Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Column writers strike out to do restaurant and food reviews

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The intrepid columnists of the column-writing class at CSU, Sacramento are heading out this week - and weekend - to review area restaurants and their fare, with a column due next Tuesday morning (by 8 a.m.) about their experiences.

The students are heading out in groups of three or more, and are in the process of picking restaurants - and times and dates - to do the research (eating!) for the reviews.

The assignment is similar to one given annually to the class, in which a group goes out to a restaurant, usually with each group member choosing something different off the menu.

Last year, I went with a group to Hoppy's Brewery where the beer was fabulous. The food? Well, the group wasn't all that hoppy (or happy) with it - or the bill.

Fine dining magazine

Budget dining

The choice of restaurants is completely up to the students, with transportation, budget and timing being major obstacles for many of the students, who juggle school, work, families and a modest amount of recreation.

In a few cases, some students are likely to pick on-campus eateries for reviews.

The Sac State campus does have a wide assortment of restaurants, including the University Center, a dining room in the University Union that serves lunches and is frequented by some faculty and many administrators, including campus president Alexander Gonzalez.

President Gonzalez
Alexander Gonzalez

Monday, October 19, 2009

Video on 'education and creativity' is, well, creative and educational

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - On a rainy Monday, rather than have my students listen to me drone on in my prepared lecture (Drone on? Never!), I opted instead to show the video below from a TED conference: Technology, Entertainment and Design.

The speaker talks about education and creativity and sparked good discussions in several classes.

Educational and creative discussions, of course.

Here's the video.

Dan Weintraub leaves The Sacramento Bee - going 'independent'

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub published his farewell column in Sunday's newspaper, ending a nine-year run as a writer and most recently as the interim editor of the editorial pages since the departure of editorial pages editor David Holwerk.

In his farewell remarks, he mentions columns upcoming with the New York Times and plans for a website where his work will be featured.

  • LINK: Weintraub says adios to The Bee

  • Dan will be missed by many of his faithful readers. He was known for doing a tremendous amount of reporting before ever touching the keyboard to write his column. And most of his columns were well thought out and analytical. High-pitched emotions were not a part of his regular repertoire. If anything, his critics complained that they wanted him to inject more opinion and/or outrage into his writing.

    Dan Weintraub
    Dan Weintraub

    I met Dan Weintraub on the day he came to work for The Sacramento Bee. He took over the office of the late Bee writer John Jacobs, his job to write about politics and policy matters. At the time, I was working as fill-in editor for Bill Moore, then editor of the Bee's Forum section.

    Over the years, when I was filling in at various times for Bill Moore or Jewel Reilly (editor of the op-ed pages), Dan and I talked a lot. On occasion, I edited Dan's column before it went to press.

    We didn't always agree on political matters. And our discussions about the politics of universities and university education - and university professors - were a lot of fun. Probably more for me than Dan.

    Dan's role at the newspaper changed in the last year or so, as the Bee management struggled with the financial free fall that has affected most media companies. His columns became rare as he took over other duties and the number of staff members in the editorial section of the newspaper kept shrinking.

    And for a brief time, he found himself at the helm of the newspaper's editorial section, a duty he just relinquished in the last few weeks, when Stuart Leavenworth was promoted to the editor's position.

    Dan Weintraub's departure adds his name to a long list of talented writers and editors who have left The Bee in the last few years, some voluntarily, some taking a buyout, some laid off (or pushed not-too-gently out the door): Bill Moore, John Hughes, Dorothy Korber, Mike Dunne, Lisa Heyamoto and Rachel Leibrock, to name just a few.

    It will be interesting to see if The Bee opts to replace Dan, or absorb his position (and salary) into the bottom line of the corporation.

    Either way, it will more interesting to follow the next adventures of Dan Weintraub as he becomes an 'independent journalist.'

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Sacramento Bee columnist offers writing tip to CSUS students

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton told a class full of aspiring columnists Wednesday that they need to do plenty of reporting before they write their columns - and not just offer up opinions.

    Breton, who writes about city issues and occasionally sports, told the students that he came to The Sacramento Bee 20 years ago, and was planning to stick around for just two. He wrote sports and a sports column before moving over full time to the news department of the paper.

    He said the Sacramento market is somewhat unusual in that his news column gets better readership than sports columns, a situation that is reversed in most major media markets.

    Marcos Breton
    Marcos Breton

    Breton said he believes that if he hasn't made readers think with his column - or cry or laugh or get mad - he hasn't done his job very well.

    And he encouraged the students to write about the things that people are not talking about, but of which they are certainly aware.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    CSUS Rally draws a small - but enthusiastic - crowd

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A crowd of approximately 150 students, faculty and staff came into the Library Quad Monday afternoon at CSU, Sacramento for a hastily called rally over budget cuts to the CSU and a bill that would tax oil companies - with the tax proceeds going to higher education.

    The rally was sponsored by the California Faculty Association and Associated Students, Inc. to also talk about AB 656, a measure by state Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) that would tax oil companies on the oil that they extract out of the state's oilfields.

    And the lion's share of that funding would go to the CSU.

    ASI president with Alberto Torrico
    Alberto Torrico (right) with ASI President Roberto Torres

    A firebrand speech by ASI President Torres led off the event. Torres exhorted students to get involved and support the bill.

    Later, Assemblyman Torrico told the rally that oil companies have been posting incredible profits year after year and that California is the only state in the union that doesn't have a tax on oil as it is pulled from the ground.

    "The governor is going around the state selling off state property but giving away the oil," Torrico said. "Even Sarah Palin has a tax in Alaska."

    Professor Joe Palermo talks to crowd
    CSU, Sacramento Professor Joseph Palermo

    Also speaking was CSU, Sacramento Professor Joe Palermo who told the students that they are not being served well by the trustees of the CSU - or by the university system's chancellor, Charles Reed.

    Reed and the trustees have said they are not supporting AB 656. But Palermo pointed out they haven't suggested how to solve the university's budget woes.

    "AB 656 is the only game in town," he said. "What is Reed doing for his salary?"
  • San Francisco Chronicle story on AB 656

  • Audience at Sacramento State rally
    Audience at Monday's rally

    CSUS officials confer with person handing out information
    CSUS officials confer with student handing out literature

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Column writers to profile, um, column writers

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The writers in the column writing class at CSU, Sacramento are choosing columnists about whom they will be writing profile columns in the coming weeks.

    Each student will pick a columnist, write a column-profile about the writer and their work, and then make a 5-10 minute class presentation on the writer.

    This year, the students will be also be seeing if the columnists will consider doing a telephone conference - or even a skype phone call - during the class period.

    Some of columnists under consideration are Stephen King (yes that Stephen King, photo at the left) as well as some other usual suspects: Maureen Dowd (far left), Paul Krugman and Thom Friedman.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Newswriters, columnists to cover AB 656 rally Monday at CSUS

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Newswriting students and columnists will be covering - and writing about - a rally on the CSU, Sacramento campus Monday, a rally that will feature Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) who will be speaking about AB 656, a measure to fund higher education.

    Assemblyman Torrico (Photo by Sacramento Bee)

    The 3 p.m. rally in the Sac State Library Quad is part of a week of activities sponsored by the California Faculty Association to draw attention to the ongoing plight of all 23 campuses in the CSU because of draconian state budget cuts.

    AB 656 proposes to tax oil companies, based on oil they extract from the ground in the state (and off the coast).

    California currently does not have a well-head tax as proposed.

    Text of the amended bill:
  • AB656
  • Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Column writers to consider University of Phoenix takeover of CSU

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Should the state of California sell off the CSU (and maybe the UC) to the University of Phoenix for a few billion dollars?

    That question, along with a few hundred related ones about the idea, will be considered in the next set of columns written by the column-writing class at CSU, Sacramento as its assignment for next Tuesday.

    The assignment springs from an op-ed article published in the Sunday Sacramento Bee newspaper by an education expert, Prof. William Tierney associated with the privately owned, University of Southern California.

  • STORY: Should CSU be sold off

  • panel_tierney
    Professor William Tierney

    How absurd is the idea? Is the op-ed for real, or just satirical?

    Well, with the finances of the state still in a downward spiral and funding for higher education dropping as fast as David Letterman's ratings, it would seem almost any wacky proposal is likely to see some sunshine. In this case, Tierney would seem to be a real-deal expert, though it's likely reporters are already combing through his life to check out any possible connections he has to the University of Phoenix.

  • Tierney's USC web page

  • If they discover that he's somehow connected to the University of Phoenix payroll, Tierney will likely become the headline of the week.

    In the meantime, the columnistas of the class will be pondering - and then eventually publishing - their opinions about the suggested CSU takeover by the private, for-profit university.

    Perhaps they will think it's a great idea.

    Monday, October 05, 2009

    Marcos Breton scheduled for column writing class in October

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton will bring in tales of his brand city-side writing, Wednesday, Oct. 14 when he meets with the column writing class at CSU, Sacramento.

    A veteran reporter, sports writer and now columnist, Breton write about city politics and issues, occasionally touching on CSUS matters.

    His most recent column looked at District Attorney Jan Scully's struggles.

    Friday, October 02, 2009

    CSUS alumnus - and Associated Press writer - to speak at CSUS

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Associated Press writer - and Sac State graduate - Chelsea Carter will be speaking on campus Tuesday, Nov. 10.

    Carter is currently on assignment for the AP in Baghdad and is expected to talk about her wartime adventures as well as her other work as a writer for the news agency.

    She graduated from CSUS in the mid-1990s and was a State Hornet staff member. After graduation, she went to work as a reporter for the Lodi News-Sentinel and eventually the AP, with postings in West Virgina, Georgia, New York, California and overseas.

    Carter was one of the reporters on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 when former President George W. Bush announced Mission Accomplished in the Iraq War.

    Mission accomplished
    Former Pres. George W. Bush

    Carter will speak from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Hinde Auditorium of the CSUS student union. She is expected to make some opening remarks but will reserve much of her time for questions and answers.

    Last fall, Carter visited the university, speaking to about 75 Journalism students.

    Admiral Fox and Chelsea Carter
    CSUS Professor Sylvia Fox with Carter last fall