To say this last week has been busy would be an understatement. I feel like I’ve hardly spoken to my dad and have been finishing my homework for my other classes at the last minute, all because I’ve been so busy at the Columbia Missourian. It seems as if once I (finally) got my first story out this past Thursday, I never stopped. My roommate says I’ve spent more time at the newsroom than anywhere else. But given what I’ve had the chance to cover, it’s definitely been worth it.
On Saturday I had my first general assignment shift, where we spend all day in the newsroom and cover any breaking news that comes in. My editor that day and I talked about the idea of writing a story from the perspective of locals about their reaction to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. At the end of my general assignment shift, I decided to go to the local Islamic Center and see if I could find anyone who would be willing to speak to me on the issue.
I was very fortunate in reporting the first story, which came out the day of the protests in Columbia against the travel ban and discussed people’s reactions. I worked on that story with two other reporters at the newspaper. The second story focused on the reactions of the MU community to the executive orders. This was really an amazing topic to have the opportunity to report and write about. I talked to some people with very valid concerns and it was interesting to hear their perspectives.
I finally got my first story for the Columbia Missourian out, and it was pretty much as stressful as I was expecting it to be. I covered an agroforestry symposium on the MU campus that was focused on the different aspects of medicinal plants – a topic I know absolutely nothing about.
I got this story the afternoon before the event and was able to do a little bit of reporting to find out why they had decided to focus on medicinal plants. The keynote speaker the next morning didn’t focus on medicinal plants at a local level as much as we needed, so we ended up switching the story a bit and making the focus some of the medicinal plant growers and entrepreneurs that attended the event.
Because this was my first story for the Missourian, I struggled a little bit with remembering all the steps to filling out the right information on our content management system that formats the story for publishing. I feel that now that I’ve gone through it once, I’ll be able to remember much better for next time.
The biggest challenge of this story was the time frame I had to work with. The event started in the morning and went all day, but because of my work and class schedule, I was only able to attend in the morning and had to turn the story around pretty quickly. That caused a little bit of anxiety when the first speaker didn’t go the direction we were expecting and I ended up having to do more reporting. For a first story I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, though I wish I’d remembered to add hyperlinks to it!
This week we’re talking a lot about social media. So far this semester, we’ve discussed what it takes to remain objective as a journalist and not accidentally portray any bias by what we’re wearing, what we do and who we support. Because social media has become increasingly more important in journalism, our accounts must meet those same standards.
One of the steps to make sure that our accounts portray us in a light that’s professional and objective is the social media peer review. Each of us was assigned a partner that we didn’t know and were tasked with finding all their social media accounts and ensure that they were fitting platforms for us to promote our work. Though it has been made clear that while they should be professional, we don’t have to go so far as to make them completely void of personality.
So far this peer review has been a good tool for me in more ways than one. I’ve always been rather private on social media, tending not to post anything and making my accounts private. If I’m going to be a journalist, that’s not going to work anymore. This process has allowed me to wrap my head around the idea of having to promote my writing, and the writing of my fellow reporters, on my social media accounts. This peer review is making me comfortable enough with my accounts to be able to do that.
It’s also teaching me how to navigate the different social media platforms. What with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging and all the other social media that’s out there, it’s not exactly a walk in the park knowing how to search for people and important information on them – my dad can attest to this. This peer review is teaching me the ways I can potentially use social media as a resource for finding sources and researching individuals or a group before an interview. I’m learning that to say social media
is important in journalism is an understatement.
That being said, feel free to follow me on Twitter @DPsaledakis.
Today, during our second lecture for this class, an interesting point was raised about how objectivity plays a role when there is an event you are interested in on a personal level. The question was about whether or not a reporter should attend an event that might risk the objectivity that is required and expected of journalists.
My teachers in the J-School have said to avoid clothing that displays logos for organizations, and some teachers have recommended not to volunteer with organizations in order to maintain objectivity. While that made sense to me, I don’t know that I had considered the extent to which events and other things I am involved in in my personal life could impact my professional career. We’re not even a week into class and I’ve already learned that to be a good journalist, there are sacrifices I will have to make in my personal life, from what groups I can participate in to how my social media accounts appear to the public.