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Board Blog: If you call yourself a Student Journalist, you’re doing it wrong

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Connor Spielmaker, CBI Student Representative

Shout-out to the intercession staff here at Spinnaker for helping me decide on this week’s topic. They reminded me that the work we do is real. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a young adult in any capacity is that your peers and elders looking at you as someone who is still learning and who should be treated differently. Apply that to your opinion on politics, current events, or anything. So where does that come into student journalism? “Oh, it’s just the campus paper,” or “Oh, it’s just the campus TV station,” or whatever your medium is, it seems that people take these outlets less seriously.

Across the country, classes are starting up for the Fall term. What does that mean for our media outlets? Time for some “noobs.” That’s right, get excited to teach that Freshman AP style and then confuse the heck out of them with your campus’s style sheet.

One of the biggest issues we face when we recruit our new aspiring reporters is breaking them out of their shell and getting them to ask the tough questions, but even more so is educating them on why we don’t just report the good things happening at the University of (your school here). “But, we’re students, we’ve got to be proud of our campus and show people how great it is!” This is the point where that 5th year senior editor just wants to scream “THIS IS REAL JOURNALISM.”

Which brings me to the point: Sure, we don’t have the multi-million dollar budget of major news outlets or the millions of viewers that budget gets them, but the stories we report are just as real and just as important—sometimes more. Sure you’re a student, but you’re also a journalist.

I believe the most important thing to ingrain in your new staff’s brains on their orientation day is that they’re not “student journalists,” they’re journalists. The credentials they wear are just as valid as the guy from your local NBC affiliate, and the work they will be doing is just as real. So tell them that they can walk into their University President’s office and ask those tough questions, and not to back down. Show them your notes from NSEMC and make sure they see that there is no distinguishing between “student news” and “news.” Tell them their pen is just as powerful as a senior white house reporter’s. Inspire them to seek the truth under the tradition of your respective campus, and report it with the same credence as they know their own name.

We are the future of those big network names, and the work you do today with the rest of the inspired students in your newsroom is what is going to shape the future of our industry.

Announcing: Finalists in the National Student Production Awards

seattleCongratulations to the finalists in the CBI 2014 National Student Production awards! Finalists will be announced on this page every weekday through Aug. 29, so check back. Winners will be announced in Seattle at the 2014 National Student Electronic Media Convention.

 

Seattle Pre-Convention Workshops: Wednesday, Oct. 22

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Interested in coming to Seattle a little early for a workshop with experts on FCC and Adobe video suite? Check out our Pre-Convention Workshops on the Seattle convention page!

These workshops feature expert speakers and the latest information, with a small group size so your questions will be answered. Don’t miss this chance to learn from the pros.

Spotlight: Oregon State University’s KBVR

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Thanks to Station Manager Matt Walton for answering the questions!

Tell me a little history about your station and where your station is now?
kbvr3KBVR-FM was founded in 1965 with 10 watts of power and a broadcast radius of around five miles. Originally broadcasting from Shepard Hall, KBVR relocated to Snell Hall in 1977 and now has a broadcast radius of roughly 30 miles using 340 watts of power. In January 2015, KBVR will relocate to the top floor of the brand-new Student Experience Center, home to an entirely new broadcast booth.

 

What sets your station apart from other college radio stations?
KBVR DJ corps consists of more than 100 students broadcasting in a true variety format. This makes for an incredibly unique and diverse programming schedule! They know how to produce award-winning content as well; KBVR won five national awards at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s national conference in New York City in March, including best college station in the nation with 10,000+ students.

Why did you choose to work at the radio station?
kbvr4Who wouldn’t want to work at a college radio station?! I started as a blues and jazz DJ in 2012 and immediately fell in love with college radio. Once I saw a Promotions Director opening, I saw the opportunity to become even more involved. We are fortunate at KBVR to work very closely with the rest of Student Media, which provides us with incredible multimedia opportunities. One such show is Leaves of Blast, a three-hour live music/CMJ countdown show, which is filmed by KBVR-TV every week and covered by The Daily Barometer, Oregon State’s student newspaper.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for your station?
That would be the live coverage we did of last year’s homecoming football ticket line. OSU distributes tickets to football games beginning at 8 a.m., so students line up and camp the night before, with a line of 4,000+ students wrapping around our stadium. We did a live broadcast beginning at 4 a.m. near the front of the line, doing giveaways and interviewing students while they waited for their tickets! Did I mention it was freezing out?

What’s the best part of college radio? And the hardest part?
kbvr1The fact that students are literally the voice and personality of the programming is the best part about college radio. In a world of mass culture where everyone listens to the same music, college radio serves as a bastion of individuality that is difficult to find anywhere else.

The hardest part is leaving! It is difficult to find similar opportunities in radio, so enjoy it while you can!

 

 

Board Blog: 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years

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Greg Weston, CBI President

Greg Weston, CBI President

This year marks the 10th anniversary of my transition from commercial radio into student media advising. Here are 10 of the many, many things I’ve learned during that time. Keeping them in mind might help you as you prepare for the start of another year.

1. The only constant is change. In student media, you’re dealing with a new group of students every year, if not every semester. And even the ones who stick around change so much (hopefully for the better) over the time you have them. If you assume that past performance guarantees future results, you’re in for a rude awakening.

2. College students are kids. I’ve had psychologists tell me that today’s 20-year-old is, developmentally, an adolescent. So many of them have never been allowed to fail, which makes them reluctant to take risks that might lead to failure. Part of our job is to get them to push themselves and then help them see that failure is not a terminal disease but a necessary step to success.

3. College students are adults. In many ways, they are extremely sophisticated. They want to be treated as equals. They don’t always respect authority (yours, the administration’s, the FCC’s). I’ve found that the best way to get them to produce is to treat them as partners — set standards and expectations and then step back and let them work. Sure, sometimes they let me down, but that’s all part of their development (and mine).

4. Nobody at your institution understands what you do. Going from commercial radio, surrounded by other career radio professionals, to being the sole expert on a campus of 30,000 students, faculty, and staff was a big adjustment, to say the least. Suddenly, I was expected to have the answers to questions ranging from technology to ethics to law. That leads me to my next point … .

5. Professional organizations are vital. Groups like CBI are so important because our roles are so multi-faceted. If you’re facing a challenge, there’s probably someone out there who has already worked their way through it. Why re-invent the wheel? Post a question to the listservs, or approach a CBI board member, and you’ll probably get some great feedback.

6. You need allies. Having worked for some of the world’s largest media corporations, I thought I knew what bureaucracy was. I was wrong. Student media outlets don’t fit into the neat bureaucratic categories universities use. Developing the right allies — people who can cut through the red tape, explain why you need exceptions to the rules, and have your back when you don’t follow standard operating procedure — can be a life-saver. Or at least a job-saver.

7. Assessment is essential. The days of flying under the radar are over. If you’re not under pressure to show that your station is achieving its mission, you will be soon. Develop measurable goals and ways to calculate them before someone else does it for you.

8. Awards really matter. All the assessment data in the world probably means less to your administration than a prestigious award. The positive PR the university gets from your station’s awards is great capital for you – capital you’ll surely need somewhere down the line.

9. The students really care. They can act like disaffected hipsters all they want. At the end of the day, the students will like and respect you forever if you make them believe you have their best interests at heart. How do you make them believe you have their best interests at heart? By always having their best interests at heart.

10. This is the best job in the world. Sure, there are a lot of challenges. But I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything. And, on the days when I begin to doubt that, I think about all the times my former colleagues in professional media ask me for advice on how to break into student media advising.

Spotlight: University of Alabama at Birmingham’s BlazeRadio

blogheader-spotlightSpecial thanks to General Manager Kayla Gladney for answering the questions!

Tell me a little history about your station and where your station is now?
blaze1BlazeRadio started in 2008 in our Office of Student Media, which also houses our newspaper (Kaleidoscope) and literary magazine (Aura). In its humble beginnings, BlazeRadio was designed to give students at our medicine-dominated school an opportunity to experiment in areas they may not have touched academically. Naturally, BlazeRadio also appealed to those students who were going into broadcasting and communications as well. Today, BlazeRadio still attracts a variety of students who get to come and learn the ins and outs of putting together a radio show. We are always working hard to make sure our students get the most out of their experience here, and we are glad to say that experience now includes more than putting together a show. Students can now also gain experience in the business and marketing aspects of radio as well. As an organization, we host events and provide music for events – all in efforts to better serve our students.

What sets your station apart from other college radio stations?
blaze4We have very unique programming – everything from shows that cover Indie Rock, to shows that discuss Hip Hop, to shows about movie soundtracks. We have something for just about everybody. We also host our own events on campus, like #UnleashtheMusicWeek.

Why did you choose to work at the radio station?
I decided to work for the radio station because I knew that my college education was about more than what I learned in class, but what I experienced in general during my time here. So, I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to learn something I had never tried before. My love of music also played a huge part in my joining the station.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for your station?
The craziest thing I’ve ever done, or the craziest thing I tend to do often is forget to eat. Like most students, my schedule is pretty hectic. I usually spend any available time working in the office, including after hours. I usually have a checklist of things to do and I don’t stop until I’ve finished it. Unfortunately, I rarely remember to add eating to that list. So, it has become a habit of some of my DJs to ask me if I’ve eaten when they get to the office. If I haven’t, they usually yell at me and make me go get something.

What’s the best part of college radio? And the hardest part?
blaze3The best part of college radio is having the freedom to experiment. Blazeradio serves many purposes, but the most important is being a learning experience for students. Our advisers give us advice and do a great job leading us, but they also give us the room to make mistakes we can learn from. It’s great to learn with a group of people. The hardest part about college radio is what most people say: balancing it with school. Sometimes we feel like we don’t have the time to appreciate all of the parts of the learning experience; getting back up once we fall is all the more difficult because of school. However, I feel like it is all worth it in the end.

Board Blog: Reducing ‘Island Mentality’ with your staff

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From walking the halls and listening to conversations at fall and spring conferences for many years, I know this issue permeates throughout most of our organizations.

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Warren Kozireski, CBI Immediate Past President.

How do we get fellow students who are involved in one area of our operation (an island) to be aware of how their actions or inactions affect other areas (islands)?

Case Study (and a real one from the past semester): your women’s basketball team gets a bid to the playoffs and has a game scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday. The Sports Department will be broadcasting the game with pre-game scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m. The department drafted a live promo and produced a recorded promo for the broadcast.

What other departments in the station should the Sports Department communicate with to make this last-minute addition to the broadcast schedule come off without a hitch?

Answers: Programming (who will communicate with the DJ staff scheduled to now board op the event and schedule the live promo), News (who had a scheduled newscast at  5 p.m. that will be pre-empted), Production (so they can schedule the produced promo), Website (so they can add the special event to the home page and sports schedules), Public Relations (so they can move the giveaways that were scheduled during the now-basketball broadcast time and arrange for a halftime PR event), Engineering (for a remote equipment check) and Training Supervisor (an opportunity for new trainees to shadow game board-oping).

What Happened In Real Life: none of the above.

This isn’t just a sports problem but the example is an illustration of day-to-day life in a broadcast facility. Some students become so immersed in their own projects and doings, that they lose sight of the bigger picture.

How do we help them overcome this? A few ideas that could/should be used periodically throughout the year to reinforce:

  • Develop several specific case studies that are closer to what happens in your own operation and spend a significant period of time solving them at staff training. One case study per student leader should be about right.
  • After the fact, sit down and do a post-mortem on every event or instance to help student(s) see beyond their blinders.
  • Once or twice per year, bring in an outsider to training with a case study and have your staff explain everything in detail. This works even better with someone who doesn’t know anything about the media business and will ask lots of follow-up questions.
  • Utilize alumni to bring back case studies from “their day” and the hindsight/expertise in what they did or could have done better. The medicine goes down easier if current staff doesn’t feel picked on.
  • As an extreme, maybe cancel an event or broadcast that didn’t meet the organization’s required expectations of communication. Embarrassment can be a motivator.
  • Have a monthly award or recognition for the group or person who demonstrated teamwork across departments the best.

We’ve all said it—we are in the communication business but we don’t do it very well. With electronic communication, this difficulty (what I refer to as Island Mentality) with student staff communication will not dissipate, but instead will/has become even more of an issue.

If we don’t make an effort to address it on a regular basis in training and daily life at the station, we have no right to complain.

Student Media in the News

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College Media Matters interviews Reid Laurens, formerly of WRAS

During his time at the student-run radio station WRAS, Reid Laurens fell in love — with the news, broadcasting and his future wife. The Georgia State University alumnus worked in the WRAS news department from 1976 to 1978. So did his wife, Mary Ann.

As he recalls, “She had the 7 a.m. news shift and I had the 8 a.m. news shift, and I was asked to train her on how to use the equipment in the newsroom. After that she began staying after her news shift to see me when I came in to do my shift, and a few years later we got married, and we still are married, 32 years and three children later.”

Read the whole interview at College Media Matters.

Last call for Seattle session proposals!

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CBI is seeking final proposals for convention sessions for the 2014 National Student Electronic Media Convention, Oct. 23-25 at the Renaissance Seattle.

You can review previous sessions from our conventions in San Antonio in 2013 and Atlanta in 2012 for ideas. When you’re ready to submit, visit the Sessions page on the Seattle convention site.

The final submission deadline is Friday, Aug. 8.

For more information, contact the CBI Executive Director.

Spotlight: University of Puget Sound’s KUPS

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Special thanks to General Manager Chloe Ginnegar for answering the questions!

Tell me a little history about your station and where your station is now?
kups1KUPS began in 1968 as a closed-circuit AM experiment. In 1975 KUPS became a 10-Watt FM station, and in 1983 blossomed into a fully operational, 100-watt FM station. KUPS has over 100 DJ’s each semester and is continually growing it’s community involvement both on campus and off.

What sets your station apart from other college radio stations?
KUPS is 100% student-run and broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! We also have over 100 DJs each semester and a staff of 15 with responsibilities ranging from genre-specific music directors, marketing, business and digital media!

Why did you choose to work at the radio station?
kups3I chose to work at KUPS because I thought it was a great way to expand upon my musical interests and get involved with community! My favorite thing about KUPS is that I get to work with my fellow DJs and classmates to grow our positive impact on campus and beyond.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for your station?
The craziest thing I have ever done for my station is probably super late night and early morning mentoring sessions for new DJs!

What’s the best part of college radio? And the hardest part?
kups4The best part about college radio is the sense of community that is felt between DJs, listeners, and musicians! The hardest part is maintaining quality programming and community relations while being a full-time student.