July 4, 2009

Power of passion, frustrations of print: Student journalists pursue rumor that j-school's director asked to resign

The news that the new head of Michigan State University's College of Communication asked the director of the journalism school to resign frustrated a lot of journalism students this week.

First, the State News, the independent news organization at MSU, was on a production break. Its posted story on July 2 invited readers to come back July 6 for an update (though commenters did their best to offer pieces of theory and news.)

Equally frustrating was the lack of a formal answer or even a Tweet from the new dean or the official press department.

Then, there was the question of when was the decision known. A tweet on June 24th led to the message that #jbb was "C'est fini !"

At one point students in the School of Journalism were asking if that director, Jane Briggs-Bunting, would be proud of their use of social media for spreading the word of her ouster. Two hash tags #jbb and #briggs-bunting spread quickly on Twitter. Then a Facebook group to save journalism at the school was created. (That's where the image comes from, uploaded and created by Jayne Salk.)

  1. esther gim
    egim anyone know anything on jbb being forced to resign b/c the j-school wants to move in a new direction?????
  2. jwswrites
    jwswrites A lesson in how Twitter can take control of your msg before you do. #CASfail Good teaching moment 4 academia, except academia is the prob
  3. jwswrites
    jwswrites I think #JBB would be proud of the tenacity of students to report #CASfail. JRN stu's doing what they're supposed to, ?-ing & informing
  4. Ari B. Adler
    aribadler C'mon State News, dig in! RT @thesnews: Jane Briggs-Bunting, Director of (MSU) School of Journalism, asked to resign http://bit.ly/1891pf
-- this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

Even the student newspaper, The State News, seemed frustrated in its article on the resignation. An article Friday in the Lansing State Journal quoted Briggs-Bunting as saying she had a contract through next summer but confirmed she had been asked to step down.

The Journal quoted Briggs-Bunting saying:
""I'm very concerned. We are one of the schools at the cutting edge of redefining journalism. I really would hate to see that momentum slowed."
Briggs-Bunting and the rest of the staff had created a plan to revise the curriculm for the 2010 school year. The faculty and staff had been learning themselves at Faculty Bytes and events like a three-day video journalism workshop they took with instructor, Robb Montgomery.(See video)

The Lansing State Journal said that the dean refused comment and quoted this statement from Terry Denbow, vice president of university relations.
"Dean (Pamela) Whitten has requested that Jane Briggs-Bunting step down as director of the School of Journalism. Dean Whitten looks forward to working with Briggs-Bunting and the journalism school faculty to optimize an efficient and effective leadership transition."
The Journal quoted Denbow, saying decision was about Briggs-Bunting's administrative role.

There was speculation as only the School of Journalism's director's name was missing from the college's Who We Are page. (though she was still listed on the school's opening page and its people page as late as Friday night.) Briggs-Bunting, whose tenure means she remains a professor regardless, told the Journal she wasn't sure what her decision would be.

Pamela Whitten was appointed June 19, with her first day July 1 She came to MSU in 1998, most recently serving as professor in the college’s Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media and associate dean for research and graduate studies.

Briggs-Bunting hasn't been sleeping since coming to lead at Michigan State University in 2003. (She replaced Steve Lacy, who returned to teaching after five years at the position.)

The school was reacredited by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The school hosted events with American Press Institute and its ReThink the News, a daylong symposium on the future in May.

The Ph.D. students from Robb Montgomery on Vimeo.

A new ReThink the News was planned for Sept. 11, a prelude to the State News, the independent student newspaper's 100th anniversary celebration. (Briggs-Bunting also is president of the Board of Directors for the State News.)

Briggs-Bunting often used contacts from her years in the business to get opportunities for students.

(update: see comment from Bonnie about this) In 2007, MSU journalism students participated in a live blog hosted at www.detnews.com/debateblog

during the CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Primary Debate

Also in 2007 was the launch of the Innovation Incubator, funded by the Knight Foundation to foster creative thinking about solutions to digital news problems at seven universities.

Criticism at the State News article
pointed to a change in focus away from research under her tenure and a changing faculty, including the hiring of three white males.
Research and attracting money for research was one of the strategic highlights in a recent College of Communications Arts publication, The Story. (And though the newspaper allows commenters to connect to a Facebook profile, it is not required and most of the comments critical of Briggs-Bunting are not linked.

Among the faculty leaving was journalism Associate Professor Kim Piper-Aiken's who left after she learned she would not be awarded tenure status due to not completing research or creative scholarship. , accordnig to an April 2007 State News article.

In 2005, an ex-employee was charged with and then pled guilty to embezzlement at the School of Journalism.

In 2003, Briggs-Bunting was inducted into the MSU Journalism Hall of Fame.

Who knows what will happen. The developing events certainly are one lesson many MSU students won't need a final to study for to remember the effect of being left out of the story.

Note: I am a 1977 graduate of the School of Journalism at Michigan State University. I've spoken at several classes since and volunteered on a few projects and events.

Related post

The week without newspapers?

The plan was for a week without newspapers - from Saturday July 4 to Friday July 10, 2009, - to draw "attention to the threat posed to democracy by the loss of professionally staffed and ethically bound American newspapers. "

TJ Sullivan explained why on Feb. 6 he decided to seek he support to ask "the owners and operators of each and every daily American newspaper and The Associated Press asked to shut down their Web sites to non-paying subscribers for a period of one week.

There's a list of 51 other places that talked about the effort.

One virtual petiton gathered 431 signatures and TJ Sullivan explained in another blog post why journalists were not backing the effort.

But even those who understood the signifiance of showing the effect of newspapers on democracy were not sure withholding the news from non-paying customers on the web would work. Listen to Kevin Ulrich on the Pasadena Weekly site:
"What I don’t know is if this is the right time to make a potentially self-wounding statement by shutting down Web sites — no matter how true, important and necessary that statement may be."
In the end, even "Know Newspapers - Official site of the petition to unplug" is empty. The YouTube video is gone, the Know Newspaper blog is black, blank.The Twitter account empty. A short message awaits some.

So, please, go fire your firecracks, light your sparklers, enjoy your Fourth. Perhaps, later there will be time to think about ways to ensure every community will get news with more meaning then which star died this week.

July 2, 2009

Updated: month brings new price for Oregonian, hellos and goodbyes for Grand Rapids Press

Twitter reaction was swift and sour to a July 1 price increase for the Oregonian bought at the box or in the store. The price went up a 25 cents, now requiring a $1 weekdays.

Oregon Media Central compared similar sized newspapers and prices charged.

At least this Advance Publications community gets to keep a daily newspaper.

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, a Grand Rapids Press sports writer plead guilty in a case involving him growing marijuana at home. Dave Mayo will get his job back as a sports writer. At least one Grand Rapids radio station reported that publisher Dan Gaydou will write about the handling of the case on Sunday. (Update: The reporter is writing the column).

Gaydou is quoted in a story by the Grand Rapids Press, saying:
"Dave Mayo will return to work at The Press next week after answering to the court regarding the legal complaints made against him."

There also was a sendoff Tuesday for 11 reporters and columnists at that Grand Rapids paper.

Free From Editors also posted a short piece on the sendoff and sports writer.

The hello would be for Paul Keep, who left his publisher/editor role at the nearby Muskegon Chronicle for the editor's job at the Press. That move and the retirement of the longtime editor Mike Lloyd were blogged earlier.

On a personal note, my daughter's opinion on insurance and cancer is back on the Obama site after being missing for five days. Just one more surprise in a string of surprises.

Have a great day. I'm back on the road for much of today.

(Updated at 7:30 a.m. with links and a few details)

Digital Journalism Camp Now Free at The Oregonian | Oregon Media Central

The Oregonian will expand the pool of journalists with desired skills with a free digital skills camp.

I noticed the event on Upcoming and Twitter. Then I spotted more info on a new Oregon media site - Oregon Media Central

First reaction: Nice to see the Advance Publication offering instruction at a great price.

Correction (July 27): Nice to see the Advance Publication news organiation in Oregon providing the space to the organizers so that camp can be free.

June 30, 2009

Girl Scout cookie baker going very green

A Girl Scout quilt I fell in love with last fall will soon show up even more places.

A portion of the "Green is in My Nature"quilt is in a bag made from recycled plastic bottles for ABC Bakers, which makes Girl Scout cookies. The bag is a cookie incentive, distributed to Girl Scout staff who were at the recent product meeting in Reno, Nevada. The bags will work their way into the hands of girls who can earn them by selling Girl Scout cookies in the upcoming Girl Scout year.

Read more in Twisted Sister: Artwork by Jamie Fingal: Girl Scout Ecco-Bag - so cool!

The artist also wrote about the quilt in January 2008 and in September 2008, just before the quilt was to appear the 51st National Girl Scout convention. (Looks like I never finished the post about the quilt on the exhibit floor for ABC Bakery -- the company bought the quilt -- for Convention Talk. Sorry.)

Others have written about "Green is My Nature,",including And Sew It Goes. Read more about the show (and see more quilts from that) in Gerrie Condon's blog, Crazy for Fiber.

Girl Scouts of Orange County is extremely fortunate that Jamie Fingal willing raised funds for them. She has created other Girl Scout-themed quilts, including one created for the 40th anniversary of Camp Scherman , a great miniquilt of Juliette Low, and the Courageous, Confident, Character quilt.

Her December 2005 Girl Scout quilt is memorizing. Read the recipes names - Sister of Gold Martguerita, Friendship Squeeze Martini, Girl Scout Cookie Shot, and Thanks Badge 3 - to better understand the Girl Scout Cocktail Suitcase quilt

But it is her Mother of Girl Scouting quilt that will explain her generosity.

I am a Girl Scout and list some of my Girl Scout posts in another entry. The most recent post was about Girl Scout councils twittering.

June 29, 2009

Laws can't force people to read or pay for the news

A Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist says we need better copyright laws to save newspapers. That reminded me about the lawyer who blogs we should ban linking to save the mass medium.

(Over the weekend, I loved this exchange:
  1. Jay Rosen
    jayrosen_nyu Judge Richard Posner--a blogger!--thinks a way out of the newspaper crisis is to make linking illegal http://tr.im/q132
  2. erickschonfeld
    erickschonfeld @jayrosen_nyu And that will save the newspaper industry how? By making it harder for people to find their stories?
  3. Jay Rosen
    jayrosen_nyu Beats me, @erickschonfeld Or we could ask Judge Posner how does he think people found his blog and he found his readership? Through links.
-- this quote was brought to you by quoteurl
I will note thatPosner rarely links in his posts.

Jeff Jarvis comes back with Newspapers vs Aggregators: Understanding the Economics of the Internet. taking a look at both posts. (On his buzzmachine, the headline is "First, kill the lawyers - before they kill the news." that's where you'll also find the Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz responding to Jarvis, especially for his attack on her husband. (The columnist is married to a senator.)

And now Twitter is swamped with Tweets on linking.

I stick by my opinion - you can't legislate successful business, much less force anyone to read a newspaper.