Saturday, April 24, 2010

Check.

The last two weeks have been huge in the life of Kylee.

We finished our final newscast of the semester and I said goodbye to the Monday crew. We had a great group of people. I'm sad to see the graduates go, but so excited to hear of their new jobs. There's hope. One can get a job in this industry.





3rd Semester with the Daily News - Check.

I spent long days and sleepless nights in the Harold B. Lee Library.

5 Finals.
1 Resume Reel.
COMPLETE.

I took 17 credits this semester...never again. I took Accounting 200 for the second time around... seeing as how I received I letter grade that we will not speak of. Thankfully, I re-took the class before BYU changes its policy. Look out Cougs, if you need to re-take a class, do so before fall of 2011 - they will start taking the average of both grades, instead of the higher. Phew. Needless to say, round two - aced that B....
I think I have spent more time in the library this year than any other. For some of us, it's a social scene (cough...Katelin). For others, it provides great spots for napping.


Regardless, Harold B. has been good to us. Made lots of new friends. I'm glad another insane, chaotic finals week is over.

Junior Year at BYU - Check.

I took my last final Wednesday night, just as the Testing Center closed. Fitting. I think that's one of the best feelings in the world. I then spent most of the night and Thursday morning moving out of Alpine Village. I forget how much stuff my little cubicle holds. My roomies are the best and let me keep some of my stuff there for spring/summer. Connor was up for the week so we left Provo Thursday afternoon and pulled into beautiful Mesa just before one in the morning.

Moving out of Alpine, only to return in 4 months - Check.

The last 24 hours have consisted of sleeping 9 hour nights, getting my Mexican food fix, pedicures with sweet Mendi Sue, shopping for NYC, long chats with Douglas, Misty's muscle class - I HAVE to get in shape this summer, countless loads of laundry, getting unpacked, and then repacking for New York.

Packing for New York - Pending.

It's been wonderful being home for these few days, a nice change of pace. My family is the best a girl could ask for. How grateful I am for big dreams. How grateful I am for parents who have always told me I could accomplish anything. They have always said I could have the best of both worlds. And I believe them. I'm holding them to it. I'm thrilled for this next adventure in a new city. New York, you are mine for the next two months. Get excited.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Personal Code of Conduct

At the beginning of the semester I was asked to define journalism and what it means to be a journalist. At first this question reminded me of something Socrates might ask a broadcast journalism student. He was known to pose simple, yet complex questions to people regarding the heart of what they study. For instance, he would ask lawyers, "What is ethics?" or artists, "What is beauty?" I assume he was trying to question their real knowledge in their chosen field. He would ask questions, and in turn hope that would create more questions. There it is - the Socratic Method. So now, as a budding broadcast student, it is my turn. I learn something new about my major each day, so I don't claim to be an expert, or anything close to it. However, over the course of the semester we have studied many facets of journalism, some that I have not thought of before. My thoughts have evolved, to say the least. So, here is my best attempt.
First and foremost, I feel that journalism is ever changing, especially in today's world with new technology and mass media. Journalism is the skill of conveying news and information through different mediums, including television, newspapers, magazines, radio, and the Internet. It is the process of gathering information, performing intense research, sometimes on a time crunch, and presenting it to the public in a way that will be informative and beneficial to them. I aspire to be a television news reporter. I want to work with people. I want to meet individuals from various backgrounds, interview them, learn about them, and tell their story. I feel strongly that I have been directed to this major and industry to meet people and interact with them. I’m aware of the long road ahead. I’m aware of the sleepless nights, long hours, and meager paychecks. I know journalists are overworked and underpaid. I know reporting is not the ideal “mom job.” And yet, I’m still here. Why, you ask? Let me tell you.
It’s been said that a journalist should be a “jack of all trades and master of none”. Journalists should have an insatiable curiosity about what is going on in the world. Therefore, they should know a little about a variety of topics. In his book, The Mind of A Journalist, Jim Willis explained, “A nationwide survey of reporters revealed the following areas related to curiosity as prime positives of the profession for these responders: learning new things every day, meeting newsmakers, covering a variety of stories, and having a status as an insider,” (3). My interests cover all of these bases. As a reporter for the BYU Daily News, I enjoyed covering a variety of stories, learning the details, and knowing them before most of the public. Thus, I feel journalism is a great fit for my personality.
The nature of the industry is extremely deadline oriented. In the workforce most journalists are assigned a story in the morning or afternoon and expected to have their piece ready for multiple newscasts that evening. Consequently, you are almost always on a time crunch. Journalists have to make critical decisions quickly. In the moment, your personal ethics may be questioned. It’s beneficial to have your boundaries drawn and mind made up for these instances. A personal code of conduct should be adapted and implemented by every journalist as a guideline to live by on and off the clock. Specific topics in my personal code of conduct refer to truth, verification, public vigilance, and the watchdog role of journalists.
Truth is the primary mission and first obligation in journalism. Truth is the essence of news. As reporters, we must seek the truth and present it to the public with utmost clarity. Viewers turn to the news to learn and think about the world beyond themselves. Therefore, it must be accurate and reliable. Two tests of truth are getting the facts straight and making sense of the facts. Journalistic truth is seeking the correct facts, presenting them in the most unbiased manner possible, and showing both sides to the story. I know that every journalist has a unique background with individual experiences that shape the lens in which they view the world. It’s absolutely impossible to fully check these biases at the door. However, I will make a conscious effort to understand my biases and how they might affect my presentation of the story. Then, I can take proper precautions and ensure the balance of both sides.
The book, The Elements of Journalism, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel states, “The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification” (79). This makes complete sense. Verification is achieved through obtaining multiple interviews, sources from both sides, and disclosing as much information as possible. When breaking news occurs it’s tempting to publish it immediately so your station or newspaper can “break the story”, or cover it first. Also, it may be tempting just to publish another story because it’s already out there. But, if the material is published and has not been verified, it can be detrimental to the news provider. Their credibility and accuracy can easily be lost. As a journalist, I will get the facts, be fair with the facts, and then reveal to the audience where I got the facts. In essence, I will practice journalism of verification and thus will obtain credibility.
Furthermore, public vigilance is also essential to journalism. Journalists’ first loyalty is to the citizens. We report to and for the public. We work to give a voice to the voiceless. We become familiar with our market, our demographics, and what our audience cares about. Only then will we be able to find and report on stories that are of interest to them. However, we must not only inform them, but also do it in an engaging and interesting manner. We must first grab their attention. Journalists engage viewers by learning who they are. Also, a journalist must make their stories relevant. If the viewer feels relatable to the story their connection will bring them back for more. How do we make our audience interested? We must be great storytellers. We must find people who are tied to the story and tell the story through their eyes. We must conduct stories on issues and trends that are happening currently. Tell the story in a unique manner and people will continue to watch. For example, I did a story last year on the Hunger Banquet at BYU. I knew my audience and decided to start and end my story with sound bites from a student who had witnessed hunger first hand on a trip to Africa. I feel this technique was successful in grabbing the attention of the audience. I will always try and present the stories I cover in the most engaging and relatable manner possible.
Additionally, journalists also fill the role of watchdog on the government. Journalism is viewed as the fourth branch or entity of the government in addition to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Journalists have the responsibility to find the truth for their audience. This entails asking the tough questions and conducting investigations. We must question those that make influential decisions that will affect society. Personally, I feel that it’s essential to have an independent audit for all parties. A balancing check can only help. I would deal with this concept much more if I decided to do political reporting, which I have thought about. What a powerful role political journalists have. If my career takes me this route I will ask the tough questions. I will cover the issues that are most important to my audience.
I define excellence in journalism as finding interesting story ideas that affect the public, conducting extensive research, and verifying the facts by interviewing multiple people from both sides. And finally, going live and telling your viewer to listen up - this is what I've been working on all day - and here's why it's important to you. I plan to live these principles stated above as a broadcast journalism student at BYU and continue implementing them in the workforce as well. Having this code in writing will hold me accountable. When the time comes it will be easier to make the right decision. I will choose truth over ratings, credibility over money. As of now, this is what I want to do with my life. Hopefully you find that satisfactory, Socrates.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's Official...

In two weeks I will fly out of my beloved Sky Harbor Airport and arrive in the Big Apple.

I will be living at the International House where 700 students from 100 different countries reside while attending various schools in the city. It's in the Morningside Heights neighborhood in Manhattan's Upper West Side.

I will be interning with NBC Dateline at 30 Rock...a dream come true.

My title: Editorial Assistant
Hours: 8:30 - 5:30
Job Description: research for investigative newsmagazine pieces, assist on shoots, log tape, etc.
I cannot wait for this network exposure. It will be unlike anything I have ever experienced.
So bring on the late nights and early mornings.
Bring on the jogs through Central Park and the evenings in Times Square.
Bring on the shopping sprees on Canal St. and the fine dining at Carnegie Deli.
Bring on the baseball games, musicals, and museums.
New York, I am yours for the summer. Bring on the adventure.
As for now...all I want to study is this:

But, I can't help but be distracted by six exams I have to take before I peace out of Provo. Good luck to all my fellow Cougs.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Engagement & Relevance in Journalism

First and foremost, I think Group #12 presented their information on engagement and relevance in an engaging and relatable manner. Good work guys!
So what is engagement regarding journalism? I feel that our number one priority is informing citizens. We have a commitment to the citizens. But not only must we inform them, we must do it in an engaging and interesting manner. How often do we watch a news story and then wonder what it was about? We must first get their attention. And in order to do that, we must know our audience. We must know the demographic that we reach. We must know the sex, age, race, etc. of our viewers. Then, we have a better chance of compiling stories that they would watch. Advertisers also benefit from knowing their demographics. I attended a lecture by Joe Ebinger, a media consultant, this week and he mentioned that network nightly news programs are still reaching the most people. He encouraged us to be aware of the commercials during these programs. We would find lots of ads for hearing aids and various medicines. We work for the viewer. We must deliver them to the last line. Audience research is not to be left to the marketers or sponsors but to journalists. Bottom line: journalists engage readers by learning who they are. I loved the comparision Group #12 made with getting engaged to someone and how to engage an audience. Clever. Clearly, you first have to socialize, and then find someone you are interested in, get to know them, communicate, date and spend time together, and finally pop the question. Similarly, journalists must get to know their audience by interacting, communicating, and learning about them.
Now for relevance. If you make your stories/show relevant then people will continue to watch. They will feel connected. They will feel invested. So, how do we, as journalists, do that? How do we make our audience interested? We must be great storytellers. We must find people who are tied to the story and tell the story through their eyes. We must conduct stories on issues and trends that are happening currently. Tell the story in a unique manner and people will continue to watch. My good friend and colleague, Garrett Tenney, is a master storyteller. He is going places. His piece last summer entitled "Camp Cartwheel" is worth watching. He gets hooks people right away, keeps their interest, and leaves them wanting more. In the end, that's what it's all about.
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comms 239 Extra Credit Lecture

I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Jonathan Ebinger, a Washington D.C. based media consultant and educator. He was a producer for the ABC News Program, “Nightline” and has been in the business for years. His presentation was informative regarding national network news and the drastic shift that the Internet brings to this industry. He mentioned that ABC News cut 25 percent of their employees. He also stated that national nightly news programs have decreased as well. Television news stations are not gaining young people as viewers and losing people across the board regarding age. However, network evening news is still reaching the most people. At the end of the day, news is a business. This new shift means that fewer people must perform more jobs. Ebinger said that the negative side of this new shift is quality. Fewer people working for a station means there are fewer eyes and hands to catch mistakes and fix them.

Clearly, as a college student graduating next year, I was curious as to how I can best prepare and equip myself for the workforce. Ebinger said writing is the most important skill. He isn’t the first one to give me this advice. Yes, all of the technical skills I need to attain are significant, but regardless, writing is essential. But if there is anything I have learned in the broadcast journalism program it’s that the more skills we bring to the table the more valuable we are. Ebinger also said recent college grads that enter the workforce have much more authority than they might think. This is simply due to smaller news staff. There are less people to go through to get things approved.

Also, social media is becoming more accepted. Public information is everywhere. We are able to learn about people with the click of a mouse. With new social media sites such as, Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter, and the online sites of newspapers and news stations, there is a constant stream of information.

Ebinger said, “We must feed the beast.” Honestly, I find it difficult to remember where I find my facts to certain stories because I have various resources. Overall, I found his presentation quite insightful. His exposure to network news is unbeatable.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Comprehensive & Proportional Journalism

"Journalists should keep the news comprehensive and in proportion," (Elements, 208). Journalism is mapmaking. We create a map for people to navigate society. Clearly, we cannot cover everything. But as our text indicates we, as citizens, need to ask these questions: "Can we see the whole community in the coverage? Do I see myself? Does the report include a fair mix of what most people would consider either interesting or significant," (209). As journalists, we pick what stories to cover. As producers, we format the newscasts. We are in charge of what the public sees.
When it comes to balancing hard news versus entertainment journalism I feel that there are many viewpoints. Personally, I am biased to hard news and feel that it's much more credible than shows such as Entertainment Tonight. Recently, I was asked if I would be interested in entertainment reporting and to be honest, I was a little offended. I guess it's just not my thing. I would rather report on a recent election or even some kind of human interest feature piece than tell viewers where Britney Spears' next tour stop is located.
Another topic that we discussed in class and that I found interesting was that of sensationalism. How can we resist sensationalism and keep the news in proportion? I think the answer lies in finding a balance. I don't think we chould isolate the journalist from reality - but we should educate with a better understanding. The topic of Michael Jackson's death coverage was a hot topic in class. It was compared to the 9/11 tragedy and how CNN showed footage for weeks. Personally, I don't think the two are comparable. I was in London on a study abroad this past summer when Michael Jackson died. The next day The Evening Standard, a London newspaper, had headlines "London Blamed for Jackson's Death" on the front page. London was his first stop on his new tour and his training was thought to do him in. Clearly, the city of London did not kill Jackson. The headline was ridiculous. But this sensationalism sells newspapers. However, The National Enquirer, a notorious sensationalist publication, is now up for a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage on the John Edwards scandal. So, is the National Enquirer credible? Is the Pulitzer Prize credible? (Thank-you Josh Guest for your comment in class!)
Another issue we talked about in class is that of research. Research helps journalists make judgment but it doesn't replace their judgment. It's a helpful tool. Focus groups are an inexpensive form of market research. But there are some problems with focus groups. They are not scientific, nor objective. They are hard to replicate - the discussion is different every time. And they're easily swayed by a single member of the group or unintentionally by the focus group leader. Bottom line: we need to stop approaching viewers as customers, but as citizens.
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