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Media Frenzy

Media FrenzyTwo separate student and alumni groups work toward supporting the thriving journalistic community at Tufts.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.14.08] More than a decade separates Duncan Pickard (A'10) and David Meyers (A'96), but the former Tufts newspaper editors share a common bond to the university where they honed their craft. Both agree that, for a university that does not award a journalism degree, there is significant interest in the subject, enough for each of them to lead a separate Tufts media group.

"The Tufts Daily and the Tufts Observer are such a big part of student life and so many people get involved in [campus media]," says Meyers. "You form such a passion for it, whether you're an editor, a reporter, photographer or copy editor, that you want to continue doing it and you feel a sense satisfaction in putting together a newspaper or a TV broadcast. I think it is an easy profession for someone to fall in love with."

This love of the profession prompted Meyers, managing editor of the Washington, D.C. newspaper Roll Call and former editor-in-chief of the Tufts Daily, to establish an alumni organization that would be an umbrella for all campus media. Together with fellow alum Myah Evers Schwartz (J'99) he co-founded Tufts Journalism Society (TJS).

"The idea was to create a network for alumni who either are in journalism now or were involved in campus media then, or both," Meyers says. "It is basically for anyone who has an interest in the media, either as a student or a professional journalist."

With a kick-off event at Newsweek's New York office last September, Meyers says just over 100 people have expressed interest in TJS so far. Discussing how the press is and isn't covering the 2008 elections were Patrick Healy (A'93) of The New York Times, Jason Samuels (A'92) of ABC News and Director of Communications and Media Studies Julie Dobrow as the panel moderator.

"Now we are looking at more events for the future, including one in Boston, maybe one in Washington, D.C. and California," Meyers says. "We are hoping to build a network of people who can interact with each other and with students on campus at social events, professional events. The biggest thing for TJS is going to be making it a much more active group with more events and more networking opportunities both for alumni and alumni to students. That is going to be a big priority for us over the next year."

On Apr. 14, renowned broadcaster Tom Brokaw moderated the Third Annual Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism, where a panel of practicing journalists and politicians discussed "Noise vs. News? The State of Political Coverage." Check back soon for archived video.

Another group, the Media Advocacy Board (MAB), is headed by current student Pickard, former editor of the Observer, who now focuses mainly on his work with MAB. Originally called the Media Advisory Board, MAB is a student-run organization that seeks to build collaboration between members of the various media outlets at Tufts, such as the Daily, the Observer and WMFO.

According to Pickard, MAB lets "editors collaborate, learning from each other and coming together as a voice to advocate for the rights of student journalists on campus."

"In the past, MAB has really worked as the administrative body in charge of the computer lab in Curtis Hall," Pickard says. "What we tried to do this year is make the lab be a better support system for campus media with new technology, but we also have tried to expand our role from administrative to providing more programming support to develop connections between the different editors."

Part of the programming included taking on the second annual Student Journalism Conference, held March 1. Pickard says this was the first year that MAb took the reigns of this event, which included a panel discussion with Connie Hale, narrative program director at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Rob Bertsche, Tufts lecturer on "Media Law and Ethics in a Digital World" and freelance reporter Phil Primack, to discuss the future of student journalism in the digital age.

"We discussed how to better integrate the web into what we do and how to shape up language for the digital age," Pickard says. "We are hoping to expand the conference on a more reachable scope so that campus editors from all around Boston can come to Tufts and discuss these issues."

Though journalism isn't a formal part of the Tufts curriculum, both Meyers and Pickard think the force behind the field is strong enough to sustain itself in any environment.

"I don't think journalists really look at things differently than, say, a historian," Pickard says. "It takes people from all different backgrounds to make journalism work."

Profile by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications

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