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Vargas update

vargas posterIf you were on campus last March, I hope you got to attend the West Coast debut of “Documented,” a film about US immigration by Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who is also an undocumented immigrant.

Vargas was awarded the School’s 2014 Hearst Foundation Award that night, and spoke to a large crowd of students, faculty and community members after the screening.

His film was broadcast nationally on CNN in June.

Now, Vargas is continuing his focus on immigration in a new venue: He is partnering with the Los Angeles Times to create a new section of the Times website devoted to race, immigration and multiculturalism. The Vargas/LA Times partnership will be called #EmergingUS.

In a recent article on CNN Money, Vargas described the new venture as “a multimedia platform that, through articles, original videos, shareable data and graphics, will focus on the intersection of race, immigration and identity and the complexities of multiculturalism.” In addition to the website, #EmergingUS will also produce videos and hold events.

Because LA Times logoVargas is not a U.S. Citizen, the LA Times could not legally hire him. So, said Austin Beutner, the publisher and CEO of the Times, the media company decided to develop a business partnership with him instead.


Ethical extra credit

Yes, doing the right thing can earn you extra credit. Just attend the sixth annual Spuler Ethics Symposium on diversity in the media, write a 350- to 500-word news story, news release or reflective essay about it, and post it on your blog … and earn up to 15 points extra credit.

Spuler Ethics SymposiumThe focus of this year’s symposium couldn’t be more timely: Diversity in the media, including how issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious cultures and disabilities are portrayed and conveyed in advertising, journalism and public relations.

The guest panel includes: SJSU graduate Janelle Wang, TV news anchor, NBC Bay Area Channel 11; JMC Lecturer Lloyd La Cuesta, former South Bay bureau chief, KTVU Channel 2; Dona Nichols, JMC “Diversity in Media” lecturer; and Dr. Vernon Andrews, SJSU kinesiology lecturer. The panel is moderated by JMC Prof. Matt Cabot.

The Spuler Ethics Symposium, which is sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, will be held 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in Engineering Hall 189.

The Spuler Symposium is named for Phil and Dean Spuler, who met at San Jose State in the late 1940s as staff members of the Spartan Daily newspaper. Both the Spulers had successful careers as journalists. The Spuler estate created an endowed fund for media ethics in 2008 to help students who are passionate about journalism achieve their goals.

CCMA highlights

14095_110434648992550_4289460_nYou may already have heard that some of your classmates who toil away at the Spartan Daily were recently honored for their work at the California College Media Association’s annual awards banquet in San Diego.

Spartan Daily staffers received nine CCMA awards, including:

  • Stephanie Wong and Christiana Cobb shared the first place award for Best Special Section for putting together the Daily‘s food issue
  • Raphael Kluzniok took two awards — first place for Best Sports Photo and third place for Best News Photo
  • Codi Mills won two awards — a second place for Best Photo Series and third place for Best Sports Photo
  • Carolyn Seng took second place for Best Features Photo
  • Leeta-Rose Ballester was honored for her story on a family of farm workers

Keynote CCMA speaker was Margaret Sullivan of the New York Times. She recently posted a column, “Lodestars in a murky media world,” based on her CCMA presentation and some of the discussions she had with those in attendance. In it, she talks about the changing media landscape and what it means for recent grads and current journalism majors. She also highlights the journalistic values she thinks will remain important for the next generation of journalists. Check it out.


vargas posterJose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker, has chosen San Jose State as the venue for the West Coast debut of his new documentary, Documented.

The film, which focuses on Vargas’ life as an undocumented person and puts a personal face on the immigration issue, will be shown at 6 p.m., Monday, March 10, in Morris Daley Auditorium.

Following the screening, JMC Director Bob Rucker will present Vargas with the 2014 William Randolph Hearst Award.

Rucker and SJSU Journalism Professor and Bay Area TV news legend Lloyd La Cuesta will also lead an audience discussion about the film, inviting people to share their own immigration stories. Bay Area community groups involved with immigration have been invited to join the campus community and share their personal experiences.

Vargas will also spent the day on campus visiting JMC classes and talking with JMC students and faculty.

A former reporter for the Washington Post, Vargas is the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to change the conversation on immigration reform here in America.

Researching digital media

Can a Facebook post be more memorable than a professional news report? What makes a FB post memorable? The content, the social connections … or a combination of both?

That’s just one of the research studies highlighted in the blog post “What’s new in digital scholarship?” on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog.

Other recent research summarized in this blog post includes studies on:

  • Online news consumption
  • Digital media and U.S. political participation
  • The role of citizen journalists in reporting on the “Arab Spring” protests
  • Communication about inequality and health disparities in the mass media
  • How to produce more user-friendly front pages for online newspapers

The Nieman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, is focused on the future of journalism in the Internet era. The Nieman Foundation is also home to the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism and the Nieman Watchdog Journalism Project, which encourages reporters and editors to monitor and hold accountable those who exert power in all aspects of public life.

Feeling entrepreneurial?

Then check out Catalog Spree and SVIC.

Catalog Spree: Joaquin Ruiz, CEO of Catalog Spree, will discuss “how to become an entrepreneur, and have fun doing it” this Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. in Washington Square Hall, Room 207.

Catalog Spree is the leading iPad and HTML5 catalog shopping experience. The company’s mission? Nothing less than “…defining the future of mobile shopping.”

Ruiz’s presentation is part of a fall lecture series put together by JMC graduate students in the new fall class, MCOM 215 – New Media Visionaries. The lecture series is dedicated to innovation, entrepreneurship, and how to bring an interactive product to market.

Kim Komenich, assistant professor – new media, who leads the class, notes that Ruiz’s LinkedIn profile says it all: “We’re Hiring!” (web developers and programmers, that is).

Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge: Consider taking part in the 2012 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, an event that gives you an opportunity to showcase your innovative business idea … and get valuable feedback from faculty, business professionals, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The SVIC is open to all students, faculty and staff at SJSU.

The last day to submit your business idea is Friday, Nov. 16. The top business ideas will be showcased in the Barrett Ballroom on Dec. 6 from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

To sign up for the SVIC, please click here. (You can also sign up here to join the SVIC community so you can view and comment on the proposed business ideas.) For additional information or questions please contact Bobbi Makani-Lim with the SJSU College of Business at

In “Make-or-Break Verbs,” an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Constance Hale, a San Francisco-based journalist, illustrates the difference between active verbs and passive verbs. She also delineates several other categories of verbs, including “wimp” verbs, existential verbs, power verbs and sensing verbs.

NYT graphicFor example, Hale notes, “Sportscasters and announcers must be masters of dynamic verbs, because they endlessly describe the same thing while trying to keep their readers and listeners riveted.

“We’re not just talking about a player who singles, doubles or homers,” she continues. “We’re talking about, as announcers described during the 2010 World Series, a batter who ‘spoils the pitch’ (hits a foul ball), a first baseman who ‘digs it out of the dirt’ (catches a bad throw) and a pitcher who ‘scatters three singles through six innings’ (keeps the hits to a minimum).

Good stuff, that. And, seriously, don’t you want to know what a “wimp verb” is?

Working ahead

I’ve been asked whether it’s OK to start working ahead — to set up your blog and get a jump on completing some blog posts. I’m going to give a qualified “yes” to that.

If you’d like to set up your blog, go ahead. Just remember that blogs are public, and give some thought to how completely you want to identify yourself. You might want to use only your first name, for example (this goes for your blog’s title, as well as for your initial “All About Me” blog post”).

One blog set-up tip: Your blog’s title/header and web address do not have to be the same. You can always go back and change your blog’s title, but you can’t go back and change the web address.

In regard to working ahead on your blog posts, here are my “qualifiers”: If you’d like to do your “Word of the Week” blog posts in batches and get them done early, go ahead. If you’d like to get the first two blog posts (“All About Me” and “My Favorite Writing”) done now, feel free. You can probably do Blog #3 ahead of time too, if you’d like.

However, I suggest you hold off on the later blog posts. For example, for Blog #4 – “What Makes It News,” it would probably be helpful to hear my short lecture on news values before you complete this blog post. The same holds true for most of the later blog posts.

Hope this helps.

Some good advice

In a recent blog post, JMC alum Ryan Sholin offers some good advice for J-school students. His basic concept — become an expert at one thing digital and at one thing analog — also makes sense for students majoring in public relations and advertising.

Sholin, who is now director of news innovation at Publish2, a collaborative journalism web site, graduated from JMC’s master’s program last spring. His thesis project was a journalism site called ReportingOn, which was funded by the Knight News Challenge. (Disclosure: I was one of Sholin’s thesis advisors.)

See a broadcast, earn extra credit

KTEH (Public Television 54) is broadcasting a town hall meeting on the mortgage crisis at 6 p.m. this Sunday, Aug. 30 … and JMC students are invited to join the studio audience.

Facing the Mortgage Crisis,” a live program, will feature a panel of local mortgage and foreclosure experts answering questions about coping with the mortgage crisis.

By taking part in this broadcast, you’ll have the opportunity to see how a five-camera shoot is handled. Broadcast Prof. Diane Guerrazzi adds that the KTEH station manager will give students a tour of the control room after the broadcast.

To reserve a spot in the studio audience, please email KTEH ( Include your name, telephone number, email address, and number of tickets you would like. If you have a question for the expert panel, please include it.

When: 5:45 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30
Where: KTEH, Channel 54, 1585 Schallenberger Road, San Jose

P.S. If you write a blog post about this experience, you can also earn 10 points extra credit for 100W.

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