Tag Archives: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold is Merrill Commencement Speaker

David Fahrenthold - Washington Pos.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (March 7) – Washington Post Investigative reporter David Fahrenthold will be Merrill College’s commencement speaker this coming May. The ceremony is set for the Memorial Chapel on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m.

During the recent presidential campaign, Fahrenthold’s coverage included a year-long series of articles that became must-read as he tried to find out what non-profit organizations Donald Trump had contributed to. He described the experience – using a simple pad of paper to list each non-profit as he called them – in a Post article on Dec. 29 of last year. (He found that Trump has made very few charitable contributions over the years – and used his foundation to pay for personal things like a portrait of himself and even cub scout dues for his son.)


Merrill Student Committee Plan

A Merrill College committee of seniors graduating in May met last semester to talk about possible speakers.The committee included Ellie Silverman, Talia Richman, Michael Stern, Cameron Rogers, Carm Saimbre, Ciara Cione, Maggie Gottlieb and Erica Bonelli.

They came up with a Doodle Pole for the senior class to get their top choices and Fahrenthold rose to the top.

The students came up with a two-part plan:

  • Knight Chair Dana Priest – who is also a Post reporter – talked with Fahrenthold about being commencement speaker and he indicated he would be excited to speak. But there was more to do:
  • The students decided to use social media (primarily Twitter) to reach out to him during Leslie Walker’s JOUR480 (The Business of Journalism) class. As Talia Richman observed in an email, “When Fahrenthold was reporting on Donald Trump’s charitable giving, he kept his Twitter followers up-to-date on his findings and crowdsourced to get more information. This was an incredible way to use new technology to do basic follow-the-money reporting. We thought it would be cool to use this method as a way to ask him to be our grad speaker.” Hand-written requests on plain paper would be used as a way to get the messaging out during their Twitter campaign Monday evening, March 6.

After some 100 posts our students had a definitive answer!


The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold.


The 2016 ScienceBEAT Project

ScienceBeat Header shot.

Combining Science and Journalism Education To Address Climate Change

By Associate Professor Ron Yaros

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Feb. 21) – How can future scientists explain climate change to future journalists and how can journalists better understand the science?  Those were the key questions explored in a one-year experimental study titled “ScienceBEAT,” conducted by a collaborative team of researchers from four University of Maryland colleges and six teachers from three Prince George’s Public High Schools in 2016.  High schools included DuVal, Northwestern, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The objectives of the study were to test whether collaborative teaching and learning  by science and journalism students would enhance their: (1) Interest and engagement in science, (2) Understanding of climate change, and (3) Communication of scientific information to a general audience.

The University of Maryland team included:  principal co-investigators Ronald Yaros in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and Ross Salawitch from the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (CMNS), plus Wayne Slater in the College of Education, Amir Sapkota in the School of Public Health, and Timothy Canty from Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (CMNS) The team met regularly to develop a set of classroom lessons for each of the six ScienceBEAT “modules” that addressed the predictions and consequences of climate change and their effects on human health. The final module prompted students to consider possible solutions and responses to climate change.

One of the unique aspects of the ScienceBEAT initiative was the presentation of each science lesson in science classrooms while teachers in journalism classrooms simultaneously presented the journalism lesson about the same topic. The set of lessons in each module was designed to synthesize learning among 607 students in both types of classrooms using the latest research and topics related to climate. Subsequent “interviews” of a science student by a journalism student guided both to succinctly – but accurately – explain climate change.

Pre and post testing of the students in the three high schools indicated a statistically significant increase in the students’ understanding of key climate change concepts. “Results from this project illustrate the many benefits of a mutually beneficial collaboration between several departments across campus and local high schools,” said Ronald Yaros, associate professor in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.  “ScienceBEAT also provides unique opportunities for our future citizens to learn science and effective communication of science.”

Results from the pilot study, which was funded by UMD’s senior vice president and provost office and the Council on the Environment, are now included in subsequent proposals for external funding to expand ScienceBEAT beyond Maryland.  More information can be found at www.sciencebeat.org.

NBC’s Jimmy Roberts Offers Advice to Merrill Students

NBC Sports comentator Jimmy Roberts.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Feb. 21) – Award-winning NBC Sports commentator Jimmy Roberts ’79 is offering some of his best advice to Merrill College students in a new video.

Roberts began his journalism career as a writer for his high school newspaper and later graduated from the University of Maryland with a journalism degree. Roberts is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and writer known most recently for his work on NBC and Golf Channel as an essayist, interviewer, feature reporter and studio host.

  • He is a fixture on NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage of the PGA TOUR and other high-profile golf events, including the Ryder Cup. Roberts joined NBC Sports Group in May 2000 after a long career at ABC and ESPN in which he won 11 Sports Emmy Awards.
  • In 2009, Harper Collins published Roberts’ first book, Breaking the Slump, which deals with how some of the best golfers to ever play the game dug themselves out of dry spells.
  • Roberts served as an Olympic correspondent during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Rio was his 16th Olympic assignment. He lives in the New York area with his wife, Sandra, and their three sons.

Roberts was honored with a “Distinguished Terrapin” award by the Shirley Povich Sports Center last November.

In his video, Roberts tells students that an important part of their college career is to mix classwork with real-world experiences sharpening skills and growing as a person. Thanks to Povich Center Director George Solomon for making this video possible!

Blackistone Named Professor of the Practice

Kevin Blackistone has been appointed a Professor of the Practice by University President Dr. Wallace Loh.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Feb. 20) – University of Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh announced today that he has approved the appointment of Merrill College Visiting Professor Kevin Blackistone to the rank of Professor of the Practice.

In a congratulatory message to the Merrill College community, Dean Lucy Dalglish wrote, “This appointment reflects the value the entire university places on Kevin’s professional accomplishments and contributions to the college. Whether it has been through his work for ESPN or the Washington Post, speaking at a conference or teaching and mentoring our students, Kevin’s work has been thoughtful and provocative. He has never turned down a request to serve on a committee or speak to a class. I am thrilled about the next phase of Kevin’s career at Merrill College.”

About Professor of the Practice

The University of Maryland’s Faculty Handbook says, “This title may be used to appoint individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the practice as well as leadership in specific fields. The appointee shall have attained regional and national prominence and, when appropriate, international recognition of outstanding achievement. Additionally, the appointee shall have demonstrated superior teaching ability appropriate to assigned responsibilities.”

About Kevin Blackistone

Kevin Blackistone is a longtime national sports columnist now at The Washington Post, a panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn, a contributor to National Public Radio and co-author of A Gift for Ron, a memoir by former NFL star Everson Walls published in November 2009 about his kidney donation to one-time teammate Ron Springs.

Blackistone is a recipient of numerous awards, including awards for sports column writing from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, for investigative reporting from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and for enterprise reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists. Blackistone was a Davenport Fellow at the University of Missouri and a Wharton Business Journalism Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Martin Luther King Fellow at Boston University as a graduate student.

Blackistone is on the board of directors of the Society for Features Journalism Foundation and he serves on the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Task Force on Recruiting for Academic Diversity.

He has authored academic journal articles on diversity in sports media and hagiography in sports film documentary. He was a visiting lecturer at Beijing Sport University in summer 2014.

Blackistone teaches two sports classes at Merrill College:

JOUR328 Sports Reporting and Writing.

JOUR458 How Sports Journalism Constructs Our World.


Merrill Students Create New Political Blog

Beltway Bulletin Logo.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Feb. 15) – Merrill College students have debuted a new “Beltway Bulletin” political blog that aims to, “provide high quality news, commentary and analysis on politics from the Maryland State House, to the White House and everything in between.”

Led by senior Michael Stern ’17 and sophomore Pablo Roa ’19, the new blog, with social media from Twitter and Facebook to cross-promote,  will offer podcasts, videos as well as print stories focused on the DMV region.

“Nothing has more of an impact on the lives of everyday Americans than their local governments and representatives,” said Stern. “We felt that these jurisdictions were not getting the coverage they deserved, and that a publication dedicated to covering local politics would be the best way to make that happen. We also felt that voters – particularly young, college-aged voters – are not interested in what their local governments are doing, and we believe that the Beltway Bulletin can help solve that problem.”

Roa said there are high hopes for the future of the blog. “We’ve already pushed out some quality content, and we’re just getting started. As our team continues to grow, we hope to bring our readers the type of thorough coverage of local government throughout Maryland that they won’t find anywhere else,” he said.

Merrill College junior – and multiplatform major –  Alex Mann is serving as managing editor for Beltway Bulletin. Freshman and multiplatform major Katrina Schmidt is managing editor.  Sophomore broadcast journalism and government and politics double-major Lauren Koenig is multimedia director.
Stern said the biggest obstacle in making the new blog successful is making local politics interesting. “But by covering local governments and demonstrating how important they are for people’s everyday lives, we think we can get people interested and, more importantly, involved in what is arguably the most important aspect of American politics,” he said.
Beltway Bulletin on Twitter – @BeltwayBulletin
Beltway Bulletin on Facebook – beltwaybulletin