Saturday, January 30, 2010

Journalist for a day

Rock, paper, scissors

Flagler College journalism students on Saturday helped younger students publish their first news articles.
Two of the students, above, played a game of "Rock, paper and scissors" to decide who got to do one of the stories.
See YouTube video here.

Dr. Helena Sarkio

Dr. Helena Sarkio, adviser to Flagler College's student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, coordinated the event. Her blog is here.

Aime Dames

Amie Dames, 10, of St. Augustine, said she is an aspiring fashion designer. But she said she wanted to try working as a journalist for a day because:
I thought it would be a good learning experience. It might be a cool job to do when I get older.
Here Amie returns after interviewing the builder of a new facility for the Boys & Girls Club.
Justin Black and his daughter

Justin Black, 24, brought the students - along with his three-month-old daughter Isabella - to Saturday's event. He is director of the local Boys & Girls Club. He said he's interested in showing the students different career possibilities. He said:
The more I can expose them to, the better. I'm a believer in 'knowledge is power.'
He said these children are eager to learn, especially when they see that someone is interested in them. Black said:
They literally are like sponges when they start learning about something new.
Kiegee Proctor, 14, right, interviewed La’teefah Green for a story about text messaging.

The students' articles can be found on the Gargoyle Web site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti is as close as some Spring Break destinations

Student journalist Matt Boyle at work on the campus of Flagler College in St. Augustine.

Kudos to Matt Boyle for writing a story about efforts at Flagler College to raise money for victims of the horrific earthquake in Haiti.
I told Matt that the Haiti quake was the deadliest ever in the Western Hemisphere and tried to make a point about Haiti not being all that far from us at Flagler College.
To be more specific, St. Augustine is 967 miles from Port-au-Prince. Maybe that's not exactly "in our backyard," as the cliche goes.
But it's closer than Wichita, which is 1,062 miles away. And it's certainly closer than Shangai, China, which is 7,965 miles from St. Augustine. (The two deadliest quakes of all time occurred in China).

St. Augustine to Port-au-Prince: 967 miles.
St. Augustine to Wichita: 1,062 miles.
You don't hear of many Florida students taking off to Shangai for Spring Break. But they do go to the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti.

At least one student Flagler College student was on her way home from the Dominican Republic as CNN's Anderson Cooper and other journalists - along with rescuers and aid workers - were scrambling to get in to Haiti from the Santo Domingo. That's how close Haiti is. And that's the point I was trying to make about distance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flagler College official: Let Haitians "see the face of God"

Solidarity with quake victims. Link: YouTube video of vigil.

A small group of students, faculty and staff at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fl., held a candlelight vigil Tuesday for victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
The Florida college is collecting donations for victims of the quake. Half the donations will go to the International Red Cross, school officials said. The other half will go to Lynn University and the families of four students and two professors who were in Haiti when the quake struck and have not been found.
Associate Dean Yvan Kelly offered a prayer during the vigil:
We pray today for those in Haiti whose poverty has been made worse. Whose suffering has been made worse. And for those whose hopes of life-saving miracles are fading.
We remember those who had traveled to improve the conditions of people's lives and who in turn sacrificed their own.
...We remember the four students from Lynn University and their two faculty members who were lost in the collapse of their hotel. Comfort their families who must now face such a sudden and painful loss....
The scope of the devastation is on a scale beyond our comprehension. In this tragedy we're reminded that we live in a broken world, one in need of your love and restoration. We trust and believe that you are and have been with the people in Haiti. We ask that those there suffering will be allowed to see the face of God through the efforts of rescue workers, who help those who are hungry and thirsty, and those who are injured and diseased.
In facing such a daunting crisis, we pay for a peace that surpasses all understanding. Allow all those there to live in harmony and to work together to restore and rebuild their community.
What took moments to destroy will take years to rebuild...Prevent us from forgetting those in need once the images have faded from our television screens...

Also Tuesday, several musicians gave a concert at Flagler College to help raise money for earthquake victims.

Josh Santos, 19, of Tampa, was among those who performed.

Drew Martin, 21, a musician and mechanic pictured showing off his favorite tattoo, said he admired the strength of the Haitian people. He said:
I feel bad for the people. They're going through hell. They're tougher than I could ever be. My heart goes out to them. They're in my prayers every night.

When photojournalism becomes art

Zoriah, an amazing photojournalist, posted today these wrenching photos from Haiti.

No shoes now

Teach barefoot

Teachers running around without shoes? What's this world coming to?
I hope his feet don't stink.
Remember the scene from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" when John Candy took off his shoes and socks while on a plane?
"Boy, are my dogs barking today," he said.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Teach barefoot for Haiti


Flagler College students in St. Augustine, Fla., have been working in recent days to aid victims of the devastating 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti at 4:53 p.m. on Jan. 12.
Several events are planned in the coming weeks, including a candlelight vigil set for early Tuesday evening. I plan to teach barefoot that day on Monday and Tuesday to help remind my students that Haitians are suffering and that some of their classmates and teachers at Flagler College are trying to help.

Above, Haiti-related events at Flagler College

People around the world are helping Haitians recover from the deadliest earthquake ever to hit the Western Hemisphere.
The toll so far, Haitian officials say:
* 111,4999 dead
* 193,891 injured
* 609,000 homeless.
Those numbers will certainly rise in the coming months. Haitian officials say it's possible the death toll will reach 200,000. That would move the quake into a tie for the fifth deadliest earthquake in recorded history based on U.S. Geological Survey numbers.
Some disaster officials even talk about the possibility of a half million dead, which would make the quake the second deadliest ever.
What's certain, Haitian officials say, is that they will never know for sure how many people were killed.
Unicef and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among the many organizations that are helping those who survived.
If you want to donate $10 to the Red Cross right now, just text "HAITI" and send it to 90999.
Haitians need all the help they can get, I know. I traveled to Haiti as a journalist in February 2004 just before Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the country. I saw a nation torn by poverty, violence and political mayhem.
It was a mess - and that was before the huge earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince.
The photos coming out of Haiti now are heartbreaking. I plan to show some of them to my students on Tuesday Monday and Tuesday.
And if anyone asks why I'm barefoot, I'll just tell them it's for Haiti.

A man carries a coffin through the streets of Port-au-Prince. Photo credit: Michael Appleton/The New York Times
A young woman prays near the collapsed National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. Photo credit: AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Patrick Farrell.
A U.S. Navy helicopter takes off in front of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Photo credit: AP Photo/Gregory Bull.
Haitians reach out for goods thrown from a shop in Port-au-Prince. Photo credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images.
View of a devastated neighborhood. Photo credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz.
An injured woman. Photo credit: AP Photo/Jorge Cruz.
Another victim of the quake. Photo credit: AP Photo/Montreal La Presse, Ivanoh Demers.
Link to the Web sites where I found these photos:
The Big Picture, the Boston Globe photo blog
Captured, a Denver Post news photo blog

The Google Revolution

This video is also posted on YouTube. Camera: Sony Handycam

The other day at Flagler College, students discussed Google and other technological wonders that are changing the way people work and live. Among their observations:
* Young people today need "instant gratification," and Google helps provide that.
* Many students can't resist texting even if they're driving or walking down stairs.
* Common abbreviations used in text messaging -- OMG and TTYL, for instance -- are replacing words in spoken conversations.
* Many people prefer skimming the surface of the Internet rather than trying to get an in-depth view of a subject. Said one student:
People know a little about a lot of different things instead of a lot about a couple of different things.
But overall, students were mostly upbeat about Google. Said one:
It's kind of hard to find things you don't like about Google.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Proposed law in Uganda would make homosexuality a death-penalty offense

Anti-gay protest in Uganda. Photo credit: Stephen Wandera/AP

On Jan. 15, National Public Radio reported:
Uganda is now considering a bill that would impose the death penalty or life in prison on gay men and lesbians for some homosexual acts.
NPR says that American evangelical Scott Lively has fueled anti-gay feelings in Uganda.
Lively, president of Defend The Family International and author of a book called The Pink Swastika, went to Uganda in March 2009 to speak about the "gay agenda." NPR said he told Uganda's Family Life Network:
The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.

Scott Lively
I asked some of my students what they thought about the idea of homosexuality being punishable by death. "Absurd," "cruel," "crazy" and "sickening" were some of the responses, recorded in this video.

Camera used for video: Canon EOS Rebel T1i

Southern Poverty Law Center article on Lively

What college students like - and hate - about classes

I passed out surveys to many of my students on the first day of class to ask what they like - and hate - about college classes.
I should have done this at the end of the fall semester, but the idea just occurred to me. So I plunged ahead.
Below is what some students said they hate most about classes:
The pressure that you are always being graded.
Deadlines. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to get used to them in this field.
Lectures that aren't interactive.
Hand cramps and writers bumps! Oh, and super long lectures read from a PowerPoint.
...teachers who don't attempt to link what they teach to practical examples.
Pop quizzes and assigned readings.
Boring lectures.
Busy work.
Busy work and time wasted.
Structure is great, but less about teaching and more about practical experience is preferred.
When teachers expect you to know everything.
That was from students in an intermediate class called News & Feature Reporting.

Trying to keep students from snoozing in Introduction to Mass Communication class.

Here's what students in a class called International Communication said they hated most:
Monotone lectures that drag on and on.
Having to do group projects and having a bad group.
I do not like that we are not given a lot of freedom on assignments.
The reading that is mindless. To read a chapter just to get tested on is pointless because it is then forgotten.
I hate classes that are only lecture-based. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and apply the information I learn outside of the classroom.
I hate when your grades are only based on exams.
One obnoxious person talking and answering all the questions.
I hate dry, boring lectures that are hard to relate to.
Stressful exams and group projects.
Group projects.
Tests and large group projects.
Waking up in the morning!
Busy work.
Boringness, tests that suck. Useless facts, forced to learn. Teachers who just teach to teach - uninterested.
Tests. I like more hands-on stuff.
Attending class.
There's nothing I can do about that last complaint, but I do listen to students. And while ripping apart and redoing the syllabi for all the classes I teach this semester, I incorporated some of what students told me in the surveys.

Here are the four classes and one independent study I teach this semester (click for syllabi):
Introduction to Mass Communication
Magazine Writing
News & Feature Reporting
International Communication
Advanced Photojournalism (independent study)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to school

Today was the first day of the spring semester at Flagler College. A few students in an Introduction to Mass Communication class spent 10 minutes doing practice interviews of people reacting to the horrific earthquake in Haiti.
The point of this simple exercise was to show how fast and easy it can be to put words, pictures and video on the Web.
Camera used: A $49 Vivitar video camera.