A visit with Record & Landmark intern Ryan Wilusz

June 16th, 2016
Statesville Record & Landmark summer intern Ryan Wilusz displays a recent graduation photo he shot. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Statesville Record & Landmark summer intern Ryan Wilusz displays a recent graduation photo he shot. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Sitting over a generous serving of meat loaf at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Statesville, Ryan Wilusz holds up his cell phone camera to display a beaming high school graduate in royal blue cap and gown holding her diploma and grinning from ear to ear.

“I haven’t had a photo class yet,” the UNC-CH rising senior prefaces, “But I’m pretty happy with this shot. What do you think?”

I’ll tell you what I think. There’s no greater reward for the ol’ perfesser than to see his young charges flourishing out there in the real world.

“Not bad,” I tell Ryan. “Not bad at all.”

Ryan is one of two outstanding MEJO (Media and Journalism) students awarded the prestigious Batten Community Journalism Scholarship, and he is having a blast working this summer at Warren Buffett’s paper in Statesville, the Record & Landmark, under the direction of its dynamic publisher, Eric Millsaps.

“It’s all been good,” Ryan tells me. “They don’t treat me like an intern. I’ve done 18 stories in 20 days.” This last comment is accompanied by a smile of satisfaction from the big guy.

And he is being noticed. At that same Pine Lake Prep High School graduation in Mooresville, Ryan discovered that the graduating class was the first group to come all the way from the fifth grade together as a cohort. They wanted their photo made out on the playground where they first met – and so there was Ryan’s photo of the grads tossing mortar boards into the sky — accompanied by a good caption explaining the back story, lending depth and additional meaning to the image.

One school staffer wrote Ryan complimenting him on his hustle and enterprise — which doesn’t surprise me; that’s much of the reason why I picked him for a Batten award. Last semester when Ryan served as co-editor of the Durham VOICE, (durhamvoice.org) Ryan’s hustle and enterprise led to some outstanding stories and compelling reading in our community newspaper for inner-city Durham

 

“ Good morning, Ryan,

I wanted to say thank you for your coverage of the Pine Lake graduation yesterday. 

Your energy in running from the gym to the reading garden to the playground and back to the parking lot to get the best photo opportunities (in the 90 degree, 70% humidity Carolina day) was impressive.

When I saw the photo gallery in the Record and the story and photos in the Tribune, your efforts were so worth it.  The photos are beautiful and each graduate will cherish the attention they received in the publications. I had tears in my eyes…”

Ryan's graduation photo from Pine Lake.

Ryan’s graduation photo from Pine Lake.

________________________________________________________________

His most challenging moment so far this summer?

A two-hour long town transportation planning workshop that ended at 7:30 p.m. –giving the cub reporter only one our to knock out the story for an 8:30 deadline.

“I’ve never had to turn something around that quickly,” Ryan admits, “But I did it. I was punching that keyboard!”

Ryan credits his Record and Landmark editor, Dave Ibach, for serving as an excellent mentor and coach. And he also cited award winning photojournalists Ryan Revock as being great to work with.

For the record, later this summer I’ll be visiting the other Batten winner, Jessica Coates at the Carolina Public Press in Asheville. She’s working J-school MA grad and CPP founding editor Angie Newsome in this adventurous all-digital news site in Western North Carolina.

And from all accounts, like Ryan, Jessica is having the time of her life too.

Two newspapers; two worlds apart, but both serving their communities, such as they are

June 16th, 2016

 

Fresh off my three-week stint working with community newspapers in China, and immediately after doing a Community Journalism Summer Roadshow workshop at a North Carolina group of papers, the globe-trotting ol’ perfesser finds himself asking: compare and contrast the two. But remember, community journalism as we Americans know it is a new media phenomenon in China, maybe no older that 15 years. The following comparison, by vital stats, is, to the best of my estimation, reasonably correct.

 

The Da Shi Hua News of Chongqing, China

A three-year-old startup with no tradition or legacy of excellence. Striving to be a community paper. Now doing many of the things American papers do (lots of faces and names) Weekly tab print and online and social media platforms all active. Gets all its support, office space, funding from local government Has no ads, and ironically no government license either, no freedom of the press (obviously) and thus must kowtow to the government. Readers live mostly in huge urban skyscraper apartments where circulation numbers in the tens of thousands. Reporters are mostly young college-trained women who do not live in the coverage area and who don’t see any local identity, or “difang gan” — “sense of place.” And readers do not have that cultural anchor either; neither does the papers, in so far as I can tell.

"Mr. Joke" and the staff of the DaShiHua News of Chongqing.

“Mr. Joke” and the staff of the DaShiHua News of Chongqing.

The Watauga Democrat

Formerly family founded and owned (Rivers/Coffee families) with a long and storied legacy of excellence and community involvement/leadership, now owned by a small media group. Profitable venture with many niche publications. Paid circulation is roughly 10k, (far fewer that Chinese community papers), delivery is by mail, carrier and rack sales, printed at the central plant in Boone with no government interference (again, obviously, but when comparing with China, needs stating). Reporters include many older experienced men who have lived there and worked in the mountains for many years, with a deep knowledge of people and region, which has a fierce sense of place and distinct identity, which the papers take advantage of and reflect in their pages (online and mobile too).

 

Welcome back to Boone, Mr. Joke

June 6th, 2016
Journalists from five newspapers assemble in Boone, Friday, June 3, to participate in an interactive workshop to better their skills as community journalists. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Journalists from five newspapers (left to right) Erick Hoffman, James Howell, Trey Fowler, Garrett Price, Anna Oakes, Sherrie Norris, Steve Behr and Tom Mayer, assemble in Boone, Friday, June 3, to participate in an interactive workshop to better their skills as community journalists. (Jock Lauterer photo)

 

In which the Johnny Appleseed Summer Community Journalism Roadshow takes to the High Country of Ashe, Avery and Watauga Counties for  a workshop at the five papers included in Mountain Times Publications. This is the 16th summer of these workshops, a public service initiative of the UNC-CH School of Media and Journalism, and its Carolina Community Media Project, led by founding director Jock Lauterer.

 

Fresh off a three-week teaching gig in China and barely over jet lag, “Mr Joke” kicked off the 16th annual North Carolina Summer Johnny Appleseed Community Journalism Roadshow with a rousing workshop, Friday, June 3, at the Mountain Times Publications group of newspapers in Boone, including the Watauga Democrat, the Blowing Rocket, the Avery Journal-Times, the Ashe Mountain Times and the Mountain Times.

Led by group Publisher Gene Fowler Jr., the five weeklies are not just profitable, they have also enjoyed another banner year, veteran newspaperman Fowler says proudly.

Part of the Formula

If there is a tried and true formula I’ve observed over the years at the best community papers, certainly one of the ingredients is continuity of personnel in the newsroom.

To my way of thinking, low newsroom turnover sends a clear message to the reading public: our people are locals with the same shared concerns, goals and values as you. And our reporters are not journalistic carpetbaggers, suitcase reporters or parachute journalists — a charge that has been leveled with some justification, particularly at local TV news.

So as the newsroom crew of the five papers  filed into the conference room, I was struck by the recognition of familiar faces..

Wait! Weren’t you here back in ’06 when I did my first Roadshow to Boone?

Yes, indeed — and many of these good folk were about to get their second dose of Mr. Joke.

The workshop attendees included: from the Watauga Democrat, (in Boone) Tom Mayer, Garrett Price, Anna Oakes, and Steve Behr; from the Avery Journal-Times, (in Newland) Jamie Shell, Rob Moore, Laney Ruckstuhl and Matt Debnam; from the Ashe Mountain Times, (in West Jefferson) Eric Hoffmann and James Howell; from the Blowing Rocket, (in Blowing Rock) Jeff Eason; and from the Mountain Times, (a three-county compendium) executive editor Tom Mayer. Last but not least comes Publisher Fowler’s son, Trey, a 2014 UNC J-School grad, who is working on the advertising end. Also attending were Sherri Norris, editor of All About Women, a glossy high-end magazine produced by the company; and James Luke Barber, an intern at the Avery Journal-Times.

Driving the High Country Economic Engine

Tourism and Appalachian State University are the economic drivers of “The High Country,” the region comprised of the three northwestern counties of Ashe, Avery and Watauga where these papers thrive. So not surprisingly, Fowler’s team cranks out multiple specialty publications – all very profitable.

Fowler proudly told me that “half of our bottom line comes from niche publications,” including special sections and magazines such as, an annual three-county prep sports graduation edition, vacation guides for Boone and Blowing Rock, guides to annual seasonal special events such as the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain and the Woolly Worm Festival at Banner Elk, as well as a slick, high-end women’s magazine.

Call it Mountain Cred

I love this part of the state. Its rich history and mountain culture is dear to me. My first college newspaper internship was in WNC, as they call this 18-county region. And my first editorship — at the ripe old age of 23 — was at the Alleghany News, a one-man, eight-page weekly in tiny Sparta. Additionally, my first marriage was to a “mountain girl.” And if a flatlander wants to get “dug in” with the locals, that’s about the most immersive and effective way I know of. Thirty-three years after our divorce, I am still known to some folks up yonder as “Maggie’s husband.”

Additionally, Publisher Fowler reminded me that back in the early ‘80s, when I was founding publisher of the McDowell Express in Marion, (and Fowler was a high school kid), I actually competed against his dad, Gene Fowler Sr., publisher of my bitter rival paper, the McDowell News.

In one of the most unique introductions I’ve ever had, Publisher Fowler told the workshop crew that around the Fowler household, back during the Marion newspaper wars of ‘80-’83, I was known as “that damn sonofabitch.”

Both papers were too proud to sell out to the other, and it took an outside third party to settle the kerfuffle. As irony would have it, it was Roy Park Sr. who bought out both papers.

Yes, that Roy Park— as in Roy Park of the Park Fellowships and the Park Library at the UNC J-school where I now teach.

But I digress…

Who’s Teaching Whom?

As with so much of education, I feel as if I’m not so much lecturing as I am unleashing talents, giving kids permission to be great, unfettering pent-up dreams. With apologies to Ol’ Roy, (who holds a master’s degree in education from UNC!), I’m convinced that the best coaches teach and that the best teachers coach.

I was reminded of how much I still had to learn about this region when the workshop attendees launched our interactive exercise: each team from each paper attacked flip-chart size Post-Its with colored markers, drawing a basic map of their coverage area, filling it in with locations of key news generating sites — schools, courthouse, watering holes…sort of a “Ashe, Avery, Watauga County Map for Dummies.”

The idea of the exercise is for them to team up to educate ME – as if I am a brand-new cub reporter on my first day at their paper. What do I need to know strategically and immediately about where stuff is and who to talk to and where to find them? And then drilling down further, I asked each team to articulate with just a handful of words, the mood, the vibe, the zeitgeist, of their respective counties.

The results were – and always are – insightful, instructive and educational.

Parting shots from China 5.0

June 1st, 2016
No language barrier here — an 87-year-old Chongqing resident doesn't care if I can't understand a word she's saying.

No language barrier here — an 87-year-old Chongqing resident doesn’t care if I can’t understand a word she’s saying.

 

A collection of images from the three-week teaching junket of a latter-day Johnny Appleseed trying to spread the word of Community Journalism in China, May 2016.

All photos by Jock Lauterer, otherwise known to the Chinese as “Mr. Joke.”

A senior lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this was my fifth trip to China, where I also have been given an honorary Chinese name: Zhao Ke.

I am asked repeatedly: what’s your favorite thing about China?

Hands-down, it has to be the people. Everywhere I went, I was treated with genuine affection and respect — reminding me of that Mark Twain quote.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

Onward and upward!

 

At a Beijing noodle joint, a wait staffer checks out a Victoria;s Secret fashion show on the wall TV.

At a Beijing noodle joint, a wait staffer checks out a Victoria;s Secret fashion show on the wall TV.

After a lecture, Professor Li Ren's class at Southwest University of Political Science and Law assembles for a group shot.

After a lecture, Professor Li Ren’s class at Southwest University of Political Science and Law assembles for a group shot.

 

People ask for # 521, but I gave her a name. "Lily" is 36, has three kids back at home in Henan province, who she sees once a year while she and her husband work to save money at a massage spa in Beijing.

Liu Shou told me people know her as Number 521, but I gave her a name. “Lily” is 36, has three kids back at home in Henan province, and she sees them only once a year, while she and her husband work to save money at a massage spa in Beijing.

 

Ping pong is huge in China. At a Beijing park, a doubles match rages.

Ping pong is huge in China. At a Beijing park, a doubles match rages.

 

At Beijing rickshaw shop, a worker prepares a package for delivery.

At Beijing rickshaw shop, a worker prepares a package for delivery.

 

 

The irrepressible Mrs. Qin and the staff of the "Don't Worry Be Happy Hotel" in Chongqing give me a merry send-off.

The irrepressible Mrs. Qin and the staff of the “Don’t Worry Be Happy Hotel” in Chongqing give me a merry send-off.

 

To Chongqing, with love

May 26th, 2016

In my final hours here in Chongqing, I want to post my closing set of images from this fine old city, where Ernest Hemingway once visited, where the WWII capital of Chungking was located so as to be far from the reach of the Japanese. A city most Americans have never heard of, yet with the population of New York City. And like every great city, it has distinct neighborhoods. Here in Huixing, 20 km north of city center, I find life visually rich, and my daily photo-hikes a feast for the eyes.

On a rainy night in old Chongqing, townspeople cross color-splashed square.

On a rainy night in old Chongqing, townspeople cross the color-splashed square.

Dawn calls her 5-month-old "Orange Moon" her little "angel baby" because she never cries. (Jock Lauterer photos)

Dawn calls her 5-month-old daughter,  “Orange Moon,” her little “angel baby” because she seldom cries. (Jock Lauterer photos)

 

A worker on the campus catches 40 winks.

A worker on the campus catches 40 winks.

Editor Li of Foshan makes coffee for me — and tea for himself.

Editor Li of Foshan makes coffee for me — and tea for himself.

A family from the countryside awaits their orders at a Chongqing noodle stand.

A family from the countryside awaits their orders at a Chongqing noodle cafe.

A winning intramural goalie at SWUPL accepts the adulation of her team after stopping what would have been the opposition's go-ahead goal.

A winning intramural goalie at SWUPL accepts the adulation of her team after stopping what would have been the opposition’s go-ahead goal.

Skirting a vegetable cart, two boys look both ways before dashing across the alley.

Skirting a vegetable cart, two boys watch for traffic before dashing across the alley.

 

A surfing restaurant customer bares his sole. (Jock Lauterer photos)

A surfing restaurant customer bares his sole. (Jock Lauterer photos)

 

A brief encounter with a barista named Lunch

May 25th, 2016

The further adventures of Jock Lauterer, aka “Mr. Joke,” who is teaching in China this summer. The curious variation of “Jock” is due to the fact that my name is very difficult to pronounce for the Chinese, so I am invariably introduced as the closest thing they can get to Jock…so “Mr. Joke” it is.

 

In China one learns to take comfort in small things.

On a backstreet, far off Huixing’s main “college avenue” drag, I stumble across an actual coffee bar with WIFI and an English-speaking barista, who tells me her name is “Lunch.”

She is "Lunch" and I am "the Joke." (Jock Lauterer photo)

She is “Lunch” and I am “the Joke.” (Jock Lauterer photo)

So I am sitting here with an unexpected cappuccino, experiencing a lovely moment of private bliss, and caffeine.

When I go to pay for my coffee, I inquire politely of the barista’s background, and Lunch tells me she is a student at the university — and that her major is “news.”

Then suddenly her eyes fly open with recognition, and she cries out with excitement, “Oh! YOU are the Joke!”

“Yes,” I had to admit, “I AM the Joke.”

Clearly, my reputation had preceded me.

Public life in old Chongqing: better than TV

May 25th, 2016
Chongqing comes to life at night — and it's better entertainment than TV. (Jock Lauterer photos)

Chongqing comes to life at night — and it’s better entertainment than TV. (Jock Lauterer photos)

After the sweltering Chongqing sun goes town, my neighborhood of Huixing comes to life, with the streets filled with vendors, hawkers, dancers, loud speakers blaring recorded sales pitches, grandparents with babies, sidewalk cafes, couples strolling arm in arm — a very public after-dinner promenade that reminds one of Italy — but on steroids.

It’s better than TV.

An shopper makes her purchase from a local farmer as Huixing nightlife flows past on the busy sidewalks.

A shopper makes her purchase from a local farmer as Huixing nightlife flows past on the busy sidewalks.

In fact, now that I think about it, there is very little TV to be seen here, from my casual observation. The big deal is cards and mah-jong, and one can see intense very competitive matches going on all over town, under trees, on park benches, even on ping-pong tables! These people are serious gamers.

But to the night and the organic outpouring of public life — I’ve never seen the likes of it in the U.S. The sidewalk sales, the back-alley chefs, the dancing grannies — none of it seems organized or coordinated over overseen — this outpouring of humanity of all ages and all classes, from well-dressed men to drop-dead gorgeous girls in flowing silks, to college hipsters to sun-darkened and shabbily dressed migrants from the rural villages and poor countryside.

All together here at night, enjoying the cool, the sensory blitz and the free show that is Chinese public nightlife.

So-called "Damcing Grannies" materialize on summer nights in public squares, moving to a throbbing mix of Chinese pop music.

So-called “Dancing Grannies” materialize on summer nights in public squares, moving to a throbbing mix of Chinese pop music.

New Chinese community newspaper association proposed

May 23rd, 2016
Attendees of the May 21 seminar on community journalsim gather for a group portrait on the campus of Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing. (courtesy of SWUPL)

Attendees of the May 21 seminar on community journalsim gather for a group portrait on the campus of Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing. (courtesy of SWUPL)

Senior Lecturer Jock Lauterer of UNC-CH is teaching Community Journalism in China this May. His report from a groundbreaking seminar held in Chongqing on Saturday, May 21, follows. This is his fifth teaching/research trip to China.

 

Chinese media leaders took a historic first step Saturday with the formation of a new national association to support the growth and development of community journalism here, pending university approval.

Meeting in Chongqing, newspaper representatives from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu launched the Society for Chinese
Community Media, which will be headquartered at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, (SWUPL)  and headed by Professor Li Ren, the assistant dean at the School of Global Journalism and Communication. Final university approval is expected.

“Since community journalism is new to everyone here, we need to build a team,” Prof. Li explained. And Li also noted the importance of community newspapers as the post-graduate training ground for future journalists on the national scene — a role he compared to that of “teaching hospitals,” where young interning doctors and nurses get experiential, real-life-and-death training.

Yang Chi Yuan editor of Media magazine of Beijing, urges seminar attendees to form a national community journalism research center for China. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Yang Chi Yuan, editor of Media magazine of Beijing, urges seminar attendees to form a national community journalism research center for China. (Jock Lauterer photo)

The launch of the society was the highlight of the one-day seminar at SWUPL, titled, “Learning from the Important Thoughts of Xi Jinping on News and Public Opinion to Promote the Community Newspaper Industry.”

The lead-off speaker, Yang Chi Yuan, influential editor of Media magazine of Beijing, spoke forcefully and convincingly about the need for, and the importance of community journalism — and especially community newspapers — in China.

“Community media has a bright future in China, and should be the leader for change,” he told the gathering, which also included about 30 journalism students from the university. “We need to combine new media with the old, as we step into a new age of community journalism, which is part of the reform of the mass media.”

Addressing the issue of government’s relationship to the media, Yang urged local governmental leaders to embrace the new media form as constructive. “We need community journalism to bring about the harmonious community, as a bridge between the community and the (government) leaders,” he insisted.

Speaking to new media age, Yang observed, “The Chinese media are talking about transformation, and a lot of people think the future is all digital and online only, but I think you should go down into the community first, and get rooted in the community.” And he noted that newspapers that had failed did so because “they were not rooted in the community.”

Yang, who has read extensively on the subject of community journalism and traveled all over China studying community newspapers, told the gathering that community newspapers are “practical and profitable – and absolutely it’s print!”

In addition to the emphasis on print, the new association will also focus on conducting research into the thorny issue of how to monetize digital – and especially mobile — where everyone seemed to agree the future of media is heading.

Innovation and diversification are key to survival, insisted Associate Professor Chen Kai of Beijing’s Communication University of China, (CUC) and author of the groundbreaking book, “Introduction to Community Newspapers in the U.S.”

She highlighted the work of the 28 new Beijing Youth Daily community newspapers which have successfully piloted a multi-pronged business plan that includes a package of print, digital, special events and the establishment of 112 multi-functional community centers, called “stations,” which serve as mini-news and service bureaus all over the city.

Following the seminar, visiting speaker Li Guo Chen, publisher of 10 community newspapers in the Foshan-Guangzhou area, said he thought the creation of the new community media center was “a good thing, because there are a lot of questions about communities in China – and it will take passion and courage to ask the tough questions and to seek the long-range answers.”

Editor Li, whose new book, “How We Publish a Community Newspaper in Foshan,” is slated for release later this summer, also noted that Chinese publishers “need to take the long view” and not expect to make big money right away. “We should concentrate instead on how to put out good community newspapers, and how to develop long-term positive relationships with readers.”

“Maybe I like the Warren Buffett notion of long-term investment and not seeking to make a fast buck,” he concluded.

The new community media association is the outgrowth of a five-year international collaboration between Professor Li  Ren of SWUPL, Professor Chen Kai, of CUC, and Senior Lecturer Jock Lauterer of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — the latter of whom also addressed the seminar.

This map in the lobby of the J-school at SWUPL emphasizes the collaboration between our three universities. (Jock Lauterer photo)

This map in the lobby of the J-school at SWUPL emphasizes the collaboration between our three universities. (Jock Lauterer photo)

 

A China portfolio

May 21st, 2016
Following the successful conclusion of the seminar on community journalism, attendees at a local hotpot restaurant toast conference organizer Prof. Li Ren, center. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Following the successful conclusion of the seminar on community journalism, attendees at a local hotpot restaurant toast conference organizer Prof. Li Ren, center. (Jock Lauterer photo)

With their burgeoning city of 7 million rising in the background, three friends pose before their June graduation from Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing. (Jock Lauterer photos)

With their burgeoning city of 7 million rising in the background, three friends pose before their June graduation from Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing. (Jock Lauterer photos)

That's Why I Love Freedom. (Jock Lauterer photos)

That’s Why I Love Freedom. (Jock Lauterer photos)

Drummers.CQ

A senior citizens drum corps entertains at the square outside my hotel.

Already digital natives.

Already digital natives.

Pre-school childcare in China: the grandparents' duty.

Pre-school childcare in China: the grandparents’ duty.

Ducks in the farmers' market on their last day.

Ducks in the farmers’ market on their last day.

Mr. Joke and "Alice," my host's 7-year-old daughter, signal the end of another successful meal. (Ren Li photo)

Mr. Joke and “Alice,” my host’s 7-year-old daughter, signal the end of another successful meal. (Li Ren photo)

How a Tar Heel fixes a broken commode seat in China.

How a Tar Heel fixes a broken commode seat in China.

Teaching the next generation of Chinese journalists

May 19th, 2016
Aha! But they come alive for a class photo! (Li Ren photo)

Aha! But they come alive for a class photo! (Li Ren photo)

 

 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

  • Mark Twain

It is hot. It is humid. The windows are open. There are no screens. The air does not move. An upright room air conditioner sits mute in the corner. I am sweating profusely.

The seats, three abreast, are bolted to the floor. Students file in silently, sit mostly in the back, drop their heads to their cell phones.

The teacher, positioned on a raised marble platform, stares down at his groundlings. The sage on the stage. I feel like I’m teaching in a high school.

The American teaching in China cannot help but remark on the differences in our educational systems, techniques and outcomes.

Chinese students, once asked to put away their cell phones, are attentive but passive, stoic, unexpressive and definitely not bold enough to be vocally curious.

A question-and-answer session is likely to be met by stubborn silence. My Chinese professor/colleague has to plead with his students to ask questions. And these are journalism students!

Ah, but then I am reminded: this is a cultural difference, embodied in the old Chinese saying, “The first bird to fly, is the first one shot.”

So, while teaching in China can be challenging (do you use your translator or not? When do you know the students are understanding you? Is your translator quoting you faithfully? Etc.) it is well worth the sweat equity­­.

I’ve learned that Chinese students who appear unmoved and bored – may actually be paying close attention and occasionally may even be inspired.

Following one of my lectures I received this e-mail today.

 

Mr. Jock:

Hi! I am very happy to meet you at the lecture. Thanks for your exciting shares with us. I hope I can learn more news knowledge from you. I really admire your experience! Hope you can share more knowledge and experience to me. Thank you very much! Best regards. Lucy

 

My great lifelong friend and professional colleague, Professor Steven Knowlton of Dublin City University, was once asked: “How do you do good journalism in a country without a free press?”

To which he answered, “The answer, I think, is community journalism.”

Taking that a step further: How do you teach journalism in a country without a free press?

From 9,000 miles away, I can hear Prof. Knowlton giving the same answer.

Long live community journalism.

Out of the classroom, “Mr Joke” gets to meet the student journalists from the Huixing Journal in Chongqing — an experiential learning project similar to the Durham VOICE and Carrboro Commons at UNC-CH.