Saturday, August 22, 2009

Online college media sites and resources

With a new semester rapidly approaching, here are a few links I hope the editors of student media websites already have on their bookmark lists. A few are old friends; the others are places I'm just starting to explore. I may add a few more over the next week. Quoted comments are from the sites themselves:

Society of Professional Journalists
"The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior." (Annual convention coming up Aug. 27-30 in Indianapolis. Also see its Student Resources page.)
Innovation in College Media
"The Center for Innovation in College Media is a non-profit think-tank that was created to help college student media adapt and flourish in the new media environment." (Also see this MediaShift column by founder Bryan Murley.)
Journalism 2.0
"Mark Briggs coined the term Journalism 2.0 in 2005 when he was invited to write a book about digital literacy for journalists based on a training program he had created at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. Mark is currently working on an updated version of the book, to be published by CQPress in fall 2009." (The original is still online here.)
"A professional reporting community for journalists... helps journalists of all stripes find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story or source."
Collaborative Journalism | Publish2
"Link Journalism: Bring the best of the web to your readers. Complement your reporting with links to relevant and interesting content." (Newest feature: Social Journalism.)
"CoPress empowers student newsrooms to hack the future of journalism." It has a blog, forum and wiki as well as selling hosting service to college newspapers.
Associate Collegiate Press
"ACP is the oldest and largest national membership organization for college student journalists. Since 1921, we've offered our members resources to help their publications - newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, broadcast programs, and online publications - improve."
Education Writers Association
"The Education Writers Association is the professional organization of education reporters and editors. We support the ongoing professional development of journalists as part of our mission to help improve the quality of education reporting in the United States." (That's a link to its higher education resource page; the group also offers $30 memberships for students. Faculty have to pay $100!)
HigherEd Watch
"Analysis, reporting and commentary on the world of higher education, with a focus on college access, affordability, and quality." (A blog at the New America Foundation.)
The Chronicle of Higher Education
"the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators. Based in Washington, D.C., The Chronicle has more than 70 full-time writers and editors, as well as 17 foreign correspondents around the world." (Long-standing place where professors look for jobs. Some content is free with registration, some for paid subscribers only.)
Inside Higher Ed
"Inside Higher Ed is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. Whether you're an adjunct or a vice president, a grad student or an eminence grise, we've got what you need to thrive in your job or find a better one..." (All free... challenging the Chronicle since 2004, without killing trees.)
Global Student Journalists
" online meeting place for student journalists from around the world. Students currently enrolled in a recognized post-secondary Journalism program, anywhere in the world, can create a profile and begin connecting with other student journalists. Members can network, share ideas, upload projects and receive feedback on their work." (New, started by journalism students in Canada.)
... and, last only because I've mentioned Mindy's RGMP recently:

Teaching Online Journalism
"Notes from the classroom and observations about today's practice of journalism online," by Mindy McAdams, including her Reporter's Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (RGMP).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Watchdog leaves Hartford Courant, growling

One of the first reporters I worked with has just landed in The New York Times, but it's not good news. The headline is Hartford Courant Lays Off Consumer Columnist, and the story starts like this:
"The Hartford Courant and its former consumer columnist, George Gombossy, agree on one thing: that Mr. Gombossy was laid off this month. But was it because he would not stop unfavorable articles about advertisers, or because his job was simply eliminated?"
George became the Courant's Willimantic bureau chief 40 years ago this summer, the same week that I became "the other guy in the Willimantic bureau." I went on to be a bureau chief, too, and made it to education editor before leaving the paper to go into education full-time, one way or another. George did a lot more at the Courant -- went on to be its business editor for a dozen years, among other things.

He has held out through two corporate takeovers (Times Mirror, then Tribune Corp.) numerous buyouts, layoffs and shrinkage at "the nation's oldest newspaper in continuous publication." The most recent cutbacks included bringing the paper and a Tribune TV station under the same management.

These days, most readers know George as the Courant's consumer watchdog. It looks like he's done good work following-up reader complaints, keeping a good relationship with the state's attorney general, exposing faulty products and questionable business practices, and saving people some money.

Now he's started his own blog as and is talking about making it a nonprofit operation, and about suing the paper, the more civilized equivalent of "going to the mattresses," in the Corleone family. He's quoted by the Associated Press as saying new managers are "destroying the Courant instead of saving it" and that he hopes to stop them.

In a more mundane sense, George says mattresses played a part in his leaving the Courant. Here's the AP version: Hartford Courant columnist alleges his departure tied to critical column about advertiser.

The advertiser in question was a big mattress store, the kind that places big ads in newspapers and television, and sometimes draws consumer complaints about bedbug infestations.

The Courant's memos about George's departure are on his blog, headlined "Courant Spin on Watchdog departure."

Along with his remaining Watchdog columns on, you'll find "The Watchdog's Consumer Resource List," which I'd recommend to journalism students interested in following in watchdog pawprints, looking for local equivalents to the Connecticut offices on his list.

Finally, if you're itching to find out more about bedbugs and mattresses, the "Is this really a new mattress?" question has been the subject of consumer complaints and news investigations for more than a dozen years. A Times story a few years ago pointed out that even new mattresses from reputable stores can pick up bedbugs if they spend a day in a delivery truck carrying away other customers' old mattresses... Those are not the kind you'd want to "go to."