For example, there were free piles of “The Des Moines Register” readily available, but I saw few college students walking around with them at the Iowa College Media Association convention, held in conjunction with and hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association convention.
|Cell phone use. Bet my picture is better.|
Several Friday, Feb. 4 sessions at ICMA featured advice for student journalists and/or shop talk from them. And even if it would give an old man some comfort to see these youths actually looking at a newspaper, I can take some solace in the quality of their anecdotes.
They care about journalism and think deeply about it.
A one session, Lyle Muller of Iowa Watch invited a panel of reporters who had covered the Iowa Caucuses to speak. Iowa Watch did a project on the caucuses, and two of my students took part. See their posts here and here.
|Ahh! Justice! I think that's the name |
of the BVU student with the camera.
I hope I have the names right. I know Lyle, so I’m pretty sure about him, but there were five panelists from three colleges, and although I wrote their names down from a “names” slide, they were not sitting in the order they were listed. So Michelle might have been Brittany and Brittany/Michelle might have been from Buena Vista University. At least only one student was from ISU!
|Lyle Muller is Iowa Watching you.|
To me, the irony of my name confusion is that the session with Muller came right after a session on reporting basics by Brian Steffen, professor at Simpson College, spoke to ICMA about how easy it is to get basic facts confused when you report. As I like to warn my own students—get the information right when it’s in front of you. Don’t assume you can check it later. True, that’s advice that I should have followed.
|A photographer who was moved by the Secret Service.|
That, I think, sums up a lot of what journalism is. In addition, as Steffen said in the previous session, you must verify information. Again, as Robb or someone else said: “Take anything you hear from a candidate with a large grain of salt.”
As Muller pointed out, that’s because a politician is trying to persuade, to sell an action. They are not trying to win the truth-telling contest.
Anyway, I have no way to fact-checking this. It’s just my personal impression, which makes it more blogging than journalism. I sensed enthusiasm at ICMA for basic shoe leather reporting. And I think the students who joined the Iowa Watch effort really gained from that experience, and not just the ones who spoke at ICMA.
As I noted earlier, two of my students wrote caucus accounts for Iowa Watch. Later, versions of their stories will appear in the MMU Times. While it’s great to write for the Times—MMU students, any of you who want to be in a communication-related field should do that—I’m sure the thrill of seeing your mug on the Iowa Watch site is a bit more of a rush then when it appears in the Times.
And it does give me pleasure to work with bright young people (and some not so young) who still seek that rush.
|Brian Steffen at the earlier session. The pride of Simpson College.|