Late June Updates From the Broadcast Journalism School

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This week I want to start off with a look at Spanish language media in the United States. Once a small, niche market, it is increasingly becoming a force in American journalism. NBC purchased the Telemundo network a number of years back. An investor group bought the other major Spanish language network, Univision. And while Univision might be best known for its prime time telenovelas, it’s news effort is first rate. The New York Times Magazine has a great story on how Univision is playing an important role in the communities it serves, combining first-class news coverage with aggressive rumor control.

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As most of you know, I am a big fan of electronic gadgets, and a firm believer that — if necessary — you can produce an entire news package on your iPhone. But you don’t need high tech to be a good journalist. A reporter in Boston used postcards (you know, postcards … “snail mail”) to gather information on the gentrification of the city’s East End. Since many of the people he was trying to reach don’t live “digital lives,” he distributed postcards throughout the community telling the story of gentrification, and asked people to recount their own experiences. And since the people he wanted to speak with generally communicated in Spanish, the postcards were in español too.

Digging for stories goes far beyond email and voice messages. It involves engaging with, and talking to, real people.

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Of course, if you want to compete at the national and international level, you better have a good digital game too. CNN developed Great Big Story as a way to diversify their brand, so that they weren’t entirely dependent on news addicts like me (and you?). It is also an acknowledgment that even the most dedicated follower of news can use some time away from the headlines. (Off-beat and involving stories always find an audience.) Bloomberg reports that CNN is growing Great Big Story into a 24-hour streaming channel. And they are betting $40 million dollars on the project…
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File this under the heading, “Murphy’s Law — Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.” (All of my former students have heard this before. Maybe too many times … but it bears repeating.) That’s what happened at the BBC last week. For four, very long minutes, the computers that pretty much guide the “News At Ten” program went haywire. The result was one of the most catastrophic mess-ups I have ever seen.

But through it all, BBC presenter Huw Edwards did exactly what we train our students to do when something goes terribly wrong in the studio. He remained calm (at least outwardly), and was ready to go once things were finally sorted out.

Take a few minutes and watch the video. It is quite instructive.

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Published on: June 26, 2017

Filled Under: Academic Programs, Broadcast Journalism

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