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When Inmates Write Their Own Obits

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March 11, 2015

Some say assignment demonstrates power of journalism; meaning, consequences of racist frat chant debated; S. African reporter mugged as cameras roll; Lester Holt-led "NBC Nightly News" maintains its lead; Claude Sitton of N.Y. Times dies, outraged segregationists; editor Jonell Nash dies, encouraged healthful soul food; 42% of blacks followed Ferguson report, whites 18%; Columbia J-School to trim staff, student body, class sizes; L.A. public radio station persuades a nonvoter to vote (3/11/15)

Some Say Assignment Demonstrates Power of Journalism

Meaning, Consequences of Racist Frat Chant Debated

South African Reporter Mugged as Cameras Roll

Lester Holt-Led "NBC Nightly News" Maintains Its Lead

Claude Sitton of N.Y. Times Dies, Outraged Segregationists

Editor Jonell Nash Dies, Encouraged Healthful Soul Food

42% of Blacks Followed Ferguson Report, Whites 18%

Columbia J-School to Trim Staff, Student Body, Class Sizes

"With regret, I've reached the conclusion that we must eliminate about half a dozen positions" at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Dean Steve Coll told colleagues in a memo Wednesday, Jim Romenesko reported on his media blog. Coll also said the school plans to trim the size of the student body and of classes.

Elizabeth Weinreb Fishman, associate dean for communications, told Journal-isms by email, "Our head of Admissions, Christine Souders, expects that the incoming class will be as diverse as last year's class, if not more so."

She supplied figures on the diversity of the class most recently admitted.

"For the full-time class that enrolled for Fall 2014:

"Among American Students, our statistics for self-identified students are:

"Black/African American = 8%

"Asian American = 10%

"Latino/Hispanic = 8%

"White = 30%

"Other = 3%

"Unreported = 41%"

The statistics do not include international students. Fishman also gave these figures, "International students = 41%; Female = 75%; Male = 25%; Average Age = 27."

She said she did not have staff diversity figures.

Coll also said in the memo that he was reorganizing the school's management.

But, he said, "Ernest Sotomayor will continue as the Dean of Student Affairs overseeing career services and student services. I have also asked him to accept the additional position of Director of the school's Latin American Initiative, working with schools, employers, funders, and alumni to broaden and deepen our engagement. One of his first assignments will be to launch a version of the highly successful summer investigative course that he and Sheila developed."

Sheila Coronel is Toni Stabile professor of professional practice in investigative journalism, director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and dean of academic affairs.

L.A. Public Radio Station Persuades a Nonvoter to Vote

"How do you convince people to care about a local, municipal primary election in a city with historically-low voter turnout?,"Melody Kramer wrote Tuesday for the Poynter Institute.

"That’s the question KPCC’s managing editor Kristen Muller posed to science reporter Sanden Totten as they were planning KPCC’s coverage of the Los Angeles primary municipal elections, which took place last week on March 3.

"'I was bemoaning the fact that it was going to be hard to get people to pay attention, and then [. . .] said, ‘Maybe you don’t convince everyone — maybe you just find a single person.'

"KPCC Reporter Meghan McCarty was tapped to find 'the average non-voter in Los Angeles' and set off on a quest. She knocked on doors, stood in a supermarket parking lot with a sandwich board and emailed everyone she knew to see if they could help her find 'a non-white renter under 45 who doesn’t vote in local elections but might be engaged enough to have their minds changed and have it all recorded for the radio.'

"Eventually, she found Al Gordon, a chef and partner of a restaurant in Los Angeles who had lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade but never voted in a local election."

Kramer also wrote, "The narrative arc played itself out over several on-air radio pieces. In Part 1, the radio audience was introduced to Al. Part 2 featured a political scientist, who sat down with Al and tried to help him (and KPCC’s listeners) sort through the candidates.

"In Part 3, Al and Meghan attended a candidate forum together and broadcast what they learned to listeners. In Part 4, Al held an open house election forum at his restaurant. And in the last installment, Al became one of the first people to cast his ballot in the election.

"As Al learned, listeners at home learned as well — about voter turn-out, how candidate forums work and about the candidates themselves. . . ."

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