How social media can bring out the smart alecs in online activism

Sarcasm and humor can be effective tools in getting a message across.

Think about the popularity of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and The Onion. All use humor and can make some pretty interesting points in political debate while doing so. (One of my all-time Onion favorites: “GOP Completely Fixes Economy by Cancelling Funding for NPR“)

We’ve also seen how effective social media can be in activism. Think about the importance of Twitter and Facebook during Arab Spring or even what’s going on right now with the #Kony2012 project as just a couple immediate examples.

But now, we’re also seeing these two venues combine. And it’s interesting to watch play out. Continue reading


How it’s going wrong on cyberbullying in Indiana

The First Amendment makes things so darned hard sometimes for legislators at all levels of government. Good-intention legislation could just ramrod through with across-the-board bans on everything if you didn’t have to worry about free speech.

But good intentions have always made for quality road pavement. And this is ‘Murica. You’re allowed to talk bad about things without being thrown in jail. But that still doesn’t stop legislation that tends to forget that from coming up now and again.

And in the spotlight this time around is Indiana’s House Bill 1169. Since college newspapers are actually among the best at reporting these kinds of legislation, here’s what the Indiana Daily Student had to say:

“The bill would allow Indiana public schools to punish students who do or say anything that might “reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function,” including otherwise legal speech off campus.”

How does it do that?

“Students can already be reprimanded by their schools for illegal activities, such as trafficking illegal substances.

 But HB 1169 would omit the word “illegal” from current law.”

The legislator who wrote the bill, State Rep. Eric Koch, said the intent of the bill is to — wait for it — prevent cyberbullying. Although, as the Daily Student and Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette pointed out, the term cyberbullying never shows up in the bill.

Really? I couldn’t tell, because all I can see is something that gives school administrators carte blanche to kick students out of school for anything they want. Throwing the word “reasonable” in there doesn’t work. I guaranteed it will get abused, and in a hurry.

And let’s be honest. The biggest target in cyberbullying? Social media. Let’s imagine something like this:

@TypicalTeenager: I hate my math teacher!!!! I really don’t want to go to school tomorrow…

@PublicSchoolPrincipal: @TypicalTeenager I think this reasonably interferes with educational function. You’re expelled.

So, ultimately, this will have a chillng effect on student use of social media, since social media is, by the nature of its popularity, one of the locations most ripe for cyberbullying to be going on.

What’s the solution?

If you want to address cyberbullying with legislation, how about trying legislation that actually a)mentions cyberbullying and b) deals specifically with electronic communication.

A good example is California’s Assembly Bill 86 from 2008. It specifically focused on cyberbullying, and as a result, passed. Not that the bill has been executed perfectly, but it still gives greater limitations than the Indiana bill. And, unlike the Indiana legislation, it includes this tidbit:

This bill, in addition, would give school officials 
grounds to suspend a pupil or recommend a pupil for 
expulsion for bullying, including, but not limited 
to, bullying by electronic act.

You can’t cyberbully without electronics.

It’s very simple. The best way to approach these situations — always — is to determine the absolute bare minimum you need to push the boundaries in order to achieve the desired result. Use a fine chisel to shape this kind of law, don’t dynamite your way to progress.

Good reads on social media

Here’s links to some of the interesting reads on social media I saw this week, or were passed along to me from other college/journalism social media folks:

3 ways you can make you campus photography more interactive on EdSocialMedia

Pinterest: Everything you wanted to know about 2012’s hottest startup on Mashable

The future of sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ on Mashable

The nerdiest lovers’ spat Twitter has ever seen on MSNBC

This year’s edition of 10,000 Words’ valentines for journalists. Many of them are social-media related.

My rugby league pitch

Apologies in advance for the Creed you will hear by playing this video

Alternate title: If it’s cool enough for Maximus Decimus Meridius, it’s cool enough for you.

If you’re like me, there was a little sad spot in your heart after the Super Bowl ended. Yes, even though the game managed to be incredibly boring when it all came down to it and resulted in a classic example of a bad marketing stunt on the part of a website. Maybe that’s cynicism on my part for being a 49ers fan.

But, no matter how blah I felt while watching the game, I still had to watch. I could care less who won (For everybody who remembers all the Patriots gear I wore in high school, let me clarify: the Bledsoe-era Patriots I liked. The Belichick/Mr.Gisele-era Pats, not so much), but this was going to be the last football until August.

It’s interesting how football fans go about dealing with the offseason. Sure, there’s basketball. I lost count of how many friends posted messages on Facebook right about the Super Bowl counting down how many days until pitchers and catchers report.

Me, I turn my attention south. No, not the Cactus League. I go really, really far south. Down under, to be exact. Yes, football season is over, but the National Rugby League is getting ready to start, mate! G’day!

I accidentally came across rugby league just shy of a decade ago, back with the NRL would stream match replays for free. I was pretty much hooked right away because it was so much like football, but went at a faster pace and had so many exciting plays packed into an 80-minute running clock. It almost seemed like I had found this secret that nobody else knew about. At least in my little corner of California.

But, I’m convinced that if people in America really gave watching the NRL a shot, they’d be hooked. In fact, here are my reasons that I think rugby league would be popular in the US: Continue reading

Is society numbing to photo manipulation?

Being that I know a lot of people still in or connected to the newspaper business, I’m still usually pretty in the loop when it comes to news of the media world, especially when it comes to newspapers in northern California.

So, the big story out of that neck of the woods was the sacking of long-time Sacramento Bee photographer Bryan Patrick for photo manipulation.

The full explanation from the Bee is here. But here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

First, a reader alerted the Bee that a photo Patrick took of egrets during a bird festival in Galt may have been manipulated because the same plants showed up the background. As it turned out, the reader was right: Patrick had combined two photos into one more interesting image. The Bee suspended Patrick and began doing reviews of his past work if he had done this in any other cases. When two more manipulated photos turned up in that review — removing his shadow from one and enlarging flames of a wildfire in another — that was essentially, three strikes, you’re out.

Inside the journalism word, the opinion is pretty much unanimous that Patrick committed serious ethical violations and deserved to be fired. (One comment I saw via Facebook was “If you want to create art, open an art gallery”) The Bee’s comment section? Not so much. The amount of people commenting that they didn’t think the manipulations were such a big deal is pretty substantial. Continue reading

The last few months…

Well, I’ve decided to switch my blogging over here to a WordPress-hosted blog. I’m still keeping my website, but it will be more oriented toward displaying work samples and the like.

Why the change? Well, a few reasons. But primarily, there’s been a few major changes in my life that are going to require some changes in my blogging.

Career change: If you had told me six years ago that I would be doing something besides journalism, I would have said you were crazy. I also would have said you were crazy six years ago that there would be paying jobs on those things I spent a ton of time on like MySpace and Facebook.

So much for that.

I’ve left journalism, and now work as the social media coordinator for Chemeketa Community College in Oregon. The primary campus of the college is in Salem, the state capital, along with another full campus in McMinnville and additional locations in the communities of Woodburn, Dallas, Brooks, and our Center for Business and Industry in downtown Salem. So, to sum up: new job in a new state in a new line of work.

Of course, social media is just one part of the job. There’s a lot to go with that:

  • Manage the college’s social media presence, including running the official primary social media sites and consulting with college departments and services looking to start their own.
  • Write feature articles to be displayed in the news section of the college’s website and be printed in external publications to promote the college
  • Product video content for the college’s YouTube page (still awaiting equipment)
  • Provide proofreading for written content on the college’s website.
  • Maintain a network of flatscreen informational monitors.
  • Produce and distribute a monthly electronic newsletter.

The change in career kind of necessitates a change in blogging. I was writing about journalism before. Obviously wouldn’t make much sense to focus on that now, since I’m no longer a journalist.

So, what will I write about now? Here’s the plan:

I’ll still have some discussion on social media stuff, since that’s an aspect of my job. There’s some other things in the works in that regard that will be talked about in due time.

I’ll be talking about sports as well. But not in the opining sense. I tend to be a little more philosophical than that. I think it will be interesting even to those who aren’t interested in sports.

Good/bad marketing. I’m in marketing now, may as well analyze and critique it the same way I did journalism.

Life in general. Things I do, see, eat, experience, etc. Salem has a lot more of those options than Yuba City did, and as an added bonus, it’s just 40 miles to Portland.

In other words, there will be many blogs like mine out there. But none really like mine.

Hope you find it interesting.