A novel idea
| Reporting (almost)
call to arms
soldiers fought valiantly for U.S. freedom during the War of 1812, but
History Prof. Gene Smith says the war only escalated slavery in the South.
Prof. Gene Smith has a statue of Patrick Henry on his desk, a picture
of George Washington on his shelf, and paintings of wooden war ships on
made a career of studying how wars and the military affected life during
the early years of our new republic. He has a spot on his wall for another
picture, one he can't seem to find.
that might not exist -- an artist's depiction of one of the thousands of
black soldiers who fought for U.S., British or Spanish armies in the 18th
or 19th centuries.
Americans made a valuable contribution to various war efforts on both
sides of the conflict," Smith said. "But despite their belief they were
fighting for their own freedom, they actually only opened the door to
future race-relation problems in the U.S."
a phenomenon that will be explained in a book Smith is working on, Sons
of Liberty: Race, Liberty, and Power During the War of 1812.
research paints a sad picture of exploitation and dashed expectations.
Smith believes that slavery in this country may have ended sooner had
the U.S. not been involved in the War of 1812.
was first brought to America in 1619 when about 100 slaves were deposited
in Virginia. But as the country moved toward independence in the next
century, slavery became less financially viable. By the late 1700s, slavery
was on the wane in the North.
Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, his "equality"
extended only to white, land-owning males. But soon equality included
all white males and ideas about freedom and civic participation began
to settle into the country's conscience.
discovered that to understand the history of African Americans is to talk
about more than just slavery," he said. "It's a story of civic obligations
and daily lives.
blacks that served were not only fighting with the hope of gaining their
individual freedom, they were fighting for the right to participate in
the community as equals."
that's not what happened.
rapid opening of vast tracts of land after the War of 1812 only cemented
Southern attitudes toward slavery. Lands were now available for cotton
farming. And harvesting cotton was labor-intensive. Slavery was not only
desirable, it was necessary.
provided a new impetus for slavery," Smith said. "The economic motive
was lost in the North, but the South now had financial reasons for the
continued growth and expansion of slavery."
the Battle of New Orleans, the last great battle of the War of 1812, Andrew
Jackson gathered a contingent of black soldiers, whom he referred to as
the "sturdy sons of freedom."
poignant term, Smith said.
was one of those times when the institution of slavery was relegated toward
greater goals -- goals of freedom for the United States," he said. "Those
Ôsons of freedom' were giving their lives for the rights of the citizenry,
but until they got their own freedom, those doors were closed to them."
fiction. Grinning between
figments of his imagination, Senior Tim Skaggs hopes characters like
Bryant Baxter (left) and Lucy Walker (right), from his book Business
as Usual, will eventually evolve into a career and a genre of writing
he may have created.
communications senior Tim Skaggs calls his recently finished book, Business
as Usual, academic fiction.
his fellow students say Skaggs' first book, off to publishers now, has
turned dry, theoretical concepts into nothing short of an "edu-drama."
book began as an independent study for Skaggs and serves as a supplement
to Speech and Communication Chair Will Powers' organizational communications
course. It's a story about the people at Baxter, Brickhouse and Jones,
a fictional Fort Worth marketing firm.
while students immerse themselves in the relationship antics of characters
such as highly charged vice president Lucy Walker and crotchety 77-year-old
CEO Bryant Baxter, they get an insider's view of various styles and attitudes
about organizational communication.
"While my students are learning about concepts and philosophical ideas
from the class," Powers said, "they are able to relate to the characters
in Tim's mini-novel, which is based on the information in the text book."
response has been overwhelmingly praise worthy. On the class website,
where the book currently resides, Junior Abigail Allen wrote: I liked
all of the twists and turns the plot took and was interested in the way
things unfolded in the organization over time. That is an excellent way
of showing that corporate communication is definitely something that has
to be worked at, but is in a constant state of change!
and Skaggs see the application of this genre to many other subjects.
"It would be the cat's meow if Tim would make a career out of an independent
study class," Powers said. "It's been wonderful to see the students saying
Eureka! as the concepts come alive."
Teeley Dipple discovered it takes about six hours to produce a one-minute,
30-second television news clip.
exhausting real-life lesson the budding TV news reporter gained through
SkiffTV, a new convergent media enterprise for broadcast journalism students.
is preparing us, through practical experience, for exactly what TV stations
want," Dipple said.
write, tape and produce news packages and then upload them to the Web.
It's a new spin on broadcast education that gives the students an extra
edge in the marketplace.
"This is what is happening in journalism," said Suzanne Huffman, hired
last fall to head the broadcast journalism sequence. "Students will be
expected to work in the multimedia world."
Chris Gibson, for one, now knows what to expect. "It's harder than I thought,"
he said. "You have to be a news person first and be able to put it on
TV and the Web second."
ready. Sophomore Tyson Trice,
junior Chris Gibson and senior Tealy Dipple say SkiffTV experience
has readied them for the work force. You can find their newsclips