News From the Philip Merrill College of Journalism | | Page 2

Merrill Ph.D. Students Publish in Civic Media Project


COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Second Year Merrill College Ph.D. student Pallavi Guha (center photo), Third Year student Tanya Lokot (right) and Fourth Year student Saranaz Barforoush (left photo) have all placed articles in the Civic Media Project – sponsored by the MIT Press and Emerson College’s  Engagement Lab.

The website says the Civic Media Project (CMP) “is a collection of short case studies from scholars and practitioners from all over the world that range from the descriptive to the analytical, from the single tool to the national program, from the enthusiastic to the critical. What binds them together is not a particular technology or domain (i.e. government or social movements), but rather the intentionality of achieving a common good.”

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Nelson Details Circus Elephant Investigation

Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism Deborah Nelson.  Photo by Marissa Parra

Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism Deborah Nelson. Photo by Marissa Parra.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An historic decision to retire the beloved Ringling Bros. Circus elephants has put the spotlight on a year-long investigation by the Merrill College’s own Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism Deborah Nelson.

The 2011 report for Mother Jones Magazine documented deaths, injuries and illness (TB) in the company’s famous herd. It led to the largest civil penalty against an exhibitor in the history of the Animal Welfare Act.

Screenshot 2015-03-06 17.06.37

Yesterday, Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. announced they would phase out the elephants by 2018. In a press release, Feld said, “Under the plan, 13 elephants currently traveling with the three Ringling Bros. circus units will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation® in Florida by 2018. There they will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of more than 40 elephants.”

Professor Nelson’s investigation was mentioned on Bloomberg TV and she discussed the story today (March 6) on Newsmax TV’s Mid-Point program with host Ed Berliner:

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Merrill Journalist Rajhevendran One of “12 Terps Who Inspire”

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  Beena Raghavendran ’15

Beena Raghavendran by John Consoli.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Beena Raghavendran never felt so fortunate to be an aspiring political reporter in the U.S. as when she left the country.

While taking a three-week investigative class in Latvia over winter break last year, she met journalists in the post-Soviet nation who were verbally harassed, wiretapped and even assaulted for pursuing their work.

“Even though journalists might find it difficult sometimes to report stories here,” she recalls thinking, “at least they don’t fear for their lives.”


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SPJ Mark of Excellence: Merrill College and Diamondback Set for Regional Awards

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Society of Professional Journalists “Mark of Excellence 2014″ regional student awards will be announced March 28 during the Region 2 Conference at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Today, SPJ announced whose entries have placed in the regional awards. The list includes submissions from Merrill College’s Capital News Service and ViewFinder programs, as well as entries from the Diamondback student newspaper. Winners will be entered into the national SPJ Mark of Excellence awards contest.

For more information on the Region 2 Conference and to register, please visit:

Entrants being honored include:

ViewFinder: Spring and Fall 2014 classes:

Dani Shae Thompson for Viewfinder: Cystic Fibrosis
Bradleigh Chance, Tim Drummond, Phil Staiman, Drew Snadecki, Chloe Leshner, Shannon Atran, Megan Rufty,  for Viewfinder: A Free Smile
Alex Glass, Dani Thompson, Amanda Salvucci, Alanna Delfino, Stephanie Martinez, Ben Susman, Kara Dixon, Shannon Clash, Taylor Lewis, Alexandria Benford  for Viewfinder: Overcoming Obstacles
Phil Staiman for Viewfinder: Greener Goats
Tim Drummond for Viewfinder: Weekend Warriors
Amanda Salvucci for Viewfinder: Underwater Hockey
Tim Drummond for Viewfinder: Swimmer Overcomes Spinal Injury

Capital News Service

CNS Staff for Capital News Service |
Maryland Newsline December 4, 2014
Taylor Cairns, Joyce Koh
for Pregnancy Discrimination Heads to the Supreme Court
Marissa Parra for Explosive Findings: Rosedale Train Derailment
Nick Munson for Suns Down
Alanna Delfino for Veteran Kitchen
Alanna Delfino for Fan of the Game: Two year old girl is the biggest Orioles fan
Brett Hall for Philadelphia Kidnapping: A Woman Kidnapped is Found
Brett Hall for The Gift of Life: Maryland Alum Gets A Third Chance of Life
Joyce Koh for An Outlandish Home Built from Deeper Roots

CNS Staff for Baltimore’s Forgotten Champions: An Oral History of the Baltimore Stallions
Idrees Ali & CNS Staff for Maryland’s International Relationships
Lyle Kendrick, Justine McDaniel, Amirah Al Idrus & Hyon-Young Kim for Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas Controversy

Diamondback Student Newspaper

Danielle Ohl for Post-Classical
Sung-Min Kim for Black lives matter
The Diamondback Editorial Board for The Diamondback selected editorials
Erik Shell, Caroline Carlson, Matt Schnabel for Selected Diamondback columns
Christian Jenkins for Brown wins democratic nomination, faces Larry Hogan in general election
Talia Richman for Marylanders fight for rights to die after national attention drawn to ‘death with dignity’
Laura Blasey, Mike King and Joe Antoshak for University data breach exposes 300,000 student, faculty SSNs
Quinn Kelley for THE ART OF GETTING BY: life as a transgender student at the University of Maryland
Robert Cobb, Ben Stryker, Eric Bricker for Selected Diamondback columns
Daniel Popper for Breaking down Urban Meyer’s offense
Daniel Gallen  and Aaron Kasinitz for Selected Diamondback sports columns
Chester Lam for Ohio State Quaterback Cardale Jones hurdles safety Anthony Nixon


Posted in Announcements, Awards, Capital News Service, CNS, Diamondback, Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ, Sports, Student News, ViewFinder | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Swain Honored as “Most Valuable Professor” During Women’s Basketball Game

Update: Swain will also be an “MVP” honoree March 8th at 2pm during the final gymnastics meet of the season at the XFINITY Center. Merrill Journalist and member of the gymnastics team, Karen Tang, nominated Bethany for the honor.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Philip Merrill College of Journalism faculty member Bethany Swain was honored this week as a “Most Valuable Professor” during the Maryland women’s basketball game vs. Penn State University. Swain is a photo journalist and lecturer in the Merrill College, and was nominated by junior Chloe Pavlech – a member of the team and a journalism major.  This is the fourth year faculty and staff have been honored by Athletics and Maryland’s student-athletes as part of Maryland Academic Services’ (Athletics) “Most Valuable Professor (M.V.P.) program.

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NABJ Selects Merrill Graduate Students To Cover National Convention

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Three Merrill College MJ students will get all-expenses paid trip to Minneapolis, Minn. this coming August to help cover the National Association of Black Journalists 40th Annual Convention.

The NABJ Broadcast Team includes Merrill Journalists:

Brandie Peterson - Marcel Warfield - Valerie Young

          Brandie Peterson                        Marcel Warfield                      Valerie Young

The NABJ website says, ” For one week, students work with professional journalists and educators to produce daily television newscasts and newspapers, as well as create and manage a full convention website,” The organization has been providing this kind of opportunity for student journalists from colleges and universities across the U.S. for more than two decades.”

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Merrill Journalists Celebrate BEA Awards

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 10.27.13 AMCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The word is out and the Broadcast Education Association has announced a number of honors for Merrill College students as part of the organization’s “Festival of Media Arts” awards program for 2015. Congratulations to our student winners and faculty members Sue Kopen Katcef (CNS Broadcast Bureau director) and Bethany Swain (who oversees ViewFinder as part of her Advanced Video Storytelling class.)

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Television Hard News Reporting

1st Place (tie): Jatara McGee & Joyce Koh, University of Maryland; DC Ferguson: Protestors Respond to Decision in Ferguson

1st Place (tie): Marissa Parra, University of Maryland; Explosive Findings: Rosedale Train Derailment

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Terp Magazine Interviews Humphrey Fellow and Pakistani Reporter Said Nazir Afridi

Said-Illustration-Feature1By Liam Farrell

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Reporting the local news in America is rarely steeped in mortal danger. Politicians may obfuscate, police departments may withhold information and crime-ridden neighborhoods may be intimidating, but these are roadblocks of a subtler nature.


Afridi hosts a show on religious harmony at a radio station in FATA, a portion of Pakistan that has been rocked by violence and clashes between the Taliban and government forces. Photo courtesy of Said Nazir Afridi

Not so in Pakistan, where journalist Said Nazir Afridi runs a radio news service in unstable tribal areas. In a country roiled by conflicts between the Taliban, military leaders and dozens of traditional tribes, reporting any kind of news can be dangerous.

When he mentioned that the militant group running a local cricket tournament had used American funds for the event, Afridi was promptly accused of being a CIA agent. “It means …” he says, running his hand across his throat.

When Afridi reported that a local doctor had been arrested, he dared to write that government security forces, not unidentified armed men, seized him. (It turned out that the doctor, Shakeel Afridi, had helped the CIA run a fake vaccination program aiming to collect DNA samples from people in the suspected Abbottabad compound of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.) If he hadn’t identified Shakeel’s captors, Afridi says, the doctor “would have been missing or killed.”

Read the entire article online.

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The Merrill College Remembers Professor Mark Levy


An undated Diamondback photo from University of Maryland Special Collections shows Professor Levy in a radio production booth.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Members of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism hold fond memories of Professor Mark Levy, who died Feb. 7 in Michigan after a long battle with cancer. Levy came to Maryland in 1979 after working for a New Jersey newspaper,  Newsweek and NBC News to teach broadcasting classes.

Levy was an associate professor from 1979 to 1987 (tenured in 1980) and then a full professor from 1987 to 1999. He also served as associate dean (and graduate director) from 1989 to 1993.  Levy moved on to Michigan State University in 1999, where he served on the faculty and as Chair of the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies & Media for more than 15 years.

Journalism Professor Carl Sessions Stepp said of Dr. Levy:

“Mark was one of the first two faculty members (along with John Martin) assigned to interview me when I applied to work here. He was the epitome of a tough journalist (he had worked for one of the networks, as I recall) and a prolific, outstanding scholar. He was a professor, graduate director and associate dean. He helped me personally very much as I worked toward tenure, advising me on research and writing and always willing to look over copy or talk about a project. The comprehension study that he and John Robinson did in the 1980s remains, in my mind, a classic. I’m sorry to hear about his death but I’m glad I had the chance to work with him.”


An undated photo of Professor Levy from his Facebook remembrance page.

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David Carr: Investigating His Own Dark Story

Professor Carl Sessions Stepp is a long-time contributor to AJR.

Professor Carl Sessions Stepp is a long-time contributor to AJR.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The tragic news that Journalism lost New York Times reporter and columnist David Carr this week takes us back to the American Journalism Review archives for  a review of his 2008 memoir by Merrill College Professor Carl Sessions Stepp.

The LA Times says the book “bared the ugly details of his addiction to drugs and alcohol, and described his eventual recovery.” Professor Stepp called it “messy but unforgettable.”

From AJR,   August/September 2008 Edition:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.19.55 PMFor most journalists, the route to the New York Times doesn’t generally include crack smoking, drug dealing, spouse beating and jail time. But all those activities preceded David Carr’s arrival in the big time.

Both enthralling and appalling, “The Night of the Gun” lays out in merciless detail Carr’s rise from Minnesota’s alternative papers to Times media columnist while wallowing in a dangerous double life.

Beyond the sensational story, fellow journalists will find something even more beneficial. Carr’s method – the re-reporting of his own life – provides a humbling study of the fallibility of memory, the elusiveness of truth and the futility of ever assuming you really know what’s going on. This should be eye-opening not just to memoir writers but to reporters investigating, say, the justification for a war.

Carr takes his title from an unsettling incident. One day in 1987 he gets fired from a Minnesota business magazine over his drinking and cocaine use. Carr pops some pills and meets a friend at a bar. They end up fighting. The friend goes home, but Carr calls and insists on coming over. The friend orders him to stay away, saying he has a gun. Carr shows up anyway. The friend comes to the door with the gun and calls the police, and Carr flees.

Read the entire review.


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