Journalism Gone Social

By Jonathan Menager, Assistant Account Executive
It should come as no surprise that technology has had a very profound impact on journalism. As tech giants such as Google (reporting 2012 Q3 consolidated revenues as high as $14.10 billion) begin to surpass traditional media companies in terms of financial earnings, the effect of technology on the field of journalism can’t be overlooked.
The youth of today can easily identify with companies such as Apple and Google, but ask them what McClatchy and Gannett are and you’ll probably get blank stares.
What about social networking? Surely, social networking and social media didn’t exist prior to computers or the Internet.
Social media and social networking are entirely new concepts that caught like wildfire practically overnight when Friendster first went live in March 2002. This phenomenon is still kept alive today, over a decade later, by popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
But don’t get confused about social media’s place within the walls of journalism. Social networking has come a long way from the Livejournals and MySpace pages of yore. Believe me, there are companies out there that will pay a great sum of money to do what most of us do for hours at a time each day–Network and blog online.
Prior to my transfer to Chico State, I worked at a social media marketing agency known as Fanscape based out of Los Angeles, and one of my tasks was content creation for the company blog DigitallyApproved.
If we look back 18 years ago, blogs were just starting out, but they were a far cry from the marketing tools they can be today. Technology and the Internet have begun to transform the way we read and receive our news in today’s society.
Social media are, in fact, changing journalism. Upon my arrival at Chico State, I found it strange sitting in class and learning about Twitter and receiving lectures on Facebook, but this is journalism today.
My Fanscape job relied heavily on what I had learned in my journalism classes, although the company I worked for was in no way associated with “news” per se.
The success of Fanscape’s blog meant more credibility for the company. More credibility meant more business.
That being said, news companies need technology just as growing tech companies need journalists. Social networking has become a useful outlet for newspaper companies that can no longer afford to print their papers and distribute them physically. What is now being coined as “social journalism” has become a very handy tool in virtually every news corporation’s toolbox.
It’s bloggers and journalists like me that help to push these trends and change the social scape. Citizen journalists are even able to post images of breaking news events and blog on the go from phones.
Journalism is changing, and with it, new opportunities are opening up for a more interactive and personalized news and information experience, all within just 20 years time.
What do you think the next 20 years will hold?

Why I Love Editors

By Molly Rose Livingston, Account Executive
An often unnoticed and sometimes under appreciated aspect of the writing process is the impact of copy editors. Journalism is not a solo task, and it requires a healthy working relationship between writer and editor.
For example, this blog was not something I quickly jotted down and posted online. It was passed through a stringent TGC editing process that usually includes two to three editors correcting grammar or suggesting edits. This editing process is extremely important. 
I am used to spending a few hours crafting a story and having it returned to me by my editor covered in red ink. It is a bittersweet experience, but I love my editor’s input because I know that no matter how great I think my story is, my editors can always improve it.
Everyone needs an editor. Sometimes I spend so long writing and editing a story that by the time I finally finish it, I don’t notice even the most blatantly obvious errors. This is when a fresh set of eyes and the unbiased opinion of an editor is so important.
Through their constructive criticism and critical eye for grammar, they always find a way to make my story better. Sometimes they help me craft a stronger lead or a more captivating closing, other times they simply correct an AP Style error I missed.
I’m lucky enough to work with editors at TGC who will take the time to educate me on my mistakes, which prevents me from making them again in the future. This has made me a better writer and allows me to turn in more complete first drafts. Now when I’m struggling with a sentence I think, “What would Chris suggest?” 
I appreciate my editors and everything they do during the writing process. They do not get their names published in the byline, but they leave their mark on the story.

PR Major? It’s Cheaper Than Law School!

By Lauren Fusco, Account Executive

I stumbled upon the term public relations as I was choosing between the two journalism options that were presented to me on orientation day.

As I listened to my future adviser explain what public relations was, I thought to myself, ”Sounds sociable, that’s right up my alley.” 
The first time I ever heard a clear definition of public relations was in my “Introduction to Public Relations” course my sophomore year at Chico State. Before that class, I categorized myself as a journalism student. Now, I like to think of myself as a public relations student.
Once I had a nice grasp on what public relations meant, I began to associate my major with people who were witty, smart and those who knew their way around the corporate world. I realized that a public relations practitioner must always say the right thing and know how to articulate their words through writing and verbal speech.
As a child my parents made the comment ”You better become a lawyer. You have so much to say and want everyone to hear your point of view,” on more than one occasion.
Now, as a senior approaching graduation I do not think of public relations the way I did as a sophomore, I consider it to be an art. An art that can take images, words and perceptions and project them into the world to shape an audience’s point of view. 
To me, a lawyer and a public relations practitioner try to achieve similar things. Both present information, facts and an overall image to persuade the minds of those who are judging your client.
Even though I won’t be presenting the work I create to a courtroom full of jurors, I will be presenting it to the world. Using words, verbal and written, I can convey the messages I want my publics to see. 
The art of law and the art of public relations share characteristics in my book. The upside to studying public relations is not only less student loan debt, but knowing how to present your work to virtually everyone in the world, not just those in a courtroom.

What Really is Fair Trade?

By Kelsey Hilton, Account Executive

October marks the ninth annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.

We hear about “going green” constantly in the media and reasons why we should be more sustainable from plenty of celebrities. But what really is fair trade?

According to Fair Trade USA, it means, “quality products, improving lives and protecting the planet,” or in just one word, “fair.”
I never heard of fair trade products or buying fair trade until I came to Chico my freshman year. I enjoyed my first piece of fair trade chocolate, not fully understanding what it meant or what it stood for.

I soon after learned the importance of buying fair trade and what it means to truly be sustainable.

Fair trade is an organized social movement with the purpose of bettering trading conditions and promoting sustainability.

Fair Trade USA certifies that producers conform to labor and environmental standards, linking farmers directly to companies and cutting out the middleman. Ultimately, fair trade is about justly compensating farmers and workers and strongly advocates for higher social and environmental standards.

Last semester, I worked as an intern for the Sustainability Collaborative program on campus, where I was able to expand my knowledge on sustainable practices, and even learned how to build my own compost.

This semester, as an intern for the Chico Peace & Justice Center I am helping the organization with its fair trade store which sells fair trade certified products to the community throughout the holidays.

Both of these experiences have introduced me to a new way of life. I now find myself scolding my parents for buying plastic water bottles, and I encourage them to buy local produce and use reusable shopping bags. 

Last year, Yahoo listed Chico State as one of the top five “green” colleges in America and was also included in Princeton Review’s 2013 “Green Honor Roll,” acknowledging “environmentally friendly” institutions, receiving the highest possible score.

When we choose to buy fair trade certified products, the lives of many farmers and workers are improved. It is not only a step toward a more sustainable life for you and for the planet, but also promotes fairness and equality for farmers and workers.

           It is never too late to start engaging in sustainable practices and applying them to your everyday life.

           Here are some easy ways to celebrate Fair Trade Month this October.

A New Wave of Photographers

By Carter Caldwell, Photographer/Videographer
Photography exists in a variety of forms and is practiced and interpreted by people in many different ways.  
Few people consider themselves professional photographers, compared to the number of people who call themselves amateurs.  Somewhere within this category of amateur photographers lives a rather large group of people I like to call “Instagram-ers.”  
The very existence of these Instagram-ers produces a troubling argument regarding the individual, artistic aspect of photography.  Instagram is a smart phone application that manipulates an image, using a provided filter and posts it online for followers to see.  The company website  describes Instagram as “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.  Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram.”
“Transform its look and feel.”  Hm.  
I believe photography is all about getting creative and finding your own, unique perspective through the lens.  Putting thought and work into taking a photograph is what sets apart the true amateur and professional photographers from these Instagram-ers.  
Instagram has brought about a sort of cookie cutter take on photography, where everything ends up looking the same.  All it takes is selecting one of its filters, and the picture looks just like every other photo posted to the site. 
Kate Bevan, a writer who specializes in technology and social media, says Instagram is the “antithesis of creativity,” and that it requires no creative or artistic thought to post. 
So why buy into all the hype?  Why not get creative in your own ways?  
To all the Instagram-ers out there, I say break away from what’s trendy, and make something unique.  Don’t blend in with the crowd, blaze yourself a new trail and do what nobody has done before!

A New Kind of Wavelength

The New Age of Police Scanners and Their Impact on Journalism
By Joelle Cabasa, Photographer/Videographer

“There’s a 4-84 (petty theft) on West 6th Avenue and Esplanade.  He stole a man’s wheelchair and has taken to crashing into buildings.”
“We have a possible 4-15 (disturbing the peace) at West 3rd Street and Pomona”
“There are reports of a man rattling the door and shaking the fence, trying to get in.  Now he’s picking up a potted plant and shaking his fist. 10-23 (standby) on this one.”
These events transpired in a matter of five minutes, overlapping each other and each more entertaining than the next.  On that lazy Sunday, nothing was more entertaining than a live stream audio of the Chico dispatcher.  Yup, you heard right – a free live stream of the chaos in Chico on Sunday.
Next call in – with my handy dandy police codes in hand.
“There’s been an 11-82 (accident: property damage) on East Avenue, right off of Nord.  The car is on fire and we have the fire department reporting to the scene.” 
Now I know what I’m doing during my downtime on the weekends.
For journalists without a police scanner at the ready, perhaps jumping to Seattle is more appropriate?  In the last month, the Seattle Police Department has released 51 new Twitter accounts, where the average citizen can scan, uninhibited, real-time updates on Tweets by Beat, @SeattlePDB2.  
Snooping through the latest happenings in real time versus Twitter, in any moderately populated area, is cause for concern, especially – for a journalist.
A journalist’s bread and butter is to be on the scene right alongside the police.  Getting a stab at pushing your colleague’s story, which took two weeks to gather, off the front page with a simple hit-and-run comes with the territory.  
So on the other hand, maybe one doesn’t want to wait for the hourly-automated Tweets by Beat?  Just something to keep in mind.
Decisions, decisions.  Twitter or scanner?
Although it’s not 1997 and the Wireless Privacy Enhancement Act has been put behind us, wielding the police scanner is like having a teleportation device at your beck and call. You know, like the Batman’s calling card.
Admittedly, it is reassuring to know many of the old-school journalistic practices are moving into the new age of public relations that is our playground: social media. 
(Insert applause here)
So for now, I guess Code 5 (stake out), while things continue to progress in the world of journalism.

Why Paying My Bills Has Made Me a Better PR Student

By Rebecca Seylar, Editorial Director
Only months after turning 18, I got hired at my first “real” job. Three years later, I’m still at the same locally-owned restaurant, serving my regulars dirty martinis and spaghetti with meatballs. 
What has three years as a server taught me? Often I’m simply reminded to never underestimate the value of patience, but generally I’ve learned things about myself and others that apply to various aspects of my professional and social life. 
Most importantly, paying my bills throughout college has taught me not only to prioritize, but how to be responsible and realistic. Sometimes I really, really want that new pair of shoes, but I know my AT&T bill is just days away, waiting to be paid. Learning how to budget is tricky, but it is an incredibly important skill for young professionals to grasp before graduating college.
Time management and organizational skills have also proven to be exponentially important as the years go on. School, internships and work can sometimes take up so much of my time, the hours left for sleep can be tallied on one hand. Avoiding distractions is often hard, but it’s a necessity if you often find yourself sucked into the time machines otherwise known as Facebook and Netflix.
As a public relations student, I’ve learned all about building relationships, and that effective communication strategies result in positive outcomes. As a server, good communication often can be the difference between getting stiffed on a $50 bill and receiving a tip that will pay for my meal that night. When at work, I have to display a positive image and get a feel for the type of person I am serving at that table. Adapting my attitude and responses accordingly is often helpful, and I’m constantly finding myself putting what I’ve learned in my PR classes to work in real life. 
Maintaining a job through college was financially necessary for me, but in reality it has been rewarding in so many ways. In addition to career related internships, I have a paid, real-world job that taught me personal skills and a lot about myself. If you don’t have one already, consider one of these 10 jobs that U.S. News says look good on your resume. Luckily for me, waitressing made the list at number five!

Fall, the Best Season of All

By Mandie Niklowitz, Online Communications Director

It may be 95 degrees outside right now, but in a few weeks the weather will cool off, the leaves will start to change, and it will be my favorite season of all, fall!

Chico is beautiful in the fall. The city transforms as the trees become bright with red, orange and yellow leaves. The temperature finally drops and walking to class no longer feels like crossing the Sahara Desert. I can’t wait to wear leggings, a baggy sweater and a scarf to class everyday. It’s not just comfortable, but it’s cute too.
I can only think of one thing that makes crunching through the leaves on the walk to class better; a Pumpkin Spice Latte in a red holiday cup from Starbucks. It might sound cheesy, but there’s something about those red cups that make you feel cozy and at home.
If you’re a broke college student like me, trying to get your fix of Pumpkin Spice Lattes before the seasons change can get expensive. But now thanks to Pinterest, this has all changed. After seeing a recipe for a homemade Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, I got curious and began searching for a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe.
The easiest recipe I found comes from the blog Confections of a Foodie Bride. Her recipe was very simple and didn’t require a fancy coffee machine. The final product was delicious, even if it wasn’t exactly like the one from Starbucks.
The latte took me about 30 minutes to make, which would be impossible during my rushed mornings. But I found if you double or triple the recipe, there’s enough to reheat and drink later.
Right now it feels like the temperature will never drop below 90 degrees, but believe it or not fall is just around the corner. So get your coffee pot ready, and keep an eye out for red holiday cups!


By Colby Smith, PR Director

Heartache, sadness, frustration. 

These are the emotions that flowed through my veins when I opened up the Chico Enterprise-Record article confirming Brett Olson’s death. 
The 20-year-old Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student had been missing since Sunday Sept. 2. He was last seen midafternoon at Beer Can Beach among the thousands of people who participated in the Labor Day float. His body was discovered a week later, Sept. 9, by fishermen downstream of Beer Can Beach.
All week people were posting to a Facebook group titled “Let’s Bring Brett Home”. Posts on the site included possible sightings of Brett, organized search parties of students and volunteers, and shared tweets from celebrities on Twitter using the hashtag  #findbrettolson. His brother and parents even posted on the page, thanking the Facebook community for all its support. 
It was a jaw-dropping experience to see people all over the nation come together on Facebook to do everything humanly possible to find him. The group reached 90,000 members in only five days, a perfect example of how powerful social media can be. 
It warmed my soul to see the Chico community respond to Brett’s disappearance with warmth, hope and action.
But for some reason, I feel personally responsible as a Chico State student. I feel like I should have prevented this from happening somehow. Even though I am not a float participant or advocate, I feel guilty. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have personally done anything differently to prevent this tragedy. 
Chico State President Paul Zingg sent an email to students explaining that last year a bill was proposed to ban alcohol on the river for summer holidays, but was not passed by the needed four-fifths vote. He said that he believes this law should be looked at again, and I agree. 
A lot of people are blaming this tragedy on the fact Brett was not from Chico, implying visitors can’t handle Chico and so on. But what it comes down to, is that this could have happened to anyone on the river that day. Brett could have just as easily been your classmate, your friend, or your sibling.
Speaking from experience, it’s a horrible, deep, gut-wrenching, unfair, dark and indescribable feeling when a friend dies.  Now is the time to take action to protect our friends. 
Thousands of people, a strong river current, and alcohol have proven to be a fatal combination. We should do everything we can to ban alcohol from the river on Labor Day weekend to prevent a catastrophe like this from ever happening again. 
My heart goes out to friends and family of Brett Olson. Chico will forever be sending love your way. 
Video: Candlelight Vigil held in Brett’s hometown, Lafayette, CA 
Twitter: #rememberbrettolson