What John Baker learned in Journalism 226

MugForJ226In this class, I learned about Flickr, including how to upload and tag sets. (At the top of the page: Yours truly.)

The work I am most-proud of from this semester’s Journalism 226 class is probably the man-on-the-street audio interviews I conducted back in April.

Mass transit has long been an interest of mine. In fact, until my term ended in December, I was chair of the SamTrans Citizen’s Advisory Committee. I’ve long tried to bridge a gap between riders and providers and think quick surveys such as this are needed to provide critical information.

The issue of transit itself is critical to San Francisco State University, with the need for improvement cited as a critical issue in SFSU’s Master Plan. Like a commentator on my post, I was surprised at the number of students who simply said, “I have a car, why would I take a bus?” I was happy to broach the issue with the San Francisco Beat community.

I was also happy to finally learn GarageBand, which has literally been on my to-do list for years. I think the skills I learned on this assignment will come in handy in the future.

Other highlights of this class include:

Learning to post Google charts online, such as this one including data from the Pew Internet Research Center. This chart shows the percentage of Internet users and adults as a whole, who have engaged in a variety of online health interactions.

I learned how to edit together “man on the street” interviews, such as this one asking Sara Donchey, Kelly Goff, Caitlin Olson, Chris Haire and Thomas Garcia about the Royal Wedding:

I also learned other Flickr techniques, such as finding pictures licensed under creative commons, like this Royal Wedding photo taken by Aurelien Guichard from Hyde Park on the day of the event.
Royal Wedding


Commuting is like an action movie

Gas prices are near all-time highs, parking near campus has been horrible for decades, and bridge tolls have risen for those who must cross the bay.

All negatives for those who want to drive to San Francisco State.

More than 1.1 million trips are taken on BART or Muni each weekday, according to the Federal Transit Database. Advocates say it’s better for the environment and you don’t have to worry about parking.

Still there are SF State students who prefer the freedom of driving, as well as many who think parking at SFSU isn’t worth the hassle.

Sometimes, however, the rush of taking mass transit makes a person feel like they’re in an action movie!

Stowers touts technology for public administrators


Genie Stowers, chair of San Francisco State University's Department of Public Administration, works at her desk on Wednesday, April 28, 2011. Photo by John Baker.

You hear it from pundits almost every day, since the recession began almost three years ago: “Public sector employees are overpaid and taxing taxpayers’ money.”

But Professor Genie Stowers, chair of the Public Administration Department at San Francisco State University, might hold a contrary opinion. For almost 25 years, the last 20 of those at SF State, Stowers has led efforts to educate a professional and productive non-profit and public workforce.

“(Public) adminstrators get caught up in the general distrust of institutions and of government in general,” Stowers said. “The exception is when there’s a big crisis and you see people responding favorably to firefighters or the Coast Guard.”

Political turmoil in the early 1970s inspired many. The malfeasance of the Nixon administration not only inspired would-be journalists thrilled by the exploits of Woodward and Bernstein, but also encouraged young people like Stowers to look into how the political culture might be changed from the inside.

Stowers’ studies eventually led to a doctorate in political science from Florida State University and a teaching position at SF State. The public administration program at SF State serves close to 150 graduate students and is highly competitive, only admitting about 25 percent of applicants for the Fall 2010 semester.

Technology has been a particular emphasis for Stowers,’ who has authored a number of papers about what is called “e-government” — the use of social media and other Internet pathways to communicate and deliver services to the public.

This audio interview discusses what inspired Stowers to take an interest in public policy and includes her tips on finding a professional public-sector job.