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A few thoughts on Sunday at the College Media Advisors Spring 2010 National Convention. A lot more multimedia stuff this time around, a few great folks, but are we changing?

I’ve only done the CMA National Convention once before, about two years ago. At that CMA, it was mostly old-school sessions, very little relevant multimedia, a whole bunch of professors and professionals moaning about the way it used to be. There was one stand out session then, Sean Blanda’s presentation on WordPress. It wasn’t apparent at the time, but as I look back and after listening to some of the folks from CoPress, it has become apparent that this was a game-changer. His session inspired a wave of student media adoption of WordPress and other open platforms.

This year, the overall feel of the conference is much better. In the sessions I’ve been attending, there’s been a sea change from my last CMA convention, most people are really really excited to move forward into the online and new media world. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how much the presenters are excited about online journalism and that is great. I’ve learned some stuff as well, which is always appreciated.

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Image via Wikipedia
Unlike this statue, the newspaper industry is not set in stone.

Of course, not everyone is perfect, some of the sessions I thought would be the most dynamic turned out to be the most disappointing. A session on “Advice on working in new media” was delivered by Men’s Life’s Girl Next Door Carolyn Kylstra in what was practically a monotone. The Washington Post was set to do a presentation on merging online and print news desks, but they were more talking about what they had done, and not much that was practically useful to college media outlets without their huge resources.

There’s also the continual lack of internet. I’ve brought my phone and charger with me this time, so I can get continual internet via Verizon, but to have this many sessions about software and online content and not have free wi-fi is ridiculous.

While the tone and feel of the convention thus far has been much better than my last experience, I can’t help but feel that we’re still lagging behind. I heard from students without websites for their papers and people who have no idea how to even start adopting social media. I think that, as great as some of the advisors are who are running workshops, we should see more speakers and panels with students talking about how other students can succeed.

Some of the best presentations by college media folks were about what their students or other students were doing and I can’t help but think it would have been much better to have just heard from the students themselves. It seems to me that college media online is led by students who are innovating and experimenting with support from their advisors (case in point: #collegejourn). The conference should reflect this. I don’t think we are going to get a revolution from professors and advisors, if we want to move college media forward (and we desperately need to), the students are the ones who will be doing it.

madskills2 Also, I need to put this out there, the CMA really needs a new website. It’s cool that you’re using Drupal and all, but the 90s are over, ok? I’m pretty sure you just used “mad skills” without irony.

Join me at the Tweetup and check out the hashtag archive up on the UPIU blog.

EDIT: All this is not to say that #cmanyc10 is bad, I think it’s great. It just could be better.

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  1. Tauhid Chappell on Monday 15, 2010

    I enjoyed your article! I also blog, though I haven’t worked with WordPress yet (I’m using Blogger).

    “It seems to me that college media online is led by students who are innovating and experimenting with support from their advisors”
    ^Wholeheartedly agree. I think colleges should let more students experiment with online media, whether that be through blogging or creating online journals. I think contemporary college students (and post-grad as well) will be playing a key role in shaping online media and social media for years to come.

    I wish I was able to attend the cmanyc, it seemed like a great overall experience.