College Media Convention – Day 2

Today was a full day for me at the College Media Convention. I spent most of the day in sessions related to software included in the new version of Adobe’s Creative Suite. I began by attending a session on one of the components of the suite I use the least: Adobe Illustrator. This vector graphics application has gone through a number of iterations during its history, and in earlier versions of the Creative Suite, Illustrator seemed to be one of the least integrated. The latest version appears to correct that issue, as Illustrator has become an integral part of Adobe’s Creative Suite 3.

Next was today’s plenary session. Unlike yesterday’s keynote speaker, today’s was rather ho-hum. You know you’re in trouble when a speaker spends the first five minutes asking the audience to “raise their hands if the think this will happen“ and ”raise their hands if they think that will happen.“ One or at most two questions like that are OK, but it gets old quick. Among other things, Sam Feist, CNN’s Political Director, spent a lot time talking about how important it was to be apolitical as a journalist. This from someone who holds the title ”Political Director“ seemed a bit odd. At times he sounded more like a public relations professional than a journalist, spending a lot of time extolling the virtues of CNN’s news policies. And although he tried hard to hide his political inclinations, he didn’t try hard to hide his distaste for Fox News Channel. I didn’t find myself disagreeing with most of Sam’s points, but I did find myself getting rather tired of his ”old school“ views of objectivity. One student tried to pin him down on whether objectivity was still possible today, a question he conveniently spun toward a critique of FNC. I really wasn’t surprised at Sam’s talk, as he works for one of the biggest names in the business. He has reason to play it safe and stick to the ”middle of the road.“ But is it any wonder why Fox, despite its obvious bias, is getting a lot better ”rating point per dollar“ return than CNN? When it comes right down to it, I think most news consumers today appreciate journalists who embrace their bias rather than try to hide it behind the increasingly thin curtain of ”objectivity.“ Even I would rather spend an hour watching Bill O’Reilly say patently stupid things than spend an hour in the ”Situation Room.“ Neither one is very good journalism, but at least the first is somewhat entertaining at times.

The rest of the day I spent attending sessions on the other components of the Creative Suite, including sessions on Flash video, Photoshop, In Design and Acrobat. I also had time to take in a session on blogging, which was quite interesting. I wish I could get more of my students at The Quad interested in blogging. Maybe someday.

After a full day of sessions, I took a group of editors from The Quad out to a place called ”The Reef“ for dinner. Although it looked a little iffy at first, it turned out to be a nice place to kick back and talk. The food was pretty good, and it was plentiful. And it gave me a chance to reconnect with some of my best students. Being on sabbatical, I kinda miss being around students, so it was nice to have the chance to interact with them again. What can I say? I guess I just like being around college kids.

National College Media Convention 2007 – Day 1

Since I’m on sabbatical leave this semester, I wasn’t originally planning on going to the National College Media Convention. But after thinking it over, I decided a couple of days before the convention that I would go after all. The convention was just a short train ride down to Washington, DC. And it would be good to see my student editors from The Quad, West Chester University’s award-winning student newspaper.

I’m glad I went. On Thursday afternoon, I enjoyed the keynote address by Rob Curley. I heard Rob three years ago when he was doing great things at the Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World. In particular, he was a pioneer in developing deep, rich content for the web, and saw early on the importance of the web for local newspapers. Last year he took a dream job as vice president for product development at Washington Post-Newsweek Interactive. In this position he has helped guide an extensive team of “convergence journalists” who create content for the Washington Post-Newsweek family of web sites, including most notably,

I’m not sure how many in the audience truly appreciated how rapidly Rob Curley rose in his profession, or how amazingly prescient his advice was a few years ago when he spoke at the College Media Convention in Nashville in 2004. But I hope that at least some of the students who heard him speak Thursday afternoon take heed of his suggestions…

  • Local newspapers must own local breaking news. Newspaper staffs are typically the largest news staffs in any market, easily outdistancing the resources of local broadcast news outlets. Yet when it comes to breaking news, people often turn to broadcasters. Newspapers need to realize that the web can help them in the effort to be the authoritative voice for breaking news.
  • Newspapers should embrace platform-independent delivery. The most important part of the word newspaper is news, not paper. Most journalists today write for both print and web, and many create audio and video content as well. Newspapers can and should be the dominant sources of news content in any platform. Convergence journalism isn’t just a trend; it’s today’s reality.
  • Newspaper websites should be about dialog, not monologue. Too many newspapers ‘t just “shovel” their print content into a web template. But that’s not how the web works…at least not effective web sites. People want to be able to participate. Give readers a voice on the web. Use the web to connect with your audience.
  • Embrace change with the right mindset. There are plenty of people in the newspaper business who resist change, who pine for the “old days.” But change is inevitable, and those entering the journalism field would do well to position themselves for change. This means having both a broad skill set and an open mindset. Having a variety of talents can open a lot of doors, but having a bad attitude can close a lot more.

Although it was a very fast-paced keynote, and at times a bit overwhelming, I left feeling good about what I’ve been telling my students for years now. And it made me feel good about advising student media. Journalists really do make an important contribution to the world. I’m honored to work with students who may be someday become the next Rob Curleys of the world.

CMA 2005 Convention

This year’s College Media Convention was supposed to be in New Orleans, but because of Hurricane Katrina, the meeting was held in Kansas City. This year 11 West Chester University students joined me for three days of learning, sharing and networking. I offered three sessions myself for CBI (College Broadcasters Incorporated), one of the groups co-sponsoring the event. The WCU students who joined me for CMA 2005 included five from WCUR, four from The Quad, and two from WCU-TV. Here’s a picture of the “WCU Media Gang.”

CMA 2004 Convention

The Convention HotelOn November 3, the day after the 2004 Presidential election, I travelled with a group of my students from The Quad to the annual College Media Convention. It was a great convention, with many informative sessions for students involved in college media, including newspapers, radio, television, yearbooks and the web. At one of the sessions, I gave a presentation on “The Future of Automation for Noncommercial Radio.” It was fairly well attended for an 8 a.m. session, despite the fact that Shanai Twain was giving a free concert in the streets of Nashville at the same time as part of the Good Morning America television program. 
Welcome to the 2004 College Media Convention
Welcome to the College Media Convention

Good Morning America and Shania Twain
Good Morning America hosts Shanai Twain

Lauren and Kelli kicking it up
Lauren and Kelli kicking it up in Nashville