We will protect this house

Nobody should beat you on a story on your campus.

Nobody. Ever.

I don’t care if you are a weekly, a monthly or you just publish whenever you jolly well please. You can’t get beat at home.

Publication frequency is not a factor. We now have this new-fangled interwebby thingamabopper. Don’t have a website? Make one. WordPress is free on its basic level.

You don’t know Dick.

You don’t. And you probably don’t know Jane or Spot, either. So run, run, run. And get to know everything about everything on your campus.

It isn’t the local daily’s campus. It’s YOUR campus.

Every once in a while, I used to give students a beginning-of-the-year test. I would ask them to name all the university administrators. President, VPs, deans, department chairs. I would ask them to identify by sight the Board of Governors members. And that was just for starters.

They would whiff for the most part.

So, I turned it into a scavenger hunt. I gave them a sheet or two with people to find. They needed not only the name but that person’s e-mail and phone information. When they had it all filled out, I would put it into a three-hole puncher right in front of them. Then I would tell them to put it in their source books (more on that in a later post).

You don’t know much about history, either

You really don’t, I bet.

You need to know about important people and milestones in the university’s history. These provide good stories such as anniversaries and looks at the progress (or lack of progress) in key areas. Another good idea (and this one is from a former student in the broadcast area) is to look at the people behind the names. Who were these people who now have “hall” after their name in front of campus buildings?

These are the stories that no one else will have and a lot of people will read.

Be a Basset Hound and a Bulldog at the same time

Aren’t Basset Hounds cute?

Big, sad eyes and those stubby little legs. Be like the Basset. Get in good with people. But don’t be afraid to turn Bulldog.

Bulldogs have tenacity. They keep after it. Do that. There is a favorite scene of mine from the movie “Roadhouse.” In it, Patrick Swayze’s character explains his philosophy of being a bouncer:

“If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you and you’ll both be nice. I want you to remember that it is just a job. It is nothing personal…I want you to be nice until it is time to not be nice.”

Then turn into a watchdog. And bite before the local media even knows there is a fight.

Because I am a professionally trained reporter

My students recognize this one. It is my stock answer to most questions that begin with “How did you know…?”

It should be yours, too. Because you are. Your professors and advisers know a lot of stuff because they have built over time a deep network of sources. You should do the same.

My students have always loved to come to me and try to one-up me with information I might not know. Strive for that, too. If you can get a scoop on your journalism teachers and advisers, the local press can’t beat you. Guaranteed.

How do you develop that network? That is a post to come…

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One Response to We will protect this house

  1. ngardner23 says:

    I don’t why I didn’t read this sooner but now that I have I’m thankful I decided to. I’m already kind of a Basset Hound, and I think that I’m well on my way to becoming the Bulldog.
    See you Friday! Great post.

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