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Another day, another fifty people talking about Twitter (#hashtag #everything #now). The last series of sessions were just as helpful, and I’ve since been wandering around mumbling things about “leadership” and “freelancing” and “networking.” Strangers have been giving me a wide berth which is particularly rare in NYC. Here are a few of the session highlights:

Social Media 

Language like “putting the story to bed” leads journalists to think that once they turn in the final draft of their story, they’re done. However, if a journalist wants their story read it is partially up to them to get their story “out there” through social media. This is part of why social media presence is so important for journalists and is one of those skills that gets you hired. Here are a few of Sree’s tips concerning social media:

  • Social media can help media pros find new ideas, trends and sources, connect with readers in new and deeper ways, bring attention to their work, and help create their brands. It is important for journalists to use social media in all four ways!
  • Your twitter bio should be clear and direct in describing who you are and what you do. It should also include your email address and website.
  • Remember that every time you post on Twitter of Facebook it is a public document. Ask yourself – is this putting my best foot forward? Is this enhancing my brand?
  • Success formula for social media: post information that is helpful, useful, timely, informative, relevant, practical, actionable, generous, credible, brief, entertaining, fun and occasionally funny. All your posts have to be some of these things.

200 Story Ideas 

Repeat after me: everyone and everything has a story idea if you look hard enough. Everyone. And Everything. By being constantly curious, journalists should find new and fresh story ideas every day. Take the same old topics, such as academics and student life, and look at them in completely different ways.

I left this session an hour early to get to another, but I still left with quite a few new ideas under my belt. Weird study habits or animal cruelty in science labs, anyone?

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Story Idea: dangers of public transportation?
Beacon staffers Sarah Hansell and Shellie Adams ride the subway.

COLOR

Apparently color isn’t just to make things pretty (although that too!) It has the power to make readers pay attention to certain articles, feel a certain way towards these articles and even remember the articles better later. In short – it’s important. But there are a few things to keep in mind to use color affectively:

  • Use a single color at least three times for balance. 
  • When using small pops of color, go vibrant.
  • Be careful that color under text does not make the text difficult to read.
  • When you have great photography, the best way to show color is on a clean, white background.
  • Keep in mind the meanings of certain colors when pairing them with articles (ie. red = passion / excitement and yellow = sunshine / optimism)
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Journalism literacy 

Just because someone tweets something does not mean it’s true. Just because someone took the time to chart or graph something does not mean it’s true. Just because a bunch of news sources are sharing the same info does not mean it’s true. Just because it’s on a press release does not mean it’s true.

Basically – check everything out for yourself, even if it means calling people outside of your school bubble. Recognize that everyone you interview has an agenda and a bigger idea they want you to buy into, even if they are not conscious of it. Don’t just report what people say. Avoid the “he said she said” and report the truth.

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Example of a true statement: The Beacon is the most read newspaper on Wall St.

I can’t decide whether I am more sad that we have to leave the conference (can’t we just stay and talk about journalism in NYC forever?!) or more excited to put all that we learned into practice. I’ve even seen several Beaconites practicing their new Twitter knowledge already!

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(Yes, I screenshotted your tweets. Yes, I just invented a new word. Okay, that’s all.)

Nice work! Cheers.

– Kelsey Thomas

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