It’s rare that all learned while reporting a story gets published or broadcast. Many times, however, unused information is shared in a later story or report. This is such a time. While gathering content for two submissions for Poynter.org last week – one about students missing classes to cover March Madness, the other a related Q-and-A with a top university official – I found the National Sports Journalism Center, based at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. I contacted Pamela Laucella, an assistant professor and the center’s academic director, about student journalists covering major events. Laucella emailed me back with great input. I couldn’t use it in either story, but what she tells will inform educators and students alike. So, with her permission, I’m sharing it here:

In sports journalism, as you know, it’s vital that students gain experience and exposure through covering events like March Madness, the Indianapolis 500, BCS bowls and the Super Bowl. Industry experience enables students to practice and apply knowledge from the classroom and courses. It also gives them a chance to network and expand contacts. That being said, professors need to ensure students meet course requirements. I try to work around these opportunities. If I know about them in advance (which I usually do), I take dates into consideration when creating the syllabus. With March Madness, we'll discuss coverage, economic impact and other issues during the Final Four. The students who are gone might miss class, but will still need to turn in assignments.  

My graduate course consists of a field project at local Indianapolis sports organizations. Much of the work is done outside the classroom, so I built in field days during the Super Bowl and Final Four weeks. They are working, but do not have to be in the classroom. As far as attendance, I have a policy where students can miss a certain number of classes without a penalty. The graduate students are usually pro-active about letting me know in advance and give reasons and documentation. In cases like the Super Bowl and Final Four, I do give a little leeway. They usually don't miss classes otherwise, so attendance hasn't been an issue. There is no university-wide attendance policy regarding this – in the J-school, instructors create their own attendance policies. The dean receives copies of our syllabi (and I discuss policies with him), however, we have freedom to handle this individually.

As far as ... critical thinking and interpretation, that is important. I stress oral and written communication skills in all of my courses and students write book reviews, critical papers and other projects. I strive for balance. I use academic readings, sports books and stories from multiple platforms. We analyze media coverage and discuss a variety of topics in class. In graduate classes, I especially stress diversity of perspectives, application of ideas and reflective thinking on how to maximize ethics and professionalism in today’s changing and evolving media landscape.

Our program integrates and balances skills courses (print, digital, broadcast) and seminar classes on economic, legal, political and social issues in sport media. We have a mix of instructors – adjuncts from the NCAA, Indianapolis Star, U.S.A. Track & Field and academics and Ph.Ds. I think students stay engaged and enjoy the mix of classes and professors.
 
 
My last blog post focused on my Poynter.org article about students missing classes to cover March Madness. As promised, today we're exploring the topic again, based on another submission, a Q-and-A, for the same website.

The intro begins: "As a professional in residence and a graduate student ... I seek chances to match coursework with reporting and academic pursuits. This week’s assignment in my Humanistic Theories and Methods of Media Studies grad class required me to conduct a semi-structured interview – in which a list of questions must be asked and answered in order – before follow-up quizzing may occur. An hour before class last week, Poynter.org agreed that I should write about journalism educators dealing with students missing classes to cover March Madness. My reporting led me to an ideal person for the course assignment: Marquette Provost John J. Pauly, Ph.D."

After turning in the first story on Friday, I suggested to my Poynter editor that Pauly's view on the matter could interest many people. She agreed and skedded the Q-and-A to run on Monday. Well, there's been quite a bit of feedback. Based on a few tweets and not as many emails, journalism educators and others liked what the provost said. On the other hand, many Marquette students weren't too pleased with all that they read. Indeed, my Digital Journalism II class discussed both of the Poynter submissions for nearly an hour yesterday before I finally stopped them so they could work on their Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service projects.

Look Friday for another blog post about students covering sports journalism. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to my professor's feedback about my critical assessment – my homework due in class last night – of my interview with the provost. Remains to be seen if and when I'll be sharing that any time soon.
 
 
Pleased to share my article that held the lead spot on the Poynter.org website on Friday afternoon. I love the headline: "What's a journalism professor to do when his students miss class to cover March Madness?"

It begins: "This is a story about a journalism instructor dealing with journalism students missing journalism classes so that they can do journalism. Two undergraduates skipped my classes in Milwaukee — as well as those of their other professors — so they could report on Marquette University men’s basketball games at major postseason tournaments." The nut graph: "So why was I ... questioning my students for seizing real-life experience?"

Enjoyed persuading one of my students to wake up at 6:15 a.m. (PST) so I could interview him by telephone as he sat in his hotel lobby in Phoenix. Wish that I could have included in the article something from everyone who helped inform my perspective and evolution on this matter. Stay tuned for my next two blog posts as there is definitely more to share about student journalists major covering sporting events. (Hints: a Q-and-A with a university official and an offering from another academic about the school and organization where she works.)

By the way, this is my second article published by Poynter.org. The first, which I shared when it ran in August, was "New Pew study confirms digital divide in mobile news interest." Hoping for more articles in the future.
 
 
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Marquette students Tessa Fox, Diana Voigt and Caroline Campbell listen to guest Mike Gousha in their JOUR 4953 seminar.
Having interviewed hundreds of people in his Hall of Fame broadcast journalism career, Mike Gousha laments those cable TV show hosts who aim to prosecute their guests at the expense of civility and a fair exchange of ideas. "At the end of the day, the guest is entitled to his or her opinion," Gousha said yesterday while visiting my journalism seminar class on elections and campaigns. "I'm a firm believer that people make intelligent decisions when they are presented with information. I think people are a lot smarter than we give them credit for."

Gousha spent 25 years as a reporter, anchor and public affairs program host in Milwaukee – indeed, he had the kind of career I wanted upon enrolling as a broadcast journalism major at Marquette University in 1980. Gousha is now a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at the university's law school and hosts "Upfront With Mike Gousha," a Sunday morning program airing statewide. Marquette undergraduates know him primarily as host of "On the Issues With Mike Gousha," the program that brings newsmakers and policy shapers to campus. "We are trying to make a difference in the political discourse in our community," he told my class.

My students clearly enjoyed listening to Gousha talk about the media's role and responsibility in fostering public debate. (It's been a good week for JOUR 4953, as his visit followed that of polling extraordinaire Charles Franklin on Tuesday.) He also discussed the impact of social media on political campaigns, saying candidates love that Facebook lets them better control their message. He also offered some ideas for when the students, as a class assignment, will spend time individually or in pairs covering the Wisconsin primary on April 3.

The class ended with Gousha helping me to urge the students to ask tough questions of those who very much wish they would not. "It's hard," even for someone with his experience and credibility, Gousha said. "You can ask great questions – tough questions – and you don't always get an answer."

Afterward, Gousha shared this with me via email: "Thanks so much for the opportunity to visit with your class. I had a great time and particularly enjoyed the interaction with the students. They were smart, engaged and asked some terrific questions. From where I sat, the future of journalism looked pretty bright, indeed."
 
 
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Visiting law professor Charles Franklin speaks to JOUR 4953 seminar about the opportunities and challenges associated with polling.
While preparing for our journalism seminar on elections and campaigns this spring, James Scotton and I quickly wanted Charles Franklin, a visiting professor of law and public policy at the Marquette Law School, as a guest speaker. But upon telling the class recently that Franklin's visit would happen yesterday, at least one student wasn't feeling it. At least, not initially. See, Franklin is a nationally recognized expert in polling and voter analyses.

"What could be so interesting about polls?" Tessa Fox, a sophomore journalism major, wrote in her weekly blog post. "I thought I got into journalism to stay away from math and numbers. However, after reading some background material about Professor Franklin and the polling process, I realized polling is actually pretty interesting."

Franklin, who told the class that he did his first poll when just a sixth grader, talked about his role in directing a comprehensive, independent survey of voter attitudes in Wisconsin while at the law school. The visiting professor also discussed the opportunities missed now that fewer news organizations can afford to do their own polling.

The students prepped for Franklin's visit by watching, during its last class before spring break, his hourlong "On the Issues With Mike Gousha" presentation on the law school's poll. They also had to review related material for journalists using polls – The New York Times Polling Standards, A Quick Checklist for Using Polls in the Paper and Understanding and Interpreting Polls – and other Web pages focused on the Marquette poll, including Likely Voter Crosstabs and Obama Leads GOP Field as Santorum Surges in Primary.

In her subsequent blog post, Fox said the guest speaker inspired her: "He said he would love to survey people about life in general. More specifically, how they live, how much time they attribute to various activities and the importance level of different material and non-material things. As someone who is very interested in cultural anthropology, I would be very interested to see this poll actually conducted and analyze the results."

Well said. Maybe in the future she won't sigh when I tell the class that someone special is coming to visit.
 
 
I love divine intervention? The latest for me came in a wonderful email early Friday from John Watson, J.D., Ph.D., an associate professor at the American University School of Communication, and someone recalling when we were members of the fledging Garden State Association of Black Journalists in the late 1980s.

"I just finished reading your commentary on the AptiQuant hoax in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics," Watson wrote. "Well done. It's a rare experience to discover someone I met in the professional world of journalism writing in the peer-reviewed scholarly journals. As someone who made the transition a bit earlier than you and who still sometimes finds it bewildering, you seem to be handling it well."

Specializing in communication law and journalism ethics, Watson also let me know "I am available if you need any help navigating this new world." I quickly thanked him for his encouragement  and asked for immediate help. I needed a three-page curriculum vitae by today! Could he email a copy of his CV so I could perhaps model it during the weekend? He shared his full academic-size version and one only four pages long. Just what I needed!

The notion of a CV has been, well, bewildering. For most of my career, the focus has been on one-page resumes. On the other hand, a complete CV seems to need basically everything you have ever done in your life. Last June, I created what I thought was a thorough three-page CV, only to have a friend and mentor  tell me I had crammed six pages worth of information into it – with little chance of any of it being read by swamped evaluators. Another challenge is producing a suitable document when my experience is much more professional than academic.

A few helpful guides exist online, including "Writing the Curriculum Vitae," "How to Prepare a Killer CV" and "The Alternative to Your Journalism CV." This time, however, I gratefully used Watson's example – and one shared by my fellow Marquette alum Andrew Mendelson, Ph.D., the journalism department chairman at Temple University – to fashion a legitimate three-page summary of my work and service so far in academia. My hope is to have a more extensive CV by summer's end. Your suggestions and prayers are much appreciated.
 
 
I have been blessed to celebrate many birthdays in my life, but rarely had one seemed so public as mine did yesterday. Facebook revealed to my students what I would not have otherwise, and they showed me plenty of love with "Happy Birthday" wishes from midnight on via that social media site and, of course, Twitter. The love extended throughout the day in the Diederich College of Communication hallways and one of my classes had cookies waiting when we met in the afternoon. I hesitate to mention the "cat greetings" in the class Facebook groups.

Actually, I had been feeling the love all week. On Monday, a student posted in the Digital Journalism II group that #JOUR1100 and #JOUR1550 – "students tweeting for journalism courses" – were among the "100 @MarquetteU Twitter hashtags to watch for," according to the postmarq blog post, "A Field Guide to the Hashtags of @MarquetteU." The blog belongs to Mykl Novak, a Marquette employee and alumnus. As reported on my blog before, my students also can take credit for Novak citing the #muprez tag, for all those many tweets relating to the university's president, the Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J., or his inauguration in September.

Then, more love two days ago, this time from the student media in Johnston Hall. Guess who made The Marquette Journal's list of "Top 5 Marquette Tweeters"? Alexandra Whittaker's article in the magazine's "College Life" section posted online said that "Lowe uses Twitter to interact with students and to post updates on his blog, and this makes his Twitter feed lively and engaging. It is certainly one to follow." It's definitely humbling to be among "Marquette's most interesting Twitter birds" and I'm especially excited to be cited above @ShitMUDoesntSay.

Alas, not all went as I had hoped on my birthday, given that Marquette's men's basketball team lost its quarterfinal matchup against Louisville in the Big East Tournament. But my wife, Mira, cooked me a lobster dinner. All is well.