Michael Ceron

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Interviewing Skills to Improve Your Storytelling
Laura Widmer, Associate Director of Associated Collegiate Press
Terrace C
10 a.m. Feb. 26

The interviewing workshop helped journalism students brush up on interviewing skills. Widmer stated that any good story starts at a strong interview.  She began her workshop by giving students tips on interview preparation, such as familiarizing yourself with background information. She talked about the forms of interviews, including face-to-face, phone and email interviews.  In Widmer’s own words, “Interviewing someone by email is somewhere a little above when hell freezes over.”

During the interview, Widmer suggested dressing to the subject.  She said that you should list your questions in a logical order so they “flow.”  A journalist should always start with housekeeping questions (how to spell your name, job titles, etc.) before moving on to harder hitting questions.  This technique helps put the interviewee at ease.  Always clarify if you do not understand answers and be willing to rephrase your question Widmer said it is important to pay attention to mannerisms and surrounding.  At the end of an interview, make sure that you have contact information for follow-up questions.  If you can, give the subject an idea of when they can expect the story to run.  After the interview, try to write as soon as possible, when the information is still fresh.


Knocked out my first workshop on interviewing skills.  Always good to brush up on the basics #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Save the hard-hitting questions for last.  NO ONE likes to be blindsided.  #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Life in the Fast Lane: Digital Journalism at CNN
Michael Martinez, Editor CNN Los Angeles Bureau
Terrace A
Noon Feb. 26

During his presentation, Michael Martinez focused on the shift of journalism from print to digital.  He spoke about his collaboration with journalists from around the world to write online stories for CNN.  Martinez spoke about how his life has changed since going from print to digital.  Where he used to spend a few days on a story, he now focuses on getting out whatever information he has as fast as possible and updating the story as he gains more insight.

Martinez mentioned the importance of social media as a journalist.  Explaining that the majority of people now reach the CNN online stories through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, Martinez stressed the importance of marketing your stories online to gain readership. Part of journalism is now being able to market yourself and your writing.


Just wanted to say thank you to @MMartinezCNN for the great workshop.  I learned a lot! #indy2015ACP #CNN

The new frontier of journalism is digital, and everyone has a chance to make a difference. #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Keynote: A Conversation with Rory Kennedy
Rory Kennedy, documentary filmmaker, President Moxie Firecracker Films
East/West Ballroom
2 p.m. Feb. 26

Rory Kennedy hosted a Q&A session during her keynote presentation at 2 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the 31st Annual ACP National Journalism Convention. She discussed the process and the struggles that she faced while making her Academy Award nominated film, “Last Days in Vietnam.” She spoke about the stories that she discovered while researching the film and the humanity that she wanted to portray during those last days.  Kennedy discussed the importance of the newer generations studying the Vietnam conflict.  She said that you can apply the same lessons to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During the Q&A, Kennedy explained her journey to become a documentarian and the struggles that she faced.  She had help from others during the making of her first film on mothers addicted to cocaine. Even though she had no formal training as a filmmaker, she had help from others for financing and mentoring. She said it is important for prospective filmmakers to go out and just make films.  Thanks to Youtube, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sources, it is easier than ever for a prospective filmmaker to realize their vision.  The most important thing, according to Kennedy, is to be passionate about your subject, and to investigate as much as you can to find the human element in any story.


Following your passion into the unknown is never easy.  But the rewards are amazing #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

“Last Days of Vietnam” prove that you can find humanity in the worst of circumstances #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Student Press Satire
Dan Reimold, Saint Joseph’s University
Terrace A
11 a.m. Feb. 27

Dan Reimold’s objective throughout the Student Press Satire presentation was to make the attendee’s laugh.  He succeeded.  Opening with headlines from popular satire publications, Reimold explained the process to successfully publishing a satire.  He explained this through the process that he called “Four Steps To Being Funny.”

The first step is to identify your target. Reimold explained that like any other story, significance and timeliness are a factor. What is the significance of the story and who is your audience?  How recent is the story? Will people remember it?  The next step was to pick out pressure points, Reimold said. He said that you need to find the points to poke fun at. There are obvious points of attack that you can use, but you also need to dig deeper to find other avenues that are possibly overlooked by others. This led to finding your individual angle for the story.  Reimold pointed out to find your story’s vantage point and to convey that to the readers. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself, Reimold said.


“Kitten Thinks of Nothing But Murder All Day” great way to get my attention at the satire workshop #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Anything, even the most hateful horrendous thing, can be made fun of.  #indy2015ACP #ACP2LA

How to Handle Breaking News
Erica Perel, The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina
Producer Room
3 p.m. Feb. 27

Erica Perel of the Daily Tar Heel spoke about handling breaking news.  She said that the most important thing is communication. It is a good idea to have a plan in place for breaking news situations.  This includes having one person on the breaking news team act as “hub,” running the situation in the newsroom. This helps to keep everything running smoothly.

Another thing to keep in mind is logistics,  like the numbers of copies needed for distribution.  Is the story big enough for more copies? You also need to think about social media and online interactions.  If you are updating the story online, make sure that there is one URL for the story.  Hyperlink to other stories that are related. Disable any scheduled social media posts that do not relate to the story.  Be transparent about information changes and make sure that your readership has the most up-to-date information possible.  All these things can help any newsroom cover breaking news efficiently.


The idea of handling breaking news can be scary, but it pays to be prepared.  #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

“Communication is key during any breaking news story. It is important that everyone work together.” #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Keynote: What David Carr Taught Me About Journalism
Brian Stelter, CNN “Reliable Sources”
East/West Ballroom
4 p.m. Feb. 27

“I want to start by saying the obvious, which is I wish I wasn’t up here.”

Brian Stelter opened his keynote speech at the ACP annual conference with a note of sadness.

Stelter, the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” stepped in to be the keynote speaker after his mentor David Carr died in the New York Times newsroom days before the event.

Stelter emphasized the effect that Carr had on his career while they worked at the Times together.

Stelter shared his own wisdom and encouragement to the packed room of journalists.

“Sometimes, quantity can get you to quality,” Stelter said.  The more you write, the better you will get.

Stelter discussed the importance of transparency in journalism to build the public’s trust.  He talked about Brian Williams, the anchor for NBC’s Nightly News, and Bill O’Reilly, the host of Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Stelter said that social media plays into this transparency.  By reaching out to people through social media, Stelter said that journalists can either gain or lose the American people’s trust every day.

Closing with a quote from a 2009 column written by Carr for the Times, Stelter emphasized the importance of the next generation of journalists.

“The next wave is not just knocking on doors, but seeking to knock them down.”


@brianstelter began his keynote with a touching tribute to @carr2n a reminder to all of what we lost with his passing #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

“Sometimes, quantity can get you to quality.” Wise albeit unconventional words from @brianstelter #ACP2LA #indy2015ACP

Other Workshops Attended

Cronkite Sports Panel
Tom Feuer, Joshua Frons and Lucas Robbins, Cronkite News’ Los Angeles Sports Bureau
Terrace D
10 a.m. Feb. 27

Taking the Pulse of Your Student Body
Tra Friesen, Steven Cooper, Diana Aristizabal, The Independent, Clark College
Terrace A
10 a.m. Feb. 28