The panic bubble

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                                                      Cartoon by Allie Brosh   

Last summer, I was struck with the fine idea of applying for admittance into the University of Alabama’s Community Journalism graduate program. The program involves a practical, skills-based approach. Students take a depth-reporting class, as well as a web metrics class, where they learn about blogging, Google Analytics, social media and other online tools. Another class centers on website building and the use of journalistic equipment like cameras, recorders, microphones, etc. In addition to reviewing highly applicable skills, each student chooses a community issue on which to report. This issue becomes a large-scale master’s project, conveyed through the creation of an original website and a written semi-thesis of sorts. 

My fellow classmates and I could likely be classified as having “A-type” personalities. Being that ours is a one-year professional program, we knew from the start that we would be busy bees. Most of us have part-time graduate assistantships, and we all carry a full-time graduate student schedule. We also write for various publications or have additional part-time or full-time work. Essentially, when I volunteered to cram a two-year master’s program into one year, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving my laptop idle for quite some time. Looking back, I don’t regret my decision at all. I love my classmates, my project and the writing I’ve done since coming to Tuscaloosa.

But I may need a few words of inspiration or some cheers from you guys, because I’m on the last leg of the semester, so to speak. In the next three days, I will need to finish A LOT of work. Think of the biggest amount of work you’ve ever had. Now double it. I have slightly more than that. Even worse, I am playing catch-up as a result of three days worth of debilitating laryngitis. Strangely, I’m in great spirits. It will all be over soon, for better or for worse. So I’ll be keeping a lookout for inspirational quotes, upbeat music or feel-good stories in the next few days and will let my fellow workaholics know what I come up with.   

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Networking and Food Blog South

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Amidst the aromas of spinach cream crab cakes, fried buffalo blue cheese cream oysters and white chocolate glazed bread pudding, I found myself again. As I filled my plate while contentedly humming “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” I looked around at the vast array of attendees.

While its titillating cuisine remains at the forefront of my memory, the 2014 Food Blog South convention offered participants a myriad of opportunities.

Though I consider myself more of a journalist and less of a food blogger per se, volunteering at this event opened my eyes to a niche world I never knew existed. I had heard whispers of food blogging pursuits, but I had never witnessed its power in action.

Hundreds of people gathered in the poshest area of Birmingham to discuss publishing, multi-media platform writing, tips for digital tools and much more. Through the sheer power of networking, all of these people came together to celebrate and promote an art they personally loved. That is amazing.

Even Southern Living showed up to mingle. I couldn’t help but think, “Bloggers did all this?” Yes, ladies and gentlemen. They absolutely did. Because there is one thing these bloggers did better than blogging: networking. These guys all knew each other personally, through social media or through word of mouth. In a way, this conference made me view blogging itself as a form of networking with others. Many attendees were widely successful in their field, and they each had this in common. Thankfully, I have recently taken up blogging myself.