The drive to digital and multi-tasking journalists topped the talk at the 2015 Media Panel

    The demands of digital and the changing roles of those in the newsroom were the central themes of the 2015 Media Panel held March 18th at the Kroc Center in Norfolk.  This annual gathering of local news professionals is our chapter's opportunity to pick the brains of front-line journalists and, with the help of moderator Joel Rubin, the many in attendance got some interesting insights into what is happening on the other end of our emails.

    To kick things off, LaSalle Blanks talked about his evolving role as Social Media anchor at WVEC 13, the ABC affiliate.  And, he says, the increase in responsibilities across platforms has given them a new focus for the job.

    “We’re called multi-media journalists now. It gets us closer and up to speed faster,” said LaSalle about the social media aspects of news coverage.  “We look at what we can put online, what can we put on Twitter and on Facebook – now-now-now.”

    Tara Bozick, a business reporter at the Daily Press and its electronic vehicle Tidewater Biz, talked about the challenges of achieving geographical balance of working in both print and digital arenas.

    “For the Tidewater Biz emails we are working to make business news from Williamsburg to the Oceanfront a little more interesting," said Tara.  “The print side is Peninsula focused, local, while Tidewater Biz is more regional.”

    Katrice Hardy, managing editor of The Virginian-Pilot, had a little breaking news.  Just that morning she hired a new digital editor and the site will be launching a new look in the coming month. 

    “Our job is to do great journalism, no matter what the platform is,” said Katrice. “But today you don’t hire someone just for print. You have to have someone who is multi-talented and who thinks digital first.”

    Morgan Chase, took time to introduce his support team at WHRV on HearSay (pointing to an empty spot behind him on the stage). As a one-man-band, Morgan talked about how he tries to work on schedules about 2 months out, locking in guests about two weeks prior to air.

    “We are able to take a more long-term approach to stories,” said Morgan. “We want compelling stories that will attract thousands of listeners and encourage some to call and share their experiences.”

    Katrice seemed to capture a sense of today’s landscape when she described what the Virginian-Pot is looking for in stories.

    “Today we are looking for a bigger bang,” she said. “We need stories that drive an online audience, will create social engagement, and maybe it has a different spin for print.”

    LaSalle added a pitch of his own for positive story ideas.

    “I hear people say there are no good things on the news today,” he said talking about the variety of stories on the WVEC 4pm newscast. “Yes there is and I’m responsible for that.”

    After questions from the audience, all of the panelists we asked to recap how they wished to be contacted:
        - LaSalle: Twitter is a good option. Keep it short, sweet and to the punch.  Ask youself, what is the lead of the story that will get my attention.
         - Tara: A lot of people contact me on Linked in.  I like email. Whatever the headline would be, make that the subject line. But don’t call me.
          - Katrice.  Email me, but grab me with the subject line, something I will read and can forward to a reporter.
          - Morgan:  Email me twice before calling.  Please don’t lead with a call.


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