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Expand Your Horizons: Write for a Community Paper

Expand Your Horizons: Write for a Community Paper

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Grab Bag, News | 4 comments

About two months ago, I started freelancing for the South Lake Daily Tablet. It’s a digital community paper covering a portion of the Florida county in which I live. Once I would have shied away from newspaper reporting; now I recommend that every writer try it at least once. You’ll be amazed at what you learn. At two years old, the South Lake Daily Tablet feels like a start-up gaining traction. Its online-only presence gives it great nimbleness and lower expenses. Right now it’s slowly growing its staff, which means that most reporters cover a little of everything. Weekly staff meetings with Michael and Patricia Corradino keep us on track. They’re the owners and publishers of the paper; as with any start-up, they work twelve hours and more a day. Honestly, some days they seem to show up everywhere. I have fifteen years of professional writing and editing experience, most of it spent online covering various technology-related topics. Michael Corradino’s background is specifically in news and journalism. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I expect to learn more. Let me tell you just some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed working outside of my normal niche. First, I’ve met lots of people. Just this last week I met librarians, retired and future fire fighters, a congressman, an interim police chief, a council woman, several business owners, and more. That’s a diverse group of people sure to spark one’s writing. If you want to write well, you can’t spend all of your time staring at your computer screen and drumming on your keyboard. Yes, you must write, but meeting and talking to people will give you something to write ABOUT. Second, I’ve been learning new skills. As a freelance reporter, I can’t just write a story; my publisher expects pictures as part of the package. When a photographer isn’t available, guess who gets to take the pictures? I’m grateful for digital photography; it allows me to take lots of pictures and hope that some of them come out usable. Slowly, I’ve been improving, and expect to learn more. I’ve also been learning AP style. Newspapers commonly use it, preferring it...

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TEDx at Poynter Institute Examines Future of Journalism

TEDx at Poynter Institute Examines Future of Journalism

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in News | 1 comment

On Friday, June 7, the Poynter Institute held its third annual day of TEDx lectures. For those who’ve never attended, TEDx is the independently organized version of the TED talks, wildly popular lectures on technology, entertainment, and design. These talks often take a stimulating look at the future of the theme or topic the organizers choose to examine. As this series of talks took place at the renowned school of journalism, it took journalism – and often how the modern realities of social media affect it – as its theme. This was the second time I’d attended a TEDx talk, so some parts of it were familiar. As with all TED talks, the speakers were limited to no more than 18 minutes; there were no question-and-answer sessions; a small number of TED videos were shown to supplement those speaking in person; and regular breaks allowed for socializing, networking, and talking with the speakers. The organizers of every TEDx talk always do something that give it its own character, however, and this one was no exception. One of the Poynter Institute’s teachers played excellent piano during the breaks; food trucks came in to allow us to purchase our lunch; and other nice flourishes encouraged the active participation of attendees. In total, the schedule boasted 11 in-person speakers and three videos. We kicked off with Pat Aufderheide talking on a subject near and dear to my heart: fair use in journalism. The worst problem journalists have with fair use, according to Pat, is that they don’t know it well enough; most good journalists don’t know when they can use it, which leads to stress – and self-censorship. If journalists self-censor, they can’t do their jobs properly. Pat went over the three key questions for fair use: Is the work being used for a new purpose (transformative)? Are you using not too much and not too little of it to carry out your purpose (Goldilocks principle)? Are you following the acceptable practice in your field for fair use? The third point is critical, as fair use for a teacher may be different from fair use for, say, a musician – or, more...

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