Member Type(s): Content Publisher
Media - Freelancer
Media - Broadcast
Media - Print Journalist
Media - Student Journalist
Media - Web-only/Blogger
Media - Other
Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
To become a ProfNet premium member and receive requests from reporters looking for expert sources, click here.
2013 was a turbulent year for media and here on the second day of 2014 I have read a number of articles about last year's shortcomings and hopeful outlooks for this year.
The article that struck me the most was “My wishlist for journalism in 2014” by Antony Loewenstein of The Guardian in the United Kingdom. It makes no difference that he's based in another country and makes good observations.
Not much has happened over these two days so I will simply keep dreaming this year will be a good one for the world of journalism and will instead share this insightful take on what the year 2014 should look like from one journalist’s perspective.
I will say, however, that I hope this year will bring less scandal, more truth, respect and prosperity for the industry I’ve been part of for many years.
Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist to share their personal story and insight with you.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Yamiche Alcindor, a breaking news reporter at USA Today who splits her time covering quickly developing incidents and stories about the social issues affecting the United States.
She’s traveled across the country to cover stories including the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Trayvon Martin case, and the hazing scandal at Florida A&M University. She also spends time writing about societal concerns such as human trafficking, civil rights, gun violence, and poverty. She has been a frequent guest on MSNBC, C-SPAN, NPR, America’s Radio News Network and a variety of radio stations and local television stations across the nation.
We hope you find SPOTLIGHTboth enjoyable and informative.
Yamiche, did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?
No. I knew I wanted to be a writer by third grade because I loved creating poems and short stories. I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was about 17 years old. It was 2004 and the issue of voting rights caught my attention. I started writing for a weekly newspaper called The Westside Gazette and chronicled the first election in Florida after the debacle of 2000.
Where was your first job as a journalist?
My first professional job as a journalist was at Newsday in Long Island, New York. I was hired as a general assignment reporter and focused mainly on breaking news stories and cops reporting.
Please tell us about your role at USA Today.
In my role at USA TODAY, I cover quickly developing stories from across the country. My goal is to get stories of national interest told quickly through writing, video or pictures.
What type of stories do you usually cover?
I often travel to national tragedies such as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. and the Boston marathon bombing. I also covered the trial of George Zimmerman who was accused of murdering Trayvon Martin and have written about poverty, human trafficking, and hazing.
Are your stories usually assigned or do you also get to make suggestions? Do your managers also go to you for ideas?
It is a mixture of both. Sometimes stories like the Boston marathon bombing tragically occur and other times I come up with story ideas.
Is there a 'best part' about doing what you do?
The best part of being a reporter is constantly meeting new people and learning about people's lives. I have the unique opportunity to tell some of the most intimate details of life.
What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you a story?
I would suggest knowing what I cover and pitching me experts about an incident as quickly as possible. If a school shooting occurs sadly, I know I will likely need someone who can comment and put that tragedy into context. Getting me someone fast is ideal. Also, when stories aren't breaking, pitching me newsy features is also a good idea.
What should they always do and never do?
I would suggest always knowing exactly why a reporter should be writing about your pitch and why it should be written about now. I would also suggest never pushing a reporter while on deadline because it can be hard to communicate while producing news.
What's the best way for someone in PR to start a working relationship with you?
I think meeting in person or pitching me an awesome story are the best ways to start a working relationship with me.
What is the toughest part about being a journalist?
I think it can be tough to cover tragedies such as shootings and murders. It can be very trying to experience the sadness of communities and to tell those stories in a sensitive way.
What has been the most difficult assignment to cover?
The school shooting in Newtown, Conn. was the most difficult assignment to cover. It was just really sad and very hard to deal with. I have never experienced such sadness while telling stories and it was a real challenge to report under such trying times. The images of young children dressed in suits for funerals are ones I will never forget.
Do you have advice for a new journalist who's about to be cover a very emotionally charged story?
I would suggest being calm and being very cautious about what you write and how you write it.
Is there a career highlight that stands out?
I won the National Association of Black Journalists Emerging Journalist of the Year award this year. That was pretty humbling and amazing.
What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out?
I would suggest always remembering why you chose this profession and having a solid group of people to support you personally and professionally.
Do you use social media as part of your job?
Yes. I use social media to report stories, to find sources and to share my stories once they are done.
What type of experts do you prefer to work with? Do you prefer someone in a higher level role or is someone not as high acceptable? The difference between a CEO and general manager, for example?
This question depends on the story. Both can be helpful depending on the information I need.
Have you ever thought of doing anything else besides journalism?
When I was really young, I wanted to be a geriatrician because I was really close to my grandma. Since then though, I have wanted to be a reporter.
What do you do when you have some free time?
I spend a lot of time talking to friends, visiting museums or parks and binge watching Netflix.
Imagine writing an investigative story with confidential sources only to be told you have to reveal your sources or go to jail. Yeah, it happened to Jana Winter of Fox News and she was told earlier this week she does not have to reveal them, after all.
A New York based journalist, Winter was subpoenaed to appear in a Colorado court to reveal the identities of law enforcement officials who gave her information about the case of the gunman who killed 12 people at a midnight showing of “Batman” at a theater in Aurora, CO in July of 2012. These law enforcement officials were promised confidentiality after telling her the mass murderer had sent a notebook to a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado indicating he was going to kill people and how he would do so. Winter vowed to go to jail rather than reveal her sources.
Winter was based in New York where the state’s shield law protects journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources regardless of the state in which they go to gather their information.
Without a doubt, this is a huge win for journalists and journalism. If a reporter cannot do their job to inform the public when they are given sensitive information by confidential sources, then it limits what the public can be told because of fear of possible jail time. The shield law exists in most states and varies accordingly, but New York’s seems to offer the most protection to the journalists based there.
What do you think? Should Winter have been forced to divulge her sources?
For more information on this story, please click here.
If you haven’t checked out the Blogs section of ProfNet Connect lately, you’re missing out on some really great posts. Here’s a link to some of last week’s most popular blog posts:
Grammar Hammer: Drawing a Line in the Sand Coming from the world of the wire where, up until a few years ago, I didn’t really care what type of dash you used. We used to transmit everything in ASCII text, so it didn’t matter to me if it was an em-dash, an en-dash, or a hyphen. By the time I was done with it, it was just a dash. I can appreciate the subtle nuances and function of each of them now, but admit I do miss the days when there just wasn’t another option. A dash was a dash. bit.ly/1kk0dFJ
Do Newswire Services Work? PR Newswire Does. Across the U.S. -- and the rest of the planet, for that matter -- thousands of media outlets devote technical resource and computer space to receiving PR Newswire press releases. We know the technical and newsroom contacts at each outlet, and we work with them to tailor the news feed to fit the outlet’s needs. In addition to the news feeds that are hardwired into newsrooms as described above, more than 30,000 credentialed journalists and bloggers access PR Newswire for Journalists each month, where they tally more than a million press release views monthly. bit.ly/1d52n9u
SMCNYC Recap: Are Marketers Becoming Publishers? With the emergence of the Internet, multimedia and new concepts of storytelling, marketing and publishing are beginning to merge. Marketers no longer just sell a product, but rather create brands and use storytelling in order to emotionally connect with customers, in turn creating lifelong users as opposed to one-time buyers. Social Media Club of New York recently took up this topic in order to better understand this developing trend. bit.ly/ICEwEi
Media 411: Airing 911 Calls Airing 911 calls is becoming more common during newscasts but do they do any good to the general public? As we approach the one year commemoration of the Sandy Hook school shootings, it makes the topic ever more relevant. bit.ly/1dSVvkG
Business Journalism Online: A Wake-up Call to Traditional Media In a recent post on BusinessJournalism.org, the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism’s online resource for writers, a journalist shares a list of websites that are doing business journalism the right way, including Wonkblog, Mathbabe, Economist’s View, and Econbrowser. bit.ly/19hczcn
An Unfiltered Guide to Instagram Marketing Last week we hosted a #ConnectChat with Jason Miles (@mrjasonmiles), author of “Instagram Power” and co-founder of Liberty Jane Clothing (Instagram:@LibertyJaneClothing). During the chat he provided his own tried-and-true tips for any business who wants to utilize Instagram as a valuable marketing platform. bit.ly/18ofP5E
Media Databases: A Valuable Research Tool in the Right Hands A good PR professional will have a clear understanding of who they are reaching out to before an email is written or a phone number is dialed. That is how it should work and I think there are a lot of good PR people out there who do just that. They’re the successful ones who actually build relationships with the media. Unfortunately people don’t always use their tools correctly. They don’t always measure twice before emailing. bit.ly/1d54hap
The Q&A Team: How to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas I manage a blog and post to it on a daily basis. Recently, I have been struggling to come up with fresh new ideas for the blog. Do you have any tips for how I can ensure that I will always have a blog post idea handy? Are there any websites/places I can for inspiration? Can I utilize any of my old posts for future posts? bit.ly/18fp37g
Blog Notes: Caregiving and Beauty Product Blogs November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. Blogs like Caregiving Cafe Blog helps readers with "updates and useful tidbits" on caregiving tasks. bit.ly/1jicY5K
Influential Media Outlets That Used ProfNet in November ProfNet has been helping journalists and experts connect for more than 20 years. In that time, we have seen queries from just about every type of outlet imaginable – from newspapers and magazines to radio shows and blogs. And while the media times are always changing, there are still a great many stories being written, and writers still need expert sources. bit.ly/1kas8aO
We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Here are a few events coming up over the next few weeks:
Event: NY Press Club Foundation Holiday Party Host: New York Press Club Date: Dec. 9 Location: New York Summary: Our Holiday Party, an annual charitable event hosted by the New York Press Club Foundation for the benefit of disadvantaged city kids, returns to the Yale Club this year. Complete event info here.
Event: Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Publishing Host: ASJA Date: Dec. 10 Location: New York Summary: Are you thinking about self-publishing for the first time? Don't make these common mistakes that most authors make. Miral Sattar, CEO of BiblioCrunch.com will go over the ins and outs of self-publishing and help you create your publishing checklist to make sure you put out the best book possible. Complete event info here.
Event: Social Media Marketing for Professional Services Leadership Forum Host: Business Development Institute Date: Dec. 10 Location: New York Summary: Speakers will share case studies and lessons learned from leading firms about how they use social media and content marketing to highlight expertise, build new business and expand relationships with existing clients. Complete event info here.
Event: Holiday Mixer Host: PubClub/PRSA Boston Date: Dec. 11 Location: Boston Summary: This is a joint holiday mixer with PubClub and PRSA Boston. Complete event info here.
Event: Celebrate the Holidays Host: PRSA Westchester/Fairfield Date: Dec. 12 Location: Stamford, CT Summary: Enjoy live jazz music along with plenty of food and festive beverages. Chat with old friends and make new ones. Complete event info here.
Event: Visual Social Communications Leadership Forum Host: Business Development Institute Date: Dec. 12 Location: New York Summary: This forum will demonstrate how leading brands are harnessing images and platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to break through the clutter to reach their audience. Complete event info here.
Event: The LA Show (Social TV) Host: Lost Remote Date: Dec. 13 Location: Los Angeles Summary: Join us to gain practical insight and actionable advice from creative tactics on engaging viewers to case studies on capitalizing on the second screen. Gather perspective from top thinkers at NBC News, Fox Broadcasting, Syfy, Roku, Sling Media, Mass Relevance, and Facebook. Complete event info here.
Event: The Digital Engagement Host: ASJA Date: Dec. 17 Location: New York Summary: Digital content is the new zeitgeist in B-to-C and B-to-B communication today. This panel provides insights into this new world and how writers can address the challenges it presents. Learn the skills you need to write slide shows, video scripts and other digital content. Complete event info here.
Event: Free Holiday Party and Networking Event Host: NJ CAMA Date: Dec. 18 Location: Princeton, N.J. Summary: Business networking and holiday cheer will come together as the New Jersey Communications, Advertising and Marketing Association (NJ CAMA) hosts its annual holiday party. Complete event info here.
Airing 911 calls is becoming more common during newscasts but do they do any good to the general public? As we approach the one year commemoration of the Sandy Hook school shootings, it makes the topic ever more relevant.
The 911 tapes were released on Wednesday but do we really want to listen to them? Better yet, do we need to listen to them? Do they serve a purpose other than to relive a tragedy that still resonates in the minds of parents who send their kids off to school each day and to those who experienced it firsthand? The horror of that day need not be recalled and news networks and local news teams need to be keenly aware of the impact airing such calls could bring.
In certain instances airing a 911 call can be beneficial in that it can help clear up any confusion regarding a certain event. The George Zimmerman case comes to mind as it was absolutely crucial to know what was said in the 911 calls after they came into question. Such calls can also help confirm if a dispatcher is behaving inappropriately which can lead to disciplinary action if there’s proof any actions or lack thereof, may have impeded the timely arrival of emergency crews. This is good use of airing a 911 call.
Sandy Hook, on the other hand, seems pointless, but this is just my opinion. As a parent, it’s one of the worst scenarios you could ever face and hearing the 911 calls from that day just doesn’t seem to do anything but provide macabre audio. We know what happened. That’s more than enough.
If your newsroom is discussing whether or not to air the Sandy Hook 911 calls, ask yourselves if it’s really news and if it offers any public benefit. If the only comments your reporters or anchors can make after airing clips is "just awful" or something to that effect, yes, we already know that day was "awful," but their saying it doesn't add anything to the story.
What happened on December 14, 2012 was news and part of history, but the actual calls are not helping anyone. They were important a year ago, but not today.
Internships are a coveted part of a college student’s life, a hope that with such an experience an even better opportunity will come along in their field of study.
These days, however, some internship programs are under scrutiny by students for not giving them at least a minimum wage salary and for being assigned what they feel are tasks without educational benefit. Students are going as far as SUING these media giants as a result of their unsatisfying experience.
Just recently Condé Nast announced the elimination of their internship program, meaning students will no longer run errands and do research at publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair -- a huge blow for students hoping to get a foot in the door at one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the country. All of this as a result of two unhappy interns who made the decision to sue Condé Nast for not paying them minimum wage.
This isn’t the first case of interns suing their “employer.” Last year an intern at Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar sued the publication for making her work 55-hours a week without pay.
There are always two sides to a story and every person’s experience with an internship will be different from another intern, even at the same outlet. The experience from an intern’s perspective can be either one as the glass half full or the glass half empty. There’s the acceptance that an internship is known to be a low-paying opportunity to get firsthand experience at a company and realize it’s something worth the sacrifice.
The other perspective is that of an intern who feels belittled at the menial tasks they’re made to perform without pay for very long hours. Not to say some interns aren’t treated well because certainly, there are situations where some assignments really may seem completely ridiculous at the helm of superiors who abuse their authority. While it may be part of what comes with being an intern, if the main responsibilities given to an intern really are demeaning or not related to their field at all, then a company needs to revamp the internship program and carefully vet those who supervise interns.
Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of the interns whose only desire is to learn how their field really operates and not get crushed in the process. Not all internships are like that. Many (if not most) companies try to provide an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning and making interns feel comfortable. Is it possible that some industries may also just be more prevalent to not treating interns fairly?
Quite frankly, suing doesn’t seem to be the answer with regards to internships. Legal action against a colossal company seems a bit ridiculous when you always have the option of quitting an internship. No one is forcing an intern to stay and don’t most people know that internships are unpaid (in some states like New York there are laws that don’t allow employees to work without pay even if they’ve consented) and require long hours? For every person who says they got “nothing” out of it, there’s someone who got plenty from it. The demise of these internship programs is not a good thing and students can always decide whether or not an internship will fit their financial and educational needs.
Both sides can learn from this now in some way – companies can perhaps pay minimum wage or a fair stipend with reasonable work hours and students can be more selective in choosing an internship. There’s always a choice.
For more information about this topic, please click here and here for the articles used to help create this post.
Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist to share their personal story and insight with you.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Carmen Cusido, an associate writer for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Carmen worked in journalism for 11 years, reporting for The Times of Trenton and The Charlotte Observer in addition to The Daily Targum and others.
We hope you find SPOTLIGHTboth enjoyable and informative.
Carmen, please tell me about you and your role at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
I began my career as an associate writer for the Wildlife Conservation Society in February 2013. My office is actually based at the Bronx Zoo, and it’s pretty remarkable to be able to see some of the exhibits during lunch. But even though our headquarters are in New York, we have scientists helping to save wildlife and wild places, and in general doing important work throughout the world.
Some of my responsibilities at WCS include translating messaging from English to Spanish, writing narratives for our annual reports and other printed materials, and developing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor with senior conservationists. We have a great communications team, and I’ve always felt I could ask any of my colleagues for guidance as I transitioned from reporting to public relations work. Needless to say, I love what I do and the people I work with.
Did you know you wanted to be a journalist as a child or did the idea come to you later on?
As a young girl, my parents would bring me different Spanish-language newspapers and encourage me to read to them (one of them was El Diario La Prensa). We didn’t have too many Spanish-language children’s books around when I was a kid, so my parents who try to find the most age-appropriate articles for me to read and discuss with them. It was important to them to teach me about civic engagement. They left Cuba in the 1960s for political reasons, and were always fascinated by our First Amendment rights and the fact that an average citizen could write a letter to the editor or attend a protest. That’s what whetted my interest in journalism.
My passion for writing was solidified at 16, when I began taking journalism and drama classes with my late high school teacher, Jack O’Connor. Jack always pushed me to write better stories, ask better questions, and not get discouraged. “Carmen, this paragraph is too long. This quote doesn’t make sense. What angles can you take with these stories?” he would ask. He was a mentor and a friend. It was through Jack that I learned about Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and it became my life’s goal to attend the school. I can now say I’m a proud 2010 graduate of The Journalism School. I enjoy speaking to students at Union City High School’s Career Day every March in New Jersey– it’s a way for me to honor Jack’s legacy by returning to my alma mater but it’s also a way for me to give back to young students.
Where was your first job in journalism?
My first job in journalism was as an editor for The Daily Targum, the award-winning college newspaper at Rutgers University, where I earned by bachelor’s degree. The Targum where I got my first taste and love of politics, and writing about political issues. In my three years as a reporter and editor there, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover an affirmative-action protest, to Trenton to interview students fighting budget cuts, and to Boston to cover the 2004 presidential campaign. In fact, one of the highlights of my three and a half years at The
Targum was heading to Boston with a staff photographer to cover Election Day in 2004. I ran into the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, and heard John Edwards speak to a group of supporters later that night. It was an honor to both blog about the Republican National Convention that year in New York City and be at a Democratic gathering in Boston watching Election night returns and interviewing people.
In the years since, I have interviewed delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012, cancer survivors, political and religious leaders, a beekeeper who loved his hobby and teachers who encouraged their students to raise funds for a local food bank. The longest journalism job I’ve had was the four years I spent at The Times of Trenton. While there, I acquired great editors and mentors like Toni, Brian and Peter who encouraged me to let my curiosity lead me to better stories. What type of stories do you usually cover?
When I worked as a reporter, I typically covered everything from county news and immigration to religion and education. My mother is a retired teacher who’d worked in the Jersey City Public School system in New Jersey for about 25 years. Needless to say, I enjoyed spending time in classrooms reporting on the work of students and teachers. In fact, one of the achievements I’m proudest of is the New Jersey Press Association Award I received for my two-part series reporting on some of the challenges that caused once-promising schools to lose their charters.
One of the more challenging articles I worked on was for the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick years ago. I reported on undocumented workers hired to clean up at the Milltown Post Office in Milltown, N.J. I knew there was a strong story there, but postal officials wouldn't answer my questions, and my editors were letting me know, not exactly subtly, that the deadline was looming. What was originally a story about the borough’s post office not yet being reopened months after the April 2007 Nor’easter, switched focus to the USPS subcontracting with a business that hired undocumented immigrants to clean up the debris. After dealing with reticent USPS spokespeople, I returned to the post office, copied down the phone number and name of a garbage truck leaving the scene, and through them was able to connect with the company that contracted the undocumented immigrants. It’s one of the better examples of “don’t give up” that I have. Are your stories usually assigned or do you suggest your own stories?
It was usually a combination of me suggesting my own stories and editors assigning them to me. I can give you a couple of example of a story I came up with on my own just by examining my surroundings.
For instance, at a Career Day event at Union City High School in 2011, I noticed a young girl taking an elevator usually reserved for teachers, guest speakers, and students with injuries. “I’m pregnant,” she said by explanation, when a fellow classmate asked why she wasn’t taking the stairs. I learned from a fellow speaker that my alma mater, which had expanded to another part of the city a few years before, now offered a day care for teen students with children. Since Union City was outside my newspapers’ area of coverage, I did some research in Mercer County, New Jersey, and discovered that Trenton Central High School did indeed offer day care for students with children. I ended up writing a story for The Times of Trenton.
What do you like the most about being a journalist?
I liked that every day was unpredictable.
I remember hours before the devastating earthquake hit Japan in March 2011 I was scheduled to go to happy hour with a friend and on a date later that night. I swiftly canceled both those engagements and got to work trying to localize the story. I was able to connect with Japanese Americans in Mercer County, NJ and got an e-mailed account of the terrifying earthquake from a Princeton professor who was in Tokyo at the time. Miraculously, I was able to make deadline. What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you a story?
Try to be respectful of a reporter's time. I've had public relations professionals call at the end of the day, in the middle of a deadline, and they try to nudge to get an answer as to whether the reporter is interested in covering a certain story. I think the best way for PR professionals to pitch a story is to first send an email to gauge interest in the topic. I would send a follow-up note or call a few days later to try and get a definite answer from a reporter. What should they always do and never do?
I think public relations professionals should always do some research about the publication they’re pitching and see if they’re a good fit. I think it’s also great to create a good rapport with a reporter and vice versa. By the end of my four-year tenure at The Times of Trenton, I already knew some communication officials’ anniversaries and birth dates. They also knew about certain aspects of my life. It never went beyond a professional relationship, but it was nice for us to get to know each other and have pleasant and productive conversations.
PR professionals should never be rude or too pushy. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with a rude communications professional. What's the best way for someone in PR to begin a working relationship with you?
That’s an interesting question because I’m now in public relations myself. I think the best way for a public relations professional to have a great working relationship with a reporter is for both individuals to get to know each other better. It’ll lead to more productive conversations. Great story ideas sometimes come from informal conversations between PR professionals and reporters. What is the toughest part about what you do?
One of the toughest things about being a reporter were the deadlines. I’m a perfectionist, and I always felt the need to go back and re-work paragraphs or add or remove quotes from the final text. I think another really tough aspect of being a reporter was reporting on people who’ve died tragically and/or publically. In those cases, it’s pivotal to be sensitive to the families and officials you’re interviewing (part of that means not rushing or interrupting a person when they’re speaking – even if a deadline is looming). What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out in the industry?
I would say not to get discouraged if you don’t get your “dream job” right away. Many news organizations are cutting back, but if you’re tenacious and reach out to editors with freelance story ideas, or do a good job of networking and staying in touch, they may call you when they have an opening. It's also important to read a lot of newspapers, magazines, books and trade publications. It's important to understand what makes great journalism.
I think it also goes without saying, but you also don’t go into journalism for the money (it can be challenging at times to live on a reporter’s salary). Also, don’t expect to have traditional work hours in most cases. There were times I worked 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (I loved that time slot because I could sleep for part of the morning and miss most of the traffic) or from 4 p.m. until Midnight.
How do you use social media as part of your job?
I will follow certain people or Twitter hashtags to see what’s being said about any of WCS’s major campaigns.I’m also a pretty proud nerd, andattend conferences focusing on how to use social media more effectively. I try to attend as many of Sree Sreenivasan’s workshops as I can. Sree is a social-media guru who always teaches people new ways to connect (at one of his recent events, I learned about Twiangulate.com. If you plug in your Twitter handle, it'll give you information on your most influential followers. Another helpful site iswww.crowdbooster.com, where for a nominal fee, you can get instant feedback on the number of retweets, likes, comments and more to help you build your brand or stay on message).
What type of experts do you prefer to work with? Do you prefer someone in a higher level role or is someone not as high up acceptable?
I don’t think I’ve ever given too much thought about whether they were in a higher role or not, but I do say I prefer to work with experts who are professional and knowledgeable. Have you ever given thought to doing something other than journalism?
As a recovered anorexic, I originally thought I would make a good psychologist. My goal was to help people recover from eating disorders and be a bilingual resource for people in immigrant communities. Ever since I turned 16, however, my heart has belonged to journalism. I thought I could help more people by reporting on topics like mental health issues and muscular dystrophy. I continue to have a deep respect for the work of mental health professionals. In fact, the valedictorian of my high school class is a psychiatrist. You just returned from a trip to Cuba. What was that like and why did you go?
I was able to go to Cuba on an educational visa with The Chamber of the Americas, based in Denver, Colo. Since I still have family left in Cuba, I could have gone on my own, but I preferred to go with a group.
As the daughter of Cuban exiles, I felt compelled to visit my parents’ homeland for the first time (I’m hoping to blog about my experiences, too). Like many U.S.-born children of Cuban exiled immigrants, I learned about the human rights abuses, lack of political and press freedoms and other forms of repression from the time I could utter my first word. I vowed not to visit the island until the current communist system was part of the country’s distant past. Yet I have also heard from others that many Cubans are happy and well-educated. After visiting the island, I can say I was pleasantly surprised to hear of our speakers openly criticize the government (something I frankly didn’t expect). I was also happy our group patronized several “paladares,” or restaurants run by entrepreneurs rather than government officials.
Without going too much more into politics, I can say with confidence that I returned to the United States a prouder American than when I left, and I’m forever grateful that my parents made the difficult decision to leave their home country when they did.
When you're not writing, what do you do in your spare time?
In the past, I’ve volunteered for a great non-profit organization called Minds Matter in New York City. As a volunteer there, I would spend several hours on Saturdays during the school year helping accomplished high school students from low-income families prepare for their college careers. One of the things I’d do was read and critique their writing, including their college application essays.
I now spend most of my free time visiting with friends and family or traveling the country (my goal is to visit all 50 states; I’m down to 12). But I also enjoy networking in New York City. I belong to two wonderful organizations: one is IvyConnect and the other is the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Some of IvyConnect’s events happen to be at art galleries. Any time I could combine my love of art with getting to meet new people I know I’m in for a great evening. But being a part of the New York chapter of NAHJ this year actually encouraged me to live healthier. The journalism organization partnered with Chrysler this summer in a walking challenge to win a free trip to a convention in Anaheim last August. Needless to say, I did a lot of walking in my spare time to get my trip paid for!
November 22, 1963 is a day most Americans will never forget. Whether you were alive then or learned about the tragedy in school years or decades later, the assassination of our 35th president, John Fitzerald Kennedy, will never be forgotten.
"Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" is a question that continues to reverberate today, often with responses that demand our attention and leave us with a lump in our throat. It was a moment in our country's history, a tragedy which is still one of the most terrible things to have happened in the United States. Someone had killed our president -- it was unthinkable.
Back in 1963 the media was very different. Wires were received via real paper -- we had the rip and read format. Television news was relatively new and radio was a key way people got their news. There was no social media and we had to depend on the country's journalists to tell us what happened. No one can forget Walter Cronkite making the announcement that Kennedy had died. He was visibly moved but did the job he had to which was to tell the country what had happened.
It's vital not just to remember the historical significance of that sad November day 50 years ago, but also for journalists to look back and realize how far journalism has come. Back then television news would have probably broken into programming to announce a news bulletin and then immediately have gone back to the soap opera or whatever show was on. Today news breaks and journalists are on the scene quickly, providing us with the latest updates almost as soon as the incident takes place. We can see the news happening and feel what people are feeling.
Regardless of the passing of 50 years, the footage available allows us to feel and see the collective mourning and disbelief people felt when the news was told. So on this day of remembrance, this post is not just to commemorate a beloved man and leader, but to also go back in time to see how we were being told of the tragic events that unfolded on November 22, 1963.