IU research finds journalists placing renewed emphasis on ethics, watchdog function

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Economic difficulties, social media proliferation and public attacks on media credibility have created a challenging environment for news organizations. But U.S. journalists, although their numbers are dwindling, appear to believe in their watchdog role as strongly as ever, according to the latest in a multi-decade series of studies by The Media School researchers at Indiana University.

The findings are the subject of a new book, “The American Journalist in the Digital Age: A Half-Century Perspective,” by emeritus professors David Weaver and Cleve Wilhoit and alumnus and former IU professor Lars Willnat. The book is the fourth in a series Weaver and Wilhoit began in the early 1980s, expanding on benchmark research conducted at the University of Illinois in 1971.

The survey finds journalists reject overwhelmingly the use of questionable reporting tactics, a result that Weaver and Wilhoit say is especially significant in the context of current attempts to portray legitimate journalism as “fake news.”

In previous studies, Wilhoit said, journalists demonstrated a surprising ambivalence toward avoiding unverified stories. But a new question in the latest study yielded more encouraging responses.

“When pressed toward deadline and asked about using a story with unverified elements, the journalists in our sample refused, overwhelmingly,” Wilhoit said. “Fake news may be a problem, but the mindset of the journalists we studied seems dead set against it.”

The data also suggest that, despite challenges to their legitimacy and pessimism about the future of news, public service ideals remain an important motivation for today’s journalists.

“The profession’s ‘voice’ may be smaller because of a diminished full-time workforce and distracted audiences, but the resolve to be a check on government has never been stronger,” Wilhoit said. “And the educational levels and depth of experience of journalists have never been greater.”

Seventy-eight percent of the journalists surveyed rated their “watchdog” role over government as “extremely important” — the highest percentage since the era of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

The researchers are generally optimistic about the future of the profession, based on the results of the latest survey. They say condemnation of the media by President Donald Trump and others presents an opportunity for journalists to demonstrate their importance to democracy.

“I think that the current criticisms of journalism will not last indefinitely,” Weaver said, “and I think there is growing recognition of how important professional journalists are to our society.”

Second Round of Arts Journalism Fellows Announced

arts council logoThe Arts Council of Indianapolis, in partnership with the IndyStar, is pleased to announce the second year of the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ Arts Journalism Fellowship program. The 2016 Arts Journalism Fellows are three talented, aspiring journalists from Central Indiana, Bekah Pollard, Ross Reagan and Alex Weilhammer.

“We are thrilled to partner again with IndyStar on the Arts Journalism Fellowship and launch a second round of this program. These three talented writers from central Indiana have an opportunity to learn from IndyStar writers and contribute stories about our incredible arts community,” said Dave Lawrence, President & CEO of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. “Increasing the visibility of the arts is central to the work of the Arts Council and this program is a welcome addition to the arts coverage in the IndyStar.”

The Arts Council works to ensure central Indiana residents are well informed about and have meaningful engagement in local arts programs, which includes advancing local arts journalism that builds audiences and fosters critical thinking. The fellowship program is made possible through funds from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The funding allows for an innovative solution in a time of shrinking arts coverage. The program works to bolster arts coverage, encourage arts journalism as a career for students and recent college graduates, and increase audience engagement in the arts.

“We’re pleased to be involved in this innovative approach to build on the IndyStar’s arts and entertainment coverage. The arts scene in Indianapolis is a vital part of our community, and we’re committed to helping it thrive,” said Jeff Taylor, Executive Editor, IndyStar.

The three Arts Journalism Fellows will work with IndyStar editors through the fall to produce stories and videos related to local film, literature, music, dance, theater, visual arts, and other forms of creative expression. Their work will appear at IndyStar.com, in print sections of the paper, and in arts inserts.

Facilitated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Arts Journalism Fellows will receive an in-depth education about and connection to the arts community in Indianapolis. The Arts Council serves as the funder and administrator for the fellowship, and provides resources to the fellows including a $2,000 stipend. All content produced by the fellows is exclusive to the IndyStar and under the IndyStar’s full editorial control. Fellows are paid by IndyStar as correspondents, per article that is published.

2016 Arts Journalism Fellows:

Bekah Pollard is a 2016 graduate from Butler University where she graduated with high honors in Art + Design, English Creative Writing, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Throughout her time at Butler, Bekah worked as a contributor and editor for Butler’s humor magazine, Archives, as well as the university’s fine arts and literary magazine, Manuscripts. Bekah has shown her artwork regularly on Butler’s campus and in several galleries throughout Indianapolis in the past few years. Bekah worked as a contributing editor for the website theLala.com, and most recently writes arts articles for leapreview.com. She is originally from Peoria, Illinois.

Ross Reagan is a 2016 graduate from IUPUI where he majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Business and Professional Writing. He has always had a passion for theatre and film, and served as Indiana Repertory Theater’s first Student Correspondent for its 2015-2016 season. Last fall, Ross studied abroad in London while interning at The Space theatre and exploring Europe. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering with various nonprofits across Indianapolis. His other hobbies include weightlifting, classic films, and brainstorming short story ideas at his local coffee shop.

Alex Weilhammer is a 2016 graduate from DePauw University. He majored in English Writing and minored in Philosophy. He was an active member of his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and he served many positions at The DePauw, including editor-in-chief. In the summer of 2015, Alex was an intern at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Alex grew up in Indianapolis and is also a die-hard Colts fan. Outside of writing, Alex has a deep appreciation for stimulating conversations, long games of chess, and live music.

Essay on Indiana sports legends earns IUPUI student top score in national scholarship contest

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis journalism student’s first-hand account of the IUPUI dedication celebrating a new recreational facility and 479272_w296honoring local sports legends — the Lockefield Gardens Dust Bowl and Crispus Attucks High School state basketball champions — has earned top honors in a national scholarship contest.

As the top-scoring writer, Elizabeth Cotter, 19, will receive the 2015 Jim Murray Memorial Foundation Judges’ Choice Scholarship Award of $5,000 for her essay showcasing the Dust Bowl, a dirt basketball court once on a spot that is now part of the IUPUI campus. The Dust Bowl became a proving ground for hundreds of young Indianapolis players, including members of the Attucks teams that won Indiana state championships in 1955 and 1956.

Cotter’s 987-word essay received the highest score in the foundation’s annual competition.  More than 30 colleges and universities are affiliated with the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. Cotter is the first IUPUI student to win a Murray foundation scholarship.

“Elizabeth’s effort took a forgotten piece of campus real estate and brought it back to life,” said Malcolm Moran, director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University on the IUPUI campus. “She met every deadline, submitted every revision, responded to every suggestion and searched for every detail that would capture the significance of the Dust Bowl and its place in Indiana history.”

The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation perpetuates the legacy of Jim Murray, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist of the Los Angeles Times who died in 1998. In this year’s contest, students were tasked with writing essays that showcased a person, event or location of historical significance to their respective campuses.

In her winning essay, Cotter writes about “A Championship Tribute,” the April 1 dedication of the IUPUI Campus Recreation Outdoor Facility which included basketball great and Attucks star Oscar Robertson as a guest speaker:

“When I saw this tree over there,” Oscar Robertson said. “I thought, ‘There was where the Dust Bowl was.'” He stood beneath a tent on the (IUPUI) campus on a sunny spring afternoon, pointing to his right toward a tree just beyond a black iron fence …

The tree towers over the three-story, multi-colored tan brick Lockefield Gardens apartment complex a few feet beyond the northeast section of the IUPUI campus known as Lockefield Green, where students have walked to class for years with no idea of what stood there and the powerful meaning that spot holds.

Although she knew about Robertson’s sports legacy, Cotter said she only learned of the Dust Bowl because of the dedication.

“If I didn’t know about it, I figured a lot of other students didn’t know either. To showcase it was very cool,” said Cotter, who attended the dedication ceremony and the panel discussion afterward featuring Robertson and other Attucks alumni.

Cotter, a graduate of Indian River High School in Philadelphia, N.Y., moved with her family to Fort Wayne, Ind., after her father retired from a 20-year-career in the United States Army.

A junior in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, Cotter is majoring in journalism with a sports concentration. She is sports editor for the IUPUI student-run media page, “The Campus Citizen,” and has participated in fantasy leagues following National Football League players since she was 11. Cotter, a summer intern at the CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, dreams of becoming a sports writer reporting from the sidelines of NFL games.

The Murray foundation scholarship competition started with students from the nation’s top 15 university journalism programs before expanding to its current size. Each year, a panel of professional judges score submitted essays and award $5,000 scholarships to the entrants with the top five scores. This year, six winners were selected because of a tie for fifth place.

“It is such an honor to receive such a prestigious award and be a part of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation family,” Cotter said. “I cannot thank IUPUI enough for giving me this opportunity.”

The other 2015 scholarship winners are from the University of Kansas, University of Georgia, Penn State University, University of Missouri and Northwestern University. The Murray foundation will hold a celebration for all the winners on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, Calif.

Open Society Foundations Invites Applications for Social Justice Photography Projects

logoThe Open Society Documentary Photography Project is accepting applications for photography projects that can be used as tools for social change.

The foundation’s Audience Engagement program supports projects that address a pressing social justice or human rights problems and provide concrete ways for photographers, organizations, and their target audiences to create positive social impact. Projects that inspire audiences visually, create meaningful interactions with an existing body of photographic work, and use photography as the basis for programming that moves people beyond the act of looking and directly involves them in activities or processes that lead to social change are encouraged.

Beginning this year, the program offers two tracks of support for individuals at different phases of their audience engagement projects:

  • Project Development: Grantees will receive funding to attend an Open Society–organized retreat in December 2014. The event will be designed in collaboration with Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program, whose nationally recognized workshops provide participants with essential practical tools and strategies to help them move their project and career goals forward. Attendees will become part of a larger Audience Engagement grant cohort, with opportunities to connect both during the conference and after.
  • Project Implementation: Grantees will receive grants of up to $30,000 to execute (or continue executing) their projects as well as attend the December retreat.

Proposed projects should include partnerships between photographers and organizations recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Each project partner should have the skills and track record to realize the project and must commit time and resources to implement it.

See the Open Society Foundations Web site for eligibility and application guidelines.

IUPUI to significantly bolster its journalism/public relations program

Indianapolis bachelor’s/master’s program moves from Bloomington-based School of Journalism management to IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

SLA at IUPUI logoGraduate and undergraduate journalism and public relations students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will have access to an array of new resources beginning July 1, when the long-established Indianapolis location of the IU School of Journalism shifts management from IU Bloomington to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The program will be known as the IU Department of Journalism and Public Relations at IUPUI.

The move comes as the IU School of Journalism at Bloomington merges on July 1 with the Department of telecommunications and Department of Communication and Culture to form The Media School.

With the transition to local oversight, the IUPUI journalism department will now offer students and faculty additional resources in academic and career advising, curriculum development, research funding, alumni engagement, philanthropic support and more.

School officials also envision partnerships with other departments and schools on campus — such as telecommunications, informatics, event management, medicine and athletics — to further enhance journalism and public relations programs focusing on sports and health/life sciences, and to give students the versatility needed in a rapidly changing profession.

“We’re honored to have our roots in the 100-year-old IU School of Journalism,” said Jonas Bjork, who will become the first chair of the new department. “But as one of IUPUI’s smallest schools, we didn’t have the depth of resources we needed to take our program to the next level. This move — reinforced by unanimous support from our faculty and staff — will help us achieve that.”

Bill Blomquist, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, said the merger is tailor-made for an urban-serving institution in a capital city ripe with professional opportunities.

“The skills and thinking we teach in journalism and public relations –– the ability to search out and explain information — are much in demand among all kinds of employers,” Blomquist said. “Developing those professional skills, along with the versatility instilled by liberal learning, will help prepare our graduates not only for their first jobs but also for the careers that follow.

“What’s more, in this city full of sports, health, life science, government and other communication opportunities, our classroom learning is supplemented and complemented by real-world learning — internships, service projects, guest speakers and more — that you can’t match anywhere else in this state and in few places around the nation.”

Bjork said the name change — to include public relations — is a decision based on the changing nature of the profession and the marketplace.

“While journalists and public relations professionals are, in many places, treated as adversaries, many of the theories and practices we teach journalists and public relations professionals are, in fact, complementary,” Bjork said. “Often, the two groups of professionals must work together, so it helps that we teach them together here at IUPUI with faculty members who bring real-world experience to the table.”

The new Department of Journalism and Public Relations will offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and certificates in journalism and public relations with specializations available in sports journalism, health/life science public relations, advertising and other areas.

Jane Pauley to discuss new book

jane pauley photo

Former NBC “Today” show host Jane Pauley will bring inspiring stories of mid-life reinvention featured in her new book to the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus on March 14.

A familiar face on morning, daytime and prime-time television for more than 30 years, Pauley, an Indiana native who graduated from IU Bloomington, will sit down with fellow IU alumna Megan Fernandez, Indianapolis Monthly executive editor, to discuss her new book, “Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life.”

Pauley has become one of broadcasting’s most respected journalists — most recently, for the award-winning “Your Life Calling” segment (now titled “Life Reimagined Today”) on the “Today” show. In recent years, Pauley has crisscrossed the country meeting and profiling men and women in their 50s and older who see the future as an opportunity for reinvention rather than retirement.

Since the first episode, “The Joy of Socks,” aired in 2010 on NBC, Pauley has profiled 25 remarkable people whose personal reinvention informs and inspires. Now she brings these stories to the page, looking to inspire others to imagine their own future in powerful and positive ways.

“The people Jane writes about exemplify the spirit of the liberal arts tradition,” said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, where Pauley received a degree in political science in 1972. “When students prepare, in the liberal arts tradition, to question critically, act creatively and live ethically, they are ready to succeed at any number of careers and at any juncture in life.”

The event will take place at noon on March 14 in Room 450 at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd. A light lunch will be provided. Pauley will sign copies of her book after the interview.

The event, sponsored by the IU College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, is free to Indiana University Alumni Association members and $10 for non-IUAA members. Registration is required, and attendance is limited to the first 150 people who register.