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Story Time

While cleaning up my inbox the other day, I found a number of fiction and non-fiction stories that I’ve written for classes in the past. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to share a few of them! So here and there I’ll throw in some of my creative work to spice things up a bit!


Minnesota State University sees increase in enrollment

Higher number of students creates need for renovations on satellite campus

This year the Minnesota State University campus has more new faces than usual.

The university had an almost 1 percent increase in total enrollment from last year. The number of first-year students this year is 2,465, which is up 4.4 percent from last year students. They’re not alone though—the university also saw a 1.7 percent increase in transfer students and the number of graduate students has nearly doubled since 2009.

MSU Admissions Director Brain Jones said the increase in enrollment is something they’ve been expecting. Total enrollment at MSU is now 15,547, which is closing in on the largest university in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, St. Cloud State.

Students take off-site courses in multimedia classrooms

Renovations on the MSU at 7700 France campus will include one multimedia classroom.

The rise in enrollment is due in part to the prospering satellite campus MSU at 7700 France. The campus, which was established in 2008, started with 420 students in 6 classrooms. This year, almost 700 students enrolled and a 10 percent increase annually in enrollment is projected. It’s become apparent that the students have outgrown the space available, so the previously 12,271 square foot space leased by MSU is being expanded to 27,000 square feet. Renovations are expected to be completed this October.

Becky Copper-Glenz, MSU’s dean for the College of Extended Learning, said the campus changes are focusing solely on classroom expansion.

“We knew when we moved here that there would be a lot of demand,” Copper-Glenz said.

The expansion will add 9 classrooms, one of which will contain monitors and cameras that will allow students to participate in off-site courses.

Scott Neal, Edina city manager, said the MSU satellite campus fits in well with the information technology and health care industries in its community.

“It’s a nice fit with our local economy,” Neal said. “It’s good not only for local residents, but for the region as well.”

I would include a video with this story that would highlight the number of students on campus. Talking to transfer students as to why they chose to come to MSU would also be something I would include. I think it would be important to visit the MSU at 7700 France extension to show some of the construction and talk to students and officials there about the importance and necessity of more classroom space.

Alt link for the image: Students take off-site courses in multimedia classrooms

My 10 keywords: Minnesota State University, renovations, satellite campus, transfer students, increase in enrollment, graduate students, expansion, college admissions, local economy, colleges in minneapolis (I used the first five.)

Video storytelling highlights importance of sound

Over the weekend, I took a course on video storytelling through the Poynter’s News University site. Video storytelling is becoming more prevalent on news sites because with the technology today basically anybody can take video, even if it’s just with a cell phone. The course began with information on what type of stories to tell using video. Some advice it gave was to do stories that television wouldn’t do, and an example it gave was a story about a local resident who owned a pet duck. I agree that more quirky stories should be on the web, and more immediate news stories should be on television. The internet gives journalists more opportunities to cover personal interest stories. I think at a smaller newspaper or organization this is a great way to get the community involved. As it said in the course, if you put different people in the video those people are going to view it and they’re going to tell other people to view it, so you’ll get a higher number of hits. I think an important point the course made was that video stories have to be able to stand alone. Often times, I think many people would choose to watch a video over reading text. So it makes sense that a video has to stand alone because if it needs text to supplement it, people might skip it all together.

What I took most from the course was how important the use of sound was. The course gave four different examples of videos that all depicted fourth of July parades. Each had a different focus, but I thought how each author used sound was what contrasted the videos the most. The first video used the natural sounds of the parade, but it was a longer video (roughly four minutes) with few cuts so those sounds became boring. The second video was more fast-paced because it had more cuts. The cuts made it immediately more interesting to me, but the author also interviewed parade goers and cut those in between parade shots. I liked the use of natural sound in the third video, but I didn’t like the use of a narrator’s voice and the very short interview of one parade goer. I thought more interviews, or even a longer interview, could have made it more interesting. The last video combined natural sound with a narrator who was a parade goer. I thought that was the best way to make the video because if the author is the narrator it often sounds scripted and dry, whereas the parade goers have more emotion and enthusiasm.

For me, the sound really makes or breaks a video. If the sound doesn’t match the tone of the piece I lose interest, if the sound is boring I lose interest, if the sound is annoying I lose interest. You get my point. Sound is important.

I chose an example of a video from the Star Tribune titled “Best and brightest among the nation’s young are drawn to Twin Cities.” It uses the subjects of the video to tell the story and includes still photographs that further explain what the subject is discussing. This is a pretty good example of a video story because it uses local people from the area of the newspaper, it shows a lot of the city that it’s focusing on and it is fast-paced enough that I wanted to continue watching it instead of navigating away from the page.

Mankato sees boost in auto sales

Honda dealer thrives despite damages in Japan

Auto sales numbers indicate all car dealers in Mankato are enjoying a strong rebound.

For the first time since the 2008 recession hit, Mankato dealers topped the 1,000 mark in monthly auto sales.

“Since July we’ve doubled our inventory and more than doubled our sales, and our service department has been the same,” said Kerry Lindsay, general manager of the Mankato Luther Honda dealership.

While many Honda dealers saw their inventories shrink because of the tsunami damage to plants in Japan, the Mankato location was allocated extra vehicles because it had just opened a larger store off Madison Ave.

Low-mileage inventory tight

Dealers say consumers who put off purchases the past couple of years are to the point where they need a different vehicle. A strong farm economy is also helping drive sales of pickup trucks.

The inventory of lower-mileage used vehicles continues to be tight as a result of people holding off on trading their vehicles in.

Lindsay said they’ve started a program where they take trade-ins and also buy used cars outright from the public. As a result they get about 15 or 20 used cars a month.

Analysis of the Chippewa Herald


The Chippewa Herald is a print newspaper in Chippewa Falls, Wisc. that now has a website at At first glance, I noticed the banner ad at the top of the page. Unfortunately, the banner ad is almost the same color as the print of the masthead and the quick links bar. The masthead is very small (it’s even difficult to read “The Chippewa” though “Herald” is in a larger font) and in the top left corner. I would say a good change to make would be to make the masthead stretch all the way across the page. Looking farther down the page, it has recent news and some interactive links for users. It even has some multimedia links and pictures right at the top. Overall it’s a fairly clean site. It could use a little more color and action though. As it is it’s pretty plain and not overly attractive to the eye, but going deeper into the site it seemed it was only created in Oct. 2009, so it makes sense that there is a lot of work to be done.

In the “About Us” section, I found the site is owned by Lee Enterprises, a company that, according to its website, owns 51 daily newspapers and 300 weekly newspapers across 23 states. That leads me to believe that this is a legitimate site. The fact that it is also one of the larger print newspapers in the Chippewa Valley area adds to the site’s legitimacy.

As for the content of the site, I would say it is definitely journalism. Across the top of the page it has links to different sections that are the same as the sections in the print newspaper. Beyond that, the online site allows the Herald to further organize stories with subcategories. Most of the stories are fairly basic small-town news (roadwork, natural disasters, new city council members) and Associate Press stories, but I did find it interesting that the site has a place on the homepage titled “Share your 9/11 story.” This is something that will get the audience more involved because they can send in their memories of that day. Wisconsin is a long way from New York, but it’s a topic that almost every person alive on that day has a memory of, so it seems like a good way to increase involvement with the site.

After reading a number of the stories on the site, I believe the information is accurate enough to be considered journalism. Many of the stories seem to be AP stories or are from writers at other newspapers though. Most of the stories actually written by the Herald are shorter or are just briefs, but my assumption is that this is because it’s a daily in a relatively small town. I could be wrong though, in which case the site could be more of an aggregator that only produces a small amount of original content for online.

I could not find a specific place where it said when the site was last updated, but it does show when stories were updated. It looks like the stories that were last updated are under “Recent News” on the homepage. It’s 8:25 p.m. right now, and the most recent update was at 12:25 p.m. So the site could definitely be updated more often, but for a smaller online site it’s probably updated enough. It’s a least updated daily, which means it’s not being neglected and is therefore a little more legitimate.

Overall I think this is a legitimate journalistic site that could use some polishing. It’s pretty apparent that this is a small town newspaper that’s just getting on the online bandwagon. I can’t know for sure, but I’m betting they’re just using shovelware at this point. It has a few ads, but not so many that they’re totally overwhelming. I think there’s a lot of work to be done but at least they’re trying.