If a tweet falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

by Karen Zypchyn, April 2013

Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn wondered in his famous song if anybody had heard a tree falling in the forest, communicating to us the forest’s destruction. Cockburn saw trees as signals sending us warnings, but he was critical of people’s ability to listen and to act to prevent environmental disaster.

An image of a world in trouble as a result of the destruction of the forests, taken from Bruce Cockburn's video of his song If a Tree.

An image of the world in trouble as a result of the destruction of forests, taken from Bruce Cockburn’s music video for If a Tree Falls.

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Using Google Hangouts to teach journalism students to conduct panel interviews

by Karen Zypchyn, April 2013

Now that the Winter term is over, it’s time to reflect on the courses I taught. Today, I’d like to give you a glimpse of my Interviewing Techniques course (BCSC 322) and to thank MacEwan’s second-year journalism students for permitting me to take a risk in teaching with Google Hangouts.

The final project in this new course—yes, it’s the first time we’ve offered it as part of our new Bachelor of Communication Studies program—required the journalism students to work in teams to conduct a panel interview with two sources via Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a web-based video conferencing tool.

A big challenge in teaching journalism courses is staying up to date with changes in technology and with the impacts of those changes on journalism curriculum. When I saw American President Barack Obama use Hangouts on Google to talk with some of the American electorate, I told myself that I had to teach my aspiring journalism students how to use Hangouts as journalists.

This is a screen capture I took of President Obama's "fireside Hangouts" with American voters. The Hangout happened on Feb. 14, 2013.
This is a screen capture I took of President Obama’s “fireside Hangouts” with American voters. The Hangout happened on Feb. 14, 2013.

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BCS students turn to content analysis to track social media usage of companies and public figures

by Karen Zypchyn April 21, 2013

Who says second-year Bachelor of Communication Studies students can’t conduct content analysis of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? If there were any naysayers, we proved them wrong this term.

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith drew the attention of a couple of teams interested in her use of social media.

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith drew the attention of a couple of teams interested in her use of social media.

This semester, I taught my first Online Communications course (BCSC 202) as part of our newly launched Bachelor of Communication Studies degree at MacEwan University.  For the capstone project in this course, I required my students to conduct a content analysis of either an organization’s, company’s or public figure’s use of social media along with competitors’ usage.

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The New News

On Sunday night, HBO’s Game of Thrones returned to television screens across Canada and the world for its third season. If you’re like me, your reaction is closer to “So what?” than the unbridled joy that so many of those around me seemed to be experiencing. If you’re of the latter camp, you’ve may have seen this video or a variation of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzI9v_B4sxw Continue reading

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Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) takes in badly burned dogs

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) recently took in three badly burned dogs. The injuries were caused by heat, or some other sort of strong chemical.

Article: Global News article of the badly burned dogs, rescued by SCARS.

Video: WARNING: Watch with extreme caution.

Now, why is this newsworthy? Read the article, and watch the video, and tell me why it is not. Approximately 35% of Canadian households have a pet dog. Typically, at least in my household, our dogs are our children, so when my boyfriend and I see animal torture, we feel physically ill. Animal cruelty is a horrific injustice that creates a massive public outcry. Continue reading

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No Means No – but you won’t hear about it in the news


Back in August 2012 two teenage boys publicly raped an overly intoxicated 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.

Back in August 2012, this news did not reach my ears here in Edmonton, Alberta. Why is this? Because rape isn’t newsworthy.

To be newsworthy a story must contain at LEAST one of the following attributes:

  • timeliness
  • proximity
  • prominence
  • conflict
  • consequence
  • oddity
  • human interest

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Space has a New Public Relations Manager

Let’s face it most of us don’t do a lot of thinking about space. Sure we may wonder at the number of stars (especially when us city slickers are out in the country.) And we may marvel at the beauty of the northern lights (when we’re lucky enough to see them) but most of us don’t regularly think about it, we are far more concerned about terrestrial matters. Recently all that’s changed because of Chris Hadfield and social media. The vast expanses of space now have an outstanding public relations person who is getting average people around the world talking, thinking and marveling about space and what humanity can accomplish when it comes together. Continue reading

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Rocket Man won’t be the next to lead the Liberal Party of Canada: Marc Garneau steps out of leadership race

Some of the whimsy dissipated from the Liberal leadership race on Wednesday when former astronaut and MP for Westmount–Ville Marie, Marc Garneau, announced that he would be dropping out and giving his support to fellow candidate Justin Trudeau. So those who, like me, were hoping to see our first astronaut prime minister come the next federal election are left feeling rather disappointed. The other leadership candidates don’t share Garneau’s conviction that Trudeau 2.0 is an inevitability, but that stands to reason—why fight a battle that you believe is already lost? Continue reading

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Alberta’s budget from national and local POV

Provincial budget report cover
Photo Credit: Michael Franklin, CTV Calgary

On March 10, The Globe and Mail published an editorial praising Premier Redford’s “fiscal intelligence in practice.” This claim is a direct reference to Alberta’s recent provincial budget. I call bullshit. The Globe writes about the budget well; they’ve done their research. But they completely ignore one key fact that much of the media has neglected to mention in their coverage — the 6.8 per cent cut to post-secondary education. I can understand why the public relations representatives for the provincial government would try to hide this fact, but why isn’t the media having a field day with this information? Continue reading

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Interview with Yelp Edmonton’s Community Manager Jennie Marshall

Yelp is a website I’ve been using for the past few years. It started, as it probably does for many people, as a way for me to check reviews for different business. Eventually I began posting my own reviews, interacting with Yelp members on the website, and attending Yelp events in the community. I’ve been a Yelp Elite for the last three years, and since joining Yelp I have discovered some great local spots in Edmonton, and I’ve met some pretty cool people on the way, people like Jennie Marshall. Jennie is the current Community Manager (CM) for Yelp Edmonton. Since I know the CM works with businesses, as well with the local media I thought I would ask Jennie a few questions about her experience with media relations.

Hi Jennie. Could you introduce yourself, and let us know what your job is as a Yelp Community Manager?

    Hello, I’m Jennie Marshall and I am extremely proud to be the Community Manager of Yelp in Edmonton. I like to think of a Yelp Community Manager as the “Mayor” of our particular city. We’re the friend that knows when a new restaurant opens, which shoe guy to use for your favorite stilettos, or where to take your Grandmother for an authentic meal that reminds her of the Old Country. I also interact with the Yelp community online as well as off, talk with business owners on how they can use the free tools on Yelp, throw super cool events and parties, write a weekly newsletter and much more!

Current Community Manager for Yelp Edmonton Jennie Marshall. Continue reading

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