Weekly Report 26

After assessing my product progress this week, I realized that I am farther along on my product development than I originally thought. I have located my sources and I am preparing to reach out to them; once I do that, I just have to do the actual writing of the body of the article, which is the easiest part.

I have also learned, over the course of this week, that I need to be able to be lenient and forgiving of myself when I get off schedule. I cannot beat myself up or go into panic mode when I do not finish a task or meet a deadline. Instead, I must take a step back, look at the big picture, and figure out a way to catch up and work overtime to get myself back on track. Time management and problem solving are both crucial skills in any job description, and learning them firsthand will prove very valuable to my future in the professional world.

As I prepare to contact sources for my article, I must work on creating a list of questions that will enhance my article and keep capture readers’ attention. I will do this, and many other tasks related to my product, in the coming week in order to stay on track with my final product calendar and ensure that my article is where it needs to be.

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Weekly Report 25

This week in ISM, I have done more debating and reflecting over my final product article. Should I write a more investigative article like my Original Work, or should I write a local feature story more likely to be published on the D Magazine website? After weighing the pros against the cons, I have decided that I will pursue the local feature story idea that my mentor told me about in our last visit, which she mentioned would be prime publication material. Staci told me that she had been wanting to publish a story about all natural, local beauty projects available for purchase from small vendors in the Dallas area; pursuing this for my final product will increase my chances of becoming published, and that would be a huge step forward in developing my career. Now that I know for sure what I am going to be writing about, I can compose my list of sources much easier. In the coming weeks, I will be doing research on local businesses and vendors, specific brands and products, and who I can contact for more information about these things. Staci and I will plan a mentor visit soon where she can help me get connected to sources, then I will be on my way to completing my final product.

Interview Assessment: Valerie Wigglesworth

Interview Assessment 7

 

Name of Professional: Valerie Wigglesworth

Profession: Frisco and Collin County Reporter

Company: Dallas Morning News

Date of Interview: 7 November, 2016

Assessment:

At my meeting with Valerie Wigglesworth of Dallas Morning News, I learned the importance of making your presence as a journalist known in the community in which you report. Ms. Wigglesworth covers strictly Frisco and Collin County, so she has a more limited range of subject matter than someone covering a large city or bigger region. She has to have a way of knowing what is happening in Frisco in all realms of the community at all times. There is only so much information that research can get you; in reality, many of the best story ideas travel by word of mouth. By getting to know people involved in all different areas of Frisco, forming relationships or partnerships with certain businesses, and making her work known, Wigglesworth opens doors to new information. People start to come to her with story ideas and noteworthy events once they know that she is in the market for Collin County stories. From this, I learned that people are the best outlet for information on any story; talking to multiple different people when acquiring sources guarantees that you are hearing every side of a story, every unique perspective that spectators have to offer.

Furthermore, a personal story from Ms. Wigglesworth changed the way I view the purpose of journalism forever. Wigglesworth mentioned in our interview that the most rewarding aspect of journalism is seeing her work help others. She detailed one instance in which she wrote a story about how older bathtubs have a higher risk of showing traces of lead. Baths like these can lead to unsafe levels of lead and consequently major health problems, a little known fact to most in the community of Frisco. After the story was published, Wigglesworth received an email from a woman who lived in a historic house with two young children. The woman had gotten her tub tested for lead after reading the article, and sure enough, the test came back positive. The woman thanked Wigglesworth profusely, saying that she would never have known about the potential health risks to her and her children without the information presented in the article. Wigglesworth mentioned how this story renewed her sense of purpose as a journalist, as she enjoys more than anything giving people information they did not even know they needed. This story stuck with me more than any aspect of any of my informational interviews, because it is the kind of experience that I can only hope to have one day working as a journalist. After hearing this experience, I dedicated myself to seeking out stories that can help people, in any way, shape, or form. I want my stories to be more than just entertaining or pretty- I want them to be insightful, interesting, and beneficial.

We also touched on the role of social media in journalism in our interview, as Ms. Wigglesworth is quite a presence on Twitter. This topic was one that I was conducting independent research on at the time as well, so hearing Ms. Wigglesworth’s opinions enhanced my understanding of its implications in the professional world. Twitter, as Wigglesworth mentioned, is where journalists can get the most recent information that the world has to offer. She often checks Twitter before publishing a story to ensure that her facts are the most updated that they can be, and that her information is thorough and consistent with the most current reports. She also gets quotes from stories through social media, making acquiring sources and quotes from them much easier. This encouraged me to start following major news organizations on social media, and start paying attention to public opinion, to ensure that I am always up to date and do not miss a beat on the latest happenings with current events.

Interview Assessment: Sonia Azad

Interview Assessment 6

 

Name of Professional: Sonia Azad

Profession: Health and Wellness Correspondent/Anchor

Company: WFAA

Date of Interview: 11 October, 2016

Assessment:

Ms. Sonia Azad, being the only broadcast journalist I interviewed, differed greatly from all of the other professionals I had previously interacted with; she was able to offer a different perspective on the industry and share with me new lessons that I had not thought to consider previously. Before the interview, Ms. Azad allowed me to sit in the WFAA studio and watch her anchor a live newscast. I was able to witness firsthand how broadcast journalists have to be on their toes constantly; they never know exactly what they are going to have to talk about, as the news changes every minute. For example, right as Ms. Azad walked into the studio lobby to greet me, a breaking news story flashed across the TV in the lobby and she picked up her pace, nearly running into the studio trying to hear the story. She apologized for being so frantic all of a sudden, explaining to me that she would have to talk about this story on live TV in just a few moments, so she had to find out all of the information on it that she could. This made me really appreciate the difficulty of news reporting, and it solidified the fact that I definitely want to purse print journalism rather than broadcast journalism. Writing, for me, is an experience; I like to sit down and delve into a story, rewriting and editing until I believe my content is perfect and it is something that I can definitely be proud of. If I went into broadcast journalism, I feel that the demands of ever-changing news and the urgency accompanying it would eliminate the ability for me to do that. News stories are much shorter and more concise than those published in magazines or newspapers, and I would rather write stories that provide detail on a subject I feel passionate about, not a broad range of topics I know little about. This the one a major difference that I have found between broadcast and print journalism that has been constant across all of my interviews.

Furthermore, Azad’s expertise helped me realize the importance of visuals in journalism. Azad is an Emmy Award winner- her award winning story detailed life of female textile workers in India. Shot with a cheap camcorder she purchased in the airport, just the harsh reality and rawness of the images was impactful enough to win her the Emmy. Across all platforms of journalism, visual aids add so much to a story. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” really does reign true; for some dark, heavy stories, pictures are the only thing that truly make the reader realize the weight of the material. Images also enhance understanding- in a story explaining a medical phenomenon, diagrams do the job better than several wordy paragraphs could. While I do want to focus on the writing aspect of print journalism, I will make sure to include images to enhance my stories whenever possible.

Product Proposal

            Introduction and Purpose

For my final product, I plan to write a feature story article highlighting a local health and fitness or food story and have it published on D Magazine’s website. Because the journalism industry is constantly changing as far as the stories available, I may have to adjust my subject matter or even switch to another topic entirely to account for what the magazine wants published. However, I know for a fact that these two areas (food and health/fitness) both have channels on the D website, and it reasonable and easily feasible for me to publish a story under either of them. No matter the subject matter, I plan to work closely with my mentor to compose, edit, fact-check, and publish my article on one of the channels of the D Magazine website. Through writing this article, my purpose is to gain my first professional publication experience; I hope to see how a professional journalist collaborates with others, goes through trial and error with sources, relentlessly fact-checks, and proofreads carefully to get their story into print. By experiencing the road to publication for myself, I will be fully prepared for future publication opportunities and know what to expect as far as timing and logistics.

Review of Skills and Research

Much of my research will be applied in creating my final product, as I am now going to have the opportunity to write a story much like the ones I have analyzed for research, applying all of the concepts I have learned at once. I will be able to maintain objectivity, make use of social media in gaining background information and perhaps even acquiring quotes for the article, and include all sides of the story without excluding any “undesirable” facts, all aspects of writing that I have completed research assessments over. Furthermore, I will learn new skills in bringing this article to fruition; I will learn how to fact-check in a professional environment, how to write in APA style to maintain credibility and correctness, and how to conduct an editorial meeting in a professional environment. All of these skills will be instrumental in my development of a journalism career, and my final product will be a tool to help me acquire them.

Methodology

To bring my product to completion, I will first need to consult with my mentor as well as the other writers and editors working on the D website. I will need to hear a list of stories that they are looking at publishing and choose one to tackle for my product. In order to do this, I will need to sit in on an editorial meeting in the office, speaking face to face with my mentor’s colleagues about what the team as a whole needs and expect from me. Once I have my story, I will need to complete background research in order to gain some context, acquiring a list of sources for comments as I go. I may even need to visit a few different locations around the city to speak to different individuals, take photos for my article, and enhance my understanding of the story as a whole. After that, I will need to acquire comments from multiple sources, either over email, phone, or an in-person interview, in order to gain the perspectives of individuals on all sides of the subject. When I have all the information I require, I will actually write the article, combining, synthesizing, and refining my own knowledge of the subject and the comments of my sources in order to form a cohesive story. Then, once the article is complete, I will need to complete the fact-checking and editing process in order to ensure that my information is reliable and accurate. This is most likely the step in the process where I will need to consult several different editors at D, taking and applying their corrections and/or suggestions. Proofreading is the next step, spell-checking and adjusting grammar so that every aspect of my article is correct. Finally, once the story is virtually flawless, I will present the final product to Ms. Parks in order to have it actually published on D’s website.

            Materials

I will need to spend little to no money on materials for my final product, as mine is strictly a display of my skills in digital form. Most of the work will be done on my laptop; I need it to actually write the body of my article, correspond via email with sources, my mentor, and other collaborators on my article, do background research, upload original pictures to accompany the story, fact-check, and proofread. I will also need my iPhone on which to record face-to-face interviews with sources, search social media for further insight on my story, and communicate with my mentor. Other than these, I may or may not need a digital camera to take pictures to accompany the story (I do not know if I will be assigned a photographer employed at D to take the pictures, or if I will even be required to have pictures at all), but these three tools are the only materials I will require to bring my product to life. Luckily, they cost nothing, as I currently have all of them in my possession.

Utilization of Higher Level Thinking Skills

In the culmination of my product, I will be applying a variety of higher level thinking skills. I will need to think creatively in every aspect of writing my article, from finding sources and coming up with questions to ask them, to finding good angles from which to take pictures to accompany the story. Actually composing the body of my article is a task of creation within itself. Additionally, I will need to problem solve if multiple sources deny me a comment by seeking out new ones elsewhere. I need to think critically and implement evaluation throughout the entire process, being my own worst critic when it comes to editing, fact-checking, and proofreading. Furthermore, I need to analyze all of the bits and pieces of information I will acquire through background research and interviews and synthesize it into one cohesive story that flows together.

Conclusions

I anticipate the outcome of my product to be an informative and entertaining report of a local event, organization, or individual to the people of Dallas, Texas.  I think I will learn many incredibly valuable skills that will aid me in achieving a professional journalism career one day, as well as get me the one thing that puts a young hopeful journalist above any other candidate; publication. My product will apply to the real world by actually being published in the real world; the people of Dallas will be able to consult it as a source for information, news, and entertainment. It will be utilized to inform the population of Dallas of happenings in their community, and it will benefit the city as a whole by potentially bringing people together over the story described in my article.

Weekly Report 24

Spring break was quite a productive one for me in terms of final product progress. My mentor and I had a 2 hour visit, at which we discussed thoroughly my story ideas for my final product article. I pitched my research on both stories to her, then we weighed the pros against the cons of each and discussed how to tweak them in order to gear them more towards publication. In the end, we decided that my story about how to fight disease with food would be a better fit for my final product. Not only is it the story that I am more interested in, but we both agreed that it would be easier to find sources to interview about the subject.

One suggestion that Staci had for me about beginning to write my article was that I find a way to localize it. The story in my head had no geographical limits, no application to one area, but rather the general population. She mentioned that the best way I could get published in D, if I had the desire to, would be to connect my story back to the Dallas community and show its implications and impacts on local people. In order to do this, I have decided to expand the limits on the story; I now plan on also highlighting some seasonal ingredients that Dallas people can get from local farmers that could help improve their health. I will look for local sources, including Dallas nutritionists/dietitians, and even Dallas Farmers Market vendors. Now that I have a story chosen, I can assemble a list of potential sources and really get a move on with my final product.