Tag: geomapping

Chronicling journalism in 2017, the home stretch: The final leg of my 10,000 mile #followmylede project

My former student and Sports Illustrated Producer Kelsey Hendrix (left) showed me around SI headquarters in the Time, Inc, building in New York City, March, 2017
My former student and Sports Illustrated Producer Kelsey Hendrix (left) showed me around SI headquarters in the Time, Inc, building in New York City, March, 2017


When I started my Follow My Lede project in March of 2017, my goal was to drive 10,000 miles over six months and visit dozens of newsrooms while chronicling American journalism. I was interested in holding a mirror up to the media and the people who bring us the news every day.

I wanted to visit news outlets big and small, traditional and cutting-edge. Since then I have shot thousands of photos, hours of video and taken plentiful notes. For me, it’s important to take a peek inside the lives of journalists and why — in such a hostile climate for the profession — they do what they do

My first leg included stops at USA Today and Franconia, Virginia; Buzzfeed, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated. I also visited Columbia University and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism to delve into the history of Joseph Pulitzer (and snuck in to see the Pulitzer Prize Hall). As a full-time instructor at the University of Alabama I was not only chronicling journalism in 2017, but also gathering information for my classes. (The Innovation Team there is the reason I was able to take this trip.)

Columbia University, March, 2017
Columbia University, March, 2017


The second leg of my road trip kicked off in late June. I had to schedule my excursions around my teaching schedule and summer journalism camps that I direct. On that leg of my trip, I visited a real-life Clark Kent at the Lewisville Texan-Journal, The Santa Fe New Mexican, and Navajo Nation and The Navajo Times. I spent some time at VidCon in Anaheim, examining how media companies both large and small use YouTube to reach consumers. I got to know the people at KPCC Southern California Public Radio and heard from a journalist who told me, as many did, that journalism is her “calling.” My eyes were opened at Street Sheet in San Francisco where I met a journalist who covers homelessness then became homeless himself.

After that I ran into some problems many mobile journalists face. I had some connectivity problems uploading video associated with wildfires and, later, dense mountains. Perhaps more daunting was that I had to drive 2,4674 miles from Portland Oregon home to Tuscaloosa Alabama in only four days while also making media stops. There was no time to write, upload and edit videos, given my long driving days. Then life got in the way. I took a break from blogging on Medium to teach fall semester at Alabama and run the two non profits that I direct that help K-12 students do journalism in schools. (I also blog for al.com.) This brings me to the present:

My daughter and I at Bleacher Report during March Madness in 2017
My daughter and I at Bleacher Report during March Madness in 2017


2018 is bearing down. My December classes are online, so it’s time to finish this wild, frenzied, educational adventure. All future posts will be written from the comfort of my warm office in Tuscaloosa in the dead of winter, with snow in the forecast, as opposed to the previous ones, which were written out on the road in the summer heat, which reached 112 degrees at one point.

After my final post I will post a round up of lessons learned, as well as an interactive map of my journey. Onward.

Next up in the #followmylede series: I visit abc10 in Sacramento.

Reblogged with permission from a post by the same title at Medium.com, published December 26, 2017.

Innovation at the Starting Gate

I’ve sometimes wondered how I would respond if asked to name one innovation I would bring to a course I teach.  What would it be, and what would it accomplish? Would it solve a problem, serve as an experiment, increase student engagement? What would motivate me to pursue my innovation?  How would my students respond to it?

These are some of the questions I have been asking my colleagues and now have a chance to extend to all faculty at The University of Alabama.  The reason is because I am now leading an Innovation Team effort. For me, it’s an extraordinary opportunity to work with faculty from across UA who want to make their online courses more engaging, more student-centered, more technologically current, more fresh and inspiring.

Dean Edelbrock has charged our newly-formed Innovation Team with bringing innovation to online degree programs at every level—from promotion of specific courses and the degree programs to which they pertain, to better engagement of students within those courses and programs, to fostering broad academic communities that endure outside the online classroom, and to improving retention and engaging alumni.

Who we are

So let me start by telling you who I am and what I hope to share with you in this blog and through our Innovation Team efforts as we work to support your hopes and needs for innovation work in online education.  I come to the team with an academic background in the humanities (music history and medieval studies), and with experience teaching and cultivating academic communities both online and in the classroom.  My Ph.D. work at New York University was cross-disciplinary and data-driven, and has contributed to my strong interest both in technologies for teaching and in metadata applications for research. My Innovation Team colleague Andrew Richardson brings to the table an academic background in higher education administration and communication, as well as experience in computer programming, marketing, media production, and many other technical skills. Together, we are excited by the daily opportunity to brainstorm ideas and develop implementations for online teaching and learning.

Starting in the Sandbox

I want to share with you some of the things we are working on – so that you have an idea of the kinds of materials we hope to make available for experimentation, along with our time and support.  At the moment, Andrew and I are focusing on concepts and materials we believe could be applied broadly to various subject areas and student groups.  We recently came across a set of geo-mapping tools in Leaflet and Mapbox, and found these to have interesting capabilities not only as presentation items or learning objects, but also as components of interactive assignments or group projects.  We are preparing to pilot community-building tools like Slack and GroupMe because we see how these could enable both individual faculty and entire degree programs to nurture virtual academic communities that persist beyond the online classroom. These and other tools will be featured in the Innovation Sandbox, an ever-growing repository that we hope will both inspire you and invite further conversation.

Hearing from You

Most importantly, we want to hear from you! We think of ourselves as your Innovation Team, which is to say we look forward to working with any and all who would like to explore with us the potentials of technology in the online classroom.

Please do not hesitate to ask questions and share your ideas here on our blog.  We would also be pleased to visit by phone, email or meet with you in person. Here’s to the grand adventure!