March 2009


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This is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Facebook. Seriously. It makes me cry all the time.

I was searching for people from my high school and the name of this guy popped up. He was a great person, very friendly and decent and fun to be around. So I Friended him. I didn’t even know if he would remember me!! But I loved high school and he had a warm smile and I remember him so well that I gave it a shot.

Below is the note I got back. I mean, I know Facebook serves lots of daily, mundane, plan-making, time-wasting, insipid purposes for those 20 and under. But for those of us in our 40s, at least for THIS old broad in her 40s, Facebook is like a human time capsule reconnecting me with my favorite parts of my life and the wonderful people from those times.

I just got Friended by a girl who was my bestest friend when I was in 2nd grade. My daughter can’t believe I was ever her actual age AND that I had friends! Old neighbors, colleagues; these are not mere social networky associations. Many of these peoples’ faces and names alone make me burst into tears.

I am so moved and happy to reconnect with them and our connection — new media freaky-deaky as it is — is genuine and important. Why wouldn’t I have called them or searched for them? That’s another post. But for now, read the note below from my Facebook wall, and know that I’m still crying about the sweetness of an old friend from high school teaching his daughter life’s big lessons.

My wife and I were sitting at dinner when my Blackberry went off with the notification from Facebook with your friend request. When I told my wife you had sent me a friend request, she said, “How do I know that name?” And I reminded her of how I told my daughter (and her) about you when she was in first grade, about 10 years ago or so.

As she started school we were telling her to be nice and kind to people and I used you as an example of one of the nicest, kindest, smartest and prettiest girls in high school and I hoped she grew up to be just like you. And she has. The funny thing is that she also is considering journalism!

I see you are in Oregon…were you with the Tribune at some point? I think I remember seeing your byline sometime when we were in Chicago.

Your daughter is adorable. Hope you are well.

David

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When a high school cheerleader in northeastern Pennsylvania learned that she might face criminal charges after investigators reported finding a nude photo of her on someone else’s cellphone, she was more confused than frightened at being caught up in a case of “sexting”: the increasingly popular phenomenon of nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones.
Almost unheard of a year or two ago, cases related to “sexting,” nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones, are popping up all over the country.
What are the rules of the pedagogical road, here, in yet another bizarre exit on the New Media Super Highway?
Okay, like I don’t have enough to worry about trying to plan my New Media courses, which require relentless Twitter-like updating because so much happens every single minute. So I’m reconfiguring my language on the syllabus (again) about plagiarism to keep widening and deepening and broadening the big new media tent that it has become. (Post on that coming soon)
Next I come to the section on student conduct and appropriate classroom behavior to create an environment most conducive to learning with 77-82 students in a class.  I’m about discussion, engagement, exchange, not lecture alone…the bank deposit method where I have “The Knowledge” and you open your brain, receive it, vomit it back to me and I reward you for the reminder of my genius. Maybe it’s that I’m so confident in what I know and how crucial it is, that I’m comfortable with a conversation.  They teach me. I teach them.
Normally that happens and for the most part, my students end up feeling smarter and happier for having taken my class. Not all, of course, by any means. There are plenty for whom my style, the topic, my hair,  whatever, is simply enraging or whatever.  With new media, though, there are new implications. With new implications, come new lines on my syllabus. Like the one I’m putting on all my syllabi this term for the first time about how recording someone without their knowledge or consent is a Class A Misdemeanor in Oregon. If a student has a disability, that’s an entirely different set of rules. We will come to an agreement where all parties are made aware that recording is happening for this educational purpose.
But for the record, college students: In most states, it’s a crime to use any device to record someone without their knowledge or consent.  I hope to have a longer and more specific post on that soon as well.
I ask students to post photos of themselves with brief bios on our Blackboard discussion forum so I can start to learn their 77 or 82 names (I do that with my 27-person classes as well.) Many inevitably post photos from their Facebook pages: tube dresses made of yellow  police “CAUTION” tape, shots of body parts I don’t want to be able to identify in various stages of undress, dance moves that would make Elvis blush, a menagerie of images that, in the end, will not help me learn their names because their faces are smushed beneath ski caps, intertwinted with other faces or something else….you know the drill.
I show their posted photos and we do the “giggle test.” If your photo makes the class giggle, it’s not appropriate and would not make a potential employer giggle and it shouldn’t be on Facebook. I put that under “professionalism.”
There’s the usual no texting or Facebooking or im-ming in class unless I give you an assignment. And yes, I ask my students to commit various forms of new media during class.  A great way to bust them Facebooking in class is to get them to Friend you, and then during class when they have laptpos clacking away, just get on your Facebook page and see who else is on live. The kids LOVE that trick. Makes me seem very New Media hip. Once, when my students had a reporting assignment out of class and were supposed to be Twittering in from the field, one student didn’t come back to class. On the screen in front of the rest of the group I sent him a note on Facebook and Twitter — “Where are you? We’re all in the classroom waiting for you.” He wrote back and soon the door opened.
This is all appropriate and on point because these are New Media classes where we talk directly about the use, abuse, impact, relevance, dangers, emergence, transformation of new media in all forms. Plus I love playing with this stuff.
Now a new entry on the syllabus and in the Rules of the Road first-class talk. No sexting. Do I really have to say this? The New York Times says they’re sending naked pictures to each other in high school. In my 101 Intro to New Media class, most of the 77 or 82 students are in their first year of college. In fall term, the last school experience they had WAS high school.
Add this to my list. It’s child pornography and it’s a crime.
Remember when the most heinous crime we addressed in writing classes was the misplaced modifier?

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Dan Reimold wrote a spot-on post on College Media Matters today, focusing on the potential perils and pitfalls of some of the new models for new media. I want it all to be great. I want these new ways of publishing to be fair and free and push democracy to new heights. But, (enter the nattering nabobs of negativity) but Reimold and others raise just the questions we all should be asking as we push ahead.

New Student Site: One-Stop Shop or Pretend Journalism?

I’m ambivalent.  Here’s the deal: The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced it is launching a new Web site aimed at providing a platform for the journalistic and creative work of college students throughout the Philly area, according to a new report in The Hawk at Saint Joseph’s University.  News reports, op-eds, blogs, photos, even fiction pieces are all fair game for the soon-to-be-active site, which apparently will feature dedicated areas for each school involved.

If the idea actually works, I envision an interesting mishmash of a site that might draw students in occasionally to see what their peers are passionately espousing or creatively vetting.  If the idea flounders, it will join the ranks of the growing number of what I’ve started calling pretend journalism sites, pseudo-professional outlets that seem more just for their creators to have a place to publish and not for the audience to actually have something worth reading or watching.

The question I am left with that makes me cynical about this particular venture: What does it *really* offer average students that their campus newspapers, the blogosphere, Facebook, and other area outlets do not already provide?  Sure, a one-stop shop for all types of content can be convenient, or it can come across like an overwhelming, inexplicable campus graffiti wall.

Here’s Christopher Ave’s entire post with his amazingly heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heartattackingly great song. You HAVE to listen to it and then run, don’t walk, to his blog and give him  a big smooch. This song ruined — and made — my day:

http://www.musicformediaproductions.com/samples

Copy Editor’s Lament (The Layoff Song)

By Christopher Ave

Copy Editor’s Lament (The Layoff Song)

I’ve never been a copy editor. But I’ve worked with many over the years in my newspaper career, and they strike me as having the most under-appreciated job in the newsroom. And sometimes, with the emphasis in gotta-post-right-now online journalism, I think we’re all forgetting how important their jobs really are.

With all the layoffs, buyouts, furloughs and other horrible things going on in the industry, I decided to write a song from the viewpoint of a copy editor losing his job. The lyrics are fictional, but the sentiments, I’m afraid, are all too common these days.

I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to let me know what you think. Oh, and if anyone wants to know how I recorded it – what hardware and software I used, etc. – just post and I’ll let you know.

NOTE: THE LINK AT THE TOP GOES TO THE SAMPLES PAGE of my website, where the song lives now. It’s the first song on the left-hand side. Thanks!

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Okay, so I don’t have time now to describe the astonishingly brilliant final projects my students in NMC 301 Writing for the Media Professional presented last night.

I’ll post the links and give descriptions when I don’t have to run. BUT…I had to post about this word one of my students introduced to me last night, at 10:30 pm, as we were all walking to the parking lot. after being dazzled by the group presentations.

“So,  we’re Twackling now, too,” said Ryan McCall casually, (he works for OSU Sports Information)   like a sinkhole hadn’t just opened up beneath us, swallowing the world.

TWACKLE??? TWACKLING??

I have not had time to Google this fresh New Media Hell, but when I do, IT’S ON!!! It’s gonna be TWACKLE MANIA from here on out. I don’t care what it is or if it’s stupid.  BRING IT.

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