Tag Archives: annenberg

Just Call Me Teach

McDonnellJenkins_300p.ashxFellow SJ student Jonathan Arkin wrote a lovely article about my appointment at Loyola Marymount for the USC School of Communication and Journalism online newsletter. The quotes from Henry Jenkins make me blush. It’s been an intense but incredibly productive year. I went back to school in order to teach, and that’s what I’m going to do. Isn’t it amazing when plans work?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Laser Sound

SCA lobbyHere’s what I learned at graduate school yesterday: The sounds that the dinosaurs make in Jurassic Park are a composite of different real animal cries. The sound of lasers shooting in Star Wars is a manipulation of the noise a bal peen hammer makes when hitting a tight cable. Terminator 2 is a landmark film in terms of sound design.

It was actually the most fun and in some ways most inspiring day I’ve had at USC yet. I attended a microseminar in the brand-new fancy Cinema Arts building as part of my duties as an Annenberg fellow. The seminar – on Sound Design, led by William Whittington – was not my first choice, and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much. Whittington’s book Sound Design & Science Fiction has quickly become a seminal text in the field, but I was afraid this was going to be nerd city.

Actually, Whittington’s the kind of movie fanatic whose love of the genre is infectious. He plied us with clips from Pixar and Apocalypse Now, and I realized this is one of the best things about the Specialized Journalism MA: We get to take courses in other schools, including the storied film school, where figures like Lucas and Spielberg still occasionally roam the halls. I can see the movie industry sucking me in … It’s gotta pay more than journalism.

Much of the seminar was devoted to the six students from three schools – film, Annenberg, and engineering – getting to know each other. That was cool too. We’re planning to meet again later this fall, to go see an IMAX movie. And I’m getting paid to do this!

Leave a comment

Filed under USC Specialized Journalism

Golden, or Gilded, Age?

Coming from the world of actually making, or trying to make, a living in journalism, to the world of talking and thinking about journalism, there’s — surprise, surprise! — a huge disconnect. The faculty here at Annenberg are gung ho about new media and the state of journalism. At the graduate school welcoming presentation yesterday, ours was even referred to as “a golden age.”

If so, where’s the gold? I agree that information technology is creating an explosion of new opportunities. But I don’t see how most of these opportunities are going to be monetized. That huge failure in the system — coupled with the overall recession — means that I know a number of talented, experienced journalists, who have worked very hard to be skilled reporters and writers and to utilize the latest digital tools, who are scratching for chicken feed right now. I’ve also worked for one of those new digital media, and seen it crash and burn. Is this a golden, or a gilded, age?

I do, actually, love this technological revolution, or whatever it is. Blogs follow in my favorite American journalistic traditions, from the pamphlets of Paine to the penny press to fanzines. And I’m happy to be surrounded by others who are excited about this change, instead of hearing the constant bitter grumblings of the newsroom.

But the disconnect between the two spheres troubles me. I spent two decades out of academia because I wanted to be in the real world, not the ivory tower. Thinkers must connect with doers or their thoughts are just dreams. I like happy dreams — they’re much better than waking nightmares. But I don’t want to walk around with a deluded smile.

Former Annenberg dean Geoffrey Cowan is teaching what may be one of the most important courses here, on entrepreneurial journalism. It would probably behoove me, all of us, to take it. Except that I know that I’m a much better writer than I am a businessperson or self-promoter. The problem with journalism these days is maybe you have to be all three.

Leave a comment

Filed under USC Specialized Journalism