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Home > Publications > Quill > Young journalists share 'mojo' moments


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Monday, March 3, 2008
Young journalists share 'mojo' moments

Michelle Maskaly

My favorite part of being a journalist is the excitement of getting news out fast and accurately to the readers. Mobile journalism makes that possible.

So, I asked Gen J’ers to share some of their most memorable “mojo” moments, and how it enhanced their reporting.

Here is mine:

A photographer and I were assigned to cover the funeral of a New York firefighter who died on duty. Our job was to shoot, edit and produce a video of the procession from the scene. In addition, I was to use my BlackBerry to file live quotes and color as the event was happening back to the office, where the information would be assembled into an “as-it-was-happening” story.

Once the funeral procession into the church was recorded, we huddled under the risers and got to work. The photographer was on the computer editing our video, while I made suggestions and typed away on the BlackBerry, sending in what was coming over the loudspeakers outside the church. Once he had the video set, we ran around Manhattan trying to find Internet access.

Finally, we found a hotel where we sent our video to the Internet, all before the end of the funeral. It was such an amazing experience to be able to provide our readers as-it-happened information And coming from a print background, being able to shoot video of such an important news event was amazing. Since I started shooting video, I notice some of the littlest details, and I believe it has made me a better reporter.

— Michelle Maskaly

I am writing you on the road with the Hillary campaign. I am attached to my laptop, with a borrowed aircard, BlackBerry and cell phone. When I covered New Hampshire, I had only my cell phone. Not so easy to get the coverage across when you have to drive down the road in search for Wi-Fi.

My advice is to bring every possible cord you will need and a ton of batteries. I have already had to go to a Best Buy this week for another cord I swore I packed. Then I realized my mote box/recorder wire is in my desk in Albany, so I may venture out if time allows.

I can’t imagine doing the campaigns without all this mobility. I know calling it in and reading dictation was done for years and years. But this allows me to write on my own time schedule.

— Melissa Mansfield, Newsday

One humid July evening, I rushed to the scene of a NewYork steam pipe blast with a CNN producer. Our mission: to book a gripping guest for the morning news show. When we found a group of bystanders and started working the crowd, we found most had gathered after the blast, hoping to gawk at the pipe. This would not do!

Finally, I spotted a young man in a suit, showing a group of his friends something seemingly fascinating on his cell phone. Something clicked in my head, and I thought, we could use that video! So I introduced myself and asked him about his experience.

It turned out that he’d taped a short clip of his building evacuation and of his first encounter with the enormous gushing pipe. You could even hear screams in the background. Broadcast goldmine, I thought!

After the young man agreed to appear on our show, then came the hard part. After about 10 failed attempts, we could not get the video to send. The loud and panicked environment added to our confusion, and we realized we had to physically take the young man to the bureau to get this cell phone video.

Something initially so easy suddenly became an all-night endeavor! When I finally got the video sent and converted into our system, I was exhausted. But I learned a very important lesson: pressing record is easy, but actually getting videos off cell phones takes the manual!

— Meghan Rafferty,

production assistant, CNN

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