Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I'll Be Fine

Seventy-six. It’s the number of times my cursor blinked before I realized I was staring at a blank screen.

I shift my gaze to center of my bedroom floor where my kitten, Charlie, is ferociously biting the side of my Advertising book. I pause and sigh before sweeping it off the floor. I don’t reprimand him because I understand. I felt the same way last week when reading chapter sixteen. I mosey back over to my desk and pull out my Journalism 531 assignment and glance over the requirements before putting it back in my binder. Not in the mood. Rustling through my bag, I finally settle on reading the anthropology chapter due tomorrow. I’ll finish my Journalism 531 assignment later.

I grab my yellow highlighter and sprawl out on the floor with my book. I open to page one and stare at the first sentence. However, my mind slowly drifts back to thinking about my Journalism 531 class. (In case you don’t know, the class requires you to run a public relations campaign.) So, I’m sitting on my floor at 11:35 at night when it hits me. What happens if my campaign stinks? Then what? Does that mean I’m not cut out to be a public relations practitioner? How do I know if I am any good at what I do?

All I can do is try to reassure myself. “It’s just cold feet,” I say, “I’ll be fine.”

College is No Walk in the Park

I am pretty sure by now that one may have realized that my posting may be somewhat sporadic. This semester has definitely proven to me that college is not a game. Up until now, I felt as if college really was not as bad as most individuals make it out to be. However, after going into my third week as a sophomore, I am slowly realizing that it may not be the walk in the park that I became accustomed to. My sporadic posting is due in part because I have had no time whatsoever to do anything besides go to class, go to work, and do homework. I am sure my friends have probably made the conclusion that I have fallen off the face of the Earth by now because of my lack of communication with them! In response to the many posts concerning Professor Erik Collins media law class--I now understand what you mean! I can honestly say this is the first class I have taken at USC that I am worried about having an adverse effect on my GPA! Hopefully, I will survive his class as well as this semester! Countdown--four years, one semester and three and a half months before I walk across that stage to accept my well deserved Master's Degree in journalism!!

What can we do to help?

Folks, Doug and I are thrilled by the many thoughtful postings. Please, keep them coming. Be assured that uncertainty among university students is not uncommon. It does concern me, however, that so many students in our field get so far along in their studies before realizing what we're about is not what they're about or what they want to be about. We've take steps to modify the curriculum to bring the meaning of "journalism" to you sooner. We're reviving the Society of Professional Journalists to bridge the gap between the classroom and the working world. What else could we do to help? Please share your thoughts.

What am I doing here?

I set down here to right something meaningful and perhaps inspirational this late, humid night in South Carolina as I procrastinate my homework. I have Shattered Glass playing in the background. It is the ultimate journalism junkie movie. After an hour of Religious Studies reading and questioning what I am doing here, I begin to apply every facet of my life to this thought, including the background noise.
Now follow me because this is obscure thoughts. After delving deeply into my classes and their content I have begun to question those Hindu religious questions of self. Why am I here? I'm not going off on a personal tangent, at this point in my life I do not feel the need to question my natural existence. However, being in college the constant thoughts of career have embedded themselves in my brain. And now that I sit here half listening to Shattered Glass half talking politics with my roommate I have come upon inevitable question again. What am I doing here?
I am a student of journalism which is rightful, if that makes sense. In other words, all signs point to 'good decision.' But where in that vast field do I belong? Watching Chuck battle through a crisis of fabrication, I come to question these goals I have laid out for myself. Do I really want to be a journalist? Yes. Do I want to be a reporter? I don't know. Do I want to be an editor? I don't know.
I know these are the same questions every college student asks. Some of them wait until senior year and others wait until after graduation- in the case of my brothers. But now that I am here- my future that is- I have begun to question more and more my "dreams." Meeting new people on campus they constantly ask "what do you want to do when you graduate?" It seems the "When I grow up" is no longer applicable. I am grown up. So what am I; where am I?
Maybe I just do not have enough experience in any field to really know where I am headed or why I am having these thoughts. Just call me impatient. I know in time and with new encounters and information I will naturally discover where I want to be, who I want to become, but for now, I guess I can only know what I know, not to sound too fortune cookie. At some point I will reach the same fork in the woods that Chuck passed which led him to "editor" or Carl Berstein to "reporter." Maybe mine will say "writer" or "designer." All I can say is I don't know why I am here or even where I am and why I am writing this mindless thought process. So much for writing something meaningful.

Monday, August 30, 2004

"Parking" is a Four-Letter Word

Unlike most of my fellow bloggers, my primary concern for this year has absolutely nothing to do with class. As I see it, my insane class schedule pales in comparison to the anxiety caused by the parking situation here at the glorious University of South Carolina (Though a sentence that lengthy can make one a bit anxious as well!). I have been blessed with the much-coveted Bull Street garage decal for almost four years now, but it will all be in vain as I enter my senior year. Though previous years have been spent in Gambrell and Williams Brice (A mere 25 feet from the garage), this year's classes are to be found in the Coliseum and the Swearingen Engineering Complex (Practically a different zip code). To make things even more interesting, I have 15-minute slots between each class in which to travel from one side of campus to the other. For your average one shower-a-week student, this would pose no dilemma. I, on the other hand, am a firm believer in the power of priss. Needless to say, you will not see me sprinting from point A to point B in 96 degree weather, only to arrive to class looking as if I had just stepped in from a torrential downpour. Instead, I leave my apartment 35 minutes before class starts, then circle one of the aforementioned buildings, praying to see the beautiful gleam of white reverse lights. This intense praying combined with the thought of missing a pop quiz leaves me sweating almost as much as if I had actually tried to walk! Fie freshmen and all of their stupid cars!

It's a little larger here

So... the school year has officially begun, and summer, as we know it, is once again, 9 months away (*sigh*). You know school is in session when a college student, such as myself, is awake, typing a journal entry at, oh, 7:30 a.m. while running on a mere 3 hours of sleep. (apologies if this blog... well... doesn't run smoothly due to my lack of sleep)

It's week #2 of classes at USC, and let me tell you, it feels like week #493 for me. I transferred from a school of, give or take, around 600 people to this wonderfully populated school of almost 25,000 students. So obviously, I didn't have a hard time at all making a transition....

Yes I did.

It was interesting not being able to leave only 5 minutes before a class and still being able to possibly be the first person sitting down in a class of about 15 students. Here, well, because of East Quad in relation to ALL of my classes, I need a head start of about 25 minutes. Pickens Street is the best getter-upper in the morning. Trekking up that massive hill every morning is... uplifting. Literally. I feel like all the drivers passing me by are in a fit of laughter as they watch me crawl my way up the hill. On the positive side? I hear it gets easier as the year progresses.

I hope so.

So, first journal down, many more to come. Maybe in the next journal, my trek to class will decrease from leaving 25 minutes in advance, to 24 minutes.

--Laura Carver

One day it'll all make sense...

Well, at the beginnning of my Senior year, it's all beginning to appear a bit clearer. My classes are tying together (although certainly growing in difficulty) and my relations to the J-School are finally strengthening. In all actuality, I believe that this has been my greatest weakness thus far into the program: I had not, until this last semester, put in much effort to stand out in this department. I had not actively sought relationships nor the aid to excel in my studies, and I am disappointed that it took me so long to do so. Make no mistake - if you want to slip through the cracks here, it can be done. We have chosen a school large enough to where this is a possibility - the question is whether we, as individuals, do anything to avoid it becoming a reality.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Apparently It's Go-Time

Entering my third year of the J-School brings about many different feelings. One is the fact that it's probably too late to change the good-ole major without prolonging this aweful (good time) known as college. The second is the work that your best friend's neighbor's sister who went off to State U. and complained about doing hours of homework every night has finally set in. The key I have discovered is finding an excellent mentor (ie professor who you can talk to frankly about the business) to guide you through this journey. They sort of act like a sherpa through the half circle which is the J-School.

The industry seems tough but rewarding. Monetary rewards is not what it's all about; it's about a love for what you do. I'll let you know how it goes this semester on my road to the five year plan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Fifth year

I have been a journalism student at the University of South Carolina for the past four years even though I am just a freshman. I have attended CJI-the famed summer camp for rowdy young journalists- SCSPA and SIPA. I know the programs and I know USC- at least I thought I did. But now that I am here, living on campus, taking real college classes and trying my hardest to maintain my dreams, I realize I really am that lost freshman. This isn't at all what I thought it would be.
I became accustomed to my journalism programs in high school-eating lunch in the j-room, designing pages, writing copy, editing headlines and cutlines, being the journalism guru. But j-school at USC is not like that. I have yet to see anything journalism related and my first real journalism class is not until next semester. Yes, I have applied for The Gamecock. Yes, I have applied for Garnet and Black. Yet, for some reason I feel that hole I felt every summer. No journalism.
I love journalism. I love writing. I love editing. I love designing layouts and brainstorming story ideas. Just call me impatient, but I have yet to find that here at USC. Don't get me wrong, I love my classes-Religious Studies, Anthropology, English and Environmental Biology- but I just miss my daily dose of Pagemaker, even if it is outdated.
So when I was asked to write for this blog, although it doesn't require much and I am probably not doing it correctly, excitement was my main reaction. I hope I can help with this experiment in any way possible.
Last March when I attended Al Neuharth's Conference in D.C. all the journalists urged us to major in something other than journalism, anything other than journalism. They said we should have another background in order to be flexible journalists. This thought never crossed my mind because to me journalism is what I am-all the cutlines, bylines and style rules. After one week devoid of journalism I am fairly sure a major in journalism at USC is just what I need simply because it has become obvious that students here do receive a "quality" education in many topics other than journalism.
So, here's to my fifth and first year at USC's journalism school.

I looked up the word "at"

I had heard copy editing could do some pretty extreme things to a person, but if obsession was an Olympic sport, I blew away the old world record.
Yesterday was the first day of copy editing. And usually my experience around the journalism school consists of my day with work and battling it out with the copy machine, but yesterday my every thought was consumed with this class. Of course yesterday would be the one day I was late for class. I knew everyone would either sit up front and hang onto Mr. Fisher's every word, or they would all cower in the back. Everyone was upfront, so I had to walk past the entire class....late. Lecture actually went really well and my fears about the class started to ease. Lab was also great, I saw the mistakes in sentences before he pointed them out. (I also realized that when my previous editors and advisers just put a line through a word for it to be removed, they were using the wrong symbol.)
But I got home and started working on the lab homework. I have officially become obsessed with wanting everything in this class to be perfect. I can't find a symbol to delete multiple words, but also delete spaces. There is a symbol to delete multiple letters with no space, delete a word and leave space and delete a character and leave space on both sides. Short of just crossing out the two words, I don't know what to do, and I don't want to be wrong. I was also working on a sentence where I know at least one mistake existed, and I sensed there might be more, but I just could not figure it out. So I started looking up meanings of words, including "at." I thought maybe "on" should be used instead of "at." I learned that "at" gives a specific location, where "on" is more vague. I still can't find another problem, so I just gave up.
I know this assignment isn't even being graded, but the thought of failing this class is just annoying. I stressed over more issues on these sentneces, but I know that my mistakes will be pointed out and I will learn how to correct them in the future. I still can't believe I looked up the work "at" though. Oh yeah, Mr. Fisher's class isn't that intimidating yet, maybe it is just the work.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Broadcasting Internships

Well, it’s only the third day of senior semester and it is off to a slow start. We have lectures on how to build a resume tape/audition tape. Last week we watched a documentary on breaking news. Did you all know that Miami is the number one city for live breaking news? Something to think about if you really would like to work in that market. I graduated from high school in Miami, and let me just say many of my soap operas had cut-ins of late breaking news, almost everyday.
To make sure that I really wanted to be a news junkie journalist, I decided to get my foot in the door by doing an internship. Instead, I landed a tape editing position just by being in the right place at the right time. The fast pace scared me at first, but I buckled down and I rolled with the deadlines. From that moment I said, YES I WANT TO BE A JOURNALIST. I took a break from the editing job to concentrate more on my journalism courses, after all the classes are tough, especially COPY EDITING!!! I will share some stories!
Over the summer, I had an opportunity to intern as a one-man-band for eleven weeks. I pitched story ideas, learned how to develop contacts, become a better photographer, and even shot my own stand-ups. However, my greatest accomplishment by the middle of my internship was that I edited my packages in less than an hour on the linear edit bay!!! I learned a lot at my internship and it gave me enough experience to know that being a journalist is exactly what I want to do at this point and time in my life.
So, get out there and “get your foot in the door” by doing an internship and make sure that you will be able to get your hands on some of the equipment. Some stations won’t let an intern touch the equipment but that is usually in the larger markets. Come back soon to hear how having business cards helped my networking skills during my internship.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Journalosophy 101

By now I'm sure that almost all of us have fantasized about being apart of the writing staff for the "New York Times" or "People," being a head anchor for NBC, CBS, ABC, or FOX, or even writing articles for "www.MSN.com." But lately my research has left me a bit jaded and I'm only a Freshman.

Although the myriad of articles I read in the past summer were enlightening, they were not, however, fulfilling due to the overload of factual injections. Don't get me wrong, a strong factual foundation to an article is critical, but we shouldn't forget that we are also hoping to capture the attention of the reader and in some cases, provoke some sort of response. Otherwise, the reader ends up feeling like they are reading an encyclopedia (See: your history book). Knowing how painful it is to read a history book should be motivation enough to transform our pens into creative and philosophical swords to be wreckoned with.

But the question still stands.. What seperates an encyclopedia-esque essay or article from a fully bloomed tool of enlightenment and interest? I've found the answer to be a healthy dose of personal opinion. Let's face it, some people simply cannot keep up with rows of numbers and lines of constitutional matter, and, in all honesty, I'm one of those aforementioned people. Some require a prelayered opinion to discover where they stand on a position instead of having to wade through piles of bologna just to find themselves right back where they started. So to spice up your work you should explore the world of personal philosophy and apply it to your writing endeavors. What do YOU think about Iraq's economic situation and not JUST what the fact sheets say about it. Take those facts and exploit them to your reader. Suggest a possible solution to a problem or why a problem even formed. Push the reader to think more about what they read instead of performing those usual Superman scans over a cup of coffee. But make the line between fact and opinion clearly visible as to not raise any legal arguements!

This is all from a freshman, so take from all this as you will, but that's what this wonderful blog is for- to express our individual opinions and share our stories for others to harness information and advice from more easily.

Good luck and over and out!

The Dreaded Syllabus

For me, there is nothing more feared and anticipated than the notorious syllabus. As a senior in the public relations sequence, let me warn you…­they come in all sizes. Over the years, I have received everything from a short summary to a 20-some page contact! I have to admit, I’m not afraid of much. Yet, goldfish and syllabuses tie my tummy in knots. With syllabuses, it’s those two graded components I fear the most: cumulative final and pop quizzes. This semester, I have pop quizzes in four out of my five classes. Yuck! I will have to let you know how they go. Unfortunately, taking a pop quiz is not one of my strengths. I’ll have to cross my fingers!

Friday, August 20, 2004

What a great start

When Doug asked me to join him in this blogging adventure I was thrilled and flattered. I was thrilled because faculty and students spend so little time talking with each other -- the school has grown quite large and we're all so busy -- that reading your thoughts and concerns, hearing about your victories and challenges would help us understand you better. I was flattered by the invitation because I was known as one of the faculty members who came late to the "new technology party," wearing outdated duds, to boot. (I've gotten better in the last year.) So, to be asked to "play in this sandbox" (to quote Professor Fisher) was a little unexpected but greatly appreciated.
I would urge all of you chroniclers to post often. I might on occasion offer a thought but mainly I'll be reading about you and your lives.
We're off to a great start; let's keep it going.

Cheers all.

The toughest class at USC

After working at the journalism school, I haven't been too excited about starting class and coming to the basement of the Coliseum where I have been five days a week for about six hours a day pretty much for the past year and a half. Nor was I excited about having to fight for parking after having a summer with an empty parking lot where I could come and go as I pleased. But I am really excited, and somewhat terrified of, Mr. Doug Fisher's Jour. 333 copy editing course.
I went through a terrible fiasco of having the class acidentally dropped from my schedule, but the ordeal of trying to outsmarting VIP and other journalism students to get back on the roster made me appreciate the class and the career I am getting into a lot more.
I know his class is definitely going to give my mind a work out this sememster, but isn't that what I paid for? Mr. Fisher's class is just step three in a long process where I have been disassembled from the the journalist I thought I was in high school while working on my school newspaper and will eventually be reassembled into the professional I could become. (Part one of the process was Prof. Wiggins' 202 writing course. Part 2 was Dr. Collins' Media Law course. Watch out for them.)
These professors, though intimidating, are some of the best around. And while you have to work really hard for A's and even B's for that matter, you will go into the journalism field being more prepared than if someone had just handed you a degree and said "Here, go write or look cute on TV"
I'll give updates throughout the semester about what this course really entails. I know copy editing will probably be the hardest course I have had at college thus far, but I also know surviving it is not impossible. But waking up for the 8 o'clock class might not be so possible.

Freshman fog

I don't care how old I look, since I stepped foot on USC campus my brain has left the building. I spend most of my time lost.

Walking around campus, one is always on display. It's so tempting to stare down people, assess how they dress, walk, whether one hand is occupied with a cellphone, cigarette or appendage of another. And on the big bulletin board of life, it's painfully obvious that I am a freshman, and indeed, have no idea which way is up.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Can I make it to class on time?

Heading into my sophomore year at USC, I have a lot of things on my mind. I would have to say that my biggest worry will be making it from the basement of the Coliseum to the BA building in less than 15 minutes! Not to say this is my biggest worry but it is definitely going to be a task. My biggest hope is that I learn a lot from the classes I am taking and meet a lot of new people. That is the best thing about USC, there is always the chance to meet new friends. Hopefully, my sophomore year will live up to my expectations!

Crystal Metts

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Let's pose a question

I'd like to start things off with a question for our bloggers: What is the biggest worry and the biggest hope you have entering this year? (And tell us whether you are a freshman, sophomore, etc.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Senior Semester

Well, this is my final semester at the J-School and I must say that I am relieved. This semester I will be in the broadcast “Senior Semester,” where the students will run the college newsroom. We are the reporters; anchors, producers, camera operators, and everything else that will help us meet deadlines. A few times a week I will check in to let fellow “bloggers” know how this senior semester is going. A little piece of advice for those of you who are tying to become future journalist, do some internships, get some business cards, go to conventions and workshops and NETWORK!!! I will let you know why in future postings. So, stay tuned.

Tamika Cody University of South Carolina

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Welcome to A J-School Year.

We hope that during the next year (nine months really), you'll stop in from time to time to get an idea of what goes on in a modern American journalism school from the students' perspective. Ideally, students at other schools, professionals and students in high school considering a career in journalism will all learn something. In the process, our students will also learn a bit about "blogging."

The idea for this blog started with a call from a major newspaper's recruiter wondering why more minorities did not go into copy editing. I could speculate, but realized that the best people to tell us were students themselves. Ernie Wiggins, a fellow former professional who also teaches at the University of South Carolina j-school, and I got to talking, and what emerged was the idea of using this blog to provide a broader insight on a lot of other things, too: How do you handle the demands of juggling reporting classes that require lots of time with other classes, working, and - yeah - a life? What do you do when you begin to have doubts that this is the career (with its long hours and low pay) that you want to pursue? Oh, and how do you get through Fisher's editing class?

We're recruiting about two-dozen students, from all our majors, to tell you. And no, these are not just A students. You need to hear from everyone, if you're going to get an honest picture.

I have another Web log, Common Sense Journalism, from which I spout. So I and professor Wiggins will largely stay out of the way and let the students speak.

School starts in less than a week, and we'll start posting before that, so stop by regularly to see what we're up to.

And have a great j-school year!

Doug Fisher