This year’s Region 12 Conference, hosted by the University of Mississippi at Oxford, featured a variety of workshops from mobile news gathering to business writing, and training by an individual from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). Three representatives from the East Tennessee Pro chapter of SPJ attended the conference and provided the following recaps on what they learned.
By Kristi Nelson
Much of the most useful information on the Internet is hidden.
Among the most useful training at SPJ's Region 12 conference in Oxford, Miss., earlier this month was a four-hour training by Investigative Reporters and Editors Training Director Jaimi Dowdell showing ways to find it.
Dowdell addressed finding reliable information using a variety of Web sites and tools, as well as storyboarding, planning and managing “watchdog” projects.
“It doesn't have to take a lot of time … you can incorporate investigative skills into everything,” even feature stories and sports reporting, Dowdell told her audience.
In fact, she suggested a quick “background check” using reliable Web sites for the subject of ANY story – even a “soft feature.” On beats, keeping up with records is even more crucial, she added.
“If you have not pulled records for the people you are covering, you are not doing your job” as a reporter, she said.
Her list of “basic documents for any beat” includes annual reports, audits, budgets, salaries, phone directories, organizational charts, vendors, calendars for officials and travel records.
Find some information on government and public sites, readily accessible; others are on what Dowdell calls “the invisible Web,” cached information she said is “hundreds of times bigger than … what Google 'sees.'”
Click here for notes from Dowdell's presentation, including tips on helpful sites and a template for storyboarding investigative enterprise stories.
By Amanda Womac
As journalists, our job is to tell a story. For the better part of our profession’s history, we have maintained storytelling through individual channels – print, television, radio. Technological advances, however, have blurred the line between print and broadcast and opened doors for journalists to use a plethora of digital tools to enhance our stories.
In Brooklyn, New York, Brain Storm and his team of multimedia journalists create “cinematic narratives that speak to the heart of the human condition.” Storm began his career as a photojournalist. Today, he is the founder and executive producer of an award-winning multimedia production studio called MediaStorm.
Collaborating with clients ranging from National Geographic to the United Nations Foundation, journalists at MediaStorm tell award-winning stories through interactive design and video. Their products, many of them short documentaries, focus on the individual and get to the heart of many stories we’ve already heard.
At the SPJ Region 12 conference in Oxford, Miss., Brian Storm shared some of their work and moved many audience members to tears.
One example Brain shared was of the aftermath of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when the Hutu militia killed one million Tutsi in 100 days. The film, titled “Intended Consequences,” focused on nine Tutsi women whose lives were spared, only to be raped by militia. The consequence? A child they are unsure how to love. Through the use of documentary photography, video and a compelling narrative, producers at MediaStorm are able to get at the heart of storytelling and create cinematic narratives that truly speak to the heart of the human condition.
In addition to producing stories, MediaStorm provides training for journalists who want to learn how to tell better stories and inspire their audiences. The MediaStorm Storytelling Workshop is a one-week training for seasoned journalists already familiar with videography and editing. Other workshops are also available.
State of Journalism in Tennessee
By Brandon Hollingsworth
Sunday morning, April 7, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion on the state of media in the Southeast. Fellow panelists included Dr. George Daniels of the University of Alabama, Ryan Broussard of the Baton Rouge Advocate, Arkansas SPJ Pro Chapter President Eric Francis and SPJ national president Sonny Albarado. The panel was moderated by Ole Miss journalism professor Samir Husani.
The hour-long discussion moved easily through issues facing journalists, from the proliferation of social media to maintaining quality in an increasingly fractured media landscape. The panelists also tackled the question of what makes a journalist, and how professional reporters can differentiate themselves from sources that may enjoy high visibility but low credibility – an issue raised most recently by erroneous reports in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings.
The questions were sharp and the discussion ably demonstrated that newsrooms across the Southeast are debating big questions about journalism’s future. Continuing that dialogue will be essential for the health of our profession.