3 tips from 3 women journalists

By Mackenzie Wilkes

1. Elisabeth Bumiller— NYT Washington Bureau Chief

“If you want the job put your hand up.”

Bumiller recounted her journalism career from working for the “Style” section of the Washington Post to becoming the Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Bumiller described her job transition at the Times being kick started by putting her hand up. Her ambition, enthusiasm and hard work has lead to her career advancements.

2.Nina Totenberg— NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent

In her keynote Totenberg highlighted that NPR hired so many women including herself because they “paid so little.” She gave the advice to women in journalism to “choose your battles carefully.” Totenberg suggested that a lot unnecessary battles came from anger and that she was angrier when she was younger.

3. Abby Phillip— CNN White House Correspondent

Phillip said that the work of journalists— which she calls a public service— isn’t without its challenges, but she offered advice to journalists of color to “keep going.” She suggested that journalists of color continue doing the things that matter in order for them to continue doing the work they do even if they’re the only person of color in their newsroom.

Type is not my enemy

By Ted Thomas

Typography is one of the biggest tools that a designer has in their toolkit and I have always hated it. While I knew how essential type was to elevating my designs I was always put off by fonts. The fact is that there was, and still is, simply too many choices makes typography something I have never wanted to touch. Now, I am definitely still intimated by the sheer volume of font families, but this year at Elon and this session have helped me understand and appreciate fonts in new way.

The first key to unlocking fonts that I found was to understand the vocabulary of the subject.

Serif vs Sans-Serif: The basis of all font families is whether or not it is a serif font or a sans-serif font. Serif fonts have the small “feet” or stylization on the ends of a letter. Sans-serif means that the font doesn’t have those “feet”. Sans translates from French to “without” so sans-serif literarily means “without serifs”. In the image above all of the type is of a serif font.

Baseline: The next most important part to understand is the baseline. The baseline is where most of the font sits. As long as the character doesn’t have a descender then nothing goes below the baseline.

Ascenders and Descenders: Speaking of a descender what is it? A desnder is the part of a character that goes below the base line. Characters such as g, j and q’s have descenders. Ascenders are the opposite of that. They are the parts of characters that extend above what is called the waistline or the x-height. Characters such as f, d and t’s have ascenders.

Leading: Leading is one of the many options that InDesign has to type designers work with the type. Leading changes the distances between two baselines. A rule of thumb for appropriate minimum leading to stop ascenders and descenders from overlapping is to have your leading be at least the point size of your type plus 2.

Kerning: Kerning the simply the space between any two characters. This is different then tracking which is the space between all of the characters selected. Kerning is important due to some fonts have weird spacing when different characters are put next to each other.

X-Height: X-height is the distance from the baseline to the waistline. It is the size of an x or any simple lowercase character that does not have any ascenders or descenders.

After going over vocabulary a few tips and tricks were shared.

Length of column: A column should never be more than a 60 characters. At that point it becomes hard for the reader to keep reading. The golden rule for figuring this out instead of counting the characters is that no column should be more than 2 times the point size of the font in picas.

Avoid bad breaks: Watch for random white spaces in your type such as bad justification, not enough space taken up by headlines and widows.

Contrast: Watch contrast with all type you use. Whether putting type on an image or using type as its own graphic it is important to watch the contrast and legibility of the type.

Avoid all caps: In general, it is best to avoid all caps. All caps is difficult to read. Uppercase with lowercase is the easiest thing to read across a page. Uppercase should be used to bring attention to certain type and shouldn’t be used for anything that goes on for too long.

Sports and Social: The Perfect Pairing

By: Elon News Network Sports Director Alex Reynolds | @Reynolds14__

I love sports. I love covering sports. My twitter is listed right here ^^. It’s here not because I’m keen on shameless self promotion but because I believe in the power of social media to connect our work to a wider audience.

The sports session I wanted to go to today got pushed (more on that tomorrow) so I was left wandering around looking for a replacement. And lo and behold I stumble upon “Sports Broadcasting and Social Media: Building an Audience.” A out-of-nowhere encounter that seemed too good to be true and simultaneously meant to be. Like the inciting incident of a B+ romcom.

Anyway I’m done beating around the bush let me tell you what I learned.

The session was headed up by Carson Cornelius, the director of student broadcast media at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Cornelius used WMUA (Amherst sports broadcast) as a case study. In early 2018 WMUA was struggling to find engagement on social media. They operated on twitter and most of their posts were just text updates of games.

The turning point for the organization came when WMUA shifted to a more multimedia heavy social media plan. This came in the form of 1-2.5 minute videos, utilizing established hashtags, asking for prominent alums to share their posts and tagging players and coaches. The result was a steep increase in engagement metrics (impressions, profile visits and mentions) and followers.

This was all well and good but I wanted to know what could help my social media baby, @SportsENN (again not into self promotion). We live tweet games and mix videos and graphics among detailed text. Cornelius said that live tweeting should be used in moderation. Play by play or even score by score updates aren’t necessary because there’s no need to compete with Athletics or ESPN on that.

Cornelius also said that we underuse hashtags. Hashtags can be an effective way to reach audiences and get them to interact with the content. He said that it is best to use established hashtags like those made by the University but you have to walk a fine line when using them.

Finally Cornelius said that when faced with competition (Athletics, other student media, professional media) you have to distinguish yourself. In the case of Athletics the best way to do this is to get critical, something that the athletic department won’t do.

How to make your website better

By Mackenzie Wilkes

My lovely colleagues and I sat down with a professional and had the website (elonnewsnetwork.com) critiqued. Critiques are always welcomed because it helps a reporter/organization improve and advance their goal of serving their audience.

Toni Albertson who critiqued the website said that our main page seemed as though it was a newspaper just published online. I know what you might be thinking— don’t y’all have a newspaper? and don’t y’all post your stories from the paper online? Yes and yes.

While Elon News Network is comprised of a paper, two broadcast shows and yes a podcast, there’s also a website.

We have all of these unique platforms and the luxury of being converged is that we can work together to produce stories in a variety of way, but again these platforms are unique and should showcase unique stories and visuals. The Pendulum has its own unique style and sections, Elon Local News and ELN Morning has its own graphics and style, hell even the podcast has its own style so I think the website should as well.

I say “web first” and “digital first” a lot because that’s the future of the industry and we should be telling stories with the website in mind.

11 Tips to Better Your Sports Photography

By: Alex Reynolds | @Reynolds14__

Sam Oldenburg, a media advisor at Western Kentucky University, delivered a master class on how to craft a session for millennials. His presentation, “Sports Photography Tips,” was simple yet in depth. It was technical and elementary. It compressed sports photography into 11 easily digestible steps. And the kicker, all 10 steps start with “get.” Creative and memorable. Let’s get into it:

  1. Get Composed

The word “composed” has two meanings here. It refers to composition and planning your shot ahead of time. It also encourages the photographer to compose themselves. Take a deep breath and analyze the situation you are in.

2. Get Exposed

A step that all photographers know well, setting your exposure. In sports your shutter speed has to stay high in order to freeze a moment in place. Oldenburg suggests a shutter speed of at least 1/250 of a second. From there ISO and Aperture should be adjusted in order to get proper exposure.

3. Get Close

The closer you are to the athlete or thing that you are shooting in sports the better. A close shot can show emotions that a wider shot just can’t deliver. These shots help tell your story. There are three ways according to Oldenburg to achieve these tighter shots. Moving closer to the subject (feet), getting closer with your lease (zoom) and getting closer in editing (cropping).

4. Get Clean

“Cleaning up” an image to Oldenburg means reducing noise. Making sure an image is sharp and in focus is part of being clean. The other part is to simplify the image, making sure the image has a single clear focus and extra stuff is eliminated.

5. Get Low

Low angles are essential technique in a sports photographer’s repertoire. A low angle shooting up at an athlete makes them look larger than life. This is a very popular form of composition in sports photography. You can achieve this effect by kneeling, squating or even laying on your stomach. Just watch out for incoming athletes.

6. Get the Moment

Sports aren’t just about plays. They are about drama and passion and emotion. And so is sports photography. These moments of triumph or despair are just as important as a catch or a goal. Moments in sports are about action and reaction. The former is good but is captured all the time. The ladder is gold but is rarely done right. The key to it all is patience. Wait for that perfect moment and fire away.

7. Get in Position

Man has been playing sports since, well, the dawn of mankind. Therefore there are a lot of different sports and each of these sports are different. They require different lenses, extra precautions and most of all different positioning. The basic rule of thumb is to be on your team’s sideline and have your team coming towards you. And since all sports are different preparation is key. Getting to a game early and figuring out where you should or shouldn’t be could make or break your shoot.

8. Get Creative

All these rules that you’ve so graciously been reading through, yeah, they don’t matter. Well, they do, but they can all be sacrificed for something different. A close shot could easily be subbed for a cool wide shot that captures the whole environment. A high angle can give a unique birds eye view. Hell, even your shutter speed can be lowered to show speed or time elapsed. It’s all relative and it’s all up to you.

9. Get the Story

Regardless if you follow all the rules or break them you should be building too something. You should be telling a story of some sort. It doesn’t have to be super deep, it is sports after all. But the moments you capture should say something whether that’s elation, adversity or anything in-between. Shoot with a purpose.

10. Get Out

There’s only one way to get better at sports photography. Hint hint it’s the same three words that Nike parades around. Shia Labeouf also made it famous. The point is time on task is the key to success. Oldenburg suggests that sometimes its even better to get out of the pattern of traditional sports. Take pictures of Spikeball or Disc Golf or Quidditch. Doesn’t matter. Just do it.

11. Get Shooting

This one’s pretty self-explanatory don’t you think.

Mt. SAC, the underdogs in a media TurfWar

By: Alex Reynolds | @Reynolds14__

Local papers are dying. Lack of funding and failure to adapt to the digital landscape has left small publications in ruin. The question remains; when local news fails who takes its place? Who serves the community?

In Walnut, CA this role is taken up by the Community College student journalists at Mt. San Antonio College (SAC). In the surrounding communities of Mt. SAC local papers have failed to regularly cover city council meetings. Mt. SAC Student Media Advisor Toni Albertson said that when papers fall short college journalists can fill the gaps. And thus a media “TurfWar” between professionals and community collegiate began.

An advantage Mt. SAC has is their innovative leader. Before entering the world of student journalism, Albertson was the editor-in-chief of Music Confidential Magazine and a public relations specialist with Whisenhunt Public Relations. A background in magazines and PR gave Albertson a solid foundation in understanding audiences. This inspired her to evolve SAC media into a complete online entity.

The online and social media platform gives SAC media the ability to go where the audience is and in Albertsons words, “Do everything big.”

One of the front line soldiers for Mt. SAC is reporter Josh San. The Pacemaker nominee covers community issues in Walnut. San goes to just about ever city council meeting in the area and reports on legislation and the lawmakers passing it. San then uses his social media literacy to promote his stories on Facebook, a platform where city council coverage is welcomed with open arms. San says that many of his readers are 10 to 20 years his senior but they revere his work all the same.

Student journalists like San do professional and community serving while also balancing life as community college students. Albertson said that many Mt. SAC students commute to school, some even balance part-time jobs with their passion for journalism. This makes the fact that the students compete with professional journalist on a daily basis even more remarkable.

The team concluded with a tip on how gain legitimacy in a professional environment. The key they said is persistence. If you show up day in and day out eventually you will gain respect.

A sneak peak at management

By Maeve Ashbrook

This morning, I went to a session called “Managing Chaos.” I wantedto get a sneak peak on what it is like to run a student newsroom. I would love to move up the food chain, but it’s a scary thought. Will I be a good leader?

I serve as ENN’s New Member Coordinator, and while the position isn’t considered top management, I still oversee a large group of confused freshman who are going through adjusting to college. There’s a lot of chaos in their lives, and chaos is the definition of trying to recruit and retain them.

The session was taught by Mark Witherspoon of Iowa State University who introduced himself as “Spoon.” He’s been an adviser at Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and Iowa State. The midwestern vibes were so real.

Witherspoon said being a manager of a student newsroom is the greatest public service one can do. His philosophy on journalism is simple: being a journalist is a “life based on service to human beings.”

“Serve yourself so you can serve your staff so your staff can serve the community,” Witherspoon said. Witherspoon said that when one first becomes a leader of a newsroom there are only five seconds of excitement. After that, it is important to deal with your fears. He said to never run from the natural fears management brings.

If we run from our jobs, we’re not going to do our jobs. We’re bound to fail, and we HAVE to accept that.

I asked Witherspoon specifically to talk about the fear of not appealing to new members. That’s my job, appealing to new members. His advice was to always tell prospective students what the organization can give them. What does ENN have that is different from any other organization on campus?

He said to always make your staff aware of just how helpful student media can be for your professional career. Organizations teach us two things: how to gather information and how to put that information into a story.

As New Member Coordinator, I know I can offer them more than the opportunity to be a student journalist. They will find a group of friends, place to learn life lessons, and even a press pass if you finish my checksheet. When I administer class visits next semester, I will make sure to pass this information along to my fellow ENN-ers.

I don’t think I left the session knowing what it would be like to be a manager, but I did get lots of tips on how to survive the fears that come along with the job. Even if you’re not a manager, this is good advice to take.

Here are a few more words of advice Witherspoon told us:

  • Understand that fear is good, it motivates us to be better
  • Never stop training your staff
  • Always talk to people outside the newsroom about your content
  • Nothing is personal, learn how to handle criticism
  • It’s important to know what you don’t know
  • Don’t let your ego outrun your talent, that’s when you stop learning