Tag Archives: UNC J-school

The Legacy of An Idea

It’s about a decade since the idea of News21 surfaced among strong deans at some of America’s great journalism schools at great American research universities.
News21 was an idea that would give support and wings to student ideas around serious journalism and new ways to engage audiences. News 21 would live at the J schools and create new laboratories for change that could influence the industry.

Failure—either in project ideas or in execution—was allowable. The financial collapse of news organizations didn’t allow wild ideas to take root. Failure was not an option. But at universities, experimentation is the coin of the realm and Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Knight Foundation believed experimentation was a must in journalism.

I was there at the beginning. When Eric Newton of Knight and I thought the deans had hit on something exciting with the idea of summer well-funded incubators for in-depth reporting and experimentation at great journalism schools. Ten years later, I am now a dean at one of the schools that continues that summer incubator for serious reporting.

I realize I am biased. I think UNC’s J-school and its Powering the Nation, an energy-focused version of News21(that continues even after the foundation support has ended), is sustainable and worth the effort. This summer’s focus on the hog industry and its potential as both a way of life and an energy source re-enforced the power of the idea. Whole Hog is another great year of reporting and of pushing the envelope.

When I read this article about a recent UNC Masters Degree grad from UNC, I felt double-y proud: at the legacy of the idea behind News21 and at what Powering the Nation and graduates like Josh Davis have been able to do.

But don’t read me – read what I discovered in this interview in Ochre by a young journalist. She was at a crossroads in her life and wanted to know where real journalism innovation lives—at the University or in the news industry? Her question: Who Leads?


Made my heart leap to find that idea ten years ago has created a legacy in terms of work and in terms of talent. At Carnegie and Knight we bet on the pipeline of a new generation of young journalists – we bet right.




It’s the season for goodbyes on campus. Graduation next week will send off more than 400 Journalism undergraduates and about 35 masters and PhDs. They all head to the next stop.  It’s a wonderful sense of goodbyes for most. New adventures. New cities. New jobs. New challenges.
And in the midst of the goodbyes are awards—awards and awards and more awards. You feel the power of recognition in those accomplishments. I don’t believe that awards are the measure of a life. But this season students in the school have won so many peer reviewed scholarly research paper submissions and national professional competitions, that I am truly moved by the sense of accomplishment. Not just our students’ accomplishments, but those who got them to this point: faculty mentors and coaches.
Last week we learned JOMC students won a first place Webby, second Place National Sports Emmy, a first place finish in regionals and a follow up bid to the National Student Advertising Competition’s championship in Boca Raton, and three national Mark of Excellence radio first place finishes. I’m sure there are more wins, I am just having trouble keeping track of the drumbeat of success.

There were some major goodbyes this week. Bill Cloud who left a successful career in the news business to join the school as professor of journalism and a pied piper of editing skills said his goodbyes. He followed a series of UNC professors who came out of newspapers and drilled accuracy, grammar and writing with comas and clarity into their students. He was an evangelist for new technology but admitted the advent of twitter and mobile first and all things digital was daunting for the most open of professors who attempts to prepare students for every platform’s demands.

And a final goodbye. A few hundred showed up on a glorious Carolina Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to Chuck Stone, a professor for 14 years at the school,   Stone’s career as a newsman and columnist spanned the entire drama of the civil rights movement. He covered everyone from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X , was a White House correspondent and a Capital Hill aid to Adam Clayton Powell, and a columnist who defined an era of Philadelphia. In Chapel Hill he turned students into citizens of the world and made them laugh and think. Students of his flew in from as far away as Miami to pay tribute to a teacher who pushed reporters to be audacious and truthful.

After all the tributes by colleagues, and institutions and leaders, Chuck Stone’s son Charles Stone III said the final goodbye and stole the show.   The resume didn’t mean as much to him as his father’s gift of swing: the ability to live in the moment, in the zone, in the space where improvisation soars.   Chuck Stone was a man of huge accomplishments. For his son, the magical moments with his Dad were the true accomplishments.

Goodbyes can be sad when one doesn’t experience them regularly. However, at a University, every spring season brings goodbyes. It is part of the cycle of change and continuity that keeps a school alive to the present, aware of its history and pointed to the future.

I hate goodbyes. But in a Carolina week like this I find myself energized by the power of touching lives as they begin, as they change and as they celebrate accomplishments and lives well lived.





Napoleon and Queenie

It’s hard to believe that a young first year student from Charlotte named Napoleon would move to Chapel Hill for college in the early 1970s and find another North Carolina student with as memorable a name as his—Queenie—with whom he would create a lasting partnership. But it’s true.
This is a Chapel Hill love story – and much more.

Napoleon and Queenie Byars celebrated their retirement this week. The are leaving the School of Journalism from which they both graduated. No amount of jawboning would get them to stay. They leave with the sound of cheering in their ears. They leave on their own terms.

They always have.

When they left Chapel Hill upon graduation they got married and joined the Air Force. This was not a season of patriotism. The U.S. had evacuated Vietnam yet the sting of that war was strong. The tensions between those serving the country and the public real. Both traveled the world for the military, worked in public affairs, as editors of the Stars and Stripes and as information officers in various ports of call. They came to Washington and worked at the highest ranks of the Pentagon. They both retired as Colonels.

Success wasn’t enough for them. Challenges called. So did North Carolina. First Napoleon began teaching public relations at UNC   Then Queenie did.   Their classes always had waiting lists. They both had real world experiences and the drive to share what they know with students, but that wasn’t the reason that students signed up for their classes.

They each gave something different to the students – their own experience of the art and science of persuasion and public communications. But they also shared the same thing with students. A genuine interest in a student’s life, dreams, and frustrations. Napoleon and Queenie have shared a life, and a career, and a philosophy that translates into a bond with students that is real. Word got around: “You want to take at least one course with the Byars while you are the J-school.” This year when word got out of their retirement, I had students beg to get into their classes.

I’m trying to understand what makes the difference in a professor that is successful and one that transforms lives. It’s academic integrity. It’s intellectual complexity. It’s charismatic and inspirational teaching. Watching the Byars this year, who have all the above, I’ve decided the difference they have is the commitment to the soul of a student. They don’t just meet and challenge young Tar Heels with dreams like they had in the 1970s. They listen, coach, care about, and become part of the stories of the students they teach, mentor and track.

I said this is a Chapel Hill love story. It’s about Napoleon and Queenie who found each other and a meaningful way of life at America’s first public university.

And it is also about what can happen on a campus inside and outside a classroom when men and women of substance pursue ideas, knowledge, understanding and justice and commit to building new generations of leaders.

As a dean, I don’t want this Napoleon and Queenie story to end this year. University life is often quantified in such one-dimensional ways – papers, accomplishments, grades and awards. I have found through Napoleon and Queenie something so much richer academically.

Their own transformation from young North Carolina kids to graduates and national leaders. And on return to the University, their ability to work with students who were often outsiders, unsure, or tentative and make them see what can happen when you study, experience, risk and learn about the world and then, put your mark on it.

Chapel Hill is not simply a place. Napoleon and Queenie introduced me to the idea behind this great institution – with rigor, exploration and values lives are changed.





Chuck Stone

Just a week ago I told a colleague. I want to meet him. Chuck Stone was the kind of man and journalist one had to experience. Not simply read about.

This morning I learned I never would meet Chuck Stone – his illness had won out.

I immediately turned to YouTube where interviews live and where the sound of Chuck Stone’s voice, the twinkle in his eye and his sartorial splendor will stay vivid. It’s a short news story about the election of Barack Obama and it is worth watching. Chuck Stone looks young and vigorous and optimistic.


All day I’ve read thoughts, and jottings and memories of J-school faculty who worked with Chuck Stone. There wasn’t simply sadness on the faculty listserv today. There was joyous remembering:

Only a handful of people I have met in my life truly had the ability to inspire. Chuck was one of those extraordinary people. I will cherish my memories of him. 

                                                                                                                                 John Sweeney

Another big timber has fallen in the forest.

I am sitting in haloed ground this morning; Shu’s former office, where he and Chuck carried on, cussed and laughed. 

And at Chuck’s passing, I recall his great lesson at a J-53 Mid-Week Special from years back…(paraphrased here) …that ‘multiculturalism” isn’t just one race putting up with another…it’s that we should all be celebrating one another. 

Jock Lauterer

He was one of the first people to welcome me to Carolina…. so accomplished, yet so unassuming. I’ll never forget him.

                                                                                                                                    Charlie Tuggle

Although we are sad to hear the news, there is much to celebrate in the life of Chuck Stone and his many accomplishments. He (Chuck) was an original—a Tuskegee Airman, a publisher and editor, founding father of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Carolina Association of Black Journalists (CABJ), a member of the N.C. Journalism Halls of Fame, and more accolades—too many to cite here.

Napoleon was interviewed by the DTH for his thoughts on Chuck Stone and his wonderful legacy of fighting for diversity and the rights of all citizens. “We will remember him as an original whose life was committed to advancing diversity in all its forms,” Napoleon commented. “Chuck was a role model for us all—in the classroom and in life.”                                     

Queenie Byars

Chuck Stone, Citizen of the World.

We were “family” from the first day he arrived. Our shared admiration of all-things-Andy-Griffith led us to take the “Andy Griffith Appreciation Course” at Alamance Community College about 3 months after he arrived. What a class that was!

                                                                                                                                            Jo Bass

Chuck liked to quote scripture, and his favorite, as I recall it, was from Timothy II:     “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

Would make a good epitaph.

                                                                                                                                         Phil Meyer

Visitors to the assisted living home he was living in these last few years found that Chuck Stone had moments of real laughter and memory, but also moments where he couldn’t remember. Today, many who knew him—and those of us who didn’t—will feel again the optimism of a journalist and educator who brought a vision of diversity and its power to life. That optimism and promise lives on in the students who have competed and won a place in the summer program that bears his name. The Chuck Stone program. This summer he won’t be with them – but I am certain that his power and passion will.

Chuck Stone’s spirit and impact isn’t diminished in death. It’s shared with young diverse students who seek a place in the American dream.





A Journalist’s Junket

It felt like a Journalist’s junket.

To spend a day with a successful publisher talking about the news business is one of the perks of a dean’s job.  Add to it that the publisher is an alum, and his hometown of Little Rock also boasts a presidential library and you have a recipe for a day that is sheer delight.

Walter Hussman is the third member of his family to lead the newspaper business in Arkansas.  His grandfather started newspapering in the state in the early 20th century.  His father built it from there, expanding its reach to more communities. Walter with his father merged their Little Rock evening newspaper with the stronger morning paper.  The Arkansas Democrat Gazette has been the dominant news voice ever since.

I love family stories about newspapers because they reveal so much about the history of public communication, and business savvy and a community’s path to prosperity.  As we drove through town, Walter showed me the building the company owned that had housed a huge printing press that they didn’t need after the merger.  He turned it into a vibrant museum and a location for restaurants and businesses.  Like so many older cities, these strong built-to-last factories or manufacturing warehouses now are the center of vibrant downtown civic life.

But I leave Little Rock—a city that has a personality; it doesn’t feel like every other city— with two vivid take aways.

First, a picture of sitting with Walter in his spacious and comfortable office looking at apps on his I-Pad.  The company has created an app for each of the papers it owns and he reads them all first thing in the morning.  They look like the paper – laid out like the final edition.  He likes reading the paper on line: he he can increase the print; he can send the article to editors with comments. Unlike the print edition, the digital is movable and sharable.  Digital intrigues him and he is exploring how it will advance the paper.   He knows the cost of printing and trucking hard copies to smaller communities miles from “home base” is not efficient.  Digital apps will someday be an alternative to print on your driveway.  But Walter still wants to produce a product that is value added for the reader, full of information that is important and well written and edited so that the reader doesn’t have to do all the work of being informed.

Wonder still animates Walter Hussman when he talks about what he does.  Not fear.  Not naïve optimism.  Wonder.

The other take away is the power of the newsroom.  Bright and welcoming…alive with reporters at computers.  The desks are all red.  Sort of jaunty and modern though they are far from new.  Junk covers most desks and dividers and light fills the third floor newsroom from old-fashioned skylights.  It’s a place that I’d want to go to each day.  It doesn’t feel sad like many newsrooms I’ve visited in the past decade.

Here Walter admitted finances have been tough in this transition to the future.  They haven’t had to cut that many on staff, but there haven’t been raises for 5 years.  2013 was a kinder year and Walter explained that when they made a profit in the first quarter they gave reporters and editors bonuses of 2% . When they made a profit again second quarter, they did the same.  Third quarter profits – ditto.   It’s not a raise you can count on, but it says to dedicated journalists—the lifeblood of a news operation—you are important and when we make money you will too.

Believing and experimenting with digital.  Investing in the newsroom.  Those are two trends that make a dean’s heart swoon.

Uncertainty persists.  Family owned and run news companies are endangered.  But on this day in early 2014, the curiosity of Walter Hussman and the company’s belief in investting in those who create value:  the journalists, made me believe that journalism in American communities can survive.

Next World Media

Next World Media Symposium is a title that drew me in.  The talents of UNC’s Advertising and branding faculty: John Sweeney, JoAnn Sciarrino and Gary Kaye, focused on the newest edge of media change.  No tired “new media” phrase, they put the focus on next world media.

Almost all the emphasis on media change focuses on the shrinking news business and the fact that advertising is down.  But the business of engaging audiences is completely changing—as is the news business.  The re-invention and re-imagining of advertising and strategic communication are breathtaking.

Reaching people may never have been as easy as it is in this digital age; but it’s also never been more challenging.

Last Friday, almost 200 UNC J school students gathered to hear from those leading and navigating the change.  These students are part of why there is such a revolution in how people are reaching out to audiences, but they came not as consumers but as the curious who want to shape and be art of the Next Media

Karen Albritton, president of Raleigh’s successful media agency Capstrat, talked about figuring out how to reach “cord never-ers “rather than cord cutters.  Many people may stop getting cable TV because they can access video without cable – “cord cutters” – but many young people are “cord never-ers .”  They simply have never paid a cable bill nor felt the need to do so.  They get what they want in other ways.  The challenge now is how to reach them.

And if Advertising is known as the commercial art that convinced people to buy what they didn’t need – it can’t survive in this Millennial culture age with that attitude.   “Truth is the brand proposition” argues Jonathan Salem Baskin, a consultant and Forbes’ contributor.   He points to Pew surveys indicating 50% of the public doesn’t believe anything in advertising. He says companies must stand for something – brands need truth behind their pitch.

The MadMan culture is gone.  Technology is king.  Well sort of.

AT&T’s Daryl Evans who controls more than a billion dollar advertising budget, emphasized great storytelling remains key and “the innovative part is where you put” the story.  Even a big brand like AT&T is on Vine and Instagram.

The highly creative and powerful team at Charlotte’s BooneOakley argue: “The more digital we have to become as professionals, the more human we need to be.”  Greg Johnson, the president and a preacher, and David Oakley the creative force behind the firm, captivated the audience with a message that emphasized the personal.   In today’s interactive world, advertising doesn’t sell the audience as much as engages them.  “We are conversation starters,” says Oakley .  The audience finishes the conversation on social media.

I left with a clear bottom line about tomorrow:  Advertising messages are about reaching people and touching values.  Just selling something doesn’t work anymore.

What Makes A Woman Leader?

What makes a woman leader?  Especially in the very competitive world of Television News?

We asked CNN’s Brooke Baldwin to answer that question.

 There was standing room only at the special UNC JOMC Women in Media Leadership talk timed for parents’ weekend and they were all anxious to hear the answer.    There were lots of young women of ambition in the audience, but also quite a few men and curious parents.

Brooke Baldwin is the 34 year-old anchor of CNN’s daily 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. news program. She brought her energy, verve, intelligence, drive, passion, ambition, honesty and impressive career to the stage.  She didn’t have a secret answer to the question of why she has won a slot on the national stage only a dozen years after her graduation.  But it was clear that this was no lucky break.

She isn’t a leader because she is tall and quite beautiful.  Both of which she is.   Her passion for her job and her determination to succeed came through loud and clear.  But it was the fact she does her homework that convinced me she makes success happen.  Before she does a story or tackles an issue, Brooke floods the zone: learning all she can so that she doesn’t come up short in the interview or in the inevitable moment when the guest’s mike goes dead, the live shot dies, the plans don’t pan out. Brooke always comes prepared.

Brooke was generous with her praise for the school of Journalism and the skills she learned while at UNC.  She was active in the Carolina Week TV News program that launched her reporting and anchoring style and to which she gives much credit.  But it was the tough criticism that she remembers most  – not the accolades or the big fun moments.

As she told the story on the stage with her professor who gave her a “C” for her first news package, you could still feel the disappointment of the 20 year old.  The feelings of not being the best were still fresh in her memory.   Year’s ago she left Dr. T’s office—T as in Charlie Tuggle—and cried buckets.  That setback however, may have been her best lesson.

Brooke Baldwin didn’t want to be average, or only good enough.  She proved she was competitive and could work hard.  She never looked back.  That C was the rallying experience that led her to step up her game and to end the semester with a top grade.  That experience also convinced her to see she would always have to push the limits if she was going to meet her own expectations and the expectations of the TV world.

Brooke Baldwin is in her fourth stop on her television career.  She started at a small station in Charlottesville, Virginia, moved from there to West Virginia, then to Washington, D.C.  She has been in Atlanta and at CNN for just over five years.  Her drive convinces me that she will be a fixture on the big stories of our time and a television journalist we’ll be watching for many years.  She shared her warmth, her lessons and her love of the business with every one in the audience. Not just from the stage, but with every young journalist that came to talk with her.

What makes Brooke Baldwin a leader?  The fact that not only is she interested in doing well, but she is interested in giving back.  Brooke is a leader who listens, inspires and believes you bring along others with you.

You can see that style for yourself on our U-Tube channel:  http://jomc.unc.edu/2013events/baldwin