One last blog post for J4TW

I’ve really enjoyed taking Journalism for the Web this past semester.

I’ll be honest, I started off with a nervous, gut-wrenching feeling about it. I’d attempted an online class last semester, and dropped out only a few days later. The thought of not having a class to sit in and a face-to-face teacher every day was enough to make me drop it. I told myself to keep an open mind with J4TW, knowing I was going to eventually need to pass this to graduate.

I learned how I should be managing a journalism website, when I should be using social media to benefit my job and how to handle online feedback. I found I gained a new perspective in each week’s instruction.

Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your knowledge and experiences within the field. It’ll serve as a great foundation to build upon during my summer internship.

Changes I made for the semester:

-I made a conscious effort to keep the blog consistent

We were told, in the beginning of the semester, to make the blog something we were passionate about. Luckily, the assignments we were given to write about (Scott Pelley, etc.) matched the content I cared about most. When I chose my topic for the week, I took into consideration what takeaways I’d received from the media industry this week, through my own experiences or listening to others. The writing I did for this blog assisted in my growth from the journalist I was in January to the one I am now.

-I learned how important it is to include art with my blog

Being a photographer, I knew how important having art in a newspaper was – running a blog made me realize how important it is to my online web presence, as well. It led me to consider what kind of web content I should not only be putting on my blog, but my professional Twitter feed as well.

I think my professional Twitter feed is infinitely better because of it.

-I worked to create content that was SEO

This involved me looking at how I could create tags and boost my blog posts on my own WordPress site, but I did this more so with the Royal Purple stories I had to post each week. I wouldn’t let the stories we wrote be published until I got a green light on our Yoast SEO – it was my blog and the rest of the class material that prompted me to do so.

-I added more of my own work to the blog

Layout-wise, my blog didn’t change much. I like the clean, one column design for it, with links on the side. I would have liked to improve it to look more like a news site, but my options for a layout like that were limited. I’ll use those skills I learned with web design to help choose a new layout for the Royal Purple’s website in future semesters.

 

Saying goodbye…?

We took a photo tonight as the RP editorial staff, minus a few people. This is the decent one. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

We took a photo tonight as the RP editorial staff, minus a few people. This is the decent one. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

I’m not a graduating senior, nor am I anywhere near close – I’ve got until December 2018 to figure out how to con a real-life news director into giving me a chance.

So why am I sitting here, on our last night of layouts for the Royal Purple for the semester, getting all sentimental?

A wave of nostalgia has hit me twice today – once this morning as I threw the last rounds of Internet News onto UWW-TV’s a-list for publication, and tonight, as I realized I was laying out the Royal Purple‘s news section in entirety for the last time.

It dawned on me this would be my last time sitting at the news computer, putting together a budget, stressing how I would find time to write my stories for the upcoming week.

It’s stressful, and even though I’ll hopefully receive confirmation of my promotion at the RP at the end of the semester, I’m going to miss it. I accepted the job of News Editor a year ago because as the Photo Editor, I ached to write something.

But as heartbroken as I feel to leave my job as News Editor behind, watching my Assistant News Editor proclaim herself as my successor, this is a fantastic feeling at the same time.

I know at point this makes me sound like a scratched record, or in this age, a corrupted .wav file, but if I’m going to write one last blog for this class, I’m going to use it to encourage you all to go out, join campus media and get your hearts broken.

Your memories will be your first-aid kit.

Keep celebrities out of journalism

Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa

I can feel it as I type this: my opinion on this wouldn’t be popular with the general public.

All I really have going for me is the fact I’m not debating a heavily-contested issue, such as politics, the NFL Draft (that guy who is good with a football should have totally gone to another team last night) or the whether the dog filter on Snapchat is cute.

No, my opinion lies within the “national nightmare” that was Michael Strahan up and leaving his show with Kelly Ripa for Good Morning America, without even so much of a mention.

Rude? Maybe. From a rational person’s standards, I’d say its pretty likely, but I don’t know what kind of co-worker Ripa is.

My issue comes in when celebrities are given the job of a journalists, because they’re personable and have name-recognition. I believe there’s a part of the media industry where that kind of mentality belongs – it’s called advertising.

When it comes to the news, it should be reserved for people who worked as writers, reporters and producers for these shows for years, who deserve a promotion for their hard work. I think we need to be asking ourselves where the objectivity and reputation of being truthful has been during these celebrities’ whole professional career before we accept them onto our TV sets each day.

To drag advertising back into this, Strahan has done advertising, with Vaseline, GotMilk? and Subway.

Michael Strahan

You know for a fact that David Muir, Lester Holt and Scott Pelley would have never gotten where they are now, had they sold their image and likeness. It would have been considered a compromise and a betrayal of their objectivity.

It’s again that same song of ratings-driving-content that has come to bother me in the past year. I think it’s fine right now for celebrities to host entertainment shows, but the news needs to be off-limits.

I wouldn’t want to have Kim Kardashian moderating a political debate or Robert Downey, Jr. covering a catastrophe the size of 9/11 or the Boston bombing, and neither should the American public.

We all deserve better news, and better journalists. Celebrities are not the answer.

If you ain’t first, you’re … probably right

I titled this photo when I saved it after a Leslie Knope quote, "you rule-breaking moth." However, the irony lies in the idea that we need to stick to our journalistic principles of finishing the race to the story without mistakes, while not worrying if we're going to come in first with them. Photo courtesy of Yahoo (a little awkwardness here with Katie Couric)

I titled this photo when I saved it after a Leslie Knope quote, “you rule-breaking moth” because of how much I have admired Scott Pelley, even before he took over the CBS Evening News. However, the irony lies in the idea that we need to stick to our journalistic principles of finishing the race to the story without mistakes, while not worrying if we’re going to come in first with them. Photo courtesy of Yahoo (a little awkwardness here, when we consider Katie Couric…).

Oh, how perfectly this blog post assignment flows directly from last week’s post about “The Newsroom.” As I talk about journalistic integrity the show has taught me, I sometimes forget one thing: I can learn the same things by watching the news as well. I just need to listen a little closer, and consider the presentation a little bit more.

What I’m about to say is going to need a little bit of context, so here you go. Is the video a little pixelated to the point where I had to look away at times? Yes. But what’s really important here is the message about our current state of journalism ethics.

I agree with Pelley wholeheartedly on what he says about the current state of journalism, and how we rush to fan the flames of gossip and rumors, while our own house is burning, as he says.

We’re fighting fire with fire, and then wondering why the American public has lost trust in us. Some of it is because the American public wants to hear news commentary that reiterates and confirms their own opinions, instead of prompting them to think outside of what they’re being told. As frustrating as that is, we can’t change the minds of those who have closed them and buried the key deeply inside their own egos. There’s no fix to that.

What we are doing, when we forego confirming information and running with the first piece of information we get, is we are alienating the viewers with open minds who just want the facts of all sides of the story.

Pelley says the medium we publish our work on should not change the integrity we write it with. A couple things have led to this downfall, and it has to do with the need to be first to report a story, and the idea that social media is all we need as a first and second confirmation on our stories.

I agree with Pelley in saying these two ideas are wrong, and here’s why:

The need to be first

This is especially where my commentary from last week’s “The Newsroom” really comes into play.

In the episode “Fix You,” one of the graphics designers in the control room has Arizona Sen. Gabby Giffords declared dead, as corporate executives are begging the news team to report it first, despite NPR already declaring it.

Will refuses, saying a doctor pronounces someone dead, not the media – and they were right. You can feel the relieved look of the graphics designer as he removes the “2011” from alongside her birth year.

Pelley says the need to be right comes from our own egos and the competitive game news networks play with one another, which I agree with. On the other hand, I wonder if we would have that same need to be first to break a story all the time, should we not have the company executives, who are more concerned with ratings than our journalistic principles of being right, telling us that we need to be?

It’s a combination of both, in my opinion, because company executives threaten the jobs of journalists, editors, executive producers, anyone and everyone, through the ratings.

It’s ratings-driven content, versus the quality of your content driving ratings.

Because, as Pelley said, no one will remember if you were first, but they’re never going to forget that you were wrong. Journalists need to report the news, and forget about the ratings for those broadcasts – and their business execs at the top need to do the same.

Social media

I love my social media as much as anyone, and I love live-tweeting events I attend. But should I base my stories off of what I’m saying, without taking other perspectives into consideration to balance out the story? Absolutely not.

This is me, as an aspiring journalist, saying each and every journalist will always have the slightest trace of bias in their reporting, if we’re only using ourselves as a source through social media. It’s why we balance things out with multiple perspectives and verify/attribute every piece of information we get, or so we should.

Pelley says that in the rush to be first, we take what we find on social media and run it, with no verification or confirmation. It’s what makes the concept of citizen journalism so dangerous, on the flip-side of the coin of it being helpful.

It’s only helpful when we can confirm things, but who has time to do that when you’re rushing to be first?

I also find myself agreeing with Scott Pelley in the idea that social media is gossip, and has no place in a newsroom if there’s no trace of verification behind it.

I take it a step farther than Pelley by saying reporting anything trending on social media that doesn’t have a direct impact on a portion of your viewers doesn’t belong in the newsroom either. Does the trend of #BlackLivesMatter belong? Yes, since the riots are taking over Ferguson. Does a trending video of two twins laughing at one another have a right to be on the news, just because people think it’s cute?

I’ve told the station director at UWW-TV that I don’t want to see anything trending from Twitter or Facebook on that show anymore, for that reason. Those on the show already force their show to suffer from a lack of original reporting from the writers as it is, why add in a topic talking about a “possessed baby” standing on the edge of its crib?

There’s no integrity in that, and you know for a fact that Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite would have passed on it.

A final note, on watching Pelley speak

I’ve admired Pelley for a while – hell, I even wrote on my Facebook page that we would be “bros” when sharing a 60 Minutes Overtime video about how his first love was still photography.

I love listening to professionals speak, because they’ll dig deep into their roots, and it allows me a measuring stick to align my own beliefs up against.

So thanks for the knowledge, bro.

A few takeaways from “The Newsroom”

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Photo courtesy of HBO. Hearts placed carefully by yours truly.

I know you’re not supposed to say this only five episodes in, but I love “The Newsroom.”

I live on a constant rule that I need to be working hard every day, but not all day – it’s mandatory to take a Netflix break when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

So, because “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” hasn’t come back for a second season yet and I finished off “30 Rock,” I had a hole in my heart I thought couldn’t be filled. I had such a connection with Liz Lemon, as we both worked long hours rewriting. Together, we dealt with sometimes-ridiculous staff who, if they’d have done their work as well as they’d pushed our buttons, they’d have been stellar.

I thought I would never find a connection with a fictional character like that again. But along came “The Newsroom’s” Will McAvoy, and Mac. They started to heal me – and made me consider what kind of journalist I strive to be, both in the now, and someday, in the real world.

1. What I should be reporting

I think this is what struck me the hardest, looking at what I write now, and what I’ve reported in the past. I haven’t done too bad, when we look at my track record with the Royal Purple. Knowing I write long, I pick only the most impactful stories and art for my section.

My track record with UWW-TV, however, isn’t quite so nice and polished.

I used to co-host a show referred to as “The 10,” because, well, we talked about our top 10 stories of the week. For the most part, I wrote about things I thought mattered – the latest terrorist attack or shooting, politics (which my co-anchors loved) and breaking news that I’d push back the script for.

But then there would be times I’d write about a new iPhone. The Kardashian family adding a prematurely canonized family member. A story about a birthday cake that went viral.

I wonder what the hell I was thinking when I thought a cake had any relevance to my life outside a glance on Facebook.

I still see things from my prior perspective. Yes, people think the news is too negative, so we should fill it with just enough feel-good stories about overly cute dog-shaming and babies to make the audience happy.

But we make the audience happy like the parent who lets their children get dessert without making them finish their vegetables. They’ll love you for it, but it’s not good for them – we have to give the broccoli of the truth before we appease them with the chocolate pudding of puppies and viral videos. It’s the concept of content driving ratings, not the other way around.

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be able to replace the last puppy package of the night with another news story – be it national, local, community-based – that could be beneficial to someone.

Seeing Mac list out her rules for their News Night 2.0 made me feel guilty. As it should, since I was feeding into the hashtag trend, and ignoring the problems right in front of me.

So now, I’ve loosely interpreted Mac’s rules to my own journalism career. Is this story in historical context, is this the best possible form of the argument? “Is this information we need in the voting booth?” has translated into “Does this matter to anyone on Whitewater’s campus?”

I’ll follow these rules, to be a journalist I’m proud of.

2. How I should treat my staff

I know having worked with people at the Royal Purple and UWW-TV long enough, if you don’t treat people like they’re valuable to you, they leave, or at least they think about it.

Watching Will wire a quarter of a million dollars to Egypt for the freedom of a native correspondent on the ground only reaffirmed that thinking. You stand up for one of your own, and for others, even if they aren’t your own.

I don’t necessarily only want to show my staff I care through monetary form, however; I want to make time to help them learn, and learn from them. Take time or them, and no matter what, let them know they’re invaluable to you, even if they aren’t.

3. What my role is

Prior to going off at the sorority girl, Will didn’t want to bother anyone, so he ran what all of the other news orgs did. He wrote what was safe. He’d approve ratings-driven content, not content-driven ratings.

Watching him interrogate anyone and everyone has clued me in as to how I should be approaching my stories, especially when I take on my role as a political journalist.

He’s not afraid to call people out and make them defend their position, and works to expose corporations like the Koch Brothers. I won’t be looking at the Koch Brothers any time soon, most likely, but I can at least take a more aggressive, in-depth look into the topic so I can make people really own up to their words, like Will and his team do.

My role is to be the representative of the people watching and reading, not the people I talk to.

I think my biggest take-away, however, is I have to live with the fact that I’m a Will McAvoy, who’s tasked with explaining the world to a bunch of “Dumb and Dumber” Larry’s.

Mother knows best: Join the Royal Purple

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A sick, sappy post about how I love the RP and all it’s done for me – and I said this back in May, when I had no idea what kind of journalist the role of News Editor would make me into. Prepare yourself. And yes, I did log into Instagram on my computer for this. Judge me.

I’m going to be your mother here, in some aspects.

No, I’m not going to call you at the most inopportune times to pester you about your grades. I won’t tell you to be careful when going out to parties. I certainly won’t give you unconditional love.

What I will do, however, is inform you that the only way you’re going to do well out in the real world is by getting involved.

This can reference any organization on campus, really, but for all-intensive purposes, I’m going to shamelessly plug the Royal Purple – and the fact that we have close to a dozen positions up for grabs.

The turnover is high is semester because we have a lot of students holding those positions graduating in a month, therefore sending the rest of the staff into a frenzy to find a newly opened position for themselves.

So, I’ll take a little time to debunk a few myths for you, and if you feel like confident enough, check out either Kyle or Julie Ridgeman’s email on joining the staff. You can always get ahold of me as well, to ask questions.

Myth #1: I don’t have enough experience to be on the RP.

Take a look at your surroundings. You are on a college campus, which is by nature, a learning institution. Which means that the RP is here to serve as practical experience so you can develop your skills to gain that experience.

Do we like people to walk into their position feeling prepared and having a little knowledge on their section or role? Absolutely. However, so few journalism majors leave their last journalism class having no more knowledge with them when they started, so that’s an unrealistic precedent to hold people to.

To be candid here? Even the staff isn’t perfect. I have my days where not enough experience could have prepared me for the situations I was put in. You grow as you go.

Myth #2: I can’t be an editor without being a staff writer first, so I don’t qualify.

I’m living, breathing, smart-mouthed proof this isn’t true.

August 3, 2014. I kept my phone within inches of me at all times, a few feet away if I was gutsy. My confidence shrank as the clock ticked past four, five, six p.m.

They hadn’t liked me and they just didn’t feel like calling to say, no, we’re not really interested. Maybe join as a staff writer and apply for Photo Editor when you have more experience.

I got the call at 7 p.m. He’d had a hectic day, forgetting to call me in the process.

And with that, I had thrown myself onto of journalists all at least a year older than me, with two, three, four times that in experience.

Was starting my collegiate journalism career the day I stepped on campus always easy? No. Did I qualify to be in a position where I could learn and grow? Hell yes.

Myth #3: I can get a job without it and be just fine.

I have to admit, you’re partially right on this one – Taco Bell doesn’t require you to work at a newspaper in order to fold up chalupas. (This goes the other way, too. My journalism degrees aren’t going to help me learn to fold up a taco like a normal human being.)

If you’re serious about journalism as a future career, you’re going to need an internship to show you can work out in the real world. Real-life editors want to see your success and abilities outside of a campus bubble. No-brainer.

To get that internship locked down, however, you’re going to have to have had a few bylines to your name first.

And sorry, Dr. Kates, but a synthetic story about Kittatinny and Mayor Petykiewicz is not going to impress a newspaper’s group editor. You need to prove you had the drive and dedication to step outside of your classwork and put that education to good use.

Yes, while I love spending my days and nights running back and forth between the Royal Purple office and the UWW-TV edit suites, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say there’s a grand scheme involved with it. Each and every night, I’m evaluating if what I’ve done the day prior is still keeping me on track for my strategy.

I’m out here plotting to beat all of you to the race to Craig Schreiner’s studio for the Hired Before Graduation. Give me a run for my money, literally. Join the RP. Mother knows best.

Fool me once, shame on you

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Call me a stickler or a buzz-kill, but I’m not a huge fan of April Fool’s Day.

It’s not because I don’t like a good prank or a little bit of fun – NBC’s “The Office” is my favorite show. Jim Halpert had my heart from the first stapler in Jell-O. I fully appreciate humor, and the talent it takes to pull off a masterpiece deception.

I start to dislike April Fool’s Day, from a journalist’s perspective, when it starts to mislead people.

Take the article from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire above. I clicked on it, being aware of the date and knowing well enough it was probably a joke. At the end of the article, it said, “Happy April Fool’s Day!”

But here’s the problem: one, unlike what our human psychology likes to convince us, our brains do not, in fact, all think alike, and two, people don’t consistently read all the way to the end of articles, ever. This is Journalism 101. Most of the time, if you can get people to go farther than scrolling past it, that’s an accomplishment in itself.

Some people might not think this is a joke – which yes, is the point of April Fool’s Day – but then they won’t get down to the bottom of the story to find out it’s false.

I feel it is wrong for people who are trusted to be telling the truth and not delude their audiences – news outlets, public sector organizations such as universities and non-profits and politicians – to knowingly publish incorrect information. You have to understand what the significance of your name means. Someone is likely to believe your joke, if it’s coming from a source that hasn’t lied to you in the past.

That’s breaking trust with people, and leaving them to feel stupid. It’s toeing the line of bad taste, no matter what your intentions may be.

April Fool’s Day should be reserved for people to personally pull pranks and have fun. Don’t use your power as an informer of the people to poke fun at them.

An Achille’s heel

blogpostKMW

A throwback to my freshman year, as an infantile me served as the Photo Editor for the RP. Sans glasses, red lipstick and the ability to straighten my hair, apparently. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

Being a college journalist comes with a lot of perks. It keeps you busy, gives you a way to put your education to use and allows you to see your hard work get published.

But it comes with hidden side effects. A loss of sleep, the constant use of computers which will require you to get glasses only a year in, being seen as a journalist, rather than a student.

Earlier last week, a woman of whom I’d interviewed for 15 minutes at the beginning of the semester stopped as she walked past the UWW-TV edit suites just so she could say, “Oh my gosh, you’re that journalist girl!”

It’s at this point you’re ready to say to me, “But Kim, isn’t it good that you’re seen as a journalist? Isn’t that what you want?”

In some ways, yes. Absolutely, I want to be seen as one of the “journalist girls” on campus. It allows me to look at my work, and know I’m making at least a little bit of a difference with the words I write. It validates that I’ve worked hard enough during the past three semesters in order to accomplish that.

But I still mind it a little when I see how it negatively impacts me, because I have yet to develop a skin that can’t be pierced. I still have an Achille’s heel: I’m not always viewed as a student first, at an institution where I should be.

That heel comes in the form of how I watch myself being treated, in comparison to other students. I watch our chancellor sometimes be very short and frank with me when addressing me, only to turn to another student and have a conversation with them as I stand there. Other administrators, faculty and students do the same. Many won’t talk to me on certain topics they’d talk about with anyone else, simply because they look at me not as a student, but as a journalist who wants to take down the entire university, one piece at a time.

It’s a hard idea to wrap your head around, that your treatment is so drastically linked to what you prefer to do. It certainly doesn’t help the issue of campus climate, to preach tolerance only to treat students differently based on their job title. I deserve as much attention as a student who works clerical or works as an intern in the Career and Leadership Development office.

We’re all students first at this point in our lives, and it’s easy for others to forget that with journalism majors.

I’ll take some of the responsibility for that, though. My email signature when I first got here read “Royal Purple | Photo Editor,” and nothing else. It took until last fall for me to add above it that I was a journalism and electronic media major. I unashamedly introduce myself as the News Editor for the Royal Purple, or the News Director for UWW-TV when I’m asked what I do.

My image, from the standpoint of others, is partially my own fault, but when I get snubbed, that it doesn’t make it sting any less sometimes.

At the end of the day, however, if this one of the sacrifices I have to make in order to become one of those “journalist girls,” I’ll take it. It’s a side effect I can live with, because I’m proud of my profession, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.

It’s what the real world will be like anyways.

Political campaign might contribute to campus hatred

For college students, the presidential campaign seems like a far-off land where a rich bigot and two career politicians are in a street brawl for the GOP nomination, and the two Democratic candidates, one an “email-deleter” and the other a “socialist,” are politely disagreeing over the path to the same goals.

I’d like to argue that assumption is dead wrong – especially in the case of Donald J. Trump. At first glance, one might think these campaigns won’t impact college students until the first Tuesday of November.

Sorry, Donald Drumpf. (I’ll get it right next time, John Oliver. I promise).

Most notably, I can see his words and his beliefs reflected in our own UW-Whitewater students through numerous issues with campus climate. 

We’ve had people dropping the n-word on Snapchat and residence hall bulletin boards like they’ve suddenly been possessed by racist ghosts of our country’s past.

Now we have more people taking to Snapchat to record someone using a mobility device, struggling to get around snow-covered walkways. It’s obviously a funny joke to whoever posted it, as they place the “crying-and-laughing” emoji over the video.

Since when is someone having a difficult time getting around a joke? Since Trump decided to throw his toupee (or whatever his hair is) in the ring for presidency, that’s when.

In the past nine months, he has attacked individuals of the black, Latino and Asian ethnicities. He has proposed a ban of all Muslims from entering the United States. He has gone after women, most notably Megyn Kelly, for having “blood coming out of everywhere” when she challenged him on his answer in a debate.

He said on ABC’s “the View” he’d date his daughter Ivanka if she wasn’t, you know, half of his DNA. A few months ago, he mocked a journalist with a disability. Last month, he refused to condemn the KKK on “Meet the Press,” until receiving national pressure to later do so.

Think about our own campus climate now. Is any of this starting to hit home just a little too hard? Might Trump’s behavior be rubbing off onto a country, one that was formerly known for freedom and righteousness?

As I watched former Royal Purple News Editor Alexandria Zamecnik write her stories about campus, she never had to write about UW-W students mocking the disabled, or racism to the point where the Huffington Post wrote about our discrimination. We as a staff never had to write about the campus climate. Granted, it was happening because microaggression is everywhere, but not at this rate.

I don’t even think the news editor before the two of us, Michael Riley, had to sift through issues like this. While Zamecnik and Riley both had continual controversies they wrote about that defined their careers as news editor, mine is going to be defined by campus-wide political unrest and bigotry.

And I think Trump is to blame for that. He’s proven to the country that one can still rise to the top of the polls while being an “everything-ist” pig.

He’s proven this to the country and Whitewater students. It leads people to think it’s acceptable to mock others and deepen divisions.

Enough is enough. As a campus, we need to decide that, no matter our race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion or ability, we don’t approve of this campus climate – and this national climate.

We need to go out to the polls on April 5 for the primary election, and vote for a candidate – from either side of the aisle – who doesn’t act like a schoolyard bully, encouraging others to act just like him.

That’s not who we are as individuals, and certainly not who we are as a campus. Knock it off with the discrimination already.