Push, push, push

April 30, 2012

The end of the semester is just two weeks away and it would be easy to sit back and say, “Well, we did what we could this semester. We’ll just have to try and move further next semester.”

But that just won’t do.

We still have two weeks to start transformation to new ideas and processes. Here are some ideas that I am trying to push with Talon Marks newspaper students here at the end of the semester:

  • Our weekly news radio showhas become a beast of its own. Like the print edition the mindset is “Fill this week’s show.” All deadlines and work revolve around the deadline for the show. Instead, I am trying to get the staff to think in multiple news podcasts each week. Then at the end of the week combine the best of the podcasts to produce the campus news hour for the campus radio station.Part of the problem is that while we DO disaggregate the radio show and post the individual news audio pieces on our website, it is shovel ware. We shovel the radio show (in pieces) to the website AFTER the radio show. We need to post first, broadcast second. That might STILL take place with multiple podcasts, but at least posting can take place multiple times each week instead of after the full radio show.Too, this might lead to making the individual audio units available to other campus radio station shows, which was the intent in starting down the radio show path.
  • Move to Asana for the news budget. Yes, we long ago abandoned the white board version of a news budget and went to Google Docs, but editors are still thinking of deadlines in terms of the print edition instead of setting deadlines based on the individual story merit. Asana can help us set multiple tasks for each story with different deadlines for each task: cover the story, post a brief, submit audio, submit photos, submit complete story, etc. Even copyediting of stories couldbe part of the process if you wanted to get anal.The biggest problem with Asana is that you are limited to 30 users. There is a paid option for more users, but $300 a month? Get real. It is going to be a problem come fall semester when we have more than 30 people on the staff.
  • Online feature pages. When we went to the Ellington web management system one of the exciting possibilities was the ability to create standalone feature pages that aggregated multiple stores or elements (bios, audio interviews, videos, etc.) on one topic. We have been so myopic in thinking print issue to print issue that we have not really learned to use this feature. I’m pushing it now with three easy-to-disaggreate stories that would be good for archival presentation. I also plan to make it an integral part of my summer Multimedia Reporting course.

Why waste the last couple of weeks when it is a good time to try new things and discover unexpected roadblocks?



  1. My students still use our white board. Trying to micro-manage their assignments hasn’t worked because many don’t have access to the Web at all times. I’m still convinced that less is more.

  2. The first day I began teaching, a professor on campus died in harness. His students wanted to talk about and so the first day teaching I listened to students talk about a man they loved who taught them, “You do what you can do.” I took that as a personal message. I would rather wrap up what the students learned this semester into a permanent file of knowledge, a solid basic knowledge, and let the unfinished things become the challenges that will be built on this knowledge in the next semester. Some semesters, the combination of instructor and student backgrounds is not as strong as in others and I accept this.

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