Tag Archives: Journalism

Story

Why journalists shouldn’t fear numbers: storytelling with data

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

We live in a digital world. No matter what you do or what profession you’re in, this reality permeates everything around us. In the communications field especially, it has never been more critical to embrace digitization to effectively gather, analyze and disseminate information. Aside from a compelling narrative, finding ways to insert data and help people visualize information is vital.

COM Journalism Professor Maggie Mulvihill

COM Journalism Professor Maggie Mulvihill

It’s no coincidence the Fall 2014 issue of COMtalk (BU’s College of Communication publication for alumni, parents and friends) listed data storytelling as one of three major trends affecting journalism today. Within the issue, many of COM’s professors are featured for their keen efforts in providing students with the tools needed to succeed in a changing field; one of those professors is Maggie Mulvihill. This COM Journalism professor is dedicated to getting students on board with using data not only to enhance their story’s credibility, but also arm them with valuable skills eagerly sought out by employers.

Professor Mulvihill, whose background is in watchdog and investigative reporting, has been using data to inform her stories for over 20 years. She ran a Storytelling with Data workshop at BU this summer, and is currently teaching a class this semester—Data Storytelling. The course focuses on learning how to identify and obtain appropriate data, how to download and extract, clean, analyze and finally bring it to life through data visualization. “No matter what occupation, we need to know how to work with digital information,” says Mulvihill. “All records are being digitized. In three to five years, government information will be streaming instead of static. Journalists have to be able to harness and capture information as it’s streamed and tell stories,” she says.

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Data is important, but when coupled with good journalistic skill, it can be powerful. Especially when analyzing, if you’re asking the right questions, your data can serve to elevate your story in a meaningful way. Although most of us aren’t statisticians or research scientists, as social scientists we’re able to ask the right people to fairly and accurately assist us with data interpretation.

Currently, Mulvihill has a student in her class working on a story with the use of government data. After analyzing this data and obtaining a statistical finding, the question of statistical significance comes into play. Mulvihill asks the question, “Is it statistically significant to be news?” In other words, to be newsworthy, data has to provide information that isn’t already out there and doesn’t serve as an outlier. The student looking at government data consulted with a statistics professor who advised them to get more data so they could look at a broader spectrum of information. In the end, these types of consultations will ensure a statistically sound story.

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Along with journalistic skill, data is always more effective when presented with a human face. “It can’t just be statistics and government records,” says Mulvihill. “It has to have a strong character driving the story so people who read, watch and care about it can identify.” This is why Mulvihill asks her students to choose a character at the beginning of the story development process to focus on throughout.

Mulvihill is also in the process of developing a computational journalism initiative at BU. She says there is a sense of urgency for journalists to move in the direction of telling stories with data, and more and more people studying journalism are learning and integrating computer science into their careers. “There are so many jobs for journalists now with data storytelling skills,” says Mulvihill. “It’s prominent and it’s not just limited to journalism, it’s every profession,” she says. “I love the ability to do stories other people can’t.”

What are your thoughts on incorporating data with journalism? Let us know in the comment section below.

Interested in BU’s College of Communication graduate programs? Visit our website here and you can find out what it takes to earn your MS in Journalism at BU.

 

 

 

International Students

A helping hand for the international students in COM’s Journalism graduate program

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

All Journalism graduate students at BU’s College of Communication are required to take JO721- Journalism Principles/Techniques. Every fall, Professor Christopher Daly teaches a section of JO721 designed for all new international grad students in the Journalism program.

Alongside classes, Prof. Daly does his bit to help these same students acclimate to American culture and the education system. “In a program like journalism, a lot of our assignments depend on cultural awareness. If the students need to tackle topics like the Red Sox, Halloween and Black Friday they need to have a general knowledge of American folkways and society, as they cannot be expected to have that exposure coming from another country” he says.

The American exposure begins early in the semester, when Daly invites students to his home so they can get a first-hand impression of an American household. Daly is also known to bring alumni and other experienced journalists into his classroom to speak to the international students.

The positive influence Daly’s class and efforts have on international students is apparent through the grad students who have been in the program for a few semesters. “My more experienced students come into class and happily and spontaneously testify that they got a lot better over the course of their first year. ” says a proud Daly.

Those grad students who visited Daly’s current students had a lot of advice to offer. Third-semester Journalism student Claire Giangrave told them about how she would ask American students who were better than her to let her read their work. She would look at what they did and imitate it. “The truth is, you have to work harder and better than the others. I made it my goal to compare myself with the best, not just among my peers, but also with great journalists and professors.” she said. She also advised the students to not hesitate to ask for help from fellow students and BU’s amazing faculty. Claire herself moved to Boston from Rome.

Prim Chuwiruch, another third-semester Journalism student from Bangkok, advises new grad students to relax. “ I know that it sounds like the most easiest piece of advice but it’s true. Once you take a breather and get yourself accustomed to everything in this new city, things will fall into place on their own and you’ll look back and wonder why you ever stressed out so much in the first place.”

A couple weeks ago, Melanie Lidman, an alumnus from the University of Maryland, visited Daly’s international class. Lidman now writes for The Times of Israel and the Global Sisters Report. The entire section pepped up when Lidman told stories about her reporting experiences in troubled parts of the world including Egypt and Israel. She also offered some sound advice for those pursuing a career in the journalism industry: “You will make mistakes along the way. It’s a long journey to grow as a writer and move your career forward,” she told the class.

Are you an international student looking to apply to BU? Find out more about the application process here.

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How a COM grad student made the 2014 midterm elections her professional project

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

One of the greatest components to Boston University College of Communication’s Journalism graduate program is the professional project. When I say “greatest,” I don’t mean easy, fun or relaxing.  As with anything great comes hard work, and that is exactly what the professional project showcases. After three semesters worth of classes, sleepless nights, and every ounce of blood, sweat and tears you have finally reached the end. You are now a mere shadow of what you were when you first entered grad school, and your professional project is your opportunity to show everyone else that transformation.

What is a professional project? I will explain. All candidates for the MS in Journalism must submit a professional project in their final semester. Each student arranges for a faculty member to be their adviser for the project. Upon completion, students are expected to endeavor to sell or place their work with a professional news organization.

Third semester Broadcast Journalism student Ashley Davis set out to accomplish one of the most daunting tasks and most impressive professional project to date— The Midterms 2014, a live coverage production of this year’s midterm elections. I shall elaborate.

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Anchor Louise Liu gets ready for The Midterms 2014.

Monday, November 5 at 6 p.m., the night before Election Day, a dress rehearsal took place. About 60 BU students (both grad and undergrad) were involved, including an impressive number of BU COM faculty and staff. Everyone had a job to do. Some were helping in the studios, a handful of students (selected by Ashley after auditioning) were anchors at the National Desk and others were scattered throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even D.C. to act as call-in reporters for the live production.

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Professor Cavalieri helps students with technical operations in the production studio.

Ashley went over every aspect of the entire coverage the night before and explained exactly what needed to be done. After she sent the troops on their way, she remained at COM to get ready for Tuesday, November 4. This was her professional project, and since everything was going live, there wasn’t any room for mistakes, as per usual.

Tuesday, November 4 came quickly. Some people were asked to report to the studios several hours before going live at 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the anchors prepared their cut-ins—pre-made news packages (stories). These packages would air in-between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., mixed in with some live shots, on-cam anchoring and reporters calling in from different headquarters around Massachusetts.

I spent my time on COM’s third floor in Room 321, where I worked with others to help Professor Susan Walker push out live content and numbers for the anchors to live report as votes came pouring in from states across the nation.

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Ashley Davis directs on the set of The Midterms 2014.

Here is a breakdown of The Midterms 2014‘s amazing team and their various roles:

On campus at COM, in Studio East/West:

  1. First Block: Anchors Supriya Muppala and Peter Zampa
  2. Second Block: Anchors Taylor Walker and Justin Shrair
  3. Third Block: Anchors Mikaela Lefrak and Jamie Bologna

During this block, Kate Kahn — BU professor and former Senior News Producer for WHDH-TV (NBC-Boston)— served as the live shot producer, coordinating all the live reporters.  Andre Khatchaturian and Louise Liu— both Broadcast Journalism students at COM— were anchors at the National Desk. Lauren Westberg— Broadcast Journalism grad student— was a live reporter and interviewed Professor Groshek, Professor Carroll and Tom Fiedler—the Dean of COM.

Candidate Headquarters: Students were placed at all of the following locations in order to quickly report polling results back to BU’s College of Communication.

  1. Steve Sisto— MA 6th Congressional District, Seth Moulton Headquarters
  2. Paul Dudley—MA Governor Charlie Baker Headquarters
  3. Ashley Paul— MA Governor Martha Coakley  Headquarters
  4. Christina Erne—The Casino
  5. Hayley Crombleholme—MA Senate Edward Markey Headquarters
  6. Noelia Valero—Washington D.C.
  7. Rachel Mccubbin—NH Senate Scott Brown Headquarters
  8. Nikita Sampath and Rebecca Sananes—NH Senate Jeanne Shaheen Headquarters
  9. Keri McAlpine and Kathlene Gibbs—MA 6th Congressional District, Richard Tisei Headquarters

COM Professors Involved: The following faculty and staff members stayed hours and hours after they should have gone home. Instead, they helped make sure this live-production was nothing less than exceptional. Just one more example of COM’s professors doing all they can to make their students succeed.

  1. R.D. Sahl- Broadcast Journalism Professor
  2. Susan Walker- Broadcast Journalism Professor
  3. Christophor Cavalieri- Film & Television Professor
  4. Jacob Groshek- Emerging Media Studies Professor
  5. John Carroll- Mass Communication Professor
  6. Kate Kahn- COM Professor

The large production team watches live coverage at the National Desk.

The large production team watches live coverage at the National Desk.

Technical Operations Team: Quite possibly the most important part of this production, these students and staff members worked hard to make sure everything in the studio was functioning and the coverage aired without flaw.

  1. Jake Kassen- Technical Operations Manager
  2. Tristen Olly- Media Technician
  3. Scott Lovejoy- Digital Post Production Specialist
  4. Shawn Fallon- Media Technician

Additionally, BU Professor Michelle Johnson coordinated a simulcast on the Boston University News Service‘s website. Professor Anne Donohue coordinated live news updates on WTBU, Boston University’s student-run radio station. Coverage from DC was made possible with the help of journalism faculty member, Elliot Francis, who coordinated student packages from BU’s Study Abroad Washington Program.

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Anchors get ready at the National Desk.

The Midterms 2014 was an immense success. Ashley Davis could not have done a better job handling such a high-stress situation, nor could she have selected a better team. Ashley never lost her composure, always made time to answer questions and kept very calm throughout the entire evening. She had so much responsibility lying squarely on her shoulders, but yielded excellent results.

Watching Ashley’s professional project come to life makes us first semester grad students realize that this time next year, a similar task is awaiting us. Although it was a little intimidating, I now feel inspired to find a professional project in which I can showcase all I have learned throughout grad school. No other institution would provide the resources, the studios and opportunities to create something so impressive and professional. Now, not only does Ashley have a remarkable production to add to her resume, but she also made history happen, right there on the third floor of COM.

Ashley Davis’ final professional project is currently being edited. Check back here to view the final publication and follow her on Twitter @ashley_m_davis to see what else she is up to. 

On Wednesday, December 10 from 5-7 p.m. in Room 209, the College of Communication’s Department of Journalism is hosting the Journalism Graduate Showcase. The event will feature journalism graduate students presenting excerpts of their professional projects. Seniors, graduate students and faculty members are all invited. Adult beverages will be served, so please bring your ID. 

Interested in one of BU College of Communication’s graduate programs? Tell us which one and why in the comments section below. You can find out more information on our website, so be sure to check it out here

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“Get buzzed”: A look inside Boston University’s Lifestyle Magazine

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

This past week, I got out of the grad school bubble and spoke with some very knowledgeable undergrads about their experience working for the The Buzz, Boston University’s lifestyle magazine. The hard-copy magazine is published every fall and spring semester, but their online magazine publishes a variety of content on a weekly basis. The magazine’s sections include a little something for everyone – campus, city, arts, fashion, music, food, sports and travel. The site also features “The Weekly Buzz”, a video component showcasing a range of different lifestyle topics, from BU artists to features on the Assembly Row shops in Somerville.

With a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, The Buzz’s staff is large, ranging from writers to photographers to copy-editing and advertising. Alison Ortiz, a freshman in the process of transitioning over to COM’s Broadcast Journalism program, holds three different positions with the magazine. She is responsible for The Buzz‘s Instagram account, publishing for events and broadcast. Alison says she heard about The Buzz through a campus SPLASH event, where students are exposed to everything from BU’s  cultural clubs to dance groups, from academic associations to religious life.

Katie Tamola, a Journalism graduate student, writes for The Buzz‘s campus section.  “My experience has been nothing but positive and my editor has been amazing,” says Katie. “As somebody who didn’t go here for undergrad it’s ironic I covered campus. The Buzz has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it’s daunting to go up to someone and ask them about their noncommittal sex habits, for example. It’s been so much fun and they’ve given me such great opportunities. I’m so grateful. It helped me be a better writer and gave me the confidence to write for other publications as well.” Katie also commends The Buzz for being hospitable to new ideas, saying, “If you work for campus but want to do something else, they are open to that.”

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“I’ve made filming and editing my life and got really involved,” says Alison. The magazine can be flexible to your commitment level, however, and doesn’t require you to take on more roles than you can handle. “It’s very relaxed,” she says. “You don’t have to do a million different things, you make it as much as you want it to be. They don’t restrict you or hold you back either.”

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Sarah Wu, a sophomore majoring in Journalism at BU, writes for three sections of The Buzz – campus, fashion and food. She also heard about the magazine at a SPLASH event and began attending meetings, initially starting with food and then taking on other sections. Sarah says for her, the process has been a lot of deadline juggling depending on which section is going to be published online, or what piece she is working on for the print magazine.

“It depends where we are in the cycle,” she says. “There have been times when I’m writing one article for each section. For campus, I write one monthly, for events, if something comes up like fashion, they ask can you go cover this, and for food it’s generally dining hall stuff or campus food trucks.” When asked about what she’s learned from working with The Buzz, Sarah cites time management and the opportunity to improve her writing skills. “You’ve got to learn to be on your toes,” she says. “Since I’m writing for three sections I always have deadlines and you learn to manage your time.” “The more you write the better you get,” she adds. “Being able to receive feedback from the editor is very constructive.”

387117_10151201878281163_320955595_nGianna Fischer, a sophomore PR student, manages all of The Buzz’s social media. While she writes for other organizations on campus, she wanted to focus on the business side of things as well, saying publishing is an industry often misunderstood in terms of its business orientation. “So far it’s been a really good experience and a lot more organized than other organizations I’ve worked with in the past.” Social media falls outside of The Buzz’s three main publishing components, to include publisher, events and PR/advertising. Events primarily work on the fall and spring release parties, advertising and PR build the brands and funds for print, while social media cultivates the magazine’s online presence.

The Buzz’s publishing group is really structured and keeps people directed,” says Gianna. “It’s great to be a part of something with clear cut goals and to see strong leadership.” On working the social media side of things, she comments, “It’s a real world application that I wouldn’t have at the professional level otherwise. We’re talking to actual clients. COM is great because they have AdLab and PRLab, but being able to do that before you get into those classes is nice,” she says.

386337_10151201878446163_1187353376_nI asked all three undergrads what they thought of grad student involvement at The Buzz, and they all enthusiastically supported it. “The Buzz is the type of organization that likes to push limits and be the best. Grad students would put us a step above,” says Gianna. “At the start of the semester we have an all staff meeting the first month. They tell you what The Buzz is about, give you contact information and you talk to editors. If you want to join now you can talk to a particular section. They’re very open to having new writers,” says Sarah.

On Nov. 18, The Buzz Fall 2014 print issue will launch, and copies will be available at the George Sherman Union on campus. There is also a launch party called “Refined 2014″ on Nov. 20 in the Burke Club Room at the Agganis Arena. The party is intended to promote the issue while also showcasing student talent that may have been featured in either the print or online edition. Refreshments, raffles, music and more will be provided.

Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University
Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University

If you are interested in joining The Buzz, you can email Ashli and Meredith (Editors-in-Chief) at the.bu.buzz@gmail.com, or contact a specific section (emails below). Have you written for The Buzz? Tell us what your experience was like.

Editorial:

Campus: campus.bu.buzz@gmail.com
City: city.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Arts & Entertainment: culture.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Music: music.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Fashion: fashion.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Food: food.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Travel: travel.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Sports: sports.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Publishing: publish.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Photography Director:  photo.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Arts: Illustrators and Graphic Designers:  art.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Broadcast: broadcast.bu.buzz@gmail.com

If you want to learn more about what graduate programs here at Boston University’s College of Communication have to offer,  please ask any questions below and visit our website.

 

 

 

 

Behind the scenes: Good Morning, BU

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

On Thursday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn when I knew my 11 a.m. lecture wasn’t for another five hours. But, I had a special assignment for that Thursday morning. I had to rush to get to campus by 8:30 a.m. What on earth would compel me to sacrifice such precious hours of sleep?

Good Morning, BU. Enough said.

Good Morning, BU (GMBU) is Boston University’s own LIVE, weekly morning show. GMBU brings you the latest in news from around BU, Boston, and from around the world.

On that early Thursday morning, I joined GMBU’s student-led team to find out exactly what goes into this weekly butv10 production. Immediately, I knew this was the real deal. Move over, “Good Morning America”, BU is live, awake, and ready to inform…from sports to city news, celebrity gossip, you name it, GMBU has you covered.

Before I go any further, let’s back up to the night before. That’s right… on Wednesday evenings, students meet to put up the set, so they can promptly go live at 10 a.m. the next morning. During this time, the production team floods into the College of Communication’s (COM) labs to clip trending national and local news and create storyboards.

The following morning, everyone is back at COM by 8:30 a.m. Edit labs on the third floor are filled with students practicing lines, drafting scripts and testing studio equipment. It’s a lot of prep work with minimum time before heading into the studio for rehearsal at 9 a.m.

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Alex Hirsch, a first semester Journalism grad student focusing in Sports Broadcast, helps write the script and edit voice-overs for sports’ anchors Andre Khatchaturian and Mariah Kennedy (both third semester Journalism students focusing in Broadcast). Hirsch showed me how to run the teleprompter during GMBU’s sports segment, which to my surprise was a lot more complex than expected. The geek in me was quite impressed with the mechanics.

From 9 to around 9:45 a.m., is rehearsal time. Everyone’s running around, trying to get last minute things done before going live. Everything has to be perfect. No room for excuses. At this point, it’s clear, tensions are running high.

At exactly 10 a.m., Good Morning, BU finally goes on-air. I was very impressed with what I saw. Everything was so professional, so well executed, so well done that I felt as though I was watching a national news production.  Khatchaturian really brought it home with the sports commentary and hosts Ashley Davis (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’15) and Paul Dudley (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’16) were absolutely professional, on point and energetic. Everyone worked together as a great team to deliver the news.

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By 10:30 a.m., it’s all over.

But, before anyone leaves, the production team gets together to do a quick post-production meeting. Usually Professor Cavalieri (butv10 faculty advisor) gives everyone a run-down of how the show went and what changes need to be made for next week’s production.

During set cleanup, I got a chance to quickly speak with Ashley Davis, one of the executive producers and hosts, about her take on the production of GMBU. “Besides three returners, everyone for the most part is new. There are a lot of first timers,” she says. “Production is pretty hectic and can get extreme, but it’s still a very page-one, basis teaching in which we have to show everyone how to do things. But what’s great about this year’s team is that everyone’s a quick learner, so that helps get the show progressing. We’ve definitely improved since we first started!”

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GMBU is just another example of all the amazing opportunities available to students at BU’s College of Communication. It’s a huge commitment with high demands and expectations, but the rewards are absolutely priceless, especially for those interested in a career in broadcast. It’s a learning experience no textbook or lecture can teach, but every journalist should know.

I say it over and over again, but I cannot stress it enough– you have to really want to be here. GMBU is a fine example of students showing their commitment and drive to becoming successful in a highly-competitive industry.

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Check out GMBU’s Facebook and Twitter to see more clips and pictures from their set. Don’t forget to catch Good Morning, BU LIVE every Thursday at 11am. If you’re interested in joining GMBU’s team, email one of the show’s producers:

Ashley Davis – adavis17@bu.edu
Courtney Sonn - csonn@bu.edu 
Hayley Gershon - hgershon@bu.edu 

Want to learn more about the graduate programs at Boston University’s College of Communication? Ask us your questions in the comments section below and visit our site.