Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The future of JMC 163

Steve Sloan recently posted about the discussion the journalism department at San Jose State is having on what to do with the JMC 163 class on new media. This has been one of the best classes that I have taken in my four years so far at SJSU. I have learned more in this one class that will actually help me in my career than in all of the journalism classes I have previously taken combined.

Some people from the school want to change the class by adding software to the curriculum. I totally agree that we need to learn the software programs that they are talking about, but this is not the right place to do it. First off, InDesign and Photoshop are not new media by any stretch of the imagination. They are important programs that we need to learn and they should offer more classes on how to use them, but they need to keep at lest one, preferably two, classes on new media and Web 2.0.

I completely agree with Andrew that we need new media to be a concentration within journalism just as print and broadcast are.

I said it once and I'll say it again, the University needs to revamp its curriculum and consider making New Media a concentration unto itself. What's happening now is essentially like having all Nursing and Biology students in the same major because it might increase costs to the school to have both.
I am a print major and am very disappointed that I have not learned anything about photography, design, video or audio until now, let alone web design, HTML, RSS, blogging, podcasting or any other new technology. We need to learn the history of media, how to write and edit and all that, but we also need to learn where the future of the industry is going to be or else we will be completely useless when we graduate and try to get jobs.

My favorite comment so far comes from what Whitney Hoffman wrote on Scoble's blog:
As Dr. Spence said to the group (at the Univ. of DE): “Most classrooms haven’t changed their knowledge delivery methods since universities first came into existance. A mideval professor would feel quite at home in most of today’s classrooms- a talking head, lecturing to a bunch of seated students, whose job it was to absorb and spit back knowledge” rather than absorb it and then transform it, work with it, to create something new.
Amen. I think there is a lot to learn from lectures but we also need to apply the things we are learning into today's world. We need to learn the things that employers are going to want in five, ten, fifteen years. That is why I am going to college, and that is why I am taking JMC 163.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bloggers are journalists

I have been a little behind on news because of my vacation, but last Friday, a Canadian judge ruled that a blogger is a journalist! Blogger Charles LeBlanc was arrested while reporting on a protest last June. The judge ruled last week hat he was working as a journalist and that the police should not have arrested him or deleted the photos from his digital camera.

"Members of the so called mainstream media were taking photographs and filming in the same area without interference from the police,” the judge wrote in a 20-page decision. “I believe it’s fair to say that the defendant was doing nothing wrong at the time he was approached by Sergeant Parks and placed under arrest. He was simply plying his trade, gathering photographs and information for his blog alongside other reporters."
This is good news for those of us that believe that journalists should be free in gathering information and publishing their information. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the Josh Wolf case, the US courts have still not been able to figure out how the First Amendment applies to bloggers.

TV websites are Election Day winners

The New York Times also had an article about the success of TV websites in the recent election coverage. The Project for Excellence in Journalism followed 32 different new outlets to rate their coverage. TV websites performed the best:

The Web sites of both network and cable television delivered results quickly, allowing users to dig as deeply as they wanted into exit poll information and interactive maps with reports on hundreds of races.
Unfortunately, we bloggers do not always do so well in breaking news situations:
Perhaps faring least well in the Project for Excellence survey were bloggers, who, the report said, were left empty-handed because there were few snafus to discuss and they offered no original reporting.
That is the real disadvantage of blogging. We lack the resources of the larger organizations. I think that it is definitely a reminder that citizen journalists will never completely replace the pros.

The future of television advertising

I am back. I spent most of the last week in Idaho for Thanksgiving. It was a good time.

NBC has announced that Nightly News will have a solo sponsor for next week, Philips Electronics. The deal means that Philips will be the only advertiser for the half-hour show with three commercials totaling one minute and 15 seconds. That means that there will be five minutes and 45 seconds more news in the show. In the new Internet and TiVo age, companies are looking for new ways to get their messages to audiences. A half hour has never been long enough for the news anyway. Hopefully more companies will come forward with similar plans.

Another example of new ways of looking at television advertising comes from TBS' new show "My Boys." The show will feature in all 13 episodes as well as on the website.

The sponsorship is another example of an advertising technique that is being revived, decades after fading from the media landscape. Known as branded entertainment, it recalls the days when announcers intoned at the start of TV and radio shows that they were being “brought to you by” some name-brand consumer product.

Branded entertainment is returning to television because of its ability to interweave product pitches into the story lines of the shows that consumers want to watch. The goal is to counter viewers’ increasing ability to ignore or avoid more interruptive advertising like traditional commercials....

In some instances, they are even getting marquee billing in the names of the shows they are sponsoring, a throwback to the era of “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars” and “The United States Steel Hour.” For example, the AMC cable network announced yesterday the creation of an ad package to be called the “Lincoln Friday Night Feature,” sponsored by the Lincoln Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company.
I have noticed over the past few years that there have been many more instances of product placement in TV shows as well as movies. I think these things are all part of a trend that is going to continue to grow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

How to Count Eyeballs on the Web

Another great article from Newsweek, this one on the battle to become the provider of ratings on the Internet. Nielsen ratings have long been the standard by which television shows and stations have been judged, but there is no one established way to count viewers on the Internet.

Why the fuss over collecting data on which sites you visit, how long you stay and what you do during your visits? The simple answer: data equal dollars. As in television, where Nielsen ratings are a key measure for setting the price and placement of commercials, UV numbers are used to help determine Web advertising rates and positioning.
There are close to 100 companies in the battle to be the "Nielsen of the Web," and many of them use different ways to count views. It will be interesting to see how things work out. I doubt that there will every be one company doing all of the counting like there is for TV.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'Expose a scandal, face a prison term'

The LA Times has an article today that is a good summary of what is happening with the two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle that broke the BALCO story and now face prison time. Even after being praised by President Bush, they have been sentenced to 18 months in prison each, more than the combined sentences of everyone involved in the scandal they wrote about. It is a reminder and a warning to journalists that they are not safe, despite what the First Amendment might say.

Media advocates say cases like BALCO are eroding the press' check-and-balance role in society. Lucie Morillon, of the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, said the United States' ranking in its annual survey of press freedom fell from 17 in 2002 to 53 in 2005. "The main thing in the U.S. is attacks on confidential sources," she said.
I can understand the need to protect witnesses and defendants in grand jury proceedings; however, journalists need to be able to protect their sources and write freely, even when they disagree with the current administration.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Technology changes the world

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that he thinks that the future of technology includes free cell phones. More and more people are relying on wireless devices for news, information and communication.

Schmidt said Saturday that as mobile phones become more like handheld computers and consumers spend as much as eight to 10 hours a day talking, texting and using the Web on these devices, advertising becomes a viable form of subsidy.
I am excited to see where this technology is going to take us. There has been much speculation of what a "wearable" computer might be like. We are quickly making computers and technology part of ourselves. We are always connected, with cell phones, PDAs and iPods.

There are definite positive and negative results. We have so much information at our feature tips, and so many new tools to do things that were unimaginable not long ago. Yet, we need to learn how to control the technology instead of letting it control us. The first thing almost everyone does after a class at school is over is check their phones. I use a laptop in class to take notes (and, I admit, sometimes to blog and do other things). We cannot let technology replace the more important personal, face-to-face relationships we need as humans in order to survive. Technology is amazing, I love it, but we need to use it wisely.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More election coverage

A couple of quick updates on the election:

Republicans in the rest of the country are looking towards Gov. Schwarzenegger for an example of how to gain favor with voters. There is definitely a need for anew type of politician, one that is willing to work with people of the other party.

Newsweek had an interesting analysis of last night's TV coverage. Pretty much the same thing as my last post, the coverage was not too exciting.

They just said on the news that voter turnout was even lower than expected, just 44 percent. Not good.

Election night on TV

There is a great column by Troy Patterson on Slate about last night's TV coverage of the election. My favorite part, about "the first-ever election-night blogger party:"

As you know, and as the blogger may not, the term party carries certain connotations: If the people being entertained are, in the main, younger than 11, they expect to find cake, balloons, games, and maybe a pony. If the guests are any older, they show up anticipating alcohol, possibly drugs, a chance of getting laid, and maybe a pony. At this party, however, we saw a handful of Americans, none of them remarkably telegenic, sitting in front of computer screens in a Washington, D.C., coffee house. No ponies.
I am proud to be a blogger, and a politically interested one too, and I see nothing wrong with a party on election night with computers.

Unfortunately, I did not get to watch much of the coverage myself, but it did seem like they did not have much to talk about. After the mistakes of 2000, the networks are hesitant to predict outcomes too early, so we really have to wait until the next morning to see what happened anyway. All I will say about the results is that I am happy with some and not so happy with others. At lest people got to have their say on some important issues.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gannett turns to 'citizen journalists'

Gannett has announced that they are going to try to more actively involve the internet world by taping into "citizen journalism."

Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper chain, plans to create stories with information from bloggers, people who post in Internet discussion groups and other non-journalists in hopes of winning readers from the Internet, television and other news sources, officials with the company said.

Gannett, which operates 90 newspapers, including the nation's largest, USA Today, is hoping "citizen journalism" will reverse the company's part of an industrywide trend of declining circulation and advertising revenues, officials said.
The folks at Gannett are finally getting that the Internet is important, but I am not sure about the effort to combine the online operations of USA Today and their other papers. We will have to see how it turns out, but the local papers need to have their own online presence, not just force readers over to the national paper.

Google goes to print

Google has made the big jump into advertising for newspapers. It has been selling ads for magazines for a little while, but this is a big move for the Internet giant into the realm of the struggling newspaper world.

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The new big three on election night

It is election day! Hopefully you have all voted already; if not, shame on you. The New York Times had an article today about the opportunity this important election has given "the (New) Big 3" (Williams, Gibson and Couric) to prove themselves with breaking news. It is an interesting to see the competition between the three networks. Brian Williams had a column this week in Newsweek about the impact television has had on his life and on our country. News viewers are sharply declining, but as Williams points out, the big three are still the major "still represent the largest single news audience in the nation." I love watching breaking news on TV, it is sometimes journalism at its worst as the same people who are usually so polished and professional (and maybe even seem perfect) make mistakes (like in the 2000 presidential race). We will have to see how the new anchors do.

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College training for the 'real world'

The My Turn column in Newsweek this week is by a recent college grad who talks about the things college did not prepare her for. I have been posting about the lack of technology and new media training at San Jose State, Caitlin Petre writes about some of the other real life things that she was not taught, such as how to get a job, fill out tax forms and find an apartment. There are so many things that we need to know to be prepared for the "real world," college can not train us on everything, in fact, some of it should be taught in high school, but there is more that could be done.

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Head Hunter Helps

We had to do a podcast for my JMC163 - New Media class. Here is the url for the RSS feed:

You can open it in iTunes or in your browser to listen. For now, it is just job hunting advice from me. The into and conclusion music is from Olin Fields. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to Spencer for the web space and Olin for the cool music.

[Valid RSS]

Students strugle with textbook prices

The LA Times has an article on the rising costs of college textbooks. Nothing new to any students, but a confirmation of what we have been saying all along.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported last year that college textbook prices have climbed at twice the rate of inflation over the last two decades.

That is ridiculous!
A College Board report released last month estimated that students at public four-year colleges are spending $942 on books and supplies this school year. Another analysis found that hardcover college textbooks are selling, new, for an average of about $120.

Some states have begun to take action, but there is still a lot that can be done.

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