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SOC Journo Update

Investigate. Innovate. Inform.
Now is the time. SOC is the place.

From Pandemic to Politics

and everything in between

The year 2020 has been challenging — the pandemic, a raw political season, frightening weather and a societal reckoning over systemic racism.

#AUJournalism spent some of Spring semester, and now Fall, online. We’ve kept standards, experiences and publication high. Faculty worked on books, students produced newscasts from their living rooms, people started jobs and alums covered everything from Beirut, to politics, to COVID-19. 

Read on to see what we've been up to over the last several months.

Virtual boot camp for new journalism grads

This fall we welcomed 18 new graduate journalism students into the Journalism & Public Affairs graduate program, including new fellows for the Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity and the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Students spent full days for three weeks online and in the field polishing their skills in journalism ethics, basic reporting and writing and multimedia production.

Prof. Williams launches student journalism partnership with The Nation, again

Prof. Sherri Williams has once again partnered with The Nation, featuring stories written by students in her Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting class. The most recent partnership, Vision 2020: Election Stories from the Next Generation, launched Sept. 9. The magazine is publishing stories in September and October, leading up to the election. There were also two writers from Syracuse University and the University of Kansas.

Read Williams' essay about the project.
Read all the stories from Vision 2020.

Chandelis Duster of CNN joins the incoming graduate journalism class for a virtual discussion of how to succeed in their program this year at SOC.
 

Depending on alums

Naturally, when times call for creativity, we turn to our alumni to offer current students practical advice, compelling perspectives and lived experiences.

Recently, we invited three to speak to the Community News Reporting class in 15-minute lightning rounds:

  • Polson Kanneth, CNN State of the Union: Localizing Election Coverage
  • Heather Mongilio, Capital Gazette: Tips & Tricks for Hyperlocal News Coverage
  • Megan Cloherty, WTOP: Covering Breaking News
An earlier panel during Boot Camp included:
  • Chandelis Duster, CNN
  • Rae Daniel, KSHB-TV
  • Brandon Benavides, NBC-Washington
  • Moriah Balingit, Washington Post

IRW fellow, interns, track coronavirus cases in partnership with The Post

The responsibility for tracking the rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths is on state and local health departments. In order to better understand the breadth of the novel coronavirus across the country and its depth in individual communities, The Washington Post has been tracking all cases and deaths from the county level up. 

But not all health departments are able to share — or have chosen not to share — their data directly with the Post. That’s where recent IRW Fellow Austin R. Ramsey and other interns, fellows and student journalists, and our Post partnership, came in, this past spring and summer. The team included those graduate students in our spring Washington Post practicum led by IRW Senior Editor and Post reporter John Sullivan. 

There are about eight states Ramsey and others identified that require them to locate and input the county-level data themselves. Then, Ramsey helped train IRW summer interns to do the same.

Ramsey said sometimes that’s as simple as visiting a state health department's website for aggregate data. In other cases, it can be as complicated as scouring the internet for local news stories to determine where deaths have occurred. 

Those doing data entry have determined when these state or county health departments update their information, and each day, they wait for the updates so The Post’s compilation will be as current as possible.

See IRW's resources for reporting on coronavirus.

Post reporting fellow covers Md.'s response to coronavirus in Latino communities

Lola Fadulu (SOC, MA '21) pitched and subsequently reported on Maryland's coronavirus response in Latino communities in Montgomery County, Maryland, as part of her reporting fellowship at the Washington Post. Fadulu's work was a well-written look that earned the display spot on the Post's Metro section both in print and online.

Read the full story in the Post.

Prof. Perri wins 2020 SOC Inclusive Excellence Award for work with Politico Journalism Institute

Journalist-in-Residence Lynne Perri, a professor and managing editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop, is the recipient of the 2020 SOC Inclusive Excellence Award, recognizing one faculty and one staff member for going above and beyond their regular responsibilities to promote diversity, inclusion and equity

Perri has been promoting diversity and inclusion efforts at SOC for a number of years. Formerly co-chair of the SOC Diversity Committee, Lynne co-founded and oversees SOC’s collaboration with the Politico Journalism Institute (PJI), an intensive 10-day program that recruits primarily diverse students and young professionals and offers hands-on training for those interested in being a part of the largest politics- and policy-focused newsroom in America and beyond.

AU and the Maynard Institute have partnered with PJI since its inception. Now in its seventh year, some participants have already moved into jobs in the field and related work, a tremendous pipeline for the next generation.

Keep reading.

2020 Student Journalism Awards and Honors announced

Kimberly Cataudella (SOC, BA '20) was named the recipient of the 2020 Rodger Streitmatter Journalism Award for Excellence for her outstanding scholarship and dedication to the field of journalism. (Cataudella was a senior who graduated this past spring and has now returned as a journalism graduate student.)  

In addition, 13 students were inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA) national honor society, which recognizes academic distinction in journalism and mass communication. It is open to high-achieving juniors and seniors in those fields. 

Cataudella is the fourth recipient of the Streitmatter Award for Excellence, established in 2017 to pay tribute to Rodger Streitmatter, the popular SOC professor and scholar, former newspaper reporter and alumnus. The award was created by his husband, Thomas B. Grooms, to recognize and encourage undergraduate students pursuing careers in journalism. It includes a $2,000 prize, a certificate and the winner’s name engraved on a trophy that will be displayed at SOC. Cataudella will also be honored at a reception in the fall.

Keep reading.

Grad student receives SOC-White House Correspondents' Association Investigative Journalism Award

Alexandra Ellerbeck (SOC, MA '20) earned the 2020 AU SOC White House Correspondents’ Investigative Journalism scholarship, a $5,000 award, earlier this year.

The award, launched in 2019, is given to an undergraduate or graduate student in journalism at SOC who shows promise in the field of investigative journalism. The funding comes equally from the WHCA and AU.

Keep reading.

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

Faculty Updates

Recent Alumni Updates

Other Updates

  • CBS News president Susan Zirinsky will receive the National Press Club's most esteemed prize, the Fourth Estate Award, at a gala in her honor on Nov. 18. Zirinsky, a graduate of AU SOC, is the 48th recipient of the award, which recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field.
  • The NABJ/NAHJ conference was virtual this August. SOC Journalism and other departments at AU covered registration for about 18 student attendees.
  • IRW co-published a Washington Post investigation into the use of a police tactic to stop fleeing cars — a maneuver that has led to at least 30 deaths and hundreds of injuries since 2016. IRW Senior Editor and Post reporter John Sullivan co-wrote the story "Deadly Force Behind the Wheel" with contributing reporting and research from former IRW interns Ana Chacin, now at El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald, and Justine Coleman, now at The Hill.

Spring 2020 Updates

  • Prof. Sherri Williams scholarly journal article The Black Digital Syllabus Movement: The Fusion of Academia, Activism and Arts was just published in the Howard Journal of Communication. It explores how Black educators tapped into important recent arts and social justice moments and created syllabi to offer context.
  • Prof. Terry Bryant's graduate broadcast class produced a second newscast while completely remote. The show explored how the student reporters are coping with the virus. One student shared her first-person account about recuperating from Covid-19.
  • Emily Hayes (SOC, MA '20) was selected for an AU-Pulitzer Center International Reporting Fellowship. Her research focuses on rural depopulation and economic migration in Europe and Japan. 
  • Kelly Kimball (SOC, MA '20) wrote an article for Prof. Chris Halsne's capstone class about D.C.'s drag community going virtual during coronavirus. It was then published on DCist and NPR interviewed Kimball afterward.
  • Yousef Alshammari (SOC, MA '20) wrote an article for Prof. Sherri William's class on the failure of the US Census to officially recognize people of Middle Eastern and North African descent. It was then published by Al Jazeera.
  • Elise Dean (SOC, MA '20) was featured by the National Press Club Journalism Institute in an ongoing series featuring 2020 grads.
  • Petruce Jean-Charles (SOC, MA '20) published a piece in USA TODAY about how the LGBTQ community is affected by the coronavirus and why there is no data on positive cases.
  • Prof. Jeremiah Patterson offered advice on building and designing digital portfolios to the National Press Club Journalism Institute.
  • Prof. Amy Eisman was quoted in a Buzzfeed article about tech giants being forced to pay for news content.
  • Kristen Griffith (SOC, MA '18) was named 2019 Rookie of the Year by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. The award honors a new journalist with fewer than 18 months' experience in the field. Griffith also recently accepted a job with the Baltimore Sun’s Carroll County Times newspaper.
Investigate. Innovate. Inform.
Now is the time, SOC is the place.
Support #AUJournalism.

 
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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 © 2020 AU School of Communication, Journalism Div, All rights reserved.


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