Tag Archives: television

15 minutes as a television assignment editor

I had the opportunity recently to visit Andrea Courtois at WBZ-TV in Boston. Courtois is an assignment editor for the television side of the operations, though she works closely with the folks at WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

As an assignment editor, Courtois is responsible for gathering elements for the newscasts including interviews, information, and now, in the age of digital journalism, tweets, updates from Facebook, and photos from Instagram.

In the ten years that Courtois has been an assignment editor, she says her job has changed tremendously. She says she tries to stay up-to-date with whatever new social media platform there is, where people are talking, and how to use social media in news gathering.

Her job is incredibly busy. In the 15 minutes I took these photos, Courtois had numerous phone conversations, often on two phones at the same time; she was writing emails while talking on the phone; she monitored Twitter; she booked satellite time for her crews in the field; and she was listening to the police scanner, at one point stopping mid-sentence, turning up the scanner, and listening to a description of a reported attempted abduction.

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10 Tweeps to follow

Editor’s note: As part of my master’s class, I have been asked to write about ten Twitter accounts I find helpful to my beat. My beat, in this case, is media.

In no particular order:

Brian Stelter @brianstelter – Brian Stelter is CNN’s senior media correspondent and hosts CNN’s show, “Reliabale Sources.” He used to work at The New York Times. Brian also wrote the book, “Top of the Morning.”

David Carr @carr2n – David Carr writes the Media Equation for The New York Times.

David Folkenflik @davidfolkenflik – David Folkenflik is the media correspondent for NPR. Until recently he was following me. I hope it wasn’t something I said.

David Cohn @Digidave – David Cohn is Chief Content Officer and Founding Editor at Circa, and is previously of Spot.Us.

Jay Rosen @jayrosen_nyu – Jay Rosen is a journalism professor at New York University. He is often critical of the media, both print and broadcast.

Jeff Jarvis @jeffjarvis – Jeff Jarvis is a professor at City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, directing its new media program. He seems to always be on Twitter and is not one to hold his tongue.

(Jim) Romenesko @romenesko – Jim Romenesko has a media blog in which he provides both news and commentary.

Lost Remote @lostremote – Lost Remote is a blog all about social TV. (Another good one to follow is @corybe, now of @breakingnews, but who co-founded Lost Remote.

Nieman Journalism Lab @niemanlab – The Nieman Lab evaluates media and where the industry and its culture are headed.

Poynter. @Poynter – In St. Petersburg, Florida, Poynter is a journalism school and clearing house for debates on journalistic ethics.

I have a Twitter list of these accounts plus some others. You can find that here.

Is there room in New Hampshire for another TV station?

microphone

photo by Matthew Keefe

The Boston Globe took notice this week of a new player in New Hampshire. I worked with someone who is now at NH1 – which kind of sounds like VH1. She left her previous job several weeks ago to help start the station, but this week was the first broadcast.

What’s interested is that they built the station and its broadcasts before it built a website. (“An evening newscast launched this week, and a website is on the way,” writes Meg Heckman.) The station, which will also have a radio station and newsroom, does have a Facebook page and Twitter account (which, for the most part right now, post the same items). Short news blurbs, including mug shots and pictures from news conferences, were posted to these accounts well before the first broadcast. But the website is simply a landing page with links to those accounts.

In 2014, what does it mean to build a TV station that does not have a website? Is it okay to solely depend on Facebook and Twitter while the site is launched? If it was me, while all of those 120 employees were working to wire the former schoolhouse, learn the new equipment, and meet each other, I’d pull five or eight aside and have them working on a site that would have launched not just when the broadcasts started, but before then.

Looking ahead – will journalism survive?

At the age of 12 I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I watched the Today Show as I was eating breakfast and getting ready for school. I watched the evening news as my mother got dinner ready. I was in awe of the reporters telling stories from all over the world. That’s what I wanted to do.

I did it. I went to school. I got a degree in broadcast journalism. I studied newspaper journalism. I wrote for our university’s student-run, independent daily newspaper. I had multiple internships. I was ready.

I graduated from college 14 years ago. In the time between deciding what I “wanted to be when I grew up” and then, the journalism industry has changed drastically. It has changed even more since graduating.

Fourteen years ago there was no such thing as a smartphone, but now it’s being credited with saving journalism. Frank Rose writes in his piece, “How the Smartphone Ushered In a Golden Age of Journalism,” “Statistics from The (New York) Times say roughly half of the people who read it now do so with their mobile devices, and that jibes with figures from the latest Pew report on the news media broadly.” In fact, the Pew report indicates that people with smartphones are reading more news than ever before.

Additionally, reporters are using smartphones to help them tell a story. They can take pictures and video to place into their pieces. They can look up data and information while on the road – and even place a call using the same phone. Once the story is written – which can be done on that same smartphone – the reporter can share the story using social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Clay Shirky suggests current journalists “get good with numbers” – in other words, focus on data journalism. “Learning to code is the gold standard, but even taking an online class in statistics and getting good at Google spreadsheets will help,” Shirky writes. He adds journalists should learn to use social media not just to share their stories, but to help cultivate them. Use the platforms to gather story ideas and sources. They can also be used to crowdsource photos and multimedia that can be used in their reports.

But with more businesses foregoing the traditional newspaper and television ads in exchange for far less expensive online advertising and even building their own apps, the funding to support these endeavors is falling by the wayside.

Gannett announced this summer it is spinning off its print business, separating it from its broadcast business. This has free-fall written all over it. The New York Times quotes Craig Huber, an independent research analyst as saying, “It makes it a more risky portfolio because they don’t have a digital segment to fall back on or TV stations to fall back on. They are probably going to feel more pressure as a stand-alone newspaper company.”

So newspapers fall apart and leave us looking at all of our news online. Is that bad? Shirky suggests in his piece  “Newspapers and the Unthinkable” from 2009,

“Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.”

How do you do that? How do you strengthen journalism? Outlets need to look at and change their funding mechanisms. They need to give their reporters and editors the support they need. And they need to be aware that the audience they have had will likely be further splintered. But people still want to read good reporting, and that is why this industry will survive. Will it be as robust as it was 20 or 30 years ago? No. Andrew Leonard writes in Salon, “In her book “The People’s Platform,” Astra Taylor reported that one 2011 study found ‘44.7 percent fewer reporters working in the [San Francisco] Bay area than a decade ago.'”

But will journalism survive? Of course it will. Will it look even more different than when I was a 12-year-old eating cereal watching the Today Show? You betcha.