meddle in their children's mating business, they may want to tip the scale toward what's more beneficial for them."

While acknowledging the role of biology in shaping human behavior, historian Stephanie Coontz argues that the researchers did not draw a clear enough distinction between love and marriage. Evolution might play a big role in shaping the reproductive drive, she says, but it would be a mistake to think that the institution of marriage has primarily been about either love or reproduction.

Until very recently, Coontz contends, children and parents were rarely in conflict about whom to marry -- they both agreed that marriage was not about love, but about social and economic ties.

As recently as four decades ago, most American men said they wanted wives who would be good housekeepers. Most American women said they wanted husbands who were "industrious." In contrast to such expectations, U.S. men and women today invariably say they want partners who are intelligent and attractive.

Nearly everyone in the West -- and growing numbers of young people elsewhere in the world -- believes in the ideal of marrying for love, an idea that would have been ludicrous and dangerous a century ago, said Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage." Coontz traces the change in attitudes about marriage to the fact that growing economic self-reliance has made it less likely that people need to marry for money.

"Until the 1960s, marriage was the best way a woman could invest in her economic future," Coontz said. "Now marriage is a risky proposition, especially for a low-wage woman, given her pool" of potential mates. A woman who marries someone who is an economic and social drain, in other words, might be better off single today because she can earn her own living.

"Marriage as an institution is a completely unique human invention, and a very political one," Coontz said. "It has to do with making alliances beyond the mating pair, which is why there are so many cultures that allow you to marry someone who is not mate-able. In ancient Sudan, parents would engage their children young, and if one of the children died, the parents would marry the living child to the tablet of the dead child -- to the 'death certificate.' "