Why Hurricane Ian Made College Journalism Class Think


Sometimes the mundane tasks of academia are far removed from the nerve-wracking excitement of breaking news.

I was reminded of this reminder last month as I sat helplessly on my couch in California and watched Hurricane Ian devastate my former home state of Florida. (The irony: I was so caught up in journalism around the storm that I struggled to produce that journalism! That’s part of the reason Alma Matters is a little late this month – that and a vacation to see family in the Pacific Northwest.)

I was amazed and grateful to the local journalists who showed immense tenacity and dedication to covering their communities. National news organizations did the profession proud by coming forward and drawing attention to the storm, the need to evacuate and Ian’s aftermath.

It was a painful reminder of the important role journalists have in keeping people safe and informed, while telling important stories about climate, disasters and the human spirit.

And it was all produced by professional journalists who have sat in your classrooms before.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday academia, it’s easy to lose touch with the reasons we teach about the news. There are articles to grade and newsletters to critique and resumes to edit (lightly, of course), all in the name of helping students get a job somewhere and do it well, maybe for decades.

These former students who now serve as reporters covering Florida’s latest disaster are proof that what you do matters – every class, every week, every semester.

Keep it up – you are making a difference.

I hope now that the greatest amicus memoir of all time has made its way into your inboxes, your hearts and your classrooms.

Uh okay. “Marquette Removes Students From Campus Leadership Positions In Response To Freshman Welcome Protest” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A rare happy ending for a media/administration student! “Student news media must be protected. After a rumble, LSU prez gets it. (Nola.com)

Love it. “Federal Court Leaders Agree to Reimburse Fees for Online Filings” (Washington Post)

This is a heartwarming and exciting Twitter feed. Show it to your illustrative students.

Here’s a subtitle we can all agree with: “A better way to teach writing? Try Journalism | A PhD in literature argues that journalism, not “compilation,” is the most effective way to help students learn to write” (Nieman reports)

This is a good read. “The Inquisition: State intrusion into higher education is nothing new. Decades ago, Florida lawmakers tried to purge “immorality” from campus. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Washington Post’s “How a Las Vegas Newsroom Set Out to Solve a Colleague’s Murder” is quite inspiring, with a particularly journalistic and bittersweet twist at the end.

Wow! “Check out the newsworthy winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest” (NPR)

My first thought about this inclusive glossary controversy story was, “Can I get a copy?” But here is the apparent source material.

How to Support Journalists Being Harassed Online (Nieman Reports)

Introducing Nora JS Reichardt: Local 5 reporter comes out as a transgender woman (WeAreIowa.com)

9 tips for debunking false claims made by friends and family (Washington Post)

Democracy User’s Guide (ProPublica)

Journalist’s Guide to Reporting on Homelessness (Street Sense Media)

I mention them a lot, and for good reason. The NBCU Academy is hosting its second Next Level Summit virtually on October 18. Sessions include topics such as ‘Check the Source: Social Media as a News Gathering Tool’ and ‘Small Group Careers in Media and Technology’, there might be something that fits with your current lesson plans .

Does your college do this? “Withholding College Transcripts for Loan Payment Is ‘Improper,’ Federal Agency Says” (Hechinger Report)

How will your students do? “Reality Without Roe and Student Mental Health: Restrictions on Abortion Access Will Negatively Impact Student Mental Health, and Colleges and Counseling Centers Need to Be Prepared” (Inside Higher Ed)

Two questions to consider this week that revolve around politicians and the media: Herschel Walker of Georgia and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, both running for Senate. Professor’s Press Pass is a subscription library of ethics and journalism case studies designed for strong classroom communication. Subscriptions cost $12 per month or $100 per year.

If you didn’t know about Fat Bear Week, well, now you do.

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