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Missouri Photo Workshop

Posted by Hollyce Cervantes on September 12, 2008

Thursday morning started off a little crazy after my group sighted our first celebrity walking the Mizzou campus, John Anderson from ESPN. After basking in the glory of seeing our idol roaming in our habitat, we quickly ran over to the Missouri Photo Workshop. When we entered the room, there were people packed in rows and sitting on the floors. Many people might have thought that Britney Spears was hosting a seminar because it seems the paparazzi decided to come to the workshop. There were cameras everywhere–in front of me, behind me and to every side. After settling down in the front, I realized I was sitting right next to Kim Komenich in the front row. I was immersed in the action.

Bill Kuykendall started the seminar with a historic and informational slide show on the history of the Photo Workshop. I learned about how much this seminar has grown from a small gathering in Aurora, Missouri to reaching the J-School in Columbia, Missouri. He showed us slides of “Small Town America” pictures that were heartwarming and touching. Kuykendall discussed how these pictures show the fundamental values of Americans and our mythology. These pictures conveyed stories–stories that the photographers wanted to show us. The photographers acted as teachers showing us the importance of these values through pictures. The audience is cooing with oohs and aahs as he flips through the pictures. Everyone in the room was able to connect with the raw essence of human life captured in each photograph.

Next, Kim Komenich stood up to speak to the group. He started off by saying, “There has not been a year where I have not learned something about photography.” Komenich continued by saying that his favorite aspect of photography is the intimacy in photographs. Photographers truly get to live in the world and know the people within it. Then he talked a little bit about Bill Eppridge, who was not present at the seminar. You can view his blog at http://www.billeppridge.com/ . We listened to an audio clip as he reflected on MPW (Missouri Photo Workshop). It is evident how much these great photographers care about pictures as narrative stories. Komenich talked about how Missouri makes the MPW so important. He said, “It’s something about the Midwest. Homecookin’. People have a way of making time for you.” Missouri is the real world and the people make this great state what it is. I glanced at Kim’s notes sitting next to me (being the nosy journalism student that I am) and at the top of his yellow legal pad in doctor’s handwriting is, “Real pictures happen on their time, not yours.” I think that is very relevant to many things in life. However, pictures that truly capture the moment can capture the viewer’s heart. Komenich emphasized that statement multiple times throughout the seminar.

During the question and answer section, my attention was drawn to an older man sitting in the back row. He has been attending MPW since the second one many years ago. His grin fills his entire face. He has lived the “picture perfect” life, recording moments and memories with photographs. He is an inspiration to students, and I had a wonderful time hearing him speak.

Next, a sweet lady in the front row commented on the beginning of MPW. She said, “Show truth with the camera. Early workshops were a bootcamp.” This woman is precious with her light blonde hair and blush pink pants. Her nike shoes are pure as snow white with tiny light baby pink Nike checks. She has the cutest smile plastered on her face. You can tell she is so happy to be a part of this. Her pink cheeks and lips are truly picturesque. She should be in front of the camera instead of behind. Her name is Mimi Smith, and after the seminar, I had the chance of talking to this delightful woman. I will always look up to her.

Overall, even though I am not a photojournalism student, I enjoyed this seminar. Everyone relates to people in pictures because at one point or another, we are those people in the photogrphs. It is a lovely way to capture time and cherish it always. Props to the photo workshop!

More information here!

To contact me, e-mail hmczbd@mizzou.edu.

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Community Newspapers: Learn How Main Street America Responds to Local News and Advertising

Posted by mcszr3 on September 11, 2008

In today’s new media age, many Americans have begun to question the relevance of newspapers. There has been concern about newspaper journalists being laid off and companies being forced to downsize because of decreased interest in the newspaper media. However, while a hundred or so large newspapers may be experiencing some issues keeping their readership constant, today’s forum assured the audience that the more than 22,000 community newspapers across America still have a very important role in this rapidly changing world.

The forum on community newspapers was led by Brian Steffens from the National Newspaper Association, the very same association which our own Walter Williams presided over about ten years before he founded the J-School here at Mizzou. Steffens began by admitting the current media “sounds pretty grim for newspaper,” but then introduced the Associate Director of Research in the Reynolds Institute, Kenneth Fleming, to present a careful study done by our Reynolds Institute.

The presentation looked at the current status and future of community newspapers in today’s Internet age, and “examined the values of community newspapers in serving local democracy in today’s new media environment and explore opportunities.” The studies were conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2008, with the sample population growing more rural each year. The first study concentrated on areas with a population around 100,000, then under 50,000 people in 2007, and finally, the 2008 study only surveyed readers of newspapers with a circulation of less than 25,000. Fortunately for our local journalists, results were strongly in favor of community newspapers.

Statistics from the study showed that in 2005, about 82% of people read a local newspaper at least once a week. Now, in 2008, that proportion is up to 86%. The average time spent reading the newspaper also increased, by about seven minutes in the past three years. Even when compared to other news mediums, community newspapers fared surprisingly well. Newspapers have a two-to-one margin over television as the preferred source for local news, followed by friends and relatives, the radio, and lastly, the Internet.

This startling disuse of the Internet as a local news medium shocked many of the journalists on the forum panel. But in fact, 59% of the population surveyed in 2008 claimed they never use the Internet to check local news. The qualitative studies were also interestingly in the favor of newspapers: While 96% of readers rate the coverage of news in their local newspapers as fair to excellent, only 79% of readers are as pleased with the online news coverage. This trend is continued in other aspects of journalism, such as the accuracy, quality of writing, and fairness of reporting in both mediums. In each category, newspapers beat out Internet sources by about ten percent. Steffens points out, “You might get news online [but] the accuracy and coverage is valued in local newspaper.”

Aside from local news, community newspapers also prove to be an effective method of advertising. Local papers are the primary source for grocery shopping information by a two-to-one margin over in-store advertising. This overwhelming preference for newspapers as a source of shopping information is continued in products such as building, home improvement, home furniture, and major appliances. The only shopping category which is threatened by the Internet is building and home improvement products, but even then the web is 15% behind newspapers.

The main points driven across by the study in the end is that newspapers have not lost their role in our American communities. They continue to be an effective and leading way to advertise and sell products and services, and also the primary source for sports results, local news, and obituaries. The study did find that newspaper readership was strongly correlated to age (older people read more), income (those with higher incomes read more), and gender (females read more).

At the conclusion of the detailed presentation, the panel was invited to the front to answer questions. The all-star cast included:

  • Michael Abernathy, Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc. Abernathy oversees more than fifty newspapers in community markets, headquartered in Shelbyville, KY.
  • Wally Lage, COO of Rust Communications. Lage is a Mizzou alumni and will be inducted to the Missouri Press Hall of Fame on Friday night.
  • Dave Berry, Community Publishers, Inc. Berry’s papers are circulated in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. He runs operations in Springfield and is a member of the NAA Board of Directors.
  • Ralph Gage, The World Company and WorldWest LLC. Gage runs the special projects division.
  • Steve Haynes, The Oberlin Herald and Nor’West Newspapers. Haynes is also the President of NNA and publishes half a dozen papers in northwest Kansas.
Reflecting on the accuracy of Fleming’s presentation, the panel agreed that the study was a fair statistical analysis of community newspapers in America. Abernathy stated, “Research that [I have seen] seemed to match the belief that we have in the strength of community newspapers.” Haynes also added that the figures “pretty much reflect we we see [in Nor’West Newspapers].” Berry concurred with the other panelists, but comically added, “I believe the data that’s in this report, it’s pretty revealing, but I think we need to be careful not to put too much lipstick on the pig.”

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Journalism of Humanity

Posted by Maggie Niemiec on September 11, 2008

As an aspiring newspaper/magazine journalism (I can’t decide which one- I just know that I want to write), I was looking forward to hearing from Steve Weinberg.  After getting his start in the newspaper business, Weinberg moved on to longer feature writing at magazines.   In addition, he served as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., for seven years.  Since graduating from Mizzou, Weinberg has written numerous books.  I could not wait to hear Weinberg speak about his impressive background and time spent as an investigative reporter.

The session actually focused on Weinberg’s in depth knowledge of the j-school.  He took questions regarding his book,  A Journalism of Humanity: A Candid History of the World’s First Journalism School. I have not read this work, so I was afraid the session would be over my head.  Yet every factor Weinberg discussed related directly to me.

Weinberg stated that writing this “institutional history” was both frustrating and satisfying.  He was granted complete editorial independence, but knew there was no way to fit all 100 amazing years of the School of Journalism into a mere 300 pages. As a Mizzou graduate, he recognized that it would be difficult to keep any personal bias out of the book.  Rather than relying extensively on the “Mizzou mafia” to gather his knowledge, Weinberg rummaged through dusty archives.  His result brought dozens of alum, many of whom were brimming with questions, to the program today.

What stuck out to me at this session was the enthusiasm each audience member expressed for the School of Journalism.  One man, a journalism professor at Brigham Young University, spoke about how journalism is the “crown jewel” and “bigfoot” here at Mizzou.  At his school, this is simply not the case.  His comments made me realize how lucky I am to attend the world’s first and best school of journalism.  The Centennial celebration has inspired me so much, and I cannot wait to carry on our school’s history.   I learned today how Walter Williams had a decisive vision for this school.  His “boundless enthusiasm” never once wavered; it is because of his efforts that I am even writing this blog.  Weinberg said he was surprised at how well Walter Williams’s plan has held up.  After hearing the brief history on our school, I am more convinced than ever that we can all accomplish whatever we set our minds to.

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Institutional Rumblings and Modernization

Posted by Tina Casagrand on September 10, 2008

by Kristina Casagrand and Chad Hesson

When Chad Hesson and I met before the event at 1:15, in our dress shirts and jeans, YouTube pins tacked to our messenger bags, we struck an appropriate image of freshmen trying to act experienced.  We arrived early, we looked sharp, but we sat at the back of the room, not daring to take a place at the fancy tables with the alumni. We’re the bloggers.  They’re the professionals.

The question of professionalism permeated the Institutional Rumblings and Modernization roundtable.  A board of distinguished MU grads and professors, who were obviously bribed into writing a book, discussed their contributions to Journalism—1908: Birth of a Profession.

Bill Taft, an ornery elderly man of the distinguished age of 93, composed a chapter of the book detailing the history of newspapers up to 1908. He adequately described them as country newspapers and rural publications, simply because those were the communities before that time. The outlook towards journalism must have been along the lines of  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but surely a more archaic phrase.  He claimed that on the edges of the 20th century, the idea was to simply change the demographics and not the wording.

Next we heard about Stephen Banning’s research (part of which he attributed to resources in Taft’s basement) on the influence of press associations in 1908.  In particular, the Missouri Press Association formed in 1867 to bring about unity in the field.  At the time, there were too many puff pieces, too many untrained editors.  And journalism, noted Banning, is “too noble of a calling to be left untrained.”

Lee Wilkins then “teased out the philosophical roots” of founding the journalism school, noting that journalists should be loyal to the public, only to be cancelled out by Fred Blevens’ talk of political and partisan press in 1908.  He described how some newspapers boasted how much control they had over public policy, and how newspapermen were hired to run campaigns, ending his thought with “and Olbermann and Matthews got the axe?”

Advertising in 1908 had yet to blossom into its current artistic force it is now, and Caryl Cooper’s enthusiasm for the subject mirrors the lack of inspiration educators felt for the field at the time.

During the question-and-answer session an alumnus argued that journalism is not a profession, saying it’s “not the same thing as what you have institutionalized in medicine and law.”  Betty Winfield countered, citing Walter Williams’ creed as proof of the profession.

Yet with technology and blogs rising as a form of communication it’s becoming harder to define journalism and professionalism.  One of the panel speakers pointed out that in the 1700’s, newspapers carried more analytic and critical essay writing.  Journalists have been working with the information collection model that has served us very well for 100 years, he said, and now we have a chance to examine that model.  He also added:

“We are people of moral worth beyond the money that we earn.  We count in a way that’s rooted in ethics and morals.  We need to recover OUR part of that conversation.”

Do bloggers reflect the new model, a return to the critical/analytic side of the pendulum?  We may not be professionals (yet), but as bloggers, we’re definitely the future.

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What Good Is Journalism

Posted by Jen Lee Reeves on September 8, 2008

KOMU is broadcasting a series analyzing what makes good journalism. The title comes from George Kennedy and Daryl Moen’s book with the same title. The first segment looked at Walter William’s Creed and the role it has played in journaism for 100 years.

Visit this link to see the story. I was really impressed to hear what some of the students had to say about our role as journalists in society.

The Columbia Missourian put together a fantastic guide to this week’s events for the centennial. Click here to see the guide and all of its offerings (I also included a link to it on the right hand side of this website).

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