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Spring 2008 New Media Class

My Spring Class was great!

I really enjoyed this, the biggest class I have ever taught. These students were a pleasure to teach. The really stretched themselves and went beyond their comfort zones. I am going to be awarding a lot of good grades because these folks delivered. I am really proud to have known and taught them. We had a good time. This is a fine bunch of young people!

For our final I bought pizza and drinks for the whole class, except for one student who is a Vegan and so I got her a Vegan dish. It wasn’t just them learning from me. I learned from them and will be making changes that I think will make me a better teacher. Besides learning to teach better I learned some fun things. For example, I plan to go back to Vegan restaurant when I return from vacation (which starts tomorrow.)

But first, on Friday my wife and I will be in Seattle for the birth of our sixth grandchild! I will be back at SJSU on June 9th.

These are the video and audio blogs of students in this class:

Joe Swan

Who could say enough good things about Joe Swan?
Former SJSU photojournalism professor Joe Swan, 78, died Sunday. Joe taught in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications from 1963 to 1991. I remember having an 8 a.m. class with Joe when I was a student at SJSU about 28 years ago, in 1980. Joe was full of great stories about his days at Grit Magazine. I doubt I was the only one in the class who had no idea what Grit Magazine was or had never heard of Grit Magazine before that class but we all listened enthusiastically because Joe was a first class story teller.

Joe was a Texan. He spoke with a Texas accent. Joe was a perfect southern gentleman. Years later; I remember walking around campus with Joe. There was a female university police officer having some issues with two males who were athletic looking and much bigger than her. Sensing that the police officer might be out matched, (despite the fact she had a gun and they did not) Joe turned to me and said, “it looks like we might have to get involved here.” At that time Joe was having some health problems. Neither of us was a formidable force. Neither of us were fighters. Those guys looked a lot bigger and tougher than us! Thankfully the officer was able to handle the situation handily. That’s Joe, he was not a bystander if anybody, especially a lady was, or even appeared to be in distress.

I have Joe to thank for working at San Jose State University. Before I came to SJSU I was a photo lab tech at the University of California San Francisco. I had my BA in photojournalism. Joe told me about a photo lab tech job that had just opened up at SJSU in the then Department of Journalism and encouraged me to apply. That was 1988. That photo tech job evolved into one supporting computers.

Joe had an ear to the ground for jobs for his former photo students. When I was there as a student, Jack Fields was a visiting professor. Jack taught most of my main photojournalism classes but Joe was the full time professor. Joe taught some of the other photojournalism classes as well as courses like the morning magazine class. After Jack left Joe taught all of the photojournalism courses.

Joe watched over and cared for his students like they were his own kids. Many of us owe our careers to Joe. Sometimes he knew of job openings before the people who were doing the hiring would know they had a vacancy. Joe would hear through the grapevine someone was going to leave a job. Our students and graduates would have their applications in the hands of editors before the outgoing photographer had even given notice.

Besides my current position there are two other jobs I landed that I owe credit to Joe for, including my time as a photographer for the Manteca Bulletin.

Recently the Spartan Daily ran a story on Joe. It had a photo of him in the hospital and it said, “Within the last year, Swan, 78, has had both legs amputated and has been on dialysis, a process of filtration used when the kidneys stop working, because of complications from diabetes.” The photo I have above, in this blog post, is how I will remember Joe.

He was one of the nicest people I have ever known. Joe a real role model for aspiring journalism students as well as for new faculty. We lost one of the best!

Yes we can

545 miles, seven days, two wheels, no motor. This is an annual event in which bicyclists embark on a journey that starts in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles. The event, known as the AIDS Life Cycle, has been going for seven years now raises money for AIDS research with every ride. This year local I will be participating in this event.

I was born and raised here in the Silicon Valley and has just started my first semester here at San Jose State University. I am a public relations Major and plan to graduate in the spring of 2009.

On June 1st 2008 over 2000 riders will leave from San Francisco and embark on a journey down the coast of California. The grueling ride is split up into 7 days the first of which begins and San Francisco and ends in Santa Cruz. Riders will be tested from the beginning of the event, as the second day is a long, flat 105 miles from Santa Cruz to King City. Days 3 through 7 do not get any easier; riders must face many steep hills as they close in on the Los Angeles valley.

Last year this event helped raise over $11 million dollars for AIDS research and this year they look to improve on that number. The money is raised by the riders, who look for donations from their friends, family and community. The minimum amount that must be raised to ride is $2500, this seem like a lot, but in comparison to other fund raising events it is remarkably small.

Riders are faced with the challenge of not only getting their body in the physical shape for this demanding ride but also to raise the money for this worthy cause. The training rides are one thing, I mean, I’m on a bike for 2 to 3 hours a day 4 days a week. To have to worry about the fund raising at the same time is a major hassle.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause and support one of your fellow students, you can reach my donation web page at There you can read more information about my journey and also find links with more information about the event.

Edward R. Murrow
My wife Sue and I just watched the prescient 2005 movie Good Night, and Good Luck. This movie is about Edward R. Murrow’s battle with Joe McCarthy, but despite the fact that it is set in the 1950’s it seems quite timely given our so-called battle against terrorism and some of the actions of recent years, especially the Patriot Act. The movie opens and closes with Murrow’s speech in 1958 to the Radio and Television News Director’s Association convention in Chicago. The speech makes timely reading today.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.

I recommend this movie to all students of Journalism, Political Science and to all students of our times. To all America, good night and good luck.

Stewards of the Valley, Grape Radio

If you do not take video podcasting seriously, think again!
This is the best video podcast episode I have ever seen. It is lovely and succeeds on so many levels. This episode of the Grape Radio Podcast shows what happens when folks who are working in this medium take their medium seriously and make a commitment to quality. In a word, it is lovely. This video podcast episode tells a story elegantly, throughly, romantically and accurately. It is a fine example of new media journalism, as fine as I have ever seen.

December 2019
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