talking student journalism at umass amherst

UMass Collegian panelI climbed into the mental “way-back” machine at UMass-Amherst over the weekend at a reunion of fellow alums who’d spent countless hours tucked away in the windowless Campus Center basement working on the university’s student newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Invited to speak on a panel of alums — along with S.P. Sullivan, award-winning investigative journalist and Larry Bouchie, president of a public relations firm — we talked about our respective career paths, taking chances, and being willing to continually learn and update one’s skills. The intrepid B.J. Roche moderated. Meanwhile, the student editors schooled us as one introduced us to a new app (new to me anyway), Slack.

The afternoon event also included a keynote speech from Boston Herald sports columnist/UMass grad Steve Buckley, a discussion about local newspaper ownership in New England, and a presentation from the current Collegian editors on the publication’s evolution to a largely digital news outlet.

Image credit: Mark Curelop.

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essay: what to tell my students about journalism as it’s under assault

Screenshot 2018-03-19 12.30.28The nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism think tank, the Poynter Institute, recently ran a column I wrote in response to news that reporters covering the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida were being sabotaged online by people posing as journalists on social media with the intent of further eroding the public’s trust in the news media. Given that those charged with gathering news and rooting out the truth are already under assault from those at the very highest levels of the U.S. government, the opening of this new front in the war against the news media is an unwelcome development.

A salient excerpt:

We are in a world where journalists don’t just have to worry about double-checking the information and material they gather via social media. They now have to worry about their identities being stolen and their work actively thwarted by nameless, faceless actors, hell-bent on discrediting journalism and journalists in real time.

Read the entire column here.

Image credit: Poynter Institute.

 

 

media literacy & ‘fake news’ panel: video

The League of Women Voters of the Worcester Area recently posted the video of the late-2017 panel of journalists and news media educators discussing the importance of media literacy and how to combat the scourge of “fake news.”

The 33-minute video above is of the second half of the panel discussion, the academic portion in which I participated as a faculty member at Northeastern University’s Journalism Department. Joining me were fellow panelists Chris Gilbert, Assumption College assistant professor of Communications, and Mary Robb, Andover High School civics and media literacy teacher.

worcester forum on media literacy: be wary of what you read

img_5174I was honored to participate in the League of Women Voters of Worcester forum “Media Literacy and Fake News: Decoding Media in 2017” on Nov. 29.

The two-panel forum included remarks from journalists (from MassLive, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and Worcester Magazine) and academics (from Assumption College, Northeastern University — that would be me, and Andover High School) who urged news consumers to be smart about their media consumption and to read a wide variety of sources.

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MassLive.com’s coverage, “How can you tell if the news story you’re reading is ‘real,'” began this way:

“Identifying fake news is no straightforward task, but a panel of local journalists and academics says there are strategies readers can take to stay accurately informed.”

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Here’s how the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s story, “Communicators on Worcester panel urge critical eye on media in age of ‘fake news,'” started:

“Understanding the ideas and motivation behind the notion of “fake news” is important, but as several panelists pointed out Wednesday night at a League of Women Voters forum, the onus on ferreting out truth in a broadly diversified media landscape is increasingly being put on the consumer.

Image credits: Alban Murtishi of MassLive.

join me in worcester for a discussion about ‘media literacy and fake news’

league of women voters flyer

I am honored to join a panel of media and academic folks as we dive into the meaty subject of “Media Literacy and Fake News” on November 29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Worcester.

I’ll be appearing at the League of Women Voters of the Worcester Area’s “Decoding Media in 2017” forum alongside:

Worcester State University’s Stacey Luster will moderate.

Image credit: League of Women Voters of the Worcester Area.

 

essay: what are the consequences of misogyny?

I went political with my latest column, this time for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Entitled, “What are the consequences of misogyny,” my piece was written in the wake of the president’s tweets which personally attacked the physical appearance of a female cable journalist. This is hardly the first time the president has stooped to this level.

Overall, the column is a plea for honorable people across the political spectrum to hold the president accountable for his misogynistic behavior, and it also expresses a likely unfulfilled hope that there be actual consequences for treating half of the nation’s population like objects with which to play or ridicule.

… I see treatment of women as an issue that transcends party. It is about basic decency. People who respect women and don’t simply offer hollow lip-service to women’s equality, should condemn all sexually harassing and exploitative commentary and actions. If you are a harasser and/or a demeanor of women, you are a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent or if you work for the man. Full. Stop.

Read the full piece here.

springfield ‘republican’ reports on book deal

photoThe Springfield (MA) newspaper, The Republican and its web presence, MassLive, wrote about me signing with Wyatt-MacKenzie to publish Mr. Clark’s Big Band in June 2017:

West Springfield native (and former staff member at The Republican) Meredith O’Brien will be out with her next book, Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears & Jazz in a Middle School Band Room, next year.

Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing has picked up the title for release in June. This is O’Brien’s third book, following her novel, Mortified, and her humor and parenting columns, Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum.