Access Hollywood: Digital Thinking, Bikini-Clad Bicyclists, and a Tiny Mr. T

As I complete this post, a man in the gas station convenience store next to my hotel is ranting about the evils of oil, while the clerk politely ignores him and serves customers.  Down the road, the manager of a 24-hour Subway is telling everyone that Lady Gaga stopped by for a foot-long sandwich two weeks ago, pulling up with her entourage in a limo.  He has the picture to prove it.  Late last night, while strolling to a diner, a group of college journalists passed by a few seedy bars, a museum of global oddities, and a midget who appeared to double as Mr. T.   Then, they saw stars on the ground.  They were on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Hollywood has been a genuinely surreal experience, at least during my first 24 hours within its grasp.  The ACP convention has kept my sanity– and upped my mobile and digital journalism skills.  Among the standout sessions so far: “Think Digital First,” a call-to-arms for a beyond-the-print content push, workflow, and general journalistic mentality, led by Lauren Rabaino.

The former Mustang Daily online editor and CoPress collaborator– and current reshaper of Spot.Us– charged j-students with posting new content online at peak reader times and not simply when the print edition has been put to bed; opening up their newsroom cultures to allow reader interaction and public glimpses at the production process; and employing social media 24/7 to help spur comments and conversation.

As one of her slides screamed, “It’s less about the platforms, techniques. More about the mindset.”  Or in her own words near the close of the Q&A portion of the talk, “College newsrooms are supposed to be about experimentation.  Too often I see students following what others are already doing. . . . We should, in college newsrooms, be setting the tone and then going out into the professional newsrooms and be the bright young minds changing journalism.”

Another interesting session I had the pleasure of attending: “The Whole Enchilada,” led by Holly Heyser, a professional in residence at California State University, Sacramento, and faculty adviser to the The State Hornet.

Heyser’s heads-up for student attendees: Mere online regurgitation of the print product is not enough.  Audio, video, and narrative photo slideshows are excellent appetizers for certain stories, and can serve as the full meal for others.

One of her case studies involved an especially rainy afternoon at Sac State.  The wet weather did not qualify as breaking news, but it was certainly the most impacting event of that day.  So how did the Hornet cover it?

The news team wisely eschewed a blah ‘it rained yesterday’ story, instead capturing visuals and adding free music backdrops so outrageous they were appropriate– fitting the fun and funky reality of the situation.  Among the featured characters in the photo slideshow ultimately put together: a pair of female students in bikinis, on bikes.

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