Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First Assignment

When I visited Waterman on Friday, Turchetta suggested I spend the weekend driving around our viewing area and meeting members of our community. He said to ask them as a new reporter, what I should know about the area and what they believe are the biggest issues plaguing  their community. 

Overall, I learned quite a bit from yesterday's assignment. On Friday night, I ate at a restaurant in Fort Myers Beach. My server was from Cape Coral. She told me all about the foreclosure rates in her community and one mortgage company in particular that's known for taking advantage of Floridians (I won't mention the company's name, but I plan to pitch the idea in a story meeting on Monday). Next, I drove to Naples, a luxurious community with many wealthy individuals. Again, I heard complaints about foreclosure rates and how so many people there can no longer afford their expensive second homes. I spoke to one couple who said they purchased a home for $300,000, which one year ago would have been on the market for over a million.  

On Saturday, I didn't speak to quite as many people. After finishing a handful of errands, I headed out to Coconut Point in Estero. Coconut Point is one of many new retail developments in Southwest Florida. It is a 90,000 square foot shopping mall, with  restaurants, retail, office space, a theatre and even condominiums. I figured it would be a good spot to meet individuals from all over the area. 

Upon arrival, I spotted a woman sitting alone outside of The Grape Bistro. I started a conversation with her and found out she was a middle school teacher in Collier County. She told me as a reporter on the education beat I would spend many days in Collier County. She said many teachers are upset about the takeover of Superintendent Dennis Thompson. She commented that teachers would not be receiving their steps this year, and that teachers and school board members are unsure how to evaluate Thompson and how to proceed with educational goals in Collier County. Then this lady's friend, a teacher at Pinewoods Elementary in Estero, joined us. They invited me to share an appetizer and drink with them. The Pinewoods teacher discussed Lee County education budget cuts. She told me many of the teachers were laid off last year, and about half are currently being offered their positions back for the next school year. She said many have already found new jobs, and it has created "quite an emotional mess". She also said she hasn't received her steps in two years, even though she has been an educator in Florida for 28 years. The ladies were so friendly and interesting that I ended up spending a few hours at The Grillroom restaurant with them. Of course, most of our chat was centered on fun topics such as great places to visit/hang out in Southwest Florida, but our conversation was very interesting and it was delightful to meet them. So far, everyone I've met here has been really great. People are more than willing to chat, and everyone has a great story to tell. I look forward to those I will soon meet. My adventure continues today.

Meeting the team

I met the Waterman team on Friday (June 26). It was really nice to meet everyone before my first day at the station. I loved the atmosphere- a big, open newsroom with reporters/anchors/producers/assignment desk workers all intermixed. Quite a few employees were communicating, swapping ideas, and asking one another for assistance before their evening deadline. The station has a very learning-friendly environment. I also officially met Turchetta. It was great to finally meet him in person, after researching every aspect of his life. I know by meeting everyone and seeing how the news room operates, that this will be a place I can grow in. This will be a place that allows me to use my skills as a multimedia journalist (digging, using the Interwebs, communicating) and work my butt off (which I prefer). This will be a place where I can learn from the best, with mentors that really know what they're doing. This will be the place where I can practice real journalism (not cheap news or shock news). 

"A Change Would Do You Good"

You know, I always say I'm going to make writing in my blog a more regular activity, but it just hasn't happened for me yet. I hope to seriously change that with my move and new career. I'm a Missourian no longer, as I officially switched my driver's license and address to Fort Myers, FL. Let me tell you, the last two weeks have brought a whirlwind of change. I couldn't be more excited to have landed a job where I did. I'll be working at Waterman Broadcasting (NBC-2, ABC-7), a company that still values investigative reporting during a time when that type of reporting has been slashed. A company with management that cares and a team-oriented focus.

 I'll be working as a video journalist, but the position didn't exactly fall into my lap. Let me start from the beginning. I was applying and applying and applying for broadcast positions. It seemed as if I was getting nowhere, so I launched a new game plan. I went through my list of places I had applied and started e-mailing news directors, assistant news directors, reporters, photographers…basically anyone who I could find an e-mail address for. One person got back to me. That man was the assistant news director at WBBH. He gave me an assignment: “My name is Greg Turchetta. You have 48 hours to find out as much as you can about me. Go!” I spent the next two days calling Turchetta’s wife, his wife's friends, his high school friends, ex coworkers, family members etc. Then I used the databases/search engines I learned in investigative reporting courses in college to find his driver’s license number, voter registration info and marriage/divorce licenses. I could have stopped there, but I was on a mission. I called as many state departments as I could to request open records for information on Turchetta. In the end, I compiled a 7-page report about Turchetta and e-mailed it to him. He called me within 10 minutes of receiving it….shocked by how much information I had found. Then, he gave me another mission: “You look a little uncomfortable in your live shots. Send me another DVD with your best live shot material.” I knew I had already given Turchetta my best material on my resume tape, so I called KOMU-8's managing editor, Randy Reeves, and scheduled to do a live shot at 5/6 the next day. Things went well, thanks to my wonderful producers (Akiko Oda, Kacey Breda, Mallory Perryman and Andrew Mckibbin) and my great live truck operator (J.P. Regan) I sent in the live shot DVD and didn’t hear back from Turchetta for a week. Then he e-mailed with bad news: the VJ position was frozen. He asked if I was interested in a producer/photographer position in the meantime until a VJ position became available. I said yes. He got back to me a short time later with more bad news: all positions were frozen. He said he was sorry and that he would keep me on his list. I was bummed, but then around 7pm I received a call from Turchetta saying they had a budget meeting and found the funds to hire me and one other VJ . He asked if I could get there before the end of June. So…here I am. I moved into my condo on Wednesday (June 24, 2009) and I start at Waterman on Monday (June 29). In the past few days, I have changed my car (my run down Mitsubishi could have never made the trip down), changed my address, changed my auto insurance, changed my driver's license, changed my hair (it's now more brown than blonde) and changed my community. I'm excited to be joining the people of Southwest Florida, and I look forward to delivering news they can count on. I'm honored to join the Waterman team. I'll keep all you readers posted on my adventures in the Sunshine state.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

H1-N1 and Soundslides

Yesterday I covered a story for KOMU-8 about the swine flu. Not wanting to turn another generic package about the disease, I proposed two ideas for the story meeting. The first one was checking in with hospitals to see how many people have come in to see if they have the disease (since the symptoms are so similar to a regular flu) including if they have had to call in extra staff, and the other one had to do with our coverage (and the media in general, both local and national) of the H-1 N-1 virus. Have we (as the media) been covering the epidemic too much? The pork producers argue we shouldn't use the term "swine flu" because it unfairly ties their pork products to a disease that people cannot obtain from eating pork. I ended up with this story. It was convenient that one of the best journalism schools in the world is just a couple miles up the street. I spoke with a very well known health reporter and a Missouri pork producer.

This week I also developed a powerpoint presentation pertaining to how we will keep Columbia Tomorrow's website sustainable in the future. I have spent all semester building the site (producing multimedia content, blogging on the site, speaking with growth and development stakeholders, and attending/participating in town hall launch meetings). This week, I made decisions for how KOMU can keep the site popular among Columbia residents and encourage its growth and expansion. I will be making a soundslide presentation early next week and will be sure to share it on here with all of you. Check back soon!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thanks Andrew

I just googled my name to see what would come up, and I found Andrew McKibbon's blog about a recent story I did for KOMU. It was by far the most emotionally draining story I have EVER completed. I did my best to work with twitter and the station's website to enhance my story, and my producer (Andrew) and Mid-Missouri viewers responded well.

Here's what my producer Andrew had to say:

Ain't No Hollenbeck Girl

I just want to say that what Sarah Hollenbeck did during her Friday reporting shift was phenomenal. Not only did she do a very good job of telling a very difficult story, but she kept in mind and exemplified some of the things we're been talking about in both Jen and Kent's classes recently.

'One day in the near future, there will be no such thing as a lead story, because viewers will already know all about anything worthy of being the lead.'

Sarah was in Holts Summit all day to cover the deadly house fire. I was producing so I didn't have to be at the station until 12:30. But when I woke up at 10, I arbitrarily checked my Twitter and saw that Sarah had tweeted 3 times already about the fire. From there, I went to our website to see information there as well. Kent has said in class that we should have reporters calling the station by 11 a.m. to get preliminary info about their stories on the web. Sarah obviously had been doing this all morning.

Perhaps it's just because our in-class discussions are so fresh in my mind, but this really stood out to me as a great attempt on Sarah's part to practice this new-fangled 'multi-platform' journalism everyone seems to be talking about. And it didn't take away from her story. She did excellent reporting and had an excellent lead story at 5 and 6, but she still took the time to update on the web, too.

At the end of the day, Sarah (presumably) checked her Twitter for the first time in several hours. I heard her say from across the room saying how cool it was to see that people around mid-Missouri had been retweeting her tweets all day. That comment really proved to me the potential worth of Twitter if we use it correctly. I must say that I doubted its effectiveness at first because I didn't really understand what we were supposed to use it for. I thought it was just another way to redirect people to our website. That may be true, too, but I was impressed to see how quickly we could get out the biggest news of the day by far via Twitter.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jen Reeve's Encourages "Google-ability"

My wonderful professor Jen Reeves wrote a great blog post about making her students more "google-able". Check it out here: "assessing the journalists of tomorrow".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Website Up & Running

My website is officially up. Check it out here. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Editing, Anchoring & Geocaching

During my KOMU dot com shift this week I finished the script for my interactive story about growth and development in Columbia. The story focuses on the costs and benefits that can result from new infrastructure in the city. Matt Thompson, the Missouri School of Journalism fellow heading the project, changed my script to have it resemble a story-telling format. He shot me on camera reading the script and advised me to edit it in a quick pace with jump cuts. The style was quite different for me. I'm used to editing in a traditional news style, but Matt thought this type would be more catchy for the web. I stayed at KOMU-TV 8 until 5am Friday night editing the multi-media piece and adding footage to the story. There's a couple snippets of video I'd like to add, but for the most part the video is complete. We plan to have it up on the website this week in time for our town launch meeting. At the meeting Thursday night, we'll have panelists speak about key issues concerning growth and development in the city. I hope members of the public show up!

This week I also shot a story for KOMU news about geocaching. This is a type of "treasure hunting" for adults. Hunters use GPS systems to locate Tupperware containers called "letterboxes". Inside they find a card which they stamp to show they found the box. They then re-hide the letterbox for the next hunter. I found a man who actually drove to Columbia from Saint Louis to take part in the hunt. The man said he's participated in more than 1,800 hunts within the last two years. You can watch that story by clicking here.

Yesterday (Saturday) I anchored the 6pm newscast with Brandon Lewis. This was the first newscast we have done together since MUTV freshman year in college. The newscast went really well, but there was some awkward silence at the end where we should have chatted. I guess we'll have to work on that for next week.

Additionally, I sent out my first three resume tapes this week. I find it tough to have enough time to apply to the stations I am interested in, but perhaps I'll find a bit of time to send out more resumes/DVDs/cover letters this week. Wish me luck, blog followers!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Long Awaited Update

It has been far too long since I have updated my blog. 

Here's what I've been up to:

1. Working on the interactive website "Columbia Tomorrow". We are creating the site as an asset for Columbia, MO residents to learn more about growth and development and what the city will look like in 10-20 years. I personally am working on a multi-media video comparing and contrasting the costs and benefits of new developments in the city. I spoke with a family that recently moved into the Vanderveen Subdivision (a development which required an extension of sewer lines, the expansion of roads and a large amount of new infrastructure) about the fees passed onto them by the developer when they moved into their new home. I also spoke with city council member Barbara Hoppe. Hoppe is a proponent for Smart Growth, and believes in expanding up instead of out. Subdivisions such as Vanderveen, she says require too much new infrastructure and tax payers shouldn't have to bear the extra costs. The story itself will explain this fine line between new infrastructure / residents to the city not having to pay too much of the costs passed on from developers and taxpayers not wanting to be burdened with higher taxes for projects they won't obtain a direct benefit from (as explained by members of Smart Growth). The story is completely shot. I plan to write and edit the script this week.

2. I have continued with my dayside reporting shifts on Fridays. Since my last post, I have reported on two different issues. The first was a great story about local volunteers helping to move an old barn to its new location at the Columbia Fairgrounds. I love the way the story turned out. I shot the entire story, and I had a chance to be creative and really show off my shooting skills. This story is now the top story on my resume tape. Click here to watch it. This past Friday I was able to report on another interesting topic. That morning, I heard on NPR that financial analysts were predicting America would come out of the recession earlier than we had anticipated. Additionally, home costs are holding steady. When I made my way into KOMU, I noticed we had a press release from The Jefferson City Homebuilders Association talking about how there has never been a better time to purchase a home in Mid-Missouri. I shot this story (click here to watch it) and was able to combine the two bits of information.

3. Just this week, I started a new anchoring shift at KOMU-8. I will be anchoring the 6pm on Saturdays until the end of May. Here's a short VO I wrote and anchored. 

4. I am also continuing to work on my resume website. I am very close to being finished. I am encountering some problems with adding SWF files to the site to show off a couple flash graphics I have put together for KOMU-8. I am designing my website with WIX, but I have been very unsatisfied with their customer service and with the site building capabilities (only certain levels of SWF may be uploaded, PDF files are not supported etc.) As soon as my link is up, I will post it here.

5. I have finished the fifth draft of my resume DVD and am now very satisfied with it. I have only sent it out to one news director (David Duitch at The 33 TV in Dallas, TX) but I have provided copies to a couple of my mentors for review (Frank Whittaker, news director WMAQ Chicago, Art Norman, reporter WMAQ Chicago and Patricia Doherty-Wildner, CEDA Vice President.)

6. Tomorrow I plan to print new business cards for my trip to the RTNDA@NAB conference. The new cards will have my website and twitter name. I also changed my title from "reporter" to "multi-media reporter" in attempts to make myself more marketable and to promote my shooting/editing/web production skills. The conference begins April 19 and will continue through the 22nd.

This month, I also realized just how much I love shooting. I used to dread shooting my own stories, but in the past couple months or so I've really found a passion for video journalism. I'm excited to (hopefully) hold a backpack journalist position in the near future. I believe the job will suit me well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The "M" Week: MODOT & Motorcycles

This week's shifts at KOMU-8 were very productive. On Tuesday, I created a roll-over flash graphic that depicts how MODOT will spend stimulus money on new transportation projects. I took a map of our viewing area and added pop up information boxes that detailed each county's projects. I also uploaded a PDF file to the internet with all Missouri county transportation project information. I figured it would be more interesting and interactive for our users to look at the rollover map than it would be for them to look at the PDF. Additionally, the PDF was not organized by county, so the information would have been difficult for our viewers to read and comprehend. On Friday, I reported on an interesting story about motorcycle helmet legislation. The Missouri house and senate have looked at a proposal to lift the helmet law to include all those 21+. This means that Missourians 21 and over can choose whether or not they want to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. This topic  became of interest Thursday, because the senate voted in favor of it. Last year, they decided not to vote on the measure. It now moves onto the house, where it has passed before. Many officials say this time it will likely be a done deal. On Friday, I spoke with 5 motorcyclists, a Missouri senator (via telephone) and a trauma surgeon. Overall, the story turned out very well because my interviewees seemed to bounce off one another well (ie. the motorcyclists talked about how it's cooler not to wear a helmet and the surgeon said it is cooler to ride without a helmet, but the reality is you must wear one because the brain is not fixable. ) I also played around a lot with interesting and unique camera angles, and overall, I think the shots turned out pretty cool. Check out my story here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Creating An Interactive Flash Graphic For

During this week at KOMU, I decided to enhance a story one of the dayside reporters did on what items cannot be recycled. In her story, she talked about multiple items that surprisingly cannot be placed in the blue recycling bag on your curb. While her story was well put together, I decided it needed a better visual example. My college Margaret Enright and I developed an interactive graphic in flash.  Now, our viewers can roll over the recycling bin items and receive details about which type of items cannot be placed in  a recycling bin. The only problem my colleague and I had with the graphic is that the image itself is too small. We realized, post-production, that we should have set the stage larger for the image. This way, there wouldn't be as much white space surrounding the graphic on the webpage. Next week, she and I plan on making another interactive flash graphic for the web. We know our viewers (and web page visitors) are visual learners and we hope working with a medium like flash will enhance their knowledge of a given topic in Mid-Missouri.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Memphis visit

I had such a wonderful experience at the RTNDA Memphis trip this weekend. All that planning was definitely worthwhile.We had a blast, despite the massive amount of snowfall and unplowed highways. We were able to visit four stations in Memphis (ABC24, WMC, WREG, My Fox Memphis). The main thing I walked away with (as dually noted by my colleague Conroy Delouche) was how happy these Mizzou alum were. Everyone seemed satisfied with their jobs. It helps that, according to FOX 13 executive producer, Bill Dobilas, the citizens of Memphis are big on local TV news. He sites a 70% citizen watch rate. It was nice to hear positive reinforcement esp. following Kent Collin's class which has recently been focused on back up plans and how stations are changing (in negative ways) to adapt to the recession. We met with FOX 13 producer Mallory Trenor, ABC 24 meteorologist Henry Rothenberg, WMC producer Rob Edwards, WREG reporter Omari Fleming and WREG producer Kristen Jones. Visits like this one remind me of the importance of journalism and my passion for broadcast news excellence. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another response to my at-home dads ineligible under proposed bill in the MO house story. Looks like I'm getting responses from dads from across the U.S.

Dear Ms. Hollenbeck:

I read the posting on your TV station's website regarding the bill being sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Davis. I find this incredibly hard to believe that a representative of a state congress actually believes that only mothers can be nurturers and should not be included in this bill. It boggles my mind that this is really happening in this day and age. Fathers can absolutely be just as nurturing as a mother, this is completely insulting. ALL at home parents should be included in a bill like this, no one should be excluded because of gender.

As a full time stay at home father of nearly 12 years, the organizer of a large at home dads group in Washington DC and the secretary of a non-profit for at home fathers, I am quite sure that fathers can be just as good of nurturers as mothers. There are only two biological differences that fathers can't do and only mothers can, that's it! There are hundreds of thousands of full time at home dads, and even more primary care dads that are the full time caregivers for their children. I cannot imagine anyone actually believing that a father could not nurture their children and therefore be excluded from a bill designed to help at home parents. I would truly like to see you do a follow up piece on this story about the stay at home fathers being left out of this bill. The voices of the at home fathers should be heard on this subject, more than just the two comments in the story.

Please consider doing a follow up to this story and do more in depth reporting from the stay at home father's side.


Mike Stilwell, Secretary

Daddyshome, Inc.

Stay-At-Home dads react to my story

Check out all the responses I have recieved from the last dayside shift I completed at KOMU. Last Friday, I did a story about a bill moving through the Missouri house which would give $600 a year to stay-at-home moms to be used towards self betterment (eduaction/career jumpstart) after her kids have grown. If passed, the bill states that the money could not be claimed by stay-at-home dads, because the house representative (R-O'Fallon Cynthia Davis) says dads are not natural nurturers. Stay-at-home dads were the focus of my story. You can find my original story here.

Date: 2/23/2009 10:29:37 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: fredclemensjr@

I can't believe what I just read! I am a stay at home dad, with twin girls and I HAD to quit my job to stay home with my daughters because of the shape of the economy and the cost of day care. I am outraged to think that someone could be so narrow minded to not be able to look at the BIG picture. My outlook on stay at home parents has done a 180, since I became a SAHD, and now I wouldn't change it. It is not an easy job taking care of 2 children, house keeping, and etc. In our changing society we all have to come together and realize that this is not the 50's-60's any more and men and women should be treated as equal in both the home and work force. Woman have been fighting for equal rights for a long time, and they are finally getting their voices heard. Do Stay at Home Dads need to start doing the same? GEE, I HOPE NOT! LETS GET THIS ISSUE STRAIGHTENED OUT, AND FAST. Thank You


Reply To:

Rep. Davis,

While I applaud your bill to pay stay-at-home moms $600 per year in
scholarships for each year for each year they care for their children,
I am appalled at your notion that only mothers can nurture their
children. I believe that your argument is outdated and only furthers
the "uninvolved father" stereotype. Just as women have proven capable
of success in the workplace, men are certainly capable in the home.

My husband George has been a stay-at-home dad for 6 years. From day
one he has cared for our sons, making breakfast, lunch and dinner,
convincing them at 3am that monsters don't exist, kissing their
boo-boos, drying tears, and wiping noses and bottoms. Our boys, of
whom we are very proud, are the result of a caring, involved father.

It's an insult to every father, either working or stay-at-home, to say
that they are incapable of nurturing. I would encourage you to
research your position with real-life stay-at-home families before
cementing your opinion.

Angela Rust


Date: 2/23/2009 11:51:26 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: lpapp@
Reply To:
To: sjh4h5@ , athomedad@

Dear Ms. Hollenbeck:

Please inform Rep. Cynthia Davis that I am a stay at home dad and I do "nurture" my daughter and to think that fathers cannot and do not is pure and simply wrong in her thinking. Besides, isn't this discrimination leaving stay-at-home dads out of the bill for doing the exact same thing the stay-at-home moms are? I cook, I clean, I take care of my child, and nurture her, while my wife works full time.

Maybe she should think twice, and three times, or even ten times, about this. Apparently she also thought buying a truck for personal use with state money was a good idea too. She's extremely lucky to still have her job.

A Stay-at-Home Nurturing Father and Damn Proud of It,
Les Papp

Subject: RE: Rep. Cynthia Davis Parenting bill
Date: 2/23/2009 11:57:29 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: rcornelius2@

Hi. I just read about Rep. Davis' bill for $600 payment to stay at home mom's but not stay at home dad's. This is absurd and the lady is an idiot. As a Republican stay at home dad in Texas, I can't believe the stupidity of this woman. I have always said even before being a parent, and now more so as a SAHD, that being a stay at home parent has to be the hardest job of all. It tests your stamina, will, determination, mind, abilities, and more. This bill would be discriminatory at the onset. The FMLA already says that parents, male and female alike, must get equal benefits.

Please make sure you report to the people of your state that this is wrong and discriminates against dads everywhere. At a time that our society and country has realized how important a dad, albeit both parents, is to a child's upbringing. If there is to be some type of legislation like this, then it has to be all inclusive of both mom and dad. However, I believe this type of legislation is ridiculous and socialistic at best, and coming from a Republican woman. I'm confused. It is wrong and a waste of taxpayers dollars. We already have a welfare system where you can get paid for having babies.

Subject: Davis is an IDIOT!
Date: 2/23/2009 11:59:57 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: bronner@
Reply To:
To: sjh4h5@ , athomedad@

Ms. Hollenbeck, I have been the primary care-giver of my daughter since the
day she was born. She is now six, and it's been the best job of my life.
To think that this Davis buffoon thinks she can nurture a child...and I laughable.

I, for instance, have never allowed MY child to run around unattended near
busy streets. And Child Protective Services has never been called to MY
home to return a lost child. Apparently this is the level of nurturing that
Ms. Davis is so proud of.

My daughter is a fantastic child: caring, compassionate, upbeat and joyful.
And she attends a special school for the Gifted, after having blown the roof
off her IQ tests. If this clown Davis thinks she can do better, she's
delusional as well as misguided.

As a member of the media, I implore you to do everything in your power to
stop her ridiculous legislation and to shine a spotlight on her ignorance.

Thank you,
George Bronner

Interview with Andy Hall, media giraffe

This is the transcribed interview with Andy Hall (as mentioned below). What a wonderful rolemodel for those in the journalism field. After speaking with Hall, I am inspired to someday fund a similar non-profit center for investigative reporting. I promise this interview is worth the read!

Name and Title: Andy Hall, Executive Director and Founder of Center for Investigative Reporting in Madison, Wisconsin
Address: 5006 Vilas Communication Hall
821 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 606-262-3642


Andy Hall grew up in Indiana and graduated from Indiana University in 1981. He worked for seven months for the New York Times as a “copyboy”. Following that, he worked as a reporter for eight years at the Arizona Republic, covering a variety of topics. He was also a part of the investigative team, which broke the Keating Five scandal. In 1991, he began working at the Wisconsin State Journal, working as an investigative reporter and then as a K-12 education reporter. For the past ten years, he has taught journalism and mass communication courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Motivation behind starting center:

Hall was looking for a means to pursue his two great passions for investigative reporting and teaching. He got into journalism because he “wanted to do some good.” He was inspired by Chuck Lewis, who started the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. The business model for the Center for Public Integrity was replicated for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting.

Funding the center:

The center was initially funded in January 2009 by Hall’s severance check from the Wisconsin State Journal. He had assembled the pieces for the center over two years, and was ready to start working there full time, so he left the Wisconsin State Journal. Luckily, the journal supported his decision and worked out a severance agreement with Hall. The WCIJ just recently received a 100,000 start-up grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism program. WCIJ is currently accepting money from organizations and individuals. It will not accept donations from companies. It hope to set up a system for micro-payments for citizens to donate to causes they see as worthy.

Purpose of center:

The purpose of WCIJ is to help increase the amount and quality of investigative reporting in Wisconsin. The Center’s mission is to “protect the vulnerable, expose wrongdoing and seek solutions to ongoing problems.” They will focus on issues that matter to folks in Wisconsin, and will incorporate all kinds of journalistic mediums- print, broadcast and online. Government integrity and ethics, as well as government efficiency will be a major focus of the center.

How it works:

All content will be available for free to news media in Wisconsin. Partners in Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television and the UW-Madison School of TV and Mass Communication will work on projects through the center. The center will collaborate with all media outlets throughout the state. It will also serve as a resource to news organizations in Wisconsin conducting their own investigations. It will answer questions about who would be helpful sources on a story, how to file open records requests, and other topics of interest. It hopes to help all news media, both mainstream and ethnic, dig deep into matters of importance to the citizens of the state of Wisconsin.

Personal Motivation:

“I got into journalism right after Watergate, and I’ve seen the power and importance of hard-working journalists like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to help hold a corrupt president accountable. I saw when institutions fail the news media has a central role to play in protecting democracy”, Hall said, “I have really held fast to that idealistic vision over these decades, even as we’ve all had to deal with financial cutbacks and we’ve all grown older and in some cases, become more skeptical. At heart, journalism remains an extraordinarily important pursuit, perhaps more than ever now, as we’ve seen government efforts go array and government officials become better at covering their tracks. Hall added, “It’s essential we become more connected with human sources and better at analyzing data to see how things are really happening.”
Hall says he hopes this will eventually have regional, national and international interest. He thinks the model should be easily replicated in other states to help strengthen investigative journalism and democracy. It should also help encourage citizens to question going-ons in their communities. WCIJ hope to teach residents how to begin looking into issues and hold state-wide workshops to help citizens “become experts at what is going on in their society.”

Personal and financial risks:

Hall’s wife, Dee Hall (reporter for Wisconsin State Journal) and himself have invested a substantial amount of money to get the organization off the ground. WCIJ will likely need $500,000 a year to run. Hall says this money may not be easy to come by. He comments, “It’s a time of great parole for our society and though it may be tough to come by, support is needed for time and labor-intensive journalism. It is essential to develop business models to ensure investigative reporting will stay alive, and journalists will be given resources to do this important work.”

The role of participatory democracy:

“We’re hoping to empower residents of Wisconsin and to give them the tools to do a better job looking into the quality of life in their community. People love their communities and their state and they often worry about what is happening in their state. We hope to move them past the state of worry and to take action,” Hall said.

“We want to turn residents into citizen journalists. We hope to help them develop investigative skills and to turn those skills into action or if they find some sort of wrongdoing that deserves attention, they will alert that [wrongdoing] to WICJ so that those findings can be explored by professional news media,” Hall said.

Hall On the State of Journalism:

“In many regards, there is a lot of good news about the state of journalism and democracy. People still care, they have not checked out. Voter registration remains high. The number of people reading the work of journalists is actually at an all-time high, if you combine those reading the paid product and those viewing that content online. What we do still matters and people still turn to us when confronted with important issues. We however, are at a time when the economic pillars for for-profit journalism have crumbled, and nothing is in sight to replace them,” Hall says.

Since advertising revenue is down and new avenues for advertising are available, Hall believes many of the dollars that have drifted away will not be coming back. Hall says he hope to support the effort of for-profit media organizations with his non-profit organization during this tough economic time.

In this economy, how do we preserve journalism?

Hall believes, “We have to start with trying to understand what are the most essential parts of journalism that need to be saved. Because the resources aren’t there, we cannot save it all. One of the essential parts to save is the ability to aggressively and fairly examine the actions of powerful officials in our community and in our state.”

Some other parts of journalism that need to be saved, according to Hall include: political coverage, sports coverage and business coverage. He says media outlets have recognized the importance of saving breaking news, the weather, celebrity news, and sports because all of those attract high audiences, especially online. He says in this case, the business models have been adapted to save these types of coverage. Hall says, media outlets also have to look at what models we have for saving investigative and watchdog journalism. Hall thinks non-profit is part of the answer to saving these models. He hopes his center will also be part of the answer.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Busy week journalistically

During this week's KOMU dot com shift, I had very little to work on for the website. There was only one nightside reporter on Tuesday, because two of the reporters were live and Dhominique Rick's story about sexting was aired that evening. I spent a couple hours making changes to the website, and spent the rest of the shift working on my website. I have decided to build my video resume using WIX. I have made very slow progress with WIX. I spoke with Mike Brannen about how he built his website, but it turns out the site has changed a bunch since he built his resume last year. Some of the trouble I encountered in building the resume occurred when trying to add a PDF file (I'm still struggling with that one), also when trying to connect my domain (which I purchased a couple months ago) with my WIX site. Youtube also seems to be having a tough time uploading my video files because they are so large and because they are in a .mov format. This is going to be a long process. I have considered seeking outside help, but figure I'll toy with it a bit more. Additionally this week, I worked on my capstone project. I tried to do some background research on growth and development in Columbia and also pegged which key stakeholders in Columbia's growth I would like to interview. I'm a bit concerned that the stakeholders won't want to dedicate an hour of their time to us for interviews. They should have interest in our project and our cause, but I'm worried they won't find it as noteworthy and important as we do. I spent the majority of my time this week planning the RTNDA (Radio television news director's association) trips to Memphis, TN and Las Vegas, NV. I am the president of the organization, so most of the organizational tasks are in my hands. I am very excited for both trips. I love networking and I find other journalism professionals fascinating. Speaking of journalism professionals, I worked on my media giraffe project this week. The subject I interviewed, Andy Hall, was fascinating. He established the center for investigative journalism in Madison, Wisconsin. He started the center with his own money and has such a wonderful motive for the center. He wants to establish outlets for participatory journalism. Under the program, citizens can call in with ideas for investigative reports...and even better, news organizations (newspapers, online news sites and television stations) can get additional resources and funds from the non-profit organization. Hall said he wants to keep investigative reporting alive and well even when journalism is struggling. He called investigative reporting "journalism that matters" and vows that he will keep the center around even when the economy gets tight. He is my idol. I'm glad I had the pleasure to speak with him, and I'm glad our profession has journalists like Hall. What a great influence!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week Four:

I spent a large amount of time during my KOMU dot com shift this week working on moving archived stories to the new development subcategory. I am part of the "Growth and development in Columbia: What will the city look like in 10 years?" capstone project, and grouping together these stories will be essential to set up an RSS feed from KOMU, the Missourian and the Columbia Tribune to the new website. I was curious if we should try to pull KBIA pieces on development and create an RSS feed for them as well. Matt Thompson said he isn't sure how to create an RSS feed, so we will have to figure that out soon. Andrew McKibbon added about 30 stories to the development category, and during my shift I found about 15 more to add. In addition to that task, I also created a slideshow for a story Ryan Takeo did on the price of cattle declining, while feed and cattle maintenance prices go up. Because his story was shot on a cattle farm, it was much more visual than the other nightside stories. The problem I had is that I added descriptions and titles for each photo, but they didn't appear to show up on the actual slideshow. I toyed with that for quite some time, but couldn't seem to get it to work. I also added additional images to a story Michael Kelly did on more opposition to Ameren UE's desire to increase rates while building a second nuclear plant in Columbia. My focus during this shift was making sure all the images looked perfect on the web. We had a bit of a snag with photoshop, because the photos were being sized in inches instead of pixels when we went to crop them, but we were able to get that fixed. Some of the reporters had video that was too hot or too dark, so for a couple of stories I had to find generic images to post to the web. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week, I felt a lot more familiar with ACM (it had been awhile since my overnight weekly shifts). We began the new process of setting up pages for the reporters in ACM, allowing them to write their scripts directly onto the space we gave them. Margaret Enright and I created two web extras we were particularly fond of. For one extra  we created a slide show of still frame photos. We chose to use Michael Kelly's story about the new nuclear reactor and the opposition to it because the people's expressions were very visually interesting. We also wanted to show more photos of the nuclear reactor because he did not use all the shots in his package. The other extra was an explanation video pertaining to Samantha Running's package about measuring energy consumption in the residence halls. Sam didn't have room in her package for the explanation video, but we found it very informative. So, we edited a few pieces together and posted it on the website. I love how the web provides an outlet for extra content...especially when that content can further the meaning of the story. 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

WMAQ Move to Multi Platform

When the Chicago Tribune published an article this week about WMAQ (NBC5 Chicago) restructuring their newsroom to incorporate more multi-platform positions, I was not surprised. I interned at NBC 5 this past summer, when plans for changes were still whispers. I returned to the station during my Thanksgiving (November) break only to hear news of buy outs and cut positions. The place seemed a bit somber. 
I have mixed feelings regarding the new plan to unleash multi-faceted positions. For myself and my colleagues, this is great news. But for the veterans, I am fearful. First we heard about cutting high paid anchors in places like KLAS TV (Las Vegas) and now new demands for those who have been in the television industry for years. The idea of incorporating new mediums for local news to be viewed via the web, mobile phones and other emerging platforms is wonderful. I really loved the quote from WMAQ news director Frank Whittaker, "The big picture is we're trying to become a newsroom that provides content for a number of different platforms, including the growth areas, which could be Web, could be mobile...a lot of different places where our content may play now or may play someday. That's how we're going to grow as a traditional business stays flat or declines or whatever happens in our future." Mr. Whittaker couldn't be more accurate about the need to change.
My main concerns still lies in the overall quality of the programming. Another quote by Whittaker stood out to me. He said, "Now if they are editors and they are learning to write, are they going to be Hemmingways? Probably not. But as long as they can write a basic script, they have met the basic qualifications." Should the number three market have stories with basic, unclean scripts? I think not. 
I decided to e-mail Whittaker (since he knew me from my internship days) and because I was curious about the switch over. He replied, "Thanks (for the e-mail) Sarah, a lot of change, but necessary for the future." I also e-mailed reported Art Norman whom I shadowed this summer. He responded with a link to the longer version of Phil Rosenthal's story via the Chicago Tribune blog. He did not comment on his thoughts about the switch.
Overall, I am in support of these changes and I very much look forward to what this will mean for WMAQ's future. Will this improve or worsen their coverage? The changeover should be completely implemented within six months. 

To read the Chicago Tribune blog I reference in this post, visit:,0,6303254.story

Hello blog readers,

My name is Sarah Hollenbeck. I'm a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I am creating this blog as an asset to the Advanced Internet Applications capstone at Mizzou. Here's to purposeful blogging.