Archive for June, 2012

An American University senior and National Public Radio intern recently “touched off a small firestorm in the music industry,” leaping into the ongoing economic, existential, and generational debate over online music consumption.

In a post for NPR’s music blog “All Songs Considered,” Emily White, general manager of American University’s student radio station WVAU, confessed that even while loving music she has hardly spent a cent to acquire her massive song and album collection.

“I am an avid music listener, concertgoer, and college radio DJ,” she wrote.  “My world is music-centric. I’ve only bought 15 CDs in my lifetime. Yet, my entire iTunes library exceeds 11,000 songs. I’ve never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I’ve never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and T-shirts.”

White explained that digital natives recognize “the gravity of what file-sharing means to the musicians,” but they are simply too enamored with the ease through which they can acquire free music, instantly.

In her words, “I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience. . . . All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want, and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?”

The post has gotten more than 900 comments so far, impassioned retorts on separate blogs, and outside media coverage including a New York Times recap.

Some are applauding White for her candor, agreeing that whether everyone likes it or not free music file-sharing and downloading is happening en masse among many music fans today. Others are expressing optimism that her dream of a more convenient pay-music service will soon be realized.

A majority of respondents though are branding her a criminal or musical Judas– professing to be a true music aficionado but refusing to support the artists who create it. As one commenter noted, “I am shocked by this blog post. Emily, you are stealing. Stealing is dishonest. And it is a crime. As a musician, a singer, and an actor who works hard for the money, reading this makes me sick. I am finding that your Gen Y culture simply thinks that entitlement, getting what you want, when you want it, is the norm.”

To read the rest of this post, click here or on the screenshot below.

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Oklahoma Daily readers are apparently still passionate about print.  Their recent complaints about an upcoming online-only experiment have prompted Oklahoma University administrators to front the paper an extra $4,000, dependent on its decision to appear in print throughout July.

As I previously posted, the OU student newspaper had planned to drop its print editions for a portion of the summer.  It was billed as the first step in a yearlong process aimed at determining what the Daily 2.0 should look like, how it should operate, and where print fits in.  It was also aimed at saving some money, since the typical summer ad drop apparently makes printing each week a money-losing pursuit.

But this online-only step has now been shelved.  As OU Daily editor-in-chief Chris Lusk tweeted me yesterday, “Whoops.  Never mind the earlier decision.”

It seems “a significant number of people” kicked up a fuss upon hearing the Daily would briefly stop appearing on newsstands.  Administrators responded with an influx of cash.  And the paper has agreed to remain in print all summer long.

Lusk isn’t happy about the reversal.  In a Daily piece outlining the change-back, he said the supposedly “significant” complaints about the digital experiment never made their way to him or other staffers.

As he explained, “You know, the department’s financial concerns were only one small reason why the idea to cancel the summer paper gained traction– at least with me, anyway.  It just seems like we’re being paid off to change our minds just because a few people didn’t like the idea. . . . I think there’s great value in the print product, but I thought this was a perfect time to really go away from that and test what we’re doing– not just inside the newsroom and how we approach our coverage but the entire department.  I think that’s what’s being missed in this sudden move to reverse our decision.”

My Take: I side with Lusk.  There was more to this planned experiment than financial considerations.  Online-only and digital-first shifts are happening, fast.  Preparation, practice, and a true day-to-day understanding of what it will mean for student newsrooms is needed.  The quiet summer months are the perfect time to seek this understanding.  Who was truly complaining?  And are they the people the paper is most ardently aiming to serve?

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Months after the University of Rochester went viral with a music video featuring students rapping about the awesomeness of all things UR, the New York school has struck again.  This time, admissions staffers teamed with current and prospective students to deliver a frame-by-frame send-up of the video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

The twist: In the Rochester version, Carly Rae is a male incoming freshman in drag, while the love interest is Rocky the Yellowjacket, the school’s mascot.

Grant Dever, the gender-swapped Carly Rae character, told me via email: “The purpose of this video was to make the mascot, Rocky, more approachable, as well as to continue producing popular media to spark interest in and at the University.”

Along with regular YouTube placement, the Rocky rendition was placed next to the original “Call Me Maybe” vid on the mashup site YouTube Doubler.  In the screenshot above, the videos are featured side-by-side, each showing almost the same frame. First impression: The dude on the right has more muscle tone, but Rocky is definitely sporting more school spirit.


Harvard Baseball Team Goes Viral with ‘Call Me Maybe’ Lip Dub

Student Photo of Bear Falling from Tree Crashes CU Independent Site

College Viral Video: The Zorro Lecture Prank

University of Rochester Admissions Hip-Hop Video Goes Viral

The Shocking True Story of How a New Hampshire Student Became a Meme

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Journalism students worldwide, please meet . . . “The Voice.” 

On spec, photojournalist extraordinaire Mark Johnson is as unassuming as they come. Medium height.  Medium build.  Brown hair.  Glasses.  Conservative dress. Passionate, but not Tom-Cruise-couch-jump intense.  OK, yes, he is an admitted “pseudo-visionary” and “back-roads wanderer.”  And in that vein he’s maybe just a tad quirky (see photo below) in a fantastic way.

Yet, University of Georgia journalism students know the truth about this seemingly mostly ordinary individual.  He’s not just a UGA journalism lecturer.  He’s a star.  As he recounted at a recent Poynter Institute workshop, a pair of j-students were once walking near him on campus while he was speaking to someone else.  Their ears immediately perked up and one apparently said to the other, “That’s The Voice!

Johnson is The Voice . . . the voice behind a large chunk of many UGA j-students’ basic digital journalism training.  He has created a series of screencast tutorials on everything from HTML coding, CMS, and social media to audio, photo, and video capture and editing.  They are quick-hit, uber-practical, and easy-to-follow.  Johnson does the narration.  In sum, they represent a truly helpful “guide to using technology in journalism.”

A screenshot from Johnson’s “Editing Photos” tutorial.

A screenshot from his “Shooting Video” tutorial.

Johnson has been kind enough to feature the tutorials online for everyone’s viewing and learning pleasure, linked from the Resources section of his website Visual Journalism. He is also apparently working on a few new ones he will upload soon.


25 Essential Skills for Student Journalists in 2012

Top 10 Essential Twitter Tips for Student Journalists

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There are four fantastic reasons to be active on Twitter, according to noted “tech evangelist and skeptic” Sree Sreenivasan: to find new ideas, trends, and sources; to connect with an audience in new ways; to bring attention to your work; and to enhance your personal and professional brand.

In one of the concluding sessions yesterday at The Poynter Institute’s Teachapalooza workshop, Sreenivasan, a Columbia University j-school dean and j-prof, offered a simple recipe for twitterific, tweettastic Twitter success.  An early hint of its effectiveness and ability to motivate: As he unveiled it, many j-profs in attendance were already testing parts of it out and rabidly tweeting his every word.

Sree (the journalistic genius) holds court on all-things social media inside Poynter, while outside Debby (the tropical storm) attempts to drown St. Pete, Fla.

Below is an outline of the ingredients he includes within the recipe and a bonus website containing all-things Sree.

10 Top Twitter Tips for Student Journalists

1) Make your Twitter bio blue.  Specifically, ensure it features as many live links and affiliated Twitter handles as possible.  It shows you’re plugged in and gives followers or potential followers easy access to other parts of the web featuring your awesomeness.  For example, Sreenivasan pointed out the bio of Poynter guru Al Tompkins.  It includes clickable promos for his book and a hyperlinked shout-out of sorts to his employer.  Notice all the blue?

2) Constantly update your Twitter bio.  Don’t think of it as a one-off, sedentary, all-encompassing, general blurb.  It should reflect the latest, greatest version of you, hyping new affiliations, sites, projects, and life stages.

Two big reasons: It keeps followers in the know about your goings-on in a much more permanent way than your scattered tweet promos– you know, the ones that are almost immediately lost within the Twitter scroll-down wilderness.  And it’s a clear sign of your Twitter activeness, confirming to followers that you value keeping your twit-presence relevant and up-to-date.

3) For your Twitter identity, KISS (keep it simple stupid).  Sreenivasan: “The shortest, most memorable Twitter handle is the one you should get.

It makes it simpler for potential followers to find (and then follow) you.  It provides you with an opportunity to stand out ever-so-slightly from the Twitter hordes with unmemorable names.  And it allows for easier real-world plugging– since more and more our Twitter handles are placed on PowerPoint presentations, printed on conference nametags, and included in introductory conversations with strangers.

4) Stick to one Twitter handle.  Resist the temptation to unveil a Twitter account for every new story series, blog, class project or anything else that may be defining you and your work for awhile.  (For professionals and educators, this includes your books.) In Sreenivasan’s words, “Create the brand around you, not on things that might disappear later.

Having multiple accounts rolling simultaneously– or having one go temporarily defunct while a new one springs up– will do nothing but split your followers and confuse people about where your truly worthwhile Twitter action is happening.  For major projects, create and promote the heck out of a related hashtag instead.

5) Follow more people.  Even if you are already following a bunch of people, you can always follow more.  It broadens your online conversation, contacts list, and knowledge base.  It also opens you up to more potential followers yourself.

6) Create what Sreenivasan calls an “A1 List.”  To occasionally cut out the clutter, organize a list of only those tweeters you hold up as your favorite, most helpful or most influential.  The list can help ensure you have an instant handle on the essential chatter of the moment, laid out by the biggies in your field or coverage area.

7) Employ and promote #hashtags.  They can be used to organize and keep track of all tweets focused on a single event, issue, class, or individual– including you.

For example, in respect to the latter, Sreenivasan always pimps #sreetips to digitally corral anyone tweeting about his lectures or web advice.  It’s one way he can keep up with what’s being said related to him.  As he shared, “Tweeting about someone, with a hashtag, is a way to talk about them behind their back, to their face.” :)

8) Follow certain social media buzzwords when it comes to content.  Specifically, while tweeting– or posting to Facebook– Sreenivasan recommends attempting to achieve one or more of the following adjectives: helpful, useful, informative, relevant, practical, actionable, timely, generous, credible, brief, entertaining, fun, and occasionally funny.

9) Turn to Storify for curation.  As Sreenivasan confirmed, the dirty secret behind Facebookland, Tumblrworld, and the Twitterverse: “Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media.

It’s simply the nature of the beast– lots of competing platforms, a mind-altering amount of updates, and only pockets of moments when audiences check in each day. But there are ways to ensure your tweets don’t simply flatline and join the not-even-searchable discard pile: Curate them in Storify.  As Sreenivasan noted, “It’s the only way I know to keep these things alive.”

10) Treat social media seriously.  Whether on Twitter, Facebook or any other platform, constantly take stock of what you present to the world (wide web).  As Sreenivasan mentioned, it’s basically the only part of his work that, if screwed up, might quickly lead to him either being fired or divorced. :)

As an example of Twitter’s immediate, lasting impact, he shared a PowerPoint slide displaying a screenshot of the infamous Anthony Weiner “crotch reveal” tweet.  To be clear, he did not click on the embedded yfrog link.

Bonus website: @Sree’s Social Media Guide


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The Cavalier Daily has unleashed its summerific newsy A-game to cover the ever-unraveling fallout and furor at the University of Virginia triggered by the sudden, mostly unexplained ouster of popular president Teresa Sullivan.

A small crew of CD staff has been reporting and editorializing the heck out of this story, including grabbing some scoops and sharing some significant info through FOIA requests.

Serving as the voice of UVA students, the paper has stated in separate editorials: “The Board of Visitors owes the university community a more thorough explanation for President Sullivan’s departure. . . . Members of the Board of Visitors should resign to rectify the damage they have done to our university.”

As The Virginian-Pilot confirms, “Working around the clock on smart phones, cameras, laptops and adrenalin, six students interviewed sources and ultimately unearthed and disseminated documents that exposed the plans of Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington to oust Sullivan.”  The Cavalier Daily is mentioned in the Pilot write-up for its work along with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.  Good company.

And even more impressive: Remember, it’s summer.  Within collegemediatopia, that’s the time of publishing breaks, skeleton staffs, position changeovers, and first-priority internships.  More impressive still: The paper, which is independent from UVA, operates on a volunteer basis, without the mentoring of an official faculty adviser, and without the instruction provided by a related journalism program.

Cavalier Daily editor-in-chief Matt Cameron: “We’re all just interested in getting information out to the university and the public.  We didn’t have a plan.”

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Top 10 Essential Twitter Tips for Student Journalists

I am blogging this morning from The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., site of Teachapalooza 2012.  The three-day workshop is a journalistic call-to-arms for professionals and j-profs interested in brushing up on their skills, mastering new platforms, and reenergizing their work, teaching, and curricula.

In the opening session, Poynter gurus Al Tompkins and Vicki Krueger laid out a bevy of skills that student journalists MUST know upon graduation– beyond simply learning the latest program or what Tompkins called “the next shiny new thing.”

The list below is a grab bag of skills– and mindsets– that Tompkins and Krueger described as essential, along with those suggested by the roughly 60 Teachapalooza attendees, those shared by j-professionals in surveys presented to us via PowerPoint, and a few left out that I feel are worthy of inclusion.

25 Essential Skills for Today’s J-Student

News judgment

Reporting basics

News writing


Critical thinking

Knowledge of world affairs & current events curiosity

Journalism ethics

Media law

Entrepreneurial journalism

Data journalism

Photojournalism & slideshows



Mapping & geotagging

Real-time reporting

Documents & records utilization

Social media engagement

Blogging & web writing

Mobile & backpack journalism

Software & techie equipment

Web coding & design

SEO & audience building

Collaboration & crowdsourcing

Flexibility, learning how to learn & learning to fail

Passion for journalism

Please let me know, politely: What skills should be added to this list???  Depending on their merits, I will add them immediately.


Top 10 Essential Twitter Tips for Student Journalists

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