Category Archives: Journalism

Lincoln, Neb., becomes home on Friday

The moving truck pulls in, and we start unpacking Friday in a wonderfully remodeled home built in 1923 in Lincoln, Neb., as I prepare to start as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Day 1 of the drive from Miami with two boxer dogs and a sleeping (drugged) cat took us to the Atlanta area and a relaxing visit with relatives who like to cook. Works for me! I always get my own gravy boat, so I’m in heaven.

Day 2 of the drive brought us to the St. Louis area, for a visit with a childhood friend. Tomorrow we hang out on the dock at her pond.

Day 3 will be on to Lincoln. The drive has been delightfully uneventful. The grass, fields, farms and woods are wonderfully lush. Now I know what the word verdant means.

I can’t wait to get started in my new gig. I feel that it’s a great way to continue the work I have been doing the past four years at Knight Foundation, particularly with the Knight News Challenge.


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Filed under Journalism, Teaching Journalism

Facebook in South Africa

My students’ Internet skills range from those who are not quite sure what’s happening when they create a link from their blogs to another web page, to those who are looking for audio and video to add to their blogs and who have their own Facebook pages.

Almost all of the students use a mobile social networking site called Mixit. I was at a party last week where a young man didn’t know anyone there, but heard about the party through Mixit and an SMS.

I was more than a little surprised two days ago when having lunch at Skukuza Camp in the middle of Kruger National (Wildlife) Park, to overhear a group of thirty-somethings next to me talking about how Facebook has made it easier to steal the identities of those people who fill out detailed profiles. They are giving a little too much information to those who want to use it for illegal purposes.

Then, when driving out of the park and listening to a South African rock station, the DJ announced that he was going to read from a Facebook page he likes. It was a list of “You know you’re South African if …”

(Even after just a few weeks here, I could understand some of the jokes, particularly those dealing with driving. Like, “You know you’re South African if you run a red robot (stoplight) and three cars follow you.” Or, “You know you’re South African if you’re driving 120 kph on the highway, and you’re the slowest one.”)


Filed under Africa, Journalism, South Africa, Teaching Journalism

More from a community newspaper publisher

Haartsbeesport Lake

Haartsbeesport Lake

Haartbeesport Lake

Haartbeesport Lake

Click here for more photos of Hartbeespoort

Hartbeespoort Lake (formed by a dam)

Sunday, Sept. 9 — I met with Deon van Huizen, publisher of the weekly paper, Kormorant, in Hartbeespoort, and with Willie Meyer, one of my current colleagues at Tshwane University of Technology, Sushanguve campus. Willie has lived in Hartbeespoort for 35 years, and helps Deon by editing copy and writing editorials. Willie just won third place for editorial writing in the Association of Independent Publishers Community Press Awards. Deon won third for his photography.

Deon repeated what I heard several times at the newspaper conference: It does not make economical sense to do anything more that cut and paste his news site online, using Microsoft FrontPage. About 50% of the people in his upscale community are online via DSL, but he said South Africa’s average is more like 20%. (One of my guidebooks says it’s 2%.) However, Deon thought 100% of his customers used mobile phones.

It takes him two hours a week to cut and paste his newspaper online. He said that’s all the online site is worth, because it does not bring in any revenue.

Four years ago, he experimented with sending SMS text messages of the newspaper’s headlines to his readers, but he said no one cared. It didn’t cause people who would not have picked up the paper to do so. Those who were going to get the paper not matter what, did not need the text message, and those who were not going to pick it up, were not persuaded by the text message. So, he stopped doing it because it was expensive, labor intensive and brought in no revenue.

During the Christmas break in publishing, Deon plans to switch from the Corel layout system to Adobe InDesign, part of Creative Suite.

Most of the articles in the Kormorant are in English, but some are in Afrikaans.

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Filed under Africa, Journalism