Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

‘You’re Fired:’ Is it Worth Burning Bridges?

I was raised to work and work hard.  Maybe it was because I watched my mother struggle to raise three girls by working multiple jobs or maybe it was because I liked the intrinsic rewards tied to a job well done.

I work hard, I expect others to work hard and I believe that a strong work ethic is the most appealing quality of an employee, and even more, a journalist. Ethics surround our profession. They consume our minds when we choose photos, craft leads, choose quotes and organize facts. They trickle through our veins when we interview both sides to ensure the story is balanced and ask the difficult and often uncomfortable questions. We can’t half-ass it – our readers make us accountable. Continue reading

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May 25, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism | , , , | 5 Comments

I See You: Taking Risks Online

I’m not one to lecture and I hate being lectured to, but when it comes to talking to my students about establishing an online presence, I turn on my ‘lecture’ voice. “Be proud of what you produce because it is permanent.” In the past 5 years, I have uttered these words more times than I care to remember.

Here’s Why: Continue reading

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trudging Through ‘Maintain’ Mode

Sometimes in life, you can’t help but feel beaten down. It seems that anything and everything can go wrong all at once. This week has been one of those for me as a homeowner. My dishwasher is dead, my refrigerator’s motor went caput, my carport started leaking, the check engine light on my car popped on days before my emissions test is due and my furnace has decided to only kick on when it feels like it.

On top of that, I have 60 papers needing grading that keep staring at me with the evil eye and several freelance assignment deadlines this month.

I’ve declared this week my ‘maintain’ week. I can’t possibly trudge forward with zestful energy; instead, I must go through the motions and ‘maintain’ to keep my sanity. Continue reading

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | 2 Comments

The Snow-Covered Editor-Writer Relationship

This weekend, my mom got on me about not shoveling the snow off my driveway after the Midwest was pummeled with 12 inches of winter wonderland-ness. My response? “We have 4-wheel drive. Why do we need to shovel?”

I’ll spare you with the ‘you should think of others’ lecture I received after she tried to pull her little car in my driveway and move on to what the conversation inspired me to think about – Editor and Writer Relationships. Continue reading

January 23, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , | 3 Comments

Journalists Serve Up Passion

Passion: It sounds like a dirty word or something straight out of a Harlequin novel, but for journalists, passion has nothing to do with romantic embraces or terms of endearment. Passion is a clean and clear sign that a journalist will succeed.

There’s no doubt that good journalists are passionate about what they do and that passion is contagious. It’s our secret, dirty little word that gets us through the day. Continue reading

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help! Journalists Need Somebody

As a mom, I’ve learned to be resourceful from some of the best moms I know. I’ve learned that Febreeze comes in handy when PE uniforms are crumpled up in a book bag 30 minutes before school starts.

I now know that a quick lick of the finger wipes off cereal crumbs from a child’s face while pulling into school and that luckily, school cafeterias allow ‘charging’ for lunch once in awhile when I’ve forgotten to slip my kids $2 on the way out the door.

In a world where we deem ourselves as independent and self-sufficient, we sometimes forget that resources and a little help from our friends makes a difference in our productivity, performance and most of all, sanity.

But as journalists, we often view ourselves as loners, working on stories independently, hiding the cold hard facts and explosive leads until the published product reveals our hard work and stellar independence. Yes, we proclaim, I did it myself and I don’t need anyone else’s help. Continue reading

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Use This Only For Emergencies

When I traveled to Europe the summer after high school, my mom handed me a credit card right before I boarded the plane. She looked at me sternly and said, “Use this only for emergencies.” The next three weeks were filled with “emergencies.”

It was an emergency when I found the cutest jacket at EuroDisney. It was also an emergency when I was starving for a Belgian waffle on the streets of Belgium. The “emergencies” continued until I reached the $500 limit. Continue reading

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Reflecting, Teaching | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In this Room …

Tonight, after a 13-hour day of teaching and advising, I stood in the doorway of our student newsroom and paused with my head and my heart heavy. It was late and my kids at home were missing me, but I didn’t want to leave.

It was the last production night of the semester and I don’t deal well with the “last” of anything, especially in this room.

An outsider might not see the appeal of the newsroom. It is littered with soda cans, pizza boxes and empty energy drink containers. Papers overflow every desk and cameras are piled unorganized on the corner table. The recycled, dilapidated couch from Goodwill sits in the middle of the room and the floor looks as if it hasn’t seen a mop in a few months, if not years.

However, this room is the most appealing place on campus to me. Continue reading

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Reporters Can’t Be Shy

Reporters can’t be shy. Plain and simple – there’s no other way to put it. In order to report, you have to approach people, talk with people and gather information.

You can’t hide behind a computer hoping for an e-mail response from a source. You can’t base an entire story from online research and worse yet, trust all online sources. And, you can’t use the excuse – I couldn’t find any sources – if you want to stay employed.

However, if you have a shy nature, there are ways to prepare yourself mentally for the task of breaking out of your shell. There are online sources that can provide multitudes of information to prepare you to ask the questions to human sources that need to be asked. Continue reading

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Editors Fix. Coaches Build.

In almost every newsroom – student or professional – the animosity between copy editors and writers is often visibly apparent. Copy editors profess about commas and fragments passionately. Writers hold onto their text as if someone is trying to rob every ounce of their being.

Both parties have legitimate concerns. However, when treacherous debates occur, honestly, they defeat the purpose of what both parties are trying to accomplish – producing better copy. Continue reading

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment