Archive for October, 2008

Whitney Goss Visit

Former student Whitney Goss visited with my Web Design class at TX State. She had some great advice for students entering the PR field with WebberMcJ in Austin. She talked about the need to understand all types of communication – journalism, advertising and PR. And, she said that knowing and keeping up with social media is important. Thanks for visiting with us, Whitney!

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Some Mass Comm Week Reflections


Photo by Colter Ray

Just wanted to start to capture some reflections from our Mass Comm Week at TX State. First, I’ll talk generally about the blog. Later, I’ll do a post about issues with using Ustream for live video.

Last year, during Mass Comm Week, students in my Multimedia Journalism course blogged about the conference on a class site. That project was so successful that I decided to expand the reach and functionality for this year’s event by incorporating a variety of social media aspects and creating a unique domain for the blog.  I set up the blog using the Blogger platform and made HTML and CSS changes to the template to create a design incorporating the graphics from the print campaign.  Then, I set up the sidebar to include the Twitter stream, Picasa photo slideshow, live video stream info, and related links.  I got these ideas from attending conferences during the year, and learned of the streaming video service Ustream.tv from my friend at the Austin American Statesman, digital journalist Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon. For Twitter, a back channel was established that fed into the sidebar. Students and faculty were instructed to use the search term, #mcweek, for their tweets to show up there during the event.  Students in my Web Design class, Kym Fox’s Advanced Reporting class and some of Judy Oskam’s students at the Round Rock campus had the writing and photo assignments. These assignments included writing previews of each panel before the event and covering the panel and interviewing the panelists during their visit.  Photos and video were encouraged.  Graduate students Jon Zmikly and Lewis Knight assisted me with the live video streams.  Students seemed very energized by their participation. And, the best thing is that all of the technologies used were free.  I only paid $10 to register the domain www.txstatemcweek.com .

The blog was wildly successful. More than 8,000 unique visitors came to the site during the week of the event, and that number is expected to increase as people learn about Mass Comm Week and go back to read the archives.  Most traffic came from the US, with visitors coming from every state and Washington, D.C. There were also 705 visitors from Canada, 587 from UK, 224 from Australia, and several from many other countries. The live streams attracted hundreds of visitors during the sessions and more than 1000 views for the recorded archive.  The most popular session that was recorded was Burnie Burns’ presentation  “Online video: What it is and where it is heading?”

The students’ work during Mass Comm Week is a direct reflection on Texas State, and has significantly raised the profile of our school in the region and around the globe in terms our engagement with social media. I plan to use blogging and social media to cover the South By Southwest Interactive conference with my spring graduate course Advanced Online Media.

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What’s Up With Me?

You might ask…I’ve been lax at blogging here, not because I don’t want to or like to. But, I’ve just been swamped.  I’m teaching my two Web design courses (Web Design and Publishing for undergrads and Multimedia Production for grad students). They are working on their third project, really the second complete Web site (first site encompasses Projects 1 &2). They are making a site for a hobby or organization from scratch.  We have Mass Comm Week coming up, and I created the blog for that and am getting my students ready to write previews and cover the event. Plus, I’ve been doing some testing of Ustream.tv , because I want to live stream some of the panels, particularly the keynote with Scott McClellan.  I found that you need a pretty good laptop mainly for the part where you record and archive the event. Good thing I’m doing lots of testing. I will attempt to live stream my friend Paul’s show at Hole in the Wall this Friday at 8pm at onthatnote.com. Tune in!

ACL Fest was big fun, and I’ve got lots of coverage at onthatnote.com. Plus, I’ve been doing the online newsletter for Texas Music magazine. It’s keeping me very busy, but it’s fun.  I have to find a way to have it take less of my time and still be good.  I keep getting all these good ideas for it, but it’s just a sideline, basically a hobby, so I don’t have much time to dedicate to improvements.

And, I’ve got this research project going. One of my grad students, Jon Zmikly is helping me. We’ve gotten a slow start on coding, but I hope to have some time for that over the next week. I also turned in an REP grant proposal. It’s an internal grant at my university, for summer research funding. I hope to study this idea of the programmer/journalist, maybe visit with the NY Times to see what they are doing.  I know there are research topics as well as curriculum issues around this area.

BTW, Jon and Lewis Knight will be helping me with the live stream for Mass Comm Week. It is great to have such enthusiastic and talented grad students.

And, if that’s not enough, we, as a school, are trying to work on curriculum issues and that includes technology, facilities and faculty headcount.  I’ve been part of a few meetings on this topic. These things are slow moving at the university level, but I think we are in a good place, with some good people, to move ahead.  We have an accreditation visit in November, so I assume some comments in regard to the multimedia/interactive elements in our curriculum will be highlighted. So, hopefully that will give us some justification for our direction.

Lots of fun things in the news. Apple’s new Macbook/Macbook Pro line is out. I’m interested to see how this lack of firewire issue will be resolved. This article on MediaShift talked about the need for hiring tech types, definitely something I’m interested in. And, a couple of articles on who to blame and why for the downturn in the news business: Buzz Machine and The Digital Journalist.

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Thinking about Journalists as Programmers

So, I’m thinking a lot about this idea of Programmer/Journalist, Journalist/Programmer, Journalist/Developer, Hacker/Journalist and the 6th W (Web, according to Brian Boyer he’s a new programmer student at the Medill journalism program). I want to do some research in this area, maybe visit with NY Times, possibly visit Medill. Talk to these folks about what this exactly means, what technologies they are using, what skills they’d like to see journalists have.  Are we talking perspective or hard coding?  What rapid application development platforms can be used and to what extent?  So, many questions, but I have very little idea about how to organize my thoughts. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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