Charles Keefer's Blog

My take

with 2 comments

I was at the University of South Carolina the other day and I was asked what I thought about how to use the web to help build a new journalism school building.

Here is my answer. I don’t think they thought I would put it on the web, but they didn’t say it was confidential, so here it is.


Here is something written about how to use the web to help the new building fund and beyond.

You are selling classrooms, well names on classrooms, for $50,000. That’s a lot for one guy.

What about selling the classroom to a class? That’s more like a couple hundred people. “This classroom is a gift from the Class of 1971.” Then have a plaque listing the names of the contributors. It has to be easier to get $250 from someone than $50,000.

Now, why is this web? Well, that’s how you organize it. You start a Facebook page or something for the Class of ’71. Then you take your rolodex for that year and friend everyone you know. And you put up a list of everyone from that class you don’t know and say we want to find these people so we can get the class together on Facebook. Chances are that some class of ’71 people know others and can get the word out. When they sign on, your rolodex gets bigger. (They have a bunch of old anuals at the Garnet and Black.)

You could have a video of someone from the class telling people why it is a good idea to get together and that we want to dedicate a classroom in the new building to us. And don’t be sneaky about it. We are talking a journalism class here. Bullshit detectors are high.

It also is a study on how to use the web to organize and get contributions – excuse me, does this sound familiar? Every journalism school could use a class on elections and campaign contributions and how they were gotten and who they came from and who owes what to whom. This is almost a lab on how Obama got elected and how lots more will try.

But you also have marketting people in the school. That also is what this is. People in the class of ’71 – or maybe later – have things to sell – skills for one, but I know one J school graduate that got a Ford dealership in a divorce. It can be a business networking site and, like almost all other sites, an advertising site.

Then you can bring the library science people in. Put together a timeline on what happened during the four years of the class. At my newspaper, librarians filed stuff, but their primary mission was research. You have what happened at the University and what happened in the world (oops, a history lesson also) to work with. In my class, we had Kent State and an effort to shut down USC in sympathy. We had kids on the Horseshoe throwing firecrackers at riot equiped State Troopers. Three other students and I talked to Governor Robert McNair in his office, the coffee was really good, and listened to him tell us that it all was the work of outside agitators. One of those outside agitators was a girl I dated in high school. One of my best friends was clubbed to the floor by a Highway Patrol Trooper inside the administration building.

Then put together a timeline on everything that happened to members of the class. You probably could leave out the arrests. The library science people can find the death notices.

Then you could get people to write stuff about their experiences at USC, do videos, kind of a digital annual of what happened to people during their time at USC. That would be cool.

I could organize three classes around this project.

And what is it going to cost. Well, I think Facebook pages are free.

Better yet, roll your own web site. That’s what I ended up doing after 20 years in journalism – completely switching from journalism to the computer programming. I never had a private office until I went into the computer thing. Which segues into getting the computer science people involved. We could have used their help in analyzing campaign contributions, but they were too busy doing Fortran to bill advertisers and making sure we weren’t watching porn sites on company time. Woosh.

I would be really stretching to get the education people into this, but my newspaper always had an education component – newspapers in education – that went to both literacy and current events.

You wanted my thoughts, so here they are.


Written by Charles Keefer

December 16, 2010 at 12:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. For the record, I did the first computer tracking of campaign contributions at The Post while I was director of photography. An assistant ME said they could do it with file cards, but Rich Gordon, who was riding herd on the project, saw the value of doing it my way.

    We uncovered several stories that changed the course of the election. We found that a New Jersey car dealer was slipping money to a dark horse candidate because the incumbent had voted against the dealer in a zoning matter. The ads that he could afford with that money had him rising in the polls. When we disclosed the source of his support, his campaign crashed and burned.

    We also saw patterns of giving from all kinds of industries who were getting around campaign limits by laundering the money through everybody but the family dog.

    And, for the record, I ended up in IT.

    Ken Steinhoff

    December 16, 2010 at 12:36 am

  2. Thanks, Ken.

    Who gets the money is still what it is all about.


    Charles Keefer

    December 16, 2010 at 10:51 pm

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