Jason DeRusha: Lessons in New Media

Media Training, Seminars, Advice

Archive for April, 2008

Jason WCCO Blog Entries Showing Interaction

Posted by derushaj on April 11, 2008


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How To Reward Newsroom “2.0” Staffers

Posted by derushaj on April 11, 2008

We all know no one has any money.  And the people who would do this best will do it without money.  So how do you reward them?   

  • Don’t mock their efforts: It’s easy to take pot shots or make little sarcastic remarks, a la, “You gonna put that in your blog?”  That’s not helpful, and it makes it harder to foster an environment where experimentation and innovation thrive.
  • PRAISE Them: Read the blogs or videoblogs and send notes praising things that are good.  In a newsroom, staffers rarely get notes of praise.  It’s the only currency anyone is able to use these days.
  • Consider On-Air Promotion: This is a huge way of rewarding the people who do this for you.  How many stations have a promo singling out bloggers?  I can’t think of any.  But how meaningful would that be to the assignment editor running your baseball blog, or your health reporter with the medical blog?
  • Give Them Leadership Opportunities: Consider inviting local bloggers into your building for a forum on media.  Instead of having your anchor lead it, have your blogger/videoblogger lead the effort.
  • Don’t be afraid to offer constructive critisicm: Some things are not going to work.  Some people will go too far in experimenting.  Don’t call the person on the carpet.  Instead, invite them to discuss it, share thoughts, and try to improve things for the future. 

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How To Find Newsroom “2.0” Staffers

Posted by derushaj on April 11, 2008

Ask them: You probably can identify the staffers you have who would write an interesting blog, or prepare an interesting videoblog.  So invite them to do it.

  • Anchors Don’t Necessarily Make Good Bloggers: Just because the person is the TV face of your station, doesn’t mean they should be the online face of your station.
  • Look For People With A Voice: You need someone with a sense of humor, or a skill at biting analysis.
  • Specialists Are Ideal: Political reporters, sports reporters, weather people, or staffers with developed hobbies (the skiier, the singer, the gardner).  Look for a niche and fill it.
  • Less Is More: Resist the temptation to mandate that everyone carve out a web presence.  One great blog/videoblog is better than 7 crappy ones.
  • Take Advantage of Ego:  I started blogging here because I saw a morning weather guy with an “I’m gonna be a daddy” blog, and thought I could do a better job.  I asked if I could have a blog, and there it was.  I started a videoblog when I thought of things to do in the field covering stories that would be funny or interesting.  I asked, and I was given the leash.  If you have a staff member who’s asking to do more, generally, it’s a good idea to let them do more.

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Making Non-Visual Stories Visual

Posted by derushaj on April 5, 2008

Your assignment?  “Cover the School Board meeting.”  Boooooring.  Or is it?  What to do when the assignment is as exciting as watching paint dry; how to make a non-visual story visually interesting. 


  • What is the story really about?

Is it about the school board meeting?  Is it about the new policy your principal is proposing?  Go deeper than that.


  • Think about your story in advance

What will you be talking about?  What images do you need to match your words? 


  • Design an action plan

Can you come up with a visual way to tell your story?  Is there a metaphor or simile you can use?  Is it like the last second touchdown?  Is it like arguing with your parents?  Is it like waiting for that Myspace message from the girl you really like?


  • Think of meetings as the middle of your story

An effective way to deal with boring meeting video is to use it in the middle, or use it as a set-up.  Example: Tell the story of the person affected by the meeting, then show me video of the meeting and a soundbite from an official, then go back to that original person for reaction.


  • Consider Reporter On-Camera Involvement

Sometimes if you have no video, appearing on camera can be an effective way to bridge the gap.  This shouldn’t just be because you’re on an ego trip, but it should be because you can tell the story in an interesting way.


  • Be creative, be crazy, don’t hold back

One of the greatest sins in journalism is to be boring.  You’re better off missing the mark by trying something crazy than you are being boring.  So experiment.  Do something crazy.  Don’t be afraid to fail.

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