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What we learned in Louisville

Each year, the NCSU Student Media sends a handful of students to the national college media convention of the College Media Advisers, College Broadcasters and Associated Collegiate Press. While it’s fun to receive national awards, this is primarily an educational endeavor. This year, four students attended, along with advisers Bradley Wilson and Jamie Lynn Gilbert.

  • Marisa Akers, Agromeck photo editor and Student Media photographer
  • Alex Sanchez, Student Media photographer (who also assisted running the on-site photo contest and teaching the pre-conference workshop)
  • Susannah Brinkley, Agromeck editor
  • Kieran Moreira, WKNC program director

Each year, the NCSU Student Media sends a handful of students to the national college media convention of the College Media Advisers, College Broadcasters and Associated Collegiate Press. While it’s fun to receive national awards, this is primarily an educational endeavor. This year, four students attended, along with advisers Bradley Wilson and Jamie Lynn Gilbert.

  • Marisa Akers, Agromeck photo editor and Student Media photographer
  • Alex Sanchez, Student Media photographer (who also assisted running the on-site photo contest and teaching the pre-conference workshop)
  • Susannah Brinkley, Agromeck editor
  • Kieran Moreira, WKNC program director

Jamie Lynn Gilbert serves as the secretary of the College Broadcasters and attended the CBI Board meeting to assist with planning of future events. Bradley Wilson is co-chair of the photojournalism committee for the College Media advisers. In that capacity, he coordinates all the photojournalism sessions at the two national conventions each year. He also teaches the pre-conference workshop in Photoshop. Each of the students writes a short summary of the sessions they attended so that other students at NCSU can learn from the conference as well. Below are those summaries.

A Snapshot Of Photojournalism Ethics” (Michael Prince) — As a photographer, your job is to shoot what’s happening so long as you are not breaking the law. When shooting sensitive subjects, always be mindful but remember that your job is to cover what’s happening. Use good judgement. Remember that your editors are the ones that decide which photo runs, and not every one you take will be published. If something is found to be objectionable, a decision will be made. Editors should consider whether a photo will do a service to the community and the possible consequences. If a photo makes people aware of an issue but may be slightly inappropriate, they should weigh whether or not they should let the people know. Often times an image can get a message across more effectively than a story. It can catch peoples’ eyes and illicit emotional responses or a call to action.

Advising A Webstaff” (Christina Drain) — Although this session was geared toward advisors, I still found some useful information. Drain categorized the current generation of students as “Digital Natives” for their familiarity at such an early age with computers and technology. This generation is known for being tech savvy, versatile storytellers, and wanting to customize and personalize everything. One of the key attributes that is different from past generation is their want for speed. Because of quickness and fast paced nature of technology today, students’ attentions have shorter spans. They crave fast sensational multimedia. Drain noted that this is not necessarily a bad thing, however it does change the way teachers need to teach their students. By Kieran Moreira

Audio slideshows” (Sam Oldenburg) — Audio slideshows can be very effective and appealing to your audience. These shows should have a good storyline and be entertaining. They might even have suspense or surprises, but they should be quick. People will lose interest if they are too long or boring. In longer slideshows, conflict is a good way to keep people watching. Your interviews should be done separately so that people do not feed off each others’ views. When selecting a topic, you should be very specific. Covering a broad topic will make your video long and you may have a hard time knowing how to approach it. Slideshows should be 3 minutes max to keep the attention of the viewers. When interviewing, don’t be afraid to have people rephrase things if their responses are too long. When shooting photos, vary the style and angle of your shots, focal lengths, details, and subjects. You need a good character with a story, voice, and excitement. An exciting person can make the story. Avoid narration. It is boring. Lastly, good audio, whether ambient or voice over, can carry your presentation. By Alex Sanchez

Blogging In and With Class” (Michael Ray Taylor and David Wendelken) — This session really motivated me to start up my own personal professional blog. Blogs serve a specific niche market. They should include a mission statement in the personal biography session in order to establish ethical promises, standards, or pledges to the readers. Blogs help present personalities and point of views and therefore it is imperative to include actual interviews. Interviews are necessary for reporting which should be the purpose of your blog. The presenters recommended WordPress as a great site to use and suggested an average of 750 words per post. Any more or less will cost you readers. By Kieran Moreira

Broadcast Newswriting Short and Sweet” (Edward Arke) — When writing a broadcast news story, try to fit as much information as possible into a small period of time. Sound bytes of people speaking should not go on to long. They should be broken up and alternate between words of the reporter and words of the interviewed people. Ambient noise can enhance your presentation at times so long as you can still hear the people talking. By Alex Sanchez

Camera Obscura: a Snapshot of Photojournalism Ethics” (Michael Prince) — I think this was a good choice for my first session of the convention. There were many chances to learn about ethics, but this one focused on the photographer’s job, not the writer or editor’s. It was really interesting to look at specific photos that have run in different publications in the past and talk about the implications, risks, and duties [as a photojournalist] associated with each. Michael Prince joked about the cliché “a picture’s worth a thousand words”, but it was really relevant to what we were discussing. A photojournalist faces moral and ethical dilemmas, just like someone who writes articles, and it was cool to focus on what may affect me in my job. By Marisa Akers

Camera Obscura: a Snapshot of Photojournalism Ethics” (Mike Prince of Olympic College in Washington) — We viewed and discussed a slideshow of famous, controversial photographs, including the coverage of death and violence in newspapers throughout the last fifty years. We also talked about the ethics of photo editing, and learned that you should never go beyond basic color correcting without labeling it a photo illustration. And, Prince said, always consider the audience. Good composition makes strong moments in photos even stronger. By Susannah Brinkley

Challenges Of Leading A Photo Department” (Chris Birks)— When you’re put in charge of a photo department, you should keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of your photographers. When making assignments, you should try to give ones that match each photographers strengths, and every once in a while challenge them a little bit so they can become better. Don’t overload your photographers with assignments though. If you can, give them a little less than what they can handle, because rested, less stressed photographers will take better photos and be more vigilant in their coverage of events. Make friends with your photographers. Don’t be a different person just because you’re in charge. Be a friend. By Alex Sanchez

Classroom to Airwaves” (Lisa Marshall)— I’m thankful I attended this session because it really showed how well WKNC is utilizing these skills in training its new deejays. First and foremost, it is important to have a manual or set of guidelines so that the deejays are familiar with FCC regulations and on-air conduct. In the round table discussion, most of the presenters suggested two different tests which will test knowledge and skill in the on-air room. WKNC already utilizes both tests. A great idea I pulled from this session was the use of air-checks periodically to keep tabs on deejays. By having the deejay pick their own air breaks to listen to, they can see how well they did and know what they need to do to improve. By Kieran Moreira

College Sports Photography” (Bradley Wilson) – Because of the fast pace and my lack of interest in most sports, sports photography has always been my biggest struggle as a photographer. Because the set-up of the session was more like a critique than a lecture, it kept my interest longer and I feel like I learned more. The variety of sports covered by the students critiqued showed me that the area is much more diverse than I had convinced myself previously, and that it might be something I can work on and enjoy in the future. By Marisa Akers

College Sports Photography” (Bradley Wilson) — When you arrive at an assignment, get a few safety shots first. Once you get these, don’t be afraid to try new things and plat around a little bit. You don’t need to shoot every play in football. When the ball is at the other side of the field, shoot fans or sideline photos. When shooting, remember compositional rules and avoid mergers or other weird things in the background. Try to get faces and emotion in your photos. By Alex Sanchez

“Converging Media is Your Friend” (John Devecka and Timothy Teeling, Loyola University (Maryland) and Caila Brown, Savannah College of Art and Design) — While more focused on broadcast programs, this information is relevant to any student media. The session talked about integrating a station Web site with social media like Facebook and Twitter. It is important to have an online branding strategy that ensures online communication is consistent. Outline your social media goals and how you will accomplish them. The branding strategy should focus on content and not design; content is king. This is your content bible – including how often you will post and about what topics. Set a tone for online communication to determine the station voice. Multiple people may be updating the account, but the style and tone should make it sound like just one.

A content management system has many positive points for a station Web site, including being highly customizable, user-friendly and easy to update. WKNC tried to move to Drupal a few years ago without success. An eventual goal was to use WordPress as a content management system, since we already run the WKNC blog through it. No progress has been made on that in the 6-month absence of a systems administrator, nor is it on any current project lists. If we did choose to move to a content management system, I would want to retain the current design as much as possible. When researching the other three finalists for Best Student Media Web site it was noted they all look more like blogs than Web pages. I don’t want that blog feel for An idea I did have is to develop our own WordPress theme to match our current design, but I have no training in CSS development. was presented as a good place to buy themes (prices begin at only $1) that could then be customized to fit our needs. WordPress plugins that might be good matches for WKNC are Plugoo (a live chat imbed that could replace our Meebo chat) and Weekly Schedule (for our DJ schedule).

The greatest idea that came from this session is to create a WKNC “Now Playing” Twitter feed. Devecka was surprised at how many people would be willing to subscribe to a Twitter feed that is constantly updating, but WLOY has 140 followers on @WLOYisPlaying. This shouldn’t be that difficult to do for WKNC and can have very positive results. Twitter can also be used to re-tweet campus news (from @NCSUTechnician and others) or for quick polls. WKNC can make much better use of our Twitter background image, including maybe a left-hand menu like that on WKNC can also use a account to track all shortened links. We use to tweet our blog posts, but I am not sure if we have an official account or not. A second idea that can be implemented soon is to create a “welcome screen” for the WKNC Facebook fan page using static FBML (facebook markup language). SCAD Radio has an excellent example for us to use. By Jamie Lynn Gilbert “

Dealing with Your Schizophrenic Staff” (Devin Desjarlais and Michele Boyet) — As soon as I saw the title, I knew I had to attend this session. When I agreed to be photo editor, for some reason, I thought that the job was easily definable and straightforward. The truth is, when working with such a large group of people, it becomes obvious that different personalities demand different attention, and that’s been a struggle for me. Devin and Michele covered a wide range of topics: how to deal with specific stereotypes [the sex-a-holic, the headstrong worker, the excited-but-no-good newbie, etc.], how to be a strong and yet personable leader, and how to delegate. A lot of the advice they gave should help me run photo meetings better and deal with the one-on-one stress during the week. By Marisa Akers

Developing a Public Affairs Show” (Jamie Lynn Gilbert and Kieran Moreira) — Jamie and I had devised our own notes for our discussion which we then compared a few hours before the session. In reviewing both our bullet points, Jamie and I both highlighted the necessity for creating a mission statement which will help shape the show’s themes and stories. Although our session had a small turnout, the attendees seemed to be people who were struggling with devising their own shows, so it was very relevant. We began our session by asking the students what key problems they faced. Overwhelming they said that they were having trouble recruiting people to do the shows. We spoke to this by including helpful tips such as going to the journalism departments of universities and asking professors to recommend students for radio. By Kieran Moreira

Discussion of Jobs” (Dana Faught and Elizabeth Matecki, The Fund for American Studies, Washington, D.C. )— I talked to two women, Faught and Matecki from the Institute on Political Journalism at The Fund for American Studies, a program I completed in 2009. They told me about some job openings in D.C. and we talked about how to hunt for a job in graphic design and magazines. They suggested I contact some people at TFAS and see if they know of any job openings. . By Susannah Brinkley

Don’t Blow Your Top” (Michael Koretzky and Ruth Witmer) — I decided to go to this when I realized the session I had planned on attending was canceled, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. I had heard that Michael Koretzky was fun to listen to, and I was definitely not disappointed. Aside from the bug-eating gimmick, the point of the lecture was to push outside of the boring, safe ledes. As a photographer, I normally don’t focus on aspects of writing that improve a paper, but this really opened my eyes to the fact that some news stories get overlooked because they are not presented properly. News shouldn’t be biased by a cheesy lede, but it should be presented in a way that emphasizes the importance. By Marisa Akers

Don’t Blow Your Top” (Michael Koretzky, Florida Atlantic University) — Students presented Koretzky with stories that needed new ledes. He rewrote them in a quiz show style session. He said to always reduce information for readers. “Don’t make them do math,” he said. We learned that it’s important to make ledes interesting to draw readers in. Stating the obvious is boring, he said. He also said to never quote press releases. Ever. By Susannah Brinkley

Eyewitness to Catastrophe: Ethical Guidelines for Controversial Photos” (Mark Zeltner) — This session was structured more like a roundtable discussion amongst the audience. Fellow students debated back and forth about what is considering going too far in showing gruesome and grime photos in newspapers. The most shocking photo displayed during the session was of a mob who hung the body of a person they had burnt alive. It was the front cover picture for that day’s newspaper. We discussed ethical questions like is okay to show this with the consent of the family. Do the actions of person burnt alive warrant the ability of us to display their image? By Kieran Moreira

Form Follows Function” (Randy Stano, University of Miami) — Your book can look beautiful at a glance, but it’s meaningless if the content isn’t strong, Stano said. He said you can have the best of both worlds, though, by integrating pictures into alternative copy, varying type with color and letting content drive design – and vice versa. He said that yearbooks should develop a brand, even if it varies or changes completely from year to year. Have a plan and stay organized, but know when to break the rules. He recommended going back to the beginning of the year to help jumpstart ideas again and help carry on the book’s design through the end of the book. He said it’s important to encourage an open exchange of ideas and to set design goals. He recommended writing an idea book to leave with the next editor and to pass on for years. By Susannah Brinkley

Getting The Most Out of Your Pipes” (Michael Taylor) — Michael Taylor is an advisor at Valdosta State University. He recommended deejays to familiarize themselves with helpful literature such as the books “Art of Voice Acting” and “Broadcast Voice.” In doing so, deejays can learn more in dept vocal skills in order to utilize their voices over the air. Taylor distinguished a clear difference between simply reading scripts and feeling scripts. Annunciation of certain words can drastically change the message of a sentence. Therefore, it is important to always think about your audience when recording. Create a model person for your target audience and speak to them as though they are in the room with you. By Kieran Moreira

Getting Your Meeting on, and Get on With Your Meeting!” (Mat Cantore) – I was excited about this session, because the stress of running Sunday photo meetings is something I know very well. Unfortunately, the room was full of students that wanted to use this time to vent about really specific problems and it seemed like they weren’t listening to the answers Mr. Cantore was giving. Most of what I heard was the same list of simple and obvious answers to easy problems: listen when other people talk, assert yourself if things get out of hand, and organize yourself so that you have the right answers and the ability to lead. I was disappointed with the lack of depth, but it’s good to calm down and recognize that I’m not the only one with these problems. By Marisa Akers

“Inspiring and Managing Student Leaders” (for advisers) (Ryan Brown, Emerson College) —  Regular senior staff meetings – with agendas – are incredibly valuable in inspiring and managing student leaders. WKNC found this to be true when it held a board of directors (BOD) meeting earlier this semester. We are continuing to have occasional BOD meetings which will hopefully become regular. Branding your media as a “cool” thing with which to be involved will also help staff recruitment and retention. The most important staffing concern is to get the right people in the right positions. At the Emerson Channel, students move in two weeks before school starts and are producing content that entire time. While I don’t think that is feasible for WKNC, the station does need to better strategize our campus presence during Wolfpack Welcome Week. We should be doing live broadcasts from the brickyard events like Cates Crawl and the Back 2 School Jam. The more visible we can be during the first week of school, the more student listeners (and potential staff members) we can reach.

The Emerson Channel’s senior staff members maintain a binder that contain all of their regular responsibilities, contacts and other pertinent information to keep knowledge from being lost during position changeovers. Nicole Griffin did this for Kieran when he became promotions director and I think this is a great idea to implement, although electronic documents are preferred to handwritten ones that can be easily lost and harder to update. This way, an incoming student leader has documentation beyond just his or her job description. Continuing education training like Student Media is focusing on this year is also a great way to motivate student leaders. A wall of fame showing successful alumni would reinforce that WKNC can help you get a job in media. Having an awards program shows the staff their efforts are appreciated. A monthly “contest” for best air break is already being considered at WKNC. This would reward students for positive behavior, encourage students to use the skimmer to listen to their air breaks, and provide material to be submitted for Best Radio DJ for the 2011 College Broadcasters, Inc. national student production awards.

Finally, advisers need to remember they LOVE their jobs and are there to help the students. Having an adviser with a positive and helpful attitude encourages student leaders to set and achieve goals. The book The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders (2008) by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner was mentioned as recommended reading. By Jamie Lynn Gilbert

“How to Pass an FCC Inspection/Day to Day Compliance” (Laura Mizrahi, Communication Technologies, Inc. and Brendan Holland, Davis Wright Tremaine) — The Federal Communications Commission DOES make random site visits to college radio stations, but it doesn’t have to be a scary experience. The more responsive and helpful you are to the FCC, the better your chances are of escaping serious fines. The FCC’s goal is compliance, not to punish stations. Everyone at the station should know where the public file is kept (Jamie’s office, on the bottom bookshelf) and that it is available for public view Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The tower site needs to have proper signage, with the antenna structure registration number clearly posted. Schools are encouraged to utilize their state broadcasting association’s mock inspection program to identify and correct potential problems. One item of compliance that is often overlooked is the FCC Form 315. This “transfer of ownership” form must be completed every time more than 50 percent of the ownership changes hands, even if the entity itself remains the same. Even though WKNC has always been licensed to the Board of Trustees, we need to file a Form 315 whenever more than half of the board members change. By Jamie Lynn Gilbert

Leadership Skills for Yearbook Editors (Ann Thorne, Missouri Western State University) — Thorne led a roundtable discussion about leading a yearbook staff. She stressed the importance of a staff retreat, brainstorming sessions and awards to help retain staff. She also recommended a coaching approach to critiquing and helping staff members get better at their work, as well as doing a public critique to get other staff members’ opinions. She recommended monthly mingles, training sessions and mini-deadlines to help relieve stress during deadlines. By Susannah Brinkley

Leadership Skills for Yearbook Editors” (Ann Thorne) — I felt like it was really important to attend this discussion with Susannah. It was a small group, which allowed us to sit in a circle with Mrs. Thorne and a few other editors and have a nice, individualized conversation. Mrs. Thorne had a few simple and helpful ideas for organization, something I feel all yearbook editors struggle with, and the other girls felt comfortable speaking with her and each other about suggestions, difficulties and other commonalities among our books. The handouts we received could definitely help us with things like re-organizing the deadline process or building stronger relationships in our staff. By Marisa Akers

Legal Remix” (Dianne Rizzo) — The general idea of this course was to be skeptical of what people you interview tell you in terms of information they can or can’t divulge. Administrators will often hide behind FERPA, but as a journalist you should know when they can and can’t get away with it. If someone tells you they aren’t allowed to tell you something, be wary of their motives for this. If it sounds fishy, it probably is. Know the rules before you go in requesting information. By Alex Sanchez

Louisville IV’: Critique/Selection of Photos from On-Site Competition” (Bradley Wilson) —I was so glad that there was an opportunity at the conference to mix photojournalism, as a duty, and photography, as an art. Since the session consisted of a slideshow with short critiques for each photo, I was riveted the whole time. I wish I had decided to participate in the contest, but it was still really exciting to see how the other photographers captured Louisville. By Marisa Akers

Making Your Station Financially Independent” (John Onderdonk) — This session featured a step by step process in developing a pledge drive to raise funds for radio stations. KSYN 90.1FM was the model station using its pledge drive to bring in roughly $40,000 a year. The main needs for creating a pledge drive include having telephone lines, a computer, and simple accounting database software. Peachtree Accounting and QuickBooks offer cheap accounting databases for $99. I really enjoyed this session because I saw it relevant to WKNC. With such a strong listenership, WKNC could utilize a pledge drive and be quite successful. By taking photos of guests who donate, announcing their names on Facebook ,Twitter, and on-air, people will become more excited about giving money. By Kieran Moreira

Phlogging” (David Stephenson) — There are several reasons and uses for a photo blog. It can be used for promoting yourself as a photographer and as a way to get your portfolio online. It can also give employers an idea of the kind of photographer you are. There are some creative ways to go about making a photo blog. You can upload a photo a day, critique photos, or post strictly photos with no text. You should try to challenge yourself by setting a goal for yourself post-wise. This will keep your blog interesting. You could also include tutorials, how tos and product lists to make your blog interesting and build a following. Blogs can also be great because they give you a place to post unpublished photos. Have a goal and time commitment in mind for your blog. Seriously consider investing in a domain name that is your name. Once someone else buys it, you’ll probably never be able to get it. By Alex Sanchez

Publishing Sexy Images and Stories” (Dan Close) — Before publishing a racy image or story, ask yourself why you are running it. This is a major ethical decision. Consider whether you are subjecting the audience to content to expose reality or just to get some cheap shock value. You should also consider how this will reflect upon your newspaper’s credibility. Will the story or graphic give your publication a bad reputation? How will your readers or campus administrators respond? Make sure you are not doing it for no reason. Another thing to consider is whether the content you are publishing is an invasion of privacy, libel, a misappropriation, or has some other issue. If you are within the boundaries of the law, SPLC can help you. But you should also consider if what you’re trying to do is really worth it. By Alex Sanchez

“Put It In Writing: Forms That Will Save Your Butt” (Richard Gainey, Ohio Northern University) — It is important to have a comprehensive list of station forms and documents and keep them updated regularly. All the forms presented by Gainey were provided on a flash drive. Two of the forms that can be utilized at WKNC are the suspension form and the manager log. The suspension form clearly documents a DJ’s suspension in writing and can be kept on file to document a pattern of behavior. There is also a manager log that has senior staff members document their completed tasks rather than just hours worked. Something like this could be incorporated into our time sheets to increase accountability for paid staff. There is also a DJ substitution form, which can help encourage host substitutions. I envision being able to submit the “shift substitute” request online and then have other DJs electronically sign up to cover the shift. This would reduce what is often considered clutter on our e-mail list. The primary obstacle would be getting staff to check for available shifts on a regular basis. By Jamie Lynn Gilbert

Radio After Noon- Making it Compelling” (Shane Collins and Sarah Jordan) — This session featured professional local Louisville deejays who spoke to us about making their afternoon shows compelling. The first step is identifying the audience. As Michael Taylor had discussed in his session, this involves visualizing a single person and pretending to speak to just them. Another key note was to avoid “on the fly” radio which entails no preparation in air breaks. Both Jordan and Collins admitted that unprepared air breaks sound weak and sloppy. It’s important to always have websites as sources for news and information relevant to the listener. This means checking your sources each day to provide the most up-to-date information. By posting this information on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it helps to develop personal friendships and connections with listeners. By Kieran Moreira

Radio Station Student Management” (Bob Long) — I was a bit skeptical about this session at the beginning because Long is a high school general manager, however the session proved to be quite beneficial. Streetsboro High School’s radio station in Ohio uses the same management style of WKNC. There is a head general manager who has a board of directors with their own immediate tasks. A few important things I took away from the event were the need to recognize deejays for their good work. Implementing a “Deejay of the Month” award would help reinforce good behavior and give an incentive for the entire staff to do well. Secondly, the use of a corrective action form would give deejays clear instructions for disciplinary actions. To remain uniform and consistent across the board, a form could be used for deejays to review and comment on. It is also beneficial to have written documentation in order to make case for disciplining a deejay on future misconduct. By Kieran Moreira

Shoot yourself” (Ralph Braseth) — When shooting a video story, ALWAYS shoot an establishing, wide shot. It establishes the context of your story. The next type of shot, a medium shot, get’s a little more detail. It can have a couple peoples’ faces in it and some short of action or activity. It gives a better idea of what individual people do. The next type of shot, a close-up, has someone’s face and a little bit of their upper body. This is the best type of shot when doing interviews. It captures their emotion while letting people see what they’re saying. The last type of shot, an extreme close-up, or detail shot, is a cool action or expression really close up. Try to avoid using these for people’s faces. As a general rule of thumb, do not shoot the camera until the shot is set up, otherwise you waste video that you’ll have to edit out later. It wastes space and time. Try to shoot only what you need. The average length of a shot is 5-6 seconds. If the shot is too long, viewers lose interest and move on. Avoid panning and zooming while recorded. This can also annoy viewers. Editing starts in your camera with your shot selection. Think like an editor while you shoot. Walk back into the news room with just video you need, not pointless stuff. Human beings are crucial to shots. They create interest. Journalists are supposed to focus on people. When shooting interviews, follow general photography composition rules like the rule of thirds. By Alex Sanchez

Shooting Video for Newspaper” (Mark Hannah) — This session was also a more technically based lecture, featuring good tips for shooting video when covering stories. Hannah pointed out the benefits of shooting footage from multiple vantage points. While you want to have steady action, a news piece will have more life if it is captured from different angles. Hannah mentioned that easiest way to do this was to shoot subjects in different areas or angles. If subjects are shot in the same position with the same backdrop, it can become an editing nightmare. A major mistake often made by video journalists is forgetting to have the entire shot in focus. To prevent this from happening, the camera operator should zoom in all the way on a subject and then focus. By Kieran Moreira

“Swag Swap” (Jamie Lynn Gilbert, North Carolina State University and Lydia Ammossow, Loyola Marymount University) — Radio and television stations used this session to show off their promotional items, or “swag.” WLOY had glow-in-the-dark T-shirts which are incredibly popular on their campus. They use a company called Contagious Graphics out of Charlotte, N.C. ( The glow-in-the-dark shirts are always on special around Halloween and WLOY set up a PayPal account and sold T-shirts in advance. This gave them a better idea of how many T-shirts to order and could help off-set costs. Contagious Graphics provides relatively cheap T-shirts and they often have a “garage sale” where you order one design and it gets printed on whatever colors and sizes they happen to have left. Other recommended T-shirt printers are Industry Screenprint Studio in Austin, Texas ( and Odyssey Printwear in Aurora, Ohio. was recommended for customized banners. Discount cards were recommended from WLOY charges local businesses $25-$50 to be on their “Loyal Listener Card” and the cards are given away to station listeners each semester. One station contacted the company that supplies the mini-fridges on campus and has them put station magnets on each fridge at the start of every school year. While WKNC has talked about distributing magnets in freshmen welcome bags, this would be a better alternative. Window clings generally work better than bumper stickers and one station had a charity car wash and asked to put the window clings right in the car after it was washed. Tri-fold handouts about the station would make great promotional material, especially at new student orientation. Some stations had issues distributing bottle opener key chains on campus. Stations without strong graphic designers were encouraged to talk with local graphic designers for help. By Jamie Lynn Gilbert

Take it From the Top: Writing the Features Lede” (Nicole Hill, University of Oklahoma) — Hill, a former editor of the Sooner Yearbook, lectured on the feature’s lede. Stop using the inverted pyramid, she said. People like reading about other people, so use characters. She suggested asking a person about the pictures on their desk to help them open up to you in the interview, and to focus stories on people’s emotions. Hill gave a long list of ledes to stop using, including cliché ledes, quote ledes, weather ledes, imagine ledes, definition ledes, “thanks to” ledes, one word ledes, no good news/bad news ledes, pun ledes, “no exception” ledes and “that’s what __ said” ledes. She said you want people to remember your story, and that you definitely don’t want to piss off your reader by insulting them with a dull lede. By Susannah Brinkley

Teamwork: Recruitment, Retention and Morale” (Laura Widmer, Northwest Missouri State University) — Widmer led a roundtable discussion about how to keep up morale as well as recruit and retain staff members. She suggested asking professors to help recruit their top students and she also recommended making business cards to hand to sources to help advertise the yearbook. She recommended creating a more healthy and conducive working environment by not allowing headphones in the office. She suggested bringing in alumni (including via Skype) for trainings and a staff retreat. By Susannah Brinkley

That Thing Shoots Video?” (David Stephenson) — Journalists are responsible for recording history, and taking video of newsworthy events is good journalism. Video is easy to distribute, highly effective when used with quality audio, and has more potential for monetization. Content is king when making videos. If there are a bunch of clips of nothing, no one will want to watch your program/channel/story. Try to give video assignments to people who actually want to shoot them. Photographers that are excited about their work do a better job. Still photographers will often argue that video ruins the art of photography because it doesn’t capture a moment, but they still do. Video often enhances a moment, especially when paired with audio. Coupling photos with sound can also be very effective and moving. Video can challenge you as a journalist, making you think in terms of the entire event rather than just a single moment. A cool idea would be to take a written news story, have the writer read it and record it for a voiceover. Also, take videos of all interviews. While reading the story and playing relevant video clips, put in video of the interviews where direct quotes are. By Alex Sanchez

That Thing That Shoots Video?” (David Stephenson) — Stephenson’s session was very technical in its exploration of the new SLR cameras that shoot HD video. In this discussion, there was a distinction between the pros and cons of tape vs. still camera. Still cameras have the capacity for better quality images and can handle shooting in low light; however they currently lack good audio capturing capabilities. Stephenson recommended an external mike called the Sennheiser MKE 400 which costs around $200. When shooting subjects at greater distances, Stephenson recommended using wireless mikes. He also discussed the various add-ons to the SLRs like the Image Stabilization 24-105 F4 lens model. Although it helps in creating less shakiness, its motor is loud enough for the audio to pick it up. By Kieran Moreira

The Challenges of Leading a Photo Department” (Chris Birks) — This was, by far, my favorite session. I’ve been having a lot of problems with insecurity and stress from my job, and I went in hoping for a few tips on reducing both. As soon as he started speaking, I knew it was going to be helpful, and I took notes almost constantly. Most of what his tips were simple things organize and be a strong leader, but he went really in-depth with the ideas, and it felt good to hear them spoken aloud. Hearing other photo editors share advice and problems enforced the fact that I’m not alone and the job, in addition to already being fun and exciting, can be more efficient and a lot less stressful than it is now. After the session, I took notes on exact topics I want to bring up with the other editors, in hopes of improving the quality of photos and the relationships in my department and among the others. By Marisa Akers

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Yearbook Marketing and Sales Strategies” (Lori Brooks and Nicole Hill, University of Oklahoma) — Brooks and Hill discussed marketing strategies that work. She recommended trying a freshman subscription service – each book for four years is $5 less than the year before. She said not many try it, but that guarantees a few sales for four years. She said to make sure the yearbook is present any time parents are on campus – from move-in to Parents Weekend to graduation. She also suggested having senior portraits at job fairs because students already look nice and it takes away a step for students. By Susannah Brinkley

Think Global, Report Local” (Randy Stano, University of Miami) — Stano discussed how to cover news throughout the year. He suggested finding local angles for larger stories, such as the mid-term elections. He also suggested trying to find out things that people want to remember about where they went to college, such as their favorite places to eat and drink or where they attended religious worship services on or off campus. By Susannah Brinkley

Video Shooting for Newspaper Journalists” (Mark Hannah) — I was definitely entertained by the variety of topics I was able to learn about on this trip. I have thought about the similarities among photojournalism and video journalism before, but have always been intimidated by the fact that the latter seems so much more complicated. This session proved me wrong. The topics he covered were the absolute basics, which was perfect for me. He did things like defining wide, medium, close-up and extreme close-up shots, warning against zooming and panning, and using a video setup that he had to show us examples of what to do and what not to do. Through his lecture, I saw that the technology, composition and basic desire that make up videos is very simple to photography, and I’m hopeful I get an opportunity to experiment with it some day. By Marisa Akers

What Do You Mean You Can’t Find a Good Feature to Do? There Are Hundreds All Over Campus and Nearby!” (Tom Pierce) – I figured that, even though this session was directed towards writers, I could probably learn something that would either help photographers doing feature photos, or something that I could use to help features writers. The session started with Mr. Pierce handing out two pages, covered in features ideas. Though I found it really cool to have a very specific list of legitimate ideas, the lecture that came with the list didn’t offer much more insight. It was good to come back with a list that I can share with other student media employees. By Marisa Akers

What’s New in Photoshop CS5” (Bradley Wilson) — Before this year, I had never used Photoshop for more than cropping and re-naming photos. I normally look at the program as an intriguing and completely confusing box of tricks that can probably do almost anything, and I now have proof that I am right. Watching Bradley manipulate photos, with a few quick clicks, into really stunning products convinced me that I need to spend more time learning as much as I can. Some of the features, like the cutout tool, will help me improve the quality of my work for Student Media and other ones, like content aware, will help me broaden the artistic opportunities I find with my personal photography. Another aspect of the session that I really benefited from was seeing Bradley working with students outside of the NCSU Student Media offices. I can’t think of a better way to learn more about, and therefore gain more respect for, my Adviser. By Marisa Akers

Yearbook Story Ideas: Finding a Fresh Approach” (Ann Thorne, Missouri Western State University) — She recommended using “charticles,” or alt copy to help tell stories. She recommended several types of stories to approach year-after-year stories like homecoming and graduation in new ways, such as in A to Z format, in calendars, and in day-in-the-life story forms. She recommended recording things like dining hall menus using food photography and discussing adjunct professors’ other jobs. She also suggested writing about things the career center suggests for job-hunting. By Susannah Brinkley

You’re Not Just A DJ: Bringing Back News and Info to College Radio” (Pamela Ohrt, Aaron Trier, and Isacc Slings) — This event could have easily gone along with the “Developing a Public Affairs Show” session because it focused on creating broadcasts for news. Like WKNC, Iowa’s KWAR-FM features 90 second spots each day that are strictly devoted to news broadcasts. An idea I pulled from the event was creating a current list of student events on and off campus to have in the station. If deejays are in need of content for their air-breaks, they can notify students of the upcoming events by reading the lists. If WKNC looked to expand this, we could have the student organizations come in and speak on an air break to promote their event. As WKNC is funded by student fees, it would be a beneficial way to give back to students. By Kieran Moreira

Your First Time: Publishing Sexy Stories and Images” (Dan Close) — In addition to having a funny title, this session caught my eye because it is something I have wondered about with photos and articles that have run in Technician. The lecture included examples of past college publications that have caused debate and opened the floor to students who wanted to discuss what is appropriate and what isn’t. Unfortunately, the audience, again, used this as a time to launch into unnecessary anecdotes, and some of the presentation seemed to only be included for shock value. The advice given by Mr. Close in case of meeting resistance when running sexy stories/images mostly consisted of listening to your gut and deciding whether or not the relevance is to news or just entertainment, which I find kind of obvious. If there is no relevance to current events or information students need to have, it is inappropriate to run something just for a laugh or debate. By Marisa Akers

ACP Best of Show Awards (Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center) — Frank LoMonte gave the keynote speech before the distribution of the Best of Show Awards. He discussed the importance of the student press on college and university campuses. He charged us, the students, to get our rights back from our university administrations. He said student journalists have a power, and we should push and use that power to the best of our ability to make our rights and freedoms known. He said not to let anyone stop us. (And if they do, we should call him!) By Susannah Brinkley

Agromeck critiques

  1. Marcia Meskiel Macy, Taylor/Balfour Publishing — In this critique, Meskiel stressed looking at tiny details like hyphenation and widows. She said we did a good job of opening up pages with white space. She recommended making rules for caption writing, such as using only one gerund phrase and one name at the beginning of a caption per spread. She stressed lining up the bottom of stories and repeating alt copy designs throughout the book. By Susannah Brinkley
  2. Randy Stano, University of Miami)— Stano met with me to look at the Agromeck pages. He said he was impressed with our coverage and our design. He suggested double-checking our screens and making sure they’re not too dark behind text. He also recommended using arrows instead of a legend on pie charts. By Susannah Brinkley
  3. Lily Oyarzun, University of Miami — The Ibis editor made suggestions about the Agromeck yearbook, and said we should pay attention to small details like hyphenation and widows. She also said that while grids are important for designers, they’re also not the first thing that readers will notice. She said readers will notice a discrepancy in visual alignment, because they can’t see the grid. By Susannah Brinkley
  4. Linda Puntney, Kansas State University — I met with former Kansas State adviser to critique the 2011 Agromeck. Puntney said she loved our white space, our photography and our special spread designs. She suggested finding local angles for features pages, finding more action shots for the monthly sports pages, and exploring more spread designs for features pages. She didn’t like our wide captions or our pull quote font, 44th President, though she did love our use of spot colors. By Susannah Brinkley
  5. Linda Putney – Susannah asked me to sit in on a meeting she had to critique the already finished pages of this year’s yearbook. At first, I was confused, because most of their discussion dealt with the design aspects of the pages, and I didn’t understand some of the vocabulary or techniques they mentioned, but, as I listened more, I started to catch on. It was a great experience to learn about aspects of the book I hadn’t previously concentrated on and to have the opportunity to hear the perspective of a well-respected, experienced designer. By Marisa Akers
  6. Lori Brooks and Nicole Hill, University of Oklahoma — Brooks said she liked our stories and packages that jump, because we’re like a magazine and that’s how it should work, not just have one thing on every page. She also recommended jumping forwards and backwards because people don’t read yearbooks from front to back – they jump around. She also suggested having more than one piece of alt copy per page. She suggested a few ideas for livening up traditional stories, such as photographing what students wear under their gowns at graduation, profiling graduation marshals and interviewing the faculty who attend graduation, because they’re likely professors who actually care about their students. By Susannah Brinkley
  7. Marcia Meskeil-Macy — Since it was my second critique and I was more used to the conversation between two designers and I was able to understand discussions about things like drop caps, spacing, and trapped white space. This critique also included more response to photos, and I was very happy to hear that she was impressed with our work, including a few photos of my own that I’m proud of. I am also very happy with the positive response Susannah is getting for all of her hard work. I feel like she deserves the recognition, in addition to the time many people there gave her while they were critiquing the book. By Marisa Akers
  8. “Marcia Meskiel Macy, Taylor/Balfour Publishing — In this critique, Meskiel stressed looking at tiny details like hyphenation and widows. She said we did a good job of opening up pages with white space. She recommended making rules for caption writing, such as using only one gerund phrase and one name at the beginning of a caption per spread. She stressed lining up the bottom of stories and repeating alt copy designs throughout the book. By Susannah Brinkley

Opening Convention General Session (Thomas French) — Thomas French is a speaker with a really interesting story. I’ve sat through many speeches that bore me to sleep or use metaphors that are upsettingly overused, but he was both interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed hearing him tell stories of animals and then, while I was distracted by a fun joke or mental image, I realized the animal’s stories, feelings and actions translate to important lesions for us, too. By Marisa Akers

Opening Convention General Session and Adviser Awards Presentation (Thomas French, reporter) — Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and reporter whose newest book, Zoo Story, chronicles life and death inside Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, talked about the importance of finding and telling stories that will never get told, and he discussed the importance of anecdotes in reporting. Human emotion is an important story to tell. “If we don’t tell these stories, who will?” he said. By Susannah Brinkley