Tag Archives: journalism

SPJ provides never-ending education for journalists

29 Oct

“The content of any new media is the old medium.” – Jack Hart.

spj-logoOn Saturday, Oct. 24, the third annual Society of Professional Journalists: Building a better journalist conference attendees took away valuable information, useful tactics and tools for bettering journalistic skills.  With a amazing panel of speakers to host each session the event was a huge benefit to students and seasoned journalists alike.  With so many wonderful options to choose from on the list of training opportunities it made my decision difficult in narrowing the sessions to sit in on.

Thinking Big at a Small Paper

I opted to attend Thinking Big at a Small Paper and Storytelling with Style in the morning.  Lee van der Voo and Nick Budnick spoke about a 2009 police misconduct investigation they were involved in and how they put together a wonderful piece as the underdogs.  It was very informative for tricks on how to use your small paper status to get more information and pull it off with limited resources.  Budnick pointed out that you can use your “underdog” status to your advantage in investigative work.  You possibly may be able to get more information from your sources considering you have good relationships with community members and the town you work in.  Other tips included how to use a more personal approach to your public record request, which usually shows more results than a long formal request.  The more formal and impersonal the more likely someone reading it will put it aside immediately and make a mental note to never let you see that information, it could seem likely you would use the record negatively.

– Storytelling with Style –

“Look at the story not as what it is, but as what it means,” Anna Griffin and Jack Hart said in agreement.  Hart, legendary writing coach and author, along with Griffin, columnist for The Oregonian, shared how to make your work stand out from the rest.  Storytelling with style was a great reminder to journalists to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to narrating your story.  Think about yourself as the reader, and while you read, learn.  Ask yourself “why did they start the story that way, or why did they end it that way?” Get your brain thinking in the terms of what makes for good storytelling.  Try breaking down stories while you read them.  Everyone at the conference also recommended buying Hart’s book  A Writer’s Coach.

“Think of yourself as a writer; not a reporter.  Think of the people as characters; not sources.  That is what equals a good reporter.” – Hart & Griffin.

– Video for the Web –

The second half of the day for me consisted of learning how to shoot video footage for the web and a great discussion on science and tech writing.  I was amazed to learn that the iPhone now even has an application that allows you to shoot, record, edit and upload video straight from your phone to the web.  Great tool for breaking news or when you are thrown into a situation and equipment isn’t working or you have none.  TJ Mullinax from the Yakima Herald shared his pointers on how to shoot a good news segment in any situation.  When shooting Mullinax stressed the importance of not zooming in or panning while shooting because your final product will most likely lead to motion sickness.  Mullinax also carried on him many photography tools, the Canon EOS 5D being my favorite (On my wish list!).  I have a great yearn to learn valuable skills in video production, this was just my first step.

– Covering Science & Technology: So you want to be a tech writer? –

A great discussion on science and technology writing ended a great day of education at the conference.  David Wolman, author and contributing editor at Wired, and Marshall Kirkpatrick, lead writer for Read Write Web, shared their ways of writing in a rapid and ever changing beat.  Kirkpatrick and Wolman use almost completely different methods in their writing.  Wolman strongly recommends sit down informational interviews to find the key parts to the story.  Wolman loves to ask the question “so what else have you been working on?” He said this question has led him to many other interesting pieces he has wrote on.

Kirkpartick on the other hand puts out more material in one day.  He will usually produce two to three articles for the web a day.  There is a detailed intertwined list of RSS feeds that he receives constantly to point him in the right direction of what is the hot topic of discussion.  More detailed notes are available from Daniel Bachhuber about this session.

Overall the conference was a great success and it was awesome to meet some extraordinary writers and journalist enthusiasts.


Wiring Myself into the World of Media

21 Oct

When I first starting blogging this year I had made a post about this article 2008 objectives for today’s non-wired journalist | Howard Owens and thought it only appropriate to re-post it.  I found this article at the time very interesting because I had just stepped into the world of social media.  Yes I had a MySpace and Facebook but not until January 2009 did I really start digging into social media.  I am now so far into it, I don’t know if I can ever get out of the hole I dug.  I am practically doing everything mentioned in this blog including bookmarking, networking, blogging, tweeting, RSSing, SMSing, photography, googling and attempting to YouTube it.  At the time I first posted this article I was only dabbling in all of these things, some more than others, but since I have actually been hired to put social media into effect for businesses.  Recently I have also joined Publish2, which is a platform for collaborative journalism.

Publish2’s mission and unique tools encourage the spirit of open information and effectively fosters collaboration between teams of journalists and readers. Its link publishing widgets and easy-to-use in-browser tools are designed to fit cohesively into time-pressed journalists’ work days.

wj_screenshotIn the process of becoming a member of Publish2 I also joined Wired Journalists, a Publish2 network, for collaborative journalism on the Web, powered by journalists.  Wired Journalists reminds me of a Facebook for journalists.

Here is my post from my first blog, A New Dawn, on the article written by Howard Owens about non-wired journalists.

April 2, 2009

Excellent Blog on Objectives for non-wired Journalists

Filed under: Blogging, Journalism, News Writing — Makenzie Marineau @ 5:10 pm

A new term has begun for school and lucky for me I am enrolled in New Media Communications | Reporting. I am extremely excited to be taking this class. First week we were given a blog to read and I loved it so much I had to re-post it.

2008 objectives for today’s non-wired journalist

By: Howard Owens

Many news organizations have bonus plans for newsroom personnel called MBOs (MBA speak for Manage by Objective). The idea is to reward people for doing work that helps advance the company’s strategic goals.

Is there any higher strategic need for news organizations today than becoming more digital savvy?

I suspect there are still too many non-wired journalists in most US newsrooms. Either out of fear, indifference or hubris, too many reporters and editors resist using the Internet for anything beyond the occasional Google search (and heaven forbid they ever click a search result link to Wikipedia) and a daily dose of Romenesko (and heaven forbid if you call him what he is, a blogger).

That just isn’t acceptable.

So to help newsroom managers advance the digital literacy of their organizations, I offer the following MBO plan. I recommend readers pass this along to the top editors at their newspapers. And for non-wired journalists ambitious enough to pursue their own MBO paths, I’ll offer a reward myself (strict rules and details at the bottom of this post).

1. Become a blogger. Start with a favorite topic. For example, if you’re a baseball fan, start with baseball. Find all of the baseball-related blogs you can and become a regular reader of five or six of the best of these blogs. Participate — leave comments; follow links. After three months of blog reading, start your own blog on that topic. Try to post daily for at least six months. For blog topics, avoid anything related to your beat or politics. First, you need to blog about something you are passionate about; second, there are too many political bloggers already (accept maybe for local politics, if you see that need in your community and it won’t conflict with your day job).

2. Buy a small digital camera that can take both stills and video. Open an account with a photo sharing site such as Flickr or Buzznet. Take photos and post them. If necessary, use some online tutorials for digital photography. (NOTE: If company will buy you this camera, great, but if not, remember you have a responsibility to invest in your own career.)

3. With the same camera, make at least three videos. Use the free video editing software that comes with your computer and edit those videos. Post them to YouTube and at least one other video sharing site. There are plenty of online tutorials for shooting and editing video. Your goal here isn’t to make great video, just to learn what is involved in making video so you have the capability in your online journalism tool bag.

4. Related to video, spend at least two hours a week for six weeks on YouTube. Search for topics that interest you and then follow the trails where they lead. Pay attention to the daily most popular and see what other people are watching. Be sure to watch both amateur and professional video.

5. Join a social networking site. Every professional should have a profile on LinkedIn, so make sure you do, also. Facebook has been hot in 2007, but I think you’ll get more out of MySpace, which still remains popular with your future readers. You will get more DIY (the backbone of modern media) experience with MySpace, if you take full advantage of the site features (which, admittedly, I have not). Do Facebook, too, but don’t neglect MySpace.

6. Use social bookmarking. Set up del.icio.us for yourself and use it every day. Learn about tags. Check out Digg and Mixx and similar sites. If you can, get into Scott Karp’s Publish2 beta.

7. Start using RSS. Use RSS to keep up with the news of the day and the blogs you are now reading every day. Make sure your blog has an RSS feed. Here’s Marc Glaser’s guide to RSS.

8. If your current mobile phone doesn’t handle SMS (text messaging), get one that does. SMS works best when you have friends who text, so figure out who those friends are (by now, you have them). For neophytes and gray hairs, a phone with a QWERTY keyboard (Treo, or iPhone) works best. Blackberrys aren’t great SMS handhelds because they mix SMS and e-mail together.

9. Learn to twitter. I’m not a big Twitter user myself, but Ryan Sholin and Jack Lail swear by it. I think there is something to be said for learning how this technology may change information dissemination.

10. Create a Google Map mashup. If you don’t know what those are, google it. If you don’t know what to do or where to start, google it (hint: or you can search this site). There are plenty of tutorials available. It’s easy. All you need is a spreadsheet with appropriate data and enough smarts to follow step-by-step directions.

11. After you’ve done these ten things, document what you’ve learned — write something, such as an essay to your editor or a blog post. Discuss how technology has changed media, and follow the string of where that change might lead. What will your job be like in 10 years? What will media be like in five? How will news reach young readers in a generation? Tomorrow?

I see all of these points as hugely important for journalists to get involved in the new media communications we have today. I have already tried and attempted most of these but there are a few I myself need to work on exploring a bit more, such as tweeting on Twitter.

–  Since writing this blog my tweeting skills have excelled and I am wired into the world of media and communications. I believe strongly in using new media, such as the examples provided in Owens article, as a journalist and I am glad to see it being incorporated into not only the work place but into classrooms.  I am not saying I feel that it is necessary for everyone to use such tools but I believe that it can be helpful in a matter of different topics, which is a whole another post in itself.  It never hurts to try new things, and I feel as a journalist in today’s market you must learn how to use the basics of new media, or you might just be left behind.