SOC Journo Update

Unique program helps students navigate political journalism

For the first time, the Politico Journalism Institute – the successful partnership between SOC, Politico and the Maynard Institute – hosted an all-day, winter workshop in addition to the popular two-week summer program. The Institute trains young journalists how to cover politics and public policy. AU President Sylvia Burwell made opening remarks.

About 100 students and young professionals attended to hear featured speakers such as Kristen Welker (above, right) of NBC News and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post. Many of the 20-plus presenters shared their own varied paths to success. Kudos to SOC Professor Lynne Perri, one of the masterminds behind PJI. Follow graduate student Marisa Iati's #PJI2018 hashtag for details.

Grad students report on local midterm races

SOC’s graduate journalism students spent Election Day and night reporting on the region’s midterm races.

Five of the students contributed to The Washington Post election coverage that included advance stories on the area’s various races.

Others students attended election night “watch” parties in Virginia, Maryland and the District. The students interviewed supporters at the parties for Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, for Virginia 10th District House Barbara Comstock and her Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton, for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, as well as the D.C. Council at-large race between Elissa Silverman and Dionne Reeder.

“Covering the Tim Kaine event was incredible. I’ve never covered anything with that kind of energy and excitement before,” said Taylor Potter, a graduate student from Louisiana.

Keep reading.

Journalism programs powered by high-profile adjuncts

American University School of Communication (AU SOC) has a slate of new and returning high-profile adjunct professors this fall. SOC continues to attract top working professionals who bring the newsroom to the classroom on campus. They join a strong stable of top adjuncts from places such as Bloomberg BNA, The Washington Post and NBC4.

Keep reading.

SOC journalism division made a statement on White House suspension of press credentials

From Nov. 8: "The president of the United States suspended the media credentials of CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who in a heated exchange at a White House news conference Wednesday did what journalists do: He questioned an authority figure about public statements about policy issues. A free and independent press is essential to democracy. We view this action by the White House as a violation of the free press clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We condemn this restriction on a journalist questioning those in power."

(Acosta's pass was later re-established.)

Investigative Spotlight

Here at SOC, we’ve been teaching investigative journalism for more than a decade, with an investigative track for graduate students since 2013; home to the Investigative Reporting Workshop since 2008; and the only university to have a Frontline production unit embedded in the school.

In honor of our 10+ year commitment to investigative journalism, we'll be featuring investigative journalists and their work. Do you have an AU SOC investigative journalist to recommend? Get in touch

Shifting focus from investigative to community reporting

Not too long into his new job at the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, Jerrel Floyd found himself covering a story that made him laugh.

The story was an Olympics-style event held by a few local retirement communities, where the residents engaged in competitions such as a walking race, golf croquet and a spelling bee. It wasn’t a huge, groundbreaking story, but it put a smile on Floyd’s face.

“It was just a really fun story that made me laugh, which can be rare sometimes,” he said. It is certainly a change from his reporting fellowship for ProPublica Illinois where he worked after receiving his master's in journalism and public affairs from SOC in 2017.

At ProPublica, he worked on the Documenting Hate project, which looks to chronicle hate crimes and bias across the U.S. Floyd traveled to abandoned African-American cemeteries to tell the stories behind them.

Floyd decided to come to American for his master’s degree because his undergraduate college did not have a journalism program. When he came across American’s program in his junior year, he loved what he saw.

“After talking with other professors about it I knew I had to apply,” Floyd said. “I also knew that the year I attended would be the year of the presidential election, so I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to be in D.C. while I got my degree.”

While at American, Floyd was able to hone his journalism skills in the investigative reporting classes, and he said working with the Investigative Reporting Workshop taught him many of the skills he needed while at ProPublica Illinois. He also had the opportunity to work with Frontline and The Washington Post, which he said helped him hone his data skills.

Keep reading.

Broadcast students experiment with Facebook for live shots

Professor Terry Bryant led his Advanced TV Reporting class in experimenting with live shots from the field using Facebook Live. His students reported from Kay Spiritual Life Center, live, covering the vigil being held for the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. Reporter Katrina Kincade gave a recap of the vigil on air then tossed to student reactions to the shooting.

Watching, listening: All part of the journalistic process

Learning happens all the time between students and mentors, often in ways that are invisible to the mentor. IRW Managing Editor Lynne Perri shares some of the skills students pick up when they're paired with staff at IRW, PBS FRONTLINE or The Washington Post through our fellowships and partnerships. 

Keep reading.

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Journalism Division Director Amy Eisman features work by SOC alumni and current journalism students on a Brag Board outside her office.

Shout Outs

  • Prof. Sherri Williams was a featured panelist at the University of South Carolina's Equity Summit 2018: Conversations on Race and Reconciliation. She spoke about the Black on Campus journalism project for which she was the co-director. Sherri also spoke with NBC about the implications of Trump's disrespectful actions toward black women journalists.
  • Prof. Margot Susca appeared on RT to talk about how streaming services, corporate jockeying for profits and consolidation are impacting content creation for film and TV.
  • Trey Yingst (SOC, BA '16), a foreign correspondent for Fox News, was named to Forbes' 2019 30 Under 30 in media list, which identifies those who are defining and driving the world of news and content.
  • Jordan-Marie Smith (SOC, BA '15) just became an Associate Producer at The Washington Post, helping to make a daily news podcast.

Read, Watch, Listen

SOC Journo Update is a publication of the Journalism Division, from American University's School of Communication. Read more about storytelling in the digital age and see our faculty.
Copyright © 2018 AU School of Communication, Journalism Div, All rights reserved.

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