News and Views

KERA Shares Debate Guidelines

Jul 10, 2012

Following are debate guidelines KERA has adopted with the advice of attorneys. We use numerous criteria in addition to polls when determining which candidates will be invited to our debates, and we give ourselves ample opportunity to apply discretion.  We evaluate the candidates to determine if they have active campaigns that include staff; an attempt to raise money, and efforts to communicate with voters. 

Cheat Sheet: Developing Story Ideas

Jul 9, 2012

Even among reporters, there are sloppy note takers.  So, as a service to folks who attended the work session on "Developing Story Ideas" during the PRNDI Conference in Houston, here are the notes used by presenters Erin Hennesey of KPLU and Kelly Griffin of Colorado Public Radio.  

News Maker as Recording Engineer

Jul 3, 2012

Rather than phone tape, news makers can now record themselves with an I-Phone and send good quality audio back to the reporter.  First, ask the interviewee if he or she has an iPhone. If so, ask if they can get to a landline which you record for backup. Then instruct the interviewee to open the voice memo app. A picture of a mic appears. The record button is on the left. A button on the right with three lines on it get to the recordings. 

Tell the interviewee to hold the phone 6 inches in front of his or her face with the screen at eye-level. This way they speak toward the actual microphone but not so close that they have popping "Ps."

Have them hit record, and ask to make sure the counter is going.

Arriving on-time for work.  Dressing in a professional manner.  Staying focused on the job.  These are all traits we expect from people who work in our newsrooms, and perhaps traits we expect most people to have learned somewhere along the way.  However, when you work in an environment where your staff may not only be new to a newsroom, but new to the workplace, you may have to spell out some ground rules. 

With as many as 15 students working in my newsroom at any given time, someone is bound to say they can’t cover an assignment because they have to study for an exam.  Or as the weather warms up, someone may show up to cover the mayor’s news conference wearing shorts and sandals. That’s when I refer them to the newsroom contract they signed when starting at WFUV.

Colorado Public  Radio  Assistant News Director Judith Smelser's new blog Scribbles and Scruples:

There’s an interesting piece on the Poynter website today called How to pitch (stories) like a girl.  Author Jillian Keenan is bemoaning a report from a group called the OpEd project, which tracks gender representation in print editorials.  Not surprisingly, women wrote only 20% of Op-Eds in traditional papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post during the group’s 2011 survey period.  Women were more active in so-called “new media” outlets, like the Huffington Post and Salon – but they still authored just 38% of Op-Eds in those outlets.

This prompted a discussion of the persistent male dominance in print bylines overall.  Keenan reports on a packed event held in Brooklyn last night that addressed the issue and posed a fairly obvious remedy – female journalists need to pitch more stories.  She says the panelists – editors and freelance writers – talked about how women are more likely to view a rejected pitch as a personal rejection and be discouraged from pitching the same editor again, whereas men often take that same pitch rejection as a challenge and respond with a slew of new pitches.

How WUSF Tries to Avoid, Correct Errors

Jun 11, 2012

In light of my conversation this week about errors and corrections with Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, I thought it would be good to let our audience see how we deal with errors in our stories. Here's our current policy. It is always a work in progress. Please let us know what you think in our comments section:

WUSF Public Media strives to provide timely, accurate and fair information to our audience every day. They demand that we “get it right” the first time – and in those cases when we don’t, we promise to be as transparent as possible in fixing the error.

First, we should make every effort to prevent errors. The main person responsible for preventing errors is the journalist who is writing and producing the story.

Creatively Compensating a Collaboration

Jun 8, 2012
Charles Compton

In a recent collaboration between Louisville Public Media, public radio’s Innovation Trail and WEKU, three-fifths of the stories were done by freelancers.  The series examined the impacts of technological advances on the horse racing industry, and was shared, at no cost, with public radio stations in eight states.  Eventually, portions of the series were also picked by “Here and Now,” WNYC and NPR.  As a journalistic collaboration, it was great success, but, was it a success for our freelancers?

All three are dedicated journalists who are pleased their stories reached a wide audience.  They are also people who need to eat.  Each was paid a standard fee by WEKU and they were free to sell their content to other buyers.  However, one could argue they had undercut themselves.  Why should a news director buy a cow when she can get the milk for free?

What separates a classroom from a newsroom?  I argue not much.  Like a teacher, newsroom managers have to inspire, encourage, and educate the people they work with every day.  With that in mind, here is the first of what I hope to be a regular installment in a Newsroom as Classroom series.

Teaching is ingrained in the culture of my newsroom.  I’m the ND of WFUV FM, an NPR affiliate station, based on the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University in the Bronx.  We’re only a two-person full-time news department.  It’s me and my assistant ND, Robin Shannon.  But, we’re a large department when you count up our student staffing.  We have as many as 15 students who work in our newsroom at any given time.  They serve as anchors, reporters, writers and producers.

A Well-Mannered Reporter's Secret Weapon

May 31, 2012

I have a reporter in my newsroom who thanked me yesterday for her new “secret weapon.” I gave her a simple tool that takes very little of her time, and has resulted in high level sources calling her back quickly, public relations people smoothing the way instead of blocking it, and people who don’t frequently listen to our station still remembering her name.

She is so impressed with the difference it’s making in her reporting that she may very well be angry if she discovers I’m revealing it here. She believes it gives her an edge over the other reporters on her beat. 

What is this trick that melts the hearts of the coldest CEO, and gets busy PR people to move your name to the top of their “call back” list?

The hand-written thank you note.

Funding and Firewalls

May 17, 2012

One of the most popular requests for help on Newslink and PRNDI’s Facebook page recently has been in the area of Funders and Firewalls. People want to know how to fund their shows and positions without creating a conflict of interest.

Pages