Hi, Koretzky

You can’t change people. Learn to work with them.

There’s no such thing as magic.

Sometimes things will suck — embrace it. Make the next one better.

Praise progress, not the process.

Don’t overshare. It’s unnecessary and no one cares.

Don’t be afraid to screw up. You’re learning.

Good advice. Pretty common advice, I think, but people need the occasional reminder. I received numerous reminders today during Editor-in-Grief 2: 10 Secrets of Very Sexy Editors today.

But what’s this? A list. You know what that means!

Yeah, yeah, yeah — I went to see the same presenter twice in a row. Koretzky is entertaining, and I have not had much luck when venturing beyond.

Koretzky revealed during one of this afternoon’s presentations that he reads our blog posts. A peek at previous posts’ comments sections revealed this to be true. One comment caught my eye: “I’ll make you a deal… Let me radically design the Pendulum on a Skype call with the staff, and I’ll mail you a couple cigars from Miami.”

Koretzky, deal.

Emmanuel asked Colin and Kelly if we could invite Koretzky to Elon to speak to our staff. Colin said we couldn’t afford it, but lucky for us, Skype is free! (Skype is not sponsoring this post.)

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— Meg Malone (mmalone9@elon.edu)

“Wait a second! That was hardly a thorough blog post, Meg.”

I know, hypothetical reader, but I learned one more lesson today: Keep secrets from your staff.



Back for more chicken salad

I couldn’t resist. This afternoon, I returned for another taste of chicken salad. Not literally (though I wouldn’t be opposed)!

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This was Chicken Salad 2: Radical Redesign taught by the ever-so-entertaining, Journoterrorist himself whose first presentation I enjoyed ever-so-much yesterday.

He kept with the chicken salad theme, so I shall keep with my list theme:

  1. Lists are your friend (I’m already taking this piece of advice).
  2. Don’t explain the process, explain the result.
  3. If you don’t know what something is, don’t publish it.
  4. There’s nothing more hypocritical than a thin-skinned journalist. (I’m bolding this one because I think it’s an issue we’re struggling with in our organization right now.)
  5. Boring information? Put it in a box.
  6. Write like you talk.
  7. Art should have a purpose.
  8. Don’t describe mundane things. In a world…. that’s just stupid.
  9. If you never learn anything else, learn this: Try. Fail. Try again, and fail better.

— Meg Malone

Workflow is important. Who knew?

Workflow is important. Who knew? I did. So, I think, did everybody else in the room.

Bright and early this morning I attended “Workflow like a News Pro.” I expected a presentation about organizational strategies, common mistakes to avoid and tips from an experienced pro.

The young presenter began with the right idea (grab their attention with a joke and prove to the audience you’re knowledgable), but the session went downhill from there.

He spent the next 20 minutes explaining why organized workflow is a key component of an efficient newsroom, and while that might be a good presentation for some rookie student journalists, this was a room filled with editors and advisors.

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Granted, he did tell us about his experiences with Google Sheets, and his examples did spark some ideas, but I expected to walk away with more after a 50-minute discussion.

I think this presentation (and presenter) has potential, but some refinement needs to happen first.

— Meg Malone


Borrow from a different pro, please

Allow me to begin by saying that the following is in no way a critique of the character of the kind gentleman who led this session.

The workshop’s description was intriguing: “Looking for ideas? How do you add some energy into your design format? How do you make a topic look different from year to year or issue to issue?” I thought, “Yes! I would love to know how to make our graduation edition sparkle year to year!”

Alas, after a morning of intriguing, engaging sessions, this one — “Borrowing from the Pros” — let me down. I hoped to walk away bursting with ideas, instead, I watched this sweet professor, obviously passionate about student media, flip through slip after slide of magazine spreads and front page designs he liked.

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They were nice designs, yes, but I could have looked at them on my own time. I wish he would have done more to involve the audience. He could have presented good and bad examples side by side and had the audience vote on which is which before revealing the answer OR presented the audience with some stories and asked a few people how they would illustrate them.

— Meg Malone

Editing your own work

Liam Collins

It’s no secret that you should edit your own work and should never rely on an editor to fix your mistakes (some outlets don’t have editors!). As a reporter, it’s easy to read over an article a few times, maybe find some spelling and grammar mistakes, and turn it in. But often, you can be stuck in your own head and not realizing that a mistake you made is a mistake! According to Gerri Berendzen, a journalism professor from the University of Kansas, if you find your “dinky errors,” then an editor can catch your bigger problems.

According to Berendzen, who is also an executive member of the American Copy Editors Society, or ACES, readers most often see misspelled names, misspelled common nouns, and incorrect verb agreement. Meaning, despite common belief among journalists, that AP Style mistake isn’t as huge as you think.  Not to say that AP style isn’t important. Because, as Berendzen explained, internal consistency is also really important among readers, and AP style can help you remain consistent.

Here are the ranked priorities of readers, according to Berendzen:

  1. Accuracy–>Fact checking
  2. Clarity–>Grammar & spelling, comprehensibility of information
  3. Headlines & display type–>Will sell your story
  4. Efficiency–>Flow
  5. Style–>Think about if the mistake or correction will matter to the reader before spending time correcting an error when a bigger error is present.

GREAT story telling

Liam Collins

FOX 4 News reporter Steve Noviello was the most charismatic speaker so far in the conference. In this session, he showed some of his work that told great stories about events that he was assigned to cover. Noviello said that every story follows the same format: good guy–>bad guy–>bad guy loses–>good guy wins.

This format was true of the package he showed us where a woman paid $800 for the first spot in from someone waiting to buy the new iPhone 4 (dated!). The woman planned on buying several iPhones and re-selling them on ebay. In the end, the woman got to the front of the line, and was only able to buy 1. Ironically, the boy who she bought the spot from was able to buy 2 because he had 2 other friends with him, but only 1 other one wanted to buy the phone. So he was able to buy 2 phones. In the end, the woman lost and the boy won and, essentially, got an iPhone for free!

Link to the video here.

Here are Noviello’s tips to great story telling:

-Find great characters.

-Report the story, don’t control the story–>Let the story happen. Mic up characters and let them go about their business. Use lav mics…not stick mics.

-Nat sound is your best friend. When you walk into a scene, the first thing you should do is close your eyes and listen for the sounds happening around you.

-If you want to make sure people are paying attention to a shot or a sound, give them no other option…Shoot tight, mic your nat sound.

-Always finish your though when storytelling–>Let your viewers know what happened…if you introduce someone, tell them how their story ends!

-Let people show you, and sometimes that means you have to ask a question twice.

Student media access at private universities

Liam Collins

In this session, we listened to a series of advisors tell stories about encounters they’ve had with access to information at their schools and how they’ve overcome them. Often, those solutions came through knowledge of student media rights and laws, and other times those solutions came through classic shoe leather reporting (one advisor told a story about how their paper did a story about how their athletic department was over-exaggerating how many tickets they were selling at basketball games, and they were refusing to tell the student media what their actual numbers were, so their reporters went to each basketball game and counted how many people were at the games).

When dealing with private institutions, a few things to remember is; who else besides the university can give you the information you need (is there a government agency that is required to give you that information?), if you’re in front of someone face-to-face they’re more likely to give you some type of information before you leave, and calling your representative can put pressure on the university (your representative will know whether the withholding of information is a valid use of privacy laws) — their reaction could be a story within itself.