Toeing the line: The challenge of gathering vital information while being mindful of trauma

By Patrick Sloan-Turner

No class can prepare you to cover a potentially dangerous scenario like a mass shooting that includes hundreds of officers and first responders, lives lost and immeasurable trauma. Handling a delicate situation like this requires tools that are only gained through on-the-job experience.

A reporter must obtain the necessary information regarding a developing story, while also letting first responders do their jobs. Hearing first-hand accounts of what has transpired is crucial, but so is showing respect to bystanders who witnessed what happened.

Former Chicago Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney knows this challenge all too well.

In what she calls the “most consequential” pieces of reporting she’s ever done, Sweeney was on the ground immediately following the July 4, 2022, mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

“There is a sense of, you do not want to miss the opportunity to fully absorb what’s going on,” Sweeny said. “And, importantly, not miss an opportunity to know how to follow up or connect with someone later.”

While it’s nothing like what happened in Highland Park last year, in October, I covered a breaking news scenario on the ground for the first time. Last fall, I rushed to the scene when a DePaul University student barricaded themselves in their dorm room at McCabe Hall.

I was hearing rumors that the student was threatening self-harm and rumors that they had a weapon. Other residents of the hall were gathered outside, barred from entering as a SWAT team made its way inside. Students were visibly frightened, and I couldn’t help but wonder if and how I should approach them.

Sweeney said she’s learned that while a reporter may want to hear witnesses’ accounts right away, it’s often better to make contact and give them a chance to speak in the future.

“That’s the that’s a balancing you do,” Sweeney said. “You’re saying, ‘I don’t want to miss this, I can see that this person is here and was involved and therefore might be a good source later to talk to, but I’m not going to ask them to be interviewed unless I feel like it’s an okay thing to do.’”

With other Tribune reporters, Sweeney initially reported what happened on the day of the event. In following up the story, she shifted to the role of state gun laws and how they played a part in the shooting, publishing that piece the next day.

Not until weeks and months later did Sweeney focus on the stories of those who were there that day and were directly traumatized by what took place. Sweeney said that she tries to approach victims delicately and thoughtfully, giving them space to only be a part of the story if they choose to be.

“You’re a total stranger to them, right?” Sweeney said. “It’s tough to invade somebody’s space right then and there and say, I’d like to include you in this story.”

Over the years, Sweeney said she learned some nuance in handling these conversations that allow her to show respect, while also leaving things open telling these people’s stories if they’re comfortable sharing.

“The longer I did it, [I] came to understand better ways,” she said. “You tell them, ‘Can I tell you we’re doing a story about this, and I want to be sure you have an opportunity to be part of it with whatever you’re thinking and feeling right now because I want it to be accurate.’”

In my story at McCabe Hall, I elected not to speak to these students on the record right away. In all honesty, I only refrained from speaking to them because I felt unprepared to. Going forward, I’ll remember the Sweeney method, and give them my contact information and the option of speaking to me later.

There are two types of sources we speak to: those who are seasoned veterans at speaking with reporters – like elected officials and public figures – and those who aren’t. When we’re speaking with people who likely have never been interviewed before, it’s important to remember the power we have.

The story of those directly affected by a traumatic event is important, but it is not more important than respecting the pain they’re feeling.

Give them space, and maybe, they’ll give their story.


Documentary, Journalism, and Storytelling as an Art

By Grace Golembiewski

Are documentary and journalism two separate mediums? I think it’s a question many in the industry grapple with, including myself. But for veteran photojournalist and editor Michael DelGiudice, his work melded the two mediums and blurred the line many often see when it comes to documentary and journalism.

Since 2006, DelGiudice has worked for WNBC-TV in New York City. The native Long Islander is an eight-time winner of the “Photographer of the Year” award from the National Press Photographers Association. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the documentary “Long Island Lighthouses” in 2001.

However, the long-time photog is also a father of two, a die-hard Mets fan, and has a soft spot for reality TV. Before our interview, he had just returned from shooting a water main break in New Jersey and was making the long trek back home through Manhattan and Queens, a two-hour drive in standstill New York Traffic.

“Literally, I got there, and within two hours, we were live on the air, and that’s adrenaline pumping, exciting, and whatever. But if I’m being completely honest, it’s not my favorite thing. My favorite thing is to work on projects.”

Throughout his career, between the hard news, DelGiudice shot four other documentaries, including one in Guatemala and another in Mexico. As someone who has shot for hard news and documentaries, I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought about the differences between the mediums; however, the photographer sees them as almost the same, including their ethical standards.

“I think because I have such a lengthy news background, I treat my time as when I was shooting documentaries as if I was doing news… Whether I’m telling someone’s story or telling the audience about something, whether it’s an event or someone’s life, or any of those things, I feel like I need to have the same ethical feel,” said DelGiudice. “So that line where it’s documentary as opposed to telling or giving the news to a viewer, to me, there’s no difference.”

Additionally, for the photojournalist, there are other similarities the two mediums share. He believes that documentary is art, yet journalism can also be art, just as a documentary can be as truthful and accurate as journalism.

“I truly feel like documentary is an art form, but there certainly are news elements to it, there’s no doubt. I think that’s honestly the best kind of documentary is that mixture of art and news,” DelGiudice said. He concludes that news and documentary are different forms of storytelling. I want to go one step further and say that since news and documentaries are different forms of telling a story, they are both art in their own ways.

The editor sees his work outside of the documentary framework, such as news features, as still being documentaries. He states these news features are almost mini documentaries. Because of the editing process and thoughtfulness it takes to create short news pieces; I can understand why he thinks this way.

The work I have done in my classes leads me to agree. Documentary and journalism go hand in hand. While some may see the two as separate mediums, I agree with DelGiudice that some of the work is the same. We both want to create an accurate representation with thoughtful sources and excellent imagery and, most importantly, tell an audience a captivating story.

At the end of the day, documentarians and reporters are storytellers who, like DelGiudice, use their viewfinders to capture the most beautiful imagery to bring a narrative to life.


The More Your Known, The More Likely You’ll Get the Story 

by Juliana Pelaez

If you watch big news stations like NBC 5 or ABC News, you’ll notice that a lot of reporters have been there for quite some time. None of them are your fresh-out-of-college reporter. With this it leaves the question of where they can go to get that first job.

John Quinones, an ABC news correspondent, whose name today is one that will spark the eyes of many, had trouble finding a place in the field after he graduated. He still holds many of those letters of rejection.

“Fifty letters of rejection that I got when I wanted to be a local reporter in Texas. When I was getting started. I had to go back to graduate school. I went to Columbia University,” Quinones said. “I couldn’t get a job in television, even though I wanted it so desperately. And I was applying everywhere.”

But even after graduating from Columbia and getting his foot into the door, some still pushed him away.

Quinones career went from starting out as a radio news editor at KTRH in Houston, Texas from 1975 to 1978 and he also worked as an anchor and reporter for KPRC-TV in Houston. He later reported for WBBM-TV in Chicago. Then in 1982, Quiñones started as a general assignment correspondent with ABC News based in Miami.

“Oftentimes, when I was getting started, I would be out in the field for weeks reporting on a story. And then as the story got bigger, they would send a more seasoned reporter to take the story basically away from me,” Quinones said.

Even though his passion lies within broadcast journalism, the lack of experience compared to a seasoned reporter apparently lacked credibility for the bosses in his news outlet. And his move from place to place to New York created a reluctance from others to allow him to initially gain that trust.

“So, when you’re young, you have more of a hesitancy in New York, people who don’t know you. You don’t have a proven track record…So, you wind up having to prove yourself more often. When as you gain experience and your stories continue to ring true,” Quinones said.

As a current graduate student, I had some struggles right off the bat after I finished my undergraduate degree. I was ignored and rejected from some positions, so I went to DePaul to advance my education. But among my peers here they said that people only hire if you have the experience from student media rather than the work you put in the classroom.

While that may be true for most, Quinones shared that what matters most is that your curiosity trumps experience. You want to find the truth and share it from your own experience. It may take some time to gain that credibility but what matters is that you can and want to do the job.

Or as Quinones said, “you will get big footed until you become a bigfoot.”

Innovation in journalism: Stephen Stock on how data supports investigations

by Lily Lowndes

CBS National Investigative Correspondent Stephen Stock says that innovation set him apart from his peers.

Stock started in broadcast journalism in the 1970s and has seen how much the industry has changed, from social media expanding the number of media outlets, to the popularization of data-driven reporting.

When you work in an innovative industry like broadcast journalism, you must be innovative yourself.

“Innovation fits with me,” Stock said. “I’ve been innovating for 10, 20 years because I came to realize that as a journalist and as a reporter, especially on TV, you need to stand out.”

Stock learned how to report with numbers and data before the practice was commonplace. Even as data has become a popular method for storytelling, Stock says that it is especially important today.

“Data has become one of the foremost tools that I think journalists can and should use,” Stock said.

The right data analysis can yield a powerful story. Stock does not bend the data to his needs, but in his investigations, he finds “the truth among the numbers.”

Knowing how to innovate and find key information from datasets is crucial because numbers do not lie, or as Stock said, “data can be an unimpeachable source.”

If step one is finding the data, the other half of innovation is finding the right story that reflects said data.

Stock gave an example of a story he completed recently about young children being arrested in school by resource officers. The team found data that exposed and supported the fact that this was a national problem, but the team also had to talk to a young person who was arrested to humanize and illustrate the problem.

Innovation is combining hard data with the touch of a human story.

“Innovation includes using data and music techniques to tell unimpeachable stories, investigative stories, while still maintaining the human character and finding people who experienced or live what the data shows,” Stock said.

To Stock, broadcast television is the journalistic media channel with the widest reach. When an important event occurs, whether it be a triumphant event like the moon landing or a catastrophe like 9/11, people want to watch and witness history.

Using this powerful medium to innovate and inform the public is crucial.

Stock has created a reputation for innovation in his career. Combining creativity with investigations has led stations to recruit Stock for building investigative teams in Orlando, Miami and San Francisco. He talks with newsrooms across the country about how they can innovate in their storytelling.

When he talks to these newsrooms and editors, Stock emphasizes that journalism is a calling. Journalists are called to do important work by telling stories that hold the powerful accountable, bring justice, uphold the forgotten, change policy and give voice to the voiceless.

Telling stories in innovative ways is the function of a good journalist. Learning new technology and pushing oneself to be creative helps journalists give their audiences compelling stories that can make a difference.

The data is there, the skills are waiting to be learned. We must continue to innovate in this innovative field.


Journalists are news consumers too. Do we value our local journalism enough?

By Emily Soto

If the local news outlets in Long Island had the support it needed, would George Santos be in office today? White House Reporter Aamer Madhani said, maybe not.

“But that’s crazy, right? Like, somebody got that far,” Madhani said. “And just basically, because he didn’t go through the typical vetting that the news media would put their candidates through…They just didn’t have the ability to cover it.”

As a White House reporter for the Associated Press, Madhani is now witnessing the fallout of Santos’ election, but he isn’t blaming the local journalists of Long Island for not learning of his obscure history earlier. In fact, Madhani is saying that with more resources in the local newsroom, the congressman’s campaign might have been exposed before he was elected to office.

Chicago’s news landscape is adapting to this need for increased local coverage. Outlets like South Side Weekly and Block Club Chicago have emerged to fill in these gaps. This isn’t new though. Madhani, a Chicago native, remembered growing up with a variety of publications to choose from.

“When I was a teenager, the Chicago Reader was an incredible place to figure out like, what to go listen to, or what was interesting and movies that was a little bit less stuffy than, like, reading about in the in the Tribune,” Madhani said. “I felt like [that] was a really great conduit for me, and all those types of places are gone now.”

So, all these years later, as he lives in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C., Madhani finds himself looking for that same coverage ─ but this time, with no luck.

“I’m a White House reporter now, but I care about how my local government is working, like, I have a child, how the school system is working, I care about the public transportation system I use, I care about the culture of this place…I want to know about the place I live, and I find it much harder than it should be,” Madhani said.

But to be a local journalist today, requires some pretty substantial sacrifices, according to Madhani. When he started at the Tribune nearly 25 years ago, journalists could spend their whole career in one place. Today, not so much.

“I heard these stories, more often than not, of like, reporters well into their career that were very established, doing side hustles just to make ends meet,” Madhani said. “I feel for that generation of reporters that are basically just 10, 12 years younger than I am, and how much it’s changed in that sense and how, perhaps, unless you’re willing to make some pretty substantial sacrifices, that being a local journalist is going to be a lot harder.”

So as journalists who recognize the need for local coverage, is there anything we can do to help these publications?

Madhani left Chicago 3 years ago for his current job. Yet to this day, he still pays for a subscription to Block Club Chicago.

“There’s zero reason for me now to need to know, like, what’s going on in Lakeview,” he said. “But [my wife and I] feel this need to like, at least support it because we as journalists, we understand the value of it, but it’s going away.”


From local to network, producers have the final say

BY: Kate Linderman

Sally Ramirez had reached the peak of a producer’s career. With decades of experience, she was tasked with building CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” from the ground up. The show aired for two years before the network announced the show’s cancellation last month putting Ramirez out of a job.

While one might think she’d join her husband in retirement, Ramirez said her career isn’t over. She said, “I would do it all over again,” referring to the CNBC show, and she said she is taking time to consider new job opportunities.

Ramirez has been a producer her entire career and says she was “born to be a journalist.” She started at USA Today’s The Television Show after completing her degree at DePaul University, worked her way through local networks across the country and ultimately ended up as the executive producer at CNBC’s ‘The News with Shepard Smith.’

Working with reporters throughout her career, she says the relationship is critical. “You have to trust your reporter and the reporter needs to trust you,” she said.

There are discrepancies between producers and reporters about what ultimately ends up on TV. Reporters may be in the field working on their own story, but Ramirez is behind the scenes curating the entire show.

“It’s a team who puts a show together. It’s not an individual,” she said, adding, “I would line produce the story that you’re telling from this, you know, open your show till the goodbye. The reporter is just part of that story. They have a story within a larger story that you’re trying to tell.”

From the show’s start to the end, Ramirez’s top priority is producing the truth. In the age of social media, she finds that to be more critical than ever. Misinformation, incorrect or misleading information, and disinformation, false information indented to deceive people, have constantly circulated social media since its inception.

Social media creates the buzz for potential stories, but false information is rampant on social media. In newsrooms, “When do you cover a story, you know, as a true, circulating everywhere?”

While a breaking story may get caught in misinformation that should be later corrected, Ramirez says that on-air TV is no place to address disinformation.

“Those are really hard to justify giving them any airtime,” she said. “They’re so ludicrous, it’s like really like that too. They’re looking for more attention. They’re way more extreme.”

Though Ramirez says she does not know what comes next, she knows that her journalism career will continue.

“I tell everybody that I work with the best of the best on that team, to a person, their true professionals, excellent journalists, and I have zero regrets,” she said.


Being Outnumbered in the Newsroom Should Only Blossom Your Culture

KXAN’s Tahera Rahman, the first Muslim woman to wear hijab on-air shares the cold, hard truth about minority experiences in the industry.

By Sela Estill

Operating in an industry where you don’t look like everyone else can be tough. Sometimes, aspiring journalists of color feel they must adapt to the Eurocentric standards of the newsroom. Sometimes someone blows up that model completely. Take for instance, Loyola University alumna and KXAN Austin’s reporter/producer Tahera Rahman. She began her career facing more than enough pushback for embracing her Muslim culture during the hiring process.

“As someone who’s been in the industry, and through that process, you know, kind of the coded language that comes your way. So, for example, ‘we decided to go a different direction’. That’s like a common phrase I heard,” said Rahman. “And it’s not ‘til after the fact that you find out that you know, it, or you realize that your qualifications are either the same or much better than a lot of the other candidates, but you’re not getting that job for some reason.”

While the sting of rejection can be discouraging, the NBC Austin reporter recalled using that opportunity to defend herself by standing her ground. Despite Muslims in hijab being underrepresented on television, Rahman knew her worth and decided to push her true self forward. She argued that she couldn’t authentically be herself unless viewers could see her for who she is–a woman of Islam.

On February 8th, 2018, Rahman made history as the first full-time Muslim reporter to proudly wear hijab on screen at WHBF-TV, located on the Illinois-Iowa border.  She remembered the surreal feeling of taking that leap of faith and broadcasting her authentic self-on-air.

“It’s something that I had been dreaming, hoping, praying for years. It was also scary, because internally I was thinking, oh my gosh, what if I had tried to pursue this for the last like, five years, and I hate it when I actually do it,” said Rahman. “But I’ve never regretted my decision ever since. So, it was worth the hard work with the patience, with the prayers.”

The Illinois native’s name also became a topic of internal conflict in terms of pronunciation. Rahman admitted that she intentionally pronounced her name unauthentically due to the frustration of others butchering it.

“Ever since high school, I said ‘tuh-hair-uh’, because that’s what I realized, was easier for non-Muslims to say, I’m sick of like, repeating my name eight times, until they got it right. So, I just kind of whitewashed it to begin with and introduced myself as ‘tuh-hair-uh ra-men’ and that’s how I set it up on air,” said Rahman.

 “And about a year or two ago, I made it my New Year’s resolution to say it authentically, say my name authentically. So, I say ‘tah-hair-uh rauh-man’, so my first live shot of the new year, that’s how I signed off,” she said.

Making your on-air debut can put a lot of pressure on reporters of color. Many must make sacrifices such not wearing the hairstyle of their choice to work. As a black woman, I often fear pushback when it comes to wearing my hair in certain styles.

I find myself switching it up depending on the time of the year. In the summertime when the air is humid, I enjoy rocking knotless braids, and in the winter, I usually have a sew-in-weave or wigs. The variety of styles to choose from must be my favorite part about getting my hair done, and a part of my culture that I refuse to sacrifice completely.


Thoughts and sentiments from a professional journalist

By Ariana Allen

Picking a career in journalism is often a case of what if’s. What if I don’t like my station? What if the city isn’t a good fit? What if my starting pay isn’t where I want it to be? These questions and more went through the mind of multimedia journalist Danielle Church of WGRZ in Buffalo, New York, and for Church, some of the what if’s came true.

A DePaul alum, she spent time mulling over her career decision before choosing a place to begin her professional life.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to actually do it because I didn’t want to leave Chicago,” Church, who grew up in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, said of her feelings at the time. She eventually decided to go for it and started a career in journalism in Fargo, North Dakota.

For a lot of students finding a place or as those in the business say, “news market”, the move is often one of the biggest challenges, as first markets are usually in smaller, less familiar towns. Many students are taught that the way to make it to a bigger market like Chicago or Los Angeles, is to work their way up gradually…still, this process can be daunting.

When it came time to leave Chicago’s Lincoln Park and move to the upper midwest, Church had some reservations.

“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty tough…It’d be different if you were moving to a place that you really wanted to go but Fargo, North Dakota is very, very cold. Like -40 degrees [in the winter],” Church said of the move she ultimately made.

While in Fargo, she wanted to familiarize herself with all aspects of the job so she asked her news director if she could try something new.

“I’d really like to learn to produce and learn to anchor,” Church said, and he partially obliged, allowing her two days a week to produce. While Church did gain experience, she realized producing wasn’t really for her.

“I don’t like producing at all. I think it’s very boring,” she said of the behind-the-scenes newsroom job.

When her contract was coming to an end, Church began looking to land elsewhere, but the job search did not go as smoothly as she wanted.

“It took me about six months to find my next job in Buffalo. It wasn’t my first interview, but it was the first station to call me back,” she recalled.

During her interview in Buffalo, the job wasn’t exactly what she hoped as it did require some production, but Church still decided to go for it.

“I was like well this is a good station. I can put in the work and show them I’m a team player and hopefully I’ll be out of [producing] soon.”

Church did eventually work her way through producing and doesn’t do it as frequently anymore, but after almost five years in the business, Church’s future in the career is undecided.

“I just don’t know if I’m going to stay in it to be honest with you,” she said.

Her uncertainty stems from feelings of being underappreciated in the newsroom.

“You work your ass off to get these story ideas…and sometimes I don’t feel like I’m listened to or like my ideas are always on the back burner.”

Church continued, “Everybody is so excited [about going into their first market] which is great. But I really wish somebody would have sat me down and been like, listen, this is what it’s like.”

After listening to her talk about the business, her story rang out as one that is not shared nearly enough as it should with future on-air reporters. The reality is, the starting pay is low, hours are unusual, and most will be far from home if they weren’t already while in college. Being a reporter is a job for those who have a real passion for storytelling and who are willing to take on the responsibility of having such a crucial role in society. Church’s vulnerability allows others to see the truth behind being a new reporter, ultimately showing how good of a journalist she really is by revealing the other side of a story not many are willing to tell.


Separating the reporter from the cause

By: Abena Bediako

The SPJ code of ethics is clear and direct. Fred Brown wrote them as a guide for professional journalists and made it a point to leave nothing open for interpretation. Whenever they are faced with a difficult decision concerning a story, their reporting skills, or their character, the codes should lead them down the right path.

Former executive producer for ABC News “Nightline,” Tom Bettag believes the standards for journalism are set and clear.

“Journalism is a profession with very specific standards for what you can and what you can’t do,” said Bettag. “And I think they’re pretty well laid out. And pretty well agreed.”

However, there are situations cloudier than others. The code reads journalists must seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent. Some of these principles have become more difficult to follow than others – specifically acting independently.

I’m not referring to reporters publicly aligning themselves with political parties. It’s clear that should never be a topic of discussion. However, there are other movements and acts they might find difficult to separate themselves from.

Journalism is one of the few professions where separating the worker from the occupation is not an option. Frank Whelan, a features writer, participated in a Pride parade in 2006 as a co-grand marshal. Whelan and his partner chose this day to celebrate themselves and their relationship. But does participating in a gay parade contrast with acting independently?

Gay pride might fall under a political issue for some, and others see it as part of their identity. Supporting gay rights doesn’t have to affect your reporting skills, but the audience may not see it the same way. Other journalists might question the act as well.

“I think if you’re a journalist, you’re a journalist, and you can’t take your journalist hat off,” said Bettag. “You know this whole thing about to what extent can you go marching in a parade, like Black Lives Matter, these are really tough issues. And each one of us has to decide that for ourselves.”

Whelan decided and chose himself. He took two days off, considered unpaid suspension by his employer, and never looked back. He felt his job’s reaction to being in the parade fell under the category of sexual discrimination, age discrimination, and defamation. And he proved this with three lawsuits. Whelan was faced with the challenge of choosing between his humanity and his role as a reporter. For issues like this one, reporters must consider things like objectivity and credibility.

“Credibility is so rare that we are in the credibility business. If we are more than anything else trying to be accurate, then we have a chance of being credible,” said Bettag.

While Bettag agrees that credibility must always play a role, he has different views about objectivity.

“The word objectivity, I think, is not a good one. I don’t think journalism ever tried to be objective, that’s an impossibility because we are all brought up with different backgrounds. The goal is to be fair and open-minded. The journalist is saying, ‘I will always keep an open mind.’”

Journalists are not activists and vice versa. A reporter’s opinion and stance on a specific issue should never interfere with their work. They need to remain open-minded because they don’t work to serve themselves. They work to serve the public. Acting otherwise could tarnish their integrity and credibility.


The social media strategies of newsrooms affect their stories

By: Monique Mulima

 Like most people I know around my age, I get most of my news from social media. As more people cut the cord and get rid of cable they’re turning to social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok or Facebook rather than sitting down to watch the nightly news.

Although younger people may associate public media like NPR or PBS with their parents or grandparents’ generation tuning in on their car radio or watching afternoon television, publicly funded news organizations are also adapting to the world of social media news.

Geoff Bennett, chief Washington correspondent for PBS NewsHour spoke about how public media has had to think about how and where people will see their stories.

“The way that people consume news now is completely divorced from the way we program it,” said Bennett.

When news stories appear on social media it’s usually just a couple minute clip. Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have limits on how long videos can be and on social media users are more likely to engage with short videos.

This means that when people see news online, they won’t be seeing it in the context of a full broadcast or previous coverage. Bennett explained that because of this it’s important to think of every story as a distinct segment on its own that should be “accurate, engaging and tell the full story.”

With more staff and larger budgets corporate for-profit media like CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox etc., are able to invest more money into breaking stories and expanding their digital outreach compared to public media. But Bennett, who has worked at both NBC and PBS, believes that public media has strengths that can help them excel on social media too.

Bennett explained that the time public media has to put together stories allows them to provide more context and tell a more complete story, even if they’re not the ones who broke the news .

“The approach, quality and content of public media is unmatched,” said Bennett.

One example of a recent public media news story I saw on Twitter that did this well was a social media video by Chicago’s local PBS station, WTTW, about why Chicago’s recycling program problems persist. This video was just over 2 minutes long and told the story through animations and graphics touching on issues with the system, the history of it and how it compares to other cities. Although recycling may not always be the most interesting topic, the video’s graphics and pacing made me want to keep watching.

The video told a full story and provided context in a visually engaging way, but it’s also a story that would have taken time. To animate this would have taken from a few days to a week, and then there would have also been time needed for research and writing. This isn’t a story that could be turned around on a short one-day deadline, which would usually be required for breaking news. But since public media is often given more time to work on stories, they were able to put together this piece and still peg it to America Recycles Day.

These types of opportunities that public media has to offer much needed context to stories and stick with them longer is what Bennett thinks public media should be doing more of.

“Public media needs to find new ways to innovate and own the lanes that they should own,” said Bennett.

In contrast, corporate media focuses more of their social media strategy on breaking news. One example of this is how NBC Chicago was able to quickly turn around videos from election night like Darren Bailey conceding, and post them to social media. Breaking news online like this on tight deadlines is something corporate media is able to do well because they have more staff.

The two approaches of longer storytelling with more context and breaking news are both needed on social media. Users want to know what’s happening in the moment and also want to know the context of why it’s important.

As where people get their news continues to change, newsrooms need to think about how their stories stand on their own, so that the public can have sources where they can get reliable and fact-checked information both on television and online.