Venturing Back to the Valley of the Sun

Besides attending the Scripps-Howard Entrepreneurial Journalism Institute at Arizona State University, I have five goals in mind for a weeklong trip to the Valley of the Sun, my fourth opportunity to spend time in Phoenix, Arizona’s state capital.

Today marks the first in a series of posts on a trip to the Southwestern United States, to one of the few areas of the country where they don’t observe Daylight-Saving Time.

phoenixfilingsI’m talking about Arizona, which sometimes has the same time as California in the summer and is one hour ahead of California this time of year.

I’ll be spending at least part of six days in this state, the longest ever, an exciting thing, especially for one whose hometown is Richmond, Va.

It will be my fourth trip to the region.

dbackspixPast Arizona Trips Provide Context

It’s been a full 12 years since I attended my first professional baseball game in the Southwest, an Arizona Diamondbacks game, while on a trip to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Convention in August 2000.

Since it was August, I had to adjust to the dry heat with temperatures in the triple digits. I did do an off-site to the Grand Canyon and will never forget that experience.   That area of Arizona where it snows- Flagstaff– I can say I’ve been there.

Then, in 2009,   I returned to this great city for a quick 2-day visit to conduct a podcasting workshop session at the Journalism Education Association (JEA) Spring Convention, a high school journalism gathering with more 3,000 students.

cameronarizonaThat was the first time I toured the palatial new downtown campus for the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.   That’s where we’ll be meeting this week.

Two years ago in October 2010,  I was pleased to journey even further south in this state to Tucson.   Even though I was presenting a project at the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) Annual Convention,  one big goal of this trip was to learn more about Arizona’s Immigration reform efforts.

Of course, Tucson was cast in the national spotlight just a couple months after my visit with the tragic shooting that nearly claimed the life of Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

So, I’ve seen Arizona in the summer,  spring and fall.   This week, it will be my first time to see what this arid climate really has to offer in the winter.

FIVE Things on My “To Do” List This Week

It’s important to note that this isn’t a vacation.  I’ll be spending time this week focusing on entrepreneurial journalism as a Fellow in the Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute.     I’m one of the  journalism faculty selected for this program.

We’ll talk more about the Institute in another post tomorrow.

So, of course, the top two items on my “to do” list are related to the Institute.

1.  Interview Mark Briggsbriggsedited
I don’t think Mark Briggs, author of the book Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive,   JournalismNEXT  and now Entrepreneurial Journalism, has a bigger fan than George Daniels.

I’ve used ALL THREE of his books in my classes and one of my students claims to have had a Twitter exchange with him last year.  At least, he was nice enough to respond to some tweets about Entrepreneurial Journalism as we used it for the first time in a spring class.

Briggs is not only a ROCK STAR in the digital media arena, but also he works in my end of the business- TV news.    At last check, he was part of the staff at KING-TV in Seattle.

I’ve participated in his Poynter Webinars.  He’s even spoken at the Society of Professional Journalists National Conventions twice.  But, I’ve missed him both times because I was tied up with SPJ national committee or board duties.      This week, we’ll get to hear from Briggs in a small group and I can’t wait.

2. Get An Autograph from Dan Gillmor

Equally as famous as journalism mover and shaker is Dan Gillmor, who has written a lot about citizen journalism.   He would understand why I would spend so much time here blogging instead of working on an article for a mainstream news outlet.

It’s been more than five years ago since I used We the Media in a graduate-level management course.   It’s part of the portable library that I’m transporting to Phoenix is hopes of an autograph.

3. See the Real Arizona State Campus and Statehouse

Even though the journalism building is part of Arizona State’s growing downtown presence, I’m told most of the campus is in Tempe, Arizona.

The last time I was here, I road the light rail to the opposite end and never saw Tempe.   I want to make time to at least SEE Tempe before the end of the week.

arizonastatehouseAlso, if time permits, I’m a big fan of visiting statehouses.   With a population of 1. 5 million, Phoenix is known as the most populous state capital in the United States.  So, it would mean a lot to step foot in the building  at the center of state government.

4. See the Inside of The Arizona Republic– KPNX-TV

As both a Gannetteer and a multimedia/multi-platform journalism instructor, I have to see the Gannett properties that are often cited as examples of what convergence should look like.
In January 2011, KPNX-TV, which produced reporters who worked with me at sister station WXIA-TV in Atlanta, moved in with its sibling from the Gannett newspaper division,  The Arizona Republic, one of the nation’s largest newspapers.

At the very least, a stop by the building on Van Buren to walk inside the lobby will give me an opportunity to say I’ve been to one of the most cutting-edge HD TV facilities in the Western U.S.

5. Find out WHY People Arizona Don’t Like Daylight-Saving Time

Every year I confuse my journalism and public relation students with a brain teaser question or two that involves figuring the local time when traveling across multiple time zones.

The Time Zone map is included in the A.P. Stylebook.  But, if you’ve never ventured outside of the state of Alabama or only know the difference between Eastern and Central Time, it’s a little unsettling to come to place where the whole “Spring ahead,  fall back” thing means nothing.

What’s it like for residents?  And, what’s so wrong with saving daylight for evening activities?     I want to know why Mountain Standard Time always rules in this state and how people live with it.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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