The following is a guest post by Kalin Franks, a 2010 graduate of Columbia College Chicago and a TV reporter in Northern Michigan. She offers her perspective on work in this digital era.
By Kalin Franks
I started at 9&10 News [Traverse City/Cadillac, Michigan] in January of 2011 as a TV news web producer. I was the first person the station hired as a full time web producer, so I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to really make the position my own, and to take a leadership role in the newsroom.
For the next year I worked each day (typically 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) on writing news and information, and organizing content on our website.
I would clip video from our broadcasts for our mobile platforms (apps), and tweet information on stories we were working on throughout the day, as well as engage with our viewers on the station’s Facebook fan page.
I cannot stress enough how important it is today for anyone in news–producers, reporters, website employees—to be connected on social media (particularly Twitter) and to be ACTIVELY engaged with it. Anyone can create a username and choose a picture, but those who decide to engage–and to involve this platform in their professional lives–make the best journalists.
After helping to launch our new website, and to develop social media content, I took the leap from web producer to reporter in May, 2012.
Right now I am a general assignment reporter at our station, which is both the CBS and Fox affiliate in the Traverse City/ Cadillac [Michigan] market.
Each day I come into work and call around to local police/prosecutor/sheriff contacts that I’ve made in the counties I cover. I check on cases I’m following, or stories that broke overnight. Usually in small towns across northern Michigan there isn’t much breaking news overnight, so I’m always reading and storing potential ideas in a folder on my desktop.
I keep an eye out for national stories that I can easily localize to our area—stories about economic impact, weather impact, etc. After compiling a list of ideas, I pitch them at our newsroom editorial meetings.
Once I get a story approved I’m out the door, working to get my sound sources and video done for that day’s story. I always check back with the assignment desk at the station to see what shows my story might appear in, and to determine what else I need to do.
Once back at our bureau, I write, write, write. During the day I make sure to tease my story on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook. I then retweet my teases on our station’s account too.
I’ve found that the best way to engage people on Twitter is to respond to them! When people tweet me– asking how my day is, or what story I’m working on, I answer them promptly and honestly.
The best part of my job is telling stories. It’s what I love to do–learning about people’s lives and then working to help others hear their stories.
Every day I try to make each story great. That’s my goal.
In my role as a reporter, I’m also responsible for converting my scripts into text stories for our website. I’ve learned that people like links. So anytime I can provide links, or more information in my web stories, I do so.
In addition to more information, people like to see extended interviews on our website. Therefore I always try to work in extra elements that can be teased to the Web.
Social media and the Web are among the major reasons I have a job. So, it’s important that I integrate these valuable resources into my work!