Students nationwide sign up for TAO of Journalism program

Tao of Journalism signup 2012

The staff of the Eagle's Eye News at Ruskin High School in Kansas City, MO takes the TAO of Journalism Pledge during Scholastic Journalism Week, Wed., Feb. 22. They were one of 20 student groups across the country to take the TAO Pledge last week.

Student journalists from across the U.S. took the TAO of Journalism Pledge during annual Scholastic Journalism Week, Feb. 19-25, promising to be Transparent, Accountable and Open (TAO) in their work as journalists. Student journalism groups are invited to take the TAO Pledge at any time, but Feb. 22 was set aside as National TAO of Journalism Pledge Day.

As the TAO of Journalism enters its third year, the momentum grows as more professional journalists and student journalists take the TAO Pledge and carry the TAO Seal on their work. It is a way to help instill public trust.

“We are trying to hold ourselves more accountable,” said David Gaines, newspaper adviser at Moffat County High School in Craig, CO. “This seems like a great way to make a pledge; let others see that we have made a commitment, and then hold each other to it!”

Congratulations to the following student media groups who have made a public commitment to be Transparent, Accountable and Open (TAO) in their work:

Mane Thing (newspaper)
Arlington HS — Riverside, CA

The Golden Word (newspaper & online)
Cibola HS — Albuquerque, NM

The Spoke (newspaper) & (online)
Conestoga HS — Berwyn PA

The Image (yearbook), Pirate Press (newspaper) & DPNews (broadcast)
Dos Pueblos HS — Goleta, CA

Tiger Topics N the Red (newspaper)
Fishers HS — Fishers, IN

The Buzz TV
Fort Mill HS — Fort Mill, SC

The Spectacle (newspaper, broadcast, online news, yearbook)
Mesa Vista HS — Ojo Caliente, NM

The Blue Print (newspaper)
Moffat County HS — Craig, CO

OTVX (broadcast)
Oldham County HS — Buckner, KY

Overland Scout (newspaper)
Overland HS — Aurora, CO

Pirate Press (newspaper), ECHO (yearbook), PattonvilleTODAY (Online
Pattonville HS — Maryland Heights, MO

Premier (newspaper)
Premier Learning Academy — La Marque, TX

The Echo (newspaper & online)
St. Louis Park Senior HS — St. Louis Park, MN

The Raven Report (newspaper)
Sequoia HS — Redwood City, CA

The Eagle’s Eye (newspaper)
Ruskin HS — Kansas City, MO

Smoke Signal (newspaper)
Stafford HS — Falmouth, VA

The Oracle (newspaper)
Steinbrenner HS — Lutz, FL

The Hawk (yearbook)
Susquenita HS — Duncannon, PA

The Yell-Kat
Yellville-Summit HS — Yellville AK

By taking the pledge, the student media listed above will be sent the TAO of Journalism Seal to post as a public promise to practice ethical journalism.

Congratulations to all participants!

Kathy Schrier, M.Ed., MJE
Washington Journalism Education Association
Washington News Council / TAO of Journalism Project


Are newspapers sexy?

Sexy Newspaper

Photo by liquene on Flickr

The Newspaper Association of America recently unveiled a new advertising campaign: “Smart is the New Sexy.

I wrote a snarky blog about it, asking “Whose idea was this?”

But I’m having second thoughts. I just read the Valentine’s Day issue of my daily newspaper, The Seattle Times. Yikes! This paper is smokin’.

Take Page One: There’s a five-column photo of Gov. Chris Gregoire after signing a bill to legalize gay marriage. She’s surrounded by a pumped-up group of legislators clapping ecstatically. Just below is a shot of several young female patrons of the Wild Rose, a well-known lesbian bar.

Anchoring the page is a six-column ad from a local drug store: “Sweep her off her feet!” It features a bottle of champagne, a plus sign, a dozen red roses, an equals sign, and then a beaming couple lying in bed in their pajamas. Some formula!

Page 4 carries an eye-catching story about how Valentine’s Day has become a big deal in Baghdad. A photo shows two Iraqi women shopping in the “central holy city” of Karbala. One holds a heart-shaped pillow that says “love,” just below a big balloon saying “My heart beats.” This is “the nation’s most amorous celebration of the holiday ever,” the story declares. Talk about a surge!

Half of Page 5 is a Starbucks ad showing a laughing young woman clutching her caffe mocha, piled high with whipped cream. The drink “has become a bit of an obsession,” the ad says: “Warm up” with one.

Page 6 and 7 feature jumps (no pun intended) of stories on the gay-marriage bill, with a charming photo of two long-time women partners who now plan to get married. Describing how they met, one recalls: “I walked in and saw her standing there…and it was as if someone plugged her in cause she lit up like a Christmas tree.”

An ad at the bottom of the page states “Valentine’s Day is for lovers.” It adds in small print: “but not if you have a problem with erectile dysfunction or premature issues.” It offers a “FREE Office Visit” including a “test dose of medication” to show how it works. From the smiles on the couple’s faces, it must have.

The local-news section front has a four-column photo of “senior women” at a retirement community. They are all holding up red hearts while rehearsing a musical performance of “Whatever Lola Wants.” Hubba-hubba!

The features page (B3) has two Cupid drawings with Paul McCartney’s face on one and Catherine Russell’s on the other, and a review of their new CDs. Both look a little lost. Maybe they should read a book that’s reviewed on the same page: “The Freud Files.” Or go watch a movie just out on DVD: “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard – she pictured in a low-cut strapless dress.

The Comics & Puzzles pages are also pretty hot. Nearly half the comic strips have a Valentine’s theme. The word Jumble solution: “His Valentine’s Day lunch” was a “Hearty Meal.” The advice column offers “’Tried and True advice’ for a happy marriage.”

Even the Horoscopes are sexy. Mine (Aries): “A productive morning leaves space for a romantic evening; make what you will of it.” My wife’s (Scorpio): “Your capacity to listen makes you more alluring.”

The Sports section has an inside story about women coaching high-school boys’ swimming teams, with an intriguing photo of a woman coach helping one of her swimmers out of the pool. The lithe young boys in their swimsuits certainly could be considered sexy – as could a young woman (the coach’s daughter) sitting at poolside.

Maybe smart isn’t the new sexy, but if newspapers had this much steamy stuff in their pages every day, would their circulation go up along with readers’ temperatures? At long last, a sustainable business model!


Finding “a flamingo in the barnyard”

Flamingo in the Barnyard

Photo by Pedresz on Flickr --

Chris Stein of The Pacific Northwest Inlander gave The News Council a little coverage in an article about Spokane Police ombudsman Tim Burns. The article says:

When police ombudsman Tim Burns laid out his ideas for reforming the police department to a Spokane City Council committee last month, he also had a few choice words for the city’s reporters.

“During the past two years, the ombudsman has heard complaints from law enforcement and the community that the media is inaccurate in their reporting and unfair in their portrayal of the situation,” Burns wrote. He pointed to The Inlander’s Injustice Project, a series of articles on inequities in the criminal justice system, published in 2010. He added that he’s heard complaints about the Spokesman-Review’s coverage but wasn’t able to point to any specific examples.

The solution to these situations, Burns says, could be a watchdog for the city’s major media outlets.

Sounds like a good idea. Or, as Stein suggests, “Burns may have to look no further than the Washington News Council for the kind of oversight he says is needed.” Our President and Executive Director John Hamer agrees, and is quoted in the article saying:

“Every news organization I know needs outside comment, criticism and feedback,” Hamer says. “We are the best bet, and if people have concerns about the media’s coverage over in Spokane, they can come to us.”

See what KHQ Executive News Director Neal Boling and KXLY’s news director Jerry Post have to say about the idea in The Inlander’s original story.

Also take a look at the comments to hear more from Hamer, as well as an appearance from former US Congressman George Nethercutt who calls The Washington News Council

“A flamingo in the barnyard of irresponsible and uncontrolled journalism.”