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.

Daniels Talks Diversity at Wilkes U. Conference

WILKES-BARRE, Penn-- What a day it has been traveling for the first time here to Wilkes University in the Wyoming Valley portion of the Keystone State.

The Tom Bigler Journalism Conference was a big success and I was fortunate enough to be one of the speakers invited to share some insights on covering issues of race, ethinicity and media. I especially enjoyed a session on that topic just for middle and high school journalism advisers.

There are also some top notch students coming from Northeast Pennsylvania. In my student session today, I saw some animated, engaged students tackling real dilemmas as relates to covering race.

Even in a somewhat racial homogeneous region of the Northeast, students recognized the richness the diversity in ethnicities represented in this region. Without much formal instruction, they immediately identified those differences that are not the same as one’s race or skin color.

Along with meeting with high school students and teachers, I had a wonderful rap session with about 20 communication studies students from Wilkes University. With just about 110 in the major, that’s about one-fifth of the students who were a part of my session where we talked about professional development issues, networking, and opportunities that can come from being involved in the Society of Professional Journalists.

Out of this rap session came lots of great ideas for SPJ programming, the beginnings of what I hope will be some networking relationships and potentially some new student members for SPJ from Wilkes University.

I didn’t realize that the SPJ chapter at Wilkes was just operating on a provisional charter, the policy in their first year of operation. I feel fortunate to help play a role in their development as a chapter. So many of the things they are experiencing in starting a chapter, we are also experiencing as we advance in our re-activation of an SPJ chapter at the University of Alabama.

The People of Wilkes University-- especially three of my hosts-- Andrea Frantz, the director of the Bigler Journalism conference, Andrew Seamon, president of the Wilkes U. SPJ chapter and Alissa Lidner, Wilkes Univ. student director for the Bigler Conference, THANK YOU!

Flying in at nearly midnight and out the next day at 4 p.m. is hardly enough time to see and experience Northeast Pennsylvania. But, I now have another reason besides Hershey, Pennsylvania or Penn State University to visit the Keystone State.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Welcome to a True Two-Newspaper Town

WILKES-BARRE, Penn.-- After passing through Detroit earlier this evening (with its two newspapers, The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press, our 18-hour visit to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania has begun. Among the many things I learned about the Wyoming Valley here is the story behind THREE newspapers that cover this region, two of them are based in Wilkes-Barre.

Both the Times-Leader and the Citizen's Voice are publishing daily editions here.

Not far up the road in Scranton, Pa., there is the The Times-Tribune, which considers itself the dominant newspaper player in the region with "Northeast Pennsylvania's Largest News Team."

But Wilkes-Barre's Times-Leader also publishes a "Scranton Edition," which just named a new editor, who was on the frontpage of the newspaper today.

And, as if that isn't fascinating enough for followers/fans of news media-- both the CBS affiliate, WYOU-TV and the NBC affiliate, WBRE-TV broadcast from the same studio. The two stations are owned by Nexstar Broadcasting as is, a Web portal for this region.

We hope to see it for ourselves tomorrow-- even as we prepare to address high school students from around the Northeast Pennsylvania region attending the Tom Bigler Conference on the Wilkes University campus.

It will be a packed, but exciting day to be in the Keystone State.

Stay tuned!

In The Motor City for Big Week for Newspaper Industry

DETROIT-- It was only a 75-minute layover between flights, but my stop here at Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport today was long enough to make a 20-minute trek through the airport in search of two newspapers that represent a MAJOR change in the newspaper industry-- The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press.

After visiting two news stands and finding absolutely no copies of either local newspaper, I went down two levels, three moving sidewalks and another long escalator before entering the new concourse and finding two crinkled-front page issues of the Detroit News and three copies of The Free Press. YES! I had to take a picture (see at left) of these two newspapers simply because what I went through to get them.

It was definitely worth the trouble-- I have both issues today.

Earlier this week, the two newspapers stopped delivering newspapers to thousands of homes in the motor city, putting more emphasis on its online efforts.

With the March 30th headline "The New Free Press Starts Today" Publisher Paul Anger says the Web site has more updates than ever.

The exact copies of the newspaper online reportedly caused higher than anticipated delays

Meanwhile the newspaper printed more than 500,000 print copies of both newspapers for free at more than 18,000 retail locations where the newspapers are usually sold.

In today's Free Press, a surprise for me to find a former city manager from my hometown-- Richmond, Va. Robert Bobb is now here in the motor city

Meanwhile, the competing newspaper, which is now owned by Media News Group, the Detroit News features several new section likes THINK, EATS & DRINKS and DRIVE. All three debuted today.

But, my favorite article in the Detroit News talks about my end of the news industry, the television business. A story on 2A announces that two of the city's television stations, WXYZ-TV, a market-leading ABC station, which is owned by the E. W Scripps Company, and FOX-owned WJBK-TV are partnering up to share resources on coverage of "general news events."

All these changes in media in Detroit are happening as the eyes of the nation turn there as the site of the NCAA Final Four