In this episode, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and IU faculty member Tom French talks to Media School Dean Jim Shanahan about the art of the long-form story and its enduring popularity in an age of instant communication often more defined by photos and emojis than words.
French graduated from the IU Journalism School in 1981 and spent 27 years at the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), where he experimented with narrative techniques both on deadline and non-deadline work, and specialized in serial narratives, or book-length stories published one chapter at a time.
In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for “Angels and Demons,” a series that chronicled the murder of an Ohio woman and her two teen daughters during their vacation in Tampa. He joined the faculty at IU Bloomington’s Media School in 2008 and is a Writing Fellow at the Poynter Institute, where he taught for more than 20 years. His 2010 book, “Zoo Story,” focuses on zoo administrators’ efforts to turn the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa from a small park to a quality zoo; he tells the story through the lens of two animals in the zoo: a chimpanzee who was treated like a human before he arrived at the zoo, and a female tiger with a wild personality.
Indiana University’s Newsroom has created several long-form stories over the past few years:
- USS Indiana: Homeward Bound describes the return of a WWII battleship to Indiana, where it is now housed on the IU Bloomington campus. (2013)
- IU Cinema: Midwest film leader describes the evolution of the former IU Theatre to a world-class cinema under the direction of Jon Vickers. (2014)
- Safe haven describes IU’s 20-year anniversary of formal GLBT support for students. (2014)
- Keepers of the bees describes the research efforts of IU students, faculty and staff to save the honeybee. (2015)
- Her Story highlights several of the women who have helped shape Indiana University Bloomington. (2015)
- New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities recounts a history of IU’s commitment to scholars of the human experience. (2015)
IU news this week:
- IU researchers are offering expertise on the spread of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease thought responsible for the birth of children with small brains in South America. Though rare, the virus can be spread by sexual transmission, as was discovered this week in Texas. IU experts from medicine, public affairs and biological sciences advise that infection from mosquitos is not a risk for most U.S. citizens, but this could grow in coming years. Experts also point out that, unlike less developed nations, the country’s strong public health infrastructure should help curb the spread of the disease
- An IU paleobotanist played an important role in the recent discovery of an ancient insect whose behavior and appearance mimic modern butterflies — but which pre-dates the first appearance of butterflies by 40 million years. Using microscopic evidence in the fossil record, IU Professor of Geological Sciences David Dilcher helped identify the plants eaten by this ancient insect. This project was part of a collaboration led by the Smithsonian Institute and scientists in China.
- A recent study based on data from North American auto companies found that a rise in overtime hours and an increase in factory-installed options are contributing to manufacturing-related recalls. The study, co-authored by George Ball of the IU Kelley School of Business, revealed these recalls have cost the industry $167 million dollars in the past seven years.
- Also in auto manufacturing, researchers at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs are urging policymakers to consider tighter greenhouse gas regulations for the 2017 to 2021 model years. As gas prices fall, consumers are less interested in hybrids and fuel efficiency, they said, and stringent regulations could offset the effects of more trucks and larger cars on the roads.
- The Center for Postsecondary Research in the IU School of Education has released the 2015 edition of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This is the most comprehensive review of institutional diversity, covering more than 4,660 colleges and universities in the U.S. IU took over responsibility for production of the report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2014.
- Five IU faculty members have been promoted to the rank of distinguished professor, the highest academic rank within the institution. They are Katy Börner in the IU School of Informatics and Computing; Roger Hangarter in the IU Bloomington Department of Biology; Stanley Ritchie in the IU Jacobs School of Music; Eliot Smith in the IU Bloomington Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; and Bruce Molitoris in the IU School of Medicine.
- IU Provost Lauren Robel delivered the IU State of the Campus address. She included progress updates on the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for IU Bloomington and highlighted initiatives related to academic excellence, faculty development and research. View a video of the address.
IU events this week:
- The University Grad School’s Preparing Future Faculty Conference takes place Feb. 12 at the Indiana Memorial Union. This conference is free and open to all IU graduate students.
- The Archives of African American Music and Culture is hosting an exhibit highlighting the work of radio producer Jacquie Gales Webb and the history of black radio. The exhibit opens Feb. 9 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.
- At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Indiana Memorial Union will host “STOMP Out Hunger,” an interactive percussion jam session featuring the touring cast of STOMP. The free event is a canned food drive for Hoosier Hills Food Bank, so bring a non-perishable food item and come stomp it out. The cast of STOMP performs at the IU Auditorium Feb. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m.
- At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, the IU Media School presents: “Does Mission Matter? Journalism on the Digital Front Line,” a lecture by Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern in Ernie Pyle Hall Auditorium. Kern has worked in newspapers since graduating from IU with a journalism degree in 1971. He is the Media School’s 2016 Roy W. Howard Lecturer.
- The IU Cinema is hosting two filmmakers through the Jorgensen Lecture Series this week. Director, writer, and producer Jeremy Kagan will speak at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11. IU Media School faculty member Robby Benson will speak on Friday, Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Benson is an author, actor, screenwriter, songwriter and producer who starred in such films as “Jeremy,” “Ice Castles” and “Death Be Not Proud.” He also was the voice of “Beast” in Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast.”
- Also Thursday, the IU Men’s Basketball team takes on Iowa at 9 p.m. at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers and Hawkeyes are locked in a tight race for the top spot in the Big Ten conference standings.
- Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee will appear at IU Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 as part of “The I-69 Tour,” his series of comedy shows throughout Indiana.
- On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Archives of African American Music and Culture will provide online access for the first time to the 1968 radio series “What Must Be Done: Where Are We Today in Black-White Relations?” Civil rights attorney Percy E. Sutton moderates the series. The event is also in honor of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Radio Day.
News and events for this episode will be read by Luqmann Ruth, of Chicago, a senior recording arts major in the Jacobs School of Music and composer of the music for this podcast, and Cashie Rohaly, a junior studying journalism in the Media School with a concentration in theater and a minor in psychology.
Through the Gates: IU This Week is a collaboration of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, The Media School in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the IU Newsroom.