Brad Kalbfeld has over 36 years of reporting experience, and on March 23, he came to George Mason University to share some of his experiences and give advice to students who are starting down the journalism path.

Brad Kalbfeld

Brad Kalbfeld

In a time where many journalists are being laid off or bought out, Kalbfeld is looking into the future. “I’m trying to find ways to build a business model that works,” he said. “In my day, everything was one way. I report, you consume. Today, everything is interactive. Consumers are in the drivers seat.”

Kalbfeld began the presentation by giving students an idea of how far technology has come during his career. He brought his old typewriter and compared it to his iPod and a personal wifi hotspot.

“It’s interesting that someone who started their career on a typewriter is so enthusiastic about changes in technology,” said Chanel Dority. “I think aspiring journalists can learn a lot from that. We really need to be flexible and have the ability to adapt to new things.”

Kalbfeld also stressed the importance of quality journalism. “I think that journalistic values are more important than ever,” he said. “News is now participatory, with people emailing links, posting comments or sending in new facts or video. Writers need to make more of an effort to make sure things are accurate and sort through that things that are not.”

In the end, the business is always about the consumer. “If our audience doesn’t care, we don’t care,” said Kalbfeld. For as long as he is working, he will continue to do his best to make the consumers care.

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This chapter explains how to use video to tell a story. Video is often a more effective tool than words or pictures. A journalist in today’s world needs to have the knowledge and ability to shoot and edit video, and this chapter helps with the basics.

Video has recently become something that everyone can become involved in. The equipment has become more affordable and user friendly. According to the book, YouTube reported in 2009 that 20 hours of video gets uploaded every minute. Journalists need to learn how video can effectively be used to better tell a story.

The Flip Cam is an affordable option for anyone looking to shoot quality video. Image from

The Flip Cam is an affordable option for anyone looking to shoot quality video. Image from

Video journalists, or backpack journalists, serve as both a reporter and a videographer on any certain assignment. They are becoming more common in the modern era because it is less expensive. A journalist that has experience with video has a great advantage over any competition.

A great use of video is during an interview. Video interviews are one of the most basic forms of journalism. The book gives a few tips for preparing for a video interview:

  • Write a script and warm up.
  • Be stable, breathe easy
  • Don’t be afraid to talk with your hands
  • Control your story with voice-overs

It is also important to learn how to properly edit your video. Make sure you shoot enough while you have the chance. You can always cut the footage short, but you can never add more. Most computers will have some sort of editing software standard. However, editing programs are becoming more affordable all the time. It might be a good idea to spend some money on a higher quality program.

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Jim Iovino spoke with students from George Mason University’s online journalism class about what it is like to be a professional journalist in the digital age.

Iovino, Managing Editor of, gave advice on how to gain a following and get your news to the community. He also emphasized that a journalist should have the proper tools in order to provide a story by showing the class a video that he made of the recent snow storms on his video camera.

Growing a strong following is important to any journalist. Iovino used examples from different social media sites that reporters are using to link to their stories.

“I liked how fast news gets around on twitter,” said Gary Cuesta, a junior in the class. “A reporter can break a story and get it to a lot of people quickly. It’s fascinating.”

Another method that Iovino uses to get the story out is sending code for their videos out to a network of partners that the website has built over time. “People don’t even have to come to our website to see our content,” Iovino said.

“It’s a good idea that they send out their video to be embedded on other websites,” said Britni Petersen, a sophomore in the class. “That way they reach more people.”

Regardless of the way it’s done, getting the story out is what is important. If the community gets the news, the job is getting done. “We don’t see ourselves as a TV website,” said Iovino. “We see ourselves as a city site.”

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Alan Goldenbach, a Staff Writer for the Washington Post, met with the sports writing and reporting class at George Mason University. As a veteran reporter who covers high school sports, he shared some of his experiences and gave advice to students who are hoping to have a similar career in the future.

The most important thing Goldenbach had to say was, as a sports journalist, his goal is to convey something to his audience that they could not see if they were watching the game on television.

“The way the game story is being written has changed dramatically,” said Goldenbach. “The internet and ESPN have totally changed the way we take in sports new.”

He also spoke about the importance of quotes in a story, saying a quote is only good if it “supplements the story.” He stressed the importance of getting quotes from players because they are the reason people are watching the games.

Ross Wilkers, a senior communication major at GMU, agreed with Goldenbach’s thoughts on using good quotes. “For me, quotes are really important,” said Wilkers. “Garbage quotes that get put in as filler get boring and I stop reading.”

Another topic covered was a strategy of getting people hooked at the beginning of the story. “I try to draw the reader in with a little bit of a story,” said Goldenbach. “Everybody sees the guy that hit six three-pointers, but what was different about today?”

Overall, the message was simple. Get quotes, use them to tell a story and tell the reader something they don’t know. If this strategy can work for a veteran of the profession, it is definitely something that students should look into.

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As professor Klein always says, the news wants to be free. This chapter says that news now wants to be analyzed, shared and commented on. It is becoming more of a conversation. This is a good thing for journalism, but the chapter raises three questions.

  • How do journalists participate in the conversation without sacrificing their objectivity or credibility?
  • What about legal and ethical issues now that everyone can publish anything they want on a professional news site?
  • What happens when you really want the audience to participate, but they don’t?

A conversation can be found on almost any modern news website. Look no further than the comments section. Journalists will have to deal with the offensive comments that are sure to show up,  but that is just part of the business now. Learn to sort through the mess and find the useful comments.

Image courtesy of Newton Highschool Blog

Image courtesy of Newton High School Blog

Kelly McBride is the ethics group leader for The Poynter Institute. She gave some suggestions for using social media:

  • Use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook because familiarity with the tools is important
  • Be mindful that you represent more than just yourself. Even if you are an individual journalist, the stakes are higher than with other professions
  • Presume your tweets, status updates or other content on these sites will go further in terms of reach than you intend for them to go
  • Ask your boss to follow you on Twitter because it’s a good accountability measure

The chapter says the the link is the primary building block of the digital age because it connects one piece of information to another. The secondary building block is comments or contribution. People contribute more to online news than just comments, including photos, video, message board posts and blog posts. This is a good way to make the story better.

Bradley Horowitz came up with the 1-10-100 rule while  working as a senior director at Yahoo. The rule states:

  • 1 percent of the user community, including the journalists on news sites, actually create content
  • 10 percent of the user community will “synthesize” the content by posting a comment, e-mailing a link to a friend, authoring a blog post on a separate site and linking back to it, voting it up or down, etc.
  • 100 percent of the user community will benefit from the actions of the first two groups

It would be smart to use these ideas as advice. Social networking is a good way to build a following and find sources. Just make sure to keep control of the conversation as much as possible. Set guidelines for participants, monitor offensive postings, know your legal responsibilities and correct errors. These steps will bring you better credibility.

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In 1970, Phil Meyer wrote that “they are raising the ante on what it takes to be a journalist.” This statement has never been more true than it is today. This chapter talks about how a journalist can break through the barriers between themselves and their readers.

The chapter focuses on three different reporting methods that are becoming more popular in modern journalism. The first is croReaders can have a say in journalism using open-source reporting. Image courtesy of heralddemocrat.comwdsourcing, which basically uses groups of people to assist with the work of one


The book gives an example of encyclopedias. The online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica can’t update pages as quickly as Wikipediabecause Wikipedia is updated by many volunteers instead of a select few employees.

The second method in the chapter is open-source reporting. The objective here is to become more collaborative with the reader. Instead of keeping stories secret until publishing, some outlets now release story ideas to the public and have people assist with the reporting. Instead of asking for specific help like in crowdsourcing, this method lets readers help in whatever way they can. This allows reporters to seem less biased because their readers are having an input on the story.

The last example in the chapter is pro-am journalism. This method allows the public to publish to the same platform as a professional journalist. A reader might publish a video or photo to a sight and have a professional explain it. As the book says, the readers provide the “what” and the professional provides the “why” to go along with it.  
With sites like Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia, collaborative journalism seems to be here for the long run. Instead of feeling threatened, journalists should take advantage of these tools to make their stories better. There is no shame in using help on a story, and it might actually help grow a good number of followers that are more than happy to help out.

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As is states in the introduction, journalism without photos is like writing without words. Digital technology has made it possible to publish pictures almost immediately after they are taken with just a few clicks. However, effectively publishing digital photos takes practice and patience. This chapter explains what a journalist will need to know.

Image courtesy of:

Image courtesy of:

In this modern era, digital photography has become the preference of most because of its many benefits, including:

  • Not having film limit the amount of pictures that can be taken
  • The ability to immediately see whether or not you captured the image you wanted
  • The ability to upload pictures to the internet
  • Saving money by printing only the pictures you want
  • Easy editing of photos, such as cropping, on your computer

By now, digital camera use is pretty simple to most college students. You point and click to shoot the image and look on the camera’s display to make sure its what you want. Then there are the zoom and flash features if you need a close up or more light.

After you have the images you need, it is time to edit them. Cropping and resizing photos can be important depending on what you need them for. However, it is possible to do more harm than good if you are not careful. According to the Code of Ethics of the National Press Photographers Association, you should never “manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.”

Following these steps while editing your photos is a good way to make sure you get the most out of the program you decide to use.

  • Edit a copy of the photo — never the original
  • crop the photo
  • resize the picture
  • modify the resolution
  • tone and color correct the picture
  • save a web version
  • keep it simple

Once you have your collection of photos, you will need a place to organize them. There are many sites online that let you upload, organize and share your photos with friends and family. Using these simple photography techniques can greatly improve the quality of your journalism.

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Mobile journalism is beginning to revolutionize the way reporters work. When Christiano Ronaldo crashed his Ferrari, the reporter on the scene used her cell phone to take pictures that were used for the story. Thinking on her feet and using what was available to her made it possible to get the story out as soon as she could. This chapter is full of examples of how journalism is going mobile.

Christiano Ronaldo crashed his car while still in Manchester. He has since moved on to Madrid.

Christiano Ronaldo crashed his car while still in Manchester. He has since moved on to Madrid.

The right tool for mobile journalism is whatever you feel most comfortable with. It could be a laptop, smartphone, digital camera, audio recorder or any other device you are familiar with. It is important to make sure you can capture content and connect to the internet. If you can’t do both of those, then you will not be able to get the story out.

Take advantage of technology. Instead of carrying around ten different pieces of equipment, try to find some devices with multiples tools included. Also, be sure to test out new devices during free time before relying on them on the job.

There are two types or mobile journalists: A gearhead and a light packer. A gearhead carries around a laptop, camera, tripod, video camera, audio recorder and any other equipment they might need. A light packer is equipped with a smartphone that can access the internet, easily type information and take pictures and video. Any modern journalist should seriously consider a smartphone if they are looking for an advantage.

Some questions to consider when deciding whether mobile journalism is neccesary are:

  • Will the audience benefit if we can take them there?
  • Will the journalism be better if it’s done on location?
  • Can this event be effectively communicated in small chunks over time?
  • Will sound reporting or video footage, turned around quickly, help people understand the story?

After you make your decision, you are ready to go. Mobile journalism can be effective while covering many events, including:

  • Breaking news
  • Sporting events
  • Public speeches or announcements
  • Grand openings
  • Public gatherings or protests

Journalists cannot be affraid of technology. There are so many ways to take advantage of technology to help make a story better for the reader. Any young journalist can gain an advantage by becoming more familiar with the many devices out there.

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Blogging is great, but microblogging is an effective tool if you just want to make a quick point or comment. It is usually limited to 140 characters or less, which makes it popular because it is both easy to publish and consume. This chapter gives you the tools you need to be an effective microblogger.

Some popular microblogging sites are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Status updates, quick announcements and small thoughts have made microblogging incredibly popular without people even realizing they were doing it at all. News outlets now use microblogging as a way to release breaking news before there is an opportunity to release a full story.

Rob Quigley, online editor of the Austin American-Statesman, gave these tips on the power of Twitter for journalism:

  • Every tweet you send should have personality. Quality over quantity
  • Ask for story tips from your followers. Pass them to reporters.
  • Keep control over the account. Don’t turn the automatic feed back on.

Learning the basics of twitter is a necessity for a young journalist in this era. It is useful for growing a following as well as creating sources and story ideas.

  • Post — 140 words or less
  • Reply — put the @ symbol in front of the username of the person you are commenting on, or just click the arrow on their tweet
  • Direct Message — click the direct  messages link and select the person you wish to contact. This is a way of keeping the message private.

After you get the basics down, it is time to start tweeting. Post about what you are reading, thinking and doing. You can also tweet questions or answers to other peoples questions. Make sure to follow what others are tweeting and make comments. This will help to build your following.

Twitter can also be used from many mobile phones. This makes it possible to tweet where ever you are instead of waiting to get to a computer. Many reporters are using smartphones to release breaking news on twitter while at news conferences, local sporting events and other events not covered on tv

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A blog is an important tool for a young journalist. Many working journalists have blogs on top of their traditional stories, so it can’t hurt to start early. This chapter gives advice for starting and maintaining a good blog.

The three characteristics of a blog are:

  • A frequently updated website that displays entries in reverse chronological order.
  • Each entry, or post, has a headline and a body. Many contain links, pictures or video.
  • Contains a place for readers to leave comments, although some blogs leave this part out.

Blogs make it possible for anyone to publish stories or information and share their thoughts and ideas on different subjects. They have helped journalism to become more immediate and interactive. Stories can be easily published as soon as possible without having to go through an editor. However, this increases the importance of self editing.

Before you start a blog, you should read a few to get familiar with the style. It is also important to get aquainted with the terminology:

  • Post — entry on a blog.
  • Permalink — a link on each post that directs readers back to the post, helpful for people emailing links to your blog.
  • Trackback — lets bloggers know when others are linking to their material.
  • Blogroll — a list of sites the blogger frequently visits that is located on the sidebar of the blog. Helpful for readers.

Making a blog is easy if you have a plan. Decide on a name, a description and what to write about. and are the two sites the book reccomends, although there are other options. After you have a name, it is time to pick a theme. Blogger and WordPress have their advantages when it comes to themes, so decide which is better for you.

Once you have a blog, you need to get readers. It is important to write quality attention-grabbing headlines, publish quality posts regularly and becomes active in the blogging community. Nothing bad can happen from commenting on other blogs and it might just get you a few new readers. You should also make an effort to update your blog daily.

There are a few things that can be done to make your blog more appealing to readers. It is good to have a specific topic so that your blog becomes a dependable source within the chosen topic. Posts should be scanable and include links and pictures. An RSS Feed is also a useful tool to include on the sidebar of your blog.

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