Tag Archives: Journalism

Introducing the Observer staff:

For more than 50 years, the Observer has been the forum for the very best of the journalism students here at NECC to showcase their talent and obtain real-world work experience.  Unlike that “real world,” the Observer begins each year with a large percentage of new staff members who need to learn the ropes.  This includes learning photo and design software that may be previously unfamiliar to them and cultivating new relationships with sources.  Sometimes, this leads to a rocky start for the first few editions of the year and has made it difficult for our paper, and our website, to reach its full potential.

In response to this, veteran members of the Observer staff have been on campus all summer following important news and changes.  New staff has been hard at work training and a web editor has been added to ensure the most up to date content on our social media sites.  We are bringing back a Campus Life page and a page that is Just For Fun, and we look forward to running your cartoons, pictures, letters to the editor and story ideas.  This newspaper is for you.  Look for all of the changes and let us know what you think.

I am honored to work with this talented team of journalists.

Leadership Morale

Leadership is difficult, and it requires fortitude and savoir faire to lead a team, but the moment a leader phones in and burns out, the team will begin to deteriorate as well.

Keeping morale as a leader is important because the moment a leader stops caring, it’s going to take a toll on the team. A leader is responsible not only for making sure that everything goes smoothly, but for setting to tone of the workplace. If there is an optimistic, progressive tone in the space, everyone is going to be more willing to work than if the tone is stagnant and burnt out. A leader has to ensure that progress will be made, and this is not possible if no one is interested in the progress, including the person in charge.

This is particularly important in journalism because news can be a very stressful job, and there are a lot of pitfalls and setbacks when you’re trying to get a story, especially if it’s on a difficult topic. The content of stories can be hard to swallow, and the people you have to interact with to get the story can be a big source of stress, so the leader has to keep it together and show courage and hope in the face of adversity to keep the team going.

Journalists for a paper, whether they realize it or not, work together as a team. Everyone is pitching in to share the status of their community, and they’re building the pieces of a puzzle that will paint a picture of where the community is at. The leader provides the materials that the team members need to paint this picture and ensure the journalists are serving the community the way it needs to be served.

Why it’s Important to Write Well

It’s not always important for your writing to be clear. The thing that’s important, for a journalist, is to know why, sometimes, it should be clear, and why sometimes it doesn’t need to be — because it really, really needs to be in a newspaper. The vast majority of people in the vast majority of cases can get by with writing that’s just okay. This writing might contain errors, or confusing paraphrases, or sentences that, technically, mean something very different than the thing they intended to say.

When you’re writing for a small audience — one person or a handful of people — and you know that audience, or at least know pretty much what kind of people they are, and you know they’ve got a lot in common with you, you can often trust that they’ll fill in the blanks correctly. You can trust that they’ll recognize your voice and insert what they already know about your opinions. You can trust that they’ll bring their own expertise on the topic to unpick ambiguities. And, vitally, you can trust that they’ll ask you to clarify when they can’t work it out, or when they’re not sure they’ve worked it out correctly.

That’s why it’s never really a problem that most people are just okay — or even quite bad — at writing. When your audience will ask “What did you mean?” and you can reliably respond, you don’t need to craft exceptionally refined prose to move ideas from your mind to theirs.

It’s important for journalists to understand that exactly zero of those charities are available to them when writing for print. You cannot trust that a newspaper’s readers recognize your voice in your writing. You cannot trust that they share your basic values or knowledge or intuition. You cannot trust that they know the same idioms as you, and you absolutely cannot trust that you will ever get a chance to clarify.

Even if you publish a correction, the majority of your readers are never going to see it. They’re only ever going to get the wrong version of the story, and they’re never going to know to ask.

When you write for print, you’re always writing not just for people who share your general context, but for people who disagree with you, and will interpret you either to confirm their own view, or uncharitably to discredit yours; people who’ve never learned the first thing about concepts you’ve been getting comfortable with for your whole life; people whose first language isn’t English, and who don’t have nearly the same amount of practice as you in solving the puzzles of other people’s writing mistakes; people who come from another part of the country or the English-speaking world and use some parts of the language totally differently than you do.

(Did you know, for example, that the word ‘quite’ is usually meant to emphasize in American English — ‘quite good’ means ‘very good’ — but to diminish in UK English — ‘quite good’ means ‘kind of good, but not very?’ I used the word quite in the fourth paragraph of this piece. That makes the meaning of that paragraph kind of slippery, doesn’t it?)

Understanding this relationship between writer and reader — and understanding the way it can shift — is a valuable life skill in general, especially online. It helps to keep in mind that you can expect a different level of charity and understanding from your Facebook friends than a stranger on a forum, or in an email to a coworker, versus a client, versus your mom. Keeping it in mind will make you a more effective communicator — and, if you’re a journalist, keeping it in mind is a pretty good summary of your job description.

Stroll through the journalism program

My parents always told me when I was young that I would constantly change my mind about what I wanted to be.

One year, I wanted to be an actress. The next, I wanted to be a pastry chef. If the future Ashlee came to me and said I was going to be a journalist, I would laugh and walk away. 

All throughout middle school and up until my senior year of high school, I despised having to write any type of report or write anything in general. 

I would have never thought in a million years I would be a journalist until my senior year of high school. One of the classes I took was sports journalism. 

Out of the 15 students that were in the class, I was only one of two girls. 

I said to myself, “I should change classes,” although I had heard that the teacher who taught the class was great. 

So I decided not to drop the class, and one of our first assignments was to write about a sports team at my high school. 

I ended up choosing the hockey team. I showed up to one of their practices and I started interviewing players. After I got my interviews done, I needed some action shots. 

Although the coach wouldn’t let me on the ice without a helmet, I asked this player that was on the bench if I could borrow his helmet. He let me use it, and I went on the ice to get my action shot with this smelly helmet with a used mouth guard two inches from my mouth. 

In the end I got my action shots and my article came out great. Once I put my hands on the keyboard to type, the words just stared coming, and in an hour I had a story done. 

I knew from that point forward this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I ended up joining my school newspaper “The Blue and White” and becoming the editor in chief. 

I always remember where I came from and without my teacher Mrs. Guthrie I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

It’s funny how one class can change your future for the better. I finally knew what I wanted my major to be when I registered for classes at Northern Essex as a Journalism/Communication major. 

I have been on the NECC paper the “Observer” since fall of 2012, and I couldn’t be happier. When people ask me “why journalism” I tell them there is no better feeling then seeing your work put out there for the public to see. 

It’s not as easy as it looks. You have to develop people skills when interviewing and be able to get the research you need for your story in a short amount of time. 

What I love most about being a journalist is that I can speak my opinion and say what I want to say. 

Journalists are sometimes called “the voice for the voiceless”. 

I believe there is no better description out there for what we do.