The End of the Beginning: Our Final Day at Bootcamp

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Joe and Juan in their pimp press hats

While students crammed for the final exam of the summer, Joe and Juan strolled into the last day of Bootcamp with their signature “press” fedoras. Their genuine look of badass radiated through the SOC, reminding us of the good old days of journalism. Today marked the end of the beginning of our masters in journalism!

The scene inside was one of anticipation, excitement, and hunger for the upcoming BBQ at Professor Olmsted’s house later that day. Started to feel bummed about the end of something great, but even more excited about the beginning of the fall semester.

The print students will be taking Online News Production, Seminar in Public Affairs, and Reporting on Public Affairs. I also am lucky to have Foreign Correspondence taught by professor Bill Gentile. Professor Gentile is a pioneer in backpack journalism and has produced documentaries from around the world. I’m hoping he will be able give me an insider’s perspective on reporting global affairs. I hope to learn about shooting foreign affairs even though the class is technically a print course.

Jan Schaffer of J-Lab

Jan Schaffer of J-Lab

But for today, the class heard from Jan Schaffer of J-Lab, an organization dedicated to providing grants and research for journalism ventures.

Our main goal is to use media to engage citizens, she said. The site features six different purposes, including:

1) The Knight-Batten Awards

2) Spotlighting news games

3) Funding citimedia startups

4) Find women-led entrepreneurial news startups

5) Building e-learning portals and training

6) Research, research research (that’s where the graduate assistants come in handy)

The company also runs five major Web sites that provide free, useful tutorials for journalists, including:

1) J-Lab.org

2) J-New Voices.org

3) KCNN.org (my favorite new go-to journalism site)

4) Newmediawomen.org

Thalia Assurias

Thalia Assurias

We finished up the day with a few words from Thalia Assurias, a former CBS and CBC correspondent. She commented on the current news environment, and how the “dog days of summer” don’t exist anymore. I noticed that as well when interning this summer. Most producers and reporters will tell you that the summer months are slow. But this summer, we saw the Iranian protests, the swearing in of Judge Sotomayor, multiple plane crashes, and Michael Jackson’s death. Clearly, this summer was anything but boring. Assurias says August is supposed to be the quietist month, but the newsroom has been bustling with activity as in previous months. She says always be prepared to drop what you’re doing for a breaking story.

The job, she says, truly is sink or swim. She admits she fears failure when trying to create a story on deadline. For instance, she notes a time where she had to do an entire story on where the Real World DC was filmed. Not only was the story one that lacked substance (although people would watch it), but nobody would give out the informaiton. Luckily, the package was cancelled.

As for the future, she says network TV news can no longer be JUST TV or one type of medium. No matter what the medium, she says the American people will never stop wanting to get news and information.

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