Lena Kirchner

Reporter and Writer

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Guest speaker giving insight to her work at Fox 2

The meteorologist for Fox 2 Angela Hutti came to speak in our class today about experience working in the news industry.

Bio

Hutti grew up in North St. Louis county and loved weather since she was a little kid. She is one of the people who always knew what they wanted to do and therefore she started her career as a meteorologist with pursuing a degree in geography, specializing in meteorology from Western Illinois University, where she “received a wonderful hands-on education”. After graduating in 2003, she got her first job in 2004 as a meteorologist for a TV station in Alaska. Even though she did not necessarily planned on going into TV broadcasting and the fact that her new job involved reporting, she began to enjoy it and grow with the new challenges. “It pushed me into a lot of opportunities,” she said.

Are we willing to learn new things?

According to Hutti, we need to be, because “next things are coming around so fast.” Hutti started working at Fox 2 in 2006. She started with reporting and helping to build up the channel’s website. She said she did not have a lot of background in coding or web site developing skills, but was willing to learn new skills and to work herself into it.

She said that she is now still working with the website, but not as much anymore. She gets to do more weather and more shows, which is what she prefers. “I do get to write, which is fun.” She said. “I still report once in a while, but not as much anymore.”

Being a meteorologist, Hutti’s work of course includes weather forecasts for the St. Louis area. She has done one over the summer about upcoming storms. Another sample of Hutti’s work can be seen in one article that she recently wrote and moderated on TV is about recent book releases in the arts pop section.  She has done a lot more articles for the arts pop section of Fox 2. A story about traffic delays that she has done this June shows how diverse her work can be.

The development of the industry

TV broadcast meteorology has become a long way, said Hutti. It is now much more science involved and one has to have a degree in order to work in the industry. However, the news industry in general has become much more related on the internet. “It is just huge what has happened on the web in the past 10 years,” she said.

Hutti also explained what she thinks will happen to the industry in the future.

Social Media

Being asked about social media, Hutti said that Twitter is by far her favorite. “Twitter is now,” she said. “Twitter can also be everything. I can be an adventurous person that likes to do stuff, or I can post recent updates or bad weather warnings.” Facebook is different though, she said. It is more for the big picture and content that lasts longer. “They also don’t like if you post that much on there,” she said.

Things that I have learned:

  • The use of hashtags is critical when tweeting, because it enables the audience to follow up with trends. If you don’t have a hashtag, create one.
  • Keep up with your writing skills and use proper form on writing. Creative and effective writing are the most important writing skills to possess, and a combination of the two will work best for most stories. An article on mediashift.org  emphasized the importance of writing skills for journalists very well. 
  • Short and sweet videos is what people want these days. Reading appears to be boring for most people, they like to see things and one picture is not enough anymore. 1-minute videolicious videos, for instance, are just right.
  • Save some parts of the story to release later and use them to tease the audience. If there is enough time, only give away the basics when first reporting on a story, but then let the story develop and follow up with a different angle later on.
  • Distinguish between writing TV broadcasts and web scripts, since they differ from each other a lot. You should be aware of changes between those two. Sometimes these might just be punctuation changes, sometimes it means taking out commands such as “as you can see behind me” when transitioning from broadcast writing to a web script.
  • And finally, links are key. Linking back to other articles and resources is critical so people can get more information on the topic and are able to relate to it. When when tweeting, links to other resources can be inserted into the tweet. This article on skyword explains the use of links very well. 

All those lessons relate to what we learn and do in class. Following Hutti’s advice will lead to a more effective usage of social media, especially Twitter, and to a more successful reporting style. Especially for the upcoming online stories, we aim for advanced reporting, and following these tips can truly help.

Final advice

Having all that said, I would like to end this post with one final and, in my opinion, very relevant advice that Hutti gave us. “Know a little about a lot,” she said, and meant to emphasize the importance of a broad general knowledge in any area possible. “You never know what role it’s going to play and where you will end up,” she said. “Just be informed.”

The Digital Narrative – Ross Harris Hot Car Death Trial

The 22-month-old son of Ross Harris died left alone in a hot SUV in June 2014. Ross Harris, the father of Cooper, had to face multiple charges. 8 of them were filed almost 2 years later, in March 2016. The coverage of the Ross Harris Trial was a very big story, with many components on WSB-TV’s website and social media accounts.

Other news outlets reported on the Trial as well, such as the national news channel CNN. The local newspaper The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also very recently posted an article on their website about the difficulty of finding jurors in the trial.

Outstanding coverage over a large time span

What makes this piece of journalistic work so outstanding is that this is not only a single piece but an immensely large and extensive collection of journalistic work over a very long time span. There is so much detail to it, since the murder of Cooper happened in June 2 years ago, but the case has not been completed yet. Every once in a while, the case made the headlines because a new aspect was added. A lot happened over the course of the last 25 months, and WSB-TV reported on every new incident. The full time line of the trial overviews all the details of the case that happened over the last two years.

Use of different angles

WSB-TV did not only cover all aspects of the trial, but they used different angles each time. Besides the clearly arranged timeline, they posted breaking news articles on their website, for instance when there was a discussion about what evidence to use for the trial earlier in August this year. Since WSB-TV after all is a TV station, they of course have many videos covering the trial as well. Furthermore, they have more feature-y pieces containing more background information for people that might not have been keeping up with the case since the beginning (). WSB-TV also provides outlooks on what is going to happen next in the trial ().

Multimedia reporting at its finest

This piece of journalism incorporates multimedia reporting on a high level. WSB-TV does a lot of cross-referencing on their social media sites, mainly twitter and Facebook, to articles and videos on their actual website. WSB-TV even created a Twitter feed for the trial, where they retweeted all tweets that have been tweeted regarding the trial.

For instance, WSB-TV reporter Ross Cavitt created a Facebook post  regarding the search for a location for the trial referencing to a video on WSB-TV’s website in June.

An example of WSB-TV’s twitter usage can be found 6 days later on June 16, when the location was determined and WSB-TV tweeted out the news, including a picture, a link to the original article on their website, and an announcement of the time the news will be broadcasted on air.

Numerous articles, videos, and pictures like the ones mentioned above are posted social media by WSB-TV or one of their reporters and are all added together to report on an unusual story. This is exactly what I have learned so far in the Multiplatform Reporting class. Reporting has to be done through many outlets, and cross referencing between them is critical. Social media sites tend to generate an even larger audience than a website does.

Feedback

How WSB-TV reported on the Ross Harris Trial is inspiring to me as a student journalist in a way that one single story allows reporting from many different angles. Especially if the story is about something that is evolving over time and not done over the course of one day, why not using different angles to make it more diversified and interesting to readers and followers.

As a consumer of news, this is exactly what I like about how WSB-TV approaches the Ross Harris Trial. Sometimes a brief listing does the job and makes facts and dates easier to overview and remember for readers, sometimes a video visualizes an incident in the most interesting way, and sometimes it is more interesting for readers to get to know the emotional side of a story along with background information on the people involved and their feelings. WSB-TV has successfully done that when covering the Ross Harris Trial.

 

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