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

Emotional ESPN film profiles heroic death, legacy of NFL great Joe Delaney

This month, the heroic story of NFL legend Joe Delaney will be shared with millions of people around the world in ESPN’s latest ’30 For 30′ film. Wednesday night, I got the chance to attend an advance screening of ‘Delaney,’ the short film profiling the life and legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs running back who died in 1983 while trying to rescue three children from drowning in a pond.

The 20-minute documentary, screened at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, beautifully captures an emotional account of Delaney’s tragically short 24-year life and legacy.

The running back from Haughton had an extraordinary collegiate career in both football and track at Northwestern State University. Chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft, Delaney exploded on the field and was selected AFC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and played in the Pro Bowl. 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

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 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

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!