Sensible Reporting

“Report in all of your senses” is one of the most important quotes I’ve heard from Prof. Olmsted during Bootcamp. These past three weeks have provided myriad advice, but when it comes to basics, using my five senses seems like the best thing to remember, because it’s applicable to all forms of reporting. With print, for example, I’m always more captivated by detailed descriptions that set the scene or establish a character. With audio, actually taking time to listen to surroundings is crucial to getting the best ambient sound clips (“actualities”), and with video good listening and watching skills make all the difference as far as reading and setting the scene to tell the appropriate story. I guess that advice can even be extended to include the editing process, but it really matters during the actual, initial reporting. Now, with Bootcamp coming to a close, it seems all that we’ve heard revolves around the idea of reporting with all of our senses – even perhaps a sixth sense, when it comes to ethics.

Here’s a brief recap of some Bootcamp highlights:

Mon. July 27: Intro to our program, with Professors Jill Olmsted and David Johnson

Wed. July 29: Web media basics with Professor Amy Eisman: “The New World” media landscape will change by the time we leave because readers are “task-oriented” online; and interviewing techniques with Professor Angie Chuang: Harness anxiety and know the environment & type of interview ahead of time.

Thur. July 30: Ethics and law with Chief Ethics Officer, Barbara Wall (Gannett): Name sources, protect sources (don’t report rumors), offer balance, avoid conflict of interest, keep good/up-to-date records.

Fri. July 31: Field trip!

Politico: The relatively new organization is successful because it filled a market niche (for political junkies) by appealing to a largely internet-audience base, via content
and multimedia (according to David Mark, senior editor)

AP: Every day, half of the world’s population hears or sees AP news products (Jeff Parsons, Dir. of Operations for Online Video), and it’s increasingly important for new
reporters to learn a variety of platforms to be competitive in the market (Ed Tobias, manager of business continuity and disaster planning)

Mon. Aug. 3: Search Engine Optimization and Online social networking tools with Josh Hatch (Multimedia producer for USA Today): Key words in headlines and tags are critical to our blogs, and “Google’s pretty much hired all the brilliant people in the world”; photojournalism basics with Laura Pohl: Humans are repetitive, so patience is imperative; but, learn from mistakes and missed opportunities; and guest speaker Rachel Wulff (New Orleans-based news anchor): In this business, survival is based on 50% what you know and 50% who you know, so “keep networking because the higher up you go…you’re working with some of the best [journalists] in the country.”

Tue. Aug. 4: Guest speaker Charles “Chuck” Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity: As journalists, we are “part of something that’s thrilling…it’s not as bleak as it looks.” Lewis also drafted the declaration for the new non-profit Investigative News Network. As to the changing dynamics surrounding investigative journalism, Lewis said “for the first time in my lifetime, journalists are trying to control their own fate…what a refreshing change.”

Wed. Aug. 5: Audio exercises with Deborah Bolling, who says that “eavesdropping is super fun,” and we should practice doing it, because it’ll help with our own recognition of various audio environments.

Mon. Aug. 10: Rob Roberts, from USA Today, gave a general overview of mobile video journalism, and provided us with five general rules: 1. Video isn’t that hard; 2. Video is time-consuming; 3. Skills required for video are the same required for journalism; 4. Know the audience and medium; 5. It’s all about the story.

Wed. Aug. 12: Skype interview with Susan Zirinsky, Executive Producer for CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery  and special projects, like the network’s Remembering Walter Cronkite. Her statements were very encouraging: “You’re never gonna be ready for anything,” and “Americans care less about foreign news than foreigners care about American news,” because the American psyche suffers from tunnel vision. Actually, her attitude was very refreshing and encouraging, and her statements almost always (when taken in context) were meant to encourage us. For instance, after telling us we’ll never be ready for anything, she explained that we need to focus on learning on the job, and not be afraid of new opportunities.

We were definitely inundated with opinions and advice the past three weeks, and those are just some of my favorites. Each speaker was compelling in their own way, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear from such a variety of professionals (and some big-namers), who have each had very different experiences thoughout their careers. Now I’m looking forward to developing my own stories and witicisms about the business.

One comment

  1. Tamara,

    Congrats on wrapping up boot camp and on the fine blog. You should be proud of your work and I hope you’re excited about trying more of this stuff in the future. It’s been a pleasure spending the last couple weeks with you and your colleagues. Good luck in the rest of your program and please stay in touch.


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