‘Stay classy, STN’
CNN reporter opens broadcasting convention with inspiring message for young journalists
By Chase Wofford
The Sidekick adviser
DALLAS – CNN correspondent Martin Savidge has claimed some of journalism’s highest honors, including nine local Emmy Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Peabody Award.
But the veteran reporter pauses to gather his emotions as he delivers the keynote address at Thursday’s opening ceremony at the Student Television Network (STN) Convention at the Hyatt Regency Dallas when he talks about his proudest career moment.
CNN’s The Freedom Project brings attention to slavery around the United States and the world. Savidge tells a story about a young woman, who was identified as Isabel in the segment although her name was changed to protect her identity, escaping a situation where she was a slave for a family who purchased her as a child from her mother.
Isabel’s mother was poor and desperate for money. She plans on selling Isabel’s baby sister before Isabel insists on selling herself instead. Her mother ends up selling them both.
Years later after her escape, Isabel tells Savidge she still loves her mother and would like to be reunited. After the story airs, Savidge’s Facebook is flooded with messages from Taiwan as the story became an Internet sensation overseas.
Not long after, Isabel is reunited in her mom.
“No award matches that,” said Savidge, as he addressed the convention crowd of about 1,500 student broadcasters and teachers from across the country in the Landmark ballroom. “These are the stories that make a difference.”
Coppell High School’s KCBY-TV, under the leadership of adviser Irma Kennedy, has about 40 students attending the ninth annual national convention, which is making its first appearance in the Lone Star State.
Savidge delivers a powerful message to the audience, encouraging the students to continue their pursuit of a career in the media. He even shares his Ron Burgundy look-a-like newsroom photos from the early 1980s, proclaiming himself “the original Anchorman.”
“Everybody thinks they are a reporter today,” said Savidge, as he held up his Smartphone to demonstrate how easy it is to post blogs, photos and videos. “One person can reach the entire world. However, citizen journalism is not new.
“Journalism is something that needs to be learned. There are rules and reasons.”
Savidge reminds the students that journalism is the only profession specifically named in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
“Men and women have died to protect that. Do not forget,” Savidge said. “We need to protect that high standard.”
Anybody can create a website to post news. But Savidge reminds that only a journalist is held accountable for the content and for ensuring they report the truth.
Journalists must find both sides of the story, not just the popular viewpoint. Journalism gives a voice to the voiceless. Journalists do not simply report news because they heard about it; they report what their sources can confirm.
“Without trust, you are nothing and that’s developed over years,” Savidge said. “It’s the bond you develop with the audience you serve. We are the grease that allows democracy to work.”
Savidge describes journalism as “the ultimate reality TV.” On Thursday afternoon, he led numerous breakout sessions where students and teachers could gather even more tips from one of the best in the business.
STN sessions and contests continue Friday and the convention concludes on Saturday, with KCBY students awaiting the results of the multiple competitions they entered. In the meantime, KCBY students are soaking in knowledge from experienced professionals.
“Stories are not about what people do. They’re about who people are,” CBS News photojournalist/field producer Les Rose said. “Don’t just focus on the quarterback or the head cheerleader.”
After sharing Isabel’s story, Savidge concludes the keynote address with a message from today’s professional reporters to current scholastic journalists.
“We need every single one of you and we can’t wait to welcome you,” Savidge said.
Facebook, we have a problem
NASA’s Herron identifies helpful rules for social media
Nervous heads turn and a few comments can be heard as students whisper to a friend next to them after NASA technology strategist Sean Herron tells them their current Internet activity will follow them the rest of their lives.
“The Internet is permanent record,” Herron said. “Make sure it represents you best. A resume is more of what you want an employer to think you are. They will go to Google to find out who you actually are.”
Herron is a not a traditional reporter. Rather, his job is to get the attention of news outlets to follow what is happening with our nation’s space program. A key source of communicating with not only journalists but certainly anybody interested in space exploration is through social media.
On Thursday at the STN Convention in Dallas, Herron led a breakout session titled “NASA, Social Media and You.”
He proudly states NASA has over two million followers on Twitter, more than any other government agency. In comparison, however, he adds that Kim Kardashian has 14 million Twitter followers.
But the core of Herron’s message is advice to students in regards to their online activity. His first rule states nothing is ever deleted online, as he shares his story about shutting down his Facebook page only to discover a few months later upon trying to create a new account that all his information – wall posts, photos, everything – is still stored in Facebook.
Next, Herron reminds nothing is private online.
“Assume everyone will see it,” Herron said. “Don’t post something on Twitter that you wouldn’t say in a room of people you do not know.”
Other rules are less serious, including “no one cares what you ate for breakfast” and “people sometimes care about your cat.”
Herron concludes with simple advice as to how you can present yourself to those looking to accept you into a college, award you an internship or hire you as a full-time employee.
“Have a view. Don’t just retweet as nobody is going to care,” Herron said. “They care about your voice and opinions. Be an advocate for your beliefs so say why you are sharing something you find interesting.”
Herron challenges students to be writers online, not users of informal text messaging lingo.
“Be articulate. OMG, LOL and smiley faces on Twitter, these people go in the ‘no’ pile for employers,” Herron said. “Write it out; it makes you seem so much more mature. It helps so much in getting a job or internship.
“Can’t write a full sentence on your Facebook wall? That’s not a good impression.”
The same anxious students who hear Herron’s blunt reminder of the lack of privacy online earlier end the session with one final message from the Syracuse University graduate.
“History is made by people who took risks. Get out of your comfort zone,” Herron said. “Journalism is all about telling stories and being creative.”