Saturday, August 23, 2008

CNN's Rick Sanchez Creates Moments with Social Networking

Former WSVN-TV (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale) anchor Rick Sanchez has a saying-- "Television is about the moments it creates."

Tonight Sanchez, who's now at CNN, created several of those moments by integrating the technology of social networking with the traditions of a scheduled news program.

Sanchez doesn't have one of the signature spots on CNN yet-- but he is the weekend evening anchor at the Atlanta-based cable news network where he does two editions of "CNN Newsroom."

On the night after the network broke the story of Barack Obama's choice for a running mate, the network moved into a whole new territory of technology by inviting viewers to comment on replays of the major political speeches of the day-- from Springfield, Illinois.

As Obama's running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden gave a speech that Sanchez and his staff replayed in its entirety with breaks and interruptions for viewers and a panel of guests to comment.

It was a revolutionary move. While it's obvious to anyone that the goal of interactivity to hold on to one's audience, we cannot discount the significance of tonight's event.

Sanchez (and more likely his producers) are to be commended for going this route in their reporting.

The real challenge will be seeing how well this is replicated next week when the Republicans have their big announcement of a running mate for John McCain.

News cycles and interest shift and change so it's who knows what else might be competing for the media spotlight a week from now.

Nonetheless, Sanchez and his crew at CNN Newsroom have shown that it can be done-- news operations integrating social networking not only in their coverage plans, but in the plans executed for presenting the news.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

From Asheville to the "Villes" of Tennessee

ASHEVILLE, N. Car.-- As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end." I hate to begin this morning with a cliche. But, it's appropriate as we think about this last day of summer break and the end of my road trip.

I decided to sleep late this last day-- getting a 10:30 a.m. start from Asheville, NC headed west to Sevierville,Tenn then Knoxville, Tenn where I will pick up I-75 and start south.

While we'll certainly make some quick stops in "Big Orange" country (U. Georgia and U. Alabama fans don't like Big Orange Country as much-- it's where "Rock Top" reigns), the only scheduled stop is back in Northeast Alabama where I am scheduled for a late lunch (probably more like early dinner) with a colleague at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala.

I've been through Gadsden before, but never done much stopping there.

I'm looking forward to going by the "Smokies" of East Tennessee. It was my first exposure to "The Volunteer State" a decade ago when a good friend of mine lived in Knoxville. She worked in Sevierville and I would catch her at work.

As I depart Asheville and Western North Carolina, I leave with plans next summer to come directly to Asheville and spend at LEAST a full day -- maybe even two at The Biltmore. Time didn't permit me to linger as long as I would like here. But, now I have something to which to look forward in 2009. In addition to my first trip to New England (I have a conference next August in Boston), I will plan to take the long route back here -- and make Asheville a major destination.

Finally, a photo along the banks of Bass Lake in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Thanks to my host, Dr. Calvin Hall for taking this picture.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reflecting on Rocky Hock

EDENTON, NC-- The journey to Edenton, NC turned out to be well worth the drive -- the production of "Under His Wings" was great and the people were just fantastic.

Before the 2 p.m. performance of the production of the play based on the biblical story of Naomi, Boaz and Ruth, my brother (in the orange striped sheet) and I posed for a photo with members of the cast and crew at the Rocky Hock playhouse.

The Rocky Hock Playhouse was founded in May of 2000 by Jeff (who stands next to me in the picture) and Gloria Emmerich (standing next to my brother) and has become one of America's most unique full time professional Christian theatres, one published report indicates.

The Emmerichs write and produce five original musicals each year. Gloria Emmerich is the writer of King David, Simon Peter (Fisher of Men), Paul (Fearless Lion of God), Noah's Incredible Cruise, Heaven Came Down, Out of the Darkness, and Jacob, Prince of God. The Emmerichs hire actors from across the United States to perform in their Broadway style Christian musicals.

The Rocky Hock Playhouse is a stock company theatre and is located near Edenton, North Carolina. The Emmerich Theatre Production Company’s first musical in Northeast North Carolina was Under His Wings (the Love Story of Ruth and Boaz).

A Mountaintop Experience in North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, North -- Tonight I'm back in Asheville after three or four years. I'm been here before as I take the "scenic route" back to Alabama. But, in the process of today's visit, I witnessed some parts of North Carolina I've never seen before.

The communities in the Western part of the state-- are quite exciting to visit.

Still need to produce all the photos-- but today I got the chance to drive up to meet a friend in Boone, NC. In the process, I visited Winston Salem where Winston Salem State University is located. I walked the streets of Boone, NC and the campus of Appalachian State.

Then, after all of that, I drive around some winding roads as I made my first voyage along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Linville, NC. All of sudden I look out the window and realized I was no surrounded by trees-- but look out to seeing the clouds and looking DOWN and seeing trees.. I realized I was in the upper elevations of Mountains.

I've been into the mountains of Arizona-- to tour the Grand Canyon, the mountains of Utah (near Brigham Young University) to the Sundance Resort and the Rocky Mountain State Park in Estes Park, Colorado.

But, I had never seen the mountains with the hiking trails in Western North Carolina.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Excited about Edenton

RICHMOND, Va. -- From the hometown/homebase for this week, we are setting out on a one-day excursion to Edenton, NC for a family trip to a Christian playhouse.

There is a play (I'm sure what) that my mom has picked out for both my brother and me to see. But, the big story won't be the play, it will be traveling to the Northeastern region of North Carolina.

We've never done this trip from Richmond, Va. to Virginia Beach, Va. (where my brother lives) to Edenton, NC.

You may recall, in an earlier post, I talked about getting lost in Hampton Roads, Va. heading to the Virginia Beach last December. We're hoping for smoother travels today.

The Web site for the Rocky Hock Playhouse says it's in historic Edenton. So, we might even encounter some history of North Carolina.

For me, this will be the first of two trips to North Carolina. The second will be to the Western portion of the state.

Of course, the biggest benefit of today's venture won't be the destination, it will be the fact that my parents and my brother and I will actually do something together that's not on a holiday or a birthday or a special occasion.

And, to God be the glory we have wonderful travel weather (Sunny, low 80s) today.

On to Edenton.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Second Favorite U.S. City-- Washington DC

WASHINGTON-- I have to say my hometown-- Richmond, Va. is my absolute favorite city. After all, it's where my roots are. But, by far, my second favorite city is Washington, DC.

After spending four years of my life-- some of the best years I might add-- here, there is nothing like being in the media capital of the world.

This view of Pennsylvania Avenue says it all.

To be able to catch a train and in minutes be on Capitol Hill or at the U.S. Supreme Court or sit in on a planning meeting for the next day's edition of The Washington Post, which was only a short walk from my dormitory during Freshman Year.

My rather last-minute decision to attend Howard University was, in part, due to my love for the media-- for journalism, for news and there's a lot of it in this town.

When I was here, I didn't have a car. so, I had to know how to use the Metrobus and Metrorail to get around. Low and behold today, I passed the G2 Bus. It's still called the G2 and it still runs between Howard University and Georgetown University.

I can remember having a couple of dates by bus. We went out for the evening to Georgetown.

Those were the days.

Almost everytime I come home to Richmond, I make time to venture up to my second-home to see what's happenin' -- usually on a Sunday morning for church here at Metropolitan Baptist Church in NW Washington, DC.

This Sunday was no different. After flying into Dulles (from Chicago), I stayed overnight and made my way to Sunday service and Sunday School at "Metropolitan."

Then, I couldn't be walking distance from the Howard U. campus with making a brief stop there. I took just a minute to talk on "the Yard" (a quadrangle on the main campus around which are the major academic buildings in the College of Liberal Arts.

And, wouldn't you know-- the 11 a.m. chime of Founder's Library Bell Tower -- just brought back memories of being here more than 16 years ago-- from 1988 to 1992.

I know I'm home when I'm here.

After brunch back at the hotel, my latest trip to the nation's capital ended with a
visit to the newest museum --- and the most relevant one for me-- the Newseum.

It's the world's biggest interactive museum-- a testament to journalism of the past, present and future.

What a site to behold. I am officially a member of the Newseum now. If time permits, I may even come back here later this week.

For now, I have a video by which to remember my virgin voyage. I posted it on my YouTube Channel.

Working in the Windy City

CHICAGO-- I came for a journalism educators' conference. But, it was not a relaxing trip. With four presentations over three days and countless people to see, my latest trip to the Windy City has been a lot more work than play.

The Marriott Chicago Downtown is located on the "Magnificent Mile," the "main drag" if you will for downtown -- North Michigan Avenue. I've been here at least twice before and stayed at a different hotel. I think this time, I had the best view of the city-- from the 39th floor.

This is the biggest conference of the year for those of us who identify journalism as our main teaching area. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication has an accreditation arm and publishes the major academic journals in journalism.

This year's gathering was in Chicago and during that time, I had a chance to visit the Chicago Tribune along with give presentations on ethics and college newspapers, minorities and health communication and technologies and local television news.

It was also a reunion opportunity as one of my high school teachers was given the one of highest honors for diversity in journalism-- the Robert Knight Multicultural Award. I took time to pose for a photo with Prof. June Nicholson from Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Calvin Hall, who chaired the Knight Awards committee.

We had beautiful weather. But, other than the meeting down the street from our hotel at the Chicago Tribune, I only managed to get out as far as a few blocks in search of the right dinner venue with some friends on Friday night.

Next time I come here, I will have to leave more time for fun.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Unique Evangelism Experience- The Billy Graham Library

CHARLOTTE-- Well, the chance to see the special place dedicated to the career of Billy Graham came at the end of the day this past Monday.

It's taken me two days to get around to capturing the 90-minute experience in a posting. But, it almost requires more than one posting to really recount what it was like on the grounds.

The first mistake I made was arriving too late in the day to have the necessary time to go through all the exhibits. I was expecting a place with lots of books and perhaps a few displays. What I got was by far the most state-of-the-art testimony to world evangelism that I have ever seen.

I stress testimony because that's what the library is really all about. When I went through the entrance, I was directed to an area where five people began to share their testimonies of how Jesus came into their lives.

A talking cow actually greeted me- talking about the days of Billy Graham on a milk farm. Then, the cow encouraged me to proceed to the theatre for the videos.

It turned out to be the first of at least 4 such theatres that are located throughout the library where you can hear the voice of The Rev. Billy Graham as a narrator explains the significance of that phase of Graham's ministry.

The two biggest things I remember from those exhibits were the film ventures that Rev. Graham started (didn't know that he was a filmmaker too) and the story of how he met his late wife, Ruth Bell.

For a moment, I thought -- well if Rev. Graham can have such an encounter that leads him to his wife, what can't I? It's all about trusting God.

At the end of the visit, the five people who shared their testimonies each come back and finish their stories and end with an invitation for those visiting to accept Christ.

We were given cards to express our interest in accepting Christ. I re-dedicated my life to Jesus Christ and there was a prayer partner there to pray with me over my decision.

You can't help but re-dedicate yourself to your own ministry when you go through something like the Billy Graham Library. I came away with a bag of literature to read -- and a couple of CDs.

One of the biggest takeaways was a copy of Graham's latest book, The Journey and the magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

After I have read these resources, I want to go back to the Library for another visit soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My first visit to Clemson University

Clemson, SC-- For more than a decade, it's been just an exit off of Interstate 85 as I commuted between my home in Richmond, Va. and Georgia-- where I both worked (at WXIA-TV in Atlanta) and went to school (at the University of Georgia).

Today that exit was a destination enroute to my lunch venue-- Clemson University as I made my way to Charlotte, North Carolina.

I had a particular reason for wanting to visit Clemson this time. The athletic powerhouse has been a perennial backyard non-conference rival for the Georgia Bulldogs.

But, in less a month, the boys from my present academic home-- The University of Alabama Crimson Tide will have a season opener against the Tigers of the ACC (not to be confused with the Tigers of the SEC-- the ones on the Plains).

No, I didn't visit "Death Valley," the nickname for the Clemson Football Stadium (also the nickname for the LSU stadium).

This short 30-minute walk across the center of campus took me to none other than tha library-- and a gave me a chance to get a few photographs of this nice academic setting that is kind of off the beaten path.

Yes, if you're driving down I-85 or up I-85, you see the "Clemson University" signs. But, then you don't figure out until you're off the interstate that you have to drive 11 miles to get to Clemson and the campus, which is one of two major research universities in the Palmetto State. (The other is its arch in-state rival in the Midlands, the University of South Carolina in Columbia)

Because it hosts a convergence journalism conference each fall, I make the trek to the University of South Carolina at least once (last year I went twice) a year.

Check out one of my last postings from there.

Two big things I learned today on my short trip to Clemson-- it used to be a all-male military school and its location is kind of different-- in Pickens County, SC (I didn't realize there was a Pickens Gounty SC like we have a Pickens County AL) and it's near Sandy Springs, South Carolina.

I had fun visiting this ACC school. Now let's see what happens when the Tigers come down I-85 to meet the Crimson Tide August 30 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Gearing up for Billy Graham's Library

Tomorrow is a day I have anticipated for months-- the day I get to visit the new Billy Graham Library. Last summer, I watched like many Americans as one who is the greatest evangelist of our time, The Rev. Billy Graham, mourned the passing of his wife Ruth.

Her death came just a few weeks after the Billy Graham Library was dedicated in May 2007. In dedicating the library, Graham's son, Franklin, reminded us this is not a monument to Billy Graham, it's a place for ministry.

A few years ago, I wrote about the coverage of Billy Graham's New York crusade, one that was expected to be his last.

Every Saturday night on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, we can see vintage videos of Billy Graham Crusades. His message, some preached 30 years ago are as relevant today as they were then.

There are not many Americans who God has given influence with so many generations of leaders. He's called and deserves the title of "America's pastor."

Three former presidents-- President Bill Clinton ,President George H.W. Bush and President Jimmy Carter-- all attended that dedication.

15 months later, I'll have a chance to experience the ministry of the librsry.

I expect the Library will be a testament to this unique calling and unique ministry.

We'll update you from there tomorrow.

Road Trip Updates Begin Today

As we start the next phase of Summer Break, we're hitting the road and posting from a number of locations online..

Here's the travel itinerary:

Monday, August 4 Billy Graham Library Charlotte, NC

Thursday, August 6 The Magnificent Mile Chicago, IL

Sunday, August 10 The NEW Newseum Washington, DC

Saturday, August 16 Blue Ridge Mountains Asheville, NC

We'll also do updates at points in between. More later today from our first stop on the road.