No More Teachers, No More Books…

Eric Meyers, author

It’s been quite a run here in Staci Baird’s Digital Newsgathering class at San Francisco State University’s storied journalism department, but like all good things, it now comes to an end. It has been a semester of ups and downs on Thursday afternoons, and since I’m so glad it’s over, let’s start with the highlights.


The part about this class I enjoyed doing the most was learning the general practicality of everything. We got straight to business with the types of software and applications that will be most useful to us in the real world, and learned the techniques that are acceptable as professionals. Before this class started, the company that I work for asked me if I would be willing to shoot some videos like these for them that would talk about products they offer. I jumped at the opportunity but the process turned into a nightmare. I had no idea how to achieve proper sound quality and very little experience editing film. I had to renege on my acceptance of the new responsibilities and I felt like a failure for doing so. Now, I am ready to go at it again and I know I can succeed.


On the other hand, I appreciate the ends much more than the means. I often felt like huge portions of class time were spent catching people up who, for example, didn’t know RSS from their a-s-s. With digital newsgathering being such an incredibly huge part of the current scope of journalism, it seems that our department should perhaps separate this class, and J395 more into beginner and intermediate skill sets, as much of it currently overlaps. I also must admit, that at times I felt like the speakers able to really teach me much. I mean it’s great to hear from a graduate of the program and all, but I want to hear from people that are making some money, not primarily these people who have a hyperlocal blog as a sidejob. I guess my impression was just that Munidiaries and Tenderblog were such similar models that one presentation taught as much as the other. I also found it embarrassing that the school is still unable to provide wireless internet access in a DIGITAL NEWSGATHERING classroom.


For now, the most practical use of what I have learned comes from the SEO of keywords and titles. I have been putting Staci’s advice into practice and blog hits on the content I create for The House has increased over the last three months. Also, I interview for an internship with a magazine downtown this week, so I am hoping that what I have learned here will come in handy at the offices, because I know that interns are usually in charge of a lot of social networking management.



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