Journ Student Jess

Student journalist looking for feedback on assignments and journalism in general

Posts Tagged ‘technology

What’s Different (and the Same) from the Last Internship

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It seems a lot of people have appreciated my list of lessons from last week and it got me thinking about the things I learned last year, during my fall internship with MLive, and what I could be learning this summer. Although I am working in the same offices, with most of the same people, there are a few key differences between my internships that could change what kind of content I produce.

DIFFERENCES

  • Time of the year: The fall is usually pretty busy in regards to the news; elections, back-to-school and construction sites putting the last touches on brand-new buildings. Summers in Saginaw get a bit crazy; crime rate spikes are attributed to increased gang activity during warmer months so I am expecting to hear more gunshots and possibly report on shootings or injuries within the area.
  • Intern team: Last year, I worked with Emily Pfund and Josh Roesner on stories like Doomsday prophecies, the long-anticipated Twilight release and police beats. We had a lot of fun and I’m glad to say they have both moved on to adult jobs at their own chosen publications. I’m excited to get to know Darcie Moran from Michigan State University, the newest intern at The Saginaw News.
  • Experience: Although my first day was mostly spent getting back into the system and clearing out my overstuffed inbox, I was able to post and get back into the swing of things relatively quickly. Since I am familiar with the systems in place at the office, it helped streamline the process of making contacts and working on story projects with other reporters at the Saginaw News. 

SIMILARITIES

  • Same office: Even though I started my internship last year in the office of The Bay City Times, renovations were soon completed at Saginaw and we were able to see our beautiful new office in the downtown area’s Ippel Building. I know how to get there at least four different ways and it’s a central location. Great for meeting for interviews, catching up with coworkers or going out to eat for a break during the day.
  • Same editors: I am pretty fortunate to have the editors I work with on a daily basis. Since the beginning, they have supported me, encouraged me and nudged me in the right direction. Ever since I met my boss Rob Clark at the Michigan Press Association, he has given me chances to shine, improve my writing styles and helped me stand out  from a crowd of other interns. When this summer internship become available and someone was needed in a hurry, I was the first one called and I’m grateful to have that sort of influence.
  • Same purpose: Journalism is not a dying breed but it is definitely changing. But the one thing I like about this career is my motivation stays the same: Inform the public, educate the community and engage residents. My time at MLive has helped me help others and made me realize it is not just a reporter’s job I want, but the responsibilities of being a journalist. 

 

Thanks for hanging in while I reflect back and look forward to the future with my new internship. I was supposed to work a night shift today but got up early to shoot some pictures of local apple orchards for a story I wrote about the recent weather. The full article is available here if you would like to see the gallery and learn more about the predicted crop this year. Have a great day!

 

The First Five Days: Lessons from a Student Journalist

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Pictured is a juvenile male bald eagle, released back into the wild at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Pictured is a juvenile male bald eagle, released back into the wild at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting my first week back at the Saginaw News but after looking back on the assignments I covered, the content I produced over the last few days, I cannot be happier. I have been able to make some new goals for myself this summer as well as learn a few new things.

What better way to illustrate my first week than a list of those lessons? So here it is, five lessons from a student journalist, back in the newsroom at last!

  1.  Always say yes (unless you really have to say no): Editors will throw assignments at you left and right. It’s key to figure out which ones are priority and what can wait. I also like to try and cover things I have experience or connections with. My second day on the job involved covering school board elections; luckily, I had experience from the Bay County elections last year and was able to jump in and help another reporter out at the request of my editor.
  2. Never let a co-worker get you down: Somebody in the newsroom did not like my coverage of a protest and were pretty vocal about it, right in front of me. While I did make a case for myself and an editor stepped in to mediate, it was an important reminder that not everyone believes something is as newsworthy as you. Although you should be able to back up your reasoning, you also shouldn’t let it affect your work or mood for that day. Two days later, the co-workers and I were conversing normally, because at the office, grudges don’t last. Everyone has to work together and no one has time for that sort of thing.
  3. Go to lunch with your co-workers: This is not just good for morale, but could bring about new story ideas and connections. I received a few tips this week I passed along to other reporters, who were glad for the material. Relaxing over a meal and getting out from behind the desk often clears up your mind and makes brain-storming a lot easier. Take breaks! Take a quick walk around the block to go over a story project your group has been needing to start. Not only will you gain back some energy, but you will create more!
  4. Stay objective: This is an easy lesson to remember since it is one of the key part of the Society of Professional Journalist’s code of ethics. While covering the Dow Chemical Company’s Annual Stockholders Meeting, I was presented with a lot of information about all the good things the company is doing. Just outside the doors, there was a group of protesters with signs and details on the bad things Dow should be held responsible for. Both sides want publicity and they want good publicity; this is where two journalists, one for each, come in handy! Work together or equally with each side to make sure you are being fair and not going to make anyone mad. (For the full article about the protest, along with a picture gallery shot by yours truly, click the link here!)
  5. Be ready for any type of assignment, at any place, in any type of weather: It was Friday and I was really looking forward to the weekend and a bit of relaxation. As I was about to head out for lunch, my editor called with a surprise assignment… in an hour. When I found out what it was, I couldn’t pass it up and quickly drove to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to see something amazing. What wasn’t amazing was the weather: grey, cold and rainy. But seeing a male eagle released back into the wild is something rare and thrilling enough to forget the mud caking my boots and my hair whipping across my face, into my mouth and eyes. A key reminder for any journalists is to be prepared for anything; leave a pair of boots, a change of clothes and a warm, waterproof coat in the trunk of your car so you won’t get to miss seeing something like a wild animal taking off into the unknown and back to the habitat where it is supposed to be. To read the full article and see the amazing photos, click here!

I hope this advice has made sense! Feel free to comment or give me any feedback, whether on the article or if you have something you would like to add. Happy Mother’s Day to all and have a great weekend!

What I’ve learned about elections, so far at least

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It was a long second day at the Saginaw News. I was supposed to work a night shift but showed up at the office bright and early. My editor figured since I was there, I might as well be writing so I got in on the latest action in Saginaw.

Turns out the Buena Vista Schools district shut down operations as of last night, letting go of all their employees and terminating all benefits. MLive’s education reporter (and fellow Chippewa) Lindsay Knake spent hours finding new angles and sources for the ongoing controversy before covering the school board’s community meeting later that night. It was also an election night for Hemlock, Swan Valley and my hometown of Midland so I was called in as reinforcements.

Thanks to Twitter, I learned Huffington Post had picked up the story about the Buena Vista schools closing and informed my editor. We quickly found other links to make an aggregation post, combining articles and sources from various publications across the nation. I was pretty pleased with the end result, which changed frequently throughout the process due to updates and more coverage. To read the full article, click here. 

Later that night, I talked with city and county clerks in Midland and began watching the election results page for any early precinct calculations. Yesterday I posted an article about a new technology bond initiative, introduced by the Midland Public Schools, that aimed to put an iPad in the hand of every student in the district. That proposal, along with a $54 million sinking fund renewal, was not passed by voters, with more information about the results here.

At the end of the day, I started to reflect on working Election Day in 2012. It was a very important and very hectic night working in Bay County; many precincts had trouble tallying votes and key sources were not picking up phones to comment. I remember leaving the county building around 4 a.m. with another reporter, walking back to the office to pound out a couple stories and being told to go home and get some rest by my editor. But only until 8 a.m., when the stories needed to be done to publish on MLive’s river of content.

Thankfully, I am working from home tonight and am able to make a quick getaway in order to sleep. Of all the things I have learned about working election nights, it is this: do not underestimate a good nap and an even better cup of coffee. Have a great night, readers!

 

Written by hayne2jr

May 8, 2013 at 3:51 am

Back To The Office: Part Two

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Today marked the start of my summer internship with The Saginaw News-MLive and I cannot be happier to be back in the newsroom. I recently finished my first semester at Central Michigan University and am ready to get back on the scene after completing a fall editorial internship in 2012.

Midland Northeast Middle School Science Teacher Anthony Bauer monitors his eighth grade students tests as the students take the test using his Apple iPad. Since the release of the tablet device last April, Bauer has tried to push it to its limits in the classroom, using it to give presentations, organize student data, along with basic web functions such as e-mail and surfing the Internet.

Midland Northeast Middle School Science Teacher Anthony Bauer monitors his eighth grade students tests as the students take the test using his Apple iPad.

Although my first day was pretty much spent resetting my accounts and editing my MLive profile, which you can view here, I was able to schedule stories to focus on over the next week and some assignments. I am attending the Dow Chemical Annual Stockholder’s Meeting, or “the Meeting,” on Thursday with fellow reporter Justin Engel, from The Bay City Times and covering the Everyday Hero award banquet for the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority next week.

There was even enough time for a quick post. One of the things that drew me towards journalism when considering a career was the opportunity to learn and share that knowledge with others. I learned about a new technology initiative by Midland Public Schools is going before the voters, with the potential of putting an iPad in the hands of every student in the district and the cost of around $20.8 million. The full article is available here.

I am reporting on the results tomorrow and will have an update to share as soon as final tallies are completed. Class may be a memory soon but I am earning credits for this internship, hence the continuance of the JournStudent Jess blog. My hope is you will keep following and offer any feedback, advice or comments you might think of this summer. Thanks for reading!

Best of the blogs: A focus on government and international media

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Government is a driving force in every single one of our lives, despite lethargic beliefs that “my vote doesn’t count” or “I don’t have the power to change anything.” Based on my own interest in how governments differ around the world, I chose two vastly different blogs that focus on transparency in informing citizens of what is going on in the political world.

GovTrack.us

One blog, called GovTrack.us, was created by Civil Impulse, LLC in 2004. Several people write blogs for the site, which aims to “promote civic engagement through novel uses of technology.” Bloggers provide details on how to use their website, updates on information added as well as links to newly introduced legislature and when they are scheduled to go before Congress.

The blog post introducing the 113th Congress informed readers that the Members of Congress tab had been updated, as well as new legislature, but committee assignments had not yet been completed. Author Josh Tauberer responded in a timely manner to a comment asking about centralized lists appearing as early reports. I think he could have provided more information about when the reports would be available and comment on the accuracy of early reports, but his replies were appropriate.

The GovTrack.us blog followed some principles of good blogging by only providing new information, not outdated facts. Author Josh Tauberer provided relevant information about the vice president candidates during the election, which is when those facts are most appreciated. The blog stayed focused on government topics and did not display a bias towards any particular political party.

I thought this blog was informative but a bit boring. It was effective at providing the best information for its users and had a strong emphasis on providing analysis of different bills, giving context for blog posts and giving immediate replies to reader comments. I disliked this blog because it did not provide visual stimulation and was very dry; some of the blog posts would have been more eye-catching with a large photo to instantly convey what they are about. Weaknesses of the GovTrack.us blog include a lack of input from legislative officials, text-heavy posts and a small audience whose involvement in the site is abysmal.

Syria Deeply

The second blog I checked out was SyriaDeeply, an “independent daily media project led by journalists and technologists, exploring a new model of storytelling around a global crisis.” I chose to follow this blog because it brings together many authors in order to give the best picture of a country that has been closed off from journalists for years due to civil war and political unrest.

Many people and organizations have contributed to this blog, including Syrian journalists, The New York Times, Save the Children, MercyCorps and the United Nations Refugee Agency. The reports and interviews posted on the blogs focus on the country of Syria, giving a voice to those who have had to leave their home and others who have chosen to stay and witness first-hand the animosity between rebel groups and the armies of President al-Assad.

Bloggers did not respond to comments left on forums, though there are three forums available for those who wish to share their opinions. I think people choose not to comment because they may feel in danger if they are from the country and do not wish to risk retaliation for their views. By providing outlets for readers, Syria Deeply did what it could to allow others to communicate about the blog.

Syria Deeply follows the principles of good blogging by providing interactive and visual features for viewers, like a timeline of events and photo galleries. The main page of the blog shows a map, illustrating the number of fatalities among the regions of Syria, the number of refugees fleeing the area and links to videos recorded in that area. Although news from the country cannot be totally trusted, the blog uses credible sources and does not post rumored or biased accounts, which I found encouraging.

I liked the Syria Deeply blog because it was organized well and provided many different features to learn about the conflict that is happening in the country right now. One strength of the blog was a tool allowing you to flip easily to the previous or next entries; another was the quality of the articles posted. Each piece was wonderfully written, provided intimate detail and drew the reader into what the subject was feeling at the time. One thing I disliked about the blog is that it somewhat buried a video that explains the website and its features. I think it should have been placed higher up on the website and had a special heading so viewers understood what it is. Weaknesses of the blog include a lack of comments, a lack of explanation about when the blog started and why it was created, as well as difficulty finding the blog part of the site, which is confusingly labeled “The Forum.” While the blog has a well organized navigational plan, it could be easier for viewers to follow. According to  The Multi-Media Journalist, by Jennifer George-Palilonis, a navigational plan is important to keep readers engaged in the website and make them feel satisfied with what they have just viewed (67.)

My outlook

While both blogs provided great information on their subjects, I think they could have done things a bit differently. GovTrack.us should provide more images and link to outside sources in order to seem more credible. If I was working on the Syria Deeply blog, I would re-organize the front page and create a simpler interface so first-time users are not so confused about where to find the information they are looking for.

Did you check out these blogs? What did you think about the sites in particular, or my analysis of each one? Comment below and share your perspectives with me, JournStudentJess. Thanks for reading!

Written by hayne2jr

February 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm