Monday, December 14, 2009

Bi-Weekly Interview: Jim Ford

Written by Natan Edelsburg
Edited by Sara Sald

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jim Ford, talented actor and Chief Web Designer for NYU Steinhardt. Jim has played an essential role in helping the Comm Club begin to re-brand themselves this semester by helping us design a new website. He's also been helping out Steinhardt's Undergraduate Student Government by working with their new social media guru, freshman Jeremiah Malina. More importantly though, Jim was behind Steinhardt's phenomenal new web design, which if you haven't noticed, rolled out this semester. Here's a condensed and edited version of my interview.

How did you start your career as a web developer?

I majored in acting in college. I got my first job as an "HTML Monkey" making travel sites for destinations in the Caribbean.

When did you start working on Steinhardt's Website?

In 2000 the web team consisted of one person. We spent two and a half years building a site for the school. I then left Steinhardt for a bit and went to work for a company called Fractured Atlas, a non-profit that helped provide affordable healthcare for emerging artists, where I served as Director of Member Services. I then ended up coming back to NYU when a new position opened up.

When was the last time the site was redesigned?

We redesigned the site in 2007 when Steinhardt re-branded itself, changing its name to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The problem with the original website was that the site was based more on the design and less on the userability. Using a trackpad with the site was horrible. However, we did introduce a great CMS (Content Management System), which allows departments and student organizations to easily create a page with their content.

What are some of the cool features of the new redesign?

When designing the site we used the mega drop-downs with a limitless options-style designed by expert usability consultant Jakob Nielsen. It lets users click where they want to go as quickly as possible. We also have a great video portal with interviews and lectures. Lastly, we launched our News Portal that features new blogs and happenings around Steinhardt.

Many students prefer to use Gmail as supposed to NYU's Messenger and other intranet features. Do you have any insights why NYU hasn't gone Google?

I'm not positive but it probably has to do with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) that protects academic records. NYU may not want to give Google access to student's private communication with professors and other students. Another concern may be that they don’t want to sell their student’s attention to Google. It’s true that Google is pretty good about ads with their academic suites, but it could still be a potential issue.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Hey Comm Club! We wanted to wish everyone good luck on finals and invite you to our final event of the semester: MadCupMenCakes! It is happening today, Thursday December 10th, in Room 803 of Kimmel at 8:30pm.

The event is very chill and will allow all of us to take a break from Bobst. We are going to watch the Emmy award winning show "MadMen" and eat cupcakes of various brands to take a break from the madness that is finals.

Hope to see you all there! As always, if you have any questions, please contact us at


The Comm Club EBoard

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Monthly Meeting Update

Written by Sara Saldi
Edited by Felicia Shulman

At our last Comm Club meeting on Wednesday November 18th, we had the pleasure of hosting Isaac Josephson, the director of product development at ABC News.

Before delving into the field of journalism, Mr. Josephson ran the music division of The NPD Group, where he helped global music companies, retailers, and internet companies develop digital music business strategies. Prior to that, he served as product manager at for the launch of the Rhapsody digital music subscription service, and senior producer at where he managed the online presence of websites like and

In 1994, Isaac co-founded Centerstage Chicago, the first online guide to local entertainment. It was subsequently acquired by the Chicago Sun Times. Isaac began his career with the Tribune Company where he was responsible for developing the corporate online presence and participated in the launch of

Isaac received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is presently enrolled in NYU Steinhardt’s Master’s program in Media, Culture and Communications.

At our meeting, he spoke a lot about the evolution of the media industries. He began in the music business, a field that since the invention of the internet has undergone a 180 degree flip due to sites such as Now he is in the field of journalism, which is changing dramatically due to the internet as well. He shared with us how drastically the news business is changing as sites like Facebook and Twitter continue to become more popular destinations for news consumption.

His biggest piece of advice for students looking for jobs in the communications fields is to make connections through networking, and make sure that your resume is perfect before you send it out!

Other club business discussed at the meeting included the MadCupMenCakes Event, where we will be watching the hit TV show Mad Men and eating delicious cupcakes. MadCupMenCakes is on December 10th at 8:30pm in Kimmel Room 803. It will be a very relaxed event where we can all unwind and take a break from finals studying!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Social Media Society’s Twitter 101 Session

The Social Media Society's first Twitter 101 course took place on Thursday, November 19th, and presented a wealth of information about Twitter, the ever-popular social microblogging platform. The course’s attendees ranged from small business owners to Newsweek employees. The workshop included the basics of Twitter, but focused mainly on the how Twitter can help businesses to connect with their customers and advertise their products. Below are a few case studies that were analyzed during the session:

  • In March of 2009, Skittles changed its homepage into a live Twitter feed of tweets containing the word “Skittles.” This brave experiment created a lot of publicity for Skittles. However, after two days the site became flooded with negative tweets and had to be taken down. What Skittles lacked, however, was an effort to reach out and engage their customers. You can still see a modified Skittles Twitter feed here
  • The Ford Fiesta Brand Ambassador Program is another example of Twitter being used by a business. Instead of using cliché auto commercials, Ford has chosen 100 Brand Ambassadors to promote their new car, the Fiesta, through Twitter. The Brand Ambassador’s job is to highlight their experiences with the Fiesta by posting pictures and videos on Twitter and adding in their own perspective as they complete “missions” given by the website. It’s a neat idea where you aren’t being sold a product through traditional advertising. Instead you’re engaging with it socially.
  • Best Buy is utilizing Twitter as a customer service outlet. Their main twitter page @bestbuy tweets about news while @twelpforce displays many different employees directly addressing customers who are seeking help in real time. This is definitely an effective way to demonstrate a company’s commitment to customer service.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that there is no proven way to use Twitter to market a brand. Twitter is still in a growth stage and brands are experimenting with Twitter to find what works best for them. With that said, the workshop provided us with a lot of tools to measure the traffic of your Twitter. Here’s a few: offers a standard search API to allow you to search key words, also with advanced options. will search and notify you whenever anyone tweets a specific keyword is a tool that measures and analyzes your brand’s impact on twitter

Special thanks to Persia Tatar, Founder, Social Media Society and Benjamin Weisman, Vice President, Creative Director, MRM Worldwide – Princeton for leading the course and inviting us.

Written by Jeremiah Malina

Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bi-Weekly Interview: Professor Jay Rubin

Paper after paper, college teaches us how to write. But out in the real world, how you deliver your pitch is almost more important than how you write it. Here with some expert advice on giving a successful presentation is one of my Stern communications professors, Professor Jay Rubin. Professor Rubin currently teaches Organizational Communication, an undergraduate management communications course at the Stern School of Business, and Public Relations Writing, a graduate course at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He splits his time between the NYU classroom and his consulting firm, Jay Rubin & Associates. Over the years, his clients have been in the media and communication business, such as ABC, CNBC and Scholastic.

What are some basic techniques everyone should master when presenting?

The first thing is to realize that very few people are "natural" presenters, and you have to practice -- and keep practicing -- your content and delivery skills. If you're disciplined enough to put in the time, you'll usually be fine. Most often, the individual or the team making the presentation is far more critical about the performance than the audience. When developing your strategy and content, always apply the watchwords that go all the way back to Aristotle and remain timely as ever: ethos (credibility), logos (logic) and pathos (emotional appeal).

What makes an effective introduction?

You have to grab the audience's attention, preview what's ahead, and make sure your audience knows WIIFM (what's in it for me).

What are some misconceptions about visual aids? How do we create effective visuals?

Visual aids are intended to help the presenter do his or her job, not take it over. That's why simpler is usually better. Unless you're intentionally giving a highly technical or numbers-heavy presentation, a visual should be able to tell its story in a couple of quick seconds so focus can immediately return to the presenter.

What to do when you draw a blank?

Always keep smiling (unless you're dealing with an especially somber event, which isn't often the case). The audience generally takes its cues from the presenter. If you appear confident enough as a presenter to accept a momentary lapse, the audience will usually be forgiving. However, if you show you're squirming, the audience is more likely to remember those unfortunate moments because you've made them uncomfortable watching you.

Who is the best presenter out there today?

There's a lot of great presenters out there. But the one who comes quickest to mind is Steve Jobs. He has natural charisma and is a master at blending both WIIFM features (e.g. here's the latest innovation) and benefits (e.g. here's why it's so cool).

What was your most memorable presentation? What did you learn from it?

Years ago, when I was fresh out of college and starting my career, I attended a journalism seminar sponsored by The Washington Post. Some of the country's most respected reporters were there. The journalists were asked tough questions, and their answers were sometimes surprising and controversial. But no one doubted their credibility. It was a great lesson about how the impact of any message depends on who's delivering it.

What’s the best advice you've received on how to give a presentation?

Practice and be your best self. Don't just try to mimic someone else's style; find your own.

Written by Jessica Ye

Edited by Sara Saldi

My Experience at Bernaise Source’s PR Camp – Go Red Team!

Written by Natan Edelsburg, Communications Club Vice President

Thanks to Danielle Culmone, a former supervisor from Quinn & Co. Public Relations I was invited by Bernaise Source’s principal, Dan Greenfield to be a “Gen-Yer” for PR Camp’s “Talking About the ‘Y’ Generation,” session. When I first read about PR Camp and how it was going to be an “unconference” fueled by a camp-like, marshmallows and bonfire atmosphere I had a social media wet dream. My fondest memories are from my ten consecutive summers being a camper and then counselor at Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire. Click here for one of my favorite social media blog posts, by David Berkowitz (from MediaPost’s Social Media Insider) describing how being a camp counselor prepares you for social marketing.

I had the pleasure of meeting some extremely impressive professionals throughout the day. Separating into teams (go red team!) really gave us the chance to get to know each other as we discussed, ROI, Gen-Y and new versus old agencies relating to PR and social media. During each session (especially Howard Greenstein’s “Delivering Strategies for Effective ROI”), different ways of using metrics to show results from social media campaigns were brought up. After I got home from PR Camp I was extremely excited to study the conversations that took place during the day. I typed in the official hashtag, “#prcamp,” and copy and pasted the ten-plus pages of tweets just from Friday, into Wordle, the word cloud creator. After removing most of the clutter from my “copy and paste” here is what Wordle designed:

For those unfamiliar with word/tag clouds and Wordle, you can simply copy and paste text into their form and it will show you what words/terms were most prevalent by designing a “beautiful” and customized cloud of words. This word cloud taught me some cool facts about PR Camp – some obvious, some not at all. Here are my top-5:

1. PR Camp, Social Media and Twitter were the biggest most prevalent words, which makes sense since each tweet I copy and pasted contained PR Camp. Also, it’s no surprise that the topics that were most discussed were Social Media and Twitter (plus I probably should have deleted Twitter from the word cloud but couldn’t bring myself to).

2. Ishkahbibel (Donald Schwartz, Imagelink Productions), @Journalistics (a blog about journalism and PR), @MattHurst (Communications Professional and Social Media Savant), and @TonyBerkman (Serial Entreprenuer) appeared to have tweeted the most, simply because their names were most prevalent.

3. UberTwitter has a big shout-out in the cloud leading me to assume that most people (including myself) were tweeting from Uber.

4.Not surprisingly, the word “porn” is pretty noticeable. For everyone who was at PR Camp or watching the conversation we all know it is in reference to JetBlue’s Morgan Johnston’s comment that when he showed TweetDeck to an exec at JetBlue, he exclaimed that it was like “marketing porn.”

5. Smaller, but still noticeable – the word “mobile” dictates the importance of how technology is moving more to our fingertips and less to our desktops – this subject was brought up several times during the Red Team’s discussions.

While my word cloud is far from perfect, it gave me a fun and pretty way to put into context the #prcamp conversations and everything I had taken in from a very fun day at camp. I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to create my first list on Twitter. I created one for the red team in the hope that we could all stay connected and continue to converse. I added everyone I could think of but am obviously still missing people. Here’s a link to the list on where you can recommend anyone to the list that I left off.

Edited by Sara Saldi

Dean’s Roundtable with Adina Pitt

Thanks to the Dean’s Roundtable I had the chance to hear Adina Pitt, a Steinhardt alumna, speak about her career in television and her position as a VP at Cartoon Network and Boomerang (and, as an extra bonus, they had some great cookies there, too). Ms. Pitt is the VP of Content Acquisitions & Co-Productions and Cartoon Network & Boomerang. She spoke with a diverse group of undergrad and post-grad students who wanted to hear all about the television industry and what steps she took in her career path to get to where she was. I walked away from the roundtable with a lot more knowledge about children’s cable television and how concepts and ideas are now traded globally. Here are the top-five things I took away:

  1. The most valuable lesson I learned from Ms. Pitt was how she moved her career forward by essentially creating her own job. When she was an assistant and contracts would pass through her desk she made sure to read and study each one. When her superiors would get ready to go on business trips in markets around the world she would prepare spec sheets of projects to check out.
  2. Ms. Pitt was describing to us how the simplest of pitches are the ones that Cartoon Network decides to invest in. The funniest one she mentioned was “a babysitter who happens to be a vampire.” Right after she heard those words, she was sold. The comeback of the vampire continues!
  3. She reminded us that “kids are really simple,” they “feel like adults,” but don’t think like them. They want “mindless fun,” which is what you need to think about when you are developing programming for children.
  4. “Kids love commercials” – This was a cool and really interesting point she made. She told us that when she offers to fast-forward commercials with her own children they usually tell her not to because they love the commercials. I wonder if this will change as kids start using computers at younger ages.
  5. If you are trying to create a concept for a children’s show make sure you’re thinking about your story in 52, 11 minute parts. Cartoon Network mostly needs 26, 22-minute episodes with two 11-minute stories in each (I think we can all vaguely remember that format from our Rugrats days).

Written by Natan Edelsburg

Edited by Sara Saldi

Our New Layout!

Hey everyone, hope you like our new blog layout. Our old layout was a standard Blogger template that was a bit too bland for our taste – we wanted something more readable and aesthetically pleasing. We’re hoping to switch to WordPress for the spring semester, but for now we are still here. Special thanks to Jeremiah Malina who helped us with the new blog design. If you have any comments about how it looks let us know at

Jeremiah Malina is a freshman Media, Culture, & Communication major. He is also the Social Media Chairperson for Steinhardt’s Undergraduate Student Government. Feel free to tweet your comments @JJmalina and check out the Steinhardt USG blog at

Written by Jeremiah Malina

Edited by Sara Saldi

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Social Media Society’s Facebook 101 Session

Social Media Society’s first course took place Wednesday, November 11th at the Yale Club, and Comm Club was really happy to be able to attend. We were able to learn how professionals in the advertising/marketing/communications industry were using Facebook to connect customers to their brands and provide a fun and interactive way to create conversations between them. Here are some of the key takeaways we learned that we thought most college-age Facebook users would not be aware of:

  • Have a plan – whether your creating a group or fan page for your student organization think about maximizing your fans engagement by creating a content calendar when you know how often you’ll post and update and what it will be about.

  • Utilize FBML to customize your fan page - FBML is Facebook’s simple HTML like code that lets you bold, link, tag and add video/pictures to the page layout. It’s very easy to learn and will make a big difference in what your page looks like

  • Use custom tabs – These will allow you to add content specific to what works for your club or organization.

  • Ads – Facebook ads are becoming more and more popular. When you create your next event for your student club, notice that there is an option to click “Promote This Event.” You can easily spend a small amount of money to have an ad for your event appear on user’s pages based on age, location and even university.

Special thanks to Persia Tatar, Founder, Social Media Society and Benjamin Weisman, Vice President, Creative Director, MRM Worldwide – Princeton for leading the course and inviting Comm Club to be a part of it.

Twitter 101 is this Thursday and student tickets are only $25!

Interested in learning more about the Social Media Society? Email us at

Written by Natan Edelsburg

Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, November 16, 2009

Comm Club's Graduate School Panel

Last Wednesday, November 11, Comm Club hosted a panel at Kimmel featuring graduate students in NYU's Media, Culture, and Communication department.

The panelists:

  • Yue Li
  • Caitlin Jean Hamilton
  • Elisa Verna
  • Isabel Restrepo
  • Jan Gasparic

For anyone who might be interested in pursuing graduate study, here are some of the most helpful tips we learned from the panelists at this event:

  • When asked what pushed them to go to graduate school, many said they enjoyed school and "missed thinking." Others said they knew graduate school would be helpful in a job search. The panelists stressed that the degrees they were perusing at NYU were theory based, not practical. Therefore, their degrees will be helpful for more academic careers. If you're interested in a more corporate job such as public relations or advertising you might find internships more useful than graduate school.
  • Juggling a job and school might be hard for some, but most of our panelists said that having a job actually helped them with time management. They found the strict schedule that a job provides helpful in organizing their lives and school work. They did say, however, that it may be a good idea to wait until you settle in to graduate school before getting a job.
  • Some of our panelists came from smaller undergraduate schools in rural and suburban areas. We were curious whether moving to New York City for graduate school was hard for them. Many said that they found living in the big city quite a shock. New York may have a lot to offer but, as a graduate student, you may not find enough time to experience it all. Make sure to keep in mind the town, city, and country you in which attend school play a huge role in your graduate experience. Remember, there won’t be any freshman organizations or peer advisors to usher you through this time around.
  • It might be a good idea to take a year off after graduating before going to graduate school. There is nothing worse than being stuck in school again if you didn't like it much in the first place. You also might find something out there in the real world that interests you--something you never saw in the confines of the university. You might even find that having a real job isn't as bad as you thought. You could find you like it. Not all 9-5's are the 9-5 you had summer of sophomore year. You might consider traveling, working a little, living a little, getting a little money, and expanding your horizons. It might make you a better grad student!
  • If you decide you do want to go to graduate school, make sure you're studying something that interests you. Don't get a degree because you think it's the natural progression of things. There is a lot of work involved in grad school so don't read more Marshall McLuhan for another two years unless you can really commit to it. And when we say a lot of work we mean A LOT OF WORK.
  • Don't focus on rank. It's more important to make sure you enjoy your program than to be in the top 10. Not all masters programs in communications are the same, so study them carefully.

If you’re interested in learning more about graduate school and have any questions, contact us at

Written Lynn Burke

Edited by Sara Saldi

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bi-Weekly Interview: James Polulach

James Polulach is a relationship manager for Kaplan, the well-know test prep company that has “helped millions of students achieve their educational and career goals.” James has become a good friend and partner of the Communications Club, helping to sponsor events and provide us with test-prep course giveaways. We sat down with James to discuss how he’s built relationships with students and clubs across NYU and how Kaplan has created unique and custom sponsorship programs at universities. The interview has been edited and condensed.

How did you gain the position of relationship manager at Kaplan?

I play football (the Australian kind) and one of the people I played with worked for Kaplan. He recommended me for a position in Brooklyn that I didn’t end up getting. Then the position to work with universities in Manhattan came up and I got it. I’ve been with Kaplan for about 2.5-3 years.

What schools do you work with?

NYU, Columbia and Yeshiva

What different kinds of student clubs at NYU have you worked with?

All different kinds. Pre-professional, cultural, ethnic. I’ve found great ways to work with all different kinds of clubs.

Which clubs have you built the best relationships with (besides Comm Club of course)?

I’ve worked very closely with AMSA (The American Medical Student Association) and Beta Alpha Psi (the business fraternity). Those organizations naturally have many students who are interested in graduate school and test preparation. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with clubs like Psychology and Applied Psychology (another Steinhardt club).

What’s the ROI (return on investment) that you see from your partnerships with student organizations?

Helping host events is a great way to tap into our market and also help each club get their point-of-view across and showcase their club. Kaplan created the industry so I’m not necessarily worried about direct ROI but continuing to invest in our brand by helping other clubs.

What are the best forms of communication that worked with reaching out to clubs?

Email campaigns are definitely the best. Making sure that people are sending out emails, reaching out via Facebook, and updating their members about upcoming events is really important.

What events does Kaplan have coming up?

We will start running more events again in the spring, when it’s not cold out. There will be large practice tests for clubs and we will be working with Wasserman for some events. There will be a big pre-law event in April.

What’s going in Kaplan’s corporate world?

On a corporate level we’ve acquired other test companies that have similar preparation styles and that work well with the Kaplan brand. We’re always making sure Kaplan’s messages are being communicated effectively and that we continue to run events and build relationships with students.

You can follow Kaplan on Twitter here:

Edited by Sara Saldi

Thursday, October 29, 2009

MC’s Weekly Top 10 Media List

Hello, fabulous readers, and welcome to the first installment of a new weekly feature in the NYU Comm Club Blog where I, irreverent cultural commentator that I am, give you the 10 most notable media events that happened this week .Let’s get started!

10. A family portrait of the Obamas taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz has hit the internet. The picture is cute and everything, but when I heard Annie was taking the photo, I was both confused and mystified at what it might look like. I had a feeling they wouldn’t be going for the Miley Cyrus “sheet wrapped around naked back” imagery. Sasha and Malia are too classy for that. But instead, it’s just a typical family portrait. Oh, and where is Bo? Maybe he urinated on Annie’s digital equipment and was kicked out or something. Anyway, take a look for yourself:
9. Everyone start protesting now- the popular website, which allows visitors to watch recent episodes of popular TV shows, has announced it will start charging in the near future. That’s like having to start paying to listen to the radio! Most likely, the site doesn’t make enough money just off the advertisements shown throughout the episodes. I don’t care. Make the advertisements longer, do whatever you have to. Paying actual money to watch something I could watch on TV for free, such as Courtney Cox’s latest antics on “Cougar Town” goes against my basic moral principles.

8. Some bright person decided to start a rumor that Kanye West died, and it turned into a trending topic on Twitter. Some people actually believed it. Why? Because earlier in the week, Kanye premiered a video on his site where he is graphically murdered. And they say those who insist Americans can’t tell fantasized violence apart from reality are crazy. But I digress. I’m sure ‘Ye was thrilled with the free publicity. In fact, it actually wouldn’t surprise me if he started the rumor itself. You know he couldn’t stand Balloon Boy stealing his spotlight. This displays yet another example of the wide influence of Twitter, as the social networking site becomes a place where actual news breaks out.

7. Lil’ Wayne pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a gun here in New York on Thursday. Why this is news, I’m not sure. He will be sentenced in court in February and could serve up to a year in prison. Watch for his sales and critical acclaim to spike notably in the coming months. We all know the media loves when celebrities act up. About a year ago, rapper T.I. was also found guilty of criminal possession and sentenced to prison. But not before racking up #1 hits and Grammy nominations. Anyway, I don’t really see what the big deal is about this. When I see Weezy, I expect him to be packing heat the way I expect an old lady to have packets of contraband restaurant ketchup.

6. This is certainly convenient- Google has announced that they are adding a “music search” feature to their site soon. You’ll be able to type in a song or artist name and instantly get links to purchase or stream music. I’m not yet sure how this is all that different from going to Google’s main page and just searching the name of the song you want followed by “mp3”, but the new design of the word “Google” (featuring a shiny musical note instead of the two “o”s) looks cool, and maybe that’s what’s most important after all.

5. Everyone set your TiVos and DVRs immediately, because on November 16 at precisely 4 p.m. on ABC, Oprah’s talk show will be graced by none other than Sarah Palin. She will be promoting her memoir, “Going Rogue”, or as I would have named it, “Going Off-TelePrompTer”. Anyway, this is shocking news since Palin has rejected offers to be on the show in the past, most likely because Oprah basically picked McCain’s opponent as our president. What Oprah (Gayle, Stedman, African school for girls) and Palin (moose) have in common, I’m not sure, but this will surely be an event.''

4. NBC’s decision to give Jay Leno his own talk show every night at 10 p.m. seems to be having some negative, yet predicted, consequences. Due to Leno’s lack of popularity and competition from other network's shows, viewers are dropping off of NBC before the 11 pm news comes on (which is not great for the affiliates). Leno’s show also takes away time slots where other shows could have had a chance to prosper. Perhaps some of NBC’s promising new shows would not have been cancelled if they were given the opportunity to score better ratings in a later time slot. For instance, "Southland" might have fared better as a 10 p.m. drama. None of this is great news for the network. However, I don't think Leno or his chin are going anywhere anytime soon.

3. In an interesting political-media development, the Obama administration has called war on conservative Fox News. A quick Google search reveals many opinions on both sides of the war, with some publications praising Obama for going after the network, and others cautioning against it. This news came as a surprise to me as I suppose I always thought there was a tacit understanding between politically skewed networks and the administrations in power. The incident all started when Obama appeared on all the major networks, except Fox News, to talk about health care in response to some comments made by FN commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace called the administration "crybabies" in response to the incident. The fighting's been on ever since.

2. For the past six months, the media has been consistently and annoyingly reporting on the drama surrounding Jon, Kate, and their 8 paychecks, I mean children. Here’s the latest update in case you care- Jon is trying to get on another reality show. Shocker. When I saw that headline, my mind jumped to the obvious choice- “The Biggest Loser”. But it turns out he wants to be on a CBS show such as “Survivor”. The only way this would work is if you stuck Jon on an island and had that evil-looking possum thing that lives on Kate’s head chase him around for a month. I would be a faithful viewer to that one. Of course, it's debatable if another network would want to take a chance on Jon given that he was recently sued by TLC for violating his contract. (Jon claims he decided he didn't want his children around the cameras anymore). I have a feeling his desire for a new show is a result of the fact that, given that Kate is now raising the children while Jon picks up 22-year-olds and hangs out with Michael Lohan, the old show will be much less focused on his wonderful presence. Also, Jon was recently court-ordered to return the money he stole borrowed from his and Kate’s joint account- to buy more flashy, cubic-zirconium earrings, no doubt.

1. Speaking of events making me lose my faith in humanity, we have now arrived at this list’s #1...Balloon Boy. Last week, when it was discovered that a boy had apparently flown away in a hot air balloon, the public watched spellbound as authorities searched for him. Turns out he never left the ground- the little boy was hiding in the attic the whole time. The father, Richard Heene, called the media before the cops when his son “went missing”. There has been a general consensus that the media greatly overreacted to this incident; for a while, it was certainly the most repeatedly covered story on all news outlets. This feeling of irritation has certainly only increased with reports that the whole thing was a set up and the father is seeking his own reality TV show. Recently, the mother herself admitted it was a big hoax. So, that leaves the father as the only delusional maniac left still claiming it really happened. With any luck, either the police department sues him for every penny he’s worth, or we send him up in a hot air balloon headed for Mars. I’m done.

Michael Cavarretta is a freshman in the Communication department and a new writer to the blog. Feel free to email him at with any comments, praises, or criticisms about this week’s post. Actually, forget about that last one. You can just keep those thoughts to yourself.

Written by Michael Cavarretta, Edited by Sara Saldi

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 30th MCC Graduate Conference Open to All Students

Hey Comm Club!

The MCC department's graduate conference is occurring on October 30. It is an open event for any student interested in attending! There will be a number of informative panels with topics that include media activism, vision and sound as a commodity, and the politics of memory. Think you might be interested in attending? Want to find out more information about the day's events, panelists, etc.? Check out the schedule below:

Event Time:
Friday, October 30, 2009
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Helen Mills Theater
137 West 26th Street

9:00 Doors open & Coffee served

9:15 Welcome
* Marita Sturken, Chair
* Rod Benson, Director of Graduate Studies

9:30 Panel I – Vision, Sound and/as Commodity
* Jamie Berthe, “Deconstructing Tarzan or Reconstructing Racial Hierarchies?”
* Melissa De Witte, “Memory and the Spectacle: Phantom and fantasy in a new economy of the image”
* Jennifer Heuson, “Soundscapes of the Black Hills: An acoustemology of the American West”
* Faculty moderator: Martin Scherzinger

11:00 Panel II – Politics of Memory
* Lisa Gitelman, "Daniel Ellsberg and the lost idea of the photocopy"
* Hatim El-Hibri, “Sectarianism, Maps and Beirut: From the French Mandate through the end of the civil war (1920-1991)”
* Christine Weible, “How the creation of museums and memorials at the site of the ex-ESMA is impacting collective memory of the Dirty War in Argentina”
* Scott Selberg, "Cognitive Fever: Remembering Alzheimer's at the National Library of Medicine"
* Faculty moderator: Nicholas Mirzoeff

12:45 Lunch served

1:30 Brian Larkin, Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University, “The Mobility of Images and the Ethnography of Value: Cinema in Nigeria”

2:45 Break

3:00 Panel III – Media Activism
* Victor Pickard, "Crises and Opportunities in the Ongoing Struggle for Public Service Media"
* Evan Brody, “(De)scribing Disease: Capitalist HIV imagery and cultural memory”
* Dwaipayan Banerjee, “Media Activism in its Local Place: Lessons from Bhopal”
* Marco Deseriis, “The Faker as Producer: Politics of fabrication and the three orders of the fake”
* Faculty moderator: Allen Feldman

4:45 Reception & Drinks served

If you have any further questions, please contact us at

Compiled by Caitlin Pirraglia, Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, October 26, 2009

Comm Club and WIC Host Professional PR Panel

This past Wednesday (Oct. 21), Comm Club and the Women in Communications Club had the pleasure of co-hosting a professional public relations panel at Kimmel. We really had a phenomenal turnout and we hope that everyone got as much out of the event as we did. We heard from professionals across a wide range of industries and were really able to get a great sense of what it takes to make it in PR. Also, Quinn & Co., one of the firms that participated, covered us in their blog!

Update: Here's a short, clip from the panel. Enjoy!

The panelists:

· Katie Elliott, Account Supervisor, Travel and Digital Media Specialist, Quinn & Co.
· Emily Franklin, Digital Media/Senior Account Executive, Real Estate, Quinn & Co.
· Danielle Culmone, Digital Media/Account Supervisor, Real Estate, Quinn & Co.
· Jenna Hudson, Executive Assistant to the President, FerenComm
· Kate Brennan, Junior Publicist/Assistant to the SVP, FerenComm
· Claire Coveney, Content Manager, Perks Consulting
· Maureen Haley, Account Executive, Development Counsellors International
A small selection of the most informative and helpful Q&A:

What advice do you have for securing a job/internship in PR?
  • With the economy, you have to remember that although a job may be hard to find, an internship can turn into a four-month interview where you will have the chance to prove how valuable you are to the team
  • Remember to write thoughtful thank you cards after an interview. This will really make you stand out since you went out of your way to handwrite something personal and snail mail it.
  • Stay busy at your internship. Your supervisors will notice if you are slacking or not putting in 100% effort.
  • Go to as many networking events as possible. Meet people. Research different firms. Most importantly make sure you enjoy what you are doing!

What are the best and worst parts about working in PR?
  • Best: Communicating well is not easy for everyone. Helping clients by formulating effective communications message so they can promote their brand is extremely rewarding. Also, working with clients that reach across national markets is very exciting.
  • Worst: Pitching to journalists can be very hard. Some of them are mean and some of them will never call you back. It’s also always very difficult to leave your work at work. PR professionals are extremely busy and managing your time effectively often becomes the hardest part of the job.

How has social/digital media changed the way PR works?
  • There are so many different channels available now to communicate client’s messages. This can especially become harder to manage when people within the PR agency are new at using the tools. Communications agencies across the spectrum are now getting up to speed within their own structures and for the client work they produce.
  • The fact is that although there are all these new channels your goals are still the same – to effectively communicate and drive results for the client. The more channels the better but you always need to remember that the same diligence is needed in every execution.

If you’re interested in learning about any of the internship programs at the panfirms, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

Compiled by Natan Edelsburg, Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bi-Weekly Interview: Mushon Zer-Aviv, Designer, Teacher and Media Activist

Mushon Zer-Aviv is a designer, teacher and media activist from Tel-Aviv. He teaches new media research at New York University and open-source design at Parsons The New School for Design. Mushon's work explores media i n public space and public space in media. He is the co-founder of, an open-source brow ser plug-in for annotating the web. His other ventures include, a foxy design studio, and Kriegspiel, a computer game based on Guy Debord’s Game of War. Mushon is also an honorary resident at Eyebeam, the New York based art and technology center.

Comm Club’s Lynn Burke sat down with Mushon Zer-Aviv so that we could all learn more about him, his work, and open source:

I suppose a good a question to start with is a basic one. So, what exactly is open source?

Open source is a production method for software-based projects. The heart of it is that the information is openly available and collaborated on. When people are sharing their music under creative commons sites, that doesn't make it open source. But if they made a platform that would allow them to collaborate on it, that’s closer to the realm of open source.

Open source platforms seem beneficial to everyone. Do you think it's ever going to catch on?

It has already caught on. Most of the technology we use online is open source. You're already using it. Most website servers are running on Linux and Apache, which are open source technologies.You don't know about it because you don't necessarilyneed to know about it. But, we wouldn't have had the web and the culture that we have today if it wasn't for open source. If you're editing or using Wikipedia, you're directly affected by open source.

What are the similarities and differences between ShiftSpace and Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is has two aspects of open source: 1. It's open sourcing the creation of knowledge by having an interface of collaboration on that knowledge and 2. The software Wikipedia is using is open source software.

What we're doing with ShiftSpace is different because even though it's true that people can come and edit content, we're more interested in people coming in and deciding what interfaces to use on the sites that they're browsing.

It's not about content as much as it is about the interface. Even in the case of Wikipedia, the content is widely constructed through interface. So, we admire the Wikipedia project and the question that it's asking. We're just asking different questions. Even before we question content, we have to question interface.

How is ShiftSpace funded?

First of all you're assuming we are funded. A lot of the development around open source and ShiftSpace is not funded. In the past year we've been introduced to MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art). They were in the process of a site redesign and saw our work. They were looking for some sort of social media vendor and asked us if we could do stuff for their website.

So we looked at our code and saw that we didn't just create a plug-in environment, we also created a social application platform. We can use that technology to create other interfaces, and not necessarily just a plug-in.

That's the kind of business model that we hope to explore. We are still working with MoMA and are on phase two of the interface, which should be live soon. We're just fixing a few more bugs.

What kind of role do you think the internet and digital media has played on art and what kind of role do you think the internet is going to play in the future of traditional art?

I think the questions we are interested in don't really revolve around art; instead, they revolve around the wider perspective of culture. In the case of MoMA, what's interesting is the idea of sharing intellectual property. MoMA is a great museum and we enjoy working with them. On the other hand though, it has a very bureaucratic system. They have a legal department that makes sure every piece of art in the collection has specific licensing. Therefore, there's only so much you can do with an image on the Internet.

For instance, MoMA came to us wanting to have a Facebook feature, which we are now working on. But the issue is that due to licensing, art pieces are only legally allowed to be shown on MoMA’s website. Art pieces are not even allowed to be shown as thumbnails on Facebook, as that would be an infringement of the intellectual property of the artist. When you're putting art (or anything that has strong intellectual property issues) online, you're bound to run into these questions.

Our work, especially when it's focused on social media, is really challenging the way MoMA and other places like it are thinking about what and how things can be shared.

What advice can you give students looking at careers in web design or new media?

Install Firefox. That's the number one tip I can give to anyone looking to do Web stuff. Basically, what's exciting about a lot of web technology is that it is open. Whatever you are looking at on your web browser, you can inspect and learn how to do.

I am teaching a class called Open Source Design at Parsons. At the beginning of the semester I tell my students we are doing to learn HTML, CSS, WordPress, and much more. But the catch is, I'm not going to teach you. And it’s not just that I won't be teaching them, it's that I don't even know it!

We learn it together because we have all of the tools to do so from the web itself. If you have the patience, you can teach yourself all about technology. That is the one truly revolutionary thing about the Web: everyone can learn.

Edited by Sara Saldi

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Second Monthly Meeting Updates

Hey everybody! First, we want to thank everyone who came to our second monthly meeting this Wednesday. We had a great turnout, and we loved how enthusiastic you all were! For those of you who couldn’t make it, here is some of what happened:

  • First we discussed the Media, Culture, and Communication Undergraduate Conference. This is a conference that occurs in the spring every year. MCC freshmen are required to attend, but everyone is welcome. This year, Comm Club was approached to help plan the event. This is an awesome opportunity, especially for the freshmen, because we have the ability to make this mandatory conference really cool. We started brainstorming some ideas for topics, speakers, and an interesting format. We always need more ideas and help. If you’d like to help out with this, please email us at

  • The second order of business was about the blog (the one you are reading right now!). We really want to get some new writers and expand our subject matter. This blog shouldn’t just be about NYU Comm Club happenings – it should be about the world of media! Please contact Sara Saldi at if you have any interest in writing a blog entry for us (or even start a column!). It can be as fun as an article about your favorite TV show or as serious as an interview with one of your professor. Remember, having your writing published looks great on your resume.

  • Now that we have our budget, we can really start planning events. At the meeting, we tried to get a feel for which events people were most excited about (an NBC studio tour was one example. A cupcake branding taste test was another). Though these events were ideas proposed by the E-Board, we are always looking to hear about what YOU guys want to do. Always feel free to approach us with ideas.

  • Abi and Natan briefed us on the Social Media Society, a professional society focusing on the world of social media. The Comm Club was able to attend the launch of this brand-new society (click here to read one of our past blogs about it). We hope to form the first student chapter of the Social Media Society. Abi will be keeping us posted!

If you have any further questions about what happened at the meeting, please email

The next Comm Club Meeting will be Wednesday, November 18th at 7:30. Be there!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GlobalQuad: Colleges on Twitter

Attention everybody! There is a new website ( to check out! And okay, given the state of the internet today, that fact is not all too surprising. But trust me, this site serves a purpose! Think about it, have you ever wondered what is going at your university? What event one club is having versus another? What the school journalists are covering at any given moment? What events and news is happening around campus? Or perhaps a better question, have you ever wondered how other universities compare to your own? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find the answers to these questions from a primary source rather than hearsay and rumor? Well now you can! is here to answer your questions! Launched this past summer, Colleges on Twitter is an aggregate site for the range of twitter accounts from different colleges and universities. By bringing all of the schools’ twitter feeds together and organizing them on one host site, GlobalQuad makes it easy to follow exactly what is being tweeted both around your campus as well as your friend’s.

There are already over seventy colleges and universities represented on the site, ranging from lesser known schools like Towson University in Maryland, to Ivy League colleges such as Harvard. True to its name, GlobalQuad spans the globe as it hosts tweets from The University of Oxford and Cambridge University as well. (And of course, NYU is there too!)

The organization and functionality of the site is explained best in an article from the New York Times Blog, “The Choice.” It clearly states that:

Users can filter news by school, viewing all chatter about one place through, for example, the gathered feeds of a single university’s newspaper, alumni magazine, student clubs and sports teams. In addition to those institutional tweets are personal tweets from a range of campus characters, including student newspaper editors, law librarians, football coaches and journalism professors. (

If a tweet is sent out from a school registered on GlobalQuad, it will be easy to find and along with it, you will be able to read other twitter accounts from the same university, or similar accounts from different universities. The New York Times Blog entry also provides more background on the creation of the site and its editor, Natan Edelsburg (In full disclosure, Natan is an NYU Steinhardt Junior/Senior and the Vice President of the Comm Club).

So those are the straight facts about the site. Great. But what is its real value? It’s as simple as this: GlobalQuad is a great example of how social media can be used as a beneficial resource.

First, the site provides a one-stop shop to gather messages streaming out of your university and others. This will be useful to students who want to stay up to date, but perhaps more importantly for high school seniors who want to get a unique perspective on the schools they are considering. In a way, GlobalQuad provides an outpost for the social media enthusiasts at various universities to construct their virtual university. If the twitter feeds from all of the different academic departments, residence halls, clubs, student government, individual students, etc. at one university are collected in one “space” on GlobalQuad, the University, or at least a representation of the University, has essentially been constructed online through its own written and controlled tweets. That’s pretty cool. Current and prospective students, who want to know a school better, now have a new source for up to the minute information. But it gets better.

GlobalQuad is a great and unique resource because of the way it unites universities across the globe, creating, well, a virtual global campus. Lets say UCLA and USC have an upcoming football game. Being the bitter rivals they are, there are sure to be tweets talking about the game and how one team is going to beat the other (or something more exciting, and perhaps from the teams themselves). With the use of GlobalQuad, there is a new forum where those tweets can be viewed simultaneously and the rivalry, in all of its glory, becomes virtual. Though UCLA and USC are physically close to one another, students or alumni who are currently in a farther location can go to GlobalQuad and get a sense of the action happening on campus by its representation on twitter.

Whether one is an avid fan of twitter and social media, or doesn’t know a tweet from a text but wants to have up to the minute information stemming from campus life, GlobalQuad provides a great service.

Check it out!

Written by Felicia Shulman

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bi-weekly Interview: Professor Joseph Reagle, Wikipedia Expert

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Professor Joseph Reagle is an adjunct professor in Steinhardt’s department of Media, Culture and Communication. Professor Reagle is an expert on Wikipedia and collaborative communities. He has been quoted multiple times in The New York Times as an expert in this field and has a book coming out on the topic by MIT Press next year. Comm Club VP Natan Edelsburg sat down with Professor Reagle and discussed Wikipedia in the news, how collaborative communities have evolved, and how important collaboration tools and Wikipedia are for education. (This interview has been edited and condensed).

For this week's interview we have included a (poorly edited) clip from the time we spent with Professor Reagle. Enjoy!

Natan Edelsburg: We saw you in The New York Times this summer and were very curious about collaborative communities. How did you start studying them?

Professor Joseph Reagle: I started out as a computer science student at the beginning of the 90s. Then I got interested in technology policy so I went to MIT’s Technology Policy program. I got interested in blogs, wikis and RSS, so I came to NYU [in 2003] and studied the way people were collaborating to produce content on Wikipedia.

NE: Why were you turned off by blogs?

JR: I ended up thinking the blogosphere was a bit too narcissistic; people were only concerned with A-list bloggers. On Wikipedia, people still argue, but they argue about a greater good and things that are bigger than their own ego.

NE: How have wikis changed since you started studying them in 2003?

JR: They certainly have more capabilities. People are into micro-blogging now. But the genre hasn’t changed. Wikipedia was only 2 years old when I began in 2003. Now the English Wikipedia has 3 million articles. They have actually reached a threshold with creative growth, article creation and active users. These things are stabilizing and even dropping now.

NE: What did your dissertation focus on specifically?

JR: The title was, “In Good Faith, Wikipedia, Collaboration and the Pursuit of the Universal Encyclopedia.” To unpack that a bit, I was interested in Wikipedia collaborations and the cultural norms that facilitate collaboration. I wanted to frame it in an historical context. I argued that trying to come up with a thing like Wikipedia has been a long pursued vision for 100 years.

NE: Where was this idea 100 years ago?

JR: H.G. Wells had a vision for a world encyclopedia. He was quite concerned with the changes that were happening around the world, the potential for global war. He thought that with the advanced technology of his time (microfilm, loose-leaf binders and index cards) somehow society would be able to create an encyclopedia. Not only would it be for every student with microfilm, it would help bring world peace. He thought that if we just knew each other better we would like each other. My work looks into why it took so long to achieve something like Wikipedia.

NE: Have you ever thought about teaching a class on Wikipedia and collaborative communities?

JR: I think it would be a fun class and of great interest to students. Clay Shirky at ITP (Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program) has taught a similar class looking more broadly at crowd sourcing and social media that includes a good section on Wikipedia. He wrote a book with these themes titled, “Here Comes Everybody.”

NE: Do you use ‘collaborative communities’ mechanisms in your classes?

JR: Typically not. It’s certainly ironic. I like the face-to-face interactions that I have with students. I use some old fashioned email technology. They go through a filter and go on a web page when I ask questions.

I too have been frustrated with some of the IT capabilities they have here. NYU did experiment with a wiki platform. They did it for around 6 classes in 2007. We’re often forced to use Blackboard. I loathe Blackboard. I don’t know about the Google system, which brings up the issue of giving out your educational intellect to a private company. But there are certainly other platforms too.

NE: You are often quoted in The New York Times as a Wikipedia expert. Can you speak about the topics that were newsworthy?

JR: A lot of the interest in Wikipedia has been asking to what extent it is really open. It is the “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” People want to know, “is that really true?” Wikipedia has certain benefits and demerits. Benefits are that anyone can edit them. Demerits are that anyone can be disruptive and be boneheads.

Is Wikipedia open? That has been one of the subjects of my research and interest. One example is the Afghan story. It was believed by The New York Times that journalists had been kidnapped. They thought that reporting on this could cause the journalists more danger and asked publications not to publish anything about it. The New York Times even asked Al Jazeera not to cover the story. They also asked Wikipedia to not put that info on there. However, someone was trying to add it. This person wasn’t identifiable, so they couldn’t ask him to keep this on the DL. They were, however, able to delete his contribution because he didn’t have a good enough source (which is a Wikipedia policy). Then they locked the page.

Because of this people said, “Oh my god, Wikipedia isn’t really open.” But, Wikipedia decided it was the right thing to do morally in this particular case.

NE: Would you ever let a student of yours use Wikipedia as a source?

The former president of the America Library Association, Michael Gorman, said “professors who use or allow students to use Wikipedia is like feeding them a diet of Big Macs.” Nonetheless, sometimes in my bibliography or resources I’ll have dated versions of Wikipedia articles that I knew were appropriate. We all use Wikipedia; there is no way of denying it. You can cite Wikipedia but it’s not authoritative. I counsel students to cite Wikipedia but then cite one of the sources from the page as well. This happens with other scholarship as well. You can read a footnote, but sometimes that’s not what the source actually ends up saying. That said, Wikipedia becomes a teaching moment in itself.

It’s a teaching moment particularly for a department like ours which is about media and media literacy. This allows us to understand the socially constructed character of knowledge and gives us an opportunity to engage with what we’re skeptical about in the media. The professors who don’t follow the policy that I do might have very good reasons for it. They might have seen plagiarism in their class or maybe they just don’t understand it. Hopefully with my work and the other good work out there they will understand the appropriate and inappropriate ways to use it.

NE: What’s your advice to students who want to pursue research like you did? Research track versus professional?

JR: Go to graduate school, which is what I had to do – twice. First to get my masters and then my PhD. I have had students in Steinhardt talk to me about their theses. It’s a great opportunity to work with a professor to engage in a precise issue and write something specific about it.

(Edited by: Sara Saldi)