Tips for Contemporary Journalists from Experienced Writer

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You've heard the words, "Anyone can be a reporter nowadays." You've heard talk that the internet is changing journalism and the definition of a journalist. However Carl Hiaasan, novelist and columnist at the Miami Herold says this must not change the way we approach journalism and reporting.

Hiaasan spoke about the issue on September 25th at Flagler College.

Hiaasan says that reporters today often tend to write a quick online version of a story rather than taking the time to check facts, and this is dangerous behavior.

Another change he's noticed in journalism is that employers are hiring more writers with English backgrounds and creative concentrations, when they used to steer away from this and go only for those with writing background in law, history, etc. This shows that journalism is becoming more diversified.

Hiassan urges journalists to keep working and reporting with accuracy. "We've never needed good journalists more than we need them now", he said in a recent article.

Explaining that journalism is all about discipline, Hiassan says journalists not only need to have talent but they need to know how to discipline themselves and meet deadlines. They also need to learn how to constantly listen to what people are saying.

Hiassan thinks that most importantly journalists need to be committed and dedicated with many open ideas to make it in the competitive media job market now.

As a student majoring in journalism, Hiassan thoughts are very helpful. Journalism is becoming more contemporary now, but it's important to remember that people still want traditional liability. It's also important to remember to approach the changes and advances in journalism with open eyes and open minds, and be constantly ready to adjust.


President Obama Holds Phone Conference with Journalism Students

President Barack Obama takes time out of his busy schedule to conference call select universities to answer journalism students' questions.

I am proud to have a president that will take time away from running our country to talk to college students. It reinsures his statements about believing in and supporting a brighter future.

Obama answered questions such as the Affordable Care Act enabling the eligibility to stay on your parents' health plan until the age of 26.

As a young adult I know how hard it is to make a decedent wage with or without a college education. I wouldn't be able to afford health care if I wasn't on my parents' health plan. Health care is very important not only for the obvious health benefits but I wouldn't have been able to spend 12 months in Europe through my college if I couldn't afford health insurance.

The main point Obama made to the students was that his goal was to have more students complete college. He discussed his plans to raise the value of Pell Grants and triple the college tax investment for middle-class families.

As a senior in college I exceeded my loan and grant money and my parents had to take out a personal loan for me to complete my last year of college. Luckily my parents are very supportive of my education and signed a personal loan, under their names not mine, so I can have a degree.

If my parents hadn't helped me I would have been among the one-third of college students that do not finish. Something needs to change and I'm glad he is planning to make college more affordable.


Make Tweets More Like Headlines

Being a new tweeter myself I am still getting used to the in's and out's of what and how to say what you want in 140 characters.

One Twitter user offers some pretty good advice.

While you have 140 characters it doesn't necessarily mean you need to use each and every one of those to say as much as possible.

Instead of having diarrhea of the fingers you should try and make you tweets more like a headline.

You all remember back in the good old days when newspapers were still around when the headline was what captured a reader's attention.

Well, while we still have newspapers and more than enough online it seems people are forgetting that less is more. So get to the point people and save space for other things, such as hashtags or a link.

Here I will offer a few pointers from not only the article I read but also my Beginning Newswriting and Reporting Professor.

First off, always aim for the "active voice". Make your subject do something rather than have something happen to them. It's catchier but passive is sometimes acceptable as well.

Next, ditch the conjunctions and articles. You can simply replace conjunctions such as "&" with a comma. No one cares about, and really need the "the" to get the point across.

Abbreviate when possible, it save's time and space. The final piece of advice offered in the article is to not capitalize every single word in your headline.

So, take this advice everyone and make your tweets shorter, snappier and more like a headline.


iPhone Adds New Application

The iPhone is continuing to add new applications that will make life easier and more terminologically advanced. One of the latest applications is Sumazi In a nutshell this application can connect people in a single touch as the article's headline says.

Everyone always wants to connect with the top dog person to help them get the job opportunity. Or that one person that would be perfect to help with a project. The right person never seems to come to mind. Making a good connection with the right person can change your life forever. According to a study only about four meaningful connections happen each year.

LinkedIn has a similar application but no one uses the connection option because it does not always provide the best results. Which is what Sumazi is hoping to do the opposite of on the iPhone application. This application allows one person to instantly connect two people on their contacts list and then an explanation is provided as to why the two should be connected. Feedback is offered is people do not want to accept the connection.

The web application does the same thing providing possible connections for jobs or whatever it may be. The founder Sumaya Kazi is hoping to make in so human interaction is not necessary with the program. That way the application will just know who to suggest as a possible connection.

This will benefit a lot of people in whatever they may be looking for. Making good connections can change a person's life for the better because at times it's all about who you know.


Is Journalism Dangerous to Your Health?

How many of us want to travel (outside of our own state) to cover news stories? The chance to go to a different country would seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and many of us would probably jump at it. However, have we stopped to think of the consequences?

If you've looked at the news lately, you've probably noticed that reporters in Mexico are have been "disappearing" or are being murdered. This has been ongoing since 2006, when their new president came to office, Felipe Calderon. A South Carolina newspaper recently ran an article about how reporters in Mexico are being urged to use extra caution. What are they being murdered for?

Reporting on the drug trafficking problems. Since 2000, at least 65 reporters (in various fields) have been murdered, sometimes seemingly at random. This makes Mexico the deadliest country in the world for news people, according to a report from a Utah news station.

To us (or so I'm assuming), reporting on something such as drug trafficking doesn't seem like that big of an issue, but we are sitting a couple thousand miles away from the problem.

So why are journalists being killed for doing their jobs?

This is nothing new, and people have been persecuted over this for years. Do you remember Daniel Pearl who was beheaded over his investigation into Al-Qaeda a few years back? He had traveled to a war-torn country, tried to do his job, and was subsequently killed for doing so.

Would you be willing to travel to a foreign country, is you knew there was a chance you wouldn't be coming back? Do these kind of reports scare you, as a potential reporter, about what could happen? Or does it make you want it that much more? Just because the United States embraces journalists (for the most part), does not necessarily mean that the rest of the world does.


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