Tag: ACP

Jason finally learns how to make GIFs

Jason finally learns how to make GIFs

Look at that, folks from yesterday’s post.

This is what we in the business call “good continuity.”

For those of you who don’t care to dive into the rabbit hole: Hello!

Welcome to me talking about today’s Society of Professional Journalists — Cal State Fullerton chapter meeting.

I’ve been our branch Secretary for a year now, but last semester the meetings conflicted with my three-hour Visual Communications class.

So this semester I’ve been better about going. Even if that means commuting for just that, like today.

Doing so has offered me the chance to live tweet a guest presentation by Washington Post editor Gene Park:

Then it took me on a tour of the CBS2/KCAL9 Broadcast Center.

Today, the train of interesting things continued as we hosted USC Digital Journalism Professor Amara Aguilar.

IMG_2433
Here she is (right) with our chapter president, Harrison Faigen (left).

The funny thing is, I’ve attended one of her presentations.

Last year at the ACP Convention in Long Beach, I learned about Google reporting tools like the Cardboard VR camera from Aguilar. Wrote all about it here.

Today she went over a couple of different tools that are useful for journalists to create a better social media presence on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

The presentation started with a few general tips, despite the idea that most content is tailored to the platform.

Primarily that social media content is best if it “awe” a viewer, provides them “laughter and amusement,” or instills some sense of “empathy” and “surprise.”

Then I jotted down this quote about how social media should be used to connect with people:

“When you’re looking at your device late at night before bed, people want to see personal content,” Aguilar said.

Personal stuff is particularly effective when it’s visual, so she spent her time teaching us about two apps anyone can access on their mobile devices.

First, the graphic design portion of the Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe Spark Post.

If you’ve spent a lot of time on social media or digital news sites like Now This, you’ve likely seen the kinds of images with text overlays that Spark Post is good for.

Because CSUF students have free use of the Adobe Creative Cloud, we were able to practice creating our own.

For the purposes of goofing around, I reused this image from my post-Us Twitter freak-out:

And reimagined it as this baseless Peanut’s fan graphic:

Nice, huh?

I think that resource is pretty neat, but mostly because it’s good for cropping images to dimensions used by specific social media sites.

The piece above being perfect for Instagram, apparently.

Dunno about that… I’ll let you know if I get more than just four likes on the post I made using it.

What I can see as being more useful to me in the long-run was her introduction to the GIPHY CAM app.

See, I’m a man who likes a good GIF — and I pronounce it both ways, so don’t bother asking.

I’ve always been interested in making my own, but never enough to seek out good ways to do so.

When I’m on my phone, this app seems like a pretty decent approach.

For instance, check out this practice GIF I made attempting to create a looping image:

Isn’t it amazing how I’m not only chubby, pimpled, clearly sleep-deprived and unshaven, but also that I couldn’t get the camera to sit perfectly still even when I had it propped up on a table?

I love that about myself.

Probably not the most successful first GIF attempt, but now that I know about this app I can get more practice.

Perhaps one day I’ll be skilled enough to make silly comic book GIFs in a big news story like this UFC girl piece from Medium Aguilar showed us.

Funny enough, this SPJ meeting was held in Professor Frank Russell‘s Comm 201 class. There was an issue booking the Titan Student Union.

Almost three years ago I first started my Twitter account in 201 because he required it. I’ve come to both thank him because it taught me a lot about social media, but also resent him after spending hours mindlessly scrolling.

Now that I’m about to graduate, it looks like I’m still learning new things about social media with him.

Isn’t it amazing how things come full circle?

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Three

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Three

The last day of the Associated Collegiate Press 2018 Midwinter Convention was a long one. Not only did I do a bunch of stuff before heading to Long Beach, but I was there extra late for the California College Media Association awards that followed the closing keynote of the event.

That late awards ceremony was also the reason I didn’t manage to get this out the night of like with my first two posts, by the way. If you even noticed that weird discrepancy and were curious about it.

But if you did not notice that and don’t want to see my keep rambling on, I’ll just jump right in.

For those of you who are just tuning in now for some reason, you can read my reflections on the first two days here [ Day One ] and here [ Day Two ].


Even though there were a few early sessions I was potentially interested in attending during the last day of the convention, ultimately I decided not to go over there yesterday morning. Other pressing matters presented themselves that needed to be addressed from Redondo.

First and foremost, I needed to take some photos regarding a story I’ve been working on for the Titan. The article is an opinion piece about surfing being considered to become the official state sport of California through a bill introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi.

It’s getting published tomorrow, so if you want to know exactly what I’m thinking about regarding that issue, you’ll just have to wait and see. #Cliffhanger

In my desire to earn extra points for Comm 471, I decided to go take my own photos to accompany the surfing article. After all, I live literally five minutes away from the beach. So why not take my own photos?

Turns out, nature gave me a perfect reason why to not take my own photos.

Seriously, what were the odds that I went out to take photos on one of the rainiest, lousy days I’ve seen in this part of the world in months.

At least there was a nice pier to hide under so I didn’t completely ruin the camera I have rented from Bonnie.

img_2013

Also, shout out to my Mom for taking this dope picture of me. Even if I look silly wearing a leather jacket out on the beach in hindsight.

On the bright side, we went and had a lovely breakfast together after escaping the torrential downpour.

img_7564

We both look pretty lousy and waterlogged in this photo, but I think that adds to the charm. It was a fun adventure.

After our beach trip, I stayed home for a while longer to work on some homework. That’s the unfortunate thing about going to a dope conference: Having to keep up with your regular life responsibilities at the same time.

Especially when those real life responsibilities include a Psychology Research Methods paper to write in perfect American Psychological Association document style. That’s the funnest kind of assignment.

I did make some substantial progress on that during my morning time — though I didn’t finish it, and I theoretically could probably be working on it instead of this… But those are semantics we don’t need to get into right now.

Eventually, time dictated my necessity to go to Long Beach. I may not have gone to any other sessions, but there was one I absolutely had to go to.

My session.


Covering Milo Yiannopoulos

img_7586

I think it’s probably no surprise at this point that our biggest story on the Daily Titan in 2017 (for the second half of it at least) was the Halloween visit of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

There’s no need for me to go into detail about every single story we wrote on the subject, so just check out the Daily Titan tag to get the gist of it if you’re behind.

For our purposes here, know that I was essentially the project lead on our Milo coverage since I broke the news that he would be appearing initially. That’s the magic of having connections with the club that was inviting him.

Because of the extensive work behind our Milo coverage, Bonnie got us a slot on the ACP convention schedule to talk about everything that went into it. Not only was that an awesome opportunity, but I had the honor of essentially leading the talk because I led most of our efforts!

That included everything, from the creation of a PowerPoint:

To running through everything going on for our attendees:

Of course I wasn’t the only one talking, if the pictures above didn’t make it obvious enough. I was joined by current Sports assistant Kathryne Padilla (left), Opinion editor Sophia Acevedo (middle) and News assistant Breanna Belken (right).

Our talk was pretty popular too, I’d say:

img_7571

… I know it sort of looks like a half-empty room in this picture, but I took it toward the end of the session. There were more people there early on and a few trickled out throughout.

But there’s no need to try and overcompensate or whatever, as just the fact that we got to speak to anybody like an expert in the subject was an absolute joy!

Probably my favorite part of it was the fact that people stuck around after the talk ended to ask extra questions. Specifically from me! Seriously, they staked out the room and hit my up after I left to find out a bit more about how I was able to stay objective with my reporting on the guy.

It’s a pretty significant confidence booster to see people want your advice on how to handle something.

I may be wrong about this, but I believe it was UC Santa Barbara students that stayed around to talk with me after the talk. So shout out to them.

But if I’m wrong and you just so happen to be those guys and you’re reading this, just let me know and I’ll correct it. I feel bad about not being 100 percent sure, there was just a lot that happened after we talked.

Speaking of…


The Ending Keynote: Dirty John

img_7572

The Los Angeles Times took a chance in late 2017 by publishing one of their larger investigative stories in tandem with a series of podcast episodes. That podcast, called Dirty John, has been downloaded 10 million times since it was put out in October.

Christopher Goffard was the reporter and narrator for the print story and the podcast respectively. He was also the keynote speaker for the last day of the convention.

I was already pretty hyped up for his talk after Steve Padilla, an LA Times editor, advocated for the keynote and encouraged me to go see what he had to say. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Goffard ran through the ten lessons he learned from working on a podcast:

  1. The story always comes first.
  2. You will eventually grapple with some kind of ethical issues.In his case, deciding whether or not to include certain sound clips to enhance the emotional connection of the story.
  3. In a hyper competitive podcasting space, experience with prior reporting will offer an advantage.
  4. Having the right equipment is important.
  5. You will never know what words you have been mispronouncing your entire life until you have to say it in a professional space.
  6. Even if your podcast can reach more people, use it to draw attention to print.
  7. Always think about the cat (or whatever other noise obstructions there might be).
  8. Your work shouldn’t be about you, as interesting as you may be.
  9. Stop saying ‘uh huh’ during your interviews on tape. Learn to nod your head.
  10. You will not be murdered if you fail. Only staying in your comfort zone will kill you.

After getting through his points in speed running fashion, he spent a long time just answering questions from anyone and everyone in the audience who wanted his advice. It was super cool and useful, and after it ended I was excited to start listening to the podcast on my daily drives to-and-from Fullerton.

In fact, I’ve already downloaded it.

Pardon my dumb late-night repetition of ‘excited’ too many times.


Awards Galore

img_7584
The Daily Titan squad, present and past.

The rest of my time at the conference was spent at two different awards functions.

The first bled right into Goffard’s talk. A part of the ACP convention is a ‘Best of Show’ competition, where schools in attendance had the opportunity to enter what they considered to be their greatest work in various categories.

The Daily Titan entered one of the Homeless in OC-centric papers for ‘Best Daily Newspaper,’ the special Milo Yiannopoulos coverage reprint for ‘Best Special Issue’ and the Milo multimedia accompaniment for ‘Best Multimedia.’

We won first place, third place and fourth place respectively.

Shout out to Tusk Magazine as well, which won sixth place in the feature magazine category.

Double shout out to the ACP organization, which gave us a first place trophy with the handle broken that they promised they would send a replacement for.

Triple shout out to everyone who was there with us, which in the picture above boils down to (from left to right) our advisor Bonnie, prior Tusk advisor and my old Comm 201 professor Frank Russell, assistant journalism professor Chelsea Reynolds, Spring 2017 Daily Titan EIC Hayley M. Slye and CSUF College of Communications department chair Jason Shepard.

That’s a mouthful.

Once those awards were over, there was really no rest.

Just across the foyer from that main pavilion of the convention was a ballroom where the California College Media Association 2018 awards banquet was held.

The banquet was pretty great for a number of reasons.

First and foremost: The food.

It was all as delicious as it looks.

Dinner was almost comically on-point by offering us the opportunity to have both the meat AND the fish course, alongside some salad, mashed potatoes and cauliflower.

Then there were a number of desserts served throughout the night, and I was able to get my hands on a tiny tiramisu and a small thing of custard with gold-colored chocolate shavings and a coffee-ground base.

Though the food was delicious, putting it as my ‘first and foremost’ choice is honestly a bit of a joke.

Really, the coolest thing about the banquet was getting to see a bunch of old friends from the Titan who swung around to get awards!

Namely, my ex-co-editors Sarah Wolstoncroft (Twitter not included) and Megan Maxey, Ashlyn Ramirez and Kaleb Stewart came back into the fold to pick up various accolades. Bryant Freese was also supposed to be there to pick up his first place award for the sports story that got a coach at CSUF fired, but unfortunately he blew a tire on the way over (poor guy…)

Our ads department also won a couple of awards alongside the writers who were in attendance, with the most striking award featuring an amazing typo.

I don’t think anyone got a picture of it, but essentially they gave the Daily Titan Ads Department staff an award for their advertising package, which was a “The Daily Californian” production from 2016.

So we technically got credit for something that UC Berkeley did I guess? I don’t know, either way it was pretty hilarious.

What’s most important for my purposes, however, is the award I received.

img_7583

Megan, Ashlyn, Sarah, Bryant (who as I mentioned was not there) and I won third place in the News Series category for our work on the “Homeless in OC” stories that were produced as a part of Bonnie’s Investigative Journalism class last year. It’s a super huge honor, and I’m so proud that we were able to get that important work recognized!

Other Daily Titan stories that were awarded included Kaleb’s “IT” movie review, the initial Canin striking a student story from Sarah and Brandon Pho and a group award for Hannah Miller, Tracy Hoang, Brandon, Megan, Gabe Gandara and Bailey Carpenter for the multimedia package around Brandon’s Milo night-of story.

Gotta give credit where it’s due, to all my hardworking peeps on the Daily Titan staff, past and present.

After the awards ended, we all stood around and took photos together, then made our way home.

After three days of fun and learning in Long Beach, the convention was over. By 11:00 p.m. when I got back to Redondo, I was ready to pass out.

And I did.

That’s why this is coming out so late into Sunday instead of Saturday night. Because I fell asleep, then had to get up early to take beach photos again (this time more successfully) and have been doing my Daily Titan shift for our weeklong issue before half of our staff goes to New York for yet another conference.

Still kinda wish I had the opportunity to go to New York with them, but after my experiences in Long Beach I suppose I really can’t complain. I had an amazing time with some of my friends, got to share my expertise with a national audience, learn from a number of professionals and won some awards.

Really, who can complain about that?

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

Rarely is there ever a more poignant metaphor for how a day is going to go than waking up to a cloudy, rainy morning. Especially in Southern California, where rainy days are a dime a dozen at best.

The second day of my Associated Collegiate Press convention experience carried that unfortunate hurdle to overcome. Waking up was less than desirable with water drizzling down onto the windows, but there were early sessions I was interested in attending, so I dragged myself out of bed all the same.

Of course, Long Beach was not much sunnier than Redondo this morning. If anything, it was actually worse:

img_7561
Technically this was taken later in the day, but the point stands.

Luckily the conference is in a fancy hotel, so being out in the rain was not exactly a concern. Or that was the hope anyway.

My convention experience actually started out being more hectic than I had intended it to be. There was a 10:30 p.m. session I was interested in attending about covering geek culture, but as soon as I arrived that plan was subverted.

First, she handed out this semester’s business cards, which were delivered at the oh-so-inconvenient timing of late yesterday afternoon.

img_7562

Seriously, these couldn’t have arrived when we were first starting the conference?

Whatever. I figured at least I would have the opportunity to hand them out at the geek session I was going to join in a few minutes late.

Instead Bonnie asked me to help out with picking our Best of Show submissions, which were due at 4 p.m. this afternoon. That task first entailed me having to circle back around to the parking lot where she wanted me to rummage through her trunk to find a specific copy of the paper we wanted to submit.

Long story short, that paper was not there. But there were a couple of others that I grabbed for her. Frankly the strangest thing about that was just getting a brief glimpse into the strange world of ‘how other people organize their car trunks,’ in this case with one of my mentors. It was actually about as messy as my trunk is, so I’m going to take that as a positive.

I brought those issues back to the main foyer, where Bonnie was sitting down to do paper critiques with other schools. I (somewhat awkwardly) joined them at that table because she asked me to pick out the best paper to turn in.

img_7550

Here’s just a few of the papers I was deciding between. Ironically enough, none of them pictured above were the ones we decided to turn in. Guess that speaks wonders of my ability to plan ahead.

With the Best of Show paper chosen and a number of my friends at the Titan trickling in, it was time for the day’s keynote.


The Middle Keynote: Covering the Nassar Scandal

img_7553

Two students from Michigan State University who run their school’s newspaper were the big speakers of the afternoon. They began simply localizing stories from the Indianapolis Star regarding the huge movement of women coming out against Larry Nassar, the former US Gymnastics physician who also worked at MSU, for his string of sexual assaults.

Then their coverage blossomed into a much larger ordeal.

The two student journalists, Rachel Fradette and McKenna Ross, went through the timeline of their year and a half covering the scandal. Everything from talking to the students Nassar abused to dealing with a stonewalling administration to eventually coming out for the University President’s resignation – which came a week after their editorial, the same day Nassar was convicted.

An element of dealing with a national controversy also permeated throughout their talk. One of the more striking details they discussed was being asked how they felt about the situation as two women on their campus. Not as journalists, not as students, but as women.

Rachel’s comment to that was reminding them that she had no biases as a journalist.

Their story did not end with Nassar’s conviction however. It continued on when an interim President was hired and they began dealing with a reigning in of the message coming from the overall university to try and recover from their PR nightmare.

In the end, one message in particular stuck with me from the keynote as a whole. It was the very end (fittingly), where Rachel commented on the fact that their 2017 Yearbook featured no reference to Nassar in the slightest despite it being the largest sports scandal story in decades.

The blame was placed on the fact that the Yearbook has closer connections to the school than their independent newspaper. “I’m glad every day that we only answer to the students,” she ended on.


Breaktime

Doesn’t seem like I’ve gone over enough for there to be a break in the action, does it?

Well, once the keynote was over the convention schedule had an hour’s worth of a break for lunch.

Everyone who was at the event from the Daily Titan had come to the keynote speech, which is where I got the picture I used as the featured image from.

img_7554

With that hour break, a couple of us decided to go out and get some food together. It was still a little drizzly out, but it was much more fun to put up with that alongside friends.

The Islands in the shopping center nearby had a very long wait, so instead we wound up going to a Chili’s nearby. That visit was, of course, predicated on the fact that we all lost it remembering a meme from some years ago.

Classics.

Anyway yeah, I don’t have a good transition, so here’s the picture we took:

img_7556
Shout out to our Opinion Editor Sophia (left), our other News Assistant Breanna (middle) and our Copy Assistant Caitlin (right) for putting up with me being lame for social media engagement.

All we had was fries, but it was super fun to just get to sit around and talk. We even finished with just enough time to get back to the convention so we could deal with our newspaper and website critiques.

Those critiques were an adventure in their own right, but I don’t know that I want to share a lot of it here. It’s mostly personal stuff to work on among our newsroom staff.

I will, however, share that the man critiquing our online presence was wearing a scarlet tuxedo jacket adorned with negative newsy terms like ‘libel,’ and when he read our stuff he always put on a monocle.

So that was a thing that happened.


Translating Print for Social Media Engagement

img_7558

After we got through our critiques, everyone else decided to head home. But there were a few more sessions I was interested in attending, so I hung around.

The first one I went to revolved around social media. Admittedly, not the best thing to go to after feeling a little bit off following the online paper critique, but I managed to take some interesting stuff out of it all the same.

Granted I wasn’t able to get a lot because I didn’t feel like Jay Hartwell was a fantastic presenter, at least for how I enjoy to learn, but I did pull some things out of it. For instance, he talked about cropping photos in interesting and novel ways to make sure they catch the interest of people looking on their phone.

I frankly did not agree at all with some of the things he was pushing. Like more ‘clickbait-y’ headlines. I’m of the opinion that we need less of that sort of thing, but I suppose I am also somewhat in the minority of people willing to put up with text longer than 300 words in a shot.

If that wasn’t obvious enough.

I think the best part about this presentation was the fact that he sped through it so the latter half could be spent going through the social media accounts of different groups in attendance to judge how good their presence was.

My favorite part of that was an exchange that wound up happening between the presenter and a newspaper who only used their Instagram account to post memes as a way of drudging up more attention and interest. He was arguing that there were issues of fair use, they were arguing that memes are just memes…

It was kind of an unintentionally fascinating look into the difference between the mindsets of millennial versus the older generations.


Melding Artistic and Journalistic Skill Sets

img_7560

I didn’t have to move very far to start my last session of the day, since it was literally in the same room as the social media one.

This session, hosted by Andrea Heiss, admittedly caught me off guard. See, from all of the promotional material in the conference’s schedule, I was under the impression that her talk was going to be about the ways covering music, theatre and movies helped to bolster a reporter’s skills when it comes to covering… Well everything else.

Instead, I got a much more interestingly philosophical conversation.

The talk was not about a case of artistic review skills leading to better general reporting, rather it was about the deeper structural connections between skills it takes to be an artist and skills it takes to be a journalist. In essence, the similarities between reporters relying on language in the same way artists rely on their craft to express themselves.

Relating journalism to theatre, she discussed how news stories should construct a scene and embrace the two-way nature of working with your sources while you draft the piece.

Relating journalism to music, she talked about how music is its own language that creates immense emotion without words to implore that our writing should do the same thing in a duet with the people we talk to.

Relating journalism to film, she recommended we adopt the language of film into our work to establish scenes in more detail without breaking into stereotyping our subjects.

There were more points than that, but those were probably the main things in my recollection. However, I also appreciated the way she pointed out that our work as journalists allows us to help readers take scary new steps into novel realities that are being created every day. She also talked about how we, the newest journalists, do that work by melding a classical focus on logic and order with a more modern focus on romanticism, emotional and local story telling.

I honestly really like the way she described us blending those traditions, so I’ll probably hang onto that.


Once that last session ended, I quickly made my way our and headed back to Redondo, tired and ready to collapse… And start writing this post. A real exciting life I’m living, I know.

While the sessions and critiques I attended weren’t the most uplifting things compared to all the fun I had yesterday, I still appreciated the chance to learn a lot.

Though honestly, I think I appreciated the chance to spend time with my friends on the paper more. Pretty sure I was the only person besides Briggetta at the convention yesterday, so having everyone together today was super cool!

With that said, tomorrow should be even more interesting from that point of view. Not only am I going to be giving my Milo Yiannopoulos presentation at 3:30 p.m., but I should be receiving an award at the ceremony that’s going to be closing out the conference.

Whatever I write for tomorrow should be much more fun and excitable as a result, so stay tuned for that!

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day One

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day One

Today has been one of those days.

See,  the 2018 Associated Collegiate Press National Midwinter Convention started today, and as anyone who follows me on social media knows I’ve been trying to more actively post about it than I usually would.

But my day started well before the Convention did, so let me just run that down real fast before I get into the meat of this.

On top of the many things I’ve been juggling lately, one of the most attention grabbing activities has been putting together some College of Communications scholarship applications.

The applications have been sort of a long, involved process that I won’t bother going too deep into. It basically boils down to having some questions to answer, printing out my school records for all four of the scholarships I applied for (talk about a waste of paper there), selecting a couple of my articles for the Daily Titan and getting a letter of recommendation from Bonnie, our advisor.

Today was actually the deadline for applications, and that fact caused me undue amounts of stress when my late night media history class left me unable to drop the materials off yesterday because the office was closed.

For context, what that means is that this morning I had to drive ~45 minutes to Fullerton from Redondo Beach to make sure I could turn everything in before coming to the Conference this afternoon. Long Beach is actually closer to Redondo than Fullerton, so I basically drove a large crescent around Southern California.

 

Fun stuff.

But that’s all ancient history at this point. I made it where I needed to go on time in all accounts! I just felt like throwing that all out here because everything was a real headache while I went through it.

So with my complaining out of the way, let’s talk about this Journalism Convention.



img_7524

I went to New York a couple of years ago to represent the Daily Titan, and though I did not get the opportunity to go again this year I have had the pleasure of a much shorter trip over to Long Beach for the ACP Convention.

I don’t get over to Long Beach too often, but it is a lovely town. I kind of wish I had a little more time to just wander the city proper, but the sessions I attended kept me rather busy.

Registration came first, and I got all the cool swag that comes along with that:

img_7526

Nothing like another Convention name tag to add to my collection.

Once I was registered, then I got to go through the sessions I picked out.


Google News Tools

img_7528
My first stop of the night was the longest, as it was a 3 hour hands-on introduction to various reporting tools that can be accessed through Google via their News Lab.

To be completely honest about it, I believe I’ve actually seen the talk before. There was something very similar not too long ago at CSUF at least, so I didn’t necessarily learn a lot that I wasn’t already aware of.

But that’s not to say I didn’t learn anything at all.

The presenter, Amara Aguilar from the University of Southern California and the Society of Professional Journalists (and apparently a CSUF alum who still works with the university), introduced a number of tools.

These tools included:

The last one was particularly cool because she also brought along some Google Cardboard VR headsets to try out while pitching the Cardboard Camera App software. Honestly, it’s something I can see myself potentially using.

img_7531

The only serious downside to this whole presentation was… Well…

The internet was really bad.

img_7529

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s hard to give a hands-on presentation of online reporting tools when everyone at the session cannot get online to use them.

Luckily, all things ended on a high note when I won the small raffle at the end and got a Starbucks gift card.


The Opening Keynote: Covering San Bernardino

img_7534
The opening keynote of this convention was particularly interesting to me.

Back when I first started working for the Daily Titan, my very first front page dominant article tied into the shooting in San Bernardino in late 2015. I wrote about how police on campus were stepping up their training following the shooting, and it got linked to the more important revelation that a former CSUF student was one of the shooters.

I still have a copy of that story hanging up on the wall in my room.

So, when I found out that the keynote’s panel was going to be four LA Times reporters who covered the shooting and received a Pulitzer Prize for their work, I was very interested.

I wasn’t the only one.

img_7535

I was also joined by our current Opinion editor Briggetta at this part of the afternoon, which was nice because she was the only other Fullerton representative I saw all day.

Also because she’s cool. Go follow her stuff.

But putting that aside, I think the only unfortunate thing about this keynote in its execution was the fact that… To put it bluntly, I didn’t get anything especially novel out of the panel.

Now don’t take that the wrong way, they were a fascinating panel to listen to, and I genuinely enjoyed everything they had to say. Apparently, they updated their day one story 22 separate times and were pointed to by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department as the main source of news on the subject.

There was also some good general advice, like keeping food, phone chargers, clothing and road maps in one’s car in case they ever have to go out and cover something. Or keeping things like masks and tools to charge tech through one’s car in case of a natural disaster.

But part of what they wound up emphasizing was the fact that shootings like San Bernardino aren’t exactly a rare thing anymore. As a result of that, advice when it comes to covering horrible tragedies unfortunately isn’t all that hard to come by.

One thing that Sarah Parvini said in particular that stood out on the subject was this: “I hate the fact that this has to be done, but I love getting to be the one that does it.”


South American Newspaper Design

My 4:30 p.m. session with Cal State Long Beach professor Danny Paskins was a nice change of pace after the downer that was the San Bernardino panel.

As a Rio de Janeiro native, Dr. Paskins brought his bias (with open admission) to showing us the fact that newspapers in South America are way more creative and fun with their front page designs than North American papers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that focus on fitting as much text as possible up front.

To do so, he showed us examples of papers from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and more with various other countries in the region that had qualities he valued.

These are just a few examples of the pieces he showed us that I was able to screen shot.

His pointers boiled down to this. In South America, newspapers use more:

  • Cut-out pictures
  • Colors
  • Overlapping images
  • Sports coverage

All in typically fun, creative ways.

He pointed out specifically that “if nobody has tried something before, don’t let that be what stops you” because if something doesn’t go over well, there’s always a paper the next day to wipe the slate clean.

The pointers he gave were so nice and interesting actually that I’m planning on bringing a bunch of the specifics back to our Layout and Photo editors as possible things we can try out on the Titan.

I had a nice conversation with the professor after his talk where I expressed exactly that, and he was very happy to hear it. We exchanged business cards and I’m planning on hitting him up if we actually wind up doing some of those things.


Writing Tips from an LA Times Editor

img_7543

So this session actually didn’t go quite as planned.

It was supposed to be a talk on “Covering the New Activism” by a representative from the Iowa State Daily. But apparently he couldn’t make it out.

Instead, Assistant National Editor Steve Padilla of the LA Times came out and gave us writing tips.

Not to sound inherently rude about it… But I think that turn of events was for the best. The talk we got felt way more fun and interesting than anything we would have gotten otherwise.

He took 30 years of experience at the LA Times and distilled it down into three major writing tips:

  • Read all of your work out loud
    • He even recommended composing stories out loud, that way they sound better.
  • End your sentences with a bang
    • With only a few exceptions, he recommended putting the best details at the end of a sentence. However, the ‘best details’ can vary depending on the context. Ending a sentence with a time detail, a place detail or a strange detail can each have different effects on the overall tone.
  • Always pay attention to verbs
    • A large part of his writing technique philosophy is focused on making impactful verbs showcase a sentence. Overall one of the most useful tips in the bunch, and he spent a lot of time on it.

Steve also emphasized another philosophy he follows rather closely: “If you know what you want to say, you’ll figure out how to say it.”

In other words, let your meaning create your words, not the other way around.

After that portion of the talk he went on to give us a bunch of tips about how to write better anecdotal ledes, how to use quotes more efficiently and how to end stories well.

Then, to end things off, he gave us three challenges:

  1. End a feature story not with a quote, but with your own words.
  2. Get a writing buddy to share stories and teach one another interesting stuff.
  3. Become a careful reader who can discern WHY something is good or bad, not just that it is good or bad.

This was the one talk I attended where everyone who came stayed afterwards just to talk to the presenter. He was just that fun and charismatic the entire time.

Seriously, I just loved this guy. He was awesome to listen to and I got some one-on-one time with him to just chat afterwards. Totally the kind of networking these conventions are meant for.


The Afterparty

As soon as Steve’s talk was over (and it was over about a half hour to an hour later than scheduled because everyone was talking with him), we all emerged to find food waiting.

Though there wasn’t a lot, what was available was much more delicious than it had any right to be for a small college journalism convention reception. Pasta with chicken and spinach, mac and cheese with caramelized onion strands and coconut-fried shrimp.

Plus, there was a truly terrific surprise:

img_7547

I got to it kind of late, but Homer Simpson would be proud of this donut wall.

Even if I’m awkwardly over on the side taking a picture of it. Hi there Jason.

Fun fact, as a side note, I ran into Steve again at the dessert table and we wound up chatting even more. I just couldn’t get away from the guy, because later it turned out he was parked right behind me in the garage. Not that I’m complaining or anything, I just thought it was funny.

During this reception period, I also took the opportunity to take a look at all of the other school papers laid out.

img_7546

It’s a bit of a tradition at the Daily Titan for us to collect up other school papers so we can look over what they do right and what they do wrong. In our opinions of course.

Once I gathered everything up, however, it was time to head home.

img_7549

I ended the night where I began. But more than anything else, the experiences of the day just made me more excited for the next two.

Tomorrow, at 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., we’ll be receiving critiques for our newspaper and website designs.

Then on Saturday I’ll be on a panel alongside a couple of other Daily Titan staffers to talk about our Milo Yiannopoulos coverage last semester.

I’ll probably put out a late night update for my next two days of journalism-ing as well, so look forward to that!