Archive for July 2008

The Heart of a Great School

July 3, 2008
School of Communications faculty and staff, August 2008

School of Communications faculty and staff, ready for the Fall 2008 term

The heart of a great school is the faculty. Not the curriculum. Not the facilities. Not the technology. The faculty.

For the second year in a row, an Elon School of Communications professor will receive one of the top awards at our national convention. In Chicago next month, Professor Janna Anderson will receive the Outstanding Educator Award from the Newspaper Division as an outstanding teacher and director of the Imagining the Internet Center. Professor George Padgett received the division’s other national distinction last year — the Professional Freedom & Responsibility Award — for his ground-breaking work in diversity education and First Amendment awareness.

Facilities, technology and curriculum all are important, of course. But the heart of higher education is the quality and dedication of faculty members. We’re blessed to have the nation’s best in Elon’s School of Communications, and they pour themselves into the lives and professional aspirations of our students.

Politics and Social Media

July 1, 2008

Newsweek magazine named YouTube’s Steve Grove as one of its “12 people to watch” in 2008. He is head of news and politics at YouTube, and I enjoyed sitting next to him and chatting at the New Media Academic Summit in Chicago. 

When it came time to speak in a session on presidential politics, Grove noted that technological innovation occurs in great leaps during wartime out of necessity, adding, “A presidential campaign is a lot like a war.” He said campaign strategists and online citizens have pioneered a lot of technological innovation during the 2008 presidential election.

For example, campaigns and independent campaign supporters now create videos for YouTube viewing. That didn’t happen in the 2004 presidential campaign… because YouTube didn’t even exist in 2004.

Camera phones and audio recorders now ensure that no candidate is ever off-the-record. That’s how Barack Obama’s statement at a private California fund-raiser about economically embattled Pennsylvania voters — quote: “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations” — became national news.

Tech-savvy candidates now “twitter” (social networking through micro-blogs). When North Carolinian John Edwards suddenly stopped twittering, that became a sign that he was withdrawing from the race. One of Obama’s twitters made national headlines when he wrote of a Hillary Clinton suggestion: “In Columbus, MS & wondering how somebody who’s in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who’s in first place.”

At the Chicago summit, a moderator commented on the political party nominees: “Obama is glued to his Blackberry, while McCain is a dinosaur who calls himself computer illiterate. But McCain does have open access for bloggers on the campaign trail.”

Finally, one speaker noted that corporate communications and political communications used to be separate concepts. Now they seem so similar, with their own versions of “product launch” and “crisis communications.”