Monday, October 31, 2011

Events as Journalism

Monday, October 31, 2011

It’s a chilly, fall Thursday night, yet more than 80 people have packed an auditorium in the Experimental Station’s location at 61st and Blackstone on Chicago’s south side. They’re here to hear author Ralph Richard Banks discuss his provocative new book “Is Marriage for White People? How the African American marriage decline affects everyone.” Banks is an informed and engaging speaker, and his earnest style hide his controversial thesis that black women could do themselves – and black marriage rates - a favor by seeking partners of other races.

It’s a well-moderated, informative discussion on a timely and important topic. But it raises a question outside of the realm of Banks’ book: Are events journalism? Though the question harkens back to the early ‘90s, when Civic Journalism was the rage, it seems much more at home in today’s world when journalists are eager to engage audiences and are more comfortable with breaking taboos and barriers.
In an essay from July of this year on the Nieman Journalism Lab web site, Andrew Phelps describes how Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune has brought back ‘blogs, multimedia, troves of government data, and something old-fashioned for an online news startup: face-to-face conversations.’
Since its founding in 2009, Phelps explains, the Tribune has hosted more than 60 events. “Events are journalism – events are content,’ Smith told Nieman. “And in this new world, content comes to you and you create it in many forms.” 

Plus, in this shoestring budget era, they can become an important source of revenue.
“Sometimes people want to learn about things by reading about them,’ says Jan Schaffer, executive director of American University’s J-LAB. “ And sometimes people want to learn about things by watching something or listening to someone, without a reporter intervening. The act of meeting and learning from one another seems to me to be an easy fit with journalism.  The act of interviewing a newsmaker in person in front of an audience is also an act of journalism.”
The interview with Banks explores the ‘precipitous’ decline in marriage amongst middle class African Americans because no one, he says, had focused much attention on the topic. He explores the cultural and economic reasons that marriage has declined amongst African Americans, why black women feel compelled to marry within their race, the power dynamic that takes place when members of a larger group marry partners in a demographic that is in short supply, and some of the reasons that have kept black women from seeking out partners of other races. The audience is eager to jump in with questions and comments.
As host Jamie Kalven said in introductory remarks: “Tonight is one in a series of occasional public conversations meant to escape convention. To create a space where it’s possible to explore challenges and concepts. You’re not an audience, you’re participants in a conversation.”

--Mark Hallett, senior program officer

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Upcoming Nov. 1 Panel Discussion on Balancing Facts and Faith

Friday, October 28, 2011

The News Literacy Project is teaming up with Chicago's Northside College Prep High School to host a panel discussion event on Covering Religion: How to Balance Facts and Faith in the Search for Truth.

The event starts at 7 pm on Nov. 1, 2011 at the Northside College Prep Auditorium.

NLP invites high school journalism students to cover this event and interview the panelists. They'll even help you arrange an interview. For more information, go to

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teachers: Apply to Participate in a Face-to-Face Conversation with a Journalist

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We're pleased to announce a new news literacy program that helps connect classrooms with journalists via video conferencing. 

New Journalism Program Receives $42,000 Grant from the McCormick Foundation to Lead Virtual Conversations with Hard-to-Reach Journalists

FORT MYERS, FL -Florida Gulf Coast University’s newly created journalism program has been awarded a $42,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to launch Face-to-Face: Conversations with Journalists. The grant will allow high school, undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States to talk virtually with journalists who have covered news in hard-to-reach areas. 

“These are journalists whom students would never otherwise meet,” said Lyn Millner, who leads FGCU’s journalism program and who created the project. “Students will learn how these reporters make decisions, verify information and report the truth—especially in challenging environments.”

FGCU will partner with Poynter’s News University in St. Petersburg, Fla., and with Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy in Long Island, NY, to produce the Face-to-Face conversations. Millner and new associate professor of journalism Rick Kenney will develop companion teaching resource materials as part of the project.

“We welcome FGCU to our grantee portfolio,” said McCormick Foundation Journalism Program Director Clark Bell. “News literacy anchors our strategy of building a more informed, news-literate and engaged citizenry. We expect the FGCU-Stony Brook-Poynter collaboration will make a major contribution to the effort.” 

Face-to-Face is part of a national news literacy education movement, which FGCU has brought to southwest Florida. FGCU is one of only two higher-education institutions in Florida that are formally involved with Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy. 

“Poynter NewsU is excited that these conversations will be a resource for teachers from around the world,” said Howard Finberg, News University’s Director of Interactive Learning.

The first Face-to-Face conversation will be held in January 2012. High schools and universities may apply to participate in a Face-to-Face conversation at Poynter’s NewsU:

For more information contact Lyn Millner at (239) 590-7257 or

About Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Gulf Coast University, a member of the State University System of Florida, is a comprehensive university created to address the educational needs of the rapidly growing Southwest Florida population. FGCU continuously pursues academic excellence, practices and promotes environmental sustainability, embraces diversity, nurtures community partnerships, values public service, encourages civic responsibility, cultivates habits of lifelong learning, and keeps the advancement of knowledge and pursuit of truth as noble ideals at the heart of the university’s purpose.

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the nation's largest foundations, with more than $1 billion in assets. For more information, please visit
About Poynter’s News University
Poynter’s News University ( offers training to journalists, journalism students, teachers and the public through more than 225 interactive e-learning modules and other forms of training. It has more than 195,000 registered users in 225 countries.
The Poynter Institute trains journalism practitioners, media leaders, educators and citizens in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter's website, ( is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicago Town Hall Stresses Safety in the Online World

Monday, October 24, 2011

With more than 700 million users worldwide, Facebook has emerged as the single largest online teen forum. With that comes all of the richness of teen life—the bonding, sharing, and exploring – but also the gossip, flirting and drama.

And yes, the bullying too.

In a crowded auditorium in Chicago’s Field Museum on Oct. 18, a forum presented by Common Sense Media (a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps kids and families navigate the world of media and technology), Yahoo! Safely, and MTV’s A Thin Line explored not only what damage is done by cyberbullying but also what teens, teachers and parents can do in response.

Sponsored by the MacArthur and McCormick Foundations, and supported by Chicago Public Schools, SCE and Beyondmedia Education, the “Stand Up to Cyberbullying” town hall engaged a live audience of more than 400 Chicago teens. More than 3,500 others followed the live stream. Youth represented Free Spirit Media, Boys and Girls Clubs, the communities of Englewood and Pilsen, and the Southwest Youth Collaborative.

The audience viewed a short clip of “Your Social Life,” a video documentary on the topic of cyberbullying created by Beyondmedia Education, a Chicago nonprofit that works with under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories. (To see a clip of “Your Social Life,” click 

Moderated by MTV News correspondent SuChin Pak, the panel included:
  • John E. Connolly – Education Technology Director, Chicago Public Schools
  • Mike Hawkins – YouMedia Coordinator/Lead Mentor
  • Rosalind Moore – parent
  • Tiffany Witkowski – Senior, Von Steuben High School
  • Montel Williams – recent graduate of North Lawndale College Prep High School
Hands across the crowd of 400 shot up when SuChin Pak began by asking how many teens present use Facebook. And asked how many were personally aware of cyberbullying incidents, a surprising 1/3 or so went up.

Tiffany Witkowski was asked what she learned in the process of working on the documentary “Your Social Life.” She responded that the biggest surprise what that the phenomenon known as ‘sexting’ is considered cyberbullying and can actually have legal consequences. “If you’re under the age of 18 and you send these photos, forward them, even just have them in your cell phone, you can be put on a sex offender’s list, can’t go to certain schools, can’t live in certain communities… I was shocked.”

Mike Hawkins, a lead mentor at Chicago’s innovative YouMedia space (an innovative teen learning space at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library), explained that part of the problem is that youth enter the digital world with no guidance. “Kids aren’t taught the critical aspects of media – what it is, how to navigate it. They’re left to their own accord.”

The panel included a mother of two teenagers, Rosalind Moore, who is also a program manager for Teamwork Englewood, a nonprofit organization. When asked what rules she enforces around social media use at home, she explained that when her kids were younger, there was simply a time limit. No computer before homework.

“But as they got older,’ she explained, ‘the rules lessened. Lots of parents want their children’s passwords. I never did that. We just had an agreement that they’d come to me if things got out of hand.”
Both of her children personally experienced incidences of cyberbullying – her daughter when her Facebook account was hacked by an ex-boyfriend, and her son when classmates took photos meant to mock him on a class trip and posted them online.

When asked if she is currently Facebook friends with her children, Ms. Moore responded (to the laughter of the audience) that she is not - but is friends with all of their friends.

As head of Education Technology for the Chicago Public Schools, panelist John Connolly has a unique perspective on the issue. Asked how he’s working with schools and teachers around cyberbullying in the country’s third largest school system, Connolly said that CPS is rolling out a curriculum in partnership with Common Sense Media.

“Four or five years ago,’ he explained, ‘the concept was ‘Let’s block this site.’ Now it’s moving toward ‘Let’s leverage these sites and educate our kids through curriculum in a controlled environment, to show them how to leverage the technology in a responsible way.’”

In that time, a lot has changed. This point was driven home when Pak asked Montel Williams, a recent high school graduate, how social media is different today than when he started in high school. Williams explained that at that time, he had an email account, but no Facebook page, and he wasn’t texting either.
But while most teens choose to be engaged in Facebook and other social media, some are opting out altogether. Witkowski said that she no longer has a Facebook page. “I found it pointless. I was getting mildly harassed on Facebook. That was my solution for getting rid of the cyberbullying. It’s perplexing to me that everyone is so fascinated with what everyone else is doing.”

Pak asked the panelists how online and face-to-face bullying relate to one another. 

Williams explained that it can be easier to deal with in-person bullying. Many of today’s bullies hide behind the anonymity of the web.

“It’s almost cool to be mean today,’ Witkowski responded. “It’s so easy to bully online.  Today’s fist fights often start online.”

How do we start to figure out ways to build more positive communities online? 

“It starts at home,” Witkowski explained. “But if you can’t talk with a parent about it, you can talk with a teacher who knows you, knows the kind of work you produce, knows when you’re having an off day.” Ideally, there would be safe communities online where teachers could help resolve problems early on.
Such alternative online spaces exist, Hawkins said. At YouMedia and at the Hive Chicago (a network of museums, libraries and other groups creating youth-oriented digital learning spaces), students can maintain their Facebook page but also participate in alternative networks. “You can be mentored and understand you’re here to create, share and collaborate. These are safe spaces where you can engage and learn and share with your peers.”

When asked how schools respond to cases of cyberbullying, Connolly explained: “We encourage students, when bullied, to let parents and teachers know. When teachers see this occurring, we encourage them to work with the two students.”

At the same time though, let’s remember not to be too tough on the bullies, Moore stressed. “Hurt people hurt people. The person bullying is also affected. People who are happy and engaged and have full lives don’t think about ways to hurt someone. So we need to think – as teachers, friends and mentors – that the person hurting others is also hurting.”

It’s important that adults pay attention to this area - both the richness of it as well as the pitfalls and dangers. As Connie Yowell, director of education at the MacArthur Foundation put it in her introductory comments: “It’s a different day with digital media. These are incredibly powerful learning tools. You don’t want to say ‘turn it off.’ They’re tools for participation. So we want to say to parents: Participate. Be in there with your kids.”

--Mark Hallett, senior program officer

To see the entire town hall, click here:

McCormick Foundation Journalism Program grantees mentioned in this article:
Beyondmedia Education (
Common Sense Media (
Free Spirit Media (

Did You Know?
Common Sense Media makes resources available to help parents, teachers and teens address the issue of cyberbullying.
  • Download CSM’s cyberbullying toolkit at to access materials that you can use in your classroom
  • If you attended the event, you can get 1 CPDU by completing the forms online at CPS University
  • Teens
  • Learn more about your digital rights at
  • Join Hive Chicago’s youth social network by signing up at YouMedia at the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Townhall on Teen Unemployment: Presented by Columbia Links, Nov. 2, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Join the teen reporters from Columbia Links as they bring people together with their stories to find solutions to the plight of teen joblessness.The students will be hosting a town hall meeting on Nov. 2, 2011 at 618 S. Michigan Ave., Stage 2, starting at 5:30 p.m.  

In the meantime, check out the stories of Columbia Links students, who have worked tirelessly on their stories this past year. In addition to launching R_Wurd magazine.

The teen unemployment rate is several times higher than that of the national unemployment rate.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Say What? Young Chicago Authors Report on Segregation in Chicago

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Earlier this summer, Young Chicago Authors held its Say What Summer Institute summer wrap party at Navy Pier. Founded in 2002, Say What Magazine, a publication of Young Chicago Authors, gives teens the journalism tools and skills that they need to report, document and tell the stories that impact their lives and communities.

Students took on a reporting project with WBEZ's discussing segregation in Chicago. You can view the work of the students here. We love seeing great content collaborations between youth journalism organizations and community news. Keep up the great work!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Strengthening Community News in Chicago

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This summer, the University of North Carolina’s “Business Models for Community News in a Digital Age” initiative produced three workshops for community and ethnic media in Chicago.

This initiative harnesses the skills of UNC professor Penny Abernathy and journalism students who helped small, rural North Carolina community newspaper develop an Internet presence and provide lessons learned for similar news organizations.

Like their counterparts across the country in urban and rural settings alike, smaller community and ethnic news organizations in Chicago have struggled to establish a digital strategy. From July to September, Abernathy hosted a series of  seminars at the Community Workshop that shared lessons learned from local Chicago news organizations including, Hi India, Extra and the Chicago Crusader. Missed the presentation? Download the PowerPoint slideshow and video from the seminar.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Open Youth Networks: Finalist in Apps for Metro Chicago Contest

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We're excited to hear that Open Youth Networks at Columbia College has been named one of ten finalists in Apps for Metro Chicago, sponsored by the Mayor's Office

Developed by Open Youth Networks with a team of women software engineers and students from Columbia College, IIT and UIC, Mi Parque - Little Village is a bilingual participatory placemaking web and smartphone application that helps residents of Little Village ensure that their new park is maintained as a vibrant, safe, open and healthy green space for the community. 

It's great to see creative innovation at the intersection of community engagement and technology. 

Like Mi Parque?  Public voting is live until October 14th, 5 p.m.

The voting process involves: 

  1. Creating a login by clicking here:
  2. Voting for at least 3 and no more than 5 of the ten finalists in the community round. Therefore, review the apps first here:
  3. OYN will donate any prize money to its community partner, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

Learn More

Apps for Metro Chicago site:

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Apply Now for $35,000-$50,000 to Host a Reporting Workshop

Monday, October 10, 2011

Have an idea for a workshop for journalists? The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, in partnership with The Poynter Institute, welcomes applications from universities, journalism organizations and others to develop two-day training programs on key topics in 2012. Learn more and apply now to host a Specialized Reporting Institute in 2012.

Specialized Reporting Institutes (SRIs) are designed to meet the growing need to provide journalists and others with subject-specific expertise and practical reporting training on issues in the news. This year’s hosts conducted training for reporters on these topics:

  • Covering the impact of the economic crisis on American families (Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation/Associated Press Managing Editors Foundation)
  • Tracking stimulus dollars and covering the budget crisis in your community (Boston University/New England Center for Investigative Reporting)
  • Covering public pensions (Society of American Business Editors and Writers)
  • Political polling (American University School of Communication)
  • Census coverage: Going deep with demographic and economic data (Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University)
  • Covering Islam in the Bible Belt (Middle Tennessee State University School of Journalism)
  • Elections 2012:  The campaign for social media, a workshop planned for Oct. 25-27 (The Poynter Institute).
Applications are being accepted from universities, non-profits, training groups and others who would like to host an SRI in 2012.  For details, go to Apply by Nov. 15.

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Upcoming Town Hall Meeting on Jobless Teens

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mark your calendar for an upcoming town hall meeting on teen jobs, hosted by our friends at Columbia LINKS.

Columbia Links, a teen reporting academy, invites you to its town hall meeting, "Not Hiring: The Plight of Jobless Teens," moderated by journalist and media commentator Laura Washington at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011. The evening will also launch the newest edition of R_Wurd, the teen magazine produced by Columbia Links students.

The latest government figures show teen unemployment at 25.4 percent nationwide in August 2011, nearly triple that of other major worker groups: adult men (8.9 percent), adult women (8.0 percent). Overall, 14 million Americans or 9.1 percent remain mired in joblessness. 

And numbers for summer 2011 are even bleaker for black teens: 46.5 percent in August, up from 39.2 percent in July, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The discussion is just beginning. Now let's act. We welcome your participation on Nov. 2.

Guests confirmed:
Jack Wuest of the Alternative School Network and who commissioned the Center for Labor Market study on teens and unemployment.
Jhatayn Travis, executive director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization and part of the coalition of community groups that sponsored teen hears and marches to Springfield and Washington this summer. 
U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush and/or Anton Seals, Cong. Rush's District Program Manager,  sponsor on teens and employment on the federal level.
Phillip Jackson, president and founder of the Black Star Project.
Teen panelists

Pending guests:
Andrea Zopp, president of the Chicago Urban League.
State Rep. Esther Golar, sponsor of the Teen Unemployment Bill 3631 on the state level.
The Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel
School Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard

So SAVE THE DATE for the Columbia Links town hall meeting and launch of the newest edition of R_Wurd (the Columbia Links teen magazine):
"Not Hiring: The Plight of Jobless Teens
5:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 2, 2011
Stage 2 at Columbia College Chicago
618 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago 60605

Also, check out the Columbia Links site at and see the video on jobless teens titled "The Summer Blues" (it's the one with the male teen standing in front of the Best Buy store).

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Loyola Hosts Diversity Sports Media Institute

Friday, October 07, 2011

Students in action during the Diversity Sports Media Institute at Loyola this summer.
With support from the McCormick Foundation, Loyola’s School of Communication hosted a sports journalism camp for Chicago high school students from Aug. 1-5. As part of the Diversity Sports Media Institute at Indiana University School of Journalism, a group of 12 juniors and seniors spent a week interviewing top names in professional sports and learning how to share stories from the sidelines. 

In the past, the camp has only taken place at Indiana University, but Don Heider, dean of the School of Communication, and Ralph Braseth, clinical professor of journalism, were asked if they would be interested in hosting the workshop. Heider and Braseth took the opportunity because of its close alignment with the University’s mission to partner with the surrounding community. The students spent the week gathering information for two projects: six of the students are designing a “highly functional website” and the other six are producing a TV show. Check out a sample of their writing and blogs on their website.

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