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A Bittersweet End.

2 Dec

Today marked the end of the semester and the end of my Writing for the Mass Media class, with the exception of the final examination that will be given on Tuesday.

I feel bittersweet about this class being over with. Dr. Kimberly Golombisky is the most inspirational and influential professors I have come across at USF.

Though this class was back-breaking at times and caused me to [almost] lose my mind, it was also eye-opening and very informative. I learned more in this class than I have in the majority of classes I have taken.

One thing I enjoyed about this class is, no matter how stressed out and frustrated we felt, we were always able to laugh together and make the best of a tough situation.

I know I will always remember this class and cherish everything I have learned. Though I may not yet be a perfect journalist-in-the-making, I know the information I have obtained in this class will help further me in my quest through the university and in my future career.

I will be forever grateful for the experiences I have had while in MMC 2100, the friends I have made and everything I have learned from Dr. Golombisky.


2 Dec

Considering the magnitude of its popularity, it comes as no surprise that the Internet is one of the most accessed and useful tools for a journalist when researching for, and writing, a story.

People have the ability to access almost anything they would like to while online. In fact, the Internet is the most popular way for people to gather their news information. Because of this rapidly growing trend, newspapers are becoming more active on the Internet as well.

The Internet makes accessing news as easy as clicking a mouse…literally. Websites like Thousands of Newspapers on the Net provide countless ways for people to access news from all over the world, and a journalist can access information for research just as easily.

The Internet is extremely useful for journalists when it comes to research, but it is important to know how to use the Internet while doing your research. You have to know where to go and what to search.

Because the Internet is so accessible, faulty information can be added to many research sites by anyone who chooses to do so. Be careful when browsing the Web.

The best places for journalists to find information are academic journals, websites for organizations, encyclopedias (not Wikipedia) and so forth. Don’t be afraid of the Internet when writing a story. Take advantage of what lies in front of you and put the ease of today’s technology to good use.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? Oh, and How?

1 Dec

Learning the five Ws and one H will greatly help you in your writing as a journalist and are among the most important pieces of information a journalist needs to consider while writing a story.

According to Geoff Livingston, a public relations strategist and co-founder of Zoetica, “The five Ws (and H) of journalism represent the critical core of story research.”

The point of these questions is to get you thinking about what the news is, who if affects and so forth. These questions help you outline what information you will need for your story, where to find that information and what questions to ask in order to obtain that information from your sources.

One of the main purposes of these questions is to provide you will all of the information from the news so you can write a killer lead for your story. Nothing draws a reader in like a fantastic lead.

So what exactly are these important questions that journalists should be asking themselves?

  • Who does the news affect?
  • What is the news?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did this news happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

Asking yourself these six simple questions is sure to get you to the heart of the news and on the right track to producing a great story.


“I keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who.”

-Rudyard Kipling

Social Networking’s Impact on Public Relations

30 Nov

Through the rapidly growing use of social networking sites, the public relations industry cannot avoid being affected.


TAMPA – With ever changing social networks, the evolution of the public relations field to stay on top, or one step ahead, has many questioning the future of PR.

Dennis Erokan of The Placemaking Group answers the question, “Is the death of public relations on the horizon?” in his blog is Web 2.0 /Social Networking the death of public relations. He says,” There is a lot of room for a good PR agency to grow and help their clients.”

Erokan explains how every industry goes through changes because of technology; a person either can rise to the occasion and master the new procedures or can go against the grain. Erokan says, “A good PR agency has to know how to use the technologies that are in place today.”

Dr. Kelli Burns, assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Mass Communications, says social networks “create a more personal relationship between an organization and their publics, which can only help the organization’s efforts.”

Dr. Burns also says social networking allows PR agencies to connect with clients and consumers, which allows information to be pushed out “quickly, cheaply and easily” to the public.

According to Erin Portman, of Erin Portman PR in Austin, Tex., one of the most influential Internet-based trends that are currently affecting public relations is Twitter. “It enables you on top of up-to-the-second trends and what is making news, which are both at the core of what we do,” she says.

Websites such as and are providing people with the option of representing themselves on the rapidly expanding Internet. This allows people to represent themselves exactly how they choose to and it offers them exposure to the entire world.

Though these growing trends are having an affect on public relations, Portman believes this has generated many more opportunities for those who are in, or are going into, the public relations field.

Todd Defren, social media and public relations innovator, says, “When people talk about the ‘death of public relations,’ it doesn’t bother me at all…they are talking about the death of media relations.”

Defren doesn’t think public relations is changing, but he does believe it is evolving in a positive way. He sees public relations being more involved with the public than it has been in the past, rather than dealing directly with the media.

Dr. Kelly Werder, associate professor and director of graduate studies at USF’s School of Mass Communications, talks about her opinion on social networking and public relations.

I’ll Need the Copy by Five. Time’s Up!

30 Nov

As most people know, journalists work on a deadline. When your editor says they want a copy of a 550-word article by five o’clock that evening, they aren’t kidding.

Time-management is one of the most vital skills a journalist can master. Deadlines are serious. They’re rules, not suggestions.

The Journalism – Learning the Trade blog says, “Consistently meeting deadlines is something every journalist must get used to.”

If you can’t meet a deadline your editor gives to you, there’s a great chance that you could lose your job. Journalism is a competitive field and there are always journalists out there who can write a story better and faster than you can.

It’s up to you to prove to your editor that you’re the right man, or woman, for the job!

Know Your Audience.

29 Nov

One of the biggest mistakes a journalist can make is writing an article without knowing the audience to whom he or she is writing.

In order to choose what tone or attitude you should incorporate in your writing you need to know who will most likely be reading it. If your writing is more serious and professional, you probably wouldn’t want to write it in a casual tone. Demographics are key.

You also need to know how your audience is seeking news.

People seek news information in a multitude of ways. Some people read newspapers, some people strictly browse the Internet and so forth.

Mindy McAdams, journalist and journalism educator, believes when writing for those people who strictly use the Internet for their news it is important to consider how much time they spend online, what they consider to be important news and how much of their time online is spent on news.

It’s also important to consider the age group of your typical readers. If you’re a journalist for Seventeen Magazine you probably won’t be writing with a tone or attitude that would be better fit for a more mature audience.

Taking all of these things into consideration will please your audience by showing you consideration and respect for them.

Interview Everyone.

28 Nov

Interviewing is something that will always come up in your job as a journalist.  Interviewing is one of the major ways you will gather information for research. Interviews will be a key portion of what makes your story.

Interviewing takes practice. It isn’t something you will master right off the bat.

People think interviewing is easy, but it isn’t. You have to know who to talk to and what to ask. You need to decide what the news is and then you need to ask questions that will help you build a story around that news.

It’s important to make the interviewee feel comfortable, but it is also important for the interviewer to remain professional and confident.

According to, “If you show your ignorance, you lose credibility and risk being ridiculed.”

Do your research prior to your interview. Get to know who your subject is.

Avoid yes-or-no questions. These will not give you enough juice for a story. Ask questions that involve a story and let your subject tell that story. Your job is to listen.

Ask questions that get to the heart of the news. Don’t waste the interviewee’s time or your own because gathering useless information will also waste your readers’ time.

As stated by the Journalism – Learning the Trade blog, “Interviewing skills can be learnt, but like everything, experience is the key.”