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Learning from each other

Today, someone asked me if I used to be in broadcast.

Now anyone who’s ever seen me could probably tell in an instant that I don’t have a broadcast look. Not to mention, I say like and um entirely too much. (It’s a habit I work on every day, and one I’ve come a long way with since freshman year thanks in large part to the daily lectures by a certain law professor. I’m also sensing it’s one of my new editor’s pet peeves, so I really need to drop it quick.)

It wasn’t my look or my speech that made the photographer I was with today ask me that. I think it was probably how I approached the story.

My paper isn’t necessarily cutting edge in terms of online journalism. I knew that coming in, and in fact that was part of the reason I came here. I could contribute and bring a lot to the table. (I will give them one thing, there is definitely a huge push for reader interaction, both online and in print. They do that very well. There are also a ton of breaking news and story updates throughout the day; well not a ton, but a respectable number. There is definitely the get the news up on the Web as soon as possible and then update vibe.)

The paper is only just beginning to do video and sound slides, and several of the staffers went to videography training recently. So it’s still in the early stages. I was glad today to see that when I was sent to cover a fire, without a second thought they sent a photographer and then another photographer to shoot video.

So, when I was out there interviewing people and he was shooting the fire fighters/B-roll, I would tip him off on who he should get comments from on video and why. From the fire chief to the business owner to the employee who first spotted the flames. I mean, you can only tell so much from words in print. The emotion doesn’t always come through, hence the appeal of video. (On the way back I even teased that if he was quick enough with his editing he could beat TV. We’re not quite there yet, but I say give it time. Plus, the story and photos beat TV by a long shot, so that counts.)

And it occured to me that while I am definitely still learning and even relatively routine things like covering a fire are still novel enough to hold my interest, I am not the only person learning new things. There’s a lot I can and intend to learn from my editors and other reporters and photographers, but there are also skills and a mindset I have that I can pass the other way. I can show them to think for Web in the way I do, not even as second nature so much as an expected part of the package. We can learn from each other.

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