The Weekly Grind

February 26, 2017 Leave a comment

img_0073Drink in the week’s most important stories — all in one place.


‘Get out of my country’

Kansas man shot 2 men from India, killing one

13208657_gAlok Madasani, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Ian Grillot were the victims of Wednesday’s shooting. (Photo by KCTV 5)

Shots were fired at an Olathe, Kansas, bar on Wednesday night.  Witnesses said they heard suspect Adam W. Purinton, 51, shout “get out of my country” and other racial slurs before opening fire, shooting Alok Madasani, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Ian Grillot. The three victims were taken to a local hospital, where Kuchibhotla died. Kuchibhotla and Madasani, both 32, are India natives who work for Garmin, the technology firm.  Grillot, 24, tried to stop the shooter on Wednesday night. Although authorities have yet to identified Purinton’s motive for the attack, people across the country fear it could have something to do with the country’s current xenophobic climate. Police arrested Purinton early Thursday morning and the FBI continues to investigate if this was a hate crime. (ABC News, CNN, The Washington Post)


Famine is officially declared in war-torn South Sudan

unnamedSouth Sudan’s hunger crisis was officially declared a famine on Monday. (Photo by The Washington Post

Years of civil war and political turmoil left about 100,000 people at the edge of starvation and almost 5 million people in need of urgent help. On Monday, representatives of UNICEF and the Food and Agricultural Organization issued a formal declaration of famine, meaning that people are dying of hunger. According to these agencies, half of the country will face fatal food shortages within the next six months unless they receive help. This problem has been years in the making, many calling it a “man-made tragedy” because of the country’s political climate. (CNN, The Washington Post)

Bomb threats target 10 Jewish centers across the country

Following the vandalism of over 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery last weekend, yet another wave of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers swept the nation. Centers in 10 states reported phoned-in threats. This is the fourth series of threats in the past two months.  No one was injured and the Jewish Community Center Association of North America said the threats seem to be hoaxes, but federal authorities continue to investigate such threats as possible civil rights violations. (NBC News, NPR)

 Trump appoints McMaster national security adviser

President Donald Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new national security adviser on Monday after Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned the job down. McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, who was fired last week for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about involvement with Russia’s ambassador. Harward had an impeccable resume, having worked on the NSC’s counterterrorism office from 2003-2005, but said he wanted time to focus on financial and family issues. Plus, Harward called the offer a “s*** sandwich” according to one of his friends.  The White House’s chaos would be enough to steer anyone away. (The New York Times, CNN) Video

UNL suspends Fraternity Phi Kappa Psi until 2018

58ae0d90f03ec-imageUNL fraternity Phi Kappa Psi is suspended until December 2018. (Photo by Araya Santo for The Daily Nebraskan)  

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity because of “problematic alcohol use.”  The fraternity was indefinitely suspended last December and has been under investigation by UNL and Phi Kappa Psi’s national headquarters.  Both investigators found clear evidence of alcohol use in the chapter house and at off-campus parties. As a result of the official suspension, no current members of Phi Kappa Psi will be allowed to associate with the fraternity in the future and no one is able to occupy the chapter house until August 2019. (Lincoln Journal Star

UNL’s Committee cuts $20,000 from The Daily Nebraskan’s budget

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Committee for Fees Allocations voted on Thursday to overturn a decision to reset the allocation process from The Daily Nebraskan.  This means the student newspaper will loose $20,000 from its budget.  In addition, CFA chair Daniel Woodworth decided to remove CFA member Greg Dittman from The Daily Nebraskan’s subcommittee after a case of potential conflict of interest. Dittman actively advocated for the defunding of The Daily Nebraskan, which the CFA identified as “conflict of interest.” (The Daily Nebraskan)


Seven newly discovered planets may be one step closer to finding life in space

NASA astronomers recently found seven planets, about the size of earth, orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1. This is the first time they have found this many planets orbiting the same star.  These planets also happen to be the perfect distance from the star to be habitable.  Astronomers say this is the first strong evidence they have supporting alien life in space.  (NY Times)

Woman purchases Girl Scout cookies with fake money

Some people will do anything for cookies. On Wednesday in west Omaha, one woman stopped at a Girl Scout booth and bought five boxes of cookies. She paid with supposedly the only money she had on her — a $100 bill. One Girl Scout mother was suspicious of possible counterfeit and police confirmed the bill was indeed a phony. (Lincoln Journal Star)

Are you smarter than a police officer?

Ohio fifth grader Lena Draper Facebook-messaged one Ohio police department about an emergency; she needed help with her math homework. The police department came to the rescue and proceeded to help her through some of the math problems. The responder, however, made a common error and gave Lena the wrong answer. (ABC News)

Here’s why Lincoln Public Schools won’t be affected by Trump’s action on transgender rights

On Wednesday, President Trump revoked a guideline on transgender rights set by President Barack Obama. It had allowed transgender students the right to use any bathroom with which they identify.  The policies at Lincoln Public Schools and Nebraska’s School Activities Association will most likely not be affected by Trump’s action.  This is because the revocation still allows schools to make their own decisions at the state level about their policies.  LPS has used, and will continue to use a “team approach,” meaning faculty takes the necessary actions to meet the individual needs of their transgender students.  (Lincoln Journal Star)

Ban lifted on law preventing teachers from wearing religious attire

A bill was passed this Wednesday  in the Nebraska Legislature to undo the ban that states public school teachers can’t wear religious clothing. The constitutionality of the ban was in question because it did not give teachers freedom to express their religion. Sen. Ernie Chambers was the only senator who opposed the bill. He thinks that students should be in an environment with no religious expression.  Others in favor of the bill argued that children should learn to accept other people with different cultures and religious backgrounds.  (Lincoln Journal Star)


Apparently there’s something happening in Sweden we don’t know about…

In trying to make a point about large numbers of refugees connected to terror attacks, Trump mentioned something that “happened last night in Sweden” during his rally in Florida on Saturday.  The thing is, nothing happened in Sweden.  Despite a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry saying that authorities weren’t aware of any terror-related incidents on Friday, Trump supporters believe the media is trying to hide something from us. Trump later clarified that he was referring to a story that was broadcast on Fox News involving immigrants and Sweden. Still, he became the butt of many jokes on Twitter when the hashtag “#LastNightInSweden” started, mocking Trump’s fuzzy claims about a seemingly fictional event. (The Washington Post



Curated by Lindsey Yoneda and Alex Klemp

Advanced Editing Students at




The importance of grammar: Mistakes harm your reputation

November 18, 2014 3 comments
The number one social media outlet might be the reason candidates aren't getting jobs.

The number one social media outlet might be the reason candidates aren’t getting jobs.

Grammar is dying. Rather, society is killing grammar by not using it correctly.

Some people say they don’t care about grammar, but they should.

Social media has become a primary way for people to express views and beliefs. According to Statistic Brain, a website that gathers statistics on a variety of topics, Facebook is the largest online social media outlet, with 1.3 billon monthly active users.

It doesn’t take long to find an endless amount of errors while scrolling through the many comments and statuses on Facebook.  On this platform, it appears users don’t feel an obligation to abide by the rules of grammar.

But many posts on Facebook are published for the world to see. Even something so miniscule as grammar can determine how someone is perceived. By using incorrect grammar, a message might be misinterpreted. This can lead to saying something that might offend another peer or convey a message entirely different than the writer intended.

Nowadays, there are millions of books, applications and websites that people can use as resources to learn proper grammar. This information is accessible within a click of a button. Even by searching the word “grammar” into Apple’s App Store, 158 results are generated. Grammar mistakes are embarrassing and avoidable. All it takes is to learn the rules of grammar.

Grammar is used to convey a clear and accurate message. For a speaker to be understood and a reader to understand, there must be rules. These rules offer make writing consistent. Without abiding by correct grammar rules, readers get confused. They wonder why the writing is not consistent and question if the information is even correct.

In almost every profession, grammar is required. Every person in the professional workforce must be able to convey a clear and accurate message. Recently, Forbes posted an article about a current poll that was conducted about how social media affects recruiters’ views of the candidates applying for a job. In the poll, 66 percent of the recruited were turned off by candidates if they used “poor spelling and grammar” throughout social media. Recruiters want candidates to have and use a basic understanding of correct grammar.

KRTV, a television-broadcasting channel based in Great Falls, Montana, posted an article that discussed the hiring procedures of the Great Falls Police Department. In the article, Jack Allen, the lieutenant of the Great Falls Police Department, said the department requires applicants to pass two tests: a physical test and a written test. The written test includes basic skills including “reading comprehension, math, grammar and writing.” This example shows how even if a job is not directly related to language, such as an editor or English teacher, employers still want candidates who have basic skills.

__By Alexa West










Mistrust of the media can have harmful effects on the nation

November 12, 2014 1 comment

Most Americans don’t trust news media.

In a 2014 Gallup poll, only 40 percent of those polled expressed a “Great deal/fair amount” of trust in news media, tying 2012 for an all-time low.

In an article in the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza points out the problem with this: “The natural result of that loss of faith in the news media is for people to seek out more partisan sources of information which they can ‘trust’ because the information being put out by those sites jibes with their particular point of view.”

Cillizza refers specifically to online news, which is certainly important in the age of blogs “reporting” news with a distinct bias, but this trend can even be seen in more traditional forms of media, like television news.

screen shot 2014-06-10 at 10.01.52 am

A study by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that Fox News is the most trusted source of news on television among 25 percent of all Americans and 53 percent of Republicans.

The problem with people seeking only news that matches their current opinions is obvious: if citizens can’t see controversial issues from more than one side, discussion will replaced by arguing and no progress will be made.

Many reasons exist for this distrust of media. One key factor, though, is the number of inaccuracies reported in an industry that is becoming more focused on getting the story first than on getting it right.

When many stories are broken on Twitter or Facebook long before an established news outlet, it’s understandable that the media would want to publish something quickly and make corrections later—especially because it is easy  to correct information online.

But no matter what direction social media takes news media as a whole, it’s important for national discourse that Americans believe they can turn to news organizations for accurate, unbiased information, even if it challenges their own views.

So take the time to get it right.

-By Preston Thiemann

Categories: guest posts Tags:

Actual news still triumphs over clickbait

November 5, 2014 1 comment

Screenshot 2014-10-30 17.15.23

We’ve all seen the articles – “25 Men’s Coats That Will Definitely Get You Laid” or “38 Things You Probably Don’t Know About ‘Hocus Pocus.’

Thanks to BuzzFeed, in large part, our Facebook Newsfeeds are cluttered with clickbait headlines. But are these stories replacing real news in our lives? The analytics say no.

In an article posted on PR Daily recently, John David discusses “The race back to ‘actual’ news.” He’s talking to public relations professionals about how to pitch their stories to journalists, but he sends a good message to journalists as well, editors especially. Actual news with a fresh angle still sells better than clickbait. People want hard-hitting stories.

And Buzzfeed doesn’t just post fluffy pieces; it shares real news too.

Sites like Buzzfeed and Mashable, which started as social-sharing sites, are hiring journalists to produce what David calls “actual news” because it has “originality, relevance, and authenticity,” he said.

Beyond social-sharing sites, David mentions a column by New York Times reporter David Carr about The Washington Post’s revival since its purchase by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Bezos’s approach to making The Post digital and saving it from perceived ruin was pumping energy in to actual news and “increasing sophistication in promoting its content nationally,” Carr writes.

The Post, in other words, is churning out hard-hitting investigate reporting — the kinds of stories some people believe are dying. Of course, the commitment to hard news was renewed when the newspaper posted articles based on leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which won The Post a Pulitzer Prize.

There were whispers not too long ago that The Post wouldn’t survive the shift into the digital age, but Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, said “I think The Post is a very confident newsroom right now. They pick the right stories, throw a lot of reporters at them and go after them hard. That’s a well-led newsroom.”

Closer to home, and on a much smaller scale, the Daily Nebraskan has shifted to a digital first approach this year. And what have the senior staff at the DN found to work best? Locally focused, hard-hitting news.

“The articles about the big things that have happened on campus have all gone viral this year,” said Jacy Marmaduke, DN editor-in-chief. “We put a lot of hours in to breaking the sexual assault story, and then we continued to update online as more news broke and that really makes a difference.”

Updating as stories happen is one of the biggest benefits Marmaduke sees with digital.

“I think (instant updates are) the biggest advantage of digital,” she said. “It’s our job as journalists to inform the public about what’s happening around them. Digital helps us do that job better.”

Clickbait will always have a place in our lives. Some days readers just want to know the “17 Reasons It’s Better to Date a Dog Person,” but they also want those hard-hitting pieces and want them shared on social media.

—By Stacie Sikora

Categories: guest posts

Data journalism can transform numbers into stories

The primary job of a journalist is to seek the truth and report it.

There’s often truth in numbers, but data can be scary to people who love words and often profess a hatred of math.

Using data journalism to create graphics and stories that visualize and add to data sets is a tool as essential to a reporter’s toolbox as a pen. As the Internet advances, so do the ways in which the media processes and reports numbers.

Matt Waite, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said data should be used like any other source.

“You treat it like a source, you interview it like a source, you understand that, like a source, it has a point of view — it has flaws — it’s actually a very human thing,” Waite said.

Data journalism has existed since the 1960s, when computers the size of gas stations took days to compute simple equations. More than 50 years laters, such computing can be done in the palm of your hand.

Practiced correctly, data journalism can turn ordinary numbers into complex, emotional pieces of journalism. Take high school football, for example: Writing a story with only words about how many small-town Nebraska teams are left and the challenges those schools face — like travel time and mileage between towns — would not be interesting. Showing it, on the other hand, can add to the words.

That’s exactly what the Omaha World-Herald did with “the disappearance of small-town football,” a multi-media project. Using interactive maps, photos and text, the piece shows how small-town football teams are slowly dying in Nebraska.

As much as data can add to a story, journalists must be careful not to lie with numbers. Waite said data can lie by the “sin of commission or omission.”

“The old saying is that ‘if you torture data sufficiently, it will confess to anything,’” Waite said.

He gave the example of FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ statistics blog. The publication reported that kidnappings in Africa were on the rise. But, the blog was using the number of news reports of kidnappings to collect numbers, rather than numbers of actual kidnappings. It also did not provide sufficient context.

Even so, if used carefully, numbers hold great weight.

“(Data allows) the ability to see beyond three anecdotes and a quote,” Waite said.

Below, The New York Times shows just how visual data can be:

_By Reece Ristau

Categories: Uncategorized

Journalists need to play curator role, not simply repeat social media

October 16, 2014 2 comments
Michelle Hassler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism professor and former Lincoln Journal Star state editor, said journalists should take more of a "curator" role.

Michelle Hassler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism professor and former Lincoln Journal Star state editor, said journalists should take more of a “curator” role.

It often seems as if the news media value being first more than they value being right.

The growth of social media and increased demands for journalists to post news quickly raises the question, “What should media’s role be?”

In coverage of the Boston bombing and the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, for example, the news media put out stories immediately, and most were completely incorrect.

The Slow Journalism Company, however, is hoping to change that.

Slow Journalism produces a magazine called Delayed Gratification, which takes stories “after the dust settles” and publishes them, according to its website. Each issue compiles stories from weeks or months earlier that tell what actually happened in a news event less the hype and bad reporting.

Michelle Hassler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and former state editor at the Lincoln Journal Star, said that this is a good opportunity for people to see the whole event.

Hassler also said journalists need to back away from this “get-it-first mentality” and play more of a curator role.

“If journalists could step back, explain the issues and put them into context,” Hassler said, “people could understand the full scope of the story a lot better.”

A more productive method of covering the issues would be to explain the context and outline all sides, she said, and highlight what is new with those stories.

According to Slow Journalism, today’s “ultra-fast” news tells audiences what’s happening in real-time but rarely tells what it means.

“We take time to do things properly,” the Slow Journalism Company wrote on its website. “Instead of desperately trying to beat Twitter to the punch, we return to the values we all want from journalism – context, analysis and expert opinion.”

In the past 10 years, newsrooms and journalism, as a whole, have completely changed. Hassler said a journalist is now required to not only report, but also to tweet, blog, photograph, video and often self-edit. Journalists are sometimes evaluated on their speed than they are on their writing and reporting skills.

Someone will always be faster in getting the breaking news to the wide audiences. But not everyone has the training, resources and capabilities of constructing a well-researched article that explains the issues using a wide variety of sources and documents. And that’s where journalists, good editors and effective websites and print editions come in.

Yes, news media need to put a focus on their digital presence in today’s world, but they don’t need to put a focus on being first over effectively informing the public. Journalists are trained watchdogs not simply live tweeters. In order to remain relevant in today’s world, news media need to offer the public a product it can’t get via social media.

_By Natasha Rausch

Report smarter on social justice coverage

October 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Being a slut isn’t a bad thing.

It’s a word used for power and control, according to the organizers of Slutwalk. But they’re trying to change that.

Slutwalk is a group of volunteers promoting not blaming victims of sexual violence.

Slutwalk is an event where a group of volunteers make signs to protest blaming victims of sexual violence.


Lincoln, Nebraska, held its annual protest in front of the Nebraska State Capitol on Saturday to promote awareness of how people blame victims when they should blame perpetrators of sexual violence. Shayla Swift, an organizer for the event, said that people are looking at the wrong side of sexual and domestic violence.

“Sexual violence happens in our safe spaces regardless of what we’re wearing,” she said. “It happens in our safe places with people that we know.”

Slutwalk is not an organization. It is volunteers raising awareness against sexual violence and getting the word out that victims aren’t responsible regardless of whether they have been drinking or what kind of clothing they wear.

A key part of awareness is media coverage. How should social justice issues be covered? … Breast cancer awareness, for example, is something else affecting women. However, it gets much more coverage than victims of sexual violence.

“Breast cancer is a really easy thing to talk about because people really like breasts,” Swift said. “In all honesty, that’s a really easy cancer for people to raise money for.”

Breast cancer awareness and victims of sexual violence might be like comparing apples to oranges, but covering these events requires something from all reporters: compassion.

Another organizer of Slutwalk, Claire Baweja, enjoys press coverage but reminds reporters that it’s not just another feature story.

“They always come to us saying ‘hey do you know anyone that’s affected?’ It’s not something everyone wants to openly talk about,” Baweja said. “Some reporters … need to be aware of the kinds of questions they’re asking.”

While spreading awareness is the main goal for Slutwalk Lincoln, it’s important to do so correctly. Swift’s dad is a retired reporter, so she understands media coverage from both sides.

Swift said sometimes reporters try to sensationalize a story to make it the most emotional or captivating. It’s often an approach to just fill a person into the story. “If you’re a reporter and get on the scene knowing what the story is about you’ll lose the story every time,” she said.

The Institute for Justice and Journalism’s website has many tools for covering tough issues. Three of the tools media have used to better cover social justice include creation of a database, devising ways to work together and creating tutorials on reporting techniques.

Here are tips from Swift on reporting of sensitive and social issues:

  1. It’s better to ask the organizer if they know of anyone who was impacted who is willing to talk, rather than going up to possible victims directly.
  2. Be careful of word usage. ‘Trauma survivors’ is better than ‘rape victims.’
  3. Make the subject feel more comfortable. Ask questions about why they’re doing an event and whom they’re doing it for, instead of their life’s story.

Being a journalist is about being a voice for the people and reporting or editing impactful stories. Knowing how to handle sensitive, social justice issues is important.

Swift said about reporters talking to survivors, “I wasn’t sure that they were going to be able to convey that they really cared what happened to them…”

_By Nicole Rauner