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Tag Archive: media


The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) National Convention was held this past Thursday through Saturday in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Airport Marriot. While there was a showing of the movie, Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives, on Wednesday evening for those who arrived early, the convention did not officially begin until the opening plenary at 1:30 on Thursday afternoon on “The In[ter]dependence of Faith and Government.” After the panel discussion, the attendees had a choice of four workshops.

My plane was scheduled to arrive at 1:20, so I knew I would be at least a few minutes late to the plenary. The hotel and the airport were connected by a skybridge just one terminal away from my arrival terminal, which helped, but it was still after 1:30 when I walked down the stairs to the lobby of the hotel. I will get back to the plenary and other convention activities in following posts.

The main event of the day was the DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. I am a member of RCC as a writer and representative of Christ UMC (Farmers Branch, Tx) and the communications committee. The church entered an article I had written for the church newspaper, and I entered this blog in the new Social Media category of the awards. When I was  informed that I won, I did not know which of the two was the winning entry. However, since I was winner, the church funded my trip to the convention.

As it turned out, I won a Certificate of Merit for Chasing After Wind. The .pdf of the awards program may be found here. Social Media is a new category, so it is at the end if you  happen to be looking for my award. In the picture you can see the slide they showed when they announced my award. The other picture is of the attendees from the DFW Chapter of the RCC. From left to right: Cherrie Graham (United Methodist Reporter), Debbie Tull (Patheos), myself, and Deb Christian (also UMR). Mary Jacobs, UMR reporter, was preparing for a writing workshop she was leading and was not available for the picture. Debbie and I both needed to catch our flights home.

The judging for the DeRose-Hinkhouse awards was done by “colleagues at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.” All of the entrants received the judges’ evaluation forms after the awards program. Entrants not at the convention received their evaluations by mail.

Be that as it may, the judges had some suggestions for improving the blog. Ironically, my room was in a black hole of the hotel and I could not even boot up my computer – much less access my blog. So there will be changes to Chasing After Wind over the next week or so. Hopefully, the changes will make for a more pleasing visit to the blog, easier to comment, like, follow, and so forth, and there will be more interactive qualities.

Feel free to let me know of any suggestions or comments you may have pertaining to my blog. I try to respond to comments and visitors as soon as possible.

Peace be with you.

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Jake Batsell, Assistant Professor in the Journalism department at SMU, discussed media convergence and the importance of maintaining a presence in, or on, various media, including social media, at the January meeting of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of the RCC on January 26. He is also faculty adviser for the student media websites, combined at smudailycampus.com, including the SMU Daily Mustang, a multi-platform news site produced by journalism students, and SMU-TV. Entitled “Media Outreach During Turbulent Times for the News Business,” Batsell’s presentation included results of the longitudinal study of media convergence that he, his colleagues, and students have been conducting.

They began the  study by asking a central research question: To what extent has convergence journalism taken hold in U.S. newsrooms over the past decade, and to what extent have these cross-platform partnerships endured? Newspaper and TV managers in the top 200 U.S. media markets were surveyed in 2002-‘03 (Phase 1), 2004-‘05 (Phase 2), and again in 2011 (Phase 3). Batsell and his colleagues are currently studying the results of phase 3. The results indicate challenges and opportunities for media outreach.

“The bad news is that traditional newsrooms are short-staffed, making cultivating relationships with reporters difficult. When you do interact with reporters, they’ll have less time to absorb your story than they used to.”

The good news, particularly for religion communicators, is that there are more non-traditional ways to get the message out. “Press releases that used to be ignored now might spark a blog post, which can be amplified through social media.” Suggested links to background information during an interview are likely to be included in the story. Alternate media outlets are plentiful, such as NeighborsGo and DallasSouthNews, as well as Pegasus News and Advocate Magazine, in the Dallas area.

Current results of the study show that news managers are focusing on developing interactive relationships with readers and viewers, primarily through social media. Which includes multimedia (both staff-generated and user-generated), news as conversation (blogs, comments, live chats, etc.), and engagement via social media platforms. “Today, news is a two way conversation” between newsrooms of all media and their readers. As religion communicators, we need to join the conversation. In an online world of “likes”, links, blogs, comments, and re-sending articles, and posts, good content and internet interaction are key to delivering our message to more people.

Peace be with you.

Knowing the interest in the topic of Social Media, we searched high and low and found an expert to talk about it. Jake Batsell, Assistant Professor in the Journalism department at SMU, will present a program on media convergence at the January meeting of the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council. The meeting will be Thursday, January 26 from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the University Park UMC, 4024 Caruth Blvd, Dallas. Jake is both a knowledgeable and engaging speaker.

Part of his current research is in Phase Three of a study that examines media “convergence” and how both the term and practices it encompasses have evolved in the past 10 years. Results show that news managers are focusing on developing interactive relationships with readers and viewers, primarily through social media. Batsell is also faculty adviser for the student media web sites. SMU Daily Mustang, a multi-platform news site produced by journalism students, and SMU-TV combined operations in fall of 2011. The result is www.smudailycampus.com.

Cost for the meeting is $15 and includes lunch. Please email or call to make reservations, dchristian@umr.org, 214.630.6495 x147, so we’ll be sure to have enough food. Please feel free to invite friends and co-workers who might be interested in this topic.  — from Deb Christian, Secretary.

Peace be with you.

The Communications Conference 2011, presented by UMR Communications, parent company of the United Methodist Reporter, was held at the Presbyterian Ministry Center in Irving on Thursday, February 24th, and Friday, the 25th. The event was previously called the Editor’s Conference – for editors of faith-based publications. Realizing that communicators often wear many hats, the UMR staff changed the title to the Communicators Conference.

The conference opened on Thursday with a luncheon followed by a keynote address by Rev. Tim McLemore, associate director in the Office of Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, that set the tone for the conference. The conference was attended by communicators from the United Methodist Church and other denominations in various areas of the country. Workshops provided tips on organization, communication plans, branding, media choices, photos and Photoshop, volunteer optimization, financing for communications, writing skills, and online tips, tools, and tricks.

Tim McLemore

Presenters from the staff of UMR included Liz Applegate, New Media Associate, Erika Dorsey, Design and Production Manager, Cherrie Graham, Advertising Manager, and Mary Jacobs, Staff Writer. Other presenters included John Greenberger, COO for ReTransform (former CFO of UMR), Samantha Naeyaert, founder of Muddle Management (an organizing and efficiency company), Patrick Steil, owner of ChurchBuzz, and Patrick Shownes, Communications Coordinator for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Steil also gave the closing keynote address, giving attendees online tools they could put into action upon their return home.

As one of the communicators in attendance, representing Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch and the Communications Committee, I can say that the conference was an enjoyable time of fellowship with fellow communicators. The conference is one of the few times some of us get to meet in person. The conference was also a chance share the problems we face as communicators. I’m already looking forward to next year.

See Mallory McCall’s article on the event in the UM Reporter. More pictures below.

Peace be with you.

Sam Hodges and Deb Christian

Liz Applegate

Tim McLemore

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