Tag Archives: writing

New Year for Dreams & Goals

22 Jan

Walking into a prosperous new year.

With the beginning of a new year most every one sets out to make changes, find new goals, and make their New Year’s resolutions; for me I always have this mind set. I’m constantly seeking new dreams, goals, adventures and challenges. I also dream big, which can lead to a lot of unfinished projects. With that in mind I have a few ideas of what I would like to accomplish this year, but I know more will come along the way.

  • Begin writing a blog post at least once a week. I have been slacking recently, it has been a month since I last wrote on my blog.
  • Plan for a summer of travel. Visit friends along America’s east coast from Jacksonville, Florida to Washington D.C., then fly out of the states for a summer of learning Spanish in either Oviedo, Spain or Rosario, Argentina. Very tough decision on which country to study in, if you have any input or tips about either place let me know. Thanks!
  • Take a photography or art class. I recently purchased a new camera the Diana and have been looking seriously for a awesome digital photography camera as well (any recommendations would be appreciated!). I love taking photographs and the arts, but I wish I made more time for it like I used to. Getting into these classes prove difficult but I am going to make it happen this year.  An artistic inspiration to me is my brother who will soon be a photo journalism major at the University of Oregon. He has never taken a single photography class and has self taught himself everything, which impresses me. You can take a look at some of his older work on his Flickr photostream: AAtronM.
  • Get my finances in order! This is a big one for me because who the heck wants debt, not I. For great tips on the financial world check out brass|MAGAZINE.
  • Learn to make time for myself.  Then I hope to use that time to get outside to go camping, hiking, surfing, kayaking, and snowboarding more. I need to take advantage of living in the awesome Pacific Northwest. I love all of these activities but I need to make the time to do them more frequently!
  • Write more. I don’t feel like I have taken enough writing courses in my college career but 2010 seems like a great year to learn how to become a better writer. It’s time to improve on my writing skills.
  • Graduate from Oregon State University : )

Of course I have other goals swaying around in my head but that is just the short order of things I hope to accomplish. I do believe that some of these are just small steps to accomplishing some of my bigger aspirations and goals. Looking to 2010 with determination and the confidence that good things are bound to come. I would love to hear what other people are hoping to accomplish in the new year! Leave a comment and share.


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.