Category Archives: Seminar

Fake News: How did it happen, and what can we do? 

By Julia Schuller and Amelia Kibbe

Friday morning’s journalism ethics workshop began with familiar sight: a video of President Donald Trump lambasting the American media as “fake news.”

Butch Ward, senior faculty and former managing director at the Poynter Institute, led the two-and-a-half-hour workshop on ethical decision-making in the media and the concept of “fake news.”

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Franklin Regional stabbing, reporting on crisis news discussed

Panelists Bill Rehkopf, Daveen Rae Kurutz, Mike Oliveria and Mary Catherine Reljac discuss media coverage after the April 2014 stabbing at Franklin Regional School District on Saturday morning.
Panelists Bill Rehkopf, Daveen Rae Kurutz, Mike Oliveira and Mary Catherine Reljac discuss media coverage after the April 9, 2014 stabbing at Franklin Regional School District on Saturday morning.

In crisis situations, the quick pace of social media posts creates a dilemma for journalists: how to check for accuracy while still reporting with immediacy.

Along with the school district’s assistant superintendent, three Pittsburgh journalists recalled the challenges they faced while covering the April 9, 2014, stabbing at Franklin Regional High School on the day it happened and in the aftermath that traumatized children and adults alike.

More than 20 students and staff members at Franklin Regional in Murrysville were stabbed. Former student Alex Hribal, who was 16 years old at the time, was charged as an adult with 21 counts of attempted homicide.

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Frein manhunt sends Pa. journalists on 48-day marathon

On Sept. 12, 2014, a sniper fired a rifle from the woods of the Pocono Mountains, killing Cpl. Bryon K. Dickinson II and critically injuring Trooper Alex Douglass outside the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Blooming Grove. The ambush started what would become a nearly seven-week-long manhunt for suspect Eric Frein until the search ended Oct. 30 at an abandoned airport.

What also began on Sept. 12 was a 48-day marathon for journalists not only in the Pocono Mountains, but across Pennsylvania and the nation. On Saturday, a panel discussion at the 2015 Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association conference featured four journalists who were close to the action and actively involved in covering breaking news of the shooting.

Over 48 days, journalists covered the Frein manhunt story minute-by-minute, with hundreds of tips coming in by phone, e-mail and social media every day. Laurie Mason Schroeder, courts reporter for The Morning Call in Allentown, talked about how journalists were bombarded by rumors about the slain trooper’s personal life and who the killer might be. “You really have to step back and say, ‘We’re not going there,’” Schroeder said.

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Tip sheet: What your readers are really telling you

See where your online traffic is coming from. Page views aren’t the only thing that matters. Try new things. Pay attention to trends.

Three panelists offered those suggestions and over a dozen more Saturday at the PSNE’s breakout session on using analytics to understand your online audience and inform how to engage with readers.

Most importantly, the message was that data and analytics are your friend. Here’s a look at all the suggestions mentioned during the seminar:

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Journalism, centuries old, looks to startups in the digital age

The executive director of the American Press Institute suggests that journalism businesses should think like a start-up as they strive to find ways to thrive in the digital age.

Tom Rosenstiel’s workshop, titled “Take a Closer Look at Your Audience,” began the Pennsylvania Press Conference Friday at 10 a.m.

“We [journalists] are in a declining industry and emerging industry at the same time,” Rosenstiel said.

Tom Rosenstiel, executive director
Tom Rosenstiel, executive director

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