Posts Tagged ‘ Journalism ’

For once I agree with Torts

It is not my intention to drag out the issue that was my last post, but it was the first thing I thought of when I saw this recent clip of New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella.

Normally I find Torts to be way over the top in how he goes out of his way to be deliberately difficult with reporters, but he was right on the money here.

We don’t actually get to hear the reporter’s question, although the voice-over on TSN says he was, “asked in an indirect way” about Rick Nash’s lack of production. Much the same as Claude Noel was asked in an indirect way about how he thought that game went.

“Are you asking me is Nash playing good enough? Is that what you’re asking me?” Tortorella challenged the reporter.

“Yes, but without… asking it that way,” he responded.

“Ask me that way. You’ll get an easier answer if you just ask me that way, instead of beatin’ around the bush.”

I can’t say I understand why some reporters seem to be too intimidated by a coach after a loss to do their job effectively. I mean, I suppose I understand it well enough, but I guess I’d just suggest the reporter try to find a little more confidence then or maybe a new profession.

Hopefully if someone is a sports reporter, he or she is a sports fan. And being able to think like a sports fan is one of the greatest assets a sports reporter can have. A sports reporter should know what he or she would want to read, the answers he or she would want, as a regular fan.

“How did you feel the game went?” might seem like a lazy question, but yes, fans want to hear the coach’s thoughts on the game. “How tough is this loss?” Not a sports fan in the world who wants or needs the answer to that question.

Ask the question you want an answer to. It’s your job, don’t be afraid to do it.


Here’s the Thing About Journalism

Since I first began in CreComm over a year ago now, I’ve learned a hell of a lot about journalism along the way.  I’ve learned good things, I’ve learned bad things, and I’ve learned things that are just good to know.  But the fact remains: you can only learn so much about anything in a classroom.  I’ve long been a believer that school only gives you the tools you need to be competent in the real world, and that the majority of your actual learning will happen when you’re out of school and into a job.

This concept certainly held true last night.  I was working for the Winnipeg Free Press, on an election night intern opportunity, and this was something that I had done before, during the 2010 Civic Election.  Exact same job, two very different experiences.  Last night I was set up in Karen Velthuys’ (PC) headquarters in St. Norbert.  For those who followed the results of the election last night, St. Norbert ended up being one of, if not the, closest race of the entire election.

Working for the Free Press means my submission needs to be timely, and you’d better believe there’s a deadline.  It’s really not cool for me to single-handedly muddy the reputation of the city’s most prestigious newspaper.  So, in preparation of the night’s events, I wrote out a template for a PC victory, with blanks that I would fill in with a couple of things like quotes, and specific numbers.  I wrote one that I would submit to be published immediately on the WFP website (called a webbie) and another one that would be published in the paper the next day.

As the night progressed, Dave Gaudreau of the NDP pulled ahead.  Now I’m nervous.  An NDP victory would mean I’d have to hop in my car and drive over to his headquarters instead and get a quote from him.  Beginning to sweat, I pulled out my laptop and wrote another webbie for an NDP victory, as well as a paper copy version.  I’ve now got four different variations of stories that I’ve written for the night.  Want to take a guess at which ones I ended up using?

Correct!  None of them!

I was in frequent communication with WFP editor, Bartley Kives, and during one of our last phone conversations he told me he’d be sending another reporter to the NDP headquarters just to be safe.  By this time, the St. Norbert race was so close that a winner simply couldn’t be safely predicted.

In the end, the NDP ended up winning St. Norbert, and now there was already another reporter at his headquarters.  So I called up Mr. Kives, and asked what he’d have me do.  I tell him I have quotes from Karen Velthuys, and he asks me to just “send along a quote, and add a little bit of colour”.  Yes sir, Mr. Kives, sir.

So, Starbucks is closed by now, it’s around 11:00 p.m., but I drive over there anyways because I imagine they maybe leave their wi-fi on for me to mooch.  Wrong.

So, no template to use for this one, I write out my story on my iPhone.  Yes, my iPhone, I didn’t even have the convenience of a full-keyboard BlackBerry for this venture.  It was only about 174 words, but trust me, at the speed I was typing, my iPhone made those 174 words seem like 1,000.

What I learned last night, is exactly what I already knew.  School only teaches you so much.  Classmates; how many times have we been told to expect the unexpected in journalism?  To be prepared to change our plans on the fly?  It doesn’t matter.  You haven’t learned that until you’ve learned it.  Out there.

I also had a great time last night, which surprised me.  It was an odd feeling, to be panicking and stressing so hard, but as soon as I hit ‘send’ on my email to Bart Kives, I actually almost said out loud, “Huh… That was pretty fun.”  I actually surprised myself.

And so, I will leave you with this one tidbit of information regarding journalism that you can try to remember all you want, but (un?)forunately it is something you will simply need to learn on your own, as we all do.

Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

(You can check out my WFP story here.  I now go by my middle name of “Staff” and married a beautiful young woman and took her last name of “Writer”.  Apparently lots of men are doing it nowadays.  Also, I am not responsible for the misspelling of Velthuys in the second graf.  Enjoy.)

Page One; Not Scared.

Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times is a video documentary that takes viewers inside one of – if not the – most well-known, influential newspaper in the world.  The only problem is, however popular it may be, newspapers in general are going the way of the dinosaur, and The New York Times is afforded no immunity.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you can easily tell from the trailer that a strong focus of the film is the fact that the “Digital Age” continues to devour us, and those who resist are simply being left behind.  The movie seems to hook viewers in the same way that the nightly news likes to hook us; scare tactics.  Or maybe that’s just how it hooks us aspiring journalists.

It’s no secret that the journalism industry is changing.  Almost anything that you can read on a piece of paper nowadays, you can find online in an instant, and read on anything from a 25″ computer monitor, to a two-inch iPhone screen.  And for older journalists and writers, perhaps this might be a cause for concern.  But the journalism industry as a whole? I don’t think so.

As was mentioned during an in-class discussion earlier this week, it seems that a lot of people are getting the impression that journalism is dying, when really, it’s just changing. But nobody wants to watch a movie about how journalism is changing, which is why the trailer places so much emphasis on David Carr’s line of, “Could The New York Times go out of business?”

So just because the platform for modern journalism and reporting is changing, all of these news outlets are going to go out of business?  I don’t know about you guys, but my tweets don’t tweet themselves.  My blog doesn’t just generate random postings every once in a while.  And my stories on the Manitoba Bisons website don’t write and publish themselves, either.

Page One was an interesting movie to see, just for a behind-the-scenes look at The New York Times, and to see just how these changes are affecting big-name news outlets.

There will always be a need for good journalists, reporters, and writers.  So that’s what I focus on.  Improving my skills, building my portfolio, and getting as much experience as I can.  Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to be breaking into journalism at this time.  We’re really the first generation who is going to bridge the gap between the way journalism used to be, and the way it’s going to be.  And that doesn’t scare me in the least.

Major Headache

This is exaggerated. I'm really not stressing quite as hard as this young boy here.

As most of you probably know by now, Journalism is out for me as a major next year. If you don’t know, click here.

I’ve exhausted three contacts and four attempts to smash my way into the J major, to no avail. While I may yet try a formal appeal as a last ditch effort, the time I’ve had to sit with my “situation” has me feeling a little bit differently these days.

At first I felt slighted and very “Bret Hart at Survivor Series ’97” about the whole thing. But the fact of the matter is that I’m already well on my way in the Journalism field, and perhaps it’s actually in my best interest that I focus on something else for a major.

Where does the headache come in, you ask? Let me tell you; I also chose Broadcast Journalism as an elective, so in order to keep that, I’d have to choose Media Production as a major. I have absolutely no interest in radio though, and while I have a little bit more interest in TV, it just barely beats out radio. I’ve also got a video documentary on my plate for my IPP, so that would just be more Media Production than I could handle in one year.

Public Relations was my very first, instinctual thought when I found out I couldn’t take Journalism. I’ve always fared well in PR, and, not counting event-planning, I enjoy the writing style of PR as well (news releases, pitch letters, etc). And we’ve all heard the running joke multiple times in first year, that journalists jump over to PR when they decide they “want to make money”, and movies like Page One: Inside the New York Times scare the shit out of me as a journalist. I’m in the magazine field at the moment, but those will be next to go once the newspaper goes the way of the dinosaur.

Advertising was never even on my plate until I suddenly realized recently that I actually enjoyed it. The “book learnin'” side of anything is never my strong-suite and that definitely goes for Advertising as well, but overall I did well in the course and actually enjoyed the assignments. Working on ads with InDesign was actually something I could willingly sink hours into, and not go out of my mind with boredom. I’m far from talented with the program, but I can produce B-worthy creations, and as an F-student for the better part of my school-life… yeah, I’ll take it.

Now ready yourselves, because I’m about to go full-dweeb on you (I’ll throw some curse words in there though, to try to keep an even plane). I feel like I’m a goddamn Hogwarts student and these four majors are the four houses in the school. And I wish I could just put on some raggedy-ass hat that would make the decision for me (I could let it smell me and it would put me into Journalism though).

So while I stew over my future at RRC, I turn the microphone over to you. Got a strong case for a particular major? Tell it in the comments. But at the very least, show some love to the poll and let’s see which major’s got the most love behind it!

I’m a Journalist, not a Therapist!

A couple of weeks ago I had my first really interesting experience working as a Journalist.  I’ve yet to be yelled at, still waiting for that rite of passage.

I was working on an assignment for the official publication of the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation (GAPT), and needed to contact four people who were sitting on the board of directors, interview them, and write a personal profile for each.

I remember specifically picking out this one fellow to call first, because he looked like he was friendliest, and I was really just looking to get my feet wet at this new position.  Don’t ask me why, but there’s also just something intimidating about calling someone in Georgia, from your desk in Winnipeg, like they would just completely disinterested in speaking with you.  Baby Journalist jitters probably.

Anyways, he wasn’t in that day and he actually ended up being the one I called last.  And it’s a good thing.

By the time I got in touch with him, I had already talked to the other three people working for the GAPT, and they were dee-lightful!  One thing you find out quickly as a Journalist is that people do love to talk about themselves; “Whaaaat?? A personal profile on little ol’ me?  Oh, I could never, I’m just not intere- Well alright, I was born in 1959….”

So I finally get to this friendly looking man, give him a dingle, and a half-hour later somebody give me my Ph.D. 

The guy literally wouldn’t let me get a word in edge-wise for a solid fifteen minutes of the conversation, as he vented to me about just how much he hates his job.  And I do mean hates.  Some memorable quotes (that didn’t make the final article); read with a thick Georgian accent for full effect:

“I come home from work each and every day, and I literally feel like I’ve been run over by a steam roller.”

“I don’t even normally pick up the phone, you’re lucky you got me today.  I hate it when everyone goes out for lunch and leaves me here all alone, because then I can’t dodge people.”

“This job is the worst.  The worst.”

And so, there I sat, fingers still and unmoving at the keyboard, as I certainly wouldn’t be able to use any of the information this man was giving me.  All I can say is thank God the minimum word-count was 300, because that was about the amount of positive-sounding quotes I came away with.

The guy had to have known that everything he was saying would never end up in the article I was writing, but he just kept talking!  He definitely had a lot to get off his chest. Reminded me of Peter Gibbons from one of my all-time favourite movies, Office Space.

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me; that’s on the worst day of my life.”


Welcome to my new and improved blog, Journo JT!

I have officially severed ties with my old hub, Wrestle-Writing in Winnipeg, and have decided to evolve into much broader spectrum of topics and interests.  The reason for this switch is simple: Wrestling doesn’t define me.  My passion defines me.  And so this blog will serve as a much more enjoyable (and readable, in my opinion) medium on which I will shout to the world.

I am currently employed as an intern editor at a magazine publisher, where I will work for the remainder of the summer, before heading back to Red River College for my second year in the Creative Communications program.  As this is my first real step into the world of Journalism as a living, I plan on documenting my experiences as I dive head first into my field of choice; the good and the bad.

While I will still be frequently blogging about Pro Wrestling, I will now be able to focus on a much wider variety of things; my interests, my life, my goals, my dreams, the people who try to crush them, and their inevitable failures.  Newcomers are welcome and invited to subscribe to the blog, and can also feel free to check me out on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

My Red Wings were snuffed out of the NHL Playoffs last night, after suffering a crushing Game 7 defeat in the Western Conference semi-final.  Now we’re down to four, as Tampa Bay/Boston will take play tomorow evening, and Vancouver/San Jose will face off on Sunday.  With the Wings gone, I think I must now align with Tampa Bay, as this year they’re headed up by a new GM in my favourite player of all time, Steve Yzerman.  Would be nice to see him win the big one once again.

Any hockey fans out there?  Who are you betting on this weekend?