Student journalists and the Twitterati: Reporting on the spring riot from Kent State

April 26, 2009
Daily Kent Stater photo by Daniel Doherty.

Daily Kent Stater photo by Daniel Doherty.

Here we go again.

It’s springtime in our little college town, a time when intoxicated young men light fires, throw bottles and end up in the stir — 53 per the latest count. On the positive side, Kent State’s student journalists were all over the story that unfolded last night. You really should check it out. Details here.

Our student scribes were on the scene quickly, as they could see the College Street “couch fires” from their offices one block away. Excellent coverage — including these stunning photos — was up on KentNewNet almost in real time. NewsNet Editor Kristine Gill became the primary source for a page-one story in the Akron Beacon Journal and photos for that story were supplied by the Kent Stater’s Daniel Doherty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sponsored blog posts: Debate has returned, and both sides have a point

April 22, 2009

The “new” ToughSledding features posts on topics discussed in my classrooms at Kent State. This one supports a lesson on “conflict of interest” for a class called “Ethics & Issues in Mass Communication.”

Update, 4/23/09, 9:50 p.m. Wall Street Journal focuses on the issue of paid pitchmen in the blogosphere. Seems this debate is about to go mainstream. Could get interesting.

I respect the invisible wall that divides a newsroom operation from the advertising office. Sure, the wall can picture-21be porous at times, but credible mainstream media outlets work hard to ensure that marketing dollars don’t taint the integrity of the news.

Most of the time this policy works well. For example, credible auto writers don’t accept free cars, and trusted fashion writers don’t accept high-priced suits and handbags. To do so is a “conflict of interest” and violates journalism ethics. Why? Because freebies of significant value have he potential to corrupt both writer and message. Read the rest of this entry »


PR, ghostwriting, transparency, and the designated hitter rule — in less than 700 words!

March 5, 2009
I don't wanna hear it!

Earlier this week I wrestled with a handful of social-media purists who could not/would not acknowledge my arguments on ghostwriting and blogging. If you missed it, just scroll down one post.

Nothing I said or will ever say on this issue can change their minds. They’ve covered their ears, as we all sometimes do.

Yes, we all have issues on which we won’t compromise. No matter how reasonable the opponent’s position, we stand firm. And we often completely disregard contrary points of view to protect our own. It’s human nature. Read the rest of this entry »


Transparency and PRSA

November 19, 2008
Jack O'Dwyer

Jack O'Dwyer

Journalist Jack O’Dwyer loves to criticize the Public Relations Society of America. In fact, he’s been so tough on them in recent times that PRSA forbids staff and national officers from talking with him. A letter to members (pdf) presents PRSA’s position on this media relations nightmare.

The standoff with O’Dwyer means little to the average PR person, but it’s important because Jack is the only high-profile critic PRSA has. Sometimes he gets it right, and yesterday’s editorial is one of those times.

The latest bruhaha

Point: O’Dwyer’s opinion piece of 11/18 (see complete text, bottom of this post) calls out PRSA for withholding the picture-1transcripts of its National Assembly meeting held last month in Detroit. O’Dwyer believes the document should be posted for review by PRSA members and made available to news media. Since the Assembly serves as official governing body of PRSA, publishing the proceedings would seem the “transparent” thing to do, and as it turns out, the laws of New York state appear to call for it as well. (Details in the editorial) Read the rest of this entry »