Social media

Dress rehearsal

It’s time, it’s time, it’s time, it’s time!!

It’s my favorite time of the quarter! The time when I get to see my students’ hard work come to fruition! The time when I sit back in awe at how creative and brilliant our future as a whole really is! The time when I get so excited because my students have once again gone beyond the necessary and gone to the extreme! It’s dress rehearsals for group projects!

This quarter, my social media class divided into six groups to partner with six start-up companies. And when I say start-up, I mean one-person operations. One is a photography business, one is a prayer journal (that I have mentioned before), one is an online boutique, etc. These are businesses that would benefit greatly from social media management skills. My students will, in one week, propose a social media campaign that will show them what platforms they need to use, what audience demographic they should target, and give them examples of posts for each platform.

Tomorrow – tomorrow – I get to critique their dress rehearsals for these pitches. Dress rehearsals are vital to get all the bugs out of the system before the clients see the finished, flawless project. Not only will they see any technical difficulties they may have with the presentation, but they will receive feedback on their presentation as well as with their hard-copy pitch. These are all intelligent students with fantastic editing skills – but nothing is perfect. I am a pretty dadgum good copy editor myself, and when I was close to graduating with my undergraduate degree, I asked several editors to look over my resume. They tweaked a few items but overall praised it. I took it to a technical writing firm, and before I sat down for the interview, one of the interviewers said, “Hey, you have a proofreading error on your resume. Did you know that?” None of my proofreaders saw that.

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Obviously, I did not get the job.

But I digress – the point of that little rabbit trail was to explain that even group work editing needs assistance.

They had a team workshop last week, and as I flitted around from group to group, I was so impressed with their ideas. They’re working with such a variety of creative businesses with a wide range of social media capabilities. One businesswoman is quite adept at social media, and her posts are already amazing. Her group is working to help her take her business to the next level, using her knowledge to boost her sales even higher. Then we have businesses whose heads are not sure how to use social media or what to do to increase brand awareness on any platform – and those students are working on a game plan that gives specifics of what to do, where to do it, and when to do it. And – wait, there’s more! We have business leaders who don’t have time – they have a family or another job or this profession is a side gig – at any rate, my students are working on a plan that will help them grow their social media engagement with a time management plan. It’s great – it’s so great, y’all. This week is exciting, and I am already so proud of all of their work.

And, yes – this is me this week.

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It’s time, it’s time, it’s time, it’s time!

Dementia, media literacy, Reading, Social media, Writing

Student projects revealed

We are officially in finals week here at Tech. Crunch time is upon students and faculty members, who are busy grading, averaging, and even preparing for next quarter.

My copy editing students, as you may recall, worked on a project with Ruston Nursing Home. The students went out in pairs to interview residents at the facility and produced lengthy feature articles highlighting their assigned resident.

The students were a little anxious about the project – not only because it was a large portion of their final grade, but also because they were unaccustomed to having to interview individuals with dementia or other memory problems. Not all of the residents had those issues, of course, but many did.

The stories – y’all. I was blown away.

Here are just a few snippets I had:

“Like sisters do, they had arguments, but (name removed) made it clear that she loved her sister when she cried over not being able to see or talk to her again. When she tried to talk about her other siblings, her words got lost and jumbled because of her health issues combined with her overwhelming emotions.” 

“’He’s just a nice man; it’s as simple as that,’ she said. ‘He’s going to find me wherever I am, every day. And when I find him, I’m going to go over there and shake his hand, kiss him on his forehead and ask him how he’s doing. And he’ll say, “I’m doing beautiful.” And I’ll say, “You better be, because I love you.”’”

“She wouldn’t let the residents forget that it was her birthday, either. Her birthday request? Black-painted nails and a pack of cigarettes.”

They told stories – they told stories of individuals born in the 1920s, individuals who are in the nursing home because of physical injury, because of mental injury. They told the stories about babies being born, about marriages, about divorces, about careers and opportunities passed, about death and loss. These are real people they interviewed, real joy and sorrow they recorded, and real stories they told. This is the job of a journalist.

I did ask them about the project, if they liked it or didn’t like it, and they said they enjoyed it. They said they enjoyed talking with their resident and having the opportunity to flex their writing muscles with a lengthy paper instead of a shorter article, which they usually write.

I am proud of these students. They worked hard, they spent several hours talking with their residents, and they produced great work. This was a great class. They were smart and creative, but, then again, most of my students are.

So now, as we finish up the fall, I’m also preparing for winter – social media, media law, and introduction to mass media. And it’s going to be amazing.

For students wanting to prepare for one of these three classes, read/watch:
MV5BNzI2NDA3MTA4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjA5MzkzMDI@._V1_UY268_CR110,0,182,268_AL_“Freedom for the Thought that We Hate” by Anthony Lewis (Media Law)
“Content Analysis in Mass Communication” by Lombard, Snyder-Duch, and Bracken (Intro to Mass Media)
“Making a Murderer” – Netflix documentary (Media Law and Social Media)
“Nosedive,” “Black Mirror” Episode, Season 3, Episode 1 – Netflix (Social Media)

See you this winter!


Dementia, media literacy, Social media, Writing

Telling your stories

I’ve got to brag on my students a bit.

300x300I am an assistant professor at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. In my time here, I have taught all sorts of classes in communication and journalism: media law, feature writing, social media, public relations, introduction to mass media, intro to journalism, civic journalism – and that is not a comprehensive list. Every class, even those I’ve taught dozens of times, is always a new challenge because communication – and journalism in particular – is continually changing. It’s fascinating and fast-paced, and no two days are the same. I love my job. I really do. It’s not perfect, but I love teaching and researching my favorite subject: how people communicate.

This fall, one of the classes I’m teaching is copy editing. In a nutshell, the goal for copy editing is to teach students to think like editors for newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, public relations, advertising, online media, etc. They work with words, transitions, quotes, interviewing skills, and learning how to treat the AP Stylebook with the reverence it deserves. We talk about meaning and content in articles, how to work with writers, how to write headlines and cutlines, and how to handle ethical and legal issues. It’s a big, tough class – but it is so much fun.

This quarter, my students have partnered up with residents at Ruston Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. They are to write feature stories about their resident – the story topic really is up to them. Maybe their resident fought in WWII and they can focus on that. Maybe their assigned resident loved volunteering, maybe the resident raised a large family. The story isn’t meant to be biographical; it would be quite a feat to write someone’s biography in a single article. But the goal of this project was to capture a snapshot of that person, something that they found as relevant to other readers.

Everyone has a story. Every day, you have a story. My story today is that I got my teeth cleaned and I had no cavities. It sounds like no big deal, but there is a story behind it. Not that I want to go down a rabbit hole here, but the point I’m trying to make is that everyone has a story to tell – every day. Every day.

My students are to find that story.

I’m so excited about this project. SO excited. And part of it comes from my own story, with my dad dealing with Parkinson’s. I want these students to see these residents and talk to them. My dad loved talking to people, and even when he was unable to talk, he loved people to visit. I hope this project, small as it is, will instill in my students a love to hear people’s stories and to want to visit everyone, even people who grew up in a completely different generation. Sometimes age gaps and illnesses can be intimidating. I don’t want that to be the case.

Many of the students went yesterday to visit their resident for the first time. I can’t wait to hear later today about those experiences. What a fantastic journey they’re about to take, to talk to a stranger and find out about a life.

This is why I love my job.

Social media

Kind of a big deal: My thoughts on the Kavanaugh hearings

I, like most of the country, spent last week – and really, this week – wrapped up in the Kavanaugh hearings. It was a topic of my communication classes, and I could not stop watching.

My heart hurts for the people who are suffering – those who are on the national scene and those who are watching this and reliving their own painful experiences.

I should have stayed off of social media – really. I absolutely should have never gone to Facebook, never gone to Twitter – but I did anyway. And I saw it – the one post that I can’t get out of my head, can’t stop thinking about. It was from a female and said something on the basis of, “I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times, and I never made a big deal out of it.”


Did you just feel the breath rush out of your body like you’d been hit? Because I did, even typing it nearly a week later. And that wasn’t the only one I saw similar to that, either. I told my husband it reminded me so much of a scene from “Sharp Objects” (semi-spoiler alert coming) where the Amy Adams’ character sees a man from her past who sexually assaulted her. He is apologetic, and she shrugs him off like it was no big deal.

But it was. It is.

Sexual assault, at any age, at any point in your life, is a really big deal. Whether it went all the way to rape or not and whether it happened when you were in high school, college, or whenever — it is a really big deal.

Let me say it louder for the people in the back: IT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL.

Never let anyone tell you differently.

I am thankful to live in the time of the #metoo movement. I am thankful to live in a time when people are beginning to realize that consent – at any time, date, or place – is mandatory. I am thankful that I am raising my daughters in a time when the boys around them will see what happens when “boys will be boys” and cross a line. I am thankful I have a husband who understands that my body did not become his property when we said “I do,” and that he daily seeks to earn the privilege of intimacy (an approach of daily consent), believing I have the right to say “yes” or “no” joyfully.

I hear the arguments against this all the time, people saying that girls need to dress in a certain way or not go to frat parties or, “Well, I guess boys will have to get a form sign and notarized for just saying hello to a girl.” For the last part – what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong about people thinking just a little before speaking? I know I need to think before I speak on a daily basis. Why shouldn’t we all take a page out of that politeness book?

People are discussing this, and that is a good thing. People are asking questions, and that is a good thing. And while it is sadly such a prevalent problem in society, one thing needs to be stated very clearly:

Sexual assault – yeah. It is a big deal.


media literacy, Social media, Writing

Back to school

I have returned.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the classroom – okay, really just a few months, but it felt like FOREVER. At first, I was kind of under this delusion of “Hmm, maybe I could be a stay-at-home mom.” But, no, no, by mid-August, I missed my work. I missed my colleagues, I missed my students, and I missed my classes.

I do not take it for granted that I have a job that I love. I feel like I’m making a difference in our world, and I love teaching about social media and media law and even copy editing (actually, it’s one of my favs – but, then again, I generally say that about every class). The world of communication and journalism and media is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. But I never get bored.

Every day there is something new in my profession, whether it’s what the president tweeted that I use in media law or what ad was released that relates to media literacy and public relations and social media. All of communication interconnects and can be related in any setting. Communication is a human cornerstone. You have to have it. And I get to teach it! How can I not be overly excited?

So after I got my darling girls settled in their schools, Mommy returned to work. Kyle saw me on the first day and said, “I’m so glad you get to go back to work.” I responded with, “Ha HA, you’re just glad I’m out of pjs in the morning now.”

But, seriously, the first week was great. I may have scared my students a bit with my enthusiasm. Fall quarter is just fun anyway because everyone’s either new or coming back, we’re gearing up for the football season, and after not seeing everyone during summer, it’s just so good to catch up.

I walked into my first class with a big – no, HUGE – grin on my face. And I couldn’t help it. I said (very loudly), “I AM SO GLAD TO BE BACK TODAY! AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE AN AWESOME QUARTER EEEDDDDIIITTTTIIINNNGGG.”

The responses were less than animated that day, but that’s okay. I had enough eagerness for everyone. And they WILL learn to LOVE editing.

I love hearing my colleagues teach across the hall. I love talking about the news with other news junkies – faculty, staff and students alike. Yes, there are parts of my job I don’t like for sure. And I definitely don’t come into class every day feeling like, “Hooray! I get to teach!” But, in general – I do. And that’s a good feeling to have.

If only fall could really come to Louisiana soon so we can stop pretending it’s fall by turning down the AC. And I would like the love bugs to stay away. Please. It was like a plague of locusts last year. Small (miracle-needed) requests, really.

But I am so glad to be back. It is going to be a great year. I just know it.