Toolboxes, good moms, and the importance of computer science: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Crack open that toolbox:
In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re big on finding free tools for journalists across the board to utilize. Here are 60 free tools for all of your writing, journalistic, storytelling needs. From fundraising apps to audio aides, this site has something (if not, many things) for everyone.

…here, have another:
While we’re talking about toolboxes, here’s another one; one that focuses specifically on our absolutely favorite type of journalism– the online kind. Infographics, tips from the Guardian, charts, story maps; it’s a treasure chest sure to fulfill all of your digital journalism dreams.

Calling all columnists:
We discuss a lot of journalistic styles in these weekly updates, but seem to consistently overlook one of the tried and true staples of journalism– columns. Here are 7 columns written by Bill Simmons that Benjamin Mullin over at Poynter has declared “the best.” Whether or not that’s true, they are great columns to read and get inspired by.

Mothers raise great journalists:
In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s an inspiring article about one woman’s maternal influence that transformed Pittsburg news anchor Mike Clark’s life from a young age, and gave him the confidence to speak in front of an audience.

Here’s an article that resonates here at SNO headquarters; why aren’t journalists being taught how to code? Sure, it’s possible to pick up some skills on your own; with tons of free, open source materials out there, journalism students can pick up some computer science basics if they want to make themselves even more marketable. But why should they have to? Shouldn’t it be an integral part of the student journalist’s education track? Source seeks to answer these questions, and provide some possible solutions.

These things also happened this week:
+ We’ve been hearing for years now that coffee may have significant health benefits;this article is here to further validate your caffeine addiction.

+ This next season of American Idol will be the last season of American Idol, which means you’ll have to go back to relying on karaoke nights to get your fill of embarrassing vocal performances.

+ Future broadcast journalists: don’t be this guy.

Blurring boundaries, digging up data, and journalistic rights: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Respect the boundaries:
Matt Carlson and Seth Lewis wrote a book titled ‘Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices and Participation.” In this article, they give you a taste of what that entails; a deep discussion on what counts as journalism, what doesn’t, and why that line isn’t actually very clear at all.

Dig up data:
Adding solid data to a story only enhances its validity.  Haven’t been doing much of that lately? No worries– this article tells you where you can find data, how to know your sources, how to really interrogate the data, and how to manage your data. It’s a lot of data-related information, but don’t underestimate the importance of including relevant statistics in your stories. As boring numbers may be, they tend to make stories stronger.

Know your rights, journalists:
One student photojournalist recently experienced being unjustly arrested in the midst of a Baltimore solidarity protest. Sam Bearzi, with NYU’s Washington Square News (hosted proudly by SNO), was arrested without being read his rights, without anyone being informed of his arrested, and, after his release, without any record of him even being at the precinct they took him to. Taking photos in the streets to document a protest isn’t illegal; which says a lot about the state of journalism– especially photo and video journalism– in Baltimore right now.

Paying students who work hard, should be a no-brainer, right?:
Students at California State University, Northridge are taking a stand against unpaid internships.  Senior Alex Corey realized, while raising money to send students from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to a media conference, that he and his journalism team couldn’t afford to work for free anymore. His solution? Raising money to fund their own internships. Corey states that a lot of fellow young journalists have donated to the cause, due to the sense of solidarity they feel having gone through similar experiences. If you have ever doubted journalism’s ability to implement real change, think again.

Collegiate-level Journalism stand-outs:
We love showcasing the exceptional talent in the SNO Network on Best of SNO, but we also enjoy recognizing (and getting inspired by) student journalists outside of it.Here are 5 standout pieces by student journalists from a variety of different universities. If your staff is looking to keep writing in college, these articles are a good place to start getting ideas.

These things also happened this week:
+ John Oliver explains on his show Last Week Tonight why standardized testing is the absolute worst, and why, unfortunately, it’s probably not going away anytime soon.

+ A new royal baby was born, and a lot of people seem to really care about that.

+ It’s teacher appreciation week, so students, please let your teachers know how much you appreciate the fact that they continuously put up with you. It takes a lot of courage. They’re real heroes.

Books to read, resources to rely on, and webinars to watch: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits

Timeless Journalism:
The original AP report from the night of President Lincoln’s assassination shows that on-the-spot journalism will always be relevant.

Successful Twitter journalists to inspire your staff:
Just in case you were doubting the importance of Twitter in relation to journalism,here’s a list of the most influential political journalists who happen to also be fairly active on Twitter.

Read up on data journalism:
If you are looking for some educational summer reading, these books should help expand your data journalism knowledge for the next school year.

Live Webinar based on the Rolling Stone controversy:
This webinar features an author that worked on the Columbia University Rolling Stone report, as well as a journalist from the Washington Post that had initially voiced their concerns about the article when it was published. It’s happening for free, this Thursday, April 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, and learn from first-hand experience what it’s like to be a part of a national news controversy.

Teaching resources for your classroom:
Designed for new teachers in particular, this site has accumulated all the resources a first-year teacher could possibly ask for– and helpful resources for more seasoned educators as well. From dealing with parents to curriculum planning, this site has tons of tools to guide you through any aspect of teaching that may be intimidating.

Community service as a teaching tool:
A journalism professor at Indiana University believes students stand to learn even more about journalism through volunteering. Emily Metzgar has her students volunteer at a local non-profit as a mandatory part of her course, while also researching previous news coverage of said non-profit. Students then compare their lived experiences to the messages in the media, providing them with a first-hand look at how new coverage can often fail to capture the heart of a story, and seeking to improve that.

These things also happened this week:
Netflix has officially announced their plans to stream a reboot of the universally adored TV series Full House.

Apparently, pessimism pays; optimism often leads to an underestimation of how long a task or assignment will actually take, which can lead to missed deadlines and forgotten due dates.

Whatever you do, don’t eat Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Aggressive advisers, apathetic students, and sentence writing 101

The board strikes again:
North Michigan University recently fired their newspaper adviser for being too “aggressive” when it came to reporting campus news; of course, a lot of the news the student-led board took issue with didn’t necessarily reflect too well on the university. The paper had investigated topics such as the number of sexual assaults on campus, the amount of money the university spent on travel for the school’s board of trustees, and textbook prices.

You go, North Dakota:
Great news for North Dakota this week; the state’s governor signed a law that prevents administrative censorship of student publications in all public high schools and colleges, further protecting students’ right to freedom of speech. It is the eighth state to pass legislation with this motive; hopefully, the other 42 states take notice.

Sentences are hard:
In a recent episode of “Rough Draft,” a popular writing-focused podcast, we get aten-minute lesson on how to write opening sentences that are as captivating and effective as David Sedaris’; and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t want to be a bit more like David Sedaris?

Count your Twitter:
Have you always wanted to see your Twitter analytics, but didn’t think that was physically possible? With Twittercounter, a tool you are able to access for free, you can look at charts that give you a comprehensive look at your followers, volume of tweets, and the number of people you are following. This way, you can determine what area of your tweeting has had the most impact on your audience; extremely useful information for your paper’s Twitter account.

Journalism, who needs it?:
Ironically enough, in the age of social media and digital journalism, high schools around the country are facing both a lack of interest and funding when it comes to journalism programs. Schools aren’t just unable to fund the cost of printing or publishing a newspaper, they’re also starting not to see the point, as the enrollment and participation in school papers has declined significantly. There are solutions, of course; taking your paper online is a cost-efficient solution to the budget problem. But how do we fix the lack-of-interest problem? Engaging students by incorporating elements they already use into a digital journalism production, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat, can make the paper more seem more accessible and modern to students.

These things also happened this week:
The first four episodes of HBO’s hugely successful show Game of Thrones wereleaked online before the fifth season premiere on Sunday night– fans of the show with flexible moral codes are now three episodes ahead of everyone else.

Not only do we get a sequel next month, but Pitch Perfect co-star Rebel Wilson hasconfirmed there will be a third installment to the hit film series. Clearly, there’s no such thing as too much accapella.

Apple sold nearly one million watches in the first 24 hours of their official Apple Watch product release. That number would be shocking, but this is Apple we’re talking about; people have camped out for days just to buy a phone. This is almost underwhelming in comparison.

More data journalism, good news for BuzzFeed hopefuls, podcasts and the Rolling Stone

BuzzFeed brings itself to you (sort of):
BuzzFeed reveals their Emerging Writers Fellowship Program, which details a four-month program that provides potential candidates with career mentorship, financial support, and a variety of writing workshops and panel discussions. Being a part of a major news-related corporation has just become more accessible– if you know anyone who would be a perfect fit for BuzzFeed, encourage them to apply before October 1.

More on data journalism (because it’s relevant always):
Data journalism seems to be a recurring topic in these Fresh Powder reports, (probably because it’s super-important, but we hate to sound repetitive.)  Here’s another invaluable resource for you: PBS’ guide on how to teach data journalism. Maybe you’re already a data journalism pro, and you want to cross-reference your own syllabus with this article. Perhaps you’ve dipped your toe in the data pool, but aren’t quite sure where to go from there. Maybe you haven’t even touched a computer. No matter where you are in your educational journey, this article is worth a once-over. Maybe even a twice-over. Have we mentioned data journalism is the future?

Tweet better:
On the subject of data, many of you in the SNO network have a heavy social media presence for your paper (which is awesome, and we heartily endorse such behavior). Here’s an article on how to make your social media image look even better.  This article details seven tips to cultivate a more engaged following, which is a must for scholastic journalism programs.

The new-age of podcast journalism:
Has your program been trying to work podcasts into its production, but just can’t seem to master them?  Now you can peer inside the brains behind NPR and see how they strategize their own podcasting.  As we may have mentioned, the crew here at SNO headquarters is unanimously obsessed with Serial, and if the creators of such a fantastic podcast are willing to share their tips, we’re pretty sure they’re worth listening to.

Freedom of the press trumps religious freedom law:
In a bold (and awesome) statement regarding the latest upset in Indiana, the Indianapolis Star protests the religious freedom law, as they dedicated their entire front page last Tuesday to the issue. Written as an editorial piece, it condemns the new law, joining a long list of others who have also very publically voiced their disdain (Hillary Clinton, George Takei, and Nick Offerman, just to name a few).

Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus,” and what went wrong:
And, last but certainly the longest, we have the Rolling Stone article on the inaccurate reporting of an extremely sensitive subject, and the implications of that in the field of journalism as a whole.  It’s not a quick read, but it’s an important one; not only does it explore the investigative reporting of a subject that we still aren’t sure how to handle, but it chronicles one journalist’s journey reporting on shaky factual ground. If you have some time, or any big projects you’re trying to avoid, you should try and make it through the entire thing.

These things also happened this week:

+ More than 1,000 dogs have been struck with the doggie flu in Chicago. (Save the puppies!)
+ More on animals: New York’s cat cafe brings cat-specific music to the kitties up for adoption to find that music composed specifically for cats helps them feel happy and calm.
+ If you haven’t already, read up on the California Drought; it’s one of the best states we’ve got, let’s try and keep it around for a while.

AP Change-up, Robot Takeover, and the rise of student journalism

AP messes with our guidelines again:

The AP Stylebook released its annual updates at the ACES conference this year; no changes too drastic, though. A quick glance over the AP Stylebook’s Twitter pageinforms us that global warming and climate change can be used interchangeably, though climate change is more scientifically accurate. The phrase “committed suicide” is pretty much off the table unless included in a direct quote, and there are quite a few additions to the sports chapter; baseball playoffs, NCAA Tournament, figure skating, and heatstroke, just to name a few.


As long as we’re on the subject of new additions in the world of sports journalism,the New Yorker raises the question, is that still a viable job option for human beings? News sources are beginning to rely on automated technology when it comes to sports coverage– using algorithms to not only collect data and scores, but to actually report on the highlights most human sportswriters would be seeking out anyway. The one thing these machines can’t do is capture the real-live human aspect of sports; which, truly, is one of the most important aspects of the industry.

Machines aren’t able to conduct post-game interviews with the players, or asking the coach a few quick questions out on the court. So, is a full-on mechanical takeover on the horizon? Probably not. But sports reporters may have a slight decrease in responsibility with the success and speed these automated machine reporters have over human beings.


If this isn’t the best argument for going digital, I don’t know what is:
Google, instead of taking the easy way out with a “no comment,” responded to questions about a potential new streaming plan by sending a Daily Dot reported a cute animated GIF. A rep from Google even went so far as to confirm that as their official response. No print paper is capable of that level of sass.

And, since going digital is something you are all clearly on board with, here’s a Listly compilation of 15 great storytelling tools for all of your online needs. From video production tools to cartoonist apps, you should find something in here that could work for your program– or, at the very least, give your staff a slightly more productive way to procrastinate.

Student Journalists > Professionals:
In case your students haven’t been feeling all that appreciated lately, this SPLC article should assure them their efforts do matter. Because the number of professional reporters involved in government coverage is decreasing, student journalists are becoming an important asset when it comes to reporting related news. In fact, the article states that “in four states, student journalists outnumber journalists from professional outlets assigned to the statehouse full-time, where they ensure citizens have access to information about how the state spends their tax dollars and decisions on education, criminal justice and safety regulations.” That’s more than promising, young journalists, so keep up the incredible work!

These things also happened this week:

John Stewart’s replacement was announced; Trevor Noah, a young South African comedian, is officially the successor to The Daily Show.

+ Have you ever wished you could see all of Tom Hanks’ movies in six minutes? Now you can.

+ McDonald’s is considering serving all-day breakfast.  This is life-changing information.

Resume Building, BuzzFeed, and Bad Admins: This week’s Fresh Powder Report

This week, in Journalistic News:

The pros say:
Five successful journalists share their stories on getting started in the journalism industry; from the most important apps to re-affirming the importance of knowing how to navigate social media, these pros give their tips for young, hopeful journalists-to-be.

Building that resume:
And, while we’re on the subject of journo-hopefulls, gives 7 tips for students who need some actual work experience in the field.  It’s never too early to build your resume– especially if your students are serious about making journalism a career.  Some of the tips are simple (like checking your spelling grammar a million times before submitting an application, or writing a great opening line on a cover letter), but are still useful for students with little to no “real-world” experience.

Streaming made simple, (and free):
Another article from shows us how six news organizations are utilizing SoundCloud; which makes sense, as it is the best and most reputable free streaming service available.  It makes sharing audio stories easy, accessible, and a great way to draw in more audience members; certainly worth giving a try with your publication! If BuzzFeed can do it, you can too.

Become the next BuzzFeed:
Speaking of good ole’ BuzzFeed, here’s a quick lesson taken from SXSW on how to engage your readers, build an audience, and extend your reach. The report, given by Jonah Peretti, discusses the future of news from BuzzFeed’s point of view; online newspapers everywhere can always stand to learn a thing or two from this new media powerhouse.

Censorship strikes again:
Most of you have probably been following the Panther Prowler’s recent censorship of their school paper due to a dedicated sex issue– an issue complete with pictures that led some parents to accuse the student publication of “sexual harassment”– and how that has affected the students at Newbury Park High School and their freedom of speech.  This article on the Student Press Law Center details the case so far; if your publication has ever faced a similar situation, you might want to learn more about it, and send an email to the administration expressing your support of the Panther Prowler.

The fight for education:
This article is not “news” in the sense that it’s new information– we’ve been aware of the struggle in the education field for a long time now.  This LA Times article, written by the director of Bard College’s MA in Teaching program, points out that administration is failing to address the issues that prevent successful teaching. Here’s hoping that with more discussion centered around education, the more likely it will be to change.

These things also happened this week:

Twitter as a classroom, the art and ethics of shaming, and more from Fresh Powder

This week, in Journalistic News:

“Phones-On” Learning:

A college professor chronicles her experience moving her social media course’s discussion to Twitter in order to provide a more relevant and hands-on educational experience.  She included weekly live Twitter chats as a part of her syllabus, and grades students both on their participation in the weekly chat, as well as their questions and interactions being insightful and meaningful. The discussions are student-lead, hosted by different groups each week, and the rest of the class asks questions and initiates conversation based on their chosen topic.  Plus, she makes each student check in at the beginning of each discussion by tweeting either a photo of themselves or their current location, so there is no way to “skip class.”

Better Browsers Secure Jobs, Somehow:

We already all collectively hate Safari and Internet Explorer (don’t deny it); now, there’s even data to justify it! Researchers discovered that employees who use a non-default browser (like Firefox or Chrome) ended up staying at their jobs 15% longer than those who are using Safari or Internet Explorer.  I could not explain the logic behind this if I tried, so you should probably just read the article.


There’s a new startup that lets you pay per article rather than purchasing monthly subscriptions, so you can still have access to your favorite newspaper without having to pay for hundreds of articles you were never actually going to read, no matter how cool it looks to have the New York Times delivered to your front door.

More evidence that suggests you should NOT post dumb things on social media:

Yes, it should be common sense by now, but students– especially high school athletes looking for scholarships– should be extremely careful about what they are posting on their social media accounts. Universities who find content on student athletes’ Twitter of Facebook accounts that they feel does not represent their values habitually stop recruiting the athletes in questions.  Always make sure your students understand the importance of editing themselves on the World Wide Web; or, if they just can’t help themselves, at least making their accounts private.

Appropriate Shaming?:

Inherently, “shaming” someone sounds like a no good, very bad thing to do.  And typically, in the real world, it is; but, in journalism-world, it can also be a way to expose bad behavior, or hold a person of power accountable for something they have said or done that was really not ideal.  Actively using shaming as a form of journalism is a fairly tricky subject, so here’s a nifty guide to help you out.

These things also happened this week:

  • Things aren’t looking great at the University of Oklahoma right now.
  • Melenoma is (hopefully) going to get its butt kicked.
  • A sequel to the insanely popular Disney film “Frozen” was officially announced— my sincerest apologies to all parents with children.
  • Who am I kidding.  Everyone loves “Frozen.”

Fresh Powder: One dress, two llamas, and lots of censorship

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits
brought to you by  SNO.

This week, in Journalistic News:

  • “The Dress” is, apparently, relevant: According to Craig Silverman at Poynter, the infamous blue/black/white/gold that almost broke the internet this weekend is a significant reminder that we, as human beings, sometimes see things that aren’t actually there.  He argues we have become too complacent in our senses, and rarely stop to questions what we see or experience.  Journalist, especially, should be extra-aware of human’s unreliable senses; everyone knows about source bias when it comes to reporting, but it’s important that journalists are also skeptical of their own cognitive bias.
  • Scholastic journalism programs are still facing a great deal of censorship: According to the Student Press Law Center, high school students and teachers are still struggling with content censorship when it comes to publication.  A reported 25% of students and 17% of advisers have been censored in some way by school administrative staff.  Over half of the students surveyed in this particular study admitted that someone other than a student editor had control over their student publication, and a smaller- but significant- 7% of advisers have had their position threatened by school officials due to decisions their students had made regarding content in their publications.
  • Llamapalooza! You may think the llamas that dashed through traffic in Arizona last Thursday has nothing to do with journalism, but you would be wrong.  It actually served as a tangible example of how social media has evolved within the realm of news coverage.  As multiple major news outlets covered the story of the rouge llamas, it demonstrated that platforms like Twitter had not only become a necessary supplement for reporters, but as a way for them to set publishing agendas.  AP reports that during the Oscars, it was Twitter’s overwhelming discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance that drove their coverage of the event.  By following trending topics and keeping tabs on conversations surrounding any major event, news networks are finding they can deliver the news audiences want to hear about.
  • New podcast-like app provides real-time audio tours. Detour is a new audio app that delivers interesting information to listeners about historic areas of towns as they walk through them.  Currently only based in San Francisco, the app allows users to connect to stories in a much more intimate, real-time way than ever before.  The app uses your phone’s GPS to provide a self-updating audio-tour of the area you find yourself wandering through, giving you stories based on landmarks you’re near.  It’s basically a living podcast that will enhance your travel plans.
  • Great news for people with sites powered by WordPress (aka, all of you). Twitter now has an official WordPress plug-in, making it even easier to expand your audience with social media integration on your site.  Features include Twitter analytics, video embed, and even a “Tweet” button on the admin side of your site.These things also happened this week:
  • Everyone’s favorite furniture store unveils a new line of furniture that includes built-in wireless mobile charging platforms. The bad news is your still have to assemble the furniture yourself.
  • We remember Leonard Nimoy and his really awesome life
  • This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but money not only buys happiness, it also buys good health.

Fresh Powder: Snapchat, NYT, and SJW2015

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits
brought to you by  SNO

  • Snapchat recently released a new mobile news feature called “Discover,” which allows users of the app to swipe to the left to access news updates from a variety of partners; CNN, Yahoo, and ESPN, just to name a few.  This is a significant development in mobile news for a few reasons; the first being extreme accessibility.  Discover brings news to where the audience already exists.  It’s able to reach an audience that may otherwise not seek out news, while still appealing to current news junkies.  It also exists entirely within the app– any “links” to stories or videos do not link out to a web browser or a third-party hosting site, it’s all right there.  Plus, it’s already getting a ton of positive feedback from its younger users; check out the reviews on this article from Nieman Labs.
  • The New York Times is planning on offering courses as part of a new effort called “NYT EDUcation”, in collaboration with the Cambridge Information Group.  The New York Times’ previous attempts at getting into the education game haven’t been that successful, and this new initiative is still in the early stages (potential courses haven’t even been announced yet.)  However, it could be a great resources for those involved in journalism, provided the courses the Times ends up offering are accessible and useful to a variety of people involved in journalism.
  • Local radio is beginning to look even more appealing to local newspapers and other local news sources– why? Because it’s popular, accessible, and an easy way to distribute content even further.  Plus, it provides some pretty great, interactive advertising opportunities that you couldn’t get elsewhere.  It’s also relatively inexpensive to get involved in internet and local radio, which keeps the risk factor low.  You can read more about it here.
  • The popular internet-controlling app IFTT appears to be getting even better; it announced some new apps that could be very useful for media journalism.  There’s the new camera that lets you automatically back up any photos you take to dropbox, as well as allowing you to publically share your snapchats.  Their new note feature allows you to post to Twitter or Facebook from a single app, as well as instantly adding events to your calenders.  This app is all about convenience, so if fast and breaking news coverage is something you’re into, it’s probably for you.
  • And, on a more resource-related note, we recently stumbled upon this article that complies six useful tools that can help you create stellar educational fliers or posters for your classroom.  It gives you a variety of options and styles, so if you’re in need of some new hand-out materials and feeling creative, you should give it a go.

Noteworthy happenings less relevant to scholastic journalism:


And, hey, it’s Scholastic Journalism Week! Stay updated by following @SJW2015 on Twitter, and making use of the #SJW2015 hashtag!