The last time you guys saw me it was all about the futuristic form of communication known as social media. More specifically, it was all about how you can make a career out of writing statuses and tweeting for just about anyone who wants to pay you to do so as a social media manager. This time around I’m going to take you back…to the ancient profession of journalism. All kidding aside, journalism is just as important today as it was before computers took over the world.
Believe it or not, I don’t know everything there is to know about communications (I was shocked too when I found out). So, when I went to do some background research on journalism, I was greeted by pages and pages of links to students asking, “Is journalism still a good major?” I think we need to get something straight here. Journalism is not dead, but the field certainly has had to conform to the digital age. “But David, what about the presidential press conference post your promised in the last post?” Geez, don’t you people know a good story is never rushed? I WAS going to eloquently take you on a journey through the transformation of journalism and skillfully transition into that story but I guess that’s not going to be happening today, so let’s get to it!
This past September, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, visited MY hometown, little ol’ Melbourne, Florida. In what was called a “grassroots event”, President Obama was scheduled to speak in front of a live audience at Florida Tech’s own Clemente Center. The cool part? I was going. The coolest part? I was going as a member of the press with media credentials.
“Oh the perks of blogging for Florida Tech.”
Now prior to the President’s visit, the only form of “professional” journalism I had was a worthy press release or two for my job at University Marketing and Communications (you’ll hear about that cool career another time). And, being enrolled in Writing for the Media course this semester. I had to draw upon everything I had learned from my job and my class notes the night before the president’s speech. Here are the three most important things that I saw translate from my prior knowledge and notes to the actual event, and how each one applied to me that day:
#1 Love to Write
As a journalist, you’ll be writing all the time and a love for writing is the best way to ensure you won’t lose interest in journalism. Luckily, I love writing a good thing because from the moment I walked inside Clemente to moment I left (about three hours), all I did was observe then write, listen then write, and critique then write. This brings me to…
#2 Pay Attention to Detail!
“A young girl stands on her grandparent’s walker to get a better view”
Remember, chances are whoever is reading your article wasn’t very close to the story you’re covering, so your words need to act as their eyes. As soon as I drove onto campus, I knew it wasn’t a normal Saturday morning at Florida Tech. News trucks from all the major TV stations were lined up in front of the Clemente Center, the sidewalk was packed with reporters and a long line of eager people snaked its way across campus. Inside, the room buzzed with anticipation as the line outside slowly funneled its way in. Most of these people would go on to wait for over two hours until President Obama finally took the stage, but that didn’t bother them the least. That’s when I started to realize what the story of the day was really about…
#3 Know your Angle
You could be covering the most interesting event of the year, but that story will fall flat on its face if there’s not a good angle to complement it. In my case, as I looked out into the crowd of grinning faces it hit me that it didn’t matter what President Obama said once he walked out onto that stage. What mattered the most to the people of Brevard Country was that the President of the United States was going to be standing only a stones-throw away from them. In the end, they were there for the same reason I was, to witness a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle which they would tell their grandkids about years and years later.
Do you have any once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Feel free to share in the comments.