"Georgia's future journalists"
The Newsroom Official newsletter of the Georgia College Press Association Georgia’s future journalists In tough economic times, diverse training is key By Charles Minshew GCPA President email@example.com If you haven’t heard already, the newspaper industry is struggling to survive. On February 27, The Rocky Mountain News, the oldest newspaper in Denver, Colorado printed its final edition. Citing a $16 million operating loss, corporate owner E.W. Scripps Company closed the doors of the almost 150-year- old newspaper. With institutions such as “The Rocky” shuttering their doors, what is a collegiate journalist to Spring 2009 do? Despite tough economic conditions for colleges and universities in the state, as well as newspapers, journalists across the entire media spectrum still have a job to do. I urge every collegiate journalist in the state of Georgia to stay strong. Times like these are not times for us to fall down and give up. Instead, they are times of great learning and progress. Newspapers survived the age of radio and the age of television. So, why can’t we survive the age of the Internet while facing a rough economy? The simple answer to this question is that we can survive. Instead of relying on newsprint to keep us alive, it’s time to adapt. Over the past year, college newspapers across the state have suffered decreases in advertising sales, scaled back production and increased their online web presence. Sometimes scaling back is not an option. Instead, it is a must. Anything in a paper’s power has to be done in order to keep providing a quality product to students, faculty and staff of Georgia’s colleges and universities. If that means going from daily to twice a week, a staff is going to have more time to create a product that people love. While most people don’t consider websites a viable tool for newspapers, websites are becoming more useful in our ever-changing field. There is no better way to announce breaking news, publish lengthy additions to stories, and provide multimedia content than having a solid web presence. Remember, even if you see a decrease in revenue or editions, there is no reason to blame your editorial staff, advertising staff, editors or advisers and directors for a decline in readership. The Auburn Plainsmen, in a February 12, 2009 editorial, cited “the failure of the business side of the newspaper to generate revenue” as a reason for declining quality of the publication. No staff will ever resolve a situation by burning bridges between departments at publications. The only way to overcome this crisis is to work together. Besides, the advertising department has no control over clients closing up their own shops or having no money for ads. Once you stand back and look at the situation that surrounds us as journalists, there are a few things to always remember. Keep on doing what you are doing. Stay objective in your reporting, provide a service to your readers (and listeners and viewers) that no one else can provide, and always remember that there is someone out there counting on you to cover the stories that you cover. Consider all of this, and people will come to you day after day, edition after edition. Drastic times call for drastic measures, but we can make it. Page 1 Page 2 Apply now to reserve your spot for next year! The Georgia Press Educational Foundation (GPEF) is proud to support students pursuing careers in journalism. GPEF funds paid summer internships for students who work at our member newspapers, in addition to awarding scholarships up to $2000. The Georgia Press Educational Foundation has been awarding scholarships to Georgia students studying journalism for over 20 years. For the 2008-2009 school year, GPEF awarded 14 scholarships, totaling $18,000. Scholarship applications are due to GPEF no later than February 1. Paid summer internships allow students to get hands-on journalism experience to enforce materials taught in classes. Last summer 34 internships were awarded around the state. The internship program is designed for students interested in editorials, advertising (sales and design), circulation, photography, etc. GPEF will send all applications to newspapers that have been granted an internship. It will be the responsibility of the newspaper to hire the intern. Students may wish to contact their local newspaper in addition to sending in a GPEF application. Internships are available at GPA member newspapers only. We hope to have the interns and host newspapers finalized in early spring. Internship applications should be sent to GPEF by February 1. Please make any necessary photocopies of these materials to distribute to your students and encourage them to apply for these great opportunities. If you have any questions about internships or scholarships, please call Jennifer Farmer at (770) 454-6776 or e-mail JFarmer@gapress.org. Student editors Media Fusion: Page 3 Journalistic Progression have tough jobs in the 21st Century By James Swift By Michael Wilson Board member Board member firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com As more and more mainstream publishers The responsibilities of a student journalist can be elect to pursue online, electronic-only formats, taxing and unforgiving, especially for those brave souls many analysts and prognosticators have predicted who undertake the difficult task of editor. The position the ensuing “death” of print media to transpire of editor, no matter the section, has the keen possibility within a matter of decades. to drive any one mad, so it is a small miracle that any While there is certainly a palpable drop-off hard-working, under-slept under-feed college student can in current newspaper circulation (and by proxy, handle the eminent weight of being a newspaper editor. newspaper revenue), the prospect of technological The chief responsibility of each editor is to get advancement may not necessarily lead to the copy from writers and find a pretty place to put it on the demise of the form, but rather, galvanize it via page, it must also be error free and it usually takes place proper integration techniques. The term “media at the last possible moment before deadline. It is a little convergence” is very much a polarizing notion in comical that despite all of the time and word crunching the field of journalism, with many progressive sorts that the hard thing for most editors to do is simple talk to espousing it as the savior of the field and a strong their writer. faction of fervent traditionalists decrying the view Yes those terror-filled moments when an editor as buzzword drivel. Whilst a group consensus on has to ask a writer for their late copy or explain why her the subject will likely forever be unobtainable, the or she had to cut so much of the writer’s story, it is not notion that technological utilization is essential to wrong to feel that way, some writers can be mean, but it is the medium’s sustenance and growth is very much still an important part of the responsibilities. a collective industrial belief. So rather than living in fear for the rest your edited Two paradigm shifts are currently emerging life it might help to find a new and less nightmarish way to at this precise moment: One is in regards to how approach your otherwise harmless writers. news and information is received, and the other The method that seems to work the best is to take is in how news and information is collected. The a deep breath and say exactly what the writer needs to growth of Internet resources have dwarfed the hear. Sure telling the truth to writer may seem unnatural significance of print media, television, and radio but that is what they want from you. Instead of letting broadcasting due to the medium’s expedience and the writer believe that their article is well developed and inclination towards self-propelled initiative. In mistake free and having to fix it and rewrite yourself, let a field that cherishes both speediness and niche- the writer know what must be changed and let them do stratification, the elements of online-media are the work. absolutely tantalizing attributes. Thusly, the It is the difference between being a perpetual fixer methods by which news is collected has likewise and writing coach. If you can get your writer to see and transitioned into an industry that lauds the “One- understand his or her mistake then the chances are that Man-Band” entrepreneurial-journalist, as the they will not make them again. That sounds a lot better rapid influx of information has created a “super” than late night copy editing once a week. journalist that writes, records, films, mixes and Getting into the coaching mindset might be a little edits from a virtually itinerant position. easier read than done, but with a little understanding and For print journalism to thrive in a post- self control( don’t run away from the writer) the method Information Superhighway market, amalgamation just could become second nature. It works best to sit down with electronic media is a necessity. Cooperative a couple of times with a writer to build rapport and get to assimilation betwixt printed resources and online a place where you feel comfortable speaking the truth to formatting is already an increasingly important your temperamental writer, this will help create mutual mechanism for industrial survival, and while the relationship of teaching and learning between you. Stories continue on next page temptation to abandon the paper- format altogether is indelibly Page 4 Ree-shay-isms: A new journalist’s guide to journalism By Lauren Blais Board member firstname.lastname@example.org Being so new to journalism myself, I wasn’t sure what tips or advice I could share with you fellow GCPA members. My background is actually in video editing, but I was laid off the same week as the GCPA awards conference. On the positive side, I am now able to devote more time to my position as assistant editor of my school’s newspaper. I still have much to learn about news writing and journalism in general. There are a few tips I’ve carried over from my exprience working with video. They are called Ree-shay-isms. Named for my former video production teacher and mentor Dana Richier, these tips have helped me overcome my social fears, put together a story and stop being a perfectionist. One Act like you know what you’re doing. Sometimes your story leads you places the normal man or woman cannot go. There isn’t always time to go through the appropriate channels and get permission. When choosing between losing sight of your rabbit or chasing it down the hole, it is your responsibility as a journalist to follow that rabbit, even if there is a Do Not Enter sign. If you hold your head high, walk with confidence and appear terribly busy with your notepad, generally no one will bother you. You’d be surprised how obsessed people are about minding their own business. This doesn’t mean lying about your true intentions when asked; it just means having the confidence to get the job done. For example, standing on top of a conference table to get the perfect shot, or walking into a big office and requesting an interview with the person in charge. Two Tell it so that a deaf person can understand it. As a video editor I used this advice to make my shots logical and well-organized visually. As a newspaper editor I’ve come to see it from a broader perspective: make your story accessible. Present your story in a way that anyone can understand. With video there’s no need to impress your average viewer with an abstract, extreme close-up shot in high contrast of something they can’t even recognize. With words there’s no need to impress readers with flowery language or a large vocabulary. My next Ree-shay-ism deals with the end of the story-making process. For whatever reason, sometimes the elements of your story, photo or video don’t come together the way you want them to. The quote’s inaccurate. The picture’s blurry. There’s no sound. The topic’s no longer relevant. This may mean that your work is never printed or broadcasted. Or even worse, your boss decides to run it anyway, and you know it’s not as good as it could have been. This brings me to my final Ree-shay-ism: Just let it go. Your audience has no idea what they’re missing. Release it from your death grip of determined perfection. Move on. Because while you’re reviewing your notes for the hundredth time trying to find what that person really meant to say, or while you’re spending another hour in Photoshop trying to sharpen that picture without further destroying the quality, there’s other stuff happening out there. Your audience needs you to cover it. So grab your gear and get on it. Don’t let your story run away from you, don’t make it more complicated than it is, and don’t get hung up on perfection. Whether you carry a video camera, photo camera or pen and notepad, remember your objective: to tell the story. Follow it, tell it well and send it out to the world. The fact is that you know how to tempting, it could also provide an incursion of exposure write an article, how develop a story and how to markets that the printed form has long been unable to the AP style applies, and that knowledge is captivate. The cross pollination of the two could also lead to something that can greatly benefit your writer. a merger that benefits both objective and subjective elements They is now need to be afraid of sharing of the medium, via heightened focus on the prospect of your experiences and skills with the writer, individual assertion. Though it may seem unlikely at the especially if it helps them turn in better copy. concurrent, there may come a time relatively shortly in which So take a deep breath and try showing Pulitzer Prize winners transmit solely via Twitter and the next those fire-breathing writers what it really Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn broadcasts through a Youtube screen. means to have a quality editor and a good For the form to survive, print media has to be reminded writing coach. that it was the first truly interactive medium. Page 5 Journalists’s purpose is to report, not get too involved By Chris Buchanan Board member email@example.com In the course of any journalist’s career, there’s bound to be several cases of controversy that cross his desk. These situations can translate into great clips for college journalists and memories for anyone in the field. They can also be career-enders if not covered correctly, however. The trick to covering controversy is not becoming part of it. Sounds simple right? If it is, you’re one of the lucky few and I envy you for your talent. For most of us, this can been incredibly difficult. After all, if something’s controversial, there’s often a lot of emotion involved and it’s hard not to be pulled to one side when someone is tearing up during the interview. Basically, people don’t take up “arms” against each other without some heartfelt reason. The problem is, once you take a side, you’ve allowed yourself to become part of the story. When this happens you stand a good chance of losing your credibility and may lose your source on the other side of the argument. At that point, I’d say good luck to you in your journalistic endeavors - at least for that story. We as journalists need to remember that when covering a story we are there for the purpose of telling a story and letting the people decide. Once we decide for them, it’s not really journalism anymore. When I first covered a controversial subject, I was quickly pulled in and found out the hard way that it’s difficult to remain objective at this point. More recently, I’ve run into an even bigger story and almost in knee-jerk fashion, took the opposite approach. This brings me to my next point. Being objective doesn’t mean being a fly on the wall. Sometimes doing this can easily lead to yet another problem - not being thorough. Even if trying to remain objective, if you accidentally don’t tell the whole story, you’ve lost credibility. You’ve got to get out and interview people involved in a controversy if at all possible. While getting the “debate” leaders is a good start, don’t stop there. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s rare to find a group of people that believes the exact same thing, even if they protest under the same banner. Sometimes the only way to hear the other sides and factions is to interview the little guy in the middle of the crowd. Just remember that when you’re getting quotes, you’re not doing it to meet a quota, you’re doing it to tell a more thorough story. Also, don’t forget that sometimes the loudest voice isn’t always the majority. Sometimes when covering controversy, you can easily fall into this trap by assuming that because everyone around you is of one belief, it must be pretty much the standard. Even if that is true, it’s your job to only represent the side and not give it a soap box. Both sides deserve a chance to have their voice heard whether or not they decide to actually use it. As print and web journalists, we should see ourselves as bastions of accuracy in a very opinionated world. As such, we have a huge responsibility to remain objective even when the situations we cover strive to tear us away from that goal. In this way, we still separate ourselves greatly from our competition in other mediums. Page 6 Newspapers aren’t dead, they just need to adapt By Matt Mauney Board member firstname.lastname@example.org The once thriving newspaper business is now dwindling, with many papers, both large and small markets, cutting back on publication days or simply vanishing completely from existence. With this has come the boom of the internet as one of the leading media outlets for the majority of Americans. More and more Americans are turning to the web for their news each and everyday, and with this the print industry is hurting. Some papers have cut publications days in half, while some, have turned exclusively to the internet. It makes sense, really. Why should people pay for subscriptions when the web is free, often times available for use in schools and places of business with wi-fi access? Also, it is much easier to get information. After all, the whole purpose of journalism is to get information out as quickly and as up to date as possible, and what better way to do that than to utilize the internet? This media convergence does not have to be the end of the newspaper business however. The print industry will just simply have to find a way to adapt in this high-tech world. This is not the first time that a major industry has gone through hardships. The print industry will just have to make the proper adjustments to stabilize revenues and readerships. If this means to cut back on the publication days and to move more digital, than so be it. The thing to remember here is that although print journalism is far from its prime, it is not dead. And more importantly, neither is journalism. The media has and always will be an essential part of our society. So are newspapers in danger of extinction, possibly? Only time will tell. But journalists of all ages, especially college journalists of today, are the future of the business. They must learn the skills of the old (the print industry) and the new art of online journalism, and find a way to incorporate the two. If this happens, the industry will not come to the end, it will only be revolutionized and revamped for the future. The 2009 - 2010 GCPA student board of directors are ... Charles Minshew Caitlin O’Dell Ashley McIntyre Will Floyd President Vice President Secretary Treasurer Chris Buchanan Matt Mauney Michael Wilson Lauren Blais James Swift Board Member Board Member Board Member Board Member Board Member