Project Positive Social Media


In recent years Americans accessibility of technology has increased. Cameras and camcorders are now connected to cell phones. Social media sites allow people to quickly record events and share them with ease. These events include fights that often times take place in schools. These aggressive events first garnered national news when 6 teenagers ages 14-18 in Lakeland, Fl. repeatedly assaulted beat their peer for sharing posting negative comments about them on MySpace while two other teens recorded the incident. This story gained national attention when the video was shared on Facebook and YouTube. The victim suffered a concussion, visual impairments, cuts, bruises and auditory problems. All of the attackers were convicted; some serving prison sentences while others received probation. Now fight videos are extremely popular among teens and young adults. Websites like Worldstarhiphop perpetuate aggressive videos, they compose their “Fight comp of the week,” a compilation of popular videos of people fighting during the week and views often times exceed 2 and 3 million watchers. Twitter handle “@30secondfights” currently has over 700,000 followers and is one of many pages that cater to sharing violent content. Many of the violent videos uploaded onto these web pages come from New Orleans and Baton Rouge schools.

The goal of Project Positive Social Media is to persuade teens not to engage in aggressive behavior on and offline and to contact the proper authorities when aggressive situations occur instead of recording them. We also hope to reduce the amount of violent content students watch and share online. We reached students by:

  • Engaging in discussion with students about the negative consequences of interacting with violent media.
  • Sharing interviews and news stories highlighting the negative effects via social media and during physical interaction with students.
  • Interviewing hiring professionals and detail the importance they give to hiring people with positive social media pages.
  • Interacting with students online to understand how they feel about negative social media content.

Our Program primarily utilized Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Our initial goal was to the reach 500 followers between the three pages. When we extended our program into two semesters, we increased our goal to 1,000 followers between the three pages. We exceeded our goal by 100 followers and the number is steadily increasing.


Facebook received the least amount of followers, Twitter received the second most while Instagram received the most. Facebook received the least because this was a form of simply disseminating information with n two-way communication. Majority of our Facebook likes were from parents. Twitter received the second most followers because it allowed students to engage in discussion with one another. Instagram received the most followers because it allowed students to be featured on our page. Students were specifically excited about our IPhone 7 replicas featuring the Project Positive Social media logo. We were also able to teach students social media analytics.

Social media analytics helped us analyze the amount of engagement we received on our post. Our post reached over 10,000 people combined.

We interacted with students in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Detroit. These are three cities with high crime rates and a large percentage of at-risk youth. We reached more than 300 students by visiting schools including Scotlandville High School in Baton Rouge and  George Washington Carver High School in New Orleans.



We also partnered with organizations like the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to share our information with children and teens who were a part of established youth outreach programs. We shared information with over 100 youth with this partnership. We were also able to receive expert advice from these organizations


Overall, this project was a success! not only were we able to meet our goals but we also met some very smart and outgoing teens that gave awesome input on how to improve the program. Thank you Steve Buttry and the Knight foundation for this wonderful opportunity. We plan to continue this project even after funding from the Knight Foundation ceases. We’ve helped hundreds of students understand the consequences of interacting with violent content online and that was our goal!

Using social media to connect organ recipients and donor families

By: Danielle Kelley

My grandmother received a heart/double-lung transplant in 1987, before I was even born. She passed away 19 years after that life-saving surgery, and I’ve always wondered about the family on the other end of the transplant.

That was the inspiration behind Organ Connections, a website and database designed to connect organ recipients with donor families. While a meeting between the two families is quite commonplace today, it was rare in the early days of the transplant medicine field.

I built the front-end of Organ Connections using HTML and CSS coding skills I learned at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. With financial help from the Knight Foundation, I was able to hire a student programmer at the LSU College of Engineering to build the more complex database using PHP.

Once the website was up and running after much trial and error, I launched Organ Connections’ Facebook and Twitter pages. I began sharing videos of heartfelt meetings between recipients and donor families, and soon shared my own story with a call to action:


The first post received 53 likes, six comments and an amazing 186 shares. In all, 13,826 unique Facebook users viewed the post. I paid $10 to boost the post to those who might know of the donor family. I set the parameters to those living within 50 miles of Chattanooga, Tenn. (where we believe the donor lived) who were over 30 years old.


Surprisingly, only one percent of the Facebook reach was a result of the boosted post, meaning the rest was organic. Nearly 3,000 users (or about 20 percent) of the people who saw the post actually clicked on it. Of those who clicked, 151 opted to visit Organ Connections’ website, 486 viewed the photos and over 2,000 clicked elsewhere.

In addition to social media, I sent a news release to Baton Rouge and Chattanooga newspapers and stations. The first to bite was Steve Johnson of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He called both me and my mother, and I provided him with family photos and scanned copies of my grandmother’s diary entries. Steve also asked that I send him a video asking for the community’s help.


I was quite pleased with Steve’s story. He captured my goal: to find and thank the donor family who made the decision to donate their loved one’s organs so many years ago.

Thanks to the above-the-fold, front-page coverage, I was also contacted by Kelly McCarthy of Chattanooga’s NBC affiliate, WRCB. Kelly interviewed me via Skype and broadcasted her story that same night. Baton Rouge’s ABC affiliate, WBRZ, added a web article with Kelly’s promotional tweet.

I shared all these articles regarding my grandmother’s story on Organ Connections’ Facebook and Twitter. In total, Organ Connections’ Facebook page reached 22,766 Facebook users. Our Twitter page had 38 retweets of our original tweets and related tweets by other users.

So far, I have not had any contact with my grandmother’s donor family. This could be for multiple reasons. First, the family may no longer be alive or may no longer live in the Chattanooga area. Second, the family may have seen the social media posts or news stories, but opted not to contact me. Third, the family may be around, but I may have not reached them. Despite this, I continue to work in hopes of meeting them. At the very worst, I have raised awareness of the benefits of organ donation and I am very proud of that. I have received dozens of private messages and emails from complete strangers telling me their own organ story, or stories about my grandmother. For that I am thankful.

As for the database itself? I’ve only had seven entries, but I am currently working to push those messages out as well. I emailed all accounts, and received one message back. Please share this link to try to connect a Texas family of World War II POW with the family of a Fort Worth-area, 29-year-old who died on or shortly before Jan. 12, 1989.



Many thanks to Dean Ceppos, Steve Buttry and the Knight Foundation who made this possible.

The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project


The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project explores the correlation between the current race relations in the Southern region of the United States and the messages conveyed by Southern hip-hop artist through their music. Initially, we planned to use the name “Kendrick is from Compton”, which references Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, but we felt the project’s title needed to be something stronger that would convey a strong message.

In addition to race relations, we also received insight on current social issues, unique city culture, regional and city hip-hop history and the use of political content in music. Today many social injustice topics are a popular topic in the United States. The controversial deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, MN are two of the most recent events to spark great debate. Music, specifically hip-hop is viewed as an art of storytelling that reflects the realities an artist’s environment.

One of the questions we posed was ‘Do artist utilize their platform to address or acknowledge relevant social issues today?’

Social issues in the South extend back to pivotal moments in history as such as the civil rights movement. Today, the “Black Lives Matter Era” ( the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case until the present) has drawn parallels to the civil rights movement. Many of the most popular hip-hop artists derive from the South. Because of this, we decided to cover the Southern United States. For our project, we referred to the South as states below the Mason-Dixon Line.



We traveled to nine Southern states which included: Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and Washington, DC.

We interviewed different activists, scholars, hip-hop artists and other people within the hip-hop industry.

Some of our interview questions included but were not limited to:

  • Do you think that Southern hip-hop artists produce enough politically conscious music?
  • How do you describe race relations in America? In your city?
  • Describe your city’s culture.
  • Give a brief history of your city’s hip-hop as you know it.
  • How can artists utilize their platform to create peace and harmony amongst all races?
  • Is it an artist’s responsibility to speak out against social injustice?
  • Do YOU speak out against Social Injustice?



  • Our main purpose was to utilize different social media platforms to create awareness and increase dialogue on important, yet unspoken issues in our communities.
  • Create awareness about the culture and diversity in the South.
  • Create awareness and inform our audience about hip-hop history and its evolution.


Social Media

We created social media profiles for the Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project on various platforms including Twitter (@MasonDixonHH), Facebook (The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project), and YouTube ( The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project) in addition to our e-mailing list. We used the hashtag #MasonDixonHH to share our project across different platforms.

Final Thoughts

Mass media gives us the power to inform, spread awareness and most importantly share stories. Social media gives us the ability to simultaneously interact and receive feedback on hotbed topics. Personally, this project provided great insight for us. By experiencing different environments and cultures, we were able to find correlations between those factors and social issues. We were also able to make connections between an artist’s music and their environment. We hoped that this project would help us get to the root of issues that plague our country and communities. Although issues can not be solved in a short period of time, increased dialogue can help speed up the process. We hope that the Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop project increases dialogue.

We’ve already had the opportunity to create some dialogue as our project picked up some buzz from blogs and other media outlets. We hope to continue to create dialogue as we continue to post a video a week from our collected footage.

#BetterBR Final Report by Taylor Simien and Alex James

The goal of our social media challenge “Building a Better Baton Rouge” is to spread awareness on a number of issues and disparities – such as the need for economic development in north Baton Rouge, access to healthcare, education budget cuts, wealth & income inequality, and predatory lending- that exist in Baton Rouge and how African-American communities are affected by them. We will explore how various socioeconomic factors such as income, age, and education affects demographics’ sensitivity to the these issues.

The #BetterBR Facebook group was created to spread awareness and facilitate dialogue between Baton Rouge citizens and stakeholders on issues affecting the city.

A secondary purpose of the group was to use the traffic generated by members of the group to conduct research and collect data to draw conclusions about the level of concern a Baton Rouge resident places on certain issues taking into account their income, education, and other socioeconomic factors.

The group was created in February and has since grown to 274 members including college students, full-time, working residents and entrepreneurs, as well as media journalists and public officials.

This presentation aims to provide high level background information on the various topics that were discussed in the Facebook group Building a Better Baton Rouge.

Disclaimer: This report does not intend to be an exhaustive source of information concerning each topic. It is meant to be used for broad, informational purposes only.

Economic Development in North Baton Rouge

  • Many residents describe north Baton Rouge as a barren and desolate area with extremely limited opportunities for advancement.
  • Unlike the southern area of Baton Rouge that is flourishing with businesses, convenient access to healthcare, and entertainment venues, north Baton Rouge is marked with abandoned business, vacant residential properties, isolation from urgent care, extremely limited access to fresh and healthy foods (also known as a food desert), and poverty.
  • The poverty and lack of development evident in north Baton Rouge gives way to crime and youth with nothing productive to do outside of school
  • Critics suggest that with Baton Rouge’s only airport being located in the north Baton Rouge, the area has the potential to be a hotspot for hotels and shopping centers for folks flying into the city – instead those flying in have to drive 10 miles south to see the highlights of the city

“This is what an average individual would see,” Barrow says while driving south on Scotland Avenue on a recent grey, drizzly morning in Scotlandville. “Blighted properties over there. You’ve got a rundown car wash right here. … Another closed-down business. See the conditions of those houses over there? Waking up in something like that does something to your psyche.” – Dezmion Barrow; entrepreneur, president of Next Generation Pioneers, North Baton Rouge resident, fatherDEZ

Source: Baton Rouge Business Report
  • North Baton Rouge is denoted by the red portion of the map below
  • North Baton Rouge is bordered roughly by Thomas Road (north), Evangeline (south), the Mississippi River (west), and the city limits (east)
  • Population: ~38,000
BR MAPSource: Baton Rouge Police Department

New Developments in Economic Development

  • East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council override Mayor Kip Holden’s veto of the Economic Development District 
    • State Rep. Regina Barrow has been at the forefront of getting legislation passed to create an economic development district for north Baton Rouge (The Advocate)
    • Mayor Kip Holden is strongly opposed the plan because of concerns that developers are not interested in north Baton Rouge and it will cause the city to go “bankrupt behind the scene” due to tax breaks

Members of the group described the contrast between the two sides of town as “night and die”.




  • The stark disparity in economic development between the north and south is quantifiable in the economic contrasts between the two area
  • 35% of people are living below poverty in north Baton Rouge, compared to only 3.5% in south Baton Rouge
  • Median household income for South Baton Rouge is $86,879, which is 251% more than the median household income for north Baton Rouge $24,723
Source: Taylor Simien’s Tableau!/vizhome/shared/YKTWBRQ5P












Access to Healthcare

  • Since the state closed Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital in 2013 thousands of Medicaid and uninsured patients from the low-income, inner city have relied on the Mid City ER as their primary health care provider which is contrary to its direct purpose as emergency care only
  • Since the closing of the Baton Rouge Mid-City emergency room in 2015, many residents of north Baton Rouge and mid-city have been displaced from urgent care and healthcare facilities
  • Baton Rouge General Bluebonnet campus and Our Lady of the Lake are currently the only two hospitals in Baton Rouge and they are both located in southern Baton Rouge, leaving the rest of the city with a 20-35 minute drive to emergency care which is potentially life threatening in extreme cases

Brief Background

  • In 2012, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration began restructuring the state’s charity hospital system in terms of how it reimburses institutions for providing charity care which resulted in the closing of outdated, state-owned facilities such as Earl K. Long and partnered with Our Lady of the Lake to become the area’s teaching hospital for LSU medical residents
  • With expectations of more people going to OLOL for urgent care, the hospital received the majority of the Medicaid dollars and state dollars for treating the uninsured
  • The major issue is that most people continued to seek care from BRG Mid-City as it was most convenient, causing the emergency room to incur a ~$2 million dollar budget deficit which eventually led to the closing of the ER


Picture of former secretary of the State Department of Health and Hospitals speaking at rally in protest of the closure of the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Mid City. Taken by Marsha Shuler of The Advocate


Picture of former Earl K. Long Hospital on Airline Hwy in north Baton Rouge taken by The Rouge Collection




Wealth & Income Inequality

  • The racial wealth gap in the United States is currently the highest it has been since 1989, where the difference in wealth between white and black families is $131,000
  • The racial wealth gap was developed by hundreds of years of policy that kept African-Americans out of America’s vast economic growth (ex. Slavery, Jim Crow, housing discrimination, unequal pay, etc.)
  • Today, the wealth disparity affects the opportunities, privileges, and at times basic human rights afforded to blacks and Latin Americans.
  • Research conducted by Princeton University shows that there is a direct link between contemporary economic inequality and rising incarceration among African-American men
Source: Economic Inequality and the Rise in U.S. Imprisonment by Western, Kleykamp, & Rosenfield,%20Kleykamp,%20%26%20Rosenfeld_Economic%20Inequality%20and%20the%20Rise%20in%20US%20Imprisonment.pdf


Source: Pew Research Center


  • The median household income for white households in Baton Rouge is $58,182, which is more than double the median household income for black households ($27,622).
  • White households have increased income by 10% more than black households from 2000 to 2013, while Asian households have experienced the steepest increase of 42.6%
Source: City Data

White Households

Aggregate Household Income: ~$3.09 billion


Black Households

Aggregate Household Income: ~$1.88 billion

Considering that blacks make up 55% of the population of Baton Rouge compared to only 36% of whites, blacks have an aggregate income that is less than two thirds of whites’ aggregate income.

Source: City Data

Predatory Lending

Predatory lending is described as the action of short-term consumer lenders who prey on financially unsophisticated poor people and ensnare them in extremely expensive loans with an average APR of 470%. Loans become predatory when payday lenders lend to borrowers through five or more transactions a year. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group, 91% of payday loans fit this description (Knize, Louisiana Law Review 2009).

“These people are barely making ends meet; [they] will go to one of these [payday lending] places for what they think is a quick fix and find out that it’s a nightmare. They never get out from under it.” – H.C. Klein, Founder Arkansans Against Abusive Predatory Lending

Source: Payday Lending in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas: Toward Effective Protections for Borrowers

The Predatory Lending Cycle

  • Individuals who are short on cash and don’t have access to credit by traditional means (banks, credit cards, etc.) seek short-term loans from payday lenders because they will accept them, albeit for exponentially higher interest rates and financing fees.
  • Because the individual did not have enough money originally, they pay back the entire loan plus interest and fees and end up not having enough money to pay other bills.
  • This causes the person to refinance their existing loan with a second loan and commence the payday lending cycle


Source: Louisiana Budget Project




Source: Louisiana Budget Project

Education Budget Cuts

  • College students in the group were very concerned about budget cuts in higher education as they would experience direct effects
  • People fear that more cuts in education will be detrimental to SU and LSU, as well as causing Louisiana to be pushed further behind the rest of the country in terms of education and retaining college graduates in the state (college graduates tend to leave Louisiana for better employment opportunities)
  • Students receiving TOPS are at jeopardy of having to pay a substantially higher amount for school than they have been used to

Louisiana college students express that TOPS either played a key role in their decision to attend an in-state institution or is the only reason they are able to attend college






Findings from Social Media Group Study

  • The results from the study concluded that the vast majority of people with an annual household income less than $20,000 are primary concerned with three main issues: access to healthcare, income & wealth inequality, and economic development in north Baton Rouge.
  • The same population of respondents with annual household incomes greater than $20,000 year stated that that their three primary concerns were access to healthcare, economic development in north Baton Rouge, and education budget cuts.
  • Conclusion: there was no major difference detected between the primary issue concerns of Baton Rouge citizens considering income level, according to the survey.
  • A key factor contributing to the results could potentially be that all of the respondents were African-American. An extension of this study could include surveying a more ethnically diverse population to yield different sets of concerns.


#theEBONYproject final report (McKenzie McClain and DeJa Smith)

After deciding to extend #theEBONYproject into the 2015 fall semester, DeJa and I set to work brainstorming what kind of event to hold in order to keep the discussion of race prominent. Deciding against our original plan for a movie night due to the conflicting football season, we agreed we needed something simple that would still generate engagement from the LSU student body. Being that the make up of the program took roots in the social media world, we thought what better way to spark discussion than on Twitter using our now trademark hashtag : #theebonyproject.

Before getting started we realized getting people to tweet with us would be challenging especially during our set time (finals week). However, learning from past experience of low student involvement, we found a way around this barrier. Some students on campus have established a very diverse “Groupme” that includes a large number of students discussing the various topics surrounding LSU’s campus. We knew the best way to reach an audience of opinionated people was to post our questions in there and encourage the occupants to tweet with us. We strategically timed our conversation at a time we were sure all classes were over and all “must see tv” had ended for the evening. We introduced ourselves and relayed our platform and expectations for the Twitter discussion. After waiting about ten minutes for feedback or objections, we posted a screen shot of the first question and encouraged everyone to join in the discussion.

About 3o minutes passed with no responses from the members of the “Groupme”. However, we did not panic fore we had planned for low involvement. Noting that students can always appreciate an incentive, we promised the first 10 people to tweet with us a #theEBONYproject official t-shirt. Once the news was out, tweets started pouring in and the discussion got quite insightful. We documented the participants and later awarded the first 10 with their t-shirts.


Throughout our experience with #theEBONYproject, we learned a lot about our generation. Looking back on our experiences, failures included, we’ve realized the disconnect in race stems greatly from lack of understanding. A lot of the time we offer explanations, right or wrong, for things we don’t understand. We’re often instructed by our parents who were influenced by theirs and so on–thus furthering the ignorance. It’s not until outlets such as the #theEBONYproject are proactive in igniting the right conversations that examine all sides, do people realize the knowledge gap and work to close it. Through our conversations and events, DeJa and I have realized that the problem is not that students don’t want to understand the stories and struggles of other races, it’s that they’ve never been exposed to the right opportunity to do so. Many agree they would benefit from a class on campus that took the history beyond slavery to show the hardships that still occur daily. If we learned anything in our research, it’s that unity evolves from understanding. Personally we believe it’s time we start working toward achieving just that.

-McKenzie McClain


Move Happy Louisiana Final Report


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Move Happy Louisiana, thus far, has proved to be incredibly successful in garnering the Louisiana community together in educating cyclists, pedestrians and runners together to educate each other and the public about alternative modes of transportation safety issues.

Since the start of Move Happy Louisiana grant work through the Knight Foundation, there have been over 40 traffic accidents regarding cyclists and 7 deaths within Louisiana. Pedestrian accidents go well over 100, with 20 deaths of pedestrians within under a year. This created an environment where people were truly concerned about safe roads in Louisiana.

While we were in developing stages of how to truly engage the community through social media to create a change for the state of Louisiana for the first portion of the year, this semester has proved to be incredibly successful for what Move Happy has accomplished.

Not only have we engaged 10,625 people through our Facebook posts where we offered a news curation surrounding issues of biking, walking and running in Louisiana, but our own stories regarding runners and cyclists within the community (“Telling Louisiana’s Story”) got people excited about others who truly want safer roads based on personal experiences. Move Happy’s Instagram also proved to be very successful as well with its posts and images.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.14.29 AM


The Move Happy Louisiana project proved to be so successful that Move Happy Louisiana connected with companies such as Lululemon and Louisiana State University’s safety outreach programs to get people engaged outside of social media as well.

It was exciting that people in the community had heard about what we were doing to create a safer environment for the state of Louisiana, but sadly, Move Happy Louisiana was chosen to speak at a vigil for LSU PhD student Zach Wood. Wood was hit by a vehicle while riding his bike and died at the scene. One thing I have learned throughout this social media creation process is that sometimes deaths and injuries are what it takes to truly get people interested in making a change.

While every community has a different way to be reached, I found that Facebook and Instagram were most successful with getting people interested in safety issues. While Move Happy used Twitter, Pinterest and a Website to provide people with more information about to help educate the public on safety issues, update the public on current events within the community involving these issues and keep people up to date with the campaign’s progress with meetings with local and state officials, their engagement levels were sub-par, most likely because many runner and cyclist communities in the state of Louisiana share their information specifically via Facebook, but Instagram as well.

The Knight Foundation project was truly a once in a lifetime experience. If it were not for the Knight Foundation, I would have not had the capability to get the Move Happy Louisiana project going if it were not for the funding opportunities the Knight Foundation offered me to assist with marketing materials and assistance for website programming.

However, I don’t plan to stop here. For the remainder of my time at LSU, Move Happy Louisiana will continue to flourish into what it has become today and continue to thrive in the community as well.

The following plans are in store for Move Happy Louisiana, despite the Knight Foundation project coming to a close:

  1. More “Telling Louisiana’s Story” stories: Over the next few months, I plan to continue to post stories about those who have been affected or care about safety issues for cycling, walking and running in Louisiana.
  2. Work with Governor Elect, John Bel Edwards on road infrastructure policies for the state of Louisiana in special sessions in the spring: After talking to Edwards in the Fall about the Move Happy project, I am hoping that we can get some work done in some of the special sessions in the spring to help road infrastructure problems around the state.
  3. Continuous curation of news coverage surrounding biking and pedestrian issues in Louisiana
  4. Work with 36 Commuting Solutions: At home in Colorado, I have a connection to 36 Commuting Solutions, a NPO geared at creating safe, alternative routes of transportation to and from Denver and Boulder. 36 Commuting Solutions has already offered great programs to potentially start in Louisiana, and I plan to continue to work with them later this month and throughout January while I am in Colorado as well.
  5. Community Outreach Events: I will be continuing my Saturdays and Sundays at the LSU Lakes for the remainder of my time at LSU. In the spring, I also hope to attend more running and cyclist events to get the word out about safety issues and programs in Louisiana.
  6. Work with LSU Student Government to reconstruct their Biking web pages: Before I attended LSU, LSU had a web page to educate students about bike safety. I have been provided with the previous interface, and there is much to revamp on the website! Move Happy has been contacted to reproduce and rebrand this website, and we are really excited to continue to help the LSU community learn more about bike safety through their own initiatives as well.
  7. Accident Interface program for Baton Rouge (and potentially other major cities in Louisiana if deemed successful): For months now, I have been trying to get my hands on public records for where accidents and deaths have occurred in the Baton Rouge area to create an application interface to provide the public with safe ways to commute via bike and foot. I finally found a connection with someone who can potentially provide me with this information at a low to minimal cost. After receiving the information, the interface will be released by Move Happy Louisiana.
  8. Safety Assessment Programs: After much work and progress, I am hoping to have Safety Assessment Programs for LSU developed so that every student that attends LSU will have to be versed in the rules of the road and the rules that apply to LSU by the Fall of 2016.
  9. Safety Tutorials for Cyclists: Last, but certainly not least, I have found another community partner that will potentially help with educating people about safety tips for cycling at tutorial classes in Baton Rouge.

With all of this said, while the Knight Foundation project comes to a close, there is still much work that needs to be done for the state of Louisiana when it comes to biking and pedestrian safety, and Move Happy Louisiana will still be committed to this issues well beyond the Knight Foundation.

Manship students encouraged to apply for 2015-16 Social Media News Challenge grants


We’re offering another round of Social Media News Challenge grants this semester for Manship School students planning experimental projects.

knight-logo-300We have awarded a dozen grants in the past year under the challenge, funded by a 2013 grant of $150,000 from the Knight Foundation to the LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

Projects receiving grants must use social media to engage communities around news. Whether you have a specific plan, a general idea or just an interest in participating, you can make your pitch for a Social Media News Challenge grant one of three ways:

  1. Join a brainstorming session at noon next Monday, Sept. 28, in the Holliday Forum in the Journalism Building.
  2. Join a brainstorming session at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 29 in the Holliday Forum.
  3. If neither of those times works for you, make an appointment to visit with me the week of Sept. 28 in my office, B-39 Hodges Hall. You can email me at or call me at 703-474-0382.

If you come with a specific plan or general idea, other students and faculty at either meeting will make suggestions and ask questions to help you improve and execute your idea. The idea will remain your project, but you might decide to collaborate with another student who contributes some helpful suggestions.

If you don’t have your own idea, we’ll toss out some possible topics or approaches for student projects. You can take one of the ideas we discuss and make it your own, assisted by faculty and students in the brainstorming sessions.

If you can’t make it to either of the meetings, we’ll brainstorm privately in my office.

In any of these settings, if you claim an idea, you will be given a deadline for turning the discussion into a specific proposal.

In the 2014-15 year, grants were $4,000 for the student(s) involved, plus up to $1,000 more for expenses. We plan to be more flexible this year. If a group of students proposes a large project with lots of work by all participants, we could approve a larger grant for the students, rather than making them split $4,000. Or you could propose a grant with higher expenses.

Students taking on project ideas next week will receive guidelines for turning their ideas into specific project proposals.

I will be inviting previous grant winners to next week’s meetings to give brief overviews of their projects and share their advice and experience in the brainstorming. You also can browse this blog for reports on projects completed last spring.

Madelyn Duhon wins award for best reporting on Social Media News Challenge project

Madelyn Duhon

Madelyn Duhon

Madelyn Duhon, who graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication last week, wins the award for best reporting on a Social Media News Challenge project.

Duhon flew to Cambodia this week to start a six-month internship with the World Wildlife Federation.

Her Social Media News Challenge project was a partnership with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, using social media to report about efforts to restore and protect Louisiana’s coastline.

Manship School Dean Jerry Ceppos, one of the judges of the students’ reporting, said, “Maddie’s final report was peppered with links as well as photos of her work on Storify and Facebook—which nicely supported her contention that the Web in general and social media in particular could raise awareness about coastal restoration. Just to prove the point, she shared analytics: Her Facebook posts reached more than 550 people, with almost 100 likes; her Storify feeds reached more than 70 people. Maddie verified, and then shared, the undeniable fact that social media is a viral route to educating and energizing people.”

Judges also praised Duhon’s strong March report about a month into her project, which also was detailed and well-illustrated.

Duhon wins a $1,000 award for her reporting, in addition to the $4,000 grant she won in February.

In an email from Cambodia, Duhon said she is working as Communication Assistant for WWF in Phnom Penh. She will provide public relations support for WWF events and efforts in such areas as dam advocacy, dolphin conservation and reintroduction of tigers to Cambodia (a great fit for an LSU grad). She also will contribute interviews, photos and stories to WWF print products and work on social media strategy and the website.

knight-logo-300The Social Media News Challenge is funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. Earlier awards to Wilborn Nobles III and Elbis Bolton recognized their POWER app as the most successful and riskiest project.

Students may apply for another round of grants in the fall. Interested students should contact Steve Buttry: stevebuttry (at) lsu (dot) edu and read Will Glass’ advice on applying for a grant.

A screen shot illustrating Madelyn Duhon's final Social Media News Challenge report.

A screen shot illustrating Madelyn Duhon’s final Social Media News Challenge report.



Closet Stories final report

Here is Cody Sibley’s final report on his project:

Closet Stories began as an LGBTQ news outlet where I would interview both straight, gay, cisgender and transgender people to tell of either their coming out stories or their friend’s coming out stories, but problems and a change of plans led to what is now Closet Stories.

Aside from my introduction video, my very first segment of Closet Stories featured a lesbian from Texas. She told me about her coming out story, how her family handled it and what her siblings thought of her sexuality in the video. She was the first person to come to me (She actually private messaged me on Facebook). The video was a little rough, but it got 54 views on YouTube. Link:

I had trouble finding people willing to be on camera after that first interview. Most people were too shy to be on camera, and others simply did not want to come out. In the meantime, I still made videos about LGBTQ issues because I didn’t want to let my channel die, but I did them on my own.

It became apparent that no one would go on camera with me after making three or four videos by myself. I was disappointed to say the least, but I couldn’t let that stop me. Leelah Alcorn was just in the news, and I knew that now more than ever, I needed to continue to be a voice for the LGBTQ community. I made a video dedicated to Alcorn, which got 37 views, and decided to also start a GoFundMe in her memory. I wanted to donate the money I made in her name to a transgender organization in Louisiana. Even though my project is done, I will continue to leave that account open for anyone who wants to donate until I get sufficient funds to send to Transgender groups in Louisiana. Link:

Discrimination hit Louisiana a month later when a cop arrested two men on the charges of crimes against humanity. A cop caught them having sex in the back of a car, so he charged them with sodomy, which is unconstitutional. It happened right here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that wasn’t the first time the cops showed homophobic tendencies in this city. My video called out the cops for being discriminatory against gay men, and sadly it only got one view. Link:

You can find more videos on my YouTube channel, Closet Stories LA. I currently only have six subscribers, but I’m glad I’m able to touch the lives of six other people.

While I don’t think I want to continue the broadcast route, I think the project has shaped me and directed me into a more activist career path after graduation. I’m glad I got the opportunity to partake in the Manship Knight social media challenge.

I would like to thank my friend Ross Mouton for helping design my closet door logo that I use to brand myself, and I would like to thank him for teaching me how to vlog. I would like to thank Steve Buttry and Amy Reynolds for helping oversee my project, and I would like to thank the Manship School of Mass Communication and the Knight Foundation for partnering together to create this opportunity for students.

Best of LSU Sports – Final Report

When Rachel, Morgan and I first applied for the Manship School Social Media News Challenge, I don’t think we realized how key the word “challenge” would be.

All three of us love sports as we all reported and anchored for LSU’s Tiger TV. We recognized that Tiger TV needed more of a social media presence, something that would involve and engage LSU fans.

Tad Odell, Manship professor, gave us the idea of using the app Storify to curate all of the best social media posts (twitter, instagram, vine, etc.) from LSU fans, athletes and alumni into one place. In a sense, creating one story to summarize a major LSU sporting event. And the story was written by the fans through their tweets, instagrams, vines and gifs.

We thought it was a great idea that would not only help Tiger TV grow but us three as journalists too.

We quickly learned that sports fans post more about interesting things that go on within a game rather than talking about every touchdown. Just take the “pantsing” incident between LSU tight end Logan Stokes and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.

However, there are exceptions to that rule. For example, the Storify that received the most attention by far during our project involved the reactions surrounding former LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s unbelievable catch as a rookie with the New York Giants.

That post was a shining example of the potential Storify has in engaging fans if you use the app the right way.

Twitter users want to see what people are saying about Odell’s one-handed catch as well as join the conversation. Gathering the funniest, most extreme and most interesting photos, tweets, gifs and reactions and piling them up under one umbrella is a great way for viewers to see the best of LSU sports without having to scroll down twitter for hours.

This concept confirmed the thought that our project could be a really useful tool for LSU fans to use, if we consistently post stories and promote them.

Ultimately, this is where we fell short.

We couldn’t cultivate an audience and part of the reason for that is because we weren’t posting regularly. We created a hashtag #ReactLSU, posted our stories on’s website and shared our stories from Tiger TV’s twitter account @TTV_sports.

But because we were inconsistent and failed to meet our goal of Storifying live during sporting events, we weren’t able to gain many followers.

Despite all this, we really enjoyed working on this project and learning more about using social media. Personally, I can say I will continue using Storify even after this project is finished.

We would like to thank the Knight Foundation and the Manship School for giving us this great opportunity.