Archive for August, 2006

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What I like about our new design

August 26, 2006

We implemented the new talonmarks.com design this week. It is not working completely –still needs some tweaks– and, boy, do we have a lot to learn to keep it looking the way it should from week to week. But here is what I like most about it:

  • My students came up with the design on their own (last semester students no longer with us, unfortunately) and presented it to College Publisher with “Can we?”
  • It shows the flexibility of College Publisher in that when you are ready you can go with a custom design, and
  • Its weekly requirements will force us to ramp up some of what we should have been doing all along, or at least what we should have been doing next. It requires us to think how stories and photos will be presented online. And we have to think beyond the print edition AS WE WORK ON the print edition.

I was perusing through the JACC papers online today and it looks like Cerritos and Citrus were the two first California community colleges out of the chutes this school year … at least the first ones to get new editions online.

The Citrus College Clarion Online is looking good. Good variety of content and the lead story is a podcast of the president’s opening speech to the campus. Okay, that’s a snore of a topic, but the staff is really thinking new media and learning by doing. Talonmarks.com is essentially doing the same by including repurposed campus radio shows as its first podcasts. Dr. David Young’s 58-minute radio shows are probably too long for a newspaper site podcast, but it is a start. We also hope to podcast Cerritos College football games, which might have an audience despite length.

While every other student newspaper is sporting last spring’s issues (or later) I think the LA Valley publication and the Sacramento City College e.press deserve special attention for their outstanding quality lead photos. True, LA Valley needs to learn to size photos to the design, but geez, what a great quality photo.

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Developing the blogging habit

August 18, 2006

Abstract image showing the passage timeOne of the reasons I started this blog last March was to learn by doing. And one of the things I learned in the process is that it works best if you post new content on a regular basis. I knew that before, but it was reinforced.

But lately I’ve been bitten by the tsetse fly of blogging: No new ideas. While it has only been a couple of weeks, it seems like an enternity and I fear losing the zeal.

How am I responding? By starting my third blog. In addition to this blog, I also regular contribute to the JACC blog. And now I’m going to start a blog just for the Talon Marks newspaper. I have only a vague idea of what I want to do with it, but if you’ll dig into the archives of this blog you’ll see that my attitude is to just get started. I don’t want to wait until I figure it out to get started because that kind of procrastination leaves you in the dust. And one learns by doing.

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OldThink vs. NewThink

August 12, 2006

Ran across an interesting column about the shift of media taking place that requires a NewThink when most of us are used to OldThink ideas. The author says:

The media shift isn’t just about small vs. big. It’s also about a new way of thinking, or perhaps bringing back an old way of thinking that’s been lost in the era of big media mergers and the bottom-line focus on profits over serving people.

He then goes on to give some examples and calls on readers to add more. Here are just a few of the examples he gives:

Oldthink: Relying on mainstream media TV coverage to follow wars and conflicts.
Newthink: Reading bloggers or citizen journalists who are eyewitnesses to wars, or soldier bloggers who are participants and can share their own stories in words or video. Seeing photos from people with cameraphones at the scene.

Oldthink: Reading, listening or watching media on the schedules set by executives and programmers.
Newthink: Getting the information, news and entertainment we want, when we want it, on the device we want it, with or without commercials.

Oldthink: Turning on car radios to hear the music or radio shows we enjoy.
Newthink: Getting satellite radio or plugging in portable MP3 players to our car stereos so we can listen to hundreds of commercial-free stations on satellite or thousands of podcasts downloaded from the Internet.

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Convergence at Washington Post

August 6, 2006

First slide of Washington Post presentationOne of the blogs I read regularly is called Reinventing College Media. The blogger, Bryan Murley, helped run a college media adviser’s workshop in Washington, D.C. last week. One of the scheduled speakers was Washington Post editor Jim Brady. He didn’t make it because of a scheduling error. But he shared his PowerPoint slides with Murley and you can view them at

www.collegemedia.org/images/stories/CMA_general/cma_preso_web.pdf

Of course, you’ve got to make sense of the slides, so Murley has also created a link to an mp3 file of a speech on the same general topic that Brady made last October date. The two together give a fair sense as to all that the Post is doing.

MP3 link: http://convergence.byu.edu/converge/podcast//keynote.mp3

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I want my mtvU, err…College Publisher

August 2, 2006

mtvu logoWord is out today that College Publisher has a new owner: mtvU, a division of MTV, which a division of Viacom.

I think this is a good thing. College Publisher is already the largest network of college newspapers, with some 450 or so partners, including talonmarks.com. The hookup with mtvU/MTV/Viacom makes it even more of a solid host for college papers and, as the news release says, brings to the table a plate of blue-ribbon advertisers anxious to reach the college market.

“This acquisition is in line with our business strategy of moving forward in the digital space and continually expanding our online portfolio of music, gaming, news and entertainment,” said Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO, MTVN.

Now, the Cerritos College Talon Marks might see a little bit of the ad revenue MTV brings to the table somewhere down the line –I hope so– but even if we don’t this is still a good turn of events for us.

  • It means the continuance of a stable platform for our online edition. In days past when I tried to log on and for some reason could not connect, I was momentarily hit with the fear I had when the first online host we signed with –Campus Engine– went belly up and and left us high and dry. If something happens now, I’m assured that it isn’t because the money dried up.
  • It emphasizes the seriousness and importance of college publications, especially the online editions.
  • It likely will help grow the audience for our online site as the network strengthens. That’s more potential readers for my students’ work. That can only be good. And,
  • Perhaps with a broadcast-oriented owner, College Publisher will branch out and start hosting college online radio stations and television stations and we’ll be able to interconnect to grab even higher numbers of readers/viewers/listeners. That would fit in just nicely with the partnerships we’re trying to forge on the Cerritos campus.

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LATE ADD: As further proof that the college market is important, a Florida daily has purchased a Florida State University student-run newspaper. This is believed to be the first instance of a commercial paper buying a student newspaper.

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New content = new recruiting avenue

August 1, 2006

As we’re getting ready to launch a new format for talonmarks.com, we’re hoping to ramp up some new content, mostly video, podcasting and blogging. We contacted two on-campus content producer partners –the radio program and the film program–to see if we might incorporate their student-produced content on the student-produced talonmarks.com site. They both jumped at it.

In fact, film instructor Steven Hirohama, an interesting innovator himself, countered with proposal to have his students partner with Talon Marks students to create news videos as part of their class assignments. Great!

But going video has also produced a new recruiting avenue, too. I met yesterday with student Ricardo Ramirez, who once shot photos for Talon Marks, but left because his heart was in video. He’s coming back as a news videographer and was talking about recruiting some friends. He’ll be valuable, too, in helping establish video guidelines and standards for the paper, too.

We’ll be in a pickle if we get too many videographers right away. We’re just getting started and the new stuff cannot get in the way of the primary missions of producing content for the print edition and online edition. But wow! Glad our infrastructure allows for recruiting from various skill groups.

BTW: We’re one of the few community colleges in the state that have abandoned the circa 1960s version of the all-in-one newspaper class. We offer a course just for newspaper reporters, one for production/photographers and one for editors. Students can choose which or as many of the courses as they want. This allows us to market the writing class to writers and the production class to desktop designers and photographers. If we ever build a large enough population of photographers/videographers, we can split photo off from the production class (as long as we meet minimum enrollments). Takes faith by an admin to let you go that way because numbers are short the first few years, but it makes sense in the long run.

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