Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A&M students at college media conference in Austin

The 88th Annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention begins today in Austin, and runs through Sunday. Batt and Aggieland staff members are among the more than 2,000 college journalists and advisers who will be attending.

Topics include digital photography, coaching writers, the business and advertising side, using free conent management systems to publish online, covering college sports, designing for mobile media, real-world multimedia reporting, getting sources to talk to you, media law, and a LOT more. Good stuff.

Track it online: The Associated College Press has a blog on the conference, and search Twitter for the hashtag #ncmc09 to follow tweets from the conference.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Batt editor, Casanova '10, gets $3,000 scholarship

The Batt's editor, Amanda Casanova '10, left, was honored Saturday with one of 15 Headliners Foundation scholarships at a luncheon in Austin where Dan Rather spoke.

Casanova (see Battalion profile and previous post on her summer internship in Abilene) is a senior English major/journalism minor at Texas A&M. The press release sent out about the Headliners honor says she began her newspaper career in the seventh grade:
"She did a newspaper for our street; it was called the Ginnway Gazette," said Teresa Casanova, Casanova's mom. "It was just a one-pager and she would feature one of the kids in (the) neighborhood, or if a family was going out of town and she would write about it."

The release notes that Casanova interned the summer before last at her hometown paper, the Lufkin Daily News. The Headliners Foundation has provided more than $1 million to college students and recognizes journalists' achievements in Texas with the Headliners Awards.

Many thanks to Cheri for the news and photos!!

Aiiieee! It's just about internship deadline time

Lots of summer internship applications are due about now (for example, the Statesman's need to be postmarked Nov. 6 or earlier). Competition is likely to be tough, and I believe A&M requirements for journalism minors' internships have tightened up, so here's some info that could help. (Please do tell me if any links are out of date!)

Visit our internships/jobs page over at aggiejournalists.com for links including:
And join our LinkedIn group, where you can connect with hundreds of Aggie journalism grads and professionals. It never hurts to have an ally at the place where you're applying. Click to join and shoot me an e-mail if you don't get approved pretty quickly ( aggiejournalists@gmail.com ).

Friday, October 23, 2009

News publisher Palmer '69 recalls past, looks to future

The editor and publisher of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, Clarksville Times and Little River (Ashdown, Ark.) News, Bob Palmer '69, had a column in the Tribune this past weekend reminiscing about a slightly unusual t.u.-OU weekend:
I may actually be able to claim some notoriety or at least historical quirk. After all, how many Aggies have been to a t.u.-o.u. game - in uniform?

I'll let him tell that tale! But I did get to chat (via e-mail) a bit with him about his work.

Bob Palmer: I'm third generation with the Tribune. My grandfather, J. Frank Palmer, bought it in 1941 when it was a weekly. My father, R.B. Palmer, rejoined the paper after service in World War II. Similarly, I returned to Mount Pleasant after my service in Vietnam. I am one of the truly lucky people in this life who gets to do what he wants to do where he wants to do it. Community journalism can get very real and very personal, but I wouldn't trade my beat for any one else's.

We've been putting copy on line for more than 10 years. Still trying to get accustomed to having my roommate my senior year at A&M read last Sunday's column in Chicago before my copy was delivered at home On the whole we are surviving the most difficult economic time since the Great Depression.

More than 10 years of online copy! What pushed you to get in that early? What did you post online originally? And do you still print a "dead-tree" edition? (I'm assuming so, but you know what they say about assuming)

Palmer: We have a tradition of being innovative. My father was the second publisher in East Texas to go offset. In the '90s we had a production manager who was very techno-savvy and he created a basic page where we would post a few stories each day.

We still publish a print edition, which I believe still has a strong future. In fact we are installing a new (used) press this year. The chicken littles running around the room screaming, "Print is dead," sound a lot like earlier doomsayers who proclaimed our demise with the advent of radio and television.

Newspapers must evolve and change, but I think there will still be adequate numbers who will prefer a print edition delivered to their home at a predictable time to be attractive to advertisers. This core print base will be supplemented by on-line efforts, texting and e-mail bursts and who knows what in the future.

We live in interesting times. It remains to be seen if that is a blessing or a curse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A giant LeBlanc '86 towers over Austin drivers

I never did get a pic of that Loren Steffy '86 billboard, but Pam LeBlanc '86, fitness reporter, auto reviewer, travel writer and all-around prolific person for the Austin American-Statesman, is currently the star of her own billboard, as well as a Statesman TV ad. She tweeted this pic the other day, noting, "Yikes! I'm towering over traffic on Ben White!!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Batt staffers cover presidential visit in print, online

With staffers inside and out, the Battalion was all over President Barack Obama's visit Friday to Texas A&M. Inside Rudder, Obama and former president George H.W. Bush spoke; outside, a thousand or so demonstrators waved signs and chanted. It was the second visit to A&M by a sitting president in less than a year.

Here's today's front page:

Live updates were posted via Twitter – @thebattonline and @thebatt_editor (editor Amanda Casanova).

As a former Batt cohort of mine pointed out, "Kinda puts us in our place for thinking that Dan Quayle visiting in 1992 was a big deal."

Cash for positive reviews? No? Then how about a CD?

A CBS News opinion piece today goes into lots of useful detail about when, and why, accepting freebies is a good or bad idea for a supposedly unbiased news organization. And it cites some eye-opening (at least for my eyes) facts about how some unethical folks abuse the bejeebers out of the concept.

It starts off with a blogger being propositioned to write 30,000 positive reviews of an iPhone app at $1 each. (The blogger said no.)

The co-authors then peruse some specific instances:
It's OK to get a new disposable razor to test, but staying a week in a resort for free and expecting a true and honest independent review is a totally different story. Having lived and breathed journalism for twenty five years, I don't buy the idea of freebies being compatible with independent reviews.
It is actually a question of degree. Getting a book or a CD from a publisher is OK because it's only a $20 item. Getting a $200 software product, or a $500 weekend for free and expecting a balanced review is more problematic, to say the least.

Then it gets really hair-raising:
I happen to live in a country where entire segments of journalism - I'm talking of mainstream media - are corrupt. I could tell countless stories of reporters covering the auto industry who call an automaker's PR department of to get a car for a weekend escape with their girlfriends, or who get flown abroad to test a new car model (four days, five star accommodation.)

The country thus referred to is probably France, as the item's co-author is a journalist based in Paris. But yeesh.

We've all run across individual reviews that appear completely fake, but the mechanisms and specifics laid out here were creepy to read.
... a greater number of technology reviews are provided by poorly-paid freelancers instead of staff writers who are supposed to be paid enough money to be clean.
Is it then any wonder why publicists, marketers, and others intermediaries are now lusting after the blogosphere? Think about it: thousands of blogs, most of them written by penniless amateurs, not bound by any ethical rules - it's a dream come true for the flack crowd. Blogs represent a new playground in which to buy influence. Actually, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (Womma) estimates that such spending has grown from $300 million in 2003 to $1.54 billion last year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dean who shut down A&M J-department changes post

Big thanks to FJSA's Jerry Cooper '63 for this heads-up. College of Liberal Arts dean Charles Johnson, who decided in 2003 to close Texas A&M's journalism department, will become a senior associate vice president for research effective Nov. 1, A&M has announced.

The press release says Johnson will oversee interdisciplinary programs. That sounds like it would include A&M's Journalism Studies program, which is an interdisciplinary minor. I've got questions out on that.

Another release says that Johnson's interim replacement will be executive associate dean Ben Crouch, who will serve "until the current national search for a dean of liberal arts is concluded."

Friday, October 2, 2009

J-school enrollment, grants on our Newsvine

For a dying industry, there's still a lot of money getting splashed around on new technologies and education. Our Newsvine, which focuses on journalism education in Texas and related topics, has recently linked to news on Google Wave, Spot.Us, millions in grants, the FIU J-student in the ACORN videos and the Tyler publisher's vision for the new University of North Texas J-school.

Some headlines: