PIO. Why didn’t I know?

This may seem like a silly and quite short post, but clearly I am oblivious to the common journalism world. When I reached out to institutions, I would usually call the mainline, like the front desk. Calls were usually never returned, and I would feel like I was at a dead end. Little did I know there is an amazing position in most institutions called a PIO. A PIO? What is that? A public information officer.

Yeah, yeah. That is a pretty common knowledge thing, but not for me!

For example, I would continuously call the mainline for the police station and fail to get a  returned call. I was really confused. I would leave multiple messages, but nothing. Clearly they were just doing their job because the PIO handles all the information!

So, short but sweet post. I now am a big girl who knows what a PIO is and how helpful they can be. I reached out to a hospital PIO about a story I barely had information on. I had one lead, and by the end of the conversation, he set up three interviews for me with the important people.

So the conclusion of this lesson? PIOs are cool, and they help clueless journalists find the information they need to carry out a story.

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My First Article

Big day for me Wednesday! I was given my first GA assignment, that didn’t fall through, and it made it on the front page of the Missourian! It was about Missouri Task Force One returning home from Texas after spending 13 days there to assist with hurricane relief. Read the story here.

Let me begin by saying I learned A LOT just from going on my first GA assignment. The time of arrival for the task force was constantly changing, so as I was doing research on them, I needed to refresh Facebook every once in a while to make sure I wouldn’t miss them. Soon enough, it is around 10:50 a.m., and I refreshed the page. “Missouri Task Force One will be arriving at 11:30 a.m.” NOTE: The original time was 12:30 p.m. So, here I was struggling to write down all the facts and questions I wanted answered and running out the door.

I texted my photographer that they are arriving early, she informed me that she wouldn’t be able to make it and that I needed to not only take pictures but also conduct the interviews. “GREAT!” I thought. First GA assignment and thrown right in there.

When I arrive, my heart was racing a little. I wasn’t sure where to go because I was the first news reporter to arrive. Thankfully, the chief was there to show media where to go and when.

The families of the task force began to arrive and suddenly it is like a race of the journalists to see who can get to the families first. I kind of stayed back to allow the families to not be overwhelmed. I knew I would get my chance. As I watched the limited number of families get photographed and talked to by reporters, I observed what they did. I was really nervous about messing up my first assignment, which don’t worry, I still did.

Finally, the task force arrived, and the press waited for members to come out and talk. In the mean time, I am took notes of all details I observed for possible background or details for the story. I noticed a trail effect happening. I walked over to the task force trailers to note the number of deployments, another reporter walked over after I walked away to see what I was doing. Then, he did the same thing. Real original.

Anyways, once the task force came out to be interviewed, I talked with each one. The interviews were great and recorded for accuracy, but I messed up the most important part: get everyone’s contact information. I got half of the contacts I needed because I had a huge brain fart. Once I got back to the Missourian, I literally sat there and jumped thinking, “Crap! I forgot to get contact information.” Luckily, the ones I had helped with the accuracy of my story.

Best part of the experience? Watching a homecoming for hard workers and having the privilege to report on it.

What did I learn? Don’t forget to get everyone’s contact information! Just a rookie mistake, but is it okay since I’m a rookie? No. Won’t happen again.

Declaration of Religion – Ethical Move?

Lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 5 brought multiple questions up for discussion. One that seemed to have stumped students was, “Should a journalist declare their religion on social media?” Declaration can be in a bio, likes, retweets, shares, photos, etc. The ethics behind this question is calling on my Christian side and journalist side.

While declaring a political party can be a problem for a journalist, is religion also a problem? When a source/friends/reader/anyone looks at your social media, there is already a present bias on if they believe they would like you and/or get along with you. If a journalist puts that he/she is a Republican, there is judgement coming from all sides. Someone who is a Democrat could be a potential source or reader that may avoid your work and/or publication because there isn’t a common interest. The potential source or reader may believe your stories have bias, so it is clear to see why politics are a problem. But religion? Do the same implications apply to religion as politics?

To answer this question, we need to ask the same questions we do with politics. Will a source/friend/reader see your religion and believe there is a bias? Well, yes. It is known that religious people tend to lean more conservative, so there may be an implication that the journalist is a conservative, even if they’re not. In addition, if someone is a religions journalist, declaring a religion can question the neutrality of coverage.

While assuming politics and religion are exclusively related is not always a guarantee, sources/readers can infer whatever they want, and they will. In my opinion, if you want to keep as much credibility and neutrality in reporting, avoid declaring a religion publicly. That isn’t to say a journalist cannot retweet/share/like religious-related content – because it is likely to be unbiased if from a credible news source.

Now on a personal level, I have strong Christian values and having a Bible quote or sharing Christian content is part of my identity. Do I personally think it will affect my credibility as a journalist? Considering I do not report on religion and politics, I do not find a exponential problem with what I do. Ethically and morally, I do not feel right taking away such a huge identity in my life despite the oppression that can come with my declaration; however, no matter what we say or do in life, there is always an oppression. Journalists are humans too.

Gaps, Optimism and Persistence

While writing a story, I want to make sure I hit every question a reader will ask. This is especially important in journalism. If a reader is reading a story, but still has questions to ask after reading, did a journalist do their job? In my opinion, there are two ways to go about this situation. One, if there is not an answer to a question yet, state that in the story. Updates are important! Two, when editing your work, pretend you have no idea what is going on in the story. Be as unbiased and “uninformed” as possible, and ask those questions a reader would ask.

As I was writing my story this week, I went back through my piece and asked every question a possible reader would ask. What I learned was that my story had gaps. There were parts within my story that had a source’s quote on statistics. While this is helpful, the reader would ask, “How does he/she know this?” That is where the gap is and where I need to fill it.

To fill this gap, I need to talk to the police department. One problem, it is not always the easiest getting ahold of police. So, I called the police department and immediately received a voicemail that informed me the PR woman is not in the office, and she will not be back until Tuesday, which is in a couple days. The story is not urgent, so I say, “Okay I will leave a voicemail and call back Tuesday.” A theme I believe will be brought up in my next blog is optimism and persistence. The statistics I need from the police may not be easy to get, but I will need to stay optimistic when talking to the police and persistent.

The Perfect Source

Today I had my first interview for my first Missourian story. While I have interviewed people in the past, this interview felt especially real and terrifying, in a sense. Since it is my first story, I want to have the perfect interview with the perfect person so I can have the perfect story. Did that happen? Well, actually, maybe.

My source was extremely nice AND had documents, history and news to share with me. Not only was I prepared, but he was prepared as well. While I was freaking out on the inside, my source’s composure and professionalism relaxed me. I hadn’t experienced someone who was professional like my source was. All my past sources have always gotten the job done, but today, I learned what equality looks like in the interviewing process. I was bringing my knowledge and expertise as a journalist to the table while my source was bringing his knowledge and expertise as a pharmacist to the table.

Having a source that is more than willing to talk to you, give you information with hard documents as examples as well as providing more knowledge than I expected is rare – well, for me so far in my career. As a student especially, my source did not let that restrain him from providing insightful information and experience.

As a student journalist set off on her first interview for a reputable news company, I was terrified. I learned that going into an interview, you never know what is going to happen. While sometimes the interview can lead you to a dead end, I experienced an open door.

Hurricane Harvey

As I pulled up the Missourian to read for the day, two articles caught my eye: “Missouri Task Force One deploys for Texas to lend emergency support” and “With time running out, thousands flee Hurricane Harvey.” The hurricane is set to hit Texas late Friday or early Saturday, and since my family lives in Texas, I wanted to know what was going on.

After reading the two articles, I asked myself a couple of questions. How is a hurricane that is expected to be a category 2 hurricane going to do as much damage as Hurricane Katrina? In the AP article, University of Miami senior hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said that Hurricane Harvey is “on par” with Hurricane Katrina; however, The National Hurricane Center classified Hurricane Harvey as category 2. Hurricane Katrina was a category 5. Something between the research both parties did does not add up.

Secondly, why aren’t bordering states sending their task forces to Texas? In the feature,  the Boone County Fire Protection District accounted for Ohio, Utah, California, Tennessee, Nebraska, Indiana and Colorado as states sent to Texas. Where is Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico? I would think the bordering states would do as much as they can to help, but maybe there is more information or efforts once the damage of the hurricane is done.

I am excited to see how the story unfolds. Will the hurricane be predicted correctly by The National Hurricane Center or McNoldy?

My First Day as a GA

The news room is something you think you know and understand because of the movies, but it is a little different than what you, or should I say I, thought. Here are some comprehensive lessons I’ve learned as my first day as a GA:

1 – Keep track of time.

When I first started the day, I was unsure what I was stepping into. I knew that a newsroom works at a fast pace, but I underestimated how fast time goes. When there are deadlines, research and interviewing to be done, that alone can take hours. When you get back to the newsroom, the deadline could be minutes away.

2 – Be ready to shift at any moment.

You may be working on a story that calls all your attention. You’re intently researching and calling numbers, trying to get anything and everything done. Suddenly, a breaking story comes through and there is a scheduling conflict. Well, that happened to me. I originally had a conference to report on, but then, breaking news called. I gave up my conference and fled to the breaking news scene.

3 – Don’t be afraid.

A new responsibility calls for new experiences and new relationships. Unsure of how to approach these situations can lead to extreme anxiety, well, for me; however, I found that eagerness can get keep you busy when jumping into a new situation like a news room. I was eager to start this new journey and get rolling. I was researching everything I could in search of that breaking story. I knew I was constantly asking questions, possibly annoying people, but I needed to do that in order to push myself out of my box.

Being a GA is pretty cool. I’ve learned so much in a little amount of time. This semester is going to give me exposure to an experience unlike any other, and I can’t wait.

Skills Thus Far in J2150

Before going into J2150, I had not used an audio recorder or professional cameras. I had to learn from the beginning how to use each piece. On top of that, learning how to use Adobe software. The biggest challenge for me was the Adobe software. It takes a lot of time and patience to use the software because there are so many functions to use. Premiere Pro is the hardest for me to use. I spent hours trying to figure out basic functions. It is a very complex software. I thought I would easily use the software because I used to edit videos when I was younger; however, I was using Windows Movie Maker. That is a very basic and easy software. As for using the equipment, everything is straightforward. Going in with a plan is one thing I learned is necessary. If I didn’t do that, my pieces would not have been the way they were. Especially with video and audio I had to think about where I would get nat sound. Video was extra tricky because it was similar to audio in that it needed nat sound, but it also needed visuals.

I believe I am strongest in photography. I think I am a novice in every part (video, audio, photo), but with photography, I am able to control the camera and understand lighting. I also love being able to represent people as art through the lens. I need to improve with video. I believe that I could have a stronger video presence if I was able to understand Premiere better. Maybe it is not so much the equipment but the editing that is hard. I have only used video once at this point, but I am going to keep practicing my editing skills for the final project.

Skills that I would like to gain would be the ability to smoothly edit a video. I said this, but I think it is a really important skill to master. Most likely, I will have to make a short video like the ones we did in class. I want to have the most practice now while I have the opportunity. I would also like to improve on my photography. It is great when everything lines up for a story; however, I experienced where everything that could go wrong, did. I want to become stronger at tackling those types of situations. I will do this, but I will also practice and pay attention to multimedia pieces to mimic the way journalists deal with those types of situations.

A Blast From the Past: KOMU

I decided to watch a segment from four years ago from KOMU 8 News at Ten. For one, it was fun to see Jim Riek from the past to see how he has improved as a journalist over the years. Secondly, I enjoy local news, even if it is outdated. It was when I wasn’t a resident, so it is interesting to see the evolution or similarities of the community as well.

There were multiple segments throughout this piece ranging from the Treveon Marshall shooting incident to the alleged iPhone that sent an electric shock that killed a 23-year-old girl in China; however, I am going to focus on the specific coverage of those pieces so I am able to comment on the video usage.

To begin, the Treveon Marshall video was short and sweet for the small space broadcast has for each story, but it was impactful in multiple ways. The coverage showed the vigil that was held for the boy. With that, the reporter took a reactionary video, detail of the candles, while also explaining the significance, and a general overview of the vigil. The coverage of this as a journalist brought in all accounts of what happened and all prospectives. The reporter talked about the incident as a brief what happened. He then talked to the family on what they were hoping to do with the vigil. In turn, they want help raising $6,000 to bury their son. There were also comments of police officers attending the vigil, and also, the investigation of how the police are going about this incident.

The second news I would like to feature is the girl that was allegedly shocked by the iPhone and died. The video coverage of this piece contains images of an iPhone store, a burned iPhone and an electrical cord. These three distinct videos show us the what happened and the who did it. The combination of the Apple store, tying it to the iPhone and finishing with the cords connect an image in the head of the accident. Looking at a journalistic perspective, the main who, what, where, when and how were answered in the minute long brief.

One thing overall that I noticed with this segment was the originality of video is sometimes unavoidable. When there are top stories trending, any news organization would want to cover them; however, how does a local Columbia organization go to China, for example, to get original footage and an interview when there is a language barrier? I thought the journalistic presentation of the accident was a great way for viewers to get interested while also getting a taste of the story. I also noticed that KOMU tries to bring visuals away from the reporter’s face for more than a couple of seconds to help keep the audience interested and help viewers visualize the content. KOMU is also very factual, unlike other news organizations. I began watching a Fox News segment, but it quickly became a debate, and that did not interest me as a journalist or viewer.

 

Homes for More

Something Else2

Rainbow House is located in Columbia to help with homeless children, teens and young adults. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

Rainbow House

Rainbow House’s family area for the children, teens and young adults to play, draw or hang out. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

 

COLUMBIA – Boone County is the leader in Mid-Missouri for homelessness, most of whom are sheltered.

Rainbow House is a shelter in Columbia for homeless children, teens and young adults. Mark Kirchhoff is the Homeless Youth Program coordinator at Rainbow House. The rate of homeless children, teens and young adults in Boone county ranges from 180 to 220, Kirchhoff said. The number is hard to identify because kids do not want to admit they are homeless for fear of foster care or other consequences, Kirchhoff continued.

Mark Kirchhoff

Mark Kirchhoff, the Homeless Youth Program coordinator, poses in front of the play area at Rainbow House in Columbia, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

Rainbow Houses offers a wide range of programs such as: crisis care, child advocacy, emergency shelter and homeless youth. The difference between the other programs and the program Mark coordinates is that the Homeless Youth Program is for the “transition” ages, 16 to 21 years old, Kirchhoff said.

The teens and young adults in the Homeless Youth Program stay at Rainbow House for about 18 months, Kirchhoff said.

“I love seeing that breakthrough moment,” Kirchhoff said.

He recalled a recent memory where a young woman was staying in the house and needed to find employment. She was not allowed to stay in the house unless she found employment. Kirchhoff said they were close to asking her to leave until she came up to him and said she had a job interview. Now Kirchhoff is helping her practice for her interview.

As Boone county leads in homelessness, there are shelters and volunteers happy to help them get back on their feet.

Ashley Tallent

Ashley Tallent, Homeless Youth Program resident, smiles during her shift at Rainbow House in Columbia, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

Play Time

A teen tries on a pink hat at Rainbow House in Columbia, Monday, March 13, 2017, while Ashley Tallent, 20, laughs. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

Detail Shot 2

A resident at Rainbow House in Columbia watches a movie on Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)

Piano

The piano located in Rainbow House encourages children, teens and young adults to actively learn, play and listen to music. (AP Elizabeth Quinn)