Thursday, December 23, 2010

Absence of Malice

Another film has been added to the film page - Absence of Malice starring Paul Newman and Sally Fields.  As a reporter for the fictional Miami Standard, Meg (Sally Fields) learns hard lessons about the consequences and the quality of her reporting.

The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, and the scenes in the newsroom were filmed at night in the newsroom of the actual Miami Herald.

The Killing Fields

Another film has been added to the page for films on journalism; The Killing Fields, directed by Roland Joffe, came out in 1984 and won three Academy Awards.  It tells the story of the friendship between Sydney Schanberg, a reporter for the New York Times who covered the war in Cambodia, and his Cambodian translator and assistant, Dith Pran.  Dith was forced to say behind when all of the Western journalists left Cambodia as the Khmer Rouge took over the country.

Mr. Dith survived forced labor and torture before escaping to Thailand.  He died in 2008 at the age of 65, and his obituary may be found at the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catholic Voices

I have added a new link for Catholic Voices to the Catholic Press sidebar to the right.  This group initially developed in preparation for the Holy Father's visit to the United Kingdom this fall. 

The organizers wanted to provide a pool of articulate young Catholics who could provide a calm, reasonable, and educated response to the questions brought forth by the media during this visit.  They trained the young people about how to work with a TV or radio studio and how to conduct themselves during an intense, high-pressure interview.

By all accounts the work has been a success, and the organization will continue to provide people to journalists seeking responses from everyday Catholics.  While Catholic Voices does not provide the official viewpoint of the Church, they seek to faithfully and accurately represent the teachings of the Church and the spiritual life.

Information about this organization was brought to class during our final discussions on journalism resources.  Training for seminarians in how to deal with the press may be another direction to take the new journalism course.  Even if a seminarian does not work as a reporter or for a news outlet, he will be dealing with the press as a priest and a pastor.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflecting on Journalism

Below are some excerpts from another fine reflection paper from our journalism students this semester.  Brother Peter Tynan's story on the Seminary Benefit Dinner may be found posted earlier in the blog.  Brother Peter:

Our journalism course's book on journalistic ethics, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel's The Elements of Journalism, has been for me one of the better books I have been required to read in the four years I have been at the seminary.  This may sound surprising for I would suspect one would expect me to number as my favorite books only those that are exclusively biblical, pastoral, or theological.  While I do have a couple from those topics, I must count Kovach and Rosenstiel's statement on journalistic ethics as being right up there.

A Couple Fun Lists

A couple of the resources the students this semester brought in from the Poynter Institute came in the form of lists.  First, we have Hank Stuever's 6 tips for incorporating humor into writing.admire those who can successfully bring humor to their work.

Second, we have 25 non-random things about writing short. For anyone who will be working in a parish or other church setting and needs to be writing for weekly bulletins or newsletters, this can be helpful.  (Developing homilists can take heed as well).  As the last item on the list points out, all short forms can be treated as their own literary genres.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writing on Religion

Another article from the Poynter Institute that was brought to class by one of the journalism students pertains to need for good coverage of religion news.  The article is a brief interview with CNN producer Eric Marrapodi.

As Catholics, we may have experienced our words being misrepresented by a reporter who simply does not have the background to understand our religious point of view.  This article points out other areas in which this can happen as well, thus raising our awareness of the need for solid education when dealing with other religious traditions.

Exercising Personal Conscience

Toward the end of the semester, the journalism students wrote a reflection paper in which they considered how they would apply the elements of journalism that we discussed to their work as a journalist.  Below are some excerpts from the paper by Quyen Truong:

Exercising personal conscience directly relates to the requirement of journalism providing exact information independently.  This is because journalism's final goal is to bring guidance and direction to its audience at all costs and under no pressure.  Kovach and Rosenstiel have [said], "Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power" (140).  If a journalist acts accordingly to the guidance of his conscience, nothing can prevent that person from conveying the good and exact news for the sake of the readers . . .

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Covering Trauma and Tragedy

Another resource was brought to our class toward the end of the semester by Brian Perez.  The article, also from the Poynter Institute, discusses the special challenges of covering traumatic situations - natural disasters, violence, unexpected loss.  The article mentions the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; its mission is to offer training and support for journalists who cover these stories. 

While we may rarely face these situations here on the hilltop, the advice in the article is sound and can, in part, apply to professionals working in other areas as well. Read the article here.  How might its suggestions apply to our pastoral ministries? 

Friday, December 17, 2010

National Punctuation Day

Each September, National Punctuation Day honors the little marks that keep our words organized.  This year the Poynter Institute also honored the complement of punctuation, white space, an important element in the design of any newspaper, magazine or website.

See the article "On National Punctuation Day, Let's Celebrate White Space" and enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Work

Below is an anecdote from Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, a new addition to the page of books on journalism.  While this book considers the nature of good work in range of fields, a large portion of the book is dedicated to journalists.  The authors continue their research in this area through the Good Work Project.

Here is a passage drawn from an address to new medical students.  As journalists, as seminarians and as future priests and pastors, have you had an experience like this one?  Has someone laid it on the line for you?  What did he or she say?

From Good Work:
A well-known medical student recalled the dramatic impact made on him and his fellow classmates as they entered the Harvard Medical School in the early 1950s and were addressed by Dean George Packer Berry:

You'd come, brand new freshman, right out of college, and he says, "Welcome to Harvard Medical School.  Tell me the definition of a profession."  None of us had a clue, because we had never thought of it.  We're going into this lifelong profession and we didn't have a clue.  So he would call on people and have them stand up.  They . . . usually would drone on about "learning everything."  After an hour . . . he said, "No.  A profession is a set of behaviors, a code of behavior above the marketplace.  You do not lie to your patients.  You do not deceive them.  You do not over charge them, and you do not abandon them."  And he walked out (90).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seminary Dinner Performances

We have another fine story about the recent Benefit Dinner:

Music and the Seminary Benefit Dinner
by Brother Peter Tynan, OSB

On the evening of November 7th Mount Angel Seminary held its Seventh Annual Seminary Benefit Dinner at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.  The seminary event had over 600 guests and 182 seminarians in attendance.

When asked why they attended the dinner, benefactors gave a variety of answers.  Angele Rey of Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton said, "It is great to see so many seminarians."  Pam Krumm, also from Holy Trinity, added, "[There are] so many nice people here; I have never met so many priests and seminarians.  I even got to meet the bishop!"  Marylee Vuylsteeke was likewise amazed at the number of attendees and seminarians.  She said, "This is a great opportunity to see the whole Catholic family in western Oregon gathered together."

It was not only the benefactors who enjoyed meeting the seminarians, but the seminarians enjoyed meeting the people who helped pay for their educations.  Bert Mello, a seminarian of the Diocese of Fresno, said, "I really like the excitement of the people when they see so many men studying for the priesthood."  Joseph Fleming of the Diocese of Helena noted, "I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories."

The Seminary Benefit Dinner was more than an opportunity for benefactors and seminarians to meet one another.  The dinner was also an opportunity for the seminarians to show off some of their talent.  The evening's program featured songs and dance by different seminary groups.  The Samoan seminarians put on a popular show as they sang and swayed to a medley of Samoan songs.  Samoan seminarian Mikaele Lafaele said, "We created a medley of songs that we thought would express our appreciation to the benefactors of the seminary."

The seminary's Irish Band followed with a couple well-performed ballads.  The band included Fr. Pius X Harding on the Bodhran (an Irish frame-drum), seminarian Matthew Ramsey on guitar, and seminarian Michael Andrade on banjo.  The chorus was composed not only of seminarians of Irish descent but also included a couple Samoans.

The evening's entertainment concluded with songs sung by the full student body of the seminary.  The seminarians sang Come Follow Me before an appeal speech by Mr. Chris Corrado.  After the appeal the seminarians concluded the evening by singing Shepherd Me, O God.

The dinner and appeal proved to be a fundraising success for the seminary.  The seminary was able to secure $618,000 in pledges for seminarian education.  This was an $80,000 increase from the previous year.

Reflecting back on the evening, guest Susan Price said, "I really liked the entertainment!  The Samoans and Irish Band were great, but it was incredible seeing all the seminarians up on the stage."  Connie Chambers added, "While the dinner was wonderful, I have to say I really liked the singing.  Where else can you see so many good young men singing together?"  This opportunity to see 180 seminarians all singing together was possibly the reason for the dinner's tremendous success.

MAS Writing Assistants

From left to right, the writing assistants at Mount Angel Seminary for the 2010-2011 school year: Brother Peter Tynan, Kevin Jam, Michael Andrade, and Craig Hanley

One of the best resources available to writing students at Mount Angel Seminary, including our journalism students, are the seminarians that work in our writing center.  These men hold individual appointments with students who would like to work on any writing project.  To learn more visit the writing center in Anselm 125, see Sister Hilda, or ask one of the assistants to share with you about his work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finding Your Next Story

Towards the of the semester, the journalism students have been exploring the resources available to them from the Poynter Institute, including this short list - "10 ways to find stories other journalists are missing." 

Even within our small seminary community, there are stories we can overlook; taking heed of these pointers can improve our coverage.  Plus, as future priests and pastors, these tips can also help our students gain a better understanding of their parishioners.  Here's the first tip - visit the link for the rest.

1. Step out of your comfort zone.  

Take a different route to work.  Eat lunch at a neighborhood you haven't spent much time in.  Drop in on a random community meeting.  Visit a church you've never been to.  If you're a sports fan, go to a concert.  If you're a music fan, go to a game.  Get out of your routine.

The Annual Benefit Dinner

As we conclude the semester, our journalism students are turning in their final stories:

Seminary Annual Benefit Dinner Supported Priestly Vocations
by Quyen Truong 

Mount Angel Seminary's Seventh Annual Benefit Dinner took place at the Portland Convention Center on Sunday, November 7, 2010.  The participants of the Seminary Benefit Dinner come from different walks of life, but they all have the same love and support for the priesthood and the seminarians.

"We come here to support seminarians and their missions.  The Church needs good priests, and it is important for us to be here as supporters of priestly vocations," said Mrs. Lois Scowcroft from Saint Patrick Parish in Portland.  She also explained that the presence of benefactors at the  Benefit Dinner tells seminarians that people are always there for them, both spiritually and materially.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sports Coverage

Scott Simon, one of the finest journalists working today, has received every major award in broadcasting.  One of his loves is sports, and several of his books focus on this subject.  One of them is Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, a short book that is part of the Turning Points Series published by Wiley and Sons.  Simon integrates comments on the coverage Jackie Robinson received by the press into the story of this brave man who integrated major league baseball when he began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  For example:

The Dodgers drew 37,000 people for a Friday night, April 18, game at the Polo Grounds against the Giants.  Jackie Robinson hit his first major league home run.  The next day, more than 52,000 people swarmed into the Polo Grounds, the largest attendance figure in the ballpark's history.  By April 24, Jackie Robinson was hitting .429 on the season.  The Baltimore Afro-American, Pittsburgh Courier, Chicago Defender, and other black newspapers detailed each of Robinson's at bats as a separate feature, as if each time Robinson came to the plate, he took another step across the moon - which, in a way, he had.  The Afro-American reported that most of the major white-owned newspapers in Florida had deleted all mention of Robinson's hits, runs, and stolen bases from their game stories.  It was as fruitless as looking for news about Soviet famines in Pravda (117).

The journalism of the black newspapers stands the test of time because it recognized and acknowledged the significance of the events that were unfolding.

In terms of our own journalism here at the seminary, we can reflect on our coverage of the seminary's sporting events.  What are the underlying stories of different games and matches?  Aside from the score, what do these events tell us about the men who are participating and their formation for the priesthood?