Tag Archives: Media

“Discharging Trouble” Looks at Maryland Nursing Homes

In Maryland, uneven oversight of nursing homes allows some patients to slip through the cracks.

UPDATE: Dec. 21, 2016: Maryland’s attorney general takes action against nursing home operator Neiswanger Management Services (NMS).  Attorney General Brian Frosh files suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court alleging NMS kicked out residents to increase Medicare payments. NMS denies any wrongdoing. See Washington Post reporter Dan Morse’s story for more.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Oct. 4) – A major new Capital News Service investigation of Maryland nursing homes called “Discharging Trouble” has found:

  • Patients like 59 year-old Vonda Wagner who literally fell into a “black hole” in the regulatory system designed to protect nursing home patients;
  • Maryland state nursing home regulators have a persistent staffing problem and are struggling to keep up;
  • Financial issues between two federal health insurance programs – Medicare and Medicaid – provides nursing home operators an incentive to discharge patients when the more generous Medicare benefit expires;
  • A creaky state regulatory system clashing with the bottom-line mentality of modern nursing home chains can leave vulnerable patients in unlicensed assisted living facilities that are often inadequate and dangerous.


The “Discharging Trouble” investigation was conducted last spring by students in then-Ph.D. student Rob Wells’ JOUR459e Business of Journalism class.

Now an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, Wells wrote about the fearless journalism committed by his students:

“I am very proud of their work and dedication. The learning curve on this topic was steep and they put in an extraordinary effort to tie together the many threads. My hats are off especially to Zoe Sagalow, now a Merrill College graduate and a reporter at Tax Notes, and Morgan Eichensehr, also a Merrill graduate and a reporter at the Baltimore Business Journal.”

Wells added, “Sean Mussenden at Capital News Service (Digital Bureau Director) did a great job with the website and excellent editing. (Visiting Fellow) Tom Bettag and (Eaton Broadcast Chair) Mark Feldstein guided the video work. And (Abell Professor in Baltimore Journalism) Sandy Banisky devoted hours of her time brainstorming, editing, meeting with students and yet even more editing. I am honored to have worked with these students and first-class educators.”

Wells discussed the project with Merrill journalist Simone Thomas:

Zoe Sagalow – now a federal tax and data reporter at Tax Notes Today in Washington, D.C. – said, “I’m very glad that we found this story and that Merrill and CNS supported us in pursuing it. It was a rare and valuable experience to do investigative reporting while still in school. Rob Wells taught us about investigative reporting in general as well as specifics to apply to this significant project. He brought in other faculty to advise us on various aspects of the project. The way our class collaborated with other students and professors/editors outside of our class contributed to making CNS feel like a professional newsroom.”For more information contact:

David Ottalini
Sr. Communications Manager
Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Merrill College: Fearless Journalism

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – What does Fearless Journalism mean at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism? We’ve given that a lot of thought – and we think that for our potential – and current – Merrill journalists, there’s a lot to say about what we will teach you and ultimately, how you will practice as a working journalist going into the future. Never has there been a time that required more from journalists. The training you will receive here – everything from investigative journalism to sports –  will make a difference. It will make you a fearless journalist.

Here’s what Fearless Journalism means:

  • The relentless search for what is true and meaningful;
  • The willingness to question conventional wisdom;
  • The courage to ask tough but fair questions;
  • The ability to set our own news agenda, and not follow that of others;
  • The perseverance to not give up when there are those who would deter you from pursuing a story;
  • The spirit to experiment with various modes of storytelling on many platforms;
  • The independence to hold the powerful accountable;
  • The wisdom to give voice to the powerless;
  • The vision to shape the agenda.

(Thanks to Jay Kernis ’74 and Chris Frates ’00)

There’s more!

Watch our new Fearless Journalism video that explains all the great classes, tools, experiences – in and out of class – that you’ll have here at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism:


Thanks to Ralph Crosby ’46 , John Seng ’79, David Butler (Butler Films) and Alanna Delfino ’14 for making this video possible.


Merrill College, ASNE Sponsor Cybersecurity Workshop

Cyber Security Workshop Agenda

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Philip Merrill College of Journalism will host an ASNE Cybersecurity Workshop June 3-4 in Knight Hall. The workshop is a one-of-its-kind event designed to help journalists cover cybersecurity issues in the most practical way.

The brainchild of Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism Dana Priest, the workshop is made possible by the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative.

Register today and receive a $300 travel, hotel and transportation reimbursement. Slots limited by hands-on computer training.

Here’s What You’ll Learn:

*Learn how cyber thieves steal the government’s secrets and yours too.

*Learn to report on cyber warfare, intrusions into banking, credit card, electricity companies

*Discover how ill-prepared police are to catch cyber stalkers

*See your digital exhaust and figure out how to explain it to readers/listeners/viewers

Designed to help journalists better understand, investigate, and explain cyber issues. We are behind the curve in this field of reporting.



Mark Lowenthal, former senior CIA officer and president of the Intelligence & Security Academy, which trains business and government executives in the mechanics and history of cyber hacking and exploitation

Ellen Nakashima, award-winning Washington Post cyber intel reporter, shares her experiences unearthing the dark world of cyber warfare and describes the state of cyber journalism today.

Ron Gula, former NSA penetration expert, CEO of Tenable Network Security and big thinker, talks industry warfare and sabotage, and how to penetrate this sensitive story.

Siobhan Gorman, former award-winning NSA reporter, Wall Street Journal, leads a story-brainstorming session.

Herb Lin, Stanford University cyber warfare expert dissects a recent attack and talks potential routes into these most difficult stories.

Michael Hamilton, former information security chief, city of Seattle, and head of Critical Informatics, Inc., explains the lack of state and local infrastructure defenses and law enforcement’s inability to stop cyber criminals.

Bruce Auster, NPR senior editor, explains how to map your digital exhaust.

Hasan Ehali, acclaimed artist and UMD scholar, on his artistic reaction to being questioned by the FBI as a suspected terrorist.

Ashley Messenger, NPR associate general counsel, on the challenges and best approaches to obtaining digital government records.

Patrick O’Shea, UMD.’s director of research, builds a philosophical framework for understanding our cyber world.

Lucy Dalglish, Dean, Merrill School of Journalism and nationally-recognized media rights lawyer, moderates.

Dana Priest, Knight Chair and award-winning Washington Post reporter, curated the workshop and moderates.

Co-sponsored by Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Place: Knight Hall, Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus.

Click here for directions

The deadline to make hotel reservations at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center (3501 University Blvd. E., Hyattsville, MD 20783) has expired, but there are still some rooms available at the same discounted rate of $119/night for single and $139/night for double. To book your room, please call Globetrotter Travel at 301-570-0800 or 800-322-7032 and ask for the cybersecurity block of rooms under the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Any cancellations must be made through the travel agency.

The Cybersecurity Workshop is funded by the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative whose goal is to “help develop a cybersecurity field capable of developing thoughtful, long-term solutions to the whole range of complex technical and public policy problems posed by the Internet.”

MJ Martinez Named NABJ/NAHJ Student Multimedia Project Member

Photo: LinkedIn

-Adapted from an NABJ/NAHJ press release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) this week announced the student members who will participate in the Student Multimedia Project during the 2016 Convention and Career Fair in Washington, D.C.

Among those students is Merrill College Master’s student Gabriela Martinez, who was chosen as an NAHJ student participant. Martinez is a multiplatform major. She is also a communications graduate assistant for the UMD College of Arts and Humanities. Before coming to Maryland, she worked with AmeriCorps as an ESOL instructor at St. Mark Community Education Program and worked overseas as a Fulbright Scholar in Russia.

The annual Student Multimedia Project offers student members the opportunity to receive on-the-job training from NABJ/NAHJ dedicated professional journalists at no cost.

The students produce both breaking news and long-form multimedia stories, which are featured in the convention’s daily newspaper (print and online), and on a daily newscast. Additionally, the students promote special events, programming, and sponsor-related information on the organization’s social media platforms.

The NABJ/NAHJ convention takes place Aug. 1-6, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Read the complete release.

Merrill College & Diamondback Shine at Mark of Excellence Regionals

Merrill College SPJ Award Winners! Region 2.

Note: Information from a Society of Professional Journalists news release was used for this release.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It was a time to shine for students from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism as well as the Diamondback student newspaper. During its Region 2 Mark of Excellence (MOE) Conference in Richmond, Va. April 9, SPJ – The Society of Professional Journalists – handed out major awards to UMD students across a wide range of journalism categories.  SPJ’s Region 2 comprises Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The conference was hosted by the Virginia Press Association.

First-place winners will move on to the national MOE competition among category winners from the 12 SPJ regions. National winners are notified in the late spring and recognized at Excellence in Journalism 2016 Sept. 18-20 in New Orleans.

There were:

  • Two dozen+ Merrill College associated awards;
  • Nine Diamondback awards;
  • One for the Left Bench (Hannah Yasharoff);
  • One Merrill student/work submitted from internship (Michelle Chavez/VOA video).


CNS Staff: Where’s the Pope?

Seven things we learned from Barbara Mikulski’s email exchanges with Hillary Clinton by Molly Podlesny.


Staff Capital News Service: The Brothel Next Door: Human Trafficking in Maryland.


Max Simpson: Flagged Down:  NFL penalties on the rise.

Sissi Cao: Can Under Armour win the world?



CNS Staff: CNSMaryland.org/Capital News Service.


CNSMaryland.org/Capital News Service.


CNS Staff: CNSMaryland.org/Capital News Service.


Joe Zimmerman, Joey Trull & Madeleine Derason: StarWarsDate.com.
Brittany Cheng: ViewFinder – Beyond the Sidelines.

IN-DEPTH REPORTING (Large 10.000+ students)

Capital News Service: The Brothel Next Door: Human Trafficking in Maryland.

Julie Gallagher: Low-income Alzheimer’s patients battle more than the disease.
Deidre McPhillips: DNA evidence brings hope, truth but only if tested; Some Maryland jurisdictions slow to report.

GENERAL NEWS REPORTING (Large 10,000+ students)

Grace Toohey: Transgender Marylanders hope legislation will align birth certificates with true identities.

Jacob Bell: Questions loom over effects of state’s oyster recovery efforts as watermen’s bottom lines.
Grace Toohey: Paratransit riders frustrated, MTA under scrutiny.


Michelle Chavez (VOA): Baltimore’s miniature libraries will try to “create unlimited possibilities.”

Gabe Katzman (CNS-TV): Great shakeout.

Hayley Fixler  (CNS-TV): Veterans Kayaking.


ViewFinder Fall 2015: Second Chances.

Karen Ye (CNS-TV): Up In Smoke:  What happened Maryland’s billions of tobacco settlement money.


Karen Tang: ViewFinder: Ballet for disabled children.

Ricky Lasser & Karen Tang: ViewFinder: Troops deploy game ball.
Ricky Lasser: ViewFinder: Trailer park.


Ricky Lasser & Karen Tang: ViewFinder: Troops deploy game ball.

Mike Tart (CNS-TV): Washington Nationals youth baseball academy.


Hayley Fixler (CNS-TV): Veterans Kayaking.
Giovanni Insignares (CNS-TV): Cosmic Golf.


CNS-TV Staff & Volunteers: Maryland Newsline.

Diamondback Student Newspaper Awards

Editorial Writing

Selected editorials by The Diamondback editorial board..

Feature Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Maryland’s hidden epidemic by Jon Banister.

General Column Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

For the love of God, there was Satan, Letter from an Op-editor, The perfect human can’t be designed by Yi “Patrick An.

Transgressive art is desecration of beauty; Not everything intended as art is art; Gun control by Andrew Adeola.

Sports Column Writing

Selected columns by Ryan Baillargeon Daniel Popper.

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Fastest to 500 by Callie Caplan.

Online News Reporting

University of Maryland expels record number of students for sexual assault by Ellie Silverman Darcy Costello.

Online Opinion & Commentary

Not everything intended as art is art; Holistic perspective improve healthcare; Biden should have run by Andrew Adeola.

Online Sports Reporting

The miss by Josh Needelman.

Left Bench

Online Opinion & Commentary

Ethics in the world of sports by Hannah Yasharoff.


About the Mark of Excellence Awards

The MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year.

Entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. The awards honor the best in student journalism. As such, judges were directed to choose only those entries they felt were outstanding work worthy of such an honor. If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. Any category not listed has no winner.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment: Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.