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Scholarly Pursuits

Jill Abramson Quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald

PhillipsExeterLogoThe list of famous authors who have attended Grade 9-12 New Hampshire institution Phillips Exeter Academy is long and impressive. It includes Peter Benchley, George Plimpton, Gore Vidal and Dan Brown.

However, when former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson spoke to current students there last Thursday at an event sponsored by student newspaper The Exonian, she decided to punctuate her remarks with the words of another name-brand author. From an item by Exeter Newsletter reporter Erik Hawkins:

Abramson closed her talk with praise for F. Scott Fitzgerald and his sense for detail and pacing that is necessary not only in great fiction, but in great journalism and quoting the final line of his landmark novel The Great Gatsby.

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Yale Students Glean Wisdom from New Yorker Features Director

DanielZalewskiYaleOne day in the professional future, perhaps Yale freshman Finnegan Schick will pitch a long-form piece to The New Yorker.

If and when he does, he will have at least two organic advantages. Firstly, he earned his high school diploma at a Massachusetts institution previously graced by the “father of investigative journalism.” Secondly, Schick this week attended and wrote up an intimate on-campus talk by current New Yorker features director Daniel Zalewski. One of the throughlines in Schick’s Yale Daily News dispatch is a fascinating comparison of two Manhattan bulwarks:

Working for the New York Times Magazine was less romantic than most outsiders think, Zalewski said. The editor of the magazine was like a “puppetmaster” over the writers, he added, and pitching articles sometimes felt brittle and inorganic.

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Syracuse Students Say Yes to Dr. Who Class

DrWhoClassLogoEven though Professor Anthony Rotolo‘s Spring 2015 Dr. Who offering will not be an official class, that hasn’t stopped Syracuse University students from signing up. The fact that the course is free and comes with no homework may also have something to do with it.

Per a Facebook post from the instructor, he’s quickly raced past the number of actors who have played the titular part for the BBC:

More than 200 students have registered in just under two days! Many are Syracuse University students with majors ranging from communications and media to science, tech, film, history and education. Others are students at nearby colleges like Clarkson, SUNY Upstate Medical and Utica College. Others still are friends, alumni and members of the Syracuse area community.

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Shrimp and Grits Helped Seal Deal for Elmore Leonard Collection

UniversitySouthCarolinaLogoAll five of late novelist Elmore Leonard‘s children are in Columbia, South Carolina today together with Otto Penzler, owner of New York City’s Mysterious Book Shop and several other invited guests. The occasion? The announcement by the University of South Carolina that it has acquired a large collection of Leonard’s papers and personal items.

Detroit News reporter Susan Whitall has a colorful account of how and why the Detroit-indebted Leonard chose this Southern institution over the University of Michigan. The collection includes a number of items the university is referring to as “realia” (typewriters, desk, Hawaiian shirts, etc.) and will reside alongside another collection connecting to a formative Leonard influence:

At one point in May 2013 [during Leonard's one and only visit to the University of South Carolina], gingerly holding a Hemingway first edition, Elmore told son Peter how he used to rewrite Hemingway stories “the way I’d want to do it,” with more of the humor he felt was lacking in his hero’s prose.

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Stony Brook Prof Stresses Value of Old-School Journalism

JonFriedmanStonyBrookPicJon Friedman‘s latest Marketwatch column is a good one. In framing what he thinks it still takes to be a good journalist, he laments the fact that many of his Stony Brook journalism students are fixated on the glittery sheen of the boob tube:

When I asked my students last semester what they hoped to do in their careers, the majority said they wanted to be on television. (The most honest of them declared they wanted to be TV stars, not so much for the big bucks but since it just seemed so darned cool to be on TV!) None of them said he or she hoped to be a link in the chain to the late, great Edward R. Murrow. (Who?)

It’s not my students’ fault that TV news today has taken on the mentality of the fabulous 1976 film Network (a movie most of them had never heard of, much less seen). It’s all about flash and pizzazz. News and entertainment are so blurred that it’s hard to tell them apart.

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NYU Adds Games Journalism Course

ChrisPlanteAvatarPolygon is a video games-focused website launched in 2010 in partnership with Vox Media. Among its attractively Avatar-ed content staff is co-founder and current editor-at-large Chris Plante. That’s his picture at right, the site’s equivalent of a Wall Street Journal hedcut.

This fall, Plante with have something else on his plate. Per an item by CJR staff writer Chris Ip, Plante will be teaching a class at NYU devoted to games journalism:

Students will read classic works like Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel’s The Elements of Journalism alongside a 1989 edition of Electronic Gaming Monthly. They will watch Page One, the documentary about the New York Times, and also host a livestream of themselves playing video games while providing commentary. One aim is to create a community of critics who treat gaming as a genre as deserving of artistic critique as film, music and literature..

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For Bigfoot Believers, It’s Mostly Bad News

APTheBigStoryLogoAP likes to showcase its content under the aegis of “The Big Story.” Today, they’ve also got “The Bigfoot Story.”

Below the headline “Bigfoot Hair Samples Mostly From Bears, Wolves,” AP medical writer Maria Cheng details the findings of the first-ever peer-reviewed study of Bigfoot, Yeti and co. The conclusions were published online today by UK’s Royal Society.

First, the bad news:

[Oxford University's Bryan] Sykes and colleagues tested 36 hair samples from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia and the U.S. using DNA sequencing and all of them matched DNA from known animals. Most were from bears, but there were also hairs from a Malaysian tapir, horses, porcupine, deer, sheep and a human.

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University Professor Celebrates ‘Unprecedented’ Edward R. Murrow Award

UMWPantherVisionAt the most recent awards gala put on by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), the winner in the Large Market Television / Ongoing Coverage category was the University of Wisconsin at Madison-Milwaukee. The school’s weekly newscast PantherVision, a partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College, won for its examination School Shooter Safety.

Milwaukee Sentinel Journal TV-film critic Duane Dudek caught up with Mark Zoromski, the teacher most responsible for all this. He is, understandably, very proud:

“Everybody I talked to at RTDNA said this is probably unprecedented,” Zoromski said. “No one heard of a class-based student television news organization winning a Murrow Award…”

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Former Lieutenant Governor Underwrites One-Week Finance Journalism Intensives

CUNYJSchoolLogoRichard Ravitch, who served as New York’s Lieutenant Governor in 2009-10 and currently advises the judge overseeing Detroit’s fiscal crisis, has made a very interesting move. Per a report by Crain’s New York, Ravitch made a donation to CUNY for the purposes of teaching journalists how to better cover the subject of finance. The inaugural one-week intensive is set for August 18 at the Graduate School of Journalism:

“I decided the reporting was not very comprehensive on the subject,” Ravitch said. “Nobody was connecting the dots on the federal budget issues and state and local budget issues…”

“One of the more useful things I could do with my good fortune was to train journalists to write about this subject seriously.”

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Digital Media Guru Douglas Rushkoff Joins CUNY Faculty

RushkoffBeginning this fall at CUNY’s Queens College, students can work their way towards an MA in Media Studies. Set to mold the curriculum is an expert responsible for terms such as “viral media” and “social currency.”

From today’s announcement:

This marks the first full-time academic role for Douglas Rushkoff, a prolific media theorist, award-winning author and documentarian considered one of the most influential thinkers of the digital age. Starting this August, he will help lead the development of a new Master of Arts in Media Studies program that will address the technological and market forces that dominate our daily lives.

Rushkoff, who holds a PhD in New Media and Digital Culture, is the author of over a dozen best-selling books, the winner of the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity and creator of four award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries on the cultural and societal impact of media and the media industry.

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