I love my classes

There, I said it. I usually do at some point because I do love the classes I get to teach. Even going over AP Style for the millionth time makes me happy.  I think I like the variety in my classes from the nuts and bolts of editing to the possibility of story in feature writing to figuring out the American value system and how that system is portrayed in mass media.

Each class pushes me in a different direction. How to make punctuation fascinating? (Haven’t quite figured that out yet.) How to coach students to come up with original, compelling story ideas? How to show what journalism could be and what its power is among the superficial, entertainment-drenched, talking-head news?

I guess I’d better get busy for Thursday.


Do as I say, not as I do

As I make out a syllabus for another semester, I realize that I have to step up my own blogging game. (Oops. Guess I’ve heard a few too many sports shows over the weekend.)

I require the students to blog. I tell them how good it is for their careers, their futures, how they adapt to new technology. And then I don’t blog.

I have this one. I like to write. So why not? Here are two reasons, ones that I have to get around to be a better media role model.

1. I am not sure anyone wants to read what I have to say. The response: You don’t know until you try. My voice/writing/point of view has value. If people don’t like it, disagree, they can click away.

2. I don’t have time. Not a good one. It doesn’t take that long to conceive, write and rewrite a blog post. It’s not the time so much as the allocation of my own resources. Just like those people who are always late: They could be on time. They just choose not to in most instances.  I am trying to get better at that one myself.

Both these reasons seem easy enough to overcome with planning and the decision to take risks.

How do you make yourself blog?

Thanks spelled out in pepperoni

From left, Maria Becvar, Carol Zuegner, Colleen Seabaugh and Molly Mullen celebrate the last evening of Creightonian production for spring 2010 in the Creightonian newsroom.. Thanks to Orsi's Pizza for spelling out Thanks Carol in pepperoni. Photo by Cassandra Hicks.

I am reminded how blessed and lucky I am to work with college students. While they can be exasperating ( a sentiment they no doubt echo about me), they are endlessly creative, engaging and fun.  I never quite know what to expect when I head into the Creightonian newsroom. Last night, on the last paper of the semester, the staff arranged to have the words “Thanks Carol” spelled out in pepperoni on the end-of-the-semester pizza.

That unusual way of saying thanks pretty well sums up this year’s staff. They often surprise and delight me with their enthusiasm, passion and hard work. It’s always tough to say good bye to each year’s crop of seniors, but this truly has been a special group. I truly believe that each Creightonian staff stands on the shoulders of those who went ahead of them. This year’s staff set the bar really high.

Thanks to them for keeping me excited about journalism and the power of the press, whether in print or online.

How can we get back the trust?

The latest Pew survey of people’s attitudes toward the media brings more bad news. Obviously this is troubling for the news media, but less obvious is how can we change this? I have found the same attitudes in my students. The distrust is mainly aimed at the broadcast media, but there is little difference in many people’s minds. It’s part of the reason for my research into corrections, which seem to me to be the absolute least news organizations can do. But what else can we do? What can I tell students?

Figuring out journalism’s brave new world

Ernest Wilson makes an important point in this essay on Poynter.org where he asks: Where are the J-Schools in the great debate over journalism’s future?

Everyone in the business, from professors to professional editors, has been too complacent. In j-schools and j-departments like mine, we are racing to master new skills, to figure out what to keep and what to jettison. The very basics of journalism must remain. But Wilson of the Annenberg school is right when he says we have to be more entrepreneurial and that we have to adapt or become irrelevant.

I am excited about what we are doing at Creighton.  We have to keep pushing forward and keep bringing pieces together in different ways. We have to challenge each other and our students to take risks, now more than ever before.

It is time that someone called out journalism schools and departments.

Inviting Godzilla in

Amy Gahran from Poynter posted this on her Tidbits blog. It looks a great resource for those of us testing the waters, wading in or doing a belly-flop into multimedia. (I’m somewhere between wading and belly flop.)

Where Journalism and Technology Collide

The reality of downsizing

A former colleague posted this on his Facebook page and I, too, am moved by the eloquent and heart-wrenching way she describes her last day and how she writes of the news business and its problems.

9to5to9: A 30 on a near-30-year career