Wick Communications

When the news follows you home

In Writing on September 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm


This I know: There will be a murder in the news this week. You’ll see news of it on TV. You may even report on it. You’ll see the detectives talking about it at a podium, a grieving mother interviewed in the street, B-roll from the scene, a neighbor of the alleged killer saying, “He was quiet and kept to himself.”

These terrible events can be mind-numbing because we just aren’t all that shocked any more. At least I’m not, sad to say. That is not true, however, if you are covering one of these crimes. In that case, the violence and injustice can get under your skin for a very long time.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley walks us through his experience covering one such murder in upstate New York. I found it fascinating just for the inside baseball of it all. How he learned of the crime from another reporter and the calculus they made in deciding to commit significant time to reporting one crime in an out-of-the-way place. (This one featured a child victim, racy allegations and a race angle: The victim was white; the accused is black.) The case goes to the jury this week.

Several news organizations have made laudable efforts to cover serious crime of late. The New York Times has written exhaustive reports on individual murders that might not have merited any coverage but for the Times’ effort to bring home the specter of such violence. Chicago news organizations have chronicled an epidemic there and I can remember The Oakland Tribune doing something similar. …

Good ideas on video

In Video on September 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Green Valley News’ editor Dan Shearer and his publisher, Rebecca Bradner, were having a discussion on the use and potential expense of adding video to the news portfolio of organizations like ours and that discuss turned into an email. I asked Dan if I could share it. What follows are his thoughts.

As you can see, one decision to make early is the trade off between quality vs. quick. Costly vs. next-to-nothing. Generally speaking, I think quick and easy trumps more labor-intensive productions, and I think Dan would agree. Take it away, Dan.

— Clay

Video doesn’t have to be television quality.

We made this mistake early on at The Arizona Republic. We put reporters through 40 hours of video training. When they were done, they could put together a high-quality piece of work in about eight hours — interviews, taping, editing, headlines, voice over, everything.

What we found was that it delivered few page views (and back then, advertisers weren’t interested). Readers also didn’t have the attention spans for two- or three-minute videos to complement a story. And we didn’t have the resources. …

Coping with stress

In journalism on September 22, 2016 at 3:34 pm
From Career Cast

From Career Cast

Hey, are you feeling a little stressed out? Come on, everybody, let’s stretch and sing a little song to get the cobwebs out!

Now that you have cussed me under your breath and thrown something at your computer screen, I’d like to introduce you to Katie Hawkins-Gaar. She is on the Poynter Institute faculty and writes and speaks regularly about digital innovation. She is also half of he brains behind the #happynewsroom, which is an effort to inject some fun into our lives  — an effort that somehow apparently rubbed some people the wrong way. (Because some people refuse to be happy, damn it.)

She was questioned by a colleague this week in the wake of another poll showing that journalists have stressful careers. (Duh.)

There is a feeling that our jobs are more stressful than ever. Perhaps that is so. I didn’t work as a journalist during the typewriter era (OK, I came in right at the end of it), but I can imagine that was pretty stressful too. Urgency, the need to be right all the time, uncompromising bosses and readers … the tools have changed but I’m not sure the business is “harder” than it was in 1960.

Anyway, Hawkins-Gaar has some ideas that are both obvious and unusual for dealing with that stress. My favorite? Getting together with your team and listing all the individual mundane tasks that make up a week and brainstorming ways to streamline or even eliminate some. We will be doing that at the Half Moon Bay Review. …