SPJ/LA scholarships

Journalism students in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties: Deadline to apply for a generous scholarship from the Greater L.A. chapter of SPJ is Friday, June 9.


Predicting a revival of journalism

I believe that, as with the Nixon/Watergate era, the Trump era will usher in new enthusiasm for careers in journalism. In that earlier day young people were eager to go into battle against the forces of political misbehavior and corruption, even if it meant taking a vow of poverty. It will happen again for the generation now in colleges and secondary schools.

A new generation of students will come to JCU with that renewed sense of purpose, carrying on the Jesuit tradition of service to others in communication (and international journalism) as well as general mission work.

For example, the reduction in federal funding for the State Department, announced recently by Trump, is expected to have its biggest impact on development programs, including those that facilitate support for agriculture, medicine and communication in places like Rwanda, Haiti and the refugee camps of eastern Europe. Responsibility will shift from government to nonprofits.

Also, now the practice of local news reporting has taken an entrepreneurial turn. With its combination of programs in liberal arts and business, JCU may be the best place for young people to prepare for careers as independent writers and producers.

Time span to acquire meaning

Some research has been done on the question of “time span to acquire meaning” in news stories. In plain words, that means how quickly a typical reader at a particular time and place will understand and feel interested in a specific story. For example, if the story is about the Vatican, the reader who is Catholic or has visited Rome will probably be more likely to read at least the first few paragraphs of the story, while someone with neither characteristic/experience would skip it. Of course that’s why editors want to think about the audience they are serving with news and information. When you have a few minutes, you should look at a newspaper or web site and think about which stories interest you and why (and which do not).

Pay attention to grammar and style rules

In a podcast (“About the News”) I listened to while out for my morning walk today, Political writer Peter Hanby told interviewer Bob Schieffer that he got his start in journalism because as a high school student he used to send his local newspaper editor a daily critique of writing errors in found in the paper. The editor finally got tired of the emails and asked the young Hanby to come in and do copy and fact-checking as a member of the staff..
I thought about that again this afternoon when I started reading assignments contributed by students in my online journalism class and discovered some with errors in grammar (present instead of past tense) and style (abbreviated words that should have been spelled out).
There is a reason journalists are asked to use correct grammar and style in writing. If you don’t get it right, you will not find a post-graduation job, in journalism or another profession.