Time for a new adventure

Posted: October 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism, Personal | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments »

In this case, adventure is at Duke!

Over the course of a week last summer, I made a few huge, rapid-fire life changes. I left my job as a Web producer with News 14 Carolina, married the love of my life and started (essentially) a brand new career as one of the editorial advisers at N.C. State Student Media.

While the timing was mild insanity, the decisions themselves weren’t difficult. Two great years at the station transformed me from a print guy clueless about the TV news business to a specialist in Web editing, breaking news and social media. I had managed to find a beautiful, intelligent woman who puts up with (nay, encourages) my love of video games, sci-fi movies and fantasy novels. And the new production assistant gig gave me the opportunity to return to my alma mater and work with the very publications that made me the journalist I am today.

I figured the new job would be a four-year investment, minimum. I wanted to see the students I advised graduate and move on. I wanted to see young writers, photographers and designers work their way up to editors. I wanted to see these publications grow.

Then I got a phone call. Read the rest of this entry »


Overzealous sergeant at arms boots pressman

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Press corps represent!

Ruh roh.

Looks like a North Carolina House of Representatives official got a little uppity today with seasoned News & Record political reporter Mark Binker. A member of the sergeant at arms’ staff had the courtesy to provide Binker with an armed escort straight out of the room Tuesday after the reporter refused to sign in.

As Binker points out in his post, there’s no law that says he, or any member of the public, has to sign in at all.

He was only kept out of the room for about 10 minutes and the sergeant at arms apologized, but Binker denounced the “thuggish behavior” not on the basis that it harmed his ability to report, but because of the potential repercussions on the public’s right to transparency in government.

Residents of this state should feel that they can come and watch their government in action without being coerced to sign in. What if some little old lady from the hinter lands wanted to come and hear about a bill that might affect her, but didn’t want to subject her name to the public record?

Hopefully this will turn into a teachable moment for the staffers at the General Assembly, which should understand their responsibility to the public they serve. But just in case, I’ll keep the T-shirt screen printer at the ready.


Inside jokes should stay inside

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Image courtesy of WQAD.

Accidents happen—especially in a college newsroom.

But there’s a difference between the usual stress-induced mistakes and knowingly putting yourself in a less-than-ideal situation.

That’s what the Western Courier, a thrice-weekly student newspaper at Western Illinois University, did Monday when it left a vulgar byline in the template, resulting in a much worse stress-induced situation. The staff accidentally forgot to change the byline for a sports story on the back page of the issue, indicating the author was a “bad mother [expletive],” according to a WQAD report.

Editor-in-Chief Ed Komenda said the error was a byproduct of the stressful environment and had been in the page’s template for years.

“In any newsroom situation, it’s a highly stressful situation. Jokes are made sometimes to defuse that stress and make everybody feel a little more comfortable,” said Komenda. “That byline was in the template for years before I started, and it just so happens it got printed accidentally,” according to WQAD.

The paper issued a formal apology Monday, but the damage was done.

Let’s be honest: This isn’t the first time a student-run newspaper’s fun has leaked onto its pages, but it’s one of the most preventable mistakes for student journalists.

I’ve never been a fan of anything other than standard filler text—and this is why. There are other ways to diffuse the natural stress of a college newsroom. The other part of the problem is this byline has been on the template for “years.” Students have to understand that the newspaper is the one thing in the newsroom that shouldn’t become subject to college playfulness.

Juvenile mistakes like the Courier’s not only affect readers’ views toward the paper’s credibility, but also — and more importantly — the staff’s view of their own publication.

If you’re going to choose personal phrases to fill space, be advised, you’re playing against the house.

Nathan Hardin is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where he served as the news editor of the school’s daily student newspaper, the Technician. He is also a staff writer for the Student Press Law Center.


Paying homage to great design

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Student Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I’m just too excited not to share this, however shameless the promotion.

Check out the front page design from the Technician, the daily student newspaper I advise at North Carolina State University. Look familiar? Check out its inspiration.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 9

We had a great discussion over the summer (shortly after I was hired as a production assistant) about the wonderfully designed front by The Plain Dealer‘s Emmet Smith and Michael Tribble on the departure of LeBron James. When news broke at about 3 p.m. that the vice chancellor for Student Affairs, a 40-year employee of the university, announced his retirement, the Technician staff sprung into action, eliciting help from the Agromeck yearbook and the student-run radio station WKNC.

Read the rest of this entry »


Krispy Kreme Challenge roundup

Posted: February 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | No Comments »


Headlines and innuendo always need 2nd look

Posted: January 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

South Carolina's "Gamecock" mascot is fit for ribbing.

Three days after Florida State won the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it’s twice-weekly student newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau, published a front page headlined with bold innuendo.

Dan Reimold at College Media Matters has a nice roundup of reactions from Twitter, including one from ESPN Radio out of Tallahassee, Fla. They’re mostly positive. But he also asks a serious question about the headline’s journalistic value.

Is it hilarious or cringe-inducing, creative or beyond cliché, journalistic or just-plain vulgar?

Journalists love puns — probably way more than they should. Throw in a little sexual innuendo, and you’ve got newsroom gold. You don’t have to look far to prove it either. As visual journalist Charles Apple points out, sex puns aren’t rare for tabloids like the Daily News, but even The Wall Street Journal’s copy desk gets in on the fun with their A1 heds.

I’m not a huge fan of most “punny” headlines, simply because they’re rarely as clever as their creators think. They can also get you into trouble if you’re not careful, as the Sun learned the hard way in 1982. But when they’re good, they’re often really good, and they can engage the reader in an incredibly effective way. Read the rest of this entry »


False incentives mean fewer AP interns

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Photo courtesy of Douglas Muth

As 2010 comes to a close and the journalism industry counts losses from another year of sliding revenues, the Associated Press has decided to put its internship programs (and some other recruitment efforts) on a one-year hiatus. In the professional journalism world of late, cost-cutting matters almost as much as reporting the news. And despite controversy about the role of interns and the merits of paid versus unpaid in the industry, the program is low-hanging fruit.

Proponents of paid internship programs point to several functions they deem essential to education, training and growth in the industry: that internships grease the wheels for top journalism talent, and that without payment, positions would be available only to those wealthy enough to sustain themselves without pay for the position’s duration.

But incentives matter, and they aren’t well aligned to push the AP to continue the program. Read the rest of this entry »


Did WRAL anchor cross a line with comment?

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Blogs are abuzz with a new moniker for Carolina. But is it fair?

The N.C. State sports blog StateFans Nation pointed out an interesting post by the controversial CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel this morning — one that seems to reveal the opinion of one of the Triangle’s most popular anchors.

From: Bill Leslie, WRAL, Raleigh

I’m a journalist like you — and I am offended by your reckless article on UNC football. They are doing their best to clean things up. It’s the first black eye in recent history. You should cut them a little slack.

Doyel filed Leslie’s response among his “hate mail” sent in response to two recent columns on the ongoing NCAA investigation into the UNC-Chapel Hill football program. The investigation has since expanded to allegations of academic misconduct.

To understand why Leslie’s note would be particularly controversial in the Triangle of North Carolina, you have to understand not only the heated rivalry between UNC-CH and NCSU (my alma mater), but the widespread perception among State fans that the local news is in the tank for the Tar Heels. Read the rest of this entry »


AEJMC probes gap between j-school ed, practice

Posted: August 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | No Comments »
View more webinars from ryan.thornburg.

Thought I’d share this fantastic presentation delivered by Ryan Thornburg, an online journalism professor from UNC-Chapel Hill, at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention. Good stuff!


Stolen from ProPublica: Beware of bad ads

Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I've wanted to test out ProPublica's "Steal our stories" feature ever since Ryan Sholin tried it last month. I found this story especially interesting, since I've discussed bad ads (and how to make them more valuable) on the blog before. It's interesting to note that several local news orgs use these types of ads on their sites (although they're often randomly generated).]

Bogus ‘Obama Mom’ Grants Lure Students

by Sharona Coutts ProPublica, July 23, 10:34 a.m.

July 26: This story has been corrected.

Listen to Marketplace’s version of this story.

After being laid off from her job as a high school teacher in Dayton, Ohio, Nicole Massey decided to go back to college. For months, she scoured the Web for ways to fund her tuition, while supporting her 10-year-old son, Tyler. So when ads turned up in Massey’s inbox claiming that President Barack Obama had created special college grants and scholarships for single mothers, her hopes soared.

“You see his picture,” Massey said, “so I clicked on it.” The link took her to a new window, where she was asked to enter her name, age and other information about the degree she wanted. The site then produced a list of schools that lined up with Massey’s choices.

Almost immediately, recruiters from for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Grand Canyon University and a couple of local schools, bombarded Massey with e-mails and calls. Read the rest of this entry »