Tag Archives: journalism

Whitworth #JMC335 Mid-Term Feedback

We’re now halfway through the term at Whitworth University, and it’s my first time teaching the Interactive Journalism (JMC 335) course. The students have been learning about the important role that social media and technology plays in today’s journalism, PR and marketing fields. In addition to classroom lectures, presentations, workshops and readings, they have been required to blog and tweet (and encouraged to tweet beyond the scope of classroom assignments).

While it seems that they have, for the most part, been learning a lot about social media, what I am uncertain of is how well my teaching style is working and whether the readings were relevant (and even being read by the students). So, I followed the advice of the interim department chair, and surveyed the students with a few simple questions, in order to gather feedback and make adjustments if necessary.

Here are the questions:

  1. What has most helped your learning so far in this course?
  2. What has least helped your learning so far in this course?
  3. Please complete this sentence: “I would get more out of this course if I would…”
  4. And this one: “I would get more out of this course if the instructor would…”
  5. The textbook is…

And here’s some of the (generalized) feedback I received:

  • The workshops (Twitter, blogging, FlipCam, etc.) have been beneficial. My intent is to find more opportunities to have more of these.
  • The class period can, admittedly, jump around from time to time. While I do come into class with a lecture plan, it is quite easy to veer off the subject of interject something that seems random. I need to work on a better in-class “game plan.”
  • Some of the students admitted that they haven’t been doing the reading assignments. So, I’ll be investigating some options to hold them more accountable, as the readings are short, easy and relevant.
  • While some haven’t been reading the textbooks, others have noted that they either like the books or don’t. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an ideal textbook out there, that I’ve found, that would cover this course. But, I think the two required textbooks supplement the class well, and The New Rules of Marketing & PR book will be particularly useful for them in the future. After the course, I’ll have to survey the landscape again to see if there are new resources I should be requiring them to read.
  • Yes, for some reason, I refer to kittens a lot in class. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have an obsession for them. However, it seems like kittens are always popular on social media. Perhaps I should diversify the references.
  • They have mentioned the need for a handout. There is one posted on Blackboard for the course, but I’m guessing not everyone has seen it. Be sure to reference (and update as necessary) the handout and provide summaries, too.
  • More examples of social media case studies have been requested as well. I found two in a book that were quite relevant to the journalism aspect of the course. Researching more case studies and sharing them with the class would be helpful.
  • The three-hour class period can be long and monotonous. I should find opportunities to break it up with more breaks, group work, etc.
  • A few more items: sharing latest trends, examples (or instructions) on how to write good blogs, etc.

I also received some great feedback from the interim department chair as well, and I’m already looking at opportunities to incorporate these into the class:

  • Different questioning methods, such as: clusters, individuals by name, and group discussions/answers.
  • Having the students write down one thing they want to share and one thing they didn’t quite understand (or have questions about) regarding the reading, at the beginning of class, to help hold them accountable.
  • Require them to write about the readings for some of their blog posts.
  • Find the intersection between “redundancy” and “novelty” (used in “Information Theory”) in class time.

I think that with all of this feedback, I can help the second part of the course be even more interactive and engaging for the students.



Notes from the “Meet the editor of The Oregonian” forum

The Portland Metro Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held it’s January forum featuring the new editor of The Oregonian, Peter Bhatia. He spoke about the current state of journalism, it’s future and updates about the newspaper.

The following are my raw notes.

A decade ago, it was inconceivable for newspapers to be going bankrupt. They were cash cows. Though, many of the newspapers are still around and they’re doing well.

The digital transformation has put us in a place we never expected we would be.

Some people have their opinions on what the future is going to be. Pete isn’t so sure. Nobody really knows what the future holds for us. He believes they will be around for quite some time, publishing on paper and be profitable. The technology is going to determine the future.

The Oregonian spends much of their time trying to aggressively grow their online presence. They still derive 90% of their income from their print medium.

He’s not worried about citizen journalists or bloggers.

At The Oregonian, they believe in:

  • Verification
  • Deep reporting
  • Authenticity
  • Checked before publishing
  • Anchored in the principles and standards of journalism

They work hard to preserve journalism the way it has been. They can’t control nor do they want to control what bloggers do. They also don’t want to push them out or ignore them.

What’s important to him is that journalism survives, no matter what medium it uses.

The Oregonian is working on initiatives that will include UGC = user generated content (community journalism).

He’s interested to see how the New York Times’ new pay-for-online news model works. However there are a number of models that have been discussed for Internet journalism.

The corporate stance on the back-end software that supports The Oregonian’s website is that “mobile is not important” at the moment.

The Oregonian’s Associated Press (AP) embargo is aimed to limit the usage of their stories so that they receive proper credit.

The Oregonian still has nearly 100 reporters on staff after all of the cutbacks. There’s another staff reduction coming in about a month.

Readership is going up, due to the online component, but print readership is going down.

Notes from the “The Future of Portland’s media industry” forum

On January 20, 2010, the Portland Business Alliance held their monthly forum. This month, they focused on Portland’s media industry, and featured a panel of local professionals, including: Richard Meeker (Willamette Week), Steve Clark (Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers), Morgan Holm (Oregon Public Broadcasting), DJ Wilson (KGW News Channel 8) and Bob Proffitt (Alpha Broadcasting).

The following are my raw bullet-point notes.

Concerns expressed by panelists:

  • Staying up on top of technology is difficult and spendy.
  • Concerned people will not care about what they do.
  • Difficulty of recycling newspapers.
  • Radio is betting on the radio business as a whole. 9 out of 10 people listen to it during the week.
  • They are concerned about their local businesses and the community.
  • Looking at being content-focused.
  • No new money coming in. Trying to do new, bigger stuff with the same amount of money or less.

Comments on Social Media

  • Twitter has evolved to be the single most important tool for breaking news.
  • Facebook is very much a social medium – what they push out there is different than their breaking news mediums – trying to be more personal.
  • Can’t just tweet nonsense.
  • “Please don’t become your own journalist.”