Correcting charts, collaborating with consumers, and chronicling crime: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

The year in pictures:

Keeping with tradition, the New York Times has collected the best photojournalism from the past year, so you can look back (in high quality and stunning detail) at all of the major moments from 2015.

Don’t let your Facebook friends fool you:

We’re all journo-nerds here, so it should go without saying that accuracy isn’t just important– it’s everything. Here’s an article that demonstrates how often heavily-circulated charts can be extremely misleading– and, oftentimes, downright incorrect.

Your audience makes you:

I think we can all agree that consumers are pretty important when it comes to journalism; you can write all the articles you want, but without an audience to read them, you’re just typing to an empty void. It turns out consumers may play an even bigger role than we realize– certain facets of journalism are relying on collaborative reporting by taking data from their consumers to create a more detailed story. Colorado-based news project iSeeChange is entirely formatted around non-journalists reporting on the climate, weather patterns, and other environmental changes in order to get a more thorough depiction of the weather in that area. Viewing your audience as valuable contributors in addition to reliable readers could lead to even better reporting, so don’t discount those who aren’t familiar with AP style when it comes to collaborating on your next big story.

Is storytelling synonymous with journalism?:

Documentary-making is its own unique form of journalism; Sarah Koenig, a journalist by trade, found significant success in the making of the Serial podcast, where she tried, like any good journalist would, to remain objective, present the facts, and tell a story. Following the success of Serial came Netflix’s new (and heavily discussed) documentary Making a Murder, a ten-episode series following the trials of Steven Avery. But where does the true journalistic presentation end and entertainment begin when it comes to documentary filmmaking? It’s a thin line to walk, and this Time article breaks down what happens when you mix facts with melodrama.

These things also happened this week:

Kanye West auditioned for American Idol.

We can all feel slightly more validated thanks to Spotlight being named Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics.

The new Star Wars themed Monopoly excluded the film’s main character from the game entirely, and all fifty people who still enjoy playing Monopoly were not pleased.

Why advisers advise, how Twitter can boost your journo cred, and more on the First Amendment: this week’s Fresh Powder report

Spreading the love with a hashtag:

Advisers, we know you love your jobs. We’re aware how rewarding and exciting your day-to-day operations in student media and journalism can be. We also know that sometimes it helps to be reminded why you’ve landed the best job ever– and Twitter is here to help you with that. A recent trending hashtag #whyiadvise has journalism instructors and advisers supporting each other, their position, and student journalism in general. Ranging from free pizza to being permitted to share the truth, advisers from across the nation have shared all of the reasons they keep advising. Feel free to add to the conversation on Wednesday, a day Nicholls State University adviser (and SNO customer) Nicki Boudreaux is hoping will become #WhyIAdvise Wednesdays.

Tweeting for legitimacy:

We’re sure we’ve said something like this before, but just in case you missed it,here’s further proof that using Twitter well actually makes you a more credible journalist. Journalists who interact with their followers are generally rated more positively than journalists who are off the Twitter-grid; of course, interacting with followers and starting arguments with followers may not be the same thing, but showing an engagement with your readership will definitely help you out in terms of exposure, especially with younger audiences.

Best design practices:

If you’ve been waiting for a brief video lesson on how to make some really nice-looking charts to share your comparative data in your stories, you’re in luck! Here’s this week’s free episode on charting your data with images from Lynda.

The First Amendment in 2015:

The Newseum Institute has released a long, in-depth look at the state of the First Amendment in 2015– you can find the 17 page survey in its entirety here. The report contains a lot of data, pie charts, and bar graphs, but scanning through should give you a good idea of the role the First Amendment has played in journalism and media this past year.

These things also happened last week:

The 2016 Grammy nominations were revealed on Monday, and you can check out the full list of all 83 categories here.

A conservative political blogger responded to a New York Times editorial in a very visual way.

Kim and Kanye welcomed a new member to the West family this weekend— and no, they’re not naming him South.

Social media is shaping everything, apps are reviving mobile news, and Seinfeld is still awewsome: this week’s Fresh Powder report

Social media sculpts our news:

The coverage of the Paris attacks, when compared with the coverage of the bombing in Beirut, was largely disproportionate– when it came to Paris, the response time was faster, the information was widespread, and links were shared consistently and quickly, while Beirut went largely unnoticed. Why? Social media. This investigation takes a look at exactly how social media coverage played an important role in these two tragedies– and why it will continue to play a role in all breaking news stories.

Small newsrooms are still great newsrooms:

If you’ve got a miniature-sized news team, you probably already know that most articles with tips on how to successfully manage your newsroom don’t always work for you. Here are fifteen innovative ideas for smaller newsrooms, so you can get the most out of your all-star team.

Donald, the enigma:

You would think that someone who essentially goes out of their way to give the media way too many things to report on should be easy enough to cover; apparently, this is not actually the case with Donald Trump. With TV reporters dealing with blacklist threats and being denied interviews, it can be hard to find a common ground when it comes to reporting on this particular candidate.

The print-to-mobile mindset:

Going digital doesn’t mean sacrificing long-standing print values– at least, not to the Washington Post. They work those ideals into the creation and updating of their mobile app; with developments like “pinch view,” where, while reading the Post on a tablet, you are able to read two stories side by side, they’re putting to rest the notion that mobile news is in any way limiting. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could have a mobile app for your publication, we can help you with that.

Follow the code:

Struggling with ethics in your newsroom? When it comes to things like sensitive coverage, “off-the-record” statements, and advertising, it’s always better to know exactly where you stand than to make an educated guess. Accountable Journalism has just released a searchable database that makes it easier to do some double-checking before hitting that “Publish” button– with over 400 media ethics on topics varying from Audio to Sensational Material, you’re bound to find some guidelines on whatever topic you’re trying to tackle.

These things also happened last week:

Kobe Bryant shared his softer side by writing a breakup poem to basketball to announce his retirement from the NBA.

The cast of Seinfeld proves they are one of the greatest casts to ever grace the television screen by sending videos to a terminally ill superfan for his birthday.

We’re all familiar with therapy dogs, service animals– even cats can make useful companions. But what about…horses? Equine therapy may be the next big thing in mental health treatment.

Service journalism, how to grade with hope, search for a good scoop, and appreciate fictional journalism: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

What to do when you’re both excited and question something:

The exclamation point and question mark merged together to form one of the most unique methods of punctuation– but where did it come from? Here’s the very brief history of the interrobang that you never knew you wanted.

The importance of service journalism:

Dow Jones News Fund 2015 Teacher of the Year Mitch Eden delivered a speech at the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando this year– for those who missed it live, the full text is available online. Eden discusses the value of service journalism in student media.

Is our current system of grading students as effective as we hope?

Probably not, according to this article. With so many external factors contributing to the “why” of passing out grades (sports eligibility, deducting points for late work as punishment, etc.) the real purposes behind those grades can easily get diluted, or lost entirely. Is there a balance between being fair, while still giving students hope that what they’re doing is worth it? Fortunately, the author provides some resources on equitable grading practices, so you can make sure you’re not accidentally diminishing any academic aspirations in the process of giving out grades.

Have journalists come to fear America’s most wealthy?

For years, the 1% has been largely shielded from major media scrutiny– but why? There are constant reports on the middle class, the impoverished, and, occasionally, the upper class. But what about Wall Street’s elite? This article takes an in-depth look at what may be causing this lack of coverage.

On an endless search for stories?

Your hunt ends now. Even with the innumerable newsworthy events happening right now, coming up with an original story can be a daunting task. This article from BBC Academy walks you through where to look to find the best new scoops.

Sometimes fake journalism is the more exciting journalism:

It’s no secret that all of us at SNO headquarters enjoy a good fictional journalist, but we will also be the first to admit that journalism-related films and tv series are usually willing to put “entertainment” before “accuracy.” Here’s an article that lists what the latest movies about journalism get wrong (and right) about the lives of fictional reporters.

These things also happened this week:

As the Hunger Games franchise wraps up its final film, let’s reflect on why we’re thankful for the series and its movie adaptations.
Not looking forward to awkward family conversation at Thanksgiving this year? Just listen to Adele.

A week later and the solidarity in Minneapolis is still going strong; with a trending tag on Twitter and a large amount of support from the community, the peaceful protesters aren’t giving up.

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 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?