Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another POSSE?

I recently applied to attend another POSSE at Red Hat HQ this summer.  You can check out my application here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm Back!

Yes, I'm totally embarassed that I haven't posted since June...

Nevertheless I've been legitimately busy on tech projects in and out of the class room.

Here is a brief rundown:
-In August I attended "Programming for Journalists/Journalism for Programmers" at the Poynter Institute. It was my first visit to the center. I left with a much better understanding of how to integrate news apps in traditional storytelling, and ideas for how to create and teach classes that could be cross-listed in journalism and computing at RIT.

-This Fall I tried to put some of my new knowledge into practice in my "Reporting in Specialized Fields: Political Reporting" class. I had journalism, IT, and public policy students in my class. We were grateful to have a handful of local journalists come by to visit, including Jill Terreri of the Democrat and Chronicle, and Rachel Ward and Zack Seward of WXXI's Innovation Trail. RIT's resident Hacktivist, Remy DeCausemaker, was another key class asset. Remy taught a seminar on public records and demoed his project

The biggest challenge I had in this course was coming up with assignments that were fair for a group of people with different skill sets. I tried some group work, and required all students to maintain election blogs. I believe the class bonded over the NY governor's race, and their particular fondness for Jimmy McMillian and his "The Rent is 2 Damn High" Party.

Election night was a huge success. My class watched election resuls roll in at the Center for Student Innovation (CSI) along with students from political science and other CSI devotees. In a last minute frenzy, Remy and my student Nate Case, partnered with WXXI's Innovation Trail and designed a data tool linking the election results from the Monroe County Board of Elections live to the Innovation Trail website. You can read about all the details here in a blog post by Remy.

-The other course I taught this quarter was Newswriting. I had a great bunch of students - a good mix of freshmen journalism majors and upper level photojournalism majors. I'm doing a better job about talking about writing across platforms and not unconsciously focusing on newspapers. (We teach what we know best, right?...)

I incorporated a few more blog critiques this quarter, integrated social media along the way instead of devoting just one day to it, and substituted watching PBS Frontline's "Digital Nation" for one of my regular news quizzes. On the associated quiz I asked students if they multitasked while watching the show. Honestly, all but one said they did. The sole defector said she watched the show with her family :) (Small victories!)

-On the research front I made a ton of progress as well. The most exciting thing I have going is a grant proposal to the Knight Foundation to develop a model for large event coverage. The proposal, co-authored with Vic Perotti in the College of Business, involves developing a website/application that engages a crowd before, during and after an event. Our test event is RIT's "Imagine RIT" festival on May 7. Our proposal involves students from across campus including business, journalism, print media, computer science, design and animation majors. More to come on this....

-I also managed to crank out a journal and conference submission concerning my work on transnationalism. After adjusting to the new job and coping with life with two kids, I'm very proud - and rejuvenated - to resume this area of research. I've made some contacts in the local migrant community and I'm drafting a follow-up study to my dissertation.

No more excuses on not blogging more frequently! It is time to practice what I preach to my students. During Winter quarter, I vow to blog regularly and more often!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I've been giving a lot of thought about how I can use/introduce open source in my classes.

Here is a rundown of what I've come up with:

1) Encouraging the use of open source software to create multimedia projects. It would enable students to work on projects outside the university labs.

2) Making my students write about open source by engaging with the open source community. This exposing them to a technical topic, requires them to report in new ways (ex. IRC), and challenges them to write in the "tell a friend" manner I try to convey.

3) Encouraging my students to gather clips by writing for open source sites. (Thanks to Mel Chua for help compiling these:)

3) Talk about the open source movement as a topic in my Introduction to Journalism class.

4) Continue to integrate wikis and blogging in my classes.

On Friday I expressed how difficult I've found it to keep up with who contributes to blogs and wikis and when. After our discussion on group work, I'm thinking maybe I should assign students to read other blogs and grade the blogger at the end of the quarter. The blogger's grade would be a combo of my evaluation and the students.

Finally, one of the main reasons I came to POSSE was to learn how FOSS is or could be related to the future of journalism. I'm still having a hard time articulating an adequate research question. I suppose my interest is at the sociological level. In a nutshell, here is what I'm trying to understand:

1) How does open source effect the future of journalism?
2) Can journalism learn from the open source business model?
3) Can the workflow in open source communities be a model for citizen journalism?
4) Can the open source community be encouraged to develop games/programs that promote doing *good* journalism? For example, one major lament about international news is that there isn't much of it. Companies have cut international news budgets and have to rely more on native reporters to pass news on to them. Could an open source platform help with this?

I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone and trying to parse out these questions!

PS: I just printed out my students' POSSE stories (yes, I still have to edit in hard copy:). I'll keep you posted on where I will share them.


Project day!

I spent the better part of today working with my team building a Fedora Remix for RIT students. See:

My partner Juan Cockburn from Computer Engineering and I made some good progress. We combed through google searches and asked questions in IRC when we ran into technical difficulties. Our progress is noted on the above wiki.

I should add that when we tried to load our remix on a pen drive we found another problem....When we tried to reboot the computer off the pen drive all we got on the screen was a picture of a hot dog. No joke.

Anyway, Juan was a great partner. He took care of the code and explained it very well.

The other development I had today was talking to people about how to get students involved in open source journalism and documentation projects. I got some great links. I look forward to sharing these links with the other journalism professors in my department - and with the people who teach technical writing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

POSSE - Day2 and 3

My apologies for skipping my post yesterday! I spent the end of yesterday in a few meetings about a potential grant application to the Knight Foundation. I'm going with a small contingent of folks from RIT to meet with Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, in mid-July. We plan on discussing the future of journalism and how RIT can take a leadership role in building that future. We believe RIT's expertise in computing and publishing make us truly unique.

The old conventional wisdom in journalism was to double major with political science or another liberal art. Today's journalists, I believe, would benefit from a greater understanding of programming and computing. (And programmers would benefit from a little background in journalism and news values:)

A product of the old wisdom, my background in computing is limited to SPSS syntax. I am attending POSSE for a few reasons:
1) to expand my personal understanding of software,
2) to look for collaborative research partnerships,
3) to seek out writing opportunities for my students (and potentially myself:)
4) because I have an academic interest in open source communities. )I'd like to write a couple scholarly articles about deliberation theory in open source and the parallels between citizen journalism and open source collaboration.), and
5) because I want to create something cool - maybe a game or program that encourages conscientious media consumption??

Anyway, I've found POSSE empowering and motivating. I appreciate the support, creativity and collaborative spirit of the open source community. Interpersonal contacts have expanded my thinking about how my students can participate in open source.

Speaking of...many thanks to all POSSE participants for letting my Newswriting I class come visit over lunch today. Each student is writing an article about POSSE. The articles are due Friday. I promise to post their stories online.

Thoughts on my group project: Remix for RIT!!
Love my project! I'm smitten with the idea of giving RIT students open source software. The journalism program requires students to be proficient in producing news across platforms. Unfortunately, much of the software they need is very expensive. This project equals the playing field by giving all students access to office-like and creative software.

Other thoughts/ideas I've had this week:
-How to use wikis in the classroom
-How to use collaborative editing programs (like
-How my students can use IRC to report and find sources for stories
-Possibly requiring my students to write a story for one open source community (like GNOME)

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Monday, June 14, 2010



I'm a journalism professor in the Dept. of Communication at RIT. I'm a novice at open source, but I'm enthusiastic:)

I'm interested in the intersection of journalism and open source. In addition to looking for opportunities for collaborative research in this area, I'm looking for ways to integrate open source in my newswriting classes.

I'd love to hear from you!