What a snowstorm taught me about journalism

This semester I’m working on the Community Outreach Team at the Columbia Missourian. Our goal is to make the news gather process more open and make it easier for readers to participate in the process.

Community Outreach Google+ Hangout

We had a team hangout (on Google+ that is) on Thursday after the snow hit so nobody had to go out in the bad weather. You could call it super dorky, but I call it super cool.

A lot of the work we get to do is experimental. Here’s the short list of what we do.

  • Try out new tools to better report and tell stories
  • Use social media both to communicate and to listen
  • Look at site analytics to see what content is resonating with people
  • Brainstorm new ways that the Missourian can expand its reach and that we can bring the community into the newsroom (both literally and figuratively).

I’m only a few weeks into the process, so I’m still learning the scope of what we do. But last week was definitely my favorite yet—working in a breaking news situation to cover a snowstorm. On Wednesday, the day before the storm hit, the team was busy planning ways to cover the snow. Community Outreach director Joy Mayer has been talking about RebelMouse, an embeddable page that aggregates posts from social media. The page is customizable to include posts with certain hashtags, updates from select accounts or by manually entering posts the moderator selects. This page included posts from Missourian staff members and other photos or tips posted by social media accounts using the hashtag CoMoSnow. Continue reading

Pamplona Guide: Top six things to know about classes, exams and grades at the University of Navarra

UNAV students study in the Sala de Lectura in the lower library.

By Laura Davison

Think about the jump you made from high school to college. In college, there are less daily graded assignments and smaller projects. Instead, there are a few big projects and/or tests that compose the majority of your grade. Going from Mizzou to UNAV is even one more step. Rejoice! There are no Blackboard quizzes, clickers or weekly blog posts.*

But that means the assignments you do have are weighted much more heavily. It is not uncommon for exams to be worth 60-80 percent of your final grade. The only graded work for one of my classes was a final exam and a paper, both of which I turned in on the same day. Other classes had midterm exams, essays and projects. In general, I had between three and six larger assignments for each class.

The academic structure at UNAV is substantially different from the system at Mizzou and many other American universities. A few weeks ago, I wrote about credits and finding courses to take. This week I share ways I found to do well once you’re on campus and in the classroom.

1. Grades are figured from 1-10, with 10 being the best. Mizzou and UNAV both consider 5 to be a passing grade. As a Mizzou student, you’re classes will transfer back as passing, so long as you get a 5 or higher. Grades in Spain aren’t inflated like they can tend to be in the United States. Students aren’t obsessed with getting just 9s and 10s. Those grades are reserved for students who truly do extraordinary work. If you’re a student that is used to getting all As in the U.S., don’t be discouraged if you get some 6s or 7s. While we might see that as getting a C or a D, academically-gifted Spanish students are quite accustomed to getting grades at this level.

2. Exams take place during a three-week period in May. Exam dates for each specific class during the exam period will be published sometime during the middle of the semester. It is wise to schedule a flight home after this exam time. Professors will probably not push up the exam for you. While the exam period is much more spread out than it is at many American universities, it can also be more stressful because the majority of your grade is dependent on you doing well on the exam.

UNAV students on the courtyard in fron the the Facultad de Comunicación building.

3. There is a make-up/re-do exam period after the original exam time. This is offered every year for students who didn’t pass the exam the first time around. Because the final exam comprises the vast majority of a grade in any given class, failing an exam pretty much ensures you will fail the class. Students fail final exams in Spain. It’s normal and doesn’t quite have the stigma it does here. That is why they always offer the second exam period. Continue reading