Tuesday, August 29, 2006

JACC Web Watch 1

Thought that to get JACC schools to pay attention to other schools' online publications I'd include a Web Watch feature here. The goal is to watch what schools are doing online and to point out unusual efforts.

Most schools still sport the last issue of the school year from last spring. Looks like Cerritos, Citrus and Cypress were the first schools out of the chutes with publications, at least online.

Cerritos talonmarks.com is still introducing a new visually-oriented layout that shows the flexibility of College Publisher. Aside from the new look, the site already sports blogs and podcasts and will include videos. Talonmarks.com has partnered with its radio and film programs to get additional student content for the publication, but it is early in the school year. The new visual design was student generated and required a custom template from College Publisher. It requires newspaper students to think about the online presentation as they gather content for the print publication.

Citrus Clarion Online had some interesting program promotion on its site for most of the summer, but has rolled out the first issue complete with a podcast of the president's opening remarks. Citrus experimented with podcasts at the end of last school year, too. And MySpace figures prominently in the news as the school year opens.

Cypress College's Cychron is one of those publications that tries to rotate content in and out and not think "publication date," so it is sometime hard to tell if there is up-to-date content until you actually open the story. What can you say? Anytime you've got someone with flaming pink hair to include in a photo its going to stand out.

Speaking of photos standing out, even though they're from last semester, LA Valley Star Online has an outstanding photo on its front page. Trouble is, it is not formatted properly to fit the template of the online site. I also like the photographer on Sacramento's e.press. While there take a look at the photo essay for some more nice images.

Some schools --Merced, Reedley, Mira Costa, San Diego and Taft-- still use the pdf-of-the-issue format that are okay for archival purposes, but not are very online-reading-friendly. And I won't even list the half dozen or so publications that either have disappeared or haven't been updated for a year or two.

The Pasadena Courier Online has an interesting followup story to campus newspaper thefts from last spring. Turns out nothing is going to be done because the school would end up sueing itself. Interesting twist concerning that the governor has on his desk an anti-newspaper-theft bill we hope he will sign. If he does, it theoretically applies to college papers, too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Interesting perspective on the future of news

Ryan Sholin's blog entry today, "Enough handwringing, let's get down to business" is an interesting read.
What’s the future of news? What does the audience want? What will the dead-trees edition be able to do about either?

Lately, it seems like these questions are brought up by newspaper editors and journalism educators fraught with worry over what will become of their medium and of their readership. (And the children! Won’t somebody please think of the children?!)
They write editorials and cluck over how journalism students don’t read the newspaper anymore.

No, we don’t. We read more than that, we do it faster, and we do it at a level of depth that correlates to the amount of time or interest we have for the topic.
Actually, his conclusion might be scarier for some of us than the proposition that newspapers will die. But you see good examples of it cropping up in places like Bakersfield and Riverside.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

New Year resolutions

One of the really cool things about teaching at the college level is that you get to start over at least twice a year at the beginning of each semester. The start of the semester is a good time to reassess and set new goals. That's how we grow. Here are a few resolution suggestions for JACC members:
  1. I will finally start a weekly (or every other week depending on publication) mailing list and send copies of the newspaper to other community colleges in hopes they'll do the same and my students can learn by taking their blinders off.
  2. I will create a folder of bookmarks in my web browser for other community college online publications so that it is easier to check out what others are doing online.
  3. I'll talk up blogging, podcasting, videos, etc. with the newspaper staff members so that they will at least start thinking about multimedia storytelling and creating original content for online. Shoot, I may even start my own blog so I know what I'm talking about.
  4. If we don't already have an online publication I will see that we actually start one EARLY this semester so that my program isn't another four months behind the curve at the end of this semester. We've already got some catching up to do since 80 percent of JACC schools are already online.
  5. If we've got a dead online publication I (the instructor) will admit I was wrong in not trying to set up an easy-to-use College Publisher site. And I will follow Rich's advice to treat it as an advertising contract and keep my risk-averse administration out of it. That way the contract will be signed by me 8-10 months earlier than if the school's lawyer tries to tear it apart. If I'm already on the risk-averse track, I'll ask Rich to help by writing a letter to my administrators explaining how they are hurting my program by not working out their concerns in a timely fashion.
  6. I'll start using Rich's free City Council simulation in my newswriting class. But he needs to update the numbers a bit.
  7. I (an instructor) will be more tolerant of Rich's long messages on the JACC-FAC listserve and I pledge to actually contribute some thoughts to the listserve this semester.
  8. I will get off my campus this semester and visit one other community college journalism program that I haven't seen before in hopes of learning at least one new thing we can do with our program.
Feel free to add more ideas.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Getting started with online

Bryan Murley, who writes the Reinventing College Media blog, started a series today that might be of valuable to many of us. He has been hired to take over the online publication at the small Emory and Henry College, a private liberal arts college in Virgina.

The online publication there has already evolved into something separate from the print edition. His series is a chronicle of what he's learning along the way as he takes over. I think it is going to provide some interesting insights for us as we define the role of an online publication --or lack of one-- in our programs.

His goal is to speak to those who are still without an online publication or who still are on the beginning end of that curve. Part one talks about how the online publication there is created. Those who are running independent sites that require them to use HTML code will relate to where he started and why he is switching. He develops a line of thought on how to make things easier and lists alternatives, including building a standalone content management system.

For those already with a content management system --such as all of us using College Publisher-- he talks about some extra things he wants to add to his system, including a software program that Amara Aguilar turned me on a few weeks ago: Soundslides. This program makes making photo slide shows for your online site extremely easy. (And a single license is just about $50. You probably only need one.) College Publisher has a built-in slide show function, but the feature sucks.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Podcasting course at San Jose State

Lots in the blogosphere today --at least the blogs I check in on on a regular basis-- about a new podcasting class at San Jose State starting up this semester (next week). I think this class is a direct descendent of the Rethinking Journalism Education workshop at Morro Bay last winter. Okay, it probably was in the works before that knowing Steve Greene and knowing about Steve Sloan.

Anyway, the new class has its own blog and there is even an mp3 download to learn more about the class. Check it out. Good example of how to give a little more personal feel to promotion.

Of course I'm thrilled to see one of the CSU programs in the state get srious about new media courses, but as the blogosphere talk says, too bad it is focusing on podcasting and not approaching a wider look at multimedia story telling. (From the podcast, sounds like it really IS a multimedia storytelling class.) I'm extra excited that they made it a lower division course.

Speaking of which, we've been trying to start a multimedia storytelling class at Cerritos College this semester. Though we got a lot of interest from people both on our campus and at newarby campuses, it looks like it might fall just short of the 20 students we need to make it go this semester.

BUT, we WILL offer it in the spring, and with it actually in our college's printed class schedule we should be able to make it go. We'll cover podcasting, but also photo slideshows, Flash presentations, blogging and more. I still think it would be a great class this semester for community college journalism instructors to learn what this is all about and gain some skills to go back and introduce it in their programs.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What American newspapers are doing online

PBS's Mark Glaser presents an interesting summary of a study of what the largest newspapers are doing online on his MediaShift blog. (see the full report)
He gives a fuller discussion of these key items:
  • Blogging is all the rage.
  • Podcasting is still a province of larger papers.
  • Video offerings are widespread.
  • Newspaper sites offer RSS — but not with full text or ads.
  • Forced registration is losing steam.
  • Editors are not hip to reader comments on stories or bookmarking.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What is a student newspaper?

You know that you and Toto are in the land of Oz when even Kansas isn't in Kansas anymore. And certainly the lawyer and administration at Barton County Community College in Kansas must be in some mystical land like Oz. They tried to fire the adviser of the student newspaper a couple of years ago for not controlling the content of the paper. And their argument was that it wasn't a student newspaper so they had no First Amendment rights

The adviser has just taken a cash settlement in the case, but the school is still getting its way unless someone challenges the next issue of the Interrobang, if there is one. From the article:
They wrote in AP style. They tried to present both sides in every article. They secured their own advertising.

But, apparently, they didn’t write for a student newspaper.
and the reason, according to the college's lawyer:
Because the publication was written and produced as part of classes taught by the instructor, he said, it amounted to no more than a “class project” — a project that Schartz (the adviser) could have censored without violating the First Amendment. The publication has long been written as part of journalism courses at the institution, in order to help students learn the craft first-hand.
Using this reasoning all community college papers in California and a huge percentage of college papers around the country would not be student newspapers. Granted, at some universities the paper is independent of any classes. That's also true for some club-driven community college papers in the country. But surely this definition would not hold up had the case gone to court. Can't blame the adviser for wanting to go on with her life, but someone needs to challenge this before some other addled administrator upset with content of the paper pulls the same stunt because it worked once.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More on Florida paper being bought

Note: Updated to include part 2 of interview.

While the sale of the Florida student-run paper being bought out by a Gannett paper does not affect many JACC schools directly, and may never because none of our papers are truely independent of our schools, there are interesting issues about the role of student newspapers that makes following the story valuable.

To that end, some may want to visit some other blogs that are talking about the sale.

Start with Kiyoshi Martinez' TPS report on "Should College Papers Sell Out? Yes!" and the followup with the Reinventing College Media interview of Martinez Part One and Part Two. Martinez is associated more with the Illinois Daily Illini, not the Florida FS View & Flambeau. The interview touches on some issues some of might think about, such as the give-and-take of a big pockets owner in the case of a law suit.

I, for one, enjoy the attention being paid to student newspapers in the media the last week. While we're talking university papers here, some of the same issues of relevant branding of the student newspaper applies to community college papers as well, and is a strong argument for a strong student press.

See an earlier JACC blog entry on this topic.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Casting a broader net over broadcasting

Radio guyJACC could cast a broader net over broadcasting if suggestions developed by a select committee in San Francisco today are adopted. The committee, heavily represented by JACC faculty, discussed whether to help start a new broadcast association parallel to JACC or expand JACC more into the broadcast realm.

A big issue was how to reach out to community college broadcast programs around the state, some of which have journalism ties and many who do not.

The committee decided to put aside for the time being the idea of a new broadcast association and recommend that the JACC board consider a "broadcast division," sort of like our geographical NorCal and SoCal divisions. More specifically, the group is recommending that more broadcast-oriented workshops be added to the existing regional conferences and that broadcast programs be invited and courted to participate. Then for the state convention also add mail-in competitions in six areas, in addition to beefing up broadcast workshops and activities.

Details for the contests have to be fleshed out and presented at JACC's September Board of Directors meeting, but contest areas proposed would include:
  • On-Air Performance
  • News Package
  • Entertainment Drama/Sitcom
  • Music Video
  • PSA/Commercial
  • Jib-Jab Political Commentary (basically an animated political commentary -- see www.jibjab.com for an example)
Also suggested was looking for a way to expand individual college delegation limits for those schools that choose to bring broadcast delegations. Once broadcast instructors and students start attending JACC confernences in sufficient numbers, the topic of whether to start a separate organization or further develop the broadcast division of JACC would be revisited.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Florida daily buys student-run paper

Is the epitome of student newspaper success or what? First the news from earlier today that mtvU (a division of MTV, which is a division of Viacom) purchases the 450-newspaper network run by College Publisher* and then later in the day the Associated Press reports that a Florida daily newspaper has purchased the student-run newspaper at Florida State University.

* See my related link at Rich's Musings on why the College Publisher purchase is a good thing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Breaking stories online: Yes or no?

newspaperHere's the scenario for a college newspaper with a web site to ponder. Your paper publishes weekly and mid-cycle --let's say two days before publication-- a big story breaks and you've got the facts. Do you publish the story online immediately, or do you wait two days and let the print edition have the scoop? What if you publish every other week and the story breaks on the off week?

I say, go for it online as soon as you can. But my student editors do not always agree. In fact, while they could publish an updated version of the each week's talonmarks.com the night before the paper is distributed on campus, most of my editors choose to hold back the online edition until at least distribution day. Occassionally they'll break a story online, but the newspaper reporters let the print edition deadlines steer when they write their stories.

Ran across two opposing stories on this today. Independent editor Simon Kelner has spoken out against the practice, thinks you should never break stories online.
Kelner said: "If you have an exclusive story at five o'clock to go in the following day's newspaper, the idea that you would put it on the website for nothing strikes me as complete madness.

"Our relationship with our own website is one where the paper is first and foremost, and the website comes second.
Greg Bowers, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, disagrees. He says break news online and tell stories in print.
Telling people news they already know is not a good business model, so, if newspapers are to remain relevant, interpretation is the only way to go in print -- especially in the sports department.
How do you feel about this question and why?

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