NABJ-IUB Visits WXIN Fox 59 and Indianapolis Star

Indianapolis Site Visit

Oct. 25, 2013

By: Crystal Hill

The IU student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists visited Fox 59 and the Indianapolis Star on Friday, October 25th. We had the opportunity to meet professional journalists, connect with IU alumni and take a personal tour of the place where all the journalistic magic happens.

When we arrived at our first destination, Fox 59, Cheryl O’Brien greeted us. O’Brien is the planning manager and segment producer and she was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to give us a tour of the studio, and answer any questions we had about the logistics of putting together a news show.

Before we began, we ran into a familiar face, IU alumna and Fox 59 anchor Angela Ganote. Ganote was friendly and eager to talk about how she ended up in the field. We were surprised to hear that she didn’t pursue reporting until after she had graduated. After landing an internship and literally working day and night at different news stations, Ganote was eventually hired by Fox 59. “Follow what’s in your heart, if a door is open walk through it, if a door is closed, find another,” Ganote said.

While taking us through the studio, O’Brien talked about the importance of knowing more than just what is minimally required in your profession. As someone interested in print, I saw fit to solely focus on strengthening my writing, but now realize that in a rapidly changing industry, being well rounded is a journalist’s best asset and can bolster your appeal.

We also learned the value of knowing how to produce and what equipment is used on set.

After a quick lunch we headed downtown to the Indianapolis Star, where we met Leisa Richardson, the metro editor and former national convention chair of NABJ. Richardson gave us a tour and introduced us to some of the staff, all of which relayed the importance of bring digital in a print industry. “Even if our stories aren’t in print, we still want to be the best storytellers we can be,” arts reporter David Lindquist said.

The transition from print to multimedia has not been seamless, and the Star is still undergoing transformation. “In order to not just keep up, but stay ahead, we had to change our entire structure,” Richardson said.

We attended a meeting where we watched the staff figure out what stories would be in the paper. Later, the editor and vice president, Jeff Taylor, sat down with us and talked about his career and how he reported on some of the most tragic events in recent history like 9/11 and the challenger explosion.

Taylor answered the important question of how he separated his emotions from his reporting. “The human reaction always happens first,” he said. “But then the reporting sets in because the people need news and they need information.

For almost every speaker, the focus was on how the times are changing. Social media and online/mobile news are a must in the news industry and all journalists, whether they’re up-and-comers or veterans, must evolve with the industry or they’ll inevitably be left behind.

They also emphasized that internships are necessary for aspiring journalists because they offer real experience, something that can’t be obtained in the classroom or even in student media. Above all else, passion and hard work will never die out in this industry.

“It’s all about what you bring to the table,” Richardson said. “Know your craft; you never know what opportunities there may be.”

Fox 59 News Media Visit

By Siani Powell

On Friday, Oct. 25, members of NABJ-IUB went on a media site visit to Fox 59 news and the Indianapolis Star. All eight of us were pretty eager and excited to meet and greet the professionals, take pictures, and grasp all of information we could during our time.

Our first stop was at Fox. Fox59 News is one of the leading news stations in our capital, so my excitement was at an all-time high. We were greeted by the morning news manager and segment producer, Cheryl O’ Brien. Her mellow spirit soothed away all of my booming butterflies that were overwhelming me.

Brien led us into the newsroom and the first thing I saw was a huge banner that hung over the room, it read: PROTECT, PREPARE, EMPOWER. These words followed us no matter what part of the room we were in; it seemed to be a reminder to do just so as a journalist. O’Brien escorted the group around the room to introduce people and their positions; we turned the corner to see the notable news anchor, Angela Ganote!

Ganote is the Morning News Anchor for Fox59; we were all in awe to see her. She turned around quickly to greet us and spoke with us about her reporting experience. Ganote recalled her days at IU as a cheerleader and changing her major a few times. It wasn’t until her junior year while taking SPEA classes that she figured out she wanted to be a reporter. Graduating with a communications degree, Ganote got a head start into the journalism field.

She reported and anchored at Indiana television stations in Columbus, West Lafayette, and South Bend then moved to Cincinnati, and back to Indianapolis landing the morning news anchor position at Fox59.

Ganote shared many obstacles she faced and recalled multiple opportunities she was granted. After 20 years of being in the business, she said she learned: “When a door opens, walk through it, if it closes, it closes for a reason.”

Walking away from that conversation, I felt those words stick to my fellow students and me, as O’ Brien led us from the room filled with computers to where all the “magic” happens on-air. We were amazed by the equipment and set-up required to produce a news show. We enjoyed taking photographs, placing ourselves in picture perfect positions as if were about to go live with breaking news. O’Brien also schooled us on the equipment: the camera robotics, the microphones, the green weatherboard and how we as upcoming reporters have to learn to be a “one-man band.”

After distinguishing the different gizmos and gadgets of backstage production, O’Brien led us into the master control area, where we caught the glimpse of workers doing just as their title says, mastering the control of the channels.

Indiana’s 4 is Fox 59’s sister company which controls some stations in New Orleans and Miami. We got the chance to chat with master control manager, Brad Norris, who discussed his upbringing in the news business. Graduating from Ball State, Norris encouraged us about the importance of internships when looking toward a career in journalism.

Later in the tour, Cheryl led us around the newsroom again, and we got an up-close and personal look at the assignment desk. Phones were constantly ringing off the hook, raspy voices were coming in on the radio dispatch from police, and monitors showed what was being aired on other news stations. It looked and sounded stressful.

Kristen Hamilton, content manager of the assignment news desk explained how she developed such a keen sense to hear, watch and answer the right news sources. “After years of being in the journalism field, you just know which news to pursue and which to let go,” Hamilton said.

Toward the end of our tour, O’ Brien recapped the tour, answering our last-minute questions as we prepared for our next destination on the trip. Heading toward the exit, the overhead banner caught my attention again: PROTECT, PREPARE, EMPOWER. The big bold letters hung over the newsroom as the staff continued to produce their projects for the day.

Walking out of the building I believed we all learned something new about ourselves and about our career goals. As a journalist, in any medium, it is our job to protect, prepare, and empower the people with the information we receive and relay.

NABJ-IUB Visits the Indianapolis Star

By Alexandra Lopez

They gained the experience; they landed the job and are now bringing news to you morning, afternoon and night. The editors and writers at the Indianapolis Star were in our shoes just years ago.

Members of the Indiana University Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists were inspired by the opportunity to get a glimpse into the professional world of several individuals at the Indianapolis Star Friday.

The group was hosted by Leisa Richardson, former NABJ national convention chair and regional director, and current metro editor at the newspaper. Richardson guided student NABJ members through the newsroom and introduced them to a several staff members, including Social Media Editor Carrie Ritchie.

Richie, who started her career as a reporter at the Star right after graduation from the IU School of Journalism in 2008, encouraged the group to get involved in the student newspaper and take advantage of their knowledge of social media to promote themselves to employers.

During the newsroom tour, newspapers adorned the cluttered workspaces of diligent editors and writers along with their company provided iPhones, snacks, mail piles, trinkets and coffee cups. Visible on their computer screens Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms were a common thing to see.

NABJ members were permitted to sit in on a daily pitch meeting with a design team, editors and writers who were in the midst of transforming the Indy Star’s website and mobile device applications while planning the next day’s issue of the paper. Another of the meeting’s main points of discussion was to determine which articles were to appear on the first page of the Sunday paper.

Indianapolis Star Editor and Vice President/News Jeff Taylor spent time answering questions from the students. He provided insights from some of the challenging moments of his journalism career and discussed the importance of journalism.

“Information helps you make sense of things,” Taylor said. “People are hungry for information and it is all very interesting.”

Although print may not be as glamorous as it appears to its broadcast counterparts, it is still very rewarding and ultimately challenging.

“Most of us are working 24/7 to give updates just like any TV station,” Taylor said.

He emphasized that journalists must remember that human interest should be prevalent in storytelling. “This stuff is making a difference in peoples lives,” Taylor said.

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