News & Updates

Allegheny Alumni Journalists Discuss Local Storytelling Amid the Pandemic

A year ago, Marley Parish, Alex Weidenhof and Ellis Giacomelli had just received their diplomas from Allegheny College. They now find themselves as community journalists working for local newspapers and covering the impacts of the worldwide pandemic that is perhaps the biggest ongoing story since World War II.

All three of the 2019 graduates and former staff members of The Campus found their callings at local newspapers — Parish works for the Centre Daily Times, Weidenhof at the Cranberry Eagle, both in Pennsylvania, and Giacomelli at the Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York.

Centre Daily Times reporter Marley Parish.

“The only thing you can plan for in life is uncertainty, and the pandemic reaffirms that,” Parish says. “Covering such a complex story is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I pay attention to the numbers — how many people have been tested, the number of confirmed cases, the death toll. That data, paired with personal stories, localizes a global situation and highlights how Centre County has been impacted. I’ve learned more than I thought possible in nearly three months of COVID-19 coverage. It’s not easy, but I know it has and will continue to make me a better storyteller.”

Adds Weidenhof: “The Campus’ adviser my freshman year, Cheryl Hatch, always told us that reporting is about being able to adapt. This is absolutely good practice for that. In the span of a couple of months, we’ve had to change all of our beats, become health reporters, then labor reporters, then move back into our beats while still figuring out how to cover the pandemic. That’s at least something I can take away from this positively.”

Although the mostly rural and suburban areas they report on have not been “hotspots” for the coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic still works its way into almost every story they cover.

“As a journalist, my primary role is to inform the public through storytelling, and good storytelling demands context,” Giacomelli says. “So at this point, stories about school board budget proposals or hospital wing construction cannot be told without addressing how the COVID-19 crisis may have an impact.”

“Since mid-March, I’ve written perhaps a handful of stories that haven’t in some way pertained to the virus,” says Weidenhof. “The pandemic and the resulting economic impact of mitigation efforts have wormed their way into every facet of a local newspaper’s pages, from work and school closures, to health worries, to municipal governments figuring out how to prepare for the ensuing drop in tax revenue.”

Cranberry Eagle reporter Alex Weidenhof.

These journalists have found their news sources and most of the general public don’t harbor hostility toward the news media.

“When I started a year ago, I was shocked at how forthcoming and accessible most people were,” Parish says. “That responsiveness has only grown. The media is no stranger to being vilified, but at the end of the day, we’re storytellers tasked with reporting the truth. County commissioners, public health professionals and school administrators recognize the widespread feeling of uncertainty, and most want to provide answers. Officials aren’t embarrassed to admit when they don’t have them yet.”

“Gauging sources is a big part of being a good journalist, and it’s important to strike a balance between being sensitive to and empathetic about deeply personal stories, and advocating to sources that those stories be told,” Giacomelli says. “Every source is different. Some people love to talk — about anything and everything — and others, not so much.”

An Allegheny education definitely helped them navigate a new career in rapidly changing times, they say.

Watertown Daily Times reporter Ellis Giacomelli.

“Allegheny’s Journalism in the Public Interest Program pushed me to honor that eagerness and develop an understanding of journalistic integrity and the essentiality of journalistic freedom in democratic systems,” says Giacomelli. The small, but powerful, team of Allegheny educators committed to the JPI program has worked tirelessly to engage students in the art, history and the profession of journalism. I chose to be part of the professional journalism world because of them, and continue to learn more every day. And The Campus showed me what a newsroom is — a collection of eccentric people, often buzzed on caffeine and always ready to tell stories.”

Says Weidenhof: “A year before this all hit, I was writing a fake article about a make-believe measles outbreak for my epidemiology final. Now, I’m writing real articles about an actual coronavirus pandemic for a newspaper. This is significantly less fun.”

“Allegheny taught me to attack challenges head-on, and The Campus prepared me for just about anything,” says Parish. “Former staffers will tell you that my unofficial title as editor was ‘crisis manager.’ With computers crashing, stories falling through and technology snafus happening more often than I still care to admit, we overcame every challenge. Fortitude is the mentality I continue to live by. In the event that I forget, my office — located in a State College apartment — is decorated with framed Campus newspapers, my Allegheny diploma, and my email usually has a message from former professors who continue to encourage me from afar.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

PBS’s Heffner on ‘Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age’

The “incivility of bigotry” has resulted in a society unable to come together across difference, Alexander Heffner said during a keynote lecture at Allegheny College on Thursday.

“The incivility of bigotry does not mean the incivility of purely racism or xenophobia or nativism. The incivility of bigotry is the incapacity of our society to rationalize and reason with disparate political objectives and constituencies,” Heffner, host of “The Open Mind” on PBS, said to 100 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center.

“When you have a bigoted attitude or mindset it precludes you from having an exchange that is thoughtful and deliberative and fruitful in what it yields.”

Heffner has covered American politics, civic life and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign.  He founded and edited SCOOP08 and SCOOP44, the first-ever national student newspapers covering the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration.

“The Open Mind” is billed as a “thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas across politics, media, technology, the arts and all realms of civic life,” and is the longest-running public broadcast in the history of American television.

Heffner’s lecture, “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan Citizenship,” was hosted by the President’s Office, the Center for Political Participation, Journalism in the Public Interest, and the Provost’s Office.

The 2016 presidential primary campaign epitomized “the overall bigotry” that mars our discourse, Heffner said. Increasingly, we see each other not as Americans but as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, he said.

That view results in a “refusal to disagreeably agree,” to compromise, Heffner said.

“There is a deliberative process that is supposed to engender disagreement debate and, ultimately, some declaration: the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Human Rights, whatever that may be, those declaration of joint values are now quite absent in the overall political picture of our country.”

In the political arena, the inability to compromise leads to dysfunction and a lack of bipartisan support, Heffner said.

“There are no common priorities,” he said. “If there are no common priorities, then the game is tit for tat. The game is a battle of rhetoric. … (American politics) has always been hardball, but it’s not always been a sport that has objectives for partisan, political or individual gain as opposed to collective gain.”

That’s not to say there’s no hope. Heffner’s visit included a breakfast workshop and classes with students, which he noted in this speech.

“There were young people at your college,” he said, “who were quite energized and proudly considering their responsibility in upending the cycle of incivility.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Mauroni Named Finalist in Mark of Excellence Awards

Angela Mauroni ’17, news editor for The Campus, was a finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. The MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. The awards were presented at the Region I spring conference in New Haven, Connecticut on April 10. Region 1, the largest of the 12 SPJ regions, includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Junior News Editor Alex Weidenhof ’18 traveled to New Haven to accept the award on behalf of Angela and The Campus.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Student Journalist Angela Mauroni Is Finalist in Mark of Excellence Awards

April 20, 2016 – Angela Mauroni, news editor for The Campus, the student newspaper at Allegheny College, was a finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Mark of Excellence awards. The MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year.

The awards were presented at the Region I spring conference in New Haven, Connecticut on April 10. Region 1, the largest of the 12 SPJ regions, includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Mauroni, a junior from New Kensington, is majoring in English with minors in history, political science and journalism in the public interest. She will serve as co-editor-in-chief of The Campus in 2016-17.

Alex Weidenhof, junior news editor for The Campus, traveled to New Haven to accept the award on behalf of Mauroni and The Campus, which is in its 140th year of publishing at Allegheny College.

Photo: Angela Mauroni, center, with friends

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Student Journalist Angela Mauroni Is Finalist in Mark of Excellence Awards

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April 20, 2016 – Angela Mauroni, news editor for The Campus, the student newspaper at Allegheny College, was a finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Mark of Excellence awards. The MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year.

The awards were presented at the Region I spring conference in New Haven, Connecticut on April 10. Region 1, the largest of the 12 SPJ regions, includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Mauroni, a junior from New Kensington, is majoring in English with minors in history, political science and journalism in the public interest. She will serve as co-editor-in-chief of The Campus in 2016-17.

Alex Weidenhof, junior news editor for The Campus, traveled to New Haven to accept the award on behalf of Mauroni and The Campus, which is in its 140th year of publishing at Allegheny College.

Photo: Angela Mauroni, center, with friends

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Student Journalists at Allegheny College To Host Open House for Birthday of Ida Tarbell, Class of 1880

Oct. 29, 2015 – The student journalists of The Campus, the award-winning student newspaper at Allegheny College, will celebrate pioneering journalist Ida Tarbell’s birthday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 5 in the newspaper’s newsroom, Campus Center 314. The public is invited for cake and an open house.

Tarbell was born in Erie County on November 5, 1857 and grew up in Titusville. The only woman to matriculate at Allegheny College in 1876 and graduate in 1880, Tarbell set a standard for investigative reporting that journalists today continue to hold high.

“I think Ida Tarbell’s legacy is something that resonates deeply with the work we do for The Campus,” said Christina Bryson, the college newspaper’s editor-in-chief. “She never let anything or anyone stop her from doing her journalistic duty. Ida teaches us that it’s our duty as journalists to report the truth no matter how tough it may be to actually report. And I think as long as we continue working towards that goal of fairness and accuracy while also informing the public of the tougher issues, then we as student journalists are honoring Ida Tarbell’s legacy.”

Tarbell is best known for her 1904 book “The History of the Standard Oil Company,” in which she revealed the unethical means used by John D. Rockefeller to monopolize the early oil industry. Eight years later, as a result of Tarbell’s investigative work, the Supreme Court issued a decision to break up the Standard Oil trust.

In 1999 the New York University journalism department ranked “The History of the Standard Oil Company” fifth in a listing of the top 100 journalistic works of the 20th century.

Tarbell was a trustee of Allegheny College for many years. The Ida M. Tarbell Collection at Allegheny College contains her professional papers and book collection. Her papers, which represent more than 17,000 items, are digitized and accessible from the college library’s website.

The Campus newspaper has served the Allegheny College community since 1876. Tarbell was one of its earliest editors.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Hatch Presents Her Work from Liberia

Visiting Professor of Journalism in the Public Interest Cheryl Hatch did a presentation of her work from Liberia this summer. She gave a talk, titled “Let this Ebola end,” and presented her photographs at the Mattapoisett Free Public Library on July 21 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. In addition, her image “Watch Night” was among the 25 selected for the Women in Photojournalism Conference and was shown in Denver at the gallery reception for the exhibit on August 15.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

The Campus Newspaper Wins First-place Mark of Excellence Award

The Campus has won a first-place Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in Region 1, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Sam Stephenson ’15, co-editor-in-chief of The Campus, and photo editor Meghan Hayman ’16 won the award in the category of breaking news. Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. First-place winners move on to the national competition among category winners from the 12 regions of the Society of Professional Journalists. Visiting Professor of Journalism in the Public Interest Cheryl Hatch serves as faculty advisor to The Campus.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hatch Presents Her Recent Work from Liberia at Three Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

Cheryl Hatch, visiting professor in journalism in the public interest and documentary photographer, presented her recent work from Liberia at Wake Forest University, High Point University, and Guilford College March 23-26. Fellow journalist Brian Castner joined Hatch as part of a weeklong visit to Campus Consortium partners in North Carolina’s Triad region at the invitation of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Rather than simply considering the number of deaths, the journalists examined the efforts by local communities and the U.S. military to try to contain the spread of Ebola in Liberia. They also reported on the celebrations of Watch Night and the expected reopening of schools, which had been closed for more than six months. The journalists received a grant from the Pulitzer Center to help fund part of their travel in December 2015 and January 2015. During their week in North Carolina, Hatch and Castner spoke to journalism students, senior ROTC cadets, student journalists on campus newspapers, and faculty members. They also gave two public talks to community members.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research