Saturday, December 05, 2009

Weekend Meeting on the First Coast Kicks off Three Florida Excursions

JACKSONVILLE-- Before this weekend, I hadn't done much in Jacksonville except come through this city on the East Coast, either by air or by car. Thanks to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Winter Meeting, I'm spending three days here in Downtown Jacksonville.

Most of our day was spent planning the upcoming AEJMC Annual Convention, which will take place in August 2010 in Denver. But, like many other professional meetings, it's a chance to catch up with colleagues in journalism and mass communication at other institutions.

To make things even more interesting, I am in the Florida Gators' backyard on the day of the big Florida-Alabama matchup for the Southeastern Conference Championship.

Heidi Edwards, a diehard Florida Gator and a graduate of the school dared pose for a photo with me as I celebrate the 12-0 Crimson Tide this morning.

The view of downtown JAX from my hotel room wasn't that bad either.

It was raining here yesterday when I arrived. But, things have cleared out nicely this afternoon and it's pretty Saturday afternoon in this place known as the city "Where Florida begins."

It's interesting to note this is the first of three trips to the Sunshine State I'll be making over the next four months. I'll be driving down to Tampa-St. Petersburg area with a day stop on the UF campus in Gainesville next month. We'll be holding a two-day meeting at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg.

Then in March, the Society of Professional Journalists Regional gathering will be on the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando.

I definitely could get used to the Sunshine State.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Taking a Route to Reno Through Chicago

CHICAGO-- The much-anticipated Convergence & Society conference at the University of Nevada-Reno is underway, though I am still trying to get there. For now, I am awaiting a last leg of my trip from Alabama to the Silver State from Midway Airport.

For the first time, I have a choice between the chance the airport has free wireless and paying for Internet access at the terminal. Verizon Wireless's mifi wireless hub is working reasonably well. So I can file from the airport. Yeh!

Decked out in my Nevada Wolfpack sweatshirt, I am ready for the grand total of 40 hours I'll be in the Silver State before heading back on Saturday.

Why the Convergence Conference?

"Assessment Models for Digital Reporter Training: Rubric Revelations of Student Perceptions and Journalistic Product Realities"

That's the long title of the paper I'll be presenting tomorrow afternoon. It's a first look at the results of my Rubric for Digital Readiness, which was developed a year ago to measure how well we're preparing students for the multimedia world of journalistic work.

Before sharing the results and the rubric, I'll be talking about my new Journalism on the Go podcast, which went live on University's iTunesU in August. That first presentation is part of a first-of-its-kind "VISUAL POSTER SESSION" that allows people to participate in the Convergence Conference from across the country. Not sure how well it will work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kent State Ethics Workshop Kicks Off With Breaking News

KENT, Ohio-- A reason to make the trip from Tuscaloosa, Ala. to Kent, Ohio is what happened here within the last hour-- a real conversation about what the public thinks about journalists and their work, how we as journalists see our audience and how these all play out in recent news events.

The Poynter Kent State Ethics Workshop, now in its fifth year, began with Kelly McBride (the Poynter Institute) releasing some new data on just how much the public believes what we as journalists are putting out there.

These data, which I will detail in a later posting, are real "breaking news" about the perception of our profession.

From the release of these details, today's workshop moved to McBride arguing for a refined definition of the types of consumers out there and their needs

The idea of "The Fifth Estate" was a big "Take-away" from the session. Those who are not trained journalists, but who are contributing information (i.e. citizen journalists) would fall into this Fifth Estate.

By putting or classifying an organization as the Fifth Estate, we are differentiating between blogs such as, the Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and news organizations such The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.

So, far, we have had some interesting questions from those working journalism such as Doug Opfinger from The Akron Beacon-Journal

The First Energy Lecture Hall is an ideal setting for such an event. You can see the students are packing out the venue for this first panel.

The good news, we out-of-towners got to sit down front.

First Trip to Northeast Ohio Begins

CLEVELAND-- Even though I lived in the Cincinnati Metro area for two years in the last decade, I never ventured up into the northeastern portion of the Buckeye State.

So I had to get this picture from the Cleveland-Hopkins Airport to show my first view of this city.

It was late. So, practically everything was closed. But, I could tell when I walked outside to get my vehicle, I was not in Alabama anymore.

My first trip along the Ohio Turnpike enroute from Cleveland to Kent, Ohio was an experience.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Getting Used To Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS-- It's one of the newest airports in the U.S., the first one built since 9/11-- and here at the Indianapolis Airport, I'm getting used to the surroundings.

This weekend, I'm taking my second trip this summer as I attend the SPJ National Convention. In June, I was here for the Scripps SPJ Leadership Weekend.

In two weeks, I'll be back for another meeting on the Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (better known as IUPUI) campus.

Daniels Takes Seat on SPJ National Board

INDIANAPOLIS-- It's definitely a day to remember for me here in Indiana's state capital. This morning I participated in my first Board of Directors meeting for the Society of Professional Journalists.

It was neat sitting between two veteran board members, Jeremy Steele (who I mistakenly thought was a "STUDENT" rep to the board-- SHAME on me! ) and Scott Cooper. Steele represents chapters in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. Cooper is representative for chapters in the states of Oklahoma and Texas.

Yesterday, it just so happens that the president of the Cincinnati SPJ Chapter James Pilcher, in the market where I used to work at WLWT-TV, officially nominated me for the position. The election and installation during the convention business session Saturday was the culminating event to a relatively short campaign that began on this very blog June 19.

You can read all about the issues that I will be tackling as Campus Adviser At-Large.

Being the nation's largest and most broad-based organization for journalists, SPJ is the top of heap when it comes to being involved in the line of work that I chose more than 20 years ago when I went off to college to major in journalism.

It's been almost 20 years since I received a scholarship from the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Sigma Delta Chi (the old name for SPJ). One of the members of that chapter, Bill McCloskey remembers.

Today I joined McCloskey as a member of the SPJ National Board. We both were elected this weekend. He's an at-large member. I'm one of two campus advisers at-large.

The job of an SPJ Board member is much larger than just attending the semi-annual meetings. It's the work we do with the local SPJ chapters and at our regional gatherings as well as with SPJ committees where we can make the most difference.

In two weeks, I'll be back here in Indianapolis as I am a part of an eight-member search team interviewing applicants for the next executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists.

I look forward to serving those who have elected me to this post. But, I also look forward to using this platform to help encourage the students in my own campus chapter to do even more.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mix of Familiar and new faces takes part in CNN's "Reclaiming the Dream" discussion

Tonight's initial airing of "Black in America 2: Reclaiming the Dream" panel discussion featured some of the same characters from the documentary that premiered last month.

However, after watching it the first time this evening, I see where some new ground was broken.

Same Cast of Characters

When Radio Host, Comedian and Author Steve Harvey was introduced at the top of the two-hour program, my initial thought was 'the same cast of characters.'

Harvey's Father's Day weekend for boys from single-parent homes had been featured in a story previously reported on The host of the "Steve Harvey Morning Show" also took part in CNN's "Moment of Truth" event July 22 in Times Square on the night of "Black in America 2" premiere.

Dr. Steve Perry from Hartford's Capital Prep (featured in Black in America 2: Leaders) and Dr. Pete Thomas from Chicago's Project Brotherhood (featured in Black in America 2: Pioneers) returned for more discussion.

And, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was a participant in the 2008 "Reclaiming the Dream" discussion also returned this year.

Some Different Faces

But, Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin hosted what seemed to be a worthwhile discussion with some new solutions and new faces as well.

This seemed to be more the case in the second hour than the first. I was pleased to see a Public Health expert on behavior science featured in the second hour. The African-American scientist from Louisiana State University helped to put into context some of the behaviors of African American men.

A friend from my days in the Atlanta TV market, Morehouse President Dr. Robert Franklin (who previously served at Emory University's Candler School of Theology) weighed in on several of the education issues along with NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous.

Jealous seemed a little out of his element in the first hour as several of the ministers and communicators were a bit more outspoken. But, he came alive in the second bringing a lot more context to the discussion about health care.

Instead of just talking about charter schools or that black men need to go to the doctor, we heard about some innovative community programs like one in South Carolina focused on AIDS in the African American community.

The Role of Jason Carroll

Having CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll do "on-location" reports from the Essence Music Festival added a dimension to the co-production. However, some of the earlier segments seemed more like promotion for the festival than contributions to the panel discussion.

In the second hour, he featured students from a new technology school that opens in New Orleans this fall. While the audio in this interview was not great, the students' perspectives added depth to the discussion about education.

CNN set for further discussion about African-Americans Tonight

In a matter of minutes, CNN is set to premiere its 2009 edition of the "Reclaiming the Dream" panel discussion, co-produced with Essence Magazine.

I believe the program was taped last month at the Essence Music Festival.

The two-hour discussion is part of CNN's Black in America 2 series of programs designed to spotlight the experience of African-Americans, a follow-up to a similar effort last summer.

Looking Back at the 2008 Installment

In its effort to "search for solutions" last summer, CNN invited a blue-ribbon panel of "experts" on the black American experience-- Princeton University's Cornel West, Harvard's Roland Fryer, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux and several others.

I missed the program. But, in anticipation of tonight's program wanted to see what was accomplished in the discussion that included questions from the audience.

The main topics addressed seem to be the following

  1. out-of-wedlock births and the number single-parent families
  2. the school dropout problem
  3. AIDS in the black community
  4. suicide among black men
Innovative solutions were spotlighted with some feature stories and interviews with those involved in these programs.

As we look toward tonight's program, I'll be interested to see how much, in any, overlap is there with the individuals in the Black in America 2 documentary that premiered two weeks ago.

(By the way, CNN is now claiming Black in America 2 was the #1 cable documentary)

What's different this year?

One thing that is different tonight is that we have TWO MAJOR CHANGES since last summer:

1) Barack Obama's election

2) Dr. Henry Louis Gates Controversy

It will interesting to see how much attention the first changes will be given in tonight's program. (The program was pre-recorded before the Gates Controversy surfaced)

Also different this year, CNN's Roland Martin will be CO-MODERATING with Soledad O'Brien. Having two minority journalists leading this discussion..two who have very different approaches to addressing race in America..will be interesting.

Well, we're inside of 15 minutes until showtime. So we'll break here and comment more later.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black in America 2: More Conversation, Reflections

Even though nearly a week has passed since the premiere of the much-anticipated "Black in America 2" documentary, the program is STILL sparking conversation in my world.

This week, I had a follow-up conversation with a friend who attended both nights of our local "Black in America 2" viewing party and discussion here in Tuscaloosa. We talked about some of this person's observations and found that we were on different sides of issues.

Different Sides

Both African American educators with terminal degrees, my friend and I were still looking at the African American experience through slightly different lenses.

Our different viewpoints about "Black in America 2" were just indicative of how different our lived experiences have been.

Our nearly hourlong phone conversation eventually moved from just talking about "Black in America 2" to the recent incident involving Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Recalling a personal incident of being harassed by police, this friend told me how one
could identify with Dr. Gates' experience.

I had nothing much to say about it. But, it illustrates how the "black experience" is hard to convey.

It's often been said that African Americans, like any other race of people, are not monolithic. In other words, we don't speak with one voice or have a single lived experience that can be represented in a single portrayal.

Black in America 2's Personal Impact

Even after TWO four-hour documentaries last July and last week, we STILL have not completely depicted what it means to be "Black in America."

While I conveyed the feelings of those attending the local viewing party and discussion, I never reported my own personal reactions.

In three words, "MOVED TO ACTION" are what I would use to describe my own personal feelings after watching "Black in America 2: Pioneers."

As one of the charter members of 100 Black Men of West Alabama and a member of a local school dropout prevention task force, I'm already personally involved and invested in some concrete efforts to deal with problems facing African-Americans here in Tuscaloosa.

The stories depicted in "Black in America 2" show me the potential of having an even greater impact.

On a deeper level, as an avid viewer of Tyler Perry's cinematic offerings (especially this summer), I am more educated about the "Man Behind the Movies."

I was raised at Howard University as a journalist with a conscience, empowered to OWN not just work in the media. Tyler Perry reminded me that ownership STILL must be a goal.

I enjoyed hosting the local events here at University of Alabama last week, in part, because they inform the research that I'll be doing in the next few weeks charting the progress (or lack thereof) that we've made in area of representations of the "black" experience in the news media.

Reclaiming the Dream

Still, I am looking forward to the discussions and debate that CNN Will be providing us this weekend (August 1 & 2) as "Reclaiming the Dream" panel discussion pre-recorded earlier this month at the Essence Music Festival will air.

One question we have is what is the true benefit of CNN and Essence teaming up? We've watched their "Making a Difference" segments. But, I believe the panel discussion will add an entirely different dimension to this media partnership.

Until then, I will continue to reflect on all I saw last week and how a television program like "Black in America 2" can shape the very dialogue one can have with a friend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Second Part of Black in America 2 Wins Praise at University of Alabama

After not-so-good comments on the first installment of Black in America 2, which aired Wednesday night, the overall documentary is being praised here at The University of Alabama.

Students, faculty and staff were generally positive about the overall effort, which includes another program to air on CNN August 1-- a "Reclaiming the Dream" debate

Lots of ideas and suggestions to process. We'll have a more complete posting on tonight's discussion on Friday.