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.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

University of Alabama Viewers NOT Impressed with CNN Black in America 2

After what I thought was an outstanding effort in CNN's documentary Black in America last year," I decided to invite students, faculty and staff at The University of Alabama to watch Black in America 2 with me. About 20 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff joined in the conversation tonight.

During the hour preceding tonight's premiere, we watched an excerpt from last year's documentary and identified some of the problems this multicultural crowd perceived as the "Biggest Problems facing African-Americans."

Once the documentary began, there was great disappointment in what was presented in the "Journey for Change" story. the students expressed a real lack of enthusiasm for the depth that was given to one experience and the overemphasis of one or two students.

What about the other students on the trip?

By devoting much of the first hour of the program to the "Journey for Change," CNN left little time to provide a more complete report on the type of leadership provided by Dr. Steve Perry.

The administrators, students and faculty in this group identified some holes in the story about the Capital Prep Magnet School. What happens to the 100 percent of students who go to college. Do they actually graduate from college?

While time limits what can be reported in one story, when so much time was devoted to "Journey for Change," it made other stories in tonight's installment incomplete.

As we prepare for Part 2 of CNN's Black in America 2, we are hoping the Pioneers that will be featured will be conveyed in a more COMPLETE fashion.

We'll be watching and discussing the second part tomorrow night here at The University of Alabama's Phifer Hall Room 323.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Discussion on CNN's Black in America 2 set to Wednesday, Thursday

We're less than a week away from the much-anticipated second year of CNN's highly-acclaimed Black in America documentary project.

Wednesday, July 22 and Thursday, July 23, the Time Warner-owned network's documentary unit will debut two two-hour treatments, which will be hosted by CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

Unlike the 2008 programs, which were criticized by some as being too heavily-focused on the problems of Black Americans and not enough on what's being done to solve them, the 2009 installments are mostly oriented to solutions, with particular emphasis on the next generation of leadership.

Subtitled, "Today's Pioneers," July 22nd installment will focus on community organizers across the country who are facilitating progress at a local level. These pioneers address health, education, and other critical needs of the black community.

Then on Thursday, July 23rd, viewers will see Tomorrow's Leaders" focuses on efforts to develop future African-American leaders.

But, what appears to be the common thread in both of these programs will be the forward-looking, solution-driven approach that they will take.

Early Reviews

Even though the documentaries don't debut until July 22, CNN has hosted a number of screenings of "Black in America 2" around the country.

One of the first reported screenings was at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte where students participated in a town hall forum hosted by CNN Anchor Don Lemon. CNN Presents Executive Producer Jeff Reid also attended.

FULL Disclosure: Jeff Reid was my former executive producer at WXIA-TV in Atlanta, Ga.

Earlier this month, students and residents in Washington, D.C were a part of the screening that was reported on by THE HILLTOP, the student-daily at Howard University.

Yours Truly is a editor of THE HILLTOP 1991-92.

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry attended the D.C. screening, which was hosted by CNN's Chris Lawrence.

More recently, streamed a panel discussion and screeening from the New York area and a similar community event was held in the Nashville area and co-sponsored by the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Gathering at University of Alabama

Here's a preview of what we hope to accomplish with our viewing party and discussion on the University of Alabama campus

Our viewing party and discussion will be held in Phifer Hall Room 323, which is accessible from the rear entrance of Phifer Hall. Take the elevator up to the third floor.

Tuscaloosa's dropout problem takes centerstage at First Community Summit

Instead of an opening song or prayer, one man's story kicked off a daylong summit on what has been identified as Tuscaloosa Alabama's most critical problem-- the number of high school dropouts.

The opening story was that of Jerry Carter, a native of Tuscaloosa, who instead of graduating from high school received his G.E.D. and is making a living as an employee for a local freight company. Last October, his son was killed in a hail of gunfire outside a sports bar.

His experience as both a high school dropout and the parent of a murdered child caught the attention of this West Alabama's city's mayor.

"What a better place this world would be if we had more Jerry Carters," said Walt Maddox, who is running for re-election in an upcoming August 25th election. Even as his campaign kicks into high gear, Maddox is challenging residents of this college town known most as the home of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide to not be satisfied until there is a 0 percent dropout rate.

After Carter told his story, Maddox and a host of city leaders addressed a sparse crowd of community and business leaders, ministers and a few residents who gathered at the city's newest high Central High School.

Maddox challenged those in attendance to leave the summit committed to solving the problem of dropouts, which he shares with dozens of other Alabama communities.

Statewide, 39 percent of students do not finish high school. Tuscaloosa City Schools' most recent graduation rate was just 69 percent, compared 83 percent in the Tuscaloosa County system

Tuscaloosa City School Board Member Earnestine Tucker and Carter rallied the members of the Westside Community Action Council to present this first ever summit under the theme "Reclaiming The Future, A Call to Action."

The daylong summit took up other problems that are facing the city

Alabama's Best Solution to Dropout

One thing that Alabama has offered to surrounding states and, most recently as far away as Virginia, is its Inside-Out Bus Tour.

Developed by the Birmingham-based Mattie Stewart foundation, the inside of the school bus has been reformatted as half jail cell and half classroom. Students in grades four and higher are encouraged to come aboard the bus where they are shown a video about the consequences of dropping out of school and then allowed to go into the makeshift jail cell and see what happens to many who do not finish high school.

Today the so-called "Choice Bus" was in Tuscaloosa outside of Central High School. Next month, ten more buses are to be rolled out to travel to every region of the United States.

The Choice Bus and a documentary called "Inside Out" were developed by a foundation started by Shelley Stewart, who owns an advertising agency here in Alabama.

Stewart was the keynote speaker for today's summit.

"The problem is we don't admit that there' s a problem. We're comfortable, we're complacent," said Stewart, who challenged the summit attendees to focus less on building programs and more of building relationships.

More Than Dropout Prevention

Teen pregnancy has been cited as a major factor in the dropout rate. In Alabama, the teen pregnancy rate is at 90 per 1,000 girls aged 15-19. That's compared to just 84 per 1,000 nationally.

One solution highlighted during today's summit was a local program, "Dads and Fatherhood project"

After general sessions this morning, summit attendees broke out into smaller groups to tackle such issues as economic and credit survival, juvenile and adult violence, neighborhood and community organizing and the drug abuse.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daniels meets with senators, senators' staffs on Journalist Shield Law

WASHINGTON-- Later this year when the U.S. Senate passes the Free Flow of Information Act, I'd like to think it was, in part, because the efforts of 12 people, including myself, from the Society of Professional Journalists.

It took nearly two dozen appointments over a two-day period to ensure members of the U.S. Senate and their staffs were aware of how important protecting anonymous sources is in 2009.

While 49 states have laws that allow journalists to avoid reveal confidential sources, there is no such law at the federal level. For the last four years, SPJ has been fighting to change that.

Clint Brewer, our immediate past president for the Society of Professional Journalists played a big role in what happened last year with the bill. Lately, he's been continuing the push as head of our SPJ Government Relations Committee.

It was a pleasure watching Clint and our current SPJ President Dave Aeikens launch our conversations with the various Senate staffers who were appointed to hear our concerns.

Last year a House version of the Free Flow Information Act (H.R. 985) passed the House of Representatives 398-21 vote.

Now, Senate bill 448 is soon to be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee. That's the same body that this week held confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

As soon as Sotomayor's confirmation proceedings have concluded,the Judiciary Committee may turn its attention to other matters. We hope S.B. 448 is one of those matters.

In the meantime, this week's lobbying trip was a chance for me to see the work that goes into makes legislation such as the Free Flow of Information Act a reality.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Soledad with Solutions, Don Lemon on Weekends-New Day in Media?

We're just a little more than a week away from Black in America 2. And, it seems CNN Correspondent Soledad O'Brien has picked up a new name-- "Soledad on Solutions" or "Soledad with Solutions."

That's how anchor Don Lemon referred to O'Brien in introducing an excerpt from the second year of this two-night documentary project focused on the state of black Americans. (See photos of the two broadcast journalists from the CNN talent Web site)

While tonight's piece on African-American males and mental illness was interesting, I've been particularly interested in the apparent emphasis on race & diversity topics in Lemon's weekend program.

Lemon's CNN Newsroom Line-up

Along with Barack Obama's visit to Ghana, the disturbing of Emmett Till's grave, the Michael Jackson death investigation, one might suspect that an usually high number of Lemon's stories (the ones in his newscasts) have to do with African Americans. Even in the interview with a young man allegedly turned away from a swimming pool because of his race, Lemon identified with the obvious racial component of this story.

One has to wonder if tonight's CNN Newsroom line-up is simply a coincidence or if there is some deliberate attempt on Lemon's part as an anchor to ensure that these stories get covered adequately.

It should be noted that a lot of these stories have been on the air all day, not just during Lemon's newscasts. So, it may be just a day for these types of stories.

I think it's "interesting" to note the line-up of stories tonight and even an extended interview coming up on the 10 p.m. (EDT) show with NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, about whom I've written here previously.

I will be watching this evening to see if the interviewer (presumably either Don Lemon or Newsroom Morning anchor T.J. Holmes, an African-American) makes a difference in the direction that interview on the 100th anniversary of NAACP takes.

Black in America: An EVERYDAY Story

A point that I made in my writing on CNN's original Black in America documentary last July was the importance of continuous "everyday" news coverage of the concerns of AFrican-Americans. In other words, the "Black Experience" is bigger than what can be contained in four hours of coverage (or eight hours, if you combine the 2008 and 2009 installments of Black in America)

As a television producer, I know firsthand, it's who's behind the scenes that makes the difference in what gets covered.

Until today I had not paid much attention to Don Lemon, especially since he was moved a year or so ago to the weekend shift (I believe he swapped places with CNN's Rick Sanchez). Some might view this shift as a demotion for Lemon. But, maybe not.

I recall the weekend evening- CNN Newsroom shows a couple years ago when Rick Sanchez would add an extra measure of "culture" to his view of stories that connect with his background as a Cuban American. (Sanchez somehwat pioneered the use of Twitter and Facebook during TV news programs during the most recent presidential campaign.)

Could Don Lemon's "perspective" as an African Americans do the same as Rick Sanchez has done for those of Cuban/Latino/Hispanic descent?

Lemon, who before his current job at CNN, worked as network correspondent and local news anchor in several markets, was written about earlier this week on The Huffington Post, for his defense of the over-abundance of Michael Jackson coverage.

I'll have to admit how surprised I was last Saturday evening to see so much emphasis placed on Jackson. Last Saturday (July 4), I tuned in to CNN looking for live coverage Nashville police neweers (news conferences) about what turned out to be Steve McNair's murder.

Instead, Lemon was tossing to interviews with people at the Essence Music Festival (Queen Latifah to be one) talking about Michael Jsckson.

Now that I've read Lemon's comments on CNN's Reliable Sources, I can see why. Either he's touting the company (CNN) line about a decision to emphasize Michael Jackson or he REALLY sees Michael Jackson as an "accidental civil rights leader." Really?

As a life member of the 100-year-old NAACP and a former NAACP Youth leader, I would take issue with this characterization. It will be interesting to see if Michael Jackson comes up in Lemon's interview with Ben Jealous.

The Bottomline on Lemon and O'Brien

My point in this long, somewhat rambling, post-- Don Lemon and Soledad O'Brien seem to be (however unintentional it might be) taking seriously the goal of reflecting the black experience in "everyday" presentation of the news.

Make no mistake-- O'Brien is all about drawing viewers to the project on which she and her army of producers have worked for more than a year, Black in America 2.

It's a business folks.

And, the data show that we African-Americans watch more TV than other racial groups. So, it's probably not a bad idea to give us a little bit more attention.

More on "Black in America 2" in the next few days as we set the stage for an event related to Black in America 2.

Heading to the Hill With a Purpose

In just about 24 hours, we'll begin a three-day trip to the nation's capital NOT for a social visit. Yes, Washington, DC is my SECOND favorite city (behind my hometown of Richmond, Va.). But, I'm going there this week with a goal of encouraging members of Congress to take a vote to protect journalists and their sources.

Not since the early 90s have I walked the halls of the verious congressional office buildings. As a reporter for THE HILLTOP, Howard University's weekly newspaper on the Local/National beat, I was assigned to cover stories on the Hill.

Now as a subscriber of the print edition of POLITICO, I am given access to what's happening there through this thrice weekly publication (when Congress is in session).

Nearly two decades after my days as a HILLTOP reporter, I'm a full-time journalism professor and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization that is leading the fight for the Free Flow of Information Act. As chair of SPJ's Journalism Education Committee, I was asked to participate in this unique opportunity to meet face-to-face on legislation that directly affects the profession I know and love-- journalism.

On Monday and Tuesday, I'll be joining a dozen other colleagues from SPJ in paying visits to members of Congress to talk up S. 488 and H.R. 985.

“Making this visit to Capitol Hill sends a strong message to Congress that we believe America is not a place where journalists should be compelled to give up their confidential sources,” SPJ president Dave Aeikens said.

You can read more about our trip in this media release produced by our SPJ headquarters this week.

Look for updates on this experience starting tomorrow (Sunday).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Georgia Cousins Turns 100 Years Old Today

Today is not just a special day because it's the Fourth of July-- Independence Day. It's special because of a special lady-- Georgia Cousins!

100 Years Ago TODAY Mrs. Georgia Cousins came into this world.

She shares a birth year with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

Even though I'm a member of both organizations and will celebrate their 100th anniversaries, I count the birthday of Mrs. Georgia Cousins to be just as important.

In her own way Mrs. cousins has touched hundreds of people with her writings. As a child at First African Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, I used to hear the pastor talk about the writings of Mrs. Cousins.

In recent years, Mrs. Cousins has served with me on the First African Baptist Historical Commission. This is a group that is dedicated to producing a historical volume on our church, which will be 229 years old in November.

I had the distinct honor to pick up Mrs. Cousins and bring her to our house for lunch in December 2008.

Even then, she was talking about her 100th birthday coming up. Well, it's here and tomorrow the membership at First African Baptist Church will celebrate it in a big way.

Mrs. Cousins joins Calvin Coolidge, who was the only U.S. president born on the 4th of July. The nation's 30th president was born in Plymouth, Vermont on July 4, 1872.

It is worth noting that three other U.s. Presidents are often associated with this holiday not because it was their birthday, but because it is the day they departed this life. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart on July 4, 1826 while James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.

Today we're not celebrating death, but life. We celebrate the life of this country.. and more specifically the life that began in Georgia Cousins. She is a fantastic lady and I am glad to call her not only a church member, but a family friend too.

I will miss not be at her birthday party tomorrow at Richmond's First African Baptist Church. But I wanted to share her story with the rest of America, who happens to be reading this on my Web site. Happy Birthday Mrs. Cousins!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Could, Twitter Be the News Heroes After All?

ONE READER of my original posting WRITES:

Who was really doing better journalism here with better sources? It looks like had an excellent source and they beat the pants off of more traditional organizations. I wonder why the LA Times didn't know what was going on sooner. Isn't that their territory? It looks to me like they got scooped in a big way.

The more we learn about what happened at Michael Jackson's home on the day of his untimely death, the more things seem to look better for, a Web site I criticized in an earlier posting.

A missing doctor, questions about prescription drugs, an investigation involving the Los Angeles Police Department's all suggest this story is just beginning.

Today's New York Times calls it a "Twitter-enhanced luminary spectacle"

Pete Cashmore on the Mashable Social Media Guide cited the tracking tool Twist, which reported at one point, about 30 percent of Tweets were remarking in Michael Jackson's passing.

The Tribune-owned newspaper addressed the initial Tweets in a separate posting on its Comments blog.

The Los Angeles Times reports the investigation now focuses on whether Jackson overdosed on prescription drugs as results of the initial autopsy were inconclusive.

If the overdose turns out to be the actual cause of death, it certainly places a different spin on the timing of the events of Thursday.

Looks Like I have company

It is interesting to note that I wasn't the only one who took note of the order of events in Thursday's media reporting.

Peter Kafka of The Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital" site includes a more-detailed look at the same topic.

Gotta say-- I'm a Wall Street Journal print subscriber (In fact, my Saturday edition has already arrived in the tube outside) and until today I had never heard of Peter Kafka's Media Memo.

About those Facebook Status Updates

Likewise, another blogger, Zack Whittaker, also got into this same discussion as it relates to how much we believe in the Tweets on Twitter. He also include the status updates on Facebook in his discussion.

While I don't think much of those Facebook updates, we certainly can't ignore their role in the larger social networking arena.

The question still remains: to what extent can viewers rely on them in the time of breaking news?

Maybe, that's not as relevant to the discussion about the future of journalism as I am making it.

When people read those updates, they don't expect to get the same credible or reliable information they get from a trusted news source, right?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Coverage Shows Journalists Are Still Critical

ATLANTA-- I've been sitting in an Atlanta hotel room watching on TV and online all the coverage of today's shocking news of the death of Michael Jackson.

And, the big thing I came away with -- Journalists are needed NOW more than EVER.

Even as I finish up a three-day return visit here to the same media market where I once worked as a television news producer, I see my old television station doing a ever-so-delicate dance between being careful not to report rumor and not ignore what was happening online. The above story from TMZ illustrates the rumors of Jackson's death and never mentions what has been reported elsewhere-- that he died later after CPR was performed. breaks the story

Here's what happened: a celebrity gossip Web site reported almost an hour before the rest of the media that Jackson was dead.

But, was he? Or, was that just rumor?

Minute-by-minute the story was changing on the MSNBC, LATimes, KTLA, KNBC and CNN Web Site. I found myself wanting to take electronic pictures of the Web sites as they struggled to keep up with the story that was breaking.

Atlanta's FOX Affiliate, WAGA-TV decided to go with the story putting it on the air during its 5 p.m. newscast.

Likewise, FOX's Los Angeeles affiliate online posted the story that JAckson had died.

Was this responsible journalism?

Is a reliable enough source to go with reporting the death of one of the most highly-recognized superstars?

Reportedly, it wasn't until 3:15 p.m. Pacific Time that Jackson was pronounced dead. CBS Reporter Bill Whitaker made sure to recount the timeline, an important journalistic strategy to convey to readers/viewers HOW It all came down.

NBC Nightly News at 6:20 p.m. did what's known as a "cut-in" (interruption of regular programming) that the pop superstar had died.

WXIA-TV Reports Twitter's Initial Rumors

While it used an NBC Reporter's update at the top of its 6 p.m. newscast that did NOT report Jackson was dead, Atlanta's NBC affiliate, WXIA had its Web reporter Chris Sweigart share Tweets from the micro-blogging Web site, Twitter.

The broadcast media, especially those that own newspapers, have decided that there is such a large audience on social networking Web sites that is NOT watching their over-the-air, scheduled newscasts, that they must showcase these sites in their newscasts.

The ethical question here is-- what if those sites are reporting rumor? Even though you couch your report by saying "This is what THEY are saying on the Web," is it ok to re-transmit rumor?

I applaud the reporters at the Los Angeles Times and the network newscasts-- like NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News who, as difficult it was to do in the face of gossip and social networking sites, did the RIGHT thing.

They waited until they had verified and independently confirmed information such as the death of Jackson.

Rather than racing to be first, they did showcased for viewers to see how it all went down-- and they did it fast. But, when their stories aired, they were correct and could be trusted.

That's what good journalists do.

The Challenge

Traditional media are losing audience for their traditional outlets. But, the trained journalists who still work there are the ones on whom the public can rely for accurate, well-sourced news and information.

Some may say the important thing is to report that Michael Jackson died. But, after this story moves from the headlines, will some people still be under the impression that journalism is dead?

Quite the contrary-- Journalism is ALIVE and WELL. We saw that today!

Full disclosure: I was once-employed by WXIA-TV (which is mentioned in this report) as a news producer from 1995 to 2000. Ironically, one of my responsibilities in 2000 was updating the station's Web site.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two Class Reunions, Two Reminders from Dad

It's Father's Day and when I made my "Happy Father's Day" call this morning to dad back home in Richmond, I was reminded of one of the most important things he and my mother taught us-- the importance of a good education.

Yesterday, my father, Joseph Daniels, 77, attended a high school reunion with classmates of Goochland County, Virginia's Central High School, a former segregated all-black school that later was converted to a middle school.

This morning he shared with me his story of being able to see the valedictorian from his Class of 1948 and one of his teachers who attended the reunion.

He talked about the fact that he and the valedictorian were two of only four from his class who attended the event, which celebrated those who graduated up until the high school merged with the all-white school in 1969.

A College Reunion in May

Saturday's reunion was the second such major class reunion for father, who is a 1959 graduate of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). As is the custom every five years, Hampton held a reunion for those whose graduating class ended in "4" and "9."

Going to his 50th college reunion (He served several years in the army between high school and college) was a big deal. But, seeing high school classmates after more than a half-century, just made his weekend.

Education as a Family Tradition

I often reflect on how blessed my brother and I are to be THIRD-generation college students. In African-American families that is particularly rare. But my dad's mother, Kate F. Allen, always prominently displayed her degree from Virginia Union University in her home.

As kids, we would see that education was important for her (She was a teacher). And, she passed that on to my dad, who then passed it on to my brother and me.

Grandma never got a chance to see me get my terminal degree and become a college professor. But, I know she would be proud that the legacy continues.

Today, on Father's Day, my dad's sharing his class reunions with me just reinforces one of his most important lessons of life.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Daniels Makes Bid for SPJ National Board

Like many of the candidates in the most recent presidential election, I have chosen to make a political announcement in an online environment.

This week after lots of thought and prayer, I am launching a bid for the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation's LARGEST, most broad-based group for journalists.

This has little to do with copying the strategies of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and everything to do with recognizing that this medium-- the World Wide Web IS where journalism can and does happen.

What Must SPJ Do?

As a forward-looking organization, the Society of Professional Journalists can no longer turn up its nose at those who present their reporting product exclusively in this medium.

During the upcoming Annual Convention of SPJ in late August, I will be among those on a slate of declared candidates to fill vacant seats on the SPJ Board.

What Will My Role Be?

As Campus Adviser At-Large, I look forward to doing much of what I have already done as a member, and most recently chair, of the Journalism Education Committee: working with other campus advisers to Keep the needs and concerns of campus chapters on the front-burner.

This year, I have enjoyed working with the Vice President for Campus Affairs, Neil Ralston, a journalism faculty member at Western Kentucky. I hope to continue to work with him in the next year as well.

I've watched as my Ithaca College colleague and vice chair of the Journalism Education Committee, Prof. Mead Loop has served in that role and as Adviser At-Large. He and Sue Kopen Katcef of the University of Maryland have been the "go-to" persons for advisers like myself who were new in the position.

While my local chapter isn't perfect, we've had enough bumps and bruises to help other SPJ campus chapters and their advisers.

What Issues Will I Confront?

One of those concerns expressed recently was the method of annual reporting. I'd like to see some discussion about how to refine/update this important system of accountability. Additionally, as a member of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (soon to be Radio-Television Digital News Association), I would like to be actively engaged in discussions about how SPJ can collaborate with our journalism organizations to keep our members on the cutting edge with jointly-sponsored training events and conventions.

As a Diversity Leadership Fellow in 2006, I saw the front end of SPJ's strategic planning process. Now, three years later, I want to have a more active role in making sure SPJ executes its strategic plan-- particularly in the areas of inclusiveness and society operations.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I AM the Future of Journalism & Mass Communication Education

I AM the Future of Journalism and Mass Communication Education!

How is that for a statement of vanity?

As a journalism professor of six years who has been awarded tenure and promotion for the Fall 2009 semester, I am proud to associate myself with a line of work that is changing ever so rapidly.

I position myself as a example not because I'm the greatest teacher.

Instead, I say I’m the future of journalism because of my willingness to embrace the multimedia shift that has already happened in the nation’s newsrooms.

I say I’m the future of journalism because of my commitment to re-invent myself from a “word” person not concerned about technical production to a teacher who is increasingly (but not totally) comfortable teaching about production.

I understand that teaching in a constantly evolving field means one rarely gets "comfortable" before something changes or shifts. Then, there's a need to learn something new.

A blogger and a podcaster with my own YouTube channel, I taught such a production course this spring (2009) semester.

Digital Media production was the most challenging topic I’ve ever taught—because it took me out of my comfort zone. But, my fabulous students made it a blast!

Our site, Dateline Alabama, is alive and well. I even learned a lot about posting through a Content management system, powered by The Tuscaloosa News.

I had to rely on the tech people to teach me even as I taught my students. There were very few lectures from a Ph.D. who had all the answers.

As the future of journalism education, I know the expert professor (at least in this field) may find him or herself quickly becoming a relic of the past.

I say I’m the future of mass communication education because in 2009 I can see media management education as a kind of entrepreneurial media education.

I say I’m the future of mass communication education I’m capable and empowered to interact just as much with Ph.D. students as they prepare dissertations as I can middle and high school students being exposed to journalism for the first time.


As the author of the The Black Blogger’s Manifesto, I say I’m the future of mass communication education because of my active engagement online not only as a blogger, but also an African-American blogger who gives voice to a view that may not otherwise be shared in the blogosphere.

With a multicultural mindset and an understanding of both the profession of journalism and the academic study of mass communication, I realize my role now is to mentor others by sharing my experience with a new generation of student scholars already preparing themselves for roles in the college classroom.

These will be the journalism and mass communication educators who will follow me when I decide to move on from the classroom.

I, along with the dozens of my JMC colleagues who share my views about multimedia, multiculturalism and entrepreneurial media, am positioned for a media world filled with uncertainty.

As the media industries find their way in this new digital world, we will find ourselves flexible and ready for whatever twist or turn comes as we prepare forward-thinking mass media practitioners.

Spelling out the Future of J.O.U.R.N.A.L.I.S.M

If those of us who teach journalism and mass communication are to not only survive but also thrive in our role as educators, we have to be fully-committed to the future of the journalism profession.


You can click here to read more about WHY I think I am the future of Journalism and Mass Communication Education.


The discussion about the future of newspapers and journalism is one way we can have a forward-looking view of what we do. This video summarizes some of the major points that should guide our thinking about newspapers, journalism and ethics.

I know I’ll survive and thrive because I know 10 THINGS about the future of the J.O.U.R.N.A.L.I.S.M. profession.

First and foremost, the journalism of the future must continue to be
Justice-Seeking. The cliché to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted remains are relevant to what we do today as it has been in the age of dominant competing daily newspapers, three network-affiliated TV stations and large local radio newsteams. Our commitment to make a difference will be stronger than ever.

Originality is and will continue to be our mantra. We want to first on the Web just like we were first on print. The bottomline of breaking news doesn’t go away because the medium in which we are reporting might change. Journalism of the future must be different from the information that one might get elsewhere

Unrelenting is a trait that the journalists of the future must have. The competition will still be there just like the sources who don’t want to tell us the full story. Our commitment to leave no stone unturned will be just as strong in the future as it has been in the past.

Relevant is something we must be in the age of constantly fragmenting audiences. If we don’t deliver the news and information that will help our readers, viewers and online users live their lives, we will quickly become extinct. Journalism won’t be extinct, in part, because it will continue to be relevant.

Nuance is the name of the game. Digital tools allow almost anyone to cover an event or post a story. What the journalism of the future will have to do is find those subtleties and interesting twists that only a trained reporter with a skeptical (not cynical) vantagepoint can uncover.

Accessibility will be even more important than ever for those who are reading and viewing our product. That means good writing will be a critical factor in the journalism of future. The way we present our prose will make all the difference in the experience of our audience.

Layered will just be logical in the Web-driven, hyperlink world of digital journalism. A story, headline, web summary or related element all will be a click away. Therefore, the journalist much structure his or her story so that it's able to be experienced in multiple layers.

Interactivity is an assumption in the future of journalism where layering is a reality. One must interact with the news to find the layers that lie beneath. A story won’t be a story unless it requires the reader to do something.

Strategic is what we as journalists have to be in the way we conceptualize our product, tell stories and market our information. The dual product market of content for audiences plus audiences for advertisers will remain at the center of our work as journalism and mass communication educators in the future.

Multicultural will describe the nature of our audiences who will no longer be predominantly white in the journalism of the future. Thus, journalists (and those educating them) will have to use whatever means necessary to appeal to and attract their racially diverse group of potential news consumers.


Beyond spelling out the future of the profession, we can also think about what journalism and mass communication will look like. The following slideshow gives an aural and visual view of the future of journalism:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Headed to Bellamy?

It's called Word of Life Full Gospel Baptist Church. We're trying to help others find this location in Sumter County, Ala.

Here's a visual depiction using the Google Maps tool.

View Bellamy, Ala. in a larger map

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Official-- Master Journalism Educator

PHOENIX-- Less than 10 minutes to post a quick update from "The Valley of the Sun" where my designation as a Master Journalism Educator became official yesterday at the Journalism Education Association Spring Convention.

It's a shame that I was only able to spend about 36 hours here-- time to make two visits to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State, where I conducted a two-hour workshop yesterday morning.

Then, the highlight of the day came when the hardwood (so to speak) was bestowed --- tangible evidence that I have joined the ranks of the fewer than 100 journalism educators who have been nationally certified at the HIGHEST level.

The certification came down the first week of January. But, not until yesterday were all the 2009 certified educators recognized.

It feels great. And, I suppose, the expectations from students, colleagues will be higher.

More later on this trip latest trip to the Southwest U.S.

Time to board my plane and head back to Bama.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Unconventional Journalism Gathering Provides Encounter, Reporting Experience

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-- When most people think of Hollywood, Florida, they probably don’t think of being homeless or mentally disabled.

Tonight I came face-to-face with both types of Hollywood, Fla. Residents working as a journalist on assignment—an assignment that I won’t soon forget.

For a mere six hours, I and nearly two dozen fellow journalists, mostly from the state of Florida became the staff of The Homeless Voice, one of the nation’s largest newspapers focused on those who are without a place to live.

As the culminating event of our Society of Professional Journalists Southeastern Regional Conference, we decided to do journalism instead of just talking about. In the process, we believe did a public service by increasing public affairness of the good things that are happening even among those who might have fallen on hard times.

Thanks to Sean Cononie, the man behind the publication and the Cosac Foundation's Homeless Assistance Center, we were able to quickly integrate into the environment of his operation while learning a great deal about what it means to be homeless.

My role in all of this was to complete a feature on a new art gallery featuring works of arts of those Cosac's clients and those donated by the general public here.

The founder/director of the Cosac Homeless Assistance Center, Sean Cononie, actually did much of the art as an outlet to help him deal with stress.

He has already posted many of the pieces on a Web site promoting the gallery.

After a spaghetti dinner with some of the center’s clients and a brief tour of the facility, I settled into the task of gathering information, conducting interviews and producing the audio for an Audio slide show of some of the art.

As it turns out, another Florida newspaper had already published an article on the gallery. So, the first thing I had to determine was what would I report NEW on the gallery.

I decided to focus my attention on the preparations for an art auction that is later this month.

Thanks to the great work of photojournalist and Gulf Coast University student Carlos Calente, I got most of my work done by midnight.

SPJ "Unconventional 2009" A Big Hit in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-- Even as word comes of another metropolitan newspaper's possible demise, the Society of Professional Journalists through several regional conferences this weekend is continuing in its advocacy role for good journalism.

Here in Hollywood, "SPJ" was featured on the marquee of the Midway Party Room, just one of the meeting spots for sessions. Several dozen members of the Society of Professional Journalists and a Florida affiliate of American Collegiate Press (ACF) under the name FCP gathered at a rather unusual venue for a conference-- a restaurant/family gaming facility.

Dave & Busters in Hollywood is normally where we'd go to hang out, eat and have fun. But, for 8 hours here, we talked about alternative media careers for journalists, myths about magazines and what happens when our First Amendment rights are taken away.

Not one of the panels that I attended included PowerPoint presentations. Instead, there were audience-driven, discussion-oriented exchanges, some of which went over time because the interactivity couldn't be contained in the 50-60 minute time slots.

I particularly enjoyed listening, watching and participating in the "Look Good, Talk Good, Be Better" session that helped both students and professionals prepare for the world of online video and television.

Not only did I get a critique from SPJ National Secretary/Treasurer Hagit Limor, who worked at one of my former competitors in the Cincinnati television market,

But Regional Director Darcy Lunsford also had some suggestions for how I can improve
my on-camera presentation.

The participants in this session rotated between three stations where they concentrated on writing at one station while focusing on recording their one-minute video stand-ups at another. A third station was where we all got feedback on how we did.

The funny thing is I had lunch with Dan Grech from the American Public Media's MArketplace program and didn't even realize who he was-- until hours later. What a down-to-earth, personable person who just captivated the mostly student-crowd at his writing session.

Grech co-lead that session with Connie Hicks from Barry University and Lyn Millner of Florida Gulf Coast University.

The "Violent Awards Lunch" gave attendees at the SPJ Region 3 Conference a chance to see one successful First Amendment activity-- the First Amendment Free Food Festival.

It was a pleasure to pick up ten Mark of Excellence Awards for the students from the University of Alabama campus.

Here are the University of Alabama's 2009 Winners of Mark of Excellence Awards- Region 3

  • Nic Hoch, First Place Television Sports Reporting for "Broken Collar Bone"
  • Mary Scott Speigner, Third Place, Television General News Reporting for "Juicy Campus"
  • Jordan Culberson, Second Place, Radio Feature "Wallace Legacy"
  • Daniel Cherry, Third Place, Radio feature, "Housing Project"
  • Daniel Cherry, Second Place, Radio News Reporting "Lost Campaign"
  • R.F. Rains, Second Place, Sports Photography, "Fan Day Brings Excitement"
  • Caroline Gwaltney, First Place Non-Fiction Article "D.W.: The Bronze Bomber"
  • Alex Gilbert, Third Place, Feature Photography, "Summer Heat"
  • Ryan Wright, Third Place, Sports Writing, "Tide Shuts Out All"
  • Jessie Gable, Third Place, Feature Writing, "Brother Micah Returns to U.A."

BOLD winners advance to the National Mark of Excellence Competition to compete against winners from 11 other regions. Winners will be recognized at National SPJ Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. in August

After a full day of fabulous, timely and useful sessions, the focus of this conference dubbed "Unconventional 2009" shifted to a homeless shelter. For the next six hours (I left at midnight), I saw a training area of the shelter transformed into a working newsroom as dozens of us attendees did what we do best-- Journalism!

Read a separate post on the experience of working on The Homeless Voice.

There are several take-away points from the Southeastern regional gathering here this weekend.

  • There is a better way to do journalism conferences
  • It's still about good writing and presentation
  • Breaking into magazine journalism still takes special skills, but you can do it
  • Don't be afraid to get out there and do journalism on your own
  • You can help the homeless and do journalism at the same time

All of these ideas about journalism come on the very day that news reports circulated about the New York Times Company's possible closure of New England's biggest newspaper, The Boston Globe.

The intensity of discussion of what to do IN SPITE OF all the bad news is what is increasing at journalism conferences like this one.

In some ways, these conferences have become a revival for journalism evangelists who are aware that the medium in which we're doing our work is changing, but the importance of it isn't.

At least half of the Society's 12 regional spring conferences were held this weekend. I don't know what happened at the other five gatherings. But, I know this one left an impression on me.

Special thanks to Michael Koretsky, SPJ national board member, who engineered this first "unconventional" conference.

This is certainly something the entire SPJ Board ought to take a look at as it prepares to hold future conferences, both at the regional and national level.

Next March, those of us from Region 3 who hail from the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida will be back here in Sunshine state in Orlando as North Central Florida SPJ Chapter plays host. I wonder what newspapers may have folded or gone to an "online only" format by then.