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Stephanie Forshee

First Edition: Lynn Povich

By Samar Khoury

In 1970, 46 women sued Newsweek for sex discrimination, making them the first women in media to sue their employer. That lawsuit was a groundbreaker in bringing attention to the still pervasive issue of discrimination against women in the workplace.

Lynn Povich was one of those women. Her 2012 book, The Good Girls Revolt, details her time at Newsweek and the lawsuit that inspired women to take a stand. Now, that book has evolved into a dramatized series on Amazon.

Povich started out as a secretary at the Paris Bureau of Newsweek magazine in the 1960s and worked as a reporter and writer at Newsweek in New York. During that time, only men were hired as writers, and women were usually hired on the mail desk or as fact checkers. Being promoted to reporter or writer was rare for women. Even if they had the same experience, they usually ended up in lower positions than men.

Povich and her female coworkers at Newsweek realized that they were being discriminated against, and they decided to take action. In secret, they started to organize how they would battle sex discrimination in the workplace.

So, on March 16, 1970, Povich and the 45 other female employees filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying that they had been discriminated against at Newsweek.

They started a trend.

“When we sued, the story was picked up by papers not only around the county but around the world. That was really good,” Povich said. “On the one hand, publicity was excellent and did what we wanted it to do, which was embarrass the editors so they would do something quickly. Because it was in the media, and the media wrote about it, women in other news organizations began to organize.”

Two months after the Newsweek complaint, women at Time, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated sued for sex discrimination, and in the next few years, women from Reader’s Digest, the Washington Post, Newsday, the Detroit News, the New York Times and other publications also sued. “In that sense, [the lawsuit] had a huge impact for women in journalism,” Povich said. “We started the ball rolling.”

The lawsuit raised awareness, but some women faced problems, including Povich. Her boss supported her and suggested she be promoted to a writer, but matters changed when her editor moved to a different department.

“My new editor was very bad, and I almost left,” Povich said. “When he got fired two years later, I did well again, and, ultimately, I was promoted, which was the biggest surprise of all because most women who were in the front line of these lawsuits did not do well.”

Although Povich and the other women received support from a lot of the writers and their immediate superiors, some editors did not approve of what they did.

“There were some men who were resentful and against affirmative action. Some of the top editors thought it was terrible. One of the top editors said, ‘Let’s just fire them all,’” she said.

Following the legal complaint, women who tried out as writers were rejected, despite writing for the New York Times magazine and the Atlantic. “It was very odd that they could be published in other publications and somehow not at Newsweek,” Povich said. “The women really felt that the men, their editors, really wanted them to fail. So that was a tough time for the first women who came forward.”

However, Povich recognized that the lawsuit would not bring immediate results. “As Betsy Wade at the New York Times said about their own suit, ‘We did a brave thing, but we knew it would be for the next generation.’”

Eventually, things looked up for Povich.

In 1975, she became the first female senior editor at Newsweek, and in the next few years, she packaged seven Newsweek cover stories into books—one of which she turned into a CBS Reports Television documentary—and launched Newsweek on Campus and Newsweek on Health.

In 1991, Povich left Newsweek and became Working Woman’s editor-in-chief, then moved on to be East Coast managing editor/senior executive producer of MSNBC.com. Since leaving MSNBC.com in 2001, Povich has freelanced and written books.

Years following the lawsuit, Povich still felt compelled to tell her story.

The Radcliffe Institute at Harvard had requested the legal papers from Povich, and she realized she needed to give them more of the history of the lawsuit before sending the papers. “Once I started interviewing people, I realized that it could be material for a book. It kind of came upon me as more of a surprise,” she said.

In 2007, Povich decided to write The Good Girls Revolt, which PublicAffairs published in 2012.

After the book release, Povich received inquiries about television and film.

“I was reluctant to sell it because it was about me and my friends and I knew television would do something different with it,” she said. Eventually, after getting a call from a contact at Sony, Linda Obst—an editor she had known at New York Times magazine—she allowed the book to be made into a series on one condition: that they fictionalize it. Amazon eventually bought it to make a pilot.

In December, Amazon picked up 10 episodes of the show, for which Povich acts as a consultant. There will be no character playing her.

“I just wanted people to know we were the first and why we did it and how we did it,” she said. “It would be worth be getting out the word to a larger audience—that was always my interest, which was to have people know we were the first.”

Now, looking back, Povich wishes she had written the book sooner.

“I always say I am an affirmative action baby,” Povich wrote in her book, “and proud of it.”

Edited by Annie Zak

Update: Good Girls Revolt is now available to stream on Amazon Prime. Watch here. #GoodGirlsRevolt

 

 

 

 

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Mara Leveritt: Making a Reporter

Devil’s Knot author and investigative reporter Mara Leveritt shares her tips on what she thinks is important when considering whether or not to take on an investigation of a criminal case. Mara is one of the 12 journalists featured in In Other News: Reporters on Reporting by Stephanie Forshee & Rosie Downey. The book was successfully funded on Kickstarter in December 2015 and is now available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble. For more information about Mara, visit her website at http://www.MaraLeveritt.com.

“If it’s a public record that you should be able to get, I say fight like hell.”

– Mara Leveritt

The Original Watergate Papers

We’re journalists. We’ve read All The President’s Men inside and out, watched the movie more times than we’d care to admit. We’ve researched Watergate ad nauseam and held the highest regard for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein since we picked up a pen and paper.

But somewhere along the way, there’s a chance we missed a step: We didn’t read the actual coverage that originally appeared in The Washington Post back in the early 1970s. (I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s a reasonable chance I speak for a substantial group).

What’s all the fuss really about? Were the articles all they were cracked up to be?

They changed the history of politics and journalism in one fell swoop, so it’s no doubt worth the time to read the original articles here.

The Post has pieced together a Watergate timeline that doesn’t end with the 1970s by any means. It’s a solid, comprehensive read or re-read if you’re looking to remind yourself of what investigative journalism is really about.

First Edition: Jacqui Banaszynski

First Edition: Jacqui Banaszynski

By Samar Khoury

Journalism might not have been the first career choice for Jacqui Banaszynski, but it turned out to be a wise decision. 

She has a Pulitzer Prize, award-winning projects and more than 30 years of reporting and editing experience under her belt.

Banaszynski worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. During her career, she followed a dogsled expedition across Antarctica and wrote about topics ranging from beauty pageants to the Olympics to refugee camps.

She was also a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for “Trail of Tears,” detailing the famine in sub-Saharan Africa.

Banaszynski won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for her piece, “AIDS in the Heartland,” for which she and photographer Jean Pieri spent 15 months with a gay farm couple until they died of the disease. Both of those pieces won her and her newspaper the St. Paul Pioneer Press considerable acclaim.

Today, Banaszynski lives in Seattle but during the school year teaches at the Missouri School of Journalism, where she serves as the Knight Chair in Editing.

During her years of reporting and editing, Banaszynski learned valuable lessons that she hopes to teach to her students.

Q: What tips do you have for young journalists?

A: If you want to do great writing, you have to do great reporting. It’s more important for a young journalist to learn how the world works, to learn how to report on the world, than it is to have pretty writing.

If you’re going to do immersion journalism and focus on one person or one situation to reveal a bigger social issue, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right situation, the characters, you’ve got to have access. You have to be completely transparent, both with your story subjects about your method and the consequences of talking to a reporter, and with the readers, the viewers, the public about how you did the story.

You always need other readers. No matter where you are in your career, you need to have other readers look at your work as it’s progressing.  We do this work for other people, not for ourselves.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned when writing your Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, “AIDS in the Heartland”?

A:  This is the piece where I really learned that you need to have the right story subject. One big, big, big lesson was negotiating partnership. Before we went into the story and as we were doing the story, we’d constantly go back and negotiate what our partnership was, what the understanding of transparency and conditions were. That was huge because the people we were writing about and their family and extended community had a lot of reservations about being a part of the story. I had to constantly be upfront with them about what we were doing, why we were doing it, why we thought it was so important, why we thought their role in it was so important, and what our obligation was to them in terms of fact-checking, honesty, transparency, but also that our ultimate allegiance was to the public and the truth of the story, which means that sometimes we were going to write things they weren’t comfortable with, but they wouldn’t be surprised by.

Q: What did this story teach you in regards to objectivity and attachment to your subjects that young journalists can keep in mind?

A: We had to be very aware that we needed to write the story for the public and not to please the people we were writing about, and that was difficult because we had spent so much time with Dick [Hanson] and Bert [Henningson] and had come to care about [the couple]. That means we had to have people around us who read the story skeptically.

The words objectivity and detachment are thrown around a lot in journalism, and when you do stories like that, they’re problematic, because you can’t do a story like that without investing your own self, including your emotions. But you’ve got to remain purposeful about your investment and who that investment ultimately is for. The answer to that is the public, your readers. But you’ve really got to be willing to cross boundaries and lines that aren’t typically crossed in traditional civic journalism. Its why it’s so important to have a good partner. Jean Pieri [the photographer] and I were good partners to each other. We held each other up.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions you tend to hear about journalism in your classroom?

A: Some of the students are not plugged in. A lot of them are still really connected to the legacy masthead such as the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. The digital world is emerging so fast, and they haven’t been plugged into those possibilities, as they need to be to go where the jobs are. Journalists and the public need to be smart consumers when they open up and see where they want to work and read.

One of the keys to good journalism is to be interested in how the world works. You need to be passionate about and interested in the story you’re writing about, not just the things you’re interested in. I tell my students all the time if they only want to write what they’re interested in, I’ll give them a journal and wish them a very happy life and hope they keep in touch. If they want to be a journalist, they need to get interested in what they have to write about. Every story becomes practice for the next story.  

Q: Can you tell me about your ‘have a beer theory’ and how it would be beneficial for journalists?

A: I call it the “Banaszynski Beer Rule” and it means  when you go do a story as a journalist, all you have is your own curiosity and your own mind. When we get a story assignment or are chasing a story, pursuing a story, it’s very natural to then get really focused in on what the story needs by conventional journalistic standards. The beer rule basically says you need to expand your mental TV screen to include people who aren’t journalists, people you’re writing for, the public, and you need to plug in to their curiosity and their interests. So you find a person or a few people who have no interest in the story you’re doing, and ask what they would want to know or what they’re interested in or what they want to learn. That helps you plug in to the public you’re writing for.

The gig came from when I was going out to do this interview and I didn’t know what to ask this person. I stopped somebody in the newsroom who had no interest in the subject I was writing about, and I said ‘what would you like to know?’ And he said ‘not a goddamn thing.’ So I finally said, ‘if you could sit down with this person and have a beer and ask her any question in the world, what would you want to ask?’ And it shifted the conversation and allowed him to say, ‘well if I could just really ask her anything, here’s what I’d want to know.’ And it wasn’t a journalistic question; it was a human question. And it taught me so much when I did that.  

You’re writing a book?

“Need inspiration? Watch ‘All the President’s Men’ for the 15th time or instead savor a chapter from ‘In Other News: Reporters on Reporting.’ You’ll get the tonic you need to tackle your own Watergate.” — Linda Austin, veteran editor and journalism educator

In Other News: Reporters on Reporting

Self-publishing time. Yes, that’s right. A book for journalists about journalists is underway. My talented friend and former co-worker Rosie Downey and I are writing our debut book, which is expected to be released in February 2016.

Stephanie Forshee, Rosie Downey
Rosie and Stephanie “on assignment” last summer at the Brady Bunch home when we worked together at the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

In Other News: Reporters on Reporting will profile a dozen journalists and detail their careers, give a behind-the-scenes look at some of their work and provide advice for aspiring and/or working journalists. Each chapter will focus on a different reporter or editor and will be similar to the website you’re viewing right now, particularly this profile here of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael J. Berens.

Other journalists you’ll read about include author/journalist Mara Leveritt, sports journalist/best-selling author Joan Ryan, newly announced managing editor for the L.A. Times S. Mitra Kalita, Geoff Edgers of The Washington Post, Gilbert Bailon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and former war correspondent for TIME, ABC and CBS, Terry McCarthy.

 Rosie and I will be promoting the book this summer on Kickstarter, so expect updates and more details soon!
-Stephanie Forshee

First Edition: Bidding for a Living

First Edition: Rob Livingstone

By Rosie Downey

Rob-Livingstone-Olympics

For many, the Olympics are really a thought that crosses the mind just about every four years – or every two for those who are fans of both the winter and summer Olympics. But for Rob Livingstone, it’s the basis for his reporting, almost on a daily basis.

The 47-year-old journalist devotes most of his time to the Olympic bids website, GamesBids.com, which he launched in 1998.

Games Bids is a website devoted to the Olympic bid process. It boasts a collection of news and discussions on past, current and future bids for the summer and winter Olympic Games.

He came up with the idea when he was an economics student at York University in Toronto. His interest in the subject matter started when he wrote a school paper on Toronto’s bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. (That bid was later won by Atlanta).

Livingstone continued to collect bid information after completing his assignment and when the Internet came to be in the mid-1990s, he published those findings online with the encouragement of others.

Today, Livingstone counts many high-ranking officials within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and individual National Olympic Committees as sources. He has built relationships with these people by going to events, annual meetings known as IOC sessions and the Olympic Games themselves. “It’s a very face-to-face kind of industry,” he said of the process of building trust with his sources.

One unique aspect of Livingstone’s job as a journalist is that he has to introduce himself and build relationships with an entirely different group of people each time a new bid cycle begins.

These new people can come from a lot of places including the committee that is running a bid for a specific country or the consulting firm hired by a potential host city.

In most cases these groups are new to the bid process and “often they’ll have more questions for you than you’ll have for them,” Livingstone said. He explained that it isn’t unusual that “they wont have the answers right away because they weren’t anticipating the questions.”

Bid participants aren’t the only ones contacting Livingstone for information regarding this complicated process. Passionate fans often debate on the site’s message boards, and in many cases, they are sending him tips.

When Livingstone created the discussion forums, on or around the year 2000, he was surprised by the level of engagement from his audience. “That really made it a two-way process, where I was learning from these people, getting story ideas and more information, writing about it and feeding it back,” he said.

That process has proved tricky in the past though with numerous rumors being floated to him via the message boards and through email. “I have to be careful to validate those and I get lots of those,” he added.

Livingstone also spends a decent amount of time doling out advice to fellow reporters who might have experience, but not necessarily with Olympics coverage.

“They are suddenly getting involved with the bid from their city and they’ve never really thought about Olympic bids before,” said Livingstone. “It’s definitely a challenge for new reporters,” he added.

U.S.-based reporters have already begun contacting him about the country’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Boston was recently announced as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s candidate city, and Games Bids will track additional cities across the globe as they announce their candidacy.

That’s when Games Bids will really be put to the test.

“Who’s winning the bid?” is the most common question Livingstone hears in his work as reporter and editor for Games Bids. The repetition of that question is what prompted him to create the Bid Index, a statistical tool that was initially calculated with the help of a few experts. The Index went live to cover the 2008 bid, which was won by the city of Beijing in a 2001 vote.

The Bid Index correctly predicted the outcome for the last three Olympic bids (2016, 2018 and 2020). “It sort of made our website the go-to place to find out what’s going on for the bids,” he said.

His proprietary tool works not by calculating the regular odds, as one would see in standard sports betting, but by calculating the ongoing success of a bid based on the elements it shares with past successful bids.

According to Livingstone, these elements can be as varied as whether popular opinion played into the success of a winning bid and if the IOC has adhered to any kind of geographic rotation in its voting history.

Livingstone finds that his work is very cyclical, with his two busiest periods naturally coming in the ramp up to an IOC vote or an Olympic Games.

The next Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro in August of next year, and the IOC vote to pick the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics will take place July 31 of this year in Kuala Lumpur.

Only two cities remain: Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing. Regardless of the outcome, Livingstone will be covering the race in great detail for the readers of Games Bids.

Though he has a lot of practice gathering the details for each bidding city, that information wasn’t as accessible in the early days of his reporting. “It was quite a challenge to get the right people to speak to, to get the right information out of them,” Livingstone said.

A huge turning point was the Salt Lake City bid scandal of the late 1990s when Olympic officials allegedly received money to ensure that the Utah city won the bid for the 2002 Olympics. “Everything changed after that,” he said referring not only to the IOC’s more open voting procedures but also to the public’s attention to and understanding of the whole process.

Over time, Livingstone has learned not to be surprised by these races and has continued his coverage without getting personally invested in the fates of the winning and losing cities. He said his motto is ‘always expect the unexpected.’

Reporting by Rosie Downey. Edited by Stephanie Forshee.

Want more sports journalism stories? Read about USA TODAY’s Scott Gleeson and FOX-5 in Atlanta’s Merissa Lynn.

PolitiFact to live fact-check Obama, GOP

PolitiFact tops Kickstarter goal

By Taylor Newman

PolitiFact team at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Angie Drobnic Holan (second to left, front) and the PolitiFact team at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Sometimes trying something new pays off. It did for PolitiFact.

The fact-checking website, which rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics, topped its fundraising goal with its very first Kickstarter campaign this week.

The initial goal was to reach $15,000 in order to fund a team of journalists to provide a live fact-checking during the Jan. 20 State of the Union address, but PolitiFact surpassed the target amount Wednesday – six days before the deadline.

“We know that readers like our State of the Union coverage; it’s one of our most popular nights,” said Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of PolitiFact. “We did a Kickstarter so we could add staff and use some new technology tools to try and do something new and different.”

Kickstarter dedicated its own category to journalism projects last June, and PolitiFact’s idea makes the second successful journalism campaign on Kickstarter of 2015 so far (a new Knoxville newspaper was funded Jan. 10).

Hundreds of journalism projects have been funded since the crowdfunding website launched in 2009, and they vary from efforts to start brand new publications to independent journalists reporting on specific events to established publications like PolitiFact looking for funding on special projects.

Established in 2007, PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute. It is organized as a network with three national reporters and partners in seven different states. Holan was part of the team that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009 for the journalists’ fact-checking research during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Each day, PolitiFact reporters follow the news, looking for statements that can be checked. The staff explores social media, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, speeches and press releases to verify and ultimately rate facts on a true-false scale. Reporters publish original statements with their evaluations online and assign each a “Truth-O-Meter” rating. The claims are assessed on a scale ranging from “True” for accurate claims, “Half True” for the partially true statements and “Pants on Fire” for those that are verified to be completely bogus.

Findings can also be found on the political site’s two mobile apps, PolitiFact and Settleit!

“We try and fact-check issues that are in the news and we try and fact-check across the political spectrum,” Holan said. “We are independent and we don’t take positions on political issues. Our sole mission is to give people accurate information about politics.”

PolitiFact chose to test out Kickstarter for the State of the Union address, since it is one of its bigger annual events. The funds from Kickstarter will be directed to support a staff of 10 journalists who will provide quick, objective analysis of President Barack Obama’s speech through a live blog that will include video and text. It will also back the compilation of an annotated version of the speech ready for readers the next morning.

Holan explained how issuing annotations will give a more robust version of the online publication’s usual fact-checking process.

“I think we have a core readership that really appreciates us and likes what we do,” Holan said. “They are interested in politics and government, but they’re always unsure if they’re getting the real information from the politicians and the parties.”

PolitiFact’s reporters spend a great deal of time looking at research reports, consulting subject experts, and going back to archives to find factual evidence in support of or against a claim. They then assemble a detailed report laying out evidence and how they arrived at their conclusion.

“Our audience [consists of] everyday voters who are just looking for information to help them make decisions when it comes to politics,” Holan said.

In 2014, for instance, PolitiFact plowed through selected exaggerations about Ebola. The team also fact-checked the mid-term elections, as well as close senate and gubernatorial races. It even checks memes that go viral on Facebook.

However, Holan explained that nothing compares to the excitement of the State of the Union address.

“[It] is something the White House spends a lot of time preparing and is edited carefully by a staff of researchers, so it’s very rare you’d find a glaring error,” Holan said. “They’re usually more careful than that, but all politicians will spin the facts to support their points and leave out context, which is where our reporters come in and set the record straight.”

Throughout the Kickstarter process, PolitiFact utilized every avenue to spread the word. Social media, email lists, stories in affiliate newspapers and published information on their personal webpage all assisted in campaign efforts.

“We’re going to see how this one pans out,” Holan said. “We hope to learn from the use of the technology and hope to bring some of these techniques to our debates later on.”

As a follow-up to reaching its goal Wednesday, PolitiFact updated its website to encourage further donations while the Kickstarter campaign remains open. It announced two ideas: if the project exceeds $18,000 in funding, the news site will send a fact-checker to Iowa for a week to follow presidential news, and for $20,000, one of the national fact-checkers will go to New Hampshire for a week, too.

Holan said it’s likely PolitiFact could launch an additional Kickstarter campaign for next year’s coverage of the 2016 presidential race.

Reporting by Taylor Newman. Edited by Stephanie Forshee.

First Edition: Merissa Lynn

First Edition: Merissa Lynn

By Taylor Newman

Merissa Lynn’s heart was set on covering hard news. That is, until she was assigned to help shoot a soccer game during her senior year of college.

Quickly acclimating from her rookie status, she became the face to deliver short mid-day sports reports for her college T.V. station and lent her voice for sports updates on radio.

Covering traditional news took a back seat.

“I was always nervous about having to make that decision between news and sports,” Lynn said. “Fortunately, it was kind of made for me, so it was a big sigh of relief.”

Now, she’s the sole female sports anchor/reporter at WAGA (FOX 5) in Atlanta, Ga. She reports on the Falcons, Braves, Hawks, Georgia, Georgia Tech and the local high school teams. Her role also extends to producing, editing and taking photos.

“TV isn’t just about being a reporter or a producer or a photographer, so I’m pretty much a one-man band. I do everything,” she said. “On any given day it’s a different role I’m playing.”

Lynn grew up in Tampa, Fla., surrounded by sports. She was a figure skater for almost 10 years and also competed in track, doing discus throw and shot-put. Her three brothers all played sports too.

On weekends, she’d attend live football, baseball or basketball games.

She got her first exposure to reporting when, in high school, she anchored on the morning announcements. Her passion for being in front of the camera carried with her to college at the University of Florida where she earned a degree in Telecommunications, with a minor in Spanish.

Early in her sophomore year, Lynn got involved with the school’s radio station, WRUF-AM850. Her junior year she started working as part of the student-run team that produced full-fledged thirty minute news shows as part of the PBS-affiliated TV station WUFT-TV on campus. She did it all: weather forecasting, sports anchoring and news reporting.

“It was a good experience,” she said. “It was a good learning tool for us all. It helped us start our careers a little bit.”

During those summers, Lynn sandwiched in internships with NBC Channel 8 WFLA-TV and ABC WFTS-TV in Tampa. She worked at the assignment desk, went out with reporters and shot stand-ups.

After college, she freelanced in Gainesville on game days before landing her first permanent job in Augusta, Ga. as a weekday news digital journalist and a weekend sports anchor in 2010. She produced countless stories on topics ranging from high school football to the Masters.

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It was in Augusta she put together the story she’s most proud of.

Lynn investigated a girls’ high school basketball team in Swainsboro, Ga. that earned a state championship back in 1958 but never received recognition for it. Lynn produced a story that showcased the women’s stories, and after her story ran, their title was put down in the record books of the Georgia High School Association.

“These women are 60 to 70 years old now, and still to this day, what happened with their team is something they want to be remembered for,” Lynn said. “I wanted to tell their story and make sure that those women were honored.”

Two years in Georgia prepared Lynn for her next stop as a full-time sports anchor/reporter at WOLO in Columbia, S.C. In her short eight-month span there, she provided coverage on SEC and ACC college football.

“College football is my favorite sport, so I was in heaven. It was fun and fast-paced, but so tiring and exhausting,” she said.

For almost two years now Lynn has been the face of sports in Atlanta. She considers it the turning point of her career. She’s liked being in a bigger market, filled with professionals who have been in the field for many years.

She’s expected to know and do most everything. No two days are alike.

One week in November, for instance, had her wearing just about every hat there is: She produced for the main anchor on Monday. Tuesday, she shot a presser before the University of Georgia football game against Auburn and then she shot a high school football game. Friday she shot one of the high school football games for her show and then edited and produced. Over the weekend she anchored.

“I know for sure for the most part I’m going to be on air on Saturday and Sunday, but during the week it’s always something new,” she said about her schedule. “I don’t know until the day before, the week before what’s going on. It’s stressful, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. You kind of just have to go with the flow.”

Lynn’s work week mirrors the changing role of journalists. Being just a reporter or just an anchor isn’t the nature of the business anymore.

“I see a lot of younger talent going after the networks because they want to stray away from that multi-talented role,” Lynn observed, but added, “You’re better off getting a job in the business now knowing how to tweet, shoot, report, shoot your own standup, write a script and produce.”

Lynn knows this firsthand, because she was recently tasked with posting her own material to the Web. The station’s YouTube channel and social media sites have, of course, become additional outlets for viewers to get their FOX news.

Some days Lynn looks back at her job and can’t think of any other word to describe it but ‘crazy.’

“I’ve had days where my boss would call me and I’d still be sleeping at 10 a.m. and he’ll be like, ‘Breaking news, get down to Turner Field in an hour.’ And I’m like ‘Are you serious?’” she said. “You throw on a dress, put your hair up, throw whatever you can on your face and just run out the door.”

She understands this is what she signed up for.

No longer can she go to a game as a spectator. She is constantly faced with the stress of deadlines and making sure audio and video material sends through.

“I definitely miss going to games, but when you look back at what you’re doing, people think what you do is so cool. They wish they could go to a game and make money writing a story,” she said.

Sports journalism goes beyond reporting stats from a game, though. One story that Lynn considers to be one of her more interesting ones came in April. It was a feature on Ervin Santana, one of the Atlanta Braves’ starting pitchers last season.

She noticed a peculiar hashtag he had tweeted pretty frequently: #smellbaseball. It seemed unusual, so Lynn searched for the reason behind it. She interviewed Santana and his teammates, and found that Santana’s tweet was a way of expressing his passion for baseball; in other words: if you don’t smell it, you don’t love it.

Lynn’s fun discovery wound up being picked up by a couple of Major League Baseball sites and was shared with FOX’s affiliate stations.

“It was a weird sports story, but it was fun because we weren’t talking about wins or losses,” she said.

As a female covering male sports, Lynn said she hasn’t run into any difficulties. She can access every locker room and clubhouse just as easily as her male colleagues.

Although she feels as if in some ways she has more to prove, she’s never been disrespected or told she couldn’t do something because she’s a woman.

Throughout her career, the biggest hardship she’s actually faced is staying confident.

“I think confidence is something that you really have to build up in the business,” she said. “It can be easy for someone to knock you down.”

Luckily, she has a supportive staff that has reminded her of her talent.

“We have a great working environment and it makes sports fun,” Lynn said. “Obviously there are terrible things to talk about. The Falcons aren’t doing too great and the Braves have their issues right now. For the most part, though, these teams are fun to cover.”

Grad School: From the Source’s Mouth

Graduate Journalism Degrees Q&A

Grad School: From the Source’s Mouth

By Stephanie Forshee

For just about every journalist, there comes a time in his or her career when it’s only natural to question whether grad school could be the next step. And almost just as surely, many simply wonder: Why? Why should I go to grad school? Is it worth the money? Would I be better off trying to find a job instead? Will I be guaranteed legitimate employment in the field upon graduation?

As those December deadlines quickly approach, it will be helpful to browse this run down of what the admissions teams at some of the top journalism graduate programs have to say.

Participants include Elizabeth Weinreb Fishman, associate dean for communications with Columbia University in New York City; Allyson G. Hill, associate dean of admissions at University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles; Andrea Tang, academic operations coordinator, and Marianne Barrett, senior associate dean for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University; and Colleen Marshall, director of admissions at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

Even if a journalist is considering applying for grad school, the bigger picture usually revolves around pinning down the right timing. So, when is the best time for someone to consider pursuing a Master’s in journalism?

CUNY: Do they feel confident with their skill set after college to find a journalism job in the real world? If not, they may need to consider grad school. For those students who do work for a few years in the field before grad school, they come in knowing exactly which skills they need to hone and have a clear vision of their reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree. We also have career changers who have worked in a different industry for most of their life and feel it is about time for them to make their passion their profession.

Columbia: The appropriate choice, an individual one, depends on where an applicant is in his or her career and what skills and knowledge they’d like to add to their resumes.

Our M.S. program is the foundational program of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Designed to train multimedia journalists who are at the beginning of a career in journalism, the M.S. teaches the rigors of reporting, writing, the use of images, sound, and social media from the ground up. It offers specializations in investigativedata and documentary journalism. There are also dual degree programs with the schools of Engineering (computer science), International and Public Affairs, Arts and Sciences (religion), Law and Business.

Our MA program is for journalists with three to fifteen years of full-time professional experience who want to deepen their knowledge in one of four subject areas: politicsarts & culturescience, or business.

(Sorry, there’s never a magic bullet on that one).

What can students expect upon graduation in terms of job prospects?

Columbia: Our graduates are in demand worldwide: In 2014, 75 percent of our graduates had employment plans within a month of graduation. Employers recognize that they can rely upon a Columbia Journalism credential.

USC: In our 2012 survey of May 2012 graduates, 96 percent of the graduates had jobs in mid-sized markets, big media companies and new media.

ASU: What really distinguishes us is that we’ve really been on the cutting edge of what’s happening in journalism education. That’s why we have such a high placement rate (95 percent). We have a number of partnerships with media organizations and major stations here locally, all the way to the Washington Post and The New York Times.

CUNY: On average, 75 percent of students find a job in journalism within four to six months after graduation. However, this past year it’s been over 85 percent. Some students are working at major media organizations such as NBC News, The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Sports Illustrated. Others have chosen to work for younger organizations such as Buzzfeed and DNAInfo.

How has graduate school for journalists changed from, say, five to 10 years ago?

USC: Twelve years ago, Annenberg began teaching “convergence journalism.” Four years ago, we eliminated the distinct degree program names since students are expected to function across platforms. Last year, we closed the two-year degree program and created a 9.5-month program that was more intensive and required professional or internship experience as a condition of admission.

What is the worst thing, in your opinion, that a potential student can do when applying to grad school?

ASU: The most common thing we see is a student will apply to one school and use it as a template for their application to schools across the board. The lack of attention of detail can really be a disadvantage to an applicant.

CUNY: We read hundreds of applications each year and can tell when a student’s personal statement was probably used for other schools and wasn’t tailored to that program or institution. There have even been times when a student would forget to change the name of the school at the bottom of their personal statement. Wow! That shows a lot in the eyes of the admissions committee.

Students should really ask themselves why they are interested in that specific field and why they are applying to that specific school and, therefore, they can fine turn their personal statement with those things in mind. This is the opportunity for the student to stand out and show a side of them that we can’t see in their transcripts or test scores.

Columbia: Think about the application as a story – one of the most important profiles you will write in your life – your own. Take advantage of each section to tell us your story – who you are and why you want to be a journalist. Each section of the application is important. Use them as building blocks. Make your argument. Read the application instructions for the program to which you are applying carefully for hints. Review the information about the program to which you are applying and be sure that you make it clear to us why you are a good fit for the program – and how the program will enable you to accomplish your educational goals.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, a student is accepted to more than one program. Why should he or she choose to attend your school?

Columbia: As the opportunities for close mentoring in the workplace have diminished, the intensive instruction we offer in our M.S. and M.A. programs is increasingly valuable. Our faculty work in small groups, and often one-on-one with students, editing their copy and guiding them in learning the reporting, writing and multimedia skills that are fundamental to journalism. Of course, young journalists can acquire these through years of professional experience. But at Columbia Journalism School, it takes only nine or 10 months – and you study with the very best journalists in the country.

Columbia Journalism School is also the home of two Centers dedicated to digital journalism and media innovation:

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, which opened in fall 2010, is dedicated to advancing and creating new forms of digital media.

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, established in 2012, is a collaboration between Columbia Journalism School and Stanford’s School of Engineering, designed to cultivate new endeavors in media innovation.

USC: We have the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, the Media Center, award-winning media outlets, professional faculty, comprehensive school (communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations taught in the same school), rich reporting opportunities in the No. 2 media market, plus, optional paid internships or study abroad opportunities.

ASU: One of the highlights of our curriculum is that students complete their last semester of the program working in one of our professional program experiences. Students complete the program with a portfolio of their work and the necessary skills and practical experiences needed to pursue a career in journalism and mass communication. The Cronkite School also offers networking opportunities. Our students work and learn alongside award-winning professional journalists and scholars, and the school regularly hosts events that bring in prominent journalism and media professionals. Located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, the Cronkite School is close to major news operations of all types that provide additional opportunities for our students.

CUNY: We are not a stale program and have revised our curriculum since we opened the school (which was only eight years ago) in order to make sure our program reflects these changes in journalism.

We have an Entrepreneurial Journalism program where the goal is to help shape the future of journalism by having our students become entrepreneurs and develop their own startups, or create innovative projects within traditional media companies. We just launched a new Master’s degree in Social Journalism where the goal is to help students reshape journalism as a service that helps communities meet their goals and solve problems with skills involving relationship-building, data, social media, and business.

CUNY also has a paid summer internship program. We guarantee a $3,000 stipend to each student over the summer during his or her internship. We don’t know of any other school that does that.

Finally, we are a small and intimate school so students won’t get lost in the crowd.

Are there any myths out there you’d like to clear up, as they relate to graduate school for journalism?

Columbia: People wonder whether it is worth the money to go to graduate school to study journalism. There is no question about it – a year at Columbia Journalism School is an investment that will reap a lifetime of professional and personal rewards. Yes, it is worth the time and money.

USC: Myth: It’s better to get a job in journalism than to go to J-school. Reality: Cross-platform and digital skills needed in news organizations are not taught on the job because the necessary skill set is not present. Students educated and trained in hands-on, professional graduate journalism programs, such as USC Annenberg, bring the talent, modern perspective, ethics, outstanding writing, and entrepreneurial mindset to all organizations.

ASU: When researching graduate schools for journalism, it’s not all about the name or numbers. Students should search for programs that will give them professional experience, offer them the opportunity to build their portfolios, and provide opportunities to grow their professional networks.

CUNY: Some myths about journalism are that it’s dying and there are no jobs out there. Frankly, that’s not the case. Journalism is evolving due to the expansion of the Internet and technology and the way people get their news has changed. Not too long ago, people would read the newspaper at breakfast or on their way to work and at the end of the day, families would sit down and watch the evening news.

Today, with the growth of the Internet and smart phones, everyone has immediate access to news, minute by minute via social media and news apps. If you’re a journalist, this means you need to have the multimedia skills to deliver the news on a variety of platforms, be active on social media and constantly add to your journalist toolbox to keep up with the changing industry.

That leads me into a myth about graduate school for journalism: that you don’t need a Master’s degree to be a journalist. I would say yes, that’s true. The actual degree isn’t going to land you a job in journalism, but the skills you received while in grad school will. People go back to school to develop technical skills, improve their writing, find network opportunities, learn from professionals and to make their mistakes in school, rather than in the real world.

These interviews were edited for length and clarity.

Other notable journalism graduate programs worth investigating:

New York University

Northwestern University

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Missouri

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