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An Adviser's Worst Nightmare

When professional journalists turn to academics, it's natural they gravitate (or are encouraged/assigned) to advise student media outlets. It's challenging, it's important, it's rewarding & it's dangerous. A warning, this post contains bad language. (You know, the REALLY bad word? Yeah, that one.)

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  1. When I arrived on Longwood University's campus in 2007, I was more than interested to check out our media outlets.  During the interview process, I paid attention to the content, staffing, concerns and problems they faced.  As a tenure-track assistant professor, no one was telling me I had to serve as an adviser, except for me.  After getting my feet wet in the fall semester, I became lead adviser to the campus newspaper, The Rotunda, in the spring of 2008, and eventually joined WMLU-91.3 FM as co-adviser in the fall of 2008.  It's been a wild ride.
  2. Farmville (it was a town before it was a game, but the game is pretty sweet) is a small town tucked away in the Heart of Virginia, but society and life's troubles tend to find a home. From quadruple murder, fires, the unfortunate death of a student, one of those organizations butting heads with student government, hazing (and more hazing), you get the picture. It's just the tip of the iceberg, but it's incredible to reflect on all that's happened in just under four years of advising college media.
  3. Of course, for all the hard stories The Rotunda has covered, it's made them stronger and much, much better.  From a staff of three in 2007/2008 to 25 today, a lot has changed. The same with WMLU as the station is now recognized as a growing, important entity on campus and has won three straight first-place Virginia Association of Broadcasters awards for Outstanding Sports Coverage, and another first-place award for station promotion.
  4. I took time to reflect on all of those accomplishments, pitfalls and trials this week thanks to a story out of Boston.  Whenever your campus newspaper makes the pages of Deadspin, it's NEVER a good thing. And Suffolk University's student staff pulled a doozy. WARNING: Bad language.
  5. When you throw together a paper in the wee small hours of the morning, as both college kids & the pros are apt to do, these mistakes happen as editors use dummies/placeholders on a page.  Of course, these normally inside jokes are caught/adjusted/laughed over and forgotten. But, The Suffolk Journal gang missed that one. And it made waves.
  6. It earned some attention on the paper's Facebook page as students took a turn in pouring gasoline on the fire.
  7. Scroll down on the journal's Facebook page and you'll see the following question posed in response to some local media reports about potential cuts to other campus newspapers, "Suffolk students: How would you feel if the SGA could affect the funding of the Journal, the organization that reports on[sic] it?" It's beyond ironic that less than two months after asking that question, people on campus are now likely asking just how they get printed. The staff was quick to post an editor's note, apologizing profusely and promising to "learn from this experience."  They also Tweeted a 'my bad' to SLI for the insult.
  8. What's going to be lost in all of this is The Suffolk Journal is an award-winning newspaper.  They took home a coveted Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) in both 2010 & 2011; they have also placed in the ACP's Best-In-Show competition for small school newspapers.  They're good and they've got a track record.  In the immediate future, that's all forgotten.
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