This Week in Richmond: VCU Professors and VCU Capital News Service Students
This. Week in Richmond, is made possible in. Part by the. Virginia. Education Association. An. Investment. In teachers today will, pay dividends, tomorrow. Dignity. Memorial the. Dignity, network provides, professional and, compassionate funeral. Memorial. Cremation. And cemetery, services, throughout, the Commonwealth, of Virginia Virginia. Hospital. And Health Care Association for. Jobs the, economy and, public health. Committed. To advancing health, and economic, opportunity. For all Virginians, Virginia. Tourism corporation, promoting. Why Virginia, is for lovers lovers. Of wine and craft beers, the outdoors, beaches, history, music and more fall, in love with Virginia, at Virginia, org. Additional. Support provided by, these sponsors. And by. The members, of Virginia's. Public television, stations. Thank, you. Welcome. To this week in Richmond, and a very special welcome to, two professors of VCU, who are working, with students in the capital, News Service. Dr.. Karen McIntyre appreciate, your being with us very much in Jeff South and. We. Want you to before. We hear from some students later in the show we want you to tell, us something about the background, of Capitol new service which I believe has been around since the, 1990s, sometime. Right David so, Capitol. New service was started in 1994. By, a. Professor. Emeritus. Named. Wilma. Wirt, former, journalist from Texas, came to work at VCU started, on Capitol News Service primarily. To serve weekly papers that. Did not have a presence of the Capitol and so, it's been in existence since then. What's. Really fun, that I just learned was that when it started in 1994. The, students, were typing on typewriters. And laying, out their stories, via snail, mail, interesting. Interesting, a lot of change a lot of interest yeah maybe, even they were calling in some stories, or short ones or something some way to try to get it get it out there and it, really has expanded. Significantly. Because. Of the work. That you all have been doing and because of the diminishing. Number of, people. Who. Are here at the Capitol this, is true. I've. Been affiliated with the program since the early 2000s. And. Back, then, I would. Go up to the General, Assembly Building were, in the basement there's a press room there was um. And I would have to Crowell with some police tape you. Know three, or four chairs, for captive news service back in October, well before the session started because, small. Newspapers, at that time we're sending reports. The Capitol for the session and rightly so they once basically in the press room - sure so there's a lot of competition. Since. Maybe, five or six years ago it's. Been more like a ghost town there and I, there's, there's. A real need I think for more. Feet. On the ground more. Reporters, to cover things that in, the General Assembly know, you both teach at BCU and I was interested as I was did a little bit of research of some unique, things that I think could be interested for you to tell the public about positive. Psychology. Techniques. One. Of the areas, that you concentrate, somewhat. What what are you teaching these young journalists, good. Question so. I. Focused. A lot of my research on what's called constructive, journalism. Or. Solutions, journalism. And this. Is, I. Define, it as taking. Techniques. From the field of positive psychology and, applying, it to the news process, to. Try to make stories that are more productive. More, solution-focused, more. Forward-looking, so, it's not always just, negativity. And conflict, all the time not, just the old simple who what when where why and how something, like that but to, try to get, who. What when where why and how but also now, what next oh yeah.
To Try to try, to focus on on, more. Kind of action, and more engagement. And more productivity, in the nice it's interesting our last class was, really focused, on that topic and so Karen, led the students, through, an. Exercise. Of thinking about these, ideas and, how. Journalism. So often, focuses on problems, and never, looks at the solutions, and so. This, is a way of turning, the tables and and not, to do happy news journalism, but, to do better, journalism, that that's not just how bad. Things are but what can people do to make them better I really, like the analogy, that you know think about a parent, who tells a child. Only all, of the bad things that they do you, know is that a healthy, way to raise a child no. It doesn't work for parenting, and it's not gonna work for journalism for society, either if journalists, only, tell the public all of the negative things that are going on we, need to definitely, that's, an important part of the job but also not forget about all the progress, and, growth, and, accomplishment. That's going on as you, know not that it's the same of what you're doing but I can vaguely remember. The early days of the Christian Science Monitor. And which. Positive. News. I don't, know if it was all positive news but it was presented, in a positive light I think rather than negative, yeah, and, and this can be done without straying. Into advocacy or. Losing. One's objectivity. Those. Solutions, can of course be across the board and it's not, advocating. For any one solution is just saying here's, how other communities maybe have addressed gun violence, or the, opioid, epidemic and. Giving. A broader, spectrum. Of what, people are talking about and they're not just talking about the problems they're also talking about the solutions, Jeff, your some of your background for 20 years you were a reporter and I noticed that one of your teaching, areas, that you're doing. As computer-assisted. Reporting. Yeah. Now, what what is that because Karen, was talking about the early days of the Capitol News Service they were using the typewriter, mm-hmm, no computers, well. Car. Computer, system reporting is. Nowadays, has. Been reframed, as data journalism, and it really means bringing. Bringing. Data and bringing, social science, methods, to journalism, when. I was a reporter years, ago in Dallas. At the Dallas Times Herald, the. Stories we did were often, very random, we'd see another. Bagel shop open, up and suddenly Oh bagels. Are hot let's do a story about of this trend right and we never really knew whether it was a trend and now, because. Of a number, of improvements. In society, including the open. Data that a lot of governments including the state of Virginia put online, reporters. And other people can, really. Find out whether something is a trend and so, I try, to teach journalists. How to bring that, data, sensibility. To. Their reporting, so. That stories, aren't just he said she said or anecdotal, but they're also analytical. Students. That you work with found, they have a variety of perspectives. On, issues on. Of their own that, they have. Biases. Or whatever it might be called. How. Did you work with them to know, so if I read, one of the stories I'm not really seeing. Their. Point of view what is, that a challenge, at all or how do you work on that yes certainly I mean throughout. Their, education. You know in the Robertson School where we're, always working on that and being you, know bringing, objectivity, to journal journal. ISM as much as it's possible but, one thing that's, really nice, about working. With these younger students is that they, do tend, to really care about a lot of interesting. Social justice, issues and so they gravitate. Toward, those, and. Then, we you know we're getting some coverage of stories that we might not otherwise have, gotten so it's a benefit of having you, know 28, different.
Millennial. Perspectives, in the room yeah and we. Have. Students walk, through that process of. Thinking. Who, would disagree with this story how, can we go to, the other side and get make. This so that it embraces, lots, of different voices and students, are pretty good checking themselves I mean everyone. Has a bias and I think we. Need to acknowledge that and then we need to make sure that that. Bias doesn't show in our journalism. There's, a an, exercise. That a group, called, the Maynard Institute, in. Oakland. California has, called, the fault lines and it's basically. This. Concept, that you should look at where you are with. Regard, to the different fault lines in society. Male-female. Black/white. You know. Whether. You live in the city or you live in the rural areas and. Acknowledge. Where you are but then make. Sure that you include voices, and perspectives. From, other sides, of those fault lines and, we'll. Do, our sweep, reach that to our students that they really need to make sure that their stories, have, a diversity, of voices, politically. Of course and in. Lots of different ways and. Former. Students, from, your, relatively. Few years so far at VCU and your probably. Have former students that are all over the place now working. In different papers. And different media outlets and must must, give you a good feeling to know that they. Went on into the profession, and they got, a real job yeah, yeah I, mean more so you I've this is just my third year and so, a lot of my students are still still, in school, but. I know I hear stories all the time about, about, our former students yeah we've got a. Pretty. Good, briefcase. Of success, stories out there one, young man, Amir, Viera, went, from, VCU. And not just CNS. But other classes. That he took really prepared, him for a career that, took him to a small newspaper in Petersburg, the progress index and then, to the virginian-pilot where. He spent the past two years and this. Week started, at CNN, so. You. Know it's, that kind of trajectory. And. Some of the arcs ENS clients. Well it's not uncommon for them to hire students. After. They graduate, who reported, for seeing this as well thank you very much for giving the background, Karen Jeff and we're. Gonna in, just a moment we're gonna hear from some of the students of what they're doing so thank you very much John thank, you thank, you David. It's. Great to have three young journalists, here today. Your, professors, talked about the news service, Capital News service but we're interested in finding out from you but what.
You're Doing it at all three seniors, at VCU, to make sure I get your names right it's Jessica wetzler, all right Logan. Bogert. And. Alexandra. Sussex, and, I've. Read some of your stories, the, viewers, have probably read, some of your stories but maybe they didn't pay attention to, the byline and see, the story and. I'm interested in having you tell us about some of your favorite ones, I tell, you I'll start with, you if I could Alexandra, I enjoyed. Your story on the Richmond women's March and. What. What, about that story or other stories, and then let's hear from each of you tell about some of the stories that you've worked on maybe some you're still working on some. You anticipate. Working on before the legislative, session and so start us off yes, sir well I really. Enjoy shooting, video in the broadcast, aspect, of journalism, so I was able to go and shoot, the March for, our VA mag my. Specific, client for Capital News service, which, was a great opportunity. The, which the. Women's March was huge in DC and have a sister March in Richmond I think let, a lot of our local, people. In Richmond know that hey it's here too and not just in DC and have the opportunity, as a student, which. Is more than I could ask for, Logan. I read about your IAT, one part and about the Beltway sniper, what, about one, of those or one of your other stories, that's been your favorite, thus far I think the Beltway sniper was my favorite, because. I got to go listen to the court. Proceedings and I'm really looking forward to when they make a decision on his case to see if he'll get. His reduced. Sentence, so, I'm following, that. So I'm hoping maybe. By March 1st they'll have a decision on the Beltway sniper case right and. I've, read yours, about the food deserts, and there, was I don't know if that's one of your favorites, but what about your stories, I mean. I would consider it one of my favorites it was one of the first ones that I started, off with. Other. Favorites, were probably I did I covered a women's, here in Richmond, they might here at the Capitol and it was really, interesting, to hear so many people speak and have the governor come in and just. The. Powerful. Like. Atmosphere. From it was really cool. And interesting to just be a part of now. During the legislative, session. You're not done here full time or you see juggling, taking classes, do you have any classes this, semester as, you're wrapping up your senior, year so, how, many how many hours are you able to be down here at the Capitol, it, really depends, on the week honestly, I think for, each of us I, believe we're all full-time, students, I even. Have an internship on, top of this so it's really whenever, we find the space in our schedule, if it's, a story that we're really passionate about you know we work them we, work some things out and we, make sure that we get down here to cover the story. Logan. Yeah, I try to spend at least one day a week, finding. Time most. The time I end up in the morning because I work, two jobs as, well as going to school full-time so, usually I go to the early morning, sessions. Or events, or weekend events like the inauguration and the woman's March in DC, Jessica. I guess you're juggling things too yes. Yeah I have a part-time job and an internship as well so I'm juggling, just as much as they are buying, find, that going to the 7 o'clock meeting, since 7:30 sub-community. Meetings that's where you really can, fit that time and when you don't have it necessarily between classes, and other responsibilities. Sorry. Are you a part. Of capital new service you kind of pick, the stories or do you get anything assigned, to you or do you get to pick, where you are really interested, we. Pick for the most part your client paper might. Pitch something to, us and then we follow through with that and our. Professors are really good about sharing tips. With us like hey just, so you know this is coming up someone might want to cover this but, for the most parts whatever you're interested in and whatever you see fit in your schedule.
Seems. Like to me just. Casual. Observing, there have been more news, conferences. This. Particular, session than some of the previous, ones now maybe, you weren't down here last year the year before but, almost. Every other day someone, is having news conference, do you cover some of those. Yes. I specifically, haven't covered a news conference this legislative, season I've been driven more towards events, but, I do, know from the stories that get sent to us from, our classmates, that there are a lot, of news conferences, something that I think is. A great aspect. Of CNS is that there's, 28 of us so we can cover so many stories that local. News, organizations simply, can't get to so we get to give exposure, to other stories that might just not, be known otherwise, yeah. Each, of you have a certain, news outlet, that your provide. Stories to I got that, that. Impression, from some comments you were making but if that's yours we do have we, get clients the beginning of this semester when we start the class so mine is for, the Eastern. Shore news so. Mostly I'm covering whatever happening in Eastern Shore Chesapeake, Bay area anything. Over, there also the Chiquitita Islands, so. Anything, in that area that's why I usually focus on, yeah. My client paper is. Here now and I'm from Culpepper, so they're. Right next to each other so it's been nice to be somewhere, at local what I know the area right, it. Yours I have two clients I have. Our VA mag and I, have WH, SBT, v3 in Harrisonburg, so. I report, for them as well whether, that means shooting video or writing print stories that serve their interest. It's. Interesting. That. There are 28, of you you say and are, several. Of you doing. Broadcast. As well as print or most. Everyone focused on print or what is it it was a real mixture among your colleagues, you're. The only double. Major, yes. So there's two or I believe three now of. Us who, are double concentrations, for print online and broadcast, journalism. Broadcast. Journalism is more. Of my passion but, I do want to be around, a well-rounded, journalist. So. I'm looking for areas to really hone, my craft in. Shooting. Film and writing. Stories and taking, pictures to. Really create those stories that have multimedia. Thanks to them, so. The senior, year will be ending, in May. Do, you have interest. In pursuing. This. Area. Of work that you're in or what's, what's, next, for you luckily. I have till December, to make that a. Little. Bit more but, I'm definitely pursuing. Going, into like a newspaper feels, probably, maybe a magazine field, I have internship, internship. Intern, shipping, with Richard magazine right now and then, in the summer I'll be with the Henrico citizen newspaper so, it's gonna be nice getting a bit, of both oh that's good practice, that's. Good I never thought I would be interested in political writing, at all but this class is really giving me the opportunity, so I'd love to keep that open in the future but the, quick pace of cns makes, me really think that I want to work somewhere that's a daily or, at, least weekly publication. I. Will also graduate a little bit later I will be graduating at the end of summer in August, however. I did have the opportunity to intern for CBS, six last, semester and I'm getting ready to start my internship on, Monday with NBC, twelve so I'd, love to dabble. Into what opportunities, may be out there after graduation. Yeah, ask your professors, about this let me get your perspectives. Everyone. Has, a point of view. How. Do, you work, on your. Point of view being, yourself, and, and. Covering, a story that. Maybe that doesn't. Really fit with what you really. Think or believe have you had that challenge with any of the stories that you've been reporting and how do you sort of work that out because you.
Know The criticism, that comes from many of your older, colleagues, are out in the profession, that you would you could see their bias their. Bias comes, through in. Print, or. On. Film so how, how. How are you learning about that in classes, and how are you trying. To practice that while you're part, of Capitol News Service I think. It's really important that when you're writing a story that you're writing for your readers not for yourself, so, when you're going into a story and you're thinking you're, having a you're painting star come out it's, good to like, backtrack and make sure that you're keeping an. Open playing field because it's you're, notifying. The people about it not really for. Yourself because you already know what happened I, think. You have to find things that maybe. We're interested, in first go to a meeting about some, legislation, that maybe, you're not personally interested in but just go and give it a try and our, professors are really great about making sure we cover, both sides and, get, all the information we need to have. A you. Know very unbiased. Piece. Yes. I think everyone has their own writing, style in their voice in their story which is really important, but it's also important, to separate, what. Is your writing style and what is your bias which, is a really hard thing but like, my classmates were saying professor south, and our other two professors have been really great about if we even cover an event or a meeting and there doesn't happen to be another side how do we research and find that other side to, bring in. Different. Perspectives to show that there is not that bias. What. Do y'all think about fake news your, that said a lot so if someone says you're oh you're, in journalism. Isn't. That perfect, you scums you get people throwing that up to you and and, then, what do you tell them in response, yeah. I've. Come to dislike. The term fake news because, I think, even saying the word news. You. Know fake you're implying that that it's still news and it's not you know so I think, it's really hard when people have this impression of the media today to, try to prove to them why.
You're. Different as a journalist why you can, report, fairly, and you, know it's, hard to break that from some people who have, this really negative impression of the media today you. Probably hear that from some of your classmates. Every. Day, honestly. I've had to learn to just let it roll off my shoulders and laugh because it's. It's, come up and it's never going to go away now so the best that we can do is report. Fairly, and a cure and candidly and. Laugh. At the memes we see on social media and know that we're doing the best that we can. Do. I hear a lot of it for my family honestly, and I try and let tell them like if you're looking at a story online make, sure you're double-checking, that source like don't. Necessarily, read it and believe, at first hand like make sure you're checking the date it was published is. The source itself, a reliable, source is an organization, that's publishing from reliable. Because, if you're not if you're taking the information that's given and not really taking the amount of time to double-check. It then, you're falling into that loop where it's not a reliable new source and it's fake news and, it's, more on your, part that it's not, working out. And. Though you're not a reporter, is a person reading that you report what you've read and it scared you know I have. Fallen. A couple of times into a trap it's easy to see a story and pass it on to a friend and the friend would say hey David that, was a year ago that. That. Story was written because things in particularly, social media, can be put. Out there without really the date being prominent. Where you can see it so that's it's, a good, point you make before, our last minute or so runs out what do you want to tell the viewers, and and, tell people who might be interested in this field what's your pitch to them, about. Why. Should people get into this field, of work. I. Think. Now more than ever we're in a time where people want to know what the truth is and they. Need to know who they can trust and, so if. Informing. People holding. People, of power in. Position accountable, is something, that is, passionate. Something. You're passionate about. Being. Able to communicate with, your community, I would, say this field is for you and VCU, and Capital News Service have every opportunity for, people our age to be side, by side with the professionals, who've been in it for decades, I'm getting a signal that our time is up thank each of you for being on this week in Richmond thank you thank you. This. Week in Richmond, is made possible in.
Part By, the. Virginia, Education Association. An. Investment. In teachers today will, pay dividends, tomorrow. Dignity. Memorial the. Dignity, network provides, professional and, compassionate funeral. Memorial. Cremation. And cemetery, services, throughout, the Commonwealth, of Virginia Virginia. Hospital. And Health Care Association for, jobs the, economy and, public health. Virginia, tourism. Corporation, promoting. Why Virginia, is for lovers lovers. Of wine and craft beers, the outdoors, beaches, history, music and more fall, in love with Virginia, at Virginia, org. Additional. Support provided by, these sponsors. And by. The members, of Virginia's. Public television stations. Thank. You. You.