(Updated July 28 with new number of shared members.)
Community Journalism Interest Group
Annual Report 2009-2010
Annual Report 2009-2010
1. Officers 2009-2010
Head: Doug Fisher, South Carolina
Vice Head/Programming Chair: Andris Straumanis, Wisconsin-River Falls
Research Chair: Joseph Marren, Buffalo State
PF&R Chair: Ralph Hanson, Nebraska-Kearney
Teaching Standards: Eileen Gilligan, SUNY-Oswego
Secretary/membership: Al Cross, Kentucky
Webmaster: Doug Fisher, South Carolina
Past Head: Elizabeth Hansen, Eastern Kentucky
Report prepared by Doug Fisher with the assistance of all COMJIG officers and CCJIG head Mary Beth Callie
2. Demographics – See accompanying form (this is a PDF form provided to AEJMC; it is not attached to this post).
3. Overall statement of activities: The Community Journalism Interest Group (COMJIG) had 103 members as of June 2010, within the range of 99 to 110 we have seen since 2008. Of concern, however, is the turnover in membership. This could indicate one of several things – that longtime members’ research interests are shifting or they are retiring, or that we are not meeting the needs of some members. One of our priorities will be continuing to reach out to current and former members to find out what we can do better. We also continued our commitment to diversity this past year as the primary sponsor (with Minorities and Communication) of a panel on Boston’s richly complex ethnic media and its recent struggles. Our leadership was mostly white and male, however, as several women we approached about leadership positions elected to serve with larger groups. COMJIG typically has had a more diverse leadership, and we will continue to seek to diversify our leadership again this year.
Research overview: We continue to balance our activities among teaching, research, and PF&R. In Denver, we will have a panel specifically looking at “Citizen Journalism Research” (co-sponsored with Civic and Citizen Journalism). Last year in Boston we also spotlighted research with a special panel (co-sponsored with Newspaper) on “Research Opportunities in Community Journalism.” This is especially timely given the volume “Public Journalism 2.0” (Routledge 2010), edited by Jack Rosenberry and Burton St. John III, that explores the inevitable ties but also some of the differences between civic and community journalism, and the upcoming “The Foundations of Community Journalism: A Primer for Research” (Sage-under contract) by Bill Reader and John Hatcher.
Our focus on research this past year included rewording our paper call to make clear that community journalism can broadly embrace online communities of interest as well as those more geographically focused. We received 12 papers, but had to disqualify one for identifying information. We accepted six of the remaining, a 54% acceptance rate. While the number of papers was up more than 50% from seven the year before (with five accepted), we continue to see papers being submitted elsewhere that might have a better home with COMJIG. We continue trying to get the word out that “community” does not mean just geographical, small or rural. We have also added a cash prize for top faculty paper (in addition to top student paper) to encourage more submissions. Outside the convention, COMJIG members are presenting and publishing community journalism research in a variety of quality venues.
Teaching overview: Our focus in Denver for 2010 will be on teaching with three co-sponsored panels after just one each in 2008 and 2009. The 2009 Boston convention panel looked at how to push students of the sheltered generation outside their comfort zones (co-sponsored with Newspaper). This year we have scheduled sessions looking at how student-staffed, lab newspapers are going out “into the mean streets” to produce newspapers in tough neighborhoods (co-sponsored with Civic and Citizen Journalism), at the ethical challenges faced by community journalists (co-sponsored with Media Ethics), and the lessons learned about local government coverage through an NSF-funded study (co-sponsored with Newspaper). Many of our members couple their teaching with PF&R activities, and coupling teaching with innovation in helping underserved communities is one of the hallmarks of our interest group that sets us apart from others.
PF&R overview: COMJIG is a professionally oriented IG, so we always maintain a high level of PF&R activity, both in our programming and through the activities of our members. This provides a bridge between the academy and the professional world that has become more valuable during these tumultuous times when the profession is reaching out to the academy for help. We are addressing that this year with “Community newspapers: Healthiest in the trade, but for how long?” co-sponsored with Newspaper Division. Throughout the year, COMJIG members engage in many ways with the profession and are leaders or active members and presenters in organizations such as the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Newspaper Association, and the American Copy Editors Society.
Summary: COMJIG’s orientation tends to be toward PF&R because of the nature of our academic and professional affiliations; however, we make a conscious effort to embrace all aspects and maintain a good balance of research and teaching as well. We continue to look for ways to encourage more research submissions; our membership certainly produces research showcased in other national forums. As the academy and profession realize that (a) “community” means much more than “small” or “rural” and (b) that some of the most exciting developments and research opportunities are happening with online communities of interest and, physically, in smaller communities where newsrooms have suffered less economically, we expect to see researchers realize COMJIG is a good home for their work.
We also continue to meet jointly with Civic and Citizen Journalism as part of our annual meeting. There are ongoing discussions about possibly combining the IGs. Currently, we share about a fifth of our members (24 shared out of 116 members for CCJIG and 103 for COMJIG). There are commonalities but also some significant differences. For instance, “civic journalism” has largely been practiced by larger newsrooms, while smaller community newsrooms have tended to maintain the very nature of their jobs and markets requires them to be civically engaged. COMJIG members have also noted that its bylaws tend to be more media focused than CCJIG’s and have expressed concern their research agendas might get lost in a larger organization; it was partly that concern that prompted some members of the Newspaper Division to initially suggest forming COMJIG.
4. Goals: Next year, last year: These are our most important goals for 2010-2011:
1. To achieve a 50 percent increase in research paper submissions. A consistent issue seems to be the need for COMJIG to get the word out about its existence, especially for young scholars looking for a venue for their work. We have seen papers entered in other divisions and interest groups that could easily have fit in COMJIG’s research session. The interest group chair would work closely with the program chair and research chair to encourage scholars to consider COMJIG when the time comes to submit papers to AEJMC. The COMJIG call for papers goes out to our members and to the broader AEJMC membership. This coming year, we will try “target marketing” to specific academic programs and individual scholars with an interest in community journalism in an effort to increase the number of submissions. This could be combined with a focused call for papers devoted to a specific topic determined during the annual membership meeting.
2. To revive a discussion started several years ago about having COMJIG develop a closer and ongoing relationship with professionals in community journalism. This year’s convention program is exciting in part because a number of community journalists will be involved with our panels. During last year’s annual convention, COMJIG also had important PF&R presentations. A number of our members have existing (and, in some cases, long-term) relationships with professionals in their communities. However, COMJIG would do well to take the lead and promote itself to the profession as an organization of scholars interested in community journalism. A first step would be to survey state press and broadcasters’ associations, as well as leading ethnic news organizations, about their relationships with the academy in an effort to learn what service COMJIG could offer.
3. To create a syllabus and assignment exchange for the teaching of community journalism. The idea was put forward several years ago during a COMJIG membership meeting, but never realized. As teachers of community journalism, we are constantly in search of innovative pedagogy, especially given the swift changes being experienced by the industry. Having a collection of syllabi and specific assignments available online would be of great benefit. COMJIG, through its teaching standards chair, would endeavor to post one new syllabus or assignment each month to its blog, comjig.blogspot.com.
In Boston, COMJIG set these goals for this past year:
1. Get out the word that the “community” in community journalism refers to more than geographic communities. We are emphasizing that communities of interest, ethnicity, culture, religion, occupation, etc., provide valuable research, teaching and PF&R opportunities and that the medium is not solely “print” or even print repurposed for online. We are still struggling to broaden the perception of COMJIG, but we think the increased number of papers this year begin to show that the word is getting out. Continuing to work on this will be a goal for the coming year (see above).
2. Increase paper submissions by issuing a special paper call. We are emphasizing "quality over quantity" but know we need to encourage more research about all aspects of community journalism. We decided during the year we did not yet have the resources for a special paper call, but we made special efforts to refashion and broaden our paper call to encompass the idea that community goes beyond geography. The division head also reached out to scholars through his work at the Newsplex Summer Seminars and the annual Convergence Conference to emphasize that COMJIG would be a good home for some of their work.
3. Focus on how teaching community journalism is changing as journalism is changing and as more students come to realize their job in community media might no longer be merely a stepping stone to a career with larger media. We have used our blog to provide solid, consistent, multimedia information to help educators this area.
*How may any or all of the Standing Committees help you to achieve your goals in the coming year
The Standing Committee on Research could perhaps help us make other division and IG members aware of the scope of COMJIG’s research interests.
Research was a focus of our Boston programming in 2009, highlighted by a panel on community journalism research opportunities, and will be again this year in Denver with a specific panel on “Citizen Journalism Research” and the presentation of research findings from an NSF-funded project to study coverage of local government. (That panel is listed as a teaching session but is a good example of how much of what we do bridges research, teaching, and PF&R.) COMJIG continues working to attract more scholars to participate in our research competition. At the 2009 annual meeting, the membership reaffirmed its desire to have $100 awards each for the best faculty and student papers. To gain more submissions and judges, we reached out to past paper presenters at the Newspapers and Community Building Symposium co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation.
Papers submitted to COMJIG use diverse methodologies, approaches, and subject matter. They also come from a diverse group of researchers. For 2010, 12 papers were submitted, but one was disqualified for identifying information, and we accepted 6 of the remaining 11. (In 2009, we had 7 submissions and accepted 5; in 2008 we had 9 submissions and accepted 5.) The qualified papers encompassed 6 faculty members and 10 graduate students; 12 were from male researchers and 4 from females. Because of our concern for diversity (we had never gotten a good handle on this), after the papers were judged we also requested voluntary information on ethnicity or racial identification from the authors. Of the 12 males, 6 are white, two are international, and one each self-identified as Asian, African-American, Hispanic, or multi-racial. Of the four females, three were white and one was Hispanic. (We feel this will be important information as we try to make the case to fellow researchers that community journalism has a broad focus; too often we get the impression that some researchers see it as “rural” or “white.”)
The following data are for the 2010 paper competition and program.
5. Number of faculty research paper submissions 4 , including one faculty-student collaboration; number of acceptances __2___; __50__%. The acceptance rate meets the Research Committee guideline of 50 percent. (A fifth faculty submission had to be disqualified because of identifying data.)
6. Number of student research paper submissions _7_; number of acceptances __4_; __66_%. This is higher than the Research Committee guideline of 50 percent, but the overall acceptance rate, at 54%, is close to the guideline.
7. COMJIG used the standard evaluation form available online through All Academic. The form required feedback on a 1-5 scale across seven criteria: Clarity of purpose, Clarity of research method, Evidence relates to purpose of paper, Evidence is presented clearly, Evidence supports conclusions, Writing and organization, and Relevance of focus to COMJIG. Reviewers also were asked if they would recommend acceptance or rejection of a paper.
8. Total # of judges for 2009: 11; all judges had 3 papers to review. This was within the Research Committee guideline of no more than 4 papers per judge. In addition, three reviewers (though not counted in the total because they were not utilized) were available in case any judge was unable to read his or her assigned papers.
9. Did your group conduct any other type of refereed competition? No.
10. Please list your in-convention activities related to research.
COMJIG is partnering with Civic and Citizen Journalism on a research panel for the Denver convention titled "Doing Citizen Journalism Research: Issues and Prospects." In Boston last year we accepted five papers, three in a paper session and two in a scholar-to-scholar session. This year we accepted six papers, three in a paper session and three for scholar-to-scholar, each by a single scholar.
11. This is a partial list of out-of-convention research activities by some members. It was not feasible to compile a comprehensive list:
• Jeremy Littau was named winner of the 2010 Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award. His dissertation, “The Virtual Social Capital Of Online Communities: Media Use And Motivations As Predictors Of Online And Offline Engagement Via Six Measures Of Community Strength," applied a traditional model for understanding real-world community strength to online settings by creating online-only measures of the social capital concept. The new concept, "Web-network social capital," measures the strength of online communities and also serves as a strong predictor to certain types of distance engagement that often can only happen because of online communication.
• COMJIG member and former research chair Jack Rosenberry of St. John Fisher College and Burton St. John III of Old Dominion University published the edited volume "Public Journalism 2.0: The Promise and Reality of a Citizen-Engaged Press" (2010, Routledge). The book examines both the roots and contemporary dynamics of civic and citizen journalism and posits how public journalism can inform future journalistic endeavors with original research, case studies and essays by scholars such as Joyce Nip, David Ryfe, Serena Carpenter, Donica Mensing, Sue Robinson, and Aaron Barlow. Rosenberry also has forthcoming in JMCQ the article "Virtual Community Support for Offline Communities Through Online Newspaper Message Forums." It has been selected to be highlighted in the AEJMC "Research You Can Use" project, which selects new research from AEJMC refereed journals to promote to journalists and others in the industry for stories or for continuing education.
• COMJIG member and former head Bill Reader, Ohio, and COMJIG member John Hatcher, Minnesota Duluth, completed the manuscript for "The Foundations of Community Journalism: A Primer for Research," under contract with Sage. The text features chapters by Reader, Hatcher, Rosenberry, and fellow COMJIG members Wilson Lowery, Alabama; Eileen Gilligan, SUNY-Oswego; Janice Hume, Georgia; and George Daniels, Alabama, as well as community-journalism supporters Cary Roberts Frith, Ohio, and Diana Knott Martinelli, West Virginia. A chapter collects short essays from senior scholars who include Carolyn Kitch, Temple; Nicholas Jankowski, Virtual Knowledge Study in the Netherlands; G. Michael Killenberg, South Florida; COMJIG member Gloria Freeland, Kansas State; Guy Berger, Rhodes in South Africa; COMJIG member Chad Stebbins, Missouri Southern State; Stephen Lacy, Michigan State; Lewis Friedland, Wisconsin-Madison; and Sigurd Høst, Norwegian Institute of Journalism.
• Reader is also guest editor of a special issue of Newspaper Research Journal titled "The Future of Community Newspapers," which is on schedule to be published in 2011.
• Gilligan, COMJIG’s teaching head, began researching, with two colleagues, how three regional dailies cover domestic violence on their websites. She presented preliminary results at the Eastern Communication Association annual conference in Baltimore in April.
• COMJIG vice head Andris Straumanis, Wisconsin-River Falls, presented a research paper, “‘Let Not Our Flag Go Down’: The Latvian Anarchist Press Abroad, 1908-1916,” during the 22nd Conference on Baltic Studies, Seattle, Wash., April 2010.
• COMJIG member and former head Elizabeth K. Hansen of Eastern Kentucky (with co-author Angela Cooke-Jackson) published “Hillbilly Stereotypes and Humor: Entertaining Ourselves at the Expense of the Other” in Howard Good and Sandra L. Borden (Eds.) Ethics and Entertainment: Essays on Media Culture and Media Morality. (McFarland & Company, Inc.). A case study of a weekly newspaper Hansen wrote, titled “Publishing Drunk Drivers’ Photos,” has been accepted for publication in the fourth edition of the Society of Professional Journalists ethics book in October 2010. As a member of the SPJ Ethics Committee, she also served as a copy editor/fact checker for the book. Hansen and Gary L. Hansen have had a research in brief article titled “Community Connection and Reader Response to a Community Newspaper” accepted for publication in a forthcoming special issue of Newspaper Research Journal devoted to community journalism. Another paper they co-authored, “Community Information along the Rural/Urban Continuum: Looking for News in All the Wrong Places,” has been accepted for presentation at the Rural Sociological Society convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 12-15, 2010.
• COMJIG member Steve Smethers, associate director for graduate studies at Kansas State, and Gloria Freeland, assistant professor and director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media at Kansas State, co-authored “Innovation, Technology and the Future of Community Journalism: Greensburg (Kan.) Residents Discuss an Open-Source Portal as a Foundation of Community News,” which will be presented at AEJMC in Denver. Graduate student Jeffrey Rake also helped with the paper. The Huck Boyd Center, under Freeland’s direction, and the National Newspaper Association Foundation sponsored the 15th annual “Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium” at the NNA’s annual convention in Mobile, Ala., in September 2009 and will sponsor its 16th annual symposium in late September/early October 2010 in Omaha, Neb. The Huck Boyd Center and the A. Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State will also sponsor the fifth annual Great Plains Radio History Symposium on Oct. 22, 2010. This year’s symposium will include a special session featuring the development of rural Midwestern radio — the radio homemaker.
• Research head Joe Marren published “The Prescription for Communication: A Chinese Communist View of the U.S. Press,” in the International Journal of Communication, January-June 2009; : “The Business of Segregation in Baseball,” in Outside the Lines, a publication of the Business of Baseball Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (www.businessofbaseball.com) Winter 2010; “Citizen Journalism in the Newsroom & Ad Office,” in The Convergence Newsletter from the Newsplex at the University of South Carolina. Vol. VII, No. 4 (May 2010); and “One Monk’s Message: Establishing an Enlightened Ethic for the Media,” (with Kimberly Blessing, Ph.D.) in Media Ethics Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 2010.
12. Our research goal for 2009-10 continued to be to actively recruit more participation in our research competition. While we initially considered a special paper call focusing on the differences between community and metro models for doing journalism, we decided we did not have the resources to pursue that at the moment and worked instead on broadening our paper call and reaching out to individuals and organizations with similar research interests. Though last year we did not make a top faculty paper award, this year we will award $100 for both the top faculty and top student papers. We again have a strong research focus at the convention, with panels on research in citizen journalism and the presentation of NSF-funded research on coverage of local government.
13. Because of our limited convention programming slots, we rotate our focus through research, teaching and PF&R. The focus at the 2009 meeting in Boston was research with one co-sponsored teaching panel (with Newspaper) titled "Pushing Students Outside Their Comfort Zones: The Challenge of Teaching the Sheltered Student Generation." This year, when we have a chip reduction, we are emphasizing teaching, with three convention sessions in Denver. “Into the mean streets: Lab community newspapers take on tough neighborhoods” (co-sponsored with Civic and Citizen Journalism) looks at four journalism programs that have separately launched lab newspapers and websites devoted to inner-city or at-risk neighborhoods. Part of the focus will be on teaching methods, especially innovative methods needed to make classes like this work. The second panel, “Media ethics in my little town” (co-sponsored with Media Ethics Division), explores the ethical dilemmas facing journalists working in small communities and the implications for ethics educators. We expect this panel to generate numerous ideas for course content. The third panel, “News Coverage and Commentary About Local Government,” as noted earlier, is co-sponsored with Newspaper Division and builds on federally funded research that should provide new ideas for faculty involved in helping students learn how to navigate a bread-and-butter subject for most journalists. Current COMJIG teaching head Eileen Gilligan already is working with two current editors interested in assembling a 2011 teaching session on community journalism organizations and how they are using social media and their websites more productively.
14. This is a partial list of teaching activities beyond the convention by some members. It was not feasible to compile a comprehensive list:
• This past spring, former COMJIG head Elizabeth Hansen’s Community Journalism students at Eastern Kentucky conducted mail surveys of residents of two counties to determine where they obtained their local news, their assessments of their community newspapers, and Internet use. The study was funded in part by a grant from the McCormick Foundation to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. Hansen and Al Cross, director of the Institute, will report the findings from the study in a paper titled “Discerning a train coming down the track: Three weekly newspapers and the Internet” at the Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium XVI at the National Newspaper Association’s 124th Annual Convention in Omaha, Nebraska, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2010. Community Journalism is the capstone course for journalism majors and is used in assessment of the program.
• Students in COMJIG head Doug Fisher’s public affairs reporting class at South Carolina covered the Legislature in the spring and broke several stories, including one about an overlooked bill that would require judges to take breastfeeding into account in custody disputes. The stories were published on Dateline Carolina, the school’s news site, and picked up by S.C. News Exchange, the news-sharing service run by the state press association. Fisher also continued teaching editing and multimedia in the school’s capstone course, “The Carolina Reporter,” that immerses students in the equivalent of a mid-sized community newsroom. He also spent much of the year enmeshed in efforts to completely rework the school’s curriculum. He continues to teach in the Newsplex Summer Seminars and was guest lecturer on the topic of using multimedia and community building online to increase the reach of community media for a group of Azerbaijani journalists visiting the U.S. He also was part of a panel examining what changes are needed in the way we teach editing as part of the American Copy Editors Society annual convention in Philadelphia this past spring.
• Students in Gilligan’s Investigative Journalism class this spring produced 18 stories about the local rental housing situation, several of which were published in the campus student newspaper. Last fall students in this course contacted state legislators in an examination of how money to local nonprofit organizations was assigned and spent. She also placed about a dozen students in internships with community media organizations
• Member Huntly Collins has worked with her community journalism students at La Salle University in Philadelphia to start GermantownBeat, a news site covering the city’s Germantown neighborhood – a largely working-class black community with roots that date to colonial times. The new site is: http://germantownbeat.lasalle.edu. In fall 2010, the site will partner with WHYY, Philadelphia's public broadcasting company, in a national experiment providing hyperlocal news coverage on the Web of seven neighborhoods in Northwest Philadelphia. Currently, GermantownBeat partners with two neighborhood weekly newspapers and a neighborhood-based, 24-hour Internet radio station.
• Founding COMJIG head Jock Lauterer launched an online and print community lab newspaper, the Northeast Central Durham VOICE, for the inner-city neighborhood in the neighboring city of Durham. durhamvoice.org is a partnership with the local HBCU, North Carolina Central University, and local urban teens. Lauterer, director of the Carolina Community Media Project, also was honored this spring by the University for his work with the VOICE, receiving the Office of Provost Engaged Scholarship Award. Additionally, the Scholastic Journalism Division of AEJMC honored Lauterer as a runner-up in the 2010 Innovative Outreach competition.
• COMJIG member and former head Bill Reader, Ohio, will be one of several faculty members providing teaching and mentoring for journalists from around the world who are attending a monthlong visit to Ohio University via the U.S. Media Study Institute. Reader will conduct sessions and mentoring in the area of community journalism. The session is coordinated by Mary Rogus, Ohio, who is most active in the RTV Division but is a COMJIG supporter.
• Member Jeremy Littau helped pilot the launch of multimedia journalism offerings at Lehigh University, a smaller program traditionally focused on print journalism. As a new professor, he offered Multimedia Reporting that broke new ground for the program by teaching multimedia skills to the students while also turning the news focus from the campus community toward the city of Bethlehem, where the university is located. Using social media as a bridge between the student reporters and people in the community, the students worked on four team-reporting projects focused on an issue of interest to the community by using those media tools to connect with the audience and learn from their expertise. The packages were then published online and promoted via social media both by the students and residents who were part of this local conversation. Response from both students and the community was enthusiastic, and the course will be a regular curricular offering beginning this fall.
• Last year, COMJIG member and current secretary Al Cross established Midway Messenger, a student-written news site for Midway, Ky., pop. 1,620, a prosperous town that once had a newspaper and generates considerable news, some of which is not fully reported by the county-seat weekly. This year, the Messenger made some law in getting the attorney general to say for the first time when a proposed city budget becomes public (when the mayor gives it to the council). Cross also started another student reporting project, Foothills in Focus, to help weekly newspapers in Appalachian Kentucky adopt multimedia, with a grant from the McCormick Foundation through West Virginia University.
15. Because many of our faculty members also have strong professional ties and are involved in experiential learning, many of the things listed here under teaching also have strong PF&R aspects. COMJIG’s teaching mission has always been to use communities as places where journalism students can broaden and polish the skills they learn in the classroom while deepening their knowledge. This also provides areas in need of strong community media with quality journalism products. Our members then bring this experience to the annual conferences where they share course content, curricular innovations, and new teaching strategies through our consistently strong teaching panels. Our members consistently receive teaching awards.
PF&R (professional freedom and responsibility):
16. As noted earlier, COMJIG’s orientation as a bridge between the academic and professional worlds means that much of what we do has PF&R aspects, even though it may also fall into other areas. Our panel on ethics challenges for community journalists includes not only implications for those teaching ethics but clearly involves PF&R, as does the look at how journalism programs are creating community media for underserved areas using student journalists. Last year, in Boston, we had three PF&R panels; this year in Denver we specifically have one, co-sponsored with Newspaper Division: “Community Newspapers: Healthiest in the Trade, But for How Long?” The issues of whether and for how long current media can survive, especially in communities where there are few other outlets, are central to free expression and public service.
We also are co-sponsoring with Civic and Citizen Journalism the annual J-Lab luncheon “Networked Journalism: How Old and New Media are Collaborating.” Again we note that there are strong public service, ethics, and inclusiveness aspects to our panels not designated as PF&R that still clearly apply to PF&R concerns.
The following non-AEJMC members are scheduled to participate on COMJIG PF&R panels at the 2010 convention, reflecting the group's ties to the profession:
• Benjy Hamm, executive editor, Landmark Community Newspapers, Shelbyville, Ky.
• Dean Lehman, president/editor, Lehman Communications Corp., Longmont, Colo.
• M.E. Sprengelmeyer, editor/publisher, Guadalupe County (N.M.) Communicator
• Faith and John Wylie, Oologah Lake Leader, Oologah, Okla.
In addition, the following will be part of the J-Lab luncheon:
• Bob Payne, director of communities, SeattleTimes.com
• Steve Gunn, editor, innovations and news products, Charlotte Observer
• Rick Hirsch, senior editor-multimedia, The Miami Herald
17. This is a partial list of PF&R activities beyond the convention by some members:
• COMJIG head Doug Fisher, South Carolina, is on the steering committee of the Institute for Rural Journalists and Community Issues, headquartered at the University of Kentucky. He is executive editor of The Convergence Newsletter from the Newsplex at The University of South Carolina and is working with Media General to revive the Hartsville Today community website after a computer crash wiped out the files in October 2009. He writes the monthly “Common Sense Journalism” column published by press associations around the country (now surpassing 100 columns) and this past January wrote “Twitter’s ability to make news mobile catches on at smaller papers” for Publishers’ Auxiliary. His Common Sense Journalism blog entry “J-lab/New Voices: Peering into the future” also was republished as an AEJMC Hot Topic. He spent the summer of 2009 in the newsroom of The Sumter (S.C.) Item, where he served as a new-media consultant, conducted training sessions, and pulled some editing shifts. He presented the session “Missing in Plain Sight” at this year’s American Copy Editors Society conference in Philadelphia and was a member of a panel examining whether and how the teaching of editing needs to change. He is a judge of the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional and national Mark of Excellence contests and was a reviewer of papers for an upcoming special community journalism issue of Newspaper Research Journal.
• Former COMJIG head Elizabeth Hansen and fellow Eastern Kentucky faculty member Deborah Givens organized a session titled “The Future of Newspapers in Appalachia” for the Appalachian Studies Association conference held at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Ga., March 19-21, 2010. Hansen was one of the organizers for the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors annual conference in June on the campus of Eastern Kentucky and co-sponsored by the Department of Communication at Eastern and the University of Kentucky. She and Givens also judged the 2010 Golden Quill contest for ISWNE. Hansen was the moderator for “Where to Stand on Standards,” an ethics session at the Society of Professional Journalists national convention in Indianapolis, Aug. 29, 2009. She is also the Region 5 Director for SPJ and serves on its national board. She is also a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board.
• Teaching head Eileen Gilligan, SUNY-Oswego, writes a monthly column for Family Times, the monthly free magazine published by the Syracuse New Times. She also attended the N.Y. State Press Association annual conference in Saratoga Springs where the talk centered on social media and community journalists’ blogs and Web pages and the Journalism That Matters conference in the Pacific Northwest where discussion was about micro-local community journalism blogs and how students would learn traditional skills while working in the new era of same-time publication technology.
• PF&R head Ralph Hanson, Nebraska-Kearney, was a prolific contributor to the COMJIG blog, which we use in place of a newsletter to keep in touch with members. His postings included what employers are looking for in community journalists, the use of social media in community journalism, and reactions of community journalists to their work.
• Secretary Al Cross, Kentucky, was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. He planned the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors conference along with Hansen. He is a consultant and a major source for "Coal In Kentucky," an hourlong, state-financed documentary being released June 22. He also spoke to the (Texas) Panhandle Press Association and the Alaska Press Club on "The Conundrum of Community Journalism: Personal and Professional” and arranged and moderated "Community Journalism: The Bright Spot in Traditional Journalism," at the SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference. He was one of three judges in the Community Journalism competition of the National Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation (the winner later won the Pulitzer for public service.). He published "In the Internet age, your newspaper can still compete" in the April 2010 issue of Publishers’ Auxiliary. He helped to pass a state law to create tax credits for gifts to community foundations and has signed up to give testimony to the Postal Rate Commission against the proposal to end Saturday mail delivery, because of what it would do to rural newspapers and their readers. Testimony will be filed in late July.
• Member Chad Stebbins, Missouri Southern State, continues to serve as executive director of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and editor of Grassroots Editor, ISWNE's quarterly journal.
• In January 2010, NHK, a Japanese public broadcasting company, interviewed COMJIG members Steve Smethers and Gloria Freeland, both of Kansas State, about their 2005 study, “No Union in Humboldt: Readers’ Perceptions of Loss When a Community Loses Its Paper.” The paper was presented at the 2006 AEJMC convention in San Francisco. The Japanese crew interviewed Smethers and people in Humboldt, Kan., for a two-part documentary that aired in Japan in March. The documentary was part of NHK’s annual review of the state of the media.
• Freeland is also the coordinator for the centennial celebration of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She has done historical research and is in charge of all events, which will be Sept. 2-4, 2010. Both houses of the Kansas legislature honored the Miller School with resolutions congratulating its faculty, staff and students for 100 years of service to the state, nation and world. Freeland also received a second-place award from Kansas Professional Communicators and a third-place award from the Kansas Press Association for column writing. Freeland wrote a weekly column in the Riley (Kan.) Countian for more than eight years and is now writing “Kansas Snapshots,” a weekly online column (www.kansassnapshots.com).
• Member and former COMJIG head Bill Reader, Ohio, in June conducted a workshop on the ethical implications of interactivity at the annual convention of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, held at Eastern Kentucky in Richmond.
• Research head Joe Marren is an advisory committee member for The Journalism History Hub, an integrated, research-based interdisciplinary social network and content repository for researchers working in the field of journalism history. He also was a paper reviewer for the Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk interest group and has been a reviewer for Newspaper Research Journal since 2004. He also has been a judge since 2004 for history papers were presented at joint meetings of the American Journalism Historians Association and AEJMC, 2004-present.
• Brian Steffens remains executive director of the National Newspaper Association and publisher of Publishers’ Auxiliary. He has written several articles on community newspaper readership research by the NNA with the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri, and with Pulse Research of Portland, Ore. He also did a presentation on new trends in media for Arab News reporters and editors and for women journalists at the College of Business Administration (women’s campus) in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
18. We have written in previous reports that COMJIG “seeks to ensure that community media are included in the national conversation about journalism's future.” But as the gap between the economic health of big-city newspapers and their community brethren has widened, plus with the emergence of new media models, most of which are more like traditional community models than major metros, COMJIG is at the forefront of championing research and cooperation into the wide range of issues this shift is producing. Our members spend many hours at workshops and seminars providing free or low-cost advice based on both years of experience and familiarity with current research. We want to continue expanding to serve not only geographic communities, but other types (ethnic, occupational, communities of interest, etc.) and forms (radio, television, digital, magazines, etc.). Still up for consideration is a collaborative project with CCJIG to show journalists how to more effectively use both community and civic journalism in their news operations. Some of that will depend on the ability to find funding.
19. Please attach copies of the newsletters sent by your group this year, and any other
material you wish us to note.
We do not publish a newsletter. Instead, we maintain a blog (http://comjig.blogspot.com/) that serves as a newsletter and a forum for discussion of key issues. We also maintain an interest group on Yahoo groups, which provides a timely and efficient way to communicate with our members and make relevant documents available. IG head Doug Fisher also serves as webmaster overseeing both.