SCJ joins RTDNA in call for members to join campaign defending press freedom

SCJ stands in solidarity with the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) in its call for all news outlets to take an editorial stance against the systematic vilification of the American press.

According to the RTDNA website, the organization’s director, Dan Shelley, said, “We urge our members to join the effort on Thursday, August 16 by dedicating airtime, publishing an online editorial or sharing information via social media platforms that speaks to your viewers and listeners about the role we play in preserving the public’s right and need to know, in a government for and by the people.”

The nation’s student press plays an essential role in educating communities, and especially young readers and viewers, about the role journalists play in American democracy.  SCJ encourages all student press outlets to consider offering social media messages and editorial statements that deepen their respective communities’ understanding of the First Amendment and importance of a free press.

For more on this campaign, please see the RTDNA call.

Tag us in any social media posts or editorial statements your media organizations or chapters make using the hashtags #SCJsupports1A and #PressBack.

Buena Vista chapter hosts Constitution Day event

The Buena Vista University SCJ chapter hosted a Constitution Day event September 17 that was open to the campus community.

Free speech and free pizza drew students to Lage Communication Center to discuss a variety of challenges to the First Amendment and discussion ranged from “what is hate speech and why is protected?” to “what would you protest publicly?”

The SCJ chapter called for free will donations to its philanthropic partner, the Student Press Law Center, and will continue to raise funds throughout the week.

Don’t forget! Please send along photos of induction ceremonies, SCJ-sponsored events, and the like so we can share your good news with the rest of our SCJ family. Email pictures and information to

Buena Vista Chapter inducts new members, honors seniors

The Buena Vista University (Storm Lake, IA) chapter celebrated its induction of 11 new members April 12.

First Row (L to R): Dee Friesen, Vice President/Service Coordinator; Morgan McGrew, President; Kyle Wiebers, Treasurer; Dr. Andrea Frantz, Faculty Adviser (not pictured, Madeleine McCormick, Secretary/Social Media] Second Row (L to R) New Members: Job Saunders, Tawney Schreier, Emily Kenny, Katelyn Bohaty, Olivia Wieseler, Allyssa Ertz, Megan Snyder, Alyssa Donnelly, Tyler Brunner, Andrew Bandstra Third Row (L to R): Tiffany Brauckman, Kylee Deering, Sarah Nicholson, Cooper Maahs (not pictured: Tanner Hoops, Brittany Poeppe, Mackenzie Rappe) Fourth Row (L to R): Graduating Seniors with cords: Chase Harrison, Susie Haack, Kassi Kommes, Chris Haberman, Jasmine Bautista, Emily Johnson, Meredith VanZuiden, Lindsey Graham, Spencer Bottorff, Skyler Gorsett

The newest members of the chapter are:

  • Andrew Paul Bandstra
  • Katelyn Velma Bohaty
  • Tyler Michael Brunner
  • Alyssa Renae Donnelly
  • Allyssa Beth Ertz
  • Emily Elizabeth Kenny
  • Myckeal Rake
  • Job Eastman Saunders
  • Tawney Michelle Schreier
  • Megan Eileen Snyder
  • Olivia Rose Wieseler

In addition, 10 chapter members were awarded their graduation honor cords at the same ceremony that was attended by family members, friends and faculty.  Graduating seniors include:

  • Jasmine Bautista
  • Spencer Bottorff
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Skyler Gorsett
  • Susie Haack
  • Chris Habermann
  • Chase Harrison
  • Emily Johnson
  • Kassi Kommes
  • Meredith VanZuiden

Congratulations to all!

2016-17 BVU SCJ Outgoing Board (L to R): Morgan McGrew (President); Lindsey Graham (Treasurer); Jasmine Bautista (Service Coordinator); Dee Friesen (Service Coordinator); Spencer Bottorff, (Vice President); Emily Johnson (Vice President); Kassi Kommes (Secretary); Dr. Andrea Frantz, (Adviser)

Send us your induction ceremony & graduation photos to see them featured on the SCJ National NewsFeed! Email us at!

RMU initiates, celebrates new and returning members

The Robert Morris University SCJ chapter welcomed five new members on Oct. 10.

Those students are:

  • Malyk Johnson, freshman, Communications
  • Katey Ladika, sophomore, Media Arts
  • Maura Linehan, sophomore, Psychology
  • Brittany Mayer, sophomore, Communications
  • Kara Vanderweil, freshman, Media Arts

“The induction ceremony is always one of my favorite nights of the academic year,” said chapter faculty adviser Dr. Anthony Moretti. “The chance to welcome our new members and to remind everyone of the important work journalists do every single day make the night fun and yet serious.”

The chapter’s commitment to encouraging students from across the campus to join SCJ continues to be successful. The RMU cohort of more than 25 students includes majors from engineering, psychology, sports management, media arts and journalism.

This year’s ceremony also included a surprise for three chapter members. Senior media arts student Eddie Sheehy and senior communications major Hannah Smith received their SCJ certificates of merit, and junior communications major Delaney Hassell received her SCJ medal of merit.

The chapter now turns its attention to Nov. 8, when it will deliver a 4-hour live broadcast to the campus community as America elects a new president and important House and Senate races will determine the make-up of the new Congress. A significant web presence also will be included in that plan.

logo_cornerDon’t forget! Please send along photos of induction ceremonies, SCJ-sponsored events, and the like so we can share your good news with the rest of our SCJ family. Email pictures and information to

Call for Major Awards Nominations

For many, the trees turning from green to brilliant reds and yellows may signal the end of summer. But for me, it’s a sign of things just beginning. It’s the start of a new academic year, which means that student media organizations all over the country are revving up to take risks, create new content, and engage in important community conversations.

It is also time for SCJ to recognize outstanding leadership and vision. Annually, SCJ awards those individuals and chapters who have served their respective communities with fortitude, vision and ethics. Our seven SCJ awards include:

Each of the awards require nominations or self-nominations, which is where you come in. Consider nominating your own best and brightest, or others you know to be outstanding in the student media field. Our website now provides easy online nomination forms. You can access forms for each award using the links above.

Most important: several of our awards have a September 15, 2015 deadline, so time is of the essence. But we’re journalists, so deadlines are in our blood, right?

Please go to the website today and take a moment to nominate.

1499499_714671640617_1379616982_nAndrea Frantz, Ph.D. is associate professor of digital media at Buena Vista University, Iowa. She was installed as SCJ President at the 2014 Biennial. She’s an advocate of student journalists and the First Amendment. She’ll be blogging periodically about SCJ and other news.

2015 National Contest Results

Hey, SCJers! We hope you’re having a great summer.

We’ve got 2015 National Contest results ready to share (finally!). We’re sorry for the delay. We had a change in leadership this year, and so there has been a bit of a learning curve with getting everything processed and ready to share.

Please check out this PDF, which is a complete list of winners with judges comments. Congrats to all of our winners! We’re really proud of you all.

We’re wishing everyone a great 2015/2016 academic year filled with great news stories!

logo_cornerDon’t forget! Please send along photos of induction ceremonies, SCJ-sponsored events, and the like so we can share your good news with the rest of our SCJ family. Email pictures and information to

Fun times at #CMANYC15

It’s been nearly one month since SCJ took the College Media Association’s Spring New York City Convention by storm!

Thanks to our Buena Vista, Marywood, and Robert Morris chapters for submitting your CMA photos!

Next stop: Austin, Fall 2015!

President’s Post: That week when one journalist and one non-journalist broke my heart…

(Or…why accountability really is what it’s all about)

BY Andrea Frantz, Ph.D.
SCJ President

I’m not going to lie. This week was pretty heartbreaking.

Was it because Walking Dead fans had to relive the deaths of Tyreese and Beth? Nope. As long as Michonne lives, that’s all that really matters. Was it because Kanye West didn’t actually speak into the microphone when he (again) stormed the stage following a Beyoncé loss? Decidedly not. I could go many years without more words of wisdom from Kanye and be just fine, thanks. Was it because friends in New England were again looking at being buried in more of winter’s fury? Well, admittedly, I’m feeling a lot of sympathy there, but no. I’m an Iowan. Weather is a constant, but it never breaks us. Am I heartbroken over more naysayers on childhood immunizations? Oh, I’ve got a lot of frustration and anger, but no heartbreak.

No, my heartbreak comes from the loss of two influential voices in journalism. One of them calls himself a journalist but may have temporarily or occasionally forgotten the journalists’ code: SPJ’s edict to ‘Seek the Truth and Report It.” The other would never call himself a journalist, but did more to raise awareness of political and social issues as a satirist than most journalists.

My heart cracked initially when NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was suspended because he ‘misremembered’ an experience he hearkened to several times over the past dozen years. He apparently was not in a Chinook helicopter that was shot down in Iraq, though he has claimed several times that he was. And in the wake of that revelation, new questions have arisen about the veracity of other reports, specifically during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

But my heart officially shattered when Jon Stewart, perhaps this generation’s greatest political and social satirist, announced his departure from The Daily Show. The Comedy Central anchor show is—for better or worse—the means by which so many of my students actually learn about what’s going on in the world.

First, let me address the Williams loss. Network anchors are journalists. Journalists are bound by the SPJ Code of Ethics. They need to know it, practice it, and call out those who violate its tenets. Those news outlets that have questioned and pursued the truth of this case are right to do so. NBC had no choice but to suspend Williams if there is even a small question of his credibility.

Because, in the end, it is credibility that’s at the heart of journalism. The nightly news anchor has long been seen as the face of the network. It’s Peter Jennings’s voice and face I will always associate with some of the most important stories of my adult life: the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster; the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bosnian war. I lived those experiences with Peter Jennings in my living room. And I am no different from millions of Americans. People come to associate lived and shared social experience with the person or people who deliver the news of that experience.

Unrealistic as it may be, we tend to hold those media leaders to a higher standard than everyone else, because they are a constant and because we feel we know them. Williams, as not only anchor but also Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, represented the network and the field at its highest level. I’m no psychologist; thus, I won’t try to address the faulty memory claim. It may well be true that he’s misremembered. The brain can be a funny thing. But when journalists become the news, and when memes and hashtags poking fun at journalistic integrity flood social media, the field is irreparably damaged.

So, heart cracked.

And then it shattered when coming on the heels of the Williams disappointment, Jon Stewart announced his departure at the end of the year from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Why am I including this comedian, who has long maintained “I don’t want to be a journalist; I am not a journalist” in with my lament for the field of journalism this week?

Again, it comes back to accountability. While Jon Stewart and his team at The Daily Show may not be journalists, per se, what they do for the field on a regular—indeed unrelenting—basis is hold the field of journalism (and yes, politicians, educators, and…OK, people in general) accountable for their public statements and actions. All. The. Time. And this is precisely what we should all be doing in the field every day. But we don’t. So we need the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts out there to challenge us to rethink the very nature of truth, what we believe, and why we believe it.

Americans love entertainment and gravitate to it over straight information consistently. Why read about the complicated political machinations of Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels when we can watch Entertainment Tonight and hear Seth Myers nominate Russian President Vladimir Putin to the ALS ice bucket challenge? We just have to think less on the latter story, and in this information age in which we are bombarded by so much information, sometimes folks need to take it with a spoonful of sugar. Or so my students frequently tell me.

So while Jon Stewart’s riffs on news and news reporting are never delivered with even a modicum of sugar, there’s something to be said for getting people to pay attention to issues even while they’re laughing. Stewart’s dedication to political and social satire is a journalistic service, something that goes beyond entertainment. He has challenged the field of journalism to be accountable, and when it’s not, he’s called offenders out.

If the Brian Williamses of journalism are inevitable, we need the Jon Stewarts to hold up the mirror and answer the question, ‘Who’s the least ethical of all?’ Satire, when it’s done as well as it has been by The Daily Show, is the counter force when the reality of our human limits gets too weighty.

Are they both losses? Absolutely. When we lose smart voices in media it’s always a loss. But it’s Stewart’s voice I’m going to miss most because I’m afraid that journalism accountability will require yet more skewering down the line.

1499499_714671640617_1379616982_nAndrea Frantz, Ph.D. is associate professor of digital media at Buena Vista University, Iowa. She was installed as SCJ President at the 2014 Biennial. She’s an advocate of student journalists and the First Amendment. She’ll be blogging periodically about SCJ and other news.

President’s Post: SCJ taking a bite of the Big Apple

Students from across the country will again converge on the media capital of the world, New York City, March 11-14 to participate in the College Media Association convention.

In addition to all of the traditional perks of attending CMA in New York (i.e., the best media tours on the planet; the New York CMA Photo Shoot Out; and, of course, Nuts 4 Nuts on nearly every street corner), we hope that all of our SCJ members will participate in several SCJ-sponsored events.

First, SCJ’s national office will be sponsoring the advisers’ lounge and doing a meet and greet on Thursday, March 12. We’ll announce our location via a flyer in everyone’s registration bag, and hope you’ll consider dropping in, partaking of some refreshments and meeting some of the Executive Council members.

We’re also excited that SCJ will offer several fun, interactive sessions at the conference. Student Press Law Center’s Executive Director, Frank LoMonte, and the Newseum Institute’s Chief Operating Officer, Gene Policinski will team up in a rapid-fire session that explores the top 10 First Amendment challenges facing student media today. This session will be followed by a fast and furious First Amendment Trivia showdown led by myself and joined by the aforementioned First Amendment dynamic duo. This is a session you won’t want to miss because there will be some fun 1A swag to be won.

Ever wonder why judges for media contests make the decisions they do? SCJ Vice President Lindsey Wotanis will lead a session #Winning: Why Contests Matter that addresses that question and more. Previous and current SCJ national contest and Pacemaker judges will take on the challenge of judging student work in the moment during this session to offer students some insights into the qualities that make an entry rise to the top.

Be looking for these opportunities and more to enhance your CMA New York experience in March. See you in the Big Apple!

1499499_714671640617_1379616982_nAndrea Frantz, Ph.D. is associate professor of digital media at Buena Vista University, Iowa. She was installed as SCJ President at the 2014 Biennial. She’s an advocate of student journalists and the First Amendment. She’ll be blogging periodically about SCJ and other news.

President’s Post: SCJ and CMA form partnership for future conferences

Look for some exciting changes in the coming months for SCJ.

Following the 2014 SCJ Biennial conference held at Bethany College in Bethany, WV, Executive Council members responded to delegates’ challenge to boost national profile and participation in our every other year gathering.

We needed to look no further than Lori Brooks, Associate Executive Director of College Media Association (CMA). CMA offers arguably the nation’s most active gatherings for student media leaders twice yearly in cities known for vibrant, active media. Let’s face it; is there a media mecca more exciting than New York City?

College Media Association’s conventions have long set the standard for how to put together thought-provoking speaker line-ups; engaging hands-on workshops; and valuable educational coaching through critique and mentoring services. In short, colleges and universities want to go to CMA at least once a year, and in this day and age of shrinking travel budgets many of us had to make the painful decision to cut out other travel in order to do so.

As a result, SCJ Executive Council members proposed to strengthen an already good partnership with CMA, which Brooks and President Rachele Kanigel immediately welcomed.

What does this mean for SCJ chapters?

  • Beginning in fall 2016, SCJ will host its biennial meeting in conjunction with CMA’s fall convention in Atlanta, GA. Chapters will be encouraged to arrive a half day early and participate in SCJ’s workshops and then stay and enjoy all of the excitement of CMA’s convention offerings.
  • SCJ will now look to announce its major awards (including the Sheridan Barker Award for Adviser of the Year and the Arthur H. Barlow Student Journalist of the Year) at the CMA fall conventions in the special session dedicated to advising awards.
  • At both the fall and spring CMA conventions, SCJ will propose and sponsor sessions designed specifically for SCJ chapters that address key student media issues. We’ve already scheduled some exciting sessions for New York 2015 that address First Amendment questions and also the value of entering student work in national contests.
  • Each spring, SCJ will host a day at the CMA Adviser’s Lounge, where chapter advisers and those interested in learning more about SCJ can relax and meet each other and Executive Council members.

And this is just the beginning…We hope that these changes will excite even more chapters to engage and contribute to our growing ranks.

We’re excited to see you in New York!

1499499_714671640617_1379616982_nAndrea Frantz, Ph.D. is associate professor of digital media at Buena Vista University, Iowa. She was installed as SCJ President at the 2014 Biennial. She’s an advocate of student journalists and the First Amendment. She’ll be blogging periodically about SCJ and other news.