Evelyn Tipacti

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    • Title:Community Editor
    • Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
    • Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
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    SPOTLIGHT: Jen Christensen, CNN

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 10:37 AM [Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Jen Christensen, a producer at CNN in Atlanta and the president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

    We hope you find SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.

    Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist or did you do something else at the start of your career? 

    From the time I was 5 I knew that I wanted to be a journalist. I remember when I made this discovery very clearly. 

    My dad was a volunteer fire fighter in our town of LaGrange, Illinois. Sometimes while we were out at dinner or at the movies he’d get a page to go fight a fire. There was never any time to drop me off so I’d get to go with him.  He’d put that flashing red light on top of his car and we’d hit high speeds racing to get to that fire. I loved that feel of the speed and that race to help someone in distress. What I loved even more was standing on the sidewalk and listening to the grown-ups.

    As they watched the home or business burn they would talk about how it started or what they were losing. Even as a little child I had such a curiosity about the stories grown-ups told.  In retrospect I think I was fascinated by the extremes.  On one hand I’d hear about the pain and loss of the person whose house or business was on fire. On the flipside, I saw how the crisis also created an urgency to act from the good people like the volunteer firefighters or the neighbors who would always be there with a blanket or something to drink trying to make it better for their neighbor.  The next day at school I would try to tell my classmates about what I saw and often they’d listen, fascinated. 

    The teachers would ask even then what we wanted to be.  A lot of kids would say policeman or firefighter.  You would think with all the fires I saw I’d say firefighter.  But I never understood running into a burning building.  It wasn’t until I saw Sesame Street then that I knew what I wanted to do. 

    That’s where I saw Kermit the Frog standing in a similar situation to my fire.  He stood in the midst of a flurry of activity.  He wore a trench coat and hat. A microphone in hand. He was reporting live, breaking news from the scene not of a fire, but of an accident. He was stopping on of the horses from “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” to ask just exactly how they planned to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Seriously, I remember thinking now that’s what I want to do.  Mom says I even asked for a trench coat.  I knew then I wanted to tell people’s stories.

    Where was your first job in journalism? 

    I was still in college, but I was hired part time to be an assignment editor and eventually that turned into a full time job running the desk on weekends for WXIN-TV in Indianapolis.  Some brave news director actually thought it was appropriate to put a 20 year old with no experience in charge of his newsroom. Mind you this was the mid-90’s when the city was in the midst of a crack epidemic and we had a couple of serial killers on the loose and a few race riots on top of that. You can bet I learned quickly what worked on our air and had to know how to get at it without the benefit of the internet, a full staff, or PIO’s with cell phones. It’s hard to imagine how we did it.

    What type of stories do you usually cover?

    I am a producer and these days I work mostly with CNN’s medical unit for CNN.com and I’m occasionally on loan to the TV side and also to CNN.com’s enterprise desk for more in-depth data analysis-type stories. With the medical unit we are currently all Obamacare all the time.  Prior to this I worked in documentaries and in the investigative unit. There it was civil rights, terrorism, saints, serial killers, politics, history, the Middle East, you name it we got to write about it.

    Are your stories usually assigned or do you also get to make suggestions? Do your managers also go to you for ideas? 

    Unless there is breaking news or a new medical story coming out, most often the stories are my own ideas and I’m lucky in my current news room most of my stories get a green light.

    Is there a 'best part' about doing what you do in TV news? 

    I love the opportunity to take the first crack at writing what one anchor I used to work with used to call ‘the first draft of history.’  On the TV side I loved the collaboration it takes to work with some of the best photographers, editors and on-air talent to get great stories in tough situations like the war in Gaza or in New Orleans right after Katrina.  To get to tell the stories other people have overlooked. To get to right a few wrongs and bring a voice to the otherwise voiceless that’s what makes this my dream job.

    What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you a story? 

    Develop real connections with journalists.  We get over 1,000 emails a day on average so email pitches get lost often.  Network with the press at professional association gatherings or when you see them out in the community.  Talk to them there even when you don’t have something to pitch. Or pitch right on the crest of the news wave. 

    What should they always do and never do?

    If you do have to send a press release or do have to call -- the simpler the better. Bold face: who, what, when, where, how and why and a link to all that other detail they will seek out if they are interested in the story. Don’t over promise. Don’t delay a call back.

    What's the best way for someone in PR to start a working relationship with you? 

    Come to my professional association gatherings like NLGJA. Or if that’s not possible deliver an expert I need in the midst of breaking news.

    What is the toughest part about being a journalist? 

    It is my dream job.  I truly love going to work every day.  But the money could be a little better.  Doesn’t everyone always say that?

    Is there a career highlight that stands out among all? 

    There are a few: working on God’s (Jewish) Warriors where I got to produce for the great Christiane Amanpour and travel through Israel and the West Bank; interviewing President Obama and his family and friends with Suzanne Malveaux for our documentary about his life right before he got into office; spending real time with the great civil rights legend Congressman John Lewis at his office with a Soledad O’Brien interview and on my own with him at the White House this summer listening to him tell stories about what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was really like; interviewing a “saint-maker” a lawyer in Rome, Italy with Drew Griffin, the “saint maker” would go before the Congregation of Saints to try and get a nun from Indiana recognized as a saint and then we went golfing with the saint’s last miracle (the man was going blind, prayed to her and now can see, and Mother Guerin did become a saint), and walking with a man through his gutted family home in St. Bernard Parish which had been wrecked by Katrina.

    Tell us about your role at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. 

    I’m the national board president of NLGJA.  I’ve been a member since 1996. In my current role I help guide the board and the organization overall to fulfill our mission which is to provide fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community and to provide professional development opportunities for LGBT journalists.

    What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out? 

    CNN.com’s managing editor, Meredith Artley may say it best.  She told Mizzou’s graduating class of journalists this year:

    “The truth is that there has never been a better time for you to be a journalist. There have been easier times. All this disruption equals opportunity.”

    Often reporters would come to my classes in college and say “don’t become a journalist” or “this profession is too hard” or “TV news is dying” and I’d say don’t believe them.

    If you want it enough, if you can devote every waking minute of every day to your work and you can push yourself to read widely, listen closely and network constantly...if you are good to your photographers and editors and you are nice to the people you meet be it your bosses or the people you are interviewing, you’ll learn which questions to ask, which sentences are graceful and which are not, and what story ideas are good and which are not.  If you are willing to learn and work hard and play well with others you can and will succeed. 

    Do you use social media as part of your job? 

    All the time.

    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? 

    Most journalists would probably say whatever expert can give you the facts, can tell a story without using too much jargon, someone who truly knows what they are talking about and can give me more than just talking points, someone who can get back to me quickly.

    Have you ever thought of doing anything else besides journalism? 

    I love research and I love to write.  I have only ever really wanted to be a journalist.  I did, however, enjoy working at two policy analyst jobs.  I worked briefly at the Chicago Board of Elections on census data and voter maps during college and I also worked for NATO’s Atlantic Council office in London while I was attending the London School of Economics. At the Atlantic Council I got to help the wonderful Director Alan Lee Williams develop policy and speeches about the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.  I also worked in the theatre.  I would love some day to finish some of the plays and book projects I’ve started but have had to put aside.

    When you're not busy on the field, what do you do in your spare time?

    I’m on the road a lot for work, but I have the travel bug.  My partner and I are pretty thrifty and save up to take regular trips overseas.  We love art museums especially and the theatre, archeology and live music.  I also am a founding board member of Girls Rock Camp ATL a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls and women through music education.  Essentially the group provides leadership opportunities; it builds self-esteem, and creates a culture of collaboration for the girls through rock music.  It’s amazing to watch them grow and change as quickly as they have to form a band at the start of the week, learn an instrument, write a song, and then perform it for a paying audience at the end of the week.  It’s a wonderful project.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Hispanics and Social Media

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 2:15 PM [Media 411]
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    Hispanic Heritage Month is in full force (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) and what better way for me to celebrate than to report on how Hispanics are using social media in 2013.

    It should come as no surprise that social media use has increased this year, but the number has particularly jumped for online Hispanics. According to a recent Pew report, 80% of online Hispanics use social media, especially Twitter.

    As a Hispanic, I can say from experience that most of my relatives (even my father) use social media. My siblings and cousins all use it and without it, we would have a very difficult time communicating since we all live in different countries -- United States, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain and Italy. Oh my! There's only so much an old phone can do.

    I can only speak for myself, but the ease with which we can communicate using technology and at reasonable costs, has completely changed the way we interact with one another. We're able to share photos and videos, type instant messages -- maybe this has something to do with it. Without social media, we would undoubtedly have a rough time at staying in touch, so gracias social media for making it easy to communicate with those that mean the most.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Women in Media

    Thursday, September 12, 2013, 12:44 PM [Media 411]
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    Years ago (not that long ago), women in media struggled to hold prominent positions at media companies across the country. Thankfully, things have changed, and today many women are in positions of power at well-known and respected media outlets.

    The news came out this morning that Tina Brown was stepping down as editor in chief of The Daily Beast at the end of the year. Brown has been one of the most successful female journalists  in recent time, having once been responsible for titles such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and then The Daily Beast/Newsweek later on.

    It got me thinking of the future and about the many successful women of all ages who are shall we say, "running the show" at their respective outlets or doing an amazing job with their careers.

    "10 Women to Watch," an article from Editor & Publisher, highlights some great female journalists who are shaping both the industry and future of journalism, widening the doors for other women so they, too, have the opportunity to one day make a difference.

    10 Women to Watch (via Editor & Publisher)

    In September 2011, after 160 years of its existence, The New York Times hired its first female executive editor, Jill Abramson. A year later, history was made again when Margaret Sullivan was named the Times’ first female public editor. Over the past few years, Abramson and Sullivan have been joined by a number of women who have become the “first” for other news organizations. But why did it take so long to happen?

    “It’s a reflection of the industry and our society,” said Women’s Media Center media relations manager Cristal Williams Chancellor. “Women have always wanted more of a voice and more responsibilities, and the industry is now beginning to respond.”

    According to the 2013 American Society of News Editors annual census, men make up 65.4 percent of newsroom supervisors while women compose 34.6 percent. These numbers have remained stagnant since 1999. Chancellor said the figures show a “gender disparity in the newsroom,” despite women making up 51 percent of the population.

    She said even though the numbers look discouraging, women still play a viable role in the media world, and whatever challenges these women face, Chancellor said they should also focus on the rewards and the “many successes and joys that led them to where they are.”

    The 10 women featured on the following pages have seen challenges and they have seen success. All of them have served in their current positions for less than five years, certainly causing colleagues to keep an eye on them, but these women caught our attention for several reasons: their strong work ethic, their commitment to their staff’s success, their teamwork in today’s changing economic landscape and their savvy revenue-generating ideas.

    These female journalists, editors, executives, and company presidents are leaving their mark for the next generation of women who are eager to deliver news on whatever platform—and that is something worth watching.   

    Wendy Metcalfe, editor-in-chief, Toronto Sun; regional content director, Sun Media, Toronto...

    Please click here to continue reading. 

    Media 411: Buying Promoted Tweets to Complain

    Thursday, September 5, 2013, 1:53 PM [Media 411]
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    Most of my Media 411 articles are about mainstream media, not social media as is today’s case, but I was convinced I needed to switch it up this time around.

    My colleague (ahem, Polina Opelbaum) brought to my attention an interesting ploy by an unhappy airline customer who bought a promoted tweet to air his frustration and I knew I had to write about it!

    Social media has allowed people to vent directly to companies with which they are not pleased, but this one man, @HVSVN PAID for a promoted tweet to complain! I do believe this may be a first!

    Some people hail this guy for calling out bad customer service, like this individual:

    “Super cool. Absolutely awesome. Customer now finally has the power.”

    And then others don’t think it was a wise decision:

    “Never thought that business sabotage has made its way on the market shelves. Soon enough businesses will be using this cheap-shot strategy to pull their competitors. No difference with bank-running.”

    The big difference here is that someone paid for the tweet to be more visible and have more weight than just a regular, free tweet. Will this be a new norm?

    What do you think of someone buying an ad on social media to pick on a giant company? Would you do it?

    Click here for the original story and comments, “Man Buys Promoted Tweet to Complain About British Airways” on Mashable.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Journalism and Digital Security

    Thursday, August 29, 2013, 5:10 PM [Media 411]
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    Journalists depend on the information their sources provide to write and report the stories they work on every single day. Can you imagine working on a huge story and then discovering that your computer was hacked - - someone saw your emails, your research, your source information. Gasp! Now what? Is there anything you could have done to avoid this?

    The advancement of technology has undoubtedly been an incredible help to journalists, but that technology has also brought some serious security issues. So now, more than ever, journalists need to take some steps to avoid getting sensitive information into the hands of someone who should never have it.

    Casey Frechette of Poynter.org published an article on this very topic entitled 15 things journalists (and everyone) need to know about digital security and it applies to everyone, not just journalists as we all have information we don't want made public.

    Back in July a ProfNet Connect blog post entitled Privacy in a Social Age touched on the issues of privacy and social media and what you should do to safeguard your information.

    Do you take steps do protect your information? Have you ever been the victim of a hacker? Let me know!

    Give Yourself a Performance Review. Really!

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 3:18 PM [General]
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    For those of us who work full-time at an office job we are probably accustomed to the mandatory yearly performance review.

    Were the goals set at the start of the year reached? Did you have any challenges? What will you do differently in the coming year? Are you happy with your work?

    As a freelancer writer, reviews are something you want to receive on your book or your article, but have you ever thought of giving yourself a review? It may seem odd, but it's a very worthwhile thing to consider.

    Take a look at Freelancers Should Do Their Own Performance Reviews on The Freelance Strategist. Karl Hodge discusses why you should give yourself a review to help develop your career.

    Further or Farther, Diversity in Newsrooms and Kids in Need: Last Week's Top Blogs

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 2:43 PM [TopBlogs]
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    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:

    Title: Grammar Hammer: I Just Can’t Go Any Further (or Farther).
    Author:
    Cathy Spicer, Manager, Customer Content Services
    Tease:
    "I forget why I decided that this would be my topic for the week. I probably had an email I was writing and trying to figure out which word to use when I experienced a brain drain so severe I rewrote the sentence to avoid using either word. Here’s the good news – further and farther essentially mean the same thing (at a greater distance), but there are some specific guidelines to follow for correct grammatical usage."

    Title: #ConnectChat Recap: Inclusive Diversity in America's Newsrooms
    Author:
    Evelyn Tipacti, Community/Media Relations Specialist
    Tease:
    "On Tuesday, Aug. 20, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Inclusive Diversity in America's Newsrooms" with Jen Christensen (@jechristensen), a writer and producer for CNN and president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)."

    Title: Angie’s Social Media Angels: Kids In Need Foundation
    Author:
    Angela Smith, Editor, ProfNet
    Tease:
    "Kids in Need Foundation was founded in 1995. Their mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. They also award grants to teachers for innovative classroom projects through the Kids In Need Teacher Grants program."

    Title: The Q&A Team: Get a Grip on Your Handshake
    Author:
    Polina Opelbaum, Editor, ProfNet
    Tease:
    "I am going on an interview next week, and I would like to strengthen my handshake. When should I shake my interviewer’s hand? What are the different types of handshakes? Any tips for improving my handshake?"

    Title: Messages From The Other Side - Fact or Fiction?
    Author:
    Walter E. Jacobson, MD
    Tease:
    "I have a patient who reports that he communicates with his dead wife. Here are the facts. You decide."

    Title: Upcoming PR/Media Events
    Author:
    Evelyn Tipacti, Community/Media Relations Specialist
    Tease:
    "We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Following is a summary of the events taking place soon."

    Title: Create Discoverable Stories Using Editorial Calendars
    Author:
    Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire
    Tease:
    "Story timing plays a crucial role in determining whether or not your story is discovered by your audience.  For years and years, media outlets have been publishing their editorial calendars, to help brands manage ad buys and PR pitches.  Those same editorial calendars are a rich resource for content marketers, too."

    Title: Inside PR Newswire: Meet Kevin Lui, Manager of Online Content & Community
    Author:
    Christine Cube, Media Relations Manager, PR Newswire
    Tease:
    "Kevin Lui admits he’s an adrenaline junkie. In his down time, you can find him either sky diving, whitewater rafting, or engaging in his new favorite hobby, rock climbing. He also enjoys paintball and traveling."

    Title: Grammar Hammer: When Did Literally Stop Being Literal?
    Author: Cathy Spicer, Manager, Customer Content Services, PR Newswire
    Tease: Have you ever been so angry that you were literally foaming at the mouth? What if I asked you to tell me about the last time you were trying to figure out a pile of medical bills? Or the last time you tried to have a conversation with customer service at one of your utility providers? Was there foam coming out of your mouth?

    Title: What Editors’ Rejections Really Mean
    Author: Maria Perez, Director, News Operations, ProfNet
    Tease: All freelancers have, at one time or another, probably heard these phrases from editors they’ve pitched. But if you’re new to freelancing, you might be confused as to what they really mean. And, often, an editor’s letdown can tell you a lot about how you can improve your pitches.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Upcoming PR/Media Events

    Friday, August 23, 2013, 12:12 PM [Upcoming Events]
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    We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Following is a summary of the events taking place soon:

    Event: Boston: Uncommon, NLGJA 2013
    Host: National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association
    Date:  Aug. 22-25
    Location: Boston
    Summary: More than 350 journalists and communication professionals from across the United States will meet for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association National Convention and 9th LGBT Media Summit.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Excellence in Journalism
    Host: SPJ, NAHJ and RTDNA
    Date:  Aug. 24-26
    Location: Anaheim, CA
    Summary: In 2011, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association partnered to host an annual conference that provides journalists with the industry’s best training and networking opportunities. Following two successful Excellence in Journalism conferences, SPJ and RTDNA welcomed the National Association of Hispanic Journalists as an EIJ collaborator for the 2013 event in Anaheim, Calif.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: From Guerilla Warfare to Guerilla PR
    Host: PRSA Cincinnati Chapter
    Date: Aug. 29
    Location: Cincinnati
    Summary: Mike Robinson, president of LaVERDAD Marketing & Media, will share how lessons learned as a former U.S. Army Green Beret shaped his approach to marketing and PR tactics at Procter & Gamble, and now as his multicultural agency conducts "below the line" and grassroots campaigns for clients such as Toyota North America.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Peer Group Meeting
    Host: PRSA Westchester/Fairfield
    Date: Aug. 30
    Location: Purchase, NY
    Summary:  Discuss how to move your business forward; getting down to business now that the summer is over.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Meet the Media
    Host: PRSA Westchester/Fairfield
    Date:  Sept. 19
    Location: Rye, NY
    Summary: We've invited journalists from local, regional and national print, broadcast, online and wire service media to share publicity tips and the key ingredients of winning pitches.  It’s a great opportunity to learn how to generate publicity and to make valuable contacts.  
    Complete event info here.

    Event: 7th Annual Hispanic Advertising and Media Company
    Host: Portada
    Date: Sept. 26
    Location: New York
    Summary: Portada’s flagship annual Hispanic conference is an annual gathering of major decision makers in advertising, marketing and media from all over the United States. Emphasis will be put on how technologies can be leveraged to reach local audiences .
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Conference on Journalism
    Host: New York Press Club
    Date:  Oct. 5
    Location: New York
    Summary: The speculative period of the last five years (or so) about what the future holds for journalists and journalism has decidedly given way to new philosophies, tools, and practices that are transforming the way information is gathered, analyzed, characterized, reported and distributed. This year's Conference on Journalism digs deeply into all of that.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Author 101 University
    Host: Rick Frishman
    Date: Oct. 24-27
    Location: Las Vegas
    Summary: Top pros will share their expertise, reveal the inner workings of the publishing industry, and discuss various approaches to common marketing and publishing challenges.
    Complete event info here.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    #ConnectChat Recap: Inclusive Diversity in America's Newsrooms

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 3:49 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    On Tuesday, Aug. 20, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Inclusive Diversity in America's Newsrooms" with Jen Christensen (@jechristensen), a writer and producer for CNN and president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

    Jen talked about the importance of diversity in newsrooms, how the NLGJA can help journalists ensure fair and accurate coverage of the community, the NLGJA’s conference and much more.

    Please follow @ProfNet and @editorev on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.

    Welcome & thank you for joining today’s #ConnectChat with @jechristensen! This is Evelyn Tipacti, taking over @ProfNet for the duration of the chat. Our guest today is Jen Christensen, a writer and producer for CNN and the president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Hi, Jen! Thanks for being our guest on today's #connectchat.

    Great to be joining #connectchat. Thanks for having me. #NLGJA is happy to have this opportunity to talk about its important mission.

    Jen, please tell us about yourself and how you landed at CNN.

    Thanks for asking. I started out working in local news at #WXIN in Indianapolis. I was still in college at the time @ButlerUniversity and some brave news director put a 20 year old in charge of his newsroom on the weekends. I also worked as a segment producer, promotions producer, and show producer, it was a great first gig. I went on to work as a show producer @WTVQ in Lexington, Kentucky. Then my great news director came to me and asked if I wanted to help him start @WTVQ’s first investigative unit. From there it was the investigative unit @WSOC and then through #NLGJA I met the main motivator to go to Atlanta: the Georgia chapter president. #CNN hired me to work as a producer at @CNNNewsource, CNN’s connection to 800+ affiliates around the world. It was back to running a weekend newsroom. I went on to work as an investigative producer with CNN’s Special Investigation Unit, CNN Productions (documentaries), medical unit, & now CNN.com . The job’s been great –it’s given me a chance to travel the world, interview presidents, and working at CNN has given me the chance to work with some of the smartest people in the business.

    Jen, you're also the president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) -- that's a pretty big responsibility. Can you please tell us about that role?

    I work closely with our great executive director @MichaelTune & board to help guide the organization in the right direction. NLGJA’s got a great mission & a wonderful staff & volunteers. NLGJA's got some of the best journalists in the business and some of the most thoughtful people I know.

    What's the NLGJA's mission?

    #NLGJA’s mission is to work within the media industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community. #NLGJA also works to provide professional development & networking opportunities for LGBT media professionals. Read all about #NLGJA’s mission here: www.nlgja.org/about .

    Jen, what do you think are the most significant problems you see facing today's newsrooms in relation to diversity?

    It’s the same problems everyone is faced with in our business right now: We’re asked to do more with less. If you don’t have money & resources it’s hard to further diversity -- whether it is in terms of hiring or training to promote people to the next level. We don’t know exactly what will be the perfect business model to “monetize the content” as one manager called it. There is good news though. I think CNN Digital’s VP & managing editor, @Meredith Artley said to Mizzou’s graduating class “The truth is that there has never been a better time for you to be a journalist. There have been easier times. All this disruption equals opportunity..." Conventions like the ones @NLGJA, @AAJA, @NAJA, @NAHJ, @NABJ give members a training & networking advantage.

    All of these conferences are worth attending for any journalist either starting out or experienced.

    Why is it crucial for newsrooms to have LGBT journalists?

    Generally, you want newsrooms to reflect the entire population we cover. LGBT journalists bring a different voice to the conversation –just like any member of a minority population. We can see things others might miss. Working from within we can stop media organization faux pas –which often happen, inadvertently. Sometimes people don’t know the right terminology. For example, an #NLGJA member told me she was reading some copy that was supposed to be for pride month. The article was a nice profile of a business owner. It didn’t, however, use terms that were all that gay friendly. In fact some of the terms were offensive. It wasn’t the person who read this’ job, but because she saw it and knew it could hurtful so she spoke up. Managers were glad she did. The reporter meant no offense and was horrified to know, thankfully there was someone in the newsroom watching out for them.

    What has the NLGJA done to assure fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community?

     #NLGJA has a rapid response task force people can contact to report unfair or inaccurate coverage. People can contact #NLGJA’s RRTF address is Rrtf@nlgja.org. #NLGJA RRTF then works behind the scenes to contact the media organization to let them know about the problem reporting. Often the media organization fixes the problem or works with the reporter to use fairer language in their future coverage NLGJA’s also got a style guide (www.nlgja.org/resources/stylebook &...) to help journalists know the right language for covering the community. #NLGJA also works directly with newsrooms to help staff better understand the LGBT community. #NLGJA has a Heartland project that will work with @AAJA to diversify coverage in NE through a generous Ford Foundation grant.

    Newsrooms continue to cut staff -- it seems fair and accurate are almost impossible these days. What can we individually do to ensure fair coverage?

    I always tell reporters and editors in our newsroom who ask about LGBT issues the same thing the nuns told me -- there is no dumb question. If someone is unsure about the right word to use when covering the LGBT community, tell them to ask their LGBT colleague or friend or use our style guide. We don’t want to be the word police, but you don’t want to inadvertently seem biased or offensive. I advise widen your social circle to be as diverse as possible, that way you can quickly “phone a friend” for insight. If you see something that doesn’t read right or seem fair, be sure to speak up. Most people don’t mean to offend. NLGJA's Blogger forum is sponsored by the Haas Foundation.

    Jen, have you seen any improvement within the past few years, despite the challenges?

    Polls show more Americans think same sex marriage should be legal, as that’s changed we’ve seen fewer letters to #NLGJA’s RRTF. Most of the coverage that falls short these days involves trans issues. We are working especially hard right now to help reporters and editors better understand the trans community.

    Do you think employers are starting to realize the importance of having a diverse staff?

    I do think many managers believe in diversity and I think that will get even better in the future. I heard a speech from a marketing manager with a diversity specialty she said something really insightful. She said millennials have a hard time watching programs that don’t have staff that reflects their world. Millennials, she said, expect diversity. Without it, the work doesn’t ring true. At my company the slogan was “diversity drives innovation” and they weren’t just paying lip service to that motto.

    Well said and a good point.

    Without mentioning specific outlets, what have been the worst scenarios you can mention regarding LGBT coverage?

    Offensive language, biased coverage, one-sided reporting, salacious stories, insensitive portrayals of people in the community.

    I know we all want to know more, but we'll leave it at that. ;)

    Why do you think there's so much incorrect information out there regarding the LGBT community?

    I don’t think there is “so much” incorrect information, thankfully, not so much anymore, but when there is coverage that falls short it’s often because the reporter or editor doesn’t know someone from the LGBT community.

    Jen, besides lack of LGBT journalists in America's newsrooms, what other issues does the community face?

    We actually don’t have hard data on how many LGBT journalists are in American newsrooms. I hope to fix that. We’d love a survey along the lines of ASNE’s survey of minority journalists which calculates how many of us are out there. As far as LGBT issues journalists face, it’s pretty much the same for all journalists: too much work, not enough resources, etc.

    What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the LGBT community?

    Often we’ll get complaints about coverage of pride –the cameras focus solely on the scantily clad and stereotypes. There is an idea that all gay people are wealthy or white -neither is true. We’d love more in-depth and thoughtful coverage, but we’ve come a long way.

    This year's convention is coming up -- where is it, what can we expect and can we still register?

    This year’s #NLGJA convention is in Boston August 22 to 25 www.nlgja.org/2013. The #NLGJA convention’s keynote speaker is the New York Times’ great @JillAbramson. #NLGJA has a great LGBT media summit on August 22. The #NLGJA convention offers dozens of panels that help journalists do their job better. And yes you can register on site –#NLGJA would absolutely love to see you there.

    How is this year's #NLGJA conference different from the last one?

    #NLGJA is in Boston for the first time in our history -this means we get to tap into all sorts of great local experts.

    If someone is on the fence about becoming a member of NLGJA, why should they join and can non-LGBT members join as well?

    #NLGJA provides the best networking and professional development opportunities for LGBT journalists & their friends. #NLGJA has a friendly set of volunteers and it truly is a wonderful group of people who are thoughtful and a whole lot of fun.

    Jen, thanks so much for being our guest today!

    Thank you. It's been a lot of fun.

    Thanks as well to all who joined today and we'll see you next time!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com


    Journalist Spotlight, Online Education Writing and Literally: Last Week's Top Blogs

    Monday, August 19, 2013, 5:01 PM [General]
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    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:

    Title: Grammar Hammer: When Did Literally Stop Being Literal?
    Author: Cathy Spicer, Manager, Customer Content Services, PR Newswire
    Tease: Have you ever been so angry that you were literally foaming at the mouth? What if I asked you to tell me about the last time you were trying to figure out a pile of medical bills? Or the last time you tried to have a conversation with customer service at one of your utility providers? Was there foam coming out of your mouth?

    Title: Upcoming PR/Media Events
    Author: Evelyn Tipacti, Community/Media Relations Specialist, PR Newswire
    Tease: We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Following is a summary of the events taking place over the next week or so.

    Title: SPOTLIGHT: Michele Wojciechowski, Freelance Writer
    Author:  Evelyn Tipacti, Community/Media Relations Specialist
    Tease: Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you. This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Michele Wojciechowski, a national award-winning author, freelance writer, and humorist, who writes the humor column, Wojo’s World®.

    Title: Turning Webinars into Real-Time Content & Market Intel
    Author: Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire
    Tease: "Every content marketer has their favorite go-to tactics, and almost all will share one in common – deriving content from content.   In my hands, a simple blog post can spawn a press release, a slide deck and a host of tweets, posts, shares and updates.  However, I’ve got nothing on Bo Bandy, Readytalk’s manager of marketing communications.   I joined her on a webinar titled Maximizing the Impact of Webinars as a Lead Gen Channel  last week, and I think I learned as much as any of the attendees."

    Title: The Online Education Writing Market: How to Get Involved
    Author: Maria Perez, Director, News Operations, ProfNet
    Tease: As a freelance writer, you’re likely always looking for new markets to break into. One you may not have considered is online education.

    Title: 5 Tricks to Dominate a Job Interview
    Author: Dana Manciagli, President, DM Consult, LLC
    Tease: Interviews are the only metric that truly measures the success of your job search efforts. What percent of your applications are turning into interviews? The more times an application results in an interview, the more likely you will find the job you are seeking. So don’t let that interview prevent you from getting the job offer you want.

    Title: What Editors’ Rejections Really Mean
    Author: Maria Perez, Director, News Operations, ProfNet
    Tease: All freelancers have, at one time or another, probably heard these phrases from editors they’ve pitched. But if you’re new to freelancing, you might be confused as to what they really mean. And, often, an editor’s letdown can tell you a lot about how you can improve your pitches.

    Title: Extending Beyond Natural Boundaries Can Lead to Boundless Opportunities
    Author: William Carroll, President, Benedictine University
    Tease: Sometimes this blog forces me to admit some things that are not readily public. In this case, I admit that I am a fan of The Deadliest Catch, a series about the travails of the Bering Sea crabbers. While I am never ready to testify to these individuals' foolhardiness or courage, I always watch in awe the Bering Sea. This is a body of water that can be without mercy without warning. It is nature's fury and majesty at her best. She is truly the star of the show.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com


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