A Little Birdy Told Me…week of 4/30/12

It’s Friday, yay! Hope the start of your May is going well. I’m glad to be back in the blogging saddle after a little bit of a hiatus. And speaking of saddles, I’ll also be watching the Kentucky Derby tomorrow afternoon and sipping on a refreshing Mint Julep. What a way to kick off the homestretch month before the start of summer. So, if you’re also enjoying a refreshing cocktail (or two) this weekend, here are a few posts of interest to read as well–enjoy!

Ditch the Corporate Speak from PR Writing by @ArikHanson:

I recently laughed out loud (yes, I mean LOL’d) at a press release sent by a former employer. It said so much and so little in two pages that it was clearly a case of corporate speak running over common sense.

Arik Hanson presents an interesting challenge to PR pro’s to take a stand against the over-use of corporate buzzwords in press releases.

I am guilty of committing many of those terms, as many of us are, as they’ve engrained themselves into the corporate dialect that many leaders just assume the common consumer/stakeholder uses them too. It’s more of a learning curve that PR folks need to catch their corporate clients up to speed on how to clearly communicate messages without muddying the waters with too much jargon.

Ten Most Censored Countries by @pressfreedom:

May 3 was World Press Freedom Day but not all the world’s press is “free”

This report from the Committee to Protect Journalists reminds us of the reality that many members of the international press face with limited rights as journalists or photographers. It is especially concerning since many of the countries listed are areas of civil unrest and who knows how much of the story is getting out to the world, such as in Syria

Lessons Advertising Can Learn from PR by Timothy Kane via @AdAge:

I did not expect to read this article in Ad Age of all places—from my experience, PR and advertising (or marketing) always battled over budget and were expected to “play nice in the sandbox” together. (Oh, how I hated that phrase, but that’s another topic.)

What this article does so well is help articulate an advantage of public relations- that of connecting and communicating with a community, which is directly relevant to the way social media works. Social media is more than just one-way communication of the brand to the consumer; consumers today want a personal connection or the ability to articulate what makes them prefer a product.

So, if this trend continues, and social communications makes a few in-roads for PR to have a seat at the strategic table, I think it speaks to a need for an integrated communications team composed of people from all communications aspects. I think we’re going to need a bigger sandbox!

Breaking Free of Patterns and Routines by @chrisbrogan:

Here’s a post that made me really think. Personally, I am a creature of habit, both at work and at home. I have my routines that comfort me because I know things get done when they work. But after reading Chris Brogan’s reflective post this week, it made me realize that I might also become trapped by those patterns.

It’s not easy to just say, “oh well, I guess I’ll change my pattern” because we’re human and some of those patterns are necessary (like law enforcement or utilities). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t think of creative ways to break up our usual patterns to see how it might positively affect our outcomes.

That’s a lot to think about and I appreciate Mr. Brogan for positing that consideration…I’ll see if I can get to pondering it outside of my pattern ;)

As always, feel free to share any links or posts you found this week as well. Have a great weekend!

May 4, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . journalism, public relations. Leave a comment.

Favorite Real-Life Journalists

A few months ago, I listed my favorite fictional journalism characters. I had meant to write this follow-up post about my real-life favorite journalists sooner, but I got a little side-tracked.

As many of you already know, I originally studied print journalism in the hopes of becoming a crusading, do-gooder newspaper reporter.

That didn’t quite pan out as I had expected.

Regardless of my actual career path, I sometimes remember those days of studying journalism and immersing myself in a world of mass media.

I always kept a mental list of those I consider my favorite journalists or my journalism heroes. Here are a few I’d like to share:

David Halberstam

David Halberstam reporting from Vietnam

A reporter, an author, and perhaps one of the best storytellers I’ve had the opportunity to hear in person, Mr. Halberstam stood for the kind of reporter I had aspired to be like one day.

He reported from some of the most tumultuous environments of the 1960’s, from Vietnam to the segregated South. But he never lost his commitment to telling compelling stories that illustrated the larger picture. In doing so, Mr. Halberstam was preserving moments in our history that now stand the test of time and remind us of how far we have come.

Anderson Cooper

Doing his own camera work

As someone who has worked for everything in her life and has never had anything “handed” to her, I can appreciate Mr. Cooper’s dedication to broadcast journalism and to foreign reporting despite the fact he comes from a highly prestigious pedigree.

I also feel like I saw his career progress over the years—from Channel One in high school, to a foreign correspondent for ABC News, to not recognizing him as the silver-haired news anchor on CNN, to the personable daytime talk show host he his today. Mr. Cooper also demonstrated a dedication to those about whom he was reporting and raised the bar with watchdog journalism when he keeps those in power in check.

Andy Rooney

Always with the books and clasped hands.

Yes, that cantankerous commentator deserves a place on my list. The reason being is that he inspired me to get fired up about what mattered to me and to express my thoughts and opinions. Often, after watching Mr. Rooney’s final thoughts on “60 Minutes,” I would write my rebuttal to him at my Brother brand word processor. (I realize how nerdy that must sound, but I must confess my geeky journalism past…)

I never sent any of my responses to Mr. Rooney, nor did I ever let anyone read them for fear of embarrassment. But it was always a cathartic experience to explain my feelings to him, and I realize it taught me to feel passionate about what really matters to me.

Anyone else have a favorite journalist to share? What about your particular communications field (PR, marketing, advertising, etc.)—any communications heroes you’d like to recognize?

March 28, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . journalism. 2 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 2/20/12

It’s Friday again, yay! I don’t know about you, but I feel like February, despite being the shortest month (and one day longer thanks to the Leap Year), has felt like the longest. But we shouldn’t have much to complain about with the mild winter on the East Coast. Maybe it’s a good thing that time is slowing down, since there is always so much more to do if we think about it. So, as you take a break from pondering your thoughts on this month, here are a few links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

Defining PR Drama by @Frank_Strong:

Once again, Frank Strong stretches my brain cells and challenges my thought patterns on a topic.

I already spoke my mind about the PR Defined issue, and if you haven’t read Frank’s take on it, please check it out. This week’s post finds Frank offering some clarity after the dust has settled and a perspective on why PR seems to get itself into these messes. It’s amazing how a guy who’s currently overseas on a tour of duty can find time to come up with quality content like this!

Higher Education & Social Media in Crisis Situations by @cksyme via CASE Social Media:

With recent scandals and crisis communications situations abound in higher education, it’s helpful to see survey data like the stuff in this post by Chris Syme on the CASE Social Media blog.

And the data is actually kind of 50/50—the majority of respondents have a social media policy, yet just a little over half address the use of social media in a crisis situation. The survey authors synthesize these results and also point to several best practices when it comes to social media in a crisis situation. These are relevant not only to higher education but also to companies and corporations, as no one is impervious to a crisis every now and then.

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks by @jxpaton via @Poynter:

First be warned: this is a long post to read as it is a reprint of John Paton’s address at the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

I stumbled upon Mr. Paton’s blog from the Poynter Institute and immediately was drawn to this post from last weekend. I am familiar with Mr. Paton’s background as the co-founder of impreMedia, a Hispanic publishing company, so finding he was writing about journalism—specifically print journalism—made me happy. If you have some dedicated time this weekend, it’s worth it to read his speech from the CJF meeting.  It’s a good review of what was the Golden Age of journalism, how it is changing, and how it needs to change more if it will evolve with new communications.

How Higher Education is Using Pinterest via @edsocialmedia:

I admit, I haven’t been paying much attention to the growing interest in Pinterest (no pun intended)

But I found this post to be extremely helpful in understanding the basics of how it works and what the user ultimately gets out of it. Plus, from a higher education perspective, the author provides some examples and ways that schools and universities can benefit from this social interaction site. Only the test of time will tell if it’s a flash in the pan or if it really can add value to the conversations taking place on social media.

What did you find interesting this week? Please feel free to share any links as well :)

February 24, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . journalism, public relations, social media. 5 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 1/30/12

It’s Friday–yay! And if you follow the advice of a certain groundhog, it looks like we’re in for six more weeks of Winter. But look on the bright side. It could be a lot worse–we could be trapped in the same day over and over again, with no end in sight. February is a short month at that, so we’re already in for an end to the season. If you need a break from your weekend routine, here are a few articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Making Social Media Work by @jessicadonlon via @PR2020:

Here’s a helpful post for anyone looking to present a social media strategy for C-Suite approval. Ms. Donlon lays out different options for social media use, and how to prioritze the different social networking outlets. If there’s one argument I’ve heard repeatedly is that social media is a time drain—Ms. Donlon’s calculations on time associated with each network demonstrate it’s not!

And also, what’s not to like about using the Tim Gunn approach to social media. You gotta stick with it and make it work.

Hitting a Blogging Milestone by @vedo:

It’s encouraging to hear when bloggers hit significant milestones—I know I did the happy dance when I hit my 100th post!

Richie Escovedo reflected this week on what it meant to him on hitting the 200-post mark. He offers some great words of encouragement for all bloggers: keep on writing. It’s kind of like that Matthew McConaughey line from Dazed and Confused, “keep on living,” but in a blogger/writer sense. Either way, I found Richie’s post to be very inspiring for bloggers who are dedicated to creating and sharing content.

Bad Journalism and the Perception of Pharma by @richmeyer:

I really like it when Rich Meyer takes people to task—often, it’s toward pharma companies or PR agencies that can’t implement social media strategies. This guy is smart and you don’t want to be on his bad side.

So, I perked up when I saw him tweet about bad journalism harming pharma’s reputation. Rich readily admits he’s usually the first to criticize pharma companies, but the article he deconstructs in his post was going too far. This is just one example of a particular article that had a particular slant. And in most cases, these articles don’t have a Rich Meyer on the other side pointing out the obvious inaccuracies and misperceptions.

How to Know Where Alumni Hang Out by Kelly McDonald via @ever_true:

Okay, so this headline uses the one word that Jackson Wightman despises. Still, it shows the best way to get information about your alumni community—ask them! Ever True featured a recent graduate of Babson College in Boston who describes where she knows other young alumni like to congregate to socialize. It’s good background information for planning alumni events because it only takes a few minutes to ask area alumni where the best place to meet them is at.  That way, your meeting or event is set up for success.

Hope you enjoyed these articles–feel free to share anything you found interesting as well :)

February 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, blogging, journalism, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 1/23/12

Happy Friday, all! Well, the warm “winter” weather has not stopped in the City of Brotherly Love. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I needed an umbrella and rain boots in January! Coming from the Midwest, I appreciate the cold winter season, so it’s a little bit of a bummer that it’s been so warm. There are still a few months left to hope for snow and chilly temps, as much as some of you may hate me for wishing so… But here’s something to not hate me for– this week’s links and posts of interest to share. Enjoy!

Alumni, Networking, and Career Services by @lizallen:

Here is a great discussion about the value of career services and one’s alma mater. I’ve found that when working in alumni relations, it’s helpful to think of value-add programs for the alumni—what’s in it for them? Liz Allen poses an interesting question to spur a discussion on her blog to that effect and how career services may be one of those valuable outcomes to keep alumni connected to their colleges/schools.

It’s also something to keep in mind for any graduate out there—see if your institution has any job/career related services next time you’re in the market for a new job!

Looking for and Securing Teaching Opportunities by @mitchellfriedmn via @worob:

Mitchell Friedman lays out a helpful post for anyone looking for PR teaching opportunities, but it’s relevant to anyone looking for teaching opportunities in general. Having the experience of teaching before (and being an adult student myself), I can attest to the value of teaching as a form of learning for the instructor.

Even if you think you have nothing to offer, you’d be surprised about how much you learn that you already know through teaching others.

Social Media, Journalism, and Breaking News by @kmueller62:

We all know social media can be a breeding ground for false death rumors, and what happened with Joe Paterno’s initially false-reported death is just sad.

Ken Mueller puts it all together in this thorough post about the relationship between journalism and social media, and how that has contributed to the breakdown of basic journalistic practices. As a former reporter turned PR pro, I appreciate that Ken (who also worked as a journalist and then in PR) sees the relationships, acknowledges the pace of new information, but still holds to the tenets of integrity in journalism and mass communication.

When It’s Time to Fire the Client by @ginidietrich via @spinsucks:

Okay all you agency folks out there—how many times in your darkest moments, working late hours, or doing some crazy project, did you ask yourself, “why can’t we just fire this client!?”

Gini Dietrich knows a thing or two about working with clients, so she tells an interesting story about her personal experience with a difficult client. I can only imagine how difficult it is to decide to fire a client and to walk away from a funding source, especially if you are a small practice or a solo practitioner. But Gini’s story highlights how she felt the experience made her team feel and how that affects the holistic picture when it comes to the agency-client relationship.

Hope you enjoyed these posts– feel free to share any articles you found interesting as well!

January 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, journalism, social media. 1 comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 12/12/11

Happy Friday, all! Are you ready for the holidays next week? It’s hard to believe this month has gone by that quickly. What I’m most looking forward to is spending Christmas with my family back home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I’m sure lots of you are also getting ready for holiday travels and house guests. If you have some free time this weekend in between last-minute shopping and prepping for the holidays, here are this week’s links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

Seven Blogging Tips to Drop Right Now (by Mayra via @DannyBrown):

One blogging tip I follow frequently is to pay attention to tips other bloggers share.  So, when I read something like Mayra’s column about the seven blogging tips to ditch and why, it makes me stop in my tracks and give it a read.

She doesn’t so much explain to ditch these tips for the sake of ditching them (because any blogger will recognize them), but rather, she reasons that they often tend to take the fun and organic nature out of blogging. I agree that blogging should be fun, and everyone has different time and resources to put into their blogs. And to each his or her own :)

Public Relations Perception and Messages in the Media (by @jepotts):

Sometimes, it’s hard to take the PR out of a person when you see a news story or follow a hot topic in the media. Jonathan Potts, who writes a very smart PR blog, noticed tone in the media coverage of a fight of words between a health system and an insurance company in Pittsburgh. He shared that as PR folks, we’re often analyzing the tone of a story and rating it if it is positive, negative or neutral.

But it’s also important to note if, regardless of tone, your key messages are getting into the coverage. Tone may change, but those key messages won’t, and it’s easy to get swept up in the media storm and forget the importance of message. I liked the clarity of that thought from Mr. Potts, and he gets bonus points for suggesting a content analysis of news stories, because that appeals to the PR geek in me.

Elements of Style Rap Video (via @juliemmoos):

Anyone who went to journalism school knows the Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk, Jr. In fact, I still have my copy from my undergrad days upstairs in my bookcase of forgotten books. So, it was fun to see this video produced by Columbia Journalism students to showcase their rapping styles and general journalism nerdiness. Seeing how creative these guys were, I wonder what kind of rap PR folks could come up with? (Read: open challenge for anyone who does a PR rap—think of words that rhyme with “press release” and “key message”)

Science Cheerleaders Break Stereotypes (by @allieharch on @geekadelphia):

And since I’m on a geeky kick, I feel like sharing something completely different…

I have recently started following the Geekadelphia blog, and a post from this week bought to my attention the Science Cheerleaders organization. It’s made up of women who are professional cheerleaders but also hold multiple science degrees. They work to break the stereotypes of women in many ways—that cheerleaders aren’t airheads and that women can be successful in the sciences. The video embedded in this post is very inspirational and makes me wish I hadn’t put down my pom-poms in junior high. Go, science!

Did you come across any links or articles of interest this week? Feel free to share them and have a wonderful weekend :)

December 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism, public relations. Leave a comment.

Of Bloggers, Journalists, and Definitions

Let's hope it never comes to fisticuffs...

Last week, a story erupted the entire “are bloggers journalists?” debate:

A judge ruled in Oregon that a blogger based in Montana was not a journalist, as she was not affiliated with any specific media outlet, and therefore, not able to claim shield law protection from revealing sources in a defamation lawsuit.

The court fined the blogger a huge, freaking fine to boot—to the tune of $2.5 million dollars.

Upon first reading this article, I felt a little enraged because I wanted to root for the blogger.

The fact that the court allowed the $2.5 million fine of a regular citizen (and not someone who actually has that much money, like Bill Gates) leads me to believe this is little more than making a case of someone for the sake of argument.

But I kept my opinion to myself as more details bubbled up over the weekend regarding the details of the case.

Since last week, I can’t say I have as much sympathy for the blogger as I did before, although I still hold that the fine is ridiculous.

Part of my opinion was swayed by David Carr’s well-researched column in yesterday’s New York Times, where he points out the blogger’s pattern of vindictiveness.

No wonder the blogger in the case had a knack for criticism.

If there is one thing that blogging has opened the door to, it’s allowing anyone to voice their negative opinions about anything—from corporate entities, to restaurants, to customer service, to whatever-you-name-it. There’s even a blog about bad drivers in L.A!

But does black-balling a company or targeting an individual online with insults to their character the mark of a journalist?

Perhaps when it comes to political reporting, when things can get kind of messy.

All these details aside, it still doesn’t help solve the question of whether or not bloggers can be considered journalists if they employ the same news-gathering tactics and publish content for an interested public.

Think about it—if I could be considered a journalist by employing the same tactics, but with no affiliation to any news entity, then why did I bother studying journalism in college?

Why do we study anything if we can just get jobs based on experience and skills?

I know, there are a lot of rhetorical questions in this post. And per usual, I’m not coming across clearly in my opinion on the matter.

The reason being is that I can clearly see both sides of the argument, with maybe a little bias toward the journalists, because I paid good money to be trained and educated not only on the skills, but also on the ethics and law involved in journalism.

Maybe journalists can take a page from PR and attempt at developing a more clear definition of the position. It’s obvious that the current definition, if you look at Merriam-Webster, is open to interpretation.

The PRSA has started an initiative to define public relations, and it’s spurred a discussion among PR professionals.

It would be interesting to see a journalism professional organization follow suit, take up the momentum of this blogger case, and work toward a more cohesive definition of the term journalist.

Until then, it may be up to case law to define it, as did the judge in Oregon.

Either way, this discussion is far from over, so it will make for an interesting next couple of years as it churns some more.

What do you think, either of the blogger vs. journalists definition or of this case in particular? How would you define a journalist?

Image courtesy of this blog post on the topic of journalism vs. blogging.

December 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism. 3 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 12/5/11

It’s Friday again, yay! It’s the two-week mark for anyone doing Christmas shopping. I plan to get all of my shopping done this weekend at all costs (figuratively and literally) so I can kick back next weekend. Plus, the closer it is to the actual holiday, the crazier it gets in the various shopping centers. Hopefully, you are also getting your Christmas lists checked off and have some free time to relax this weekend. If you have a few spare moments, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Review of LinkedIn Alumni Feature (by @alumnifutures):

Keeping up with the various social media features can be tricky, especially as the social networks try to best each other on the interwebs. Luckily for those of us with limited time and attention spans, there are dedicated folks out there testing the new bells and whistles and sharing their experiences.

For those working in alumni relations and social media, Andy Shaindlin offers a review of the new alumni feature on LinkedIn. The jury is still out as to how effective this feature really is, but Mr. Shaindlin suggests that it’s helpful to get a sense of the range of alumni out there to see what connections are possible.

A Pharma Company Finally “Gets” Social Media (by @richmeyer):

If you’re a regular reader of Rich Meyer’s World of DTC blog, then you know he’s critical of what some pharmaceutical and healthcare companies try to pass off as “social media strategy.” Very few of these campaigns pass his muster of effective social media, so when he shares that Sanofi-Aventis is doing it right, then that’s reason to look into the reasons why. Mr. Meyer shares how Sanofi is using its YouTube channel for an insulin campaign, but also points out exactly what works about it from his perspective. His key points to this end are helpful not only for pharma companies, but for any company or brand willing to go out there on social media.

WordPress.com Blogs That Covered 2011’s Biggest News Stories (on @socialmedia2day via @pgillin):

Here is an interesting post to consider this week, as a Montana blogger was fined for defamation due to the fact the court found she was not a journalist. Several regular bloggers with the free WordPress.com interface (like yours truly) used their space to cover and contribute to the top news stories of the year. Now, whether or not you consider this journalism, you have to admit it’s nice to see “the little guys” in the blogosphere contributing to the news cycle and discourse about the world’s hot topics. It’s still heartening to see that citizen journalism is still alive and well, regardless of the legal circumstances that surround the issue.

Journalist Imprisonments Jump Worldwide (by @pressfreedom via @juliemoos):

Since I’m on a bit of a journalism kick here, I thought to add this post. I’ve made no secret that I am a huge proponent for a free press in all nations, so this latest report from the Committee to Protect Journalists hits me pretty hard.

What’s more alarming is that the higher rates of journalism imprisonment take place in Middle Eastern and North African countries, often where some of the most prominent global news stories broke last year. If journalists in their own countries cannot enjoy press freedom, who’s to say that foreign journalists in those same nations can expect the same? It’s difficult to not sound preachy on this topic, but it’s good to see organizations like the CPJ keeping the world informed of these issues and injustices.

Please feel free to share any links or posts you found interesting as well and have a great weekend :)

December 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, journalism, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 11/7/11

Happy Friday, all! Where does the week go these days? And with today being a federal holiday, it may be a short week for many folks out there. Although it was nice to get into the office a little early due to less traffic, it made me realize I have that much more time added to my Friday! Oh, well, so it goes…Hopefully, you have a relaxing weekend enjoying Fall festivities. If you have a few free moments, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Pterodactyls and Student Social Media Engagement (by @vedo):

Sometimes, the best social media campaigns can be those that are like an episode of “Seinfeld” – nothing.

Richie Escovedo shared a recent Halloween campaign from the University of North Texas where the university news office created an obvious pterodactyl attack, taking a page from the CDC’s zombie preparedness guide. The university wanted nothing more than to have a little fun and to engage with students on Facebook and Twitter, and it worked! It goes to show that in between our planned communications and necessary university messaging, sometimes simply having fun and showcasing a sense of humor can be just as successful.

Key Takeaways from BlogWorld LA (by @arikhanson):

If time and money do not permit that you travel to every great conference, it’s helpful to read blogs that summarize the main points and key takeaways. Arik Hanson is always generous at sharing his perspectives on the multiple conferences he speaks at and attends. The BlogWorld conferences are great opportunities for the blogging and social media community to band together to learn from each other. Mr. Hanson extends that sentiment with this week’s post where he shares his key takeaways from the conference with his readers.

Online Resource for Higher Education Communication (via @mStonerblog):

There are a variety of communications professionals working in higher education—from marketing, to PR, to alumni relations, to fundraising. In my research to learn from others, I’ve found helpful blogs like mStonerblog, where I can read about higher education and alumni case studies, especially as they relate to new media.

This week, the folks at mStonerblog announced the upcoming online resource for all things related to higher education—an online community for higher ed communicators called EDUniverse. While on the surface, one could brush this post off as an ad for their network, I think it’s more of a resource repository and fills a much-needed gap for those seeking to connect with others in the field and to share resources. It’s also a good model to consider for other industries; think of a site dedicated to sharing PR resources, or marketing ideas.

We Are Journalists (via @JounalistsLike):

Here is a neat Tumblr site that harkens to the We are 99 site, only it allows journalists to tell their stories. It’s very touching because very few journalists tell their own stories. I remember in J-school being taught about objectivity, and to not involve myself in the story. This site allows journalists to share their perspective as a professional in the field – what they fear, what they are proud of, what makes them happy or sad.

For anyone who has worked, or is still working in journalism, this site will probably resonate with you. And for anyone not working in journalism, this site will give you a better idea of what it’s like to be a journalist.

Hope you enjoyed some of these posts–feel free to share any you found this week as well. Have a great weekend :)

November 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism, social media. Leave a comment.

Favorite Fictional Journalism Characters

A couple of months ago, I ran across a post by Amber Avines on her blog, where she listed five great films about journalism.

Ms. Avines’ post struck a chord with me because I’m both a movie geek who happened to study journalism.

Being as it is, it’s fun to see heroes/heroines of the Fourth Estate on the silver screen, mostly because of the dramatic overtones and exaggerated scenarios.

Even the films based on fact have to be inflated a little to add to the theatric experience.

If there was ever a movie based on my experience as a print reporter, it might be kind of boring—scenes of the reporter in front of a computer, the phone interview, driving to and from City Hall, maybe stopping at Starbucks, waiting for the managing editor to stop gabbing with the sports writer so he’ll finally get around to reviewing my story that’s due at 4:00 p.moh, the drama!

Inspired by the films of journalism, I thought it would be fun to list a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters from film (both big screen and little, so there’s more room for the “fictional” term).

Murray Slaughter, News Writer (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)

You’d think a girl from Minneapolis would have picked Mary Tyler Moore. Did you know there’s a statue of her in downtown Minneapolis in front of the department store where she threw her hat in the opening?  I digress…

I always sort of identified with the forever-suffering Murray, who wrote wonderful news copy that Ted Baxter would butcher night after night. I liked Murray because he was the content creator and a writer like I aspired to be one day. Since I never wanted to be in front of the camera, I decided if I went into broadcast, I wanted be the “Murray” behind the scenes instead.

Murphy Brown, Investigative Journalist (Murphy Brown)

Talk about a great fictional role model for young women! I was too young to get most of the social overtones on this program, but I was old enough to recognize that Murphy Brown was a smart, dedicated, and passionate journalist.

Sure, she had a child out of wedlock and couldn’t keep a secretary or seem to finish painting her house, but Murphy Brown symbolized how far women had come in the field of journalism. She could hold her own against the boys club and still show her vulnerability as a mother or as a sympathetic friend to her colleagues.

Hildy Johnson, Reporter (His Girl Friday)

As a huge fan of classic Hollywood films, I fell in love with this movie and its heroine, who attempts to shrug off working as a reporter in favor of marrying away.

Slapstick and stereotypes aside, I liked how the male editor antagonist, the dashing Cary Grant, needed Hildy in order to get a huge scoop. He knew she had the skills and the drive to pursue the story. And Hildy discovers she actually thrives on reporting and investigating stories (and occasionally getting into sticky situations, like this film’s main premise). I guess by getting Cary Grant in the end, she gets the best of both worlds as a wife and a reporter.

Harrison Lloyd, Photojournalist (Harrison’s Flowers)

I’ve always had a deep admiration for war correspondents, perhaps because they endanger their own lives in order to tell a story for others. This film centers on a photojournalist whose life we see through his wife’s journey to find him in the war-torn former Yugoslavia. In doing so, we learn about his dedication to capturing moments in time, as horrific as some may be.

The film also depicts how photojournalists band together in war zones and explains how they do what they do, a topic all too real when photojournalists are injured and even killed in combat zones.

And although he didn’t make the cut, I couldn’t help but include a shout-out to Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman” as probably the funniest portrayal of a fictional television news anchor (no disrespect to Ted Baxter):

So, these are a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters. What about you? Who are your favorite journalism characters in film?

November 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . journalism. 5 comments.

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