Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Son of USF Comes Home to San Francisco

Toan Lam's first day on the job at KRON-TV produced this story.

I think some congratulations are in order. It's a long way from his first job amid the snows of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jennifer Jolly, Class of 93

Jennifer Jolly

Senior Media Specialist, Allison and Partners, San Francisco

With more than 12 years of experience as an award-winning television news reporter, Jennifer brings an unparalleled understanding of the media and its operations to Allison & Partners. She now works across offices planning media strategy and implementing media training programs for various clients.

Jennifer joined the company from KTVU-TV, the San Francisco Bay Area Fox affiliate, where she was a reporter for seven years. She also served as a news reporter for KTUU-TV in Alaska and on assignments for NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox News affiliated stations in Montana, Idaho and Washington. She has won numerous broadcast awards, including two Emmy’s, six Society of Professional Journalist (SPJ) Awards, two Radio-Television News Director’s Association (RTNDA) Awards and awards from the Associated Press and Service to Children.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of San Francisco and is a member of the National Association of TV Artists (NATAS), the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Monday, January 22, 2007


last year, a few USF students thought it would be interesting to have a campus tv station. they brainstormed a plan, brought it to melinda stone, and USFtv was born. this year, because melinda is on sabbatical, kate haug and i are USFtv's faculty co-advisors.

USFtv is a campus-wide cablecast created by and for USF students. USFtv produces around five cablecasts a semester. cablecasts are between one and two hours and include student films and videos, USF news, interviews with bay area residents, artists, musicians, and media makers, documentaries about USF social justice organizations, and other assorted media goodies. USFtv is an opportunity for USF students to work in teams to make engaged, provocative, and creative media - and distribute it across campus. working with USFtv has been one of the highlights of my first year here at USF.

working with kate is great. she's a filmmaker, a screenwriter, an author, and an academic, so she offers all kinds of perspectives to the students. plus, this year, she's the department's film studies minor coordinator which means she knows more about the filmic skills of our current students than anyone. in addition to providing advice and support, our main contribution is watching the cablecasts and offering feedback prior to their distribution. the process is time-consuming (our feedback often runs three to four single-spaced pages) but when the cablecasts improve each time we know our feedback is being heard which makes the process well worth it.

the best part is watching the students grow USFtv. they designed it all - content, format, distribution, branding, outreach, fundraising - and so far it more or less works. with each episode, USF news gets better, more diverse, and more interesting. the student films are getting edgier and finally we're starting to see some weird stuff. the production is getting slicker (USFtv has an excellent team of editors). now, at mid-year, the key is to not get lazy. spring semester is not for relaxation. it is for creation.

last thursday and friday, the core team of USFtv organized a retreat. i was there for most of friday and it was extremely productive. the students hammered out a production schedule for the entire semester, discussed their collaboration with baykids, and brainstormed identity issues. we spent a lot of time talking about the web, which was pure fun for me. we talked about blogs, we talked about flickr, we talked about youtube. jessica dragotto is taking a directed study with me in spring to launch the USFtv web site. (i'll link to that when it happens.)

judging from the retreat, the students this semester are much more organized, much more focused. they know what it takes to make one hour of good content every two to three weeks. they know how to work in teams - camera person, sound person, interviewer, editor - an invaluable skill in today's media world. and they are beginning to know that it's not about a good show or a bad show - it's about your newest show being better than your last show which was better than the one before. i'm excited for what spring will bring.

[crossposted from silver in sf]

Friday, January 19, 2007

How the USF Graduate Became the Media Star

Here's a link to USF's own Kent German on TV looking good, sounding good, reassuring a confused public. Kent also does videos concerning his area of expertise on the CNET website. I think this suggests that comfort on camera is a useful talent for the print-based among us.

And having not one but two grads at CNET: I would be buying Kent and Jessica-Dryden Cook a cup of coffee at the earliest possible opportunity.

Nelson's Advice to Journalism Seniors

To the graduating class of 2007, here’s a lesson on how to hustle:

1. You study—Study your competitor’s moves. Analyze their weaknesses. Examine your strengths. Create a plan of attack.

2. Practice—Rehearse your moves. When failing, ask people for feedback. Use that feedback to make you and your ammunition stronger.

3. When the time is right, execute your plan of attack.

4. When done, begin looking for your next competition … of course, that’s while you wait for your first interviewer to call you saying you are better than the other applicants ... and here’s your offer letter.

And that, my friends, is how you get hired right after college.

As you read this entry, your senioritis most likely already set in. Your mind is probably thinking of what is going to happen next fall when you’re not in school and you’re not on your parents’ medical plan.

Spring semester, January 2003, I was living on Turk and Kittredge, working 4 jobs to make ends meet: Foghorn, Starbucks on Fulton and Masonic, a local e-zine, and Sony Metreon’s marketing department. That was my senior year, and like you, I had mentally checked out of school several semesters ago. The “real world” couldn’t be any more daunting. There isn’t anything I can do to avoid the “real world”; it’s gonna come no matter what I do … so really, what do I do?

While everyone else planned their spring breaks, or partied their brains out because they could rely on daddy finding a job for their lazy ass, I took a lesson from some of the most prosperous people I knew … I hustled.

First, I studied. Every student and their momma (i.e. seniors from USF plus SFSU plus Berkeley plus Santa Clara plus etc.) will be competing for the same job openings the summer right after graduation. Some will be stars while other will suck. I knew I didn’t want to suck. But I barely knew how to write a resume or cover letter. And I didn’t know how to network. And I’ve only been on a few job interviews. Really, when asked, what ARE my strengths and weaknesses?

Then I practiced. At the advice of Robertson and Teresa Moore (who know their s***!!), I went on informational interviews. I did the most nerve-wracking thing ever—picked up the phone and cold called VPs and Directors at companies to ask for their time. I managed to score a few informational interviews with the Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and the Mercury in San Jose. I refined my interviewing skills, and learned what to say in response to those tough interviewing questions. The professionals I spoke to helped me tailor my resume. I now know people in the biz. That was a cool feeling.

Once I graduated, I executed the plan. With all the skills I developed, I gained this confidence in interviewing and networking that no one at USF could have bequeathed to me. And with all the feedback I got, I was carrying a resume that professionals in the industry deemed as competitive. One person I interviewed was a VP at the Chronicle. And after a few weeks of keeping in touch, she made the recommendation. HR called. I was hired. But I wanted more. So a few years later, I now work at the Examiner, own my own hybrid, own a 2-bedroom 1-bath, have traveled, befriended many great people along the way, and recently started my graduate program. And I can proudly say that daddy never just handed me a job. And of course, I’m now thinking of what my next acquisition will be after my grad program ends—rule my own country? Sure, I’ll add that to my things-to-do list.

Did I miss out by not going anywhere for spring break? Given what my life is like now, of course not. Besides, the people who did do something barely remember anything. Meanwhile, I used those students’ “down time” to my advantage—it was my opportunity to hustle more. Did I party a lot my senior year? It was the year I turned 21, so of course I did. But no matter how trashed I got, I never lost sight of my competition. When all they focused on was partying with no effort in developing themselves professionally, I used their misdirection to my advantage. I hustled more.

So my graduating class of 2007, start studying the people in your class now. All niceness put aside, they might very well be your competitors come May. Start tailoring your resume. Consult your professors. Build your portfolio and carry it everywhere. Go on those informational interviews. Send thank you notes. Save those business cards. Learn from all your mistakes. Be stronger, smarter, a "smoother talker." The key to your success: your timing. Start now. The more you hustle, the more you get.

Robertson: And because I know what kind of guy Nelson is, here's his email address: Nelson Toriano [ntoriano@examiner.com].

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

USF Journalism's New Best Friend

That would be Eve Batey, Blogging and Interactive Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, who in future days will share wisdom about that mysterious place where blogging and journalism converge. Here's the link to her kingdom.

Eve is:

* a USF alum
* an English major
* that's right, an English major, and one whose only knowledge of journalism is firsthand, that is, from her place of residence in the belly of the beast -- I spent 11 years there but was only partially digested -- for which we will certainly forgive her.

It's my understanding that part of her job is holding the hands of the big ole Chronicle journalists as they dip their tender toes into the wet wild world of blogging. (Her first bit of advice to this blog, I'm sure: less alliteration.)

This is great.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sally Field in "Absence of Malice": A Compelling Ethical Dilemma or a Stupid Hollywood Joke?

This was definitely the favorite writing assignment for my ethics students last spring. Any thoughts on how you would frame it? Any favorite journalism movies? I assume that any decent movie in which journalism is an important element has a strong ethical component. Agree or disagree?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Arizona Daily Star Looking for Business Reporters

George Sanchez says:

Pass the word along: Arizona Daily Star is looking for business reporters. Specifically: someone to cover 1) Consumer Affairs 2) Raytheon 3) (I don't know the other opening).

Plenty of A1 placement. Tucson is pretty cool. Cost of living isn't bad. the weather is.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Critiquing the Photojournalism Class

A friend of USF critiqued the fruits of our very first photojournalism class. Interesting.


Critique time:

I think "Wedding" tells pretty much the whole story. Great color and composition. Love those bright blue eyes.

"Crosswalk," the little guy looks like he's imitating Superman's pre-flight pose. Nice island of curbside joy. But is his brother(?) looking at us, and us at him? Crop the brother out and it's an even stronger picture, I think.

"Congi-ouch" is interesting because of its sense of both motion and ouch. Needs a better, more precise caption - which should have the word "ouch" in it

"Clown" and "Shoreleave" are the kind of ambiguous images that are always fun to look at while making up my own story. Nice mood pieces. I wanted to be able to see the sailor's insignia more clearly. Which Navy? Off which ship? Needs a stronger caption.

"Ski-jump" stands well on it's own, though it's almost too perfect for documentary. Looks more like an advertising image. Hmm. Or maybe a Sports Illustrated cover.

The Chris Daly photo is a terrific political portrait. Subtle distortion through the glass and the champaign bottle in his hand (an "elite" beverage, after all) resonates with our unease with politicians in general. Whoever runs for the seat next time should use this photo against him. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

"Taps," where's the story, the horn, the mourners or the boots? Photo needs a focal point of interest. Choose one.

"Andre," if it's about the feet, show me the feet.

"Palace of Fine Arts," an art photo cliche, not documentary. Cropping might help.

I wanted to like "Sabado-Ikea," nice color/composition, but the beads - especially at a larger photo size - are way out of focus and the girl isn't really looking at them anyway. Her eyes are downcast and, as a result, I'm having trouble believing the caption that says she "finds a colorful display to her liking." The photo and caption - and this may or may not have been part of the class - are in dissonance.

In "Reflection," is this a ghost coming back to claim her dying dog?
What we really like in pets are their faces, especially their eyes. Here we get paws, tail and butt. And what're all those confusingly odd shapes? Photo is chaotic and, as a result, not engaging.

Tech problem:"Cageman" is back lit, and while the hair highlights on the crowd are nice, the cage is in shadow. Could/should be punched-up in Photoshop since it's meant to be the central image. It's also a somewhat disturbing picture. That church makes me think of heretics imprisoned in so-called "parrot cages" during the Spanish Inquisition. But that's just my weird association.

There it is, my two cents...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Just a Little Bit of a Name Change

"Forum" was just a little pompous, and it is a blog, and I am requiring my students to blog, so there's no shame in calling it what it is.

It's more inviting, I hope.

Did Any of You Ever Make Up Stories?

Like so many good things, the following link comes from Romenesko's daily Poynter email. It's an anonymous first-person account supposedly by a Canadian journalism school dropout who says (you all recall how I would never let you say "claims") that she got A's by making up story after story after story.

Anything like this ever happen at USF during your time here? Any suggestions on how we should try to make sure it doesn't happen? Should we bother?

I do recall all those Foghorn stories where reporters kept coming back to the same source -- who often turned out to be roommates or significant others. But I always liked to think the quotes were accurate even though the sources were "tame."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Attack of the Snobs?

USF's own Vrinda Norman is down there in San Jose doing her thing.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Preview of What Our New Digital Journalism Course Will Be Like

I think David is going to use an interface like this as part of the online magazine he and the Digital Journalism class will be creating this spring.

Supportive USF Grads Aim Students Toward Internships. (This Means You.)

A welcome message from a recent grad:

Hi Professors Robertson and Moore,
Happy New Year to both of you.
The reason I am writing is because Citysearch San Francisco is currently searching for spring interns so I was wondering if you can make an annoucement to your students. Here is the link to the Craigslist.com posting: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/wri/250431616.html. If they are interested, they should contact the city editor at editor_sanfrancisco@citysearch.com.
Thank you so much for your time,
Melody Nazarian

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

USF Rules, Baby

A late-breaking bulletin:

USF's President, Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., has been invited by Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi to deliver an invocation just before she is sworn in as Speaker of the House. On Thursday, January 4, 2007, Father Privett will offer the opening prayer on the floor of the House in Washington D.C., at 12:00 noon Eastern time.

George Sanchez Speaks from Arizona

Hey all

I've been in Tucson, AZ. for just over three months now. All is well despite the extreme weather. I've been covering the Tucson Unified School District, which isn't used to aggressive reporters, and have so far dug up serious problems in student transportation, class room management and questionable financial decisions. In my third week I was able to cover EZLN spokesman Subcomandante Marcos' visit to Sonora, Mexico (where the federales pulled me over...) and am currently working on a piece about how California inmates are now getting shipped to a private prison in AZ. to alleviate CDCR overcrowding.

I've kept a close eye on my previous workplace, The Monterey County Herald, and all the changes that have taken place following the demise of Knight-Ridder and Dean Singleton's move to pick up all their Nor-Cal papers.

Musically, I traded in my telecaster and punk rock for a jarana and son jarocho. I found a maestro who's originally from East LA and is teaching me how to play jarocho, Mexican folk music from the state of Veracruz (What's jarocho? It's the traditional stuff at the end of Los Lobos' recording of La Bamba...) My maestro and his wife, head of UA's women's studies department, have really taken me in and shown me around town, including introducing me to members of the Yaqui/Pascua community (the indigenous of the Sonoran desert).

This years IRE convention is in Phoenix, so I hope to see some of ya'll there. Conversely, I'll be in San Jose for this year's NAHJ convention.

Look me up should you find yourself in the south west. www.azstarnet.com

desde la frontera,


Shameless Self-Promotion #1

So, have you ever wondered what types of high-tech accessories you can buy for your notebook or iPod? No? Well, I haven't either, but I had to write up 2,800 words about them, so hopefully you'll get some use from my "reportage."


*If you're asking what the heck is that image of, it's a notebook cooler. It has fans that turn on to cool your computer, so you don't burn your lap or cause it to overheat on a desk.