J-School Centennial Experience

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Our Centennial Experience

Posted by alexandragoff on September 14, 2008

Text by Brandon Schatsiek. Photos by Alex Goff. Additional photos have been uploaded to the Centennial Flickr group.

Deciding what college to attend is one of the hardest decisions any person will make in their life. For 100 years now, young aspiring journalists have been making the easiest decision possible.

As the Missouri School of Journalism celebrates its 100th birthday hundreds of J-School alums flocked to Columbia to check out the newly renovated Walter Williams Hall and the brand new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Ever since the opening of the J-School it has been considered the best there is and because of this success, has drawn some of the most ambitious young men and women from around the world. The going joke for those at Mizzou is that anyone who is from out of state…is bound to be a journalism major.

The opening ceremonies started on Wednesday night with a BBQ and free concert open to the public at Mizzou Arena. Dean of the J-School, Dean Mills welcomed everyone that was an alum back to town and encouraged all of the journalism undergraduates in the crowd to take notice of the professionals and pioneers of their profession and follow their steps to continue taking journalism to another level for the future.

Then came the entertainment of the evening. With the directing hand of Ken Paulson, BJ ’75, senior vice president and editor of USA TODAY, “Freedom Sings”, a critically acclaimed concert that combines music with a history of the First Amendment and the United States.

Ok, so this sounds like a super boring concert right? I mean it’s about press freedom and the history of the First Amendment for God’s sake. But only after a couple of minutes I realized that this wasn’t just something that PBS would run on a Sunday morning.

The show focused on songs over the past three centuries that faced strong scrutiny, were censored and even banned because of their content. The narration took the audience back in time by playing these songs and giving background information to why the First Amendment was supposed to protect these songs and their writers.

The show expanded on why the First Amendment is so important to every American citizen and why we need to protect it. Songs ranged from gospel to rock to rap and included: “Short People” by Randy Newman, “Annie Had a Baby” by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, and many others.

The concert was a surprisingly good one; a round of applause goes to the band and the people from the J-School that booked them because I highly doubt there is another concert on tour where the audience will sing along to “This Land is Your Land” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” in the same set.

Thursday night brought the class reunions. Alex Goff and I went to the Wine Cellar and Bistro in downtown Columbia where 14 members of the ’71 Radio and TV class gathered.

Interviewing anyone that you don’t know can be a very intimidating thing and walking into a private room full of prominent journalists and PR advisers while they are eating a very expensive meal is nerve-wracking as well. But graduate Steve Doyal quickly met Alex and I with open arms.

Now the senior vice-president of public affairs and communications of the greeting card giant, Hallmark, Doyal felt that attending the J-School gave him a leg up on his competition. It taught him to deal with urgency, to be decisive and that thinking critically are all important ideas to remember after students have left the school.

“The school was very different then, the broadcast sequence was among the smallest and now it’s among the largest,” he said. “We still believe that the Missouri Method is the way to go and that is why the Missouri School of Journalism continues to be the best in the world.”

Doyal then introduced us to Senate Minority Whip for the state of Nevada, and J-School alum, Valerie Wiener. After graduating with her BS in broadcast she received her second degree in literature and eventually went to law school. Wiener was most proud of her historic run as being a part of the first all women legislative team in United States history.

She has written several books and has held her position in Nevada legislation since 1996. She said it was nice to be back for the first time in 35 years and that the most important thing she learned in her time away was that it is vital to restore political faith in the people because they are the ones who ultimately have the power.

After speaking with several alums, they continued with their dinner and began to go around the table giving a brief account of their lives over the last 35-plus years. After only two people talked about their accomplishments in their business and personal lives another alum interrupted and said, “We’ve gone through two people and they have combined to write six books, this doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.” Then Doyal chimed in bragging that he at least read one book in the last 35 years. Walter Williams would be proud.

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Opening Ceremony

Posted by Katy Mooney on September 12, 2008

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Embracing Change Panel

Posted by Tina Casagrand on September 12, 2008

The topic of the 10:45 session in Tucker Forum was Embracing Change: Ensuring the Future of Magazine Journalism.  If today’s crowd (I stopped counting at 112) indicates the interest in magazine journalism, we can feel more comfortable with that future.  A panel of accomplished MU graduates (whose graduation dates spanned over 20 years—a surprise to me, as they all looked similarly vivacious) seesawed between the good news and bad news of the field.  Web traffic is up.  Physical magazine circulation is down.
While we might lament the thinning of physical publications (I personally love the design, smell, and tangibility of a real magazine, not to mention the satisfying stacks that accumulate on my desk each month), we can do little to reverse the trend.  As citizens utilize blogs-that-are-printing presses, they’re acquiring louder voices and bigger egos.  To keep with the current, editors and writers must give up some of their power to the community.  John Byrne, of Business Week’s Business Exchange, says that this new journalism is “all about reader engagements,” inviting audience participation, and thus inducing loyalty.

Jack Bamberger, of Meredith (the media marketing company for Parents, Better Homes & Gardens, and others), noted word-of-mouth (including blogging) advertising strategies and its 2 broadband channels as ways to keep his magazines fresh and interesting.

Embracing Change panel

Embracing Change panel

At the prompt of moderator Sonja Steptoe, the panel described best practices for producing and selling derivative content.  Geraldine Sealey noted that magazines are so separate that everyone has their own web strategy.  Contributors to the website produce 60 to 70 pieces per day, and visitors to the website come, she says, “to get something different from the magazine.”
Lamar Graham’s Parade thrives both online and in print, despite the magazine’s original aversion to web media.  They now offer online games, photo-sharing, and content widgets for their newspaper partners.

Another exception to the failing magazine market is the 132-year-old Farm Journal, which boasts a readership of 400,000 and prints various other publications, including Dairy magazine. Charlene Finck, vice president, editorial for Farm Journal Media, pointed to other methods of gaining and keeping readership.  Not only does Dairy boast “sexy cows” on its cover each month—her company also hosts events like “Corn College” and keeps demographic data on their readers which “helps decide not only what we should be doing, but also who we should be sending it to.”

The industry of agricultural journalism changes a lot slower than most, however.  In the mainstream cultures, the internet forces magazines to adapt to the new trends.  Byrne noted that a divide still exists between print and online journalism, saying “if this were the Renaissance, the web would be Florence.”

Byrne went on to say that young staffers are more ambitious and productive than their older counterparts, a point which Finck backed, explaining how her magazine pairs young staffers with older writers, a kind of “reverse mentoring,” where the older people “catch the fever of what’s possible.”

What’s possible, apparently, is to be decided by us, the next generation of journalists.  “You are your own brand,” said Graham of magazine journalism and the web.  Finally, Byrne, saying that “this is the best time to be a journalist” advised students to go out of J-School as entrepeneurs.

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Let’s Party Like It’s 1967 (and 8)

Posted by Elizabeth Rinehart on September 12, 2008

The excietment was evident in the air last night, Wednesday September the 11th, at the Reynolds Alumni Center for the 1967 and 68 class reunions. As I walked to the reception, I saw old friends reuniting and reminiscing about their college experience.

How was it different back then? Well, for one, according to an atendee, there were only 230 people in class! Sure is different from the thousands we have now… Also, some members of the class of 68 were the firsts to live in co-ed dorm groups (Schurz for women and Hatch for men!) Before this, dorm groups were single-sex (such as Hudson and Gillett for men and Laws and Lathrop for women.) It is through the co-ed dorm ‘areas’ that two members of the class of 68, Neal and Valerie Barry, met. They were set up on a blind date and married in September 1966 and just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary and now reside in Alexandria, Virginia!

When I left right before dinner started, I could see the happiness on the faces of the alumni. As the night progressed, I’m sure many happy memories were shared that contributed to this events’ success.

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Opening Ceremony

Posted by Melissa Berman on September 11, 2008

Video of the Freedom Sings performance/Opening Ceremony

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Video clips of interview with USA Today Editor Ken Paulson

Posted by Eva Dou on September 11, 2008

With his red travel-rumpled polo shirt, unassuming manner and complete lack of an entourage, Ken Paulson seemed surprisingly plebian for the editor of America’s most widely-circulated newspaper when he stepped into Mizzou Arena yesterday afternoon. While his band tuned up to rehearse for the evening’s “Freedom Sings” performance, Mr. Paulson sat down to discuss journalism with my fellow J1010H reporter Daniel Maxson and myself.

Although he didn’t seem accustomed to being interviewed by technological have-nots fumbling with a juice box-sized flip camera, Mr. Paulson graciously answered our questions for over twice the time period we had meekly requested. The lighting was not ideal in the arena, and there was considerable background noise (including one stage hand doing mike checks-“Two! Two! Two!”-that curiously never began with one and never progressed to three), but the interview on the whole turned out audible and visible, so I deem it a success. Here are some parts of our interview:

Advice from Ken Paulson

Ken Paulson on news judgment

Ken Paulson talks about the present, future of journalism

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Quality citizenship

Posted by absolutelyape on September 11, 2008

The general idea of the Scholarly Symposium roundtables have been expressed already – I actually want to draw attention to one specific comment made during the question-and-answer portion of “Institutional Rumblings and Modernization.”

I think we’ve all heard enough laments by old (by that I mean age as well as traditionalism) newsies about the crisis of journalism with the advent of Internet news. But the discussion is still valid, is still worth picking apart, especially in light of some of the things said at tonight’s forum.

“Quality of citizenship needs as much attention as quality of journalism,” said Edmund Lambeth, a Missouri Journalism School faculty member, in response to questions about how blogging and open sourced information online could potentially hurt or hinder the role of journalists everywhere. This comment stuck out to me because it wasn’t the same… whining?… I’ve heard in the past about how out-of-touch most bloggers/citizen journalists are with what it means to really tell a story. This was a step in the direction of progress, of proactive change on the part of educators, students, journalists, and just citizens in general.

I asked Lambeth to expand on this issue when the roundtable took a short break for coffee and whatever spongey cakes were left over from the luncheon. He traced civic education problems with the general public back to the high school level, where civics, as a serious class (or series of classes), have all but disappeared from the mandatory curriculum. His point was that we, as a general public, aren’t trained from an early age to engage in commitment to public good. So when we grow up and look for a way to grab a piece of this accessible media pie (by creating a blog in seconds, by submitting our own stories and experiences to YouTube and CurrentTV and other media sites, and in many more ways) are we really interested in promoting the public good (whatever that means to us) and furthering honest, thought-provoking dialogue on current issues? Are we really interested in whether something is factual?

Well… what can we do about never really getting adequate “training” on civic duties, about not exploring what “public good” means and how our own coverage of events or issues relates to that? There’s no turning back time to take a class (would that have helped, anyway?).

What do you think? How do we, looking forward, fulfill our civic duty? And how do we translate this to others so that they exercise social responsibility as well in their media endeavors of the future?

It seems several solutions were brought up in subsequent question-and-answer sessions. No doubt this question will continue to take the stage as the Centennial events continue…

According to Lambeth, one of the many answers is rooted in formal education. More civics classes, more ethical discussion among high school, college, and grad students. More partnering with the social sciences in certain classes and lectures.

Other professionals, like Fred Blevens, agree that the education system could improve an understanding of civic duty.

“We have mandatory classes that teach you how to give a speech, even if you’re never going to do it again,” said Blevens. “But no state mandates the teaching of consuming and reporting of journalism. If we teach them to consume it, they will learn how to do it.”

That may sound a little weird, that we should be taught how to consume media… but think about it. I mean, we’re journalists, so it’s second-nature to check up on every fact, right? But the general population doesn’t. I don’t doubt that a large portion of the general population consumes what they read, hear, see, without asking questions. Take Wikipedia’s stronghold of curious web-surfers… chances are, you’ve probably met at least someone who believed that everything they read on Wikipedia was true.

Blevins supports (voraciously, at that) teaching people how to check up on facts, how to be skeptical… because that’s the way of the journalist. “If your mom says she loves you, check it out.” If we get more people to start thinking like journalists, could that improve what’s written or said or visualized on the Web? Could that improve the content we find ourselves wading through in order to find the closest thing to the truth? Transparency is one example: if people are trained to be transparent about how they got their information, that alone would help readers/viewers discern whether they’re dealing with a legit report or not.

Other professionals think the answer to improving online media lies ultimately with the journalists. One woman stood up and said that the discussion seemed to be looking at the wrong problem entirely by blaming citizens/the public. “The journalists should be leading. They aren’t leading!” she said. “And the answer for that is… [journalists need to] think smarter, faster.” She paused. “Good luck,” she chimed sarcastically, before sitting down among laughter.

As I noted before, this discussion will only reverberate the Reynolds Institute as things take off for tomorrow. I know a lot of this may seem tiresome to us, the “youngins” so accustomed to new media, but it’s just encouraging to me that professionals have possible solutions to these issues.

Citizen journalism, in whatever form – it’s here to stay. As Clyde Bently, News-Editorial Professor, noted, 120,000 new blogs are created each day. So let’s just deal with it and see where we can make media literacy work, eh?

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The Opening to my Centennial Experience

Posted by Grace Lillard on September 10, 2008

I have been told that the purpose of this blog is to tell the story of the Missouri J-School Centennial through the words of the next generation of aspiring young journalists.  This experience is giving us a chance to see what we can do.  It is also giving the rest of the world a glimpse at what is rising up to meet it.

I wasn’t assigned to cover the BBQ Bash or the Opening Ceremonies, but something happened to me there that rocked my freshman world, and I want to share it with everyone else who is in my position.

Being surrounded by so many talented people tonight was enough to make me more than a little shy.  But somehow I found myself at the front of a group of students clustered around Ken Paulson, the editor of USA Today.  He shook my hand and introducing himself, said, “I’m Ken Paulson, with USA Today.”  I was struck with the thought, “Wow. This is what a real journalist sounds like.”  Being freshmen with relatively no experience in the actual field of journalism, presented with an incredible resource for information, we of course asked him about the most important thing on our minds.  “Do you have any advice for students deciding between a career in newspaper or magazines?”  Very life or death topic.

His answer, however, was one that may have a very real effect on my life.  He explained, in a very passionate voice to his audience of students, that our focus in school should not be on choosing between the newspaper and magazine industries.  The most valuable thing we can do, he said, is to learn how to write, and learn how to write well.  Across all media today, there is a desperate need for people who can convey messages to the public accurately and fluently.  Those that succeed are the ones with talent, but most importantly those with heart.

My greatest desire is to write.  Hearing from an esteemed journalist that that desire is what really matters reminds me of why I am here.  I am here to learn from the best and hope to join them in this profession.  So everyone who is doubting whether they have what it takes, know that in the end, all it takes is the nerve to introduce yourself and the heart to follow through.

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A Musical Tribute to Freedom (Opening Ceremony)

Posted by Luke on September 10, 2008

Today, Sept. 10, marked the kick-off of the three day event celebrating 100 years of the Mizzou Journalism experience.  So, as one would expect, all the youngsters who are getting their feet wet in the wild world of Journalism were encouraged to go to the event.  Some thought the best way to get them there was an honors assignment, and that’s where I come into play.  When I heard that the last nights of my week would be mostly filled with a celebration I knew next to nothing about, I was less than ecstatic to say the least.  Wednesday was the first day and the opening ceremony I was supposed to cover started at 7:30.  So, as any college kid would do, I sat with some friends until around 7:20, and then called my group leader to ask where the Mizzou Auditorium actually was.  Once I got there, I went down to the bottom of the arena and grabbed a court-side seat.  The fact that I was about fifteen minutes late really wasn’t a problem, since I still had more than enough time to sit and observe those around me.  I imagined a few gray haired veterans of the biz standing on the open stage in front of me, talking for hours on end about the good ol’ days, but after a few moments where I thought my suspicions would be confirmed, the musical guests walked out onto the stage.  When they told everyone they would be playing songs that were banned or at least, spoken out against, I knew the night would be better than what I expected.  They played songs everyone knew like Short People, With a Little Help From My Friends, and Puff the Magic Dragon; along with others that some may have known (although I sure didn’t).  Of course, the purpose of all this music against the man, was to show that our first amendment right to Freedom of Speech is an important part of our society.  Near the end of the night, the speaker made a few points that were truly inspiring.  He told us about some polls that had been taken that said that somewhere in the range or 30-40% of Americans polled said that the first amendment gave people too much freedom.  All I had to say was that no amount of freedom is too much freedom.  Thankfully, the speaker agreed with me and said that we had lost sight of what the founding fathers had so intelligently given to us.  The night ended with one last song and some closing comments, and I left, truly inspired to preserve my rights.  I think Ben sums it up pretty nicely.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

– Ben Franklin

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Freedom Sings for Opening Ceremony

Posted by Gretchen Mahan on September 10, 2008

     In order to launch the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial on Wednesday, September 10, 2008, nine of of the top musicians and vocalists in the nation gathered to promote the first amendment in a performance featuring various songs that have been censored in the United States. 

     Ken Paulson, Mizzou alum and editor and senior vice president of USA Today and USAToday.com, hosted the event, which celebrated its tenth anniversary with Wednesday’s performance. 

     The performers included Grammy award winners and nationally renowned songwriters Ashley Cleveland, Don Henry, Criag Krampf, Bill Lloyd, Jonell Mosser, Jason White, Joseph Wooten, and Jackie Patterson.

To see pictures of the event go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/30245262@N07/. 

     The band began with a melody of songs in which Criag Krampf performed, but quickly moved on to the heart of the performance, which included a variety of genres such as rap, rock and roll, country, and everything in between. The one thing that all the songs had in common was that they were, at least at one time, considered controversial.

     The audience laughed light-heartedly as Paulson relayed how the FBI even became involved, scrutinizing music for months at a time.

     “Puff the Magic Dragon” appeared to be one of the crowd’s favorite as many began to stand up and sing along. 

     The audience consisted mainly of MU Journalism alumni and students, although the event was open and free to the public.

     Another interesting part of the performance was when James White played a song he had written for Tim McGraw. Certain radio stations decided to remove the song “Red Rag Top” from their playlist because of listener complaints. The song describes a young couple whose love is tested after they have decided to have an abortion. 

     “The controversy made the song climb the chart faster than it would have otherwise,” White said.

     The songs the band performed covered all of the five topics covered in the first amendment: freedom of religion, speech, press, to peacefully assemble, and to petition government for the redress of grievances. 

     The event’s goal was to raise awareness about the importance of first amendment rights. Paulson mentioned during the night that only two percent of Americans can name all five of the first amendment rights. 

     At the end of the night, a slide show ran with the official song of the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial, “Coming Back Again.” 

     The song was quite personal for MU alumni, incorporating specific references to Mizzou throughout.

     “Adorned with black and gold, we spread the truth where told,” the song said.

     The main message of the song resounded clearly in the chorus. “Nothing reminds me quite like coming back again.”

     Alumni Peggy Marion and Carolyn Mulford responded positively to the night’s performance. 

     “The song selection was great,” Marion said. 

     International graduate student Mu Li from China said she enjoyed the lessons that went along with the music. While she had heard some of the names of the artists and songs, she did not realize the censorship that was placed on them.

     “It was a very enriching experience for me,” Li said.

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