Friday, October 15, 2010

Intercollegiate Online News Network conference set for January

The Intercollegiate Online News Network (ICONN) will hold its third annual conference on Jan. 13-14, 2011, in Athens, Ga.

Mark Johnson, journalism professor at the University of Georgia and faculty adviser to the GradyJournal, is the conference chair.

ICONN is an association of campus news websites that was formed at the University of Tennessee in 2008. Academic programs, campus news websites, professional organizations and individuals are welcome to join ICONN at no cost. If you are wanting to start a news website for your course or program, ICONN can help you do that with its JeffersonNet content management system.

More information can be found at the ICONN website.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Seven steps to the audio slideshow

Getting prepared for the upcoming semester, I took a shot at codifying the procedures for creating an audio slideshow. If any journalism instructors out there want to use this, they're welcome to it (credit

Seven steps to the audio slideshow

JEM 200 and 230 students (and beyond)

An audio slideshow is a journalistic form that combines sound and still pictures to tell a story.


-- what’s the slideshow about; what story is being told


  • two to three minutes (or as long as necessary)
  • time the script (remember: 10-15 pictures per minute


  • Rule No. 1: Take lots of pictures
  • Long-range, midrange, close-ups
  • Control the background, fill the frame, wait for moments
  • Rule of thirds
  • Last rule: Take lots of pictures


(and shoot more photos)

5. Record and edit the audio (Audacity)

  • narrator
  • interviews
  • ambient sound
  • music and sound effects


  • software: Picasa, iMovie, Soundslides, Animoto
  • create title, credit and date slides


  • convert to video file
  • upload (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
  • breathe a sigh of relief
  • tell your friends

Monday, March 29, 2010

Photo story day - JEM 200's in-class lecture assignment

Lecture assignment, March 25, 2010

Students in the JEM 200 course at the University of Tennessee were assigned to do a photo story of the lecture itself last week. Here's a short video of how the class went. Below are some of the instructions students received about the assignment.


You will be asked to begin an in-class photo assignment in lecture this week. To prepare, do the following.

  • Acquire a camera and get familiar with the kind of pictures it can take -- particularly pictures indoors with reasonably good light.
  • Establish an account with some picture hosting service. Recommended is Picasaweb, Google's service.
  • Upload some pictures to your account so that you can get familiar with the process.
  • Review JPROF's series on photojournalism, especially the part about writing cutlines.

You will be asked to take enough pictures to select 10 to 15 good ones (which means you should be taking 50 to 100 pictures, at least) and load them into an album on your hosting service. (Picasaweb is good for this because it lets you create new albums at will. Then, it can automatically make an embeddable slide show from that album.)

You will need to write cutlines for all of the pictures that go into your album, so part of your assignment will be getting cutline information. We'll talk more about that during lecture.

Your photos should include examples of long range, medium range and close-up pictures. You should have more close-up pictures than anything else.

This is a graded assignment, so do some thinking about it before you come to class. Some of the best advice you can follow are these guidelines for the student photojournalist.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Crowdsourcing the Civil War

In the video below, George Rable, University of Alabama history professor, discusses the sources of information that newspaper editors during the Civil War used for their reports about battles and the war in general.

One important source was letters from soldiers -- a form of what we could call today crowdsourcing. This means using the accounts of participants at an event to construct an account of that event.

Crowdsourcing the Civil War from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kiffen pre-presser video - last century's journalism

The YouTube video above shows the eight minutes of controversy surrounding Bud Ford, the news reporters, and Lane Kiffen's lack of cooperation with reporters in dispensing information about his resignation as Tennessee's football coach last week.

The video has been racing around the web (more than 175,000 views as of this morning), and lots of folks are getting exorcised about it. The comments I've seen about it tend toward the anti-Kiffen flavor (he's some kind of coward not the face the media); and some are anti-reporters (they should have stood behind Bill Shorey's insistence that Kiffen go on camera).

By my general impression is this:

It was all absolutely unnecessary.

It is, at best, a demonstration of last century's journalistic process.

The first question that springs to mind is: Why were the reporters there at all?

If Kiffen didn't want to talk on camera and if he wasn't going to answer questions, why waste time showing up? If all Kiffen was going to do is make a statement, he could have done that in front of a camera and put it on YouTube. Then everybody could have viewed it, the message would have gotten out, the reporters could have noted it and gotten on with the business of reporting the story.

Instead, they all gathered in a room and waited -- WAITED -- for Lane Kiffen to show up, knowing he wouldn't be answering questions.

Why did they do that?

Because they've always done it that way.

Thursday, December 31, 2009 celebrates 5th anniversary

JPROF celebrates its fifth anniversary today.

In the past five years the site has grown in size (more than 400), expanded in purpose and reached around the globe to people I never would have touched or heard from.

JPROF was originally conceived (in my small study in Emory, VA, where we were living at the time) as a large, personal filing cabinet for material that I had accumulated during more than 25 years of teaching journalism. The amount of material on the web was expanding exponentially (as it still is), and I also wanted a place to store the things I had found that I might be able to use.

And, because I had several textbooks in print at the time, I wanted a web site that would give users more expanded and up-to-date material.

Since that time, JPROF has also become a forum (particularly through the companion blog for my impressions of what is happpening in the world of journalism and a site for all of the courses that I teach.

Because of JPROF, I have taken on some interesting and exciting projects, particularly this year for -- something you will hear a great deal about during 2010.

Much has changed in my life during the last five years. I am now on the faculty of the University of Tennesse, having moved from Emory and Henry College in 2006. I am the faculty adviser for the Tennessee Journalist, the students news web site of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, and through it, we have been able to launch a national organization of campus news web sites, the Intercollegiate Online News Network (ICONN). At UT, we have been able to change our curriculum in an interesting and innovative way, and I have the privilege of being in the midst of those changes.

The field of journalism offers many excellent opportunities for our students, and I am happy to still be a part of it.

Personally, 2009 brought Sally and me a move to the farm where she grew up and a new daughter-in-law. Our video review of the year is now on YouTube.

As ever, I am profoundly grateful for the friends I have made through JPROF and for all of the people who have contacted me over the years because what they have found here.

Now, as is my usual custom on this date and because it is New Year's Eve, I bid you: Party on!

Have a great New Year.

(In case you're interested, you can read what we said about JPROF on each of the previous anniversaries on JPROF's About page.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A new edition of Fowler

Early in my academic writing career, I met Fowler.

I was putting together the first edition of Writing for the Mass Media and was looking for some basic writing references and somehow -- I don't remember how -- came upon Fowler. It was, the parlance of that day, the real thing.

Fowler is an "it," as well as a "he."

He is Henry Fowler. It is A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, or as Jim Holt notes in his essay in the New York Times, "among its devotees it is known, reverentially, as 'Fowler.' ”

Holt tells the interesting story of how Fowler became "Fowler." Henry Fowler was a former school teacher and amateur wordsmith who lived on the island of Guernsey with his younger brother Frank. In the first decade of the 20th century, Henry and Frank published a book titled The King's English, which, despite their amateur status, was a great success. They took on the editing of The Concise Oxford Dictionary and then planned a larger book on the language, but World War I occurred. Frank died of tuberculosis, and Henry barely survived a bout of illness, But when he did, he took up the project that he and his brother had envisioned.

As Holt relates in his essay:
The book was published in 1926, to immediate acclaim and brisk sales. Although language, as the truism goes, is an ever changing Heraclitean river, Fowler was not revised until 1965, when Sir Ernest Gowers gave it a light going-over, preserving both the spirit and the substance of the original. (The same cannot be said of the 1996 third edition, heavily reworked by R. W. Burchfield.) Now Oxford University Press has reissued the classic first edition of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage ($29.95), with an acute new introduction by the linguist David Crystal. It is a volume that everyone who aspires to a better command of English should possess and consult — sparingly. (emphasis mine)
Sparingly, as Holt points out in the rest of his essay, is the key.

You can't take Fowler too seriously because, for one, Fowler doesn't take himself too seriously. The language should be whatever is useful and not laden with a lot of half-wit rules (such as never splitting an infinitive).

The dictionary isn't a dictionary of definitions but rather a collection of short essays on the language. Most of them are short, thought-provoking, delightful and informative.

Fowler/'Fowler' has been a good friend for a quarter of a century, and it's good to know that there is another edition for the next generation.