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Friday, February 25, 2022

Illinois Marathon Announces Changes to 2022 Race Weekend

The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon will be different this year. The event’s organizers announced that its 26.2-mile run was canceled. The competition is part of the traditional race weekend that will happen between April 28th and 30th.

Photo courtesy by Illinois Marathon

The official announcement was made through posts on the Illinois Marathon’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Runners that had registered for the race were also contacted by email.

According to director Jan Seeley, the full marathon won’t take place due to impacts of the ongoing pandemic, which includes limitations on public safety resources. 

Champaign Police Department is currently down on 26 officers from its authorized maximum, while the Urbana Police Department is down on about two. That means the ability to provide enough security for participants in the longer race through both cities was at risk.

“We need to be able to have a safe route for everybody. Looking at the existing resources to do that, we felt the new smaller footprint was the right direction to go,” Seeley said. “The marathon route was too big.”

However, all the other event races will take off. People can sign up for the Half-marathon, Marathon Relay, 5K and 10K, Green Street Mile, and Youth run. The announcement also included a few changes to the schedule.

  • The half marathon, relay, and 10K will take place on Saturday, April 30th, on a new route. They also have a new start time at 7:33 am. 
  • The Green Street Mile will happen on Friday, April 29th, instead of Thursday, April 28th. It is going to start before the 5K run, at 6:10 p.m. on First Street. 
  • The 5K remains as planned, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29th.
  • Triple Half-I and Triple Mini-I Challengers will have two races on Friday. 
  • The Youth Run will start at Noon on Saturday, April 30th, instead of at 3:00 p.m., inside Memorial Stadium.

For other information and registration, visit the website www.illinoismarathon.com. 

Photo courtesy of Illinois Marathon

*This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/25/2022 02:37:00 PM

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Influential social media sites: How do they interact with journalism outlets?

Some people may disagree but, in my opinion, social media is an ally to the future of journalism. Besides the problem of sharing mis- and disinformation, they can be used as channels to spread news and reach more audiences. That is the way some newsrooms organizations find to survive by reaching a younger audience. In addition, it is a tool to connect and engage with people. 

Credit: Pixabay

Speaking of reaching more audiences, it was interesting to observe the results of studies conducted by Pew Research Center. In 2013, it revealed that about 52% of Twitter users and 47% of Facebook users got news from social platforms. Two years later, in 2015, a new study found that 63% of both Twitter and Facebook users utilize social media as a source for news. 

Those numbers increased in the 2017 survey when 67% of Americans said they get at least some of their news on social media. In that year, 26% - up from 18% in 2016 and 15% in 2013 - of all U.S. adults used to get news from multiple social networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp. However, in the 2021 most recent study, the percentage dropped due to misleading information about the election, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. About 48% of people said they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes” - which still is a large portion of the population. 

These drop-in numbers stressed how social media companies also have an important and necessary role in regulating content. The lack of vigilance and responsibility for the toxic content, conspiracy theories, and misinformation published resulted in many people losing confidence in the platforms. As Eric Lutz said in his article on Vanity Fair about the changes Facebook is implementing to monitor hate speech, it “shows that the company is perfectly capable of addressing harmful or misleading content on its platform - which makes it all the more maddening when they don’t.” 

Journalism and Social Media

Another relevant point I recognized is that when it comes to the most popular topic the users consume, entertainment news is in the first place, followed by local news. 65% of Facebook members want to know about events in their communities. And here is where we find another powerful role social media can play in journalism: help to establish relationships and listen to the audience. 

I would like to quote Michel Skoler’s article on Nieman Reports (Why the News Media Became Irrelevant—And How Social Media Can Help). 

“We can’t create relevance through limited readership studies and polls, or simply by adding neighborhood sections to our Web sites. We need to listen, ask questions, and be genuinely open to what our readers, listeners, and watchers tell us is important every day. We need to create new journalism of partnership, rather than preaching.” He adds that “social media can guide us. If we pay attention and use these tools, we can better understand today’s culture and what creates value for people.” 

More than just looking for followers and distributing their content, journalism outlets can use social networks to get the readers involved to express their opinions and suggest topics, making it more engaging.


Skoler, Michel 2009, Why the News Media Became Irrelevant—And How Social Media Can Help, Nieman Reports, accessed 23 February 2022, <https://niemanreports.org/articles/why-the-news-media-became-irrelevant-and-how-social-media-can-help/>.

Lutz, Eric 2020, Facebook is finally overhauling how it handles hate speech, Vanity Fair, accessed 23 February 2022, <https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/12/facebook-changing-hate-speech-policy>.

Mitchell, Amy; Kiley, Jocelyn; Gottfried, Jeffrey; Guskin, Emily 2013, The Role of News on Facebook, Pew Research Center, accessed 23 February 2022, <https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2013/10/24/the-role-of-news-on-facebook/>.

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/23/2022 03:29:00 PM

Friday, February 18, 2022

The new newsrooms

It has been very interesting for me to read and learn more about the new newsrooms. A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me about the future of journalism. In Brazil, 12 big media organizations closed in 2021, and many magazines and centennial newspapers have stopped their print version to become online outlets. Despite the costs and financial issues, we also talked about how to make newsworthy content in an age where information comes from many different sources and social media in real-time. 

Credit: Pixabay
My answer was that to stand out, journalists and newsrooms have to engage more with the audience, know their needs, and address the information directly to them. I haven’t made that connection yet, but now I notice how it relates to local and nonprofit news, as well as activist journalism.

I realized how powered the local news is to connect us to our community and neighbors and give voice to what wouldn’t be covered by the big media. Unfortunately, according to The U.S. News Deserts Database, 1,800 communities in the US have lost their local newsroom since 2004. Besides, the article “The death knell for local newspapers? It’s perilously close” by Margaret Sullivan published in The Washington Post mentioned that more than 2,000 local newspapers have gone out of business in the last 15 years. 

That contributes to a less informed public, which leads to less civic engagement and public polarization – and it is exactly what we can see both here and in Brazil. 

That is why nonprofit newsrooms are so important and are helping to fill these gaps. They have been producing content focused on one or a few society’s problems, providing in-depth coverage, and also opening space for an inclusive and diverse staff. Another positive point is that they are in essence trustful, nonpartisan and focused on facts, and transparent about their funding and commercial media. 

All that work seems to be promising. Audiences grew and journalism has served more people as third-party outlets published the content produced by nonprofit news organizations. In addition, the number of nonprofit outlets has been increased at an average pace of a dozen or more a year since 2008. 

Activism Journalism

In my opinion, one of the reasons they are growing and reaching more people is because of activism journalism. I agree with Gwen Lister when she says here that activism can be combined with journalism, in terms of causes, whatever those causes may be. The public likes to see their stories, struggles, and problems on media; they want to feel represented. 

Credit: Pixabay

I see it similarly as employing bias in journalism. Everyone has a bias, but it doesn’t mean that when producing content, a journalist won’t follow the objective process of journalism. 

An activist journalist can be subjective when choosing things to cover but verify the information and follow fair practices and writing rules. 

To sum up, I would highlight Gwen Lister’s opinion about one of the challenges of journalism today. “We mustn’t let our standards slip because of the digital tsunami and social media onslaught that is pointing people in the direction of entertainment and clickbait.” 

As I answered my friend when we are discussing the future of journalism, we need to break through those challenges (social media, mis- and disinformation) with serious journalism because it makes a real difference in people’s lives. 


Kohli, Anisha 2022, ‘We wanted to be the voice of the voiceless people of Namibia’, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, accessed 18 February 2022, <https://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2022/02/we-wanted-to-be-the-voice-of-the-voiceless-people-of-namibia/>.

Sullivan, Margareth 2019, The death knell for local newspapers? It’s perilously close, The Washington Post, accessed 18 February 2022, <https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-death-knell-for-local-newspapers-its-perilously-close/2019/11/21/e82bafbc-ff12-11e9-9518-1e76abc088b6_story.html>.

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.
Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/18/2022 02:42:00 PM

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Illinois’s Public High Schools Will Teach Media Literacy to Students

In an age when fake news, misinformation, and disinformation are currently transforming into a bigger problem for society, the ability to analyze and understand media is more than necessary. 

Credit: Getty Images

Last year, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law requiring Illinois’s public high schools to teach media literacy. The state became the first one in the country to follow such instruction.

Classes will start in the 2022-2023 school year. Students will learn how to verify the information they consume from various mediums, including digital, audio, visual, and print.

As soon as the bill was passed, the Colleges of Media and Education of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign teamed up to assist teachers to integrate media analysis and production into their classes. They are also helping to build a critical media literacy curriculum for schools. 

“Many of us in the College of Media has been working on media literacy-related research and teaching in the last several years,” affirmed Professor Stephanie Craft, head of the Department of Journalism. 

“When we heard about the new law, we wanted to be able to turn that work into action. Teaming up with curriculum and instruction experts in the College of Education seemed an ideal way to do that," said Craft.

The team has created the Initiative for Media Education Inquiry and Action (IMEDIA), which is formed by faculty members and doctoral students.

In June, IMEDIA will launch a pilot program on campus to find out what teachers have been doing in the area of media literacy and to help them integrate its components into their curriculum. It will be a three-day workshop, from 27th to 29th, for local teachers and potentially for teachers across the state.

“The end goal is quite simple. We want all of our students to be prepared to be critical media consumers,” explained Professor Sarah McCarthey, head of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

Credit: Jim Meadows/Illinois Newsroom

*This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.
Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/16/2022 12:31:00 PM

Friday, February 11, 2022

Covering “Fake News” and disinformation

It is interesting to observe how the term “fake news” was created and how worldwide it became. Although the expression was first used by Donald Trump to undervalue unfavorable news about him, it turned into a much bigger problem that occurs in many different countries. And they all nominate it as fake news as well. 

Credit: Pixabay

The first point I recognized as important about this subject is to wrongly call it “fake news”. As Claire Wardle from First Draft said here, we have to be clear when we use that term. “Are we talking about disinformation? Are we talking about misinformation? Are we talking about pollution? Are we talking about propaganda?”. Otherwise, if we don’t be direct about it, we are just going to endorse the battle against the news industry and contribute to the generalized skepticism towards it reaffirming that it sells false information. 

Secondly, is the effect fake news has on making people believe in falsehoods, how it has changed their perception about truth, and their opinion of the importance of the news, of being well informed. The fact that part of the audience is dropping some outlets and consuming less information is a relevant risk to the media environment. Regardless of whether it is because they don’t like it or if that contradicts their bias, having a non-informed population is harmful to society overall. 

Propaganda and advertising

Speaking of disinformation, a topic that also highlighted to me was the use of propaganda and advertising in the form of news articles on media outlets. They look exactly the same, with headlines, photos, and polished writing, but are created by, or on behalf of, a paying advertiser. As a blog and magazine reader, I have seen thousands of these ads and haven’t given much value to them because I knew they weren’t 100% truthful. However, many people do not have the same understanding I do. 

Therefore, reading and thinking about it made me realize how this strategy called “native advertising”, but also tagged as “partner post” or “sponsored content”, can be prejudicial and deceive the public. Research studies have shown that those labels are ineffective at helping readers distinguish between an editorial and an advertising type of content. 

As an example, I will quote Michelle A. Amazeen’s article (Researchers looked at nearly 3,000 native ads across five years. Here’s what they found) published on Nieman Lab

“Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, ran a native advertising campaign across many media outlets, including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Reuters, and The Washington Post (…) about the ‘disinformation campaigns that muddy the truth’ regarding the benefits of vaping products while themselves muddying the truth.” 

Another concern is that this kind of text is made by journalists. Many media companies have now content studios just to create native advertising in the name of corporate clients. It is understandable that a company needs money to survive and that it comes mainly from ads. Nevertheless, they should be responsible for the kind of content they publish and aware that it also might influence real journalism. 

Lastly, I want to rebound on Claire Wardle’s opinion about the challenge for the next two years. In 2017 she said it was “going to be a mixture of new technologies and how manipulation and disinformation work on those platforms and through those technologies.” By now, in 2022 – five years later, it seems like the challenge she mentioned is still pertinent and will last longer in the future.


Graham, David A. 2019, Some Real News About Fake News, The Atlantic, accessed 13 February 2022, <https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/fake-news-republicans-democrats/591211/>.

Wang, Shan 2017, The scale of misinformation online is global. First Draft is pushing for more collaboration — and more research — as an antidote, Nieman Lab, accessed 13 February 2022, <https://www.niemanlab.org/2017/11/the-scale-of-misinformation-online-is-global-first-draft-is-pushing-for-more-collaboration-and-more-research-as-an-antidote/>

Berman, Nina 2017, The Victims of Fake News, Columbia Journalism Review, accessed 13 February 2022, <https://www.cjr.org/special_report/fake-news-pizzagate-seth-rich-newtown-sandy-hook.php>.

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.
Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/11/2022 02:17:00 PM

University of Illinois’s COVID-19 Test Now Available All Across the State

The University of Illinois’s system for COVID-19 testing has been expanded across the state. The saliva-based test now can be used in schools, community colleges, and communities sites.

Photo courtesy by CovidShield

The CovidSHIELD was developed by the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2020 to rapidly detect the virus in students, faculty, and staff, and mitigate infection on campus. The goal was to enable in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year.

Due to its efficiency, the system was expanded to attend the whole state of Illinois. 

Now, the SHIELD program provides a saliva-based test to over 1,600 K-12 schools, 57 universities and community colleges, and at 25 community sites. 

That means that not only students or employees can take the test, but the population also will be able to get tested for free.

After taking the test, the state receives all results to process data and identify which variants of COVID-19 are predominant among the samples. 

To find out a nearby location available and schedule an appointment, visit the website www.shieldillinois.com/get-tested/.

About the test

The CovidSHIELD requires only a small amount of saliva from an individual and provides results within six to 12 hours. The process bypasses the RNA extraction step that is common to many COVID-19 tests. 

That speeds up the process and reduces the cost when compared to nasal swab tests, while also avoiding supply chain shortage.

More than 4 million tests were performed over the last year. According to a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s study, its results on negative samples matched a comparator test 99% of the time.

Another study conducted by FDA showed that covidSHIELD's results on positive samples matched a comparator test 96% of the time.

*This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.
Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/11/2022 08:30:00 AM

Friday, February 4, 2022

Winter Storm: Willard Airport Has Canceled All Flights Since Wednesday

Due to the severe winter storm that hit Northern and Central Illinois in the past couple of days, The University of Illinois-Willard Airport has canceled all flights since Wednesday, February 2nd. The terminal suspended a total of 22 flights, between 12 departures and 10 arrivals, that were supposed to take off and land in Champaign.

Photo courtesy by Tim Bannon

According to the Executive Director at Williard Airport, Tim Bannon, the flights had to be canceled because, during heavy snow accumulation, airfield surfaces become contaminated with snow and ice, making it unsafe for airplanes to operate. 

“They impact an aircraft’s ability to turn and stop. Also, low visibility and high winds during snow events can impact safety. Airlines make the decision to cancel flights, not the airport. However, conditions at both Willard and the destination airports are the biggest factors in this evaluation process,” explains.

The next step now is to clean up runways, taxiways, and aprons to make sure they are safe for landing and taking off. “The airport has a snow crew that works 16 hours per day during winter weather operations and after large events. Strict safety standards are in place here, as safety is our number one priority. We won’t open the airport for passengers until our snow crews certify that everything is ready for operations.” affirms.

Flights are expected to resume normal operation at the airport starting this afternoon, February 4th. Airport roads, parking lots, and the airfield will be safe and operational.

Passengers who had their travels canceled have to contact the airline responsible for operating the flights to rebook it at a later date out of Willard Airport or seek a flight from an alternative airport. “Airlines work directly with passengers to accommodate travel needs, especially during large winter events,” clarifies Bannon.

Credit: Illinois Public Media

*This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/04/2022 11:17:00 AM

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Who is a journalist? What are the qualifications and responsibilities?

Who is a journalist? It is a hard question to answer. Everyone can be a journalist when it comes to gathering information and sharing news. Years ago, we could say that what differentiates it is a bachelor’s degree, which in some places is not required anymore to practice the profession. So, how could we define it? 

Credit: Pixabay

The first thing I learned when I was in college, is that a journalist must be impartial do no matter what he has to cover or write about. He should always be objective regardless of his biases and beliefs. Now, I just learned a new meaning of objectivity. It is not about a person being objective, but the method used to precisely collect and test information. And this makes way more sense since we cannot disassociate ourselves from our background and experiences. 

Learning that made me realize that one of our main qualifications, besides writing techniques, is to be able to examine our own biases, be conscious of what we believe, and manage it, keeping them in or out of a story when they are inappropriate.

And his connects with the most relevant purpose of journalism, in my opinion, which is to serve the public interest. As Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel say in The Elements of Journalism, is “the function news plays in the lives of people.” It is part of our role to choose which stories to cover, how to cover them, and also think of how they affect everyone's lives. After all, people can use the report to make decisions about their lives, communities, and societies. This decision-making, which is based on our biases, changes everything. 

Truth is the key

Speaking of responsibilities, telling the truth about facts is the first one. And to achieve that, we need to use our objectivity: find reliable sources, verify information, and make sure it is accurate and transparent for the audience. It is a commitment to citizens. This compromise also includes offering a voice to the voiceless and representing varied viewpoints and interests in society. 

One interesting point that I would highlight is the concentric sources of information. It emphasized the importance of verifying sources and classifying them according to their different levels. 

To sum up, we can define a journalist by the purpose of his work and by the methods used to check and produce a “functional truth”. I agree with the authors when they say that journalists no longer decide what the public should or should not know. Now, their main role is “to verify the information the consumer already has or is likely to find and then help them make sense of what it means and how they might use it.” 

In the same way that journalists have to be responsible for the content they create and share, people also need to be aware of the kind of information they consume, make their minds, and decide for themselves why they should believe it or not. That is why media literacy is essential.


Leslie, Gregg 2009, Who is a "journalist"?, Reporters Committee for Freedom Press, accessed 03 February 2022, <https://www.rcfp.org/journals/the-news-media-and-the-law-fall-2009/who-journalist/>.

American Press Institute, Journalism Essentials, accessed 03 February 2022, <https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/>

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 2/03/2022 01:57:00 PM