Faculty

Faculty

The faculty of the School of Media and Communication includes research scholars,  journalists, television producers, new media artists, speechwriters, advertising executives and public relations practitioners. Many cross fields and bring less traditional approaches to communications and media into the classroom. By transcending these borders, the faculty of the School of Media and Communication finds compelling connections that have defined the school since it was founded in 1967 as the School of Communications and Theater.

Faculty News

Dean Boardman fights to improve media’s White House access

David Boardman, dean of the Temple University School of Media and Communication, is helping lead the charge to improve journalistic access to the White House.

David Boardman

David Boardman

Boardman, president of the American Society of News Editors, and a group of leaders representing the Associated Press Media Editors, the National Press Photographers Association, the White House Correspondents’ Association and the Associated Press met with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and other officials in December to discuss the importance of allowing journalists to photograph the president.Boardman believed there were positive steps taken at last year’s meeting, but, on Feb. 21, the White House did not allow photojournalists to document President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and instead released its own image.

In this Q-and-A, Dean Boardman talks about why this continuing fight for access is so important.

What’s the issue at hand?

The message of transparency was a drumbeat throughout President Obama’s first term. Even though administration officials pledged that they would be the most open in history, in a lot of ways, they have been one of the most closed. In particular, they have closed doors to photojournalists and are instead asking media organizations to use images shot by the White House photographer. It’s the assessment of many professional journalism groups that President Obama may be the most closed to press photography of any president in the history of photojournalism.

Why aren’t they letting photojournalists in?

We believe it flows naturally from their very adept use of social media. It’s part of what got him elected and certainly has been used very effectively since. The White House has generally circumvented the people’s press and simply goes right to the public with their message. In other regimes around the world, we call that propaganda.

What are these organizations asking for?

We’re not demanding to be in the Oval Office while the president is having a one-on-one conversation with the leader of another country. But when they come out as they always do for a photo op or when the president signs a bill into law, we want to be there. There have been many occasions when only the White House photographer was allowed to take pictures, which the White House then distributed.

What steps are you taking?

As president of the American Society of News Editors, I wrote a letter to our membership asking the newspapers to stop using White House photography. They only way we’re going to have leverage is if we stop publishing them.

What’s the difference between a White House photo and a photojournalist’s photo?

Let’s say there was a moment of tension between the president and a visiting dignitary and there is some sort of a slight. Professional photojournalists are trained to read body language and look for detail to find those telling moments. The White House isn’t going to distribute that image.

But isn’t any photo better than none at all?

It’s not up to the White House to determine what images the people see of their president. It might mean not having a photograph of the president in the newspaper for some period of time, but in the long run it’s very much in the readers’ interest. We’re not naïve about the fact that any number of web sites like BuzzFeed will pick up the hand-out photos and use them in the mean time.

What’s next?

Leaders of the organizations involved in the initial meeting are getting together and planning for the next meeting of a smaller working group of association leaders and White House officials. To the White House’s credit, they are staying in the conversation. I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to work out an agreement.

What is the lesson that will come out of this situation?

It’s less about photography and much more about the role of the press as the watchdog of government. The White House will continue to use social media to communicate directly with the people. Some people would say that makes the job of the press less relevant, but I say that makes it more important than ever. It’s the media’s role to help people navigate through what’s fact and what’s propaganda. It’s certainly what we’re trying to instill in our students so they can be powerful and influential communicators going forward.

by Jeff Cronin
jcronin@temple.edu

Posted in Faculty News, homepage, News | Comments closed

How Temple is helping ensure the future of data journalism

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard works with junior journalism major Greg Pinto as other students look on.

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard works with junior journalism major Greg Pinto as other students look on. (Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University)

A data journalism class at the School of Media and Communication places Temple University at the forefront of a new wave of programs teaching aspiring reporters how to crunch numbers and find new ways to tell stories hidden in data.

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard, a computer scientist-turned-reporter, said she created her class to teach “the practice of finding stories in numbers and using numbers to tell stories.”

David Herzog, RTF ’84, the academic adviser for the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), sees a growing trend at the nation’s top universities of classes that target the needs of the changing journalism job market.

“A lot of the classes that had been in place for several years are traditional [computer-assisted reporting] classes” that focused on the number analysis, he said. “What’s happening how is we’re seeing more and more schools who are realizing the value of offering classes that go beyond that. Temple’s class … is in the first wave of those trying to do that.”

Throughout the semester, students have learned how to use databases, spreadsheets and visualization tools and are developing the ability to find and clean data for investigative stories. Students will end the semester by creating an interactive piece of data journalism.

Finding truth in numbers
Marcus McCarthy, 21, a junior journalism major from Charlestown, RI, said data journalism is one of the best things to come out of the media’s shifting identity.

“Although I appreciate the place for anecdotal evidence, many times it isn’t enough to tell a story since the sample size is typically too small. However, accounting for the bias data can bring, statistical evidence can more accurately portray the larger issues facing our society,” he said. “This means that we can now take on the issues that we were previously unable to accurately report on. That prospect is very exciting to me and I see it making a big difference in bettering our society.”

It seems McCarthy has learned one of the key points of Broussard’s class: the existence of data doesn’t always equal truth.

“We tend to think of data as this immutable object that exists outside of any kind of human intervention – because there’s data, that means it’s true,” Broussard explained. “But the thing is, data are created by people. It’s socially constructed by people who ask certain types of questions and who have certain agendas. Understanding that dimension of data helps us understand the numbers and the social context of the numbers.”

Broussard, 39, brings to students her own history of practical experience in data journalism. As a journalist, she has worked on a variety of data-driven projects that provide insight on the reporting methods students will need to be successful in today’s competitive job market.

Professor Broussard lectures from the front of the class.

The spring 2014 semester marks the first time a data journalism class has been taught at Temple. (Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University)

Using her creative and technical skills, Broussard last year created stackedup.org, a site that showcases an algorithm that mines Philadelphia School District data to determine if schools have enough of the right books to equip students with the knowledge to succeed on standardized tests. The articles she wrote based on her analysis prompted the district to reallocate books to schools with the most need, as well as make some staff changes and financial reforms.

Data leads to a Pulitzer
Dylan Purcell, JOUR ’00, a data journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer for the past eight years, knows the impact this type of work can have. He was part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team that worked on a series of stories about violence in the city’s schools. Purcell dove deep into the school district’s crime statistics during the investigation.

“No one had ever looked at the district’s crime patterns,” he said. “They were touting a big drop in crime, but they weren’t accounting for the enrollment dropping drastically.”

Without hard numbers to support their reporting, “I don’t know if we would have been able to change as much as we did. The data can reinforce your traditional storytelling.”

Purcell has seen his work evolve over the past decade in the way he tells his part of a story. Much of his work includes interactive online graphics and maps – an encouraging welcome mat for the next generation of reporters now learning how to use this technology.

“There is a either a requirement or a strong recommendation to have at least some basic data skills,” Herzog said of the current job market. “Employers are seeing the value of having journalists who know how to do this kind of work, so there is a premium being placed on these skills. This class is very strong in that regard.”


Media Contact:
Jeff Cronin
jcronin@temple.edu
215-204-3324

Posted in Faculty News, homepage, Journalism, School News | Comments closed

How Temple is helping ensure the future of data journalism

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard works with junior journalism major Greg Pinto as other students look on.

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard works with junior journalism major Greg Pinto as other students look on. (Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University)

A data journalism class at the School of Media and Communication places Temple University at the forefront of a new wave of programs teaching aspiring reporters how to crunch numbers and find new ways to tell stories hidden in data.

Assistant Professor Meredith Broussard, a computer scientist-turned-reporter, said she created her class to teach “the practice of finding stories in numbers and using numbers to tell stories.”

David Herzog, RTF ’84, the academic adviser for the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), sees a growing trend at the nation’s top universities of classes that target the needs of the changing journalism job market.

“A lot of the classes that had been in place for several years are traditional [computer-assisted reporting] classes” that focused on the number analysis, he said. “What’s happening how is we’re seeing more and more schools who are realizing the value of offering classes that go beyond that. Temple’s class … is in the first wave of those trying to do that.”

Throughout the semester, students have learned how to use databases, spreadsheets and visualization tools and are developing the ability to find and clean data for investigative stories. Students will end the semester by creating an interactive piece of data journalism.

Finding truth in numbers
Marcus McCarthy, 21, a junior journalism major from Charlestown, R.I., said data journalism is one of the best things to come out of the media’s shifting identity.

“Although I appreciate the place for anecdotal evidence, many times it isn’t enough to tell a story since the sample size is typically too small. However, accounting for the bias data can bring, statistical evidence can more accurately portray the larger issues facing our society,” he said. “This means that we can now take on the issues that we were previously unable to accurately report on. That prospect is very exciting to me and I see it making a big difference in bettering our society.”

It seems McCarthy has learned one of the key points of Broussard’s class: the existence of data doesn’t always equal truth.

“We tend to think of data as this immutable object that exists outside of any kind of human intervention – because there’s data, that means it’s true,” Broussard explained. “But the thing is, data are created by people. It’s socially constructed by people who ask certain types of questions and who have certain agendas. Understanding that dimension of data helps us understand the numbers and the social context of the numbers.”

Broussard, 39, brings to students her own history of practical experience in data journalism. As a journalist, she has worked on a variety of data-driven projects that provide insight on the reporting methods students will need to be successful in today’s competitive job market.

Professor Broussard lectures from the front of the class.

The spring 2014 semester marks the first time a data journalism class has been taught at Temple. (Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University)

Using her creative and technical skills, Broussard last year created stackedup.org, a site that showcases an algorithm that mines Philadelphia School District data to determine if schools have enough of the right books to equip students with the knowledge to succeed on standardized tests. The articles she wrote based on her analysis prompted the district to reallocate books to schools with the most need, as well as make some staff changes and financial reforms.

Data leads to a Pulitzer
Dylan Purcell, JOUR ’00, a data journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer for the past eight years, knows the impact this type of work can have. He was part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team that worked on a series of stories about violence in the city’s schools. Purcell dove deep into the school district’s crime statistics during the investigation.

“No one had ever looked at the district’s crime patterns,” he said. “They were touting a big drop in crime, but they weren’t accounting for the enrollment dropping drastically.”

Without hard numbers to support their reporting, “I don’t know if we would have been able to change as much as we did. The data can reinforce your traditional storytelling.”

Purcell has seen his work evolve over the past decade in the way he tells his part of a story. Much of his work includes interactive online graphics and maps – an encouraging welcome mat for the next generation of reporters now learning how to use this technology.

“There is a either a requirement or a strong recommendation to have at least some basic data skills,” Herzog said of the current job market. “Employers are seeing the value of having journalists who know how to do this kind of work, so there is a premium being placed on these skills. This class is very strong in that regard.”


Media Contact:
Jeff Cronin
jcronin@temple.edu
215-204-3324

Posted in Faculty News, homepage, Journalism, School News | Comments closed