Generation J Toolbox
Let’s look at social media as just one cylinder in a four-cylinder car engine. Along with other cylinders — creditable sources, fluid time management and great journalism — the vehicle will run smoothly, get great mileage and sustain your journalism career.
News gathering, working sources, getting strangers to open up on camera. Reporters, especially multimedia journalists like myself, have a tall order every day. If you’re anything like me as a one-woman band in TV, not only are you shooting and editing, you need to get information, process it and make it worthwhile to watch.
In a perfect world, your sources will tell you the information you need clearly and truthfully, but in the imperfect world we live in, you might not even get your sources to speak at all. If the clock is ticking, if your word count is nowhere near where you need it to be, and if your source seems to have disappeared out of the blue, here are the steps you can take to solve your dilemma.
Broadcast news, particularly in local television, is going through major changes with technological advances. That’s nothing new. Unfortunately, along with those changes, early career journalists trying or thinking of entering the field are changing too, and sometimes not for the better.
In many stories you do, there will be the one interview known as “the get.” For instance, when news broke about a gunman on the Florida State University campus in December, everyone wanted to hear from the gunman’s family. I got it.
Live reporting in the field should be defined by Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong will go wrong. I cannot count how many times I have been on an active scene and right before a live hit, everything I was going to reference in a walk-and-talk quickly goes away.
Public records and the information and data that come from them can be invaluable to your stories and can take your reporting to the next level. This is true for all journalists, but particularly important for young and early-career reporters trying to make their work stand out.
Journalists are among those professionals expected to know how to write a sentence. Whether in print, online or in a broadcast script, we reporters and editors need to know how to draft sharp, precise copy at a moment’s notice for public consumption.
When I was 24, I landed my first reporter position at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. I was one of the youngest reporters on staff, and I looked even younger. I remember thinking, “Man, I really need to stay on top of my game to prove myself!”
Sheriff: “We have at least two shots fired in the theater.” (five minutes later) Sheriff: “Only one shot was fired and it went through the wife’s hand into her husband’s chest.” (Producer calls) Producer: “We have aerial footage from the chopper in house.
#DIGITALDETOX. This may be the most ironic hashtag ever used, but I found out a lot when I went on a self-imposed digital detox over the Christmas-New Year stretch. I learned about the things I wanted to share, how people interact with media and what news I missed while I stepped out of the digital space.
Video on the Internet has come a long way in the last decade. What was once an hour wait for Real Player to stream five minutes of clumsily shot footage is now instant access to Emmy-winning episodic dramas. David Fincher took home the Emmy for best director for his work on Netflix’s original series “House of Cards.”
Sometimes hearing or just seeing “FOIA” can put you in a tizzy. Yes, the Freedom of Information Act and similar state laws can be hard to work through. And yes, it is a law, which can be intimidating on its own.
Going into work comes with the nail-biting issue of pitching stories. Even though I have been working professionally for six years, the pressure to produce is still there. I try to come in with three hard news stories each day. There are news cycles where my sources have nothing, and I walk in the door empty-handed.
OK. I’m stumped. It’s true. I’m racking my brain to come up with a good lead to this article about writing good leads (or ledes, the official spelling in newspaper speak so it’s not confused with “lead” type). We’ve all been there — or here where I am presently — trying to craft, conjure and contrive a winning hook for a print or broadcast story that will engage the audience and make them hunger for more.
With all of the Facebook posting and Twitter updating (not to mention getting your stories to air or publish and, oh yeah, eating and trying to have a social life), who has time to think about the future? Believe me, I get it.