Monthly Archives: February 2013

Let’s talk at NYC13!

Your humble blogger will lead five sessions at the National College Media Convention, better known as NYC13, March 10-12 at the Sheraton New York. Here’s my schedule:

9 a.m. Sunday, March 10: Tough Interview? You Can Do It! Does your stomach ache at the thought of interviewing the college spokeswoman who always criticizes you? Or the campus police chief who doesn’t welcome your analysis of crime statistics? Or the student who just lost a loved one to combat or a tornado? Learn how to do these interviews while respecting your subjects — and yourself. Room: Liberty 1&2.

Read the rest of this entry

What stifles your writing voice?

Your humble blogger is leading a session at the National College Media Convention next month on the writer’s “voice,” especially in narrative storytelling. I want to focus on what STOPS so many writers from turning in a story like this:

Read the rest of this entry

Take two steps to avoid opinion page disaster

A college newspaper I admire is taking a minor public relations beating at the moment over a faulty opinion column. Two steps would have spared the editors this unpleasantness– two steps I often see missing in college media opinion writing and editing.

  1. Label opinion. Prominently. Explicitly. On all platforms.
  2. Apply journalistic standards. “Facts” in opinion writing must be facts. Fairness is still a requirement.

Read the rest of this entry

Pick one improvement goal, focus on it every day

The experts tell us that organizations can’t improve everything at once. The key to making a big difference is to pick one very specific goal and then pay attention to that goal every day.

I had a chance Saturday to help editors from two student newspapers think about doing exactly that. In critique sessions at the Georgia College Press Association annual meeting, I asked each set of editors, “What is the one thing you’d most like to improve?” These were smart editors, and they didn’t have any trouble coming up with their answers:

  • Newspaper 1: “Better leads and headlines.”
  • Newspaper 2: “Attract more readers. We have too many students who won’t read the paper no matter what we try.”

In both cases, I advised them to narrow their goal. I was very much under the influence of a book I’m reading, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” by three leaders of the famed FranklinCovey business consulting firm. I can’t do justice to their very detailed improvement program in a blog post, but I’ll try to give an over-simplified version customized for student media.

Read the rest of this entry

Social media reporting tool: a pyramid

Say you want to do a story (or start a beat) on how students at your campus spend their money. No one has studied this, and you need more than just a few students’ spending patterns. It’s unlikely you’re going to find a large number of students walking around campus who are willing to stop and think long enough about how much they spend on rent, utilities, food, beer, clothing, etc.  And that’s time-consuming.

So here’s a great suggestion from Kimberly Boim, publisher of the Dawson News and Advertiser: Pick six friends. Ask them to fill out your spending survey. And ask them to send it to six of their social media friends. Boim, who helped a student develop this idea at the Georgia College Press Association annual meeting Saturday, explained why this probably will work. Everyone in this social media (and honest) version of a pyramid scheme is helping a friend, not just taking a survey.

Read the rest of this entry