Silence and spoiled milk

GenY icon and NYT reporter Brian Stelter spoke at the NYC12 conference last week. No, I did not have the privilege of attending.

I’m a big fan of the “take what you need and leave the rest” axiom when it comes to advice. Stelter offered some good nuggets:

• Find the gap in coverage for good story ideas. “Go where the silence is.”

Even though we now live in a world where filmmakers can capture documentaries on smartphones, it’s still important to go out and be there as a reporter. We must, as one of my professors puts it, “practice the art of hanging around.” In other words, make sure you get the dog’s name.

• Don’t be afraid to contact someone.

I’m always amazed at my peers who don’t believe they can get ahold of prestigious or well-known people. Sure, their schedules aren’t free and clear, but people who are passionate about their jobs and industries are likely to have some time for a quick chat.

I interviewed a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the executive director of a national children’s advocacy organization for my most recent story. Scheduling took a week or two, but it worked out. It usually does.

Two major points Stelter made sit with me like expired milk. He believes that media organizations will devolve into individual brands within the next few decades as print disappears entirely.

From scholarly literature and thesis research in my own focus groups, media brands signify competence and trust for readers. Digital audiences especially know and seek the big names in Google search results.

Personal brands are the popular standard of advice right now, but those media organizations will still be as important or more so in the future.

Print is slowly fading, yes, but it will hang around for my lifetime. Magazines are especially strong in the print category, and newspapers will find solace in the Sunday edition.

Keep the nuggets and ditch the past-date dairy.

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