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

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

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

Story Sources are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E

One common complaint that I field in my journalism classes is that students have difficulty finding sources for stories. “So-and-so won’t talk to me because I’m not a ‘real’ reporter” or “I sent three e-mails, but I never heard back” is what I typically hear.

My first response: You ARE a real reporter, so act as if.
My second response: Pick up the phone. Don’t rely on e-mail.

The reality is that sources are everywhere. They are hiding in their offices on campus, protesting on downtown streets, voicing their beliefs on Facebook and tweeting their opinions. As a journalist, your task is to find them, track them down and get the interview. Continue reading

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Grown-Up’ Journalists

I’m the first to admit that I’m a biased teacher. Just as I think my kids are the best kids ever, I also think that I have the best journalism students ever. I see firsthand how hard they work and the dedication they put into perfecting their craft.

I watch them closely in the newsroom as they consult with each other on ethical issues, scramble off to interview sources and torture themselves while writing and re-writing story after story.

I’m proud to be a part of the environment, part of their challenges and part of their successes. They never cease to amaze me with their professionalism.

Continue reading

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On the Road Again as a College Media Adviser

The job of a college media adviser is sticky. Without any control over content or editorial decisions, a media adviser walks a fine line, trying to guide students to practice solid journalism without “taking over” or dominating decisions.

 I bite my nails on a regular basis, I hold my tongue as much as I can, and I try to keep my facial expressions at bay while pointing out the pros and cons of the decisions and proposals my students make. In the end, though, I trust them to go with their instincts and gut feelings. It is after all, their paper, not mine.

Continue reading

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , | Leave a comment

Proud to Sweat the Small Stuff

 If you know me well, you know how I fret over the little things. It irritates me when wet towels are left on the floor, when dishes are in the sink and my counters are cluttered.

 It irritates me when my newspaper students don’t even the text off at the end of each story or leave half-empty soda cans next to brand new Macs in the newsroom.

 It irritates me when periods are outside of quotation marks, when story leads don’t have a hook and when text is bold or italics within an article.

I sound neurotic already, but in my mind, the little things really do matter, no matter how much I get irritated. Continue reading

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Parenting, Reflecting, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Redesigning Our Lives

For the past few months, my newspaper students have been planning a re-design of their website. They poured over possible layouts, templates, video components and social media plugins. Our online editor Jenn has worked tirelessly to make sure that the best laid plans became a reality.

 Jenn worked hard. The staff worked hard. And, in the end, the site was launched this week. The hard work and hours of planning resulted in a major change in how their news site functions.

 After witnessing their efforts firsthand, I began to wonder about other “things” we could re-design. Our staff manual. Our policies and procedures. Our copy editing processes.

 Our lives. Continue reading

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Journo Nerd

I’ve always known that I had a nerd in me. I tried to hide it for years, but it finally came full circle when I admitted to my obsession with office supplies.

 Colored pens, cardstock paper, mini notebooks, cute little binder clips, file folders – all of it excites me. Every few months, I attempt to re-organize my files and my office. I pretend that it is necessary to get myself organized, but honestly, it is just an excuse to buy more office supplies and gadgets. Continue reading

January 6, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Has Journalism Been Hit With an Ugly Stick?

Ugly_StickJournalists are trained to be objective – trained to report on the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, when it comes to our own profession, we often find it difficult to see anything but the good.

 The truth is that there are many ugly aspects of the job, and as this industry continues to change rapidly, many ugly trends have evolved. Continue reading

October 6, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , | Leave a comment