Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Contests: Guessing Game or Gut Reaction?

I’ve been playing a guessing game all day. It involves guessing what other people think, what they value and what they like. It’s called the contest game and it’s a game I hate to play every year.

The game is part of my job as a college media adviser. At the beginning of each year, my students and I pour over a year’s worth of newspapers and select entries in 27 categories for the Missouri College Media Association’s annual contest. Continue reading


January 11, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009

Over the past six months, I’ve produced some heartfelt writing and some shabby fill-ins as my blog evolved. During this time, I’ve realized that what I thought was a great post (or a fun one to write) may not have interested or inspired anyone else.

 Today’s post is dedicated to what my readers have deemed as the top blog posts of 2009. The results are based on my blog stats and the number of page views – not necessarily scientific but definitely an indication of what you, as my readers, chose to read. Continue reading

December 30, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Parenting, Reflecting, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Those Pesky Deadlines

deadlineAs a reporter, I’m no stranger to working on deadline. A story comes in, I do my research, conduct the interviews, and then write the story – all usually within a day’s time. However, deadlines do not just apply to my freelance work. Deadlines apply to every single aspect of my life.

 I’m on deadline as a teacher – preparing lesson plans in time for class to start. I’m on deadline as a mom – rushing to get to soccer practices and dance lessons by the time each one starts. I’m on deadline as a home owner – keeping the house clean, the family fed, and the dog away from our valuables.

 Deadlines are draining and sometimes a royal pain. Continue reading

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Reflecting, Writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retention: Effort = Results

retentionNone of us are strangers to the concept of retention. In academia, it is often viewed as a dirty word signaling the profit portion of higher education. But, nonetheless, every college I have ever taught at has focused on the importance of retaining students, and every employer stressed the need to retain quality employees.

Personally, we have a natural desire, too, to retain relationships with friends and loved ones. Retention is not easy, though. It’s a pull and play concept. You have to work to pull the person in, work to show the benefits of the institution or relationship, and work to maintain the results.

The problem is that most people don’t actively retain; instead, they sit back and hope for the best. Continue reading

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Journalists, the Library is Your Friend

libraryI feel sorry for the library. It has truly lost its glory in the past 10 years. Once thought of as the end-all-be-all place for information, it has been replaced by Internet search engines that quickly lead us to websites within seconds, minutes.

 No one takes the time to browse the library’s shelves anymore, leaving dust to settle on our nation’s most valued treasures – books. Continue reading

September 19, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Five Things Every Student Journalist Should Do … Now

reporter_thumbStudent journalists are busy people. Beyond tending to class work, outside jobs, and attempting to have somewhat of a social life, they spend their days brainstorming story ideas, writing stories, gathering video and photos, laying out pages, and managing ethical dilemmas. 

They work tirelessly to produce fair, accurate, and balanced coverage of campus communities while also trying to inform and entertain readers. As the college media adviser for The Montage, my job is to provide the resources and training needed, guide and counsel students, and even serve as a sounding board when the pressure is leading to burnout. Continue reading

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing From the Grave

graveDeath is so taboo. People fear it, avoid discussing it, and shudder at the thought of it. In reality, though, death opens up someone’s life story.

 When a person dies, his or her life’s story unfolds and then becomes newsworthy. To counteract feelings of despair, family, friends, and co-workers reflect on the deceased, tell stories of the past, and ingrain this person’s image and likeness with memories. Continue reading

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Overload

twitterI’ve spent the past few days immersed, overwhelmed, delighted, and frustrated with social media. As participants in the Associated Collegiate Press Summer Journalism Workshops in Minneapolis, Minn. four of my students and I have been bombarded with high-tech options for reinventing and improving the standards for student newspaper publishing. Continue reading

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , | Leave a comment

Procrastination Kills Confidence

Two weeks ago, I bought a gallon of light brown paint with every intention to paint one living room wall. I had an 100_0708entire week without distractions; the kids were gone, the dog was taken care of, and my workload was minimal.

 However, two weeks later, the paint sits staring at me, patiently, alongside its tray, brush, roller, and tape. Every so often, I glance at it, tucked away in the corner and think, “Yeah, I should really finish what I started,” but I don’t. It sits still, forming clumps in formation, waiting for me to stop procrastinating and give it a little stir.

 As a journalist, procrastination is an evil trait. Once the excitement of gathering facts, interviews, notes, and observations dwindles, procrastination often sets in. The only thing left to do? Write the damn story. But, the notes sit, the voice recordings sit, and my potential lead and nut graph float in my brain for a few days. I rationalize this by telling myself that I’m just “developing the angle” or “perfecting the outline in my mind,” but I’m lying to myself – I’m just procrastinating. Continue reading

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Reflecting, Teaching | , , , | Leave a comment