Monthly Archives: October 2011

From Orlando to Simpson College: Here’s what I’m bringing back

Welcome to Orlando

There was both learning and lounging at NCMC 2011.

The two days I spent in Orlando at the biannual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention were a college journalist’s utopia. Three days worth of sessions on all things journalism and storytelling; do yourself a favor and make the investment for the next convention!

But now it’s time to take all the lessons and ideas of the past few days and put them into practice.

So what would I hope to bring back to Indianola after two days in Orlando?

On my second day at the convention I attended a session entitled “Popular Culture: Finding the Big Ideas and Big Issues in Film, Music, TV, etc.” The session revolved around how small school papers can effectively cover cultural events and issues. The main takeaway from the session? Culture and arts coverage is best done at a hyperlocal level.

So, the goal is to take every movie or album review written for the paper and reflect it using a local lens. The examples given at the conference included interviewing professors in your school’s psychology department on a particular TV show’s perception of women and finding local bands — rather than national acts who already receive huge amounts of press — to cover.

Who can we cover?

Though we consider ourselves a small college, this shouldn’t be hard for students at Simpson. We have professors in two fantastic bands, The Monday Mourners and the Sonny Humbucker Band. I’ve never read about either band in the school paper, though both often play around the community.

Another student, Jake Bruce, plays in Pressing Forward, a heavy metal band based in Des Moines. They have recently played several shows in the area, and from all I’ve seen, they’re working hard to move the operation out of somebody’s basement to serious time on stage.

I think many would agree that for the first time in many years, Simpson’s opera program is realizing the value of opening up to public relations efforts, as well as journalists. Just read Bernard McDonald’s recent Simpsonian perspectives piece, in which he highlights the many leadership opportunities the opera program offers to non-music students. As Simpson College journalists, we have an opportunity like never before to produce hyperlocal content appealing to both students and a wide opera-loving audience outside of our school.

The Takeaway:

We have the talent and the resources to move beyond simple movie or show reviews. Excellent writers and videographers are just waiting for inspiration, opportunity and direction. It’s time Simpson journalists look at covering culture events with the full amount of multimedia tools at our disposal.

Thanks to Mike Longinow, Dean Nelson and David Dixon for hosting the above session. It was the most engaging session I attended in two days at the conference.

Thanks to the food prowess of Steven Chappell, we had a night of fine dining in Orlando. Behold the camarones con cana, with a delicious stuffed pepper, from Cuba Libre, a Cuban restaurant and rum bar.


Gillian Welch at Hoyt Sherman

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings appear to be traditionalists. Certainly a traditional ambience is present in everything from the pair’s stripped down instrumentation to Rawlings’ countryfied suit and cowboy hat. But the duo threw off any notion of country/folk traditionalism with their encore of “White Rabbit” at Friday night’s Hoyt Sherman Place show.

Seeing Welch and Rawlings brought a whole new context to their music for me. In person, Rawlings’ signature style of guitar playing is thrilling to hear and the pair’s harmonies were spot on, even without using on-stage monitors. Though the duo is known for their slow and even melancholy sound, there’s an energy in the way they perform seamlessly

Highlights of the night included the dynamic version of “Revelator,” in which Rawlings unleashed a solo that built up, holding the listener in suspense until the song’s final verse and the harmonies on “By the Mark.” While a performance of “Tear My Stillhouse Down,” would have been the icing on the cake, the setlist, chalk full of Welch’s best, still made for a great evening of folk music.