Twelve ways to get through J4804 Convergence Reporting (and like it)

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A favorite topic of complaint among students in the Convergence department in the Missouri School of Journalism is J4804. (Sometimes these complaints are prevalent on Twitter). This is the reporting class all Convergence students are required to take. Students split their time between working in newsrooms affiliated with the J-School and working on multimedia team stories they pitch themselves. Make no mistake, the class isn’t easy and it requires a significant time investment. But it’s also not the reporting hell one might think from talking to some previous 4804-ers.

Futures Lab ThursdayIf you don’t want to pursue a career in reporting, this might be the only reporting experience you have. Even jobs that aren’t traditional reporter listings want to know that you can write and are competent in producing multimedia. You can slide by for the rest of your college career by taking the less-demanding, non-reporting classes. In short, this is a useful class even if you never intend to be a reporter.

It’s no secret this class requires you to put in a lot of effort, have good news judgement and a strong grasp of multimedia storytelling. Those aren’t things I can teach you in a blog post, but skills you will hone if you put in an honest effort into 4804.

There are several non-journalistic skills that can make getting through the semester a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. None of these pointers will directly translate into a higher grade, but I found them to be useful strategies to work well in groups and foster strong relationships with sources and faculty.

You have to take this class seriously. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to be a reporter, are thinking about switching to strategic communication or are certain you never want to work in journalism. The work you do and the attitude you have in this class sets the tone for how the faculty will remember you. When it comes time to get an internship or job, you want to be certain you have put in the effort and produced the work to secure a recommendation from them.

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What a snowstorm taught me about journalism

This semester I’m working on the Community Outreach Team at the Columbia Missourian. Our goal is to make the news gather process more open and make it easier for readers to participate in the process.

Community Outreach Google+ Hangout

We had a team hangout (on Google+ that is) on Thursday after the snow hit so nobody had to go out in the bad weather. You could call it super dorky, but I call it super cool.

A lot of the work we get to do is experimental. Here’s the short list of what we do.

  • Try out new tools to better report and tell stories
  • Use social media both to communicate and to listen
  • Look at site analytics to see what content is resonating with people
  • Brainstorm new ways that the Missourian can expand its reach and that we can bring the community into the newsroom (both literally and figuratively).

I’m only a few weeks into the process, so I’m still learning the scope of what we do. But last week was definitely my favorite yet—working in a breaking news situation to cover a snowstorm. On Wednesday, the day before the storm hit, the team was busy planning ways to cover the snow. Community Outreach director Joy Mayer has been talking about RebelMouse, an embeddable page that aggregates posts from social media. The page is customizable to include posts with certain hashtags, updates from select accounts or by manually entering posts the moderator selects. This page included posts from Missourian staff members and other photos or tips posted by social media accounts using the hashtag CoMoSnow. Continue reading

Lessons from both sides of exchange student life

Xuehui Sun and me at the dinner for Chinese New Year that she prepared.

One of the only sad things about being a college senior is that you don’t meet many new people in classes or on campus. After several semesters in the J-School and Spanish department, I repeatedly run in the same circles with the same people. But this semester, I’ve had the pleasure to become friends with three Chinese students in here for the semester from Nanjing University.We met in our Changing Media Business Models class (the class with the Seattle Trip I wrote about last week).

Last weekend, they invited me to join them for a dinner they were preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year, a celebration in China that is on the scale of Christmas in the United States. They prepared a wonderful dinner of several traditional Chinese dishes that were quite tasty and outdid the “Chinese food” you get most places in Missouri. As someone who has been an exchange student, I know what it’s like to be away from the normalcy of your home country, especially during holidays, and I was glad they shared this experience with me.

Chinese food

My friends prepared several super tasty. traditional Chinese dishes.

It was exciting to have dinner with them and learn more about their interests, families and university. We spent more than two hours swapping stories and answering each others questions about cultural differences. It was interesting to see how similar the questions they had about Mizzou were so similar to the questions I had when I was first abroad.

I also realized I’m now a much more compassionate and culturally-aware person for having gone through the experience of acclimating to a new environment. I know what it’s like to take classes in a language you’re not 100 percent comfortable with. I know what it’s like to get thrown into a new town and different university system. I know what it’s like to spend much of the time confused about what I’m supposed to be doing.

Being an exchange student is hard. I relied on so many people to help me understand the system. When I was abroad, I consistently was clarifying things with my classmates or asking other students questions about how things worked. It’s a really humbling experience to go from an environment where you understand how things work to a place where you’re uncertain about everything and other people have varying levels of patience with your non-native communication abilities. Continue reading

Five takeaways from touring Seattle media

My roommate Katie and I at the Seattle Times with a historical artifact called a newspaper.

My roommate Katie and I at the Seattle Times with a historical artifact called a newspaper.

I recently traveled to Seattle with my Changing Media Business Class. We toured several media groups and met with journalists there. Here’s what we were up to:

Tom Fucoloro spoke to us a Seattle coffeeshop about maintaining two hyperlocal blogs

Tom Fucoloro spoke to us a Seattle coffeeshop about maintaining two hyperlocal blogs.

We toured a variety of organizations that have vastly different audiences and purposes, but there were a lot of reoccurring themes. Here are some of the insights most striking to me.

1. Partnerships between news organizations is imperative. The message is clear. Journalism organizations must work together to survive. Both the Seattle Times and the have content sharing agreements with local tv news stations. If done right, this is a win for everyone to reach the greatest audience possible by doing what they do best. Continue reading

¿Te atreves a soñar? (Do you dare to dream?)

Warning: I’m about to share a 7-minute video with you. Yes, it’s long. But yes, I also think it’s worth it.

Spanish speakers, watch this:

English speakers, watch this:

I came across this video a few weeks ago via a tweet from a friend who I met while studying in Pamplona. I’m normally not a huge fan of self-help, motivational books, videos or speeches. Chicken Soup for the Soul? Hate it. Inspirational quotes at the end of email signatures? No thank you. It’s even a little hard for me to get into TED Talks.

But I saved the link to this video. Continue reading

MAP: National Park To-Visit List

Whenever I visit a site run by the National Park Service, I get a stamp in my National Parks Passport.

Whenever I visit a site run by the National Park Service, I get a stamp in my passport

My family loves to travel to National Parks. We love it so much we bought a  National Park Passport. It’s a program designed by the National Park Service to track all the parks you visit. At each of the visitors centers in the parks, there are stamps with the date and location that you can add to the passport. There’s something super gratifying about stamping the passport at each location.

I recently flipped through the book and realized how many of the National Parks I had visited. So far, I’ve been to 24 out of 59. It was then I decided to make it my life goal to visit all 59. Numbers-wise, I’m on track to easily visit all of them. As I studied the list of the places I have left to visit, I realized it won’t be easily accomplished. On my list of places left to visit include far-flung areas of Alaska, Death Valley and American Samoa. And, of course, none are close to Missouri. Continue reading

When I first saw Gangnam Style and other important events of 2012

davisonLast winter, I created a timeline of the things I accomplished in 2011 as part of an application for an internship. This year, I have no such requirement, but I found creating the timeline was a good exercise in reflecting over the events of the past year, as well as help me form goals for the coming one.

This past year was a year of many firsts. My first time studying abroad. My first time in many of the places I visited. My first taking all my classes solely in Spanish. I don’t think I can ever adequately communicate the breadth of experiences I was so fortunate to have or the variety of people I had the pleasure of meeting in 2012. But these few megabytes of a two-dimensional imagery are a start.

So, here’s a look back at some of my favorite parts of 2012.