Becca Robbins

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Interviewing Skills to Improve Your Storytelling
Laura Widmer, ACP official
Feb. 26 10-10:50 a.m.
Terrace C
Laura Widmer presented her tips for successful interviews by starting with her four principles.

  1. Prepare carefully.
  2. Establish a relationship.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Listen and watch attentively.

She placed little emphasis on the asking questions step of interviewing to avoid interrogating the subject. Listening is often much more valuable that speaking, she said.

Using former students as examples, Widmer stressed the value of in-person interviews and eye contact. She acknowledged that phone interviews have their place, but ranked email interviews,  “just above when hell freezes over.” The audience was engaged as she asked them to share interview horror stories.

Linda Puntney, Kansas State University
Feb. 26 noon-12:50
Terrace B

While a maestro is defined as a conductor of classical music, it is also the story planning process that Linda Puntney advocated Thursday. This method uses a team of three or four in hopes of better holding each person to their deadlines. The team consists of a writer, designer, photographer and/or a videographer.

The first two steps are to assign the team a story and to plan the next steps. Reporting is where this strategy begins to differ from a typical newsroom. The entire team does everything together. All interviews and outings include all team members. Once the reporting is done, it is time for each person to produce their content. This process works best with a large staff.

Elements of a Great Broadcast Story
Saul Gonzalez, KCRW producer
Feb. 27 noon-12:50

“The most important broadcast element is your own faith in the story,” said Saul Gonzalez, KCRW producer. The reporter must have a clear vision of the story they want to produce before they go out to capture it. Often, a reporter only gets so much time to capture interviews and footage so he stressed the importance of using time wisely. Pulling the subject out of their office and interviewing them at a coffee shop, he said, will help them open up.

On the other side, Gonzalez said that you must know when to quit. Step away from the screen and look around. Sometimes there are things happening in the world that are not on the internet. Lastly, he reminded the audience to talk to the subject like a person, not like a robot reporter.

Taking the Pulse of Your College Student Body
Staff of the Independent, Clark University
Feb. 28 10-10:50 a.m.
Terrace A

Tra Friesen and Steven Cooper of Clark College were outside of the norm as student presenters. Most speakers were professors or conference officials. The pair shared their hits and misses and showed results from previous polls to guide the audience. Visuals Editor Diana Velasquez provided insight on how to make a reader-friendly graphic with the results.

The two made the presentation interactive by creating a poll and allowing the audience to respond. This showed the ease of creating and using polls. The poll was puppies vs. kittens, and puppies was the clear winner.

10 Ways to Improve Your Newspaper Design
Ron Johnson, Indiana University
Feb. 26 11-11:50 a.m.
Terrace D

Journalism and Funny: Incompatible? Vital?
Michael Longinow, Biola University
Feb. 28 11-11:50 a.m.
Terrace B

Keynote: Brian Stelter

Host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Brian Stelter spoke of his start in the media to a ballroom of eager college journalists at this year’s ACP convention in Los Angeles.

Stelter began his love for TV when he created the blog “TV Newser” while he was a freshman in college. When he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, he became a media reporter for the New York Times.

Nine years ago, he was sitting in the audience of the ACP as an editor-in-chief of his college newspaper.

Writing for the Times, Stelter said he immediately went hard to work. “It was quantity that got me to quality.”

Stelter said that he knew he was meant for T.V. He left the Times when he joined CNN. His advice to the journalists was to specialize in something and not to settle.

Fellow Times columnist David Carr was originally scheduled to speak at the conference, but Stelter filled in for him after he died Feb. 12. He described Carr as a second father and aimed to tell the students what he thought he would’ve said to them.

He referred to his audience as the next generation of journalists. “When you graduate college you should be in the first 10 searches when someone googles your name.”


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