A chance to chat with the next generation of journalists

a-chance-to-chat-with-the-next-generation-of-journalistsLearning is a lifelong adventure for any committed journalist, a journey shaped by academic studies, real world application, and experiences shared by those working in the field. There’s always an opportunity to grow for those open to it. Looking back on my college years, I was fortunate to have been exposed to constant advice from professors and professionals, even if I didn’t recognize its true value at the time. I vividly remember listening to presentations by network news producers, corporate news directors, Presidential campaign media advisors, pollsters, news anchors, reporters, photographers, and journalism academics. Today, I apply their principles and pointers on a daily basis.

Being asked to speak to a class of journalism students at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, is somewhat of an intimidating experience. You hope to leave behind at least one valuable piece of advice or thought-provoking concept to consider. Typically that process is made easier by the professor proposing a topic or focus for my conversation. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: My annual tie tribute

Each year, I dust off this necktie as a tribute to my grandfather, who I give credit for encouraging me to pursue a career in journalism.

I’ve really grown to love this tradition. Every year, I pull this necktie out of the closet and wear it on or around my grandfather’s birthday. He retired it from his collection and “passed it down” to me when I was in high school, a few years before he died.

Sunday would have been “Paw Paw’s” 91st birthday. He deserves a great deal of credit for sparking my interest in journalism. We would watch the news together when I was a kid and he would save newspapers so I could read them at his house each weekend.

“Paw Paw” even encouraged me to try out for KPLC 7 News Teen Reporter program almost 20 years ago and gave me feedback when I wrote for the Lake Charles American Press teen page.

He was an extremely intelligent man, a loving grandfather who never knew a stranger, and could cook like nobody’s business.

Do you have any special ways you honor the memory of family members? Continue reading

Remembering a pioneer in East Texas television history

Hudson Collins, the first chief engineer of KLTV, has died at age 94.

This week, we learned of the passing of KLTV’s first chief engineer, Hudson Collins, who lived a long life of 94 years. While I never had the opportunity to meet him, I’m fascinated by many of the details of his pioneering career.

An engineer is an important position in any television station, but he holds the distinction of being a true pioneer in local television.

After speaking with his family, former colleagues, and even the workers at a Whataburger restaurant, I quickly developed great admiration for “Hud,” as he was known. Continue reading

This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Journalism

Lane speaking to a group of high school students at Northwestern State University’s J-Day 2008.

I recently had the opportunity to return to my alma mater to participate in the 41st annual Northwestern State University J-Day. Journalism Day gives discerning high school students the opportunity to attend hands-on workshops and lectures at NSU.

Professionals talk with students about the changing field of journalism and mass communications and give advice on how to get ahead in this competitive industry.

Paired with fellow NSU22 alumna Katie Lopez, who is now a reporter at KADN-TV, we shared our experiences at NSU and talked about the importance of hands-on, practical learning opportunities. Students asked how the internet is affecting broadcast journalism as well as what it’s like being a multi-faceted journalist.

The lecture made me realize how dramatically the field  has changed even in the short time I’ve been a professional.

Today, we work under tighter deadlines and budgets, sometimes wearing more hats than ever before. Not only are we producing stories for daily newscasts, but also writing and editing stories for digital platforms or content sharing.  Continue reading

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

What will likely be remembered as one of the longest and most unpredictable presidential races in history is nearing an end. With absentee voting already underway, voter turnout could reach levels exceeding the record turnout in the 1960 presidential election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Until recently, this campaign cycle actually focused on issues, rather than mudslinging candidates and media mediation. For many of the candidates, campaigning started almost two years ago. It’s hard to believe we’ve been talking politics for this long. Issues like immigration, rebuilding the image of America abroad, social security, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Interestingly, both candidates were written off in the early stages of the race. Barack Obama was pounded by front-runner Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s campaign was disorganized and almost bowed-out altogether. Now the media refuses to hold the candidates to the issues and is pandering to their own wants by turning this into an extended episode of Entertainment Tonight. Continue reading

I’m on the move…

I have accepted a job as a general assignments reporter at KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana. I’ve lived in the viewing area for the last four years, so it will be an excellent opportunity to cover stories affecting my friends and neighbors.

I hope to continue my government reporting at KTAL, as the focus turns to the upcoming 4th District Congressional race and the presidential election.

I’m planning to update you with stories of my first few days of work, then continue with my regular features and opinions posts.

NBC News’ Tim Russert dead at 58

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

I was just informed of the death of Tim Russert, long-time moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press.  As we approach Father’s Day on Sunday, I can’t help but think of the many stories I remember hearing in interviews about his close relationship with his father.  This is certainly very sad news to learn.

DFWReporting.com is news without the blues

Chris Ghanbari, a young professional I worked with at WFAA in Dallas last summer, is co-founding a new website aimed at providing a different angle of news coverage for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. DFWReporting.com will aim to tell stories that might sometimes fall through the cracks amidst the wall-to-wall coverage of car chases and murders.

This team of young journalists comes from a variety of expertise areas, which will certainly be a strength of the operation. Ghanbari along with DFWReporting.com reporter Jessica Trober, who was most recently working with CW33 in Dallas, recently drove to Natchitoches to interview me for an upcoming story. Continue reading

Day 45: Troy Dungan, the man behind the bowtie

“I wonder what they’re like in person?” We’ve all heard rumors and stories about what our favorite television personalities are like off-camera. Some can be primadonnas, others are consummate professionals. There are many tried and true, genuine people out there and WFAA’s Troy Dungan is one of them.

As I blogged earlier, I have been amazed at the family-like atmosphere at Channel 8. Troy is certainly the rock upon which those values are built. The chief “weatherman” has been welcomed into DFW’s homes each night for 31 years. Known for his trade mark bow ties and warm smile, it’s not hard to “Trust Troy.”

Continue reading

Day 18: How do J-schools stack up?

Do I cut the red wire, or do I cut the blue wire? There are 10 seconds left on the timer. Tick tock, tick tock. The voice over the radio screams “Come on, you’ve got to cut the wire.” You know the inevitable is looming.

If you cut the wrong wire, it’s over. Your heart is pounding. The ticking is as intense as a marching band drum line.  5…4…3… You close your eyes and snip a wire. 2…1… This same plot sequence that is often over-played in Hollywood, perfectly describes the kind of last minute decision I made in choosing a college.

I’ve never been one to make a potentially life-changing decision in an extreme hurry.

Continue reading

Day 13: And the winner is…

WFAA 3I’ve always been a huge history buff. Whether it’s the Articles of Confederation, the Lincoln presidency or World War II, I’m fascinated.  Being interested in history plays a huge role in why I’m studying to become a journalist.

Watching current events unfold before my eyes each day and being able to share this news with countless others is exactly what drives me.

Continue reading

Day 11: No shortage of big news in the ‘Big D’

Time and again we hear stories of criminals caught because of their stupidity — the bank robber who leaves his drivers license behind at the teller window or the thief who takes time to stop and stare into the security camera.

The subject of today’s commentary isn’t quite as clueless as many “bonehead” criminals. My mentor, David Schechter, recently worked on a story about Dallas police arresting a sex offender, out of jail on probation, for using MySpace.

Using the internet, including site like MySpace, violated the terms of the offender’s probation. The arrest may be among the first of its type in the nation.

Several states, including Texas, recently subpoenaed information from MySpace about known sex offenders who use the site.  Continue reading

Day 10: The rush of breaking news

Competition keeps multiple news outlets in the same coverage area constantly sharpening their skills.  I would imagine in some smaller markets, news outlets cut corners or fall into poor routines due to the lack of competition from other television stations.

There is no race to cover a big story or effort to attain a unique angle.  Sometimes, however the reason is the inability to cover an angle because of lack of resources.

When a major story breaks, it is easy to panic.  The excitement can be overwhelming and sometimes dangerously blinding.  Journalists must keep their focus as they collect what little information is available.  Many times public officials don’t have adequate information, so relaying the few details in an accurate manner is crucial.  Motivation comes from breaking the news first, but more importantly correct.

A water rescue this afternoon was a textbook example of how to approach a breaking news story with few details.

Continue reading

Day 9: The answer is right under my nose

The Dallas Morning News is located on the Belo campus in downtown Dallas, along with WFAA-TV and TXCN.

Every person, in some way draws inspiration into their life, whether they are honest enough to admit it.  Some look toward personal heroes- mothers, celebrities, spiritual leaders.

Others nurture their determination by immersing themselves in the serenity of nature.  So many more get their “kick” each day with a cup of coffee and a few moments of silence in the car before work. I would count myself among the few who gather inspiration or motivation from every aspect of life.

A beautiful sunset, quality time with family, reflection and prayer, interaction with random “Joes”, and very subtle messages are only a few of the sources I feed upon each day.

Every day as I walk from the DART rail station to WFAA I pass in front of the Dallas Morning News building, which is next door to the studio. While I’ve paid notice to the massive inscription etched into the edifice, never before have I taken the time to consider its meaning.

It so eloquently says, “Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness. Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity.  Acknowledge the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question.”

Continue reading

Day 8: Living in Cowboy Country

After only one week in the Lone Star State, I’m starting to immerse myself in the culture of Cowboy Country. This morning’s DART Rail commute to the station led to a surprise discovery on my iPOD.

I don’t recall having 45 minutes of country/western music on my playlist, but apparently it was just what I needed to jump start my Monday morning. Don’t expect to see me wearing boots and a cowboy hat just yet.

My mentor, David Schechter and I arrived in the newsroom at the same time this morning. As he unpacked, he told me about his weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, where he and another reporter from WFAA attended the IRE National Conference. Investigative Reporters and Editors, or IRE, is a professional organization for investigative journalists.  Continue reading

Day One: Comparing apples to oranges

WFAA is one of the most respected television newsrooms in the country.

Let me begin by making note of the vast differences between my current and previous internships. Using the “apples and oranges” comparison between KPLC and WFAA would fall short of adequate. The stations are completely different environments, with each offering unique experiences and opportunities to grow and learn.

At KPLC, I worked with journalists who are in the early years of their careers, hungry for any shot at their big break.

WFAA has a long-standing reputation as one of the top news stations in the country, with some of the most respected names in broadcast journalism on their team. I’m looking forward to building on the incredible foundation KPLC has already provided me. Continue reading

Heading to WFAA, “The Spirit of Texas”

WFAA 22I am currently in the process of preparing for my summer internship with WFAA-TV 8 in Dallas, Texas.

After a series of interviews, I was selected for a paid internship at the ABC affiliate, which has a long-standing reputation as one of the top television stations in the country.

I will be working under David Schechter, a senior reporter in their news room. He previously worked at WCCO in Minneapolis specializing in investigative reporting. He is also the winner of 13 regional Emmy awards. Schechter should be a worthy mentor.

I hope to learn as much as I can from the team at WFAA and gain a better understanding of what it takes to thrive in a large-market operation.

I’ll be posting updates each day, so stay “connected” to the blog, starting June 4th.