Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working A Beat

While at Journalism camp, Nick Beres, a local news reporter, spoke to us about the competitive field of Journalism. We were asked to write an article about his speech.

A classroom of eager Journalism students sat quietly listening. Hands were moving across notebooks, jotting down quotes and ideas. Nick Beres, reporter at News Channel 5, sat on a table at the front of the room and imparted his wisdom of journalistic tools.
These young high school students were attending a summer camp for Journalism. This camp was held June 6-9 on the Lipscomb University Campus. They attended several classes on different styles of writing and the tools needed to be a good reporter.
Jimmy McCollum, the director of the camp, asked if Beres would be able speak to the students. Beres entitled his session “What They Don’t Teach You in School.”
“In high school, you’re at the point where you’re trying to figure out what you want to do,” he said. He gave advice along with other tips to determine whether or not the field of journalism is for you. If you are not willing to go out of your way to write a good story, and write it well, it is not for you.
There were many things he declared to be important and necessary attributes for a reporter to have. These included getting the story first, finding a story no one else has, being aggressive, and finding great connections you can rely on.
“All I want to do is win and beat the competition,” he stated. To get the story first, you have to have the best connections and not be afraid to jump in there when no one else will.
He gave three tips for creating an interesting but reliable story: never pay for a story, never lie, and be fair and accurate.
To find a story no one else has, you may have to look at the story from another angle. Instead of talking to a victim or a criminal, talk to the families or another outside source. You may have to talk to a grieving family, but they will still be willing to cooperate if you show empathy and consideration.
“I want to find a back door in that no one has thought about,” he explained. Your story will be unique and will set you apart from other reporters in your field.
“To succeed, being aggressive and competitive are so important,” he told the group. He explained that often times; journalists will not have the drive to compete. While they may be mediocre reporters, the best will thrive when they do their best to deliver a story worth reading to their audience.
Lastly, he spoke of having great contacts. Through his experience as a journalist, he has found that going to the “smaller people” will get you the story faster and with less hassle. They know just as much information, sometimes more, as the important people working a case or on the scene.
“Cultivating sources, that’s what it’s all about,” he told them. Getting personal cell phone numbers, inviting people out to lunch or dinner, and gaining people’s trust gets you going on a story much faster than waiting on press releases or contact from the police.
He advised the students to keep up with their contacts and go to them for information and favors. Sometimes they may even call you when they find a good story. The people with the inside information, who the press don’t usually contact, will be the ones who will contact you the quickest with the best information. These are the people you need to get a beat from. “You can get great stories,” he continued, “by [just] working a beat.”

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