I’m Going To Summer Camp!

I was accepted to the ASNE summer workshop in Tempe, AZ on the ASU campus.  I’m so excited.  I can’t wait.

The Paper or Plastic: MTV Show Begins A Little Stiff

It is not every day that there is a TV show about high school journalism, so I’m not going to complain too much.  I watched MTV’s The Paper tonight online.  I actually enjoyed some parts of it.  The look of a high school newsroom is just about right.  The ubiquitous cell phones, the catty back biting, the girlfriend and boyfriend on staff are all fairly accurate.

But some of the scenes were obviously staged.  Such as Amanda (the new editor) laying out poolside – which only reinforces the comparisons to the High School Musical character Sharpay.  Some of the characters were obviously plastic too.  The girls practicing powder puff football in uniform.  That only happens on TV.   The advertiser who forgot his check.  Plastic.

I did like the fact that the staff actually did put out an issue in this episode and explained a few journalism terms.  I wish they were available for download, so I could use selected bits in class.  I’ll keep watching – I just hope it doesn’t turn into a soap opera set in a j-classroom.

Heartbreaking Photos From The San Jose Mercury

Just like the title says heart breaking.

If you are a young journalist thinking of working for a newspaper, here’s a good reason why you might want to rethink that.

Check Out A New Photo Every Day

The First Post has a cool photo of the day feature.  Not always safe for school – violence and sexuality.

Two Great Videos For Teachers

How I Got Into Teaching And What I Hate To Teach

I got into teaching kind of in a backwards way.  I always wanted to be a writer.  My grandfather used to let me tell him “silly stories” when I was about 3-years-old and after that I just always wanted to be a writer.  OK, for a while I wanted to be an astronaut, but hey what kid growing up in the ’70s didn’t.

I did kind of lose touch with writing for a while during middle school, but found it again as a writer for my high school newspaper.  I also took a video class in high school.  The two sparked my interest in journalism and when I went to college, journalism was a natural.

I loved working for my college paper and took every journalism class on writing and video I could.

The year after I graduated, the Dallas Times Herald was bought out and folded.  Then two years after that the San Antonio Light folded.  The market was flooded with reporters out of work.  After graduation, I took a job at a TV station.  I worked as a production assistant (the lowest of the low), but quickly got a promotion to Promotions Director and then worked as an On-Air Controller.  I really enjoyed working in TV.  But I started to wonder how much of a future did I have in the crowded world of journalism.

I interviewed for two journalism jobs while at my first job and there were so many other candidates for each position it was scary.  So, I went back to school and became a certified teacher.  I knew that teachers were in high demand and I could at least teach journalism, even if I couldn’t find a decent journalism job.

But then I was hired by another TV station as a producer/director – better job, more money, more fun.

It was at a PBS station on a college campus.  I was also expected to teach the students how to do all the jobs at the station.  I loved it.  I really liked working with the kids.  This was fun too.  And so after about two years I took a teaching job at a high school.

At first I didn’t teach TV because back in ’95 TV equipment was out of our budget.  But in 2001 we started our TV program.  Small at first, but eventually we have grown up to a weekly program.

As a journalism/media teacher I am called on to teach a variety of different things.  Just last year I became certified in Media Technology – this means I can now teach about six new classes.  Before I was certified to teach Newspaper, Yearbook, Photojournalism, Broadcast Journalism and Journalism.  Now I can teach web design, video technology, multimedia authoring and two other classes that I’m really not quite ready to teach.

Out of all the classes I teach, the one I hate teaching is photojournalism.  When I first became a teacher, my principal gave me my class list – I had three sections of photo-j.  I had one class of photography in college and I remember that I hated it.

In college I never got the hang of depth of field, didn’t understand how f/stops and shutter speeds worked together.  Only got the basics of ISO down.  I felt the magic of the darkroom, but didn’t understand it really.  I was only able to get my 10 assignments done through luck and persistence.  I usually got B’s and did get one A – a creative shot of a hood ornament in the rain.

After that class, I swore that I would leave photography to the photogs.

I did get an SLR from my parents as a gift.  I used it off and on for the next couple of years.  But mainly it sat, gathering dust.

When I got my nearly 90 photo kids my rookie year.  I started reading the photo books that had been left to me by my predecessor.  I was about one chapter ahead of the kids all year long.  Luckily none of them really knew anything about photography.  This would never fly today.  Most kids have a digital point and shoot and use them a lot.

Today we are all digital.  No more darkroom – which I hated.  Our darkroom was never fully functional.  Something was always broken – an enlarger, one of the safety lights, a developing tank, etc.  The chemicals were constantly needing to be refilled and kids used the photo paper like it was a candy bowl.

But that is all gone.  Yet I still hate teaching photojournalism.  Mostly because the kids who take the class have no skin in the game.  My other classes produce some kind of product – newspaper, yearbook, news podcast, web site, etc.  But this class is only one semester long and the kids produce individual works, but nothing they do as a group for others.  Most just sign up because it looks like fun.  They hear that photo kids are allowed to leave the classroom to take pictures.  And that is all they ever want to do.  ISOs, f/stops, depth of field – who cares?  They surely don’t.  My video kids think depth of field is cool.  My yearbook photogs slowly but surely learn how to control f/stops and shutter speeds.  They get it because they want to.  They want to learn it to make something better.

So, I guess I understand why math or English teachers are sometimes bitter.  They get kids who have no motivation to learn, but are expected to teach them complex subjects.  I at least have mostly motivated kids.  Except photo-j.  My dream is that one day I won’t have to teach photography, except to my yearbook photogs.

Still Dreaming…

I’m All A-Twitter, Sort Of…

At first I just didn’t get it.  Of course I’m a little slow, even when it comes to tech.  But Twitter just didn’t seem useful or user friendly.  So, I let my account kind of sit idle.  Unused.

But then I bought an iPod.  When I bought my iPod I really got into listening to podcasts.  I have always enjoyed vidcasts like Izzy Video and the Grip Guide.  But audio casts seemed like something that would take too much time.  This was all pre-iPod.

In the post iPod days, I listen to about four or five podcasts on a regular basis.  I love to listen to them on the way to and from work.  They are a great way to deal with the 20-30 minutes each way in the car.  I also love to listen to podcasts when I have to wait in line somewhere.  Or just wait.  It is almost better than a magazine.  Really good for the doctor’s office, returns line at Walmart or anywhere you might have to just chill waiting for a while.  I’m not a good waiter.  I hate waiting.  But now, I almost look forward to it, as long as I have 2 or more podcasts in my iPod.

But the really interesting thing is that nearly all the podcasters I like Twitter and love it.  So, I have been twittering and following them.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a compulsive twitter person, but I have managed to learn how to use it.