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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blogger, or Journalist?

From CNET:


Meanwhile, a San Francisco video blogger named Josh Wolf remains in the Federal Detention Center in Dublin, Calif., where he continues to set new records as this country's longest-serving journalist behind bars.

He's become the poster child for a variety of free speech advocates who say his imprisonment vividly symbolizes the loss of press freedoms in post-September 11 America.

Civil liberties-minded folks are upset about the press freedom issues raised by Wolf's imprisonment. But Wolf's self-proclaimed status as a video blogger also opens a Pandora's box the fourth estate would just as soon see remain shut. More than any case I can recall, the Wolf case reflects the changing way journalism is being practiced in the age of Internet bloggers.

You can read on for more. I'm too tired to cut and paste today.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Les Shu Doesn't Think Bloggers are Journalists

He writes:

So, are you still qualified to be a journalist if you didn't study journalism? I ask because an old coworker of mine and I were wondering about it. He studied journalism at Ohio State and does the whole magazine editing thing, but he doesn't consider himself a journalist. He's an editor, he says.

So what exactly constitutes a journalist? Are these fly-by-night bloggers considered journalist? I sure hope not, but they are reporting news, many of them.

I think that the designation of journalist lacks significant meaning ... unless we are talking about legal protections. There's reporting, and there's analysis, and there's opinion writing -- which often fall far short of analysis. There are assignment editors, and there are line editors. They both work with real live people. There are "wire" editors.

Thus: Bloggers are seldom reporters, sometimes makers of analysis, rather more often makers of opinion. Many are wire editors in the sense that they choose what to link to. But the content of what they are linked to is characterized beforehand, and not in a neutral way.

Training helps, whether you acquire it at a journalism school or on the job, not just because you do the work under supervision but because you are working with pros, and there is a kind of osmosis going on. But you can learn on your own, though not simply by doing. You need to read "journalism" to do "journalism."

What would you add? What would you retort?

Pat Bhoolsuwan in Action

Here are five minutes worth of highlights from Pat's career so far as a TV journalist. (You'll need RealPlayer to view it. )

The link is to something called MediaLine, which is apparently an employment showcase for TV journalists. (I love one of the things Pat is showcasing is her ability to handle "happy talk," the chatting between news and sports anchors on the news set.)

MediaLine is fascinating. It would seem to be an excellent way of checking out the competition.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On the Road with James Foster, USF Class of 2003

It's good not only to connect to stories by alums, but it's also good to link to stories about them.

Hence our pleasure in calling attention to the article about James Foster, a Peace Corps volunteer who, in his spare time, is organizing youth rugby in the tiny island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, where he is stationed.

According to the story,

"There are huge voids of role models here," Foster said. "Kids are left to fend for themselves a lot of the time. As an outsider, you come here and you see the void. And what I'm trying to do is bring the game to the kids. It's been my experience that rugby can teach valuable life lessons of teamwork, working hard and fair play. I believe there is a greater good."

The story also mentions that James "played rugby throughout college at the University of San Francisco." From there, he traveled with two friends to Daystar University in Kenya, where Foster volunteered and helped coach a rugby team he also played on. Then Foster moved to New York City.

Then he volunteered in Ethiopia.

And *then* he joined the Peace Corps.

His greatest adventure in the Feature Writing class here at USF was his pursuit, and subsequent interview of, the elusive legendary journalist and USF grad Warren Hinckle, which James describes here.

James is being interviewed by Washington Post Radio tomorrow. He confides, " I'm sure they'll want to talk about my project, but I'm going to steer the interview in the direction of: 'How exactly does one go about getting a job at a paper like the Post?' "

Well played, James

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Citysearch.com Weekly Newsletter

Hey fellow USF-ers,

I am currently an assistant editor at Citysearch.com and one of my duties is writing a short column every so often in our weekly newsletter. In general, the newsletter highlights new restaurant/shop/bar openings in the city, celebrity favorite hangouts, and also features a Top 10 Hot List of things to do over the weekend. We also feature super users (those who write a lot of reviews on the site), so if you want to have your photo and favorite SF places in our newsletter, start writing reviews and let me know so I can feature you! In case anyone is interested in receiving the newsletter, I wanted share how to get on the distribution list. Here's how:

1) Go to www.sanfrancisco.citysearch.com
2) At the top right corner, you'll see "New to Citysearch? Sign up." Click on it.
3) Create your account
4) On the next page, it'll ask if you want the weekly newsletter. Say yes and select Bay Area.
5) Voila! You should be good to receive a newsletter every Thursday.

Thanks for your support. And FYI, if you sign up and read the newsletter consistently, it helps our open rate, which we must report to the powers above every week.

Melody Nazarian

Monday, February 12, 2007

First Let's Fire All the Reporters

Let's see if we can get a discussion started. As I'm sure many of you have read or heard about, a small North Bay TV station is firing all its reporters, choosing rather to rely on video contributions from locals to fill up all that empty air.

Will they be paid? That's being worked out. Who will cover the harder-edged stories? Some will be culled from local newspaper and TV online sites, (Clear Channel exec Steve) Spendlove said, and "other sources" that are still being discussed.

"There will be a loss in local coverage, I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "But there are a lot of other places to get most of that information."

I think this is a mistake. I think you need trained salaried reporters working doing stories that have been selected for their news value. I don't insist that colleges do the professional training. But someone needs to provide the core reporting staff of a news operation not only with the tools but with the journalist's skeptical questing mindset. I don't think editors "harvesting content" will produce the full range of information a community needs to understand itself.

What do you think?

NYC: If You Can Make It There, You Can Make It Anywhere

Northern California is a grand place to live, but I advise our grads to take a long look at jobs outside the charmed circle. There is a world beyond, and not a bad one. Moreover, sometimes, the best way to get that desirable job Here is to move There for a while, building skills, building resume.

A couple years ago Jen Bayley took a job in Columbus, Ohio (not because I advised her to) and now she's moved on -- to New York City to head up the PR office for The Limited, which I have on good authority features "vibrant, feminine, sophisticated style for the modern fashion-forward woman." She said:

But fear not, I still write - a lot of press releases and other good stuff. My husband-to-be was a journalism major at American University, and is now an attorney with the federal government. See all the fun stuff you can do with a media degree!

That's *glamorous* I said, to which she responded.

Well, today I am running around trying to make sure that we shoot the right crop pant for tomorrow's photo shoot - very glamorous indeed!

The big news in my world at The Limited is the WASHABLE wool blend suit.
It's a very sexy wear-to-work suit that can be machine washed at home and resists wrinkles. (You know you want one!) I was inspired by Lewis Carroll's "Eat Me/Drink Me" when constructing a tagline: "Wash me. Fold me. Pack me. Wear me."

So far I've gotten it on a few local news shows and in magazines like Oprah, Real Simple, Lucky and In Style. The good press has turned into a marketing campaign so our store windows currently boast all the headlines from the good people at The Plano Insider and Cedar City Daily News. It looks a lot like a movie advert from the Sunday paper.

I think the biggest kick I get out of this job is that I am promoting something I truly enjoy - clothes! I have a passion for the stuff, so the writing, the talking with editors trying desperately to put our product in their pages is easy and come naturally. I didn't quite have the passion for the work while at an investor relations publication...

That being said, having a journo background and having spent time at a magazine definitely helps. I understand the deadlines and atmosphere the editors are working with and how to best help them out.

Can't give Jen any advice pertinent to her current job. She's on her own. But perhaps one of our grads might get a job promoting a clothing line featuring "vibrant, scholarly, sophisticated style for the modern fashion-forward guy professor."

I know at least a dozen, and that's just at this end of University Center Fifth Floor.


Jen adds this link, "from something I did back in Columbus last winter....
Yeah, I made the noontime news!"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Praise for Les Shu

Did you notice how Les has jumped in and posted with no interference from me? Anyone who wishes posting privileges is welcome to them. Using the blog to catch up and be caught up with is one of its primary purposes, but we'd also like to get some discussions going. Several of you have sent me fiery emails that I have yet to boil down. Feel free to cut out the middleman.

Our New Friend in Publishing

When last heard from, Jeanne Zalesky (USF, Class of 2000) was getting a graduate degree from Boston University. She writes:

I did have the chance to use some of my journalism training at the Financial Times in London, but I decided I was a better editor than a reporter. Now I’m an Acquisitions Editor here at Allyn & Bacon in Boston working on the Communication list.

Jeanne Zalesky
Acquisitions Editor
Allyn & Bacon, Communication
75 Arlington St. Suite 300
Boston, MA 02114


I am preparing a book proposal even as we speak. Get in line.

Check Out Voids

This has nothing to do with journalism.

My friend Shayna is an amazing artist. She has a graphic novel called Voids, and you can read it online. Check out her portfolio of work she has done, including graphic design for magazines.

If you are looking for design help or would love to hire her for other artsy work, give her a shout.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Life Beyond Ramen

Viva Chan was one of our excellent journalism students who did very good work at the San Francisco Business Journal, establishing herself as a journalist, and then said (after ten years in the trenches) , "That was fun. Now what?"

She writes:

I'm almost reaching my 2nd year anniversary with State Farm and just added a second state license under my belt, so that means I can write life ins, health, auto and home policies. I really enjoy what I am doing and building relationships with clients. My past experience in the media field definitely benefits how I interact in my current sales and marketing role. Skills like "keep asking until I get a restraining order."

Here's my biz card ... and I'll be more than happy to send you a free gas card for each referral!

State Farm - Providing Insurance & Financial Services
Viva Chan
Bank Specialist & Personal Risk Advisor, Lic. # 0E86388
821 Folsom St., Ste 101 San Francisco CA 94107
(415) 814.4506
(415) 982.3905 (facsimile)

So many ways to do good work in the world. Now we have a friend in the insurance business.

Any of You Copy Editors Out There Ready to Come Home

USF grad and Friend of the Blog Kent German says they need an experienced copy editor over at CNET.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What Part of the Phrase "Living Treasure" Don't You Understand?

I've got notes about grads piling up, but I'm jumping the queue with this one. I'm saying to you that Carl Nolte, Class of Antiquity, is USF's greatest living journalism grad. ( Supporters of Warren Hinckle can start their own thread.)

Nolte is a journalism grad in the sense he's a grad who became a journalist, and that's good enough for us now and forever. He's done everything it sometimes seems, including covering the first Iraq war and winning prizes for that coverage, then was an embedded reporter during the second one in spite of being older than some of the oil in the ground. (Actually, he was 69.)

He once told me how to behave if a gang of thugs decided to stomp me. I believe he got stomped himself once or twice.

He is truly a fine journalist, a fine writer as well as a fine reporter and a mentor to many Bay Area journalists and would be to more USF students if they went to the trouble to ask. We really should raise some money and name an award after him.

But this is why I write about him today.

Veteran Chronicle staff writer Carl Nolte has won the 2007 Oscar Lewis Award for his contributions to western history, an award bestowed by the Book Club of California.

He is the author of three books including "The San Francisco Century," which spanned the period from the 1906 earthquake to 2006. He also wrote about the restoration of the World War II liberty ship Jeremiah O'Brien and documented its commemorative voyage from San Francisco to France for D-Day for The Chronicle in 1994.

He is the first Chronicle reporter to receive the award. The book club, founded in 1912, is a nonprofit formed for readers and collectors with an interest in Pacific Coast history, literature and fine printing.

The Oscar Lewis Award was created in 1994 to honor the San Francisco writer and historian who was secretary of the club for 25 years. The award will be bestowed at a ceremony at the club's headquarters at 310 Sutter St. on Monday.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Daughter of USF Comes Home to the Bay Area

And now Vicky Nguyen is back, working the 3 a.m. - 11 a.m. shift at NBC11. Here's a link from her, one of her first stories in the new job.

I tell my reporting students you don't need a 4.0 to become a good journalist. As Vicky's career shows, sometimes a 3.95 is good enough.

(Actually, some very good journalists earned not-so-good grades as undergrads. Any opinions on the correlation, people?)