Tuesday, October 30, 2007

borderbeat.net: a model for online journalism

At this year's Online News Associations Journalism Awards, the student journalism award was given to Border Beat, a Web site dedicated to U.S.-Mexico border relations. The site was created by University of Arizona students.

My immediate impression of this site was it deserved the award it received. It is filled with content, print and multimedia, and it is all within range of the topic.

The site is divided into sections such as in-depth, lifestyle, news, health, education and blogs. Each section is filled with stories pertaining to food in Arizona's barrios to healthcare issues Hispanics face in the area.

What I wasn't so impressed with was one of the slide shows depicting the barrios in Tucson. Watching the first few minutes of it was rather dull because it was picture after picture of signs labeling the neighborhood, versus photos of buildings, people and generally life in the area.

No site is perfect, but Border Beat is definitely a good model for other students journalists to consider.

Border Beat Review

For the multimedia commentary, I decided to look at the Border Beat site, because I wanted to compare the student work that was recognized. It was interesting to see the criteria for award-winning student categories.
The first thing I noticed is that the slideshow was created in Soundslides. I thought the slideshow was something that I could easily create on my own. I thought the photos of the barrio signs was a creative idea that wasn't implemented very well. The photos were just descriptive but not interesting or engaging. I think the photos could have had more of a creative angle to them to make the slideshow enhance the total package.
I liked that along the sidebar, the site had sections that reminded me of newspaper sections. I thought the stories in these sections were very personal and very much a representation of niche journalism of the barrio communities. I also liked how the site separated the Blog and Resources sections to show that those links involved another type of info-gathering from the journalism stories. I think that the Blog section adds a dimension of modernism to the site that you may not see in a veteran journalist site.
Lastly, I felt that the special reports section was the heart of the site's packaging. The stories show various angles of the topics of choice, and the slideshows are very impressive.

Hip-Hop 101.. and then some

Because hip-hop isn't the type of music I generally like or listen to, I decided to look at and evaluate Wisconsin State Journals interactive website Hip-Hop 101 and see how much time I would spend on the page. Hip-hop 101 won the Online News Associations Journalism Award for Outstanding Use of Digital Media for a small publication in 2007.

Hip-Hop 101 is a page intended to educate people about hip-hop and the activities of the hip-hop community in the Madison area. On the site’s home page, hip-hop is described as being more than just music, it is described as a culture. For this reason, I think it is very fitting that WSJ chose to cover this story in a non-traditional way. Because hip-hop is not just music, but fashion, breakdancing, DJing, MCing, poetry, and beatboxing as well, it seems right that different multimedia vehicles should be used to cover the different elements of this culture.
Though the website is chock-full of content, it is presented in a very simple and easy to navigate yet innovative fashion.

The links section of the website has been cleverly designed into a spinning album with the links circling on the record. For some reason I did find myself more inclined to click on all the links because they were presented in this way. If the links alone were presented so creatively I found myself wondering how the actual topics linked to would be covered.

After visiting all 5 links: DJing, MCing, graffiti, breakdancing, and poetry, I had barely noticed I had passed nearly 20 minutes perusing the site. Because all of the subjects weren’t simply covered using text but video and slideshows as well, I found myself more interested. Naturally when the subject is dancing or rhyming, these are more effective and interesting when actually heard and seen. The DJing link even had a little game in where the user could scratch their own beat.

I also liked the section where different artists described on video what they thought hip-hop was. This gave the story a personal element to it, and also made it more interesting to me.
Overall I thought the website did a good job of balancing a good amount of information and interactive features, or relaying one through the other. For example, as oppose to simply writing out a timeline of hip-hops history, the time line was presented in the form of a turntable and sliding the different bars along provided more information.

I thought the site was very effective in being both informative and interesting because I wasn’t initially very interested in the topic of hip-hop, but through using the different multimedia features I in turn learned more about the culture.

2007 ONA Awards

Several distinguished online news outlets were rightly recognized at this year's Online News Associations Journalism Awards. To highlight a few, there was the unique multimedia package On Being by Jennifer Crandall, from washingtonpost.com, which took home special recognition. Although not your traditional news piece, certainly worthy of recognition for its unique story telling point-of-view and clean design.

The Oakland Tribune took home two awards for their work, Not Just a Number, which demonstrates an expansive reporting of the murder trends in Oakland, CA. They were awarded both the service journalism at a small paper award, as well as the Knight Foundation Award For Public Service which gives the paper $5,000 for their use of digital media to impact their community. This was by far my favorite and deserves a great deal of respect for the well rounded and detailed journalism - this multimedia package does what they should all strive to do: tell the story in a way that just cannot be done with print alone.

Another favorite, although not exactly traditional journalism, was the Discovery Channel's work titled Everest: Beyond the Limit. This piece was breathtaking and highlighted such multimedia aspects as real time dispatches from Mount Everest expeditions, some really cool flash, games, interviews, amazing footage and much more.

All in all, I'd say it was a great year for multimedia journalism and the future looks challenging but bright.

ONA Journalism Awards, 2007

In the online journalism world, we know who the big dogs are: Washingtonpost.com, Annenburg School, Wired.com, etc... and so it wasn't surprising to see them take home honors from the recent Online News Association Journalism Awards.

However, to me, the more interesting award winners are the smaller dogs. The toy poodles of the online world, if you will. One in particular is Border Beat, US Border news and insight done by the students at University of Arizona. From slideshows about the barrios in Tuscon to the best taquerias around town, the site is informative and interesting. It reminds me of the Bobcat Living site that we work on.

My second favorite on the list of awards is FloridaToday.com's beat space coverage. They have live video feeds from the space shuttle and links to NASA TV. It's obvious by the banner ads on the site that FloridaToday relies heavily on its advertisers for revenue, yet they do a stellar job (pun intended) on both covering the subject matter and receiving comments from readers.

Not just a blog post

Not Just a Number, presented by the Bay Area News Group and The Oakland Tribune, is an interesting and unique way to handle the alarming trend of murder in the Oakland, Calif. area. The interactive map, featuring 22 stories, was very well done. Each story is accompanied by a photo, and when the photo is clicked, a person tells a new story. The listen, watch and interact features give this multimedia project a feeling of freshness, as I have never seen the three classified and linked at the bottom of each scene before. By adding that last level of interactivity and showing what concerned residents can do to help curb the violence, the Bay Area News Group and The Oakland Tribune succeeded in telling the story in a much more effective way than solely print could.

Everest, Beyond The Limit is another well done Web site. The clean interface and smooth interactions are just a couple of the immediately recognizable reasons this piece won an award. Although the site itself is pretty taxing on any computer system, I believe most computers built within the last five years or so should be more than enough to run the piece efficiently. The superb use of links and video also put this Web site over the edge. The inclusion of Greg Childs' blog shows the desire to be more than just a promotional piece for a Discovery Channel TV show, but instead, a journalistic project.

Our Tahoe, one of the student winners, is pretty impressive. The simplistic and straightforward layout serves the content of the site best. I also enjoyed the nonlinear storytelling by the six subjects. The link at the lower bottom of this page gives viewers a chance to hear each subject's views on the corresponding subject. This is a very cool idea. Finally, the people, places and games sections are all implemented successfully. The people scene's two main sections are very interesting. I especially enjoyed the I Live Here piece.

It was exciting for me to see all of the award winners try out so many new and different ways to carry out multimedia projects. I feel like I am getting to the point where I could be involved in one or more of these styles of pieces.

Viewing the online journalism award winner

“OnBeing” is a seemingly simple topic approached in a grand sort of way. Its simplicity, though, is what makes the Washington Post multimedia poignant storytelling through multimedia. The videos are well-done and a great way of exploring what makes people. It reminds me of NPR’s StoryCorps, which the public radio organization describes as a way of telling America’s oral history. Both are brilliant and powerful because of their simplicity.

As for the winning piece, I’ve tried to load “Not Just a Number” several times now, and it has not worked. I'm curious to see it, but my computer is too slow.

The hip-hop piece was just plain cool. Even the way the multimedia loaded on the screen incorporated hip-hop elements. I love the idea of all of this. I love that this incorporates everything from graffiti to breakdancing. The turntable is a clever way to display different topics. The Web page has a definite hip-hop style. There’s also a The overall piece sheds light on the evolution of hip-hop and views the subject with more depth than it’s usually given at face value.

The student pieces are well-done and a reminder that multimedia is something not limited to the experts with expensive equipment and seemingly unlimited time. It’s obvious that the work isn’t the same quality as something produced by ABC News or the Washington Post, but it is commendable multimedia journalism. I think people need to keep in mind the resources, time and experience that student journalists have when evaluating their work.

What I like about the Online Journalism Awards is that has separate contests for large and small publications. Sure, the Washington Post, New York Times and other high-circulation newspapers are in the forefront of multimedia journalism, but small newspapers are tackling this as well. Small newspapers often less funds, time and people to work with, and their efforts should not go unrecognized. These are my highlights from the awards.

WSJ's Hip-Hop 101: So fresh it had to be covered twice.

For this weeks blog post I chose to write about the Wisconsin State Journal’s interactive multimedia website, Hip-Hop 101.

Hip-Hop 101 is WSJ’s attempt to educate people who otherwise might not ever be told about what hip-hop is. The website explains that hip-hop is a culture not a genre of music. There are four elements of traditional hip-hop, MCing, DJing, break dancing and graffiti. WSJ added poetry or spoken word. Each of these five elements is explained with video, audio slide shows, even a game.

The site is well done as far as content delivery is concerned. It is well laid out, easy to navigate, and interesting to the eyes. The functionality of some of the segments of the website work better than others, I experienced some herky-jerky video on some of the pages, while other videos played flawlessly. I enjoyed the fact that they covered all four elements essentially differently. Yes, most of the coverage was a mix between video and audio slide shows, each video was shot differently, some more journalistically, some more feature-y, and some documentary style. I appreciated the fact that the people talking about the corresponding sections of the website actually lived the life they were talking about, this lends credibility to the site.

The flash work on Hip-Hop 101 looked great, but was a little difficult to control. On the video clips, they auto-played which I just personally am not a fan of, and to go forward and back in the video you had to drag a slider the size of a pin’s head, not easy. The same goes for the controls on the time line (which is cleverly disguised as a turn table). The game was a good attempt, but the audio was a bit off, which bothered me considering how true to hip-hop the website was overall.

The website is great so long as your cursor-eye coordination is good. All in all, well done to the Wisconsin State Journal, and more importantly, thank you for covering this.

2007 Online Journal...[yawn]ism

The 2007 Online Journalism Awards [ABOUT] was held October 19 in Toronto. The awards honor excellence in English-language Web journalism. Twenty categories placed 70 finalists in the running after it was narrowed down from 700 entries by judges. Many news sources were recognized throughout the night in the packed Dominion Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, but some stood out further than others. I’ve added my two-cents, after some of the named winners.

Big-time Duo Winner: Oakland Tribune's "Not Just a Number"
I liked this site. The loading page was cool, a little slow, yet still very entertaining for my mundane mind. I liked how the creators developed all of the pieces and put so many unique aspects into it. One thing I though could’ve been used in a more effective way was the color pallet. “Not Just a Number” has nothing to do with homicides and the tan color is too…fresh, I would have gone with a darker, more mellow tone to really set the mood for the piece.

Special recognition: washingtonpost.com for its multimedia package, OnBeing.
This site bothers me, I like the concept of putting ordinary people out there for the world, but some of the stories presented are so…dumb, it really turns me off. There’s no point to the entire site, it’s a waste of time and if the site hadn’t been submitted to judges, no one would have gone to it besides the people involved in it.

Beat reporting, small: Florida Today, Space Beat.
The layout for this site was interesting, I had to double check it because I thought I had been sent to an advertisement page. They could have done something really cool (i.e. a space ship landing on the page and expanding to different portals of the project) there were many possibilities for this page. This page by far was my least favorite of all the sites recognized.

Beat reporting, large: Wired.com.
There’s not much I can say about wired.com. It’s a good site, it gives a lot of up-to-date information for all types of computer and gadget geeks. I think everyone and there dog knew that wired.com would be honored for something.

Outstanding Use of Digital Media, small: Wisconsin State Journal, Hip Hop 101.
This might be bias because I love Wisconsin, but this site was very informative given it’s a topic I wouldn’t know much about. The layout is nice, the different types of multimedia are intriguing and overall the presenters did a good job of making navigation easy and fun.

Outstanding Use of Digital Media, large: super-slow Discovery Channel’s , Everest Beyond the Limit.
Whoa! Pretty! But, of course it would be. The whole Discovery network is rolling in the dough, so for them not to be up to par would be surprising. I really like all of the photography, it makes for a clearer, better grasp of what is trying to be conveyed.

Investigative journalism, large: ABC News, Brian Ross Investigates: "The Mark Foley Investigation."
Boo! I really hate blogs, any type of blogs, especially political ones. However, abc.com did do a good job of presenting all sides of the information and giving as much detail as possible. Even if I don’t agree with the topic, I’ll hold my peace and say no more.

Investigative Journalism, small: Center for Investigative Reporting, Danger On Your Plate.
I don’t understand this site, is a foreign language site too? Either way, I personally don’t think it works. The color scheme is off, the pictures do not seem to tell any type of agenda and the stories featured are so boring I wouldn’t have taken a minute reading them if I hadn’t had to.

Specialty Journalism, large: Livescience.com.
This site just exudes professionalism, which I guess is a good accomplishment for a company dealing with health. I especially liked their “Yahoo”esque story slideshow highlights. It’s spiffy, clean and let’s you know where to go for what in a new, interesting way. Overall, it’s good!

Specialty Journalism, small: Council on Foreign Relations.
This site dedicates itself to publicizing the challenging issues of primarily policy-makers. I didn’t so much care for this particular winner, I thought the judges could have picked a better site. The information that I, as a citizen, would want to learn about was difficult to find easily. There was a lot of information, but not very relevant information, but that’s my opinion.

Student Journalism had two winners:
*Border Beat.
It looks like an elemental set-up otherwise done by a junior high student, has over 10 different multimedia packages which was surprisingly pleasing.
*Our Tahoe.
Again, is not a very intriguing layout, actually contains a lot of useful information, but does not have as much multimedia as the latter. I guess you could say, don’t judge a site by its cover. I think if I were a judge, I would have gone with Border Beat alone.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed in the pickings by the judges. I’m thinking maybe the entrys weren’t so good this year, who knows. I think my favorite one would have to be the discovery.com site, I really enjoyed looking at that one. My least favorite would have to be the OnBeing site, don’t even get me started on it again. It just fires me up. Next year’s award show will be held in Washington.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Innovative designs in online journalism rewarded

The Oakland Tribune has done an excellent job creating a site to help memorialize the deaths of so many individuals in their community. Not Just A Number, is a communtity action site that was recently awarded for its creativity and design in online journalism. This site allows the community to become more involved in the problem of homicide that they have been dealing with for years. The Oakland Tribune did a beautiful job of designing this interactive site for their community. The large numbers of murders is affecting Oakland and the paper is enabling people to see the problems and discuss the issue in a very user friendly format. This is a successful way of bringing a story to life and allowing online readers to interact and find an abundence of information. They took such a sensitive issue in their communtity and turned it into a well-designed multimedia package. This site is a great way for people to get involved in the problems of their community and take action.

Props to the Wisconsin State Journal

Many people hate hip-hop.

Many people don't understand hip-hop.

And when most people think hip-hop, the last place they think of is Wisconsin.

So when I browsed through some of the winners for different awards in the Online News Association's Journalism Awards, the multimedia piece the Wisconsin State Journal put together really shocked me.

In a good way.

I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I'm a fan of exactly the hip-hop that was covered in this piece. When people hear the term hip-hop, there are a lot of negative connotations that go into their head.

But this piece focused on the hip-hop that is at the root, why hip-hop was started. It focused on the roots of hip-hop.

The piece creatively used videos, audio, and a flash package to put together a beautiful and functional presentation. The hip-hop timeline was particularly great.

This was really an amazing piece that deserves the recognition it has gotten.

Florida Today's Space Coverage Wins Online Journalism Award

The Florida Today space coverage, winner of the 2007 Online News Association's Online Journalism Award for small beat reporting, is impressive considering how niche the subject matter is.

The site would benefit from a more appealing design aesthetic (they've gone plaid). Also, the layout is cluttered, and finding articles within the space section of the Florida Today website isn't as straightforward as it should be. A poor layout and unattractive design do nothing to generate interest in a topic that is largely ignored by the public (no "pop" stars in space...only Patrick Stewart).

However, the award Florida Today received was not for visual design, it was for reporting, and the wealth of content bordered on overwhelming. A video gallery compiling footage of various shuttle launches, a number of televised news reports, and videos about satelites and deep space missions, is accessible from the main page.

A video about Dawn, a satellite scientists will use to study Vesta, an astroid, and the dwarf planet Ceres (both believed to have formed early in the development of our solar system) in order to gain insights into how solar systems form, was particularly interesting. The video explained how the satellite's onboard instruments will be used to study Vesta and Ceres.

There are two interactive features in addition to the videos already described. The first interactive feature is titled "9 Minutes to Space," (followed by 7 minutes in heaven) and details the time between a shuttle launching and then escaping the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. The other interactive feature is about the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It boasts interactive photos taken by satellites, webcam feeds, a number of written articles, and both video and photo galleries with content specific to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The only subject missing from Florida Today's space coverage is astrophysics. This is a disappointment because astrophysics is a fundemental part of all space related research (nerd-gasm thwarted). However, the breadth of Florida Today's coverage makes up for the lack of information concerning the theoretical side of astronomy.

Some of Online News Associations Journalism Awards for 2007

My favorite site by far was the Oakland Tribune’s "Not Just a Number." I think that murder is a tricky topic to cover but I believe they did so in a way that was tasteful and respectful. I especially liked the puzzle. That was a really interesting way to present the risk factors for violence. I have never seen a puzzle incorporated into a multi-media presentation like that. It was very creative. The homicide map was a good way to get the viewer’s attention. Having it set up that way probably captures the audience’s attention more than a simple list of names would have. I liked that it was interactive and you could click on the numbers to see the people that they represented. I clicked on one where the deceased’s father was speaking about his murder and that was really powerful.

I really liked the concept of the "On Being" piece that people should get to know each other. I would much rather hear a story right from the source and not some cheesy reporter or something. Real people speaking about their lives is much more interesting than reading about it. I like that the filming was simple. Having the subjects just sit in a chair with a white background puts the focus completely on them. I think a lot of time people try to do too much with film and it makes it hard to know what to concentrate on. The simplicity of this was beautiful.

When I looked at Florida Today's "Space Beat," I immediately didn’t like it. I thought it was way too cluttered. I have a hard enough time trying to concentrate on things as it is so I had no idea what to look at. I did really like the 9 minutes to space multi-media presentation. That was the only thing I looked at on this site though.

"Hip- Hop 101" was really cool. I liked all of the different videos of people describing what hip- hop is to them. The entire vibe of the site was laid back and cool. It mirrored hip-hop itself. I would liked to have seen more examples of graffiti when I clicked on the graffiti videos. It seemed to me like they talked about it more than they showed examples of it. There were some examples but I would have preferred it been all examples of graffiti and the guy in the background doing a voice-over off camera.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A last note

Mass Comm Week flew by. I regret not being able to attend more sessions, but it's that time of year when it seems like everything is due for class.

I had a chance to participate on a panel during Mass Comm week on the Doctors Without Borders refugee camp I saw earlier this month (and blogged about). It helped me realize how much I love being a journalist, learning about new issues and informing others about them. Sue Weill asked me an interesting question: Did going to this exhibit make you want to do international coverage?

Without skipping a beat, I said yes. It would be my dream to provide others with information on what's happening across the world. The awful situations found in refugee camps make you realize how lucky we are to live in the U.S. and have things we take for granted such as clean water, food and access to basic medical care. It isn't my job to tell people how to think or what they should do to change the world, but to illustrate to them what a situation is like truthfully. The power of words is strong.

That would be my contribution to the world. Information.

Sports PR highlights end of MC Week

Mike Berry had one simple piece of advice at his presentation of sports public relations.

"Guys, please have someone read over your resumes."

I came across the importance of such basic advice just two days ago, when a professor I asked to write a letter of reference was looking over my resume to refresh herself on my experience as a journalist.

"Found a typo on your resume," read the title of her e-mail. "Duties includ writing photography and copy editing."

It would be hard to claim copy editing with a hiccup in my own resume, and Berry, the former owner of the NBA Developmental League Austin Toros, reiterated the importance of having someone proofread your work.

"Use your professors as consultants, because you're effectively paying their salaries," he said. "And they'd most likely be willing to help."

Berry said he'd wished he'd utilized his professors more while in college, which might have saved him money and toil during his early years in the business.

Now he's a member of a five-person team called Triton Sports Management, a PR company that will market and sell sponsorships to various companies.

The event centered on his time with the Toros, who he started with a different company in 2005. Since then the team has been purchased by the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. He recently left the team to pursue his new post with TSM.

"I think what you'll see with the NBADL is a move to something more like the MLB and minor league baseball," he said.

The session was a bit laid back, with the speaker acknowledging several times that he felt he wasn't the best speaker in the world. He even minored in speech communication to challenge his shyness.

Berry emphasized, like many in the media business, the importance of just getting your word out and outworking everyone around you.

He got his break after seeing a flyer to work with the Portland Trailblazers while working a different internship.

"I saw it on a Wednesday and it was due that Friday," Berry said. "I drove from Eugene (where he was going to school) to Portland because I wanted to make that if I didn't get the internship it wasn't because I didn't get my stuff there on time."

He said from time to time he thinks about what might have been had he not made that drive up to Portland.

"You have to go the extra mile, because if you don't some else is going to," Berry said. "If I hadn't driven up there I might still be making $5 an hour."

Since then he's come across different public relations situations, the most challenging behing the death of former Toros coach and Boston Celtic Dennis Johnson in February. Berry said nothing could have prepared him for the situation but felt he and his staff did the best they could.

"It was tough, because I was invested with Dennis as a person. He was a good friend," Berry said. "I was with his wife and kids when the doctor came and told us we'd lost Dennis.

"That's definitely the hardest thing I've had to do (in the PR business) and I hope nothing like that ever happens again. Days afterwards I was on camera and I wish I had had someone to help me through that. But it was one of those moments that challenge and define you. It's what makes you grow."

But Berry's job is usually not as heavy on the heart.

In January the Toros were hosting elementary school students during a day game that drew national attention when their mascot inadvertently jumped up on the rim of the basketball goal during a game.

With the Toros up by three their mascot bull grabbed the rim, with the opposition driving down the lane with two seconds remaining. Officials saw this and whistled the bull for a technical foul.

"That's the first time I've ever heard of something like that happening," Berry said.

The Toros ended up winning the game, and Berry's PR staff met after the game to brainstorm. The solution: Suspend the bull for two games, keeping him locked in a "bullpen." The team also sold shirts reading "Free da bull."

"It worked great. What could have been a disaster became a great story," Berry said.

The former Toros owner said stories like these are what highlight the needs of a PR team. The company targets a family audience in Austin, having to compete with other sports including college football, arena football and minor league baseball. They have generally not tried to tap the college-aged market.

"I know that with class and part-time jobs and concerts a basketball game isn't high on the list for a college student," Berry said. "If you know how to reach your demographic you're going to be very valuable."

He also suggested just getting out there, either by volunteering to work for free or coming to a company with crazy or creative ideas, but in a professional manner.

Which goes back to a typo-free resume.

Hot Water Heaters - Both Redundant AND Superflous

For four years I have planned on working as a copy editor after graduating college. I have spent more time than I would care to admit editing my own writing as well as the writing of others. I keep track of grammatical errors I find while reading books, magazines, and newspapers. To me, copy editing is both a hobby and a habit (nerd credentials?). For these reasons, Guillermo Torres's* presentation, Being a Professional Copy Editor, was my favorite part of last Tuesday (seriously...).

The first topic Torres covered was his career as a copy editor. He has been a copy editor since 1979, and started his career in San Angelo (he did not say what newspaper he worked for, and did not say where San Angelo is located). Since then, he has worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News, and is currently a copy editor for San Antonio's Express News.

Torres also discussed the important aspects of being a copy editor. "Your job as a copy editor is to make sure a story is accurate," said Torres. "If there is a mistake in the paper it comes back to the Copy desk."

He also described some of the things to keep in mind when editing text for a newspaper. He said it was important to be aware of your location, pointing out that certain words can mean something in one city and mean something completely different in another.

One thing Torres said that stuck out at the time, and still does, was "the highest calling of a copy editor is as the gatekeeper...the conscious of the newsroom. Being a copy editor is about protecting people who don't have a voice." For instance, keeping "loaded" words out of news stories. News is supposed to be strictly information, and information cannot have a bias. However, the means of communicating information (applies to all information) can be biased.

For the last half hour of the presentation, Torres had a discussion with the stupid on proper grammar usage (titled by Torres: 30 minutes of word usage hell). He used examples of grammatical errors he has seen throughout his years as a copy editor. This, I must say, was by far my favorite part of the presentation (I openly admit it: I love this kind of thing). I'll close with some examples from the four-page handout Torres provided (all words below are Torres's, including those in parenthesis):

-Isabel's relections run the gauntlet of emotions, highlighted by a repeated declaration of a physical death that isn't true, but a spiritual death that is. (A gauntlet is a glove, so that is the incorrect word to use in the sentence. A gantlet, a flogging ordeal, could have been it in an extreme case. Maybe. The correct word is assuredly gamut, which is a range or extent.)
-Writer-director Kevin Willmott's mock British documentary chronicles an alternate history of America...(the correct word is alternative)

Examples of redundant or superflous language:
-contradictory to that old adage (an adage is always old)
-hosiery that harmonized with their own personal style (really, you couldn't pick one of the three?)
-Gonzales isn't just a mystery to the general public (unless part of the public is private, and last I checked none of it is, then public is always general)

*Tangent: 's after singular nouns, an ' after plural nouns...why people write an ' without an s after any noun ending with an s is beyond me (it had to be said).

Nettie Hartsock Rocks Mass Comm. Week

To be honest, when I was first assigned to blog about the event "PR Trends: How to incorporate blogs, wikis, and social media into your campaign" I was turned off. Not because of the speaker Nettie Hartsock, I didn’t know who she was initially, but because it was a PR event. I’m a print major, not a PR major so I didn’t have any interest in hearing anyone speak about PR. In addition to that, the title of the event has the word "campaign" in it which turned me off even more because I thought it was going to be about a political campaign. (This shows just how ignorant I am about PR matters because obviously the presentation was about PR campaigns, not political ones. I’m an idiot.) Anyway, I didn’t think that I was going to get much out of it, but I’m really glad that I went because almost everything mentioned was relevant to journalism as well as PR and Nettie Hartsock seemed like a lovely person.

She is a mommy and a techie which I found to be really cool. "Can you believe that I’m a mom from San Marcos who does all this other stuff? she said. And I still go to HEB and nobody knows me!" Nettie started out in journalism and then crossed over to the "dark side." Her words not mine! She said that in reality lots of people start out as journalist and then make the move to PR. Being a journalist gave her the ability to tell a story. Her job is chiefly to help individuals convey their message to the world. Some of the publications she contributes to are eWeek and PC Magazine.

According to Nettie by the time you get out of school you will find that the movement in PR is towards transparency. PR doesn’t work traditionally anymore. Getting people to understand that the new web is totally transparent is hard to do. She warned that if you are doing marketing tell the truth because bloggers will find you out. Get a blog now and start practicing was her advice because you are going to need to know about blogs to be competitive. Wordpress and typepad are blogs she suggests using. You make a blog because you want people to be able to have an open conversation with you. Nettie said that this can sometimes be scary for PR people because they want to control the conversation. She warned that is really important to be aware that the bloggosphere reacts immediately because they aren’t bound by editors. Whatever they want to write they can post to their blog. Her advice is to "Be brave, tell the truth, be honest be transparent. You will be surprised at how many people on the web want that."

Nettie also mentioned the importance of social networks. She said that social networking Website Linkedin is important when you’re still in college because groups connect together on it and post jobs that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about. She also mentioned Twitter which is similar to facebook and myspace only twitter seems to have a little bit more staying power because they control the advertising on their site. Twitter is a real time social networking tool. Nettie talked about Animato which will enable you to make a multi- media presentation and then post it on a blog.

You will see more and more that podcasting is being used as a way to push out a message. Nettie urged that we learn how to do it now. The cool thing about podcasts is that you can create them for virtually free. Blogtalkradio is similar to xm radio because people can subscribe to certain channels but it’s free. As a company or an individual it’s a unique way to get your message out.

Pictures coming soon hopefully. I only got the chance to take two before I broke my friend's camera...

Hispanic Advertising

I attended the Hispanic advertising presentation featuring speaker Ruby Rizo, a Texas State graduate and current employee at Bromley Communications. Bromley Communications is the country's largest Hispanic advertising agency. Bromley has it's headquarters in San Antonio, but offices in Los Angeles, New York and Miami as well. Some of Rizo's duties at Bromley are account planning and research, and during the presentation she was able to give a little insight as to what exactly that entails.

Rizo began by explaining what exactly Bromley Communications and other advertising agencies in general do. According to Rizo, the single most important duty of an agency is to provide their clients with insights about their consumers. She went on to explain that insights are not facts, and shouldn’t be taken as such, they are simply understandings of the thoughts and behaviors of someone’s actions. In this sense, an agencies job is to shed light on the character of a client’s consumer, and in this way better reach and relate to them on a personal level. She explained that the agencies job was to get to know consumers and through doing so, “make consumers fall in lover with our brands.”

Rizo went on to discuss some of the challenges associated with her job. One of the biggest she said was learning to “divorce yourself from who you are, to understand your consumers’ wants and needs.” I had never realized how much research goes into the making of a single billboard or TV/radio commercial. Rizo explained the different factors an agency considers when doing any type of advertising. The three she emphasized were segmentation, media vehicles and relative insight.
Segmentation she explained as being aware of what segment of the Hispanic community they are trying to reach. The bi-cultural Hispanic, English dominated Hispanic, etc. When doing spot marketing, the advertising will cater to a specific segment, and with national campaigns, the advertisements must be made relevant to all Hispanics. Another important factor she explained was determining the best media vehicle to reach a target audience. She said one of the biggest misconceptions about Hispanics, is that they are not online.

I had previously thought all that needed to be done to translate a brands marketing to a different culture was actual translation of the language. This is another misconception. As Rizo explained, for a brand to be successful, they cannot simply do a Spanish voice over an already existing TV commercial, “the ad needs to resonate and connect with your consumer.” She went on to say that if someone doesn’t relate or connect to an advertisement, they won’t remember it or the brand, thus defeating the purpose.

During the presentation Rizo showed to TV commercials and ads she had worked on for Honey Nut Cheerios, Nestle Nesquik and Yoplait. Both were very well done and being Hispanic, I felt they had hit the nail directly on the head. Apparently their general audience agreed, Rizo explained that after beginning their Hispanic aimed advertisements, Nestle Nesquik sales increased by 77%

Some of Bromley’s other clients include General Mills, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Yoplait, Burger King and Coors Light. Here are links to some TV commercials done by Bromley.

Duff Stewart, GSD&M's Idea City

"The second generation or the third generation is running the industry now. Idea City is about visionary ideas."

Duff Stewart, the President and COO of GSD&M's Idea City, spoke this morning for a crowd of students, faculty, and visitors of Mass Comm Week.

He began his talk with outlining several principles that Idea City strives to adhere to:
  • Purpose
  • Dynamic Collaboration
  • Visionary ideas that make a difference

Stewart said that in the rotunda of the Idea City, several words are inscribed:

Freedom Responsibility, Community, Winning, Integrity, Curiosity and Restlessness.

Of those, Stewart said that Curiosity and Restlessness should be constantly in the mind of advertising professionals and students. Curiosity, he said, should be for the world around you; Restlessness keeps you going. "In advertising, you're only as good as your last ad, so you have to keep moving, keep changing."

Stewart said that advertising for advertising's sake is useless: An ad agency has to be representative of the population and also be a part of the population.

He also discussed a creative philosophy written by Tim McClure, a founder of GSD&M: advertising is an uninvited guest in anyone's lives. Have to entertain and persuade the consumer. If you can do that, then you are invited back into their lives, which is the first step to brand loyalty.

Stewart showed a few advertising spots they had produced for their clients, including:

-Southwest Airlines
-AIDS Walk
-US Air Force
-PGA Tour
-American Red Cross

A couple of the commercials brought laughter from the audience, including the one seen above. Others, striking silence.

He offered three tips for young advertisers and communicators:
  • Be Curious- Read anything, stay involved, and constantly push yourself to learn.
  • Work Hard at Listening- Especially in this business. Listening to clients is key. Listen to the world around you, listen to the people. You'll have a much better understanding.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Try- He mentioned "Got Game" by John Beck. In the book, Beck says that people who play games are more likely to get up and try again after failing. The new generation is very good at multitasking.

Bob Mann asked how Stewart finds the time to read and learn constantly. He responded by saying that it's easy to find time throughout the day to read things online, including newspapers and Digg. At night, he said, he tries to read books before going to bed.

During the Q&A portion, Stewart talked about focusing on the digital change in the world, and how different things are now that everything is online. He also said that Idea City is trying to become more aware of the population; more involved. They are currently working with Huston-Tillotson University to encourage minority students to attend college.

Overall, it was a good presentation by Stewart, but it seemed to be lacking, leaving audience members wanting more. It would have been nice if he spoke further about online advertising, and where that element of the industry is growing.

Additionally, showing television spots that Idea City created was entertaining, but not informative or educational. Perhaps he could have set up the scenario and then shown the ad. For example, maybe he could have talked about what each client was trying to achieve through the advertisement, what Idea City's procedure was in creating it, and then talk about why it was successful (or not).

Finally, I understand that Stewart is a busy guy, but did he really have to rush back to Austin? We're the future, and we're after his job. He should be aware of that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Keith Kay and Covering War

American journalists covering war have faced challenges and the greatest of these have been access.

Keith Kay, a cameraman for CBS, gave a lecture on his experiences covering wars for the television network. His resume includes coverage of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

Kay spoke about the battles he faced with the U.S. military to get access to war-ravaged areas, particularly during the Gulf War. He said in Vietnam, as long as you could find a helicopter or convoy with space, you could ride along and cover your story with limited restrictions. He said he believes the junior officers in Vietnam saw what reporters were doing, and when some of those transitioned to commanders in the Gulf War, they made sure restrictions were put in place.

"They still believe the media is to blame for losing the Vietnam War," Kay said.

The difference in the Gulf War was Kay had to go to officer with a story idea, and they were rarely honored. He said military commanders would take reporters and cameramen to see new artillery and things such as that, but other stories were out of the question. He feels the military was censoring indirectly.

In regards to what journalists have to do now to cover the Iraq War, Kay said it is a total violation of constitutional rights to portray the war through embedded journalists. He said journalists have no transportation of their own, cannot satisfy curiousity and are totally dependent on the military for food, transportation and shelter.

"You would have more access to the officers and to american soldiers, but only under their control," he said.

To be a journalist covering war means patience, the drive to show the news at is and fighting for what you believe in.

Bobby Bones...or whatever his name is.

I know, I know, most DJs have a made-up name, but for some reason I truly believed that Bobby Bones’ was real! Alliteration is fun, especially if it is your name, but I was disappointed.

So, earlier today I attended Mass Communication Week’s Bones presentation that opened with Chelsea, a Texas State student and intern on the show, to a crowd with about 175 people. He was dressed very college-y, his hair was manicured quite nicely and many people had the opportunity to put a face to the voice. I thought he was cute. At some point he said that he knew he wasn’t a ‘pretty’ guy, but I would have to disagree. I do not think he photos well, but many people don’t. Yea, yea, I guess I’m crushin.’ His discussion was good, which was to be expected since he is known for his personality.

I had mixed feelings going into the presentations because the day before I was listening to the show and he started talking about coming to Texas State and the article from the school’s newspaper (which I wrote and was published on Thursday) I’m not positively sure that he was unhappy or happy with the article. I guess he didn’t like a quote that one of his interns gave me about him or the way I worded it, but I quoted her like I was supposed to and there was no rewording. He made it sound like I didn’t know what I was doing, or so I thought. Long story short, I really like listening to his talk show and hearing his jokes so I pushed my hurt/embarrassed feelings aside and I ended up really enjoying myself.
To begin the discussion, Bones started off talking about how much money he makes; I was turned off, but it ended up being a good introduction because it did grab the attention of the crowd. He said he makes over a quarter of a million dollars a year!

"Who cares how much money I make, I just want to look cool,” he said. “If you love it, it’s the best job in the world.”

Every so often, between laughs, giggles and pauses, Bones would scratch his chin. I guess everyone has there own ticks and this was especially visual when he began discussing a couple of his most embarrassing/memorable moments working as a DJ.

As talked about certain aspects of his life, a couple of things he mentioned were said to be hush hush…like the name thing, but given that he embarrassed me (without ever saying my name/gender) I figured it as payback.

He talked about starting out in radio and TV, his education and his future goal, which is to become a late, night comedy host, where he can build up equity and one day be a “monster market.” He discussed his co-workers and the difficulties that can arise from working so close, the future of the show and the pain of getting up so freakin early in the morning.

“I wake up a 3:30 a.m. and it sucks. I hate it. It’s the worst part of my job.”

He allotted time for the crowd to ask questions and ultimately did a really good job of interacting and being relatable, funny and informative.

One of the more interesting things discussed during the hour long presentation was the shows pressure to be Web site blessed. He said that it helped that he was so young and already technologically advanced since that is what society is wanting.

At the end of the presentation about 25 people lined up to meet the morning man, me being one of them. I wanted to be the bigger woman and I introduced myself and told him thank you for letting me interview him (we had done it online). He said I did a good job (which I was skeptical of) and I told him he had done a good job.

To wrap up this word party, I felt that Bones did a good job of engaging the audience and it was a pleasure that Texas State was able to get him to come and speak. He had good insight and good info to give.

Two great speakers at Mass Comm Week

Today I attended two awesome sessions with two very different speakers. Both seemed to be very personable and down to earth people. Both individuals seemed very thankful for where their careers had led them, and were very passionate about their work. At 2:00 pm Ralitsa Vassileva, a CNN news anchor for Your World Today, gave us a view into her life as a journalist. She spoke about her first job in the media under a communist government in Bulgaria. She witnessed the fall of communism and a dramatic change from propaganda filled stories and radio announcements to the press having new freedoms never experienced in her country before. This gave Ralitsa an incredible opportunity of being apart of the new and free journalim that was developing in Bulagaria. Ralitsa had studied English and trained to become an interpretor. She had never dreamed of a career in journalism. "English was my window to the world," said Ralitsa. She told the packed room of students and professors how lucky we were to not have to deal with propaganda and a government controlled media.
Ralitsa was stumbled upon by CNN and Ted Turner while she worked in Bulgaria. As sort of an experiment she co-anchored for CNN and did great in front of the camera. When Ted Turner decided to invest in a world news program, Ralitsa was flown to Atlanta with only two suitcases in hand. Since then she has done countless interviews with world leaders and traveled all across the globe. She discussed how well you must know the cultures and be open-minded when traveling and interviewing foreign leaders or everyday people. She said she loved her job because journalism gives her access to things few people ever get to see or witness. She is able to step into people's lives and said that human dignity never dies.
As advice for students, Ralitsa described how her career began by taking a chance and entering a contest in Bulgaria. She told students to never say no to new opportunites, and you never know what job best suits you until you find it. Ralitsa talked about keeping a good attitude and remaining positive. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," said Ralitsa.

The next speaker today at 3:30 was the comical Bobby Bones who has a morning show on Austin's radio station KissFM 96.7. This semester I recently discovered their morning radio program and absolutely love it. I listen to the Bobby Bones show every morning on my way to school and I must say it is difficult for me to turn it off. I just had to see what he was like in person, and I was pleasantly surprised. The room was jam packed and Bobby could have easily been mistaken for any other student at Texas State. With his wild curly hair and his jeans with flip flops, he told his story of how he became one of the youngest radio hosts in the U.S. Bobby was a very laid back kind of guy that knew what he wanted from a young age and got their from what he described as some lucky breaks. What I really liked about him, was how straightforward and honest he was about the radio industry. He told us how cut-throat it can be and how difficult it is sometimes. Bobby discussed the low pay and the bad hours, but if you love what your doing then those things don't matter as much. He described how fortunate he was to be where he is today, and that he loves working with Amy and Lunchbox.

Entertainment Writers: My morning with my new heroes.

This morning I attended a Mass Comm. week event dealing with entertainment reporting. It was very informative and interesting to me, seeing as how this may very well be the field I want to go into. I’ve been writing for the University Star’s Trends section for going on a year and a half, so to get to talk to the writers that spoke was invaluable.

The panel consisted of three speakers, Gilbert Garcia, of the San Antonio Current; Dave Glessner, a freelance writer; and Hector Saldaña, of the San Antonio Express-News. Hearing from three different people, from three different backgrounds, writing for three different types of publications made this panel very diverse in discussion.

Saldaña started the discussion by telling the audience about how he got started doing entertainment writing, which was writing for the live music and comedy beats. If I could do something like that, that would be amazing. Live music and stand-up comedy are two of my favorite things in the world.

Glessner, who is actually a SWT grad (class of ’92), spoke about how he wrote as a side job, freelancing whenever possible. He stated that on very rare occasions can an individual make a good living from freelance writing alone.

Garcia, of the Current told the audience about writing for a weekly publication and writing more controversial articles. He said he once wrote an obituary for President Bush set years in the future speaking highly of Bush as everyone else was about Reagan at the time (this was around the time of President Reagan’s highly publicized death).

They then all shared their experiences about angry mail they had received for criticizing musical acts, or fictional obituaries. They also shared stories of proud moments and memorable interviews with famous people.

This event has reaffirmed that this is something I am genuinely interested in. And as I learned this morning, can be an fun, but will always be interesting.

Mass Comm Week Key Note Address: Vassileva Live Blogging

When I come up the steps to the third floor at 15 minutes before 2 p.m. the hallway is full of students anxiously waiting to get into 320. Just as I try to get in the line Professor Fox opens the door and we all rush in trying to attain the coveted seats near the center aisle where audio and visual is optimum.

Vassileva walks in at about 10 minutes until 2 p.m. and is immediately bombarded by instructors trying to get some face time. She appears happy to oblige.

At only 5 minutes until people are still walking in searching for the last remaining seats.

Technical issues with the DVD player delays the start and a student is asked to help.

Ralista Vassileva warns that she will try not to bore us and so requests any questions are asked whenever they come up - as if she could actually be boring.
Speaks of going back home to her alma mater and being caught on the other side of the camera with gum in her mouth and flip flops on her feet.

You have to be open to different ways of thinking to do what she does.

2:09 p.m. and people are still walking in but now have to walk over those sitting on the floor everywhere.

Lives in the best of two worlds: on t.v. but hardly anyone recognizes her so she can go outside in shorts without makeup.

Ted Turner invested in a separate CNN for the international market, CNN International, and she was given a one year contract to anchor. Says it wasn't easy but 15 years later she can say it worked.

Debuted as an anchor in borrowed clothes - now that outfits color, plum/violet, is her lucky color.

Speaks of being a journalist in a propaganda machine where there is no freedom of press. Wants us to know how lucky we are not to have to struggle with these journalistic hardships.

Thoroughly enjoys the act of reading something to an audience she can't see.

Began in radio still propagating propaganda out of force, but then communism fell. She was given the extraordinary chance to create a new style of journalism, "free media," and watched how the west did things to learn how to cover the first protests against her government.

In 1991 covered the first free elections in Bulgaria - the most meaningful thing she has ever done. Still, she couldn't turn down the CNN offer and all these years later she's still with CNN.

2:19 p.m. Vassileva announces she has prepared a DVD for us but hopes, "it's not too boring."

More technical issues...more delays.

2:22 p.m. The DVD begins, it's a sampling of three of her stories and a listing of the many influential people she has interviewed during her CNN International career.

Video Notes:

Vassileva reporting live from Moscow regarding Andrei Lugovoi denying the poisoning of former KGB spy who died. Vassileva is quite knowledgeable, well spoken and professional.

Vassileva on the changes in Russia where more than billionaires can buy homes now. Vassileva does the voice over on this feature of a young Russian couple who bought their first home. Then she's out on the street, walking with the passers by adding little anecdotes. She's in the home of a family who lives in a two bedroom home with 17 people and only two bathrooms.

2:31 p.m. The DVD is over and Vassileva speaks of the great access journalists have to meet people, go into their homes, as well as powerful politicos.

Great things about journalism according to Vassileva, what she cherishes as a journalist and a human being:

1) The access journalism gives you. It's a huge responsibility to be accurate of the way you write about people and always presenting the truth.
2) The stories of human dignity you are able to witness, getting to experience first hand that people's dignity never dies.

2:37 p.m. Vassileva offers up a little advice before she opens the floor to questions. "As you go out into the real world just take all chances that come to you... The hardest thing is to really find what is your best fit, what will become a passion for you because I can't imagine doing something everyday that I don't like," says Vassileva.

Furthermore, she asked her 90 year old grandmother (that's old for Bulgaria, too) what the secret to her longevity was and her grandmother told her that positivity is key. Despite being a young single mother after losing her husband at age 49 she continued to socialize and stay positive.

"I use all the hard times as growing experiences," ends up Vassileva.

2:42 p.m. She offers up the floor for questions and pleads with students not to be shy as she is nervous as well.

As a journalist Vassileva says that fairness and having her facts straight are most important, "I just want to get to the bottom of the story."

Vassileva speaks profoundly about the affects of communism on a society and on her in particular. "Every story is a story to be told and I never had any set rules besides telling the truth and being as straightforward and honest as possible," says Vassileva.

She goes on to point out that as a journalist you can't publicly advocate strong opinions because it's your job to be objective in answer to why she hasn't considered writing a book.

"There's so much to learn and the more the you learn there more there is to learn," adds Vassileva.

2:50 p.m. a student asks if she has ever been personally in danger as a CNN correspondent in places like Israel.

She answers no, but then goes into a story about how she went on without fear in Israel, as the Israelis advised her to, despite suicide bombings.

2:52 p.m. What story have you covered that has effected you the most?

Most meaningful was her fist, the fall of communism

Most extraordinary interview, where she struggled to keep her composure was with the former soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev because he was responsible for the fall of communism. "Because these are stories, and that interview, that are connected to a story in history that means so much and changed so much."

2:58 p.m. Vassileva speaks of the multiculturalism of CNN International where her co anchor is Australian and very few are native born Americans.

3:00 p.m. She tells about coming to America with her son who didn't speak English and two suitcases between the both of them. She had never written a check or used a credit card and not only didn't she know how to drive but couldn't afford a car. At first it was a headache just to go to the grocery store because it was too overwhelming - too many choices, too many colors.

3:07 p.m. Last question about why she translated the regimes propaganda during her time in Bulgaria before the fall of communism.

She compares that time and life to the recent protests in Burma but points out also that she was very young and naive. She believed there was something happening in Bulgaria. Compares her editor to a sensor. Says she doesn't know where she would be now if things had never changed, if she had never come to America. Explains that it was scary and that if you were blacklisted not only were you in danger, but your whole family.

3:14 p.m. Professor Subervi thanks Vassileva and presents her with a gift of appreciation.

CNN Internationl Anchor Ralista Vassileva

At 2 p.m. today, the second day of Mass Comm Week 2007 at Texas State University, CNN International Anchor Ralista Vassileva will speak to mass comm students in room 320 of Old Main.

Vassileva, born and educated in Bulgaria, has been with CNN International since 1992, based at the CNN International headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. She has had the distinct journalistic honor of interviewing some heavy political powers during her time at CNN including former US Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, as well as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. She's also interviewed famous entrepreneur Richard Branson as well as Austinite Lance Armstrong.

Vassileva was on air for CNN during the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City as well as Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

An impressive record and an honor for Texas State's mass communication department, no doubt!

Be on the look out for live blogging of this Mass Comm Week event at 2 p.m. today.

Social networking works its way into marketing

The reliance of established and prominent newspapers upon companies like Pluck was a surprise to listeners.

The discussion led by Amy Crow (of Pluck) relied heavily on slides, and effectively presented the importance of the emergence of marketing in popular Web sites and Web logs.

"(The discussion) was really informative — I'm not a blogger, but it is surprising to realize how important blogging is to big publications like USA Today," said Matthew Slabaugh, advertising senior.

Pluck's Web site states the company "powers social media for publishers and brands."

Crow stressed the importance of the vast blogosphere and its lifeblood — staying current.
"Posting frequently lets the author's personality shine through," she said.

Pluck's BlogBurst, which goes for approximately $6,000, was presented as a means of staying current, and as a service for news and other social outlets. The service was described as the largest moderated blog site, free of hate speech. BlogBurst collects and displays blog postings and was described as a wire service for media and as a way to syndicate bloggers' work.

Beyond Pluck's services, Crow described a wildly successful marketing campaign for a certain summer blockbuster to the thirty-strong crowd that featured at least four faculty members.

Lori Bergen, Bruce Smith, Laurie Fluker, Cindy Royal and others listened as Crow described The Simpsons Movie's campaign.
"I haven't seen a marketing campaign like The Simpsons Movie," she said.
According to Crow, USA Today became a part of the contest, and effectively used social networking as a means to a successful marketing campaign.

Laura Payne, advertising senior, was impressed with Crow's presentation and the effectiveness of Pluck's services.
"The amount of people (employed) by the company and the huge amount of clients like USA Today (were impressive)," Payne said.

Aside from blogs, Crow spoke about the role of social networking Web sites, namely Facebook.
"Marketers are getting it — Facebook offers some very rich advertising methods," she said.

The presentation was definitely interesting to me because I'm a tech geek, of sorts. While my passion for all things electronic has certainly waned in the past couple of years, it was exciting for me to hear about the role of social networking Web sites in advertising and marketing in general. With the advent of all of these new technologies, more jobs are created. The people who will do those jobs are my generation and younger.

Photos courtesy of Cindy Royal

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Radio: Not Dead Yet-Why You Should Get a Job in Radio

The radio panel of Stewart Vanderwilt, of KUT in Austin, and Dave Davies, of KSTX an NPR San Antonio station, started their session by addressing the monumental question: Is radio a dying industry?

The answer is no.

Radio is not dying, but changing and rapidly growing, like other media outlets, with the power of the internet.

The 80-seat session remained attentive as Vanderwilt stated statistics that show the current growth between the internet and radio industry. Students that had to sit up against the back wall to listen to the presentation.

With his charts, Vanderwilt pointed out the fastest growing thing in the industry. To date, radio has tracked 10 million podcast downloads and 19 million satellite listeners. Both of those options were not available in the radio industry as little as 10 years ago. With the addition of more broadband to cell phones, the internet is acting as the catalyst that radio needed to update its format.

"One hasn't hurt the other," said Vanderwilt. "Eventually, the cell phone is going to be the one device for all our audio and entertainment."

Davies recognized that radio has changed by going into national broadcasting and dropping the community reporting.

"It's changed in a way that it's no longer local. Very rarely does a city have its single radio station that airs community events. Coporate media has taken over," said Davies.

Both panelist addressed the fact that music will always go hand in hand with radio, but stations have to expand the definition of how music is presented in the digital age.

"A station that is going to be successful has to put the audience in control rather than only letting people listen in real time," said Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, KUT's station manager, said that NPR is the largest podcaster in the world, and KUT helped launch NPR's podcasting with the station's show, "Radio Without Borders".

Using http://www.indie103.fm/ as an example of progressive radio, because the station offers slideshows, audio, and podcasts. Each offering gives the audience a perspective of a band/artist that radio or TV cannot offer.

After clarifying the state of radio, the two presenters stressed why radio is offering good, entry-level opportunities. They emphasized how employers are looking to hire recently college graduates, because students have the multimedia skills that current stations don't have.

"Jobs that pay the most in radio are the technical positions, like webmaster and web developer," said Vanderwilt.

Vanderbilt advised students to come offering good journalism first and presentation second. Keeping up with blogs is how he suggested someone could remain up-to-date on a subject.

"You don't want to deliver a story with less that what your audience knows," said Vanderwilt.

Davies stated that every news reporter carries a digital camera with them and goes through a multimedia training. He pointed out the obvious student advantage at most radio stations.

"We are learning this technology late in the came, but you guys are swimming in the media. You are like fish that don't even know the water is there," said Davies.

Online Journalism: What's in Store for Us

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon from the Austitin American Statesman and Angela Grant from the San Antonio Express News gave a presentation today over online journalism and new media as part of Texas State’s Mass Comm. Week. The two did a fantastic job of providing a better understanding of what new media really is, how it works with traditional media in a newsroom, and clearing up any misunderstandings of what their jobs entail.

Jorge (BTW, I’m using first names because Sanhueza-Lyon is long and this is a blog so I can) began by explaining that he really didn’t have any newspaper experience when he started working at the Statesman and he felt that it was a good thing that he didn’t because he wasn’t weighed down by the straight-laced, unchanging ideals of traditional print journalism. I’m really glad that he made this point in the very beginning of this presentation. I think that a lot of us in the print journalism realm feel that we have to have some kind of paper experience even if we’re interested in new media. Personally, now that I’ve taken a few of Cindy’s classes I’m really only interested in online journalism. I don’t want to do any kind of print anymore, and I think it’s really unfortunate that we don’t have a multimedia sequence at Texas State yet.

Jorge showcased his ability to be very creative with online journalism by showing his video story “Air Guitar 101.” This interesting short video piece about the air guitar contest held every year in Austin showed that sometimes video suits an event better than a slide show. Jorge explained that there is much more opportunity to be creative with online journalism than with broadcast. With this medium you can let the story tell itself where as with broadcast an anchor might have a voice over telling the audience how things happened. “Editing is where my reporting comes in,” Jorge said. Angela expanded on this point later by explaining that the Internet might not be such a good medium for hard facts but that it’s good to portray the “human side” of an issue and to get an emotional reaction to a story.

Angela’s long-term piece, Horse Rescue, is about a nonprofit organization called Habitat for Horses that rescues abused and neglected horses. With her use of video she was able to create a story that received a very emotional reaction.

Some stories, however, aren’t as suited to video. Jorge and Angela stressed that there is much more to the internet than just being able to post video. “The beauty of the Internet is you’re allowed to pick the medium that’s best suited for the story. I love the Internet you can really do what ever you want,” Angela said.

I think one thing that a lot of us are a little confused about is how the new media people work with traditional newspaper writers. Jorge tried to make it clear that new media reporters have a separate story that can accompany a print piece. He used video story about a 14-year-old golfer as an example saying that his own personality came through in his video story. He says it’s like two different angles to the same story and that you’re not necessarily competing with the print journalist, nor is it that the new media reporter doing a favor for the writer by expanding on his story. The two are actually working separately but at the same time together on one story.

New media might sometimes have an advantage over a print writer because they can pitch a story in a different way. “Newspaper is not the driving force behind new media,” Jorge said. Angela agreed saying that because of these new media skills they are able to kind of do what ever they want. She said she was especially able to do this during her internship at the Express News because no one really knew what they were supposed to be doing.

So what do they do? Angela gave a brief description of her job routine. She said that 70-75% of her job is a deadline story. Some new media stories have deadlines just like print stories do. Angela said that the remaining 25% of her time is spent on long term projects or things that really don’t have deadlines. She said that it is good to have a long term story to turn to when there isn’t really anything else to do. “It’s a good way to avoid stupid assignments,” Angela said. Jorge agreed that there are often stupid assignments because a lot of people don’t really know what you do.

So, how will things with progress as new media becomes more and more embedded with in traditional journalism? Angela believes that reporters might begin to do their own videos for their own beats. But for more involved stories they will still rely on more specialized new media people. She believes that they will still ask the multimedia team for help with particularly tedious video editing. Jorge expanded by saying that it is important not to limit yourself to something like video and to try to have a range of skills. His advice is to try to be innovative and a little nerdy about new technology.

Photos from Online Journalism panel

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon of the Austin American-Statesman and Angela Grant of the San Antonio Express-News discuss trends in online and multimedia journalism.

Angela shows selections from the Express-News' multimedia page. Angela was a student in my Web Design class when I taught at UT. Now, she is using those skills in an exciting and important career.

Mass Comm Week begins today

For Dara Quackenbush, Mass Comm Week is going so according to plan that she’s actually a tad nervous.

“It’s almost scary,” said Quackenbush, chair of Mass Comm Week. “I’m waiting for the shoe to drop.”

Mass Comm Week begins today with CNN International anchor Ralista Vassileva as its headline speaker on Wednesday. Vassileva has covered the Bosnian War, Middle East conflicts and a slew of international stories.

“She was on the air during CNN’s coverage of the conflicts in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, Russia’s transition to democracy, Northern Ireland’s peace agreement, the fall of Indonesia's President Suharto and East Timor’s struggle for independence,” according to the CNN Web site.

Vassileva was invited to Texas State after one of the professors saw her on TV, went on the CNN Web site and e-mailed her, Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush said she’s looking forward to hearing Vassileva.

“I hope there will be a seat for me,” she said. “I want to sit in on as many (events) as possible.”

The event will also feature more than 50 experts in the mass communication field and distinguished Texas State alumni. The topics include online journalism, putting “bling” in your resume, covering war, interactive advertising and event planning. The speakers attend the event voluntarily, Quackenbush said, but some have travel expenses.

Quackenbush said San Marcos’ location makes it an ideal place to have an event like Mass Comm Week, since the group can invite people from Austin and San Antonio.

“I wish students would take more advantage of Austin and San Antonio,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity in both places.”

She compared San Marcos to other college towns, like Lubbock and College Station, which don’t have as much nearby opportunity for a diverse amount of speakers.

Quackenbush said she hopes Mass Comm Week opens doors for more students.

“I just want them to spark their interest and think of possibilities they want to do in their careers,” Quackenbush said.

This is Quackenbush’s first year as chair of the Mass Comm Week committee, which was comprisesd of about six other professors and instructors. The group began full-fledged planning in September, she said, with some of the planning beginning in the spring semester. Other faculty and staff helped as well, she said, and even her public relations students got in on some of the projects.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let off some steam, Old Main.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This is rediculous all-around

My feelings are that this is obviously illegal, but the music industry is repeatedly wrong to go after people like they do. As Thomas argues, the damages are excessive but this only makes me think she was lying earlier when she said someone else was using her IP address to file-share. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions: not the person stealing music, and not the industry for being money-hungry and over-pricing its product.

I also have beef with the expert the RIAA brought in for the original trial. Dr. Doug Jacobson, a computer engineering professor at Iowa State University, spoke about the impossibility that the songs were merely ripped from a CD. Thomas' defense correctly points out that he may have been biased, given that the company Jacobson founded, Palisade Systems, deals with personal technology and data security. As a journalist I have real problem bringing someone that has commercial ties to something, even if it is their area of expertise.

Overall I would think that Jammie Thomas is guilty, but should not be punished as severely as she is. There really isn't a good guy in this whole thing, and there won't be until, by some miracle, the recording industry stops trying to suck our wallets dry. Even iTunes isn't perfect; a dollar a song is still to high (buy all tracks for a 13-song album and you're right back where we started), and if you don't use iTunes software or an iPod it's not the most convenient thing in the world. Like the Long Tail article we read earlier, there is a breaking point where people will pay to get convenience over a free product, and for me its not $.99.