I hope to gain an overview of the various pieces necessary to become a successful writer (i.e. twitter, blogging, video, photography, oh–and print media) from this Digital Journalism class. I hope to learn not only how to write effective and interesting stories, but to gain editing, html, interview, video, and photography skills as well. Blogging is the most foreign aspect of journalism for me, as I have the tendency to think, does anyone care to read what I have to say?
Kody Klein, 21 year-old from Gran Haven, MI is currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University. He is the news editor for the Eastern Echo, a journalism major and Physics minor. Physics to Journalism, how does that happen?
Kody began his college career as a Physics major, and realized he did not enjoy the work, although he excelled at it. He realized that he was not enjoying his classes.
“[Now, I am] so interested in my future, it always scared me. For the first time ever, I’m doing something that I love. Jazzed, stoked.”
With a full-time class schedule in addition to his internship at the Echo, there are times he must find and write the news himself, if no one turns in stories. He has spent hours at a crime scene, waiting for someone to talk to him.
He was awarded full tuition, room and board through the Presidential Scholarship Competition, which began with an essay writing contest, then a personal interview with EMU faculty and staff, and a review of academic and extra-curricular background.
Kody candidly confessed that he thought that there were a lot more qualified applicants than he, calling himself a “champion bullshitter”.
So for all of you struggling this finals week, Kody proves that a little bullshitting (and effort) can go a long way – to one of 16 full-ride scholarships awarded in 2009.
Kody’s advice on beer: Skip over the bud light.
And music: He writes songs on piano, but no formal training; he usually just plays something until he figures it out. He particularly enjoys “weird” music.
“I feel like I’m really weird”
A broad description, and he attempted to explain by saying that he enjoys music that does not sound polished, and is attracted to things that are jarring, that combine chaos and beauty, and include the constructive vs. negative aspects.
Elizabeth Moran is a Journalism student at Eastern Michigan University. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EMU PRSSA hosts local celebrity for some real-world lessons
Last Tuesday, April 17. The final general meeting of EMU’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) featured guest speaker Charles Pugh, former Fox 2 Detroit newscaster and current Detroit City Council President, personality for FM 98 WJLB and founder of the Charles Pugh Male Leadership Forum.
Pugh offered several useful suggestions for PR and journalism careers in only 1 hour.
For assignments in the corporate setting, journalists need language skills, and practice. An internship i
s the best experience to meet people in the industry. He recommended that everyone read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He explained that it basically helps you to get people to do what you want them to do.
It is a love/hate relationship between PR professionals and journalists:
For Public Relations Professionals
Pugh told students what he hates: A news conference without content – waste of time.
Or, someone who stands at the podium, only to read. the. press release. Bor. ring.
“This is void of what I need. Next time that company has a press release, I may rip it up — I am busy, I’m on deadline…and stories can change by the moment.”
And, those who are not helpful — Why are you here, only to keep the information from me? I am not asking you to embarrass your client, but be honest. Tell me that you just cannot say, right now, said Pugh.
Other ‘Hates’: PR professionals who are not ‘people people’ and inviting a camera crew to a ‘BOPSA’ (Bunch of people sitting around). Another waste of time.
PR representatives should know something about the journalists they work with, in particular:
- their deadlines;
- something about them (Are they married? Where did they go to college?);
- to go to lunch together, offer a tour of the facility;
- sponsor a day just for reporters to ask questions;
- develop a personal relationship;
- know their names;
- if your CEO is ‘a hot mess’ then don’t put him on TV; and the
- speaker should be articulate, impactful, stay on message and be prepared or replaced;
- Give reporters suggested questions, name pronunciation, etc.
- Again, know the host/reporter – Is he a comedian, or a hard news reporter?
- Send cookies, without asking for anything in return, because a presser by fax will not be remembered.
A great question from the audience concerned telling your boss something they do not want to hear, like they need an image adjustment.
“Show them what they look like,” he said.
In Norfolk, Virginia, Pugh reported a plane crash and was not sure if there were survivors, although the situation appeared grim.
Just before take-off, three family members exited the plane, leaving their father/uncle on boa
rd. Airline workers asked Pugh not to reveal fatality information, until they were able to notify the family personally, so they would not learn the news from television.
He agreed, and did not report that aspect of the story for the family’s sake.
“In times like that – you err on the side of caution, you do not want to screw up a relationship for that story, it’s not worth it, you need to keep the relationship.”
Journalists must remember that there are real people behind every story, someone’s life may be altered by what is reported. Be mindful of the human lives dealt with, and the relationship with the public. Most likely there will be more stories from the airport to come.
Some particular tips:
- What (and where) is my best photo opportunity?
- Put your own information out there via Twitter, facebook, youtube (Say Hello!)
- Be relevant to the medium and audience – morning, noon and nightly news are different ‘beasts’;
- Take the free lunch and still write the bad story; and
- Know who your sponsors are.
“The best thing you can learn as a future journalist or a future PR practitioner is to develop relationships,” he said. “If there’s nothing that comes out of this talk today, know that the relationship outside of the assignment you have, that is what will make you successful.”
“A PR person who is worth their weight in diamonds is a person who has constant stories coming out of them. Pretty much come up with the story [for the journalists]. Write that down,” he directed the group. “Write the story for them.”
See Charles Pugh as founder of the Charles Pugh Male Leadership Forum, in action:
Elizabeth Moran is a Journalism student at Eastern Michigan University. You may contact her at email@example.com.
The digital age becomes survival of the quickest
Everyone loves the internet, right? Instant gratification: Can’t find the recipe? Google it. How do you get rid of poison ivy? Google it. Who will be Mitt Romney’s running-mate? Google it. And, possibly you will find hard news among the distractions.
At first readers were able to access content for free, it is now difficult for talented hard-working journalists to earn a decent living, not to mention being heard while competing with facebook games, “Words with Friends” or celebrity gossip. Unless readers seek out news, how can journalists give the important stories, worthy of attention, to them if the front page is not brought directly to their door step?
Journalists now more than ever need to consider their own personal internet use: What do I like to do? How do I search, what will be the first item of business in my search today.
Unfortunately, the answer is not often a news site. Today’s journalist is forced to do more with less, and is really doing less.
Trained journalists must think like the masses.
Dean Starkman‘s cover story for the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), Sept/Oct 2010, puts the “new” journalism (or citizen journalism) discussion into focus. Instead of rambling about how print is dead in the digital world, he addresses specific issues. Reporters are running on the “Hamster Wheel” for the fastest lead, with less investigation.
The massive online audience and demand for the mundane have reduced writing to one-liners. Journalists are given incentives for web hits instead of the muckraking of old.
“The Internet, we know, is the greatest invention since the Twinkie. It allows us to publish any time, all the time. But that doesn’t mean we have to.”
Cunningham also says,
“The ‘hamster’ effect is natural considering the number of journalists has decreased while the number of stories has increased. We are running on the wheel, ‘doing more with less’. More news stories are coming from press releases than in years past.”
Today’s successful journalist must prove that she can create an audience and interact with followers, so advises Stephanie Murray, assistant managing editor/digital media at the Detroit Free Press, in a recent lecture for a Journalism 310 class at Eastern Michigan University.
It may be surprising that, as a journalist, one must project a professional, objective demeanor not only during an in-person interview, but also online. Your online presence is you and what you tweet is who you are.
More advice from Murray for future journalists:
On facebook presence:
- Enable subscribe, or
- Set up a Fan Page
- Show your personality
Facebook is more engaging than Twitter, so writers are able to have a conversation with their readers, like never before.
- Follow your interests
- Use it, interact, talk back
- Use hashtags
- Use it to find sources for your story
- Live-tweet events
- Share your story
- Share others’ stories
To measure readership, news companies can no longer use paid subscriptions. Now analytics are used to count ‘hits’. They find out if a reader read one article and left, or remained on the site for several pages –count the clicks.
Brent Cunningham’s article “Take a Stand” from Columbia Journalism Review’s Sept-Oct 2009 issue explains:
“The nation needs someone to help start discussing what kind of place America will be in the twenty-first century.”
Cunningham explains in simple terms, what we should be doing:
“In what kind of place should we be living? How should we be living? News brings about discussion about how life should be along with reporting what is. Journalists focus so much on reporting the next story, instead of finishing the last one.”
Engage the readers to follow-up with the writers. Readers/bloggers will hold the reporters accountable.
Digital News Models
Some of the most daring news outlets will change their priorities with some hope for success. Change will not come easy, so the changes will have to be gradual.
The Times Picayune, a newspaper in New Orleans, has found success in the wake of tragedy. Jim Amoss, editor, advises:
“the newspapers must exude a sense of being of their communities. To want for it what you want for yourself and your family.”
Journalists attempt to offer organization to the masses. Some current sites offer targeted local news and a chance to interact with writers:
The New York Times appears to have made the proper digital adjustments, as they are still the gold standard for news even in the digital world.
The video attributes to the iPad the possibility of saving print media. The ‘pad’ experience offers the newspaper experience with digital advantages, at the reader’s fingertips, complete with a front page for the headline of the day.
Ann Arbor teen Katy Butler, of Greenhills High School won a victory in her efforts to get the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings agency to reclassify the documentary Bully
An online petition drive with nearly 500,000 signatures and counting supports Katy Butler‘s online petition effort to win the movie a PG-13 rating so that more teenagers would be able to see it. The MPAAoriginally rated the movie as R because of profanity, and has now changed the rating to unrated.
Director Lee Hirsch said in a statement (via Entertainment Weekly):
I made ‘Bully’ for kids to see — the bullies as well as the bullied. … To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives — and the fact is that kids use profanity. It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most. No one could make this case more powerfully than Alex Libby, and I am so proud and honored that he is stepping forward to make a personal appeal.
The petition on change.org received over 500,000 signatures and sparked support from many celebrities. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Demi Lovato, Drew Brees and Kelly Ripa are among the celebrities who stood behind Butler. Ellen DeGeneres didn’t just sign the petition, she had Butler on her show to discuss the petition and tell her story.
The movie’s producers, The Weintstein Co. will run the risk that some theaters may be unwilling to show an unrated movie.
“Bully” opens in limited release this week and is expected to expand in the coming weeks.
How long has the project been promised? Three years? Four?
The Ann Arbor to Detroit Regional Rail Project has been under construction for so many years, it is difficult to remember that it still exists.
The complex project is still in motion, coordinated by the various city stations, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Amtrak.
The SEMCOG plan includes a commuter rail line connecting Ann Arbor with the New Center neighborhood in Detroit. The route will have stops at The Freighthouse in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor Amtrak station, Detroit Metro Airport, the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn and New Center, and has already purchased and refurbished passenger cars for the line.
Once up and running, this line will connect The University of Michigan, Wayne State and Eastern Michigan University and hospitals (University of Michigan Medical Center, Detroit Medical Center).
The new system will allow commuters to ride to Downtown Detroit, enjoy their evening, with a designated driver. No need to pay for parking at the airport, downtown Ann Arbor, for Detroit sporting events, not to mention work commuters and tourists. A successful rail system could help to bring Michigan back, at least out of the house more often.
I am shocked. As a fan of Manning since his college career at The University of Tennessee, it is difficult for me to witness his team throwing him aside. I guess business is business.
Is there is a chance he will re-sign? The release may have been a decision based on the $28 million bonus Manning was to receive for 2012. He did say, in a recent interview, that he would consider re-signing with the Colts as a free agent.
ESPN bloggers believe that the four- time NFL MVP may likely land in Miami.
I just cannot believe the Colts organization would give up on such a great talent, and person. There is no loyalty in business. His fans will cry in their pillows tonight, and definitely throughout the upcoming seasons.
Check out Manning’s Greatest Hits!
It’s not what you think… at age 13, my daughter Hayley has a passion for animals and the general well-being of the earth, including parts so very far away from her. Whenever I consider blog or twitter topics, I immediately think of the following causes dear to her heart:
Hundreds of dolphins in Taiji, Japan are herded into a cove; a few are chosen for captivity at aquarium shows, similar to Sea World.
Rick O’Barry, director of savejapandolphins.org and former star of television hit Flipper has now dedicated his life to saving all dolphins from captivity. Dolphins, like humans, are mammals, travel in families (pods); and their awareness is driven mainly by sound, making life in a tank torturous.
The Cove, Academy Award-winning documentary in 2009, documents the Taiji dolphin slaughter via hidden cameras.
How does a 13-year-old stumble upon such atrocities, halfway around the world? It all began with Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, which documents the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew, a group of environmentalists who travel the Antarctic Circle, attempting to thwart the Japanese whaling industry, usually by simple diversionary tactics.
The Sea Shepherd website lead to The Cove trailer, which lead to talking her aunt into renting the movie, to forcing the entire family to watch. The story is not easy to forget, which lead me to share it with you.