CNN Nat’l Assignment Editor Shares All With #journchat
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Thank you to Steve Brusk who donated his time to the #journchat community this past Monday. If you’re not already, follow Steve on Twitter, @stevebruskCNN.
NOTE: Keep in mind that information was copied from Steve’s tweets.
Q1 PER @sethgoldstein: What do u think about medias coverage of swine flu thus far?
STEVE: We’re seeing heavy coverage because it has potential to be so important, and because everyone has so many questions on it. the key is accuracy, asking smart people the right questions and not overplaying. also, not saying things we just don;t know t’s a very fine line to walk. we are lucky to have dr. gupta and very strong medical corrs and producers… They are keeping CNN’s coverage very centered, and helping us navigate some very new territory.
Q2 PER @kpoythress How do you find a unique angle on national stories most outlets are already covering?
STEVE: New angles…especially challenging for a 24-hour network and a popular cnn.com page. key is thinking ahead, at same time MORE. At same time we are doing today’s coverage, we are discussing where it may go next and what tomorrow’s questions will be. That lets you think of other people to talk to, other angles, other avenues that we can get to first.
Q3 PER ANON: What’s the best way to pitch you? What types of stories are you looking for? What works?
STEVE: With a network like CNN, best way to pitch is to tailor what you’re offering. Any assignment desk or newscast will MORE always be on lookout for angle or guest, but needs change day to day. Two good ways to pitch us by e-mail: email@example.com for stories, and firstname.lastname@example.org for interviews. Timing is very important — be aware of the day’s news. A pitch on a feature when swine flu or a mass shooting has occured will NEVER get seen. If you have an angle or an expert tied to a timely story, hit that hard right up top. “We have an expert who worked with cdc and researching pandemics” will help separate the pitch.
A pitch on a feature when swine flu or a mass shooting has occured will NEVER get seen.
Q4 PER @mikepilarz Publications R strongly favoring stories that generate comments. How should we adjust pitch?
STEVE: Doing homework on pitches help — knowing kind of areas a certain n’cast likes to do can help make your pitch more focused i think by definition, the most interesting guests/pitches will generate comments. I had an old boss who told me our job MORE ”find interesting s— and put on the radio”. And no matter how the business changes, that’s still what this really is about compelling, informative, interesting stories will make air and generate comments. The best stories/guests sell themselves the key for someone pitching that is to convey that fast. Speaking for myself, I know if a pitch interests me in the first few moments of a conversation, and first few lines of an e-mail.
Q5 PER @dannybrown How will CNN encourage editorial control over citizen journalism and make it more respected?
STEVE: Citizen journalism is a fascinating evolution of the business. From the moment it started at CNN, we were VERY careful with the vetting. Checking information, authenticity, etc was vital, with the same standards for anything we put on the air. as it changes/becomes a more prevalent part of the business, that editorial oversight is all the more crucial. we have producers assigned to iReport, and our desks and bureaus are very involved in working with the submissions. Being able to get real time information and pictures from people in the places news happens has always be an objective — this is new tool that everyone is still finding the best way to use. real people are the news. Eyewitnesses, people at scenes, people affected have been part of news from day one of news. BUT the key is melding people’s accounts with the facts, the context. Look at the India terrorist attack. A perfect example of how it should wor. and citizen journalists today helped convey what it was like in NYC when the plane scare. occured. You combine that with newsgathering and accurate facts…that is journalism. citzen journalism done well compliments news coverage, but doesn’t replace news reportings, correspondents, fact gathering. That’s the key.
You combine that with newsgathering and accurate facts…that is journalism.
Q6 PER @jdp23 Does the speed of information flow on Twitter affect CNN’s organization, coverage, etc.?
STEVE: i didn’t think the biz could speed up any more, but twitter and social media certainly has done that. BUT you never sacrifice speed for accuracy. Twitter is like a police scanner in a newsroom — it’s a way to find out fast that something is up. it definitely has given us a jump on spot news, and on reactions to things that become big (amazon change a few weeekends ago, for example). but speed is a HUGE edge for us. it lets us learn of something faster… and then do what we do best. Cover it. We have beeen very careful to make sure as we adapt to twitter, etc, the same critical standards are applied. we don’t report off twitter…we use it to investigate leads, ask questions, and only report when confirmd. no matter how social media or anything else changes the business, it doesn’t ever chnage the core. Being right and being accurate newsrooms have to be smart to use the new tools with the same standards and care. The choice berween being right and being first is no choice. Not here. Accuracy is always more important. not even open to dbate.
Q7 PER @anndouglas are there are freelance opportunities @ CNN? If so, how/who to pitch? Tips? Tricks?
STEVE: we do some freelancers but not my area of expertise. if you want to e-mail me separately, i can direct you to a recruiter contact.
Q8 PER @kimbui How do you keep news fresh and innovative while keeping a lid on sensationalism?
STEVE: When i first started at cnn, a boss told us about cnn’s reputation being in its accuracy. and there isn’t a person who works. who doesn’t take that to heart. I think that helps control the sensationalism that really damages credebility. our correspondents producers, along with everyone here in Atl and the bureaus, think smart. (well, except me). we really try to put together stories that at the end of the day are different than you’d see on every other newscast. it’s hard sometimes because we do have such a massive newshole. But that truly works to our advantage. Every show gets to ask different questions and take on a diff angle you don’t want to do a story that is a stretch, or makes you look like you’re overeaching. you should see at the end of the day the size of our list of stories.
Q9 PER ANON: What advice can you offer to journalism students? What about PR students?
STEVE: for both, real experience is the key. I am proud of my days at THE Ohio State Unioversity (Go Bucks) but i had a huge edge b/c an amazing internship and chance to report at WTVN Radio. J-Schools are starting to evolve to teach all the changes in the biz but it happening every day in a real newsroom. and that’s where you need to be. I recommend trying to get in the door even if not for credit. and go on your own, to any big story in your area. meet people, watch, ask questions, see the biz in action. It is the best experience ever. I am less an “expert”(ha) on the PR side, but know working with people like Ms. Evans as a student would be the smartest thing a PR student could do I do agree for PR students that learning the journalism side is so critical. you need to really get how this side works to be good. and as a student for either side: you have to be a news junkie. if you’re not, there are better ways to make a living! i am amazed when i meet someone as an intern or a j-student who doesn’t eat and breathe this. passion is what makes you good.
Q10 PER ANON: If you could ensure that PR people did 3 things to make ur life easier? What would they be?
STEVE: do your homework on the place/show you’re pitching, don’t call us during breaking news (or in local, news time). and think like a journalist. If i was a journalist, what would make me care? on PR — one other thing. it’s a 2-way street. if we call you, and we can’t get you after hours on something major or if you can’t get us an intv we need on deadline, it doesn’t do you or us any good. A great relationship with a PR person (sometimes fostered during bad news) can be very beneficial on future stories. be reachable, return calls or e-mails, and you’ll find people remember when they have a more positive story they are working.
STEVE: i think everyone had fun witn it. Everyone is proud to work at CNN, and anything that helps draws viewers or readers to our journalism is a good thing. and it was a nice charity cause in the end as well i still think you follower to followee ratio needs to be in balance, so a million may be a problem!!
STEVE: I had a ball and love the questions! would be honored to answer questions anytime! thanks for having me!