Check out this video profile of Kal Riebau, a student manager for the Marquette University men's basketball team.
Perhaps final projects show how well students have been taught as much they have learned each term. So I was quite worried about the projects the 18 students in my Digital Journalism III course would produce this semester. OK, I expected nothing short of a train wreck. But as is often the case, my students exceeded my expectations.

Each student had to do create a multimedia package focusing on anyone of their choosing within the Marquette community; it could be another student or an administrator, faculty member, employee, etc., on or near campus. The New York Times' "One in 8 Million" collection of audio slideshows served as inspiration and the projects were to each consist of two parts: a 650-word profile and a three-minute video created using Final Cut Pro X. The videos were uploaded to YouTube, then embedded above their text stories on a page on their individual Weebly websites.

The class focused considerably on writing profiles this spring, but spent just a couple periods on using video. One day we looked at examples from, a collection of videos about people at Morgan State University and produced by students taught there by my friend, Jerry Bembry; another day we reviewed "Al's 10 Video Commandments," a presentation on the do's and don'ts that Al Tompkins shared atthe inaugural Teachapalooza in 2011.) The class also had the "Video Storytelling for the Web" and "Reporting, Writing for TV and the Web: Aim for the Heart" modules as part of a certificate program offered by the Poynter Institute's News University.

Making me even more nervous: The students insisted on using the higher-end cameras they could sign out from the Diederich College of Communication's technology center instead of their smartphones. Good for them! Unlike in past semesters, though, we spent no class time learning how to use the equipment. Anyway, after turning in three full-fledged story ideas each – just in case a preferred one fell through – the students went about doing their projects.

After three weeks of working on them, the class helped me critique each effort. To my relief, they all were credible, if not more so. Several focused on Marquette peers, including the state governor's son; one focused on serving othersa theater set designer; an international student; a Muslim; a hip-hop dancer; one hundreds of miles from his family still reeling from superstorm Sandyone with cerebral palsy and one needing a guide dog because of blindnessThe other projects featured the owner of a popular eatery; a diversity counselor and social justice instructor; a music curator and three faculty members who teach lawpolitical science and German, respectively.

Two of the projects particularly stood out and deserve a look from anyone reading this post. Benjamin Greene profiled Kal Riebau, a student manager for the men's basketball team despite having only one arm. Given that his video was done after basketball season – that's why there's no footage of Riebau doing his manager duties or engaging with the team – Greene's classmates and I agree that any criticism from this instructor would be nitpicking.

Then there's Christopher Chavez, who is always trouble. "I know we're not supposed to use music," he said to me the week before the projects were due, "but I made it work." After watching his piece on Tyler Leverington, a track team member who is also a first-year law student, I agreed: Chavez made it work. The music level could be reduced some more, but just like with Greene's effort on Riebau, the editing quality in the Leverington piece is outstanding. 

And, never one to miss an opportunity, Chavez has taken his coursework international. "Had a little too much fun with my One @Marquette project that I extended it to eight minutes and released it as a feature on Flotrack," he wrote in a status update in the #loweclass Facebook group last week. As of Saturday, that version had 4,465 page views from, a website dedicated to news about track and field. Once again, that's making it work.
It seems like forever since I began pursuing the independent study needed to complete my quest for a graduate certificate in digital storytelling from the Diederich College of Communication. Mercifully, today my faculty advisor told me I had done enough to earn those elusive three credits. A recap of "Becoming a Digital Leader and Educator":
I had aspired to do even more as part of this study, including creating a sophisticated story using Final Cut Pro X that involves narration, video and images. (I hope to share just such a story – using the video editing software – by early next month.) That said, here's hoping you will agree that I have earned my three credits.
Journalism students at Marquette University and elsewhere are essentially running eight laps around the having-a-job-at-graduation track, with pit stops after the second, fourth and sixth intervals. The laps are, of course, semesters and the pit stops are summers between freshmen orientation and commencement. Any student serious about a career in journalism knows that newsroom internships are as important as campus media experience.

Marissa Evans, a senior in the Diederich College of Communication, has already interned on the metro or business desks at four newspapers: The Union-Tribune (San Diego), The Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Washington Post. To her credit, she has helped several of her friends and classmates by letting them know about opportunities and deadlines for internships and offering advice on cover letters and resumes.

Now, Evans, as they say, has gone national! The Poynter Institute on Friday published a wonderful and insightful article she wrote, "10 Steps Young Journalists Can Take to Get a Great Internship." The tips include starting to look now, sticking to the professional experience you want to have, keeping your (paid and unpaid) options open, having a Web presence (beyond social media) and, regardless of the outcome, find ways to practice journalism. I particularly like this tip: look locally and nationally. That may seem obvious to newsroom veterans and recruiters. But I am always surprised by the number of journalism students who are set on staying close to campus in the summer.

Actually, this is the second time a national journalism organization's website has published an article by Evans that offers advice for aspiring scribes. Check out "8 Reasons Student Journalists Should Consider Business Journalism" – she wrote it for the Reynolds Center ( in April.

Anyway, to those students and graduates still circling the track, I also recommend my blog post "Covering the Student Cover Letter," and these Poynter articles: Matt Thompson's "10 Ways to Make Your Journalism Job Application Better Than Anyone Else's" and Joe Grimm's "Your Job Application Shows Your Skills." Good luck.
Click on the image to visit this semester's JOUR 1550 class page and for quick access to each student's digital portfolio.
This is my fourth time teaching Digital Journalism II (JOUR 1550) in the Diederich College of Communication – and it's become my favorite course. It's the one in which most of my students begin to see themselves as journalists.

Take Brynne Ramella, for example. I loved how she – without prompting from her instructor – crafted a stellar blog post, "The Dark Underbelly of Comedy," about her experience last semester with what's now a course staple: the "One at Marquette" package based on The New York Times' "One in 8 Million" collection. In a subsequent blog post, "Looking Back and Moving Forward," Ramella wrote: "Thanks to everyone who's been involved in the project, listened to my complaints or listened to me gush about my successes with 'One at Marquette.' It's been a blast!"

JOUR 1550's objectives remain the same: producing digital news stories using text, images and audio; focusing on key industry trends, technologies and multimedia reporting techniques; working alone and or as teammates to create journalism for the Web, and using social media to build a following and "brand" as a digital journalist. The course textbook is the second edition of "Aim For The Heart: Write, Shoot, Report and Produce for TV and Multimedia."

Once again, each of the 16 students this semester will pursue a Digital Journalism Basics certificate from the Poynter Institute's News University; write a weekly blog post related to their assigned news media website; produce a Storify from each of two campus events they will live tweet; and partner with a classmate to produce a multimedia package about a local nonprofit organization and assigned by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. The students might also get to work on projects that would be published on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website.

As in my two journalism seminar courses this semester – one on sports, the other on campaigns and elections – the JOUR 1550 students will share their coursework on their respective digital portfolios created via These portfolios can be accessed collectively from the same webpage here. Check their progress often.
Click on the image to visit the "Outside the Lines" class page and for quick access to each student's digital portfolio.
For the fourth time in my six semesters as a faculty member, I am teaching a new course. It's another journalism seminar called "Outside the Lines: How the Media Report on Amateur and Professional Sports." Disclosing here that I didn't cover athletics full time during my newspaper reporting career. But as a lifelong fan of sports in general, and Philadelphia teams – Phillies! Sixers! Eagles! – in particular, definitely aiming for a worthwhile course.

The course objectives include learning the basics of media coverage of sports on the high school, college and professional levels; developing critical thinking skills about issues and dynamics impacting and caused by sports; gathering and curating social media to tell and present stories about sports and athletes, and evaluating how these highly paid performers use the media to shape their public persona and legacies.

The 10 students will also discuss sports journalists' ethical obligations and the business implications that technology brings to the media's coverage of sports. They also will develop a blog with regular posts that analyze a topic or task assigned by me, and take stock of their respective news media website's sports coverage.

Each student will do two Storifys demonstrating their capacity for live tweeting. They will also each research and write a 1,500-word analysis on social media and sports journalism; and do likewise related to media coverage of a sports-related issue of their choice as well as offer a 15-minute presentation on the matter in class.

Here are the issues the students chose: cheerleading, concussions in hockey, track and field between Olympics, double standards related to male and female sports journalists, compensation for college athletes, the black quarterback, the Miami Heat's "Big Three," fantasy sports, sports scandals and paralyzing injuries in football.

The course textbook is "Field Guide to Covering Sports," by Joe Gisondi, who has a fantastic blog, "Sports Field Guide: Tips and Suggestions for Covering Sports." The course will also take advantage of helpful and relevant modules offered by the Poynter Institute's News University, including "Introduction to Sports Reporting." Here's hoping my misguided students rooting for the Jets, Packers, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks and Titans enjoy the course – even as they scheme for seats on the Eagles' bandwagon as my team moves toward Super Bowl XLVI.
Alec Brooks
Joseph Kvartunas
Melanie Lawder
Brynne Ramella
Alex Rydin
Click on each student's image to visit his or her blog for this semester's #loweclass #elections (JOUR 4932) course.
I am again teaching a journalism seminar course that focuses on how the media report on political campaigns and local, state and national elections. Last semester, I taught the class with a Diederich College of Communication colleague, James Scotton, and we had 12 students. This time, I'm on my own and have just five students. I had hoped for more given the focus this fall on the general election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, instead of the lackluster GOP primaries last semester. Then again, this is the third time each of the five have had me for a teacher at Marquette University, so we are all well acquainted.

The course objectives are much the same as last time. They include developing a journalistic blog that offers fair and balanced commentary about media coverage, gathering and curating social media to tell and present stories about campaigns and elections; and analyzing how candidates use the media – and money – to shape their campaign messages. There's no course textbooks this time. However, I have negotiated with the Poynter Institute's News University to provide the students with access to some interesting and relevant course modules. They will include "Reporting on Religion and Political Candidates," "Social Media and Your 2012 Election Coverage," "Political Fact-Checking: Tips and Tricks for the 2012 Election" and "How to Work With Campaign Finance Data."

The students have individually chosen to monitor election news coverage from CNN, NBC News, Politico, The New York Times or The Washington Post as weekly beat assignments. They have also each picked a U.S. Senate race – in either Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri or Ohio – from which to analyze in a 1,500-word paper and to make a 15-minute class presentation. They will also similarly analyze and offer a presentation on one of these traditional campaign concerns: abortion, education, family values/civil unions, health care and homeland security.

I hope to again present relevant guest speakers. Last semester's group greeted, among others, Sharif Durhams, Mike Gousha, Charles Franklin and Eugene Kane. Also proud to say that a student from the spring, Tessa Fox, used the course as a springboard for a wonderful opportunity with The Washington Post.

Finally, this semester's class schedule better matches when "On the Issues with Mike Gousha" – the public affairs program that brings newsmakers and policy shapers to campus – is held at Marquette's law school. My students are excited to get to witness and live tweet from the "On the Issues" event featuring former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) on October 4, the morning after the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney. So am I.
OK! I have resisted for months, thinking it wasn't for me, but I just went ahead and did it. I joined Pinterest. My students introduced me in February to the fast-growing social network in which people use virtual online "pinboards" to share images and videos they find interesting. My wife, Mira Lowe, also joined the network's millions of new members around the same time – and my university colleague, Tim Cigelske, raved about its potential at the Social Media @Marquette event where I shared ideas on digital branding for university staff and administrators.

I love social media and enjoy learning with my students how to use it for journalism. But Pinterest seemed, frankly, to be a "girl thing." That's because most things I saw "pinned" on the network had great appeal to women – fashion, jewelry, cats, flowers, celebrities, etc. Clearly I wasn't alone. See "125 Reasons Why Guys Are Scared of Pinterest," "Guys on #Pinterest? Do They Need to Turn In Their 'Man Cards?'" and "A Guy's Guide to Pinterest."

I once thought real men don't eat sushi. That changed when Mira stuffed one in my mouth early in our relationship – another reason I should have known she was trouble, but let's not digress. Mira – whose pinboards are varied and impressive, I must admit – said Pinterest would help me share with others which 53 North American cities I have spent at least two consecutive nights. (She no doubt would prefer the pinboards to my using so much wall space in my home library to display coffee mugs from each city.) We agreed that other possibilities included pinning baseball, basketball and football venues where I have attended pro sporting events. You know, guy things :-)

Seriously, my independent study focusing on becoming a digital educator and digital leader offered another reason to join Pinterest. I look forward to joining my fellow educators in finding ways to use it in our respective classrooms and teaching our students how to use it as journalists – see "How Educators Use Pinterest for Curation."

In any event, figured I would quietly create an account late one night, just to see how it felt. (It didn't hurt, and actually matched my passion for organization and presentation.) It surprised me just how quickly others saw what I had done. One student tweeted that she did a new dance for the occasion. Gee Ekachai, my Diederich College of Communication colleague and renowned social media guru, weighed in via email as only she could: "FINALLY!"
No smartphone? Click the image to read how "dumbphone" users can tweet by texting her update to the Twitter short code.
The response to my article, "How Journalism Educators Can Teach Students to Live Tweet Campus Events," has exceeded my expectations. It's been widely shared via Twitter from the Poynter site – indeed getting more than triple the amount of tweets for my previous three articles published there. I'm thrilled that journalism educators from across the country have embraced the idea of students learning to use Twitter as journalists.

"I'm planning my J classes for this fall at Winona State University in Winona, Minn.," Tom Grier wrote to me in an email he sent after coming across the article via an education association's tweet. "The Poynter article was quick, to the point and contained helpful links. I plan to use this in my fall classes ... with credit to you, of course."

Lindsey Wotanis of Marywood University in Pennsylvania also wants her journalism students to live tweet this fall. She asked a great question in her email: "How, if you found it necessary, did you deal with students who did not have access to either a smartphone or laptop when tweeting a live event? We are a small, liberal arts campus, and so it's very possible that some of my students may not have access. I don't want to abandon this idea, but am concerned about how best to handle a situation like that. Thanks for sharing your idea with the world!"

Certainly, this situation does arise when the assignment is introduced, as a few students will hold up what they like to call a "dumbphone." However, it has never kept anyone from adapting to the assignment and I had five classes do it last year. First, tell the class that smartphones are only so as long as the person using it is smart. Also, point out that only 12 to 16 tweets are required per assignment to emphasize that it's about quality, not not quantify.

What happens next is that a student without a smartphone or likely is likely already used to tweeting. He or she will readily show the others how to do it, and it's always a good thing – bonding! – when a students teaches another. This article, "No Smartphone for Irene? You Can Still Use Twitter, Facebook," is a good start for those with dumbphones.

I prefer students learn to tweet with a phone so they know what to do if dispatched to cover breaking news outside. On the other hand, I like to use Evernote on my laptop whenever live tweeting. The awesome note-taking application makes it easy to take down information, and is wonderfully integrated with Twitter so tweeting is quite simple. That said, while we wish more speakers and organizers would appreciate live tweeting at conferences, it might be best if a a large group of students with laptops sits to the side or in the back of the room.

Once again, thanks everyone for the positive feedback on my article and my students' success with live tweeting. I look forward to hearing how Tom's and Lindsey's students fare with the assignments this fall. Keep the questions coming – and remember to visit for updates about the process.
I had the honor of offering a 10-minute "show-and-share" presentation on live tweeting campus events at the 2012 Teachapalooza conference for journalism educators last month at the Poynter Institute. Those who follow my blog know my journalism students in the Diederich College of Communication regularly live tweet events at Marquette University. I enjoy promoting my students' success and thought sharing it at Teachapalooza would be pretty cool.

Many of my fellow educators there seemed to appreciate the presentation and concept. Some asked for a handout so they could try it in their fall courses. I didn't have any – shame on me! But I promised to share more via the conference listserve. Well, today I can finally make good on my promise. And thanks to my friends at, there's hope that many more journalism instructors will have their students live tweeting this next semester.

Yesterday, the website published my article, "How Journalism Educators Can Teach Students to Live Tweet Campus Events," in its How Tos>Journalism Education section. Expertly edited by Mallary Tenore, it stresses four points: First and foremost, focus on the fundamentals; use class time to show students how it's done; make the first experience worthwhile and set goals moving forward, and continue encouraging your students.

The article is getting a great response; more than my prior submissions: "Flash: Educator and Students Disagree," "Some Journalism Among the Madness" and "Digital Divide in Mobile News Interest." Interestingly, when Tenore first tweeted that the article was published, she asked for feedback, something I need to do better when I post things on Twitter. Indeed, among the replies was this advice from the editorial staff @TheSkannerNews: Prepare material in advance-don't just wing it; know your hashtags!; be ready to #FF your fellow livetweeters."

My article is likely as long as could likely stand it. There's so much more me and others could offer about educators and students aiming to live tweeting campus events. Please visit my related blog – – to see additional posts about the concept and my students' success. Don't hestitate to contact me if you have any questions. I know you and your students will enjoy the experience.
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 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.