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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