Insta-blogging, safe spaces (or lack thereof), and an exciting contest from Flipboard: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Instagram is the new blog:

Instagram is quickly becoming more than just a way to share well-cropped, filtered photos of your cat being adorable; Insta-blogging has made an impact among celebrities, journalists, artists, and creative writers alike. While each Instagram “caption” is limited to 2,200 characters, it creates a unique platform for micro-blogging, accompanied with a picture (or collage of images, if you know your way around Picstitch). Instagram provides an intimacy that Facebook no longer can, as well as a privacy that many larger blogging platforms (such as WordPress or Tumblr, where anyone who knows your URL can look you up) can. It also creates a sense of community that often won’t be found elsewhere.  Instagram gives you more room to speak your mind than Twitter, but the ability to reach more than just family and friends on Facebook. Even individuals with true celebrity status can open up (check out Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s puppy posts if you feel like riding an emotional rollercoaster).

Respecting the right to refuse press:

As journalists, the line between “investigative press” and “invasive paparazzi” can often be a little too thin– in times of tragedy, violence, and vulnerability, how much space does the media deserve to take up? Protestors from the University of Missouri attempted to block the press from their protests last Monday; and, while the media certainly reserves the legal right to be present at such an event, the question this Washington Post article poses is— should they be? Understandably, the black community at the University of Missouri has become distrustful of the press, as it has time and time again unfairly portrayed police (and other) violence against members of the black community. Why should some journalists be given the green light when they hold the potential to do more harm than good? When anger over a lack of respect of First Amendment rights overshadows the respect for human beings who owe the media nothing, and are simply searching for a safe space, the media is doing something wrong. Though it may seem counterintuitive, it should be a well-accepted fact that, of course, not everyone is going to want to be a subject of journalism. As Terrell Jermaine Starr writes, “It’s one thing to demand access to public lands; it’s another to demand access to people’s grieving.”

Safe spaces are becoming increasingly harder to find:

It’s not just one Washington Post reporter that feels this way; here’s a similar article from the New York Times that cites both protests at Mizzou and Yale as examples of Universities that need to do more to make their student body feel safe, heard, and respected– from death threats against black students at the University of Missouri, to offensive Halloween costumes at Yale, academia is far from creating an inclusive space where the individual rights and safety of the students are of higher priority than “creating an intellectual space.”

A (pretty exciting) call for submissions:

Flipboard has officially announced their participation in “Great journalism from America’s High Schools,” a collaboration with a Flipboard magazine started by one of our very own members of the SNO Patrol, Jonathan Rogers (Iowa City High School.) Flipboard and JEA are inviting all high school journalists to submit their best work (created any time in between September 1st, 2015 and September 30th, 2016) for consideration in the magazine. Stories must have first been published elsewhere (on your school’s website, or maybe even on Best of SNO!) and the links to these published stories simply need to be sent to [email protected] for review. Flipboard writes: “Each month, we’ll flip up to 10 of the best stories into the magazine and everyone who gets “flipped” will receive a one-of-a-kind T-shirt from Flipboard the following month.” You can read more about the official contest rules here. Good luck!

These things also happened last week:

SNO went to Florida! If we got a chance to talk with you at this year’s National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, thanks so much for stopping by! These conventions are great reminders of why we do what we do, and we love nothing more than getting a chance to see all of our “SNO Flakes” in person.

Returning to Minneapolis, we discovered that SNO’s homeland is making headlines this week– and not in a good way.

Surprising absolutely no one, the U.S. can’t agree on something.

Police Policies, a new SAT, and the answer to what teenagers are really doing on their phones: this weeks’ Fresh Powder report

Teens and their tech:

Teenagers get a pretty bad rap for spending “too much” time on their phones. We may have some preconceived notions of how they are spending their time on their mobile devices– and a lot of the time, we assume it’s time wasted. This article busts five common myths about how teens are actually spending time on their phones; and it’s not nearly as unproductive as you think.

The new SAT:

Everyone’s favorite standardized test is getting a makeover: the SAT has made some significant content changes that aim to better reflect what students actually learn in school. This test re-vamping will actually make the SAT look a little bit more like the ACT; and they’ll be adding more “advanced math,” just to make sure it’s still painful.

Do officers belong in education?:

Are police-driven school policies actually making schools any safer? If you’ve been paying attention to recent news headlines, the obvious answer is no. In fact, placing more police officers inside schools has made students more likely to drop out of school entirely. And, with officers consistently targeting minority and disabled children for more severe punishments, it’s certainly not helping bridge any achievement gaps. The Obama administration has focused a great deal on changing this problem: they’ve been conducting more investigations, and changing school disciplinary policies, and, because more students are reporting (or filming) these “disciplinary actions” taken by officers in schools, awareness is quickly spreading.

Using a restroom comfortably shouldn’t be so hard:

This is a topic that’s made its way into the Best of SNO inbox quite frequently: bathrooms. Schools across the country are making decisions about bathroom policies in regards to gender identity; while many schools have chosen the gender neutral bathroom option, some schools remain resistant to ditching the binary.

Inspiring Infographics:

Here are 90 of the internet’s best infographics to give you some ideas for that next info.gram or ThingLink you add to your story.

These things also happened this week:

Star Trek is getting a new tv series; that vulcan salute emoji came out just in time.

If you told me a year ago that a red Starbucks cup would have caused an actual controversy, I wouldn’t have believed you. I still wouldn’t. It’s unbelieveable.

Prepare yourself for awards season; here’s a list of fall movies you need to see.

Respect for the dead, how emojis were born, and a major breech of the first amendment: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Reporting on the dead:

Does privacy matter much when you’re not here anymore? One 8,000 word piece published in the New York Times took an extremely close look at the death of New Yorker George Bell— an otherwise ordinary man who’s apartment left behind plenty of details about his life. This article dove into the depths of this man’s apartment, life, and death. Some people revered the piece, and others thought it went too far. Is this an issue of respect, or the first amendment right? You can read the whole piece (if you have the time) for yourself and decide.

Minor-league journalism:

It’s safe to say that nearly every major university in the nation lets you declare a major in journalism, but very few allow you to minor in it. Berkeley is going to, though; starting this summer, they’re adding an undergraduate journalism minor for those who want to further expand their communication skills, but don’t want to commit entirely to the ever-thrilling reporter lifestyle.

The Epic Emoji Origin Story:

Have you ever found yourself asking, “I wonder what the history of Emojis is?” Neither have I, but that doesn’t make it less interesting; so here’s a brief history and analysis that explain where Emojis come from, and why people love them so much.

Censorship at its worst:

Perhaps the biggest piece of journalism news this week happened in California.  A high school journalism teacher at San Gabriel High School was put on leave for encouraging her students to report on a school related injustice. The school board explicitly told the teacher in question– Ms. Kim– that her staff could not publish the article in their school newspaper (The Matador) looking into why another very well-loved teacher would not be coming back again for the next school year. The administrative response to this investigative reporting has been severe. With Kim on leave, and the staff of the Matador newspaper locked out of their own newsroom, it is clear Kim and her students have a fight on their hands. Their story has gained quite a bit of national interest; so much so that Reason TV decided to make a mini documentary covering the censorship, and the alumni staff of the Matador created an underground newspaper to keep their readers updated.


These things also happened this week:

You’ve heard of drone delivery….but have you heard of robot delivery?

Jimmy Kimmel is at it again– another year crushing the hearts of poor kids who just want to eat their Halloween candy.

Speaking of Halloween: these celebrities absolutely nailed their costumes this year.

Too many tests, why journalism is good (and bad), and killer meat: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Tired of the tests:

Great news for public schools: the Obama administration is sick of incessant testing. “The administration called for a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to “reduce over-testing” as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.” Which, yes, means less time taking achievement tests, and more time actually learning about things. In school. Go figure.

The art of type:

Typography is a big deal when it comes to the writing (or, more accurately, “typing”) trade. Sure, we all know to avoid Comic Sans, but what else should we know about the various font families? Here’s a very useful and aesthetically pleasing guide to walk you through it all.

Pessimism or realism?:

No, we are not trying to dissuade young journalists from pursuing a professionally career; however, we value honesty, and this article is chock full of hard facts. The question the author answers– who would be a journalist?– demonstrates a healthy skepticism of the field, but the he doesn’t fail to remind us what makes the job truly special:  “The truth is that the best journalists connect with readers, viewers and listeners by being open-minded and compassionate. That’s one reason so many people remain in the profession, despite the poor pay and long hours.”

Take a journalism class, get rich:

Now that we’ve scared you away from declaring that journalism major, let’s reassure you; billionaire Paul Tudor Jones believes so strongly in the art of good writing, he will tear your memo to shreds if it’s poorly authored. He encourages youth to take a journalism class in college to learn how to write well– and he’s a billionaire, so his advice is worth a lot more than ours.

These things also happened this week:

+ Joe Biden announced he will not be running for president this time; mostly because he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t win.

+ Meat is poison and we’re all doomed.

+ These trees eat pollution for breakfast.

Robot reporters, Brand Journalism, and getting engaged with the news: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Beat in time, but not in style:

An NPR reporter went head to head against a “computer reporter” (WordSmith) to find out if this new mechanized version of really saves enough time to replace reporters entirely. Both the human reporter and the computer wrote about the same subject– a brief about Denny’s earnings reports– and, sure enough, the computer was faster. WordSmith was able to get the story out in two minutes, while the human reporter took seven. There is a noticeable difference in writing style, though; mostly, the fact that the computer doesn’t really have any. But reporters worry that could change, and computer-generated reports could eventually become more stylized and interesting.

Koala Pixels:

Here’s a fun, interactive lesson in pixels and image resolution; if you have the time to move your mouse around a screen for a while, definitely check this out.

Interactive stories are good stories:

Need some inspiration for interactive stories? Michelle Balmeo has cultivated quite the collection on Pinterest; go check it out and see if you can get your staff to work towards more dynamic, interactive stories.

The Journalist: more important than the content?

Journalists are feeling more pressured to market themselves— rather than their style or their stories– in today’s brand-obsessed culture. Image has always been important when it comes to media, but it seems almost unavoidable when it comes to becoming a big-name journalists. You don’t get parodied on Saturday Night Live for being forgettable; they’ve mocked CNN as a whole, impersonated Piers Morgan, andeven Dateline. Why? Because they’re all memorable enough to make fun of.

And, don’t forget….

It’s News Engagement Day today!

What does that mean? It’s really just a day that encourages people to interact with the news in some way; whether that be by tweeting, sharing on Facebook, commenting on, or simply listening to, the news today.

You can check out the news quiz created by Kansas State University; inspired by the well-known NPR segment, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”, and make sure to find ways to engage with the news today.

In non-journalism related news:

>> A fourteen-year-old punched a shark in the face (for his own protection.)

>> Al Roker apologizes for his (highly insensitive) “flood selfie” in South Carolina.

>> Colbert gets real in the face of a tragedy.

First-amendement flags, the end of good writing, and life (or, at least, H20) on Mars; This Week’s Fresh Powder Report

Does the First Amendment cover offensive flags?

After a high school student in Iowa was sent home for flying the confederate flag behind his truck, a group of fellow confederate flag enthusiasts decided this was a breach of their first amendment rights, and protested by adding confederate flags to all of their vehicles. In the journalism world, we’re constantly discussing first amendment rights; it might be worth a discussion as to whether or not this truly qualifies, and if there are exceptions, how do we determine them?

The downfall of writing in the U.S., apparently:

According to a recent Washington Post article, Americans can’t write anymore. This article has single handedly managed to enrage English teachers across the nation, but is there any truth to it? The author claims that having students “writing about how they feel” in school is not nearly as useful as teaching students how to write a structured, five-paragraph essay; they claim there is a need to return to the basics, but without drilling students on grammar rules. It seems a fine line to walk– are schools able to maintain quality writing standards without strict grammar lessons, or are we simply doomed as a nation to fall into bad writing habits?

New podcast on books you should care about:

JEA has started a new podcast called “One Book,” which, as you may have deduced, discusses books as they relate to journalism education. Their first episode takes a look at Charles Fishman’s “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life,” which gives teachers tips on fostering curiosity in students, and how that curiosity can create driven young journalists. You can listen to the podcast here!

Real-life Concussions:

A few SNO reports ago, we discussed Will Smith’s up-and-coming performance in the film “Concussion;” a movie that takes a less-than-perfectly-honest look at the dangers of playing professional American Football. Turns out, high school football can be pretty dangerous, too; three players have died as a direct result from football-related injuries already this season. In response to these fatalities, a school in Missouri has cut football entirely, taking “preventative measures” to an entirely new level.

In non-journalism related news:

+ In case you missed it, the moon was pretty awesome on Sunday night.

+ Updated to iOS 9? You might want to read this article.

+ If liquid water exists on Mars….what else is out there?

Carr’s Fellowship, Franco’s filmmakers, and free pzza: This Week’s Fresh Powder Report

In Honor of Carr:
The New York Times recently announced a fellowship to be started in honor of David Carr, the well-known reporter who died earlier this year. The fellowship hopes to single out journalism hopefuls who share Carr’s interests, are willing to find new, innovative ways to tell their stories, and come from unconventional backgrounds and upbringings. This fellowship provides the opportunity to bring in reporters that may not have made it into the newsroom otherwise — much like Carr himself.

From the Franco Files:
James Franco began hosting his first high school level workshop at Palo Alto High School last week; the first 4-hour class in a series of eight workshops. Franco has been teaching college and graduate level courses for six years, and wanted to bring that opportunity to a younger crowd. His inspiration for this workshop stems from the fact that he experienced an inaccessibility to higher-level workshops and courses when he was a student, and wants to provide others with that opportunity. He claims that teaching classes gets him out of the “self-centered” actor mindset; when he’s teaching, he isn’t constantly focusing on how to top his latest movie or project, he’s focusing on his students. He also aims to bring material to his classes that the students are able to relate to; for this workshop, he’s using his mother’s novel, “Metamorphosis,” which was inspired by Palo Alto teenagers. The workshop will focus on creating a feature film, but in a unique way; the class is broken up into 8 groups, each group responsible for directing different sections of the film. The workshop had over 500 applicants, and only 40 of those students were admitted. Franco even went so far as to advertise the workshop on Instagram in order to gain a strong applicant pool. He says his brother, mother, and some local filmmakers will be involved in the production and progress of this course, all with years of experience and talent to offer the students. Make sure to check out The Campanilefor more stories and videos about the workshop!

NYT Online:
The New York Times recently passed the million digital-only subscribers milestone– and they’ve created the perfect digital article to celebrate. Just further proof that taking your publication online is not only a smart move — it’s inevitable.

In non-journalism related news:
+ Viola Davis was the first woman of color to win an Emmy in the “Best Actress in a Drama Series” category– and her speech was more than noteworthy.

+ Why stop at watches? Apple is determined to have an electric car built by 2019; now everything you own can sync with your laptop.

+ A man from California finds $1,300 in his pizza box, gives it back to its rightful owner, and is rewarded with free pizza for a year. Not a bad deal at all., Will Smith and Concussions, Talk Show Hosts, and Hip Grandmas: This Week’s Fresh Powder Report

Adobe 101:
New staff members struggling with Photoshop? Need a refresher in InDesign? Check out the Adobe education exchange for tutorials, discussions, and more.

Fictitious Censorship:
Will Smith is set to star in the film “Concussion,” which takes a closer look at a degenerative brain disease that specifically affects NFL players due to repeated blows to the head. A recent e-mail hack shows that many of the original scenes from the film have been edited– or removed entirely– so as to not paint the NFL in an “unflattering light.” While the movie is a work of fiction, it’s based on events that are all too real– you can check out the timeline here.

Teachers Helping Teachers:
The educator-run platform, TeachersPayTeachers, give teachers the chance to sell and purchase lesson plans/classroom activities; and the best part is that all of the lesson plans you find on the site have been crafted by people who know what they’re talking about. The Times takes a look at the educator who started it all; Laura Randazzo, from California, who managed to turn her lesson-plan-making hobby into a successful business venture.

Talk Show Journalism:
Stephen Colbert heads over to CBS to host “The Late Show;” a place where he will no doubt be immediately critiqued and compared to his previous talk show, “The Colbert Report.” This article gives a rundown of some previous (and successful) talk show hosts that took a while to “find their grooves,” encouraging audiences to be patient if Colbert does not instantly feel like the perfect fit.

Pointless concern over “rolling Rs”:
This Arizona news anchor was pushed to defend her (correct) pronunciation of Spanish words used on-air; a language native to her personally, and extremely commonly spoken in her state of residence.

In non-journalism related news:
An 87 year old woman has gone viral on Instagram; known as “Baddie Winkle” by her fans, Helen Van Winkle of Knoxville, TN, has over 1.5 million followers, as well as multiple pictures featuring a variety of well-known celebs.

Kermit the Frog is rumored to have a new girlfriend after his “break up” with Miss Piggy in early August. Yes, these are muppets we’re talking about.

Need a new show to watch on school nights this fall? Here’s a list of 15 for you to choose from.


A Vietnam Newseum exhibit, Snapchat is hiring, how not to be boring, and exciting news from Bill Murray: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Vietnam Newseum:
Just in time for Memorial Day, “Reporting Vietnam” opened in the Newseum last weekend, and will be on display through early September. Honoring the 50-year anniversary of America’s first televised war, this display has images, audio, and press coverage from the war, and takes a good look at the media’s involvement with it.

Snapchat…as a career:
On the subject of press coverage, let’s talk about the fact that Snapchat is currently hiring journalists to cover the 2016 presidential race; this is clearly a very media-heavy assignment. Not only will the journalists hired for the job be responsible for compiling original photos and videos, but they will also be in charge of selecting the videos and photos that end up in the “Our Story” page dedicated to the election.

Full of stories:
If you’ve been looking for the place where social media and news coverage intersect, it’s probably called Storyful. They verify content, identify trends, and make it easy for you to incorporate their content into your own news coverage.

How to give a good interview:
Trouble finding the perfect interviewing technique? St. Paul Pioneer Press alum Jacqui Banaszynski gives you 7 tips to help you master interviewing— her biggest piece of advice? “Don’t be boring.”

Click my tweets:
So, your publication uses Twitter, and you’re using it frequently enough, but people don’t seem to be interacting with your content. Here’s how to fix that: Neil Patel explains the difference between a regular tweet and and a clickable tweet, how the latter is much more effective, and how to get your Twitter clickthrough rate up to where you want it to be.

Copyediting for the non-copyeditors:
Reporters do what reporters do best: research, interview, write, tell a story. Copyeditors are responsible for correcting errors in grammar and style. But every newsroom is different, and sometimes reporters have to do a bit of copyediting as well. Here’s a quick guide on copywriting for reporters.  It includes the basics, some external resources, and enough to get you started on really proofreading your own work. May your reporters never use “your” in place of “you’re” again.

Pinning, but NOT on Pinterest:
Have you tried “Pinning” a Tweet, or a Facebook post, so it always appears first?Here’s an easy guide on how to make your most important posts your most noticeable.

These things also happened this week:
+ Are you a Bill Murray fan? (That was a rhetorical question; everyone is a Bill Murray fan.) Netflix is set to release “A Very Murray Christmas,” a sure-to-be magical Christmas special written and directed by Sophia Coppola.

+ John Stewart wants to help Iraq veterans get into showbiz; he has scheduled a five-week boot camp for vets looking to get into the entertainment industry.

+ It’s summer: the season of good weather, beach days, barbecues, and, of course, binge-watching all of those shows you didn’t have time to watch during the school year. Here’s a list of six new TV shows premiering this summer. And yes, True Detective Season 2 is among them. You’re about to enter the Carcosa.

The Columbia Journalism Experiment, First Amendment Awards, and the answer to short attention spans: this week’s Fresh Powder Report.

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits

The Experiment:
14 students from the Columbia Journalism School created a collaborative site that takes a look at the most successful and prominent experimental journalism of today. Why? So they’re better prepared for the industry when they graduate, so they learn to adapt to new-age journalism; to share their experiences with the rest of the journalism-hopefuls out there. Regardless of their intent, it’s worthwhile project to spend some time investigating.

In fact, here’s a little preview— one article published to the Experiment’s site addresses how journalism schools are adapting to the new age of digital journalism. The article weighs in on the topic from a J-school perspective, backing the issue with a variety of different opinions from reputable sources. If you’re still wondering how journalism education is adapting to a digitized medium, this is worth your time.

Fighting for that First Amendment:
There’s still some time to nominate your brave student for the SPLC’s Freedom Awards! All you have to do is submit a written description on how your student has continued to (lawfully) exercise their First Amendment rights in the face of resistance. The deadline for entries i June 8th, so make sure to send them in soon!

How to write well:
In remembrance of the late William Zinsser, here’s an article written by a lifelong fan, who reflects on some of his most meaningful writing advice. His manual, “On Writing Well” is an absolute must for anyone hoping to make a career out of their own writing someday.

Internet attention deficit:
Have you noticed the exceedingly short attention span most audiences seem to have these days? Would you even occasionally include yourself in that demographic? In the age of 6 second Vine videos, it’s not surprising that analytics reports are showing that readers often won’t finish a story, no matter how great the content. How do you fix this? This article lets you in on all the secrets; what devices tend to increase a reader’s attention, the type of traffic that will ensure they stay a little bit longer, and how to utilize more multimedia to gain a more thorough read-through.

Mobile last:
Concerned that your content isn’t “mobile first” enough? Apparently, you don’t need to be too worried; here’s why “mobile first” and “mobile only” platforms are actually not the most innovative or effective way to reach an audience.

These things also happened:
+ A candidate in a local UK election demanded a recount after he was told he had no votes, claiming that was impossible because he had definitely voted for himself. What a graceful, respectable way to accept a loss.

+ The series finale of Mad Men took place Sunday night; hopefully, those of you following the lives of Don Draper and Co. got a satisfying ending.

+ The president finally joins us on Twitter— how long until angry tweeters chase him off? Just ask Joss Whedon; it can happen to anyone.