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Archive for August 27th, 2007

Life lists… as an alternative story format

Monday, August 27th, 2007

NYT: 10 Things to Do Before This Article is Finished

This is a pretty fun, effective way to write that article.

And in case you’re wondering, I’ve had my “life list” online for a few years now at 43 things. Actually, I need to check off one of the items — make a scrapbook of my college years — because I finished it this summer.

You can also see some of the goals I already accomplished, like “learn to play the piano” (which involved a really time-consuming and painfully bad class my final semester of college), and “move out of Ohio, even if I end up coming back.” My practice so far has just been to move out one goal when I accomplish it and replace it with another, so I haven’t really made “progress” on my list. But then, at 22, I have plenty of time to do all that.

And hey, I slept in this morning. (It’s been a long time since my eyelids were closed past 10 a.m.)

QOTD: Determine never to be idle…

Monday, August 27th, 2007

“Determine never to be idle… It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”
— Thomas Jefferson

Hello Franklin Hall, future of student media

Monday, August 27th, 2007

When I was home last week, Stater adviser Carl Schierhorn gave me a personal tour of Franklin Hall. (In hindsight, as in right now that I’m finally penning this post, I should have taken photos and video and given you all a bird’s eye view. I’ll chock it up to stupidity and the fact that I was officially “on vacation” and instead just send you over to the JMC Franklin Hall slide show about move-in progress and the archived stories about the building at the site.)

Tomorrow (er, it’s midnight, so Today), is the first day of classes in the new journalism building. The Stater is continuing production from it’s Taylor Hall hub for at least the next few weeks, while the converged newsroom is being finished. Meanwhile, TV2 has set up shop in the former Student Media business office next door to the Stater newsroom. Not a perfect situation, but a much closer relationship than was even a pipe dream a decade ago.

This is the beginning. No more StaterOnline. No more tv2.kent.edu. Welcome to the future of student media, Kent State students: Kent News Net. One product, always on, always improving.

Though the layout looks a bit rough right now and hiccups pop up throughout the site, the content of which is mostly the annual orientation issue, you get the idea.

There’s Black Squirrel Radio podcasting and TV2 newscasts right alongside the Stater’s stories. Even prominent linkage to the Burr (student magazine). Add to it helpful links to other key KSU sites — like Flashline (the all-important hub of Student resources online) — and Stater.you action on the sidebar, and it’s definitely a winner.

As I walked the dusty halls of Franklin with t-minus a week to classes in the building, I was more than a bit jealous. I want the big collaborative classrooms and shiny new computer labs. I want the converged newsroom, with its conference rooms and single assignment desk. I want windows in the journalism classrooms (there were NONE in Taylor Hall, the faculty and Stater hogged all the windows on the first floor of the building). Amazing things are going to come out of those rooms. And though I’m excited about the opportunities for future KSU grads, I’m a bit sad I wasn’t able to partake. (And no, as I told every single person who saw and subsequently asked me during my tour of Franklin Hall, grad school is not on my horizon for a very, very, very, very long time, if ever.)

Though the new building is amazing, there are some things that will be missed:

  • Taylor Hall is central to campus. Franklin’s out in BFE comparatively, at the very corner of campus. (But, it’s a heck of a lot closer to Starbucks and Chipotle, and even the bars for those after-a-long-night-of-production celebrations.)

  • The faculty are in what Carl called “pods,” and though they might like their bigger offices off the main drag, I think the relationship with their students will change as a result. How many great conversations did I have from the hallway door of my professor’s offices while I was on my way in or out of the Stater? How much great advice did I happen upon because I stopped in to ask a non-pressing question or simply say, “What’s new?” as I meandered past. Professor hallway is no more. Now, students will have to deliberately go out of their way, to another floor even, to talk to the professors. Likewise, it will be harder for the profs to track down students who won’t be hanging down the hall in the Stater office or in the JMC office reading room area (which is now in an entirely separate area). How many mentor relationships won’t be sparked? I don’t know. But this seems like probably the biggest loss to me. Then again, the professors will probably be more productive with fewer student interruptions, so who knows.
  • The Stater loses its window to campus. Not only is it in BFE, it doesn’t have a window overlooking the commons. I never realized how important that wall of windows was until I worked in an office without a single window to the outside. Now, granted, this isn’t the case for the new newsroom, but there will be some loss in identity to student media when thousands of kids on their tours of campus aren’t marched past the Stater newsroom on their way to the May 4 memorial. There’s something to be said of walking past the newsroom. Even for non-readers, you couldn’t help but notice the Stater existed because you saw it every time you went past.
  • There’ll also probably be fewer pick-up games of football, frisbee, four square or kickball — and when the weather was ripe, lunch tray sledding down Blanket Hill — than there were when I was there. This was an amazing de-stresser, not to mention a good way to get to know each other beyond the confines of class and work.
  • And finally, there will be no 100 Taylor Hall. I know it’s silly to be sad about that, but I am. The next time I’m on campus, the room where I spent more time during college than anywhere else combined won’t exist. At least not in the way I know and love it. It was hard for me to be there last week and think about that. All the amazing fun times and friends I made, all the great stories we produced, all the days I was proud and the conversations I wish never had to happen, but which made me stronger. All I’ll have the next time I walk past those windows is my memories.

I realize that list seems longer than the benefits. I assure you it’s not. I’m just a bit nostalgic, that’s all.

And on that note, I’m out.

Good luck to all the Stater staffers, who probably haven’t even sent tomorrow’s paper and as is tradition missed deadline by a long shot tonight, the first night of daily production. And Godspeed to the next generation of student media at Kent State.

What j-school really is good for

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Tomorrow is my friend Trent’s first day at my paper.

I’m so excited. He’s one of my favorite people from Kent, and the idea that he’ll be working with me is awesome for two reasons. First, it’s nice to have someone around who I’ve known longer than seven months and with whom I can totally be myself because he’s seen me in just about every state I could possibly find myself in — and vice versa. Second, he’s a talented designer, and I look forward to the creativity he’ll bring to the job.

Abbey also starts her job this week, on Tuesday. She interned in Lafayette this summer, and she and I definitely spent quality time together. I was so sad for her to go but so happy for her to land a job (even though I’d rather she had taken one closer to me). She’s going to cover night cops in Newark — Ohio, not New Jersey, as we have learned it is necessary to qualify. I do think it would be awesome to cover cops in Newark, NJ. You’d never be bored. :/

Moving on to my original point, I’m just as excited about the futures of both these friends (OK, and all the rest of you’ns who have recently started your jobs or will do so soon — I want updates!). And also for one of my best friends at the J&C, who also is stepping into a new role soon.

Something about having other friends who are professionals makes me feel older, more mature. In a good way.

I’m not just a college-aged person masquerading as a real reporter, which is secretly how I felt the first six months. I was proving myself, to myself. But know what? I am a real journalist. And now, so are many of my friends.

Aside from beat contacts who know my name and contact me with ideas (something that takes some time to develop), I have connections beyond my beat and paper. Not just ties to a university, but ties to real people at other real papers doing their real jobs. I can use my connections here and elsewhere to help others get jobs, as I’ve done twice so far for un-posted jobs (to my own “networking is pointless, talent wins any day” surprise). Who knows, eventually, to help me get a job or do my job better. I can trade story ideas and horror stories with friends who are covering the same beat as me in different communities. I can talk to them about awesome multimedia they’ve done or seen that I want to try. I can follow their blogs (look at the side of this page, the DKS throwback list keeps growing!) or their lives through Facebook.

It’s funny because, as I alluded to earlier, I used to think networking was stupid. If you were talented and driven, that would be enough. But I’ve learned talent and hunger isn’t so rare. If my job search and the subsequent job searches of my friends has taught me anything it’s this: The value of my j-school education had nothing to do with what I learned in media writing or copy editing. I could have and would have learned that anyway. Even in key classes like beat reporting and RPA, I learned more through my work at the Stater. The real value of a j-school education is the other talented and passionate people you meet. I feel fortunate that tomorrow there will be another Kent Stater sharing my newsroom again and for good this time. Who knows whether I’ll luck into more jobs with more of my talented friends later on?