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COM student represents BU at this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer Tripleheader

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

“It’s the word we all never want to hear. “Cancer.” Not a single person on the planet looks forward to hearing those six letters spill out of the mouth of a doctor or a loved one. Not a single person wants to go toe to toe with one of the most villainous diseases known to man. Unfortunately many of us either will directly deal with the disease or be close to someone that has to. There are no statistics necessary to back this up, as everyone alive today has already been impacted by cancer one way or another “ (Connor Lenahan – Lets Beat Cancer www.connorlenahan.com).

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has teamed up with colleges and universities all over the country to help raise money for the fight against “The Big C”. This year, for the season home opener, Boston University Men’s Basketball will compete in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tripleheader at TD Garden with Boston College, Harvard, Holy Cross, UMass, and North Eastern.

Since October 16, these schools have been trying to raise the most money for the fight against cancer. Each of the six schools has nominated one person to be their representative for this event. The top two fundraisers will be announced at the end of the first game of the Tripleheader on November 16. Winners will have the opportunity to compete in a shoot-out against each other during the event.

Boston University chose junior, Connor Lenahan, (@connorlenahan) to raise awareness and money on their behalf. Some of the other representatives include former Celtics player Togo Palazzi (Holy Cross), American Idol contestant Ayla Brown (Boston College), and former Piston’s player Lou Roe (UMass).

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According to the guys on BU’s basketball team, Connor is considered “the least narp narp of all time” (a “narp” is a non-athlete, regular person). The terriers think of Connor as a member of the team, although he would never be able to physically play as a member of the team.

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Connor suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), often called brittle bone disease. It’s a rare disease that leaves Connor with fragile bones. OI affects somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people in America. It is a caused by a genetic defect that doesn’t allow the body to make strong bones, causing many breaks and fractures in the body. The bones of a person suffering from OI are so fragile that putting a blanket on them can cause a fracture. All of the breaks and surgeries that Connor has had leaves him walking with a limp on his right side and needing a wheelchair to get around for most of his day. Although he has never been able to compete in organized sports, Connor has never let his disease hold him back from his one passion; sports. In fact, you might know him as a PA announcer for Boston University.

Despite never being able to play organized sports, Connor’s love for sports grew making him a die-hard sports fan. He uses a wheel chair to get around campus, but is not bound to his chair. Overall, Connor remains positive and open about everything. He is most known for his blog (www.connorlenahan.com) where he discusses a variety of topics from his condition and surgeries to Toy Story 4.

I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Connor about being chosen to represent Boston University. He explained to me his rare condition and his passion for being able to give back to people and make some sort of difference in peoples lives. He explained to me how he wouldn’t be as passionate and excited to compete if it was just a regular shoot out, but the fact that he gets to be the person in charge of asking for donations and creating a difference in so many people’s lives makes the experience more exciting. “It would give me bragging rights with my friends– I got to play against a former Celtics player while being 5’3” and in a wheelchair forever,” said Connor when telling me about the possibility of him winning and competing in the shoot-out.

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I will be following Connor in his race to raise as much money as possible, until we get him on the court on November 16. I encourage everyone to follow Connor with me and help donate and spread the word for an amazing cause. Connor has set a goal of raising $1,500 for The American Cancer Society and the Coaches vs. Cancer event. In the short time between when I first met him and when I wrote this story, Connor and Boston University went from $200 in donations to $1,705, which is more than his original goal. However, with your help, we can raise even more than that.

Please donate here, and help Connor compete in the shoot-out this weekend at the TD Garden, proving to everyone his disease is not holding him back from doing what he truly loves.

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Behind the scenes: Film/TV and Journalism grad students work together

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

On various Fridays throughout the semester, BU’s Film and Television department at the College of Communication hosts free premier screenings of innovative film and television programs. This screening series is part of the department’s Cinemathèque: meetings and conversations with filmmakers/television-makers. The series’ curator is Gerald Peary, a cinema professor at Suffolk University and a long-time film critic for the Boston Phoenix. He chooses his BU programs based on his extensive contacts in the professional film world and from his travels to film festivals around the globe.

For each featured production, a special guest  (the producer, filmmaker, etc.) is invited to COM for the screening. During the screening, film students quickly escort the filmmaker to a brief interview shoot.  Afterwards, a Q&A is held to provide more information to the audience regarding the production process.

Setting up the interview.

Setting up the interview with Journalism and Film/TV graduate students .

However, it wasn’t until after this year’s first screening that the After this year’s first screening, the Cinemathèque team decided they wanted to shoot interviews with the featured guests. Clearly, figuring out the production technicalities for these interviews would not be an issue, but what they did need was someone who could ask the right questions.

Without much thought, fingers pointed in the direction of third semester Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Alistair Birrell. “I thought it would be a good way to hone my interviewing skills,” he said.

On Friday, October 24, Birrell interviewed filmmaker Frank V. Ross, during the screening of his film, Tiger Tail in Blue. This was Birrell’s second interview of the semester for Cinemathèque.

Allistair Birrell interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.

Alistair Birrell (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’15) interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.

With only a fifteen minute window, Birrell must make sure he steers the interview in the correct way. “Where are you from?” Ross asked Birrell during the interview. “I’m from Scotland, but we can talk about me later,” Birrell quickly responded.

Birrell prepares some of his questions beforehand.

After each interview, students on the production team edit the video down to around three or four minutes. All interviews are featured on the Cinemathèque page, so be sure to check out Alistair’s full interview with Ross.

Overall, this program is an excellent example of COM’s Film and Television department preparing its students with hands-on, practical experience for the ever so competitive entertainment industry. These are lessons no textbook can teach, yet something every student should experience.

Take a look at the 2014 Cinemathèque schedule here to see what will be screening over the next few weeks. Although these screenings are designed to primarily  benefit  Film and TV students, they are free for all BU students and professors as well as the general public.

Interested in applying to one of the graduate programs at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us which one and why in the comments below.

To find out more about all of the graduate programs available through COM, be sure to check out our website here.

 *Pictures by Nikita Sampath

 

 

PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

David Carr and Jill Abramson discuss the future of media

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

“Switch to something forward-looking, like blacksmithing,” David Carr teased, breaking the ice on his outlook for journalism at his much anticipated Fast Forward event. The event, which also included his former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, was equal parts laid back and engaging. It kicked off by Carr fielding a few brief questions on the future of journalism and the media with WBUR & NPR’s Here & Now co-host Jeremy Hobson.

Carr went on to explain there is a place in journalism for people who can create a concise piece of work and effectively distribute it to the right audience. When asked about the future of media, he didn’t make outright predictions but touched on issues facing print, the trouble of being a mid-sized publication, the declining influence of cable news and the transformation of newspapers to daily magazines. Talking about change, he explained how it usually comes very slowly, and then all at once. He likened print to intellectual jewelry, saying, “In 10 years, print will be a luxury artifact – web will be the primary vehicle.” He also discussed the importance of curation and the organization of news in a world of relentless information and content personalization.

Carr then took over as host, with Jill Abramson joining him onstage. The dynamic between the two was casual and jovial. The conversation flowed freely and without formality, Carr often probing and Abramson answering. Topics ranged from Ebola to the American Dream to the current generation. Carr calls worrying about successive generations a “waste of time”, saying “This generation is serious…we’re just pot smokers.”

Abramson was forthcoming on her career with the Times, saying “I devoted my career to telling the truth and the truth is I’m fired!” She said she misses the chase of being in the thick of the news, but she is enjoying her new role as a professor at Harvard. Much to everyone’s surprise, she nonchalantly dropped the news of a startup she is pitching with journalist Steven Brill, which will have her writing one long-form story annually. On news competition, she says she ceased thinking of other news organizations, as competition is coming from everywhere.

In closing, Abramson shared the best advice she ever received related to journalism: “Shut up and listen.” It was eye opening and entertaining to watch two of media’s most influential players bat ideas around and gain valuable insight.
Boston University is lucky to have Carr as a professor here at the College of Communication. Next semester, he’ll be teaching Media Criticism JO500.  If you’re interested in joining Professor Carr’s class, you can apply by critiquing a piece of media content in any medium you like. In the meantime, Abramson will continue to pursue her startup. So, shut up and stay tuned!

To find out about more events going on at BU’s College of Communication, check out the calendar here

 

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A look at what happens inside a Broadcast Journalism grad class

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

Broadcast Writing/Reporting (Course: JO 707) is a course taught at BU’s College of Communication (COM) that all grad students interested in Broadcast Journalism should take in their first semester. As the title suggests, the course is designed to teach us how to write a story for broadcast news and report on camera.  The course, which is taught by Professor R.D. Sahl, a veteran journalist with 40 years of experience in the field, teaches the main requirements of good story writing. These include: good writing, videography, editing, sound, natural sound and tracking. Timing is of essence too.

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At the start of the semester, JO 707 introduced us to script writing for television broadcast– attention-grabbing, short and simple sentences, with editing and production commands. Each week, we begin class with a discussion of breaking news for the day.  We then spend a considerable amount of time watching and analyzing professional news packages. For an assignment, Prof. Sahl asked us to watch evening news telecast and break it down– number of stories, kinds of packages, whether the reporter was on screen etc. This helped us learn the different ways in which news stories can be broadcast.

As for equipment, we’ve learned to use the JVC 100/150u to shoot our news packages and how to access the recording booth to do our tracking and voice overs. All necessary equipment can be rented (free of cost) from COM’s Field Production Services. Additionally, we use Final Cut Pro X to edit videos. We are very lucky in the fact that this software is available to all students in all editing and Mac computer labs at COM.  It’s great that students don’t have to worry about buying equipment or software of their own.

It’s only been six weeks and the eight of us grad students in the class are capable of producing entire packages by ourselves, one or two of which could be aired with some additional editing.

Check out this news package on the peer-sharing ride Lyft, done by Broadcast Journalism grad student Iris Moore, for last year’s JO 707 class.

One student from JO 707 said, “Prof. Sahl is a meticulous evaluator. Having watched each of our packages several times he was able to give us valuable, detailed feedback so we don’t repeat our amateur mistakes in future packages.”

From JO 707, Prof Sahl says he hopes every student will take-away the following:

  • The best TV stories have strong writing, powerful video and sound, interesting characters and a compelling story line
  • Accuracy is the coin of the realm. Get it right.
  • Deadlines matter. Meet them.
  • Care about the stories you report. It will show in the final product.

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To learn more about the BU’s College of Communication Journalism graduate program, go here. A list of offered Journalism courses can also be found here.  

Have questions? Ask us in the comment section below. Also, be sure to visit our site to learn more about the various graduate programs we offer at COM.

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What it actually means to get a Masters in PR

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

What is public relations you ask? Writing.

As a first semester PR grad student, that’s at least how I see it.  In fact, one of my favorite classes this semester has turned out to be Writing for Media Professionals with Professor Dorothy Clark.

In high school, if you had told me that I would end up loving writing, I would have flat out laughed in your face.  Back then, the only type of writing we did was to analyze works of literature.  And if you didn’t agree with the teacher’s analysis, you wouldn’t agree with your grade either.  That type of writing was just not for me.

But this class is the complete opposite.  Instead of writing to agree with someone else, I get to write for my audience (or, as we like to call them in PR, “publics”).  I get to write things that I can actually use in the fabled “real world.”

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For example, one assignment had us write a traditional news release.  To simplify things, Professor Clark had us write about a made-up conference for which she provided all of the information and facts about the hosting organization. That way, we could focus on both prioritizing the information to fit the format of a news release and also on writing in the objective voice, typical of that writing format.

To make this assignment even more hands-on, we also had to do a second, social media version of the news release; honestly, had no idea what a social media news release was before this class, but everyone knows that social media is huge today, and online news is growing faster than traditional media.  This assignment gave me a taste of both and helped me feel like I was actually learning something practical and applicable for my future career in PR.

Another assignment from this class, and easily my favorite so far, was to “create a blog with a focused brand for yourself” (straight from the syllabus).  I really enjoyed this assignment because we were able to write about something that we are truly interested in, rather than being assigned a topic that we don’t care about.  I chose to create a blog that focused on fashion from an athlete’s perspective.  Check it out here (Note: keep in mind that I made this site for the assignment and therefore it may not be perfect! Meaning the social media links don’t actually link to anything, etc.).

Everything we do in this class is up-to-date and tailored to fit the demands of new media.  Aside from the blog and news releases, we’ve also worked with Twitter, created a landing page for an event, and will be working on a feature and slideshow in the next few weeks.  We’re always talking about writing online as being a portal to other information, writing in your voice versus a company’s voice, and more.  Most of our assignments have second drafts, which gives us the chance to review and refine our work after getting criticism.  I feel that this is extremely valuable for the real workplace, where editors are more likely to chop up your work and spit it back at you, demanding a re-write.

If all of my classes in grad school are as engaging and hands on as this one, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine.

Check out the video below of Alumna Sandra Frazier (’01)  as she shares how the Public Relations courses she took at BU helped prepare her for working in the real world. Frazier is CEO of Tandem Public Relations in Louisville, KY.

Think you have better ideas for future PR assignments? Leave a note in the comments below!

Interested in BU’s College of Communication Public Relations graduate program? Ask us any questions in the comment section. Also, be sure to check out our program webpage for more information the various graduate programs we have to offer.