Friday, December 08, 2006

Keep on bloggin'

Whatever your career aspirations, whatever you choose to do, and whatever job you interview for, whether it's your first job or your last job, you can be absolutely certain of one thing: By the time you are seated in that interview chair, the person who is about to interview you will have Googled your name. If you don't know exactly what he or she found, you are a fool. If what they found is your cutsie MySpace site, or your Livejournal diary where you've been writing about how mean your boyfriend has been to you lately... well, think about the impression they have of you. Or if what they found is your blog, but it's clear you've abandoned it, or it's full of broken links, it looks messy, and the last visible post (which they will read, you can bet on it) is full of vague ramblings and spelling mistakes, well, you might as well borrow a gun and shoot yourself in the foot. It'll be less embarassing.

Now, imagine that what they find when they Google your name is your blog. They read it. They notice that you write regularly, and intelligently, about your field of interest — whether that is music, or journalism, or biology, or aviation, or nutritional science. That you have an interesting set of links in your blogroll to relevant websites. That you proudly state your name, and display a tasteful photo of yourself. That your blog posts are well written and carefully edited, and that each one makes a point about something. They're going to think, this is an interesting person. This is a bright person. This is a person who knows what's happening in their field, and who thinks about the issues. This is a person I want to hire!

If you are a science, or history, or psychology major, and you don't see the value of blogging, and you don't wish to continue blogging, there's nothing wrong with that. If you want to keep on blogging, and write about what you had for breakfast, and use your blogs as a way to communicate with friends and family, there's nothing wrong with that, either. But on the other hand, if you continue writing critical commentary about science, or history, or psychology, you'll have an edge over your competitors in the job market who don't.

If you are an advertising major, as many of you are, remember the mantra of David Ogilvy: if you work in advertising, your hobby should be advertising. When the time comes for you to apply for a job, and you can say on your resumé, I have a blog about advertising, I guarantee you, you will get noticed. And when your prospective employeer Googles your name, and looks at your blog, and sees that you've been writing interesting, relevant commentary on advertising; that you're up on the latest ads; that you know which agencies handles which accounts; that you care about the business — you will get hired.

Finally, to the journalism majors: if you haven't enjoyed blogging; if you hated having to write your opinion twice a week; if you don't enjoy reading about what's going on in the world and in the media and commenting on it; if you felt this blog assignment was a dreaded chore, and you're glad it's over; if you abandon your blog — you should think seriously about changing your major.

If you aspire to be a journalist, and you don't have a blog that you can proudly show to your prospective employer at a job interview, that job will go to the person who can.

In my opinion, not as a professor but as a reader, a consumer of media, these are the best blogs that this class has produced. If you want to work on developing your blog into something to be proud of; something that will help get you hired one day, you would do well to learn from these examples. I hope that these students keep on bloggin', because I want to keep on readin':

Faith Chihil
Lauren Gruenstein
Nicole Lieurance
Jeff Macias
Amir Masood
Tomoyo Ohashi
Billy Passerino
Loan Vu
Brittany Welby
Evie Smith
Actually, I hope that all 73 of you keep on bloggin'!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Best of your blogs last week

Evie Smith has the best excuse I've ever heard for not blogging: she was busy making a film in which she critiques advertising. I hope you'll all watch it.

Brooke Carpenter discovers the newest wacky and wonderful thing on the Internet, called "Meez."

Andrea Frainier finds a new product, and gives it a better name than the product marketers who invented it.

About that excruciatingly awful Bank of America "One" video

You guys need to get a better understanding of what YouTube is.

YouTube is a place where people post videos of whatever they feel like, for fun, and for no other reason. It is not where huge companies like Bank of America buy media time for their advertising.

The infamous "Bank of America U2/One" video is NOT A TELEVISION COMMERCIAL.

Big companies like BoA frequently have corporate gatherings — parties, retreats, dinners, etc. — for the purpose of employee bonding or what's called "internal marketing." Because Bank of America recently completed a merger with another financial company called MBNA, they held one of these events.

For reasons you may come to understand once you've been working in the corporate world for a couple of years (and, truthfully, maybe not even then), groups of empoloyees (or "teams") frequently, at these types of events, put on skits, or perform songs. Years ago I worked at a high-tech company and led a group of marketing managers in the creation and performance of a skit that mocked one of our senior executive, a female vice president who was known for having a fondness for the color purple. I dressed up like her. Well, all I did was wear purple — and everyone understood that I was "playing" her.

But NO ONE FILMED ME DOING THAT. My god; if they had, I certainly never would have done it.

That's what you saw in that video. You saw a couple of BofA guys doing a skit at a corporate party. It was supposed to be private (and, even then, would have been embarassing enough). But someone in the crowd secretly filmed them, and put the film up on YouTube, thereby causing a flurry of outcry: from the two men involved, for embarassing them. From BofA, for making the company look ridiculous. And now, apparently, from Universal Music for the unauthorized broadcast of the U2 song.

Now, get back to your blogs and discuss the issues raised by this occurrence. Issues about invasion of privacy. How far is it OK to go in the name of free speech, when on the other end of it you are causing an individual great pain. Assuming it was BofA that requested the video be taken off YouTube, do you think Google (the company that now owns YouTube) did the right thing by complying, or should they have let it stand?

Examine what YouTube has done to change the rules of media and society.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Diggin' it

If you're planning on staying in the blogosphere after our final class tomorrow, you might want to put Digg on your list of blog-related sites to explore. But before you do, read Valleywag's "The 8 People You Meet On Digg."

Speaking of scholarships

Here's a website you should bookmark, register on, and monitor:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How would you like $500?

The Daniel Kovach Foundation Media, Publishing, and Communications Scholarship awards $500 four times a year to college students majoring in any field of media, publishing, or communications.

I know 73 students who are eligible. The next application deadline is December 15, so get going.

Save the Titanic

Perhaps the saddest thing about the statement published today on the Save The Merc website is that they still have a classified ads call center.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and it's always sad to see four hundred year old institutions die, but the death knoll sounded for Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen the day Craigslist was born, and stopping your ears with cotton won't stop the ringing. The invention of Internet communications simply negated much of the value newspapers once provided.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What you should be blogging about this week

If you haven't heard about the video of the Bank of America executives singing an appropriated version of U2's "One," and how it was posted on YouTube, and how everyone in business everywhere is cringing over it; and if you haven't read what Edelman and AdAge have said about it...

...well, do. Especially if your major is public relations.

Congratulations to Nicole!

Congratulations to Nicole Lieurance, who won second prize in the campus-wide Kite Runner Essay Contest! You may remember Nicole as the student who volunteered to test's online dating services as research for the group presentation in our class. She's been blogging about it, too.

Now, about that pizza:

I believe my promise was, if anyone in this class were to win first prize, there would be pizza for everyone, but I think maybe second prize deserves recognition too. Besides, I'm not above bribing you all to show up on Thursday, because I want you to fill out those course evaluations.

I hope to see you in class on Thursday. Bring your own beverages.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wanted: book reviews

Again I call upon my 73 blogging students for your opinions. I am on the committee to choose the campus reading program title for 2007, and our short list was announced today. You, the students, are the target audience, so your opinion is important. If you have read any of these books I would like to know whether you think they would make a good choice for the program.

Here's the short list:

Bel Canto
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Farewell to Manzinar
Life of Pi
Midnight at the Dragon Cafe
Oryx and Crake
The Glass Castle
The Sleeping Father
Vernon God Little
Those of you (Amir) who, when the blogging project was announced, were thrilled to learn that there would be no censorship of language on your blogs, will like Vernon God Little. If you liked Borat, and if you understood the nature of the satire in it, you will like Vernon God Little. I think all of you would like that book. It's my pick for the winning title, but I'm going to have a hard time convincing the committe to agree with me. Read the book and you'll understand why.

Looking for a topic to blog about this week? You all read The Kite Runner. What did you think of the appropriateness of that book, as a choice for a campus-wide reading program? What do you think about the concept of a campus reading program in general? How do you think next year's book should be chosen?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You didn't really think you'd be working at the Merc one day, did you?

If you have any remaining illusions about that, read this.

This is not a temporary situation that will correct itself, the way the stock market does. This is a paradigm shift, and the newspapers still believe the sun revolves around the earth.

What role should blogging play in a journalism program?

I've told you, those of you who are in my MCOM 72 class, that the idea to have you all keep blogs through the semester (and to make it a major assignment for this class) was a new idea, an experiment. That is, it was an experiment for me, to have an entire class blog, and, as far as I know, it was a first for MCOM 72.

I never claimed that it was a first in any other way. What I did not know until a few weeks into the semester, was that a course called Journalism and the New Media (JOUR 163), was being offered for the first time in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at SJSU.

Whenever a course is offered for the first time, it is under a microscope, and Journalism 163 is under the microscope right now. Steve Sloan, who has been team-teaching the course this semester with Cynthia McCune, has expressed concerns that the curriculum for this course will be forced to change into something it shouldn't be.

Read what Steve says about it here. And what Robert Scoble says about it here.

I would like to know what you, as students in this School, think. I encourage you all to blog your opinions. When I read your blogs next week, I will collect your posts and show them to Steve, and to the powers that be who make curriculum decisions in this school. You, my 73 blogging students, are uniquely qualified right now to have credible opinions on this topic, so make your voice heard. This is your chance to make a difference.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Best of your blogs from last week

Tomoyo teaches us the trendiest words of 2006 &mdash in Japanese! My favorite is the verb, "to guguru."

Kim tells us that these days, the design of a credit card is more important than its interest rate.

Brittany lets us know it's OK to regift.

Brooke identifies what, from the perspective of history, may come to be known as a turning point: the day they started referring to the war in Iraq as a civil war.

Did you know that 80% of new products introduced to the market fail? Cindy has found one that looks so yummy, it might just survive.

Andrea tells us how a traditional symbol of peace and Christmas wishes has been mistaken for a sign of the devil.

Nicole points us to a very clever, and very popular, blog, called Post Secret.

Is it important? Not in the least. Is it pop culture news? Yes, but that's only one reason I enjoyed it. The real reason is, I am a fan of Kelly Ripa. I know, I know, how lame... but ever since she was on All My Children, back in 1990, I've liked her. So there. My secret is out. I'm outed. And it's all Jeff's fault!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Blog assignment: final grading

There are only two weeks left of blogging you must do for this class. Shortly after December 7, our last class day, I will begin the final grading of your blogs. I'll be looking only at your template design, and the blog posts you're written since the midterm point. This grade is worth 20% of your final grade for the course.

In terms of formatting, the requirements at midterm were that you have at least three links to other bloggers in this class, and at least three external links, arranged in some manner that makes sense (both to you, and to your readers). In the final blog grading, I'll be looking for improvements to your blogroll. In your weekly blog posts, what I'm looking for is quality of writing, relevance, and links.

Your final blog grade will be assigned on the following scale: A = excellent, B = goood, C = satisfactory, D = unsatisfactory, and F = failure.

Speaking of the last day of class, I really hope I'll see all of you there, since it'll be our last day together. I'm still waiting to hear who the winner of the campus-wide essay contest is (remember your Kite Runner essays?), and if it's one of you, there will be pizza, as promised — after the two presenting groups that day have finished with their presentations.

There's another reason I hope you'll all come on that last day. I have chosen you as my one class this semester to do a course evaluation on me. Faculty in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications are required to choose two classes per year to do these evaluations, and it was suggested to me not to do any in the first semester. I'm not sure why. Maybe they figure that freshman faculty never get good reviews. And maybe they're right. Hmn.

But the thing is, I really want to know what you thought of this course. The blog assignment was an experiment, and, from what I've seen from your blogs, it was a successful one — but I want to know what you think about that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Best of your blogs last week

Mimi starts this post off with a great cartoon, but what's really interesting is what she writes afterwards, about The City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism being awarded a grant to write an online rule book to educate bloggers about the legal risks to blogging. There's even a link to a list of all the lawsuits involving bloggers to date.

Nicole discovers Harper's magazine, arguably the best magazine published in the United States.

Kelley tells us about a new TV show that's worth watching.

Kim proves she has become a more critical media consumer since this course began.

The kudos list is short this week, because approximately 1/3 of you didn't write anything. Usually I enjoy reading your blogs. In terms of marking and other usually dry or tedious teacher duties, your blogs are the highlight of my week. But this week, it was depressing, because I had to give about 25 of you 0/10 for this week's blog evaluation.

Most of you, when you do write, you write great stuff. You could so easily get an A on this assignment — and I mean all of you. But just one week of no posts, and you've pushed yourself out of A contention. And that's a shame.

Monday, November 20, 2006

General Motors press release, November 10

Here's a link to General Motors' press release titled "Finalists Named in Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge," issued November 10.

GM's PR people also sent me some of the publicity photos taken the weekend of October 27-30 in Detroit. Here's one of all the students:

Blogging as journalism

If you're in my class you may remember I told you that as journalism students, you should blog. Most journalists blog (they just don't necessarily do it publicly).

That is not the same thing as saying all blogs are journalism. Far from it. This one, for example, is not. Blogs-as-journalism try to break stories, or to report on breaking stories.

Robert Scoble puts forth an interesting theory about blog rumors.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Super Bowl ads may be downright amateurish"

That is, according to a recent story in USA Today.

I disagree. I saw the advertising concepts created for Chevrolet by the students from Elon, Wisconsin, Savannah, and Washington University; and, of course, the concept created by SJSU's own Kelly Sherman, LouLou Quintela, and Anna Pogosova. And they were not at all amateurish.

All five student teams created intelligent, sophisticated, original, clever ads for Chevrolet. That's why they were chosen from hundreds of entries from across the country.

That's Ed Peper, the General Manager of Chevrolet, saying hello to Kelly and LouLou. He didn't think the students' ideas were amateurish, either.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Trip to New York City for JMC students

Have you heard about the trip to New York City?

This trip is being organized by the School of Journalism & Mass Communications, and is open to all students in the School.

For more information click on the link or on the graphic.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I don't read comic books, but I'm a science fiction nerd

He said hello to Faith earlier today, and later this evening, Faith, Jonathan, and I will be at Neil Gaiman's reading and book signing in the University Ballroom.

I hope to see more of you there.

I read Anansi Boys, because it's under consideration to be next year's Campus Reading Program title (and I'm on the committe that's going to decide). What do you think about that?

Public relations, or propoganda, show business, and advertising?

This Friday November 17, at 7:00

Unspun: The Problem of Journalism and Public Relations by University of Texas professor Dr. Robert Jensen, is a critical look at the relationship between the news media and PR Firms. Also, a screening of "Truth Masters," a film about the propaganda, show business, and advertising behind the world of Public Relations.

This event will be held at the MACLA Arts Center (Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana), 510 South First Street, in San Jose.

Suggested donation, $5 to $15. Free for students. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What is the point, you ask?

Jason wrote a blog post the other day, questioning the pedagoical reasoning behind the final exam in this course, and asking what was the point of coming to class. I encourage you to read his post, and the comments I wrote on it.

As I've been telling you in class, a major goal of this course is for you to learn how to be a more critical, thoughtful, media consumer. In fact, this is the first objective of the course, as stated in your course outline: "1. To experience and analyze, and learn to critique, all major forms of mass media communications, and to become a critical media consumer."

My teaching philosophy in general, whatever the subject matter (and I have taught courses in e-commerce, marketing management, advertising, communications, and media; at the highschool, undergraduate, and graduate level; the principle applies to all of them) is to encourage a critical approach.

And yes, that includes criticizing the course itself, and me as your teacher. Recall what I told you here: to criticize something does not mean to slam it; it means to analyze it, and comment, thoughtfully, on the pros and/or cons of it.

You have a right, as students, to ask why you are being required to do whatever it is you are being required to do. And it is our responsibility, as teachers, to be able to answer those questions when they are asked. This is one of the most important lessons I remember learning, as a student in teacher's college. I was in training to be a highschool English teacher (long story), and I remember asking my professor, "So you mean to tell me, that if one of my students demands I justify to them why they have to read Macbeth, I have to be able to give them an answer? I can't just say, because you have to?"

My professor answered, "Yes. That's exactly what I mean."

So, Jason, you are not the first student to ask the sort of question you asked on your blog, and I have no doubt whatsoever that you won't be the last. And I'm happy to answer your question.

The main reason why you should come to this class, MCOM 72 section 3, is because what we do in class is discuss, in more depth, the issues introduced in the textbook. If you had been reading the chapters all along, before class, as I expect you to do (and this expectation is clearly explained in the course outline), you would have recognized when something on my slides, a topic I introduced, or a question I asked of the class, was based on the material in the chapter. The fact that you apparently did not recognize these instances tells me you have yet to open your textbook.

The second reason you should come to class relates to the second objective in the course outline: "2. To learn about the "blogosphere" by becoming an active media blogger." One of the early classes this semester was almost entirely devoted to introducing you to the topic of blogs, and giving you the basic information you'd need to get started on yours. I allowed time for you, the students, to talk to each other about your blogs, and encouraged the students who had blogged before, and who knew the technical basics, to help those who were new to it. From that point on, at the beginning of almost every class session, I showed you a slide with a "blog tip of the day." I set aside time to answer your questions, and, as we progressed, and as you became more competent bloggers, I took time in class to discuss blog-related issues as they arose, such as Anngiely's experience with the comment threatening legal action against her. As well, in nearly every class I suggested at least one, if not several, topics you might blog about that week.

(Though I have not done a formal, statistical analysis I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that there is a correlation between those students who attend this class regularly, and those who got A's on their midterm blog grade.)

Another reason you should come to class is that group work comprises 25%of your grade in this course, and if you don't come to class you'll never meet the other students, and you won't be able to get into a group.

And, the final reason you should attend class — any class, not just this one — is so that you can participate, and show your professor that you are participating. As I explained to you last week, when you were giving your mini-presentations on international websites, in all university courses, regardless of the subject matter, there is some element of subjectivity in grading. When a student is borderline, or when there is a judgement call to be made, the professor must rely on what they know about the student to help them make a decision. If you never come to class, and never participate, and you end up being one of those students the professor is considering, when it's time to turn in those final grades, whether to assign a C+ or a B-, or whether to pass or fail the student, it's that information they will bring to bear. I have never known a professor to fail a student who attended class consistently, participated regularly, and made an effort.

I'd like to thank Jason for asking this question, because I know, from experience, that for every one student who asks a question, at least a dozen are wondering the same thing. So I hope that I have answered, for all of you who may have been wondering, the question "Why should I bother coming to class?"

Finally, I'd like to address the implied question in the first part of Jason's comment: "With the final exam in our class being based on the book alone I think that essentially our time spent in class two days a week has been a waste of time."

I believe I've just argued against coming to class being a waste of time, but I wanted to explain why the final exam is based on the textbook. It's quite simple, really. I'm testing whether you read it, as you were required to do.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The New Yorker: on tour in the Bay Area

Sorry for the short notice, but I just found out about this myself. The New Yorker magazine is doing a "college tour" and stopping at Berkeley this week. The tour features in-classroom visits by New Yorker writers and editors; free daytime, on-campus lectures; and evening entertainment. Today through Wednesday. For more information, click here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Evaluation groups: to be perfectly clear

Just to be perfectly clear, in case it wasn't clear from the instructions in the course outline, both the presentation and the evaluation is a group effort. One group presentation, same grade for everyone in the group. One group evaluation, same grade for everyone in the group. Unless one of your group members is absent without good reason, in which case only he or she gets an F.

On presentation days I will give a two minute grace period, then I'm locking the doors and there will be a sign posted on the outside reading DO NOT ENTER.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Group presentations, evaluations, and final exam: some reminders

The schedule for group presentations and evaluations is posted on the course website.

Please refer to the course outline (also available on the course website) for detailed instructions about the presentations and the evaluations.

Evaluating groups:

Your written evaluation is worth 5% of your grade. You must watch the movie, or read the book, or familiarize yourself with the media choice of the group you will evaluate. Your evaluation of the other group’s presentation requires a one page (no cover page, just one sheet of paper), approximately 500 word written evaluation, including the grade you would give them if it were up to you. Your grade will be based on your ability to explain and justify your evaluation, in other words, on your critical and writing skills. I'm using the word "you" in the plural here; it's one evaluation report per group. Make sure you put everyone's name on it. You all get the same grade. Your evaluation is due the day of the next class meeting.

An important note for both presenting and evaluating groups: All members of the group must be present in class the day of their presentation, and on the day of the presentation they will evaluate. Any member who is absent that day, barring exceptional circumstances, will receive an F for that part of the assignment.

NO LATECOMERS. If your group is presenting or evaluating second, you still MUST be there at the beginning of the class. It is simply rude, and therefore unacceptable, to walk in or out once a group has begun their presentation. DON'T EVEN TRY to walk in late. I'll just send you back out, and you'll get an F. I mean it.

And yes, you are still required to do your blog entries for every class meeting. That means not Thanksgiving Thursday when there's no class, but the last day of classes when there is. The last day of classes is December 7.

The final exam will be held in the classroom on Thursday, December 14 from 9:45 - noon. The format will be 100 multiple choice questions, based on the assigned chapters in the textbook.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blogs about advertising

One of the great things about blogs is, when you find one that's about something your interested, chances are that person's blogroll has all kinds of other sites you'll be interested in. Here are some fun blogs about advertising I found today:



AdFreak and AdJab (which both reported recently that the Mac guy from the Mac vs. PC commercials has been fired)

Advertising for Peanuts

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blogging is just writing by another name

Mimi points us to an interesting article that gives tips on how to be a better blogger.

Joella has some fascinating inside information about Bill Gates's house.

Tomoyo writes brilliantly about the difference between reality television and real television.

Jessica rings another 1984 bell by finding a car that parks itself.

Krystyna gives us yet another good reason to drop a few pounds.

Chris shows an aptitude for a career as a headline writer.

Evaline, who is always up on the latest media technologies, has found what I want for Christmas.

And Jason, after receiving his midterm blog grade, decides to grade my blog.

Remind me to unsubscribe

I subscribed to CNN's "Breaking News" email service on their website in the days following September 11, 2001. Back then, they sent important news headlines.

In the years since then I have been of mixed feelings about this service. On the one hand, it alerted me to the fact that Johnny Cash had died. On the other, their "breaking" news too often involves sensational arrests and jury decisions.

Remember we discussed in class the question of what makes news news, and who decides what "issues" are? Well, I've just lost a great deal of respect for the people at CNN who make those decisions. I just checked my personal email and here's today's CNN Breaking News headline:

CNN Breaking News

1:09 pm (1½ hours ago)

-- Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.

Watch CNN or log on to and watch FREE video, plus live, commercial-free video with CNN Pipeline. CNN - The most trusted name in news.

You might call her the anti-Dooce

Here's a wonderful example of an extreme blog: I Blame The Patriarchy. Twisty Faster, because of her outspoken, radical views, has as many enemies as she has fans. She gets a lot of ill-informed, stupid, and hateful comments. And here's her policy for handling them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Metablogging is blogging about blogging.

Recently I had dinner at Gordon Biersch with my friend and former colleague Tim Bray, who is currently the Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems. Tim's blog is published outside the auspices of Sun, however, he is the author of Sun's policy on blogging. Employees at Sun are encouraged to blog, and are given web space on the company's servers to do so.

Microsoft and many other tech companies in and around Silicon Valley encourage their employees to blog about the work they're doing. You may remember, doing so is what made Robert Scoble famous.

As Tim and I discussed the pros and cons of corporate blogging, and the challenges of writing effective marketing blogs, I mentioned that I'd heard that Apple doesn't have a blog policy, and that I found that surprising. How could such a large, tech-savvy, beloved company not have blogging employees?

So I decided to do a little research on the subject. I found a very interesting — and, be forewarned, very long — conversation on this very subject on Scobleizer.

On this particular blog post, the comments are far more interesting and revealing than Scoble's original post on the subject. I encourage you to read it, and blog your thoughts on the issues under discussion.

The main question being debated is whether Apple should encourage, or even permit, its employees to blog. But there's a secondary issue that I found extremely interesting, and that is, how much latitude should bloggers allow their commenters? You'll find that many of the comments on Scoble's post are ill-informed, rude, and downright nasty — yet not only does Scoble not delete these comments, he responds to them, politely, smartly, and with dignity.

I admire Scoble's fortitude, yet I know that, if I were him, I would have ended the conversation about half way through those comments. As a blogger myself, I draw the line at allowing people to insult me in my own home.

You are all bloggers, too. What do you think?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What it's like to work at an ad agency

LouLou Quintela, Kelly Sherman, and Anna Pogosova spent four days in Detroit last week as finalists in the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge. In the photos below, LouLou, Kelly, and Anna work with graphic artist Dave Chow, and Vice President Art Supervisor, Mark Freeman, at Campbell-Ewald, the advertising agency that handles the Chevrolet account.

Want to know more about what it's like to work at an ad agency? The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University is organizing a trip to New York City during spring break in March, 2007. This is your chance to get a taste of what Kelly, Anna, and LouLou experienced at Campbell-Ewald. To find out more about the New York trip, click here.

Is there something you'd like to ask Anna, LouLou, or Kelly? Scroll to the bottom of these photos, click on "# comments", and under "Choose an identity" select "Other" and type your name. One of the students will answer your question in the comments. Please remember that anonymous comments will be deleted.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This story is far from over

When LouLou, Kelly, and Anna arrived at SFO on Monday night there was a small but enthusiastic welcoming committee awaiting them — complete with flowers and a sign. (That sign is outside my office, DBH 104, if you'd like to stop by and see it.)

Though our trip to Detroit is over, this story is far from it. Between now and Super Bowl Sunday you'll be hearing, and seeing, a lot more about Kelly, Anna, LouLou, and SJSU. You'll also get to know Katie from U-Wisconsin Milwaukee; Nathan, Hubert, and Shlomo from Washington University; Kiley and Tyler from Elon; and Sean and Masso from Savannah. All eleven students have made their universities proud — and famous. And all now have a launching pad for a career in advertising.

The reality show will begin airing in a couple of weeks. I'm keeping an eye on Advertising Age magazine for mentions. There might be a trip to New York for the students to appear on The Today Show. Who knows, Katie Couric herself might want to interview them.

In the mean time, I'll be posting some more pictures from last weekend here. So keep watching and reading. As soon as there's something to announce, I will announce it here.

In three months, on Super Bowl Sunday, during the pre-game special on the greatest Super Bowl ads, everyone in America will learn the names Kelly Sherman, LouLou Quintela, Anna Pogosova — and San Jose State University.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What it's like to be filmed for a reality show

Cameras follow you everywhere, except to the bathroom. This is Marie Standing, Team SJSU's producer, and the rest of her team. Each of the five finalist teams had a dedicated camera crew.

See all those wires Marie is wearing? She was in constant contact with Ted, the producer of the reality show, as well as with Eric, the sound guy and the cameraman. And she could listen in on what all of us were saying, too.

This is Ted, talking into his shirt, probably to Marie.

Being shadowed by a camera crew all day for four days straight has its frustrating moments, but when we realized it was time to say goodbye to Marie, we were all sad.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's just like American Idol

By the time they get to the last few weeks of American Idol, when they're down to the ten finalists, you know quite a few things:

You know those ten finalists have all launched a career in the music industry. You know their names, their state, and quite a bit about them as people. You like some of them better than others. It hardly matters who wins, all the finalists are famous. Remember, Clay Aitken didn't win.

The Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge is like that.

There's no doubt that Anna Pogosova, LouLou Quintela, and Kelly Sherman (as well as the other eight students who were finalists) have all launched their careers in the advertising industry.

When that reality show begins airing on, all of America will get to know Kelly, LouLou, and Anna as people. They will learn the name San Jose State. And they'll be rooting for Team San Jose.

By the time Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, all of America will know the names of those 11 students and their schools: Savannah College of Art & Design, Washington University, University of Wisconsin, Elon, and San Jose State.

Of course, all we care about is San Jose State! Go SJSU!

MSNBC coverage of Chevy Ad Challenge

The students are not mentioned by name or college in this piece. It's a background piece about why General Motors decided to try consumer-generated advertising for its Super Bowl spot this year:

Click here to watch.

On Super Bowl Sunday, everyone in the country will know the name San Jose State University

These three SJSU students, Anna Pogosova, LouLou Quintela, and Kelly Sherman, have made SJSU famous.

They were one of five finalist teams in the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge who spent last weekend at General Motors' headquarters in Detroit. You can read all about this story right here, on this website.

This story is far from over. Between now and the Super Bowl you'll be hearing a lot more about SJSU and its participation in this national competition. And on Super Bowl Sunday, everyone in the country will know the name San Jose State.

Over the next few days I'll be posting more photos from last weekend. The next thing that's going to happen is the reality show that CBS filmed will begin airing on As soon as I know details, they will be posted here.

The competition: Washington University

This is the team from Washington University in St. Louis: Hubert Cheung, Shlomo Goltz, and Nathan Heigert. They are students of broadcast and video production.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The competition: Wisconsin

This is Katie Crabb, from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She is 18 years old, and has been a university student for all of two months now. She's a theater major. Her ad concept was developed as a requirement for a class in writing for the media. And she did it all by herself.

If she can do it, so can any one of you in the advertising program at San Jose State University.

The competition: North Carolina

This is Tyler Lesch and Kiley Moorefield. They're from Elon University in North Carolina.

Their storyboards were made up of cutouts of the Chevrolet cars, pasted onto street scenes, with hand-drawn stick figures to show where the people would be. And that worked just fine — they're here, aren't they?

When you're pitching an ad concept, it doesn't matter what your storyboards look like. What matters is your story.

We like Tyler and Kiley very much. But not enough to let them beat us.

The competition: Savannah

This is Masa and Sean from Savannah College of Art & Design.

They have the most impressive storyboards you've ever seen. But you know what? They're not going to win, because their ad concept is not funny, and I've learned from talking to the advertising executives here at GM and their agency, Campbell-Ewald, that what Chevrolet wants for their Super Bowl ad is the following: funny, edgy, and smart.

Savannah's professor is the gentleman on the left. When their team presented at the meeting yesterday, he did all the talking, which prompted LouLou to pass me a note that read, "I don't think the professor should be part of the presentation." By which she meant, "You'd better stay right where you are, lady."

More about Sunday in Detroit

Kelly, Anna, and LouLou have been given a silver Chevy Equinox to drive for the weekend. Kelly usually drives, while Anna navigates from the back seat. They let me sit in the front because "I'm the adult."

and so that I can take pictures of important landmarks, like this:

and this one, the headquarters of the largest corporation in the world:

Besides participating in this national advertising competition as one of only five teams from the entire United States, Kelly, LouLou, and Anna took time out for other challenges. Here, they discover Canada:

This is LouLou!!!

Hey there!!!! Thanks for all of your support, it's a crazy ride here in Detroit.

Today at GM World

Hi everyone, this is Anna.

We are very excited about presenting tomorrow to Chevy. Our rehearsal presentation went well, we actually decided to go with a totally new idea...we all worked really, really hard and we hope that they choose our ad! :) We learned so much and we can't wait to see you all when we get back. Go Spartans!

What's happening right this moment

Remember it's Daylight Savings Time, and that we're in Detroit, but my blog timestamp is California time.

Right now LouLou, Anna, and Kelly are presentinng their ideas to Steve Pitsillos and Andrea Wells, the top creative executives on the Chevrolet account. They're finalizing what to do for their presentation tomoorrow, and getting tips from these experts.

Earlier, they students attended a presentation skills seminar given by Steve, in which he demonstrated his presentation of the "Gas pumps hate us" Chevy campaign.

Of course, the CBS camera crew was there to capture every moment.

Where the other teams are from

The other four finalist teams in the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge are from the University of Wisconsin, Washington University in St. Louis, Savanna College of Art & Design, and Elon University in North Carolina.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just another day -- except for the omnipresent cameras

A typical day, when you're a finalist in a national advertising competition, and being filmed for a reality TV show, begins with getting mic'd:

Then, it was for a briefing on the Chevrolet brand by Bill Ludwig, head of Campbell-Ewald, the advertising agency that handles the Chevy account, in the "war room":

The Chevrolet war room at Campbell-Ewald is very hip. And the CBS camera crew is everywhere. That's Marie Standing, our producer, on the left, with the clipboard. Marie has been with us since last Tuesday's press conference at SJSU. She met us at the airport. She does everything but sleep in our rooms at the Marriott — and that's only because there wasn't room for her at this hotel (she's at the Marriott Courtyard down the road) because of the World Series and the junior hockey tournament happening this weekend.

LouLou, Kelly, and Anna present their ideas to executives from Campbell-Ewald at what's called the "creative enhancement" meeting. They're here to get input and suggestions, to help them develop their ideas tomorrow, for their final presentation on Monday. We saw the other teams' presentations, too. They're good, but they're not as good as Team SJSU's!

After Anna, Kelly, and LouLou present their ideas, the cameras focus on reaction comments from Bill Ludwig and Andrea Wells, of Campbell-Ewald.

Next, Kelly O'Neill, national advertising manager for Chevrolet at General Motors, ushers the five finalist teams outside for a "ride and drive."

What's a ride and drive you ask? The teams examine each of the four new Chevrolets: the Aveo, the Equinox, the Cobalt, and the HHR. Then they drive each one around the parking lot — which has been cleared of all parked cars. Of course, the CBS camera crew films every moment:

Next, a photoshoot:

It's been a long, but productive day, and tomorrow begins at 7:00.

More tomorrow...

Pictures coming soon

We're in the "Team SJSU" war room, on the fifth floor at Campbell-Ewald. They call this room the Mojo room, and there's a picture of Austin Powers hanging over the table.

We're waiting for Bill Ludwig, the agency's creative director, to come meet with the team. And after that, I'm heading back to the hotel, to get out of their hair.

My camera USB cable is in my hotel room. There will be pictures posted here later tonight.

Lots of them!

Photo shoots

Kelly, Anna, and LouLou are in the lobby of Campbell-Ewald, GM's advertising agency, having publicity photos taken. There is a bright yellow Corvette parked in the lobby. It's part of the fleet controlled by Kelly O'Neill, the advertising manager for Chevrolet. Earlier, all four of us were driving Chevies in the parking lot -- a bright blue Cobalt, a red Aveo, a copper colored HHR, and a grey Equinox. They're also part of her fleet.

These photos will be used by GM for publicity and public relations, betweren now and Super Bowl time.

And on Monday, LouLou, Anna, and Kelly, will be interviewed by AdAge magazine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday night: Marriott hotel, Troy, Michigan

Before I tell you what Kelly, LouLou, Anna, and I have been doing all day, I wanted to take a moment to say an enormous thank you to Andrew Balingit,. He accepted the position of P.A. (production assistant) for the day for the CBS camera crew that was on campus Tuesday, to film the big announcement that Kelly Sherman, LouLou Quintela, and Anna Pogosova had been chosen as one of five finalists in the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge.

That's right, Super Bowl. National advertising contest. One of five finalist teams chosen from over 1,000 entries. ARE YOU LISTENING, EDITORS OF THE SPARTAN DAILY?

(Andrew, why haven't you blogged about this yet? I'm sure it was a very interesting experience.)

Now, let me tell you about today. My day began at 4:00 — yes, I mean San Jose time. My alarm wasn't set to go off until 4:30, but since I was awake anyway, and since the cab was coming to pick us up at 5:30, I decided to stay up and attend to last minute details.

Anna and LouLou were able to arrange their own transport to the airport, but neither Kelly nor I have a car, and since we both live downtown, we decided to share a cab. Kelly stopped by my office yesterday and asked if I would please call him in the morning to make sure he was up.

I called him at 5:00. There was no answer.

I called him every five minutes until 5:25, then I went downstairs and called the cab driver. She was outside Kelly's frat house, and reported there was no Kelly in sight. I suggested she come fetch me, which she did, then we headed back to the frat house. By this time it was 5:45.

The cab driver honked her horn, and I stood outside and screamed at the top of my lungs, in the general direction of the windows, "KELLY SHERMAN, WAKE UP!" I kicked and banged the front door.

We kept this up for 20 minutes, and there was not a stirring from within the house. I kept screaming my way around the building, until I discovered an open door around back. Then I went inside and started screaming and banging on doors.

I'm sure I was quite annoying to the boys who live there, and, if they're reading, I'm sorry, but I don't give a rat's ass who I annoyed at that point — it was my responsibility to get Kelly to the airport. Despite the inexplicable editorial stance of our school newspaper, I realized that getting that young man onto that plane — or not — was the difference between national fame for SJSU, and national embarassment.

I got him on the plane.

That was 15 hours ago. He's now asleep in his room, as are LouLou and Anna. They have a big day ahead of them, and we have to meet in the lobby at 7:30 to be driven to GM's advertising agency's offices.

We're being driven in GM vehicles, of course.

We were met at the airport by a much larger camera crew from CBS, who filmed us arriving, then gathering our luggage, then mic'ed us and filmed us again. Then filmed us exiting the airport, talking in the car on the way to the hotel, entering the hotel, entering our rooms, and heading downstairs to dinner.

The trip from the airport to the hotel, normally a 20 minute journey, took two hours. We crawled most of the way, because there had been an accident. So there wasn't time for us to change. We ate dinner in the fancy steak house in the Marriott in Troy, Michigan, in our SJSU sweatshirts.

And we were damned proud to be doing so.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What LouLou, Kelly, and Anna will be doing this weekend

The advertising manager for Chevrolet, at GM in Detroit, just sent me the itinerary. Here it is:

Day 1 Friday
1:00 – 5:00 Arrival and check into hotel (Troy Marriott)
7:00 Dinner at Shula’s (in the hotel lobby)

Day 2 Saturday
7:30 Depart hotel (meet in lobby)
8:00 Breakfast at Campbell-Ewald
8:30 Introductions (Tenth Floor Conference Room #3)
9:00 Tour of Agency/war room assignments
10:00 Ride and Drive in CE parking lot; car assignments to follow
11:15 Conceptual Enhancement (Tenth Floor Conference Room #4)
Working box lunch
1:15 Design Studio Orientation (8th Floor)
1:45 Conference Call with Production (First Floor – Annex)
30 minutes per team; calls at 1:45, 2:15, and 2:45
Teams not on call are refining concepts in war rooms
3:15 Teams retreat to individual war rooms to work
5:00 – 7:00 Access to CE Creative (Art Direction & Writing Experts) available for consultation
6:30 Dinner - Brought in for Teams - 8 Main
12-midnight Design Studio, Graphics Department closes

Day 3 Sunday
Breakfast at Hotel (Julie will arrange)
8:00 Depart for Renaissance Center (park in Beaubain Place)
Enter Renaissance Center at Winter Gardens located on river side of building
9:00 Tour of GM World (Renaissance Center)
10:00 Media Training (Tower 100, 29th Floor, Room A65)
11:20 Depart for CE
12:00 Arrive at CE – Working Box Lunch (pick up in 8 Main)
Teams to finalize presentations in war rooms
2:00 Presentation Skills Overview (Tenth Floor Conference Room #3)
Teams rehearse concepts with CE personnel
4:30 Finalize materials for Presentation - War Rooms, Design Studio, Graphics Center
6:30 Student and Faculty Dinner with EdVenture Partners (TBD)

Day 4 Monday
6:00 – 6:30 Hotel checkout.
6:30 Depart for Renaissance Center (meet in lobby)
7:15 Valet Park on circle drive off of Jefferson Ave. in front of Renaissance Center
7:30 Continental Breakfast
8:00 - 12:00 Presentations (Ren Cen GM University Room)
12:00 Student De-brief, Interviews
~1:00 EdVenture Partners to transport teams back to airport

(Our flight departs at 3:15)

Where else you can blog about the big news

I'll be posting here as often as I can from Detroit this weekend, and I'll try to get Kelly, LouLou, and Anna to write about their experiences too.

I encourage you to write about SJSU in the news in your own blogs. Follow the Detroit media online — there might be a story about us this weekend. Keep your eye on the Chevrolet website, in their "news" section, too. Try Google News, and Yahoo News, for press releases and other items related to the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge.

(I don't even know yet who the other four finalist colleges are. Do you?)

Cynthia McCune is the JMC webmaster, and she's following the story too. She encourages you all to watch and comment on the School of Journalism & Mass Communications blog.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Here's the thing about public relations

The thing about working in public relations is, you do your best to tell a story to the members of the press that you think they might be interested in covering, but you have no control over any of the following:

- whether they choose to cover it at all
- if they cover it, what slant they might put on it (that is, whether their story will be favorable, in your estimation, or not)
- if they cover it, what importance they give it, relative to other stories

All you can do is tell them your story, give them the facts, try to make sure they spell your name correctly, and hope for the best.

You cannot call a journalist the day after his article about you appeared in the paper, and say, "Hey! You made me look really bad in that article!" Well, you can, but his response will be, "Tough."

Yesterday, we had a press conference at noon, during our class period in DBH 133. You all know that, because you were there. The story we had to tell the members of the press was this: Three SJSU students were chosen as finalists in a national Super Bowl advertising competition. The students were chosen from among nearly 1,000 entries from every university and college in the United States of America.

This is a story of national interest.

So, was I disappointed that the editors at the Spartan Daily felt that the most important story of the day on Tuesday was a car accident on Fourth Street? A story that involved no one even remotely connected to SJSU, did not take place on the campus, and in no way involved the university at all? A story which emphasized that point by stating, "According to University Police Department Sgt. Mike Santos, the University Police are not handling the incident."

Was I disappointed that even a story about trick-or-treating deserved, in the estimation of the Daily's editors, front page above-the-fold placement, when our story about SJSU students thrusting SJSU onto the national stage was relegated to page 3?

You bet I was disappointed. And embarassed, to tell you the truth. Not embarassed about my efforts at public relations, but embarassed in exactly the way that you are embarassed for a friend when she gets drunk at a fancy restaurant and throws up on the waiter's feet.

Was I further disappointed by the fact that the Mercury News sent no one to cover the story at all? Of course.

Was I extremely disappointed by the fact that Lloyd LaCuesta, who is KTVU Channel 2's South Bay Bureau Chief, and who is also a lecturer right here in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at SJSU, deemed our story unworthy of coverage?

Yes, at first. But having him drop in at the end of our news conference and see that the local CBS and NBC affiliates had sent camera crews and on-air reporters to cover the story?


(Click here to watch the video of CBS's coverage.)

And now I've swung the P.R. pendulum back the other way. Inevitably, the Daily and Mr. La Cuesta will be offended by what I've just said here. And you know what I have to say to them?


Addendum: the state of Indiana apparently thinks it's newsworthy just to have their students enter the competition. I'm no journalism professor, but it seems pathetic to me when the best you can do for a headline is to say "we tried!"

Public relations and the media

Here's a link to a blog post on a blog called "Online Marketing Blog." The article talks about how public relations people can effectively use blogs to promote their clients. (Unlike, say, how Wal-Mart and Edelman did it.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Press conference in class next Tuesday

Next week's topic is public relations and the media, and for this occasion I am arranging a press conference for next Tuesday's class.

This is the one class of the semester you won't want to miss. Put on your journalist's cap and bring your laptops, notebooks, and podcast recording equipment.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Canadian Politician Gets Dooced

Garth Turner, Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Halton, in Ontario, was turfed from the Conservative Party caucus this week because of his blog. Seems he called our prime minister a "Bush clone." Tsk, tsk.

The moral of the story: before you blog about your job, read Dooce.

Group presentations start in three weeks

Apologies for what will sound like nagging to those of you who have signed up for a topic and have already begun working on your presentation. Feel free to ignore this.

Everyone else, listen up:

The group presentations will begin in three weeks and what I don't want to see happening is groups or individuals scrambling at the last minute.

There is still one group (the Puff Daddy presenters) on the signup list that has six people, and needs to be five people. You need to tell me who the final five people in your group are. I will not "kick" someone out of your group for you. And I will not accept you coming to class on November 28 and saying, sorry, we didn't know we couldn't have six people. So don't try that approach. I simply won't allow you to do your presentation that day, which means you won't be able to do it at all, which means you'll all get Fs. Sound harsh? It's only harsh if I end up having to do that, but I'm sure it won't get to that point.

Now that we know that one of the students on the class roster is an "Other," as Faith put it, I've done the math again and there's going to have to be one group of four people. Whoever emails me first and says "We are a group of four" gets it; the remaining groups not yet formed will have to be five. Incidentally, Puff Daddy people, you might want to spin off two of your members to form another group, leaving you with four. Think about it, but decide quickly.

Some of you have been changing your topics, and that's fine, but there will have to be a line-drawing point after which no more changes are allowed, and I think what that's going to be is this: Once a group has signed up to evaluate your presentation, you can no longer change your presentation topic.

So, if you are one of the nine students whose name is not on that signup list, this is my final reminder that it is up to you to get yourselves into groups of the appropriate number, choose a topic, and tell me what it is. I will not put you into a group, and I will not assign you a topic. If the "T.B.D." day comes and no group has given me their information, well, it'll be an early class for the rest of the students and an easy marking job for me. Much though I might enjoy the break, I know you won't enjoy the F, so please don't let that happen.

More from yesterday's AdAge

"Planes, Trains and Steamrollers: New-Media Juggernaut Powers On
Old Media Delivers Signs of Its Own Demise" by Scott Donaton, October 19, 2006.

I hereby claim this blog

I have just registered with Technorati to claim this blog, and what I need to do to make that happen (according to their rules) is write a new post and insert this link. So, here it is, my Technorati Profile.

Public relations and blogging

In yesterday's AdAge there's an article titled "Edelman Eats Humble Pie." Read it. (I won't link to it because you have to register on to be able to read it, and the link is only active for a week.)

Edelman is the largest public relations firm in the world. Wal-Mart is one of their clients. On behalf of their clients, Edelman set up a blog called "Walmarting Across America" and hired professionals to write it, but presented it as a "real" blog. They've been unmasked, and the blogosphere is in an uproar about it.

Here's a link to the press release, ostensibly issued by "Working Families For Walmart," announcing that "Jim and Laura" would be driving their RV across America, stopping at Wal-Marts along the way, and blogging their experiences.

Jim and Laura have been revealed to be freelance writer Laura St. Claire and Washington Post photographer Jim Thresher, hired by Edelman.

Pete Blackshaw, of Nielsen BuzzMetrics, is quoted in the AdAge article as saying, "Everyone wanted to co-opt the conversation. [The industry] wanted to make it a marketing vehicle and not a listening vehicle. I hope the marketers internalize what this means for best practices."

Read the article in AdAge. Look at the Edelman Web site. (The head of Edelman, Richard Edelman, writes a blog on it, and used his blog to post an apology for the scandal.) Read the press release and, if it's still up, look at the Wal-Mart blog. Then form an opinion of this issue and blog about it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Anansi blogs

Someone in the class wrote about Neil Gaiman on their blog... but I can't remember who it was. Remind me in comments, please. I just finished reading Anansi Boys and I discovered that Neil has a blog. The next day, in a strange small world sort of way, I saw that one of my favorite bloggers, Scaryduck, has written a book, and guess who wrote the introduction? I hear Gaiman's coming to our campus. Clearly, he's stalking me.

Kelley Lugea points us to an interesting article bout the evolution of television as a medium, and how it learned from the mistakes made by the music industry:

"TV industry latching on to evolving technologies" by Charlie McCollum, The Mercury News, October 16, 2006.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spam comments

You know what spam is, when you find it in your email inbox. Well, what's new in spam is not the black pepper flavor, it's spam in your blog comments.

One of the downsides of allowing anyone to be able to comment on your blog is that spammers will leave comments. They employ troll programs to find new blogs, much in the same way as they employ troll programs to find and create email addresses.

Remember that you have the ultimate control over your blog. If you find spam in your comments box, excercise your power to delete it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Group presentation topics

I've just updated the schedule again. If your group has six members and it doesn't say "6 member group OK" beside it, that means you have to turn yourself into a group of five. There's one group of four that needs to find another member. And there are still two groups that need to materialize.

At this point, it's basically a process of elimination. Look at the names over on the right side of this page, under Student Blogs. Compare them to the names on the schedule. Find each other. Use your blogs!

Oh — there's a student on the roster who seems to be M.I.A. — Jonathan Engquist. He doesn't have a blog, and I don't know who he is, do you? If no one knows him, that means there can be one group of four people. (Caroline, Nicole, Rossa, and Molly, let me know.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Blogcademy Awards: Best of your movie reviews

The blog assignment for last week was to write a movie review of "A Face In The Crowd," the 1957 that made Andy Griffith a star, and which paints a dark picture of the power of the mass media that's even more relevant today. Fifty five students wrote reviews, and published them on their blogs. Here are my picks for various ad-hoc Blogcademy Awards:

Best title of a review: Joella Rochon and Megan Palermo

Best alternate title of the movie: Jessica Chavez

Best comparison of Lonesome Rhodes to another famous Arkansas boy: Andrea Frainier.

Best Lonesome Rhodes namecalling: Jeff Macias

Best comment on Lonesome Rhodes's annoying laugh: Kim Tsao

Best use of the word tryst: Kelley Lugea

Best research: Ryan Kunis

Best Paris Hilton burn: Danny Pham

Best wrap-up sentence: Mimi Sanouvong

Heineken USA advertising competition: call for entries

Another national advertising competition for college and university students was just announced. If any you — any of my students in any of my classes — would like to take part, I would be happy to help you as a faculty advisor.

This one has a few more rules and seems a bit more complex than the Chevy contest, though. It's a public service advertising competition sponsored by Heineken USA. Teams must create a campaign: print, radio, and Internet ad. And you must be 21 yers old by December 1 to be eligible.

More information is here. Let me know if you're interested.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blog assignment for this week

This week we'll be looking at broadcast media: radio and television. You have two blog writing assignments, one on each topic. It doesn't matter which one you do first.

1. What is your opinion of Howard Stern, and his influence on the development of radio as a communications medium?

2. What, in your opinion, are the three most important television programs ever created? Explain and defend your choices.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm Skyped

Actually, I'm stumped. Well, let's say puzzled.

When my blog tip of the day in class a couple of weeks ago said, "Why not join in the conversation about Skype?" what I meant was, blog your protests about our very own SJSU making national news because of its plans to ban Skype from the campus.

I wasn't sure whether you knew about the proposed ban, or the fact that the story had made national news and that the blogosphere was all agog about it, but I assumed if I made you aware of those facts, that you would want to protest the issue. Because I assumed you all knew what Skype was — just as you all know what MySpace is, and just as you all know how to download music less than legally.

Last week, I was surprised that I wasn't seeing more SAVE OUR FREE LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALLS types of posts on your blogs. And this week I was surprised to learn that it's because many of you don't know what Skype is.

This is not meant to be a criticism. I'm just sayin', I'm surprised, is all. If you want to blog about why I'm wrong, or why I shouldn't be surprised.... please do!

If you like pizza, why not hang on to that take out menu?

Isn't that what you think to yourself, when you see that pizza, or Chinese food, or Taco joint's menu in your mailbox? It can't hurt, and it doesn't take up much room in your catch-all drawer.

I'll be emailing you individually with your grades and comments on your Kite Runner essay, and on some of them I've included a specific note encouraging you to enter the campus-wide essay contest.

The purpose of this post is to encourage all of you to enter it. Because it can't hurt. And, like I said in an earlier post, if the first prize winner comes from this class, the pizza's on me. (And you get to be a hero in the class!)

The contest rules are here. All your essays already meet the requirements. All you have to do is print them out on paper and submit them. Oh, wait, actually, you don't even have to do that. You can email it. But on behalf of the pizza lovers in the class, I'd encourage you to spend some time polishing your work before submitting it. But do submit it. What have you got to lose?

And honestly, I have a feeling that if you all do submit an entry, the laws of probability alone will mean the winner will come from this class.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jonathan Swift was right

Note to my students: I don't have any more experience writing movie reviews than you do, so I thought I'd give it a try as well. What I learned is, the task of having to formally review a movie makes you a much more critical consumer of that movie. So, a valuable learning experience for all of us.

They had to cast an actor who could tapdance to play the part of Billy Flynn in the movie Chicago, so that, in the movie's climax, when Flynn is called upon to dap dance — metaphorically, to save his client — Richard Gere could do it for real.

This is a movie that is rife with heavy-handed metaphors, but their glamorous and stylized presentation makes their lack of subtlety forgivable. The movie gleefully harpoons the American frenzy to bestow celebrity status upon cold blooded killers, but by setting the film in jazz era Chicago, the audience is permitted, in a corner of their minds, to say to themselves, "Look how stupid people were back then. We would never be like that today!

(Of course not. Not with O.J. Simpson, or Robert Blake, and certainly not with Scott Peterson — who, for weeks was the lead story on Entertainment Tonight. As a Canadian, I was appalled by that.)

The film instructs us that we are fools, fed lies by oblivous newspaper journalists who themselves are nothing but puppets in the hands of a smooth talking lawyer in a sharktooth suit. Of the six murderers in the women's prison (Pop, Six, Squish, Uh Uh, Cicero, Lipshitz) only one is innocent, and because she can't speak the right language — English, or truth, depending on your perspective — she hangs. The only character with honorable intentions, Amos, is shown to be a fool for having them. And journalist Mary Sunshine, played ironically by the usually cyncical and sarcastic Christine Baranski, happily laps up the lies fed to her by Roxy Hart and her attorney, but can we really blame her? After all, wasn't it hard for you, watching the movie, to impune Roxy?

"He had it coming, he had it coming, it was a murder but not a crime," sing the prison six. Who among us men and women alike, hasn't felt that way, at one time or another?

As Roxy rehearses her fabricated life story, a story not one of the journalists bothers to verify, she avers that alcohol and jazz were her downfall. She plays to her audience. That's what American society wants to hear: that she didn't do it, and if she did, it wasn't her fault.

Jonathan Swift wrote, "Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own." In Chicago's final dance number Roxy and Velma capitalize on their sins: they dance with rifles to the adulation of the crowd. And Roxy says, "Thank you! We could not have done this without you!"

Oh, how true.

Publisher of L.A. Times Fired

Isn't it interesting that Jeff Johnson, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was fired today — and that they've already found a replacement?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Your blogging assignment for this week

This week I'm assigning only one blog entry, which is due on your blog before next Tuesday's class. You are, of course, free to write as many blog entries as you like, but this is the only one that will "count" as far as my evaluation goes.

Your assignment is to write a review of the movie "A Face In The Crowd."

As I pointed out here, the best way to learn to write in a particular style is to read that style, and try to imitate it. So, read some movie reviews before you write one. Another tip: if you need to look up details, such as a character's name, use The Internet Movie Database.

Write your movie review as though it were being published in a national magazine such as Newsweek or People. Use appropriate language for a mass audience.

You may write the review from one of two perspectives, but you must choose one or the other, and make sure it is clear to me, as your reader, which perspective you have taken. Either write your review of the movie from today's perspective, as a classic, for example, on the occasion of a 50th anniversary release of the movie on DVD; or write it from the perspective of a movie reviewer in 1957, when the movie was first released in theaters.

When you post your movie review on your blog, give it a title similar to the titles given to movie reviews in magazines. Something like, "Kazan's 'Face' a Slap In The Face."

(No, you can't use that one! Make up your own. :-)

Monday, October 02, 2006

School of Journalism & Mass Communications: The Wiki

Professor Stephen Greene has created the first wiki for our school. It's called JMC Friends.

He says:

It is intended for use by alumni, faculty, staff and students. I hope you will contribute to it as well as encourage others too do the same.

Anyone can help with a wiki, add/change/delete entries. That's the fun part of wikis, but also their potential greatest liability. I hope that as this wiki grows some of you will assume responsibility for certain pages so we can maintain continuity amidst the change.

I can't predict what will happen with JMC Friends. It may flourish or flounder. That is largely up to your efforts. We all profess to be mass communicators. This wiki is a chance to work on the cutting edge of our field.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Group assignments: stake your claim

Even if you've only got two or three people in your group, if you've chosen a topic stake your claim. That is, send me an email and claim your topic and a presentation date. Remember, it's first come, first served.

If your group wants to claim an evaluation topic, you must email me as well. Also first come first served. I'm not sure why no one has claimed Sex And The City yet; it was so popular as a presentation topic, yet no group has claimed it for their evaluation!

Keep your eye on the schedule. It's right here, and it's updated every time you email me with your group info.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to write a movie review

I just found this on a Web site called, interestingly enough, How To Do Things. There are some good tips in there to help you prepare for tomorrow and Tuesday's movie watching.

The best way to learn to write in a certain style or format, however, is to read as much as you can in that style or format, and learn by example. So between now and next week, whenever you pick up a newspaper or magazine (or read them online), read the movie reviews. Or watch Ebert & Roper. Better yet, read their movie reviews.

Build a better mouse trap

There's an old adage that goes, if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door. Kelley and Jessica had no group, but they had an idea for a topic: Sex And The City. They used their blogs to sell their idea. And more than 20 of you beat a path to their door.

If you're still looking for a group, don't just wait for someone to find you, come up with an idea. Give them a reason to want to join you. Sex And The City is not the only socially relevant television series ever created. All In The Family, Roots, The Jeffersons, Star Trek, CSI, Seinfeld, and Will And Grace are just a few that come to mind. Or what about a magazine, like Ms., for example?

You're probably not familiar with any of the titles I mentioned, and that's perfectly normal, because you are not the target audience for any of them. Don't limit your choices to movies you've personally watched and enjoyed. In the grand scheme of media and society, that's not even a drop in the bucket, it's a drop in the ocean. Get online and do some research. What was the first magazine to cater to a black or hispanic audience? What books and movies fueled the feminist movement of the 1970s? Or think outside the box: I may not have mentioned recorded music in the instructions for this assignment, but if you want to do your presentation on the social effects of punk, grunge, hip hop, jazz, or Elvis Presley, that would be just fine.

And speaking of research, if you don't know why I gave you the suggestions I just gave you, get online and try to find out what was socially relevant about them. When I created this assignment I didn't expect you to base your presentation on your personal experience, I expected you to do some historical research. With very few exceptions (Sex And The City is probably one of them) you simply haven't been on the planet long enough to have experienced, as a critically thinking adult, much in the way of groundbreaking, socially important media.

Midterm blog grades

Since there are only three weeks, including this week, until I give you your midterm blog grades, I thought it was time to spell out the evaluation criteria for both of us. So here it is:

Your midterm blog grade is worth 20% of your final grade, so I will give you a numeric grade out of 20, which I will assign upon evaluation of the following specifications.

- the total number of points, out of a possible 38, for the blog posts that have been assigned up to and including October 12.

- your blog has a title

- your blog has no visible technical errors

- your name (can be first name only, if you prefer) and some sort of description of who you are, or your blog philosophy, appears in the template. An accompanying photo is a nice touch, but is not an absolute requirement.

- your template includes a blogroll with, at minimum: a link to my blog, links to at least three other bloggers in the class, plus at least three other links of your choosing, all organized in some way

Those are the minimum, objective, measurable criteria, but do keep in mind that blogging is a creative activity, and there will be an element of subjectivity in my grading. For example, any blog title will do, but "Blasting My Media" and "Da Kid Doin It Big" are far more engaging than "MCOM 72" or "Fred's Blog." As well, be forewarned that sloppiness such as broken links, unreadable fonts, URLs that are visible in the links, and careless spelling mistakes will cost you points.

I will begin the grading process on Monday, October 16, and I will email you your grade and my comments as I go along. I hope to finish grading all your blogs by Friday, October 20.