Tag: Social Media
Hire Me Campaign selected me as one of 30 young professionals for college students and recent graduates to follow on Twitter. I am listed as the “all-around journalist” and am very excited to be included on this list of young professional actively using Twitter to share ideas and connect with the world.
Here is where I am featured:
The All-Around Journalist- Lynn Walsh
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Company: WPTV, News Channel 5, www.LynnKWalsh.com
Her Advice: Loving what you do is more important than anything. Seek out positions and companies you are passionate about and if it doesn’t exist do not be afraid to create it.
“30 under 30″ Young Professional Twitter List
Need some advice from a young professional in your industry? Check out our “30 Under 30″ Young Professionals to Follow on Twitter list!From bloggers to entrepreneurs, teachers to engineers, they’ve all given advice specifically for you – the young student or recent grad starting the newest chapter of your life! Make sure to follow them for industry insight, tips of the trade and of course, to make a connection with someone who has been in your shoes and knows how to get to the next level!
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.)
‘Bad Weather’ Is Such a Relative Term
Feb 15 2011
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog
In a newsroom the words “bad weather” often mean long hours, overtime and lots of live coverage. It is the sort of thing that as journalists we dread but can wind up loving.
For most of the country recently, “bad weather” has meant cold temperatures, snow and ice, which for many parts of the country is nothing new. But in other parts (like here in Houston, Texas, where I live) it’s an uncommon and unwelcome occurrence that shuts down cities and leave viewers and listeners glued to local weather coverage.
Being from the north and having previously worked for television stations in the State of Ohio winter weather and the stories it brings with it from icy roads to school closings are just part of the daily news rundown.
Anyone who has worked at a television station where snow and cold temperatures are the norm for parts of the year, would probably agree with me when I say it can get a little overdone. From the wall-to-wall coverage of “snowmageddon” to live newscasts that extend hours-beyond what is normally scheduled, weather stories eat up valuable story-telling time in newscasts.
How many stories can a viewer really consume and enjoy about the snowy road conditions, tips to prevent pipes from freezing and how to keep electric costs down? The coverage of winter weather becomes even less of a novelty when promised “10-12 inches” arrive in dustings of less than two.
So, you could imagine my reaction, when at 11 a.m. on a Friday morning, the local television news stations in Houston are still live on-air with wall-to-wall winter weather coverage — here we go again! (To set the stage: the promise of snow in Houston did not turn into much more than some icy roads for most of the city, except in the outlining areas where there was some accumulation, but nothing that came above your tennis shoes.)
The stations were doing the usual cold weather coverage: roads, ice, cold temperatures. After watching the live coverage continue in dismay, I noticed that not only did I need to reconsider my initial negative reaction but that the people around me, Houstonians, actually were getting into the coverage.
At the gym, people could not take their eyes off of the televisions — some were even stopping their cardio routine to get closer to the screen to listen. Not only were they listening, but they seemed genuinely entertained and interested in what the reporters and the anchors were talking about: ice, cold temperatures and some snow.
I was shocked! Until I remembered, I am not in Ohio anymore. I am in Texas where winter weather is not common, where people may not have experience scraping ice from their cars or driving through snow.
This is when it hit me, unusual weather, like temperatures in the 20′s in February in Houston, is something people are interested in. Having to walk on icy sidewalks and even bundling up to wait for the bus stops are not tasks that come as second nature to them.
The non-stop local news coverage of weather that can be overdone and exaggerated in many markets, was in this case warranted and it seems well received.
Have you seen something similar to this while jumping across the country as a journalist? I would love to hear about! Contact me Lynn.K.Walsh@gmail.com or on Twitter @LWalsh.
Location! Location! Location! 4 Ways to Improve the ‘Where’ of Your Coverage
Mar 12 2011
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog & RTDNA Blogger
Whether it is online, on the radio or on TV every story we report happens somewhere. For many the “where” part of that is very important.
As reporters we are traveling in and out of neighborhoods in our communities every day. We become familiar with places and neighborhoods more than most do just living in them. Sometimes, I think, that the familiarity we gain as reporters, editors or photographers can be taken for granted as we write, produce and tell our stories.
We tell the stories and may forget to include our location or just include it with a lower-third or caption in a picture. While the location is there, it is not always the most helpful. Here are some ways we as reporters can better include location in our stories.
1. Create and publish maps. Whether you are talking about a school that may be closed or a big event take the time to create a map, especially if there are multiple points involved. Google Maps, makes it very easy to create maps that can be linked to and embedded in stories. You can add all sort of information to the map including pictures and links to other stories about the points.
2. Improve stand-up locations. Don’t just stand in front of City Hall to talk about something city council members are voting on. Go to the location of the what is being affected. Think of where people being affected live or hang out and go there. This goes for lots of stories we cover, think outside the box and head to areas where people are instead of buildings.
3. Show distance. Showing someone a map of the locations is helpful, but why not take it one step further? See how far the points are from one another or from popular destinations in your community. Look at driving distance, walking distance and even public transportation distances. You could even look at radius of distances and more. You can also use your stand-ups or video stories to demonstrate distance.
4. Include neighborhood names. This may sound basic, but it can be helpful to people who live in your community. Include the names that they are using and add descriptions that tell which part of the city it is too.
Location can provide people with a lot of perspective when reading, watching or hearing a story. When you think about distance and how a person may get there (walking, driving, etc.) it can add even more to the story and maybe even create new and interesting angles.
Now available online: TrentTV webinar on getting military information, podcast on FollowTheMoney.org
Now available online: TrentTV webinar on getting military information, podcast on FollowTheMoney.org
Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011, 04:37PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
Texas Watchdog is covering the InterWebs today — through video and audio — to bring you information about government transparency.
Earlier today we aired our latest episode of TrentTV, our free monthly webinar on using open government laws. Our topic today was getting information from the military.
TrentTV on military records from Texas Watchdog on Vimeo.
We’ve embedded the video on this page, and it’s also available on both Livestream.com and Vimeo.com. (Special thanks to Mark Greenblatt of KHOU-Channel 11 for passing along his advice on the topic.)
Among the points we made in our hour-long broadcast, we talked about how to use the federal Freedom of Information Act to seek records from the federal Defense Department and the challenges that can present. We talked about how to confirm someone’s military service or record as a war hero. We discussed military procurement and contracting; military courts and the access challenges they pose; trying to find out about wrecks, crashes and accidents; and records involving the National Guard, among other topics.
Tune in to TrentTV the fourth Tuesday of every month. We discuss open government in a format aimed at journalists, bloggers, citizen-journalists, non-journalists and just about everyone who wants to keep up with what government is doing.
And this afternoon, we aired our latest episode of Transparency Talk Radio, our weekly podcast/live Internet radio show on government transparency.
We had a great interview today with Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the people who put on the FollowTheMoney.org site that we reference quite a bit here at Texas Watchdog. He talked about campaign finance, transparency, data and all the cool features on their site.
Listen to internet radio with JenniferLPeebles on Blog Talk Radio
Check out our show blog at BlogTalkRadio.com for hyperlinks to all the sites referenced on today’s podcast episode.
You can listen to the podcast on your PC, either directly through your browser at BlogTalkRadio.com or via iTunes, or you can use iTunes to download the audio to your iPod.
While you’re at BlogTalkRadio.com, you can also listen to some of our previous episodes. We’ve done interviews with Laura Frank of Colorado’s INewsNetwork.org about open government and e-waste, Keith Elkins of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, and Kristin McMurray, senior editor of the FOIA-focused wiki Sunshine Review.
And if you haven’t already, please “like” our pages on Facebook for both TrentTV and Transparency Talk Radio to keep up with all the latest news about show times and topics — and feel free to use those links to send us your feedback, comments, questions and topic ideas.
What’s Your ‘News-Year’ Resolution?
Dec 28 2010
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog
Another year is coming to an end and for most people that means promises of new beginnings for a new year.
New Years resolution stories pop-up in news coverage all of the time, but what about taking the time to make your own journalistic-resolutions to welcome in 2011?
Think of the impact committing to just a few changes in the way you report stories could do for your audience. Think of how much better the coverage could be with a few slight changes. Or maybe it is as simple as reviewing your own personal journalism ethics? Below are some ideas to get you thinking:
1. Say no to “press-release reporting.” Press releases come into newsroom mailboxes and in-boxes in hoards it seems. When on deadline it can be easy to pick one out of the pile and use it as your pitch for the day, but is easy what you want to be known for? I am not saying press releases are useless but with the increase use of technology your viewers have probably already heard the news of what is in the press release. Also, the internet has made it easy to share the news from the press release in other ways than taking up valuable minutes in a news cast. Use them for guidance sure, but don’t take the easy way out.
2. Create/Review your personal code of ethics. There are a variety of ethics codes for journalists out there and it is great to check those out, but I think you should also have your own. If you do not, take some time and create one. If you do, take some time to update it. Use the ethics codes that already exist to get some ideas and have a baseline for your own.
3. Vow to make phone calls daily. I have been told this time and time again from veteran journalists and when I actually do this, it really does pay off. (I have learned that two to three calls a day is pretty manageable.) Call people when you do not need them for the story you are working on right now, call them just to chat and ask how they are doing. Sometimes these phone calls can lead to blog posts, twitter updates, or future stories. I know this is one that I will be putting on my resolution list.
4. Learn a new skill. Whether it is HTML, taking better photographs or learning more about social media, learning something new makes you a better journalist, more valuable to your news organization and leads to better stories for your viewers. Think small or if you have the time think big, but learn something new.
5. Think like your viewers. Sometimes you get used to covering education or government and you start using the jargon that goes with it in all of your stories. Take a step-back and make sure the words you are writing, saying or tweeting would make sense to someone who does not follow your beat or your story on a daily or even weekly basis. When it comes to budget stories, make it easy to understand and relate to something your viewer would buy.
6. Use and develop multimedia reporting techniques. The internet is not going anywhere and it will continue to change. If you want to have a future in this industry, I truly believe you have to attempt to learn and understand multimedia reporting techniques and new technologies. There is a lot to take in and it is always changing, so start small if you have to, just remember: taking baby steps is better than standing still.
7. Give back to the industry. Join one of the many non-profit journalism organizations in your area or field. Whether it is just becoming a member and interacting with fellow journalists or taking a bigger role and sitting on a committee or becoming a mentor, it is important to get involved. Journalism is not dying and there are a lot of really great journalists out there. Get in touch with them, young or old, because sometimes the reporting world can feel a little lonely and with all of the writing and reporting that is going on across the country there is no reason to feel lonely!
You could get your whole news organization together to join in on the fun too! The more people you have involved the easier it will be to stick to the promises you made to yourself and your viewers. If you still need a push, think of how much better your coverage as an organization would be if you and every other reporter in the company agreed to do be better reporters by making a few changes!
10 Tips for Building Better Resumes
Exams are almost over, and now is the time to start working on developing your resume. The Society of Professional Journalists wants to help maximize and jump-start your career with these great tips for building better resumes:
Like some news stories, a resume seems to be something that is never perfect and that you are never done writing.
The good news is that a resume should be a “working document” that needs to be tweaked and changed from time to time. Here are 10 tips to help you create or improve your resume.
1. Use updated contact information. Will you be moving back home after graduation? Make sure all contact information will be current for at least six months after sending out a resume. Do not include a school address you will not be living at after graduation or a school e-mail address that may not be active six months after graduation. Also make sure all the contact information for your references is up-to-date and be sure to give all references a heads-up before adding them to your resume.
2. Experience means experience. Whether it was an internship or job, whether you got paid or you did not, if you gained experience that will help you in a future job, it should be included. This includes a website or podcast you do as a side project or the Pulliam/Kilgore FOI Internship.
3. Awards and honors are more than statues. It is important to include examples of when your work was recognized. Most of the time this includes awards like the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards, but do not forget other honors like scholarships or a training/conference you were selected to attend.
4. Chronological order may not always be the best. Just because it is the most recent position does not mean it should always go first. Lead with what will show a potential employer why you are the most qualified for the job you are applying for. If your last position was as a copy editor, but you are applying for a reporter position and have four years of reporting experience, lead with the reporting experience.
5. Don’t hide the lead. Potential employers know what interns do so leave the boring details for the end or completely off. Were you put in charge of all the news interns at a station? Did something you wrote get published? Did you win an award while working for the publication? Say you are an award-winning journalist, say you were in charge. Always lead with what sets you apart from other candidates. Leave the transcribing details for the very end or off the page.
6. Make sure skills are skills. A section dedicated to the skills you have can be valuable if utilized correctly. Lead with what sets you apart. Do you know HTML? Flash? Make sure those skills are at the top and leave Microsoft Word and Windows toward the end of the list.
7. Cater your resume. It is a great idea to have a basic resume ready at all times. But, when applying for jobs, you should not be sending the same resume to two difference places. If you are applying for an online position you will want to showcase your online experience; if you are applying for a producing position, showcase your producing experience, etc.
8. Don’t get lost in titles. Whether it is an award or a publication you worked for, if it is not easily recognizable, come up with an alternative way of saying it on first reference. Names of publications and news stations may ring-a-bell in that particular city, but across the country or the world they will probably not mean much. Use call letters instead of station names. Describe the scholarship as a journalism scholarship from your school then follow with the title.
9. Presentation is everything. First, your resume should always be one page. I know we all have done a lot, but at this point in your career it needs to be only one page. Second, make sure the font is legible and not too small. A few other things: make sure the paper you are using is not distracting, do not be afraid to use boxes to separate some accomplishments and do not be afraid to bold or italicize key words.
10. List and use social media. If you use Twitter professionally, make sure you include your username prominently on the resume. On a paper resume I would leave off Facebook and LinkedIn URLs because they are too long – but ALWAYS include them electronically and mention you are on them. Send people to your personal website or blog and make sure it is updated. If your accounts are not professional, do not link to them and it is probably a good idea to clean them up before applying for jobs.
Lynn Walsh is an investigative video journalist with Texas Watchdog and chairwoman of the SPJ Generation J Committee.
Generation J Toolbox
Polish your paper and online portfolios
By Lynn Walsh
It’s the end of yet another year, and as the holiday season begins to consume our lives and singers of the past attempt to entertain (or haunt) us with holiday music downloads, “best of” and “worst of” lists are taking over the radio, television and Internet.
From Top 40 song countdown lists to the “Best of (fill in the blank) in 2010” on VH1, everyone and everything is getting ranked, including journalists and news stories. As award season in the journalism world is in high gear, now is the time to make sure you land on the top of lists and not near the bottom.
Whether you are applying for a fellowship, a graduate program or a prestigious award, make sure you, your work and your online identity are polished and ready to be dissected under the microscope of judges and admission counselors.
Thanks to the Internet, information is more readily available now than ever before. A quick Internet search can turn up various types of information about a person in mere minutes. And because most fellowships, awards or job applications will involve more than a written component, it is important to make sure you are putting your best lead and montage forward online, on paper and in person.
● Search yourself. Don’t worry about what a co-worker would say (they most likely do it themselves). I was once told you want the first page of search results to either be links you “own” or control or nothing related to you at all.
● Update all social media profiles. Take a day and go through the steps to make your profile 100 percent complete on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Actually use the “find connections on Twitter/Facebook” tools. Get recommended on LinkedIn. These profiles, if used correctly, can serve as a longer, more-detailed resume.
● Create or increase your personal Web page. Whether it is a blog on Blogspot, a website or a Tumblr page, create it and use it. How can you apply for an online media position, fellowship or award if you don’t have a Web presence?
● Make sure what is online is what you want your professional contacts, future and past, to know about you. If a friend’s post on your Facebook page makes you uneasy, delete it! Real friends will understand.
● Update your resume. You do not want to be scrambling the night before an application deadline to fix the header and footer on your resume. Take a night or a Sunday afternoon and get it in order; making it a regular habit helps.
● Make sure your references are recent and make sure they are aware they are your references. Need new ones? Join professional groups and organizations to develop new relationships.
● Write a cover letter. Every cover letter should not be the same, and sometimes writing one when you really don’t need it can produce better results.
● Practice answering the usual questions. Practice makes perfect, right? So why not take time to answer typical application questions about yourself once in a while?
● Keep updated business cards on hand at all times. You never know who you are going to run into.
● Know your elevator speech. What are your strengths? What sets you apart from other journalists? What does your job description really mean? Know the answers to these questions and be able to share with someone in plain English in about 15 seconds.
● Use new technologies to sell yourself. Consider using QR codes that link to your website, your best work, a video or contact information. Bookmark videos or pages of your best work on your smart phone (if you have one) so they can be quickly accessible. Download mobile apps that allow for you to instantly share contact information. Of course, make sure your contact information is up to date!
If you are having a hard time, bring in outside help. I’m not talking about a consultant, and it does not have to be someone in the business. Get an outside perspective; have a parent or non-journalism friend take a look. Sometimes an “outsider” can provide insight or a new perspective on how to highlight your strengths.
Updating resumes and social media profiles can be overwhelming and tedious, so try to space it out and do it regularly. Set aside time once a month or so to focus on putting your best foot forward online, in person and on paper.
Lynn Walsh is chairwoman of the SPJ Generation J Committee; she works as an investigative video journalist for Texas Watchdog in Houston. Contact her on Twitter @LWalsh or at Lynn.K.Walsh@gmail.com.
Slow Newsroom Around the Holidays?
Dec 10 2010
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog
Let’s face it, if you cover City Hall, the Statehouse or any government organization for that matter, getting a hold of people around the holidays can be pretty difficult. Whether it is a few weeks without a returned phone call or a few days without an e-mail response, getting in touch with anyone around this time of year is a little tricky.
Sounds like a great time to lay back and relax, right? Well, why not take advantage of the time? Here are some suggestions on how to spend the “down-time” being productive:
1. Investigate. One of the biggest complaints journalists have is that there is never enough time for a story. Well, now is your chance to dig-in and read or at least skim that 1,000-plus page report on the school system. Or maybe it is a database of contractors the city uses that you want to search through and wrap your head around. Now is the time to do that. Someone at the city or the school district may not be available for contact, but when they are you will be more than prepared to ask the tough questions.
2. Experiment. Whether you are producing a newscast or a reporter covering a holiday travel story, use the opportunity of covering something a little less “newsy” to try something new. Whether it is a new stand-up or a new online tool to incorporate in your broadcast, trying out something new is a lot easier to do with a story on Christmas than it is on a breaking news story where several people have lost their lives.
3. Reach out. People love coming together on the holidays. People also like an excuse to get out of the office. Why not give it to them? Is there a contact you have been dying to reconnect with? Let them know and invite them to get coffee or lunch or a drink. People are busy around the holidays but it may also be the perfect excuse to get in touch with them — the year is ending and you want to catch up!
4. Branch out. Have you always wanted to cover the education beat? Or maybe you have been dying to cover city government? In news, the holidays also mean short-staffed newsrooms and lots of vacation requests. Use this to your advantage and pick up the extra shifts, even if it is not something you would normally do. Try out the morning news or maybe you want to see what night-side is all about. Always ask permission first and who knows, you might find a new favorite beat or shift!
5. Learn. Everyone has a story that they just cannot forget about. Sometime you are left always wondering if there is more to it than what was reported or that authorities let you know about. Now is your chance to see if your inclination is true. Reach out to an expert in that field or pick up a book about the subject. Research what other news organizations have covered related to it, contact the reporter who wrote the story to see how they went a little deeper. The more you learn the more you can tell your viewers.
The holidays are fun and people tend to be happy or looking for an excuse to be happy. Give it to them. Happy Holidays!
Story Follow-Up Is Just as Important as the Story!
Dec 20 2010
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog
Growing up my eyes were always glued to news coverage. Whether it was a major tragedy (Princess Diana’s death and the Columbine shootings) or a high-profile court case (O.J. Simpson) I watched ad national and local news outlets told the stories.
As a journalist there is one thing that’s always frustrated me about big stories – there is very little follow-up.
Whether it is a national story or a local story, you will see non-stop, wall-to-wall coverage for a few days or maybe weeks, but then nothing (until the six-month or year anniversary).
Take the Gulf Oil Spill as an example. Almost every station had a live feed of the oil spilling into the gulf on their websites or TV coverage. The national news outlets covered it at least hourly and most local news stations probably had at least one story a day in their newscasts. But now, the coverage is near obsolete.
I think why the absence of follow-up in news coverage bothers me is because it is really not too difficult. As a reporter or a news organization you have already made the needed contacts, you probably have enough video and quotes to do completely fresh stories and you already KNOW the facts.
With the Internet and social media following up on stories is even easier. Here are some tools that will make follow-up stories a little easier.
Mark your calendar – almost every story is going to have future dates where something is happening. For trials it may be deadlines for appeals. For murders or other tragedies it may be deadlines for lawsuits. If there are audits going on in government there are normally lots of deadlines of when information is due. Elections have lots of paperwork deadlines. Take the time to write these down and save them to a calendar.
No new news does not mean don’t report – Information that you get for a follow-up may no be that interesting. No one filed for a lawsuit or no new information was found in an audit. That doesn’t mean people don’t want to know about it. Will it go in your A-block or front page–probably not but there are other ways to share the information. Use social media accounts to send the update and link back to past coverage. Write a short blog about the update or have it going across the screen in a ticker.
Don’t forget about the characters in the story – Sometimes you are not able to talk to everyone involved in a story (especially a victim or accused) continue to reach out to them even after the story leaves the headlines. If the story was big enough people will not care if a year or more have passed since the incident happened.
Legislation or new laws – Sometimes major events can trigger lawmakers to put laws in place to prevent the same thing from happening again. Keep a close eye on if this is happening and be sure to point out the connection. Sometimes the bigger story is that no one is doing anything to prevent it from happening again. That’s when you can ask why and it could lead to a bigger investigation.
If the story was big enough to break into Oprah then it probably deserves some follow-up attention!