Editor’s note: This post was originally published on devroy2015.wordpress.com where you can read complete coverage of the 18th annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum. The Forum is free at open to the public 7 p.m. Thursday in Schofield Auditorium.
The relationship between journalists, and the executive branch have changed, even in the time since the last president left office, a columnist for The Washington Post said last week.
Al Kamen, who writes the column, “In The Loop” for The Washington Post, will focus on those changes and journalism’s transition from print to digital in a speech Thursday at the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Devroy, who graduated from the UW-Eau Claire in 1970, went on to have an esteemed career at The Washington Post. Including her final position, as chief White House correspondent to the Clinton administration.
Kamen remembers Devroy, who died of cancer in 1997, as a dogged reporter. Because of his high respect for Devroy, Kamen said he “couldn’t refuse” coming to Eau Claire as a forum speaker.
“I purposely sat next to her,” Kamen recalled of working with Devroy. “She was a fount of information and was willing to share what she couldn’t use, which was a lot. Devroy was plugged in to so many things, so many people.”
Kamen originally went to Washington to work with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on their book, “The Final Days.” From there his journalism career led him west to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver where he covered cops and the governor’s office.
When Woodward began work on his Supreme Court book, “The Brethren,” he called Kamen back to Washington to help. He’s been working at The Post since.
During his tenure at The Post, Kamen has covered the Washington Superior Court, District Court, U.S. Supreme Court, State Department and immigration. Since the early ‘90s, he has written his column, which focuses on the executive branch.
Kristina Bornholtz, managing editor of The Spectator, said she appreciates UW-Eau Claire’s efforts to bring in world-class speakers, like Kamen.
“It’s special for our department to have this night to celebrate what we do,” Bornholtz said. “This is unique to our campus. Not everyone gets to hear from a national journalist.”
Mike Dorsher, associate professor of communication and journalism at UW-Eau Claire and chair of the Devroy committee, said he hopes students take advantage of the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of Kamen.
“It’s people like Al Kamen who are really the fourth branch to scrutinize the government and hold all three branches accountable,” Dorsher said.
Dorsher said Kamen is among the last full-time Washington Post journalists who worked alongside Devroy.
Kamen is grounded in old school journalism, “He does it the way Ann Devroy taught him to do it,” Dorsher said. Even though that is Kamen’s background, today he uses social media to reach sources and promote his work. This balance of 20th and 21st century journalism makes Kamen a great Devroy Forum speaker, Dorsher said.
Steve Fruehauf, a senior journalism major, has been inspired by the last two Devroy Forums he’s attended. Fruehauf said he enjoys hearing from notable speakers and thinks the fellowship provides great possibilities for UW-Eau Claire students.
“The Devroy Fellowship gives a small own college student an opportunity in a big national market,” Fruehauf said. “It validates what we’re doing here and shows we can have success.”
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by senior journalism student and outgoing Devroy fellow Nick Erickson.
My first day at The Post, I was introduced to Deputy Managing Editor, Tracy Grant. After a great talk with her, they put me down in the sports office, where I met Sports Editor Matt Vita for the first time. For those who don’t know me, I consider myself a well-rounded person, but sports are definitely my niche. Instead of observing, Matt and the people at the daily sports blog asked me if I wanted to contribute right away.
It was the first time I had truly seen a national media outlet operate, and it was really different.
There was somebody who had a sole job of checking social media to see the stories breaking. Then, once she found one, she’d blurt it out for someone to take, and the fact-checking and calls quickly began. Not only that, but The Post was really good at using digital journalism, things like hyperlinks, embedded tweets and videos and other multimedia, in its stories. That was a big part of what I did.
By the second day at The Post, I had already felt comfortable enough to pitch a story idea.
Since I cover the women’s basketball team for The Spectator here at UWEC, I knew I had developed a particular niche for the sport. And lo-and-behold, I found a potential idea on a player from George Washington University. The player, Jonquel Jones, had transferred from Clemson the much smaller GWU, and I wanted to know why. The editors let me take it, and by Friday, I was off and reporting.
So I made the trek to the Foggy Bottom district of D.C., where the university was located. I spent Friday afternoon observing practice and talking with Jones, her coach, a teammate and her high school coach. Saturday, I was at the game on press row so I could pinpoint every little detail about her game to give my story that much more imagery.
I spent Monday transcribing and writing my story. I carefully crafted what should go where as this publication had an audience I knew would comment if I made any type of blunder. So I left no room for error.
But also that Monday, I came into contact with National Assignment Editor Mike Hume. He is a man that really took me under his wing, and the rest of the week, we worked extensively hard on researching what types of teams get into the NCAA tournament for basketball dating back to 1999. We made calls to the NCAA and spent a great deal of time fact checking.
My big feature story on Jonquel Jones was published on my final day at The Post, and thanks to some great copy editing from David Larimer, I was able to see the difference between publishing a story for a national audience instead of a niche paper like The Spectator or a local paper like the Leader-Telegram.
I felt incredibly rewarded by my work experience, and I left knowing I accomplished everything I wanted to and more.
To read more about Nick’s experience check out the Devroy site.
The annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum will take place at 7 p.m. April 23 in Schofield Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by senior public relations student Kelsey Karnopp.
One of the most exciting experiences I have had in my four years at UW-Eau Claire was the opportunity to go beyond the textbook and class lectures, and work with a group of my peers to work toward solving a real life problem.
During the fall 2014 semester, I enrolled in CJ 374: Public Relations Campaign Planning, which was a requirement for my mass communication major. At the start of the semester, my professor Evan Perrault, Ph.D., presented an issue for us to research during the semester: the declining student attendance at UW-Eau Claire athletic events.
Our first step was to learn about the current climate on campus before attempting to change it. This was crucial because attempting to affect change blindly is not likely to be successful.
We began our research as a class by creating a survey that we later distributed to more than 600 UW-Eau Claire students.
The survey gave us a clear picture of UW-Eau Claire students’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviors surrounding Blugold athletics. That picture acted as our blueprint, guiding us through the problem-solving process.
At this point, professor Perrault formed a research team, recruiting seven students to work outside the classroom on translating our qualitative survey data into areas for the athletic department to work on. Our goal was to present our findings to the UW-Eau Claire athletic department, students, faculty and the community at UW-Eau Claire’s Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) in April.
Each of us began by reading more than 1,200 written responses to survey questions about basketball and football attendance. We took those responses and categorized them based on what they were about.
After categorizing nearly 4,000 pieces of information, we compiled our findings into a written report for the athletic department, identifying four major areas we considered essential for them to work on in order to increase student attendance at athletic events: (1) increasing student interactions with coaches and athletes; (2) improving communication about game times and locations through preferred channels; (3) increasing school spirit; and (4) increasing entertainment and promotions at athletic events.
The opportunity to work on a student-faculty research team has taught me more than I ever could have learned sitting in a classroom. Throughout the academic year, I have worked with my peers to finds ways to solve a real life problem at UW-Eau Claire. Now, with graduation less than two months away, I feel prepared to tackle the real world.
The research team will display our poster presentation at CERCA 4 to 6 p.m. April 29 and 2 to 4 p.m. April 30 in Davies Center. People are welcome to stop by and ask questions.
What do you think the benefits of student-faculty research are for undergraduate students? Let us know in the comments below!
Student journalists at UW-Eau Claire took home high honors at both the annual meetings of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and Wisconsin Newspaper Association last month.
At the WBA awards Blugold Radio took home first place. The show, which airs 5-8 p.m. Sundays on 89.7 FM, won best radio newscast in the Student Awards for Excellence category from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.
The award garnered a Leader-Telegram article about Blugold Radio written by UW-Eau Claire journalism alumni, Elizabeth Dohms.
The staff of The Spectator also brought home some hardware last month at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association awards. For his, “Senate doesn’t mirror student body makeup,” coverage journalism graduate Alex Zank won first place for investigative reporting.
Zank, who graduated in May, recently started work at the West Bend Daily News.
Senior journalism student Nate Beck took home a third place feature writing award for his story “From combat to campus.” Beck is set to graduate in May.
The Spectator staff was awarded an honorable mention for overall general excellence.
Junior Ellis Williams, who is the sports editor of The Spectator, was one of two students in the state to win a WNA scholarship. Williams accepted the award at the convention in March.
Blugold Radio and The Spectator continue their award-winning work. Tune in to Blugold Radio on Sunday evenings or check out their website: wuec.org. The Spectator is printed every other Thursday and is updated daily on spectatornews.com.
The streets were almost back to normal in Selma, Ala.
For two straight days, tens of thousands packed the city to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, highlighted by President Barack Obama’s visit Saturday afternoon.
But Monday morning, a group of about 70 people of all races kept the spirit of the movement alive as they began the 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, that foot soldiers, led by Martin Luther King Jr., completed on their third attempt half a century ago.
“The movement is not over; we have just crossed another bridge,” Charles Steele, president of SCLC, said.
Young and old gathered at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge to begin the journey.
Ninety-year-old Corine Crayton substituted her wheelchair for a walker saying she will march until she is physically unable to.
Meanwhile, Desiree Robertson, 11, and her brothers, Tosh and Zion Small, ages 7 and 9, respectively, walked together.
Robertson and her siblings are Selma residents and know the history of mistreatment black people in their city have experienced. Even though they didn’t live through the thick of the civil rights movement, Zion Small said it’s still important for her generation to stand up and take a stance.
“Just because segregation is over doesn’t mean it’s really over,” he said. “We can still march for our freedom and rights.”
Others were actual participants in the 1965 marches, including both Bloody Sunday and the successful journey to Montgomery.
The celebrities, food vendors and national media had all come and gone. That meant this march lacked the spotlight of other events that rocked the city Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
But that didn’t matter to the marchers who departed Monday.
Wilfred Hope was 3 years old in 1965. He was in Selma all weekend with his daughter, and after kissing her goodbye earlier in the morning, he took to Highway 80 himself to support the people in his life who helped give him some of the freedoms he enjoys today.
It’s important, he said, to keep the movement of the foot soldiers and civil rights activists alive, which is why he was walking Monday.
“Yes, we’re talking 50 years since the initial march of Selma to Montgomery, but still, there’s that generation of us that came up, and we were young when it happened,” Hope said. “We have to encourage our youth.”
The marchers are expected to get to Montgomery Friday night, officially ending the 50th anniversary events in Selma. But just like in 1965, the marchers hope the message of racial, social and economic equality extends far beyond the capitol steps.
–Nick Erickson with Elyssa Larson
It was a new march for a new movement.
“This is the movement of the future,” said Mark Duke, one of the sponsors of an impromptu march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday morning. Duke also is founder of the Freedom Foundation, a non-profit serving Selma youth.
Invoking the words of John Legend and Common’s Academy Award-winning song, “Glory,” he added, “It’s going to take the wisdom of the elders and the energy of the youth.”
What had been planned as a peaceful protest march from Selma Community Church in Selma, Ala., to a historic public cemetery where a monument honoring civil war general and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest stands, quickly morphed into a march across the famed bridge hours before the schedule re-enactment of the march for voting rights known as Bloody Sunday.
As supporters gathered in the pews of the church, organizers met in the back discussing how to respond to news that members of Friends of Forest, Inc., the group responsible for erecting the monument, were waiting at the cemetery to confront the protesters. Duke explained that, in recent months, the city sold an acre of the public cemetery to the group as a site for their memorial to Forrest. Rather than draw attention to a cause of hate, Duke said, Students Unite and the Freedom Foundation decided to shift the focus to an SU campaign to change the name of the bridge. It too, is named after a confederate general and Klan member.
Students Unite is a recent addition to Selma. As a branch of the Freedom Foundation, its primary organizers, John Gainey, Jack Townes, Brandi Hatter and Kylie Jones, work to help young people promote equality and justice. The group models itself after the principles of nonviolence and direct action.
Roughly 300 people lined up along the sidewalk outside the church arranging themselves by twos. Children marched with adults and many carried signs calling for “Unity” as organizers passed out American flags.
“Remember to follow the traffic rules,” called out one line marcher.
Rafael Johnson, a Georgia Tech grad, served as flag bearer leading the group alongside 15-year-old Maddie Duke.
As marchers moved down Franklin Street before turning on to Alabama Avenue and heading for the bridge, visitors in town for the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march looked on – a bit confused by the sight. Still, from across a parking lot where mobile campers were parked, applause could be heard as the protesters marched in silence.
A curious press, gathering early footage for the day and working on stand-ups, scrambled to catch up to the march unfolding before them. One local TV reporter called to a colleague that he wanted to go “live in two.”
The marchers walked over the bridge, turned around and then paused at its crest as Duke addressed the crowd.
“This is not a white thing,” he said. “This is not a black thing. This is an American thing.”
The bridge, Duke told the marchers and onlookers, should be named for the freedom it represents.
“We should not honor a Klan leader.”
One marcher, Kerron Stokes, who was visiting from Colorado, called out to the crowd. “We don’t stand here for ourselves, we stand here for freedom.”
Marchers formed a circle and locked arms, as Ron Brown, pastor of Selma Community church, known as Selma’s integrated church, kneeled to lead the group in prayer. They invited visitors on the bridge to join them as they sang the iconic civil rights song, “We shall overcome.”
Duke said the march was needed because the city is “not changing.” He cited the existence of a segregated country club, its nearly all-black public schools and the refusal of local white leadership to support equality efforts as evidence of continued problems.
“This city won’t change it,” Duke said of the bridge name. “Alabama won’t change it. We’re asking the world to help us change it.
— Jan Larson
“Friends of Forrest” block off area around Confederate memorial; student equality group moves protest to historic bridge
A group of white Selma, Ala., residents lined the perimeter of a Confederate soldier’s memorial with “do not cross” tape Sunday, after a Selma-based youth group planned to hold a prayer in protest of the memorial in Old Live Oak Cemetery.
The group of residents, who call themselves Friends of Forrest, said they blocked off the cemetery grounds, which holds the memorial of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, to “protect our property” and for “scheduled maintenance,” according to President of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 53, Pat Godwin.
Students Unite, a Selma-based organization that advocates for equality and social justice using non-violence, planned the peaceful protest saying Forrest was Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
“I have no proof he was in the Ku Klux Klan but I have high regard for his military genius,” Godwin said of Forrest. Historians often identify Forrest as one of the founders of the KKK.
Months ago, the city of Selma sold one acre of land in the public cemetery to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which included Forrest’s memorial grounds.
Students Unite caught wind of the Friends of Forrest at the cemetery Sunday morning and decided to march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge instead, where foot soldiers marched for voting rights 50 years ago.
Members of the NAACP Alabama State Chapter, based in Montgomery, Ala., asked the Friends of Forrest questions about their Confederate heritage.
“I just wanted to get their side of the story,” NAACP Alabama Chapter Vice President Sean Freeman said.
Paul Lewis a reporter for the London-based newspaper, The Guardian, asked Todd Kiscaden, another Friends of Forrest member, whether the Selma to Montgomery march was his history. Kiscaden answered “No.” Then Lewis asked, “Aren’t you an American?”
Kiscaden’s response: “I’m a Tenneseean.”
Meanwhile, Selma residents and visitors a few streets over were gearing up for another day of celebration of the march from Selma to Montgomery. Kiscaden said he was not attending the jubilee this weekend.
“It’s not my history,” Kiscaden said. “I’m over here with my history.”
— Breane Lyga
Fifty years after non-violent protesters marched two-by-two over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to fight for the passage of the Voting Rights Act, President Barack Obama said there is a need for better voter turnout and fewer laws that keep people from voting.
“If every new voter-suppression law was struck down today, we would still have, here in America, one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples,” Obama told a crowd of 40,000 on March 8, at the 50th Anniversary Jubilee in Selma.
One hundred members of Congress attended the jubilee, including Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind.
“If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore (the Voting Rights Act),” Obama said.
Meanwhile, Obama celebrated the legacy of the foot soldiers who were poked with cattle prods, trampled on by horses and beaten with billy clubs on Bloody Sunday because they paved the way for an African American president today.
“The change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office,” Obama said.
Political leaders of both parties spoke at the jubilee, including Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, and Selma natives Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala. and Rep. John Lewis D-Ga.
Sewell is Alabama’s first black congresswoman and said foot soldiers like Lewis allowed her to believe she could make a difference, though, she said the next generation needs to carry the torch and vote.
“We cannot acknowledge how far we have come without acknowledging how far we need to go,” she said.
Lewis echoed Sewell’s call to action and said people often asked why he was returning to Selma for the anniversary. “We came to Selma to be renewed, we came to Selma to be inspired,” he said.
Lewis, who was 25 at the time, was one of many civil rights leaders who marched on Bloody Sunday 50 years ago.
Students and the movement’s youth were core contributors to many civil rights demonstrations.
“And that’s what young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day,” Obama said. “You are America.”
— Breane Lyga
Thursday evening soulful music resounded through Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Ala. The church, made famous in the ’60s as a meeting place for nonviolent student activists, was packed wall to wall.
With a bag full of extra batteries, chargers, pens and notebooks on my back and a camera around my neck I crawled on all fours down the center aisle of the church and made room for myself among my fellow journalists.
Soon after the mass meeting commenced the Rev. Frederick Reese approached the microphone. The man who introduced the 85-year-old civil rights activist said he stands on the shoulders of giants and none is greater Reese.
Reese is among a group of activists commonly called the “Courageous 8″ that was responsible for bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma and was heavily active with the Dallas County Voter’s League.
He only spoke briefly that evening but from my spot on the floor I could tell the immense respect surrounding Reese. The next day, I learned why.
Friday afternoon I sat in the well-lit living room of Reese’s Selma home with two recent UW-Eau Claire journalism grads. We talked with Reese about his involvement in the movement, how he wants to be remembered and his time since Bloody Sunday and the march from Selma to Montgomery.
A few common themes prevailed: Reese, a former school teacher, is a man of strong faith. He told me his spiritual life started when he was a child and he is quick to credit God for all he has done.
It was also clear from our conversation Reese was called to be an activist because he wanted people to be judged for their character, not the color of their skin.
Just before we left his home, Reese — who donned a button on his lapel that read “I was there” with a depiction of the Edmund Pettus Bridge — sang two of the songs common among nonviolent activists.
I had goosebumps then and I have goosebumps as I recall it. It was one of those truly special moments where you pinch yourself to make sure it’s really happening to you. It was obvious we were in the presence of a very humble giant in American History.
— Courtney Kueppers
Joe Jones looked death in the face.
Marching near the front on Bloody Sunday, Jones and his fellow foot soldiers were quickly and violently turned away as they descended the crest of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
Alabama state troopers beat the peaceful protesters with billy clubs and whips while launching tear gas to disperse the mostly black crowd marching to demand the right to vote.
Amelia Boynton, then 43 and a prominent member of the black community, was beaten unconscious. Jones, a student at R.B. Hudson High School in Selma, found her with blood streaming down her face. He knelt beside her scooping her up in his arms.
“My reaction was that I thought she had died.”
Bloody Sunday and surrounding events played a pivotal role in passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
While Selma changed the nation, signs of race tensions remain. In August of 2014, white police officer Darren Wilson gunned down unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. That November, a Missouri state court cleared Wilson of any wrongdoing. The U.S. Justice Department announced in March 2015 that it would not seek criminal charges in the case.
The court rulings prompted racially driven riots in the city.
But despite looking death and violence in the face 50 years earlier, Jones said the way people are protesting right now won’t lead to anything. It will just cause more people to get hurt. He has a clear message for people looking to protest today.
“What I’d tell them today is protest, but nonviolent,” Jones said. “It’s best to try and do it peacefully. It’s best to stay nonviolent and go through the system of (Martin Luther) King (Jr.).”
Jones marched on Bloody Sunday because he wanted to make a change. He helped save the life of a woman who was there to make a change. There’s more work to be done, he said, but people have to understand how to get the message across.
— Nick Erickson