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Database reporting is the “new buzz” in journalism, according to Jacques Von Lunen, a reporter who covers education for The Columbian.

Database reporting, which involves organizing and analyzing data, could be a “secret weapon” for journalists, Von Lunen said.

“You’re not just interviewing some dude and getting his opinion,” Von Lunen said. “You’re getting the raw facts.”

Von Lunen recommends journalism students learn database software, such as Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel.

“I found Excel to be more powerful than I thought,” said Von Lunen, who added that learning database software is more important for journalism students than learning how to shoot and edit video.

For several years, newspapers have used multimedia on their websites, including videos, photos and podcasts, to attract new readers and viewers. However, Von Lunen said, multimedia hasn’t attracted as many viewers as news organizations hoped for.

Nevertheless, journalism students should sign up for “whatever multimedia classes you can take,” Von Lunen said.

“You want the skills that not everybody else has,” said Von Lunen, who was a sound engineer before becoming a reporter. “Editing audio and editing video is like second nature to me.”

Von Lunen also stressed the importance for journalism students to create a portfolio of “clips,” or previously published articles, to secure jobs in the future.

“The trick is to get clips,” Von Lunen said. “Student papers are a great way to get clips.” Von Lunen said interning at newspapers is another great way to get clips.

Regardless if you’re interning or writing for a newspaper, “The most important thing is to be 100 percent reliable,” Von Lunen said. He added that meeting deadlines, writing well and organizing stories in a logical sequence are crucial skills for journalism students and young reporters to master.

Von Lunen, who writes 12 to 16 stories per month, on average, writes primarily on his computer at The Columbian office.

“I used to write my first draft by hand,” Von Lunen said. That was before he learned how to type with ten fingers. Now, he only takes notes by hand.

Von Lunen said he avoids recording interviews unless the story is “very contentious.”

“It’s twice the work,” said Von Lunen, who added that transcribing recorded interviews takes a long time. “A lot of times you just don’t have all day to just work on one thing.”

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Memorial Day

As much as I complain about the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest, I really do love it here.

I’m saying this because on Monday, Memorial Day, I’m going to Astoria, Oregon, and I anticipate stormy skies.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to climbing the Astoria Column, indulging at the numerous coffee shops, meandering through the downtown shopping district and strolling by the sea shore – even if I do get wet.

I’m also looking forward to practicing taking photos in Astoria for my Multimedia Journalism class. Currently, the class is learning how to create slideshows, and I need at least 12 good pictures.

The Independent, Clark College’s newspaper, filled empty newsstands around campus on Wednesday. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy – that’s what they’re there for!

Issue 12 of The Independent features two stories I wrote, one of which I co-authored with my friend and colleague Evan Jones.

Check them out on The Independent’s new website, clarkcollegeindependent.com.

Student to serve on Board of Trustees

First draft of S&A budget clears finance committee

White boards

I write primarily on a computer or by hand. From time to time, however, I write on a white board.

Here’s why:

They’re large

I have a white board at my house, but I usually use one of the white boards in The Independent news room for writing because they’re much bigger and offer me more space.

They’re useful

I use white boards to organize my thoughts, ideas and notes. I also edit and revise sentences and paragraphs on white boards.

They’re re-usable

Erasing is easy.

They’re fun

I find writing on white boards can be fun and creative, especially when I’m in stuck a writing funk and can’t generate words or content on a computer or with a pen.

The Independent, Clark College’s official student-run newspaper, has announced its new website, clarkcollegeindependent.com.

All stories that appear in print are also posted on The Independent’s website. However, some stories are web exclusive, such as the story I wrote today titled, “Emergency evacuation drill at Clark College.

For more information about The Independent’s new website, grab a copy of the newspaper at Clark College or visit clarkcollegeindependent.com.

Math misery

I’m struggling in my calculus class.

Today I worked on an assignment for five hours, and I’m still not finished. I have a major exam on Friday.

Learning calculus is my responsibility. I focus and engage in every class and I do my homework every night. Evidently, I need to do more.

I’m not seeking pity. I assume full responsibility for my education, and I usually do well in my classes. I’m beginning to realize, however, that failing calculus is possible if I don’t change my study habits.

Nonetheless, I don’t foresee myself withdrawing from the class, even though it would protect my cumulative GPA. I’m trying hard to pass now, but I simply need to try harder. Calculus won’t defeat me without a fight; but if it does, at least I’ll fail knowing that I tried my best.

Microsoft creeps into the realm of social networking by unveiling a new product called “So.cl.”

Today I read an article by Drew Olanoff titled, “Microsoft would like you to think that So.cl is for students, but don’t be fooled.

Here’s a summary:

Microsoft’s FUSE Labs released a social networking tool this year called So.cl, pronounced “social.” Microsoft officials say the company isn’t trying to compete with well-established social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter; rather, So.cl is meant to complement them.

Olanoff included this quote in his article from the FAQ page of Microsoft’s So.cl: “We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools.”

Microsoft’s FUSE Labs have released So.cl to only a handful of college students, and not to the general public. Microsoft considers So.cl a “research tool” and “experiment,” according to Olanoff.

Interestingly, Facebook originally launched as a social network exclusive to college students, starting at Harvard University. Microsoft officials claim that So.cl didn’t enter the market to compete with the 900-million user social network; however, the company’s approach in unveiling So.cl is strikingly similar to Facebook’s.