Students form connections at conference

Tina Nalepa – 1851 Staff

Ken Paulson speaks during the 2013 New England Newspaper Conference about the future of journalism and newspapers. (Photo by Allison Nekola)
Ken Paulson speaks during the 2013 New England Newspaper Conference about the future of journalism and newspapers. (Photo by Allison Nekola)

On October 10, Professor Marie Franklin led 25 journalism students to the 2013 New England Newspaper Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Natick.

Ken Paulson, President of First Amendment Center, spoke on the value of newspapers in a speech titled,“Digital, Dollars and Democracy: The Real Value of American Newspapers.” Paulson used real world examples of how the ideas that newspapers are dying is a myth. “When you think of newspapers dying down think of all the other things that are dying down such as baseball cards and hallmark cards,” said Paulson.

Paulson pointed out that the newspaper industry is still thriving, just shifting in a new direction. What is happening is that younger generations are not reading the newspapers to get reliable news but instead use social media sites and digital devices to receive their news. “If people don’t pay for quality journalism, then no one will get quality journalism,” said Paulson. With the shift to a generation that is more technologically savvy, more people are starting to use devices such as tablets to get credible news sources.

Paulson said, “71.4 million people are using tablets, more than half are from families making 50,000 or more a year and with that half of those people are using news apps to get their daily news.” Paulson believes the newspaper industry will never go out of business, but rather phase into the digital world.

However, there are people who still enjoy spending time with newspapers more than any other source. These are the people who enjoy getting the paper delivered every morning, sitting down with a cup of coffee and holding the paper in their hands. Why doesn’t the current generation enjoy that? “It’s family friendly, [there are] no pop up ads, no need to be charged, all fact checked and the best part is when you’re on a plane about to take off and the flight attended says to turn off all electronic devices you turn on this…the newspaper ladies and gentlemen,” said Paulson about a newspaper’s many positive factors.

Journalists everywhere are facing obstruction in their jobs. So how can journalists confront threats to the freedom of information? At the conference, a panel discussion included real life examples and stories from Bill Kole, Chief of the Associate Press, David Linton, Reporter at The Sun Chronicle, Colleen Murphy, Executive Director at CT Freedom or Information Commission, and Cliff Schechtman, Executive Editor at The Portland (ME) Press Herald.

Schechtman said, “Every reporter should be an investigative reporter” meaning that when reporting a story, the journalist has to go out and dig deep to get all the facts. Schechtman believed journalists should be building a culture of watchdog reporting, which includes practicing investigative journalism, checking that facts are correct, and the journalist is reporting the truth.

“Write stories no matter what, don’t think about your competitor; be aggressive and get all the facts. If there’s a case, report all the information given, ask for all documents and warrants and if necessary bring in a lawyer to help fact check,” said Murphy. The final presentation of the conference was on plagiarism. The panel included Jim Franklin, Assistant Night Editor at The Boston Globe, Fred Bayles, Professor of Journalism at Boston University, Paul Pranvast, Editor at The Cape Cod Times, Steve Burgard Journalism Director at Northeastern University and Rick Homes, Opinion

Editor at Metrowest Daily News. Burgard talk about the 2005 case of Jayson Blair, a journalist at The New York Times, who was caught plagiarizing and was fired from his job. “The issues in journalism are the same in university issues in terms of academic honesty and journalistic honesty,” said Burgard. A journalist has to do their own reporting in order to call it their own. Bayles helps run a program for students to produce news, which gives students real life experiences through journalistic writing. He makes it clear to his students that plagiarism is unethical from the very first class. By the end of their four years at the university, his students get jobs in their field, which he noted is an improvement from when he graduated college. This conference illustrated the daily job of a journalist through the great knowledge of several passionate and motivated individuals in the field. Overall this was an unforgettable connected learning experience for the Lasell journalism students.

“The conference was an amazing experience,” said student Danielle Cutillo. “It was definitely one of the best Connected Learning experiences I’ve done. Hearing from some of the best in the industry was inspiring.”

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