Celebrate the holiday season with Mizzou's journalism organizations

The holiday season has arrived, and that means it's time for MU's journalism students to celebrate. Join the Online News Association and the school's other journalism organizations for a mixer on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m in the Neff Hall Student Lounge. There will be dessert (lots of it) and conversation for all, but only one group will walk away as the champion of the trivia contest. All journalism students are invited to the mixer, which will be a great opportunity to learn how to get involved in MU's journalism organizations.

Three Missouri School of Journalism professors' blogs you should be reading

By Andrew Gibson

There's a good chance you've blogged about something during your time at the Missouri School of Journalism. It might've been for Journalism 2150 -- a required course, for those not familiar -- or maybe you're like us and write for a school organization.

What you might not have known, though, is that some of the professors grading your blogs might have ones of their own. Here's a look at three MU faculty members who, as they advise you to do, are building their online brand.

Joy Mayer

Twitter: (@mayerjoy)

The Columbia Missourian's director of community outreach writes about, you guessed it, the intersection of journalism and community. You'll find posts about being transparent with your audience and about "what Missouri community newspapers are doing on Facebook."

But here's the bonus: Mayer, also an associate professor in Print and Digital News, teaches participatory journalism (Journalism 4700), which is all about "social media, analytics, identifying audience, being ambassadors for the newsroom, crowdsourcing and comment moderation." That means her blog is full of useful snippets from the course. If you're curious how to market yourself, find a job or avoid becoming the annoying one in the newsroom, start reading.

Letters Home: Bart Bedsole

Bart Bedsole is an anchor for KZTV in Corpus Christi,
Texas. He graduated from the Missouri School of
Journalism in 2000 with a degree in broadcast
The following letter was submitted June 22, 2012


Be very thankful. You are among the final generations of young broadcast news reporters that will graduate to find a job that provides a decent salary and a photographer to work with. Ten years from now, people hired for the same position will be required to shoot their own stories, as well as post it all online in more places than you can imagine, and you will do it all for less money.

Don't rush to move on to higher markets or positions, because happiness and success can be found anywhere.

Spend more time on your writing and less building your resume tape. Your coworkers will respect you more for it.

LIVE BLOG: Get feedback on your online portfolio!

5:40 p.m. - Reuben Stern from RJI says if you have different interests, make sure it's clear you're passionate about each one. Don't make it seem like you're only "willing" to do something. Stern also says it's important to put more emphasis on your work than the places you worked.

5:30 p.m. - MU photojournalism student Colleen DeAnna shows her portfolio website on WordPress. She has photos she's taken for the Missourian, Vox and portrait photography. She also includes her resume as a downloadable PDF. Weir says having a downloadable resume is a good idea because, when hiring, he prefers to print out resumes as a reminder to review them. You should also condense a web portfolio for your best work. Employers want to see what you are capable of.

5:25 p.m. - MU Convergence grad student Charles Minshew shows his portfolio website. He says professionals have told him web developers should work on coding their own sites. He also links to a WordPress blog on his site.

5:15 p.m. - Nathan Byrne from Newsy.com says your website should be simple so no one viewing it "gets lost." You don't want to oversell yourself. Byrne also says you should show off daily work on your portfolio site. You want potential employers to know you do good work on a regular basis.

5:10 p.m. - Weir shows websites from MU grads like Juana Summers and Kristin Kellog as examples. You should also buy a domain name and host space. Developers like Weebly and WordPress allow you to purchase domain names through them. Squarespace.com also lets you create sites by "dragging and dropping" elements.

5:05 p.m. - MU Multimedia Planning and Design Professor Rob Weir says WordPress is clean, fine easy to read for people who don't want to be online developers.

EVENT ALERT: Get feedback on your portfolio

Want to build or revamp your portfolio website before submitting your internship or job applications? Many summer application deadlines are coming up, so join ONA Mizzou at 5 p.m. on Nov. 8 in 42 Walter Williams for expert advice on how to make your site attractive to employers.

Whether you're using templates like WordPress or coding your own site, we'll have experts from Newsy and the Missourian on hand to help you through every phase of the process. Bring your link if you want on-site feedback.

Journalists partially to blame for false Hurricane Sandy tweets

By Erin Dismeier
It's hard not to love Twitter. It's useful to journalists trying to push out the most up-to-date information, and it gains special importance during disasters like Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast last week. Although the real-time social media platform has its upsides, rumors spreading 140 characters at a time became a big problem during the storm.

Many were outraged by the account ComfortablySmug, which tweeted false information about Sandy. BuzzFeed learned the person behind  the handle was Shashank Tripathi and deemed him "Hurricane Sandy's worst Twitter villain." Two of the biggest falsehoods Tripathi spread were about a citywide blackout in Manhattan and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange flooding. Some of his tweets were retweed more than 500 times.

Tripathi did send out a formal apology to New Yorkers and admitted to spreading the false information. But looking closer at what happened, it's worth asking: Are journalists somewhat to blame?

Why journalism schools and students must continue to evolve

By Laura Davison
There has been lots of discussion in recent months by media thinkers and journalism funders about the relevance of getting a degree in journalism.

But not everyone agrees. Emory University announced earlier this fall that it plans to close its journalism program, saying it is a “pre-professional program” and therefore “not an easy fit” in a liberal arts environment. Poynter, on the other hand, has defended journalism education as a way to teach students to develop curiosity.

Important to note is that these thinkers aren't saying the skills learned in j-schools are irrelevant. Rather, they argue many journalism programs aren’t keeping up with the demands of a continuously changing industry.

What the Poynter eyetracking study means for tablet publishers

By Dalton Barker

Poynter recently conducted a study that tracked the eye movement of people reading and navigating through three tablet layouts.

This study came at the heels of another study published in the Sacramento Bee about reading newspapers on tablets versus in print. It showed that people viewing newspapers on tablets account for 7 percent of total Web page views and that 10 percent of tablet users read news on their tablets daily.

So, what does this mean? We already know the shift toward digital is coming and, in many places, is already here. Look at Thursday's headline about Newsweek. Instead, the question becomes, How do online publishers maximize the tablet experience? Poynter's study shows online news can be tailored to individual users, but making sure that happens is one of publishers' biggest tasks.

LIVEBLOG: Highlighting the work of the Missouri Honor Medal recipients

5:05 p.m. All meeting guests are signed in and have cupcakes!

5:10 p.m. ONA Mizzou Secretary Laura Davison reviewed investigative reporter John Ferrugia's work. Ferrugia works at KMGH-TV in Denver and is a 1975 Missouri School of Journalism graduate.

5:15 p.m. Davison also looked at Adam Moss, editor-in-chief of New York Magazine. Under his tenure, the publication has won more awards than any other magazine, and it "publishes new content every six minutes," according to the Nieman Journalism Lab.

5:20 p.m. ONA Mizzou President Erin Dismeier highlighted National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb.

Dismeier also looked at the work of 1982 Missouri School of Journalism graduate alumnus Jeff Leen, the assistant managing editor of The Washington Post's investigations unit.

ONA Mizzou Treasurer Stacey Welsh also gave the lowdown on columnist Mona Eltahawy, who writes about Arab and Muslim issues. She lectures about how to use social media effectively in those communities.

5:21 p.m. A video was played that discussed Eltahawy's arrest for spray painting over anti-Muslim messaging in a subway.

EVENT ALERT: Missouri Honor Medal recipient review

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 11, 5 p.m.

WHERE: RJI 100A (Palmer Room)

The Missouri Honor Medal recipients are coming to your classes, but do you know why? Spend an hour with ONA Mizzou to find out who the honorees are and why the Missouri School of Journalism has chosen to recognize their work. 

The ONA Mizzou student leaders will show you the notable achievements of each recipient to prepare you for when they speak on campus.

You can also win door prizes, eat cupcakes and learn about how to get involved with the school's digital journalism club!

Letters Home: Bridget Doyle

Bridget Doyle is a reporter for the
Chicago Tribune. She graduated from
the Missouri School of Journalism in
2009 with a degree in magazine
The following letter was submitted June 14, 2012

Choosing to become a journalist in a time when there's very little security in the industry already requires a passion and a leap of faith worth applauding. It's a high-demand, (generally) low-paying field, but it's one of the most rewarding career paths out there. You're changing lives, making personal connections, telling stories and exposing truths. It takes a great amount of commitment and drive to succeed in journalism in 2012, but if you're at the Missouri School of Journalism, you're already forging a path of success. I offer advice not as a journalism veteran, but as a reporter with three years of experience surviving in an exciting and volatile media world.

Always, always take the extra work. When you land your first internship or job - or even while at the Missourian or Vox - you will stand out if you raise your hand. It's not about just camping out at Lee Hills Hall for face time. When your editor/boss/superior asks who will take on the extra story or work a Saturday shift, volunteer. Sure you'll whine and grumble to your friends when they're headed to tailgate on Saturday and you're rolling six notebooks deep, but the extra effort is what bosses notice. Be the person who's willing to step up and take the unwanted work without expecting extra compensation. It's a tough business out here right now, and it's the people that haven't become complacent that most often hold onto their job.

LIVE BLOG: Recapping the 2012 Online News Association Conference

5:03 p.m. Microsoft Application Development Lab attendant helps us connect with ONA Northwestern students via Skype. Technology struggles...

5:08 p.m. We can hear ONA Northwestern students loud and clear!

5:10 p.m. MU Futures Lab Director Mike McKean says the biggest takeaway of the conference is that ONA is the most diverse and active journalism organization out there. He says based on what he learned in conference sessions, MU journalism is preparing students for the real world.

5:15 p.m. McKean says MU alums Meredith Artley of CNN.com and Juana Summers of Politico are influential in ONA.

5:25 p.m. McKean says young professionals need to be proficient and current in social media skills, as well as have knowledge of coding and programming. Many organizations want to approach multimedia projects as a team. That means it could be good to specialize instead of being a "jack of all trades."

One session discussed "making apps like lasagna." That means they're made with uncluttered layers, so they are easy to navigate. News aggregation apps are also becoming more popular. This includes Columbia's own Newsy, as well as Newsala.

EVENT ALERT: Recapping the Online News Association Conference

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m.

WHERE: 42 Walter Williams

The 2012 Online News Association Conference, one of the nation’s largest digital journalism gatherings, happened last week in San Francisco -- and ONA Mizzou is highlighting the event for those of us who couldn’t make it. Join ONA Mizzou, ONA Northwestern, Futures Lab Director Mike McKean, RJI Communications Director Brian Steffens and other faculty members as they share what they learned at #ONA12. We'll  focus on innovations you can add to your journalism repertoire today.

Come with questions and your game face: We'll be playing Buzzword Bingo (we'll explain, don't worry) for the chance to win fabulous ONA12 gear.

Itching to read about the conference before Thursday? Check out coverage from the conference's student newsroomGannett's ONA12 Tumblr and Poynter's "12 bite-size takeaways" from the event.

Also, we highlighted three conference sessions in a post last week.

Can't go to the 2012 Online News Association Conference? Learn from it anyway.

By Andrew Gibson
Not everyone can go to the 2012 Online News
Association Conference, but that doesn't mean you
can't learn from ONA12.
Thursday marks the start of what might be the world's most talent laden and genuinely awesome gatherings of digital journalists.

The 2012 Online News Association Conference, happening in San Francisco through Saturday, features the likes of Liz Heron, Wall Street Journal social media and engagement director, and Juana Summers, a Politico national reporter -- and 2009 Missouri School of Journalism graduate -- who's been following around GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

In other words, Thursday marks the start of three heavenly days.

And of course, you're not going.

Well, neither am I. But there's still something you can do: scan the conference schedule. Maybe that sounds boring, but if you take five minutes, you might read about a session that intrigues you. Maybe something you want to learn about on your own. It's not necessary to fly west to learn data journalism, you know.

(For the record, ONA will livestream some parts of the conference. You should also follow the #ONA12 hashtag.)
Here are three sessions that caught my eye:

Letters Home: Jennifer Lerner

Jennifer Lerner is vice president at
Fleishman-Hillard in Kansas City. She
graduated from the Missouri School of
Journalism in 1998 with a degree in
broadcast journalism.
The following letter was submitted June 26, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou Students,

What a fantastic moment – you’re about to embark into the next chapter in your journalism career. I vividly remember my graduation day from the MU School of Journalism 14 (!) or so years ago. Elizabeth Vargas from ABC News (also a Mizzou alum) gave the commencement address, and I was about to venture off to Nashville to begin my career as a weekend morning news producer. I was hopeful. I was idealistic. I would eventually work my way up to the ranks of Executive Producer and beyond!

Seven years later, I found myself going over to, what my newsie friends called, the ‘the dark side’.

That’s right. In 2005, I, Jennifer (Hankes) Lerner, broadcast news producer, graduate of the best J-School in the country, made a career change and became a public relations professional. (Gasp!)

Facebook mobile-ad revenue expected to grow, but still looking for business model

By Erin Dismeier
Facebook's mobile-ad revenue is projected to grow, but
the service is still looking for a sustainable mobile model.
Facebook or Twitter?  Even though Facebook achieved popularity sooner, a recent report by online marketing-research firm eMarketer shows Twitter in 2012 will take in more U.S. mobile-ad revenue than Facebook.

This is partially because Promoted Tweets, a huge ad-revenue source for Twitter, are well-integrated into the service's "core user experience," making the "shift toward displaying mobile advertisements relatively simple," according to eMarketer. 

"Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, boasts that Twitter was developed with mobile in mind," according to Digital Trends. "As the company began selling mobile ads earlier this year, just weeks into its mobile ad program, the company garnered more ad revenue from its Promoted Tweets program on its mobile platform than on its desktop app."

EVENT ALERT: Students share their internship experiences

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 13, 5 p.m.

WHERE: 42 Walter Williams

Missouri School of Journalism students interned this summer at a variety of news organizations, from The Denver Post to the Student Press Law Center. Join the Online News Association at Mizzou and the Society of Professional Journalists for a panel in which a handful of those students share what they learned, answer questions and pass on advice to others seeking internships.

Letters Home: Christina Hartman

Christina Hartman is the managing editor at Newsy. She graduated from
the Missouri School of Journalism in 2009 with a master's in broadcast
The following letter was submitted June 15, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,

To state the obvious, journalism is a competitive industry. We're surrounded by many who are just as talented — just as hard working, just as smart, just as resourceful — as we hope we are. Joining the working world for the first time, the reality of that can be tough.

But what I would have told my student and fresh-out-of-school self is rather than thinking of competitors as agitators of self-doubt, they are opportunities for growth.

Long live long-form journalism

By Dalton Barker
Newspapers B&W (5)
As newspapers have struggled, long-form journalism
has found a home online.

Job cuts that have swept the journalism industry have led to thinner newspapers and tightly stretched staffs with more responsibilities and less time to do them. It was only inevitable, then, that many papers would pare production of in-depth stories and instead require that reporters submit two, maybe three stories per day.

However, the Web is now driving a long-form journalism comeback, according to Forbes writer Lewis DVorkin. Tablets, smartphones and the ability to share via social media what you're reading are a few factors driving the upswing, according to the article. It mentions how the first two have given publishers and online-only publications more incentive to produce in-depth pieces because more people are itching for online content.

Letters Home: Stephanie Stouffer

Stephanie Stouffer is a client strategist at Engage in
Washington, D.C. She graduated from the Missouri
School of Journalism
in 2011 with a degree in
convergence journalism.
Dear ONA Mizzou,

If I had access to this list during my last few months of college, I’m still not sure I would have been prepared for what was to come. I have learned more about myself and my work ethic since graduating in May 2011 than I ever did in my four years at Mizzou. I am currently working in Washington, D.C., as an account executive (my official title is “client strategist”) for a digital strategy firm. I started this job in December 2011, exactly 7 months after I graduated. I love my job more than anything, and it truly was fate landing this gig. But those 7 months between graduation and starting this job were some of the toughest months I have ever experienced. Here are just a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Party conventions opportunity for news organizations to show off online, social coverage

By Laura Davison
Social media was around during the 2008 Democratic National Convention,
shown above, as well as for the Republican convention, but it will play a
much larger role in 2012
London Olympic stadiums were buzzing with tweets, Facebook posts and live streams, and it looks like two political venues are up next.

But while medals were awarded every day during the games, the Republican and Democratic National conventions often don't reveal anything new. For many news outlets, the conventions are more chances to show off online coverage.

ABC, CBS and NBC are kicking their Web efforts into high gear. Although they'll show nearly an hour of prime-time coverage, they'll also offer live streams and real-time analysis. The networks say the live streams will have TV-quality production value. 

The GOP convention is Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic convention is Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C.

Letters Home: Jeremy Harlan

Jeremy Harlan is a photojournalist for CNN in Washington,
D.C. He graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism
in 1999 with a degree in broadcast journalism.
The following letter was submitted June 25, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,

Being #2 is for pencils.

I don't know if Greeley Kyle still has that line hanging somewhere in his office, but it's forever etched in my head. And today, as I write this letter back to you, it's the first thing that comes to mind as advice for Mizzou journalism students.

Sure, there are some anecdotal suggestions: don't drink the water on international assignments. Have an overnight bag sitting under your desk for breaking news.  Always carry a disc, mic, and battery on the plane to still do TV when the airline loses your gear.

But none of that's a concern if you don't have the drive and desire to WANT to be in those situations.

ONA Mizzou on summer hiatus

Looking for another Letters Home post?

You'll see one -- but not until school starts in August. The ONA Mizzou student leaders are taking a summer blogging break to focus on jobs, internships and maybe even relax.

We do have several more letters ready to publish, though, so be sure to check back here Mondays starting in mid-August. In the meantime, you can reabsorb the advice Missouri School of Journalism alums have already shared.

Other ways to get involved with our club:

  • Passionate about a topic in digital journalism? Email us with your idea, and we'll help you get published on this blog.
  • Did you go to one of our events last semester? We're always looking for suggestions for new programs. Send ideas to the email given above.
  • Want to connect with digital journalists worldwide, find job openings and meet local newsies? Consider joining ONA Central, our parent organization.

Image courtesy of Flickr user CC Chapman

News Corp. splitting into two firms?

By Erin Dismeier

Media conglomerate News Corp. has announced the company will split, separating its broadcast and entertainment sectors from its publishing sector.  The Associated Press says CEO Rupert Murdoch is optimistic about the split and his family will maintain control of both companies.

News Corp. owns several successful entertainment businesses, including 20th Century Fox and Fox News, as well as prominent publishing companies like The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London. Investors "pushed the company's Class B stock up 10 percent since the news of the plan broke early Tuesday," according to WSJ, but the financial worth of each company may not be what's exciting the world.

Letters Home: Ben Bradley

Ben Bradley graduated from
the Missouri School
of Journalism in 1997 with
a degree in broadcast
The following letter was submitted May 10, 2012

Dear Old J-School Self,

Oh, how I miss you. Let me count the ways:

  1. The innocence with which I believed almost everything told to me by those in positions of power such as “activists,” mayors, and governors (I’m from Illinois after all).

  2. The freedom afforded by free time to stop and dream of the journalist I want to be.

  3. The camaraderie of KOMU: Post show drinks at Flat Branch where we celebrated victories and laughed about our screw ups. 
Here’s what I don’t miss, because these are qualities that still reflect the journalist I am today:

Letters Home: Brad Belote

Brad Belote is the digital content
director at KY3 Inc. in Springfield, Mo.
He graduated from the Missouri School
of Journalism in 1997 with a degree in
broadcast journalism.
The following letter was submitted June 13, 2012

Dear newly-minted graduate (now or later), nothing is going to turn out the way you think it will.

When you leave the hallowed halls of the School of Journalism, you’re likely leaving confident that you know what you want to do, where you want to go and how you’ll get there. After all, you’re now armed with the journalism seal of approval: a degree from Mizzou.

I don’t want to discount its value. Membership in that Mafia has its privileges. And you’ll always to stay connected to that special place. (Some day, you’ll realize just how short a time you spent there and pine to go back.)

But at the end of the day, it’s your life and your story that you are now fully responsible for. There is no one right way to write this story. Allow me a moment to share the lessons I’ve learned producing mine:

'Buzz' surrounds New York Times politics partnership

By Stacey Welsh
The New York Times has announced it’s spicing up coverage of the 2012 Democratic and Republican national conventions with a BuzzFeed collaboration. The paper posted a press release explaining how the not-so-traditional partnership will offer "expanded video coverage." Times staffers and BuzzFeed’s political team will create video segments with commentary about the conventions and the events leading up to them.

Erik Wemple, a Washington Post blogger, comments that the most "astounding" part of the move is that the Times proposed it. Additionally, he writes, BuzzFeed has only been covering politics "seriously" since January when former Politico writer Ben Smith joined as the site's editor-in-chief. Wemple, however, said this wouldn't be a problem because the Times is searching for "the ability to command a large following and to strike up the sorts of online conversations for which older, well-paid, traditional newspaper reporters aren’t famous."

Letters Home: Abbie Schmid

Abbie Schmid is a social media specialist
for the Cox Media Group. She graduated from
the Missouri School of Journalism in 2011.
The following letter was submitted March 9, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou -

I work best with bullet points, so here are my three pieces of wisdom for you.

1.) Utilize the faculty at the journalism school - they are there for you, and you’re lucky to have them. They’ve been on the other side - and have the insight to prove it. Sometimes it’s easy to see them as the people with the red pen who possess a supernatural ability to spot jump cuts and AP style snafus. But they really have your best interests at heart - and if you want to be a journalist, a nurse or an accountant, there’s nothing more valuable than having someone truly examine your work and point out your strengths and weaknesses. Not only do they direct you to producing your best work, they can assist you in landing your first gig out of school. The lead to my current position came from a tweet from my capstone advisor about a “cool internship in Atlanta.” That cool internship turned into an awesome job.

Magazines finding ways to expand

By Dalton Barker

Don't call for the death of print just yet. Magazine launches in 2011 outnumbered closures for the second year in a row, according to an Economist article.

The trend could be a reaction to the vast number of blogs and message boards. Those do a good job of catering to niche audiences, but some people still look to professional media when they need tips for gardening or low-carb cooking.

Helping magazines thrive are tablets. The iPad, among others, has allowed for the creation of interactive content that's available anywhere there's an Internet connection. Tablets' 3-D graphics engines and other display technologies give magazine designers new avenues for styling snazzy pages. That can help their products stand out from other media. 

Tablet magazines are likely making sales folks happy, too.

"There are signs that advertisers are accepting higher rates on tablets than on the web, because magazines on tablets are more like magazines in print: engrossing, well-designed experiences instead of forests of text and links," according to the Economist article.

Letters Home: Matt Pearce

Matt Pearce is a freelance writer for
the Los Angeles Times, the Pitch and
The New Inquiry. He received a master's
degree from the Missouri School of
Journalism in 2011.
The following letter was submitted April 10, 2012

Dear students:

The most important thing you should know at this point in your career is that it’s OK if you don’t grow up to be a journalist.

I realize that your student loans are probably about to drown you and you’re thinking I already put in, like, all this work. I’m actually not trying to dissuade you! Being a journalist is a very fine and fun thing to be. I’m having the time of my life, and I’d be the first in line to encourage you and tell you that you’re gonna have a great career and so many stories to tell at the bar.

But because your teachers probably won’t say it to you, I’ll say it to you: If it ever stops being fun, if you ever start dreading going to work, if you start going hungry because they won’t pay you enough to do something you stopped loving to do anyway, then for the love of god just quit. If I wake up one morning and they tell me that journalism is sitting behind a desk for 10 hours a day and trying not to accidentally plagiarize something from the million blogs I’m supposed to aggregate, then I’m leaving journalism and moving to New Orleans to open a coffee shop. May the bridges I burn light the way.

Free online course teaches journalists where they can gather news

By Andrew Gibson

Many journalists learn news-gathering law in college, but that knowledge could dwindle without a refresher.

And with the March arrests of two Chicago journalists near a hospital, as well as the May acquittal of a New York University student arrested during Occupy Wall Street protests -- two incidents in which police took issue with where journalists were standing -- knowing your rights seems as relevant as ever.

Newsgathering Law & Liability: A Guide for Reporting is a self-paced, online course from Poynter's News University that promises to keep journalists up to date on where they're allowed to bring a camera and notebook.

"You'll learn to identify the level of permission you must get to gather news in a location," according to the description. "You'll practice interviewing sources and see what promises you should or shouldn't make to them. You'll find out how to handle documents and other materials, and understand what your rights are to protect and retain them."

Grants from The Harnisch Foundation and The Cutts Foundation have made the course free to everyone, and you can start whenever you want.

Letters Home: Francie Williamson

Francie Williamson is content editor at The Gazette in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She graduated from the Missouri
School of Journalism in 2000 with a degree in print
and digital news (formerly the news editorial sequence)
The following letter was submitted Feb. 28, 2012

Be a sponge. And don’t leave early.

That’s what I would tell my younger undergraduate self if I could go back in time to December 2000. That’s when I graduated from Mizzou a semester early in order to beat the recession that I had a feeling was coming.

I was right about the recession, but I would have been fine staying another semester. Newspapers didn’t really start on their current precipitous decline until the middle of the decade.

I’ve been back to campus twice since graduating. I’m in awe and quite envious of all the things that have popped up not only in the journalism school, but at Mizzou as a whole in the last 12 years. In that time I’ve worked at five newspapers in South Carolina, Maine, Georgia and Iowa. I’m lucky to still be employed at one now.

Guardian's 'social sign on' builds on paper's openness

By Laura Davison
British daily the Guardian recently changed the way its online user-accounts work. It’s a small change, really. Users can now elect to have their accounts linked with Facebook or Twitter. This "social sign on," as the paper calls it, has advantages. For one, it means remembering one fewer username-password combination that might contains two uppercase letters and a Mandarin Chinese character. That said, this change does reflect bigger innovations.

The Guardian has focused on creating what it calls "open journalism." In February, it released a “Three Little Pigs”-themed video advertisement to illustrate this. The ad follows the pigs as they are tried for murdering the Big Bad Wolf. It also tracks how conversation alters coverage of their trial. A reader breaks news via YouTube that the wolf has asthma and therefore couldn't have blown down the pigs' houses. This leads journalists to further investigate.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told Nieman Lab earlier this week that answering two questions demonstrates how the Guardian practices open journalism: "One is how do you sort interesting people from uninteresting people, and how do you sort people of particular interests from other interests?” By using social media, the Guardian can find sources that add perspective, Rusbridger says. The paper is including bloggers and citizen journalists in its coverage instead of competing with them.

And here's where its online-account changes matter. When news consumers are logged in with Facebook or Twitter, journalists can more easily have conversations with them. Users may also be more inclined to exchange thoughts about stories among one another. They can share content on platforms besides Facebook and Twitter, too, expanding a story's reach.

Letters Home: Erica Zucco

Erica Zucco is a researcher for the weekend "Today" show.
She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in
2010 with a degree in convergence journalism.
The following letter was submitted March 22, 2012

Hey ONA Mizzou! I’m a relatively recent alum -- I’ve only been out of school since May 2010 -- so my hindsight might not be quite 20/20 yet... but I can share what I've learned so far:

You’re gonna miss this. Everyone says this and I used to roll my eyes, but now I get it. During college you have time, energy and freedom and you’re in an environment driven by possibility and excitement. You can learn what you want to learn, work on what you want to work on and spend as little time sleeping and as much time with friends as you want.
So in terms of journalism, use this time to take chances... and in terms of “life,” enjoy Mizzou, and semi-adulthood, as much as you can. If someone asks you to take a road trip, just say yes (no matter where you’re going). If you’re tired on a Friday night, get over it and go out anyway. Go to games even if you don’t think you have the most school spirit (you will once you graduate). The bottom line is just... say yes. Do it all. Because even though the next few years of life will also be packed with amazing memories and experiences, they’ll be of a different nature, and you want to take advantage of everything you can while at Mizzou.

NPR embraces 'multimedia audio,' adds news-apps team

By Erin Dismeier

Days after The Washington Post reported NPR is running a deficit of $2.6 million, the renowned radio organization announced it was adding a team dedicated to making news applications. Will this help the company get out of its financial slump?

We can only predict, but there may be a chance.

Public-radio listeners are generally better-educated than the average population and are typically middle- to upper-class. That means they're more likely to have devices that can support news apps. Also, around one in 12 listeners donates to his or her local NPR affiliate.  The network's audience may not be huge, but it's an involved bunch that's willing and able to lend support. It will be interesting to see if these listeners keep donating after NPR starts pumping out apps.

It seems radio has been the last news medium to accept tablets and mobile devices. In January, the BBC's Tim Davie told The Guardian he's reluctantly chosen to accept mobile journalism and encourages radio people to generate "creative visual content to attract younger listeners."

So, why has radio been last to welcome technological changes?

Letters Home: Steve Lippo

Steve Lippo is a sports producer at WGN-TV
in Chicago. He graduated from the Missouri
School of Journalism in 2004 with a degree
in broadcast journalism.
The following letter was submitted April 17, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,

Run. Run as fast as you can. That's what a lot of people working in this business will tell you. More work, less money. More graduates, less jobs. These are facts, not fairy tales. They are truths all budding journalists must accept before diving in head first. Still think you're ready for this life? Let’s see….
I can best describe working in journalism as being a contestant on ABC's Wipeout...for the rest of your life.
-You are constantly fighting for everything. Ratings, resources, time, story ideas, exclusives, etc etc etc.
-The show has judges. You will have a news director. Or an editor. They hold all the power. At some point, you will disagree with them. You will probably lose this argument.
-Sometimes you get metaphorically smacked in the face for no apparent reason. Taste it.
-Change can be unexpected and quick. Be prepared for anything in all parts of the daily grind.
-Most of you will never make more than $50k (per year) for your Herculean effort.
-Yet, in the end, nothing is more satisfying than doing your best and finishing strong.
It's at this point you're thinking one of two things: "What is this guy's obsession with game shows?" OR "what a jaded asshole this guy is!"
-Well, I absolutely LOVE game shows. I would have dominated Legends of the Hidden Temple as a kid. (please tell me somebody in that room has heard of this show...)
-And yes, I am a jaded asshole. And I'm 1000% better of a journalist because of it.

Department of Labor change could regulate press freedom

By Stacey Welsh

Media organizations are fighting back against a U.S. Department of Labor press lock-up policy. The government basically wants to limit access to statistics like unemployment that businesses and financial news organizations would want to use. The labor secretary now wants journalists to work on computers the government supplies.

A"lock-up" is a Department of Labor-named 30-minute window where reporters could have access to economic data before it is made public. A new lock-up policy would require journalists to request press credentials ahead of time to get data from the government office. This means media organizations that already had credentials need to reapply. The department is not clear whether previously approved organizations have a good chance of receiving new credentials. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also says the government will require journalists entering press lock-up rooms to leave personal items like bags and cellphones outside. Some journalists feel this regulation is unnecessary and too invasive. 

The Washington Examiner reports the changes are in response to nontraditional news organizations not using data for journalistic purposes, but it does not cite an example of this. This policy could slow news reporting of labor statistics while unemployment is high.

Stricter lock-ups could simply be a new routine journalists must accept to gain advance access to data, but the policy also raises red flags. Could this open the door for more regulations?

Letters Home: Samantha Liss

Samantha Liss is a local editor for Patch. She
graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism
in 2010 with a degree in convergence journalism.
The following letter was submitted Jan. 21, 2012

When I stepped into my role as a Patch local editor, I wasn’t overly enthused about living in the suburbs. Looking back a year later, it’s the best decision I could have made.

If you want to cover a community well, you must be physically present. Good reporting means more than dropping in town to catch the weekly meetings, or important events. It’s about being a part of that local community.

Since I live in the town I cover, if something is amiss, chances are, I’ll know first. If the power goes out in town, so does mine. If the fire truck sirens start wailing, I’ll know to get moving. Some of you may have an office to report to but I encourage you to leave that office and put shoe leather to the pavement. The more visible you are in your community the better.

Good reporting means more than just showing up for the work day. Invest in the community. Spend time at local coffee shops, go to the dog park, grab a drink at the local bar. Try to be an active member of the community by engaging with other residents.

Tips to help journalists maximize their iPhones

The iPhone 4S offers journalists new avenues for mobile journalism.
By Dalton Barker

With the continued proliferation of social media and the need for journalists to report and inform instantly, knowing how to use an iPhone is becoming essential.

Many of us are aware you can record interviews on the device. But did you know you can also buy an iPhone tripod to snap detailed images for your newsroom?

Didn't think so.

This is one of the tips the International Journalists' Network suggests to help mobile journalists improve their iPhone photography. IJNet also lists camera apps that might come in handy, including AutoStitch, a tool for creating panoramic images.

Letters Home: Lee McGuire

The following letter was submitted March 7, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,
Lee McGuire is the chief communications officer for
Boston Public Schools. He graduated from the Missouri
School of Journalism in 2000 with a master's in broadcast

Fourteen years ago, KOMU was converting to a tapeless newscast, cell phones were something rare and special that you had to "check out" from the assignment desk, and producing a story for the web was the most revolutionary idea anyone had ever heard of. KOMU and Mizzou prepared me well to adapt to changing technology, the constant reinvention of content platforms as well as the timeless skill of digging for great stories and always telling them well.

With that in mind, here's my advice: Don't just take the first job that comes along because it's in a larger market or seems flashy. Pick a place that will allow you to continue to learn. I was lucky enough to land in a small station in a small city -- a news powerhouse that dominated the market. KTVB in Boise, Idaho had fantastic photographers, terrific on-air talent and extraordinary leadership. I spent just two years there but made friendships that have lasted forever. Just as important, I gained real-world experience from smart people who were willing to teach.

Simplicity of Craigslist a reminder that content is king

   By Andrew Gibson
Craigslist might be getting a redesign, but the success it's
had without one is the real story.

Craigslist might be getting a redesign.


The 17-year-old website that's afraid of capital letters might be getting a redesign?

It's not exactly clear what the online flea market's call for "Senior UI / Usability / Front End Engineers" means. But Craigslist does say it needs them to "improve the craigslist user experience -- faster, friendlier and easier."

This could be significant, especially for a website that has barely deviated from its original skeletal look, according to TechCrunch. But maybe even more remarkable is how Craigslist has been able to draw "more than 30 billion page views per month" without a fancy home page. When you think bargain hunting, chances are you think Craigslist.

Another success story is The Drudge Report. Despite its affinity for excessive white space, the website last year drew the 11th-largest share of Internet traffic among news websites, according to Hitwise. You might not agree with Matt Drudge's political views, but his 15-year-old creation is thriving. 

Letters Home: Chris Spurlock

The following letter was submitted March 26, 2012

Dear students,
Chris Spurlock is an infographic design
editor for The Huffington Post. He graduated
from the Missouri School of Journalism
in 2011 with a degree in convergence

I want to talk to you about the big test you have coming up. It’s one you’ve agonized over for longer than necessary, and one you’ve probably procrastinated preparing for, too. I’m sure this sounds like every test you’ve ever had, but this one is different. This one is comprised of an infinite number of questions and will last much longer than 50 minutes. To be more specific:

The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged, and productive citizen of the world, and it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm rooms and in places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football, and while scrolling through your Twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you’ll be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric, and whether you’ll be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that, when taken together, will make your life yours. And everything, everything, will be on it.

Meet the new ONA Mizzou student leaders

President: Erin Dismeier 

Hello everyone! I'm thrilled to be the new ONA Mizzou president.  I'm a junior from Chicago in the convergence journalism sequence. I also have minors in film studies and business.  I've chosen to focus on radio reporting and newsroom management in the coming year.

This summer, I will be interning in the news department at WGN Radio in Chicago, as well as writing for Foodmafia.  Along with these two journalistic pastimes, I will be working as a quality reviewer for Millennium Information Services in Itasca, Ill., and waitressing in Lake Geneva, Wis.

Fun facts for your reading pleasure: I love boating, country music, "Boondock Saints" and the Chicago Cubs.

Follow Erin Dismeier on Twitter

Letters Home: Stacy St. Clair

Stacy St. Clair is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism
in 1995 with a degree in print and digital news (formerly
called the news editorial sequence).
The following letter was submitted April 11, 2012

Dear ONA,

I’m told I should write this essay as if I were sending advice to my 20-year-old self. I hesitate to do that.

Because I don’t want to scare her – or any other J-School student -- away with the dark side of 21st-Century journalism.

The road ahead isn’t easy for the Old Me or her classmates in the news-editorial sequence. She’ll see her own newspaper go into bankruptcy protection and other storied publications fold. Time and again, she’ll watch talented journalists pack their desks after being laid off but it will never get any easier. And she’ll worry endlessly about what happens to democracy without a free and vibrant press.

It’s not the journalistic utopia the Old Me imagined in 1995, but I would never tell her that.

Because, God help me, I want her to stick with it.

Because, even with the incredible heartbreak, it will be an amazingly fulfilling ride.

Letters Home: Courtney Cebula

Courtney Cebula is a production assistant at Oprah
Radio. She graduated from the Missouri School of
Journalism in 2010 with a degree in convergence
The following letter was submitted March 2, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,

Have you ever seen the movie Yes Man starring Jim Carrey? Carrey’s character Carl Allen is a newly-divorced, middle-aged guy with a boring job. Carl dramatically transforms his dull life-- he gets a girlfriend, a dream promotion-- by saying ‘yes’ to every new opportunity for one year.

Now, eventually, too much ‘yes-ing’ gets Carl in trouble. So, without touching on setting boundaries, consider your comfort zone when I share my best piece of advice with you: Say ‘yes.’ Exceed the expectations set for you whenever possible and do it with a smile.

This can-do attitude helped me land my job as a Production Assistant at Oprah Radio in Chicago.

Set the bar high for yourself and do it early. Shortly after I submitted my application for the position, an HR manager emailed me to arrange an interview in Chicago the very next morning. She knew I was away at school in Missouri. I was reading this email in the late-afternoon, calculating how to swing an interview six hours away amidst work, projects & other commitments.

But, this was a huge opportunity. So, I said ‘yes.’ I packed my bags and drove to Chicago that evening. During the interview, the staff expressed how impressed they were that I drove overnight to make it. Twenty-four hours later, I accepted an offer for the job. I like to think that opportunity was a test I passed with my Yes Man attitude.

Become an ONA Student Leader - Upcoming Elections

No, not the national presidential elections.
It's time for ONA Mizzou elections.
Photo courtesy RichardDeguzman
By Nicole Garner

April means prime election season. But not just for national politics - for ONA Mizzou, too! If you've ever been interested in working behind the scenes for ONA Mizzou, this is your chance to get involved and take the reigns.

ONA Mizzou student leaders plan and coordinate events (like elections coverage with political pros), create awesome blog series (see Letters Home) while managing a finely tuned social media plan (check out our Facebook and Twitter). Who knows - next year's student leaders could come up with and do even more.

Candidates for the executive board need to be creative, interested in online news media and able to commit a little time each week to ensuring ONA Mizzou is operating at it's fullest potential.

Four spots on the exec board are up for grabs! If one of these strikes you, fill out an application and attend the elections meeting held at 5 p.m. on April 19 in 100A RJI (Palmer Room).

Letters Home: Michael Spencer

Michael Spencer is a sports director at KAMR-TV in
Amarillo, Texas. He graduated from the Missouri School
of Journalism in 2010 with a degree in broadcast journalism.
What I've learned since I've been gone:

Honestly, the list is too long to start so I'll touch briefly on a few things.

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Some people have a tendency to try and do everything themselves, and that only makes it worse on everyone. In my first week as sports director, I received phone calls from viewers and my news director because I pronounced the names in the area wrong. Names that look normal may be pronounced differently. Had I asked, I wouldn't have looked like an idiot on the air.

2. You may not be better than the people around you, but you can work harder than they do. It's amazing to me how many people in the "real world" don't work hard. Some individuals take for granted their position, or the fact that people tell them they're good -- that's when you're most vulnerable. Always do your best to work harder than the people around.

Letters Home: Amanda Klohmann

Amanda Klohmann is an
interaction designer at
Mutual Mobile in Austin,
Texas. She graduated from the
Missouri School of Journalism
in 2011 with a degree in
convergence journalism.
The following letter from ONA Mizzou co-founder Amanda Klohmann was submitted March 5, 2012

I’m going to start this letter home by telling you about another letter. Right before graduation I was handed a sealed envelope. Inside the envelope was a letter I had written to myself a few years before during one of my first journalism classes. The letter was your typical time capsule style activity; write your goals, write your feelings, write your little journalistic heart out. I remember totally blowing it off.

Instead of putting forth too much effort, I just wrote a bulleted list, a simple bucket list of the things I wanted to do as a journalism undergrad. A few years, a lot of deadlines, and a cap and gown later, this list was the perfect way for me to reflect on my time at the #bestjschoolever. Slacking off on the activity had actually worked out just fine. I used my list to take note of the things I had done. I had joined the clubs, earned the academic honors and even found a way to hang out at the Sports Illustrated offices in New York for a summer (my bulleted list may have been brief, but it was oddly specific about that one). I felt great about all of the items I could cross off, but I quickly found there were things on the list I couldn’t touch, things I had never even attempted.

And now, in this letter home, I realize there was a lesson in all of the un-crossed-off items. It is okay for your dreams and goals to change.

Letters Home: Dan Oshinsky

Dan Oshinsky graduated from the Missouri School
of Journalism
in 2009 with a degree in convergence
journalism. He founded Stry in 2010 and is currently
a Reynolds Fellow.
The following letter was submitted March 6, 2012

Dear ONA,

You want advice? Yeah, I could dole out some of that. I could lecture on the value of networking. I could ramble on the virtues of listening.

Or I could just give you the advice you really need to hear:

Stop listening to me.

If you're reading this, you're a student at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, which means you've accidentally stumbled into one of most amazing places to do journalism in the entire world. You are surrounded by some of the smartest journalism people in the universe. You have opportunities beyond measure, and they exist within a three-block radius of Shakespeare's Pizza.

So you should stop reading this, because reading this won't do you any good. It won't get you a step closer to doing what you want to do with your life. It won't get you a step closer to getting the job you want.

Journalism students spend way too much time listening, and not nearly enough time building things and screwing things up.

So if you're still reading, this is me giving you permission to do whatever the hell you want. That's why you're here: To build awesome things. To try stuff that all of us in the real world will tell you is too stupid to try.

If you're still reading this, you're wasting time you can't afford to lose.