Field trips capped the Discover the World of Communication/NSLC programs for students in two classes — Professional Newswriting and Sportswriting and Broadcasting.
News students visited the San Francisco Chronicle, where students learned about the history of the paper from Jennifer Blot, assistant to the executive editor and vice president. Blot talked about how two teenage brothers created the Chronicle in 1865, and entertained students with the tales of how the paper grew and changed over many years, including the development of the website, SFGate; the Joint Operating Agreement with the Examiner; the Hearst family’s later purchase of the newspaper; and the reduced, though still vibrant, newsroom of today, where 165 reporters work to cover the region.
The students took a newsroom tour before sitting in on the morning news meeting to learn what stories editors thought merited attention on the printed front page and website’s home page. Afterward, National-Foreign and Politics Editor Michael Collier and reporter Will Kane talked to the students.
Kane, who interned at the Chronicle following his recent graduation from UC-Berkeley, is now working there full-time on the breaking-news team. He told the students that as a general-assignment reporter, “I like that every day’s different. I learn something new every day.” He added that he’s an avid Twitter fan, describing the site as an “abbreviated analysis of what’s going on.”
Collier, who reminded the group that fairness and accuracy were of the utmost importance, also explained how important it is for Chronicle reporters to find an angle that works for their readers. He cited a recent story by the Chronicle’s Washington reporter, Carolyn Lochhead, who looked first at the farm bill and then at the impact of the drought on cattle ranchers in California.
In Sportswriting, the students had a chance to see a second professional baseball game — this one in Oakland, where the storybook season continued as the students watched Oakland beat the Angels 9-8.
(Earlier in the program, they went to a Giants-Mets game.) But first they met with the Oakland A’s PR staff, including Bob Rose and Nick Parson, to learn how media-relations teams work with the media. Rose talked to them about what makes a good sports reporter — or any reporter — today, including being accurate and fair.
“When you’re pursuing this profession or any profession,” he said, “Act professionally. It’s a mindset. Be prepared.”
He reminded them, too, that there is an art to asking smart questions. He said to avoid open-ended statements, such as “Tell me how your season is going.” And he stressed that is equally important to listen well as it is to ask good questions.
The students later interviewed A’s relief pitcher Jerry Blevins, who described how the A’s were coming together as a team: “We all feel like we’re going to win every day,” he said. “We’re going out there together.”
The students’ stories from both classes are featured on the Teen Observer site. Many of the students, who traveled to the UC-Berkeley workshops from all over the country, are working for their high-school newspapers, but most said that interviewing strangers meant delving into new territory.
The stories on the site represent both assignments and their own enterprise ideas. And the sportswriting students wrote and shot video stand-ups at the both the Giants and the Cal stadiums.
To see the videos, created by American University grad student Angela Pinaglia, highlighting their outings and efforts, go here: