Anita McBride C-SPAN Interview

16 04 2011

Anita McBride said that the American public has expected the First Lady of the United States to play certain roles, and those roles changed over time. “We expect them to use voice and comment on social issues,” McBride stated. When it comes to the role of the First Lady, nobody seems to understand better than Anita McBride, who has not only worked with former President George W. Bush, but also with his wife Laura Bush.

McBride, who served as Assistant to President George W. Bush and as Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005-2009, joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the Georgetown University and  Purdue University.

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 pm and also streams online (

A First Lady has been most effective when they bring their own experiences,” stated McBride. The First Lady “humanizes the president,” explained McBride, “she acts as a window to see the president.”

She explained how Laura Bush was typecasted by the media as the “shy, retiring librarian,” but managed to break through that with a voice of her own. McBride illustrated that we, the public, expect our First Lady to be deeply engaged. For example, Laura Bush did this by focusing on global health awareness and the Emergency AIDS plan.

Now, First Lady Michelle Obama has focused on the issues of school bullying, obesity and military families. This raised the question of whether a First Lady do too many issues and lose focus, but the answer according to McBride is “Michelle Obama has been very strategic, and so far she’s only focused on how to become more engaged with your children’s life.”  I think these issues presented by Michelle Obama are perfect for today’s nation, and for her, as she has two emerging teen daughters of her own.

As for the Obama Administration, she said “No other leader faces what the United States President has to face,” so she is very happy to hear that the Obama’s seem like a normal family with a dad, mom, kids, homework and even a dog.

Great questions that were asked during the C-SPAN interview by fellow students:

  • What if there was to be a First Man if a woman president was elected? McBride says it would simply stay the same job, to support the wife and for the man to have a voice of his own.
  • Excluding the thee First Lady’s she has worked for, which First Lady in history would she have liked to work for? McBride: Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison.

Mrs. McBride is also a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, a historic public-private partnership between the U.S. and Afghan governments, Georgetown University and private sector institutions to help Afghanistan women find their place in a post-Taliban society. “They [the Afghan women] don’t want a hand out, they want a hand up, they don’t want to be perceived as victims,” McBride explained.

Andy Card C-SPAN Interview

9 04 2011

Andy Card knew more information than the President of the United States. Each day he would get up and receive official reports and then he would decide what was the most important information out of it all and tell it to the POTUS ( aka President of the United States), and that is what the Chief of Staff to the president would do.

Card, who was George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff from 2000 to 2006, joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the Georgetown University and  Purdue University.

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 pm and also streams online (

Card’s job entitled him to have more knowledge than our own President, which is astounding because you would think the President would have to know everything. This heavy flow of daily information, called the President’s Daily Brief (one of the most secret documents in Washington), is what Andy Card said he missed the most about working in the White House. That brings us to a point though, a point that one student asked Mr. Card in the form of a question: What don’t we as normal citizens know?

“It’s scary,” said Card about the information that he received, “the enemy really wants to get us.” Card was not only the Chief of Staff to W but was also appointed head of George W. Bush’s White House Iraq Group, and talked greatly about the ‘War on Terror’ and what the country was going through during his time at the White House.

Card was the man who infamously had to tell the president during his talk at a Florida elementary school that the country was attacked on September 11, 2001. He recounted the moment when he heard that a private plane had hit the first tower, and then the stunning news that a second plane had hit as well. Hearing that it wasn’t a private plane after all, but two commercial planes, Card had to break protocol and interrupt the president by whispering in his ear “a second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

Card said that September 14, 2001, just three days after the 9/11 attacks, was his most memorable day at the White House when Bush made his speech and spoke the words “our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty…You are not alone.” Card recalled how they couldn’t allow emotion of 9/11 cloud the decision making process that was going on in the White House at that time.

Card’s detailed recounting of 9/11 was extremely fascinating, as the students got a first hand account of someone who was right in the middle of it, someone who got the information first. Now, I will always think of Chief of Staff’s and know that they are probably the most knowledgable person in the country when it comes to what issues are facing our country and national security.

BJ Koubaroulis- Guest Speaker

7 04 2011

BJ Koubaroulis, a sports journalist for the DC and Northern Virginia, came to Kleins 361 class to emphasize the importance of videos. The new video era has ushered in a whole new wave of journalists, those who can write, take picture and most importantly edit video. Koubaroulis talked about how videos have taken his stories to a whole new level. Here’s an overview of Koubaroulis’ main points:

  • Video has been a life changing experience. Individuals can now harness the power of videos, you don’t need a camera crew; one guy with a video camera can make a difference. This tool allowed Koubaroulis to become a better writer, an example is his video accompanying his story on a high school football star.
  • Video illustrates that you could tell two stories within one story. Video allows more space for your story.
  • Audio is 70% of video. *Tip: Use a wireless microphone that only picks up local sound, which only picks up sound within five feet, and eliminates background noise.
  • If you take anything away from this class: Invest in yourself. Do a lot of different things: web, radio, TV, online, print. “I would do anything that people would let me do, and it’s all come back to help me very nicely.”
  • Media companies want to hire people that can do the jobs of five people. Learn HTML, learn social media, learn how to use the web. You are an accumulation of all these jobs. Do all of it, and you’ll be able to do the one thing you want to do.

  • A cool website that Koubaroulis admires: The Mason Tour
  • Four things you need to succeed: camera, computer, microphone, and to be ready to work hard.

*An accumulation of Koubaroulis’ work here, and his blog.

Kevin Anderson- Guest Speaker

7 04 2011

Kevin Anderson, now working for Al Jazeera Arabic in Doha, Qatar, has over a decade of journalism experience under his belt. Along with jobs at The Guardian and BBC News, Anderson has been a digital journalist since 1996 and rode the .com boom to becoming the BBC’s first online journalist outside of the UK.

Anderson’s main points:

  • What tools do journalists need to know how to use?
  1. Internships
  2. Setting up blogs (knowing how to write, take pictures, edit video)
  • The role of social media in journalism today?

The major role is “networked journalism”

  1. Not enough to build a website, make sure content is available and take it to places were people are congregating online, like Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Using networks to find sources and add voices to our journalism
  • How do we differentiate ourselves as journalist?

If we amplify everyvoice it just becomes noise(when it comes to people trying to be their own reporters) it’s still important to make editorial choices. We just have a richer wider choice of quotes.

Kevin and his wife, Suw Charman-Anderson, have a blog called the Corante. Check out their postings.

Mark Potts-Guest Speaker

29 03 2011

Mark Potts, who spent 15 years in the print business as a reporter and editor, is an entrepreneur who is a strategic/business/product consultant to leading business and Internet companies. In class today, he explained how many journalists get locked into telling a story a certain way, and don’t venture further and expand their storytelling ways. Potts showed the class numerous sites were they’ve taken storytelling to new levels with interactive maps and the integration of social media.

Here are some sites and stories that Potts showed us that I thought were exceptional examples of telling a story in the digital age:

  • Wikipedia: Although frowned on by many English Professors, it is an amazing collection of stories that is great way to get an overview or a story.
  • The Washington Post featured a story, in both it’s print and online version, is about a mother’s struggle with her child’s medical problems. The story is told through her Facebook posts and status updates, and The Washington Post annotated and edited her posts to tell a story.
  • Storify: A site that lets you create stories using social media, such a Twitter pics, Facebook updates etc. What Mark Potts described as “the flavor of the month.”

  • The term “crowd-sourcing:” saying to the audience “hey what do you know, what can you tell us?” Eg. The site WNYC posted a story after the snow storms in New York which featured an interactive map. The map shows the areas that were cleaned and those that weren’t cleaned, reaching out to people in those districts/people on the ground, that could tell their story and what is happening with the snow there.
  • Another term is “hyperlocal:” An example of trying to get news back into the neighborhoods and the communities. There are many websites that are filled with passionate bloggers who want to mimic what local newspapers used to do. Generally, these bloggers are called passionate bloggers because they don’t do it for money, but for the respect in their community and their desire to show the community’s stories. Eg:,
  • Computational jouranlism:” Another term explained by Potts that means using the power of the web and the power of the Internet to tell stories. Eg of data visualization:

*Tubeify: Took data from Billboard 100 and compiled it into a interactive site that lets you see which songs were the most popular in what years.

*The New York Times took Netflix rentals and made an interactive map that you can click on area and see what Netflix rentals are most popular.

Steve Buttry-Guest Speaker

22 03 2011

Steve Buttry has spent nearly 40 years in the newspaper business and, having successfully crossed over to digital journalism, is now the the Director for Community Engagement at TBD,  a site that focuses on DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia news. Throughout his lecture today, he engaged the class with several sites that took a news story to another level of online journalism. There were interactive maps, additional video/photo footage, and links that let the reader navigate the story  for themselves.

Helpful tips from Buttry:

  • When you get a story, imagine the best way you could report. Change the reporting process and think of the possible ways the reader can get engaged with the story. As a writer of traditional journalism, we have control of what the viewer reads and in what order. With digital journalism, the reader navigates the story for themselves.
  • Cut and paste your lead from a story and tweet it out for everyone to see, gauge the reaction and if your lead won’t fit into a tweet, then it’s too long.
  • Best rule of journalism: never say no for somebody else. Always interview, gather information because there are some people, even though they have tragic stories, that want to share what’s happened with them to the world.

*A great example of letting your a reader navigate themselves through a story was is The New York Times’ online story about the Japanese nuclear crisis. They have interactive photos that combines before and after shots of certain landscapes in Japan, and the reader can click on an arrow that reveals the after-tsunami photos right over the before shot. You can automatically spot the devastation with this tool, which makes the story that much more shocking.

*Another example of interactive journalism is The Des-Moines Register’s story on the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado that hit May 25 back in 2008. The site has an interactive map of the town that shows all the buildings that were effected. Not only do they map out the damaged buildings and areas, but when you click on them, additional videos,information and pictures pop up about the building. The reader can literally jump from place to place whenever they want, and not have to read through a bunch of paragraphs to get the information they seek.

*This last article, by The Star Tribune about the aftermath of the 35W bridge collapse in central Minneapolis, is perhaps the best interactive story in my opinion that Buttry showed us. The audio especially in the opening video, a mashup of 911 calls and emergency dispatch calls, was the best and most moving part of the story. On the left, you get a scrolling image of the entire bridge, in all its collapsed and crumpled state, that is littered with cars. Each car has a tag that you can click on and on the right hand side, you get information and the story about the individuals in that car. This is the most clever way I can think of to give this story the catastrophic chaos it deserves. It lets the reader decide who he/she wants to feel for and wants to read more about.

This visit from Steve Buttry showed me that journalism is evolving as fast as you can click the button on your mouse. With each new interactive story, reporters find ways to suck the audience into the news. These gave me great ideas for our final project, and I think our group is definitely doing something with an interactive map, where you click on the icon and it gives you the story behind a person or an event.

You can find more of Buttry’s insights on his blog.

Want to Digitize Your Life?- Chapter 9 Mark Briggs

22 03 2011

With information such as emails, status updates and blog posts, its sometimes hard to keep up with the never-ending avalanche of information that is the Internet. We are up to our eyeballs in social media, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because all you have to do it learn how to breathe through all it.  Briggs talks about how to take advantage of digital tools that help you manage your daily onslaught of digital information.


  • Organize your email. This is the mecca where most of your information collides. Create separate folders and install filters to tidy up your inbox.
  • Find a program that fits all your digital needs, for example, the system that Briggs recommends is Backpack, that lets you organize your to-do lists, meeting and creates a group calendar.

*This website lists some of the best freelance tools that someone with a chaotic digital life can use, items such as Conceptshare, that is great for group collaborations and lets you plan out ideas if your doing a creative, visual project.

  • A concept Briggs describes is data-driven journalism: Countless stories involve spreadsheets, charts, and database information that can be overwhelming for readers and the reporters. Most newspapers have launched event calendar databases on their Websites, where visitors can access recent information anytime they want.
  • Another great point Briggs made was interactive maps. It engages the reader and lets them guide through the data at their own pace, while also offering additional information without looking too overwhelming to the eyes. Creating icons on the map that you can click on and see extra video, pictures or information. Like when Steve Buttry came into class today, he showed us an article The Des-Moines Register story on the Tornado that his Parkersburg Iowa in 2008. The map shows the houses that were affected, all laid out on a street map and you can click on the icons to see further video and the story behind the building.

*Sorting data is the best way to wrap your head around all this digital information. Don’t drive yourself cross-eyed trying to sort out emails and such on your own, lean on those sorting database systems that are know better. Data-driven journalism can launch your reporting onto the next level and give you a more legitimate feel.

Video Stories- Chapter 8 Mark Briggs

22 03 2011

The video age is upon us. More and more people are editing their way into the world of video, a world where publishing and creating a video is becoming incredibly easier. An impact of a video can alter a story from having the reader just reading to having them feel like they were part of the story. Any kind of journalist can participate and produce their own videos, and the video craze has been caught on so fast that news stations and papers are now creating a new job position: a video journalist.

Briggs’ tips:

  • Plan different approaches for different projects: analyze the story and think about what’s the best way to represent it, and if you’re a beginner and need a starting point, there are two types of videos–> Documentary style stories or breaking news with highlight clips videos.
  • Try storyboarding you video out: It lets you visualize and plan out your video, so you can figure out the style of the video and know footage you need to go out and shoot.
  • Mix your shots: Not all shots in a video are the same, well at least not the good videos anyway. Make sure you try to use different angles and shot concepts, like in an interview, shoot over the interviewers shoulder, but if there is another interview, try it from different spot.
  • Build a five- shot sequence: 1) Close up on the hands 2) close up on the face 3) wide-shot 4) over-the-shoulder shot 5) another shot from a different angle. This sequence could be of someone doing a task that your story is describing.

*I reccomend starting out with the Flip video cameras, as they are super compact, easy to carry around and even easier to use and hook up to a computer.

  • Another great tip Briggs states is that you should control your story with voice-overs.

* The Final Cut Pro editing program from Apple was the one I used throughout high school, and it was especially useful in my broadcast journalism class in my senior year. Super easy to use and it offers a ton of different editing and video techniques, a definite recommendation.

This video called Best Video Editing Blogs shows you what the best technology and what sites to get advice from if your a newbie videographer and also what to use if your a pro and want to step up your video skills.

Jim Iovino NBC Washington-Guest Speaker

10 03 2011

Today in class, Jim Iovino from NBCWashington online spoke with our Comm 361 class about everything online and the inner-workings of After working in print for sometime, Iovino took the online route and became a devout online journalist (like many of us students, he realized that print is a somewhat dying concept and that the future is online). Although I don’t subscribe to any newspapers, I do buy the monthly issues of my favorite magazines and I know my mom still subscribes to TIME and Newsweek, so I think I can say that print isn’t dead. Yet. I think for at least a couple more years, there will be print available.

While we discussed the transfer to online journalism from a more traditional print style, I thought this clip they showed from “Minority Report,” really shows what the future of technology and news could look like. I would definitely stand in line to get a digital newspaper, although it does remind me of what the iPad looks like today, just not as much constant video. Speaking of Apple, the iPad 2 comes out TOMORROW! Be prepared for long Apple lines and be advised tomorrow will not be the greatest day to buy an Apple product as the store will be jam packed.

The new iPad 2 (Apple geeks rejoice).

As for NBC Washington online, the site has a lot of interesting features that have been added:

  • The Feast : A totally seperate website that is connected to NBC Washington, with all new writers that tell you the happenings and local attractions around the DC area. Stories are divided into three categories: Eat, Shop and Play. This was probably my favorite site that Iovino showed us, at it had great places to eat and the best deals on shopping in DC.
  • Another favorite feature on NBC Washington was The 20, where it shows the 20 most interesting people in your community at the moment and their stories/blogs that they are talking about.

  • Also on the site, Pat Collins, the News4 reporter, has attempted and succeeded in tapping into the social media frenzy that seems to be dominating the web. He has set up a chat room device, called A Q&A with Pat Collins, were people can directly comment and ask Pat a question, and he will answer it back to you via webcam. You can scroll through the chat box and click on the question and answer you want to see. *This is a great idea for people that want to interact and engage directly with your audience, as people love videos more than anything.

*This is a funny gallery I found on NBC’s The Scene section, titled “Awkward Political Moments.”

NAMI Northern VA: Project Update

8 03 2011

So we have been given the task by NAMI Northern VA to come up with a way to display the history and current information of NAMI. Right now here’s what we know so far:

  • NAMI or the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Northern Virginia portion) started in the 1970’s when they were their own organization under a different name. They soon merged with NAMI National then split off into their own Northern VA section.
  • Their goal is to raise awareness of mental illnesses and provide services that help people living with mental illness.

Our game plan so far:

 1. An interactive timeline (like the jazz one Professor Klein showed us in class) that can relay video, information, pictures and additional information all in chronological order on one site. That way, all the information is organized and you can clearly see how NAMI developed.*My job so far: RESEARCH. I’m supposed to go to Mason’s library and see if I can find any mention of NAMI Northern Virginia. Also once we get all the information and interviews done, I’m going to try and help Ryan with the interactive timeline and for that we’re going to try and use Another possible website we might use is–> where they turn chunks of data into interactive maps and graphs.

*Our storyboard for the project so far here

2. An interactive map, that shows NAMI volunteers/people who use NAMI point of location and their stories. This could be where the videos and interviews come in. They could each have information about themselves, how they got involved with NAMI and their experiences.

3. A Facebook account? NAMI already has a Facebook account, but we’re working on creating one for just our COMM 361 project to get the word out and ask if people know any history of NAMI.