Tips for Covering the economy

Covering the economy? Who isn’t, these days? But it’s not always easy figuring out which business and financial stories to pursue, much less how to make sense of them.   RTNDA is offering assistance.  Here is a notice I got today from them. 

Money Matters can help. This online resource from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation and sponsored by NEFE, the National Endowment for Financial Education, offers story ideas, tipsheets and examples of what other news organizations are doing. We update it several times a week with fresh content that you can put to use immediately. We also provide links to background, online tools, and training opportunities for journalists in all media. We hope you’ll check in often to see what’s new. Please contribute your own suggestions and story examples by adding a comment to any page or by sending us an email.

Earlier this year, The RTNDA Communicator Magazine featured a couple of my ideas.  Here is a link to that:

TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

Celebrities whose deaths have been erroneously reported in cyberspace.

“Viruses may spread quickly on the Internet, but hoaxes can be pretty contagious, too,” Monica Corcoran wrote recently in The Times:

In the same week that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died, the Web became a hotbed of made-up death reports about various celebrities.

Jeff Goldblum was the first to go. A headline on Google News read, “Jeff Goldblum Has Died, Falls to Death on Set!” Details were murky, but just specific enough to sound plausible. The story went that Mr. Goldblum, 56, had plummeted off the 60-foot Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while filming a movie.

What started out as a prank soon took on a life of its own. Twitter users retweeted the item, and the community became an echo chamber. Facebook members chimed in.

By the week’s end, the celebrity death toll had turned into a conga line.

Other “late” celebrities included: George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Harrison Ford, Natalie Portman, Randy Jackson and Britney Spears.

OTNB IDEA: Share Web Style Guides

Every news operation should have a style guide, but as anyone whose ever written one can tell you, the writing can be frustrating and unrewarding.

Aside from the obvious benefit of having everyone working off the same page, one of the biggest benefits of a style guide is the Writing Guidelines.

In her blog, Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World, Deb Halpern Wenger says, “One of  the criticisms leveled at TV news sites is the hit-or-miss quality of the writing. Part of the problem, as many in the broadcast industry freely admit, is a discomfort with or lack of knowledge about writing in “print style.”

Luckily, some forward thinking news organizations put their style guides online and they are generally loaded with help for punctuation, titles, capitalization rules, etc.

Times of London:
BBC (pdf):

AP sells its style book:

Why share this stuff? Dean Wright, Global Editor for Ethics, Innovation and News Standards says transparency, service, and geography are behind Reuters decision to publish their styleguide.

“As we’ve seen over the past decade, the barriers to publishing have dropped so that anyone with an idea and a computer can be a publisher. But it’s also become clear that publishers have a varying standard of truth, fairness and style. Our handbook is a good place for budding journalists to begin. Reuters serves a global audience and the handbook recognises the cultural and political differences that our journalists face in reporting for the world.”

TV news salaries drop « Advancing the Story

TV news salaries drop

Posted on July 6, 2009 by dhwenger

For the first time in 15 years, people working in local TV news have started making less money than they did the year previously. According to the annual RTNDA/Hofstra University survey (pdf), overall salaries fell about 4.4% in 2008 – and if you factor inflation into the mix, the survey says real wages fell by 8.2%.

The positions that took the biggest hits were those of reporter (13.3% drop), news anchor (-11.5%), weathercaster (-9.1%) and sports anchor (-8.9%). Only assignment editor and art director salaries held steady.

The picture varies by market and newsroom staff size, but the overall salary drops are hardly unexpected in the current economic environment.

SalariesWhat the survey does not reveal is the salary picture for entry level positions. According to the University of Georgia’s 2007 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates, TV news salaries for recent grads had been slowly improving in recent years, though salaries were down slightly for 2007 from 2006.

The 2008 survey should be released in early August and it will be interesting to see if those starter jobs are again losing ground when it comes to pay.

Filed under: 12. Getting Ready for the Real World

Use your News Cars to promote your “Tweets”

You can recruit new followers by targeting one of life’s few remaining captive audiences: drivers in traffic.

Put your Twitter handle on your News cars
Put your Twitter handle on your News cars

Sometimes, the simplest ideas have the most power. Your news cars are seen by thousands of people each day. Another variation on this would be to print some vinyl decals for your followers to put on their cars. Offer it as an incentive to sign up – “.. and we’ll give you one of these I FOLLOW WXXO on TWITTER!”

A couple of entrepreneurs are already turning this into a business model.

At Tweet My Bumper, enter your Twitter user name along with the usual other basic information, and Tweet My Bumper will print and ship you a bumper sticker that shows your Twitter name along with the tag line, “Follow me in traffic. Follow me on Twitter.” It will cost you around $5.

Of course, your promotions department can get them printed in bulk for a tenth of that. Give it a try and let me know what happens