In Lieu of the Gorsuch Assignment (Recaps): What’s Up With Small, Local Papers?

In lieu of the Gorsuch assignment, here are recaps on two recent articles focused on the current situation and future of small newspapers: 

Recap #1 on Tiny Iowa newspaper’s Pulitzer win is a reminder: There are fewer family-owned papers than ever before

In Kristen Hare’s piece on family owned papers, published recently on April 13, 2017, we’re reminded about the rarity of family-owned newspapers. Many small papers struggle to flourish in the current conditions of journalism. In the article, we see a lot of numbers. Lukas Alpert from The Wall Street Journal reported the following figures provided by Dirks, Van Essen & Murray—a merger and acquisition firm:

  • In the first quarter of 2017, five of the six newspaper sales were from a family-owned newspaper to a media group.
  • Only 15 percent of daily newspapers in the U.S. are independently owned.
  • In 1975, that number was 75 percent, down from 90 percent in 1900.
  • Only 10 cities are left with competing newspapers.

What’s important though, is that small family-owned papers can still do well if they work hard enough and are great journalists. The Storm Lake Times won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The Storm Lake Times is a small paper in Storm Lake, Iowa that’s been around since 1990. Art Cullen, of the Storm Lake Times, won the award for his editorials that confronted Iowa’s most powerful agricultural interests including the Koch Brothers, Cargill and Monsanto, and their secret funding of the government defense of a big environmental lawsuit.

This just goes to show the underdogs and good guys (in journalism) can win big too. It also shows that investigative journalism at the local level can gain national attention and any good journalist no matter where from, has the capability to expose the truth—and even win highly esteemed awards while they are at it!

Recap #2 on Warren Buffett’s newspapers deploy familiar playbook as fortunes dim

In Corey Hutchinson’s piece, published recently on April 13, 2017, we learn that in early April nearly 300 jobs were cut at several local newspapers run by Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group. How are the layoffs going down? It’s not up to Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet who gets the cut. BH Media is leaving it up to the papers to decide who stays and goes.

What do the layoffs mean? The layoffs are due to decline in daily circulation at each newspaper from 2012 to 2016. For one paper, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, they admitted their struggles and long-term declines in print revenue and low digital advertising results. They ended up having to fire 33 full time employees.

According to the article, the overall fates of the small papers under BH Media are unclear.

It comes down to declining print readership (and subscriptions) and lack of ad revenue. The Press of Atlantic City, a paper apart of Berkshire Hathaway, shrank their staff and evolved into a more digital-centric newsroom, according to Hutchinson. That focus on digital was a good choice in 2013. They launched mobile apps, created a digital news team, redesigned its website and grew its video offerings.

This created a multimedia editor position, live-streamed events, launched podcasts and they partnered with a local university to create a news TV show. By the end of 2013, total page views on the paper’s website were 48.8 million. By the end of last year, that number reached 75 million, editor Kris Worrell tells CJR.

The paper still ended up having to lay off 12 employees—showcasing having a digital presence doesn’t mean immunity.

April 17, 2017 Lecture Recap: Writing, Reporting and Recording for KMTV

On Monday, April 17 Lindsey Theis and Mike Lucas visited our class to talk about what it is like in the field of reporting for local news. Theis is a reporter and fill-in anchor at KMTV. Lucas works with Theis as well. He’s a photojournalist (photo and video) and also a UNO grad.

Theis has been in the business for about 10 years. She graduated in 2007 from North Central College (in Illinois) with a major in broadcast communications and a minor in journalism and theatre.

She did a few internships in college including radio promotions, a radio producer, rock, and then news talk. She also got involved in TV documentaries (PBS style documentaries in Chicago). Her internship in Atlanta was for CNN as a radio producer and video journalist. With CNN, it was both international and domestic new. She learned a lot behind the scenes at CNN. She also took part in the video journalist program where she learned how to direct scripts and how to interview people. She also had a short stint as an intern with ABC in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Right now, she works during the 4 p.m. newscast. Her hours are pretty regular working from Monday through Friday. She also fills in on the anchor desk when they need her.

She gave some insight into what being a reporter is like. She said it’s not just sitting and reading a teleprompter. As a reporter, you write a lot of your own scripts for reporting and anchoring.

“Writing is a huge skill—even more important than how you look on camera or how comfortable you feel on camera,” said Theis.

Lucas graduated from UNO just two years ago. He found part time work at the station with Theis and within two months started working fulltime. Theis and Lucas are quite the duo at KMTV.

Lucas said the video work he did in college prepared him for where he is today. He went through the broadcast journalism program. While in college he rented gear in his spare time—outside of his TV classes—to get better at his craft.

“I wanted to find a job where I could play with a video camera and I did,” said Lucas.

With video, he said you learn through the process of doing. It’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of things story and video wise he has picked up over the years through experience.

Lucas and Theis put a lot of emphasis on getting internships while in college and networking as much as possible.

March 27, 2017 Lecture Recap: On Radio and MavRadio

On March 27, 2017, Jodeane Brownlee of the UNO School of Communication came and spoke to us about radio. Noah Sullinger, general manager of MavRadio, also attended the lecture and spoke with the class.

Sullinger said he has covered more than 200 sports games. He gained interest in MavRadio after taking Radio I and Radio II. He joined the program, moved up the ranks and is now the general manager.

Competing against schools like Arizona State University, UNO’s MavRadio has won 14 awards for their radio station.

Aside from play-by-play sports talk, the radio also plays a variety of music. They recently did a study on campus to see what students wanted. Results showed the audience wanted to hear top 40 (a mix of all genres), current music and hip-hop. They often have local bands, sometimes regional or national artists who they will cover.

Brownlee spoke about the future of radio and how the future of radio is streaming. It’s going to be listening to radio on demand and being able to listen to radio stations from around the world.

“We are an international radio station because we have some students in Turkey, Germany, and Norway,” said Brownlee.

For sports, they are exclusive for baseball, soccer and volleyball. They were also approached by the Omaha Beef (indoor football) to cover their games.

Brownlee also spoke about the importance of loving to communicate and write if you want to get into the field. Brownlee said she has always loved to write, and it’s not always the case that everyone enjoys writing.

“It’s never going to hurt you to be a good communicator,” said Brownlee. “The more you write, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the more opportunity for work.”

Brownlee mentioned how jobs in radio are harder to get into. And when you do land a job, the hours aren’t the best. There are a lot of working nights, overnights, weekends and holidays. Luckily, nowadays, many overnights are pre-recorded. Despite streaming and things like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, etc., Brownlee doesn’t think radio is ever going to die.

“Radio and music evokes emotion and memory. That’s why it’s so powerful and why I love it so much,” said Brownlee.

Instagram Assignment Recap

The five Instagram accounts I followed for the Instagram assignment were:

KETV NewsWatch 7 has 15.3k followers and 153 posts that mainly focus on holidays, sports, weather, some newsroom photos, a few photos of what’s happening in the community, photos of guests on the show, and a few photos stating to check out their website for an article related to the posted photo. The early posts didn’t get much feedback. One of the first posts that had a lot of likes, 72 likes, was regarding fallen officer Kerrie Orozco—a very serious post and something that really impacted the community. #tbt posts of the reporters got a decent amount of likes showing the community is interested in the reporters working at the station. Their most liked photo, at 373 likes, was one on the M’s pub explosion/fire that happened last winter. That was a huge story. I’m wondering if their Instagram began to pick up more followers during that time. They aren’t very active and posts are sporadic. The last five recent posts were on Valentine’s Day (5 weeks ago), Carrie Fisher’s death (12 weeks ago), Veterans Day post (19 weeks ago), voting day (19 weeks ago), and a Nebraska-Wisconsin football post (21 weeks ago). It’s clear they aren’t really using Instagram often or to increase their storytelling. The last post asked what people thought about Valentine’s Day, which really isn’t news related. I didn’t find anything they posted inappropriate. Even the comments (which weren’t often) to be positive, i.e. not many trolls like on Facebook.

Chinh Doan, reporter at KETV NewsWatch 7, has 3,272 followers and 1,692 posts showing just how active she is on social media. Her posts really aren’t related to the news. It just seems like a personal account of her life outside of work (family, friends, events, food, pets, hobbies, etc.). I didn’t go that far back but found one news related post about her climbing into a “38-foot-deep hole in high heels for TV.” She’s obviously more active and posts more frequently so had more comments and likes compared to KETV’s Instagram.

NPR has 742k followers and 1,083 posts. They had typically 2,000 or more likes on their photos/videos and comments ranging from 20 to 200. A series of 4 photos was (posted 4 weeks ago) regarding shutting down the Oceti Sakowin camp, ending the months-long protest against completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. So many broken heart and crying emojis were posted regarding the sad, raw and emotional series of photos of the police and water protectors. One comment that caught my eye was “The silver lining is in these comments. Our hearts are heavy but we will resist.” This post really enhanced their storytelling and their caption said, “Follow the link in our bio for the full story and more photos.” I’m sure reaching audiences through Instagram helps bring traffic to their website. As far as content, their Instagram feed reflects their news, everything from national, worldwide, arts, culture, music, etc.

Ari Shapiro of NPR has 57.5k followers and 1,779 posts. His feed includes everything to what up-and-coming stories he’s working on, newsroom related posts, funny posts and personal posts like family, friends, his travels and his hobbies like singing. He gets lots of comments and traffic on his feed. One thing I noticed is how active he is responding to commenters when they have questions. I thought that was neat. It’s clear Ari is an amazing storyteller, whether on All Things Considered or through his Instagram photos and captions. He has a good eye and his photos/videos capture the moment/story well.

Washington Post has 592k followers and 1,053 posts. Their posts are pretty much the explanation provided in the bio up top: “Photos and videos from our reporters and photographers from D.C. to around the world.” Their feed reflects their news site. Users are commenting and liking the photos. There’s notably a lot of trolling in the comments section.

Twitter Assignment Recap: Presidential Address to Congress

I found the #msuno Twitter experience different than the last time I did a live tweeting assignment. Overall I didn’t like the experience. I didn’t really get to enjoy (not that I really enjoyed it, but you know what I mean) watching his speech because I was trying to tweet at the speed of light and listen at the same time. I felt like Trump’s first Address to Congress went by really quick and it was hard to keep up with the tweeting.

Also, it was difficult because he changed topics so often one after another in between way too much clapping. He really was all over the place and before I could decipher what he had said, then the camera would zoom out to the crowd clapping every other minute for the entire live stream of the meeting, which was distracting. The organization of his speech could have probably been set up differently and easier to digest. Or perhaps he could have picked a handful of subjects instead of barely going into detail for each talking point.

Before tweeting, I had another tab pulled up to fact check some of his statements. That was hard to keep up on, too! He listed off a lot of numbers and statistics I wanted to check on before tweeting. I’m interested in hearing about the fact checking results tomorrow.

One way I might find value in keeping or maintaining my Twitter account after the semester ends is just following the news sources and comedians I already follow, and seeing what crazy think Trump tweets here and there. I’m also required to have a Twitter account for work reasons helping with leadership’s social media, so there’s that too for a reason why I’d maintain the account. Like Facebook, I don’t keep my Twitter public so it doesn’t really serve a purpose as far as networking goes. I know many people use Twitter for their own businesses, which I don’t have. I think LinkedIn is better for networking, etc.

My twitter: https://twitter.com/KaityJankovich – @KaityJankovich

February 27, 2017 Lecture Recap: The Basics of News Photography

Chris Machian, staff photographer for The Omaha World-Herald (OWH) and University of Nebraska at Omaha alumni spoke with our class about the basics of news photography.

“Your basic goal is to tell a story with photos,” Machian said. “Sometimes with one photo or many different photos.”

Machian led the class through a slideshow of some photos taken in his photojournalism career and gave insight on most such as why he took the photo, how he took the photo, why he chose a certain angle, certain lighting or chose to use a certain lens.

“There are three basic types of photos that you should try to incorporate into your assignment,” said Machian.

Those shots are:

  • Tight/detailed shot
  • Medium shot
  • Wide shot (establishing shot that gives a sense of time and place (i.e. using a wide angle lens)

“The medium shot is your standard shot,” said Machian.

For an example, he showed a medium shot photo of a woman digging out her child’s piggy bank from her home’s rubble after a tornado tore through the town.

“Always have a human or lively element to a photo,” said Machian.

When it comes to wide shots, Machian said, it helps show how many people are in attendance, for example at a sport’s game/arena or a council meeting.

Machian said there are other things to consider with photos aside from how wide or close a shot is such as including:

  • Background
    • Moving and waiting to position a subject and frame/capture the photo in the best way
    • Make sure to pay close attention to what’s in your background so it doesn’t take away from the subject
  • Lighting
    • Whether window light, natural light or flash

“Window lights are your friends in these assignments,” said Machian.

  • Lens Choice
    • i.e. Long lens to blur out background
      • Long lenses can visually compress things (the image)
    • i.e. Wide angle lens to capture everything
  • Layers
    • You’re playing with different fields of depth
    • Not everything has to be in focus
    • You get to pick what’s in focus, and in turn, what’s the most important part of the image
    • You can have multiple layers with a wide shot
      • i.e. With a sports photo on a golf course, you can have out of focus fans watching, but in focus of a man swinging his golf club
  • Captions
    • Make sure to identify the people in photo, include the date (month, day, year), and identify names using “left, right, center” or “from left to right”
    • Use a verb in the caption “So and so doing this…”
    • Unless you’re 100% sure, write only what you know. Be accurate. If you don’t know, ask someone.
  • Ethics
    • Minimize harm
      • “Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleague and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”

January 23, 2017 Lecture Recap: Advice From the Newsroom

On January 23, 2017, Monday night’s Media Storytelling class had a noteworthy first guest speaker take the floor – Josie Loza, manager of student publications for The Gateway. Loza is a University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) alumni, former Omaha World-Herald (OWH) staff writer and former Momaha.com editor. She shared how her career path has come full circle, and how persistency and networking has been key throughout.

The beginning of her journalism career happened shortly after graduating high school at OWH. They gave her a position as a messenger. She was a mail deliverer who handed out newspapers to every single reporter’s desk.

Although Loza didn’t begin her career writing, she enjoyed her next position at OWH archiving photos, where her fascination of archives and appreciation for history was sparked. Working in the OWH library she said she enjoyed studying the wealth of information.

When the opportunity arose to write her first piece, it was an obituary. Although it wasn’t breaking news, this opened her eyes to writing and the storytelling behind it.

“As reporters we have to stop and just listen to people. If you listen, all the showing details are right there,” said Loza.

Loza gave some great advice as far as getting started in the career of journalism, especially focusing on internships.

“Don’t wait until your senior year to do internships. Do it as a freshman,” said Loza. “My freshman year I knocked on the Gateway door.”

Persistency and (overcoming) failure were two key things Loza repeated throughout her lecture:

  • “Persistency will get you everything in life.”
  • “Your failures are your biggest learning lessons.”
  • “You will persevere and it will make you stronger.”
  • “There’s no such thing as being an annoying journalist.”

She learned the value of persistency during her time at The Gateway. When things didn’t go as planned she learned how to be clever, crafty and persistent to get what she needed. Networking was also a big part of the discussion toward the end of her lecture.

“Make the time to network. Call the Omaha World-Herald. Wherever. Tell them you’d like to shadow and breathe it all in,” Loza said.

Aside from networking, self-promotion was the last piece of advice Loza gave.

“There is no shameless promotion. Keep branding yourself. You are your own brand. You have to sell yourself to your employers,” Loza said.