Tag Archives: Carleton University

Watching a hashtag spoil

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mock those talking in hashtags in this great spot.

More than a few times, I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of selecting a hashtag.

The key goal to selecting a hashtag is hoping people will use it. And use it as you intended.

Without the necessary foresight, a hashtag can go bad in an instant.

Case in point this week is Carleton University’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2017, and its very public launch of its website and branding #DistinctlyCarleton. The University even devoted a full page to the campaign.

I’m sure the communications folks were hoping to read lovely comments from faculty, staff, students and alumnae when they tweeted about the relaunch:

Continue reading Watching a hashtag spoil

When journalists don’t know math: Exhibit A

A while ago, I wrote about the importance of knowing simple arithmetic, how I taught math in a second-year fundamentals of reporting course at Carleton University’s journalism school.

In that blog post, I wrote that simple mathematical errors can damage credibility and lead a reader to lose focus on the whole report. 

A perfect example was today’s report from CBC Ottawa on its analysis of police salaries in the city. The oval highlights are mine.



Please tell me you can spot the error.

 (Note: Since I grabbed this shot of the error, CBC has corrected the error.)

Conclusions on community newsrooms – what I’ve learned during my fellowship research

fireworksI’ve spent the past four months researching community newsrooms and citizen journalism while a journalist-in-residence as a Michener-Deacon Fellow at Carleton University – and loved every minute of teaching and research.

But now my time is up. At the beginning of May, I’ll be moving on to my next challenge in the Ottawa Citizen newsroom. Bring on the adrenaline rush of daily news.

As this fellowship draws to a close, I’ve come to the following conclusions about community newsrooms:

Continue reading Conclusions on community newsrooms – what I’ve learned during my fellowship research

Should I ban laptops in my class?

laptopsI’m struggling with a laptops issue.

And I fear that this post will make me sound cranky.. but it’s becoming a concern.

I teach a multimedia course, and naturally it’s great when students can follow along visiting the online sites I’m talking about, investigating the tools…  I don’t mind if they Google what I’m teaching

I ask only that they don’t tweet what we’re saying in class, no Facebook and please… ‘no cat videos.’

What I’m noticing is that it’s difficult for some students to have a laptop open and not be MSM’ing each other, Facebooking, etc. Some I catch when they think I’m not looking, others flout. They don’t care.

This gets disruptive when students are nudging their neighbours to watch banned skittles advertisements and more on YouTube. (No, I will not post a link)

Continue reading Should I ban laptops in my class?

How I plan to examine/research/submerge myself in community newsrooms

Photo by Flickr user Aprilesole

Soon I’ll find myself out of a newsroom as I head for university life, spending the next four months in academia.

(Cue fish-out-of-water cliches.)

In June, I was awarded the first-ever Michener-Deacon Fellowship for journalism education.

As part of that fellowship, I’ll be a journalist-in-residence at Carleton University, and teaching a multimedia class to third-year journalism students.

Another part of that fellowship involves a research project, and in my proposal I outlined how I’d like to examine community newsrooms.

My original plan was broad enough to be a PhD dissertation, I worked with Christopher Waddell, the Director of the School of Journalism at Carleton, to sharpen its focus. I’d like to examine Canadian initiatives, as well as projects south of the border. And most importantly, it has to be a study that can be completed in four months, the length of the fellowship.

So, here goes – thus far:

Continue reading How I plan to examine/research/submerge myself in community newsrooms

Why HBO’s The Newsroom makes me nervous

It’s the start of another school year, and hundreds of thousands of students are starting at journalism school.

This, fresh after the conclusion of HBO’s The Newsroom.

I’ll admit to being a little caught up with life, and only watching the series now. I’m not alone when I say it’s a great show.

But there’s a nagging voice I keep hearing when folks rave about The Newsroom, and it’s saying to me: ‘it’s a show.’

And I hope – I truly hope – that there aren’t people signing up for journalism school, intending to get a job in Aaron Sorkin’s newsroom.

Continue reading Why HBO’s The Newsroom makes me nervous

My (open) cover letter for the Sun News Network job

To whom it may concern:

Wow! Your ad looking for new members for your Sun News Team really caught my attention.  Especially this part:

No need to have a journalism degree (in fact, we’ll view it with a healthy dose of skepticism). Journalism 101 isn’t where you learn to find the truth.

Coming up with the right stories for Ezra, Adler and Brian isn’t rocket science…but you can bet your average CBC producer wouldn’t be able to deliver that magic.

This is the kind of clever writing team I’d like to be a part of – a dig at journalism schools and the CBC in the same breath – fantastic!

Now it is true that I have taught a course at Carleton University – a fundamentals of reporting course in fact. I taught students about background research, interview skills, balancing a story, proper focus, editing and ethical issues … but these won’t interest you, so I won’t bore you. You want the “Truth!”

And it is true that I have a master’s degree – not from Columbia University – but from Carleton, but again, that won’t interest you. My Master’s Research Project was a 30-minute radio documentary that looked at women journalists working on Parliament Hill from 1966 – 1996. (Yes, women journos, on the Hill – Imagine! And they wore sleeves, and shirts that weren’t too tight!)

But that won’t interest you in your search for your next parliamentary correspondent.

You’re looking for the ‘right people’ and by golly I am one of them!

I have the radio, television and online skills  (I even worked at that blasted CBC) you’re looking for in this ad … but again, I learned them first at journalism school so I guess they don’t count.

It’s true that some of the greatest journalists have never been to j-school, but just as many have. The lessons students learn there go beyond ‘Journalism 101.’ Yes, I learned how interview subjects (listen as well as ask questions); how to edit radio and television clips; and I worked on the school’s first blog that covered the Hill. I learned the tools of the trade.

But I also learned to think about news, and its important role in our society. I learned about balance, and how to be fair – tough, but fair – with the people I report about. I learned perspective.

The best reporters, editors and producers have strong news judgement and drive. These are probably things they are born with, I agree. At journalism schools, these innate talents are sharpened to make them among the very best at giving their audience the balanced stories they deserve. (And having a journalism degree doesn’t mean these talents disappear!)

I look forward to hearing from you, and it would be so great to talk about my skills (though we won’t talk about where I learned them) more and how I am one of the “black sheep who has a genuine passion for the real news” you’re looking for.



What do students want out of j-school?

Me, as an intern, a week after graduating (in red). I am still grateful for the skills I learned in j-school.

Convocations around town have me thinking back … way, way back to my own graduation from journalism school – and what I was hoping the experience would give me.

Recently I received the anonymous student evaluations from the ‘Fundamentals of Reporting’ (boot camp) course I taught last year at Carleton University. I took a version of the course when I was a Master’s student at Carleton.

The course emphasizes basic interview skills, preparing a background file, investigating sources and an emphasis on Canadian Press style  – with weekly assignments and a major feature at the end of the term. While it’s not their only journalism course, it is one where second-year students get to stretch their legs the most and get out there and do some writing.

As important as the grading system is  (I presume if your evaluation marks are astonishingly awful, you won’t be asked back as an instructor), I place as much importance on the comments on the back.

Continue reading What do students want out of j-school?

What I’ll be doing during my Michener-Deacon Fellowship

The amazing folks at the Michener Awards Foundation have recognized the importance of journalism education, and created a Michener-Deacon Fellowship this year that allows for a ‘journalist-in-residence’ at a journalism school in Canada.

More amazing is that I’ve won it.

I’ve had a few people ask me what exactly I’ll be studying/researching/teaching about community journalism at Carleton University from January to May 2013. So, I decided to post my proposal here. (Where, I’ll also be reporting my findings throughout the Fellowship)

Continue reading What I’ll be doing during my Michener-Deacon Fellowship

Using Facebook and Google to run a student newsroom

I teach a second-year ‘Fundamentals of Reporting’ class at Carleton University’s j-school –  but often I’m learning just as much from the students.

These past three weeks, we’ve been running ‘newsroom days’ – students come in with a story, and then head out for the day to chase another, putting out a publication at 5 p.m. The class is large enough that we actually put out two publications at the end of the day, with students alternating roles between Managing Editor or desker and reporter.

This year, Facebook and Google played key roles in putting out our student publications at the end of the day.

Continue reading Using Facebook and Google to run a student newsroom