Everyone But AU by americanobserved
April 19, 2009, 10:23 am
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The NYTimes had a piece today about how J-schools are dealing with changing technology and teaching students what they need to know to be successful in this new economy… and they managed to mention every single J-school … except AU.

Cross-posted at Blog/19 and AmericanObserved.



New AU Web Site, Submit Your User Content by americanobserved
March 30, 2009, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Russ | Tags: , , ,

For devoted readers of the AmericanObserved blog, you’ll know I’ve long had a chip on my shoulder about the placement of the Observer on the AU SOC’s Web site. Well, the school has a new Web site, and so does the SOC. The content isn’t dramtically different, although it looks a littl more modern. There’s a “Student and Faculty” work page – it’s still “dynamic” and OUR student work isn’t exactly prominent. We do have a permanent link on the bottom of several pages, and a couple shout-outs throughout the site, which is nice.

Last time I complained about our lack of visibility on the SOC Web site, it got a fairly quick response, which summed up was: you have to tell us you want attention because we’ve got a lot going on. This time they’re making it easier: there’s an easy link to submit “user content” to the SOC Web site. The ability to submit “user content” may be the development that will prevent us from getting jobs in August, but let’s use it to our advantage today.

Cross-posted at Blog/19 and AmericanObserved.



See You At Your New Job by Russ
February 18, 2009, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Russ | Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s been quite a bit of talk about meeting deadlines lately. Here’s more.

David Johnson sent us a rather gentle (in my opinion) email this week about meeting deadline:

“It is important that your stories are filed with enough time for production. If you don’t respect the deadlines, you are disrespecting your colleagues and abusing their time on class day.

File your content.”

He’s right, and frankly, this is the nicest thing an editor will ever say to you about making deadline.

When you’re still working on something Wednesday morning, that means a copy editor is sitting around waiting for you to finish… a multimedia person is creating a graphic that might be all wrong or just doesn’t fit with the content that’s coming… and you’re not helping produce the issue.

Does anybody notice? Maybe not. But after you graduate, someone will.

Continue reading



Life after AU by Russ
February 3, 2009, 5:00 pm
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Some good news about a former Observer staffer… Josh Williams, who the SOC has deemed a “star alumnus” has left his post at the Las Vegas Sun, and has taken up teaching multimedia at UC-Berkeley’s J-School. You may recognize him from the big panda-oriented poster you’ve seen hanging around the SOC lobby.

AU Interactive Journalsim alum and former Observer staffer

AU Interactive Journalsim alum and former Observer staffer (AU SOC)

According to Berkeley’s Web site, Josh will be involved with the News21 project and Knight Digital Media Center (which has some awesome tutorials on Flash, Dreamweaver, Soundslides, etc that were an incredible help to me finishing my year-end project for Johnson last semester.)

News21 is interesting – downright fascinating. It features some impressive work from News 21 fellows, including recent graduates of the several J-schools involved in the project (not American, but Berkeley, Medill, USC’s Annenberg and Columbia.) My favorite is Berkeley’s project on the “American Dream,” which attempted to answer questions about whether “the public opinion surveys and economic data reflecting merely a temporary loss of optimism and confidence or are they pointing to more fundamental changes or re-definitions of the dream?”

A fascinating topic and a site to consider – both for form and substance – while we contemplate ideas that we’ll tackle in themed issues of the Observer this semester.

It’ll be interesting to see what Josh contributes to the project. As some of you may remember from Bootcamp, the Sun is a (relatively) small-circulation print publication, but their online reach is far and well recognized (the 2008 Online News Association general excellence in journalism – medium site winner.) Josh was the new media projects editor at the Las Vegas Sun and operations manager at Greenspun Interactive, the digital arm of the Sun’s parent company.

I had lunch with Josh and several of our beloved faculty members a few months ago, and he was telling us about some fascinating projects the Sun was working on.

I hope to interview Josh at some point in the near future about his involvement with the Observer when he was a student, and just maybe, what we should be thinking about as we go forward trying to improve our site.



Blogging is more productive than it looks. by Russ
January 29, 2009, 1:54 am
Filed under: Russ | Tags: , ,

Several days ago, I blogged/complained that the Observer didn’t even get a link on AU SOC’s official Web site. Proving that blogging isn’t always just idle whining and talking into the dark emptiness of cyberspace, I was almost immediately corrected by James Robertson that there is actually one on the SOC’s main page… You just have to scroll down, down and down, and then it’s on the left – a box with a graphic from the current issue and a brief description of what we worked on in the most recent issue.

And just a few moments ago, Tia Sumler, the SOC’s manager of marketing and web communication, responded with additional information about some recent changes and where our stuff has shown up on the SOC’s Web site. Among other changes she made recently, the “Student Work” page now not only touts the Observer staff’s hard work on Inauguration Day, the “American Observer” page actually links to the site. So, thank you, Tia.

Tia explained that the SOC’s Web site is dynamic, and fairly frequently updating, so unless things our work is regularly brought to her attention, it’s going to slip off the front/top of the SOC pages. So, it’s up to us to say on top of this, and if there’s something we want brought to the SOC’s attention, probably the most efficient way to do it is to directly contact her about it.

That said, maintaining a prominently and permanently placed display of student work for future employers (and potential future students) is a common feature at many similar programs, for instance, here and here. It’s good to get publicity and drive traffic for projects we’re currently working on, but providing lasting easy access of our good work is 90 percent of the game, in my opinion.

So, anyone have any suggestions to pass on to Tia about how we would like to have the school market our online clip file?



Can we get some AU love here? by Russ
January 27, 2009, 1:52 am
Filed under: Russ | Tags: , ,

Not all posts can be as long and involved as the last two, so this one will be fairly short, sweet and to the point. What do you have to do to get some love around here?

As noted in my earlier post we’re hardly the only J-School graduate student Web publication, but we do appear to be the only one that can’t get a link from our own school.

Seriously. AU’s official SOC page has an entire page devoted to the Observer but not a link to the actual publication in sight. There’s the goofy photo of us from the first week of school but no link to the online graduate student publication.

As an online publication, this is problematic.

Needless to say, there’s also no link to the Transition Tracker Web site and it’s amazing spinning wheel of federal agency badges (it’s actually as thrilling as described, please do check it out) that several of us worked very hard on last semester.

On the “Student Work” page, there’s a link to the undergraduate Eagle site, but nothing for this year’s class of journalism grad students.

Maybe a project for the publicity person this time around?