Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making it big...

One of the best things that happens to anyone who teaches/mentors/trains young people for careers is following their future. I heard today about a former student who just landed a job in Louisville, Kentucky, designing pages for the Gannett Corporation newspapers.
I also saw a current student, and Torch staff member, get a cartoon on Mlive today. I hope it also makes the print edition. John Vestevich has won a couple national awards for his cartoon work in the Torch, but seeing him get this sort of recognition is the best!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interesting statements...

Often, I read things and am captured by a paragraph, sentence or phrase. The theme of an article is clearly important, but I tend to look for those gems.

In his Ask the Recruiter column today on the Poynter web site, Joe Grimm writes about a new website called Ongo that he describes as a "personal news experience."

I am interested in places online where I can go to find more of the news that is important to me. It is the ongoing search we all undergo for: What I want, when I want it. Ongo sounds like an interesting venture of many solid news producers.

However, it was a paragraph late in Grimm's column about Ongo that caught my attention: "Kazim said that the Internet has disaggregated news to the point where it is overwhelming for readers who want to manage multiple news sources. Ongo is trying to be a one-stop shop for managing the news."

The internet, and many pseudo-news sites, have been negatively described as "aggregators" of news rather than producers. The problem there for journalism is that the producers of the news are losing out on revenue for their work when a "aggregator" takes it and publishes it and attracts an audience.

It is an interesting way to look at things that not only are sites aggregating news, but they are disaggregating it by making it spread over so many locations and thus making it difficult to navigate to good information.

In this case, Ongo is charging $6.99 a month and is working closely with those producers - sharing revenue from subscribers. And if it does this week, giving me what I want and what I should read, it sounds like an interesting concept.

Anything that is looking to serve readers and solve some of the financial puzzle to keep good journalism relevant and profitable is a worthy venture to me.

In fact, I don't think I would count Ongo in a simple fail/succeed scenario. Just for attempting it is a success in my eyes. If it works, great. If it is not financially successfully, my hope is it will create a foundation for another venture to improve upon the concept to one day be successful.

We must be willing to pay for our news.

TV Debut

This spring marked my debut as a television journalist. To this point in my 20-plus year journalism career, I have been the epitome of the cliche: A face for radio and a voice for print journalism. Luckily for me, print journalism was my strength. However, with all the changes in the field during my 41 years it was inevitable that I would need to engage in other mediums.

When students in my JRNL 251: Understanding Mass Media course asked me to host a show they were producing for the Television and Digital Media Production program, I was eager to help them while taking the opportunity to learn more about TV journalism. I was not available to host the entire three-show series, but I picked up the first and third episodes as host of "Political Action."

In the first show, filmed Feb. 19, 2012, I asked questions of Ferris Professor Dr. Richard Griffin and Ferris State Torch reporter Zach Smith. During the show, we focused on the Michigan Republican primary that pitted Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in a neck-and-neck race, with New Gingrich and Ron Paul still heavily involved at that point.

In the second show, filmed April 26, 2012, I spoke with Ferris Professor Dr. Donald Roy and Ferris students Elijah Melton and Andrew Finnerty. Melton was representing the Ferris College Democrats and Finnerty appeared as a Ron Paul supporter as we discussed the November 2012 Presidential election.

What did I learn?
1. Don't wear stripes because they appear blurry on TV.
2. Plan on the camera picking up every movement you make - including your twitchy foot (during the Feb. 19 show).
3. Discussion is great, but at TV show does not cover the depth of a topic like a good newspaper article.
4. There is a chilling effect created by TV. The guests and I had good conversation before the show as we prepared, but once the cameras were rolling some of it was tempered. That is understandable, but it does mean we lose some of the really strong dialogue about issues with this medium.
5. I believe I improved as a host. I got all three guests involved, did not get too concerned with the time remaining and kept the discussion going right to the final second. In the first episode, I got too concerned with the timing and we ended early.
6. Good, informed and honest discussion is much more important in any medium than how you look or sound. Me and my hosts were not TV pros. But the best moments came through because of our interest in the topic and willingness to give opinions.

Ferris Journalism Day

Ferris FREE Journalism Day

“The J-Factor: Politics & The Press”
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012
Ferris State University, Big Rapids

The Ferris State University department of Journalism and Technical Professional Communications is offering the best bang for the buck for journalism training. The second annual FREE one-day journalism workshop to high school students and teachers will connect many aspects of journalism and the upcoming national election. Get yourself here and we will take care of the rest!
All for FREE: The day will include lunch, multiple workshop sessions, a tour of TV and newspaper facilities on campus, free stuff and more! All this is free to the first 150 students and teachers who sign up.
Workshop sessions will include: Photography; Video Broadcasting; Sports Feature Writing; Social Media; and tips from pros at the Big Rapids Pioneer on getting a paper started.
Panel Discussion: Ask questions about the role journalism plays in society with the presidential election just two weeks away, featuring political reporters and political science experts.
Remember: A chaperone is required from each school attending.
Event Co-sponsors: Ferris State, Big Rapids Pioneer and The Torch.
CONTACT: E-mail Ferris journalism professor Steven Fox ( to reserve your spot now. This is a free event, but registration is required. More information will be distributed in the fall.