Critical Thinking: What Advice Would You Share With Veteran Journalists?

What advice would you share

“Earlier this year, #adviceforyoungjournalists was a trending social media topic. If #adviceforveteranjournalists started trending today, what words would you share?”

Miguel Otárola, 22, senior, Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
Otárola is the editor-in-chief of Downtown Devil, a site covering downtown Phoenix news. He has previously worked as an intern with The Arizona Republic and The Seattle Times. Born in Chile and raised in Arizona, he has a large interest in covering minority, social and culture issues.

Critical Thinking: What Advice Would You Share With Veteran Journalists?
Miguel Otrola, senior, Arizona State University

I’m assuming most young journalists gave a collective cringe when #adviceforyoungjournalists blew up on Twitter. It’s not easy to process, let alone adopt, the advice of hundreds of reporters from one blast—especially when certain pieces of advice seem to contradict each other.

The truth is there are many ways to achieve success as a journalist by your own definition. A lot has to do with your personality, where you choose to work, what you want or have to cover. I’d hope and assume most veteran journalists know that.

It does seem a bit silly for me to give advice if #adviceforveteranjournalists were to start trending. But if you’re looking for a little pep in your step, here are three general tips:

Embrace change. Whether that’s where you live, how you publish or what you cover, the amount of opportunities out there gives reporting a kick you can’t get with another job. It’s why a lot of us joined the profession in the first place.

Remember that you are a human being with a unique point of view and bias. This gig demands a lot of you; take a step back and think of how you’re treating yourself, your sources and your surroundings. You can express your genuine perspective and still create groundbreaking work.

Read and respond to comments on your stories. Sometimes the viewing public won’t understand a certain point, and sometimes key information doesn’t make it to the final cut of a story. The public needs your guidance. And there is a way to respectfully clarify points, or provide additional information, to even the most ruthless of online commenters.

Following these guidelines, especially as a knowledgeable veteran, can lead you to build a community of people who care about what is happening around them. That’s the most important thing.

Kim Morava, 44, managing editor, The Shawnee (Okla.) News-Star
Prior to assuming the managing editor role, Morava worked 16 years as a reporter at the News-Star and covered city and county government, education, crime and courts, business news as well as public safety issues.

Adapt. Change. Embrace print and digital. Use social media. Learn something new every day.  #adviceforveteranjournalists

Kim Morava
Kim Morava, managing editor, The Shawnee (Okla.) News-Star

With words of wisdom flowing as much as ink by the barrel, many shared their thoughts on the trending topic of advice for young journalists earlier this year. Some tried to discourage young journalists from such a career; others offered serious advice and other helpful tips.

Journalism is a chosen profession. For most of us, there is nothing else in the world we would rather do. But journalism is evolving so we have to grow with it. Change is inevitable.

The way we present and serve news to our readers will continue to evolve. As journalists, we must adapt to digital advances while still embracing the print product.

One constant should remain: Seeking and reporting the truth and telling relevant stories that impact readers.

Strong interview and writing skills, along with accuracy and fairness in reporting, will always be at the heart of what we do.

But as we chase those leads and write more stories, we must keep learning new skills and keep up with ever-changing technologies and practices. And with social media providing instant information, we must be ready for new and improved processes of getting the news out there.

A retired sports editor reminded me recently just how much email, cell phones and other advances have changed how we cover news and sports. Before the days of instant online publishing and live tweets, he often had to rely on a pay phone to get the story out.

After covering a late-night football game, he wouldn’t have time to drive back to the newsroom to write a story before the midnight press start. Instead, he would find a pay phone to call the editor and dictate a story before deadline.

Today that story could be written and published online before the stadium crowd clears.

It’s exciting to imagine what the future has in store for us.

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Published: September 18, 2015


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