Copyright: rawstory.com

“It was a misunderstood administration that had the undeniable courage to make tough decisions.”

This was how Andrew Card answered the first question of , “What did you think about the Bush administration?” during the C-SPAN video conference.

On April 7 Card joined Steve Scully, political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and participating students from George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Denver for a live video conference.

Card, who is the former chief of staff for George W. Bush, had a lot of insight on the inner workings and difficult jobs he faced over his six years in this position.

He started off by speaking about the tragic morning of September 11, 2001 in which he uttered ths famous words to President Bush of: “A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

He explained his thought process in choosing what exactly to say to the president. 1) He asked himself  “Does the president need to know?” 2) Make sure his statement wouldn’t elicit a question.

He talked about how this was an unprecedented moment and how it was extremely rare to interrupt the President during an event, as he was speaking to second graders at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, FL.

I was cool, calm, collected and objective on 9/11. I tried to not let my emotions take over me and focus on the job at hand,” said Card.

He talked about how this was the day that changed him and President Bush forever. It made him grounded and put a new focus on his faith.

In the days following this tragic event, he explained how September 14, 2001 became the most memorable day as Chief of Staff. Referred to as the “Bullhorn Speech“, President Bush gave an unscripted speech on the site of Ground Zero that Card described as showing “passion, concern and resolve.”

Card then went on to discuss a “typical day” on the job:

  • At his desk by 5:30 a.m.
  • First document he read everyday was the Presidents Daily Brief, which is one of the most secret documents.
  • Read economic and domestic news.
  • Looked at his locator box which informed where the President, Vice President, their children and First Lady were (6:45-7:00 a.m)
  • He got to greet the President every morning and tell him his agenda.

“You kind of become a vampire,” explained Card. “You are required to do work in the middle of the night and my job wasn’t done until I knew the President was asleep.”

When asked about the challenges of his job, he simply chuckled with, “Giving information to the President”. He then went on to explain that he had to “give him everything he needs, but not necessarily what he wants.” Card explained how he always ensured that he gave President Bush the time he needed to be prepared to make a decision.

“If the President makes an easy decision, then the Chief of Staff hasn’t done his job.” – Card

The conference concluded with some insight on what Card misses most about his position as Chief of Staff. These things included:

  • All the information he had and knew.
  • The fact that he knew more than the President.
  • The scary and serious information he was given.
  • Knowing that the enemy is real and that they plot and create danger.

Card explained how he obviously had to maintain a professional relationship with President Bush. He actually said to Bush that, “As long as I’m your Chief of Staff, I can’t be your friend.” He had to find the right balance and know that this relationship would lead way to a wonderful friendship in the future.

He ended things off my explaining how Bush Senior and former President Bill Clinton have become good friends. “Bush Senior is an good listener, Clinton is a good talker, and you put the two together and there’s a great friendship,” said Card.

As for Card, he now has that wonderful friendship with former President Bush and the experience of a lifetime to take with him.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-SPAN, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 p.m. and also streams online here.

Brad Kalbfeld, author of the Associated Press Broadcast News Handbook and managing editor for the Associated Press, came and spoke to our Comm. 361 class on April 5, 2011. Kalbfeld spoke about much of the history of journalism and how it’s evolved us into today’s journalism.

Copyright: apbroadcast.com

He started off his presentation by showing us what he used in the past. He first showed us his large typewriter, then his first laptop that basically looked like a big Game Boy console which could only show four lines of text and then his cassette recorder. He used to have to carry ALL of these heavy things around with him. Boy how things have changed!

It used to be: heavier equipment, limited amount of people had access to it and it was expensive.

There has been an incredible leap in technology to what we have today. For example, the iPhone gives everyone the capability to have access to information.

He then gave us a before and now look into how journalism occurred and now occurs.

BEFORE: Event –> (Filter 1) Reporter –> (Filter 2) Copy Editor –> (Filter 3) Section Editor/Show Produced –> (Filter 4) Managing Director –> (Filter 5) Reader/viewer

NOW: Joe Six-Pack –> Reader/viewer. Skips all other filters. The reader/viewer now has the power to determine what gets out there.

” There is a new level of coverage due to how the power shift has changed. It’s not just reporters and journalists who are relaying information, everyone had the opportunity to do it.” – Kalbfeld

The conversation then got on the topic of citizen journalists versus traditional journalists. Kalbfeld explained that some traditional journalists are scared of citizen journalists because of their direct appeal to the public. Citizen journalists are able to provide a different level of coverage that professional journalists can’t. Kalbfeld explained that it’s all about finding a balance and making sure you’re reporting on truthful information.

When asked what’s the tool he can’t live without he stated the Internet. Pretty solid answer for an ONLINE journalism class.

Lastly, Kalbfeld spoke about all the different news outlets out there and how people chose what to tune into. He explained that there’s many factors as to what people chose as their news. It can be because the reporter shares their beliefs, they like the advertising, they agree with the political standpoint of the reports and many many other reasons. Basically, consumers need to be educated consumers and find what’s reputable. He explained though that people don’t’ always do that and can be lazy. That’s where journalists come in and need to make sure they’re providing solid information.

Mark Potts, who is a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, came and spoke to our Comm. 361 class on March 29. He has been exploring the digital world for 19 years and is always looking for new tools to utilize.

Copyright: newsonomics.com

During Potts presentation, he gave us TONS of wonderful resources, helpful websites, and examples of well-done storytelling.

One thing that I was especially surprised to hear was that he spoke very highly of Wikipedia and called it “a fantastic news site”.  After constantly hearing from professors that it’s not a reputible source of information, here Potts comes saying he thinks it’s great. He explained how its got voluminous work and is built by the crowd, which adds to it’s resourcefulness.

He then showed us a story done in December of 2010 that utilized Facebook as the medium to telling the story. So in essence,Facebookdid the storytelling and the rest fell into place. The article is called “A Facebook story: A mother’s joy and a family’s sorrow” and can be found here.

He explained how Storify gives the reader structure and some kind of flow, but doesn’t necessarily work for every story. He definitely believes that crowdsourcing is a HUGE component to storytelling today and very beneficial.

“Do what you do best and link to the rest,” Potts said towards the middle of his presentation. I thought this was very powerful and presented the fact that using outside resources and stories to LINK to your story is a good thing.

Another big topic that came up, as always, was Twitter. His take on it was incredibly different from what we’ve been hearing from previous speakers. He said:

  • He only uses it to tweet his recent blog posts
  • Doesn’t care for it
  • Doesn’t see it as that interesting
  • Isn’t filtered
  • There’s just too much stuff

I was very surprised to hear this, but understood what he meant at the same time. It’s good to find the pros and cons to everything, and since we’ve ONLY been hearing the pros it was cool to get a different perspective.

He ended his presentation by saying that he stopped reading print news years ago because there’s better writing on the web. He explained how30 years ago only way you got info was the newspaper. It was the only option you had. He explained how newspapers are out of date the second they’re published, but that the web is constantly keeping up to the SECOND with information.

His final statement, which stuck with me for the rest of the day was, “We need to be our own filters today.” Basically saying, there’s so much information out there, but WE need to be responsible consumers.

BJ Koubaroulis, former George Mason University student who graduated with a B.A. in Communication in 2004, spoke to our Comm. 361 class on March 31. He currently works a a sports writer at The Washington Post.

Copyright: wjmc.gmu.edu

The first thing he spoke about was how “you’ll start from the bottom and work your way up: that’s how you learn.” While it may seem like an obvious statement, it’s easy to forget that the only way you’re going to learn is by making your mistakes NOW instead of when it REALLY matters.

He recommends working at a small paper to give you an opportunity to 1) learn and 2) make your mistakes.

Going along with that, he said he learned the most at his internships and the small newspapers he worked for.

He explained how he fell in love with high school sports and actually enjoyed it the most out of all his sports coverage for three reasons: 1) Most access, 2) Most real people, and 3) The people actually enjoy speaking to you.

He then spoke a lot about video. That words seems to keep appearing. He explained how video has been a life changing experience for him. He explained how individuals can harness the power of video, whereas before media companies were needed to utilize video. ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Video allowed him to become a better writer. If that’s not reason enough to learn video, then I don’t know what is.

He then explained how everyone should learn:

  • How to use the Web
  • HTML
  • Social media
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Pictures

And with that he had this to say about journalism today: “It’s just one job now. Everything is intermixed.”

“If you’re not going to change, you’re just going to get left behind.”

“Do all of it, don’t limit yourself.”

He then ended his presentation with FOUR things every journalist should have:

  1. Camera
  2. Computer
  3. Microphone
  4. Be ready to work!

In conclusion, he also showed us a REALLY cool website that incorporated all the things he’s talking about. It is an interactive website of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. Check it out here.

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, came to speak to our Comm. 361 class today about utilizing social media and digital online tools across various platforms.

 Copyright: tbd.com

Buttry started off his presentation by giving out free goodies from TBD. Hats and iPhone 4 covers with the TBD logo on them. Smart and easy advertising!

He then showed us a website that covered the horrific 35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. The article, titled “13 seconds in August”, is an interactive photo that allows viewers to scroll across the whole bridge and get individual stories and information on all the tragedies. It also has an excellent form of crowdsourcing in which readers can e-mail the StarTribune with any information regarding the disasters that are missing information.

He than made a profound statement in which he said “As a writer, YOU have control.” he then said to think of any story in this regard, “How do you want to explore this story?”

  • Gather sound, interviews, videos, pictures and anything else that’s going to effectively ADD to your story in a positive way.

He then showed us a story that was done by the DesMoinesRegister on the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado. It used an interactive map with before, after and remodeled photos of houses and buildings. There were also lots of videos that helped the story out. It basically became a vehicle for self-guided stories and opened the story up to more individual smaller stories. Check out the story here.

The coolest tool that he showed us was GlastoTag. It’s basically a website where photos are uploaded from big events and people can tag themselves in these pictures from the event. VERY COOL!

We then discussed the ever popular Twitter. When asked how Twitter has changed his journalism and he made a few great points:

  • Made him get to the point of a story faster.
  • Made him a better writer.
  • Instant feedback is better than waiting for next day responses.
  • Instead of going to a quote in a story, he can go to a Twitter tweet.

Finally, he ended his presentation with some great quotes for aspiring journalists.

“Always be curious. If a question occurs to you, ASK somebody.”

“Never say no for somebody else. Try it out first.”

“Curiosity and trying new things will make you stand out when applying for jobs.”

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