the Story
Adam Shapiro
Public Relations
Shaping a Powerful Narrative.


Supporting Good Causes and Great Clients

ASPR was proud to honor our friends Anthony Shop and Emily Rasowsky as they served as co-chairs for this year’s LearnServe gala in Washington, D.C. Shop is Chief Strategy Officer at Social Driver, an ASPR client. LearnServe is part of the Catalogue for Philanthropy, another ASPR client.

The Essence of Being a Publisher

Meryl Streep’s performance as Katherine Graham in “The Post” is so exceptional because she brings to the screen the anxiety, thrill and stress that comes with holding the title of publisher. It was especially fitting to see such a portrayal as I’m still processing the loss of a publisher I knew and admired so much.

Diane Straus was the publisher of Washington Monthly; she recently passed away from cancer at the relatively young age of 66. I never had a boring conversation with Diane; every discussion was full of her vision and energy.

The Monthly is a unique publication with a strong perspective on the issues of the day. Subscribers bring a critical mind to each article they read and Diane more than kept up with them. The Monthly is known for its annual college guide and ranking, which examines institutions on what they are doing for the country and is an alternative to what others in the space already offer.

Diane found innovative ways to harness the power of nonprofit foundations to support the guide and other journalism projects, such as coverage of mental health issues. This is coverage mainstream journalism and even blogs aren’t covering.

Yet even as Diane searched for new support from foundations, she always held to the belief that writing a check didn’t constitute control of the reporting.

In some ways, Diane walked a more difficult line than traditional publishers. It’s somewhat easy to tell a corrupt advertiser that his money won’t buy good coverage. It’s harder to say to a program officer at a foundation whose mission you personally support that the journalism needs to guide the coverage. This is the fine line that Diane walked with grace and ease.

There were many other parts of Diane’s life that I only learned about in her obituary. When you see “The Post,” keep good publishers like Diane in mind. You will never read their bylines. You will probably never know their names. But they are essential to the search for truth that is more important than ever.

Media Training Uncovered

Thank you to ASPR’s friends at Lipman Hearne for allowing us to share these thoughts about media training. https://www.lipmanhearne.com/uncover-the-story/

Uncover the Story Through Media Training

By Adam Shapiro

I just read an article that said a Hollywood star, facing an upcoming gauntlet of critical questions from reporters, had better get herself media trained right away.

It struck me that this is exactly the wrong approach to take. Indeed, if done effectively, media training is something that is integrated into a communications strategy from the beginning, not crammed in after a crisis.

This is especially true for leaders in higher education and other vital institutions. They wouldn’t run a 5K without training, so why would they face critical questioners without preparing for the experience?

Uncovering the story is a process of media training that I’ve used with much success. “Uncover the story” has two meanings:

–In media training sessions on campus, I work with the university president, provost, department heads and other academic leaders. They always have messages, ideas and mission statements about their work. Yet there is a need to put them in human language and discover what is truly unique about their institutions. It takes time to uncover these elements and they aren’t always obvious.

–Once we have the defining messages down pat, it’s time to ask the tough questions in practice sessions. I began my career as an investigative reporter, the type of journalism that thrives on making Freedom of Information Act requests and highlighting when things go wrong and why. Investigative reporters do love to uncover a good story. Therefore, I’ve honed the ability to develop questions that can trip up even the best leader.

This process, conducted well in advance of a need to walk into a news conference, is ideal in today’s intense media environment, where everyone can be on Twitter and the next Mike Wallace might be a freshman with an iPhone.

Here’s a secret: It’s not always the tough questions that cause the most headaches. Sometimes an easy, uniformed question can lead a spokesperson to a regrettable answer (for instance, “How long to you plan to stay here as university president?”). Media training helps prepare officials for that situation as well as understanding that comments made when you think you are off camera often are not.

I’m reminded that even Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the history of the game, needed a coach. It’s an honor to visit college campuses, explore their stories and help leaders prepare to tell those stories in accurate, compelling and motivating ways.




Legends of Learning’s Research Story

ASPR client Legends of Learning partnered with a team from Vanderbilt University for the new study “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curriculum.” Published by the Journal of Learning Sciences, the research shows students who played games as part of their regular curriculum were significantly more engaged, and outperformed their peers on both factual knowledge and depth of knowledge.

Participating teachers reported their students were more engaged, and comprehended lessons faster. To learn more about how curricula games impact students in the classroom, read an executive summary of the game-based learning study.

The Alfred Friendly Press Partners Story


Leading Russian Investigative Reporter Yevgenia M. Albats to Receive Award at Alfred Friendly Press Partners Annual Event

WASHINGTON, D.C—The legacy of Alfred Friendly, whose name was synonymous with groundbreaking journalism when he led and reported for The Washington Post, once again promises to make headlines in the nation’s capital.

That’s because Alfred Friendly Press Partners, a nonprofit based at the Missouri School of Journalism, will hold its annual graduation program and dinner for its Fellows from emerging democracies around the world.

The event, Friday, Sept. 8 from 6–9 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will include a discussion with Karen DeYoung, Washington Post associate editor and senior national security correspondent. Her reporting this year has broken major developments involving North Korea, Russia and ISIS. Previously, DeYoung won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the war on terrorism.

She will be interviewed by Tim Carrington, a former international journalist with The Wall Street Journal and a Friendly foundation board member.

Yevgenia M. Albats, a previous Fellow, will receive the Susan Talalay Award for Outstanding Journalism for her work and bravery in exposing corruption in Russia. Jackie Combs Nelson will receive the Ellen Soeteber Award for mentorship; she is a former assistant editor at the Chicago Tribune and has been traveling the world to reunite and connect with past Fellows.

The special program sponsors are Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman. Frank Islam and Debbie Dreisman Foundation’s primary mission is to promote education and arts and culture. Their foundation is part of the AFPP family and they have joined hands with AFPP to support this event.

This year’s Fellows— from Malaysia, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Ukraine and Cuba — have spent six months gaining hands-on experience and leadership skills they’ll need to become more effective journalists and to make a profound impact in their home newsrooms.

Information about tickets is available at http://bit.ly/2uRsKQr.


 Alfred Friendly Press Partners bonds with journalists and news organizations from information hungry societies and prepares them to practice professional, ethical, and innovative journalism. We accomplish our mission through hands-on training in U.S. and international newsrooms and within the Missouri School of Journalism.

Alfred Friendly Press Partners is the leader in transforming journalists who are recognized as vital to journalism excellence, press freedom, and informed citizenries.

We advance our vision through our fellows, our lifelong relationships with them and the subsequent trusting relationships to international newsrooms we are able to develop through them, and the network of training resources and expertise we are able to capture and tailor for fellows and international newsrooms. www.presspartners.org