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With the advent of Twitter, Facebook and similar sites, it seems that “social media”  is the new buzzword for today’s media professionals. That being said, social media is not some magic wand that casts a spell over unassuming audiences (then it would be called propaganda). Likewise, many new to the field think that if they start up a “social media” company they will be marketing geniuses and multimillionaires overnight.

News flash – that simply isn’t true.

Yes, social media is a powerful tool to get messages out to vast audiences. However, the way that said messages are framed and communicated makes a big difference in overall effectiveness. Not all communication works, but in the case of social media, your best bet is making sure that any and all communication is strategic in nature.

Here are some of the top social media myths that plague this growing industry:

  • If I ‘Tweet’ something, everyone will see it.
  • It doesn’t matter if it seems inappropriate or out of place, I can always delete it later (remember: once it’s online, there it will stay).
  • Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin accounts are seperate (this might be true, but the site will often automatically link them based on names and interests).
  • If I’m hosting a large event, all I need to do is make a Facebook event and everyone will come.
  • Social media is a one-way conversation.

All of the above are untrue the majority of the time. Check out for more insight on how to properly network using social media tools.

Former Chief of Staff for the Bush Administration, Andrew Card, shares stories and insight with those up-and-coming in the media industry. On Thursday, April 7, 2011, Card joined students from George Mason University and the University of Denver in a video conference to be aired on C-SPAN three the following day at five p.m.

Hosted by Steve Scully, political editor of the C-SPAN networks, the conference and interview session provided insight into Card’s political career, particularly his time spent with the Bush family, and how he got to where he was.

“I used to be a newspaper boy,” chuckles Card. Having been surrounded by media from a very young age, it’s no wonder Card’s most memorable moment was telling President George W. Bush that the Twin Towers had been hit on 9/11.

Card notes that as soon as he got word of a second tower being hit, he “knew it was Bin Ladin.” After recounting the morning’s events, it was clear that this memory stuck out to Card more than any other. Likewise, this event would be the primary moment that Card is remembered for in the media – he, of course, being the bearer of the worst possible news.

But of course, it’s all in the job description.

Being the Chief of Staff, Card’s job is to decide what is necessary to bring to the president’s attention. That being said, Card maintains that he was privy to terrifying information; now that he’s no longer in the limelight, however, he is more fearful of what he doesn’t know.

Speaking in terms of the Bush presidency as a whole, Card maintains that the Bush administration was “misunderstood”. Having approval ratings soar after 9/11 and plummet after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there’s no denying the public’s fickle mindset regarding former president George W. Bush.

According to Card, however, this is typical of any political candidate.

“They’re love magnets when they run for office and lonely when they serve”, he states. It is this theory, in addition to his home state’s distaste for Bush that steered Card away from running for the late Ted Kennedy’s senatorial seat in Massachusetts, despite his opponents offer to step down should he decide to run.

“I would have had to run three campaigns, with the main one being ‘I am not George Bush’,” states Card.

“The Chief of Staff’s job is to help the president do the president’s job”, maintains Card. In this particular case, Card used a close personal relationship with the President to determine what was pertinent. Stating that he feels “comfortable telling the President almost anything”, it could be considered a challenge to maintain the boundary between friendship and professionalism. Card, however, seemed to have found the right balance.

Any old-school journalist will tell you that in order to successfully cover a multi-platform story, the key is in having the right equipment. While this used to mean having a full camera and tripod setup, a mic kit, and the right editing software, times certainly are a-changing.

New media has sparked a new phenomenon coined ‘mobile reporting‘, in which smart phones are used as the primary tool for capturing audio, video, and uploading it online. Through the integration of these technologies, journalism can capture images with a one-man team instead of a production studio. Here are some of the  ways that mobile journalism has affected the field as a whole:

  • Audio capture
  • Video capture
  • Photography
  • Mobile VoIP
  • Twitter
  • Ipad & Accessories

However, as with any new trend, there are some downfalls. While accessibility is increased, quality of audio and video has  certainly decreased. With the advent of mobile journalism and the citizen journalist, some might argue that these new methods allow increased accuracy and in-the-moment style reporting.

Having worked across the media industry for the past 36 years, one could say that Brad Kalbfeld has seen it all. From the pre-computer era to Twitter-topia, the media and journalism industry has transformed in these recent decaded into a whole different animal – and in order to prevent being left behind, today’s reporters must learn to live and love all forms of new media.

Just ask Kalbfeld.

“When people used to ask where I was from, I used to say ‘the future,'” he jokes. But all kidding aside, Kalbfeld really has been tuned into digital revolution – and it’s only benefitted his career. Not only was it his idea to  integrate audio and video into the Associated Press publications, but he came up with it five years before it saw fruition.

But in reality, it is those innovative ideas that create new media and what we experience today. The question now remains – what’s next?

There’s no question that the job description for journalists often involves   travel. Covering a good story can take you to the other side of the world – just ask seasoned journalist, Kevin Anderson.

Although is was born and raised in the U.S., his work at the Gaurdian and the BBC has taken him to London, UK, as well as all over Europe and Asia. With his newest conquest taking place at Al-Jazeera, Arabic, Anderson has found himself in the Middle East covering politics and conflict. Despite the change in media outlets, Anderson says that he uses many of the same skills that are used in traditional journalism, only with a digital twist.

For more information about Anderson and his experiences in the media, click here to access his Linkedin information and blog, the Strange Attractor.

The beauty of the new media age is that it can take a simple concept, such as a map, and use integrative technology to encourage user interactivity. One of the newest and most useful examples of this type of technology is the ZeeMaps program.

By simply entering information into the entry boxes, one can easily create an interactive map for their online needs. Not only is ZeeMaps user-friendly, the best part is, it’s free! (Great for struggling journalists).

To see an example of an in-progress ZeeMap, click here.

In today’s globalized age, many business partners are working together on projects that cannot be completed without some sort of visual collaboration. However, constantly playing email tag and attaching documents constantly can be tedious and unsuccessful.

With these issues in mind, came up with a creative solution. By allowing users to create “mind maps” in which they visually map out ideas and charts to organize projects, this gives others involved in the project the ability to not only view the project, but also make changes, add notes and other collaborative elements. To view an example of my very own mind map, click here.

There’s no denying that the face of journalism is ever-changing, especially with the advent of social media in the past five years or so. What was once considered a trendy fad for college students has migrated into the professional realm, with journalists and public relations professionals at the forefront.

One of the main uses for websites such as Twitter is to create a dialouge or conversation between journalists and their audiences. Not only can readers  comment, blog and link to different articles that they find relevant, but moreover, can contribute a bit of themselves into the piece as a whole. This makes readers not only  feel more involved, but additionally allows them to participate in the field of journalism – without even realizing it! Here are some ways to get your readers involved in the online conversation:

  • Branding and promoting the site to attract readers
  • Solicit content
  • Moderate user content and dealing with reader problems
  • Know your legal and ethical boundaries

Love it or hate it, it looks like social media is here to stay. So you might as well embrace the change, and hang on for the ride.

For Senator-elect George Allen, freedom is the name of the game

Former Virginia Senator George Allen is on the campaign trail again, only this time he’s hitting the digital realm as well. On Thursday, February 17, 2011, Allen joined students from George Mason University and the University of Denver in a video conference to be aired on C-SPAN three the following day at five p.m.

Hosted by Steve Scully, political editor of the C-SPAN networks, the conference and interview session provided insight into Allen’s political platform. Given that he is running for Senate again in the coming term, these discussions provided some key insight into the lawmaker’s policy ideas.

Student questions ranged from rising tuition concerns all the way to the budget crisis. Throughout the interviews, however, Allen’s response to fiscal issues remained constant; if the country does not currently have the revenue coming in, it is necessary to have budget cuts and curtail spending.

“This country was founded on the concepts of freedom and responsibility” says Allen. No doubt Allen, a ‘common sense Jeffersonian conservative’, was influenced by his father, former Redskins coach George Allen Sr. However, the younger Allen claims that he learned his ideas about political and governmental freedoms from his mother, a woman of Tunisian descent who grew up during the oppressive Axis powers in WWII.

Throughout the interviews, many of the questions were not necessarily political in nature; yet all of them allowed the audience to gain insight into Allen as a person and his beliefs about the world today.

One question asked by George Mason University professor Steve Klein, discussed the advent of social media on the world today – particularly from the perspective of someone running for a second Senate term. From his response, Allen seemed aware of the social media basics and states that even his campaign video is on However, his lack of elaboration leads one to believe that he is maybe not as tech-savvy as he leads on.

The discussion ends on a light note, with a student wondering how aside from sharing the same Senatorial seat as Thomas Jefferson, in what ways does he consider himself to be like Thomas Jefferson – one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

While admittedly Allen has not written any nation-altering documents, he does reiterate his attempts to retain personal freedoms for all Americans; line item veto, and social security reform are just a few of the ways that Allen is attempting to give some power back to the American people – or so he says.

There were several sports analogies thrown in to further explain these issues – but that’s nothing that can’t be found in his new book, What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports. No matter what side of the political fence the audience is on, it is undeniable that Allen is not just looking to score a touchdown in the upcoming Senatorial elections; he’s looking to win the big game.

To view the conference at the University of Denver’s online Distance Learning center , click here.