Jrn 202: I am keeping my promise to blog

It’s Amelia Eramya’s fault that I am not cleaning my kitchen right now. However, I can’t blame it all on her. I blame society. I blame technology. Words like multi-tasking, inventions like the Kindle and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are the culprits.  I think a few years ago we would have labeled my affliction as a severe case of attention deficit disorder. Now, we call it “mullti-tasking.”

Tell that to my husband, will ya? Tonight he slipped on a few papers and things I had neatly stacked near the kitchen door. They were in the “need to do tomorrow” pile and the “take to the garage pile.” Now I’ve added a “find Ron’s insurance policy to see if he is covered for injuries sustained from doing the splits in the kitchen” note  to my “need to do tomorrow” pile. Problem is, after his gymnastic routine, it’s all mixed up with the garage pile. More work for me.

Things started to go south when I began sorting papers on the table this morning. First I had to make room for more piles. But awwwwww, there was the note to order the lilac Baby Giraffe chenille blanky with the satin edging for Gwenna Rose (my first grandchild who will be born in April). An hour later, after comparison shopping and checking out Ebay for deals, the blanky was ordered and I was back to the piles.

MIPA receipts went in the box to my left. Tax receipts to the right. Whoops. There’s the Overstock.com necklace I ordered last week to match the pink pearl teardrop earrings Ron got me two Christmases ago. Gotta go see if they match. But where are they? Two hours later after finding them in a travel jewelry case I hadn’t unpacked since the National Journalism Convention in November, I was back to the table. Ok, I took a bubble bath, too. I found a brand new bottle of Avon Strawberry under the bed and couldn’t resist.

Geez. Then it was lunchtime. And in order to fix a meal I had to take care of the two cases of veggies I bought on the Meijer food sale last weekend. And where was that receipt? I needed to find it and circle the items I was going to charge to MIPA for the Think Tank. What the hell. I’ll just eat five cold Koegel Vienna hot dogs and worry about the canned goods later. But where’s that receipt? Oh yes. here it is, under my unread People Magazine. Brad and Angelina splitting? No way!

Then there was the incessant chirping of Tweet Deck–and my need to see what was happening, followed by the beep of Microsoft Outlook telling me I had 16 new messages. And then g-mail and c-mich mail and Facebook.

It was close to dinner time when I decided to put the canned goods away. I was losing at Spider Solitaire anyway and I didn’t feel like hitting control z a million times to restart the game without hurting  my stats. As I shelved the corn I knocked down 56 little Gordon’s Food cups leftover from last summer when I made  jello shots. I could either toss them out or . . .

A trip to the basement for booze and ooooh, there are some of the baby clothes I dragged out of the cedar chest for Jessica to use for Gwenna Rose. And there’s my Kindle. Haven’t read the Detroit News yet today and I AM paying a subscription fee you know.

And then I went up the stairs armed with a bottle of Zen Green Tea liquor (if I look up how to spell the last word in that description it will be another hour), liquer?, the orange Grey Goose–or is it Gray? and the Malibu Coconut Rum. I made the jello shots, cleaned up the mess, took the bottles back to the basement and started this blog.

The kitchen, by the way, still looks like hell.

But it’s midnight now and I know Jim Wojcik will be online.

Tomorrow: Multi-tasking part two.


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Ethical Issues are so important in new media

Sara Quinn really made us think about decisions we make on what we post.

Ethical Issues that might come up with the choices we make

She showed a video about a mom who was a helicopter pilot in the service. Her little boy talks about his fears, etc. The first video had no music. The second video was exactly the same but had music in a minor key. The third video had happy music. The totally different feelings from the three videos are worth discussing.

To add music to a news video, you have changed what is real.

Really important to discuss slide shows and what message we send when we put music to them.

Augmented Reality? First down line in football games. Cutaway graphic on how something works. Showed a picture of a city and then the augmented reality was a cell phone with the same picture, but you can click on it to see what houses are for sale, what restaurants are nearby, etc.

She played a BBC broadcast of Obama’s First 100 Days and showed how Al Tompkins discovered they had edited his speech (audio) to delete some parts of it. Not ethical. Important to teach.

She played a video that had been enhanced with new software. Is it ok to remove the camera shake? To remove the fuzzy parts? To take out reflections? Turn color to black and white? You have changed what is real.

We need to teach awareness.

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Subtle changes bring curriculum into converged world

Sara Quinn just said we should spend less time on what we are teaching and more time on what students are learning.

Give students an awareness. Things don’t have to change dramatically; they can change subtly.

Cheryl Pell wanted to make subtle changes so she added “Designing an iphone app” to her newpaper design class. They come up with the concept, the rationale and the design of the app. They don’t create the app but they start to think that way and they design what it would look like on your phone.

Another instructor here has adapted her syllabus to have students create scripts and making sense of things.

In my JRN 202 Writing for the Mass Media class, there is a section on writing for the Web. I have students work in group conceptualize a multimedia site and pitch the idea to an editorial board. They have to show what would happen when you enter the site, what the reader can learn and tell the board what photos, videos, podcasts, pieces of writing and great headlines they would see if they went to the page. They have to WRITE the copy for the site and learn the concept of shorter, crisper bits of information. When they presented their sites at semester, I nearly cried I was so happy.

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Learning to Live Blog

I think I need to go with shorter bursts and fewer words. I’ll try that.

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Sara Quinn and Converged Journalism. Mars and Venus?

I am sitting here in this session going crazy. It isn’t that Sara Quinn is a bad presenter. She is far from that! She’s just posing so many questions about converged journalism that I find myself hungry for the ANSWERS. I am going to split this blog into portions so you can see the line of thought, and perhaps join me in screaming—“Give me more. Give me more!”

According to Quinn,

There is not just ONE way to create a converged journalism curriculum. (Quinn used the example of schools deciding to drop accreditation to follow a more professional development curriculum—and others not doing that—as an example of how you can also approach convergence in different ways.)

“When we get that new media hire—that will solve all our problems.”  Sometimes we hang our hope on one person. Does this work? How can you get to the point where you have a total infusion of everyone thinking new media at the same time?

Groups that have left the Poynter after having discussions about new media have left with new hope.

Individuals can make incremental steps like introducing stories in your classroom that can be told in different mediums. What if you made a small change in your syllabus that introduced a slight change of perspective?

This is wrong: “We need to learn Flash.” It’s a complicated piece of software. Every time a new version comes out, there are big changes. It is impossible to be on top of every piece of software.

The thinking is what we need to infuse in students. What is the story about and how can we best tell it.

What we need to present to students: Multimedia thinking in context.

2014: Video by Poynter on the future of journalism. They talk about it from a futuristic perspective. Watch it.

We need to turn out students who are flexible, knowledgeable, ethical decision makers. It is so tough to give students everything they need.


Times are tough and we have all of these things we think we need

The “tools” may be how they conceptualize stories.

Framework for multimedia  graduates

Understanding the world from the world a numbers

Understanding the rate of inflation

Understanding the history of the city and world you live in

Being able to conceptualize and step back and take a look at things

Concrete, specific things you can take back and work on to develop multimedia programs

Journalism school enrollment is up but the worry is where are the jobs?

People need to KNOW things

The Business will change but the need will be there

The form will change but the need will still be there

What do young journalists need to know?

“Equip yourself to work like mercury.”

“You need to be capable of changing shape and direction in response to the environment”

What skills did it take to put the following story together?

Case study, Interactive Narratives, NYT “Exonerated, freed and what happened then”

Prisoners who have been released due to DNA evidence (Nov 25, 2007)

Sara thought—big story, lots of info: Limit it. Tell the story of one person. Get someone to care about it.

But that is not what the NYT did.

Has a series of quotes from prisoners answering the question how they have changed

You can click on a person in the data base and find out about them.

You can choose a category for comparison: Oldest, compensation

This project needed photographers, writers, interviewers, graphic designers, audio folks. How many of us have a single student who can do all of this? Once you identify all the skills and jobs needed, how do you send them in the right direction? And how do you provide the conceptual framework? Are there people who have both the journalism and the tech skills? Should our designers be taking geography—geomapping?

Everyblock.com is a data base that was developed by a journalist (27 years old) who really thinks pretty far out there! Where do we teach database reporting?

Be still my aching brain!

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Mindy McAdams: Blogs are not the bastard child

Things have certainly changed for me. I am sitting at the Poynter in St Petersburg, Florida, listening to Mindy McAdams talk about blogging and I am blogging as she talks. (Ok. I stole the idea from Julie Dodd.) Mindy  really defined blogs in a new way for me.

Blogs are not columns. They are not analysis. They can be:


Content analysis


Personal voice

Interaction with audience

Narrow topic focus


She showed us great blogs by Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor at NBC, who writes a Personal and Behind the Scenes blog. Why would a broadcaster blog? You have to have people looking at you everywhere you can get them! You don’t have to worry about someone scooping you if you talk about something that is going to happen in a few days. And Mindy says this theory just blows giant holes in anything she was taught in journalism school.

She gave us these guidelines for writing blogs:

Guidelines to blog writing

  1. Adjust your writing style
    1. Short posts are good
    2. Short paragraphs are good (easy to read)
      1. i.      No paragraph indents
      2. ii.      Every two paragraphs have a line between them
    3. Do not be “too” complete
      1. i.      If you sound like you have already included everything, you haven’t left any room for anyone else to share anything.
      2. ii.      A lot of blog posts only have one idea in them
    4. Do not write like you “know it all”
    5. Include readers—do not exclude them
      1. i.      Dan Gillmor (We the Media) “My readers know more than I do.”
    6. Find an appropriate tone
      1. i.      This may take a while
  2. Use links effectively
    1. Not too many links. Less is more.
      1. i.      The longer the blog post, the more links you might want to have. But don’t have a gazillion in a little post.  It’s too overwhelming. She showed us this Health Check blog that was about 10 lines long and had loads of links. Some were not giving the reader what they expected. Like if the link was “Reuters” it took the reader to the article. It should have taken them to Reuters home page. “Click here” is always a bad phrase because it doesn’t tell you what you are going to get.
    2. No obvious links
      1. i.      Avoid links to well-known Web sites
    3. No paid links
      1. i.       You will lose the readers’ trust
    4. Only links that have real value to readers
      1. i.       Increase your own credibility
    5. Link text needs to be clear, not confusing
  3. Manage comments intelligently (When Mindy does a workshop at a newspaper she spends a really long time talking about this.)
    1. You can delete ANY comment. It’s YOUR blog.
    2. Do not delete a comment only because it disagrees with what you wrote.
    3. Read comments often.
    4. Respond often.
    5. Do not respond to every comment.
  4. Decide on the best length and frequency of posts—suitable for your topic
    1. Too infrequent= no audience
    2. Too many posts? Too much efforts for the readers
      1. i.      Exceptions—crime blogs
      2. ii.      Breaking news blogs like floods and earthquakes
    3. If your blog is longer than 300 words, you need to enter a subhead every hundred words or so.
    4. Use Google analytics to see where and when your visits are coming from
      1. i.      Top traffic sources will tell you where they came from
      2. ii.      You can see if someone linked to your blog and people went there because of that

This has been really cool! I’ll try and blog our next session which is Sara Quinn and Regina McCombs from the Poynter talking about Curriculum Issues in the Age of the New Media.

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Technology that will make you cry

Since I started this blog, technology has brought me to tears many times. No technology, however, has teared me up like an attachment to an e-mail I received last week.

It was a picture. It looked a little like a bean and it wasn’t very clear. In fact, it was dark and murky.

One look at it and I had to bring over the entire box of Puffs Plus because there in front of me–in living black and white–was an ultra sound picture of my first grandchild.

I’d like to say he/she has my eyes or smile but technology hasn’t advanced that far yet. For now he/she’s a bean. A cute little bean that makes me cry.

When I was pregnant for my soon-to-be-grandchild’s mother 31 years ago, I never had an ultra sound. We never knew the sex of the baby and probably the worst thing of all, we didn’t have a microwave until our second child was born four years later. I was determined NEVER to carry a dorky diaper bag, NEVER to arrive at someone’s house with a baby plus 16 trips to the car to bring in junk, and NEVER to fall prey to the latest “gotta-have-this-to-be-a-good-parent” technology. My husband and I avoided the pacifier, used cloth diapers and made our own formula (after nursing days were done).I loved it!

But, I got a little stressed the other day when my daughter asked me to list the things I used as a mother that were invaluable. She wants to avoid the “gotta-have-it” technology, too. How do I tell her that the first thing I’d go out and buy is a Flat Screen Video baby monitor so she and her husband can watch my grandchild at all times? I think my daughter needs the wrist-watch-size monitor, too, so she can be free to use both hands instead of having to hold a big assed viewing screen.

I’m researching other “gotta have it” technology, too. But in the meantime I’m also stressing over what the new baby should call my husband and me. We don’t want to be Grandma and Grandpa. My parents are still living as is my husband’s mom. Plus, we want to be called something cool. Thanks to the computer, I was able to research grandma names and get results in seconds. Nana sounds good. But then do you call grandpa Pappie?

My husband’s last name is German, so do we go with the German words for grandma and grandpa? Omi and Pop? Pop is fine but I am not going to be called Omi. Or the Italian for Grandma—Nona? Or Mimi? Or the trendy G-mom and G-daddy? Maybe not—at least not until my husband starts his rapper career. Grammo, Grammie?

Nah. I am actually leaning toward the Greek words for Grandma and Grandpa—Yaya and Papoo. If you knew my husband, the “poo” part of the word fits him perfectly. And I love Yaya. Maybe Yaya and Yoyo?

I have until April to come up with substitutes for Grandma and Grandpa. Then I have to get them approved by my daughter and her husband. Once we get there I would be willing to bet our grandchild will take matters into his/her own hands and call us what he/she wants. Maybe that’s not all bad either.

But there WILL be a flat screen video baby monitor in the crib. The challenge is to see whether we can remotely watch and listen from about 160 miles away. . .


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