Exploring Packback: Students on the Impact and Direction of Journalism

Journalism students at Indiana University Bloomington are taking a unique approach to master the art of storytelling. Their weekly discussion of Pulitzer Prize works on Packback has even challenged the practices of traditional journalism by questioning the relevance of food critics and the power of podcasts.

After reading the series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles “Farm to Fable” by food critic Lauren Reiley, students had an in-depth discussion about food critiques place in journalism.

Some students who use Yelp to instantaneously review a business discussed if there still an audience who follows the opinions of professional critics?

Reiley’s “Farm to Fable”, which examines the food and restaurant industries in America, challenged students to rethink their trust in these industries. Reiley explains in her piece how some restaurants claim to serve locally sourced food when their food is coming from farms hundreds of miles away. So why claim to carry local foods? As Reiley learns through her investigative piece, restaurants can charge more because consumers are often willing to pay more to support local farms. This revelation prompted some students to reconsider the types of foods they consume.

This particular question was met with two responses from classmates saying they’ve grown more conscious of the food they eat. Through their readings, both responding students were able to identify personal information gaps and apply their learnings through Packback. One curious student admitted he/she was unaware that there are no legalities for restaurants to follow in terms of marketing their business as locally sourced.

Another student found the article powerful in opening readers’ eyes on what “farm-to-table” really means.

Beyond reading and responding to articles, University of Indiana Bloomington students in this course also discussed the evolving state of journalism. Publishing content has never been easier, and journalism is no longer limited to the pages of newspapers and magazines. The evolution of content prompted one student to highlight the growing interest of podcasts and question whether verbal storytelling should be eligible for one of journalism’s most prestigious prizes.

One student responded to this query and supported his/her thoughts with an analysis of two podcasts; “Serial” a mysterious weekly podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig and “How I Built This” hosted by Guy Raz exploring the uprising of some of the world’s largest companies. Through these personal examples, the student compared the investigative tactics of these podcast to written journalistic pieces read for the class.

This exchange is exciting because the student responding was able to use a personal experience to support his/her opinion with two examples of well-done podcasts. Open-ended questions and thoughtful responses like the ones highlighted in this post build Packback communities into rich fountains of curiosity and fuel life-long learning in each student.

Interested in learning how Packback can facilitate powerful discussions in your class? Request a demo with one of our Strategy Consultants.