Aug 09 2011
By Lynn Walsh, RTDNA Blogger
As news consumption and delivery continues to change, your role in the newsroom probably continues to change too. Sometimes probably more quickly than you would like.
While you cannot always control what story you are covering on a particular day, you can work to help shape the topics and stories you become remembered and known for.
I think the best way to do this is to think about what you want to become an expert in. Think of it as the go-to person in your newsroom when someone needs a source, story idea or advice about a particular story.
You could be an expert in almost anything. Maybe it is a particular beat (city council, the local school board political races, etc.) or maybe it is a type of reporting (investigations, consumer, breaking news, etc.) You could also become an expert based on mastering certain skills (mobile reporting, creating multimedia and interactive web tools, public information requests, etc.)
Whatever it may be make sure you enjoy it!
Once you have figured out what you want to work on becoming an expert in, here are some tips on how to become the expert for your newsroom.
Build sources. While you may not always be the one covering the story it is important that you have the contacts related to your particular expertise if you want to be considered the expert. Keep contact information for everyone you talk to and keep it organized in a way that is easy to understand and share. Don’t forget about finding sources on social media sites like Twitter and Quora too. Also remember to create follower lists and join groups on these sites.
Obtain information. Sign-up for all the email updates. Ask to be sent all the press releases related to the topic or beat. Create google alerts related your subject. Sign up for local, state and federal newsletters related to the topic. More information provides you with more story ideas and keeps you informed.
Network with the real experts. Look up local experts and meet with them. Do it one on one or find group meet-ups or events planned by them and attend. It is a great excuse to talk to them and you never know when they may have a tip or story for you!
Practice makes perfect. If you like reporting from your phone or using new technology then practice these skills. Attend and apply for trainings to develop skills. Sign-up for webinars and take advantage of all of the free online training that are available on journalism organization sites like RTDNA.
Participate. Whether it is at an event or on a social media site, don’t just sit and observe people, participate in the conversations. Ask questions, share your stories and other stories related to the topics.
Also, remember to give back when you can. Even though you are not a doctor and did not go to medical school if your best had been covering the medical field for years, you can provide information and a different insight many in the medical field may not have heard before. If they ask you to speak at a conference, consider it. And also, remember to share your knowledge with other journalists. Whether that is at conventions, running a webinar or just making yourself available to other journalists, it will pay off in the end!
How are you working to become an expert in your newsroom? Let me know, Lynn.K.Walsh@gmail.com or on Twitter @LWalsh.