Communication students blogging with Nola.com
Contact: Christina Chapple
Click on thumbnail for high resolution photo(1) (2)
(1) LEARNING ABOUT ‘MEDIA CONVERGENCE’ – Southeastern Louisiana University communication professor Amber Narro discusses their blogging assignments with members of her fall semester news editing class. The class initiated the Southeastern-Nola.com partnership which is being continued and expanded by communication students this spring.
(2) STUDENT BLOGGERS – Milena Merrill, north shore bureau chief for Nola.com, center, talks with Jerrika Jackson of Baton Rouge, left, and Ericka Johnson of Destrehan, about their Nola.com blogs.
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University communication students are getting hands-on – and on line – experience in today’s world of multi-media journalism through a new agreement with the New Orleans Web site Nola.com.
Communication students now have their own blog on Nola.com, the Internet site for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper and ABC-26 television station.
The university blog is the first of its kind for Nola.com’s roster of bloggers, said Milena Merrill, north shore bureau chief for Nola.com. The partnership came about last fall when Merrill contacted communication professor Carol Madere about the possibility of recruiting Southeastern students as Nola.com interns.
“I was definitely interested in internships, but the timing wasn’t quite right because the fall semester was already underway,” said Madere, who coordinates student internships for the Department of Communication. “Then Milena started talking about doing the blog. I realized that Dr. Amber Narro’s news editing class could make use of the blog right away.”
In that class, Narro’s students hone their skills by editing news, feature and editorial pieces written by other communication classes. Their work is published weekly in print form in an internal publication, “Southeastern Communication Nation.” But Madere and Narro realized that today’s newspaper reporters and editors are also simultaneously publishing stories – not to mention photographs, video and audio feeds -- on Web sites, such as Nola.com.
“The buzz word in the industry now is ‘media convergence,’” said Madere. “The Nola.com partnership is a perfect opportunity for the students to be involved in that.”
“It has really offered our students an opportunity to do something that is kind of outside of the box – it’s been a great learning experience,” Narro said.
Last fall, approximately 60 students in news editing, news writing and feature writing classes were involved in the blog. They posted not just the stories edited by Narro’s class, but also uploaded photos and videos.
With a new semester now underway, Narro said two Southeastern students, Travis Edens of Walker and Ericka Johnson of Destrehan, have already signed up for Nola.com internships. Johnson and Jerrika Jackson of Baton Rouge are also contributing their own blogs to Nola.com.
Jackson’s blog – christened “Jerrika’s Hot Five” – will focus on collegiate fashion. Johnson, a senior communication major, has named her blog “Happy, Frustrated & Hungry.” She plans to write about current affairs, politics and other topics “from a young person’s point of view,” she said.
“This is a dream come true,” said Johnson. “I have always read the Times-Picayune and my goal is to work for the paper some day. I didn’t think I would come across an opportunity like this.”
Jackson said when Narro first introduced the new blogging assignment, “I had no idea what blogging was, no idea if I could do it. But once we started, it was so easy. I never expected that I would be blogging.”
During the current spring semester, Narro said her public affairs writing class is covering public meetings and events for Nola.com.
“Instead of just editing content, the students will actually be posting their work as unpublished and the interns will publish, edit, add artwork and have complete control over content,” she said. “This will truly be a student blog with student stories and student input. I think more students will jump on board when they see what's in store for these interns and what they will produce.”
Narro said that the idea of blogging initially did not go over well with her class of approximately 20 communication majors last semester.
“They fought it a little bit in the very beginning,” she laughed. “It’s fear of the unknown. I had the same reaction. I thought it was a great idea, but, at the same time, I was wondering what I was getting myself into! We did not realize how easy it was going to be.”
The students, however, were rapidly won over when they saw their names and their work appearing on the Internet.
“I thought, ‘Wow, other people are really going to see what we’re editing? We really can’t make mistakes now!’” said Macherie Ward of New Orleans. She soon realized, however, “This also means someone is going to see on my resume that I blogged with Nola.com. They’re going to be able to look up my work on the Internet and I might get a job through this. I was excited,” she said.
Leah Diagon of Lacombe said the experience has helped open her eyes toward additional career opportunities. “Now I’m thinking I might want to go into editing not just writing,” she said. “It’s been fun to see your stories up there on Nola.com.”
“It is phenomenal to see this come together,” said Merrill. “Had it not been for these women and their openness to trying this, this would have never have come to be.”
At a recent Nola.com editorial meeting “The students work was highly praised,” Merrill said. She said the student news blog has been so well received that it has been chosen as one of those featured in Nola.com’s main blog box.
“Three million eyes read Nola.com,” she said. “I’ve had other bloggers offer me money for that spot, but these students earned it.”
“Wow, what a partnership! I think that was only the beginning of what our relationship will be,” Narro said. “I'm thrilled with Nola.com, and I hope to continue to foster this relationship.