Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ready for some football

As of yesterday, I officially live in Nevada, with a Nevada drivers license and plates for my car. But more importantly, yesterday was the start of the high school football season!

I wrote this story about a brand new high school in the area. I am not a big sports writer, but it was fun to watch this new team get ready for their first game. I also took pictures for the game as well as for another game.

I was not part of it, but our team did an awesome video for the game of the week.

The other paper in town launched a new prep sports site this week. Look at it. Now look at our coverage. Enough said.

Also this week, I did a video for the first day of school. It goes with the Home News' profile of a new teacher and his first day of classes.

And in case you have not seen it, check out our new weather page. (Yes, I know it's hot here.) Again, I was not a part of producing it, but I think it is the best weather page in the country. Here's what Rob Curley said about it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

I've always liked that Beatles song....

After interviewing with newspapers in five different states, I have decided to accept an offer to work with the Las Vegas Sun and Greenspun Media Group's online staff. I am really excited about this opportunity, the Sun's Web site is stunning and I think I will be able to learn a lot and hopefully contribute a lot as well.

I will also be working with some of my friends from WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, including Rob Curley.

Suzanne and I will be moving to Vegas in about three weeks. So if you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, drop us a line and we can get together. But don't forget the sunscreen.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Have degree, need job

This morning was San Jose State University's commencement at Spartan Stadium. I joined a couple thousand other graduates for the festivities.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was the commencement speaker and told us that we need to go out and be leaders. He also said that San Jose and Silicon Valley needs us.

Most of San Jose is covered today by fog and smoke from the fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I hope that the smoke is not a bad omen for the graduates.

My favorite thing from today's ceremony was a decorated cap. I should have done the same thing.

The more important event for me was the School of Journalism and Mass Communications commencement that was held on Thursday. It was a great ceremony.

Kevin Fagan from the San Francisco Chronicle was the speaker. He said that journalism is not dead or dying, but the business model we have been using is done.

So I have officially graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. I am the first person in my extended family (on my Dad's side anyway) to get a bachelors degree, but my family has done a lot for me and prepared the way. I am really grateful for them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of a hundred

UWIRE released its list of the top 100 college journalists this morning, and I'm on it! A big thanks to those that nominated me and said such nice things. It's a huge honor to be on this list with some of the best people out there. I know a lot of other people that should be on the list. I am a little surprised that there do not seem to be a ton of online people on the list. Hopefully that will change in future years. Congrats to the other 99 people on the list.

Oh, and Howard, I was not on the SPJ list, but I bet you will have the same result with the UWIRE list. Students and schools are both to blame for not understanding the importance of building an online presence. Google me, I'll be there.

In other news, I have finished all of my finals and am officially done with college! The journalism school's convocation is tomorrow night and the official graduation is Saturday morning.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Advice for young journalists

Tomorrow is my last day as the editor of I have very mixed emotions. I am excited to graduate and (hopefully) get a job, but at the same time, I am going to miss this place.

Anyway, I am putting together a list that I can give to the rest of the staff tomorrow. A sort of going-away present. All of the staff writers were required to do at least three multimedia projects over the course of the semester. Almost all of them had never done something online before, but all of them fulfilled their requirement, many did more. Most of them did at least one video and one Soundslides. Plus a mix of other things.

I was really surprised at how willing they all were to try this stuff out. When I was a staff writer last spring we did nothing for our Web site and almost all of the students in the school seemed hesitant to even try producing online content. All of the sudden, everyone is excited about trying new things, and they have been doing a pretty good job.

I want to give them a list of resources and suggestions that will help them to build on what they have learned this semester and hopefully get even more excited about online journalism. Here is what I have so far. What would you add?


Innovation in College Media
Invisible Inkling (Spartan Daily alum Ryan Sholin)
Kyle’s Comments (that’s me)
Photojournalism From A Student’s Eye (Daily alum Daniel Sato)
News Videographer

Teaching Online Journalism

Common Craft

Wired Journalists
College Content Management

Blogging! or
An RSS Reader

Of course, there are a lot more blogs in my reader and a lot of other sites I visit, but I think these are the basic essentials. I also included some of the Daily alumni so they can see what is possible. What would you add to my list or tell young reporters to encourage them to become wired?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Covering the candidates live

I haven't had much time to post lately (or do much else online lately). Maybe it has something to do with my graduation in 15 days....

But the major project this week is the live coverage we are doing over at of the three candidates for the SJSU president job.

The finalists are on campus this week and we have been doing live blogs and live video of all of the public meetings and media conferences. You can see everything we are doing on the frequently-updated

On top of that, we covered the current president's last media conference yesterday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy RSS Awareness Day

RSS Awareness Day

Today is RSS Awareness Day. Check out the site here and if you don't know what RSS is, you need to watch the video. RSS has changed the way we use the Internet and I know I appreciate it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grant Park photos

I am no great photographer and have no training at all, but I enjoy taking photos and am trying to get some more practice in. My friend Joe Proudman invited me to go with him to Joseph D. Grant Park last Saturday to take some photos (he even let me use one of his nice cameras). It was a lot of fun and a nice little hike. I realized how much I need to improve, but there were a few good photos. I am especially inexperienced at nature and landscape photos, but it was fun to try. Here is my favorite:

I also finally uploaded some photos to my Flickr account. I will add more soon. So far, they are all from Grant Park and two groups of engagement photos, the most recent being my sister Kelsey (congrats!) (and Sam, too). I will keep updating my Flickr page at:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Daily Election Guide

We have been really busy at the Spartan Daily, and especially at Last week we had another press conference with President Kassing. We wanted to do a live video like last time and also do a live blog. However, at the last minute I had to borrow a camera from the university to do the video because our camera for the paper was being used by a reporter working on another project for me. For some reason, I could not get ustream to recognize the camera on my computer. I am still not sure what happened. Next time I will make sure to test the camera first and hopefully will just use our camera. Luckily, the live blog worked perfectly, so we still had coverage online.

But the really big project last week was our election guide. The Associated Students election is this week, so we wanted to have it done before then. SJSU has a serious problem with apathy when it comes to student government. This year there are only two positions that are contested and six positions that no one is running for at all. Voter turnout is always extremely low. But we realize that it is still important for us to tell students what are going on and make sure everyone know who represents them.

I had two of our reporters, Jesse Kimbrel and Tommy Wright, in charge of getting in touch of all of the candidates, getting information from them and then getting a brief video statement from each. They then edited all of the videos and did a highlight video with each of the candidates from the contested positions. Our A.S. beat writer, John Hornberg, wrote a short summary about the election and then wrote the profiles for each candidate. A few candidates were not willing or able to come in and talk to us, but we made sure we had all of the contested positions covered and got as many of the other people as possible.

One other reporter, Chris Bausinger, helped me in setting up all of the custom pages for each candidate within out College Publisher site. Chris had very little html knowledge, but caught on really fast and was a big help to me.

We also included the guide in our print edition. The same logo at the top of each page on the site was in the skybox on the front page to tell people to look inside and online:

And then the banner was across the page inside as well:

I think the simple banner was an effective way of helping to tie the site and paper version together. The logo is also across the home page and a smaller version is on every page on the site. The only thing I am not really happy about is the double logo on the pages of the guide. I wanted the large banner at the top of every page that is part of the guide to help tie it together. But to make the small logo appear on every page of the rest of the site meant that I also had to include it on the election pages. Oh well. We are also running the small logo at the bottom of the front page for the paper this week until the election is over.

Because the election results are going to be announced on Thursday at noon and we do not print a paper on Friday, we are going to make sure and cover it really well online.

I am really happy with the way it turned out and I hope that it helps to inspire more students to get out and vote.

Monday, April 07, 2008

On being a "Mormon"...

The opinion editor at the Daily has been encouraging me to write a column for the paper about my religion, and I finally did. It is here. It is actually one of the longest things I have written, and it has been getting a lot of traffic online.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Live Blogging at the Daily

Today the Spartan Daily did its first ever live blog. It worked really well, although not very many people were online reading it live.

Ever since I first saw Cover It Live on the Innovation in College Media blog, I knew that we needed to try it. For last month's media conference with President Kassing, we decided to try live video using Ustream. So today's forum on California's budget crisis and how it will impact the CSUs, we decided to try the live blog.

Cover it Live worked really well. Reporter Jesse Kimbrel was at the event blogging, and I was keeping an eye on things back at the newsroom. It was really easy to use and I love that people can see the updates without having to refresh the page. We will definitely do it again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The live video worked!

We successfully had live video on our site today!

We are very fortunate that the university president meets with all of the campus media once a month for us to ask whatever we want. Over the past year, we have tried to think of ways to make these meetings more accessible to the general student body. With over 30,000 students on campus, most people never have the chance to meet the president, let alone ask him questions every month, so as the school newspaper, it is our responsibility to hold the administration accountable.

With this in mind, last month we decided to video tape the entire conference and post it to our Web site. It is not perfect video and it is kind of long and boring if you are not on top of news events on campus, but it gives students a chance to hear directly from their president.

So this month, we asked if we could stream the video live online. After getting the OK from President Kassing and his advisers, we were all set to go.

I had seen ustream used before, but had never played with it myself. But I went ahead and signed up for the service and did a test run in our newsroom last week. It is very simple to use and the wifi on campus is good enough that we can pretty much do it from anywhere.

We put a big teaser on the front page of the paper today so students would know about it and then I put a brief notice in as a multimedia article on our site, so it was included in our RSS feed and e-mail edition. When it was time for the video to begin, I put the ustream embed code in the story and made it a breaking news story so a link to it showed up on every page on the site. I also recorded it, both in ustream and on a tape in the camera. After the meeting was over, people can watch the ustream recording, and I am uploading the higher quality version into our regular video player.

There were a few minor technical mistakes I made, so the ustream video is not fantastic. It is also hard to hear the reporters' questions since only Kassing is miced. I knew this would be a problem but did not have the equipment to mix sound. I did also had a reporter do an audio recording where you can hear the reporters better, which we uploaded to our podcast, so if people just want to listen, they can.

Overall, the experience was great, and we are excited to do it again next month.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

LIVE Video!

It has been in the works for a month, and it finally looks like it is all going to happen!

Tomorrow, the Spartan Daily will be broadcasting a live video of our monthly media conference with the university president.

I am super excited! We have gone from doing a few simple videos last semester to live video tomorrow!

Check it out between 3 and 4 p.m. at

Update: The Innovation in College Media blog posted about this.

I promise to post more about it on this blog after it is all done.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Training future journalists

I am not old enough or experienced enough to be an online expert or really to be teaching others. Yet, that is what I am doing here at the Spartan Daily.

Ryan Sholin spoke this evening to Steve Sloan's new media class here at SJSU, and I snuck in the back. Ryan and I were in a class together a couple of years ago, but this is the first time we actually meet in person since getting to know each other online.

Ryan went over some of the basics of online news. The response was pretty typical for college students: deer in the headlights. Yeah, they all use the Internet, all day long. They are on e-mail and in Facebook and on Perez Hilton, but they don't use the Internet the way we geeks use the Internet. It is always a little jarring for us to realize that we are the ones on the cutting edge. Even at a j-school, even in Silicon Valley, most people still are not on Digg, Twitter, and a host of other sites. And it is overwhelming for them when they see all of the stuff that is out there and that we say they should be using.

It is sad, but even students at a journalism school get most of their news from the headlines they see on AOL as they log in to get their mail.

I am a news geek. I could never live that way, but somehow, a lot of people do.

After Ryan was done talking to the class, we walked over to the Spartan Daily newsroom. Ryan was the online editor here a couple of years ago. There are new desks, but not much has changed in the way we put out the paper every day.

But on the Web site, the mantel has now passed to me, and while we have made a lot of improvements, but there is still a long way to go.

The main thing I have realized so far this semester is that my job is to train the other staff members and give them a little taste of what multimedia is all about.

Sure, I could spend all my time producing content, making videos and improving the site. But then no one else would learn anything.

Instead, I make the new reporters do projects for the Web site. The end product might not be as good as if I was doing it all myself, but it keeps me from burning out, and it means that 20 or so new journalists are learning the basics of the Internet.

Each staff writer is required to do three projects for the Web site over the course of the semester. Mostly, they are doing Soundslides and videos. Here are some examples.

Its nothing amazing, but it's a start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's alive! Fresh content on

School is officially under way and I am still busy at the Spartan Daily. We survived our first issue and are now hard at work on the second. The new Web site looks really good with fresh content. I put together a slide show to go with an article about the women's basketball team. I also did our first news update video. Kevin Rand, the executive editor, stars in the first video. I don't think it is too bad for a first try. And today's video is even better, in fact, I think it is fantastic (I think). For both videos, I wrote the script based on stories the reporters were working on and then did all the camera work and editing. For today's video one of our new reporters, Liza Atamy, did a great job anchoring. Hopefully we can keep doing these videos every Monday through Wednesday. I am still working on some other video projects for the weekends. My next big project is training all of our new staff so they can do the work!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Join the wired

Since everyone else is talking about it . . . I figured I would join the crowd.

If you haven't already, join Wired Journalists. In just a few days, the site has attracted 100 members, and some of them a big names in the industry. So if you are a journalist in any way, whether or not you are a geek, you need to join.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

All New:

The old:

And the new:

I have spent most of the last three weeks working on the Spartan Daily's new Web site. We have a whole new look, and it is much, much better, but I can not take all of the credit. Lesger Talavera, last semester's online editor, worked with College Publisher to get the new site designed. I have done a lot of tweaking since then. It is still not completely done, but it should be finished in time for the start of school on Wednesday.

I know the site is still not perfect, but I think it is pretty good considering that we are working within the constraints of College Publisher and an all-student staff.

With the site basically done, I can now turn my attention to working on content and training the rest of the staff. All of the staff writers are required to do three multimedia projects during the semester. We do not even know how many staffers we have yet, let alone how experienced they are, so they may need a lot of teaching. That means I am going to be showing people how to do things I am still new at. Hopefully it all turns out OK.

My goals for the semester:
  • Post breaking news throughout the day via a blog.
  • Link to other SJSU related news via Google Reader.
  • Do a daily news update every afternoon. Hopefully we will be able to do it on video and then pull the audio, so it will be available both as a video and an audio podcast.
  • Have a weekly video series of an interesting/funny interview with someone around campus.
  • Each week have three to five other videos or slide shows to go along with articles from the paper.

That is very ambitious for a newspaper that has only had a mediocre site before with almost no video, slide shows or podcasts. But the goal is to have the staff do the work and for me to teach, train and basically just be an editor. Luckily, the executive editor, managing editor, section editors and our advisers are all very supportive.

Later in the semester when we are more established I also want to work on a strategy to get us on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and other sites.

Anyone have thoughts/comments/rude remarks about the new site or advice for me?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lessons Learned from an Intern

I have been back in California for almost three weeks and have thought a lot about my experiences in Washington. I wanted to post some of the things I learned from my time there as an intern at WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, and also from my summer internship at NBC11 and the time I spent as a reporter last spring at the Spartan Daily. So here are the top ten things I have learned from my year working as a journalist:

10. TV is cool after all. Five minutes in the control room of a TV station during a live news broadcast gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for TV news. I have always been a newspaper kind of guy, and sometimes we poke fun at the TV people, but they are very talented and hard working people that work magic every night at 5, 6 and 11. I also loved being part of the new things they are working on like the nightly chat and HomeTown.

9. TV is not for me. One of the reasons I respect the TV people is because I could not do their jobs. I think I am going to stick with newspapers and Web sites. They are just more my style.

8. A picture is worth a thousand words. I have always had a suppressed desire to be a photographer. Working on gave me a chance to try it out and I loved it. Some of my pictures were even printed in the Washington Post! Photos can express a story and convey emotion in a way that is not always possible with the written word.

7. Video is even better. I liked being a photographer, but what I am really excited about is video. Video can combine the power of the visual image with sound and action to tell stories with real power.

6. But not always. Numbers 9 and 10 are not always true. Photos are videos are great, but sometimes the best way to tell a story is still to use old fashioned words. Just because we can do videos and slide shows and podcasts and flash graphics and more does not mean we have to for every story. Another intern and I went out to do a story about families who cut their own Christmas trees. We wanted to do a video to go with the story, but we ended up being out in a major snow storm. The snow made a nice setting, but also made it harder to get good video. We finally realized the story was going to be perfect with words and photos and that we were wasting our time trying to do a video that we didn't really need.

5. Work in harmony. The best way to tell a story often is to use a combination of media. I am really proud of my high school football video, but it doesn't make much sense unless you read the story first. It is almost always best to combine some aspect of words, photos, graphics and other elements. Even an fantastic photo can befit from a good caption. I think this is what one of my professors, Mack Lundstrom, was trying to tell me one time, but I wasn't getting it until I saw it for myself.

4. Corporate culture is crucial. I have learned how important it is to work in a place that you love. The TV station was too big and impersonal for me. WPNI was an great company with the feel of a Silicon Valley start up, even though it is considered part of the MSM. Of course, the amazing team that I got to work with was the biggest factor in making sure I did not feel like I was "just an intern."

3. Local news is first. I have always preferred local news over national and international current events. People care about the stories that affect them at home and in their neighborhoods. I loved reading the Washington Post because they do an amazing job of covering everything. They had in depth coverage of the war and national politics every day without sacrificing local issues.

2. Take risks. I got the chance while I was in Washington to meet blogger/author/nice guy Shel Israel. He has a journalism background and literally wrote the book on blogging, but he mostly works in the business world now. His advice to me was that I should be willing to take risks. I guess I took a risk dumping everything in California at the last minute to go to Washington, but I have not been willing to take risks in other areas, like posting what I think on this blog. Something to keep working on. I also have noticed that the news organizations that are doing well online are the ones that are taking risks instead if just copying what other people have done first.

1. I am a journalist. The most important lesson I learned at the Post is that I am not a programmer, I am a journalist. I enjoy working on the computer and designing Web sites, but that is not what I am really good at. I am a journalist, I love telling stories, and I especially love using different media together to tell stories about people. It is OK that I am not proficient at Flash and CSS. I know the basics, I know what is possible to do online, but it is OK to leave that stuff to the experts and focus on working with them to tell stories. The best online news coverage comes from teams of programmers and reporters working together.

So, where does that leave me? In the words of Rob Curley, I am a news geek, not a news nerd. I love news, I love current events and I love using technology to tell others what is happening around them. I am really excited to see what the future has in store for me. The last year has been great. For the next four months, I will be applying what I have learned as the editor of I graduate in May, and then we see where the winds take me.