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This free tabloid for journalism teachers and publications advisers tackles the controversial and the nuts-and-bolts that are part of helping students learn to "do" journalism. Find the best in high school writing, design and photographyin These Struck Our Fancy, a special pullout section. To join the mailing list, send your name, high school and postal mailing address to
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Spring 2007 Issue
Running with the big dogs
Quill and Scroll appoints new executive director
Scholastic Profile: News isn't so boring after all
2007 Summer Journalism Workshops Directory
Running with the big dogs
San Francisco student journalists cover Pelosi inauguration
Rena Hunt and Ina Herlihy flank Michael Macor of the Chronicle
By Libby Brittain and Michelle Gantos
From behind the velvet rope delineating the press section outside of Nancy Pelosi�s inauguration-viewing party on Capitol Hill, KCBS radio reporter Doug Sovern guided his microphone to us, not to the famed mouths of the many politically-savvy duos discussing their latest campaigns, but to two ordinary high school seniors, asking, �What does all of this mean to you?�
With network news cameras to our left and eager reporters to our right, we answered Sovern�s questions about the events of Nancy Pelosi�s inauguration as U.S. Speaker of the House with the self-conscious yet excited notion that the tables had turned. We were the ones being interviewed. We were the news.
All media, Sovern told us after our interview, technically had to stay outside the bustling Cannon Office Building Caucus Room where only those with the golden ticket of political connection were allowed to celebrate. We, on the other hand, conveniently skating the edge between spectators and reporters, strode in the door with tape recorders in-hand. We were running with the big dogs.
From former Secretary of State Madeline Albright to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the country�s Democratic hard-hitters were all in attendance, talking nonchalantly over coffee and tea in buzzing anticipation of Pelosi�s inauguration � an anticipation that had built over a period of several days. Beginning for us with the Women�s Leadership Tea where, surrounded by pristine power-suits and pearls, we politely jostled our way through women including political blogger Ariana Huffington and California state Senator Jackie Speier � all of whom confirmed Pelosi�s words that �in 2007, the Tea was the place to be.�
With our thumbs hovering above our tape recorders� buttons and right arms at-the-ready for the all-important introductory handshakes, we made our rounds through the crowd, elbow-to-elbow with the country�s Democratic elite.
As surreal as it seemed, the events we attended obliged us to follow a �business as usual� attitude. The dozens of reporters we saw had clearly covered national politics before. The attendees had the swagger of having many political functions under their belts. And there we were � the girls from Convent of the Sacred Heart HS, thrown headfirst into that very same political whirlwind filled with small talk and motivational speeches.
So taking a few cues from the professional press and watching our constant companion, columnist Leah Garchik of the San Francisco Chronicle, we stepped into crowds nervous but with the confidence that it was our job to blend in, buckle down and be reporters, in addition to watching our words so as to avoid an embarrassing quote in Garchik�s column the next day. Cold-calling has become routine for us: doctors, professors, psychologists. Name the expert and we, like most other high school reporters, have probably made an awkward first phone call to secure an interview. But when faced with a ballroom of senators, representatives and other political powerhouses giving frequent standing ovations to some of the most prominent faces in government � as was the case when we timidly asked Emily�s List founder Ellen Malcolm to �answer a few questions� while fully expecting the brush-off � the tasks of introduction and interview become all the more unwieldy.
But in every case, the women and men we talked to were willing to share their voices and stories with us, even if we were �just� two high school reporters. From them, we received the same level of interest and response as our fellow reporters waiting behind the velvet ropes. Regardless of whether we had an Associated Press badge to flash or a high school paper to disburse, we were reporters and it was our job to share those voices and stories with our readers.
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News isn't so boring after all
By Abbas Khan
I probably wasn�t destined to be a journalist.
As a child, I had little appreciation for the news. When my father would come home from work and switch the television channel to PBS for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, I would wonder how adults could watch something so boring. And by choice! I quietly promised myself that I would watch cartoons forever.
Even as I grew older and considered potential careers, I dreamed of becoming an orthopedist, a shrink or, perhaps, an attorney off the pages of a John Grisham novel.
I may have continued down one of those paths if not for a snap decision I made during passing period between classes one day in my sophomore year of high school. I was walking down the school corridors, escorting a friend to her next class. My schedule was open for the period, which I was planning to spend in the cafeteria or the library, but my friend told me to stick around for her journalism class. The teacher, Susan Tantillo, said she didn�t mind. So I took a seat.
What started as a one-day affair gradually morphed into a lasting commitment. I continued sitting in on the class whenever I had the chance and also started completing some of the assignments. When the next semester rolled around, I was enrolled in the journalism class and no longer just an off-and-on presence. By my junior year, I was a member of the school�s newspaper staff.
It was there that I got hooked on the thrills of journalism. I relished being the first to report details about the school�s proposed building expansion, or to find out why a star athlete was barred from competing on the school team, or to gauge students� reactions to a forthcoming switch to block scheduling.
High school also served as a taste of things to come. As an editor on the newspaper staff, I got my first exposure to tools I would eventually use as a copy editor in the professional world, newsroom staples such as The AP Stylebook and QuarkXpress. And the summer after my first year on the staff, I attended a Dow Jones journalism workshop in central Illinois that included a brief externship at The News-Gazette in Champaign, where I would later return for my first full-time job out of college.
By the final year of high school, my half-baked plans to become a doctor or a lawyer had been brushed aside. I was a co-editor-in-chief of the school paper and had decided to study journalism after graduation.
After starting college, I would meet classmates who had dreamed of becoming a reporter for The New York Times, a correspondent for National Public Radio or a television anchor like Peter Jennings.
I wasn�t quite like them. I walked into journalism by happenstance, but what led me farther along that path was the experience I had as a high school journalist and the encouragement I received from my teacher, Mrs. Tantillo, and my peers.
I still don�t watch The News-Hour, but cartoons don�t seem as fulfilling as they once did. And the news? It�s not so boring after all.
Abbas Khan is a copy editor at The Dallas Morning News. He graduated in 1999 from Wheeling High School in suburban Chicago and went on to Northwestern University, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Medill School of Journalism. Before joining The News, he worked on the copy desk of The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Philadelphia gathering could light a spark
By Linda Shockley
Forget W.C. Fields� joke � which will not be repeated here.
Philadelphia is my very first city. My family drove in from the �country� in southern New Jersey every weekend to visit my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. We couldn�t get there without crossing a bridge named for a publisher (Benjamin Franklin) or another for a poet (Walt Whitman).
Our grade school classes took field trips to the Franklin Institute (there�s Ben again), the zoo, the aquarium, the international airport and the Navy Yard where we boarded a submarine. As a high school freshman, the enrichment program at the University of Pennsylvania introduced me to the word �apartheid� and gave me a copy of Chinua Achebe�s �Things Fall Apart.�
We knew we were grown when we were allowed to go shopping in Center City on our own, taking the bus in from Jersey, browsing in Strawbridge and Clothier�s, Gimbel�s, Litt Brother�s and John Wanamaker�s department stores.
It was the city where broadsheets � the dearly departed Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Inquirer and the tabloid Philadelphia Daily News � were published. We got our news every night from channels 3, 6 and 10 telling us what was going on in the neighborhoods my parents passed through on their way back to country life.
Now finally, Philadelphia will be home to the Fall Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association convention where treasures that make the city great will be out front: the Liberty Bell, Independence Mall, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Avenue of the Arts and the new National Constitution Center. As a part of the local convention committee (I�m chairing the Outreach Academy), I know Jane Blystone and members of the PSPA board are planning hard to make this conference deliver for all attendees but especially teachers and students from the region.
Let�s face it. The East Coast pales in comparison to the Midwest powerhouse of scholastic journalism, press rights advocacy and bedrock foundations. While our neighbors in the southeast run consistently strong programs, and I consider the D.C. area southern, the northeast offers scant programming and services to shore up scholastic journalism. Think of major east coast cities like Boston, New York, Newark and Philadelphia and you barely see or hear from student journalism. The venerated Columbia Scholastic Press Association stands like a beacon, alas, drawing students nationwide but relatively few from the outer boroughs and Manhattan.
Most cities are not where scholastic journalism is welcomed or even tolerated. We hope this convention will change that.
Philadelphia is where daily journalists first helped me discover and appreciate the profession. I�d always read the newspaper delivered to our house. I remember how Bulletin columnist Claude Lewis told an inquiring high school student to check out the Newspaper Fund in Princeton for information on colleges that taught journalism and scholarships. That got me started to a journalism degree and the funds to pay for it. Once in college, Edie Huggins, the first African American news anchor in Philadelphia, invited me into Channel 10 studios on City Line Avenue.
These people were telling me I could do this when even I wasn�t sure journalism was for me.
The most famous Philly journalist I never knew would surely be Ed Bradley of CBS�s 60 Minutes, who died last fall. Bradley, a 19-time Emmy award winner, started his career as a fifth grade teacher in Philadelphia after graduating from Cheyney State College. He worked for WDAS radio, the soul station we grooved to in the wonder years, as a go-fer for disc jockeys, then news casting and reporting before heading off to television freelancing in Paris, and then on staff for CBS in Vietnam and Cambodia covering the world.
Contemporaries I hope will be appearing during the convention appearances include Pulitzer Prize winners Acel Moore (for whom an internship and a high school workshop are named), Michael Vitez (a Newspaper Fund alumnus), photographer April Saul, cartoonist Signe Wilkinson, Comcast news anchor Arthur Fennell (former president of the National Association of Black Journalists), NBC 10 sports director Vai Sikahema, correspondent Lisa Thomas-Laury and reporter Dann Cuellar of 6ABC.
The goal is to make high school media in Philadelphia a strong and consistent reality and perhaps light a spark for cities around the country and a more vibrant, diverse scholastic media.
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Embracing technology a bit worrisome
Richard J. Levine
By Richard J. Levine
Quill, the monthly magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, publishes a cover story entitled �The Great Divide� about journalism students graduating with �megabytes of multimedia skills.�
Columbia University�s prestigious Graduate School of Journalism proudly declares itself �deep into the process� of �how to assimilate the Internet much more fully into our work.�
In Paris, a major international newspaper conference focuses on �convergent newsrooms,� promising to help editors �develop a convergence strategy� and understand how �print/web integrated newsrooms are working in practice, what tools can be used by journalists, (and) how to change the culture within the newsroom.�
Newspapers across the country � including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the entire Gannett chain � are racing to transform their newsrooms to serve efficiently the new digital platforms that technology has created and the public is rapidly embracing as print circulation and advertising continue to erode.
It�s all understandable and commendable � and a bit worrisome. For there�s a danger that the nation�s newspapers and journalism schools, in trying to secure their future, could end up undermining the basic skills and values of the professional journalist � deep-digging, skeptical reporting, clear, compelling writing, careful editing and above all a commitment to objectivity and accuracy.
Please understand that this concern comes from one who spent 15 years as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal before becoming Dow Jones & Co.�s first editorial director of data base publishing, responsible for creating an �electronic� newsroom. I was an early convert to the concept that newspapers must master the new technologies that would enable them to deliver their critical news and other content electronically as well as on newsprint.
It makes sense for newsrooms to reorganize so they can publish in multiple ways and for some print-oriented reporters to acquire the technical skills to produce still photos as well as audio and video reports on appropriate occasions.
Anyone who saw the stark video images of Saddam Hussein�s final moments captured by a cellphone camcorder and flashed around the globe via the Internet and television can hardly doubt that technology is significantly changing how news is gathered and distributed. �The cell phone video is a symbol of one of the most dramatic transformations in our world of information and entertainment: the omnipresent, all-purpose, small screen,� Peter Osnos, senior media fellow at the Century Foundation and a former reporter and editor for the Washington Post has written.
Yet technology is no substitute for the tenacity, news judgment and skill of the professional reporter and editor dedicated to producing balanced, factual stories rich in context. Let me give you two examples of what I have in mind that involve coverage of the brutal war in Iraq.
In late November, the Associated Press reported that Shiite militants dragged six Sunni worshippers from their small mosque, located in the largely Shiite Hurriyah district in Baghdad, doused them with kerosene and set them on fire. The veracity of the story was quickly challenged by the U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry, with U.S. officials stating that they had been unable to confirm the report of the immolation. Bloggers joined in attacking the AP.
With its credibility in question, the news agency sent its reporters back into the same neighborhood, at considerable risk, to do more reporting. They found three additional witnesses, who confirmed the incident, and produced another article. Shortly afterwards, I saw AP president Tom Curley in New York, and I thanked him and his colleagues for their enterprise and commitment to truth telling.
Another example of the value of great reporting is the work of New York Times reporter Damien Cave in Iraq. Repeatedly, he has placed himself in harm�s way at the side of U.S. troops engaged in bloody, dangerous urban battles to show the face of war.
�It was after 9 a.m�.on Haifa Street in Central Baghdad, and the crack-crack of machine-gun fire had been rattling since dawn,� he wrote on Jan. 28 in an article that was accompanied by a graphic six-minute video report he narrated for the Times� Web site. �More than a thousand American and Iraqi troops had come to this warren of high rises and hovels to disrupt the growing nest of Sunni and Shiite fighters battling for control of the area�.And as with so many days here, a bullet changed everything. It started at 9:15 a.m. �Help!� came the shout. �Man down.��
Technology is terrific. But sometimes in the pursuit of news old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting is better.
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Quill and Scroll appoints new executive director
By Carol Smith
Quill and Scroll International Honor Society�s Board of Trustees has announced that Vanessa Shelton will be the Society�s new executive director and the editor of Quill & Scroll magazine. She will assume the leadership role Aug. 1, succeeding Richard P. Johns, who will retire July 31 after serving 35 years in the position.
Dr. John Ullmann is serving as acting executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association as the search continues for a permanent replacement for Tom Rolnicki who held the position for 25 years.
The Journalism Education Association will continue to operate its headquarters out of Kansas State University and, therefore, will not be searching for a new headquarters as the volunteer journalism organization begins its search for a new executive director.
Vanessa Shelton has been the executive director of the Iowa High School Press Association (IHSPA) and the director of the summer journalism workshops for students and teachers at The University of Iowa and assisted with various evaluation and judging projects for Quill and Scroll.
She currently serves as the chair and member of the Board of Student Publications Inc. (The Daily Iowan newspaper) at The University of Iowa and is a member of JEA and NSPA as well as a member of the JEA Nominations Committee, according to a Quill and Scroll release. The Coralville, Iowa, resident and former adjunct instructor for the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that despite the evolution in the technology of media formats and delivery, some of the biggest challenges facing teachers and students are age-old. �There are many roadblocks we continue to navigate,� she said. �sometimes in various forms, but often of the same ilk � insufficient funding, lack of education (student, teacher, administration, parental) and misguided policy (district, state, media).�
Shelton, who has previous experience as a professional journalist and in public relations, said, �I believe Quill and Scroll is poised to continue to provide invaluable services to the scholastic journalism community in a unique way, including developing international ties and offering targeted information.�
She said she hopes to put her ideas and resources toward addressing the issues facing teachers and students today: �I�m a great listener, with strong problem-solving and creative skills that can be applied to complement the services Quill and Scroll offers.�
Shelton was inducted into the Iowa High School Press Association Hall of Fame in 2006. She was recognized by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) for the development and coordination of the Summer Journalism Academy programs for elementary school students in Davenport and Des Moines. She received the Robert Knight Multicultural Award in 2003.
Dr. Albert R. Tims, NSPA�s president and the director of the University of Minnesota�s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the search for an executive director is still underway and an announcement will be made in late March or early April. Dr. John Ullmann is not a candidate for the position.
In the search for a new director, NSPA�s president said the board is taking its time to make sure the right person is selected to lead the organization.
�We need someone who knows how to work with a national board of directors, someone who understands how nonprofits operate, someone who is a wonderful leader, great manager, ambassador, articulate advocate for interests of scholastic journalism and press freedom and a visionary � someone who can help the organization provide more and better service to members,� Tims said.
NSPA�s Board of Directors has set a number of goals: hiring a new executive director, new transparency, financial and budget controls, and new operational policies. The board plans to work with the new executive director to set new programmatic goals beyond continuation of existing programs, he added.
NSPA�s future looks bright, according to Tims.
�The association is doing wonderfully well � the financial situation is strong, the programs and contests are right where they�re supposed to be and we continue to get great support from our partner organizations � JEA and CMA have been terrific.�
Ullmann, who recently retired as the World Press Institute�s executive director, has a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Missouri and is the originator, co-author and co-editor of �The Reporter�s Handbook: An Investigator�s Guide to Documents and Records,� and author of �Investigative Reporting: Advanced Methods and Techniques.�
As the assistant managing editor for projects at the Star Tribune, an Ullmann project received the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Other projects Ullmann supervised earned more than four dozen awards.
In addition to Ullmann, Renee McGivern will be working with NSPA and its board on event management, Tims said. McGivern served as NSPA�s first interim director after Rolnicki�s departure.
Ann Visser, JEA�s president and a teacher at Pella Community HS, said that the decision to renew a Kansas State contract was made in Nashville at the JEA board�s regular meeting. At its Denver meeting in April, the board will further discuss search criteria for a new executive director to take over for its longtime executive director Linda Puntney who has announced retirement plans for July 2009.
Puntney has served as JEA�s director for 20 years and this will be the 20th year for JEA at the Manhattan, Kan., headquarters, which provides office space and serves as a clearinghouse for JEA members and programs.
Puntney said that JEA will work with the A. Q. Miller School of Journalism to develop a job description and to recruit candidates when the board decides to begin the search process. She expects to offer advice on candidates but will not have a vote in the selection process.
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