By Alex Hager
After a jam-packed weekend, the ENN team is safely back on campus, and I have a moment to look back on an eventful ACP 2016.
Overall, I have very positive reviews of the ACP conference. I was busy all day, and I really felt like I got a lot of value out of the sessions. While some of the sessions were a bit of a miss, other speakers delivered information that can tangibly help my efforts as a journalist and can help improve ENN through my contributions.
For example, the talk with Charlie Weaver from Oregon’s Daily Emerald helped me understand how to reach new audiences through entertaining content, without letting that content interfere with the publication’s hard-news journalism.
Some of the sessions were niche and skill-based, but others, like the panel with writers from ESPN’s “The Undefeated” were a fantastic opportunity just to hear different perspectives from people in the business.
And, of course, the keynotes were a highlight. Hearing from Bob Woodward and Edward Snowden was an absolute treat, and they provided legitimately helpful tips to young journalists.
Although I had less opportunities to network with student journalism peers than I had hoped, I still talked to a number of other journalists from all across the country, and comparing our news outlets’ styles and habits really helped me get some perspective.
By Alex Hager
Midday on Saturday, I attended the standing-room-only keynote talk with Edward Snowden. Joining us via video link, Snowden talked about his involvement with journalists and their role in his infamous reveal of classified NSA information.
Snowden talked about the value of journalists in many different respects. He described how he reached out to specific reporters who he knew he could trust to accurately and responsibly interpret, manage, and disseminate the information he had.
I thought Snowden was incredibly articulate, and his appearance brought a lot of value to the conference. As journalists, especially at a journalism-focused event, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in our own work, focusing on the storytelling, phrasing and distribution. And this can turn into a dangerous mindset that prevents us from remembering to think beyond our own story and remember the real-world context and implications of the story we’re covering, and most importantly, the impact our reporting can have outside of our own lives.
After handing his information off to journalists, Snowden watch that story unfold, and now that he’s put some time between today and his initial leak, he was able to describe the story from a perspective that considered all of the implications.
By Alex Hager
Saturday morning, I attended talk on digital advertising with Mollie Pointer of The Hill. As a student of journalism, I have recently taken interest in the advertising world, as advertising accounts for a large portion of the industry’s revenue. Although the nature of advertising’s involvement in journalism is changing, it still plays an important role in the business side of many publications.
Pointer, who also spent time working in Atlantic Media’s advertising department, shared facts and statistics about the nature of web ads and their engagement. As tastes change and adblock becomes more and more prominent, the outlook for the relevancy of advertising is fairly dismal.
I asked Pointer what a journalist, like myself, should know about advertising within the media industry, while still working as a reporter. She said that many people are ingrained in the long help principle of keeping the newsroom and the publication’s business department strictly separate, but by cooperating, the two can create a strategy that includes better, more relevant ads.
It was really cool to hear from Edward Snowden when ACP Skype him in for a keynote speech. He obviously couldn’t tell us where he was, but he spoke for about an hour and had some interesting points. His main theme was that journalist have the power and awesome responsibility to hold the government accountable when needed. Woodward touched on this when he spoke at Elon, so these two speaking so close to each other was complementary. One quote Snowden said that was interesting to me was
“When there are people who see you are investigating the story, there might be someone who agrees with what you are saying and will reach out and help you”
People love to see reporters investigating and will normally help out if needed. Deep Throat was a good example in Watergate. This is applicable to ENN because if we show that we genuinely want to report the truth, the community will more likely than not try to help us out.
By far the best session I went to in the convention was “Rule with an iron fist but wear a velvet glove.” It basically talked about how to manage people on your staff properly and effectively. I also went to ESPN’s The Undefeated office after this session and talked to one of my mentors about this topic.What they both said is that everyone is different and that you have to tailor your treatment of someone to compliment your strengths. College media is supposed to be a building block for you to learn, to gain experience and to have fun— its not supposed to make you feel overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated. If you are continuing to feel that way, then something needs to change, whether that be letting go of someone who repeately slacks or changing an organizational issue. staggering and being stricter on deadlines will erase some headaches, and mentoring reporters on how to become better writers will make life easier in the long run for both writers and editors. listening to my mentor and going to this session was really eye-opening and I will definitely use these tactics in the future.
Listening to Bob Wood Woodward again was really exciting. During his convocation speech at Elon last month, he was sporadic and didn’t really get to his specific point until the end. His speech consisted of many anecdotes from he illustrious career. Bt at his keynote speech at the ACP conference, he was succinct and touch on points that were extremely relevant to aspiring journalists. Of course he talked about Watergate and his ordeals with the Nixon presidency, but the main essence of his speech was advice. He listed seven points that outlined his thoughts on what journalists should do. Two of them that stood out to me were “you have to show up,” and “don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” Showing up means that you have to be active in the community and be present. If you are active, people will take notice and you will also be more knowledgeable about the things you are reporting on. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes is self-explanatory, but one thing he also said in this point was to not be afraid to leave information out. When Woodward was writing “All the President’s Men,” he always fumbled around what to put in the book. If stories are complex enough, you’ll never be able to tell the full story, so it has to be the journalists’ job to shift through information and figure out what’s most important. All of the seven points are below.
- You’ve got to show u p
- Find something to do an in depth research project of some kind
- Check your sources and find second ones if needed
- Don’t succumb to authority, need a little spirit of defiance
- Read your stores out loud
- Find alternative ways to get people to talk. Talk yourself seriously and your source will as well. Show interest and they generally will respond.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes. You won’t be able to tell the full story, but tell as much as you can
One of the sessions that I went to on Friday talked about how to write better profile pieces. I went to this one because I haven’t written an in-depth feature on someone in a longtime, so it was nice to get a refresher before I did one again. The session was very interactive with the professor and the students asking each other questions. Some of the main points that I took away from the session were that if you didn’t make anyone mad with your profile, you didn’t go deep enough and that one of the best questions to ask someone in a profile interview is “when is the last time you cried.” Overall, it was a great session, I learned a lot and I’m glad I went.