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Hard to keep up with software

August 11, 2012

I took my first high school journalism course a little more than 40 years ago and started teaching my first college-level journalism course five or six years later. Teaching sure seemed easier back then.  In addition to teaching students how to write, tell stories, take photos, design newspaper pages, and lead staffs, the types of technologies you had to teach included:

  • Manual typewriters
  • Waxers/wax pots
  • Film cameras (with flash cubes)
  • Light tables*
  • Photo sizing wheels
  • Pica poles (printer’s rulers)

Pasting up on windows
*At my community college we did not have light tables, so we taped newspaper paste-up sheets to windows so we could see the light blue gridlines that helped us line up typeset copy. That’s me on the right with the acne face.

When stories were written they were shipped off to a printer to be magically set into justified columns of type and sent back for paste-up. You placed back construction paper where you wanted photos and sent them to the printer along with the designed pages.

As I prepare for my sixteenth year of full-time teaching at Cerritos College (following nearly 17 years of full-time teaching at West Valley College in the San Jose area and four-and-a-half years of part-time teaching at Reedley and Merced colleges) I am looking at how much things have changed.

I spent the summer teaching multimedia reporting where I introduced students to a variety of multimedia storytelling techniques and tools. More than one student asked me how I knew so many software tools and how I kept track of what was needed to do what.

To help my fall newspaper students keep track of software tools we use in producing our multiple publications – print, digital, and online—I decided to put together the following visual map. It is interesting that for our print publication that we use just a few software packages: Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Photoshop. But for the online edition it seems like there are almost a couple dozen.

TM software tools
Click image for pdf

TM software tools
Click image for pdf

In addition to teaching students writing, storytelling, photography, leadership, and design, we now teach audio recording and editing, video editing we have added the technologies of:

  • Computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Digital audio recorders
  • And, soon, iPads

And then there are the software packages, from our high-end online content management system EllingtonCMS, to iMovie video editing software, to GarageBand audio editing software, to Facebook and Twitter social media platforms, to YouTube video sharing channels. And the smaller programs that help us assign stories and photos, create embeddable media, convert formats, and more.

What we teach
Click image for pdf

Yes, things are much more complex these days. Advising/teaching student publications is not for the weak.

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