By Lila Carney
Assistant Director, Student Media
I was a student again and it was wonderful!
Marcus Harun, Jamie Hill, adviser Lila Carney, Natalie Sgro, Amanda Carey and Rebecca Turco tried out some of the local fare in New Orleans.
In September, five students and I traveled to New Orleans for the Exellence In Journalism conference put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and Radio Television Digital News Association. I love being back in the classroom — on the student side — and it’s so rewarding to see Quinnipiac students just as excited and eager as I am to network and learn about the latest developments and topics in the world of journalism.
I also got to meet one of my reporting idols, Boyd Huppert from KARE 11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Students in my class tease me that I have a crush on him, but I truly think he is a storytelling genius. I already shared some of the lessons from his session with my Broadcast Writing class (JRN 263.)
After the conference was over, I asked my students to reflect on the experience and share what they found to be most memorable. Their thoughts on this great experience are below.
By Natalie Sgro ’12
Executive Producer, Q30 News
Natalie Sgro '12 speaks with KARE 11's Boyd Huppert about storytelling techniques.
There is one word to describe my experience at the Excellence in Journalism conference: Twitter. Twitter played a huge role throughout the conference in New Orleans. Up until recently, Twitter has been a hobby of mine, but I never thought it could turn into a full-time job.
Andy Carvin, National Public Radio’s senior strategist, changed that.
During his keynote, Carvin described his experience tweeting about the Arab Spring and how he created an elaborate network of sources across Middle East.
Through his connections, Carvin could see in real-time how the events in Tahrir Square unfolded. He could also turn to his followers when he had questions. At one point, Carvin used his network of followers to uncover a hoax. According to Carvin, “People who follow you on Twitter are your most important assets. You’re cultivating sources and you’re forming relationships with them.” Carvin managed to get exclusive information and report on what was happening in the Middle East without ever stepping foot outside his office. Although he does not consider himself a journalist, Carvin certainly revolutionized the profession. I doubt I will ever reach his record of 1,400 tweets in one day, but I will definitely take Twitter more seriously.
Although I was extremely focused during my sessions at the Excellence in Journalism conference, it was nearly impossible not to be completely star-struck.
Lara Logan and Linda Ellerbee, two extremely talented women in news, were a few feet away from me when they delivered their honorary speeches. The former, I admire for her amazing courage and reporting on CBS, and the latter I grew up watching on Nickelodeon.
Needless to say, I was in journalism heaven. Surprisingly, these weren’t the only famous faces at the conference. CBS News president Jeff Fager and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien both gave keynotes followed by Q&A sessions.
O’Brien actually took some additional time after her speech to speak one-on-one with students. Students, including myself, were able to ask her questions and just take some time to chat. Having the opportunity to interact with these prominent names in journalism and soak in their wisdom was simply irreplaceable. I was truly inspired by everyone at the conference. It was amazing to see students, faculty and professionals learning and growing together.
By Amanda Carey ’12
President, Society of Professional Journalists – Quinnipiac Chapter
Amanda Carey '12 votes on behalf of the Quinnipiac chapter in the SPJ national meeting.
In September, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists/Radio Television Digital News Association’s “Excellence in Journalism” conference.
I had a very rewarding experience. I was immersed in journalism and loved it.
We got to see big name journalists speak such as Soledad O’Brien, Lara Logan, Jeff Fager, Linda Ellerbee and Andy Carvin.
As students, we also got an exclusive session with O’Brien in the presidential suite at the Sheraton. She offered advice to aspiring journalists such as seizing every opportunity while giving it 150 percent and to keep your mind open to anything.
Each of these journalists shared their stories honestly and discussed the industry; they were very inspiring and motivating.
In addition to the speakers I also got the opportunity to attend sessions discussing different topics such as writing online, the 10 commandments of video, social media and making your personal brand. Each session was very informative and gave me information I can use in my future journalism endeavors.
During the “Excellence in Journalism” conference, in addition to the speakers and individual sessions, I also got to experience sessions as a student leader. On the second day of the conference, I attended a campus leaders session. I discussed programming, recruitment, developing future leaders, etc. I made connections with other SPJ chapters and brought away great ideas for this upcoming year.
I also got to attend the SPJ closing business meeting. All representatives from all national chapters in attendance voted on SPJ board members and resolutions. I had one vote representing Quinnipiac University. We voted on resolutions such as condemning the use of illegal alien and illegal immigrant in news stories and reinstating the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement award. It was an interesting process and I enjoyed attending the meeting as well as being able to give our student chapter a voice.
By Jamie Hill ’12
Copy Desk Chief, The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Jamie Hill '12 waits to ask NPR's Andy Carvin about his use of social media.
While at the Excellence in Journalism conference, I attended a session put on by Lane DeGregory, a features writer for the St. Petersburg Times. There are two things I loved about the session: First, DeGregory provided handouts, and I love handouts. Second, she was a dynamic, personable ball of energy who seemed to absolutely love her job. Her handouts included the title of her workshop session, “20 tips your editor won’t tell you,” which would have been more appropriately labeled “20 ways to find a diamond among coal.”
DeGregory had an entertaining anecdote to accompany each “tip.” She got so carried away that she was only able to get through half of the 20 tips that she had on her list. That was fine though, because the real quality information I gained came from her stories.
Hopefully, she will be a speaker at a future SPJ conference, because she put on one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen (in class or at a conference.)
By Rebecca Turco, ’12
Associate Producer, Q30 News
Natalie Sgro, CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Marcus Harun, Amanda Carey and Rebecca Turco chatted after O'Brien's presentation on her latest work at CNN.
Who would have thought that a professional conference would have classes about Facebook and Twitter – that’s a college student’s dream!
These platforms were emphasized at SPJ/RTDNA’s Excellence in Journalism Conference for their journalistic capabilities. Social media at its core is about connecting with one another, which is exactly the goal of most news outlets.
With Facebook, I learned that posts should be “media-rich” to attract the viewer. With Twitter, asking for re-tweets and using hashtags, when appropriate, helps make your tweets reach more people.
These social media outlets can be used to grab people from the outside-in. After the Libyan and Egyptian uprisings, it has become clear the impact social media can have, and as journalists we must grab onto this to get the most out of our reporting.
I attended a session taught by Victoria Lim called “Creating Multi-platform Reporting.” This type of reporting duplicates stories across media platforms in order to reach the most people.
Lim explained that multimedia reporting has the same key information across all platforms, but that each must contain different additional information to bring the story further. This way, the strengths of each platform can be emphasized and new information can still be discovered for those who wish to read the newspaper, watch the news and read and watch on the Internet.
By its nature, multi-platform reporting leads to cross promotion, which increases viewership, readership and online hits. One reporter could be covering for a local newspaper, a local news station and both of those websites. As a result, multiple deadlines have to be balanced, which can make this type of reporting difficult.
By Marcus Harun ’14
Web Developer, The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Jamie Hill, Natalie Sgro, Amanda Carey, Rebecca Turco and Marcus Harun attended the Excellence In Journalism conference in New Orleans.
One of my favorite sessions of the Excellence In Journalism conference was about Facebook.
Not surprising since I am a teenager, I know – but I actually learned a lot about extremely useful features of the platform for journalists. I am very excited to begin implementing them in my reporting.
Vadim Lavrusik, journalist program manager at Facebook, explained how we could make best use of the Facebook journalism program to connect with viewers and sources.
The new “subscribe” feature will solve many of the problems that journalists have with balancing a personal and professional image on Facebook.
Lavrusik said journalists should permit the public to “subscribe” to them instead of “friending them” so all public status updates and information will be shared with subscribers while their “friends” can have access to all personal and professional posts.
Journalists can use Facebook.com/search to search for people they need to contact, find sources based on interest or location, or see what is trending by searching public posts.
Lavrusik also described that while working for his college paper, he was able to get an exclusive interview with a woman in a high profile case because he reached out to her via Facebook (since she was able to see him as a person via his profile), while other media harassed her by phone and outside her home.
SPJ/RTDNA’s Excellence in Journalism conference was a chance like no other — so many professionals in the field I am striving to work with, all in one place. Over the four days in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to meet so many different people from all branches of journalism, both students and professionals in newspaper, television and online media.
The conference is one of the best networking opportunities a student journalist could ever want. I think this was very helpful in connecting graduating seniors with representatives from the media organizations which they hope to work for after college.
I was able to meet some amazing people, including representatives from Google and Facebook, and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager.
Questions I had always wondered about were answered by some of the smartest people in the business.
Above all, I learned that I need to get back on Twitter. Seeing all the student and pro journalists tweet all through presentations was astounding; not only is it the norm, but it is necessary! I gradually lost interest on Twitter, but since returning from the trip I am again an avid user of Twitter and I also know how to tweet the right way.