Tag: Santa Ana

Tales from a digital voice

Tales from a digital voice

With the end of the semester coming up, we had our last big Society of Professional Journalists event today.

It was another guest speaker: Sonya Quick from the nonprofit Voice of OC.

Plus donuts. But the donuts unfortunately did not get into this Tweet I did:

This talk was slightly less hands-on than our last guest’s discussion of useful apps, but the focus toward online content engagement was certainly just as noteworthy.

Voice of OC has a strong recent history with CSUF and the Daily Titan. My old mentor Spencer Custodio is one of five full-time reporters for their newsroom, and my old News Desk Assistant Brandon Pho is a reporting intern there.

I was the middle generation that missed out on that family tradition I suppose. Gladeo got to me first, or I just might have considered it.

Getting to hear Sonya share some things she’s picked up during her time at Voice of OC, as well as other papers like the OC Register, was great.

One of her first comments was about the importance of being straight-forward:

“I’m an emotion on your sleeves kind of gal. If I have a complaint about something, I won’t hold back.”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

She reportedly has not held back in the past, being responsible for manifestos that encouraged organizations to focus more on digital, and later mobile, reporting as those came into vogue (especially pertinent now, as she says that reporters should think with their phones first).

Yet, she also fielded a question from our Chapter President Harrison Faigen about how to not take editorial criticism too personally.

She said that taking things personally is not a problem unless it impedes your work, because the emotions show you care.

However, even more of an important point — and one that strangely echos sentiments I’ve gotten from my parents — was that the time to get concerned is when an editor does not read or critique your work.

The more effort they put into tearing apart your story, the more they care and believe you can be even better than you are.

IMG_2543
“Our goal is not to impact decisions, but to get people involved.”

A number of other topics were on the docket for our hour-long meeting:

  • She recommended hiring staff “by passion, not by skill,” as she herself did not know much about the digital world before jumping into it.
  • Her two major rules for creating good search engine optimization in stories were:
    • Don’t scam people. Ever.
    • Write content people care about, especially “guide-like content” that can be built-up over time. Much more engaging than daily event stories.
  • When making videos, she recommended editing them down to one minute each and focusing on pre-planning with storyboards to avoid overshooting.
  • While for-profit organizations often only look at whether a reporter’s work garners clicks, she said Voice of OC looks at overall impact through shares, comments and other social engagements.

Then, as any good editor would, she plugged a great piece published that morning with a juicy DUI scandal going on.

There were a few other tidbits that made me laugh throughout her talk.

For instance, when I asked her about dealing with vitriol in those previously noted engagements she said she has had to wade through the “Seventh Circle of Hell” looking at the OC Register comment section.

But the really important takeaway would have to be what she said of being a reporter, in reference to many college students with Communications degrees leaving the industry early, or not going into the industry at all:

“You work long hours, you get little money and you get shit on almost constantly. But it’s awesome! And you have an impact!”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

If that isn’t true love for one’s occupation, I don’t know what is.

Condensation

Once again I’m a bit under the weather. Likely a side effect of the shot I received from the doctor yesterday.

So I don’t have a whole lot of energy to muster up for this blog post, and I won’t be writing too much as a result. Just consider this one of those filler pieces I like to write once in a while to keep myself writing.

That said, my not writing a lot actually strikes me as something thematically appropriate for the subject of the post that I have in mind.

Last night I spent some time over at a bar in Santa Ana as part of a celebratory good bye party for the man who was Editor in Chief of the Daily Titan when I first got there a few years ago, Rudy. He just recently got a new position at NBC working in Philadelphia, so a bunch of people from his time at the Titan threw him a surprise party.

Pretty appreciative that I got looped into the whole thing, considering a big chunk of my journalism career would not have been possible without him and Liz, the Managing Editor at the time, hiring me.

I know that’s a lot to unpack, namely the fact that I was out being social at a bar. Because it’s still kind of a lot to unpack for me as well.

Such a strange sensation to be old enough for social drinking…

If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t drink beyond a few sips of one beer — and that was mostly out of social obligation. Would’ve been rude if I didn’t touch the drink that Spencer got for me.

I was driving however, so I mostly did avoid it.

Spencer actually plays more of a role in this than just the guy who bought me a beer. He was the News Editor that first semester I jumped on the Titan, and I actually attribute a lot of my early college tutelage and growth to the guy. We’ve kept up a good amount since than as well, as he often liked to visit the newsroom whenever he was local reporting on something like City Council.

While we talked at the party, he mentioned reading these posts once in a while (which still frankly shocks me whenever I hear someone I know irl reading these, despite the fact that I literally post them on Twitter and Facebook for that exact reason).

One of his suggestions was trying to be a bit more concise with my blog posts.

It’s something I’ve thought about a bit since I first started up this project, but I usually usher those thoughts away considering it’s a personal blog and I approach it with the mindset of a repository for my thoughts and long-form writing BS.

But maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to try and keep things cleaner around here. That way it’s less of a random dumping place and more of a legitimate writing practice.

So I’m going to be trying that from here on, as best I can. Spencer suggested going for 1,000-1,200 words max, and that seems like a good benchmark.

Granted, I might not hit it with some stuff like my Fire Emblem posts, where a couple hundred words are dedicated to copying their skills out anyway, but we’ll see. Seems like that’s a good place to take this blog next to make it more professional.

That or redesigning it one of these days. Another thing I’ve been putting off for literal years now.

But anyway, thanks a bunch for reading this stuff Spencer, and for having my back. I had a great time catching up with you and a bunch of other folks last night, and I’m glad that I can take a little bit of it forward with stuff like this!

I would post some of the photos of the group that we took last night, but it might be weird for people I don’t talk to very much. So my apologies for the lack of photography accompanying my ramblings today.