Social Media and the News Experience

Joshua Conner is an aspiring media mogul and philanthropist on a mission to Joshua Conner Headshotlearn, innovate, volunteer, and engage. In 2014, he was a Northwestern University-Medill School of Journalism Social Justice News Nexus Chicago Reporting Fellow. He has reported for Chicago Tribune-The Mash, Columbia Links,

Nancy Loo is an Emmy Award-winning reporter for WGN News, but she also manages her own blog, “Big Tiny World” on WGN’s web site. Loo’s social media chops have allowed her to create a platform to engage viewers both on television and online. I spoke with Loo about her favorite apps and advice on how other television professionals can use social media to give more creditability.

How has social media changed the news landscape?
“The web is a vital frontier for reaching news consumers. There is plenty of evideNancy Loo Courtesy of Nancy Loo WGNTVnce to show that fewer and fewer people are getting their news content via live television, unless there’s major breaking news, of course. I jumped onto the social media bandwagon about eight years ago when I started blogging. Back then, social media was a very new platform for journalists. But I instantly loved being able to interact with viewers.”

What are your favorite apps and how do they help you in the field?
“Facebook is the platform that drives the most web traffic. Being on Facebook is a no-brainer for journalists.”

Loo has more than 480,000 likes on her Facebook fan page and is also experimenting with live video in its Mentions app.

“Twitter is another must. The 140-character limit requires more strategic posting, and it’s quick and easy to respond to people,” said Loo, who has more than 18,000 followers on her Twitter page.

Loo also enjoys using Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare and Periscope, but most importantly, she’s willing to experiment.

“Always be ready to adapt and evolve with social media,” Loo said. “Technology is changing all the time. Some of the apps I experimented with in the past decade no longer exist, while others, namely Facebook and Twitter, are now mainstream. I think journalists who commit to having social media accounts should be the ones managing the accounts, especially if they’re verified. Viewers and followers deserve to know who they’re really
interacting with.”



How to Diversify Your Brand

Joshua Conner is an aspiring media mogul and philanthropist on a mission to Joshua Conner Headshotlearn, innovate, volunteer, and engage. In 2014, he was a Northwestern University-Medill School of Journalism Social Justice News Nexus Chicago Reporting Fellow. He has reported for Chicago Tribune-The Mash, Columbia Links,

If you can diversify your assets, why not diversify your brand? Diversifying your professional brand can take the careers of television professionals to the next level.

I spoke with Ted Brunson for some tips on how TV professionals can diversify their brand, and he should know. Brunson is an Emmy Award-winning television program host and producer, a voice-over artist, and advocate for Autism Speaks. He also hosts “Brunson’s Best” on YouTube.

Brunson says the benefit of being a television professional is that it gives you a platform. There’s several ways you can give the passions and causes you care about the center stage.

Authenticity is important, which means being true to yourself, Brunson says. Understanding your platform helps you to deliver it more genuinely instead of in a  premeditated way.

Brunson has more than 5,000 likes on Facebook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter, but he doesn’t take them for granted. He advises TV professionals to “really appreciate those who support you,” which includes your family, friTed Brunson Courtesy of Ted Brunson Tribune Broadcastingends and fans.

Consistency is also key. The biggest compliment Brunson receives is that he is the same guy on camera as he is in person.

Maintain your relationships. Even if they don’t go well, don’t burn bridges,” Brunson says, noting that everyone knows everyone in the business. One of the important aspects about networking are having a good first as well as last impression and maintaining a consistent line of communication.

Brunson also advises against limiting yourself.

“Always be open to suggestions, and be humble,” says Brunson, who has diversified his brand by going from a traditional broadcast station to the web.

Brunson says that branding is all about social media and people sharing interests, information and talent.  As long as you pay it forward, you will get it back tenfold.


Cautionary Advice for Aspiring On-Air Talent

George Blaise is a multimedia producer, television personality, accomplished composer and musician. His work in television, commercial production and public service campaign writing has earned him 3 Chicago Emmys 2 national Tellys and a National Community Broadcasters Award. Blaise is also a founding member of the award winning Maat Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre.

Do you really want to be an on-air talent? Seems like a simple enough question.

But I do not believe that you eager faces amongst the sea of “communications” majors aspiring to such really understand what is being asked in that simple inquiry. While an individual may certainly feel as though they understand the role of on-air talent in the grand scheme of television production (be it news, fiction or otherwise) based on what they have observed from the insulated comfort of the shiny side of the screen, the fact of the matter is they are deceived by the image.

We in television are in the business of creating illusions that are intended to focus human attention just long enough to insert into their psyche a previously absent need, then re-direct that attention to awareness of a merchant that will fill that synthetic need. We then profit from monetizing the number of humans we propose to re-direct based on a complex system of arbitrary metrics. On-air talent is the bait in this fishing expedition for eyeballs. You are not the brains. You are not the muscle. You are not the technician or the photographer or the editor. As on-air talent, your responsibility in the television endeavor is to simply be as watchable as possible to as many people as possible for as long as possible.

There are certainly exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, aspiring to be on-air is a public act of sheer vanity. You want to be on-air because you want people to look at you. You have a deep seeded desire to be seen. You are an unashamed narcissist. You crave attention; from friends, family and total strangers equally. And most of all, something inside tells you that you deserve the admiration of all those you encounter. This assessment may sound like criticism but it really is not. It is a warning as much as it is a test of your will to survive your career choice because as an on-air talent, you will at some point be confronted with the reality that you are perishable as ripened fruit.

Producers, writers, journalists, etc. can perpetually improve their knowledge and skill-set and adapt to the ways in which time alters and evolves the industry. Time is not so kind to talking heads. The public is not so forgiving of issues related to declining physical beauty. There will always be somebody more handsome, younger, fresher and more vibrant than you. This reality can be devastating for those that are simply unprepared or unaware of cold truth.

So ask yourself again and be really honest this time. Do you really want to be an on-air talent? If you still do, always remember that you may someday have to face a tragic, ego shattering slap in the face.

Unless, of course, you are an unashamed narcissist.


Tips For Landing That Job

Jeff HinkleJeff Hinkle is the Assistant Art Director at WCIU-TV. He was one of the panelists at our 2013 Career Day event, held April 6 at Columbia College.

Your resume is typed up. Your cover letter is a thing of beauty. Your references are glowing. Everything naughty is off your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Now the only thing standing between you and that coveted job is the interview. But before you find yourself in the Chair of Many Questions, there’s a few things you should keep in mind.

Dress The Part:That old saw about first impressions and second chances is true. I often see people coming in for an interview looking like they’re on their way to grab some brews with the bros. Guys, seriously, break out the suit and tie. Ladies, you have more options, but a business suit is still your best bet. You want to be seen as a professional; dress like one.

Do Some Research: Yes, an interview is primarily to gauge your skill set and see how you’d fit with the company, but at some point they’re going to ask if you have any questions. Have some. Go online beforehand and familiarize yourself with their products. Ask the interviewer about her career and training. Show some interest and initiative. You’ll look much better than the fellow who only asks about how much vacation time he gets.

Lose the Ego:There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. So many applicants have this entitled attitude, like they’re doing the company a huge favor by merely showing up for the interview. If I’m choosing between two applicants of roughly equal skill level, I’ll take the person with the positive, pleasant attitude every time. I’ll even take a slightly less-skilled applicant over one who’s highly skilled but impossible to work with. Skills can be taught, but attitude can’t.

Remember Me? A couple days after the interview, send a letter to the interviewer, thanking him for his time and the opportunity. Include your contact information again with an offer to get in touch with you if they have any further questions. It shows follow-through and helps them to remember you. And don’t call repeatedly to pester them about the decision. Trust me, when they know, you’ll know.

Remember, a diploma is not a get-a-job-free card; it merely unlocks the door. Once you’re through, it’s up to you to convince them you’re the person for the job. The more professional impression you make, the better your odds of making the cut.

And showing up with donuts doesn’t hurt either.