Tag Archives: ICMA

#ICMA12 … Day 2 Impressions


MMU students.

Jenny interviews Mariah at ICMA conference. Jenny is MMU Times TV editor.

DES MOINES, Iowa (Feb. 3, 2012)—Blog fans, a quick update before a session I am supposed to moderate.

I’ve had a very interesting 1 ½ days at the Iowa College Media Association convention. One of my overriding impressions is that Mount Mercy needs to invite the Freedom Singers from the First Amendment Center for a program sometime soon. They do a fantastic and eye-opening show that raises lots of issues students to be aware of a talk about.

Plus, they’re just rockin’

Other Impressions from this year’s sessions:

  • We need a more organized on-line social media strategy for the MMU Times. Our web traffic is too low because we don’t give people a reason to go to our site, which tends to follow the paper rather than lead it. And while we do have a Twitter Account and Facebook page, we don’t use them well at all. I’ve added blogging as an assignment in some writing courses—will have to set some Twitter guidelines too, I’m thinking.
  • I’m glad I teach at MMU. The organizer of our newspaper contest could not be at our meeting today because he has to do a presentation to his college’s board of trustees to justify his department’s existence. A double-digit number of faculty has already been laid off and some departments may not survive. It’s a cold world out there.
  • Best ICMA quotes:

–“It’s not just who and what, it’s why and how.” Christine Williams of the Seattle Times on the role of a newspaper journalist.

–“Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus.” What was going through Des Moines Register photographer Julia Thompson’s mind as she took a picture that won a Pulitzer Prize (Williams was on the Pulitzer panel, too).

–GOYAAGKOD. The mail rule of journalism, according to U of I Prof. Stephen Berry (no, not THAT U of I Stephen). It means “get off your ass and go knock on doors.”

–“Experience stands out, but attitude is just as important.” Advice from Julia Thompson of the Des Moines Register on landing that first journalism job.

–“Don’t wait for someone to tell you to get a Twitter account. Do it.” Thomas Ritchie of the Sioux City Journal to students. A new job applicant who has no social media experience has a snowball’s chance in Iowa (little joke there) of landing a news job.

Anyway, I may do a follow up later. Got two sessions to lead. Check in later!

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ICMA Convention, the First Day


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DES MOINES, Iowa, 8:14 p.m.: This will be brief, as there is one more program I am going to tonight at the ICMA convention in Des Moines.

It’s been a pretty good day, despite a foggy start the traveling weather was good, and the Mount Mercy Times did win a number of awards:

  • Honorable Mention, Best Opinion Writing, Ryan Pleggenkuhle
  • 2nd Place, Best Explanatory or Interpretive News Story, Cynthia Petersen
  • 3rd Place, Best Explanatory or Interpretive News Story, Jennifer Koehighain
    4th Place, Best Multimedia slide show, Cindy Petersen, Mariah Cary
  • 2nd Place, Best Online Video, Sophia Fuchs.
  • 2nd Place, Best Blog, Cynthia Petersen
  • 3rd Place, Best Blog, Jennifer Koenighain
  • 4th Place, Best Blog, Jenna Marzen

The food has been good, as we had a mentor luncheon where we enjoyed the company of Lyle Muller, editor of The Gazette. Later, we walked in pleasant warm temperatures about six blocks to tour a radio station, where we learned the dress code is a bit lax in radio.

I really enjoyed remarks by three Pulitzer Prize winners in the afternoon, and may blog more about that later (left my notes upstairs, free Internet is only in the hotel lobby, so no more detail tonight).

Supper was scavenging snacks in the trade show room, but they were plentiful and I think even the students were satisfied.

Well, more later from your Des Moines correspondent!

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Anybody Know a Great Des Moines Journalism Speaker?


Who will work for free, entertain students and has great stories to tell?

My presidency of ICMA, the Iowa College Media Association, has come to an end. I fulfilled my role well, I think, in that I didn’t really do anything (as I told the vice president, “you’ve been just a heartbeat away from….nothing.”). Anyway, now I’m the convention director. It feels like a much more substantial job—none of the “glory,” but lots more pain.

Wartburg gym lobby

Lobby of new Wartburg gym made me think of a train station or cathedral.

Well, the Iowa Newspaper Association is a tremendous help to ICMA, and as I scramble around looking for ideas in Des Moines next February, I’m sure both the INA and the central Iowa ICMA members will be helpful.

Anyway, yesterday the ICMA summer meeting was at Wartburg in Waverly. It’s a very nice college with enviable facilities. One enduring impression I have, however, is how huge the lobby is of the new exercise center. It’s not quite cathedral in proportion, or old train station in size, but it reminded me of both, and I thought what an expression of how cultural priorities have changed that in 2011, at a small religious private college, the grand new expanse of steel and brick is a gym lobby.

Wartburg pool.

The pool at the new Wartburg/Waverly fitness center.

I don’t intend that as any criticism of Wartburg. Heaven knows MMU could use some more bricks and mortar—and a large recreation facility would be high our wish list.

Anyway, the ICMA meeting was great fun. Thank you, Wartburg, for hosting.

Now, does anybody know of any great, free Des Moines speakers who have something to say to media students (journalism, PR, broadcast journalism, etc.)?

Wartburg foutain

Fountain on Wartburgs nice central campus green area.

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Don’t Be A Log, Get Online And Blog!


The MMU Times swept the blog categories of the recent ICMA contest, which was nice.

We won even though many of our student blogs appear “dead.” That is, when absolutely forced to blog by a mean old professor, some students grudgingly blog now and then, maybe 3 times a semester.

MMU Times Blogs

The MMU Times Blog page. The top middle blog, by Zach D'Amico, won best in Iowa in the ICMA contest.

It’s not enough. Any student who wants to be “a writer” of any capacity has to have more personal thoughts to articulate and share.

WordPress issued a 2011 challenge to its bloggers to try to post every day. I have not taken that challenge—I feel I’m not ready to do that much blogging.

But ,I update this blog at least twice a week, and it’s not the only blog I update, either.

Why is blogging so important? Well, for one thing, we live in a 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day communication cycle, and any PR or Journalism or Multi-Media Design student needs to think about working in that kind of “instant update” environment.

Blogging provides students with a URL to share when looking for an internship or job.

Most important, blogging is regular, public writing performance.

So, how should students blog? Ideas:

• Make a time to blog. A regular few minutes each week when you collect your thoughts and share them.
• Write your blog posts in Word and edit them before posting. You are your own web editor.
• Be careful of what you post. You can get sued for libel over a blog, and you are creating a public image of yourself. If you copiously drop the F bomb, you may be positioning yourself as a coarse writer with little respect for the power of that word or it’s appropriate place, for example. I think it’s not only OK, but a good idea to blog about political topics—but that does , again, create a public persona for yourself. If you rant about Sarah Palin, don’t apply for a job at the 2012 Palin Campaign.
• Make it readable. A blog may not be the place to post class assignments, particular if you’re replying to 7 questions that the blog reader does not see, for example. Try to have something to say, and say it in a way that readers would enjoy.

Anyway, that’s all of my wisdom for now. Blogosphere—do you have ideas about either the value of student blogs or rules for student bloggers?

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Hooray! MMU Times Earns 11 ICMA Awards!


Times students at ICMA

Feb. 3, Times students with ICMA awards: Biz Brumm, Campus Editor; Ryan Pleggenkuhle, Managing Editor; Jennifer Koenighain, Design Editor; Erich Pilcher, Multi-Media Producer; Jason Novak, Sports Editor and Cynthia Petersen, Editor-in-chief.

Or, an even dozen, if you count the headline-writing award a staff member earned while he was at Kirkwood.

Anyway, the ICMA award ceremony Feb. 3 in Des Moines during the annual Iowa College Media Association Convention, hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association at their convention, turned out to be a good night for the Times. The Mount Mercy University students won 11 awards in the ICMA Better Newspaper contest, which I think is a record for the Times.

The Grand View Views won best newspaper overall in a point-based contest that relies on the category awards, but I think if we improve next year, we may have a shot at that award, too.

Anyway, here are awards the Times won:

First Place, Best Editorial Leadership for staff editorials.
First Place, Best Blog, by Zach D’Amico.
First Place, Best Explanatory/Interpretive News Story, by Cynthia Petersen.
First Place, Best Opinion Writing, by Zach D’Amico.
Second Place, Best Profile Story, by Brian Heinemann.
Second Place, Best Review, by Erich Pilcher.
Second Place, Best Blog, by Cynthia Petersen.
Third Place, Best Sports Feature, by Brian Heinemann.
Third Place, Best Opinion Writing, by Cynthia Petersen.
Third Place, Best Blog, by Ivory Davis.
Honorable Mention, Best Review, by Brian Heinemann.

D’Amico wrote a column last fall about his father’s deteriorating health. Sadly, his father passed on this January, but D’Amico’s column, and his blog, were both judged the best student newspaper writing in the state of Iowa in their respective categories by ICMA. “Good work” seems like a bittersweet sentiment under the circumstance, but is none-the-less true. D’Amico did outstanding writing as a staff writer, and we’re glad he’s joining our staff on a more regular basis as a Special Correspondent this spring.

Heinemann and Petersen are last year’s and this year’s editors-in-chief of the Times. Pilcher is our multi-media executive producer, and should be key to our efforts this spring to beef up our web site.

By the way, this year’s managing editor, Ryan Pleggenkuhle, earned a headline writing award for the Communiqué at Kirkwood. We’re glad to have Ryan at MMU this year. Ryan won third place for best sports headline.

I’m a little surprised that certain other stories did not earn any awards, and we received no recognition at all for page design. I’ve seen other Iowa college newspapers, and I’m not sure why that’s true, except that maybe they’ve done a few special pages that stand out.

But, that’s looking back. What’s the message looking ahead?

I’m hoping we can make more progress this spring semester and next year on one of our ongoing issues—a need to improve photography. Images are very important—and, I think photo skills display a visual sense that most journalists need these days. Yes, I think there will always be a place for great writers, but a writer who can craft good layouts, shoot decent video, design both print and web pages and shoot compelling still pictures—well, that generalist, whether she ends up in journalism or PR, has more of a future in our evolving communication environment.

That’s the message, kids. Don’t be good at just one thing—you have to be a triple or quadruple threat.

The other takeaway, for me, is that we must fix the sorry state of our newspaper web site and do more multi-media reporting.

But, note the blog near sweep of all the awards. The ICMA judge wrote “pay attention to what the ‘Mount Mercy Times’ is doing with blogs.” We did very well in the fall, which earned us the ICMA honors, and now we have to energize and keep up the good blog work—and promote the blogs.

That and our continued excellence in editorial commentary are points to be proud of.

Eleven is a nice number of awards—more than most (or, possibly, all but one) other newspapers earned. Good work, Times staff present and past.

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ICMA Sweet Potatoes and Wall Hangings …


Erich, Cindy, Brian, Bizz, Bob and Mickena--2010 MMC Times ICMA travelers--with the war hooters girl at the Iowa State Capitol. I took the photo, but with one of their cameras.

Note the photo. It’s not a tacky statue at an Iowa Casino, it’s part of a war monument adjacent to the Iowa Capital.

“Welcome home, boys.”

Anyway, as the group photo shows, it was one of the sights at the 2010 Iowa College Media Association Convention, attended by six Mount Mercy students and me Feb. 4 and 5.

The “Mount Mercy Times,” student newspaper of Mount Mercy College, earned eight awards this year (nine if you count one our new news editor, Cindy, won for her Kirkwood journalism). Quite a haul that will cover more of our office “awards wall.” It is double our haul from last year, a respectable showing. I’m typing at home and the certificates are in my office, so I can’t list the awards here—but I’m sure we’ll post them on the newspaper (times.mtmercy.edu) and our Mount Mercy Times Facebook page soon.

Bet John Ashcroft would cover this mama in blue curtains. Base of a war memorial at the Iowa Capitol.

The awards put us third in the sweepstakes to be named best Iowa college newspaper of the year, a title won by Grandview University’s paper this year. The Loras College paper was second. Congratulations to both, hope we beat you next year :0. Third is out of 11 who entered contests, by the way, so it is a respectable showing.

So, what were my impressions of the conference?

  • Facebook makes instant video, audio and text communication way easy. Photos from the conference (ones on this blog are via Facebook and are borrowed from Cindy Petersen and Brian Heinemann, neither of whom, I hope, would sue me) were uploaded while we drove around Des Moines via cell phones and Blackberrys. Students were iffy about whether they wanted to visit the war memorial near the state Capitol until they saw it, then were willing to risk life and limb trudging up snow-covered slopes and stairs for a closer look. Go figure. (Or what a figure?)
  • Sooner or later, Times staff members will figure out that most Times computers have web cams, too. What are the potential results? Here is a link to some fun Wartburg students had: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEUh14_jLbQ
  • Sweet potatoes are either inexpensive or elegant or both. Every ‘fancy’ meal at ICMA featured sweet potatoes. What sweet potato-growing region is the chef at the Des Moines Marriott from?
  • The giant tower of rust—a.k.a. the Ruan Center—does not grow more charming year by year. Some downtown Des Moines building are interesting, ones that appear to have been built in the 1920s or 1930s or earlier, with lions or sea horses incorporated into second or third flood motifs and that look like they have unique character  from the skywalk. But what was the architect of the Ruan Center thinking? “Paint it? Hell no. In 30 years, all will admire its rust-belt reddish orange color and think, how cool.” Or, perhaps, how junkyard. In some ways, I wish Mount Mercy had undergone a growth spurt about 1937 or so—whatever buildings had been added would be slightly whimsical and feature buttresses or gargoyles. In architecture, at least, imagination for commercial or educational structures seems to have been shocked out of the world by World War II.

The MMC Times is on a good trajectory. Three points to continue our awards growth: 1) Keep the basics going—good writing, particularly feature, opinion and sports writing—have to be emphasized. 2) Improve photography. We need news, sports and feature photos, as well as portfolios, to submit. And 3) Continue to jazz up the web. We were number two last year, did not get recognized this year even though our web master has done great upgrades. The standards on the web are changing quickly. We need more bling (and by bling I don’t just mean flash or sparkle, more substance, too).

Anyway, as usual, it was an enjoyable trip. Thanks to the INA for hosting ICMA. Congratulations to all the Times staffers whose efforts helped earn this year’s awards.

Bob wrote the editorial that was the best in the state last year ...

What is Bizz doing? Some lady (old and young, see background) sign language or exotic dance?

Mickena shoots, Brian shoots and uploads. Got Facebook reactions minutes after posting ...

Erich is not amused.

Cindy is a new staff member, Kirkwood transfer. Got an award for one of her Kirkwood stories.

I must be nodding off? Or laughing? Laughing as I nod off? A funny and tiring adventure ...

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