Greetings from the passenger seat of a 2013 Prius, running from an iPhone hotspot somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.
For the most part, this is how I spent the summer of 2021.
After being fully immunized in April, my husband and I left Florida at the end of May to try to recoup some of what the pandemic has taken from all of us. By traveling across the country while working remotely, we were finally able to cuddle a grandson we had never met; kiss children, parents, in-laws, nieces and siblings; drink local beer on the brewery terraces; and laughing in person with old friends as we crammed into guest rooms or slept on sofas.
We hiked outdoors, reveled in national parks, took photos of things that ranged from glorious to wacky, tasted local take-out, and bought silly trinkets to send back to loved ones.
Whatever home was before the pandemic, we now understand that home is where our people are and where we create our memories. For me, memories of working for a college newspaper – as a student journalist and later as an advisor and managing director – remain among my strongest and dearest. Most of the people we visited were friends from college newspapers or former students.
That’s why I made it a point to stop as many college papers as possible while we were traveling, in addition to the scheduled stops for the Poynter College Media Project.
Documenting these newsrooms and educational spaces has been a big part of what thrilled me on our travels. I wanted to see the places where other student journalists had gathered, stressed, succeeded, laughed, argued, got married.
Think of this as a literal snapshot of academic media organizations across the country, and much of where my heart is these days. The College Media Project ends this weekend at Hofstra University, but we’ll continue to travel the country for a bit longer, collecting those hugs and laughs. All is not happy. I have struggled with our privilege of being able to travel and the continuing devastating effects of the pandemic. But in this oft-used pandemic analogy, I try to put on my oxygen mask so that I can take care of the rest of the people I care for.
I sincerely hope that you find some relief, lightness and joy with the return of your students, and that the burdens of the pandemic are easing, slowly but surely.
I would really love to see pictures of your team at work, or the art in your backyard, or the quotes on your wall. Send them to [email protected] Speaking of which, I’ll be taking a week’s vacation after this world tour, so I’ll be back on October 2nd.
First of all, you need to be prepared to step away from this place for a while. St. Pete, stay in gold!
My first stop was the University of Florida, where I visited the College of Journalism and Communications. This atrium is not too shabby!
Before you even enter the building, UF lets you know that the Hearst Awards are serious.
After that it was on the road to the University of Georgia and Grady School.
At UGA, I got to see the home of the Peabody Awards!
One of my favorite parts of visiting all of these schools was seeing how they decorated their spaces with tributes to students, alumni, and events. Renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault was the first black woman admitted to UGA, and a photo of her ringing the campus chapel bell in 2018 hangs in the hallway.
Raise your hand if you’ve been to Lubbock, TX before! Me neither, until early summer. On the one hand, it’s much bigger than I expected – around a quarter of a million people live there. And their student media have vans. Branded vans!
Texas Tech’s student radio station was eager to welcome students back to campus.
Obviously we had to stop for a barbecue in Texas. My apologies to the vegetarians among you.
Then there was a bit of the hustle and bustle of family vacations and work visits. First, it was a trip to the Pacific Northwest to meet our new family member and visit some friends from college, but I couldn’t go to Seattle without stopping to see my girlfriend Diana Kramer and the legendary Daily newsroom at the University of Washington. . There is a tradition there of notable quotes scribbled on the walls (the rules for graffiti are involved but you get the idea).
Two-time cartoonist Pulitzer and former editor of the Daily, David Horsey, has left his mark.
Now stay with me, but after all that we went back to Texas. (I know. Our navigation was a bit tricky, but we did it all.) I couldn’t wait to visit the University of North Texas, and was treated to a five-star tour (and coffee) from Dorothy Bland, who is pictured showing off the TV studio.
Decorations at the UNT School of Journalism.
The next stop was Texas A&M University-San Antonio. This suburban school is a Hispanic institution located on 700 acres on the outskirts of town. He is only 10 years old and I was delighted to be working with the students there as the first step of the College Media project. The novelty of the school did not disappoint, as the student media offices were top notch.
Student journalist Amparo Polendo is taking notes and helping us stay on track as we develop the El Espejo project, in which students examine how clubs and organizations at this suburban school hope to bounce back from the pandemic.
Here we are outside (where we thought we could safely unmask ourselves momentarily for a group photo) with Councilor Donna Pazdera (second from left).
In a shocking twist, I learned that even the students of the University of Miami newspaper and TV station love journalism AND pizza.
And that you call it The U.
Then it was time to whisk away (OK, fly over) to Montana, which has one of the coolest traditions in journalism education: The Pollner endowed the pulpit, who brings in another outstanding reporter (I’m talking about Eli Saslow, Chris Jones, Hank Stuever) to spend a semester teaching a course and mentoring students.
Here we are in the newsroom, talking about the group’s Montana and gun project.
The most notable thing about the University of Montana School of Journalism is its obvious commitment and pride in its independent student media, especially The Kaiman, its student newspaper, which it celebrates with covers and stories. trophy cases throughout the school.
This cool neon sign hangs in front of the Kaiman’s front door.
Plus, they have retro decor.
OK, last thing from Montana. Some Montana student journalists obtained the first images of the Unabomber.
At Penn State, we worked in a shared classroom space where students discussed Jerry Sandusky’s indictments a decade later.
I will be honest. After this stressful day, I felt like having a cocktail on the terrace of our little Happy Valley Airbnb, so I headed to a parcel store to grab something for supper. There, I saw a young woman having her false identity card taken. In solidarity with this minor who came home empty-handed, I bought what she was trying to buy: a sort of Seagram’s punch to go slush. This is college life.
I was able to walk past Columbia College Chicago’s School of Journalism and Chronicle Newsroom, part of which overlooks the L. I even got to hang out a bit with Councilor Curtis Lawrence.
Editor-in-chief Addison Lathers (below, left, with copy editor Olivia Everett) told me that to find the Daily Cardinal’s newsroom at the University of Wisconsin, I had to go left to the red and yellow naked lady outside building. She wasn’t kidding. Still, it’s nice to see public art that celebrates journalism.
The Cardinal looks like a classic college newsroom, with edited marketing material.
Who is next indeed? Whether they become journalists or work in other fields, our country’s academic media staff learn firsthand what it means to meet deadlines, communicate clearly, be responsible for personal failure and the importance of truth and accuracy for our democracy.
Thanks for watching my slideshow. Now show me yours. ??
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PPPS: Additional Credit Assignment Alert: Poynter will host a party with Peter Alexander, White House chief correspondent for NBC News and Weekend Today co-host, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. EST. Details here.