The Storyteller: Callie Schweitzer

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Storyteller

Callie Schweitzer learned about innovation, digital media and entrepreneurism well before she graduated with a degree in print and digital journalism from USC Annenberg (summa cum laude) in 2011. She was the editor-in-chief of Neon Tommy, USC Annenberg’s 24/7 online news site, which became the #1 most-trafficked online-only student publication in the country within a year of its launch. She also served as a staff writer and the senior news editor and coordinated coverage for breaking news, day-to-day reporting and big events like Obama’s visit to USC in October 2010, the midterm elections in November 2010 and the national education protests in March 2010. “I was in school during the explosion of social media and digital storytelling, and I got to experiment with it every single day,” she says. “Under [Profs.] Marc Cooper and Alan Mittelstaedt’s leadership, I learned that there’s no such thing as a student journalist and that age should never hold you back from asking important questions. “My experience at Neon Tommy gave me an entrepreneurial hunger and interest in giving people news they don’t know they need,” says Schweitzer. “As a 20-year-old overseeing a staff of more than 200 people and running a publication being read by hundreds of thousands of people, I had to think holistically. How do we find more readers? How do we adapt to these new tools and tell better stories? That interest in finding readers and providing a service — giving them important news and great stories — has driven my career.” After graduating, Schweitzer worked as the deputy publisher of Talking Points Memo, overseeing the business, publishing and tech side of the company. She was also responsible for project and digital product management of mobile, tablet, video and content partnerships, and increasing and maintaining audience growth. She subsequently directed marketing and communications at Vox Media, overseeing the branding, marketing, and audience growth for sports site SB Nation, tech/culture site The Verge and gaming site Polygon. Today, she is the editorial director of Audience Strategy, for TIME and TIME Inc. She was promoted earlier this year from her previous position as director of Digital Innovation at TIME. “Working at Time Inc. has been a master class in learning from some of the world’s best Third Space thinkers,” she says. “We’re reaching more than 50 million unique visitors per month and are doing for the minute what TIME has always done for the week. It’s transformational, and I feel lucky to be part of it.”

—Bronwyn Fryer

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This Building Started With A Vision

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WALLIS ANNENBERG

Most of the time, when you want to build a building, you start with an architect.  This building started with a vision. It started with Dean Wilson saying: What if USC Annenberg had a facility that imagined journalism’s future, instead of imitating its past? It started with the idea that the real future of journalism — the students here — should learn and train and innovate in the kind of 21st-century newsroom, the kind of interactive, multi-media incubator, that should be commonplace in ten, fifteen years. It started with the notion that a great school of communication and journalism leads the way. Serves as a laboratory for change. Doesn’t just anticipate the future, but wills it into being. These are grand claims, I know. But thanks to the leadership of Dean Wilson and the crucial support of President Nikias — thanks to the faculty and staff and above all the students here, who shaped every inch of this new building and the way it functions — I believe they’re more than justified. The truth is, this is a decisive moment for traditional journalism. Print readership is declining, TV viewership is eroding — even as we hunch over our tablets and smartphones, increasingly addicted to the latest tweet, the latest Instagram post, the newest kernel of news from the Middle East, or the Ukraine, or just around the corner. The choice is simple: innovate or die. Or as a smart Silicon Valley entrepreneur might put it: when your industry’s destined to be disrupted, your best course is to disrupt it yourself. That’s why Wallis Annenberg Hall is designed to mix all kinds of media together — TV, radio, print and online — because in a world that’s fully-wired and interactive, journalists can no longer survive if they stay in their own narrow cubbyholes, unable to spread their stories across every possible platform. It’s also designed, in close consultation with anthropologists and psychologists and sociologists, to provide connectors, not containers — to give students informal and open spaces where they’re almost forced to rub shoulders, to collaborate, to observe and learn from one another. Because news is now moving so fast, reporters have to be synergistic, not static. USC Annenberg already had the second largest newsroom in all of Los Angeles. Now it has what I believe to be the best. As well as a forum that was partly modeled on the Globe Theater, and will serve as a town square for everything from informal coffees to lectures by the leading journalists of our time. In so many ways, this is a building whose time had come. Dean Wilson deserves all of our praise and gratitude for his tireless effort, and his crystal-clear vision. And may I say, in tribute to the architects who executed that vision, it’s beautifully built as well. Some of you may know that I was a journalist myself. That’s why it was so important to me, as a supporter of this project, that it be built primarily with students’ needs in mind. I’d like to say to the students here today: This is your playground. Your place to take risks, to try new approaches, to test what works and reject what doesn’t.  History is moving faster than ever before. The world’s becoming smaller than ever before. Your job is to chronicle it, make sense of it for the rest of us. Our job is to give you the best tools we can, the most cutting-edge facilities imaginable. We need you. We’re depending on you. And personally, I can’t think of a more worthy investment.

—Wallis Annenberg is Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. She is USC’s longest-serving trustee.

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The Heart of Human Connectivity

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C. L. Max Nikias

Good morning, everyone! And welcome to this very special ceremony as we dedicate Wallis Annenberg Hall. This building stands at the heart of our university, and that is no coincidence. In the digital Age of Information … communication and journalism lie at the heart of human connectivity. Today, as we embrace the birth of a revolutionary building dedicated to advancing the fields of communication and journalism, we also embrace a philanthropist dedicated to advancing the lives of students: Wallis Annenberg. Her dedication is rooted in an unwavering drive to promote access and connection. For Wallis, access means students having the latest digital storytelling tools at their fingertips. It means creating a building that enables students to showcase their work and better connect them to the campus and the world around them. And true to Wallis’ student-centered focus, it means establishing an environment that puts students front and center. Wallis’ focus — her vision for what the Annenberg School could become — has crafted a building truly aimed at students and the advancement of their imaginations. Here, students will acquire legacy skills and legacy ethics while learning how to use modern platforms. They will balance the demand for instantaneous information with the time-tested traditions of storytelling. They will, in a time of convergent media, master all domains of contemporary journalism, and move between them fluidly. One minute, students may be doing a story for Annenberg Radio News… …And then have to jump to editing video for Annenberg Television News… …And a short time later find themselves creating a multimedia piece for Neon Tommy. Finally, they can do all this under one roof. In fact, seventy percent of the Annenberg School’s classes are now conducted within these cutting-edge spaces … connecting students to the most relevant digital tools in the richest of learning environments. Students will produce compelling content across multiple disciplines for multiple audiences … an ability — digital media literacy — that’s critical for USC students to possess. Perhaps no other place on campus is better suited to promote literacy in digital media than Wallis Annenberg Hall. Thanks to Wallis’ visionary support, Annenberg students will have access to digital tools of the future. And while some have argued that the tools and devices of our Digital Age are isolating us, Wallis Annenberg Hall was in part designed to counterbalance this dynamic of division. Bearing testimony to Wallis’ vision of access and connectivity, the building is full of physical spaces that encourage collaboration and cooperation. It is also home to some of the most creative minds … faculty and students who will push the limits of technology and communications. They will redefine how we connect, how we think, how we access information and experience our days. With the opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall, we are creating singular scholarly experiences for our students. On all levels, there is a new vigor coursing through the school, and I would like to acknowledge a few key individuals who are responsible for Annenberg’s resurgence. The Annenberg School would not be where it is today without the inspiring leadership of Dean Ernie Wilson and the work of our new directors. Sarah Banet-Weiser, director of the School of Communication, is promoting a fresh culture of collaboration with the School of Journalism … which is now led by the trailblazing journalist Willow Bay, who brings a wealth of practical experience. Director Bay’s diverse body of work — from producer and anchor to acclaimed author — is extraordinary, and is a true testament of her dedication to journalism.

She is an asset to the university, and a role model for Annenberg students. Working together, Dean Wilson and Directors Banet-Weiser and Bay are infusing a spirit of excitement, adventure, and resilience into the Annenberg School. But this new chapter for USC would not have been possible without our dear friend and colleague, Wallis Annenberg. As the chairman of the board, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, she has made a wide-ranging impact across society in education, communications, arts and culture, medical research and beyond. Through her profound foresight and leadership, support from the Los Angeles office of the Annenberg Foundation is transforming the face of Los Angeles. From the Annenberg Community Beach House to the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, Wallis is truly both a patron and steward of Los Angeles. She not only makes Los Angeles a better place to live, but our university a better place to learn. As USC’s longest-serving trustee, Wallis has provided strong guidance and sage counsel to this university for over 40 years. While we refer to her as the “Dean of USC’s Board of Trustees,” she is no doubt more proud to be a champion of USC’s students. Throughout the years, her sustained support of the Annenberg School has allowed it to flourish. Today, as we cut the ribbon and open Wallis Annenberg Hall, we forever link her name at USC, as well as her enduring legacy here. And in doing so, we forever give Annenberg students access to a world of exciting possibilities, where they will create and convey timeless stories that connect and chronicle the human journey. And for this, Wallis, we will be forever grateful. Thank you!

—C. L. Max Nikias became the University of Southern California’s eleventh president in August 2010. He holds the Robert C. Packard President’s Chair and the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities, and chairs the USC Health System Board.

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Connector, Not Container

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[Wallis Annenberg Hall Grand Opening ceremony on Oct. 1, 2014.]

In 2010, Wallis Annenberg and I began a conversation. We reflected together on the importance of journalism and communication for the future of democracy in the United States of America. She described her deep commitment to the eternal values of openness, inclusion and transparency. She articulated a vision of these values — values that would inform the design and the purposes of any new home for the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This conversation we had then spread to the Annenberg community as a whole. Students, faculty and staff were engaged in that conversation. They embraced the ideas of openness, and they saw the need for 21st-century spaces that are not containers, but are connectors. That are places of innovation, not places of inhibition. Soon these values that we talked about in our conversation were reflected in designs and blueprints, and then they were reflected and expressed in mortar, and in glass and in wood. Wallis Annenberg Hall — built with these values, these ethics, this openness — will shape students in this great school for generations to come. And future conversations shaped by this school will take actions that make the world a better place. On behalf of the students of today, and the students of tomorrow, for generations and generations and generations to come, I thank you, Wallis Annenberg, from the bottom of my heart.

—Ernest J. Wilson III is the Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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Reconceptualizing Development In The Global Information Age

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ReconceptualizingDevelopment, from our perspective, is the self-defined social process by which humans enhance their wellbeing and assert their dignity while creating the structural conditions for the sustainability of the process of development itself. Although the concept is ideologically loaded, in our strict definition it is not. The values that inform development goals can be very different; from economic growth calculated as accumulation of material wealth and measured by GDP or income, to holistic development, including the conservation of nature and the happiness of humans, or as dignity as a comprehensive concept as proposed by our book. The concept of informational development refers to informationalism, a new form of sociotechno-economic organization that became fully constituted on a global scale in the early twentyfirst century. Informationalism did not replace capitalism. In fact, it powered a new form of capitalism now prevalent everywhere: informational-financial capitalism. The historical equivalent of informationalism was industrialism, which developed in both capitalist and non-capitalist versions. What characterizes informationalism is the widespread use of microelectronics-based digital information and communication technologies that allow the diffusion of networking forms of organization in all domains of economic and social life. It also powers information processing and digital communication, enabling the expansion of the knowledge base of the economy and the information society. Information technologies allow for knowledge and information to be distributed and applied to all activities in any context, in a way similar to the transformation of production processes enabled by new technologies of energy generation and distrubution during the two industrial revolutions. The concept of informationalism rejects technologial determinism, while acknowledging the crucial role of technology embedded in social organization and culture. Networking is an essential component of informationalism; this is why the dominant social structure of our time can be characterized as a global network society. In our view, human development refers to a process of enhancement of the living conditions that make humans human in a given social context. Thus, it can be interpreted in a very broad way. It certainly includes what traditionally have been considered the components of the welfare state: health, education, public transportation, culture, and public insurance or subsidy in case of distress (unemployment, poverty, special needs in housing, transportation, social services, etc.). But it also should include the whole range of elements that constitute ‘quality of life,’ as determined by recent social research. These comprise job creation, work quality, and environmental sustainability, as the natural environment is a source of key dimensions of quality of life including health. Moreover, environmental sustainability is often considered to be an expression of inter-generational solidarity, thus it is a fundamental dimension of wellbeing for the human species at large. Wellbeing also encompasses other dimensions of human life such as personal security, the prevention of violence, the avoidance of war, and the protection of basic human rights such as personal dignity, privacy, communication rights, and protection against discrimination.

—From “Reconceptualizing Development in the Global Information Age,” edited by Manuel Castells and Pekka Himanen.

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Deck The Hall: Students, Bikes and Boards

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Deck the Halls 1 Deck the Halls 2Deck the Halls 3 To spend time on the USC campus is to witness a New Urbanist’s dream come true — pedestrians and bicyclists and skateboarders moving from place to place, with only the occasional electric cart, or security or delivery car or truck, present as well. USC Annenberg students, faculty and staff remain in the vanguard of alternative transportation efforts. The “Visit” page on the school’s website leads with information about the Metro Expo Line and includes bicycling directions and bike rack locations. Communication professor François Bar and a coalition of local groups previously produced a South Los Angeles bicycling map. In the most recent two issues of this magazine, Neftalie Williams (MPD ’14) shared his photos of USC Annenberg student trips to Brazil (Summer 2014) and Cuba (Winter 2013). This time, we commissioned Williams to shoot a series of profiles that are likewise about travel — but to destinations much closer to home. The resulting images were taken during a two-day stretch this Fall, in Wallis Annenberg Hall’s Digital Lounge. By the way, in skateboard nomenclature, the “deck” is the part of the board where the rider stands.

1. Cosmo Scharf (Videographer, Center on Public Diplomacy ’16)

2. Heidi Carreon (B.A. Print Digital Journalism ’17)

3. Issac Moody (M.A. Annenberg Specialized Journalism ’15)

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India: Reporting on Religion

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India

India 2014 was my fifth trip with Prof. Diane Winston for her “International Reporting on Religion” class — once as a grad student to Israel and the West Bank and four other times (Israel, Ireland and India twice) as an assistant. On my first trip to India in 2012, I stepped into the serenity of the Taj Mahal. The crowds seemed to fade away as the sun’s reflection off the white marble awakened a spiritual feeling deep within me. It was no doubt why this Wonder of the World lured so many from afar and why I discovered solace in a shadowy building to its side. This year, I found myself in a much different place as I wandered through the maze of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. Inside a small, box-like building lit only by the glow of a makeshift furnace, two individuals were melting soda cans in order to resell the aluminum and provide for their families. Within seconds, beads of sweat formed on my forehead and then slowly dripped down my face onto the dirt floor. Twenty minutes was all I could last before the heat turned me toward the door, leaving the two to finish their 14-hour shift.  These trips provide amazing opportunities for the Annenberg community to experience and communicate a different story.

—John Adams (M.A. Journalism ’10)

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Making News At The New York Times

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News

Immediacy meant two different things in a newsroom that had two processes of newswork ongoing at the same time. There was both the old world of immediacy, where breaking news meant tomorrow, and the new world of immediacy in online journalism, where immediacy meant “fresh” constant updates and where the homepage would not look the same in any way after six hours. The print news cycle ultimately fed the homepage and the business web page with content—but generally, it took until the end of the day for the authority of print news to begin to inform how web stories would look online and what prominence they would have. By that point, most people would not be paying attention to NYTimes.com. By 9 p.m., when the major print stories for the day had been fully fleshed out, copy edited, and prepared, the homepage finally began to stop its immediate churn. The homepage editor, though, didn’t need any raw numbers or traffic data to have the sense that most people had long ago signed off of NYTimes.com, at least among readers in the United States, and that the busy focus on keeping readers on the page had long subsided. In fact, these numbers were not readily available to the web editors. Yet by morning, the important stories from the print paper —the value-added content, the front-page stories—would be quickly washed away by stories with relatively small bits of significance. [The homepage editor] would be left with the previous night’s leftovers, some foreign stories coming in during the day, and filler stories from desks like business that were of such little significance that they might not even make the print paper. On the other hand, we might see the website as doing quite well according to Times standards, despite moving so quickly. Even without the layers of editorial judgment, those charged with constantly updating the website do it well; they are trusted for their facile judgment and their competency as headline writers and copy editors, all their work done rapidly. These web editors have their own sense of traditional news norms; they do weigh the importance of each story, given the significance to readers—though in practice, this may not always work in the quest for “fresh” content… The compulsion to continually keep providing more content had become woven into the fabric of NYTimes.com; immediacy has created a system of worth, order, practice, and routine for online journalism. In this way, what journalists spoke of as “fresh,” and I conceptualize as immediacy, takes its shape as an emergent value of online journalism at the Times. Immediacy ordered how the majority of Times readers would see the newspaper’s content. What is missing from this conversation is the “why” for the focus on online updating. This had become incorporated into how web journalists understood their mission—and their sense of what was important—but other than the simple explanation that readers wanted to see what was new, there was little reflection on what made immediacy important. This further suggests that this value was emerging, as journalists had yet to define and truly reflect on its importance, beyond daily routine. Culturally, NYTimes.com was not the print newspaper: there were no long meetings; multiple editors did not labor over what stories were placed where; and online moved quickly, all thanks to the imperative that more readers should see new content. Decisions were left to two people, generally, rather than a group of people debating what would be the agenda for the day. Perhaps at the end of the night, print created a pause, but during the day, a visitor to NYTimes. com would have no clear insight into what the “11 men and 7 women with the power to decide what was important in the world” considered the most important stories.

—Nikki Usher Ph.D. ’09 COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR / UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN PRESS * The author spent five months during 2010 at the New York

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“Deck the Halls: Students, Bikes & Boards” — An Exhibit by Neftalie Williams

On Monday, March 23, at the Third Floor Digital Gallery of ANN, USC Annenberg alum and staff, Neftalie Williams (MPD ’14), showcased his collection of photographs of students and their means of transportation around campus.

Undergraduate and graduate students of all majors from USC Annenberg, as well as staff members, participated in the photo shoot. Skate boards, roller blades, bikes and more were among the transportation forms photographed along with the student and staff riders. The featured students and guests joined Williams at the exhibition, helping launch the official opening of the Third Floor Digital Gallery at ANN. The Digital Gallery can be found just outside the third floor elevators and the exhibit will be available through May.

Williams works with the USC Annenberg Institute for Sports, Media & Society and will begin teaching Comm 499, a course on skateboarding and action;sports in business media and culture during the Fall 2015 semester.

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AnnenbergX Class Visits the Exploratorium in San Francisco

@TheExplainers shared an Instagram of professor K.C. Cole's talk

@TheExplainers shared an Instagram of professor K.C. Cole’s talk

USC Annenberg professor K.C. Cole presented projects created by students from one of the first AnnenbergX classes to the staff of the Exploratorium in San Francisco — a “museum of human awareness.” The 7-week AnnenbergX course focused on the exploration of art, science, and humanities through hands-on exhibits, films, tinkering and interactive projects.

A highlight for the students was meeting the high school and college “Explainers” who come from all over San Francisco and comprise the floor staff of the 330,000 square foot museum on Pier 15. “Explainers” do demonstrations, dissections, explain science and arts, and basically run the show. In turn, the Explainers and museum staff were very impressed by the USC students’ projects, which included a short film, interactive T-shirts and an Explorabus.

“They really got it,” Anne Jennings, director of Extended Learning, said. Jennings noted the “amazing synergy” between AnnenbergX and the Exploratorium, which is ranked with top museums like the Louvre, Getty and Smithsonian (80 percent of the world’s science centers use Exploratorium-designed exhibits).

The eleven AnnenbergX students represented diverse fields including PR, comm management, psychology, business and architecture.

“There was so much to see and do,” Paloma Mayorga, a public relations major, said. “The dedication to creativity and discovery is what is really going to push you to the next level in anything that you do.”

Professor Cole said she plans to go back next year with an expanded AnnenbergX class, Ways of Knowing, which will include working with the Fisher museum’s eagerly awaited exhibition “Gyre. The Plastic Ocean.”

USC Annenberg public relations student Paloma Mayorga and psychology student Jairo Gomez play with a distorted mirror at the Exploratorium.

USC Annenberg public relations student Paloma Mayorga and psychology student Jairo Gomez play with a distorted mirror at the Exploratorium.

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