Online Journalism

VC Story #2: — A Force to be Reckoned With: Former Chief of Staff to the First Lady Anita McBride In-Class C-Span Video Conference

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on VC Story #2: — A Force to be Reckoned With: Former Chief of Staff to the First Lady Anita McBride In-Class C-Span Video Conference

Former Chief of Staff for the First Lady Anita McBride video conferenced with us today, and, boy, has she worked in the White House for quite a while.

McBride said that she never looked back after campaigning in 1980. Between 1987 and 1992, she was the Director of White House Personnel under both President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush. More recently, though, she was the Chief of Staff for First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009. Check here for more background information.

Above all, McBride, who is now a professor at American University, discussed in the conference the responsibilities and the life of a First Lady.

She says that being the First Lady of the United States can be “very painful,” but can also, at the same time, “help to humanize” the president. She cites President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson as a great example of this.

After all, First Ladies, throughout history, never “run shadow governments” behind their husbands. They’re there to help and support them.

On the First Lady she worked with most, McBride said that Laura Bush was “typecast” as a house wife right off the bat. Instead, as most First Ladies should, McBride said that Bush put herself out there to do all the interviews and show genuine interest in the country’s issues and interests.

First Lady Michelle Obama demonstrated this recently with her coverage of bullying in schools across the country.

If the First Lady does that and makes the attempts, McBride calls them a “champion.”

But what happens when a First Lady tries to cover too many issues at once?

“It’s certainly a risk,” McBride said.

She believes that one can “absolutely” lead a normal life as a president, and that knowing our presidents and their wives give us comfort. We can relate to them… or as least think we can.

What surprised me most was when McBride told the class that the First Lady is an unpaid job, but that her staff (which is technically not even her staff but her husband’s) is. What a job to have to not even get paid for!

“I don’t miss getting up at 5 AM,” said McBride, commenting on her job. However, she said that she does miss the camaraderie and the ability “to get terrific things done” each day.

If she was given the choice to work with any First Lady in history, McBride answered either Dolley Madison or Abigail Adams. Both were fantastic hostesses and patriots.

Overall, a very interesting interview and probably one of my favorite parts of COMM 361 thus far!

For more, check this video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Video Conference Story #2: Anita McBride

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on Video Conference Story #2: Anita McBride

Former Chief of Staff to the First Lady Anita McBride joined our class via C-SPAN to discuss her work in the White House.

Checkout some background information about McBride here and her work as a contributor at The Daily Beast. She is currently a professor at American University.

As a veteran of three administrations, McBride knows her way around the cycle of things at the White House well. She witnessed both outgoing and ingoing  administrations, including those of former presidents Bush and Reagan.

McBride believes that the “modern first lady” term was defined by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to aid her husband’s presidency and her position as first lady. She was very active on a variety of issues and because of her, the public expects so much more out of future first ladies. McBride says that “People don’t realize how much work went on behind the scenes.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

McBride went on to explain the first lady position. Here are a few facts about the job:

  • There is no salary (McBride says it’s the “most important and demanding unpaid job in the world.”)
  • The first lady serves as a social hostess
  • She is expected to bring an era of authenticity to the role
  • The first lady should choose to work on policies that best reflect what she wants to do

McBride went on to describe Laura Bush‘s role as first lady. She said that because of her past as a librarian, she was typecast as being shy and introverted. The media went along with this typecast and showed a press bias against her and provided flat coverage of her role. It was very hard for Mrs. Bush to break out of that stereotype, however she eventually did with her work towards education.

When asked about if someday there is a future female president and how the “first man” role would work, McBride replied, “I hope it will be the same.”

There are always privacy issues when one lives their life in the public eye. However, McBride says that the White House adapts to all kinds of families and all kinds of changes, so one can definitely live a normal life — even at the level of high decision-making. The White House is the one place where it’s a sanctuary and where one can make a good family life.

Regarding her chief of staff job, McBride says that she doesn’t “miss the everyday pressures.” However, she says she does miss the camaraderie of people on staff and the ability to get terrific things done on a daily basis.

When asked which first lady from history she would most like to work for, McBride said Dolly Madison or Abigail Adams. Madison was able to use her personality and hostess abilities for the position. Adams was an early abolitionist and sacrificed for her country by volunteering during the Civil War.

McBride says that the first lady position is an extremely important job to hold. She believes, “A first lady humanizes the president.”

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Mark Stencel

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel’s journalism career began around 1995 where he worked at the Washington Post for 12 years (9 focusing in online things), The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He currently works for NPR (National Public Radio), has been there for just under 2 years and is the digital managing editor.

NPR is a non-profit organization, so money comes mainly from individual donations. It is very news-centralized and one of the largest, most-consumed news organizations in North America with around 20-30 million listeners. They are being challenged, though, by people who are in their offices not wanting to listen to NPR.org or the radio.

NPR has used the iPhone and Android markets to expand to listeners through those capabilities. NPR staff also take pictures for their website which show you pictures. The radio’s job is to paint that picture for the listener.

It is very difficult to work with three mediums (radio, text, video) so NPR typically just does text and radio.

Historically, NPR has produced great audio. Now, they have also added great text to their capabilities.

Don’t cover events, cover implications.

At the Post, he tried to bring talk radio into text form through interactivity with the audience.

On NPR’s Facebook page, they take stories that never got huge amounts of views on their site and add them onto their Facebook page so it can receive more views.

Twitter is also a very dynamic form of social media for NPR. Andy Carvin and others tweet some stories for their followers and turned the reporting process inside-out to show everyone how it’s done.

These social mediums are great ways to tell people what is going on air soon. It also helps show how interactive the hosts are.

NPR’s job is to cover news and break it in every possible way whether its on the radio, blogging, etc.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog – Making the Most of Your Journalism Internship

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog – Making the Most of Your Journalism Internship

Steve Buttry was a fantastic guest speaker, and appropriately enough his blog is just as chock full of great information, including a particularly helpful article on making the most out of your internship. I’ve never partook in a journalism internship, but I’m currently interning at Loudoun County Public Schools Television, and I’ve kept Buttry’s tips in mind ever since I read his article.

The #1 entry he lists is to ask questions, and I think that can’t be stressed enough. You don’t have all the answers, and if you’re lucky enough, your supervisor will allow you to explore the possibilities on your own. But at a prior internship, I found that, while the project director appreciated my efforts and enthusiasm, whenever I was faced with an executive decision myself and I didn’t at least consult her to let her know the direction I would be heading in, there was some natural resistance to my ideas. I learned to ask ahead of time, and everything was approved immediately.

Buttry also suggests working hard and having fun. I think this applies to any job, not just an internship. I’m not the most experienced editor from a technical standpoint (although I’m certainly above competent), but I do think I’m a relatively pleasant person to work with, and even when I’m not feeling 100%, I never let it get in the way of my duties. Would that give me the edge over an incredible editor who’s a pain to work with? Probably not for every production company looking to hire, but it would certainly be a deciding factor for some.

Another piece of advice is to own up to mistakes. A couple weeks ago, I went to a shoot and had forgotten to check the camera case before leaving–everything had always been taken care of and put away properly before, so I just assumed it would be the case once again. When I arrived at the shoot, I discovered there was no battery; another intern had forgotten to put it back. But while they certainly erred, I did too. Rule numero uno going on a shoot is to check your equipment ahead of time–that it’s present, let alone in working order. I apologized profusely probably to the point where my constant “I can’t believe I did that; I’m so sorry!” was probably a bigger irritant than the situation itself.

With graduation a month away, I’m looking for employment (or paid internship) opportunities and Buttry’s advice is something I will definitely take into account. And hey, Professor Klein, if you can recommend any good journalism jobs (particularly pop culture-related), let me know!

Tags: Comm361 · Steve Buttry · Student Blog Posts

Video Conference with Anita McBride

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on Video Conference with Anita McBride

Anita McBride, former chief of staff to former First Lady Laura Bush, discussed the roles and challenges of being a first lady during a C-SPAN interview on April 14 with political editor Steve Scully and students from George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Denver.

Being the first lady is the “most important, demanding and unpaid job,” according to McBride.

In the past, the American public expected the first lady to play a traditional role as a homemaker and caretaker to her husband, family and the White House. However, the American public now believes that first ladies have the responsibility to use their voice to make a stance on their platform thanks to first lady and activist Eleanor Roosevelt, according to McBride.

“Over time, we do expect our first lady to be deeply engaged with issues they care about and issues that the nation cares about,” McBride said. “First ladies are best when the choose policy decisions or policy issues that are important to the government at large.

A first lady much choose an issue that they deeply care about and bring their credibility to it, even when the issue is controversial.

Hilary Clinton, for example, took a lot of blows for being so upfront about health care. While she did not retreat from being engaged in issues that were important to her, she did shift her focus to a global landscape. Even though she tried her best to stand up for something, sometimes first ladies must shift their gears to other platforms.

Sometimes, it may be difficult for a first lady to get her platform out because the public is unfairly going after the president by going after his wife, according to McBride.

There has been a backlash on the number of staff First Lady Michelle Obama has in her offices. The number of staff usually varies for each first lady, according to McBride.

“I don’t remember this level of controversy,” McBride said.

While it sounds like life in the White House may be difficult for first ladies and their families, McBride said that it is absolutely possible  to lead normal lives.

“The White House is the one place where there is sanctuary,” McBride said. “You can make a good family life.”

McBride also mentioned that if she were able to choose to work for any first lady, she would choose either Dolly Madison or Abigail Adams.

Madison had a great personality and wonderful hostessing abilities, while Adams had extraordinary character and a strong belief in the possibilities of the nation, according to McBride.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

It’s All About the Timing

April 14th, 2011 · Comments Off on It’s All About the Timing

Mandy Jenkins who is now D.C. Social News Editor at The Huffington Post wrote a very interesting post on her blog about the importance being the first person and/or news organization to get a story out first.

What was really interesting was that Jenkins said that many reporters and journalists feel that there is a lack of competition, which is why being timely and breaking a story as soon as possible is not as important.

Like Jenkins, I believe the claim above to be untrue. Even if newspapers are less widespread and are dying out, people still follow the news. Just because there is a lack of newspaper subscriptions does not mean that people are receiving news any less. It just means that people are using different methods in receiving their news.

If anything, people are following news more closely because the Internet allows them to seek information at anytime time. Almost everyone in my Comm 361 class has a smartphone or has 24/7 access to the Internet. I for one, am always receiving alerts and updates on breaking news — either through my phone or my laptop.

I think that reporters and journalists should feel like they have more competition then ever before because immediacy is so important in our technologically advanced society. People are always wanting something more right away — if a news site does not meet our needs then we will jump to another site until one catches our attention and satisfies that need.

The deadline should always be now — not this afternoon, tonight or tomorrow.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts