Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Online journalism courses from MSU’s J-School!

Get a head start on classes or take Michigan State University journalism classes from anywhere on the planet!

Summer term 2009, we are offering
JRN 108 Introduction to Mass Media for Metro Detroit area entering freshmen beginning July 6. This three credit class will be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:10-11 a.m. at Seaholm High School in Birmingham.

For Fall 2009, we are offering online two graduate level courses and one undergraduate course. Thecourses are:
  • JRN 808 Sec. 731, News Management 3.0 taught by Ken Winter, retired editor of The Petoskey News Review.
  • JRN 808, Sec. 730 Art in the News: The Chicago Tribune Collection taught by former Detroit Free Press editor Joe Grimm.
  • Undergraduates can register for this course under JRN 408, Sec. 730 Illustrated Newspaper History.
We are also offering online and off campus courses (at the Macomb University Center) for middle and high school teachers seeking their journalism endorsement from the state or pursing an M.A. in Journalism with an education focus. For more information on that, visit the MIPA website.

Current students should enroll as normal. Non-MSU students should register using the 3-step procedure below.

3 Easy Steps to Enroll

in JRN 108 or Any JRN Online and Off-Campus Class for Fall 2009
  • Step 1: Click here to enroll in the class using the Lifelong Ed Form if you were not enrolled in an MSU last semester.
  • Step 2: Activate your MSU NetID (so you can receive and pay your tuition bill) You need your PID and PAN. You will get these after you register through Lifelong Ed.
  • Step 3: Then go to StuInfo to see and pay your bill. No bills will be mailed to you. You must go to this site to secure it.
Questions? Just send me an email at

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hot (and busy) time, summer in the J-School at Michigan State

Summer never seems to slow things down at the J-School or at Michigan State University. We’ve got journalism camps, graduate and undergraduate classes running full steam ahead.

Check out our summer kids camps—we are offering a Cartoon Camp in July. For other happenings at the J-School, see our website at

One great opportunity for incoming freshmen from the Detroit area is to get their first taste of college by taking JRN 108 Intro to Mass Media at Birmingham’s Seaholm High school at Birmingham Seaholm High School, 2436 West Lincoln Rd. (7/6/ - 8/20/2009).

For the first time ever, we are offering JRN 108 Introduction to Mass Media (3 credits) Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:10-11 a.m. Once the class gets rolling, students will be meeting one day a week online and two days at Seaholm. Instructor Holly Gilbert is a fun, dynamic instructor, and it will be a great introduction to the J-School as your first college class.

Though not eligible for financial aid, these students will be avoiding an anticipated tuition hike for this fall. Hey, if you are an interested freshman, just register as Lifelong Education students. The tuition cost for this three credit courses would be $1,317.75. Make sure you register as a Lifelong Education student NOT a freshman for this course! When you come to campus for AOP (orientation) you will need to go to the Registrar’s Office on the first floor of the Administration Building in the center of campus and be admitted as a Life Long Undergraduate for the summer. In the fall the CAS Advising office will follow-up and move the course into your undergraduate record. For more information, check out this link

Also follow students on their Study Abroad trips. JRN 482/882 Reporting on the British Isles is half-way done, but students are doing amazing work. J-School faculty member (and managing editor of the Virtual Newsroom this fall) Nancy Hanus had a terrific time with students. Check out the class blog . The students are doing amazing reporting on stories now posted on the class blog and getting a solid multiplatform news delivery experience while learning teamwork, too! Nancy’s just back from her half of the term. She really is the innvation leader on this. Faculty member (and soon to be ordained Episcopal priest) Sue Carter is leading the second half of the class. Sue rocks, too!

Howard Bossen leaves next week for JRN 483/883 Photo Communication in Europe.

Cheryl Pell, her staff and the folks at the Mcihgian Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) are gearing up for a full range of summer offerings from JRN graduate level classes for middle and high school teachers and a week long camp for high school students in early August. All the info can be found on MIPA's website.

Our students’ award winning ways continue. Kelly House won first place in the Hearst Foundation National Writing Competition held in San Francisco earlier this month.

Focal Point students and adviser Bob Gould won an Emmy from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Thanks to Bob and also Troy Hale who provided footage of the win. They had a great time. Check out their reaction.

Dr. Manuel Chavez’ book “Empowering Citizenship through Journalism, Information and Entertainment in Iberoamerica” was just released he was co-editor along with Manuel Alejandro Guerrero.

Eric Freedman just signed a book contract with Congressional Quarterly Press for “President and African Americans: A documentary History.” This is his second book co-authored with Steve Jones from Central Michigan University. The two collaborated on their very successful “African American in Congress: A Documentary History.”

The Knight Center hosted its 10th Great Lakes Environmental Journalism Training Institute last week with an impressive round-up of folks including J-Labs’ Jan Schaeffer, alums Shawn Smith (formerly of MLive and now with his own company), Jeremy Herliczek, retired faculty member Bonnie Bucqueroux and current staff member and senior producer Amol Pavangadkar, among others. This year’s GLEJTI featured a lot of hands-on multiplatform training that participants liked so much they even skipped scheduled breaks! Thanks to Dave Poulson, Barb Miller, Chris Kennedy and Jim Detjen for putting it together.

Knight Center Associate Director Dave Poulson’s Great Lakes Echo blog is a great model for next generation news coverage. Check out his work and that of his students. Their five part series on the Great Lakes water levels is well reported and full of amazing info and theories. As a Lake Huron shoreline cottage owner, I shared it with all my neighbors!

I spent an amazing day on Tuesday at meeting with editor-in-chief Bill Emkow, a J-School alum. With Michigan as ground zero fro a number of journalism media experiments, MLive is the epicenter of the Newhouse (Booth) effort for a ton of fresh ideas and innovation. MLive’s Detroit blogs launch on Monday. Greeted half dozen J-School alum there including recent grads Jonathan Oosting and Aaron Foley who are leading the Detroit project. Check it out Monday look for the Detroit tab on the MLive home page.

Last week, I spent half a day at the Monroe Evening News doing some Computer Assisted Reporting training with editors and staff. Deb Saul set my visit up. Publisher Lonnie Pepler-Moyer “bought” me at the Michigan Press Association silent auction. I’ve got a Freedom of Information workshop to be scheduled at the St. Ignace News with Wes and Mar Maurer later this summer. J-School faculty member Darcy Greene and Cheryl Pell did a design workshop up north with the newspaper’s staff in early June. We are all auctioned off at MPA.

Darcy had to rush back to Lansing to catch a flight to see her first grandchild—Jimmy T born in Texas three weeks early! Baby, Mom, Dad and grandfolks are doing just fine. It will be an extra special Father’s Day Sunday for Darcy’s son, first time pop Michael.

Still working away on Tandem in Detroit (my Knight Challenge grant innovation incubator project) with The Detroit News’ Jonathan Morgan and Michael Happy.

Whew! Long post. As I said the J-School never seems to slow down—even in the hot days of the summer. We are hard at work on the Centennial celebration and planning for News Summit II on September 11—the start of the State News Alumni Association’s centennial weekend celebrations. Stay tuned. Updates are less frequent in the summer. That’s because we are SO busy!

J-School alums, current sudents--share your info and updates with me! Just comment. For fast uptakes, follow my tweets at JBBJschool.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh, what a week it was!

Summer term has officially begun, and I’ve recovered from the many wonderful events of commencement on May 8 and our ReThink News Summit on May 11.

Desmond Tutu gave a moving speech, I am told, at convocation. I had to miss that as I attended a lunch for graduate commence speaker and former CBS news anchor Dan Rather with five of our terrific students and faculty member Geri Zeldes. Rather was very courtly and gracious. I think he must have posed for hundreds of photos with students, administrators, staff and faculty.

Most impressive was his decision at the graduate commencement to greet every student who crossed the podium. We were not supposed to be shaking hands, but as soon as he noticed MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s doing so, he followed suit. No other speaker in my memory has ever done that with the graduates. Good for Dan!

I had the privilege of driving him to the Westin Hotel that evening. When my hybrid motor pool Ford Fusion wouldn’t start, his helpful suggestions finally got us on the road.

I was introduced to Bishop Tutu by J-School faculty member Sue Carter (a soon to be ordained Episcopalian minister) as I was entering Breslin. He greeted me warmly, then asked, “Who is that?” Evidently, the legendary Johnny Spirit with his green and white body paint had walked by outside. Sue explained to him about our CAS alum!

Undergraduate commencement rocked with the J-School students outshining the other four units with their spirited cheering. Their enthusiasm and leadership was catching. They started two waves that raced across the bleachers and even involved half the platform party including Dean Brad Greenberg and Trustee Faylene Owen. The slo-mo wave was my personal favorite. Go Green!

Saturday night we had the CAS Alumni dinner. It was another great event honoring the College.

Then Monday was ReThink News our summit focusing on reinventing journalism. To learn more about that check the amazing web site designed by faculty member Darcy Greene and the extremely talented J-major Aaron Olson. Also listen to the entire afternoon session under the Online Media tab.

After that exciting week so big it took eight days we had time to catch up and gear up for the Summer term.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Commencement on Friday and News Summit on Monday!!!

Looking forward to commencement tomorrow. Dan Rather, Desmond Tutu, and it's not suppose to rain.

Also looking forward to the News Summit "ReThink News: In Search of a New Journalism" on Monday, May 11. Check it out at The public session begins at 1:30 p.m., EDT in Studio E in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building. Admission is free, but if you want to guarantee a seat, please email Linda Hartwig at She has full audience info. The event will also be live web cast. The link will be on the web site or you can access it at

Congratulations to Lou D'Aria and his environmental film students for their latest documentary, Night Shift. Watch it soon on a public broadcast station in your area.

Also congratulations to Focal Point students, their adviser, the J-School's Bob Gould and Troy Hale (another J-School hire!) and his students (both JRN and TISM) for their Emmy nominations.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The last week and the end is not near!

Lots of doings to report as we wrap the last week of the term. Finals and commencement are next week. But among the great things happening?

Amanda Peterka, the J-School Outstanding Senior, earned another major accolade when she was named one of top 100 journalism students in the U.S. by Congrats to Amanda!!

Cheryl Pell, J-School faculty member and executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, was honored by her members with the John V. Field Award for her service to Michigan scholastic journalism. It was a stealth and heartily endorsed move by MIPA and a complete surprise to Cheryl. The award was presented at the MIPA spring conference on Tuesday, April 28. No one deserves this more than Cheryl She is the number #1 supporter of scholastic journalism In Michigan and across the country.

Also on Tuesday, J-School faculty Dan Davis and Fred Fico met with ARMY ROTC cadets as part of our ongoing Military and the Media project.

And the members of Bill McWhirter's Business News Seminar took on a spring project focused on the effects of Michigan's suffering economy on Michigan State as a major research and land grant university. The 12-member group conducted more than 50 in-depth interviews on campus and across the country, including MSU administration leaders and a 90-minute intensive sit-down interview with President Lou Anna K. Simon. Their results, which look at MSU's history and reactions to the crisis on other U.S. campuses, found MSU's approach to the pressures more measured and far less publicly dramatic despite Michigan's economy than at many other U.S. schools. The teams have been working non-stop on fact checking and edits all week. The 13-section report will be published and distributed later in May. The Business News Seminar, initiated only last year, is among the new courses in the J-School.

Longtime faculty member, John Molloy, is being honored by his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. He has been selected of one of four inductees in the inaugural Journalism Hall of Fame there. It is a special honor for this veteran educator, newsman, prolific author and scholar. We are so proud of you, John!

Finally, we are working hard getting ready for the all important May 11 News summit: In Search of a New Journalism. Anyone with web access will be able to view the live webcast on SpartanTV from 1:30-4 p.m., EDT. We have an exciting roster of panelists. A live audience is invited to attend, as well, in Studio E in the Com Arts Building. Just RSVP to let us know you are coming, since seating is limited. Send an email to

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

J-School Alum M.L. Elrick wins Pulitzer

The J-School is proud to announce our eighth Pulitzer Prizewinner among alumni. M.L. Elrick, a 1990 graduate, won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting along with his reporting partner Jim Schaefer at the Detroit Free Press.

The duo uncovered a text message scandal and perjured testimony by the then Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick and his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty that cost taxpayers more than $9 million dollars. Their reporting lead to the resignations of Kilpatrick and Beatty and the arrests, convictions and jailing of the two.

The Pulitzer winners were announced Monday afternoon.

Elrick has been a great supporter of the J-School. Last fall, he and Schaefer gave this year's Neal Shine Ethics Lecture. Sunday evening, the duo received the first ever Watchdog Journalism Award presented by the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

The School of Journalism at MSU has at least seven other Pulitzer Prize winners, including faculty member Eric Freedman, and alumni Richard Cooper '69, 'Andrew Guy '96, Howard James '58, Ariel Melchior Jr. '62, and Jim Mitzelfeld '84. Beth McCoy '03 is a recent double 2006 Pulitzer winner, part of a team of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans that won two Pulitzers for breaking news and public service.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday Journalism and the J-School SHINE!!!!

Big doings on Sunday as we honor our amazing students with our annual Awards Program.

Lori Anne Dickerson has been working tirelessly to make sure we recognize all the terrific successes and awards our J-majors have won this year.

We are expecting a record turnout of students and their families. The Awards Program begins at 3 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Kellogg Center.

Immediately after the Awards Program is the 24th Annual Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Two distinguished journalists, both with long careers at the Detroit Free Press will be honored. This year's honorees are Jack Kresnak and Joe Grimm. Joe is now a visiting editor in residence with us here at the J-School.

The Hall of Fame is also honoring investigative reporting with its first ever 1st Amendment Watchdog Awards. The recipients are J-School alum, M.L. Elrick, and Ohio State alum (we've adopted him, so it's okay) Jim Schaefer, both are from the Free Press, as well. They are the team that uncovered the perjured testimony that forced the Mayor of Detroit and his Chief of Staff to resign. They are nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. That award will be announced on Monday. Keep your fingers crossed and the champagne on ice!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Introducing a Revolutionary Idea in Journalism...

An intriguing new idea is making the rounds of some J-School educators and laid-off journalists. It's a pretty simply idea and based on the Cable TV model, simply put newspapers should start charging for their online content and viewers, aggregators, TV and radio news need to pay up.

As my friend and former colleague Holly Shreve Gilbert at Oakland U noted: "The idea I've had rattling around has been that online news services will look something like cable TV. A tiered offering...For $100 bucks a year you get access to 10 national news sites, 10 state, 10 local...for $50 you get ....5 of each...or something along that scale. I haven't ever worked out the details but it seems like there might be something there. .."

Her husband, Garry, now JRN director at OU, a good friend, former exec editor at The Oakland Press and visiting prof at MSU, chimed in with: "Over-the-air TV is free but people are willing to pay for more channels and the high quality digital signal delivered via cable. Internet Service Providers, which charge people for access to the Web, are in a position to raise their rates and share a portion of that revenue with the content providers that get the most views."

These are some of the ideas that will get folks thinking and doing. Every publisher in the nation should consider launching this effort on Bastille Day, July 14, 2009. Just say I am part of a new cabal I'm calling the Journalism Liberation Front!!!

This idea originated with John Coots, a smart, smart guy who is a former newspaper editor and current publisher. He said in an email: "I had supper last night with some newspaper guys up in New Hampshire... the big hoo-rah reaction at the table came when one of the guys suggested that all the newspapers in the country simultaneously convert to paid web access only on Bastille Day. You know, $40 or $50 a year, or the papers? website just won?t open past the front page! It's sort of a general strike of the Mother Ship of All News Providers. The first to panic and subscribe would be local television and radio station affiliates whose staffs wouldn't have a clue how to find out anything without reading the paper first. I kinda like it!"

I like it, too. In fact, I tweeted it. Join in the fun. It's called support your local journalism source!!

And on the Green and White front...Excitement is rampant on campus. The Spartans are Dancing with the Stars in Detroit. The Spartans beat UConn last night and now face North Carolina is the big game Monday Ford Field. Already the pundits are claiming a victory for the Tar Heels. With Izzo running the battle plan, the Spartans should never be underrated. Go Green!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Detroit Experiment launches

Tomorrow it begins. The first of a series of news media experiments in an effort to stave off the demise of the American newspaper. The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News will published three and two days a week, respectively. Smaller editions will be sold the other days of the week in the traditional yellow and red news boxes. Subscribers will get full access to an e-edition that will have the look (but not the feel) of the newspaper. Others will get their hard copies delivered by U.S. Mail.

Michigan media companies are the petri dishes of several new models. The various Booth newspapers around the state will launch other experiments this summer.

Meanwhile, the technology is racing against the clock to beat the wholesale demise of newspapers in the U.S. New products that would deliver slender, lightweight devices that will get automatic digital delivery of news sites are on the cusp. The Detroit Media Partnership is committed to one, Plastic Logic, while magazines are putting their money on other products.

Good journalism, watchdog journalism, the kind that?s vital to the health of the nation (not Britney updates), will survive the turmoil. Ink, newsprint and delivery trucks maybe a thing of the past.

Here?s to journalism in the very best tradition, like the Free Press? series on former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff. M.L. Elrick (a J-School alum) and Jim Schaefer, and a host of editors and supporting staff, did a tremendous job in the highest tradition of journalism. Long may it last.

Elrick and Schaefer will be honored with the first ever 1st Amendment Watchdog Award given by the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Now more than ever it?s important to recognize and salute great journalism. The duo have captured every major journalistic award this past year. The big one is left?the Pulitzer. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, J-School faculty unanimously approved a new innovative curriculum?the first overhaul in years. Our students will graduate with the skills needed to be entrepreneurial reporters, flexible and adaptable to the ongoing changes in the industry. From here it goes to College and University committees. We hope for the official rool out at the School?s centennial celebration, April 15-17, 2010. Mark the calendar. This is going to be the event of the next century!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Despite the Mich newspapers shake-up, the end really isn't near!

Ann Arbor News closing with a successor news operation to reopen as a web only site. Flint Journal, Saginaw News, Bay City Times combining operations for a three day a week print product, the others days online. Jackson Citizen-Patriot, Muskegon Chronicle, Grand Rapids Press more budget cutting. On March 31, the last daily edition of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News roll off the presses as those papers go to home delivery only on Sunday, Thursday and Friday (a pattern Flint, Saginaw and Bay City are adopting) with a streamlined edition in box sales or mailed to your home the rest of the week.

These are gutsy moves by frightened news executives frantically trying to weather the economic tsunami of the web’s impact on news delivery. Add to that the perfect storm of the economic depression (we here in Michigan know a depression when we see it), and you have the cumulative effect of the news of the past few month. The Rocky Mountain News gone. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer morphing to the web.

Is journalism dead? Should the J-School shut the doors or is this a paradigm shift? It’s a paradigm, baby, of colossal proportions. Think monks in monasteries and Gutenberg’s moveable type. Same impact. Different world—things happen much faster now.

News organizations should focus on their own news markets and cover the news that the web and major news sites cannot—the school board, the city council, the parks and rec folks, the cops and courts. These were always the heart and soul of the family-owned newspaper. As they disappeared, so did much of this kind of coverage. But it is coming back. The J-School is involved in a Tandem project in partnership with The Detroit’s News’ multiplatform editor Jonathan Morgan. The funding comes from a Knight Foundation Challenge grant and was the idea of a group of students.

The problem is the technology is a whisker behind the economic implosion and impact of the web. Products like a Kindle-like-iPhone or a Harry Potter on the train to Hogwarts with all those folks reading the constantly changing newspaper is just around the corner. Literally. Products like Plastic Logic are in the beta stages of thin, light products that are the ideal format for news delivery. Do you really think the cell phone screen is large enough? When the youngsters, turn 45 and presbyopia (that’s when the listings in the telephone book become unreadable and you now need glasses to read anything is called), cells phone screens are just too small. They can provide tweets and text alerts, but missing is a design that lets you know what information is the most important among the morass of info assaulting you at warp speed.

The times have changed. The news and information delivery models will be different. And news organizations like newspapers, TV and radio are scrambling to catch up (and frankly, somehow must have missed that press release when Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web, or Craigslist started running free classified and…the list goes on and on.

The J-School has aggressively repositioned itself with our proposed new curriculum that will include courses on entrepreneurship, more all round tech training to learn storytelling and interview methods not just for words but visually, and the virtual newsroom which will be launched in the Fall 2009 term.

The key is still and will always be the journalism.

The only thing to fear is if the journalism disappears because of it.

Will that happen? Absolutely not. All those news aggregator sites like Google, Yahoo, AOL and Drudge gather their news content from some of the same news media outlets that are in peril. They also need to recognize this problem and start hiring the hundreds of journalists to keep their coverage alive and vibrant.

This is shake up, break up and then we will make it up. The founding fathers didn’t protect a free press in the 1st Amendment to be nice guys. They did it because they got it that someone had to watchdog government and the press was the one entity to do that—fearlessly. Ask the former mayor of Detroit about that. Without the aggressive, persistence intrepid work of Free Press reporters M.L. Elrick (one of our alums) and Jim Schaefer (an Ohio State guy who does darn good work, too!), that story would never have been told. The abuse of powers and misconduct that cost Detroit taxpayers more than $9M never revealed and likely ongoing.

So hang on. This makes the worst roller coaster in the world look like a kiddie ride. This is scary, challenging, thrilling, fun and most of us will live through it and even benefit.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Faculty like break, too!

Faculty just want to have fun (and work, too!) on spring break!! We promise to avoid the beaches students like to hang-out!

Driving my mother to her place in Ft. Myers (after coordinating judging for the annual MIPA conference on Saturday)...Cheryl Pell

WORKING!! yea... we have a bunch of shows to put out for the Big Ten Network!...Troy Hale

I'm going to Florida to visit my sister. I'll only be gone four days, and two of those are traveling, so, I do not think I'll be spending too much time on the beach!...Darcy Greene

Headed down to New Orleans for a few days for my first visit since before Katrina to one of my favorite cities in the world. Looking forward to warm weather, good food and drink, and a firsthand at what a "heck of a job" really looks like...Michael Stamm

I will be having a BLAST! Will give three little talks and the keynote at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association conference in South Carolina. Will then head over to Depauw University in Indiana to spend the week under the Kilgore Program for visiting professionals...Joe Grimm

I am taking four students to the Michigan Association of Broadcasters conference next Wednesday to receive their honorable mention award for best newscast...Bob Gould

I'm working on completing requirements for my Master Hand Knitting Certificate. People don't realize how cut-throat and competitive things get in the world of advanced needlework. "Devise a way to block stockinette swatches so that the edges don't curl using only water and heat. You may not use another stitch as a selvedge edge." That's a feat that pretty much defies the laws of physics. Also have three novels by relatively new Indian/Sri Lankan authors to read and submit for review to "Rain Taxi," a lit mag out of Minneapolis...Jean Raber

My plans are to catch up on a backlog of papers that need to be graded and attend the Health Care for Journalists conference in Washington D.C. mid-week...Dave Poulson

I'm hanging around town and working. Pretty exciting?Huh!...Howard Bossen

I'm going to be a judge here: Gude

I'll be delivering a keynote address at the annual conference of the Association of Socio-Economic Researchers of Agriculture in Mexico The title of my presentation is "The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and the Agricultural Relationship between the United States and Mexico." The conference is from March 12-14 in Sinaloa, on the Mexico's Pacific coast, well known for its resorts in Mazatlan and its large agricultural sector...Manuel Chavez

I'm heading to Lakeland to spend time with my kids and the guy who is the incredibly talented voice of the Detroit Tigers and likely fielding hundreds of emails from students...L. A. Dickerson

I hope to get back into the studio and finish recording my (second) CD; its working title is "The Hat Album." There shouldn't be much rewriting to do on the story I just finished for "American Theatre" but I've left some time open, just in case, and it will set a good example for my students...Marty Kohn

Heading to a barrier island in Georgia to join my husband, our two dogs and one cat (who thinks he's a dog), and to eat lots of Georgia shrimp...Jane Briggs-Bunting

Safe travels all. See you back in a week.

Friday, February 27, 2009

J-School planning for JRN 3.0 upgade to courses

A lot has been happening in this busy term at the J-School.

To start, our students have been winning in the Hearst Foundation Journalism Awards. Joseph Terry won a ninth place, $500 scholarship in the sports writing competition. Eighty-seven students from 52 universities and colleges competed.

Knight Center Associate Director Dave Poulson launched a new blog,
. Dave is one of the big online innovator in the J-School. He started the Great Lakes wifi among other efforts. Karl Gude's student Susanna Tellschow for "How to Make a Paper Airplane" in Karl Gude's JRN 203 Info Graphics class Spring 2008. Her work is one of three College submission selected for the 2009 Design Re:view Exhibit opening April 23 at the Russell industrial Center in Detroit.

Gude just returned from conducting a workshop in San Jose for various groups on info graphics. He had rave reviews from participants. They about carried him off!

Cheryl Pell has been busy her usual 24/7 organizing today?s Michigan Interscholastic Press Association series of workshops attended by 70 plus students and advisers. The MIPA spring contest judging will be next weekend here on campus.

A Task Force of faculty, led by Darcy Greene, is putting the finishing touches on our reinvented undergraduate journalism curriculum with lots of focus on new media skills while retaining our core of teaching Journalism with a capital J. This will be the main topic of discussion at today's faculty meeting along with the MSU and Michigan budget issues.

Our proposed Master's degree in journalism education is nearing final (we hope!) approval stage. This will offer high school and middle school teachers an opportunity through online, off campus and intent week long summer courses to earn their graduate degree. We hope to officially launch this summer.

MLive editor/producer and adjunct J-School faculty member (and alum) Shawn Smith was the speaker at a faculty BYTE session today. I vow to get going on Twitter, tweets, networking sites and others. This is such a great time to be in journalism. There might be gloom and doom on the streets as newspapers hold (goodbye Rocky Mountain News) but the opportunities for entrepreneurial journalism and committing it in the very best ways are what our future is about. Shawn is one of those leading the way.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Journalism is in danger south of the border

MEXICO CITY---Hola! As MSU’s campus is shrouded in ice and snow, I undertook the arduous task of
heading off to Phoenix and Mexico City on a development trip and to a meeting.

The development piece was successful, and I had a wonderful meeting with former
Starbucks VP Wanda Herndon, a funny, witty, talented and terrific lady who splits her
time between Phoenix and Seattle. She has a great story to tell, and she’ll be on campus
next year to do so.

The trip to Mexico City was for the winter meeting of the Association of School of
Journalism and Mass Communication. It’s a workshop format with the main focus this
year being the possibilities of exchanges and opportunities for U.S. students with
schools in Mexico, Chile and Peru. One of the more tantalizing opportunities is a
modestly priced three week intense Spanish Language. For $2,299 students can spend
three weeks taking language and immersion classes. The cost includes the classes,
housing with a Mexican family (students share a double room) and three meals a day.

I have long believed the U.S. needs to be more fluent in languages other than our own.
For a journalist, fluency in a language like Spanish would be invaluable. My pathetic
attempts at Spanish after a year of intermittent study embarrass me. My French is better
though rusty from lack of use. I still default to it.

I also am chairing a panel on reaccreditation. As a recent veteran of the process, the
idea is to help deans and directors in other schools with some practical tricks.

But, the most moving part of the conference was the speech at the opening reception by
longtime J-School supporter, Alejandro Junco, publisher and CEO of the largest chain of
newspapers, Grupo Reforma. Alejandro funded our Mary Gardner Scholars program to
honor his former teacher and mentor, the late Dr. Mary Adelaide Gardner.

Junco is largely credited with creating U.S. style journalism in Mexico which led to
significant reforms and the emerging democracy that is Mexico today. But Mexico is also
a place of great danger for journalists and anyone who dares challenge the rising
insurgency of drug cartels, or narco-terrorists, as he calls them. His is a call to arms.
I’ve linked his speech for you. Read it, please. The threat to us on our southern border is
real—should Mexico implode we will have a greater terrorist problem on our border that
anywhere else in the world.

With courage and at great personal risk, he is working to identify the systemic and
endemic problems, and he is asking for help through funded research projects that could
include a broad spectrum of graduate and senior undergraduate students with a mass
distribution project (this is where journalism becomes critical). Stay tuned for more on

But most importantly read his speech. His belief is if that some key micro problems can
be solved, then small steps like this will transform Mexico and the process can be
replicated in other nascent democracies around the world.

I’ll be back on campus next week. Adios until then.

Monday, January 12, 2009

You're back and it's started!

Welcome back to what we here at MSU euphemistically call the spring term. How it can be spring in January when it’s frigid, snowy and always gray is beyond me. But, hey, we are ever the optimists!

Hope you all had a terrific break and are ready to hit the books. It’s an exciting term ahead beginning with next week’s presidential inauguration. The State News is send a team to cover that live.

Want a chance to win a $1,000 prize and a $3,000 scholarship? In these tough economic times, that could be really, really helpful. The catch—you just need to write a 2,500 (or less) word essay and enter it in the Howell Essay Contest.

This year’s question is: Editorial cartoons have been a part of daily newspapers’ election coverage for decades, and these caricatures of candidates produce biased messages that can be construed as propaganda.* How did this and/or other forms of comedy assist in or combat the circulation of propaganda during the 2008 presidential election season? Analyze and cite examples from print and broadcast media (i.e. daily newspapers, Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, late-night talk shows, etc.).

The contest is funded by the Walter S. and Syrena M. Howell Award and Scholarship Fund.

*The goal of the Howell Essay Fund is to encourage student analysis of propaganda defined as “the use of unproven and/or unverifiable assumptions in a report or statement of allegations reflecting the view and interests of its advocates.”
Please note: If a student is receiving financial aid, the award of a scholarship or prize money could impact him/her.

Entering is easy! Just pick up an application in the bins on the third floor by the elevator near the J-School Offices. Only Com Arts & Sciences majors are eligible to enter. Deadline: 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

Stay tuned juniors for the soon to be announced Mary Adelaide Gardner Scholarship application deadline. The scholarship will pay a full year’s tuition for the lucky soon to be senior. More to come on this later.

J-School faculty and students were big winners again this year at the Great Lakes Environmental Film Festival in Bay City, Michigan on a snowy Saturday, Jan. 10. Congratulations to Lou D'Aria and Amol Pavangadkar and their students from the J-School’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism in the School of Journalism for their big wins (second year on a row!) for college videos and PSAs at the 2009 Great Lakes

Andrew Price and Kevin Wilt won $1,000 and first place in the college feature category for "Meltdown," their film about the impact of climate change on the Arctic. The film's production was overseen by Lou D'Aria, a Knight Center instructor in the School of Journalism, and it was broadcast on WKAR-TV last summer.

Anisa Abid, who graduated with a master's degree in environmental journalism from MSU in December, won second prize in the college feature category for her documentary about biodiversity in Madagascar. Anisa has been hired to work at National Geographic Television.

Adam Rademacher and six other MSU students won first and second place in the college PSA Short category for the videos they created as part of Amol Pavangadkar's classes at MSU. Both these spots were a part of the Bioeconomy project, which was launched late last semester ( Other members of the team included Matt Kus, Brent Kreystan, Robert Peek, Tim Veldman, Josh Frank and Steven Scherba.

Today we said good bye to our current dean Dr. Chuck Salmon who is heading off to a research position in Israel with his family. Good luck, Chuck. We also welcome interim dean Dr. Brad Greenberg who will take over the helm until a permanent dean is selected. The search for Chuck’s replacement is ongoing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some thoughts on the change in news delivery in Detroit

The major change in news delivery in the Detroit market with the announcement by the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News on the shift to online represents a sea change.

Across the nation the delivery model is certainly in flux. Ad revenues have dropped, circulation has declined. Some newspapers are losing money, others are not in the red but not as profitable as in the past worrying and irritating investors, and that has led to forced sales, and this downward spiral

As the home state of Dr. Kevorkian, we do know a lot about assisted suicide, and news companies across the country have been doing a very good job of killing themselves off. With buyouts, layoffs and positions remaining unfilled, the content has shrunk, the stories being covered (with the exception of the terrific job the Freep has done on the Detroit mayor and the $9M settlement) barely skim the surface of the news in the area. The editors and reporters with the experience and institutional memory of stories and background are now gone or soon to be leaving.

The delivery model is changing. The digital natives and immigrants are getting their news from a variety of sources and not through home pages of newspapers or news stations. They are going through aggregators.

I don’t have any answers. I do think the technology has not caught up with the need for change in the industry. In some of the Harry Potter flicks, the folks in the train are reading newspapers that constantly change. I foresee something like that in the future. MIT has already developed e-ink and Esquire used it on its October 2008 cover. Amazon’s Kindle is a first generation prototype of what may be coming down the road in a flatter, slightly larger, more “newspapery” looking device. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I also think more and more info will migrate to cell phones.

Well known “news brands” will continue to disappear (think Knight and more newspapers), but a new group of locally produced sites will take over some of the functions of our mile wide and inch deep legacy. Breaking significant news events, national tragedies or disasters, etc. may help solidify these new ventures as go-to place for news much like CNN earned credibility during Gulf I.

I am worried about the journalism as this evolves and how long the evolution/revolution takes. If you neuter and defang the watchdog, what happens to the nation? Just some ruminations on a snowy afternoon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

J-School Scholarship Winners Announced

More than $39,000 in the first wave of scholarship money was awarded to J-School majors for the upcoming 2009 calendar year. We anticipate another $40,000 in scholarship awards will be announced in spring term 2009.

Awards ranged from $4,000 to $500. Additional scholarship money will be distributed later in the Spring 2009 terms for use in the summer and fall terms.

Award winners are:

Albert A. Applegate Scholarship
Amanda Peterka and Jennifer Orlando

Len Barnes AAA of Michigan Scholarship
Gordon Shelter

Joe Fall/Detroit News Scholarship
Michael Caples

Bob Gross Scholarship
Erica Larson

Kyle C. Kerbawy Scholarship
Miron Varhouhakis

W. Cameron Meyers Scholarship
Kelly House

Larry P. Miller Scholarship
Jordan Barnes

Mary Elizabeth Mangner Neil Scholarship
Abby Lubbers

Robert Popa Scholarship
Matt Cimitile
Joey Nowak

Gordon Sabine Scholarship
Ursula Zerilli

Stan Soffin Scholarship
Jessica Lipowski

Susan Goldberg Scholarship
Jessica Lipowski

Victor G. Spaniolo Scholarship
Kristen Daum

Ken Winter Scholarship
Matthew Mikus

Congratulations to all our scholarship winners and thank you to our alumni and donors who fund these scholarships.

Other scholarships will be awarded in the spring 2009 term including the full tuition Mary Adelaide Gardner Scholarship for students who will be seniors in the Fall 2009-Spring 2010. Watch for announcements to apply for this scholarship.

Also journalism majors and any other major within the College of Communication Arts and Sciences are encouraged to enter the Walter and Syrena Howell Essay Contest for a $1,000 prize and a $3,000 scholarship. Only one will be awarded for a 2,500 word essay. This year’s topic for the 2,500 word essay is about bias and its impact in editorial cartoons.

“Editorial cartoons have been a part of daily newspapers’ election coverage for decades, and these caricatures of candidates produce biased messages that can be construed as propaganda. How did this and/or other forms of comedy assist in or combat the circulation of propaganda during the 2008 presidential season? Analyze and cite examples from print and broadcast media (i.e. daily newspapers, Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, late night talk shows, etc.).” The deadline for entry is 5 p.m. EST, Friday, January 23 in 305 Com Arts.

Take some time over the holiday break to research and write this essay. We only had five entries last year for $4,000!!! In these lean economic times, we should be swamped with entries.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Scholarship winners notified, Neal Shine Lecture Online

Stay tuned for upcoming events next year including the Walter and Syrena Howell Essay Contest on media bias. The winning essay writer will receive a $1,000 award and a $3,000 scholarship. In addition, next fall’s seniors must apply in the spring for a fully paid year of tuition from the Mary Adelaide Gardner Trust Fund. Check your email, the website and the bulletin boards for more information.

If you missed the Neal Shine Ethics Lecture on November 20, you can view the entire lecture on SpartanTV . Under the monitor on the screen click "On Demand", then scroll down to "Special Lectures." Click on the and select the "Neal Shine Lecture."

M.L. Elrick, Jim Schaefer and Brian Kaufman of the Detroit Free Press did a superb job detailing their now year long effort covering the Detroit Mayoral scandal. The most poignant moment came at the beginning of the lecture when all three stood up to announce they were each wearing one of the late, great Neal Shine’s blazers. Elrick, wearing a remarkable green suit coat (and we LOVE green around here), teased Neal’s wife Phyllis about the color. Since the lecture, the former Detroit mayor's chief of staff has now also plead guilty and faces jail time and restitution just like the former Mayor. Good solid watchdog journalism at its best.

Keeping that kind of journalism is so important and increasingly rare what with buyouts, layoffs, staff recutions, consolidations, sales and mergers of media companies. It's a real shake-up of the news industry. This is also a time for tremednous opportunity for students in the J-School and recent graduates. You will be leaders changing the industry.

If you applied for a scholarship, stay tuned. Professor Dickerson has notified the winners.The Outreach Committee was hard at work going through applications this afternoon. Decision will be announced soon—in time to help pay for some of next term’s tuition costs. Remember you must turn in a written thank you note to the donor before any scholarship money is released.

Good luck on exams and good luck to all of us on the faculty who will be grading them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The end is really near!

It’s here. The final week of the term with commencement Friday and Saturday and finals the following week.

Where did the term go?? I wrapped up my Computer Assisted Reporting class tonight. We packed a lot of spreadsheet, database and mapping into this advanced level reporting course. I hope the students had as much fun as I did.

The Neal Shine Ethics Lecture on November 20 was amazing. M.L. Elrick, Jim Schaefer and Brian Kaufman of the Detroit Free Press did an outstanding job detailing their now year long effort covering the Detroit Mayoral scandal. The most poignant moment came at the beginning of the lecture when all three stood up to announce they were each wearing one of the late, great Neal Shine’s blazers. Elrick, wearing a remarkable green suit coat (and we LOVE green around here), teased Neal’s wife Phyllis about the color.

It was a terrific evening. The dinner after the lecture allowed students Kristen Daum and Craig Trudell to get to know the three journalists.

If you applied for a scholarship, stay tuned. The Outreach Committee was hard at work going through applications this afternoon. Decision will be announced soon—in time to help pay for some of next term’s tuition costs.

Good luck on exams, next week and good luck to all of us on the faculty who will be grading them.

Stay tuned for upcoming events next year including the Walter and Syrena Howell Essay Contest on media bias. The winning essay writer will receive a $1,000 award and a $3,000 scholarship. In addition, next fall’s seniors must apply in the spring for a fully paid year of tuition from the Mary Adelaide Gardner Trust Fund. Check your email, the website and the bulletin boards for more information.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Neal Shine Lecture Thursday features the Detroit Free Press team that broke the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal

Wow. I have been delinquent. Too much has been going on, and I let my blog slide.


Thursday we are hosting what is the biggest event of the term—the 8th annual Neal Shine Ethics Lecture. The Detroit Free Press team of M.L. Elrick (a J-School alum), Jim Schaefer (an Ohio State alum—we still like him despite that!) and visual journalist Brian Kaufman are the featured speakers for the lecture: Watchdog Journalism Detroit Style: The Kwame Kilpatrick Mayoral Scandal. Be there at 4 p.m., in 145 CAS. If you miss it, you will be able to see it later on The late Neal Shine would have been so proud of his staff and their excellent, ethical reporting work. And there is likely more to come! Miss you, dear friend. You were the greatest editor ever and the soul and conscience of the Free Press. Your legacy lives on with this lecture.

Last weekend, we held our Knight Center for Environmental Journalism fundraiser, Green on the Screen featuring more than a dozen environmentally oriented documentaries including two produced by students in our classes and two more children’s films produced by alums. It was a great, green weekend.

Major Jeremy Whiting was recently honored as a Future Journalism Teacher by the Journalism Education Association at its meeting in St. Louis last weekend.

Alum Derek Wallbank and current J-School adjunct faculty member Christ Andrews, both formerly of the Lansing State Journal shared top honors in The Excellence in Statehouse Reporting award, known in the group as a "Cappie," was for their "State Employees: Under Siege?" report, which ran earlier this year. The duo won in the category of single report for newspapers under 75,000 circulation. The report, which came a few weeks after the LSJ published a database of most state employees' salaries, was designed as an in-depth look at the state employee compensation system - particularly how state workers compared to professionals in other states and to the private sector.

Our curriculum revision team led by Darcy Greene is putting the final touches on reinventing journalism education. The grand roll out will be at the J-School faculty meeting next month. Then we start the approval process.

Our proposed M.A. in Journalism Education is nearing the final approval process thanks to the excellent work of Cheryl Pell and Lucinda Davenport and our colleagues in the College of Education, especially Associate Dean Cass Book and Secondary Ed chair Suzanne Wilson. Both are true facilitators of great ideas.

We finished next year’s schedule, are actively engaged in a search for a new tenure line faculty member in digital journalism and have started our search for a new dean for the College.

Then there was the election. Our students were all over it broadcasting for four hours live from four remote locations on SpartanTV. If you missed it you can check it out at Great job by our students (including some from the Telecom Department), the CAS IT folks and faculty members Bob Gould and Troy Hale. Meanwhile, other J-School students and others were blogging live to The Detroit News and still others were covering polls and coverage for other news organizations.

Whew! It’s been busy. I will do better on keeping you updated.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Catch SpartanTV coverage, speakers and the future

Whoa—what a busy few weeks it’s been.

We have so many exciting events coming up in November and important matters to deal with this month, as well. Check out all the highlights at and look under News and Events.

The two biggies are the Green on the Screen Environmental Film Festival, November 13-15 and the Neal Shine Ethics Lecture with the Detroit Free Press team that uncovered the Detroit Mayoral scandal. Reporters M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaeffer and videographer Brian Kaufman will be discussing their work at 4 p.m., Thursday, November 20 in 145 CAS.

Next year’s schedule of classes is pretty much decided. Students won’t get to register until April, and there is still some wrangling to do over lab space, but we have tried very hard to provide students with the courses they need to graduate on time.

We are also doing a search for a new tenure system faculty member in Digital Journalism. This new position will continue our reinvention of journalism education.

Task Force members on the faculty have resumed work on reinventing the undergraduate curriculum and we hope to unveil our ideas to colleagues he near future.

We will have J-School students in a lot of different venues on Election Day. Our highly skilled journalists are much in demand by media outlets inside and outside Michigan.

Be sure to check out the live web election coverage on And also be sure to vote.

And way to go Spartans. They creamed our in-state arch rivals last Saturday. Those poor Wolverines from “southern” Michigan University are having a tough year. They will recover. I just hope our Spartans continue their winning ways.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

J-students swarm campus to cover Obama

Busy day on campus with the visit and speech by Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

J-School students are on high alert and are swarming Adam’s Field on campus to cover the event for various classes and doing some live video streaming on Our Focal Point staff is in the thick of things. The State News is twittering on its website at We also have students blogging for the Lansing State Journal.

Read, see and view all the coverage. This is what makes the J-School such a great place to learn how to "commit" journalism.

Michigan is a swing state that both candidates need to grab.

It’s great to have Obama on campus, and, I hope, GOP nominee John McCain makes MSU a stop, as well.

Then there’s the vice presidential debate tonight! This is democracy as it should be happening.