Cool Links #68: The One About Diet Promises

I’ve been dying to use the “Friends” title of the week meme for one of my posts.  Now I’ve done that.  I have to agree with the Principal’s Page blog, school is making me FAT!  OK, I’m the one.  I eat the calories and don’t hit the treadmill.  So, I’m going to end each cool links blog post with a – minus number of pounds (good) or a + plus number (bad) of pounds from my starting weight.  That way I have some accountability and you don’t have to know just how FAT I am, only if I’m making headway to my goal. So on to the links.

1 – If you read my last post, and you should, then you already know the Edublog Awards are back.  Nominate your favorite blogs by Dec. 8.  I’ve already got two nominations, so I feel great.  There are a ton of categories, so please nominate your favorite educational blogs.

2 – I think I ran across this one on Digg, Emily Kostic’s blog has a Vimeo video about racist searches on Google.  The video is small and hard to read, but worth the time.  It really makes you think about how members of various racial and ethnic groups feel when they see those kinds of searches on the automatic recommendations on Google.  Maybe Google should do something about it.  I think so.

3 – Wikinomics has an interesting piece on Journalism and the future of news.  It is really sobering when you think about the fact that newspapers have only been around for 400 years and the profession of journalism for less than 200.

4 – This link comes from a new source on my RSS reader – The Teacher Chronicles and the story is about how the most important things we teach in the classroom can not be taught with technology.  So true.

5 – I’m really going to try this next idea with my broadcast students.  Just For TV Teachers says to get them to tell you JUST ONE NEW THING with each news piece.  I like it.

6 – There have been a lot of stories lately about Rupert Murdoch and his complaining about worthless readers.  I am at the other end of the spectrum.  We have a ton of people who “just look” at our photos on smugmug.  They don’t buy, but we have seen a lot more buzz and response to our yearbook this year.  I think some of it is due to the fact that the students and parents have seen the photos that are going into the yearbook.  You just have to find a physical product to see to virtual eyeballs.

7 – Last week I blogged about how newspapers/TV stations are slow to keep up with new technology.  And I think this is one reason why – check out this story about several TV reporters who may be fired because of what they Twittered on their news station feed.

8 – If you aren’t reading this blog and others in an RSS reader, then you should be.  Here’s RSS in plain English.

9 – Kudo’s to Brian Williams of NBC News and the LA Times for finally getting around to reporting some Good News.

10 – My video students are always complaining that they don’t need to storyboard.  Here’s a great rebuttal from Creating Lifelong Learners.

Weight Goal +/- zero.  Tune in next week to see how I’ve done.


The Edublog Awards Are Back

Last year I did get a nomination for an Edublog Award and it was nice to be nominated.  But even if I don’t get a nod, I’d like to put up my nominations for the 2009 Edublog Awards.

Best individual blog –
Best individual tweeter –
Best group blog –
Best new blog –
Best student blog –
Best resource sharing blog –
Most influential blog post –
Best teacher blog –
Best educational tech support blog –
Best elearning / corporate education blog –
Best educational use of audio –
Best educational use of video / visual  –
Lifetime achievement –

Why not go through your RSS feed and post a list of nominations.

Cool Links #67: Pumpkin Pie Post

For me, the best part of Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie.  I’ve already had a slice and will probably have to go to the store on Wednesday and buy another pie.  This is not helping in my battle to drop some weight.  I’m seriously thinking of Twittering my weight once a week in an effort to provide some external motivation.  What do you think?  Post it here @Teach_J. Now on to the low fat links.  With even more holiday flavor.

1 – I’m not a regular reader or a fan of The Scobleizer (the man with a huge following on Twitter), but this link came via my Twitter feed and I agree with a lot of the premise.  I’ve been lamenting this trend on this blog for some time – the blurring between the ad space and the content space.  The loss of ethics and standards of journalistic conduct.  And if those stories aren’t enough to crush your inner journalist, then watch this video of an LA Times reporter on Dancing With The Stars and wonder where is journalism heading?

Reporting on The Stars?

Reporting on The Stars?

2 – Is The Internet Dying? Or is it experiencing the same slowdown as the global economy?  Here’s a slideshare that shows Internet traffic is down to a great many sites.  The question is why?  I’m wondering if it is due to mobile devices.  I’m not sure that the google metrics the slideshow uses show mobile hits.

3 – I love guerrilla marketing.  Anything different, outrageous or funny will get people’s attention.  What makes it effective is if you make a point too.   Here are some good examples, now I just want to know how we can take these ideas and translate them into good ideas to sell yearbooks.

4 – If you are like me, you spend a lot of hours in front of a screen both at work and at home.  I really like this Lifehacker article about making your workstation ergonomic.

Make your workspace ergonomic

Make your workspace ergonomic

5 – Thanks to Viewfinder Blues for putting me onto the trail of this gem.  You’ve got to love the pure ’80s schlock value.   Funny, yet satisfying.

6 – The copyblogger has been one of my favorite blogs for a long time.   Short, useful posts like this one are why – The Art of the Paragraph.

7 – Thanks to the wonderful Suzanne Yada for posting this interview with blogger and head TWIT Leo Laporte on the future of journalism.

8 – Copyblogger strikes again with this post about EMINEM and how he is a great storyteller.  I don’t like his music, but there’s no disagreeing with his success as a rap artist, which comes mainly from connecting with his audience.

9 – This next link is just for fun – 8 Video Games that Feature Photographers. My favorite:

Pokemon Snap

10 – Poynter Online has posted a site and a Twitter stream called 100 Things Journalists Should Never Do. Some of it is repetitive, but worth a look.

11 – Advancing The Story has a list of Five Don’ts for Multimedia journalists.  Best take away – Don’t complain about carrying gear. There are hundreds of darn good reporters out there who are carrying resumes right now who would kill to be carrying gear.

12 – DigiDave thinks we can save the communication of information without “Big J Journalism.”   I’m sorry, but I disagree.  I think that without journalists backed with deep pockets, we lose the power of the press to big corporations.  I agree that the current model is broken both at newspapers and broadcast.  People bought the paper for the sports section or the crossword puzzle, the news came as a bonus.  Same with TV, they watch CBS or NBC for the entertainment, but once or twice a day there is also news.  It was good for our democracy.  People were informed by happy coincidence.  Under this new model of the future.  Journalism will be smaller and only found by those looking for it.  Well, as they say, most news is bad news.  Most people would rather not.  The uncoupling of news from everything else in a newspaper or an entertainment source like a TV network will hurt journalism.   It will diminish both the quantity and quality of the news.  The lack of profit will drive talented journalists into other businesses and those few who remain will produce less, thus less news.  Business and government will not care.  There are so many easy ways to spin their PR to the populace.  And now there will be fewer journalists out there to ask the hard questions.

13 – I like this post from the Clever Sheep – Ten Trends for the Classroom of Tomorrow.  But the first one needs to be  getting rid of the Internet nannies in every school IT department.  Otherwise, none of the great Web 2.0 tools will ever see the light of day in a classroom.

Sorry this took so long to get out this week.  I’m on holiday time and that means everything is a little slower.



That Charged Topic: Race and Prejudice

Today, I had a discussion about race with some of my broadcast students.  We discussed how prejudice still exists even today, although it may not be as bad or as prevalent as it once was.  But that does not mean it doesn’t exist, even subtly.

Race is still a very charged topic in this country and in many schools, despite the fact that we have an African-American president.  And every school and every community is different.  You need to know your community, its values and its racial issues.  This is especially true if you teach yearbook.

As a high school journalism teacher, you need to understand the racial divides and past of your community to know where the hot button issues lie.  Then it is your job to make sure your students treat every ethnic, racial and minority group with respect.

In yearbook, this is even more important, because a yearbook is not only about journalism.  It is also part of the public face of the school, it is a treasured piece of the community’s history and it is a memory book for the students.  It is not a place for controversy or prejudice.

The book may have to cover sensitive subjects should they become a part of the news events of the year on campus.  Should this happen, regardless of the publication or broadcast, it is important for young journalists to have an understanding of proper ethical behavior and how prejudice can affect coverage.

1)  Make sure to do your best to recruit a multicultural, multi-ethnic and diverse staff.  This helps to put a face on groups that might be a small part of your campus.  It humanizes it for other staff members.

2) Try to have a gender balance on your staff – or at least recruit for your weaknesses.  At my school yearbook tends to draw more girls and broadcast more boys.  So, we recruit to try to gain more in our weak area.

3) Teach your students to be inclusive.  Make sure they reach out to ethnic minorities on their campus.  At my school, this includes Anglos (Caucasians or European-Americans) since they are only seven percent of our student body. When choosing who to interview for “man on the street” subjects and other similar interview styles, make sure that all facets of your student body are included.

4) Teach your students not to show opinion or be judgmental when dealing with subjects that are controversial, including racial issues.  But this also includes religion, sexual preference, abortion, death penalty, etc.  These are issues that can inflame the community and hurt students if not handled properly.  This does not mean never covering those issues, but it means that they must be handled with the highest standard of ethical behavior.

5) Train your photographers to be diverse when taking photos.  Of course photos need to be taken of the stars of a sport, but that doesn’t mean you never shoot the bench.  Make sure they are inclusive of all members of a group.  When shooting the band at halftime, don’t just shoot the brass.  There are woodwinds and percussion too.  Diversity takes many forms when approaching different groups.

6) Students need to be grounded in the law.  There are legal matters to understand when it comes to certain groups like special education students.  They are legally protected and students need to know when it is appropriate to take photos of them and when it is not.

7) Finally, make sure that the journalism room is a place where students can feel safe to express an opinion without others making fun or shouting them down.  Make it a place where all students know they will be heard as long as they are willing to show respect for others.  Let the students know that you respect their feelings even if you don’t always agree with their opinions.  And model for them the proper respect that they should show to others when they don’t agree with them.

As a teacher it is our place to help our students learn how to deal with the world of work that they will one day be a part of and those work places do not permit prejudice or discrimination.  We owe it to them to model proper behavior and insist that they follow the rules of ethical journalism in our classrooms.

It basically comes down to cultivating a culture of respect in your classroom.  Journalists are supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  But always, we must remember that our viewers and readers are part of the same community we are a part of.  It is important to be respectful of every part of that community, because we can’t cover the news in a part of the community that we don’t show respect to.

Sometimes teaching ethical behavior is hard, but it is a must-do in journalism.

Cool Links #66: The Web is Everywhere But Our Schools

In an effort to “protect” our children, we block anything and everything on the internet at school.  I’m not saying blocking pornography, graphic violence and profanity is a bad thing.  But many schools go way beyond that.  They block any site that allows commenting, opinion or “unfiltered” content.  They also block bandwidth “hogs” like video and multimedia.

Think of just about any Web 2.0 tool and it is blocked at many schools – Twitter, Wikis, blogs, Skype, YouTube, Flickr, etc.

And yet it doesn’t stop them.  So many students come to school with the internet in their pocket.  They have smart phones that are web enabled, they just go around that AND they can get the other stuff too – the stuff we really don’t want them accessing at school.  But because we have made the internet useless, they just bring their own.

Now on to the links that many of us won’t be able to access at school, just like this blog.

1 – Copyblogger says that there are seven harsh realities of the internet that content producers need to know.  Great list, just replace blog with newspaper, TV station, etc.

2 -10,000 Words blog wonders “Do Journalists Really Look Like This?” You really need to check out the hot and nerdiness of reporters on this site.

3 – Mastering Multimedia has 10 Ways To Make Your Photographs Better.  Best take away is know your camera!  But the second best one is use good lenses.  We bought one 80mm Prime lens that has made our photography in the gymnasium 10 times better.

4 – Thanks to the Fail Blog for this newspaper fail.

Headline Fail

5 – This is inspiring, but we’re still not sure how to make hard news pay for itself.  This young single mother turned her make up tips blog into a paying business.

6 – This is true for video shooters, photographers and reporters doing interviews – pay attention.  What else is there to say?

7 – This site is pretty interesting, it is a national “tween” newspaper called the  The stories are tween-focused, but a lot of them come from the AP.  I’d like to see more tween written content on the site.

8 – The Newsosaur has a well composed argument that newspapers are too tradition bound to survive in the internet age because they are always asking, “Who else is doing that?” before they try something new.

9 – The Copy Paste blog has a useful lesson idea that might spice up headline writing.  The lesson uses a painting to help teach students how to summarize.  Great idea.

10 – The Online Journalism Blog has a great lesson idea – Mapped Story Telling.  It is his concept to replace the inverted pyramid with a “tumbled pyramid,” especially in online storytelling.

11 – One of my favorite blogs is Notes From A Teacher.  It has been rather quiet this last six months or so, but when there is a post, the quality is astounding.  This time he equates journalism with playing the violin. And I can’t agree more.  I play two instruments myself, trumpet and French horn.  I loved playing when I was in high school and college.  I also love writing and shooting, designing, etc.  I love journalism.  His best take away – it’s better when done with someone else.  I think that was always the appeal of TV for me.

I enjoyed working for the newspaper, but it was such a solitary existence.  I enjoyed TV so much more, because most of the time you worked with others.  It was rare to work on a project alone in TV, at least in the old days.  But the solo mobile journalist is becoming the rule today, as the one-man-band was the exception back then.  That’s too bad, because I too think that working as a team is best.

I also agree that, like music, journalism takes time and hard work.  One of the things I’m fighting against, is a movement in US high schools to cut out elective classes in the first two years and then jam pack the final two years full of “career preparation.”  This does not give a high school student the longevity with the material that he/she needs to be successful.  One of my most successful former students was the editor of our school’s newspaper and yearbook in her four years in my class.  She went on to edit her junior college newspaper and is now a staff editor at Texas State University.  I wonder how her path would have been changed by only having two years of prep work, instead of four.

12 – The Oatmeal blog has a wonderful graphic on when to use and apostrophe and when to not use one.  This is a big problem for my students and I plan to share this with them.

13 – The Denver Post has an excellent collection of Berlin Wall photos from its construction to those wonderful days in 1989 when we thought that anything was possible and the Iron Curtain came tumbling down.

End of the Berlin Wall

14 – At some point in the future, we are supposed to get our copy of CS4 Creative Design Suite.  But not yet.  When we do, I will be spending a lot of time at Adobe TV.  Lots of tutorials and how to’s.

15 – The Lasolite School of Photography has a huge collection of lighting tutorials.  Well worth a look if you are trying to do studio or portrait lighting. And if that’s not enough, there is the Photoflex Lighting School with even more tutorials.

Wow, that was two days in the making.  Hope you find it useful.


Danger Will Robinson…The Link Economy Has A Dark Side

OK, I know I mixed my geek metaphors in my headline, but I wanted to explain my idea in a catchy way.  The thing that is bothering me right now is a collection of ideas that are percolating in my brain.  Dave Winer at Scripting The News hit the nail on the head about the danger of the link economy when it is mixed with journalism.

He has a great video of John C Dvorak at what appears to be an Apple Store and he is basically saying that he “baits” people with stories he know they will trip over themselves running to comment on.  This is especially easy for Mac stories, he says.  Then he posts a follow up story that says he was confused, but restates his original point, driving more traffic.  And then finally a second follow up that does a 180 on his original opinion.

Now he is an opinion writer, but this method of his is fairly successful.  We know it works to drive stories to the top of Digg or the Twitter trending topics list, etc.  Great, this is the link economy at work, some say.  What’s the problem?  The problem is, that it is dishonest.  It subverts the link economy.  It is baiting – creating traffic by creating controversy.

I see a future where journalists do this too.  What am I talking about, it is already happening in the present – FOX News, CNN and MSNBC all do it every day and night.  The internet will only cause this to spread as journalists become more and more dependent on driving traffic to their sites via the link economy.

The SimsBlog has an equally odious addition to this problem.  Judy Sims suggests that internet journalists should be asking their advertisers what they want in the publication.  She continues by saying that advertisers don’t want to be seen near the real news of the day.  It is too depressing.

Put the first concept with the second one and you have a recipe for journalists that cozy up to advertisers and write copy that gets a lot of traffic by stirring up controversy – not news.  Not the kind of controversy that unearthed the Watergate conspiracy or the kind of journalism that will keep future Enrons or Madoffs at bay.  It will be the kind of controversy like Bill Clinton’s Oval Office trysts with interns and Sarah Palin’s daughter’s out of wedlock pregnancy.

I also see reviews of products that are favorable to the advertisers of the site they are on.  I see automakers, filmmakers and other industries totally owning the “press” that cover them.  What backpack journalists can afford to anger their sponsors.  The margins at these future journalism sites will be so narrow that they won’t be able to afford lawsuits or to have their advertising pulled.

I think as we go forward, ethics and journalism are going to be more important as the temptation to game the system and cater to advertisers will be greater than ever, but I worry that the economics of journalism in the future may make these concepts seem outdated.

Cool Links #65: The Parent Post

Parental contact and involvement has been a running thread this week.  I attended the NHS induction for my daughter this week and I read several blog posts which focused on the subject.  I agree and believe that parental involvement can be the difference for kids, but how do you get reluctant parents to participate?

1 – Own the story.  That’s the advice of the Copyblogger, who recreates a scene from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.  Great story.

2 – The brand new online only Texas Tribune has a great piece on the problem of counting and dealing with high school dropouts.  It focuses on Texas, but it’s not just a Texas problem.

3 – This link feels like that endless chain of kids sitting in a circle repeating the same phrase – but Kirk Lapointe says that Jay Rosen has 10 points about social media that come from various places.  Check them out.

4 – If you use Macs, then has a solution for your problem – whatever it is, all 50 of them. Bonus from me #51, go the Apple Store.  I did today.  Got two cables cheaper than it would have cost me online.  New Macs should be running Monday.  Super take-away:  My CD or DVD is stuck in the optical drive and won’t come out when I press Eject.

5 – FreeTech 4 Teachers blog has this great share – the Washington Post is looking for nominations for the best education blogsNominate your favorite one!

6 – If you don’t already follow FakeAPStyleguide on Twitter, you should.  It is the funniest thing so far since Overheard In The Newsroom. MediaShift has an article about their success.

7 – This is so true and an area where school media can really dominate.

“(Local content) is the number one unmet need online.”

— Lisa Gurry, senior director at MSN, commenting about the brand new, which includes prominent integration of local news, weather, events and traffic.

8 – Business skills and journalism has been another area that seems to be a recurrent theme this week.  I can’t agree more that we need to teach the skills and journalists need to learn them, but salesmanship is also an art.  I worry that the focus on being a writer, videographer, photographer, designer, web master and now business sales guru is asking too much of most people.  I myself am pretty good at the first group, but suck eggs at business.  I also think that this is going to push the field of journalism even more towards PR and cults of personality.

9 – We are now teaching a generation of children who have no recollection of the Cold War.  It is ancient history, like WWII.  But only 20 years ago, pictures like this one changed the world as East met West and Germany was reunified.

The Day the Wall Came Down

The Day the Wall Came Down

I lived in Deutschland (Germany) for nine years on Army bases.  I remember the “Red Menace” and lived in constant state of concern that we would go to war with the USSR (Russia).  What a different world we live in today.  Check out the slide show on the site.

10 – Just got a brand new PC for your media program?  But none of the tools, like Flash or VLC or iTunes are up to date or even installed. is the solution, they will make a custom installer for your PC that will install one or up to 65 utilities, browsers and plugins that media specialists need every day.

11 – If you’re not reading this blog via RSS, then you should be.  Not just my blog, but every blog you read.  Don’t know how?  Check out the 10,000 words blog who will make it easy for you.

Finally, let’s all keep the teachers and students of Killeen Independent School District in our hearts, thoughts and prayers as well as all the families of the troops killed or wounded on that terrible day this week at Ft. Hood, Texas.  I spent five years in KISD schools and lived on Ft. Hood.  Military life, especially in a  time of war is difficult enough.  But this added burden will be with them for a long time.  Long after the TV trucks leave, they will be holding on to the emotions of that day.

Cool Links #64: The Deadline Post

Now that football season is nearly over, comes an even more important season:  Yearbook Season.  The first deadlines have come and I can now see which young, starry-eyed journalists are not entirely made for yearbook.  When checking stories and layouts, there seemed to be some missing content.  So, this week will be their last chance to impress and turn in their work.  It just seems like every year there are always a few kids that just don’t get the importance of turning in work on time in order to have a great book.  Oh, well, on to the links.

1 – What is the future of media? Good question and even better answer.  I love the snark in this quote:  How about an easy question like “What is the purpose of the universe?”

2 – The Bellringers blog wonders how we can live and prosper without – – – – – chocolate?  I think the Orwellian faction at the US Dept. of Ed. needs to get a grip.  This edict has killed two of our best fundraisers and the pressure of testing has killed another one.  We can’t sell food in any form during the school day AND we can’t have any activity that takes kids out of class during the school day. Brutal.  Anyone have an idea for a good fund raiser?

3 – Where was this table the other day when I needed it.  My web design class asked me what comes after petabytes.  I didn’t know.  Should have asked Wikipedia.

4 – I think the Internet is stealing my lessons.  LOL.  We were discussing the legalities of school officials forcing kids to take down photos from Myspace, etc.  Here’s another case where photos taken outside of school got kids in hot water in school.

5 – I totally agree with the Principal’s Page that we are pampering the Germ-Ex Generation entirely too much.  We also panic at the slightest provocation.

6 – In this digital world of photography, it feels like we’ve forgotten the beauty and power of black and white photography.  Maybe a lesson idea for my photojournalism kids!

Power of Black and White

Power of Black and White

7 – This video is so cool as a video teacher, I wish I had thought of it first.

8 – Good news:  Newspapers aren’t dying as fast as everyone says they are. And I believe that they won’t die, just shrink.  People will always need news and they want it to be ad supported and free to read, or very close to free.  What we are seeing is not the end of news, but the end of the organization known as a newspaper.  We don’t want everything that a newspaper used to bundle in one place.  In fact, most of us don’t need or want everything that’s in a newspaper.  Micro news sites will take their place, and that means fewer journalists unfortunately. (see article #1)

9 – I hate it when I come across a blog or video site that doesn’t have an RSS feed.  Andy Dickinson has a quick tip on how to make your own RSS feed.

10 – The 10,000 Words blog has a great post on how Alfred Hickcock can make you a better video creator.  I love this list of to do’s.

11 – I’m going to share this with my yearbook staff, because some of them need more passion – 10 Things Google has taught us. Best take away – Passion Wins!

Have a great week, but don’t give any candy to your students.