As the sun rose over the Mississippi River, more than 2000 collegiate journalists and their advisers prepared for Day One of the Associated Collegiate Press convention in New Orleans.
Kelsey, Philip and I had to choose from dozens of sessions. So many looked so interesting, so relevant to media in general and student media in particular. Among the highlights for me this day: sessions on infographics, critiquing and sexual assault on campus.
Alex V Cook, adviser of The Daily Reveille at Louisiana State University led this session on using Tableau Public and Google Fusion Tables to make digital infographics. He spent a few minutes emphasizing what we already know: People don’t read newspapers so much anymore, especially younger people. He referenced a term coined by Google: Generation C , so called because they create, curate and collaborate on content. And by doing so, they create community.
He spoke about the importance of telling stories in new ways, specifically infographics. What skill do journalists today need to know? Excel. They need to learn how to find a large amount of data, crunch the numbers and find the story.
As an example, he showed some infographics from a story about the salary of Les Miles, LSU’s football coach. They made the charts from the free software, Tableau. He also recommended Google Fusion Tables, which The Beacon already is using for its online Public Safety reports.
Critiquing for Real
This session offered some fresh ways to approach what is for The Beacon and me a weekly ritual. Dan Close from Wichita State University led this. Many of his suggestion were simply ways to “frame” or “brand” the critique.
His ideas included:
1) A Top Ten List (the best and perhaps the worst?)
2) The good, the bad and the really ugly
3) Have sources critique your coverage. Or invite alums or students from an editing class.
4) Have critique be content-specific each week. For example, focus on ledes one week, photos the next, news judgment the following week.
Underlying all of these techniques is the notion that a critique is an important teaching tool. They should be supportive and explanatory
Speaking of editing, ACP had a copy editing/geography problem. Notice anything wrong with Kelsey’s name tag? It was a reoccurring theme throughout the conference.
Campus Rape Coverage Success Stories
Editors of three college newspapers that have aggressively covered sexual assault on their campus spoke about the resistance and challenges they faced and the gratification of perseverance. In all cases, they said their administrations seemed more concerned about university image than sexual assault. The editors also criticized the practice of treating sexual assault as a disciplinary matter rather than the crime that it is.
“These people (university disciplinary boards) aren’t trained to handle these things,” Samantha Vicente , an editor from the student newspaper at Oklahoma State University, said.
But Nicole Comparato of The Daily Tarheel at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it was important for student journalists to persevere in covering this issue, despite resistance from university administration.
“You really can make a huge difference in raising awareness, she said.
-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director of Student Media and Adviser to The Beacon