McGuire on Media

Advice for an adjunct professor at Steve Buttry’s request

Steve Buttry extended an invitation to several former journalists who are now teaching university journalism classes to offer advice to a new adjunct professor.

There’s already been a lot of good advice so I will try to go in a few different fresh directions and discuss respecting students, experimentation and appreciating learning styles. I also have strong feelings that the professor needs to concentrate on engaging students but I wrote about that a couple of years ago in this blog post

I think it is crucial that university journalism instructors like, respect and show genuine enthusiasm for students. Rather than concentrating on our experiences, we need to focus on theirs. They read and do some amazing things, they understand the popular culture world in ways we can’t. They have been exposed to knowledge many of us don’t even know exists. I sometimes hear professors complain students don’t know what we know. Well, we don’t know much of what they know either.

If you buy into that horse hockey about this being an ignorant or lazy generation I would argue you have no business in the classroom. Some  professors demand respect from students without respecting the students. That’s silly and morally bankrupt.

Here at Arizona State’s Cronkite School I face an incredible array of smart, bright, practical students who want to make a difference. Most of them have skill sets too many people in our generation don’t begin to understand. If they don’t know grammar or don’t meet expectations, that’s our fault for not setting the bar high enough. Here at the Cronkite School freshmen have to take a grammar class and pass a tough grammar test before they move into journalism classes.

I am not just moving my lips when I tell students I learn at least as much from them as I teach them. I speak with conviction when I tell students they will decide the ethical precepts for the future and that they will invent the new business models that save journalism. Those answers aren’t coming from my generation.

I find the ageless Socratic method needs to be more of a conversation than a rigid question/answer approach that leads to a predetermined place. As I tell students every semester class my ethics class and my Business and Future of Journalism class are not designed to teach them stuff, they are designed to teach them how to think about stuff.

My close friend and ASU colleague Prof Rick Rodriguez perceptively says, “if students see you working hard for them, they will work harder for you.”

I find that experimentation is the soul of effective teaching This is my 15th semester of teaching and I’ve never used the same syllabus twice. Sure, I keep some elements from previous semesters but every semester I essentially redesign my courses.

I certainly want to stay current with the fast-breaking world of journalism, but it is even more important that I continue to try new methods, new approaches and new ways to incite the imaginations of students who want to think outside the box.

In the fall semester I sent my graduate students to two local hot dog shops to help them think about how newspapers can avoid being commodity products. It worked to a certain extent, but I think I can improve upon it and so I have kept it in the undergraduate course this semester to see if I can’t perfect it.

Experimentation can certainly be planned, but it can also be ad libbed. As engaging as I think I am, I sometimes look out out at very bored faces. For some students that is congenital, but for others it’s my signal I have to change my game and I often switch directions on the spot. Sometimes I even ask why they’re bored.

After all, and this must be remembered, I am there to serve them. They are not there to serve me.

That brings me to the point with which I have just recently began struggling. Different learning styles are a very real phenomenon. I have been battered over the head with that realization by watching my grandkids. My 10-year-old granddaughter, Kayley, learns the way I did, she reads. Unlike her grandpa she also pays strict attention in class.

My grandson, Collin, learns by doing. He can put together spring-loaded can crushers and he understands and is fascinated by nature because his Dad shows him the way with hunting and ice fishing. They have helped me appreciate my students all learn differently.

That’s why I more and more work on telling, showing, demonstrating and even talking to students about my pedagogical intent.  Most of them didn’t know what pedagogy was until I started to seek their help. More than I used to, I now ask whether they are following my points and I try to make it completely okay to slow me down.

I do not dodge the fact that I have been blessed with two callings in my life.  I viewed editing newspapers as a calling and I view teaching as a calling. As such I could rattle on for pages about my views on teaching.  I care about it deeply and I think about it a lot but knowing when to stop is an important skill in both journalism and teaching.

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Timing is everything when it comes to flap over Washington football team’s nickname

The fact that the nickname for the Washington football team is suddenly back in the news has stunned me. It proves that there is a time for everything and 1994 certainly wasn’t the time.

A who’s who list of sports figures and publications has promised not to use the name including NBC’s Bob Costas,  Sports Illustrated writer and online franchise Peter King, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, Slate.com, The New Republic and others. The San Francisco Chronicle, calling the Washington nickname a “racial epithet,” stopped using it last week. Tuesday morning six members of the Minneapolis City Council even came out against the nickname.

That fascinates me because in 1994, as Editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune  I banned the use of Indian nicknames to describe sports teams. I followed by two years Editor Bill Hilliard’s move to do the same thing at the Portland Oregonian. I admired Bill and felt he was on the right track. Hilliard largely escaped public pillory. And his successors Sandy Rowe and Peter Bhatia have remained loyal to Bill’s decision and have never changed the policy.

 I did not fare as well. My sports staff was not happy and criticism came  from many quarters. Among other things, we were accused of being self-aggrandizing. Naturally, there was also praise from the Native American community.

The decision did not have legs at the Star Tribune either. Soon after I retired in 2002, the new editor, Anders Gyllenhaal rescinded the decision. He received some criticism and Keith Woods wrote a blistering column for Poynter but not much else happened. The Minneapolis City Council certainly didn’t weigh in.

Hilliard’s courageousness was a huge motivator for me but there were three other factors. One was the passionate urging of Star Tribune Deputy Managing Editor Steve Ronald who had attended a Native American Journalists convention. Sports editor Julie Engebrecht also enthusiastically supported the idea.

Another huge issue for me was that as we discussed the issue it emerged that unbeknownst to readers, editors and fellow staff members, a courageous reporter and writer, Howard Sinker, had implemented his own ban during the 1991 World Series. Sinker never once used the nickname for the Atlanta baseball team in writing all of our page 1 game reports. The fact that nobody noticed or protested helped me decide, mistakenly, that the ban was not a big deal. 

The bigger motivation for me was a fairly popular parody poster from the time which showed pennants with derogatory team names. I cannot find that poster now but this one and this cartoon make similar points. When Bob Costas spoke out on the issue he said, “Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.”

I found that walking in other people’s shoes crystalized the issue for me. At the time I was coming to grips with my own physical disability and I intensely disliked the idea of a team being named The Minneapolis Gimps.

But that still leaves the threshold question in play: Why is the issue resonating now and it was mocked in 1994?  As always the answer is not obvious but I think there are some good possibilities.

My wife, Jean, has a good point when she opines that the country’s move toward recognizing gay marriages and gay unions is a factor.  She argues there is less tolerance for irrational acts of hate and malice because of the move toward gay marriage. I am skeptical because as evidenced from the horrible mess with the Miami Dolphins and our national politics, compassion does not seem to be on the uptick.

I think the answers are media answers. In 1994 the new media was still centralized. There was basically one source of information in each town. As long as newspaper editors didn’t pick up the cudgel nobody else was going to do it. And newspaper editors steered miles clear of the decision.

Actually the NCAA took up the case in 2005 and used its power to  change several loffensive nicknames. But you still didn’t see a lot of newspapers change their stylebooks to ban such nicknames.

As so it is now. With the exception of last week’s action by the San Francisco Chronicle, newspapers and local television stations are not the leaders on this issue. Peter King of MMQB, Slate.com and New Republic are out front and that is curious.

Some would argue that only newspapers believe in strict accuracy, the usual defense of keeping such nicknames. I have always rejected that theory as specious. However, nobody has rejected it as well as Keith Woods did in this article. He wrote:”Take this example: We may report that a man “suffered head injuries” in a traffic accident. That’s accurate. Or, we may say that “a huge
gash was opened just below the left temporal lobe of the brain and
small portions of brain matter were scattered on the asphalt.” That,
too, is accurate. It’s just that the second one’s likely to hurt many
people, not least among them the family of the person on the pavement.” It’s a vivid but effective analogy.

I am afraid I conclude that the newspaper silence on this issue is more about a lack of boldness than it is about accuracy. And, if newspapers can’t be bold about not using the Washington’s football team nickname then can they really be expected to be bold about anything else in these times that call for innovation and reinvention?

Many sportswriters are starting to cover this story like, well, like a sport story.  They are focusing on whether Daniel Snyder owner of the Washington team will drop the ugly nickname and when. They are putting in a win or lose context. That should not be newspapers’ concern.

This should never be a campaign to force a name change. that never dawned on me in 1994.  Newspapers’ only concern should be whether they are doing what is right. Daniel Snyder will do what he wants to do, but newspapers do not have to be complicit with the racist nickname for his team.

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Katherine Schneider Disability Journalism contest shows its real value.

I hated the idea. When Kristin Gilger, Associate Dean at the Walter Cronkite School told the board of the National Center for Disability Journalism a donor wanted to sponsor a new journalism contest for disability journalism I rebelled.

I railed about the difficulty of getting entries, the hassle of managing a decent contest and most vigorously argued, “the deteriorating journalism world does not need another $%^#$$^& contest.”

When it came time to vote I was the only nay vote on the board of the organization based here at Cronkite. That turned out to be a very good thing. Dean Gilger ignored my protestations, and my bad attitude, to ask me to be a contest judge. That judging experience converted me into a believer.

I still believe there are too many journalism contests. I am convinced the journalism industry needs less self-congratulation and more aggressive efforts to save itself. However, I am also convinced that the donor, Katherine Schneider and her $5,000 first prize will allow us to encourage outstanding reporting on disabilities from a fresher perspective.

Several of the 72 entries in the contest for the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability  are going to be put on the NCDJ website in our effort to produce a solid archives of noteworthy disability reporting. Reporters nationally will be able to find models and inspirations for their disability work. We also plan to mine the entries for several story ideas that deserve energetic follow-up.

The high quality of this year’s winners will certainly stimulate more and even better higher quality disability reporting in the future. I have judged well more than a score of contests during my career and my journey through the entries was far more rewarding that I expected. I was moved, provoked and warmed by these entries as much as I have ever been in contest judging.

As announced today, First Place went tp Broken Shield, written by  Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch. As I said in the official press release  about the contest winners: “Our runaway winner was a remarkable multimedia series called “Broken Shield.” With painstaking thoroughness and dynamic storytelling, reporter Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch, showed how a California police force designed to protect developmentally disabled patients failed to investigated horrible, violent abuse of patients. The stories make you mad and break your heart at the same time. And, most importantly they got real results.  Severely developmentally disabled patients are safer today because of Gabrielson’s work.”

Gabrielson’s gut-wrenching set of stories has been honored by others. When the series was named finalist for a Pulitzer, Center for Integrity’s Executive Director Robert Rosenthal said, “This series truly gave a voice to the voiceless and held the government accountable.” In that quote Rosenthal captured the sentiments of the judges perfectly.  Giving voice to the voiceless was one of the strong intentions of the contest.

The contest funder, Katherine Schneider, who has been blind since birth, hoped the award  would help journalists improve their coverage of disability issues, moving beyond “inspirational” stories that don’t accurately represent the lives of people with disabilities. “That kind of stuff is remarkable, but that’s not life as most of us live it,” she said.

The contest winner shone a light on the dark side of treatment of developmentally disabled adults and certainly went way beyond the ordinary sort of disability coverage. So did the other three contest honorees.

We awarded Second Place to a New York Times magazine piece  called The Autism Advantage, by Gareth Cook. The piece surprised us and seemed particularly appropriate to Katherine Schneider’s vision. It’s a story about a man who stopped focusing on what autistic people cannot do and built a successful business around what they can do. That story was inspirational and moved well beyond the ordinary.

Unlike any contest I have ever judged these contest entries came from TV, radio, online sites and even a college alumni magazine. Comparing pieces from different media was challenging but rewarding. A wonderful video story called Playing  by Ear done by Daphne Denis and Hoda Emam won an  Honorable Mention. The piece featured a young, blind New York man who aspires to play in the Paralympics in a special sport for the blind called goal ball. As I watched the charming, warm story I see Schneider’s vision fulfilled; the protagonist is a guy scrambling for athletic glory who just happens to be blind. He lives his life pragmatically and genuinely. The videographers captured that beautifully.

The other honorable mention went to a stunningly intimate and revealing profile of a deceased Dartmouth Alumni, Barry Corbet. Corbet was profiled in the Dartmouth Alumni magazine by Broughton Coburn  after his death. The story described a wonderfully authentic man who vowed to “become the most active gimp who ever lived.” Since that sounds like the irreverent kind of thing I have said, I was intensely drawn to that story.

The tremendous challenge of the contest was that so many stories were wonderfully executed and so many perfectly met the mission of the contest.  I think we found four winners that did both.

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Three new ethical principles are important, positive step but Independence needs to stay

The New Ethics of Journalism did a positive service for journalism by proposing the new core ethical principles to guide practitioners through a transformed digital age.

In my blog post last week I praised the book, writing that I admired “the boldness of the changes” while agreeing with the motivation behind them. I added that the presentation of the changes was “clear-headed and forceful.”

The former ethical principles were Seek Truth, Act Independently and Minimize Harm. The new core principles offered by Kelly McBride, Tom Rosenstiel and Poynter are Seek Truth, Transparency and Community.

I am comfortable with the three but when I teach the three to my ethics students in the Spring I will make some key contentions about each principle.

Seek Truth is the rock of all ethical principles. McBride and Rosenstiel utilize important sub points: accuracy, honesty and fairness, giving voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful accountable and be accountable. Those are strong and important but I think one important aspect of seeking truth is ignored. I would add “tenacious commitment to verification.”

When Rosenstiel partnered with Bill Kovach on the Committee for Concerned journalists to produce 10 principles of Journalism the discipline of verification was one of those principles. It belongs on any list of ethical values surrounding truth. In today’s rapid-fire news world when something becomes “old and tired” in six or seven hours, verification rises to the top of of our ethical requirements. The way to beat back the messengers’ relentless attempt to skew and control the message is to fearlessly verify, no matter what, or how long it takes.

Transparency is an important ethical value and I endorse it completely. I also agree with Steve Buttry who wrote in October of 2012 that this principle should read “Act Transparently and Independently.”

I get that journalism is changing and that people want to know where you stand. Transparency is crucial and we ignored that ethical obligation way too much in the past. Too often, the press has not been straight up about its entanglements, interests and direct involvement in important stories. Those ethical transgressions  must end and  readers need to know where journalists and their news organizations stand.

McBride and Rosenstiel explain transparency by calling for demonstrations of how reporting was done, clear articulations  of your point of view and its impact and acknowledgement of mistakes and errors. That presumably is enough to make it ethical.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that gives free license to the agenda-based reporters who threaten to take over journalism. Disclosure is not enough for the crooks and charlatans who want to argue their news should be respected as much as anyone else’s.

Let’s say I am a reporter and I take $25,000 from a prominent health insurance company to write a story about health insurance. Let’s also say that I meet all the disclosure requirements of transparency. Not enough.  Even if the reader knows I took the $25,000 to feather my own nest, I have committed an egregious ethical violation.

I am just as concerned about some of the partnerships news organizations are forging with deep pocket “investors” who are inevitably going to want something for their money.  I am fully aware many news organizations are taking this kind of money. I am unwilling to condemn it out of hand but I believe those relationships need more debate before getting a free pass.

My friend Steve Buttry endorsed the new principles with one complaint about the failure to address linking. Outside of that post I have not seen much discussion of the new principles. That could mean universal acceptance, apathy or that I am missing the debate. For the health of journalism I hope that debate becomes more obvious especially on this Independence point.

I am convinced we need to hold on to independence as a core ethical value to prevent arguments over how much transparency satisfies the requirements. Our demand for independence as a core ethical principle makes it clear our journalism is not available to the highest bidder. Selling out has always been wrong and it always will be. The journalism world has changed at a dizzying pace. Our moral standards should not change at all.

I always like the spirit and the moral high ground that “minimize harm” demonstrated but it was a nightmare with students. As my Cronkite colleague, Rick Rodriguez, correctly points out “Our students too often used that as an excuse to not be tough.” More often than not, I found students believed minimize harm meant don’t make anyone sad.

So, it’s good to be rid of minimize harm. While Community is a strong substitute, I think it  will require constant coaching and development.

Many of us have espoused community obligation for many years, but it took Poynter, McBride and Rosenstiel to correctly label it for me. As early as my stay in Lakeland, Florida in the late 70’s I coached the staff to write a 100 word description of or area. Then I submitted it was our obligation to reflect that statement every week in our coverage.

When The New Ethics of Journalism espouses that we engage community as an end I think that is the level of community understanding they seek. The specifics of the Community point in the book calls for: understanding the community, seeking out competing perspectives, individual responsibility with collaboration, minimize harm  and empathy, and encouraging the community to self-inform.

It’s an absolute quibble, but after discussions with Rick Rodriguez, I think I would argue for dropping minimize harm and emphasizing empathy.  We should walk in out subject’s shoes before we skewer them. 

Bottom line: these new ethical principles are excellent but let’s add Independence to the transparency value. 

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Book Review: The New Ethics of Journalism

This blog post was filed last week but it did not register on Google’s search engine.  This is another attempt.

 The New Ethics of Journalism edited by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel is the book for which many of us have been waiting.

The book’s co-editors have fearlessly rethought the ethical constructs with which we have worked for so long. Their solution may not be without flaw but it will serve as excellent fodder for rethinking ethical precepts in a dramatically different journalism era.

The book is a provocative conversation starter for newsrooms, people concerned about the future of journalism and for attentive readers and viewers who want to give their media literacy a gigantic jolt. It is smart and wonderfully in tune with the radical changes the digital age has brought to journalism.

I probably read the book, however, with an attitude problem. I desperately wanted the book to be my new ethics text because I strongly believe that former textbooks simply did not effectively speak to the ethical challenges of the digital age. In the last two years I constantly told students that ethics was in real flux and the old texts did not help me make that point.

The book’s co-editors also  saw it as that ethical text. I asked Kelly McBride via email, “Did you and Tom (Rosenstiel) view The New Ethics of Journalism as an ethics text? She wrote back, “Yes, and more, of course. We think it’s perfect for the modern classroom, where ethics seems to be stuck in the problems of the 1990s.”

As impressed as I am with the book, and as much as I try to not be a guy stuck in the 90’s, I do not see it as the perfect ethics text.  It is good and I am going going to proudly use the book as my core text for the Ethics and Diversity class I teach at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School. However, I am going to have to use my own cases and  personal insights or find a supplemental text to address plagiarism and fabrication, privacy, bias, celebrity coverage , sports ethics , taste and mean-spiritedness, and source relationships. Students love to work through cases and, for me,  there aren’t enough of them in this book

I actually think there is a good reason the book is not the complete answer as a text and I think the co-editors made the correct decision. Most of us know that absolute control is an artifact of the, “we’ll edit, you will read,” era of journalism. The co-editors seem to have properly ceded much of the control of this book to the individual authors. That made for an incredibly rich and varied book but also probably made it impossible to fit the book into a preconceived vision. 

Again, it was the right choice because the book is going to make for much richer debate in a number of important areas. The most important may be diversity. We have called our required Cronkite course, Ethics and Diversity.  For many, the Diversity component has been difficult to teach.  I submit the Eric Deggans chapter entitled, “How Untold Stories Can  Reflect Diversity” will propel thoughtful, emotional discussion for at least 4 class sessions.

I have always admired Deggans’ work, but this chapter is a show-stopper.  I have never been as engaged or as informed on the Trayvon Martin story as I felt after reading Deggans’ piece. Deggans makes two powerful points that have lived with me since I  read them. He says trying to read minds is one of the biggest pitfalls of race coverage and he contends that we only talk about race issues on a national level in a crisis. Deggans’ work will perfectly organize the diversity discussion for my ethics class.

The organizing principle for the book and much of its power comes from the proposal to change the three organizing ethical principles from seek the truth, independence and minimize harm to a more contemporary construct: seek truth, transparency and community.  I admire the boldness of the changes and I agree with much of the motivation behind the changes.  I take a few issues with the construct, but I will save that analysis for a future blog post. The presentation of the three new principles is clear-headed and forceful.

The book’s pursuit of truth discussion is excellent. I think I have contended before that Clay Shirky is probably the most important media thinker breathing air.  His piece, “Truth without Scarcity, Ethics without Force,” should be required reading for every practicing newsgatherer and especially those failing to understand that journalist practitioners are no longer in control.

Roy Peter Clark’s “Kicking the Stone” is an eyes-wide-open analysis from an old hand and should give assurance to anyone who thinks this book is just change for change sake. It is not. It is a book which recognizes times have changed and journalists must change too.

Most of the articles in the book are worth reading and debating but a few stand above the crowd. I was struggling with the community concept, just a bit, until I read Monica Guzman’s tremendous chapter, “Community as an End.” It is the last chapter in the book and it is is the perfect capstone. Guzman is an active journalist who demonstrates beautifully how the new world integrates with the old one.

I especially enjoyed Steven Waldman’s chapter on The (Still) Evolving Relationship between News and Community. He used his experiences from co-founding Beliefnet.com to great effect in explaining  community. His brief mention of “attack prayers” teaches an amazing lesson and made me laugh out loud.

I learned a lot from Dan Gillmor’s, “Do Private Platforms threaten Public Journalism?” but in the interest of transparency I must disclose that he is currently sitting in the office across the hall on the third floor of the Cronkite Building.

One last sobering article must be mentioned  for special praise. “The Destabilizing Force of Fear” by danah boyd and Kelly McBride is frightening in its own right.  The piece raises crucial questions about how journalists, professional and amateur, are over-relying on fear to engage audiences. For me, it also raised disturbing questions about manipulation of the public will. My class will spend a lot of time contemplating that threatening reality.

McBride, Rosenstiel and the fascinating roster of writers that go way beyond the list of usual suspects, have produced a fresh, provocative book that should be labeled as a must-read for journalists and those concerned about journalism. That is cause for cheers.

As I said, the book is not a perfect text. It will need supplemental materials   because it needs more cases and it doesn’t address some questions I think are still important in 2013 such as plagiarism. privacy and taste. The key point, though, is I am going to excitedly use the book as my new ethics text because it reframes the ethical debate and that was sorely needed. I think the result will be a far savvier ethics course that students will see as contemporary and not outdated.

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The New Ethics of Journalism is an excellent, provocative book and a good ethics text

The New Ethics of Journalism edited by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel is the book for which many of us have been waiting.

The book’s co-editors have fearlessly rethought the ethical constructs with which we have worked for so long. Their solution may not be without flaw but it will serve as excellent fodder for rethinking ethical precepts in a dramatically different journalism era.

The book is a provocative conversation starter for newsrooms, people concerned about the future of journalism and for attentive readers and viewers who want to give their media literacy a gigantic jolt. It is smart and wonderfully in tune with the radical changes the digital age has brought to journalism.

I probably read the book, however, with an attitude problem. I desperately wanted the book to be my new ethics text because I strongly believe that former textbooks simply did not effectively speak to the ethical challenges of the digital age. In the last two years I constantly told students that ethics was in real flux and the old texts did not help me make that point.

The book’s co-editors also  saw it as that ethical text. I asked Kelly McBride via email, “Did you and Tom (Rosenstiel) view The New Ethics of Journalism as an ethics text? She wrote back, “Yes, and more, of course. We think it’s perfect for the modern classroom, where ethics seems to be stuck in the problems of the 1990s.”

As impressed as I am with the book, and as much as I try to not be a guy stuck in the 90’s, I do not see it as the perfect ethics text.  It is good and I am going going to proudly use the book as my core text for the Ethics and Diversity class I teach at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School. However, I am going to have to use my own cases and  personal insights or find a supplemental text to address plagiarism and fabrication, privacy, bias, celebrity coverage , sports ethics , taste and mean-spiritedness, and source relationships. Students love to work through cases and, for me,  there aren’t enough of them in this book

I actually think there is a good reason the book is not the complete answer as a text and I think the co-editors made the correct decision. Most of us know that absolute control is an artifact of the, “we’ll edit, you will read,” era of journalism. The co-editors seem to have properly ceded much of the control of this book to the individual authors. That made for an incredibly rich and varied book but also probably made it impossible to fit the book into a preconceived vision. 

Again, it was the right choice because the book is going to make for much richer debate in a number of important areas. The most important may be diversity. We have called our required Cronkite course, Ethics and Diversity.  For many, the Diversity component has been difficult to teach.  I submit the Eric Deggans chapter entitled, “How Untold Stories Can  Reflect Diversity” will propel thoughtful, emotional discussion for at least 4 class sessions.

I have always admired Deggans’ work, but this chapter is a show-stopper.  I have never been as engaged or as informed on the Trayvon Martin story as I felt after reading Deggans’ piece. Deggans makes two powerful points that have lived with me since I  read them. He says trying to read minds is one of the biggest pitfalls of race coverage and he contends that we only talk about race issues on a national level in a crisis. Deggans’ work will perfectly organize the diversity discussion for my ethics class.

The organizing principle for the book and much of its power comes from the proposal to change the three organizing ethical principles from seek the truth, independence and minimize harm to a more contemporary construct: seek truth, transparency and community.  I admire the boldness of the changes and I agree with much of the motivation behind the changes.  I take a few issues with the construct, but I will save that analysis for a future blog post. The presentation of the three new principles is clear-headed and forceful.

The book’s pursuit of truth discussion is excellent. I think I have contended before that Clay Shirky is probably the most important media thinker breathing air.  His piece, “Truth without Scarcity, Ethics without Force,” should be required reading for every practicing newsgatherer and especially those failing to understand that journalist practitioners are no longer in control.

Roy Peter Clark’s “Kicking the Stone” is an eyes-wide-open analysis from an old hand and should give assurance to anyone who thinks this book is just change for change sake. It is not. It is a book which recognizes times have changed and journalists must change too.

Most of the articles in the book are worth reading and debating but a few stand above the crowd. I was struggling with the community concept, just a bit, until I read Monica Guzman’s tremendous chapter, “Community as an End.” It is the last chapter in the book and it is is the perfect capstone. Guzman is an active journalist who demonstrates beautifully how the new world integrates with the old one.

I especially enjoyed Steven Waldman’s chapter on The (Still) Evolving Relationship between News and Community. He used his experiences from co-founding Beliefnet.com to great effect in explaining  community. His brief mention of “attack prayers” teaches an amazing lesson and made me laugh out loud.

I learned a lot from Dan Gillmor’s, “Do Private Platforms threaten Public Journalism?” but in the interest of transparency I must disclose that he is currently sitting in the office across the hall on the third floor of the Cronkite Building.

One last sobering article must be mentioned  for special praise. “The Destabilizing Force of Fear” by danah boyd and Kelly McBride is frightening in its own right.  The piece raises crucial questions about how journalists, professional and amateur, are over-relying on fear to engage audiences. For me, it also raised disturbing questions about manipulation of the public will. My class will spend a lot of time contemplating that threatening reality.

McBride, Rosenstiel and the fascinating roster of writers that go way beyond the list of usual suspects, have produced a fresh, provocative book that should be labeled as a must-read for journalists and those concerned about journalism. That is cause for cheers.

As I said, the book is not a perfect text. It will need supplemental materials   because it needs more cases and it doesn’t address some questions I think are still important in 2013 such as plagiarism. privacy and taste. The key point, though, is I am going to excitedly use the book as my new ethics text because it reframes the ethical debate and that was sorely needed. I think the result will be a far savvier ethics course that students will see as contemporary and not outdated.

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Jerry Kill’s story should inspire us to search for empathy in disability coverage

For days I have had another topic in mind for this blog post. It was a topic that would not have me fly so close to my former newspaper, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and to many employees I consider friends.

Yet, as I have gone about some other tasks today I can’t get past the controversy over a sports column Jim Souhan wrote. The vitriol has flowed because Souhan wrote on the cover of the Star Tribune’s Sunday Sports section that Kill’s fourth epileptic seizure during a game means he should not be allowed to continue as University of Minnesota football coach.

Souhan’s opinion is not a radical one. Gregg Doyel , a columnist for CBS sports made essentially the same point in this post. Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback columnist,, Peter King wrote “I don’t want to be insensitive. I’d really like to know if it makes sense to keep him (Jerry Kill) on as coach. 

Despite those similar opinions the community blowback at Souhan has been so staggering he apologized on Monday afternoon. The outstanding Star Tribune editor, Nancy Barnes, apologized. too. 

When I read it Sunday morning I vehemently disagreed with Jim’s column (I was editor when Jim was hired as a football writer years ago.) I hate second guessing but had I been in the decision-making process I think I would have tried to talk him down and tone him down but I don’t believe I would have killed the column. I usually believe the light is better than the dark. I think the public debate engendered by this column is already leading to good things, despite the anger. 

Even though I personally disagree with it, Souhan’s point was legitimate and should be grounds for reasonable debate. Whether it deserved the controversy it drew is for someone else to judge. What the column lacked was a recognition that epilepsy is a disability that deserves analysis and perspective. The Star Tribune brilliantly offered that perspective in a wonderful, in-depth dive into Kill’s epilepsy on Aug. 11 by Joe Christiansen. 

That piece deserved public accolades because of it’s depth, understanding and most importantly its empathy.  

Souhan wrote in his FAQ about the controversy,  “Yes, I am sympathetic to Kill.”I believe Jim, who is a good and thoughtful guy, would have gotten to a much different place in his column had he shown empathy rather than sympathy.

My perspective is that of a man born with a crippling congenital condition and then  30 years later finding out he was the father of a Down syndrome child. I don’t know of a single disabled person who wants sympathy. Many people with disabilities rage and storm against sympathy. Would they like someone to try to walk in their shoes? You bet.

For me, sympathy allows you to feel sorry for someone. Empathy allows you to appreciate the other person’s situation and feel their feelings. Empathy for a person struggling with limitations allows us to focus on the whole person including their triumphs and not just their failures and struggles.

I am currently judging a major contest for the National Center for Disability Journalism based here at Arizona State University.  I am also on the board of advisors.

The best entries in this contest understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. They focus on the entire person. Like every man, people with disabilities handle many situations well and other challenges are like insurmountable mountains. Every human being shares that experience.

Jerry Kill seems to be a competent coach. He has not really turned around the Gopher football program yet, but there are promising signs.  He obviously does some things very well. His seizures during games have overshadowed those good qualities for many.

When journalists cover disabilities  they need to leave sympathy at the door. Good journalism demands we avoid categorizing and pre-conceived notions. That’s just as important in government and business coverage as it is in covering disabilities. We need to consider the whole picture of a human being and report that honestly.

One of the most fascinating pieces in the contest I am judging is a New York Times magazine piece about a man who has started a company that focuses on the very valuable things autistic people can do for certain companies. By focusing on the strengths of people many have abandoned, the man has built a successful business.

If examining all the strengths and all the limitations of a person with a disability leads us to a conclusion that people with certain disabilities can’t do certain jobs, so be it.  But let’s come to that conclusion as thorough journalists after empathetically evaluating the complete person and all  the value they bring to particular tasks.

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What I wish I had done differently as an editor: My advice to editors

Last May my friend Steve Buttry invited me to write an advice to editors piece for a series he was launching for his Digital First editors. 

My life in May and throughout the summer was far too hectic to allow me to write the piece Steve requested but it never left my mind. While I dealt with family issues I often reflected on what wisdom I might be able to offer editors after being out of the editor’s chair at the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 11 years. I do not kid myself that this newspaper world is remotely similar to the one in which I lived.

I am a fellow who does not think regrets are a bad thing. I learn, grow and improve by reflecting on how I could have done things better. I think focusing on successes and regrets is important.  As I ruminated on advice I might give to editors who are operating in a radically different and more complicated environment than I did, I considered my two biggest regrets as an editor.

I lost personal control of my calendar and my priorities, and I never thought quite big enough.

I know that in these days of reduced resources many editors are going to scoff at my two pieces of advice but I actually think the tough times make them more important than ever. 1. Don’t waste your time on minor issues and process oriented meetings and, 2. think big, transformative change, not incremental change.

I dearly wish I would have set up a rotating list of five big, direction-changing issues and insisted that my calendar allow me 75 percent availability to concentrate on the five big ideas.

When I look back at speeches and discussions from 1994-2001 it is clear that many of us saw glimpses of an uncomfortable future. In 1994 I wrote an article in the ASNE Bulletin about change that is still quoted. My point is we saw the light at the end of the tunnel  and we damn well knew it was a train but we got too hung up on day-to-day survival.

I am afraid I see the same thing today. The alligators are nibbling at the butts of good editors and all they can do is jump. Only a few are concentrating on quality   and greatness rather than survival. There are arguments from a lot of the newspaper critics that the battle is already lost. That makes the options easier. leaves two options. Give up, or toss out caution and select four or five big opportunities for future-altering  change.

The second piece of advice is about those big ideas. Make them really big. Google, Facebook and all the other digital age winners have never been accused of thinking small. I argue that newspaper folks have been cursed by low expectations and I will be the first to step up to plead guilty.

Some people actually accused me of being too radical during the 90’s but I was not nearly radical enough.  I admit I blinked because of peer criticism and my own inability to mobilize my resources for the kind of smart change that would have transformed my newspaper.  Editors today cannot afford to blink. No idea should be deemed crazy and the farther away from traditional newspaper thinking the idea is, the more it should be praised.

This will seem like a digression but it is not.  I had a conversation about faith with an old, dear friend this summer. He repeated to me advice he had received from an elderly nun when he had a religious crisis. She told him “Do not make your God too small.”

In the weeks since my friend told me that, the concept has seldom left me. It was incredible spiritual advice but I have also taken it as personal  and business advice. I think we clearly have made newspapers too small. We have been constrained by tradition, fear and short-term horizons.

There are lots of people, things and circumstances we could blame  but that accomplishes nothing.

My advice to editors, and especially Digital First editors where the CEO John Paton has made it clear that the past must be shed to focus on the future, is big thoughts and total focus on those big ideas are the only sane route to the future. And that approach will be a lot more fun than running scared.

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Long absence is ended by Bezos, hot dogs and my 2013 21st Century Journalism syllabus

I have been gone from this space for too long. A sabbatical, book writing, the search for an agent or publisher and a hectic family summer has forced a low profile that ends today.

I am back in the teaching trenches at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and I am ready to share my thoughts, opinions and concerns about the media again.

I had not taught this graduate 21st Century Journalism course since last fall. When I stared at last year’s syllabus it seemed shockingly stale. The dizzying pace of journalism business change smacked me in the face when I looked at what seemed relevant just last year.  A complete overhaul was necessary. That is the nature of teaching about the future of the business of journalism—the target keeps moving.

One of the big lessons I’ve learned from teaching this course for the last seven years is that real-time events are the best teacher. I find that by discussing new developments in the media industry and using developing cases I can more effectively make points that I used to teach from industry manifestos and book excerpts.

As an example, the Jeff Bezos purchase of the Washington Post will occupy two full three-hour sessions of the class. Hot Dogs are another innovation this semester. I will use the business practices of two local hot dog restaurants to teach how business works and then we will explore those strategies and tactics to see if media businesses can learn anything from them.

I hope there are ideas here some of you will want to take for yourselves and I hope to hear new ones, too.

Graduate Seminar: 21st Century Media Organizations and Entrepreneurship

Arizona State University

Fall Semester 2013

MCO 525

SLN 7899

Thursday 3 p.m. –5:50 p.m.

Cronkite, Room 355

MCO 525

SLN 75435

Friday 9 a.m.—11:50

Cronkite, Room 314

Revised Sept 4

Instructor

Tim J. McGuire: Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism

Office: Cronkite 363

Office phone: 602-496-1812

Email:tim.mcguire@asu.edu

Office hours: Wednesday 2 p.m.—4 p.m.

Thursday 1p.m.—3 p.m.

Friday Noon —1 p.m.

Can also be contacted on Twitter by followers: @timmcguire

Required texts and reading and recommended activities:

No text will be required for the class. Most of the reading will be online reading of materials cited in your syllabus. Some pdfs will also be required and they will be found on Blackboard. All of the readings are required for the day they are listed in the syllabus. Please check Blackboard frequently for class instructions.

Further required reading:

Mashable: http://mashable.com/

Jim Romenesko.com http://jimromenesko.com/?utm_campaign=ljtweet&utm_source=ljtweet&utm_medium=ljtweet

Paid Content: http://paidcontent.org/

Business of News Smart brief: http://www.smartbrief.com/servlet/encodeServlet?issueid=30F221E5-1375-4A14-97CF-026B19FCD266&sid=6d2fe1c0-d4a6-4d7e-97b8-fbf1d689c20c

You are responsible for reading these sites daily. Three or four questions on each quiz will be from these web sites. We will also discuss highlights at the beginning of each class.

Recommended reading:

McGuire on Media. http://cronkite.asu.edu/mcguireblog/

(It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what your professor is saying.)

Course Description:

Journalism of the 21st Century is in the throes of dramatic change. We are going to study that disruption, the ensuing chaos and think deeply about what’s next. Since the days when presses were hauled around on the back of horse-drawn wagons a debate has raged over the proper balance between journalistic quality and business prerogatives. Now the equation is far simpler. Can quality journalism be supported by any business model? That is important to you because it will determine if you pursue journalism as an altruistic ideal or to make a living.

At Cronkite we are convinced that you need to understand the business elements of the journalism business and understand how it affects you. In an American Journalism Review article from two years ago a couple of ASU faculty members including yours truly and your dean commented on why we think this class is important for you. Here are excerpts from that article:

In the 1940s, economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase "creative destruction." The words refer to the theory that innovation and entrepreneurship would be the instruments of an industry’s internal evolution, destroying the old model and creating a new one that results in economic growth and progress. Tim McGuire says that his students understand that journalism is in such a moment, and that this has increased their confidence levels dramatically.

McGuire, who teaches "Business and Future of Journalism" and "21st-Century Media Organization and Entrepreneurship" at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State, says such courses represent the best way to help journalism students avoid major pitfalls.

"Would you want a journalist to go be a journalist and have no idea that there’s a plane, a train and a truck about to hit him?" asks McGuire, a former editor of Minneapolis’ Star Tribune. "You’d say, ‘No. Bad idea.’ Well the fact is, the current economic environment is the truck and the train and the airplane, and we want to teach our students how to stay the hell out of the way."

He adds, "The modern workplace is a swiftly adjusting one, and the days when journalists can say, ‘I have no idea how we make money at this place,’ are gone."

As those who are responsible for informing the world of what is happening, journalists have an even greater responsibility to understand the market economy and the business of media, says Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at ASU.

"It boggles my mind that we would graduate people out of our journalism schools who don’t understand the market economy," Gillmor says. "That to me is bizarre. And I’m talking strictly for myself here, but I don’t think I’m alone."

Cronkite Dean Chris Callahan said, "I think as journalism educators we need to not only be figuring out where the industry is going, and how to best prepare our students for what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we need to really help create leaders and to be able to send out people who are going to be able to invent what this news future is going to look like," Callahan says.

It should be obvious the Cronkite School commitment to this class is high.

It should be just as obvious that because our times are fluid this class must be fluid. This syllabus had undergone radical change since I last taught the graduate version of the class. It undergoes significant change each semester because it must. This syllabus bears almost no resemblance to my first 7 years ago.

When we are done these are some of the themes you will understand. Do not panic if they mean nothing to you now:

The Old News World is gone, get over it.

We have moved from a “push” era to a “pull” era.

Control of news and information has shifted. Companies must yield more and more power to audiences.

Collaboration

Differentiation

Understand the Schumpeterian Moment

The eternal search for metrics

How does quality journalism get funded?

Abundance and scarcity

Advertising inefficiencies are being replaced by efficiency.

Content model + Cost model + Revenue model= business model.

Costs revenues, profits

Angels

Innovator’s dilemma

Government funding

Local and hyperlocal

Paywalls

Aggregators

Curation

Innovation

Disruption

Business models

Entrepreneurs

Engagement

I need you to be deeply involved in this process. This must be a collaborative effort. No professor can just lecture about the future. A professor can guide the conversation and expose you to new ideas and old ideas which might have new applications. A professor can also challenge you to explore new content and business models on the web, but unlike many classes this seminar must be a collaborative effort, because we are exploring abstract concepts rather than trying to learn specific “stuff.” I expect to learn at least as much from you as you learn from me, and you can probably teach me more. I will challenge your thinking and I urge you to challenge mine and that of your classmates. I do not emphasize teaching you stuff, but rather, how to think about stuff.

Special note: This course schedule WILL change. It is imperative that before every reading assignment you check on Blackboard to get the updated reading list. I may subtract some things and add web citations. THE FUTURE IS FLUID!

Course Requirements:

1. Attendance policy is quite simple. I will take attendance at the beginning of and at the END of every class. Perfect attendance, being in your seat at the start of every class AND at the end of every class, will result in one extra credit point. You will be allowed one absence so plan it carefully. Per graduate school policy, each absence beyond that will be penalized by a loss of a half-step in your grade. I do not rate the quality of excuses. I entertain none. If you take a quiz and then leave, the quiz will not be counted and an absence will be recorded. So you have one absence, use it wisely.

2. Participation: This is going to be a fluid class emphasizing discovery and recognition. It will be a highly participatory seminar. Each student must read the assigned material and fulfill the web assignments to apply the things we learn in class and participate in class discussion to enrich that discovery process. Personal experience tells me that much of your success in the workplace will depend on your ability to articulate your ideas with assertiveness, imagination and impact. I expect the same in class discussion, and I will not be sanguine about the “quiet” ones. You must express yourself well in my class and in the world. One point will be awarded for poor participation and five will be awarded for excellent participation. I may call on people because I feel it is so important that you learn how to express yourself on your feet. I will also deduct points for “conversation hogs.”

3. Critical thinking is necessary to make the discovery process work. There will be precious few absolutes in this course. It requires creativity, the ability to dream and the ability to sort out the gray areas on many issues. That requires good critical thinking. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation will be required in all written assignments and oral presentations.

4. Assignments are due at the beginning of class the day they are listed on the syllabus. If they are not on my desk in the classroom or in my electronic queue by the time class starts they will earn a zero. No joke, I have rewarded zeroes often. Twelve-point Times Roman is the preferred typeface for old professors. One page memos can be single spaced with a double space between paragraphs. They must be one page, no more, no less. All assignments other than one page memos should be produced at the length specified in the assignment below. Alternative formats are permitted and even encouraged. This class emphasizes innovation and discovering new ways of doing things so I cannot be rigid about format. This will require flexibility from the professor and the student. I will expect the amount of work invested to equal the amount of work required for the paper I assign. I will also judge the submission by the same criteria I judge a written paper. Repurposing of material from other classes will not be permitted.

5. On the first day of class, Aug. 22-23 a one page memo written single spaced with a double space between paragraphs. It must be a single page. It will be entitled “This I believe.” It will tell me what you believe about the state of the business of media BEFORE we effectively start the class. You have decided to pursue a master’s in journalism so I want to know what you believe about the business of journalism before we begin. This memo will be worth five points but it will be graded pass-fail. It will be judged on these five criteria: a) writing b) candor c) quality of reflection d) critical thinking e) forcefulness of your contentions. Obviously knowledge is not being tested here. I simply want to establish a baseline of what you think and believe. Please don’t research this. Just write what you think right now.

6. There will be eleven 10-question quizzes. The highest ten will be counted. One will be dropped, consistent with my promise you may miss one class. The 10 quizzes will be averaged and that score will constitute 20 percent of your grade. The quizzes will test your knowledge of the required daily readings and of the assigned readings for that day. You will have to do the reading to do well. Graduate assistant Rachel Leingang will administrate this process.

7. On Oct. 10-11 a mid-term long paper/project will be due. It will be titled “This I believe.” It will be a 1500-word essay based on the first half of this class. Using my “This I believe” as a vague sample you will tell me what you believe about the current state and future of the business of media based on what you’ve learned in the first half of the class. You should use your first pass-fail paper as springboard. Again, if this is done as a paper, it should be 1,500 words. If you choose another form of communication I will expect the effort to be equal to a written paper of that length. In the presentation you will be expected to show me you understand the first seven weeks of the class and that you have formed a firm, defensible opinion about where the business is headed. I will judge these papers/projects on these five criteria: a) presentation quality, b) your creative take on the question including ingenuity and freshness c) your demonstration of what you’ve learned in the first eight weeks of the class, D) the quality of your critical framing of your beliefs, E) the provocativeness and boldness of your conclusions. This paper/project will be worth 20 points. It is a crucial project intellectually and for your final grade. It will be my pedagogical hope that for the rest of your career you will write periodic versions of “This I believe.” Please pay special attention to those five criteria. I am very attentive to them in my grading. This paper will be worth 20 points.

8. I am hopeful the following assignment will be the strangest and most amusing you have ever encountered in a syllabus. Between now and Oct. 24-25 I expect you to visit Ted’s Hot Dogs in Tempe AND Portillo’s in either Scottsdale or Tempe. On Oct. 24-25 a 750 word paper will be due. The paper will compare and contrast the two restaurants. Using the readings for that week you will examine their business models, strategy and tactics. Vegetarians need to find a friend for the expedition since that will not excuse you from the assignment. The paper will be 10 percent of the grade.

9. There will be two parts of the final. On Nov 7-8 you will be required to submit a 1500 word essay/project on what Jeff Bezos has done with Washington Post and what you think he should do.

10. On the last day of class, Dec 6-7, your final paper/project will be due. It will be a 2000 word effort. But you can choose your subject. The first option will be to write a business plan for a hypothetical media company called BCX13 Inc. I will supply the hypothetical late in the semester. Your second option will be develop a news or information entrepreneurial project based on the lessons you’ve learned during our entire class with an emphasis on lessons learned weeks nine through 14. In both projects you may involve one or two partners. If you involve more than one person work effort has to reflect the work of that number of people. Your challenge in both cases will be to develop and PRESENT a media company entrepreneurial idea that will convince investors, (the class, me and guests) that this is a viable business idea and we should give you our money. It will be important to include your creativity lessons, your business model and financial lessons and your journalism value systems.

The final projects/paper and presentation for Nov 7-8 and Dec 6-7 will be worth 20 points each and will be judged on these five criteria: a) presentation quality of your project/paper, b) the ingenuity of your entrepreneurial idea c) your demonstration of what you’ve learned in the class, D) the quality of the content and revenue models and your overall “business sense”, e) you must convince your investors of the business viability of the idea.

Summary of Grading:

  • Perfect attendance, being in your seat at the start of every class and at the end of every class, will result in 1 extra credit points. Each absence beyond one will result in a half-step drop in your grade.
  • Participation up to 5 points
  • Pass-fail “This I believe” memo—5 points
  • Quizzes–20 points
  • Mid-term memo on “This I believe” —20 points
  • Hot dog paper—10 points
  • Bezos paper Nov 7-8 —20 points
  • Final entrepreneurial project –20 points
  • 100 Points possible, plus extra credit for attendance.

A+ 97-100; A 94-96; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 76-79; C 70-75; D 69-60; E 59 and below.

Additional Norms:

Expect passion from me and I will expect it from you.

Expect joy and enjoyment from me and I will expect it from you.

Expect respect from me and I will expect it from you.

Attend class.

Pay attention and stay awake.

No computers, Igadgets or cell phones will be allowed

Respect the person speaking during class participation.

Listen attentively and don’t concentrate on what you’re going to say next. Hear first.

No kibitzing.

Read all assignments.

Carefully prepare to discuss and debate.

Pay special attention to the PowerPoint material. Everything on a PowerPoint slide represents material that should be considered for your discussion board and your assignments. If you have a command of the PowerPoint material, and if you can successfully analyze, synthesize and evaluate, you will succeed.

Act ethically. Plagiarism, fabrication, reusing material you’ve used in another class, cheating or any other act of deception will result in automatic failure of this class and will be reported to the Dean of the Cronkite School.

Academic Integrity: The school has a zero tolerance policy toward academic dishonesty that is enforced within every course and educational activity offered or sanctioned by the school. Any allegation of academic dishonesty will be referred to the school’s Standards Committee for review and recommendation to the dean of the school. If any student is found to have engaged in academic dishonesty in any form – including but not limited to cheating, plagiarizing and fabricating – that student shall receive a grade of XE for the class and will be dismissed from the school. There will be no exceptions.

At the beginning of every Cronkite class, each student will be given a copy of the full academic integrity policy, along with accompanying information on plagiarism. Students must sign a pledge that indicates they have read and understood the material and agree to abide by the policy.

The Academic Integrity policy of the school must be read and signed by Sept. 3. The teaching assistant will monitor this process.

Act professionally All of my judgments on behavior, grading, explanations etc. will be based on the workplace. If I would show compassion in the newsroom you will find compassion here. If I would be skeptical in the newsroom, I will be skeptical here. If I would find a behavior or explanation to be horse hockey in the newsroom, I will deem it horse hockey here.

While I laud openness and freedom I believe only one person can speak at a time. I believe devices like computers, cell phones and Iwidgets are distractions for other students and for old, addle-minded professors. We do not use any of those in this class.

Extra credit: You may earn a half-percentage point (up to a maximum of two percentage points) by attending four “Must See Mondays” in The First Amendment Forum. These events feature prominent speakers from journalism and public relations and take place each Monday night during the semester from 7-8 p.m. in The First Amendment Forum. A schedule for the fall semester will be posted on the Cronkite website at http://cronkite.asu.edu/events/speaker.

I will only require a proof of your attendance. However, you may be interested in the school’s program. You can blog on any event you attend (at least 150 words) within 48 hours at http://cronkiteconversations.asu.edu Students who blog the most over the course of the semester will earn an invitation to the Cronkite Awards Luncheon, featuring a nationally prominent journalism figure.

Diversity Principles: The Cronkite School practices inclusivity in student, staff and faculty populations in order to create an academic environment that embraces diversity of thought and acceptance of all people regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or societal, political, cultural, economic, spiritual or physical differenceshttp://cronkite.asu.edu/about/diversity.php

ACEJMC Values and Competencies: As a member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Cronkite School is committed to classroom learning that achieves ACEJMC professional values and competencies. These include the core areas of freedom of speech, ethics, diversity, critical thinking, research, writing and use of tools and technologies related to the field. For a full list of ACEJMC values and competencies, see http://www2.ku.edu/~acejmc/PROGRAM/PRINCIPLES.SHTML#vals&comps

Social Media Guidelines: It’s important that students of journalism and communication know how to use social media ethically and professionally. The Cronkite School has developed standards drawn from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and the Society of Professional Journalists. Those guidelines can be found athttp://cronkite.asu.edu/node/735.

Building Hours: The Cronkite building is open from 7 a.m. to midnight, Mondays through Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays; and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Course Schedule:

Week One: August 22-23– The world is shifting underfoot

Introduction of class, instructor, syllabus and students

Why we’re here

The Schumpeterian Moment, the shift from a “push” era to a “pull” era and the shift of control of news and information. Companies must yield more and more power to audiences

Today your 1 page memo entitled “This I believe” is due

Week 2 August 29-30– The Quality Journalism thing. It is under attack as the business is under attack.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/forty-years-after-watergate-investigative-journalism-is-at-risk/2012/06/07/gJQArTzlLV_story.html

http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-mckay/american-ignorance-_b_1611638.html

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/making-sense-of-news/210471/boston-explosions-a-reminder-of-how-breaking-news-reporting-is-changing/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/business/media/in-boston-cnn-stumbles-in-rush-to-break-news.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/everyday-ethics/191757/shirky-we-are-indeed-less-willing-to-agree-on-what-constitutes-truth/

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/192509/fear-undermines-an-informed-citizenry-as-media-struggles-with-attention-economy/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/business/media/in-new-orleans-times-picayunes-monopoly-crumbles.html?ref=mediaequation

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/business/media/for-legacy-media-companies-a-lucrative-year.html?ref=mediaequation

http://gigaom.com/2013/08/18/are-we-living-in-a-golden-age-for-journalism-that-depends-on-how-you-define-gold/

Week Three—Sept 5-6 The history of media through the lens of the summer of 2013

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/08/
bezos_buys_washington_post_boston_globe_
and_washington_post_returning_daily.html

http://m2e.uscannenberg.org/blogs/robertpicard/2013/08/what-washington-post-and-boston-globe-sales-tell-us-about-new-breed-owner

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/business/media/the-washington-post-reaches-the-end-of-the-graham-era.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/business/media/more-cracks-in-televisions-business-model.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/business/media/barry-dillers-aereo-service-challenges-cable-television.html?ref=mediaequation

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/04/01/appeals-court-rules-for-aereo-on-streaming-broadcast-service/

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/02/can-aereo-disrupt-the-tv-business.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/16/business/media/cbs-blackout-on-time-warner-cable-may-last-until-nfl-season.html?_r=0

History of the demise http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/overview-5/

Week Four: Sept. 12-13— WWBD? What will Bezos do and why does it matter?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/
wp/2013/08/06/wonkbook-ready-for-washington-post-prime/

http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/08/the-washington-amazonpost-how-jeff-bezos-will-reinvent-legacy-news-media/

http://www.zdnet.com/bezos-is-a-man-of-destiny-he-will-try-to-save-us-journalism-7000019352/

http://beta.fool.com/mthiessen/2013/08/15/does-jeff-bezos-know-what-hes-doing-with-the-washi/43404/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/08/jeff-bezos-washington-post-changes_n_3724587.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-islam/going-postal-the-washingt_b_3762094.html

http://blog.hootsuite.com/washington-post-jeff-bezos/

http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/rss/1207392/Amazons-Jeff-Bezos-reinvent-Washington-Post-curator-record/

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2013/08/14/post-scripts-advice-lots-of-advice-for-jeff-bezos/

http://pressthink.org/2013/08/edward-snowden-meet-jeff-bezos/

http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowldc/jeff-bezos-amazon-content-wapo-mediashift_b113403

http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2013/aug/06/washington-post-jeff-bezos

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114251/jeff-bezos-should-run-washington-post-amazon

http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/08/the-newsonomics-of-jeff-bezos-buying-the-washington-post/

http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/2013/08/digital-doctor-bezos-takes-on-ailing.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-washington-post-for-political-influence-2013-8

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bezos-could-use-amazon-model-of-customer-targeting-to-reboot-newspaper-industry/2013/08/06/e98904f0-fed2-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html

Mind maps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

Please get a sense of mind maps from the above article and then study some of these examples at the link below so you have a sense of how to do a mind map. https://www.google.com/search?q=mind+map+examples

Week Five: Sept 19-20 – Is advertising past and future or are we entering a post-advertising world?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/the-collapse-of-print-advertising-in-1-graph/253736/

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/22/why-advertising-is-failing-on-the-internet/

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/entrepreneurial-journalists-should-pursue-several-revenue-streams/#more-4363

http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223084

http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2013/03/18/more-proof-that-television-advertising-is-alive-and-well/

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-death-of-television-may-be-just-5-years-away-2011-12

http://www.livemarketingreport.com/2013/02/the-metamorphosis-not-death-of-print-advertising-by-jonathan-gribble/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/business/media/more-cracks-in-televisions-business-model.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582510-omnicom-and-publicis-are-combining-try-stay-top-rapidly-changing-industry

http://mashable.com/2013/08/15/the-future-of-advertising-pay-per-gaze-is-just-the-beginning/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sashagalbraith/2013/07/15/the-future-of-advertising-the-woman-behind-it-and-why-you-should-care/

http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com/2010/05/demise-of-advertising.html

Week Six: Sept 26-27—Disruption is everywhere but the biggest disruptor is the loss of control

http://www.thepomoblog.com/papers/pomo53.htm

http://johnhdenny.com/166/social-media-customer-service

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/tweeting-for-student-health-care-coverage/

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/justice-story/progressive-denies-lawyers-clear-man-killed-comedian-sister-article-1.1136648

http://www.propublica.org/article/broadcasters-sue-to-stop-transparency

http://metrics.net/blog/2012/02/dont-lose-brand-control-social-media/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/with-chen-guangcheng-news-on-twitter-chinas-censors-lost-control/2012/05/05/gIQAUctU4T_story.html

http://www.inma.org/modules/article/index.cfm?action=articleView&articleId=49975

http://philanthropy411.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/afraid-of-losing-control-with-social-media-guess-what-you%E2%80%99ve-already-lost-it/

Control and gatekeeping

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/gatekeepers-need-to-find-new-value-when-the-fences-have-blown-away/

The tools

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/business/media/the-atavist-matures-as-a-publisher-and-a-platform.html?_r=2

http://guides.journalism.missouri.edu/content.php?pid=92324&sid=691248

http://jxpaton.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/localnetwork/

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/15/entertainment/la-ca-patonprofile-20120115

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/

http://www.reportr.net/2010/10/15/impact-crowdsourcing-journalism/

http://www.relationship-economy.com/2011/02/fearing-loss-of-control-media/

Week 7: Oct.3-4— Some issues we need to discuss and a sobering look at the future.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/08/
newspapers_floundering_on_digital_paywalls.html

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/204794/publishers-say-paywalls-price-hikes-are-working-for-newspapers/

http://goodereader.com/blog/commentary/why-the-vast-majority-of-newspaper-paywalls-will-fail

Light reading this week. I will carry the burden

Week 8: Oct. 10-11—Exploring your beliefs

Your paper on your beliefs is due today

Review of terms

Come prepared to critique these two This I believe essays

http://cronkite.asu.edu/mcguireblog/?p=304

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/this-i-believe-about-journalism-and-the-future-of-media/

Tim will present his framing of the issue.

Read Schmidt first chapter. Reading to come

Week Nine: Oct 17-18–Creativity and imagination

Readings on creativity and imagination to come

Week 10: Oct—24-25 Business Models and Hot dogs

—Business models theory

You should prepare these readings in the context of Ted’s and Portillo’s. We will study these business model issues through the lens of these readings.

http://www.morebusiness.com/running_your_business/management/seven-s-one.brc

http://drjerryallison.hubpages.co http://www.pizzamarketplace.com/article/190145/Five-ways-to-improve-customer-experiencem/hub/Business-Strategy-A-Closer-Look-At-the-Differentiation-Strategy
http://hbr.org/2011/11/the-great-repeatable-business-model/ar/1

http://www.beyondphilosophy.com/customer-experience

http://www2.qsrmagazine.com/articles/outside_insights/118/five_steps-1.phtml

http://www.empathica.com/resource/r2-how-to-create-an-uplifting-customer-experience-in-your-restaurants/

http://www.pizzamarketplace.com/article/190145/Five-ways-to-improve-customer-experience

Sort through the past present and future of Business models.

http://newsinnovation.com/models/

Business Models and Teenage Sex/What Exactly is a Business Model, TechCrunch blog post (2011)

Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur: 9 Building Blocks (pp. 12-45) http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/downloads/
businessmodelgeneration_preview.pdf

Week 11: Oct. 31–Nov 1 Did hot dogs really have anything to do with the business of journalism?
We’re going to take the lessons we learned from Portillo’s and Ted’s and apply them to reinventing news experiences and news businesses.

http://mashable.com/2012/06/21/trends-consumer-experience-economy/

Week 12 Nov.7-8— Back to Bezos and the summer of 2013. How does it look now?

Readings to come. We will be following Bezos and the Washington Post in real time

Week Thirteen: Nov 14-15: Entrepreneurs—not for everybody

Should I Become an Entrepreneur? By Jeffrey Bussgang, Seeing Both Sides blog post (2011)

Thinking About Starting an Online Business? Here’s Your Start-Up Checklist, 2010 essay by by Robert Niles, OJR: The Online Journalism Review

“There’s a Lot of Pressure to Play for the Short Term”: The Bay Citizen’s Editor on its $15 Million Future, by Lois Becker, Nieman Journalism Lab

Launch! Five Lessons from Five Months of Running a News Site, by Michael Anderson, Nieman Journalism Lab

The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups, by Paul Graham, Paul Graham blog post (2006)

http://pulse.me/s/9xyOW

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-18/5-000-and-a-click-buying-stock-the-crowdfunding-way

We will have two guests: Veteran entrepreneur Kevin Gralen and fledgling entrepreneur Brandon Quester.

Week 14: Nov 21-22–Where and how do you fit in?

Possible Guest speaker

The following are products of one of my favorite grad students of all time, Jennifer Hellum. She has articulated what I want to teach about Personal Branding. Please read them.

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=63

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=20

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=488

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?m=201005

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=607

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?cat=4

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=1374

http://brandmeajournalist.com/?p=1370

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/generations-in-the-desert-a-response-from-one-whos-wandering/

Techie view of new world

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/
journalism_20_dont_throw_out_the_baby.php

Personal Branding Becomes a Necessity in the Digital Age, by Mark Glaser, MediaShift blog post (2009)

What’s In a Name? Backstories to Some Personal Brands, by Robert Hernandez, OJR: The Online Journalism Review (2010)

Thanksgiving November 28-29 Off

Week 15: Dec. 5-6 Presentation of projects

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McClatchy bond sale forces some hard realizations about newspaper corporations

When I opened my email one day last week this subject line greeted me: “Would you lend money to McClatchy?”

It was a note from my financial adviser, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s  Chuck Kerl. It read: “Tim, I thought you’d find this curious. Someone has a half million of McClatchy bonds for sale that mature in 5 years. If they pay off, it’s a 4.5% yield to call. They are seriously low rated – a single B rating.” The formal translation of a B rating is this: ““More vulnerable to adverse business, financial and economic conditions but currently has the capacity to meet financial commitments.”

However Chucks’ informal and skeptical definition for his clients is “There is a high degree of uncertainty regarding the company’s ability to repay principal or make timely interest payments.”  Chuck told me that with the observation, “How the mighty have fallen!”

Chuck knows exactly how far McClatchy has fallen because he “urged” me to sell all my McClatchy stock between $64 and $74. Today, McClatchy stock is trading at $2.39.

I immediately called Chuck with some questions and a  comment. My first question was who is “someone.” He explained that  Morgan Stanley is selling the bonds and he assumes they bought them from a big investor who wanted to shed them.

My second question was why is the yield only 4.57% if the bonds are that low-rated.  His answer frightened me a bit. He said there is such a high demand for bonds of this low rated character that the market settles for a relatively low yield. cIf the bonds are held to the maturity date if 2017 the yield would be 8.4%. Chuck said ‘if the yield was 12 per cent this would be a different proposition!”

My final question was how can I link to this information for my readers. Apparently I can’t. Chuck said you’d need a Bloomberg terminal to get at this offering. He later explained the McClatchy bond was in Morgan Stanley’s bond inventory offered for retail sale. For those who understand this stuff, it’s CUSIP is 579489AE5. It is a 11.5 per cent coupon bond, maturing on 2-15-2017, callable on 2-15-2013. The offer price is 110.847.

My comment to my financial adviser was crisp, clear and final:”Hell no, I don’t want to invest in McClatchy!”

There was absolutely no humor intended in my response.  In fact, my quickly formulated answer gave me great pause and forced me to to carefully contemplate what I am feeling about newspapers and newspaper investments these days.

I admit that I have completely lost confidence in the corporate newspaper model.

That’s no small admission for a man who, at 17, stopped delivering papers on a Saturday and started writing sports for the local newspaper on Monday. The newspaper business of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s made for one of the richest working experiences possible and for a comfortable retirement.

It prepared me to spend several years teaching bright students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School. And therein lies an irony. I am incredibly bullish about the prospects for journalism, my journalism students and even local news gathering organizations. I am bearish on newspaper corporations.

Wednesday afternoon, a good friend pressed me on why I say that.

It’s not as if I hate newspaper corporations. I believe they have done more for newspapers than independent ownership could have ever done. Yet the digital age demands more flexibility, more attention to local needs and less attention to national efficiencies offered by corporations. 

I have become convinced by the drumbeat of bad news about newspapers that corporate ownership simply cannot beat the legacy costs hanging over them. Ill-advised debt, underfunded pension obligations and other “legacy costs” are dragging down companies whose only strength is strong local brands.

That’s exactly what Journal Register CEO, John Paton,  argued when he announced that company’s second bankruptcy in three years. “While the Journal Register Company cannot afford to halt its investments in its digital future it can now no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.” Paton said. He added, “Many of those obligations, such as leases, were entered into in the past when revenues, at their peak, were nearly twice as big as they are today and are no longer sustainable. Revenues in 2005 were about two times bigger than projected 2012 revenues. Defined Benefit Pension underfunding liabilities have grown 52% since 2009.”

I hate the thought that thousand of fellow journalists who worked in good faith for years, face a tumultuous pension future.  I hate the injustice of it and I pray more newspaper companies will follow the New York Times example of reducing obligations by offering lump-sum buyouts.

That seems like a solution that carries compassion with pragmatism even though it’s still an uncomfortable option.

But pension costs are an easy target for corporations when the ill-advised decisions  by corporate leaders to deeply leverage their companies with huge debt are probably the bigger culprit. In hindsight that debt was a bad idea but  the real question is what does it mean for the future? Those local brands have a fighting chance based on current operations but legacy costs are killing them.

One of the most important things on Twitter and the blogs last week was my friend Steve Buttry’s speech to the Arizona Newspaper Association. Steve boldly declared newspapers and journalists need to embrace discomfort. It is amazing to me and should be embarrassing to the news industry that this message is still bold and mandatory.

A lot of creativity gurus like this one, and this one, and this one demand we escape our comfort zone to show real creativity.

Getting out of the comfort zone should be a manifesto for newspaper companies.

One of those uncomfortable issues that needs to be discussed is what kind of ownership structure is going to best facilitate protecting journalism, journalists and strong local news brands? 

Certainly a lot of small, local publishers are running scared too and some local owners are making newspapers their personal playthings.

I believe operating independently with corporate steerage would allow newspaper operations to: 1) Understand local needs 2) to adjust fast to specific local realities and 3) they would not be tied to a one-size-fits-all set of solutions dictated from afar. 

There is not a simple answer but my skepticism about buying into a McClatchy newspaper bond made it clear to me that accepting corporate ownership as the only solution going forward is naïve and dangerous.

Embracing discomfort by debating whether ownership groups or local ownership provides the best way to serve the journalistic needs of our communities, strikes me as a essential.

.

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