Fall 2012 JEA/NSPA High School Journalism Convention notes

Here’s a recap from the fall 2012 JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

Sidekick staffers, adviser Chase Wofford and KCBY adviser Irma Kennedy will be attending the spring JEA/NSPA Convention in April in San Francisco.

Keynote speaker Rodolfo Gonzalez – Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist currently with the Austin American-Statesman

–       some of his best pictures have been taken at a high school

–       You want to create images that tell a story. High schools provide the opportunity to tell a thousand stories

–       Cameras are simply tools. You must know how to listen. The ultimate goal is to tell a story

–       Power of photography is to communicate to so many people on so many different levels

–       Look up Gonzalez’s “Chasing Hope” story about a young lady who barely survived a drunk driving accident/she was hit by an 18-year-old high school football player. Her story has brought hope to so many different people. It’s a story about survival.

–       Gonzalez approached the young lady and her father in court and said “I’d be honored to photograph you and tell your story.”

–       People are more than what you see. Talk and listen to them and learn who they are

–       Learn to get a feel for people’s body language. Go say hello and introduce yourself

–       (on Columbine Pulitzer Winning coverage) Your job is to record and communicate what has happened the best that you can. Sharing allows people to know how to help

–       You are not there for yourself. Pay attention. All you can do is focus on what’s in front of you

–       It’s not the camera that will make your image. It’s what you see and feel

–       I’m trying to tug at your heart strings and trying to communicate something so you connect to the story

–       Make eye-to-eye contact with who you are photographing. Acknowledge people

–       I spend more time talking to my subjects than photographing them

–       The camera is an ice breaker

–       Rule of thumb: shoot and edit what’s in the camera. Be very minimal – crop, lasso, dodge, color correct – that’s it

–       The best photojournalists are journalists first. Today the two are intertwined

–       Be a good journalist and the photojournalist will come along with it

–       If you don’t know what you are photographing, you are not going to do a good job

–       Photojournalism crosses all mediums. Print-Online-Gallery-Video

–       Shoot pictures all the time. Practice makes perfect

Online Pacemakers: from meh to epic – Logan Aimone, NSPA

Presentation posted at http://www.slideshare.net/loganaimone

NSPA Multimedia Guidebook is basis for judging

1st – Content and Coverage

–       use Facebook and Twitter to ask questions to interact

–       use Storify

–       Make places to submit content. Think photos

–       Use “Most Popular” widget in WordPress. “Quick Look” – preview of most recent stories

–       Improve video and audio

–       Nothing amplifies your shortcomings like weak photos

Strengthening your reporting with social media – Melissa Warner and Casey Tedrow, Center Grove High School, Greenwood, Ind.

–       use personal accounts to get the word out. Students are greatest resource

–       Publish events through social media

–       Use more QR codes

–       Use #hashtags more

–       Run competitions such as Instagram photo contests

–       Use your platform for school/district event notices

–       Instagram provides lots of ways to tell a story

–       Watch all trends to inform and report the news. Fill this need in your school. This builds community relationships and connections

–       Social media ethics: tell the truth. People in the future will pay attention to what you tweet now

–       Respond to negativity carefully

–       Only tweet what you know

–       Name your sources. Be up front with sources

–       Time for all students to get on LinkedIn

–       Add Facebook and Twitter accounts to email signatures

Football, faith and chicken fried steak – author Joe Nick Patoskie of Wimberly, Texas

–       “I’m curious” – the drawing force of people who go beyond reporting

–       Place is very important and to put it into context is very important. To put it into context, you must understand culture

–       Make observations – what are the differences?

–       Easiest way to get to a culture? Eat it. Don’t have to know Spanish to know a good enchilada or breakfast taco. Taste good? Get to know more about it

–       Music helps understand a culture. If it sounds good, you don’t know to know the language. You will want to know more.

–       What’s the context? What’s going on around you?

–       Football. Part of Texas culture. In Texas, if you don’t have a video board, you are nothing. But the kids operating these video boards go to college with skills others don’t have

–       I love to have subjects thrown at me. Give it to me! Let me see if I can write it.

–       I’m getting to be a better storyteller. I’m not there yet.

Keynote Charean Williams – NFL beat writer with Fort Worth Star-Telegram

–       You never know when the janitor or security guard or secretary will help you out.  They will be willing to help you because you are nice to them, know their names and smile

–       If you are assigned to do something, find a way to get it done. If you promise to do something, make sure you keep your promise (such as making your interviews quick or keeping something off the record)

–       The words you don’t print are sometimes more important than the words you do print

–       As a reporter, never break down. If you are right, continue to know you are right

–       Ask questions that are not related to their sport. Establish that relationship

No excuses – Bobby Hawthorne, Austin

–       A lot of students are caught in a trap or rut. Stop doing the same thing!

–       Don’t blame me! It’s your fault individually, not the staff. Can’t just blame the adviser, principal, photographers, readers – whoever

–       You need meaning, not words on a page. Stupid stories are about your friends, English classes, love, blah blah blah

–       The rule is never the story; the story is the exception to the rule

–       Sell the story nobody knows

–       Don’t do stupid stories. Example: What are you afraid of? Spiders and snakes. Duh! Nobody likes snakes or spiders

–       Find the kid who has a tarantula at home. That’s the story!

–       Nobody needs a page on the history of Christmas, gift ideas, movie ideas, etc. Dumb!

–       News is not what you think it us. It’s what you don’t know

–       Prom stories – these stories are dead on arrival

–       Pie charts – yuck! These are stupid. You job isn’t to teach geometry so don’t do it.

–       News – Death by Google. Quit going to Google – it’s not journalism

–       It’s all about Reporting

  • Cover stories that matter
  • Which stories are mandatory? Which stories are optional?
  • Find the right sources. Experience trumps opinion
  • Ask the poignant questions
  • Ask the obvious questions
  • Capture the moment

–       Writing matters but reporting is the key

–       It’s about the right person in the right moment

–       Life is like war. 59:30 minutes of sitting around doing nothing and 30 seconds of sheer heck. Write about those 30 seconds

–       Hard work trumps talent every time

  • Success isn’t about talent
  • You must be curious
  • You must be brave
  • You must be motivated
  • You must be persistent

–       Use your voice to tell your own story

–       Find the right person at the right moment

–       Quite writing articles and write stories. People don’t read articles. They read stories.

–       To be a good journalist or editor, you need curiosity and courage

–       Most important questions: Why? How? So what? What if?

–       “Go along for the ride”; write to be read

Feature writing: get ideas from the best – Susan Newell, Northridge High School, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

–       Read good writing to write well

–       News: inverted pyramid and summary leads

–       Features: grabber leads

  • Characters
  • Dialogues
  • Descriptions
  • Difference in sentence structure

–       Read contest winners “America’s Best Newspaper Writing”

  • Save something good for the end
  • Never put numbers in the lead
  • Always cut 100 words

–       Jim Dwyer of The New York Times/ASNE winner

  • Focus: tell what your story is about in one sentence
  • “Angle is like a clothesline with pieces of a story hanging from it”

–       Good features are planned

–       Transitions come from information learned in the interview

–       Direct quotes shoe emotion of the story

–       Put people in the story. Describe them and show them doing what is interesting about what they do

–       End feature with a strong quote or tie it back to the lead. Think feature circle or Wall Street Journal formula

–       Descriptions – show, don’t tell

Investigative reporting: journalism’s legal high – Brett Shipp, WFAA-TV, Dallas

–       Everybody is in charge of being an investigative reporter. A good reporter investigates

–       Corruption is everywhere you look. Where there is money involved, there is corruption

–       Trust your instincts. Always question when something doesn’t seem right

–       Always looked for relationships with government employees

–       Always ask for proof, evidence, back-up, documentation

–       Always get the other side of the story

–       Bird dog the story as long as it takes. Never let a good story drop if there is not a resolution

–       Follow the patterns. Tug the thread until you get to the core

–       Always know the answer before you ask the question. Because then you hear the person lie and there is nothing better

–       Open records are your best friend – this information is key

–       Twitter is a gold mine. So much incriminating stuff is casually posted on Twitter

–       Best defense – keep the camera rolling

–       Once you do that first good story, people will come to you with stories

–       WFAA-TV – some of the best writers in the business

–       Today’s journalists are the writers of our own demise. We don’t fight for the best stories




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