Archive for April, 2006


Keeping your hands full

April 29, 2006

All this convergence stuff sure adds a lot of extra work. Ran across a pretty good article from Editor & Publisher magazine on the topic. My thoughts, of course, are relected in posts below.

SPECIAL REPORT: As Print and Web Merge, Headaches Emerge
The Web’s growing influence has not only provided fresh advantages for news presentation, breaking stories, and timely opinion. It has also created new time demands on staffers, management headaches for editors, and a host of new issues, from what to pay reporters for extra online work to deciding when to throw a scoop up on the Web. Then there’s blogging. more…


Blogs on

April 28, 2006

Talked this week with College Publisher, the company we work with for the content management tool we use for, about blogging and podcasting. I was a bit disappointed that they are not further along with implementation, but we don’t know much ourselves other than we know we want to start experimenting, to just do it (see the entry at the beginning of this blog on this philosophy). If we’re going to out front, we have to expect that we’re helping create things.

Benny Vision logoB-Life logoAnyway, we’re just going to get started as we figure out what it is we want to do and how best to do it. We’ll start with blogging using Blogger and creating links from our site to the Talon Marks student blogs. Benny Orbase and Diona Carrillo are going to get started with them, even though we have just a few weeks of the school year left. I’m hoping that at least one or two other staff members will get started before the end of the school year, too. After all, both Benny and Diona probably won’t be back next year.

Even though this takes users away from the Talon Marks site and we’ll lose some tracking info, we’ll create visual links to the blogs on the front page of the site. We’ll include links at the blog site back to with hopes that we get the readers back. Seems the simplest way to just get started.

Something that I read that makes sense, though, is that each blog should have a specific interest or slant, just as this blog focuses on the journalism program.


Recognition among peers

April 26, 2006

There is no greater recognition than that which you get from your peers. This was the message from Dr. Noeila Vega this week at Cerritos College’s annual Distinguished Teachers ceremony.

Rich getting the awardShe’s mostly right. I’ve been fortunate to be recognized by my peers several times in my lifetime. I’ve receved national recognition (CCJA Hall of Fame and EDUCOM/NCRIPTAL award for my City Council program) and was named in 1989 as an outstanding teacher by CNPA. One of the most special times was when JACC conferred a lifetime achievement award on me. I got to feel that feeling again this week as I was one of the eight Cerritos instructors to receive Outstanding Teacher awards.

It WAS special. But what made it especially special for me was how the recognition came about. Teachers are nominated by their colleagues, their co-workers and their students. I know that the reason I received this recognition was because of the respect I have from my co-workers and students. The letters they wrote nominating me were not shared with me or the group at the ceremony, but I wish they had been. Sorry Dr. Vela, while recognition from your peers IS special, what is more special is when that recognition started with your students. Thanks guys.


Flying on the wings of greatness

April 25, 2006

Wings CoverWow! Another outstanding product from Cerritos College journalism students. The new edition of Wings magazine has arrived and it is probably the best Cerritos magazine I’ve ever seen. Wings editor Benny Orbase and his crew, along with adviser Amara Aguilar, put together an outstanding product. I am continually in awe of the great work done by our students. They’ve already got me dreaming of a trifecta in general excellence with JACC competitions next year. In fact, if talk about putting together a web version of the magazine materializes, we might even see a JACC first: FOUR general excellences –one each for the print versions of the Talon Marks and Wings and one each for their online versions.


Hersson gets NAHJ internship

April 20, 2006

It’s been a pretty good year for Cerritos College journalism. And there is more to come.

There were the general excellence awards for both the print Talon Marks and the online at BOTH the JACC SoCal and JACC state levels (among a lot of other awards), the national honorable mention for as an outstanding non-daily online student publication, the selection of Diona Carrillo for the prestigious Saturdays at the Times program in December, the JACC scholarships won by Erick Galindo and Tanya Bermudez, the election of Galindo as next year’s JACC SoCal student vice president, and the initiation this spring of a high school journalism awards program.

Hersson PreciadoNow comes word that Hersson Preciado has been selected to participate in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Student Campus Program in June along with 29 other students from across the nation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This program is an intensive three-day journalism campus project prior to the association’s convention.

Preciado has served both as editor of the award-winning Talon Marks newspaper and the online newspaper, both publications considered among the best in the state among community college student publications.


Student press freedom

April 19, 2006

Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Y. Yee (D-San Francisco) held a press conference on his AB 2581, “the Hosty bill,” today at Skyline College in San Bruno.

AB 2581 would prohibit the censorship of student newspapers at a California college, university or community college. I’m excited that a reporter for the Whittier Daily News decided to cover the story down here. She sent a photographer over to get photos to go with her story. Good exposure for our program.

The need for the bill arose from a seventh circuit court decision that ruled that the First Amendment was not violated when a college administrator required prior review of a student newspaper. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear the appeal. Yee’s bill would make it clear that in California students have press freedom. Let’s hope it makes its way through the legislative process.

h1 gets national mention

April 18, 2006

Sample of College Publisher, the online newspaper put together by Cerritos College journalism students, has won a national honorable mention as an outstanding non-daily student newspaper. The Cerritos publication was one of seven national non-daily publications honored in this category of College Publisher’s 2006 Awards of Excellence.

College Publisher is the leading content management system for student newspapers and hosts several hundred college newspapers around the country.

The honor comes on the heals of once again being named as a general excellence winner among community college online publications in California by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges. mirrors a lot of content from the print edition of the Talon Marks weekly newspaper, but it also offers a variety of web-exclusive articles, include mid-production cycle updates. It will soon include podcasts and possibly blogs.


Powerhouse Journalism Programs

April 17, 2006

Had a bit of insomnia the other night. Not sure why. Maybe it was a culmination of inactivity from a week of spring break where I tried to “relax.” Maybe my mind was racing from all the last minute work put into income tax forms. Or maybe it was simply that weird tasting spaghetti sauce my wife made for dinner.

Whatever it was, I found myself lying awake in the middle of the night contemplating a statement made at the recent JACC convention. In the middle of our contentious discussion on how many entries to allow in the mail-in competition Los Medanos’ Cindy McGrath commented on a study she made some years ago when we dropped from three mail-in entries per school to two. She said that during the period that followed, more schools, especially “some of the non-powerhouse schools,” won more awards.

That got me thinking about a question I’ve actually pondered for years. What constitutes a powerhouse school in JACC? Oh, sure, when the word is used certain schools come to mind, schools that tend to win a lot of awards. But there are some strong programs that will always be powerhouse programs in my mind but who don’t appear to win “a lot” of awards. And there are some schools that win a lot of awards who don’t leap to my mind first when I consider the word powerhouse.

What’s the definition? My students won 22 awards at the recent convention. Fifteen of them were honorable mentions, so we were not really in the running for a Pacesetter award. But does that constitute a powerhouse? I think we’re high profile and pretty good, but I wouldn’t consider us a powerhouse. Others might. Two years ago I came to the conclusion I’d probably seen my last general excellence for print as an adviser. But then my students proved me wrong. They’ve won two in a row (three counting regionals).

I took a look at the database of awards and tried to find some definitions. Fifty-one schools won awards, either mail-in or on-the-spot, at the convention. The low was one and the high was 34 awards. The average was 9.9 per school. The average school won 19.5 pacesetter awards with the high being 85.

But beyond pacesetter, what constitutes a powerhouse? I looked at the schools who either won the top 15 number of awards or the top 15 in pacesetter points (16 schools). Okay, Cerritos made it into both of those categories (6th in number of awards, but 12th in points; we need more first-through-fourth awards).

It was interesting then to look at the characteristics of those schools. Thirteen were GE winners. But as is the case about every other year, one of the top award winners was not a Pacesetter school because it did not earn the requisite GE. Most of the top schools won both mail-in and on-the-spot awards, but one Pacesetter did it all with mail-in awards.

Of the top 16, twelve have online editions and six have magazines, though awards won in categories aimed at those groups do not count toward Pacesetter.

Of the top 16 all have fulltime advisers, clearly an advantage and I think at all 15 schools journalism is all the instructor teaches (no English, for example), though one coaches basketball, one owns a newspaper and one writes plays on the side. I’m sure others have other major interests.

The group is dominated by larger schools, but there are a couple of small schools in the group. Most of the advisers have several years of experience advising, but one includes a teacher only his second year of fulltime experience. Most of the advisers I think are hands-off instructors, but I know of at least two where advisers routinely edit or review copy before print. Some have really strong photojournalism programs and many either have more than one instructor heavily involved in the program and/or have lab aides.

Some might be labeled as affluent schools, but clearly some at the top of the list would not be. Three of the schools were from northern California and the rest from southern California. Two were from the San Joaquin Valley.

Whatever definition we use, can we predict characteristics of powerhouses? Are some schools destined to be powerhouses because of their demographics? Because of their advisers? Because of their neighborhoods?

I didn’t want to get too obsessive over this, so I didn’t look to see, but I suspect that the top 15 award-winning schools win for writing, editing, design and photography, not just for one type of activity. That pretty much goes with the GE awards.

As I said, I’ve thought about this question for years and have not come to any good definitions of what constitutes powerhouse, much less devined which characteristics lead to powerhouse-ism. Perhaps there are some schools that will continue to struggle because of lack of school support, but I suspect that the seeds to powerhouse-ism exist at most schools. I don’t accept that awards won is the definition, but I do accept that awards won is one indicator.

I personally believe that strength of program comes in the infrastructure, where experienced students help teach newer students.


New podcast wrinkle

April 11, 2006

Here’s a new wrinkle on podcasting lectures, one that as a member of the Cerritos College Web Advisory Committee I should have thought about earlier on my own: the American Disability Act requires that I include a text version of the podcast to accommodate any deaf students. Here’s an article on how to create a transcript. Probably a PC program, but I’ll check into it.

This is something we should include in the next podcasting workshop we do.


JACC Conference

April 4, 2006

Am so proud of my students and the work they do. We just got back from the JACC convention where the students won a general excellence award for both the print and online editions of the Talon Marks. They also won a slew of other writing and design awards for mail-in and on-the-spot/bring-in competitions. Though many of them were just honorable mentions, it shows that they are performing pretty well overall. Two won scholarships and Erick was elected Southern Regional Student Rep.

We debriefed in class Monday and one of the more significant discussions was about doing more with blogs with the online edition.

Checked in with College Publisher about their new blogging and podcast tools for the CP tool. They are apparently launching the podcasting tool later this week and we’ll get trained on it next week.

* * * * *
Speaking of training, I was supposed to visit Rio Hondo College Monday to introduce them to the College Publisher tool. John Francis called and cancelled, though, because so few of his students showed up for school the day after the convention –half expected that with my own students, but most were there. We’ll try again after Spring Break.

I’m excited that more schools are giving serious consideration to creating online publications. It is up to over half already and continuing to grow. College Publisher offers a viable tool for doing that and I’m happy to help other schools explore the possibility and to serve as a resource as they learn. I just love helping others learn.