Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

Rebecca Hale 31903c3

For Rebecca Hale, the biggest difference between life in the newsroom and her Repurposed Life as Director of Public Information for The Seattle Mariners is time.

“You have time to plan. Things aren’t always tied to a deadline. In a newsroom, every minute’s your next deadline.”

 

Seattle is where Rebecca Hale made the Big Leagues.

Rebecca Hale Dan Leach and other KIRO coleagues

(Hale center, pictured with KIRO colleagues, among them Dan Leach, Sharon Vale, Molly Watkins, Tim Haeck, Tom Glasgow and Donn Moyer)

It’s been 24 years since Rebecca Hale worked in a newsroom. But this Idaho native and Oregon State University grad earned her solid reputation as an anchor and reporter from 1984 to 1993 at KIRO news radio (CBS Seattle). After leaving KIRO, she took a job as Public Information Officer at the Seattle Public Library. “I had a soft landing.” After that, Hale served as Assistant Communication Director and Speechwriter and then as Director of Communications for Mayor Norm Rice.. Nineteen years ago, she joined the Mariners. Hale says, “It feels like it’s gone by in a flash. 20 years. Blink and it’s over –  Almost 20 years. “

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The biggest change she says, No breaking news. “It was a different pace.” At the Seattle Public Library you won’t get called out for an emergency literacy story,” she says. “There’s a schedule.”

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And now Rebecca Hale works mainly behind the scenes. If anyone has a microphone in front of them it’s usually not her. “I don’t do a lot of interviews. I try to have other people do the interviews. And that’s ok by me,” she said during our conversation between pitches at a recent game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the M’s.

“My family moved around a lot but Idaho’s always been home base.” After broadcasting stints in Vancouver, Washington and Boise, a former co-worker, Dan Leach called her from KIRO News radio to say the overnight gig was available. She jumped at the chance.

Hale made her mark as a reporter and anchor at KIRO FM, moving from overnights to weekend morning anchor and general assignment reporter before finally moving to weekend afternoons. She can’t remember all the awards she won. “A few,” she’ll tell you. One in particular was a UPI National Award for Use of Sound in a feature she did on Bo Jackson. Hale says she also got to meet White House correspondent Helen Thomas once.

Some nice highlights. But they all seem to blur through the lens of time. It all goes by so fast. Or maybe former journalists only notice how fast it is when they leave the newsroom.

“Journalism is being able to do things fast.” Rebecca Hale says that’s served her well in her professional life after her news career. “In newsrooms, you don’t have the luxury of time. You have to be able to work fast and juggle things. In the job I have here, when it gets hectic, I’m able to manage it without feeling overwhelmed.”

“You have to figure stuff out. And I’m not worried when I don’t know about a subject. I just keep digging around until I find out. I was in a newsroom for 12 years.” That’s a lot of experience digging.

And Hale still writes. “In my current job, I get to write a lot and spend time on each piece. For one story, I can talk to a dozen people. I write press releases and blog posts.” And Hale writes for Mariners Magazine (see below). “I get to interview people all the time.”

April Cyber Bullying (1)

What’s it like to work with reporters today? Rebecca Hale says some (one man bands) are being asked to do way too much and they don’t ever have any time. Hale says there seem to be more in broadcasting than in print. She adds, “They have jobs with more demands.” Very often, I’ll come away from an interview and I’ll wonder, “Why didn’t they ask this question, or that question?” It feels sometimes like I have to spoon feed reporters today.” And sadly, she says, all too often, there’s a herd mentality. “If you can help one of them to go on a story, it seems like everybody wants to jump on it.” But Hale says, “I still really like my job. It’s been 19 plus years out of the newsroom but I still really never know from day to day, what‘s going to happen and I like that.” And she likes the energy of her co-workers. “We have so many young people who work here.”

As for this year’s Mariners? Hale says, “It really feels like this team is going to explode. The first three months we had so many injuries. But this really could be our year to make the playoffs again. Jerry’s so smart and Scott Servais is keeping it even. It’s been fun to watch.” But when the team is hovering around .500 and flirting with another mediocre season, you have to take that fun when you can get it.

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As we were wrapping up the conversation for this piece, at that Phillies, M’s game, I asked Rebecca Hale if I could take her picture with Safeco Filed in the background. I told her it’d be better if she stood and smiled. A picture of her smiling with the sunny expanse of Safeco behind her was what I was looking for. She asked me to wait until everyone’s standing. “I don’t want to block anyone’s view just for a picture.” Just minutes later Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano homered to right field. The crowd stood up. I got my picture. And there was Rebecca Hale, another Repurposed Journalist who’d made the Big Leagues … smiling.

 

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Global Washington 2013 Conference

Global Washington 2013 Conference

You’ve just spent the last few years of your life working hard to get your non-profit up and running. You’ve invested a couple hundred dollars to attend an international conference filled with your non-profit peers. Now you’re standing up in front of hundreds of them, basically a room of strangers, and you’re told you have two minutes to tell your story.

Go.

That was the scene earlier this week when a group of nine intrepid spokespeople lined up before a luncheon crowd at the Global Washington Annual Conference at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Conference Center. It was billed as the Fast Pitch Presentations.

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Reps were there from a local micro-enterprise non-profit, a development group, a reproductive rights organization, a sustainable fishing group along with a handful of other advocates. Almost all seemed a little nervous but when each got the “go” sign … there really wasn’t time for nerves. There was just 120 seconds.

The audience felt for the plight of the group of nine who lined up near the stage, waiting for their two minutes. But the
exercise illustrates a deeper truth. Very often, you don’t have that much time to grab someone’s attention and tell your story, no matter how important you think it is. We live in a world of short attention spans.

Bell Harbor Conference Center - Seattle, WA

Bell Harbor Conference Center – Seattle, WA

Seattle’s Randi Hedin went first. Hedin is a corporate lawyer by training. Today she’s the founder for Seattle buildOn, an international nonprofit organization that runs youth service after school programs in United States high schools, and builds schools in developing nations.

photo courtesy: buildOn

photo courtesy: buildOn

Hedin volunteered, “because I’m working hard to get the word out.” She says she wasn’t nervous because she was prepared and knew her talking points. She says she didn’t feel hurried either. “I worked hard with classmates” (in a Substantive International Law masters class at the University of Washington Law School).

Randi Hedin buildOn Board Member

Randi Hedin
buildOn Board Member

Her preparation showed. She’d picked a catchy title: “Who Ate My School? The Compelling Need for Schools in Developing Countries.” In the two minutes she had, Hedin focused on the need to keep schools in the developing world from falling into such disrepair that cows would graze on the weeds and grass growing on the property. The title of the talk grabbed attention, the pitch was short and to the point. She got a big round of applause.

Was it hard to capsulize the length, breadth and mission of an international non profit in just 120 seconds? “No”, says Hedin. “I just picked a piece of the puzzle and told that part of our story.” Hedin says it was a great way to organize because it forced her to focus on the “most important messages.”

There’s a lesson in the Fast Pitch.
1. Know your story.
2. Focus on the most important points.
3. Keep your pitch short
4. Know when to get off the stage.

Sometimes all you need is two minutes to tell your story. Sometimes, that’s all you get.

Mike Gastineau

Mike Gastineau

Seattle’s Mike Gastineau remembers the date, October 7th, 2012. That’s when it came to him. He’d just seen the Seattle Sounders beat their arch-rival, the Portland Timbers along with the wildly enthusiastic Emerald City Supporters, behind the south goal at Century Link Field. After the 3-0 win, the thought followed him as he walked to his car.

“This is a great story. I have to tell it.”

Earlier that fall, Gastineau had made the decision to leave his job at Seattle’s KJR 950 AM sports radio station as an announcer. Now he was consumed with the need to tell this story. “What better way than with a book”, he thought.

A year later, the result is a new book, “Sounders FC: AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE: The Inside Story Of The Best Launch in American Sports.”
http://www.amazon.com/Sounders-FC-AUTHENTIC-MASTERPIECE-Franchise/dp/1491068345/ref=zg_bs_16638_5

The book (Gastineau’s first, with a forward by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl) is a must for any Sounders fan who wants a behind-the-scenes look at how the Seattle Sounders have become the talk of, or some would say the envy of, the rest of Major League Soccer. “Seattle’s the New York Yankees of this league”, says Gastineau. “We’ve got the money because we draw the fans.”

That success was no accident as “Authentic Masterpiece” reveals. The secret? According to Gastineau, Sounders management knew they couldn’t rely only on Seattle’s soccer moms and dads, a rich vein by itself. Sounders research showed that, “The last thing a lot of soccer moms and dads wanted to do after watching their kid play was … watch more soccer”, says Gastineau. “What Seattle did was go to places like The Atlantic Crossing in Seattle’s U-District and Fremont’s George & Dragon Pub, places where legions of hard-core soccer fans would pack bars at 7am on a weekend morning to see English Premier League soccer.” Mike says, “That’s a hard-core, underserved fan base. They (Seattle Sounders) really focused on who were fans of the sport.”

And then that October night at CenturyLink Field came back to him. He remembered the feeling of watching a Seattle sporting event for two hours, on your feet. That revelation leads to another secret to the Sounders’ success. “It wasn’t the fact that the Sonics left town”, says Mike. “It was the Mariners’ mediocrity.” Mike Gastineau says, “If Seattle sports fans had entertaining baseball to distract them, it would have been a different story.”

And if there’s one thing a repurposed sports announcer like Mike Gastineau knows, it’s a good story. His new book tells this one with authenticity and passion, like a night behind the south goal with the Emerald City Supporters.

Emerald City Supporters

Emerald City Supporters

Chris Daniels KING 5

Chris Daniels KING 5

Chris Daniels is an award-winning journalist with KING 5 (Seattle NBC) in the nation’s 12th market. His Seattle Arena reporting earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage in 2013. He’s also won a Regional Emmy for General Assignment Reporting in 2012. But that’s not why his Twitter following has grown by more than 70 percent in the last 90 days. He can thank the NBA’s Sacramento Kings for that.

In February, Daniels’ Twitter following couldn’t crack 10,000. Three months later, on the day the NBA voted to keep the franchise in Sacramento his total had risen to almost 17,000. Twitter helped him own the story. Recently, I sat down with Chris Daniels for a little one-on-one.

Daniels with former Sonic Shawn Kemp

Daniels with former
Sonic Shawn Kemp

Yeager: Now that the Sacramento Kings aren’t coming to Seattle and this chapter appears to be over, what stands out?

Chris Daniels: How social media changed the whole tenor and way I reported the story. I realized how many people paid attention to what I had to say on Twitter and made it a source for getting information. It was a way for me to plant the flag and direct people to the website. It used to be, wait until 5 o’clock, and deliver it then. I thought more globally about the website and how important clicks are, how important page views are, as much as TV views and how you can use Twitter to direct people to those stories. So I found over time that nobody was investing as much in the story as I was.

Yeager: You’re a reporter in the 12th market but you really reported in three different markets.

Daniels: I had to be more and more careful because I began to realize that the NBA was following me.  And my follower count went way up in Sacramento and also in Seattle. I felt I was reporting on Sacramento news as much as I was Seattle news. But because the Seattle ownership group wasn’t very vocal, I almost became the person that knew the most on this subject in Seattle.

On Twitter On The Road

On Twitter
On The Road

Yeager: Something that happened in the mayor’s office of Sacramento was evidence?

Daniels: What social media did was it put me on a different level in Sacramento, so when I went down to Sacramento feeling, “Everyone there must hate me.” It was 100% the opposite. I said to my photographer, “Have my back, ok?” Before I could even get into City Hall, Mayor Johnson’s press secretary came out and complimented me on the work that I was doing on social media. They thought that I was the best reporter on the story. And a group of local (Sacramento) fans said, thanks for all the work you’ve done on this.  You’ve done such a great job. I just looked at my photographer and raised my eyebrow, this not what I expected at all.

Yeager: You received some negative feedback from the NBA Commissioner’s Office in New York because of what you said on social media.

Daniels: I wrote the story that there was a rift between David Stern and several of the owners about the direction of this (Seattle) franchise. And you could see that there were eight votes on the board for relocation, that there was a rift. And what social media allows you to do is that it alerts the NBA to these stories that are being reported and that was obviously in advance. He read it. He saw it. He’d seen me before so he knew who I was. He said in front of everyone, “Contrary to what you’ve reported,” which shows you how closely they were following what I was reporting in Seattle.

With former Sonic  Kevin Duran

With Former Sonic
Kevin Durand

Yeager:  How did it play in Seattle?

Daniels: The sports radio stations started following me for news. I would tweet something and before I could ever write something or put it on TV, they’d have me on the radio. There were days when I’d do six different radio interviews.

Yeager: So when expansion becomes the story will you be the guy on it?

Daniels: Likely. That’s what people still ask me about on Twitter. @ChrisDaniels5

Monday, April 15th. Two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a big news day.  More than two hundred are injured, three are killed and the Boston Globe’s pay wall comes down. In the world of Internet news content that’s almost news by itself.

Pay walls prevent Internet readers from using webpage content (mainly news and scholarly readings) without paying. They’ve been controversial because for years, online newsreaders have taken free content for granted. Not anymore and not on Monday. News about the Marathon Bombing was free for all.  And not just in Boston.

Executive Editor Seattle Times

Executive Editor
Seattle Times

“Boston forced us to come up with a (pay-wall) policy when breaking news happens,” says Seattle Times, Executive Editor David Boardman.  “When public safety and welfare are concerned,” says Boardman, “we’ll put those stories (and only those) outside the pay-wall.” “When the coast is clear,” he adds, “we’ll put it back.” The Times briefly took down their pay wall for Boston Bombing stories.

The Seattle Times started their pay-wall three weeks ago. http://seattletimes.com/html/home/index.html For $3.99 a week you get digital content and in some cases a paper copy of the Sunday edition. Boardman says there was some initial pushback but now the pay wall is beginning to pay off. “We’ve been really encouraged,” says Boardman. “They’re well above the numbers that we were expecting.”  The Seattle Times gets 7 million unique page views a month. “Today, there are 450 dailies with a pay wall,” Boardman says. “It’ll become the norm one day.”

David Domke  Communications Dept. University of Washington

David Domke
Communications Dept.
University of Washington

This week, the New York Times has taken down its pay wall for video. Professor David Domke at the University of Washington http://www.com.washington.edu/domke/says pay walls are here to stay. “They’re showing up more and more,” he says.  At first he says, they were more experimental but now, “Enough of the traditional print audience has gone online so we’re entering the era of the pay wall.”

http://paidcontent.org/2013/04/23/new-york-times-lifts-paywall-for-video-plans-franchises/ The Times says it’s no longer restricting non-subscribers access to video as part of its plan to “expand its brand in the video space.”

But it’s not just big dailies.

The Chinook Observer http://www.chinookobserver.com/ charges its readers $33 a year for digital news content. The Observer serves the Long Beach area in Pacific County in Southwest Washington. Editor and publisher Matt Winters says, “Some of it is arbitrary. “We’re still trying to decide what to charge.” They’re planning to publish an on-line business publication, which he says they’ll charge for as well. “It’s all about re-purposing content,” he says. “It’ll be experimental.” “In essence,” he says, “we are an information society. At some point you have to assign real value,” he says. “Otherwise the paradigm falls apart.”

But the UW’s David Domke http://blogs.seattletimes.com/uwelectioneye/author/ddomke/ wonders how much online news content we really read because of pay walls. “People are now able to ‘a la carte’ the paper. Picking and choosing what they read now more than when readers open a traditional ‘ink on your hands’ hard copy. “It’s unfortunate,” Domke says. “When I read the paper I encounter so much more.”  “Part of it is when I actually do ‘read’ the newspaper, I’ve said to myself, “I’ve got time to read the paper. It’s really a loss for our culture. We’re so busy now. We’ve taught ourselves to just quickly glance at the news. Reading a twitter update is not the same as engaging with the news,” says Domke. “It’s fundamentally different to read at a stoplight than to sit down and actually read the newspaper at home.”

At The Seattle Times, David Boardman says the pay wall has to make sense. “It has to have news content they can’t get anywhere else,” he says. “The main point”, Boardman says, “is if they (the readers) don’t perceive that it won’t work.” Still, Boardman says, “The pay wall doesn’t provide enough money.” But what it does, he adds, “is to get people conditioned to get used to paying for content.”

http://mynorthwest.com/11/2202424/How-a-former-TV-anchor-remembers-her-daughter

A former colleague, KIRO FM’s Ursula Reutin did a compelling story about Seattle’s Penny LeGate and Penny’s effort to keep her daughter’s legacy alive. Good stuff.

Scott Heidler 
Al Jazeera - English 
Correspondent

Scott Heidler
Al Jazeera – English
Correspondent

Recently, I posed this question on my Facebook page: “What defines a journalist? Can you sum it up in one word? The first few responses were what you would expect. “Unbiased, inquisitive, independent. A former colleague at KIRO TV (CBS Seattle) told me, “inquisitor.” Then the blood started flowing from the vein I’d opened up. “Interrupted dinner”, wrote another KIRO TV alum. “Curious, (crime) scene tape.” Then more insight, “Turning off the phone isn’t an option.” “Accessible”, didn’t begin to cover it.

By this time my one word request had been blown to shreds. There’s no way to define a journalist in just one word. But they kept coming.

“Partisan”, wrote an old radio colleague from WIBA FM in Madison, Wisconsin. He went on to elaborate that unfortunately, “people consume news to be affirmed more than informed.” “Honest, empathetic, compassionate, large bladder, inquisitive, witness, truth”, were the next few responses. And then this nugget of wisdom from a former KCPQ (Fox Seattle) colleague, “Anyone can be a ‘storyteller.’ “Pursuer of truth” touched off a debate. Then another former news colleague stressed that a story can be told based on “the smallest of details.”

A former colleague at KXLY (ABC TV Spokane) brought the debate back to that one word definition again. “Accurate”, he wrote. “Credible”, wrote another. “Curiosity”, wrote another. Then another entry about how a journalist could be a an author, a documentarian and a common reporter as long as there was an “effort to create a history record.” “Persistent”, wrote another. Another followed, “NEWS – north, east, west and south”, written by one of the most passionate weather casters in the nation, a gifted storyteller in his own right. “Open minded”, wrote another. “Truth seeker”, wrote an award-winning former KIRO TV colleague. And finally, “interpreter”, wrote an architect friend.

A journalist can be all of those things, don’t you agree? And as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin once said through fictional White House reporter Will Sawyer on The West Wing, “There’s never been a time when it’s more important to be good at what I do.”

Regardless your beat, your deadline, your topic or your purpose, journalism remains literature “in a hurry” as it remains an open, honest window to a fast-changing world. What would I tell journalism wanna-be’s? Simple: Attribute your sources and keep your eyes open. Look for surprises in the smallest of details because theres a big world of stories to tell. Let’s pray enough journalists remain … to tell them.