Tag Archives: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

FIA Spark Grant Winners Include Merrill Students

FIA Spark Grant Winners for 2016.

The Spark Grant winners, their faculty mentors and FIA officials.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 12) – Merrill College students are members of two teams that won Future of Information (FIA) Innovation Spark Grants. Four finalists were chosen from eight teams during Friday’s competition held in Knight Hall. This year’s competition focused on virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive storytelling.

Each interdisciplinary team will receive up to $10,000 in stipends and expenses to carry out their projects next spring.

The journalism students on these teams are Jennie Aguilar, Camille Chrysostom, Naema Ahmed, Tom Hausman, Hannah Klarner, and Matthew Regan.  From the College of Journalism faculty, Josh Davidsburg and Sean Mussenden are jointly mentoring one of the teams (Food Desert).

The winning projects with Merrill students include:

Inside a Washington, D.C. Food Desert: Developing a Method for Combining Virtual Reality Video with Motion Graphic Data Visualization

ABSTRACT: We propose the development of an innovative storytelling method combining Virtual Reality video and motion-graphic data visualizations, allowing those who experience it to develop a deeper understanding of the challenge that poorer, African-American families in some Southeast Washington, D.C. neighborhoods face in easily obtaining nutritious food. To develop the project, we plan to work with WAMU, a media organization with a deep commitment to covering diverse communities in the Washington area, to produce an innovative, effective marriage of data visualization and VR video. In addition to releasing a proof-of-concept story on “food deserts” in Southeast Washington, we will produce an open-source package of data visualization templates specifically tailored for VR video environments, for use by other storytellers. We will also produce a digital “how-to” guide to help others build on our storytelling method and tutorials on the use of our template package.

The Rest of the Story: Credibility and the Three60 Reporter

ABSTRACT:  By exploring how 360 ­degree photos and videos can be used to create augmented news articles that allow the reader to see “The Rest of the Story” we seek to support improved trust in the credibility of photojournalists. The technology to capture 360 ­degree content and the ability to view has left its nascent state. Now is the time to look beyond just entertainment and to develop techniques and additional technologies to capitalize on these advances to serve the public good. In terms of FIA priorities, Credibility is the one most served by allowing the reader to view the context in which photos are taken and stories took place. The priorities of InfoLiteracy and Culture are also served; by helping readers become more media literate (increasing the awareness of how an article might not provide a full context) and through the types of news stories used to demonstrate our ideas.

The winning teams included 21 students and faculty mentors from eight UMD colleges and schools.  These were among eight semifinalist teams who pitched their projects on Friday. Those eight participating teams included 40 students and faculty from 10 UMD colleges and schools.

Read about all the winners and the FIA Spark Grant Competition.

Connie Mitchell Ford ’77 Delivers Fall Commencement Address

Connie Ford delivers her commencement address to Merrill College fall, 2016 graduates.mmencement speech

Visiting Professor Constance Mitchell Ford delivers her commencement address to Merrill College graduates, their families and friends.

Updated from the original Dec. 9, 2016 post.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 231) – Visiting Professor Constance (Connie) Mitchell Ford ’77 delivered Merrill College’s commencement address today.

A native of Washington, D.C., Ford talked to Merrill’s graduates about her view that, “journalism, despite the rapid changes and constant turmoil, remains a fantastic career.”

“It’s not easy, but it’s still exciting,” she said. “I’ve traveled all over the world and discovered some fascinating things about this country and other countries; talked to people I never would have had the privilege to interview–both big wigs and small fry–had I not represented a major media organization.”

A Journalist’s Career

Before coming to Merrill, Ford was a financial journalist who spent 35 years covering economics, banking, investing and real estate. Most of those years were spent at The Wall Street Journal in New York, where she started as a bond-market reporter and advanced to become a Bureau Chief managing economics and real-estate reporting teams. She has written about the U.S. government’s addiction to debt, South Africa’s economy after apartheid, the boom town that is Beijing, the rise and fall of the subprime mortgage market and financial engineering on Wall Street, among many other things.

Ford said she ended up in business journalism because there were so many questions to answer: “I always wanted to know why some people were rich and some poor, why some countries are rich and some poor, how much money does a family need to live comfortably and why in the world do banks lend money to people when they aren’t really sure those people will pay it back.”

She received an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland in 1977 and a Master’s degree in Economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1979.


Also see: Senior Dymond Green named student commencement speaker.

Main Commencement information.

Merrill College Commencement information.

The Left Bench Wins Five Baltimore Sun “Mobbie” Awards

Photo - Baltimore Sun/Steve Ruark

Photo – Baltimore Sun/Steve Ruark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 2) – The Merrill student-run Left Bench Sports Blog won five “Mobbie” (Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs) awards this week from the Baltimore Sun.

An article in the paper today reports the public nominated and voted for a wide range of blogs for the 8th annual celebration. The votes for the first 14 categories took place Oct. 12 through Nov. 25. The Sun says a staff panel then chose three winners of the Editor’s Choice awards.

Merrill College senior Michael Stern ’17 is one of the founders of The Left Bench and currently serves as TLB’s business director. He said, “These awards are incredible. To think The Left Bench is only three years old and has won eight awards (over two years) from The Baltimore Sun is beyond my wildest dreams, but really it’s all about the team and family this site has created. These awards are nice, but I just think they show what happens when you take 75 people with creative minds and big dreams and put them together in a family. I’m so proud to lead this incredible team.”

mobbie-logoThe Left Bench awards included:

  • Best Newcomer – TLBJV (The Left Bench TV – high school edition);
  • Best Use of Video/Moving Image: TLBTV (The Left Bench TV);
  • Best Writing;
  • Best Design and finally;
  • Best Blog


The Left Bench logo.



Dymond Green Named Fall Student Commencement Speaker

Dymond Green '16 is the fall, 2016 student commencement speaker as chosen by her peers.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 1) – Dymond Green ’16 is the selection of the fall senior class for Merrill College student speaker.

“I’m proud to have been selected as the student commencement speaker,” she said. “I hope to discuss the state of journalism post-election.”

Green has been active in a number of student groups, including NPPA, NAACP, SPJ, MABJ and UNITV Media. As a senior, she served as President of the Sisterhood of Unity and Love at the Nyumburu Cultural Center. Dymond was awarded the Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad at the University of Ghana in Spring of 2015 where she interned at a radio station. She also participated in a Photography study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As an intern, Dymond also gained experience at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and was part of the communications department at Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. The Baltimore native plans to pursue a career as a broadcast journalist.

Green said, “I like to thank my family, friends,  professors at Merrill College and the Academic Achievement Program for their support and the opportunity to pursue a higher education.”

Dymond currently works for the university’s Department of Transportation Services where she began as a student bus operator and worked her way up to the Safety and Policy Manager.

Merrill College’s fall commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 21 in the Kay Theater of The Clarice. It will be streamed live on the Merrill College YouTube channel.

ViewFinder Takes on the Heroin Crisis

ViewFinder’s Mya Green, Susann Shin and Ryan Eskalis at the Poynter workshop.

ViewFinder’s Mya Green, Susann Shin and Ryan Eskalis at the Poynter workshop. Photo: Bethany Swain.

By Mya Green ’17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 29) – The Fall 2016 ViewFinder team is tackling the untold stories of the heroin crisis in Anne Arundel County. The students attended workshops, forums, and created connections with county officials to gain insight and context for their stories.

In September, team members attended the Poynter “Covering the Opioid Crisis” Workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event featured Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Debra Houry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harriet Ryan from the LA Times, CEO of Fair Health Robin Gelburd and Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli.

The speakers shared information about the heroin crisis from their area of expertise. Dr. Wen shared some startling facts about how heroin is affecting people and the health climate in Baltimore. She stated that more people are dying of overdoses than homicides. She said she makes it a point to speak at events like this because she wants to educate people about the various forms of treatment that are available now. She gave a demonstration on how to administer the emergency drug Naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.

Then, journalists from all over the country were given the opportunity to share the projects they’ve been working on as it related to opioids and addiction. They emphasized the importance of the event and how they appreciated the guidance it provided when covering such a sensitive topic.

In addition to the Poynter workshop, ViewFinder’s Alexandra Simon attended the Tri-County Opioid Summit in Anne Arundel County. County executives from Howard, Harford and Anne Arundel Counties outlined their plans to address the growing opioid crisis. Also, sports commentator Keith Mills talked about his struggle with beating his addiction to pain pills.

ViewFinder’s fall team is once again partnering with the University of Maryland PALS program (Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability) so this event gave the team some important information on how the county is handling the issues its’ currently facing.

Attending these events not only helped the ViewFinder students in Bethany Swain’s Advanced Video Storytelling capstone class produce stories, but also allowed them to be at the forefront of covering a nationally relevant topic.

The fall ViewFinder team looks forward to seeing you at their screening on December 8th, 2016 at 7:30 pm in Tawes 0302.