Monday, July 31, 2006

Where does news come from?

reporterWhere does news come from? For many JACC college newspapers it comes from our journalism students .. and no where else!

This kind of makes sense because one of the missions of the student newspaper at our campuses is to serve as a lab for journalism students to learn their schools. But we really face a triple mission: train our students, cover the campus community and help develop readers.

Our insistence that we only include stuff our students produce gets in the way of those other two missions. If you come up short on photographers and writers, the end result may be that parts of our community don't get covered.

Yet, we continue our closed systems because we are territorial and because we want to save our jobs. If students don't have to sign up for our classes to produce content for the student newspaper, how are we going to answer those administrators who seem to think that quality education begins with 20 students?

The industry is changing. This week Reuters reports that CNN is getting ready to accept news from its readers/viewers:
The cable news network on Tuesday plans to announce it has created a new program to let users send in digital audio and video from breaking news events in their region. Users can e-mail or upload these so-called "I-Reports" directly from CNN's site.
And online guru Steve Outing has prepared a treatise on "citizen journalism" for the Poynter web site that is worth reading.

Our online publications give us a unique opportunity to expand beyond the content our students provide. We HAVE to move beyond shovelware and find new sources of content. At Cerritos College this year we plan to team with our radio and film programs, who also are in the content-producing business, and add to our online content.

But student newpapers can go further. JACC has talked for a long time about starting a news sharing cooperative. Most talk centers around covering the state legislature (which provides an undue burden on Sacramento area schools, though Contra Costa College perhaps does best in the state) or sharing sports news/photos (still a good idea!). Those of us who use College Publisher could also take a deeper look at its built-in syndication service, forums and calendar functions. But even non-CP web sites can look for other online content provides (such as blogging services), though it may cost and definitely will challenge our notions of what belongs in a student newspaper. But focus on what your readers cannot find elsewhere easily. Local content is still best.

Got any other ideas? Here is a good place to brainstorm them. Maybe we can get past dreaming and improve ALL our publications.

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Late add: Just saw this article about how some big papers are using a service that automatically produces links to similar stories from rival paper. Interesting.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thinking of shooting video? See this guide.

VC2 Storytelling guideThinking of shooting video for your web site? Here is an excellent story-telling guide to help make your videos better. Leans to the high end, so don't be scared off. The concepts are scalable. (Requires Flash player.)

SF paper wants student podcasts

Mark Larson of Humboldt State University shared the following report today on the JACC-FAC listserve:
The (SF) Chronicle is interested in meeting with college and high school teachers throughout the Bay Area to explore ways of getting their students' writing, videos and podcasts into the paper and onto our Web site,

We welcome input from any college or high school teacher, principal or administrator in the Bay Area, but we are particularly interested in having journalism teachers and advisors attend the brainstorming session.
Interesting notion, looking for other sources of content. Community college programs should consider participating in such a project --indeed, should be copying it on their own campuses-- but do so with caution.

podcast imageAt Cerritos College we've already investigated a similar project by contacting our radio program and our film program to see if we can repurpose some of their content on the Talon Marks site starting this fall. Both seem interested. In fact, the film program instructor countered by suggesting that he make one his class projects for his students to partner with a Talon Marks reporter to create a related-story video (see a sample). Bingo, we just got help for producing up to 20 video stories for our web site each semester! With minimal extra effort on our part! The radio station's music programming creates some copyright issues, but not its sports broadcasts and talk/interview shows.

Now, as for the San Francisco Chronicle project, though, colleges should realize that the Chronicle is hoping to drive traffic to its web site. Colleges should want that traffic, too. And since I'm pretty sure the Chronicle does not want to pay for this content, schools should seek an appropriate quid quo pro out of the deal. Their publication web sites should get free ad space and linkbacks out of the deal.

For those schools who are still struggling with the concept of podcasting, the Project for Excellence in Journalism has just posted a pretty good primer on the subject.

And has an interesting article about the growth in popularity of poddcasts:
A report released by Nielsen Analytics last week found that podcasts -- online broadcasts downloaded from the Internet for playback on portable devices -- are attracting a growing number of listeners, a shift that media companies and advertisers have noted.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why should I learn to blog?

dinosaurGood question. Never had to learn it in school or when I last worked for a newspaper, so it can't be important.

Last week's PEW report that says that only a little over a third of bloggers consider what they do to be journalism. And forget that most media organizations are looking at blogging to supplement their current content.

I don't fully understand it and even getting my veteran students to blog is like pulling hen's teeth. But I'm doing it and I'm starting to understand it, even though what I do I'd call journalism education. I wish that more journalism faculty would try it. We didn't learn it in school, so we have to teach ourselves. But I can't even get much participation here ... at least not in the first few weeks.

sitemeter mapSite stats show that this blog only gets about nine visits a day and some of those are from such far away places as Alaska, Montana, the east coast, England, Portugal, Chile and Australia. The vast majority are from within California, though. Presumably JACC folks. But only one has bothered to click on a "comment' button and none have asked to become contributors.

Still, it's summer. Maybe that's it.

Kind of reminds me of other reluctant moments in JACC. Twenty years ago there was a reluctance to infuse journalism programs with computers --we had a lot of name calling involved in just thinking about using them for our conference contests. Ten years ago there was a reluctance to learn how to paginate. Now the question is "Pagemaker, Quark or InDesign?" Five years ago only about a quarter of JACC schools had online papers and now by the time school starts in a few weeks there will be, by my count, 52 -- JACC's membership hovers in the 60 range. Hope it doesn't take five or more years for schools to adopt this new technology. Just dive in!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wake me up when the war is over

I find movies and TV shows about journalism and journalists fascinating, but wake me up when Tabloid Wars, Bravo's new reality TV show following reporters of The New York Daily News, is over. Did anyone else find the priemere of this show to be a snoozer? My family was begging me to change the channel. But where do I get one of those cool backpacks Kerry Burke schleps while running down the street? It is interesting, though, to see the reporters hanging out on the street fishing for quotes; I haven't had much experience with pack journalism beyond JACC conferences. Guess "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

College papers still have place

For marketers looking to reach college kids, it's always been a challenge, and it certainly isn't getting any easier with the rise of MySpace, iPods and online gaming.

Yet, as contrary as it may seem, the campus newspaper may still be the most efficient medium. And in fact it may be more so with the increasing fragmentation of media.

Thank you to Meg O'Neil of Citrus College for sharing this Media Life Magazine article "Campus Newspapers for the Old College Try" about the valuable role of college newspapers. Consider sharing it with your students as well as your advertisers.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

JourCon anyone?

Possible JourCon logoI was in San Diego this morning for a SoCal mail-in judging session and one of the big things happening in town was the Comic Book Convention: ComicCon.

Maybe we should give the JACC annual convention a more upscale name. How does JourCon sound?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Solving the math problem

We joke about about it all the time, but the fact that we have very bright students who don't transfer to four-year programs because of the math requirement is serious business.

If you are one who thinks that the problem is the students', not yours, consider this: Increasingly we will be judged by the number of students who complete our AAs and certificates. At lunch with other area journalism teachers today we came up with a possible solution.
Math logo
What if we could find one math instructor at one of our schools who would be willing to put together an online version of the Intermediate Algebra course replete with journalism story examples and market it to all of our journalism students? We could serve as campus proctors for tests and local liaisons to help our students follow through. The host campus would probably have to set up some kind of learning community arrangement to hold all those spots for students from other other schools.

Let's kick around some comments and refine this idea. I'll bet there is grant money out there for some kind of collaborative project. Let's hear your comments.

General Excellence and web sites

CNPA Winners TabI was perusing the CNPA Better Newspaper Contest winners tab (how awkward to view it as a pdf document online!) and was pleased to see that CNPA honors newspaper web sites as one of its contests for its non-education members.

It got me to thinking, though, that since college newspapers have just one category in CNPA competitions --general excellence-- how about allowing our entries to include our web sites? Or one might argue that if we're ONLY looking at general excellence, shouldn't general excellence include both print and online?

Anyone want to jump on either of those bandwagons? Allow web sites in the competitions or require a combo entry.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

CNPA honors best when shared

JACC President Paul DeBolt posted the following on the faculty listserve last week:
Congratulations are in order for editors and staffers of two JACC-member publications — el Don (Santa Ana College) and Southwestern Sun (Southwestern College) — as they won first and second place honors respectively in the California Newspaper Publishers Association 2005 Better Newspapers Contest. Winners were announced yesterday at the annual CNPA convention.
Kudos and congratulations, indeed! But for a long time I've promoted getting more schools to mail out more copies of their papers to more schools. It only take a few minutes a week to mail 50-60 papers; and most schools absorb mailing costs.

We all benefit when we see others' papers. We see the Southwestern Sun at conferences twice a year, but never get a chance to see the Santa Ana el Don because Santa Ana doesn't attend JACC conferences. And neither of these schools has an online edition, so we can't even view their writing. (Southwestern has tried to launch a web site, but has had problems keeping it alive.)

Would that the CNPA award carried a cash prize for their schools to offset regularly mailing copies of their papers to other schools. Contests are great, but we're all in it for the education. And learning from "best practice" is a common practice.

What does everyone else think about mailing papers to other schools? Don't do it? Why?

Sunshine in Glendale

One of the best ways to fight attempted censorship is to let the sun shine in. And that's what's happening this hot summer at Glendale College.

Students for the el Vaquero newspaper wrote an article in the last issue of the school year about a couple of nursing students who committed suicide during the just-ending school year. Beyond just reporting about the suicides and mentioning the name of one of the students, and including interesting quotes from students and teachers in the program, the article also talked about suicide prevention. The school's health services director subsequently praised that portion of the article.

But the nursing department did not like the article and complained to the retiring college president, who immediately started talking about squelching the story and suggested removing papers from news stands because the story "reflected badly on the campus." In fact, newspapers started disappearing from stands rather rapidly, suggesting that someone was removing them to prevent anyone else from seeing the story. The president denies he is behind it. (Nursing department?)

The squelching efforts have backfired as the school is getting all kinds of local and national exposure for the attempts at censorship. The attempts are being covered in mainstream media, national media and even area blogs. This type of public exposure should be pointed out to campus administrators every time they try to interfer with campus media. What happened on campus was tragic, but what is happening subsequently to the attempt to control the news is a disaster. What is happening now is far worse than any damage to the nursing department had it just let the story alone.

Another lesson: Instructor Mike Moraeu has been teaching at Glendale for six years without a major problem and when it hit he felt unprepared. Just like an earthquake. But he had the support of JACC and was willing to tap into it early. We all need to be better prepared for the inevitable earthquake. As one who has felt the earthquake a number of times in his career, I say "Thank you, JACC, for being there."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Editor's Camp

Just did an Editor's Camp signup report for Timi Poeppelman. The "final count" (I think she'll still accept latecomers if you contact her) rests at 23, five for the design camp and 18 for the leadership camp. The camp is in Pismo Beach next week.

Leadership CampTwenty-three. That's an okay figure, but no where near as good as it should be for the fine training our students will receive. Think of all the leadership issues our editors will face in just a few weeks when we start new school years! Wouldn't we be wise to have our students get some excellent outside training to supplement what we'll provide? Timi is outstanding in putting together good conferences and I know she taps into some good talent from within the organization.

Of course, I can't talk too much about this without throwing some stones my way. No Cerritos College students are going. I offered it to them, but there are two big issues: Timing and cost.

Most of the students are working during the summer and it is tough to get together with them for lunch --one of my favorite mid-summer training tools-- much less get them to leave town for a few days. We've struggled on when to hold Editor's Camp and dead summer is just poor for my students. Early August MIGHT be better, but probably not.

While the cost is not too unreasonable (lodging, meals, transportation probably adds up to about $200 per person), cost becomes an issue to. Now, I'm in a position I could afford to pick up the costs for the students, but my school won't let me if I am not attending. We can circumvent the rules, but what kind of example is that for them. They'd nail any other program, especially student government, for trying that. I've just finished teaching summer school and just really do not want to go out of town next week. It is rare for me to not want to participate in a JACC activity, but I think it boils down to the timing issue again.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

JACC, Inc.

Summer 2006. A new era for JACC begins. Oh, sure, we'll continue to do the types of things we've always done, but now JACC is not your old teacher's JACC. We've finally incorporated. We exist in the realm of the big kids now.

There are good reasons and bad reasons for incorporating. There is the improved status and imporved ability to apply for grants that might be applicable only to non-profit corporations. (We don't really know how to do that yet, but now we can learn.) Bad reasons include the necessity to protect the liability of association officers in law suits; too bad we live in such a litigious society. And then there are the good/bad reasons, such as we need to work harder at following our own rules.

Melissa KorberJACC owes considerable thanks to Melissa Korber of Las Positas College for following through with the paperwork needed to incorporate. She's also taken over as JACC's treasurer at a time when JACC is bleeding money. She's already taken so many steps to help JACC's board of directors get a better handle on what money we have and where it goes. Anyone who has studied financial stability knows that knowing where you stand at any given time is a real key. JACC's board of directors and conference planners have a Herculean job in front of them to improve the organization's finances. We're not broke yet, but we haven't completely plugged the leaky budget pipe.


Rich CameronI've been blogging several months at Rich's Musings about how I teach journalism at Cerritos College and feel that it is time for me to stretch into an additional topic area. And I do a lot of thinking about JACC, so I thought I'd start this blog about JACC, journalism education in general and related activities.

But I'm hoping that I will not be the only contributor. It seems to me that the value of blogs comes with shared ideas. Anyone is invited to comment on blog posts, but I will be watching to keep out junk I've seen in other blogs, stuff that is clearly commericial. If anyone wants to become a regular contributor I'd love to have you join me. Just contact me and we'll work out the privileges for posting.

Anyone interested in community college journalism education is encouraged to join the discussion. JACC students have a separate MySpace blog and may want to direct some discussions there, but are welcome to participate here, too. And, of course, JACC faculty have a listserve that will continue to be a great discussion spot, too.

Rich Cameron