Monday, February 12, 2007

Well, last week's post certainly caused a stir.

I had a number of faculty members approach me to express their opinions about what I and my fellow classmates wrote. So much for the anonymity of posting with initials. Either way, the response was overwhelmingly supportive of my point of view. If students are frustrated with changes to the curriculum, I think faculty are even more so. I'm interested in seeing what the response is when the Dean reveals his new curriculum on Wednesday.

I'm assuming the dean has also read my post. I'm certain I'm not the only person who has expressed concern about how his new vision is being implemented. He's invited us to a pair of "democratic forums" where we make our own suggestions and tell him what's not working. Now I invite him to further justify his actions to us.

Given the number of faculty who have quietly walked or been swiftly booted out the doors of the McCormick Tribune Center, I am deeply troubled that some of the best instructors I have had the pleasure of working with may be summarily dismissed. I hope administrators will turn to students for input on how valuable these faculty members are. In case I didn't make myself clear the first time, it is the administration that I am unhappy with. Not the instruction.

Change is not easy and it can't move so slowly that nothing ever gets accomplished. But the band-aid method of ripping off the old to reaveal the new isn't working either.

Now, to prove that I'm not categorically against innovation in the news industry:

Pat Walters wrote an article this week for about user-generated content in news and advertising. Specifically, he writes about the Super Bowl Doritos ad that generated $10,000 and two game tickets for its 22-year-old producer, Wes Phillips.

New York times ad critic Stuart Elliott says the point of advertisers - and news organizations - asking for public input is to say: "Hey look! We're on this user-generated content bandwagon. We're hip. We're with it. We might be a massive corporation, but we're down with what you young people are into."

I say it's smart. It's a fresh perspective and, in the case of news organizaitons, it's great so long as we follow the basic guidelines about fact checking to make sure the story is legit. Few organizations will argue that. The controversy arises, however, when you bring up the issue of compensation.

Some say exposure is enough. Bob Garfield, an ad critic for Advertising Age magazine and co-host of NPR's "On the Media," disagrees. "In effect, [Phillips'] commercial was free," he says. "Ten thousand dollars is what Frito-Lay could shake out of the sofa cushions."

When you do the work, compensation is certainly warranted. But don't expect to make really big bucks unless you do this for a living. This is especially true if you're contributing to a news organization. As we all know, most full-time journalists don't make that much anyway.

Besides, as Walters points out in Phillips' case, his video recently hit a million views on YouTube. "It's caused a buzz and no doubt launched Phillips' career."

I have to agree with Walters when he says you can't really put a price on that.



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