Stillman College Inaugural Festivities Spotlight Service, Path to Eminence

March 15, 2015

While things were winding down elsewhere in Tuscaloosa with Spring Break beginning at the University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College and the local school systems, it’s been just the opposite at Stillman College as the school’s sixth president Dr. Peter Millet was inaugurated Friday.

The weekend of inaugural festivities that included a Gospel concert on Thursday evening, a prayer breakfast on Friday morning and a sold-out masked scholarship ball on Friday evening, gave the historically black institution that serves more than 800 students a chance to be in the spotlight.

Stillman’s Service Imperative

Saturday’s Burrell Odom Day of Service put the Stillman students in the community  in a way that President Millet told The Tuscaloosa News would be at least a once-a-semester event.

As a service learning instructor and community engaged scholar, I was pleased to hear that President Millet wants to make community service an official part of every Stillman student’s experience.

As an undergraduate student at Howard University 25 years ago,  I vividly remember my days of service in Northwest Washington, DC as a member of the Community Action Network.   I also did street ministry through my church, Metropolitan Baptist.  But,   my connection to the larger DC community was an important part of my development.  It also helped me be a better journalist.

Stillman President Peter Millet

Stillman President Peter Millet

Path to Eminence

Often those of us at the University of Alabama or elsewhere in Tuscaloosa hear secondhand what’s going on across town at Stillman College.  Fortunately, Friday, I got a chance to see firsthand some of the festivities formally marking the beginning of The Peter Millet era.

Even though he’s been on campus for more than a year, formally as provost and then as an interim President, this weekend was Dr. Millet’s chance to call the nation’s attention to what he is doing to take this institution established in 1876 to a new dimension in 2015.

He wants Stillman College to “Expeditiously Move from Excellence to Eminence.”

In his inaugural address Friday, Dr. Millet detailed how he would do that with academic excellence, community engagement, health and wellness and simply by “loving one another.”

Indeed, it’s a great day to be a Stillman College student and an occasion for pride if you are one of the thousands of Stillman College alumni.   Those of us in the Tuscaloosa community celebrate with the Tigers on the West side of Tuscaloosa.

Those of us at the University of Alabama stand with you in our common goal of helping our students be successful

Thoughts On Selma From A NAACP Freedom Fighter Re-Educated On the Movement

March 9, 2015
Today's experience in Selma, Ala. will be remembered most because of the tens of thousands who came here to mark the 50th "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

Today’s experience in Selma, Ala. will be remembered most because of the tens of thousands who came here to mark the 50th “Bloody Sunday” anniversary

SELMA, Ala.–  I don’t believe it was a mere coincidence that my NAACP Youth Council Adviser called me on my mobile phone at the moment I was approaching the Edmund Pettus Bridge today.

Mrs. Ora Lomax is still the youth adviser for the NAACP Youth Council in Richmond, Va.  But, she didn’t know I was here in Selma.

My mother didn’t know I was in Selma as a faculty facilitator for more than 200 University of Alabama students traveling to the 50th Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

But, when I called her this evening, she said she saw the live coverage on the national news and asked my father “Where is George?”

Something told her that I probably was somewhere in the vicinity.

Only the good Lord could have orchestrated the chain of events that remind me of my upbringing as a NAACP freedom fighter, who learned about the hows and whys of civil rights marches and direct action as a high school student back in Richmond, Virginia 30 years ago.

The man who was once president of the Richmond NAACP Youth Council today is a life member of the NAACP and still actively seeking to change to world around me wherever it needs to be changed.

New Found Understanding and Context

As I approach my 45th birthday next week,  I am reflective on traveling here to the city that was both a flash point and turning point in Civil Rights Movement.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.36.18 AM Why me, why now? What does it all mean?

Last week, I tweeted that my voting in a Tuscaloosa, Ala.  tax referendum was one of the best ways to honor those who were hurt on “Bloody Sunday.”

Now that I know who Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young black man murdered not far from Selma in Marion, Ala. just before “Bloody Sunday,”  I can say my vote was for him.

If ONLY I had Known Then What I Know Now

Amelia Boynton Robinson in 1965 and recently on her 103rd birthday.  Photo Illustration Courtesy www.teabreakfast.com

Amelia Boynton Robinson in 1965 and recently on her 103rd birthday. Photo Illustration Courtesy http://www.teabreakfast.com

In my years as a working broadcast journalist,  I associated Amelia Boynton Robinson with Lyndon LaRouche and not with what happened here in Dallas County, Ala.

Seeing photos of Ms. Robinson this weekend at 103 as she was wheeled across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday  gave me a whole new view of this significant freedom fighter.  I read recently about her experience and saw her depicted in the Eyes on the Prize “Bridge to Freedom” documentary.

I knew about Alabama State University because it was an historically black college in Montgomery.    Until today, I didn’t know that it was the place that birthed so many civil rights leaders and where Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King stayed after their Montgomery home was bombed.

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, President of Alabama State University

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, President of Alabama State University

Alabama State President Gwendolyn Boyd told the “ASU Story” in her remarks at Brown Chapel AME this morning.

Her speech set the tone for others who followed in a 3-hour service that was played on a jumbotron on Dallas Avenue as thousands gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

I knew the Rev. Jesse Jackson as the 1984 Presidential Candidate/Operation PUSH Leader who’s often over-covered in the media.  Today I saw him lift an offering and quipped about his own fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Inc.

I knew the Rev. Al Sharpton as the very outspoken African American leader who has his own show, PoliticsNation, on MSNBC.    Today I saw him “preach” for the first time at the Brown Chapel AME Church.    He took a Biblical text and developed it well even as he made some strong points about the current state of voting rights in America.

Crowds gathered on Dallas Avenue and watched the Sunday service from Brown Chapel AME as it was shown on closed-circuit television.

Crowds gathered on Dallas Avenue and watched the Sunday service from Brown Chapel AME as it was shown on closed-circuit television.

My journey to learn more civil rights history isn’t over yet.    But, I promise you it will definitely inform my civil rights present.

As a diversity instructor, who also teaches media literacy, there is an inherent social justice component to what we do.  It’s not enough to sensitize students to poverty or injustice if you don’t advocate for them to use whatever tools they have to do something about it.

I believe that comes through in my work as a faculty member at the University of Alabama working to inspire students of from all racial backgrounds, regions of the country and world.    It’s one of the GREATEST privileges I have.

Journalist and Freedom Fighter

You can be a freedom fighter and be a journalist.    You can use the power of the pen to tell important stories.

You can use your skills as a scholar to create knowledge and provide context, sometimes context to spur a reader to take action.

That’s my story.

At 44 years, 11 months and 20+ days,  I have learned at least that much.

What 80,000 People, A Small Alabama Town and A National Story Can Teach Your Students

March 8, 2015
Students from Roy Park School of Communications at Ithaca College arrived several days before the 50th anniversary to produce stories from the Selma community.

Students from Roy Park School of Communications at Ithaca College arrived several days before the 50th anniversary to produce stories from the Selma community.

SELMA, Ala– On multiple levels, the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” presented a gold mine of opportunities for those of us who teach journalism and mass communication.

Hats off to my faculty colleagues at the University of Alabama and elsewhere who spent many months planning reporting projects around this weekend’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee that brought President Obama and the first family along with members of Congress and the national media here to Selma.

I was absolutely thrilled that my former graduate school classmate Dr. James Rada of Ithaca College and his students from the Park School of Communications appeared in the credits of NBC Nightly News last night as they reported on events in Selma for the nation’s most-watched network evening newscast.

Closer to home, University of Alabama journalism students have been reporting for weeks on communities in Dallas County.

The fruit of their labor appeared in a special edition of The Selma Times-Journal

Another team of students working with UA Journalism Professor Chip Brantley and Telecommunication and Film Professor Andrew Grace produced a documentary “A Call from Selma” on how the murder of a white minister in Selma was a catalyst in the Civil Rights Movement.   The Digital Media Workshop course gave journalism students a chance to take their multimedia reporting skills to a whole different level.

While these were all planned, multi-day team projects,  what I saw today involved little planning other than students deciding to get a bus with the intention of learning something in a place they’d never really visited.  A smartphone, a digital camera and maybe a pad (Although many of them didn’t have one of those– scary for me, as a traditional journalist) was all they carried along with them.

I was only planning to be on the bus tour as a faculty facilitator.    Low and behold, I had public relations and journalism students and some journalism and communication minors roaming the streets of downtown Selma taking it all in.

While we had viewed and discussed the PBS documentary, “Bridge to Freedom,” this morning,  I had no idea what they would do when presented with the opportunity to do journalism and be more than a visitor to a festival or large-scale event.

Nothing Like a Live Event

As we started today’s bus trip,  I didn’t realize that the team of UA journalism students live-tweeting for The Tuscaloosa News with the hashtag #TuscSelma50 all weekend were on my bus traveling from our Tuscaloosa campus to Selma.

One of the students, Alessandra Delrose, had been in my multi-platform reporting class.   She was tasked with helping to write a story even as she live-tweeted the events.    I got a chance to see her gathering interviews and photos and video, the very skills we teach in our journalism classes.

No classroom assignment could ever replicate this kinScreen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.59.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.00.08 PMd of event– with crowds swelling to 80,000 and a lot of things changing minute-by-minute.

Taking Photos Vs.  Getting Quotes

In the midst of a throng of Bridge Crossing visitors,  our students were watching a church service from Brown Chapel AME Church that turned into a Pre-March Rally as speaker after speaker talked about the events at the Edmund Pettus Bridge long before Rev. Al Sharpton got up to deliver the morning message.

One white student admitted having never attended a predominantly black church service before and yet realizing the public relations strategies that were being used by some who got up to speak.

And,  yes, as a diversity instructor, I think it’s relevant and appropriate to mention the ethnic backgrounds of the students in this case.

Another Asian student was furiously taking down notes and whispering questions to me about the speakers as the event went on and hundreds gathered on Dallas Avenue behind us.  She was not aware of some of the players from civil rights history in America.

Some students struggled to figure out ‘do I listen and take quotes and take photos or both?’   How do I balance the two?

Ah, the dilemma so many of us have faced in this era of social media, multimedia and traditional journalism rolled into one.

Reginald Allen, a senior journalism major did live tweeting and reporting from the events at the Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday.

Reginald Allen, a senior journalism major, did live tweeting and reporting from the events at the Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday.

Ray Allen, a senior journalism student was working the crowds before and after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge snapping photos and working on multiple news pieces at a time.

This is the same student, who a few months ago would say very little in class.   He would admit today that this was a new experience for him.

But, he rose to the occasion like a champion!    I couldn’t have been more proud.

Allen and Delrose are just two examples of students who gained more experience in doing journalism and mass communication TODAY than they did all semester completing assignments and projects in my class.

They both showed up and showed out in a big way, demonstrating the multi-platform reporting skills that are so important in today’s newsrooms.

But, the events in Selma today and this past week were not just about learning journalism.

The lessons about politics, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and recent Supreme Court rulers that change parts of the Act, poverty and race were endless.

What we’re doing today is offering students a lesson about social justice and that transcends their major, school or college affiliation.    It’s up to us educators to utilize gold opportunities like to be unconventional in the strategies we use to facilitate learning.

Some Lessons I Learned From Selma

So here at FIVE Takeways from Selma for Educators, particularly those who are charged with preparing professionals who want to work in media industries:

  • Lesson #1    Plan, Plan, Plan        While the lessons today happened without much preparation on my part.  Teaching
    moments are often more likely to come when you as a faculty member take weeks or even months to build relationships that can result in great long-term projects.  The New York Times’ mini-documentary was not a spare-of-the-moment “go cover this” decision.
  • Lesson #2    Expect the Unexpected   YES, this is a cliche.  But,  I use it anyway because we as faculty can’t plan
    everything no matter how hard we try.   I didn’t deliberately check the list of students registered for the free bus trip
    funded by University of Alabama to see how many mass media majors were going.    Even if I had,  I couldn’t have orchestrated today lesson.   I have to be ready to look for the teachable moments in the unexpected and the uncertain.
  • Lesson #3   Non-majors Can Learn Media Too      Often we think those who have had our classes, the ones in the sequence that we as faculty have designed deliberately for professional preparation are the one most equipped to learn in a breaking news environment.    But, I was amazed at how many other non-media majors were taking in and picking up today’s event.   And, yes,  I was doing a little “recruiting” for possible minors or second majors among the student group (Never, miss a chance like that)
  • Lesson #4  De-brief, De-brief     I found myself doing a lot of checking in with the students along the way.   It was great to kind of be in that quasi-producer, news manager, media manager role at the scene of a breaking story like the one today.
  • Lesson #5  Be Ready for Questions You Can’t Answer    Today’s 50th anniversary celebration was filled with opportunities to teach history.  I am NOT a historian.  But,  media history inevitably gets integrated into my lessons.  As much I had learned from reading about Selma, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and that era,  there were several questions students asked today that I couldn’t answer.    It’s ok for us Ph.D.s to not be experts in everything, even though journalists like be well-rounded, widely read individuals.

The lessons in the signs and t-shirts worn by attendees were endless.BlackLivesMatterposter

I think this day and this past week Selma became the BEST JOURNALISM and MASS COMMUNICATION Classroom in America!

Reporting on Weekend of Crossing Bridges With Students in Tuscaloosa, Selma

March 8, 2015

Thanks to a carefully-timed national summit for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network and a University of Alabama field trip, I have spent the last 48 hours figuratively and literally crossing bridges with students from near and far.

As a campus partner for Sustained Dialogue, I was pleased to tell how we utilized Sustained Dialogue techniques in our classes and programs around campus.

As a campus partner for Sustained Dialogue, I was pleased to tell how we utilized Sustained Dialogue techniques in our classes and programs around campus.

It all started Friday afternoon as I addressed the more than 100 students from around the country attending the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network Annual Conference, which was hosted at the University of Alabama.

Dialogue on Bridges

What a great way to engage college students who are learning how to foster conversations that lead to inclusive environments on college campuses all around the country.

Summit attendees received these T-Shirts with a very important question.

Summit attendees received these T-Shirts with a very important question.

On Saturday, we wore t-shirts asking  “Are You Crossing Bridges”  as we participated in intensive planning and strategy sessions for introducing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, and ability to students in various models with the goal of enacting change.

The students attending the conference had a chance to screen the 1980s PBS documentary “Bridge to Freedom,” which was part of the Eyes on the Prize series.

Traveling to The Bridge

Then, this morning, we showed the film again, but to more than 200 University of Alabama students who were part of a caravan of buses traveling from Tuscaloosa to Selma for the 50th Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

We heard speeches from those challenging us to “go beyond the bridge” and to “not stop on the bridge” before literally walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the same place where voting rights demonstrators were beaten 50 years ago this weekend.

studentsSELMA

The Staff at University Programs did a fantastic job coordinating a field trip with so many students. Everyone arrived safely and made it back to our buses and home safely. Amazing feat. Way to go UP!

To see my multicultural crowd of University of Alabama students listening to the rally speeches, which were given at historic Brown Chapel AME Church and beamed via closed-circuit television out to the tens of thousands who gathered at the Bridge was something I will never forget.

Nervous as we were about taking 200 students on a field trip to a small town not used to 80,000 visitors, we were relieved that it all worked out.  Thanks be to God, we had perfect weather and wonderful interactions on the bus, during the rally and even on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

This weekend will truly be one of the highlights of my 12 years as a resident in the state of Alabama.

My Reunion With Fox News Channel’s Juan Williams As MLK Weekend Kicks Off At U. of Alabama

January 16, 2015
Juan_williams_2011

Juan Williams

It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since I first met Juan Williams, the legendary author of Eyes on the Prize, the book that accompanied the 14-hour award-winning television series with the same name a quarter century ago.

Tonight I had the opportunity to be his chaffeur as he visited the University of Alabama to give the keynote address at our Realizing the Dream Legacy Awards Banquet.

Williams, formerly of National Public Radio and The Washington Post, now co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five, and fill-in host “The O’Reilly Factor,” spoke to a soldout crowd at the Hotel Capstone .

He used the occasion to share some of the comments from generations of readers of Eyes on the Prize who often are in disbelief about much of what Williams shares in recounting the Civil Rights Movement.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.41 PMA year after the 25th anniversary of the publication of Eyes on the Prize, Williams says people still ask “is that really true?” what he reported happened in the period between 1954 and 1965 “was it really that bad?”

Even as he shared stories from his Eyes on the Prize readers, who he says get “younger and younger” he lamented how many want to analyze what he calls the “complicated story of race in America today” by drawing comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement.

COMPARISONS TO FERGUSON

Months after the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the unrest following a grand jury’s decision not to the indict the police officer responsible,  Williams says with an African American in The White House, an African American United States Attorney General and an African American executive editor of The New York TImes, there is no comparison.

“People want this period now to be just like the Civil Rights Movement,” Williams said.   ” We have a different of problems.”

The 60-year-old Panamanian born political analyst says, instead of drawing those comparisons,  we should take inspiration from those who accomplished much a half-century ago.

“It’s not necessary to say we were back where we were 50 years ago,” he said.

MY REUNION

This afternoon, neither of us could recall The Washington Post story on Former Howard University President Franklyn Jenifer published in September 1992 for which he interviewed me as the editor-in-chief of THE HILLTOP, Howard’s student newspaper.

Malone_Hood_Plaza_University_of_Alabama_Foster_Auditorium_I

Williams visited The Malone Hood Plaza, located at Foster Auditorium where the late Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in The Schoolhouse Door.

The subject of that news story wasn’t important today.

What is significant is that 23 years after he sat in my office at THE HILLTOP in Washington, DC talking to me as I was weeks away from finishing my undergraduate degree in journalism,   I’d be an assistant dean at the University of Alabama and Williams would be giving the keynote address here, the same place that he wrote about as being one of the last institutions to integrate.

It was neat showing him Foster Auditorium where George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and today where the University has recognized the accomplishments of the late Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, the first blacks admitted to the University in 1963.

What a great start to our Martin Luther King weekend!

Remembering One of the Greatest Ministers of Music of All Time — Andrae Crouch

January 9, 2015

Early this morning on the radio,  I heard the chorus to the song “Take Me Back, Take Me Back, Dear Lord.” But, they didn’t come from a Gospel Radio Station or a Christian radio program.

Those words were coming through National Public Radio, which carried a story about the passing Thursday of one of the greatest Christian songwriters of all time: Andrae Crouch.

While those of us who literally grew up listening to Andrae Crouch’s music were saddened, he wouldn’t want us to be sad that he’s passed on from this life.

All we have to do is listen to the words of “Soon and Very Soon” and know that he’s had his head pointed toward heaven for many, many years.   It is the ultimate confidence that we as children of God have.

As Christians, our whole attitude about death and passing from this life on into eternity is different and we know and testify to that just by singing some of Crouch’s songs.

I can vividly remember learning how to play the piano by playing some of Crouch’s music.  Like Crouch, I too played piano (and the organ) in church as a teenager.

There are so many songs from the 1970s and 1980s–“Take Me Back,” ” Through It All,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, ” “My Tribute”– that taught me the power of music to minister to one’s soul.

As a singer, songwriter, choir director,  Crouch set the tone for what it meant to worship through our witnessing about what He means to us.   He showed us how to let the words of our testimony minister to others.

One of his last greatest hits– “Let the Church Say Amen” is a song that like dozens of others resonates with people to the point that they are sung not only in sacred, but also secular environments.

Crouch reached across racial lines with his music, touching those from all walks of life.

Even though he has passed on,  he’s left so much behind for us as music ministers of the Gospel to carry on.   Some have called Andrae Couch the “Father of Modern Gospel Music.”

If that is so,  then we the “children of modern Gospel Music” have to carry on Crouch’s work in our own singing of his songs, sharing the lyrics with those who are unsaved and writing our own songs that God places in our spirit and heart.

We’ll see Minister Crouch again one day  “Soon and Very Soon.”

Let the Church Say “AMEN.”

10 Reasons I AM Thankful Today

November 27, 2014

thanskgivingiamge RICHMOND, Va.–    As we reach the noon hour on this Thanksgiving Day 2014,  time to pause briefly and reflect on the reason our nation breaks with routine to celebrate each year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Millions like me travel back to their hometowns to re-connect with family and join together in giving thanks. There’s no place like your home to remind of who you of how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. I came up with 10 REASONS I am giving thanks today.

How many of them do you share with me?

A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014.   The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond's Jackson Ward community.

A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014. The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond’s Jackson Ward community.

1. I am Thankful for Life and Health

So many people have come and gone since last Thanksgiving.   In today’s Thanksgiving Day Message, Dr. A. Lincoln James, reminded us of the importance of just celebrating being here.   We cannot take for granted life itself and good health.

2. I am Thankful for A Family and A Home

Later this afternoon, I’ll sit down at a Thanksgiving Table with my extended family, some of whom have encountered health challenges over the past year.  But, it’s a joy to be able  to break bread with them another time.  My home of 44 years is intact, something a lot of people cannot say this Thanksgiving Day.

3. I am Thankful for A Great Work Environment and Co-workers

While I’m a long way from it today– Reese Phifer Hall where I work with a fantastic faculty as the assistant dean of administration for the College of Communication and Information Sciences is place of pleasure.  I am thankful to have a job and to be able to work every day with students, faculty and staff who are truly committed to what they do. This past year I’ve worked for both an interim dean and a new dean who challenged me to be better at what I do.  They’ve set a standard of excellence and lead by example.    I look forward to getting back to my co-workers and students next week.   I don’t take for granted this opportunity to love going to work every day at The University of Alabama.

4. I am Thankful for Safe Travels.

So far 2014 has been characterized by a good bit of travel to places near and far.   In spite of lost luggage along the way, I am thankful that I have arrived at each destination safely and mostly, on time (smile). Even in the hustle and bustle of my journeys, I have seen and experienced parts of our nation and world for the first time.  From Western Canada to Western North Carolina or two different regions of Texas and parts of Central Alabama, the travels have expanded my view of the world around me. Whether by car, train or plane, I thank God for safe travels to all of these places. gratefulgraphic

5. I am Thankful for the Opportunity to Make a Difference

I like the fact that in my work, I have the privilege of working with dozens of students every day.  I have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and the lives of those in the community where I serve.   So I am thankful for the chance to see that I can make a difference every day that I’m alive.

6. I am Thankful To Be A Mentor and Be Mentored 

Both in my role as a faculty member and in various community organizations, I am blessed to be able to mentor young men and women even as I look to those who ave more experienced in life and can mentor me.   Both roles- mentor and mentee– are equally important and I’m grateful to be positioned to be and do both.

7. I am Thankful for Four Seasons

Here in Virginia, not too far from here, there was snow yesterday.   Early talk of a White Thanksgiving for Central Virginia went away even as those west of here experienced snowy weather 24 hours ago.  Usually I have to come home to Virginia to see snow, but in 2014, I experienced measurable snow in West Alabama last winter.   For the first time, I have leaves to rake in the backyard of my Tuscaloosa home and we’ve had our share of 90-degree heat.    It’s nice to have the four seasons even in the Deep South.

8. I am Thankful for A Vision to Make An Even Greater Impact on the World Around Me

God has given me a vision to be great at what I do so that I can impact those with whom I come in contact.  That vision has yet to be fully realized.  But, I am thankful that God has picked me to do such great things.

9. I am Thankful for Wisdom of  12 years in West Alabama

While many of my colleagues have shifted and re-adjusted in their work from place to place, now for more than a decade, I’ve been able to call West Alabama home away from home.   There’s something to be said for stability and being settled where you are even as you take in the wisdom of those around you.  I am thankful for job and career that places me in contact with those who have wisdom to share and shape my whole  lived experience. 2014image

10. I am Thankful for 33 More Days to Get It Right in 2014

For all of those things I still need to and want to do this year,  I still have time to make waves, accomplish more great things THIS year.   Even as I write this,  I am setting some 4 1/2 week personal goals for what I believe God will have me do before the New Year begins. Stay tuned!

UA Journalism Student Comments on Immigration Debate While Attending Hispanic Journalists Conference

August 8, 2014
Ellisa Bray, a journalism and international studies major at University of Alabama is interviewed by KENS-TV reporter Jeremy  Baker.

Ellisa Bray, a journalism and international studies major at University of Alabama is interviewed by KENS-TV reporter Jeremy Baker.

SAN ANTONIO– A University of Alabama journalism student is offering some insight on the ongoing immigration debate.

Ellisa Bray, a Houston native, is representing the University at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) meeting here in South Texas this week.

Bray drew on her background as an international studies and journalism double major in providing her perspective on the major issue on the agenda at the NAHJ’s 30th convention.

Here’s a link to the story by KENS-TV Reporter Jeremy Baker:

UA Journalism Student Weighs on Immigration with San Antonio TV Station

San Antonio River Walk OK, but Not All That

August 7, 2014

SAN ANTONIO–  What do the River Walk in San Antonio and Bryant-Denny Stadium on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa have in common?

Drum roll ……

They’re both the top tourist attractions in their respective states.

I was shocked to learn that the River Walk, which I took in Wednesday night at the end of my first day of my first visit to San Antonio, was the number-one tourist attraction in Texas.

Here's what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.

Here’s what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.

Really?

I mean — it’s nice and a great place to get some exercise and step away from the air conditioned convention center or hotel meeting rooms.

But, number-one in a large state like Texas?

I’m not sure this is quite the “destination” that the home of one of the top college football programs in the nation is.

I haven’t walked the entire route yet.   I only experienced part of it.   I haven’t visited The Alamo.    Maybe that’s what will seal the tourist deal for me.

Stay tuned.

 

San Antonio Express-News’ coverage of Becky Hammon Worth Going the Extra Mile To Hold In My Hand

August 7, 2014
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While people could find the text and perhaps a photo with this story online, reading it as it was “packaged” “above the fold” on page A1 of Wednesday’s San Antonio Express-News was part of its appeal.

SAN ANTONIO–  Call me old-fashioned.

But I took special delight in reading San Antonio Express-News‘ Mike Monroe’s front page story Wednesday about WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon being selected as the first female paid assistant coach in the NBA.

The announcement of Hammon’s hiring by the San Antonio Spurs made national news.

The historic nature of her hire makes it a national news story.

Local Makes a Difference

But, the national media coverage (i.e. Andrew Keh’s story buried on page B13 of The New York Times) of it does not compare to the way the story was played in the paper in the hometown of the Spurs.

Along with the front page story  that included more than the expected quotes and statement from yeah management, there was Terrence Thomas’ “reaction piece” featuring Hammon’s female teammates and a perspective offered only by Roy Bragg, who’s been a Texas journalist for more than 30 years.

Those other related stories were in the SPORTS section of the Express-News.

On page A2, the paper promotes “Tomorrow’s front-page stories now available at 10:30 every night, exclusively on ExpressNews.com.

Discovered veteran sports journalism Roy Bragg while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.

I discovered veteran sports journalist Roy Bragg’s work while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.

Why was it important for me to read this piece Tuesday night?  I’m not sure SPEED was the motivation for me to know the story.

The perspective that only this publication provides is reason enough for it to land on my front step the next day.

And, I know the issue is not one of medium, but reader preference.

The business model doesn’t work if people like me are in the shrinking smaller and smaller minority.

But, daily newspapers all over the country are hastening their demise by making their product harder and harder to find.

Go the Extra Mile

The absolute shame is that I had to go to three locations just to find the publication.  At my hotel, I was told the Express-News delivers so few copies that if you don’t come to the gift shop within 1 hour of it opening, the papers are gone.

What’s wrong with this picture?    Is the Circulation Department at The Express-News that afraid that they will have leftover papers, so they don’t deliver many copies so they sell out in an hour?   Why not deliver 3 times as many newspapers?

I know when I’m on a plane or sitting in a restaurant, I’m usually the only one turning the pages of a newspaper while others are tapping away on their smart phones or tablets.

So that explains why this Hearst newspaper, traditionally one of the four largest papers in the state of Texas, is hard to find.

They say All Politics is Local. I enjoy reading about those politics when I visit a town in the local paper, especially when it has a national reputation.

The story in Wednesday’s Express-News about a controversial proposal to increase the storm-water utility fee was interesting to me.   It was “packaged” along with a column by David Hendricks on the BUSINESS page.

I know I’m old-fashioned.

But,  reading the local paper has an appeal that will never be replicated in an e-edition or on Twitter or some other electronic means.

 


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