Tag Archives: journalism

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.

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Is central Iowa home to the next great media brand?

For a journalism student, the blogosphere lately has been full of conversations that should lead to some reflection opportunities. First, there’s been the debate surrounding Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten’s public claim denouncing journalists’ personal branding. Then yesterday, Jeff Jarvis posted a less talked about, but insightful, post on Buzz Machine dealing with the value of relationships in journalism versus content. Two seemingly different topics, however, for my peers and for up-and-coming journalists at Simpson College, they weave themselves together in a discussion that’s worth taking apart.

To sum up Jarvis’ “Content Dethroned” post in a paragraph (be sure though, to go and read the post), today, it’s not articles, photos or video in and of themselves that attract people to our journalism. Content now, Jarvis argues, is user generated (i.e., status updates on Facebook) and it’s everywhere. Now, value comes from creating relationships and extracting connections from the mass amount of data that users create. He sites a study in which researches were able to predict the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Industrial Average based upon Twitter conversations. Interpreting and reporting these types of connections is the direction in which Jarvis says journalists must realign themselves.

It seems that those on the forefront of new media certainly agree with Jarvis and give credibility to his claim. Keeping that in mind, I’m going to make what may be a radical claim. I think it’s possible for the next great media brand to come out of Simpson College. I’ve been around the people enough to know that the potential is there. Here’s my reasoning.

First, if there’s one thing a liberal arts education prepares you for, it’s making and drawing upon connections between multiple disciplines. It certainly happens in Simpson’s classrooms, but a few students are carrying these connections to the web as well. Check out Senior Erin Guzman’s sites, including her blog and tumblelog. Often, she writes about her studies as a religion major or her world travel and she integrates Twitter (amongst tweets about her roomates’ summer adventures) as a tool for philosophic discussions. It’s personal, but also has journalistic merit and draws connections in a way that is meaningful for readers.

Second, fortunately, we’re in an area of the country where people are building technologies that are fundamentally meant to connect people. This, I think, was highlighted at Macy Koch’s Startup Storm event in April, where speakers such as Dwolla‘s Ben Milne discussed entrepreneurship and startups. While these companies have little to do directly with journalism, the sounding board for ideas that Des Moines-based professionals can offer could be a huge resource for students if they reach out. It’s one personal goal of mine to become more aggressive in networking and I’d love to have more join me.

Also at Startup Storm, Lava Row founder and CEO Nathan Wright complimented Simpson students on being extremely active on social networks, specifically Twitter. While there’s always room for improvement, I think Simpson has some serious momentum on Twitter. If students would readjust their focus on how they use the network, they could be exposed and expose others to the ideas and conversations from which future media brands will grow.

I hope that there are a few others in the Simpson community who see this happening and who recognize the potential for growth. This brings me around to my final point, launching the next great media brand from Simpson College. In one of the many blogs arguing Weingarten’s anti-branding stance, I read a quote from Forbes editor Lewis DVorkin. “Pandering for traffic is not brand building. Winning the respect of your audience is.” To win respect, there must first be a relationship. Simply combine the understanding of relationships and the resources I highlighted above with the passion for communicating and community that I’ve seen multiple times from Simpson students, and you have the recipe for a great brand, right from the “small” school in the middle of Iowa. And who knows, this brand could be developed through the efforts of an enterprising student, or through the team efforts of The Simpsonian (I think it’s poised for great things this year). All that matters is that somebody gets out and does it.