Diversity & Inclusion in College Media

From September 30 to October 1 I attended the College Media Summit on Diversity & Inclusion at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

I went as a small delegation from my campus newspaper. We made the 4.5 hour drive down from Washington to attend workshops and to listen to speakers about what college media can do to be more diverse and inclusive and to better represent the people we serve.

It was a very interesting event and I’m glad that I was able to be there. Below I have included the video I made during the event. Please check it out and leave a like and a comment if you enjoyed it or want to know more about this awesome event.

#CMADiversity

 

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Instagram is broken: Hashtags not working, troubling smaller accounts

UPDATE 6:34 pm: The issue has finally been fixed, although Instagram hasn’t said a word.

Many users have noticed that over the past 48 hours hashtags have not been working properly on the widely-popular photo-sharing app Instagram. That’s right: Instagram hashtags are not working.

This may sound like a small issue, but hashtags are the source of pushing content to potential viewers on the app. Without a working hashtag system, many smaller accounts that rely on hashtags to get likes and traffic to their profile have seen a significant decline.

For myself, my photos that normally get 40-50 likes on a given day have been getting 10-20 likes and only from my followers. This is sad because the photos that I have been posting over the past 24 hours are some of my best that I really wanted people to see and share.

Now, I have a profile that’s almost dead. No traffic, no new likes, no new followers. Only the larger accounts with thousands or millions of followers haven’t noticed this and the issue has escaped the mainstream media.

Instagram itself hasn’t even acknowledged the issue, leaving its users in the dark about what’s happening and when it might be resolved. As a result, users have taken to other social media such as Twitter, using the hashtag #Instagramdown to voice their frustration.

This isn’t the way social media is supposed to work. It’s supposed to be a place to share content and inspire others to create new content.

So now I give a plea to Instagram for the thousands of frustrated Instagram users who have taken to Twitter and Facebook: FIX THE HASHTAGS AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE ISSUE.

Below: Instagram users have taken to Twitter:

https://storify.com/chasecharaba/instagram-s-hashtags-not-working

We’re Going to Los Angeles!

That’s right! My newspaper is going to California for the Associated Collegiate Press’s MidWinter National College Journalism Convention next month.

What does that mean? It means I’ll get to enjoy L.A. for a few days, further my 21st century journalism skills, meet journalists from across the country, and have the opportunity to showcase our news website in the Best of Show competition.

I’m pretty excited. My idea is to work hard to make sure that the website is the best that it can be and to prepare myself for some vlogging for YouTube. I mean, how can you go to L.A. and not vlog?

It’s still a month out, but I’m that excited.

My week in review

I apologize for my absence. It’s been an eventful week and I have also had a case of not wanting to post anything. I’ll just recap the last few days before I start writing frequently again.

Saturday, March 21

Saturday was the Washington Journalism Education Association state convention and write-off competition. Luckily for my newspaper staff the convention was held at one of the other high schools in my school district this year, so we were able to drive ourselves and sleep in a bit compared to last year. Last year it was held in Shoreline, Washington which is the town directly north of Seattle. Talk about traffic.

When I arrived it was raining extremely hard, which wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t for the fact that I was carrying about 200 newspapers for two blocks. I was one of the first to arrive (I think only five other schools were there before me) and I set up my staff’s table and newspaper display.

Then I attended my write-off competition for news writing. In 70 minutes I was able to write a 400 word article on the SBA test, which was our required prompt. I was awarded an Honorable Mention, which is the same award I received last year, despite my article being much much better than before.

The JagWire staff members that participated in the WJEA state convention.
The JagWire staff members that participated in the WJEA state convention.

Eye troubles

I’ve had glasses since I was in fourth grade. I’ve been wearing contacts since I was in seventh grade. Yet, for some reason, I have been getting eye infections for the past year. I’m going to see my eye doctor tomorrow (Friday) to get some special eye drops for my left eye just like the last time this happened.

Senior photos!

My senior photos came in last week, which is very exciting. That’s all I have to say about that.

One of my senior photos, taken at University of Washington - Tacoma.
One of my senior photos, taken at University of Washington – Tacoma.

JagWire updates

I started work on my LAST EVER edition of JagWire last week. The issue doesn’t come until May, but I’m already getting sad about it. JagWire has been my life for three years and now its all coming to an end.

We are going out with a bang by presenting a topic that is rarely touched on by schools: sex-trafficking. It should be a really good issue when it comes out.

Since when am I popular?

It’s been another stressful week, but a very eventful one too. Early this week I received a letter rejecting me as WJEA Journalist of the Year. After receiving that letter I thought that it would be a bad week. I was mistaken.

On Thursday I was announced as one of my school’s “Outstanding 20” seniors that are chosen every year. This is one of the highest honors we can receive because there is no valedictorian or the like. It isn’t just about grades either. It’s about academics, what classes are being taken, what extracurricular we are involved in, and what service we have done for the community. I am very honored to be a part of this extraordinary group of individuals, as strange and different as we may be.

Also on Thursday I found out that I was elected into the Senior Hall of Fame for the yearbook. Me, of all people. I knew that I had been nominated for a few categories, but I never thought that I would make it onto the ballot or be voted into the Hall of Fame. I was chosen for “Most Persistent.”

Today I learned that I am a member of the Honor Roll and I got a fancy little certificate for it.

Now, I look towards tomorrow. The WJEA state journalism convention. I will compete in the News Writing category, where we have to write a news article in 70 minutes based on a presentation we watch that follows correct AP style. I will also listen to key note speakers and attend classes where I can better my skills as a journalist and an editor.

Rejection

I tried my best and submitted a lengthy portfolio of my work, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. I received a letter in the mail today from Washington Journalism Education Association formally rejecting my application for Journalist of the Year.

Continue reading “Rejection”

Scholastic Journalism Week

Its Scholastic Journalism Week (Feb. 22 – Feb. 28). I just want to take a moment to recognize the hard work of my newsmagazine staff and of other high school newspapers across the United States. Adults and lawmakers may look down upon us and view us as children incapable of making the right decisions, but we are professionals in the making.

Use this week to spread knowledge and love of the First Amendment and of the freedom of the press. Fight back against your prior reviews (peacefully, please) and help campaign for shield laws in your state legislature. Let them know that you will not have your voice silenced.

Hypocrites: why prior review is journalism hell

There is nothing as devastating to a high school journalist as seeing the quality work of other high school newspapers on tough topics like sex, drugs, self-harm, and porn that you can’t do. By quality work, I mean in-depth articles on real students and their experiences and well-placed photographs and graphics that bring the issue the correct light to get the point across. I am amazed by the gory photographs and the emotional stories other schools do.

JagWire used to have issues like that. It has published its share of sex issues, drug issues, and pornography issues, which may have ventured into questionable territory. Each time, however, the point came across clearly to those willing to see it: these issues are not as one sided as schools want you to believe.

We were known as a racy and edgy publication across the nation. We won countless awards, including the 2006 NSPA Pacemaker Award, the Pulitzer Prize for high school journalists. We were respected and the hard issues were taken to new levels unseen by high school students. We were mature on these issues.

That all changed in 2008, when JagWire’s infamous edition on oral sex was released and subsequently sued by the students who were interviewed. This issue cost JagWire its credibility to this day, and imposed tight restrictions on student work across the school district.

The cover of JagWire 8.5.
The cover of JagWire 8.5.

Students and staff were outraged by the content of the issue. They, for the most part, couldn’t get past the images and graphics on the cover and in the middle of the issue. Honestly, I don’t think the images were that bad, since more graphic displays are allowed on daytime television.

The topic was good. It revealed that high percentages of high schools were engaged in oral sex, including students at my school. The stories were of the utmost quality, but the student interviews were not. Four students sued because the issue revealed that they had oral sex and sex. They had AGREED to be interviewed and willingly gave up the information. Now, the staff at that time should have offered anonymity to these students and then had them review what they had said about the issue. They didn’t. That was the only falling point of the issue.

We ended up winning the case, which is well documented in national student journalism archives, because the jury decided that because we were an open forum and no adult input was imposed, we were not liable.

The district should have stood behind the publication after the trial, but instead it punished the entire school district. The open forum policy that had existed for many decades was gone in an instant. To this day, every newspaper, yearbook, school play, assembly, poster, and art display must be reviewed and approved by the school administration.

This prior review policy is a violation of our rights of free speech. Even more important, it prevents us from  publishing the quality work and controversial topics of the old days, for the most part.

This is where I get to the district being hypocritical.

This year and for the last two years, former administrators and current school staff members have expressed that they miss the “edginess” of the old days. We primarily were publishing issues on video games and comic books and intelligence and nutrition, but nothing that really stood out. As a result, we stopped winning awards. Every wants to see the old paper return, but we just turn around and tell them “then stop censoring us.”

Every time we try to bring back the edginess, we are censored. In 2009 we want to cover the fact that we are being censored. The entire issue got SEIZED by the school district and never returned, resulting in a loss of ad revenue. In 2010 we wanted to cover the JagWire trial. Censored. In 2013 we did an issue on homophobic bullying. It wasn’t as good as it could have been because the school was worried it could “hurt someone.” In 2014 we did an issue on pornography. All student quotes were forced to be removed, even though we had their written consent this time and audio recordings, and all photographs were prohibited, resulting in the lamest JagWire cover ever.

If they really want to see us do good again, they need to stop censoring us completely. We may be high schoolers, but we know what is right and what is wrong.

This year, since I’ve been Co-Editor-in-Chief of JagWire, we have seen a bit of a rollback on prior review. Our website is only being reviewed by our adviser, not the administration, and our principal has not censored us yet on our issues on veteran mistreatment in the United States and on cancer. But, the policy still exists and it may get in the way of our next two issues, in which we shall attempt to focus editions on self-harm and sex-trafficking.

Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of prior review is self-censorship. We often throw out ideas or articles because we are afraid it will be censored. This shouldn’t be a thing, and this year, we are challenging the school. We want to show them that doing hard topics PROPERLY will result in edgy issues and no lawsuits.

Self-harm

Is doing an issue of a high school newsmagazine on self-harm bad? Is it such a terrible and unmoral thing to do?

I think that doing this topic is a chance for JagWire to reclaim its place as an edgy publication, something everyone at my school seemed to take great pride in until the fiasco in 2008. Unfortunately, because of the possible issues with the idea and the issue getting past prior review policies, we have to speak with the administration and see if we are ALLOWED to do this topic.

Plus, self-censorship sucks. I’m stopping this before it becomes an angry rant. I’ll save that for another time.

How my views on journalism have changed

Since joining the staff of the JagWire newsmagazine in 2012, I have seen everything that a journalist could see while in high school. I have seen articles get censored by the administration, seen an angry mob of students barge into our newsroom over an opinion article we published, and I’ve also seen what it is like to have success.

During my three years of being on staff, I have also gained valuable skills. I have become an expert at using Adobe In Design and I am experienced with general PhotoShop skills. I have learned how to manage a website through WordPress and SNO’s Sno Flex platform. I have learned how to write according to AP style guidelines and I have learned how to create appealing graphics.

I have grown in more ways than just in skill. My perception on what journalism is and how it should be organized has evolved from my previous two years on the paper.

I used to think that journalism, true journalism anyway, had to be completely serious and focused in on the facts. I preferred newspapers to newsmagazines and I favored the traditional news, sports, and opinion sections. Everything else was just an attempt at becoming a teen magazine.

I wanted JagWire to reestablish credibility as a straight-forward news service, something that was lost in 2008, and not a pop culture and entertainment driven machine that appeals to the majority of snobby suburbia. I liked traditional fonts like Times New Roman and Franklin Gothic, and I preferred big headlines and large articles.

Now, I have learned that journalism is about telling a story, no matter the way, shape, or form. I have grown to love newsmagazine covers and FOCUS sections. I find entertainment to be a valid form of journalism, if not the future of journalism itself.

Above all, I have learned that 21st century journalism isn’t about following a traditional in-print guideline. To survive in this new world, journalism programs have to embrace the technologies that are available.

A website needs to coincide with a print edition. They should feed off each other. Social media should be used to get the news out there immediately, and to drive readers to look at your print edition or website.

Newspapers and newsmagazines aren’t responsible for only print articles anymore. I have learned that important stories need good photographs and graphics to bring the reader in. Online articles should have accompanying videos and info-graphics, or podcasts.

I am glad that I have been able to bring this change into the JagWire program. Our print edition features the strongest visual aids the publication has seen in years, we have a website for the first time since 2008, and our social media presence is growing. Our Facebook page has gained likes by the week and our Twitter account, which I created in August, has already surpassed the 100 followers mark and is still climbing week by week.

Journalism is changing, and if newspaper staffs choose to not get on board with the 21st century, they will perish.