Category Archives: CUNY

Welcome to the Video Revolution

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call now. operators are standing by…

The Travel Channel Academy is a great course, but its also expensive.

$2000 is a lot to commit for a novice, (not that we don’t have our share of novices in the course).

But what we do have is a lot of folks who would like to get a sense of what this ‘video revolution’ is all about without having to spend four days in intensive bootcamp-like training.

So we’re going to do just that.

In partnership with the City University Graduate School of Journalism, Jeff Jarvis and I are going to offer a 1-day course on the basics of the video revolution.

Learn and see what it’s all about.

First class:

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
219 W. 40th St., New York, NY
Cost: $195 (10% discount for CUNY J-School alumni)

Good Enough

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Mrs. Rosenblum addresses the class at CUNY.

Sunday was a crummy day in New York, so we stayed home.

I spent most of the day trying to work on my book, but its hard to maintain focus and my mind drifted.  As the aphorism goes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.

Having hit the 100 mark and maxed out at 108 on Freecell, I drifted over the Medialine.

My wife always tells me to stop wasting my time on places like Medialine.  “It’s pointless”.  She is probably right.

Against her good advice, I found myself drawn into an online discussion about the TV business which soon hinged on the definition of ‘good enough’.  As in, I think that the product produced by the small cameras is good enough for local news.

I won’t repeat the long and twisting line of discussion. You can read that for yourself if you are so inclined.

Today we are starting a course we are teaching at CUNY, the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.  It comes at a propitious time with respect to the discussion of what is ‘good enough’.

A few years ago, when I was teaching at NYU, one of my students came to me, extremely upset that she had received on an A- on an exam.

She could not understand why. Why didn’t I give her an A. She had answered the essay question perfectly. She had, in fact, fed back to me all the readings and all the notes from the class lecture. It was fine.  I

How come I didn’t get an A? she asked.

This was a student under enormous pressure from home to get all As all the time.

I explained that while her essay wise fine, it was good enough, it also didn’t show any flashes of creative brilliance. It was workmanlike and fine. Good, but not brilliant.  Adequate.

This, she like the folks at Medialine, found enormously upsetting.

We live in a world where, as Garrison Keilor says of Lake Woebegone, all the children are above average.

Most people are not.  Most products are not.  They are adequate for what they are supposed to do, and we can’t ask for more. In fact, we expect good enough.

When I fly Virgin to London, I am content that the plane is on time, the plane is clean and the meals are good and the entertainment system works.  Good enough. I don’t expect the plane to arrive in 3 hours instead of 6.  I am more than content to have it perform as it is supposed to.  If only Time/Warner were so good enough!

In any event, after much heated debate with the student at NYU (much like the contributors at Medialine.com), I said to her:

OK. If you think that this is the very best thing you will ever write… if you really believe that you are incapable of ever doing anything that will ever surpass this, and you are willing to put that in writing for me  that ‘this is the best work I will ever do’, then I will give you an A”

She paused and stared at me: “OK she said. You win.”

Today our students from CUNY are going out on the streets of New York to shoot their first pieces.

I should be so lucky that all of them come back with something that is good enough.

Jury Duty You Can’t Avoid

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School was never like this…..

Yesterday, I was on Jury Duty.

Jury Duty at CUNY.

That’s City University of New York’s graduate school of journalism.

The school is fortunate enough to have Prof. Jeff Jarvis teaching a course there in what he calls ‘entrepreneurial journalism’.

When I went to journalism school, (Columbia ’83), the class was filled with starry-eyed idealists riding the wave of Woodruff/Bernstein, and planning on bringing down the government. (One of my classmates, Ron Suskind comes close).   These students are riding a very different kind of wave. They are hard-headed realists, children of the web, with one eye on the journalism but another on the real business – a very different animal.

We used to say that there was a wall between the journalism and the business side, but the web has effectively taken that wall down. Now, in an era when anyone can put pretty much anything online, the journalist need no longer feed off the crumbs of the business side and MBAs and wear sweaters with holes in them.  The new journalist can do both, and Jarvis and CUNY are, I think, rather unique and forward thinking  in combining the two disciplines.

So yesterday, Jarvis’ class was called upon to present their concepts (complete with power point and other audio/visual aids) to both the class and a group of select jurors from the industry. (Have you ever seen the BBC series Dragon’s Den?)

Now, this was more than just some classroom exercise, (which was what we did at Columbia, and all we got was an MS degree). Here, the jury also had a remarkable $50,000 in seed money to get the lucky student(s) idea started – for real.  The money came from The McCormick Foundation.

Kudos, Jarvis and CUNY.

I can’t think of any journalism school anywhere in the world that does anything like this.

In any event, after a day of presentations and some very hard questions from the jury (which included a major newspaper editor, a few VCs, a lot of folks who started and ran their own web/journalism companies), the jury was sequestered.

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We debated and eliminated, and in the end, awarded an astonishing (to my mind) $30,000 to one student who proposed an online physics website, $10,000 to another who proposed a website devoted to the Ugandan expat community (which apparently sends home to Uganda $1 billion a year – so there’s a market there), and another grant to a young woman from Nigeria who envisions starting an underground radio network using cellphones in Nigeria.  All very interesting ideas from journalism students.

Some real thinking out of the box.

bravo.

Briefly….

Jeff Jarvis gave us each 5 minutes to explain our businesses.

5 minutes??!!

OK.

Talk fast….

My Day With Jeff Jarvis…

…and a lot of other people…

I am sure we can find some way to work together….

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with Jeff Jarvis and about 200 of his closest friends.

It was the second annual New Business Models for News Summit at CUNY. A gathering of some of the biggest names in the business, we spent the day hearing some very interesting ideas about where journalism and the digital revolution are heading.

You can see the videos at the link above, and I have to hand it to Jarvis and CUNY for transcending the usual pap that you get at these things.

First, Jarvis has just finished his new book, What Would Google Do?, (which he pimpled mercilessly, but why not?) I have already ordered my advance copy! The point of the book, and of the conference, was forward looking, (as opposed to the sturm und drang ‘the world is coming to an end’ speeches I normally hear (and give). This one was about solutions.

As a result, the cast of characters was new. (at least to me).

Among the standouts:

-Ed Roussel, Digital Director of The Telegraph (UK) who gave a stellar presentation on what the Telegraph is doing and why.

-Charlie Sennott – Former foreign correspondent for The Globe (Boston) who is striking out on his own to recover foreign journalism from a newspaper world that no longer cares.

-Tom Evslin – founder of ITXC, who is not a journalist but an engineer who developed, among other things, VoIP and apparently disconnected ATT from charging per minute rates for web use (remember that?). It was fascinating to get an engineer’s perspective on how to build networks and why they work or fail.

We spent the afternoon in Aspen-like groups, grappling with an assignment. I was in the “new structures for newsrooms” which was chaired by Andrew Heyward, former President of CBS News. He was remarkably insightful and plugged into the new media revolution. Sorry he is not running CBS now. It would help.

I hope we can get a few of these folks to make the trip to Brussels for DNA2009. March 4-5, Brussels, Belgium. sign up now (shameless self-promotion).

Back to School

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Following the winter break, Lisa and I start our new class at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

Our curriculum is a bit ‘unorthodox’, but we think we’re giving them a good head start for a much more competitive world.

So far, at least, the course seems to be popular.

(We’ll see after exams).

The Ministry of Truth

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“and that’s the way it is…”

Yesterday and today we have been teaching a VJ course at CUNY’s new Graduate School of Journalism. Continue reading