Best Student Works for Spring 2019 Digital Media Skills Class

Hello the world:

I just had a fun, engaging and productive semester with my BC&J430 (Digital Media Skills for Journalists and Public Relations Practitioners) students at Western Illinois University.



Why digital media skills?

Let me copy and paste my syllabus course descriptions here:

“The U.S. media are undergoing a profound revolution. Print journalism is gradually giving way to digital journalism. The course will prepare journalism and public relations students to enhance digital media skills such as blogging and social media tools, multiplatform storytelling and data visualization so students know how to generate and deliver news stories more effectively to web-based global audiences. By the end of the semester, students should be able to use blogging and social media for news reporting and writing, assess and create data-driven journalism, and know how to report and write across multiple media platforms.”

Sounds cool, right?

Actually, most students did a great job doing reporting, writing and production, thus pushing their digital media skills to a new level. I am going to showcase some of the best student works below. Continue reading


WIU Students Send Letters To Donald Trump For Press Freedom

What are major problems in contemporary mass communications?

Racist media portrayal of African Americans. Stereotypical coverage of Chinese American and Asian Americans. Unfair media representations of women. Declining press freedom. Pervasiveness of fake news, misinformation and media vulgarity. Media ownership in the hands of just a few super rich. Echo chamber effect, media polarization and loss of concensus. Broken business model for traditional news media. Extremely negative image of journalists in popular culture. Rise of entertainment and death of news. Superficial international reporting. Loss of privacy due to widespread use of emerging technology in newsrooms.

The list could go on and on.

All above questions were discussed in depth in BC&J431 (Problems in Contemporary Mass Communications) class I taught in this past spring semester at Western Illinois University.

A recurring theme in our discussions is Donald Trump, what he says about American media, and what he does to American media. Before teaching this class, I didn’t realize the current U.S. president is connected with so many media problems in this country. I thus encouraged each student to write a letter to Donald Trump for extra credit.

Some students did what I said. And they did it extremely well. So well that I am eager to share them with the whole world. Continue reading

Make Media History Personal

Many students here in the United States don’t have any interest in history. Average American people’s knowledge of history is shockingly limited. The whole world knows it.

A simple Google search gave me the following headlines:

The Washington Post: Why so many students hate history — and what to do about it

The Atlantic:The Problem With History Classes

The New York Times: U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show

Many media history professors here may accordingly wonder: How to make a media history class engaging, fun and thought-provoking to those young kids who hate history even before stepping into the classroom?

My approach is to make media history personal.

In BC&J354 (History of Mass Communications) class I taught this past spring semester at Western Illinois University, I asked students to Continue reading

A World Famous Professor Almost Stopped His Post-Elementary Education

When he was an elementary school student, a young farm boy in South Korea took classes in a tent classroom that was windswept and rain-soaked. He did great in school but almost stopped his post-elementary education. Later, he came to America as a graduate student and pursued his American Dream.

Today, he is considered one of the most well-known media law scholars in the world. Working as an endowed chair professor at an American flagship public university, he has one doctoral degree and three master’s degrees in hand and numerous books and journal articles under his name. One master’s degree was from the University of Oxford and another from Yale Law School. Continue reading

Feature Stories by Brie Coder

Fall 2018 was truly a productive semester for Miss Brie Coder. As one of the best writers in my magazine and newspaper feature writing class, she reported thoroughly and wrote beautifully on people from all walks of life and on issues impacting them. Some stories are hilarious. Some are heartbreaking. With Coder’s permission, I publish her feature stories here verbatim. From the 10 pieces below, how many literary devices (e.g., metaphor, simile, personification, historical and literature allegory) can you find?


Class photo for fall 2018 feature writing class at Western Illinois University.


Historical Story

“Our blood Continue reading

Spring 2017 JOUR440 Best Student Work

Spring 2017 JOUR440 Best Student Work:

Mary Anderson

Anitria Wilson

Campbell Atkins

Daniel Frey

Kayla Collins



Spring 2016 JOUR440 Best Student Work

Spring 2016 best blogs

Spring 2016 best multimedia packages

Spring 2016 best data visualizations

Spring 2016 best Storify entries

Spring 2016 best video stories

Spring 2016 best audio stories

Spring 2016 best audio slideshows

Great Feature Stories from Prof. Tang’s Feature Writing Class

First-Person Story:

Sunday Football in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name: 孔若师)

It was finally the day I’d been waiting years for. The day that I had thought about since I started watching football. The day when one of my biggest wishes was about to come true. A day I thought would never come. Today was the day I was going to finally see the Pittsburgh Steelers play at their home stadium.

The car was packed with my family members on a warm and sunny day. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Saturday morning. It was time for me to hit the road and make my journey to Pennsylvania.

I left my house at noon in hopes that I could make it to my hotel in Pittsburgh by 10 p.m. that night. Continue reading

马如飞 and His Great Feature Stories

Zachary Martin (Chinese name:马如飞) is a great feature writer. Nothing proves this more than his academic accomplishment in my BC&J330 (Magazine and Newspaper Feature Writing) class in this past fall semester.

Martin’s reporting is Continue reading

John Benedeck and His Feature Stories

John Benedeck (Chinese name:白朝辉) is a great feature writer. Nothing proves this more than his academic accomplishment in my BC&J330 (Magazine and Newspaper Feature Writing) class in this past fall semester.

Benedict’s reporting is thorough. His writing is colorful and creative. All papers convey a strong sense of being there. His work shows promise of outstanding professional achievement. As more and more robots are replacing humans in newsrooms, the journalism industry needs more people Continue reading