A chance to chat with the next generation of journalists

a-chance-to-chat-with-the-next-generation-of-journalistsLearning is a lifelong adventure for any committed journalist, a journey shaped by academic studies, real world application, and experiences shared by those working in the field. There’s always an opportunity to grow for those open to it. Looking back on my college years, I was fortunate to have been exposed to constant advice from professors and professionals, even if I didn’t recognize its true value at the time. I vividly remember listening to presentations by network news producers, corporate news directors, Presidential campaign media advisors, pollsters, news anchors, reporters, photographers, and journalism academics. Today, I apply their principles and pointers on a daily basis.

Being asked to speak to a class of journalism students at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, is somewhat of an intimidating experience. You hope to leave behind at least one valuable piece of advice or thought-provoking concept to consider. Typically that process is made easier by the professor proposing a topic or focus for my conversation. Continue reading

Will people know the color of your heart?

I was very honored to have the opportunity to speak to the graduating seniors of my alma mater, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. On Thursday, May 5, NSU threw a ‘Fork Em Farewell Crawfish Boil’ for seniors and their families. As a board member for the NSU Alumni Association, I was asked to share some advice for these soon-to-be graduates as they set out into the world.

Here are my remarks:

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In memory of longtime NSU President Dr. Randall J. Webb

In memory of longtime NSU President Dr. Randall J. Webb

Randy Webb exemplified the final word of the Northwestern State University Alma mater, “loyalty.”

It’s been a tough week for many at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, with the passing of former president Randall J. Webb. While he had been retired for almost a year — you’d never know.

His devotion to the success of NSU never waned. You’d see him on campus, at alumni events in Shreveport, and doing whatever he could to tell the world about his beloved “Old Normal.” I wouldn’t expect anything less from someone who has more than 50 NSU graduates in his family tree. Many are convinced that he truly bleeds purple and white. What many didn’t know — Dr. Webb also spent much of his brief retirement fighting an illness.

Just two weeks before his passing, he got in touch with me to ask how I was doing, seeming more concerned with my career and travels than his own health. That’s just the way he was — a very humble man with a caring heart. He and “Mrs. Brenda,” as many know his wife, have earned a special fondness in my own heart over the last decade. Continue reading

Advice from a 105-year-old with no intent of slowing down

Advice from a 105-year-old with no intent of slowing down

Northwestern State University’s oldest living graduate, Earline Andrews, turned 105 on Wednesday. We attended NSU nearly 75 years apart.

What a privilege and honor it was Wednesday morning to visit with Tyler resident Earline Andrews on her 105 birthday. She happens to be the oldest living graduate of my alma mater, Northwestern State University! I don’t think she could have been more delighted when we arrived with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on behalf of NSU and balloons from our KLTV morning team.

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories from her time at ‘old Normal,’ short for the college’s former name, Louisiana State Normal College. Andrews explained that Natchitoches, Louisiana has earned a special fondness in her heart. She recalled sleeping on the porch of the girls dorm during warmer months, the plantation bell that signaled the start of each school day, and vivid memories of the famous Christmas lights that adorn the downtown riverbank. Continue reading

Volunteering: A chance to repay your ‘debt’

Being named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ only motivates me to work harder to live up to this tremendous recognition.

I believe one person truly can make a difference in the life of another and I hope to never ignore that calling. It’s quite humbling to think of the special individuals spent countless hours mentoring me — many of whom continue to do so. Counting myself among the extremely fortunate, I’m pursuing my “dream profession” as a journalist.

I wonder where I might be without that help and encouragement from role models. Journalism professors, seasoned reporters and anchors, and news managers took me under their wing, helping me navigate decisions that will impact my future. What a blessing they have been. With faith and family as my foundation, I also credit involvement in a fraternity as one of the influences in helping me become a productive member of society. Continue reading

An honor to be named to Pi Kappa Phi’s ‘Thirty Under 30’ list

I am so very honored to have been selected for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity’s inaugural ‘Thirty Under 30’ list, among a truly impressive group of young professionals. I’ve served as a volunteer for the organization since 2008, hoping to mentor emerging leaders during their collegiate experience. As a student, I was exposed to countless opportunities for leadership development and owe debt of gratitude to those who volunteered their time and talent to mentor me. I know several of the other recipients, so it’s a tremendous pleasure to be placed in such good company!

The ‘Thirty Under 30’ selection committee took the following criteria under consideration:  the actions of each recipient reflect the values of the fraternity, especially leadership and/or service and the alumnus has distinguished himself in his career field or another demonstrable way which causes him to stand separate from his peers.

To learn more about the other recipients, click here.
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This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Journalism

Lane speaking to a group of high school students at Northwestern State University’s J-Day 2008.

I recently had the opportunity to return to my alma mater to participate in the 41st annual Northwestern State University J-Day. Journalism Day gives discerning high school students the opportunity to attend hands-on workshops and lectures at NSU.

Professionals talk with students about the changing field of journalism and mass communications and give advice on how to get ahead in this competitive industry.

Paired with fellow NSU22 alumna Katie Lopez, who is now a reporter at KADN-TV, we shared our experiences at NSU and talked about the importance of hands-on, practical learning opportunities. Students asked how the internet is affecting broadcast journalism as well as what it’s like being a multi-faceted journalist.

The lecture made me realize how dramatically the field  has changed even in the short time I’ve been a professional.

Today, we work under tighter deadlines and budgets, sometimes wearing more hats than ever before. Not only are we producing stories for daily newscasts, but also writing and editing stories for digital platforms or content sharing.  Continue reading

Video series focuses on preserving our past, protecting our future

Living in Natchitoches, reminders of the city’s rich history are everywhere you go.  From antebellum homes, colonial fort sites, and historical markers, preserving our history is imperative.  Fortunately for Natchitoches, there isn’t a shortage of those with an interest in preserving the past for future generations.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, headquartered on NSU’s campus, provides the country with education, research, and preservation training for historical structures and objects.

The Center is making great strides in the field and are disseminating their research to the general public through new media.  The NCPTT utilizes a slew of new media to reach people of all ages. Social networking and other new media are having some very significant implications in modern journalism, so it’s refreshing to see this group pioneer this medium.

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Meet the woman known as ‘The Armless Marvel’

I’d like to introduce you to someone with a truly incredible story of overcoming adversity and appreciating the abilities of all people. I’ve never met the subject of this story, but we could all learn something from her.

I’ve worked for the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau for almost four years. Our office is situated in historic downtown Natchitoches, in a small stucco and brick building built in the early 20th century. For the first 40 years of that century, it was occupied by an artist with incredible talent. Continue reading

Meet Raymond Strother: The Father of Political Consulting

Using the word “colorful” to describe Louisiana’s political scene has become so cliché. With grandiose political personalities in every corner of the country from Senator Robert Byrd, to Governor Schwarzenegger and Senators Larry Craig and Ted Kennedy, Louisiana isn’t the only state with famous politicians. Louisiana, however, still maintains control of its own style of government. If American politics is “colorful,” then Louisiana is like a page ripped from a three-year-old’s coloring book. Imagine the picture- smudges and scribbles using each crayon in the box, without no attempt to stay inside the lines.

For someone looking for unmatched career experience related to government, there’s no better place. The good, the bad, the ugly; they all co-exist beautifully in what we call “The Bayou State.”

Louisiana has produced its fair share of decent, honest public servants, along with back-room, wheeling and dealing scoundrels. Sometimes it just depends if you’re a “half-empty” or “half-full” type of person.

Climbing the political ladder isn’t as simple as having name recognition and a sizeable war chest.  While the candidate provides the raw elements, political consultants help paint a picture using the most vibrant qualities they can muster.  From newspaper and television ads to polling and focus groups, targeting specific groups using persuasive communication is essential to mounting a legitimate political campaign. Continue reading

From the Town Talk: “Greeks Work to Change Stereotype”

It’s no secret that the Greek System at NSU is going through a rough patch. Low recruitment, retention, and accountability are among some of the biggest obstacles. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Some very capable student leaders are at the helm of their respective organizations. Comittment to philanthropic service and academic excellence are two strengths credited to NSU’s Greeks. Last week Mandy Goodnight , a reporter with the Alexandria Town Talk was on campus at NSU to profile the progress being made to tear down negative stereotypes of fraternities and sororities.

Click HERE to read the article

Greek Life at NSU Dying?

In an effort to improve the current state of fraternities at Northwestern State University, the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, is undertaking a self-imposed reorganization.

The IFC, which serves as the governing body of six chartered fraternities, voted earlier this semester to disband temporarily and to allow the group to restructure their operations.

“Many fraternities felt the IFC had no real authority over the member organizations,” said Roderick Wilson, president of Theta Chi Fraternity. “We weren’t holding our fraternities to any standards.” Continue reading

More than 50 thousand demonstrators pack tiny Louisiana town

Thousands of marchers gathered in Jena, Louisiana on Thursday to rally support for Mychal Bell, one of six black students initially charged with attempted murder for the beating of a white classmate. Charges were eventually dropped against five of the teens, while Bell still sits behind bars awaiting trial. I traveled to Jena with my crew from NSU22 to cover the march.

They came from all corners of the country, marching in step behind a unified voice.  Almost 50 thousand people rallied around equal justice for the Jena Six. The tension branched from a tree at Jena High School, where normally only white students could sit under its shade. When black students spoke out, nooses were found hanging from the branches. White students responsible for the act were punished by school administrators, while six black students faced felony assault charges for beating up a white classmate over the incident. Continue reading

New semester, new ideas

Upon arrival in Natchitoches in early August, I hit the ground running with re-tooling my duties with NSU22 News. I planned to return to anchoring this fall, but a class conflict will prevent me from scheduling around the newscast. This may prove to be a favorable coincidence because I have been named to the investigative beat as well as government reporting. This will provide me with ample opportunity to sharpen my skills in both of these areas. I have a few topics here at NSU that I’ll be investigating to see if I can uncover any interesting findings. Continue reading

Day 18: How do J-schools stack up?

Do I cut the red wire, or do I cut the blue wire? There are 10 seconds left on the timer. Tick tock, tick tock. The voice over the radio screams “Come on, you’ve got to cut the wire.” You know the inevitable is looming.

If you cut the wrong wire, it’s over. Your heart is pounding. The ticking is as intense as a marching band drum line.  5…4…3… You close your eyes and snip a wire. 2…1… This same plot sequence that is often over-played in Hollywood, perfectly describes the kind of last minute decision I made in choosing a college.

I’ve never been one to make a potentially life-changing decision in an extreme hurry.

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Uncovering ‘Silent Killers’ on NSU’s campus

Uncovering 'Silent Killers' on NSU's campusEverywhere you go, they’re hiding in places you can’t avoid. Waiting to take advantage of vulnerability. Growing stronger with every passing minute. Indiscriminate attacks on infants, adults, and the elderly. Are we safe? Can we protect ourselves? Or are we adding insult to injury? Who are these silent killers?

Those are the first few lines of voice-over of my newly-released documentary ‘Silent Killers.’ The report takes a look at bacteria on a typical college campus. I wanted to find out if American campuses are breeding grounds for harmful pathogens, or is it our imagination that is making us sick.

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Entering the blogging realm

Entering the blogging realmHello and welcome to my blog!  Through encouragement from colleagues and friends, I have decided to take on blogging.

I plan to use this blog as a means for commenting on life in general, but with a main focus on news events.  I plan to take on an internship this summer at WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas, so this will also serve as a method of keeping in touch with all of you.

I hope you enjoy reading my upcoming “news and views” and appreciate any feedback you may have!