Friday, August 30, 2013

Morning Joe (actually, it's Morning Ford Commercial)

August 29th is the day Morning Joe needed to change the name of the show to Morning Ford Commercial.

As we face a tense situation in Syria, just look at the right turn this show decided to take to commercialism.  You have to give the producers credit.  Wow, what a line up for its infomercial.

As the Morning Joe website proclaims:  We’ll have a packed roster of guests, including…
  • Mike Barnicle, Morning Joe regular
  • Steve Ratner, former Obama administration auto czar
  • Michael Steele, former RNC chairman and MSNBC contributor
  • Brian Shactman, host of Way Too Early
  • Benny Napoleon, sheriff of Wayne County, MI and Mayoral candidate of Detroit
  • Mark Fields, Executive Vice President and President of The Americas for Ford Motor Company
  • Jimmy Settles, United Auto Worker Vice President
  • Mary Kay Henry, SEUI President
  • Tom Lewand, President of NFL Team, Detroit Lions
  • Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company
  • Phil Lebeau, CNBC
  • Dan Gilbert, Chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc. and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lake Erie Monsters, the Cleveland Gladiators and the Canton Charge
  • Bill Pulte, Blight Authority
  • Justin Verlander,  Detroit Tigers
  • Brian Sullivan, CNBC
I loved Mark Fields comments - straight promotion, not questioned at all by the cheerleaders on Morning Joe.  When do you think Morning Joe will do its infomercial for Chrysler?    Chrysler and General Motors should at least ask for free air time.   Why shouldn't they get the same consideration as Ford?    

(And a tip for Morning Joe producers re: what questions to ask about Syria:  watch the BBC and Al Jazeera and read the Guardian.  We've had way too much lapdog state-supporting TV.  A democracy needs journalists to do what they're supposed to do, not play human microphone stand for government or infomercial hosts for corporations.)


Sunday, August 11, 2013

How to Select a J-School

As expensive as it is to go to college, the last thing an aspiring journalist wants to do is to pick a journalism school that isn't.    For both students and parents, there are a few quick checks.

When you tour the school, ask to see the best examples of "accountability journalism," where the student journalist is holding someone accountable for his/her actions.   You're asking to see examples of student journalists doing what journalists are supposed to do.   Ask to see the best examples of students reporting on fraud, waste, sexual assaults on campus, unethical or questionable conduct at the university.    If there is no such reporting, that's an indication of a weak program.    Journalists ask questions that need to be asked.    For student journalists, that means questioning and reporting on the institution.

Ask to see the most substantive computer-assisted reporting projects.   Here are some examples produced by my students:  Examining the University Bill,  Athletic Concussions,  Cars for Coaches, the Ohio Miracle - Silent Politicians.  If there are none, that's an indication of a weak program.

Universities often talk about the teacher/student ratio.   What can be far more important in training multimedia journalists is the equipment/student ratio.     If there's not enough equipment, the class is in trouble.

David Bloss, currently regional editor for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, has a lot of first-hand experience with knowing how much equipment is needed.  He has trained journalists around the world and has started journalism schools from scratch,  running  j-school programs in India and the Republic of Georgia.   "It's four to one," says David.   "To truly train properly, you need one piece of gear for every four students."

If you have 16 in the class, you need 4 video cameras, four audio recorders, four of whatever except microphones.   Double the microphones; a sit down interview takes two.     As you tour the j-school, ask what its equipment/student ratio is for all required multimedia reporting courses.   To double check what you're told on the tour, ask students what they run into when checking out equipment.   Is it available or is everything always checked out?   Training multimedia journalists takes gear and lots of it.

Check the student work section of the j-school's website.   What student investigations are there? What student interviews are there demonstrating the student journalist doesn't take no for an answer?   If all you see on the j-school website are feature stories, that's an indication of a weak school.

For aspiring student journalists looking to develop reporting skills, it's essential to pick a university that trains students to be journalists, not human microphone stands.