By Alex Harrsingh and Jacob Atkins
NBC4 reporter David Culver joined us and provided an inside look at the battle between print and broadcast journalists on breaking news stories. Both he and our previous guest, Washington Post reporter Taylor Shapiro, are covering the story of missing UVA coed Heather Graham.
- It’s his second year at NBC4.
- He’s usually out in the field covering stories in Northern Virginia.
- Went to college at College of William and Mary.
- He always wanted to go into journalism and communications but his college had no journalism or communications programs. However, he said that you don’t have to have to go through a journalism or communications program to go into journalism.
- His first internship was at WRC in between sophomore and junior year of college. He pitched the idea of a writing a blog while in Spain to keep in touch with WRC. He did it for his 5 months abroad.
- Later, his college president removed a historic cross from the school chapel. Christian conservative alumni stopped donating after that. The backlash forced him to resign and the president told the students. Culver sent an email to WRC, who then sent an anchor to the school to cover the story. Culver provided important assistance. Culver later got a job as web producer of the WRC site during senior year, per that anchor’s recommendation. Culver was able to post his own content on the site, resulting in air time as well. It turned into a reporter position, and then into an anchor position. He wanted to come home, back to Virginia, so NBC4 worked out for him.
- During his sophomore in high school he sent emails to WRC and was able to develop a relationship for when he was ready to work. He knew his limits, and adopted a strategy of "pleasant persistence.”
- He says you should maintain a true relationship rather than only contacting people when you want something.
- Craft new emails each time you email a potential employer.
- Make more personal relationships (not work related).
- Invest in people even when others might not.
- You have to be very focused on every word you use, the slightest bad word choice can “burn a source.”
- Be genuine and develop relationships with genuine people.
Creating good relationships with sources:
- You have to be able to develop stories through sources.
- His family was his original source.
- He started to meet people in PR offices and then made relationships with people in the field.
Experiences with broadcast and print journalism:
- He says that sometimes in broadcast you need the time to gather information. Related story- He presented the police predictions for the arrival of hannah graham suspect during a broadcast. It turns out the suspect came in 20 minutes before the broadcast and drove behind Culver during it.
- Time constraints for on air programs makes it harder to get more developed stories.
- Print journalism allows for more time to simply observe.
Advantages of print: time to tell full stories, space, don’t have to monitor possible stories as there are more reporters
Advantages of broadcast: easier to develop relationship with viewer, visuals are a big advantage
- He never looked at the web as demise of TV, more complementary instead
Do you work from script or just go with it?
Recorded: script goes through various people before it gets to Culver.
Live: Bullet points.
Is the quality of news threatened by the new on-demand media consumers?
Education vs. entertainment: he considers himself to be an entertainer and educator. He
tries to put out the strongest points while keeping the audience in mind. He tries to bring facts while also bringing emotion.
Is it ever hard to keep your own emotions contained?
With breaking news, he will present the story through his own eyes. With politics, he will have no issue not showing emotion. Basically to be genuine when it’s necessary.
Have you ever had to not run a story because of who the story is about?
Managers would prevent a story if there was a lack of information, but not because of who the story is about.
With really big stories, do you ever scramble for information in between broadcasts?
He has to be writing stories in advance for future broadcasts, like planning out the 6:00 show during the 5:00 show. So if new information pops up then it will be in the proceeding show.
With on demand society, do you find yourself judging stories by their interest?
He can make stories interesting even when there might not be a large audience interest in what the story would have been.
How is being cuban american in the industry?
He notes that minorities go in cycles. That there is a push to get more hispanics on air so the growing population can relate, although, there is also a necessity to communicate (can you speak spanish?)
Were you well versed in camera equipment?
He has a camera and has learned the skills for behind the scenes camera work.
Does your personal image ever work against you?
While he filters himself a little bit, he won't try to fit a mold. However, earlier on in his career he tried to emulate other anchors. He quickly learned that being genuine was better. Also, while it is hard to get credibility considering his age, his age can also be used as an advantage.
Is there a possibility for a personal life in your field?
Yes there are opportunities for a social life, but in his case he’s so passionate he does not see a major need for a social life.
Class Notes on Broadcast Journalism
Words to live by: write for the ear, not the eye
Goal: you are writing news for the anchor to read off with as much clarity and simplicity as possible
Major differences between print and broadcast journalism:
· Unlike print journalism, broadcast journalists write in the PRESENT TENSE
o The present tenses conveys the IMMEDIACY of a story, which is an advantage of broadcast journalism
o Example: A Washington man is dead tonight after his car flipped on I-495
· Put attributions before quotes rather than after
o Example: GOP leader says the Teat Party scandal could cost Republicans the Senate
· Never use “quote marks.” Instead you must explicitly write out the quote for the news anchor to deliver the news
o Example: The principal of Longfellow Elementary School says, quote, get to class kids, unquote
· Don’t abbreviate words unless completely necessary
o Example: not NAACP but N-DOUBLE-A-C-P
· Unlike the inverted pyramid structure in print journalism, broadcast journalism uses an oval structure to tell stories to viewers
o Climax à Cause à Effect (in that order)
· Avoid numbers unless completely necessary
o If you do use them, round off
Remember: your audience is in a hurry, so your writing should be brief, concise and without jargon
Remember: use short, simple tenses and write in the active voice
Remember: viewers have their hands on the clicker so get to the point fast and stress the immediacy of a story
Homework for Thursday October 23rd:
1. Pick three out of the four highlighted stories and write leads for them in a broadcast journalism format. Have them available to pull on your computers
2. Review this url: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/01 to refresh yourself about writing in the present tense