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DiAngelea Millar

DiAngelea Millar is a senior at Arizona State University pursuing her bachelor's and master's concurrently in Journalism and Mass Communication. Most recently she finished an internship at the Los Angeles Times covering the business of entertainment. DiAngelea has also interned for the Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona Republic and the Times-Picayune. She will graduate in May and hopes to continue covering the Entertainment industry. Follow her on twitter @DiAngeleaMillar.

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How an aspiring business journalist regained hope in the industry

angie millar

DiAngelea Millar at the Los Angles Times

I spent nights at movie premiers and advanced screenings. I met the hunky Shemar Moore, spoke to a former heroin addict turned celebrity tattoo artist and followed a medieval knight. This summer brought many adventures – all in the name of business journalism.

For about two months, I covered the business of entertainment as part of an internship for the Los Angeles Times. While I never quite acclimated to the glitz and glam that came with the beat, the experience provided me with much needed optimism for my journalism future.

As a young journalist, it’s easy to buy into the hype that the craft is dead. But my summer job at the Los Angeles Times convinced me this statement is a fallacy.

This internship was very different from my stint at the New Orleans Times-Picayune last summer. Several employees were laid off from the Picayune because the paper was switching to a three-day a week printing schedule. I was the last money intern at the paper. Thankfully, this time I did not see another newsroom decimated.

The Los Angeles Times provided me a look inside a more intact newsroom. I took the opportunity to observe and learn in a different environment.

The reporters impressed and inspired me. I sat by some of the best in the business and overheard their interviews. They were fierce. They pushed and pulled. They asked the hard questions. The final result were stories I could only dream of reporting and writing.

Observing their skills made me realize how much I still had to learn and the different ways I needed to grow.

The editors at the Los Angles Times were just as talented. They had overwhelming knowledge from years of experience, which was both humbling and inspiring. I watched them too, how they led and fixed copy. My editors carefully answered my questions and detailed their edits. They provided explanations for changed elements in my stories, which gave me the chance to learn.

My editors also gave me freedom to explore my own interests and chase stories. 

Through my own curiosity, I carved out a niche. I covered film schools and how they were preparing students to access the entertainment industry. This was a beat I created. It made me wonder: Would other papers give an intern such freedom to develop her own specialty?

My editors believed in my stories and trusted my instincts. They pushed me to augment my writing, encouraging me to use a larger vocabulary and write narrative details. The support was motivating. From them, I learned that there is a place for creative journalists with a passion for long-form journalism and features.

The Los Angeles Times, like other newspapers, is working to reinvent itself. The paper is implementing varying forms of media and presenting stories in new ways. The journalists I worked with this summer seem to recognize the need for change instead of fighting against it.

Before I started my internship, I was doubtful about my skills and future in the industry. I heard negative stories about the industry from others students trying to make it in journalism. The experiences of so many aspiring journalists searching for jobs scared me.

I flirted with the idea of giving up. Maybe there wasn’t a place for the reporting I wanted to do, or a home for young journalists. Why force yourself into an industry that doesn’t want you or your work?

But my view shifted this summer after I pitched a lengthy feature on a knight from Medieval Times. I spent days shadowing the employee and weeks writing and re-writing the story. In the end, it was a centerpiece story for the Calendar section. My editors provided the freedom to chronicle an in-depth piece. Fellow reporters encouraged me to pursue the idea. This supportive environment had a profound impact. It changed my mind about my future. I decided I could survive in this world. 

angie millar

DiAngelea Millar standing outside of the Los Angles Times during her summer internship.

The Los Angeles Times embraces young reporters. The paper boasts a robust internship program and also its Metpros assignments, a special and competitive program that gives beginning journalists a chance to report for almost every section the paper. The paper’s leadership, I believe, sets out to attract young talent because they recognizes that we are the key to the future of the industry.

The Los Angeles Times grabs young talent and cultivates promise. They want us. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.  I suspect many other news organizations do too.

My view was clouded before. Now I’m confident there is a home for me in the media industry.

I have one year left at Arizona State University and it’s overwhelming to look back at all I’ve accomplished. In addition to the Los Angles Times, I’ve interned with the Phoenix Business Journal, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and twice with The Arizona Republic.

I’ve gained lots of professional experience so far, but yes, there is a part of me is starting to panic. I need to land a job after graduation.

I am hopeful that more news organizations will see the value in hiring young people like myself. The challenge for aspiring journalists is to keep hope alive. I ‘ll continue to struggle with the insecurities and risks that come with this industry, but I now know I want to keep my optimism. And maybe, just maybe, someone will give me a shot and I’ll land that dream job.

 

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Covering Hollywood: A chat with LA Times entertainment reporters

la times

A panel of journalists from the Los Angeles Times discussed what it’s like covering the entertainment industry.

A panel of journalists from the Los Angeles Times recently discussed what it’s like covering the entertainment industry, how it has changed and coverage challenges.

They all agreed that the beat’s biggest hurdle remains the same – finding the real story in Hollywood.

“Hollywood has never been known for truth telling,” said Dawn Chmielewski, who covers technology in the entertainment industry. “It’s difficult to get past stonewalling.”

The panel also included Times’ reporters Steve Zeitchik, Amy Kaufman, Chris Lee, John Horn, Mary McNamara, Meg James and Scott Collins. The chat was one of the first stops for a group of Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication students visiting Los Angeles to learn about the business of entertainment.

Journalists discussed how social media has changed the way entertainers approach their fans and journalists as well as the challenges they face with sources. The panel offered tips for young journalists, emphasizing that it’s important to remain professional.

Sometimes people don’t tell the truth, or they stall or they don’t respond, Chmielewski said.

“Behind every great story there’s a bunch of people trying to make money and people with agendas,” Chmielewski said.

The key to get past stonewalling is to be motivated, fair and honest, film writer, Zeitchik said. Many times, people will be more willing to talk if they know you have talked to a rival or someone else, he added.

Although many elements of the industry remain the same, the introduction and adaptation of social media has changed Hollywood.

For reporters, live tweeting and sharing of stories can help disburse information and gain more followers, film writer, Kaufman, said. Tweeting allows fans to interact with reporters.

For entertainers, social media has framed their entire persona, culture reporter, Lee, said. With Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Kanye West, what most fans and reporters know comes from social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. The three stars rarely give interviews anymore.

An actor’s value has diminished, said Horn, who writes about film. Increasingly the franchise makes the actor.

“It’s the rise of the super fan,” he said. “You play to the fan base and you give them what they want.”

la times trip

ASU Cronkite School business journalism students began their Los Angeles project "Covering the Business of Entertainment" with a visit to Warner Records.

Covering entertainment is more important than ever, the panel said. It’s important to follow the money and ask questions about what the numbers say, Chmielewski said.

“Pop culture has become such a dominant force,” said McNamara, an entertainment and culture reporter. “It’s an enormous force in people’s lives.”

The reporters’ recent coverage on the Oscars received the second most website views in the history of the paper. People read entertainment news all over the world so it’s important to write in a way that appeals to the masses.

“The ideal story for us is one that is equally read by consumers and people in the industry,” Horn said. “You don’t want to write as too much of an insider.”

Despite the reporting, many of the reporters approach their work as fans.

“It’s a fascinating, glamorous world,” Chmielewski said. “Everyone wants to cover it. Out of all the types of journalism I’ve done this is the most challenging.”

Reporters covering entertainment need a good poker face, Zeitchik said. Reporters cannot write from emotion, he added.

Kaufman said that reporters have to be careful about what information is on and off the record. It’s not a good idea to ruin a relationship with a publicist or contact, she added.

“Integrity takes a long time to develop and it can be lost in seconds,” Horn said. “You’re only as good as your last story.”

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The last Money intern at The Times-Picayune turns out the lights

EDITOR’S NOTE: DiAngelea Millar is a junior at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. She is completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees concurrently and hopes to become a “special projects feature reporter at a newspaper while being a famous author of fictional novels.” She spent the summer in New Orleans on The Times-Picayune business desk.

Angie Millar Times-Picayune

Angie Millar spent the summer at the Times-Picayune as an intern in the Money section.

I’m the last Money intern the Times-Picayune will ever have.

As of Sept. 30, 2012, the Money section will cease to exist as Advance Publications cuts the printing of one of America’s finest newspapers to three days a week. I’m in the last batch of interns that has the right to say we interned for the Times-Picayune.

Through my brief tenure at the paper during this summer I’ve been confronted by the reality of the journalism industry in one of the harshest ways imaginable. I know the business of journalism; it slapped me in the face this summer as the paper announced they were cutting printing back and firing reporters.

But no one expected what went down. I can only think to compare it to the Titanic — the sinking of something that no one thought would ever fail. But it did. People were thrown off ship and some jumped ship before time ran out.

Through all the chaos I did the only thing I could do — observe and learn.

I was there the day people were told of their fates. I saw reporters cry as their lives were turned upside down. I was in shock that week and I too fell apart down a spiral of self-doubt. Could I succeed in this world? Was I cut out for journalism? Could I bounce back if something similar happened to me?


‘Through all the chaos,
I did the only thing
I could do —
observe and learn.’

I’m 20 years old, too young to have such concerns. But journalism made me grow up fast—you have to if you want to make it in the business. I cried and for awhile I was fairly certain I would turn my back on all this after I graduate in two years.

But then the community gave me hope.

From everyday citizens to big shot business owners in the city, people started to rally demanding that Advance Publications keep the paper the way it is. New Orleans is a city full of history and tradition. But it’s a city that has a large number of people who don’t have access to the Internet, who rely on the daily paper for information. This city has so many crazy things going on – stories about crime, a growing tech industry and government issues – that the community still feels the need for a daily printed newspaper.

Pleas for reconsideration fell on deaf ears.

People offered to buy the paper. Advance Publications said ‘No.’

But the energy from the public around the newspaper’s fate gave me hope—people do care about journalism. People want news, they want the truth. That doesn’t seem to be changing. Seeing a community care so much about its paper made me realize that what I do is a necessity and something to be cherished.

Times Picayune interns Summer 2012

The Times Picayune interns during the summer of 2012 (from left) Catherine Threlkeld, Ben Wallace, Caitlin Cruz, Mary Kilpatrick, Maki Somosot, DiAngelea Millar, Precious Esie, Alex Cassera. Photo by Catherine Threlkeld.

But the greatest strengths I saw came from within the publication. Reporters were there for each other — their support forged from the strongest steel of respect and understanding. I saw an amazing strength in some of the reporters and editors I interacted with. Their composure in such a frantic, life-changing time taught me a valuable lesson.

Keep your head up, don’t let anything stop you.

They kept working, even though they knew their time was limited and the company didn’t want them anymore. They were searching for new jobs, always optimistic that something would work out.

Friends and family told me that this was a good “lesson” for me to learn so that I will realize that reality can be harsh. I already knew about reality. But they were right—I did learn a valuable lesson about the business of journalism.

The paper is a product and reporters are considered disposable. What the destruction of the Times-Picayune and the creation of Nola Media group has engrained in my young mind is the knowledge that a reporter is never safe. You’ve got to keep your options open and keep working and honing your skills.

As a young reporter interested in entering the field, I’ve got to be the best of the best in my age bracket if I hope to get a job when I graduate in two years. This means giving up my summers and spreading myself thin during the semester to intern at a paper.

But after my summer in New Orleans, I’d like to think that the sacrifice for my work will be wanted and cherished by a community and that I will forge friendships with other reporters, thus becoming part of a journalism family found in many newsrooms.

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CNNMoney reporter and ASU grad shares lessons from the business beat

Annalyn Censky details her reporting duties for CNNMoney for ASU business journalism students.

Since graduating from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Mass Communication in 2008, Annalyn Censky has logged more than 800 bylines covering the economy for CNNMoney.com

Censky covers economic indicators like the Consumer Price Index, gross domestic product and also the Fed. She took a quick break from her dogged reporting on Monday to share her experiences with ASU students studying business journalism.

Censky said the articles she writes each month on shifting unemployment and jobs growth rates are among the most important topics she covers. She starts preparing for the data a week in advance, emailing economists and asking for their expectations.

She creates a draft of the article and after a reporter calls with the recently released data from the U.S Department of Labor, Censky fills in the blanks and aims to post the story within two minutes.

“I find it exhilarating,” she added. “That’s my favorite part of the job. I love turning it out really quickly.”

Censky reminded students to be aware of the sources’ political leanings. The story is an economic one first, political second, she said.

annalyn censky

Annalyn Censky

Her biggest challenge so far working for CNNMoney: Getting beyond the fear of asking dumb questions.

“It was something I struggled with internally,” she said. “The way you fight it is to find good sources and ask to be walked through things. Admit when you don’t understand something and be humble about it.”

The 2008 Cronkite graduate offered students sourcing tips and suggestions for branding. She also shared reporting secrets, telling students to call three sources from other articles you’ve read, even if it’s not in your beat. Censky added that going to coffee with someone once a week to get to know them is another way to build relationships.

In her role at CNNMoney, Censky mostly writes shorter pieces and likes to use interactive slideshows, graphics and videos to supplement her articles.

“Cronkite really prepares you to work in several different mediums and that’s something that is really valued,” she said.

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Financial journalists: WSJ, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Gretchen Morgenson top influencers

A new survey of financial journalists shows that as a whole, they are neutral at best and cautious on their outlook for the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial services sector over the next year.

According to the annual Gorkana 2012 survey of financial journalists, those who work primarily in television/ radio have a significantly more positive outlook on the economy than those who report primarily for the Web, magazines/trade publications, or newswires. Veteran financial journalists have a more positive outlook on the U.S. economy than do journalists with less experience in the field, the survey said.

Gorkana survey’s financial journalists annually to determine how these professionals view the economy, the health of the U.S financial system, the outlook on financial journalism in the country and much more.

2012 Gorkana survey of financial journalists The survey was completed in December 2011 and sent out to 3,192 professionals. The organization received 349 responses from business news organizations, compiling and analyzing the data into the presentation given at the 2012 Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind.

Robert Ingram, the director of Gorkana, and Matt Ragas, Ph.D., an assistant professor at DePaul University presented their report at SABEW’s annual convention in Indianapolis.

“It’s natural for financial journalists to want to see where and how they stack up compared to their peers, and this survey provides one of the first detailed looks into this area,” Ragas said in a prepared statement. “For PR professionals, this is a valuable peek behind the curtain.”

Check out the full report: The 2012 Gorkana survey of financial journalists. (PDF)

Key findings of the survey include: 

Outlook on the Economy: 46 percent of respondents had a neutral view on the economy for the next year, 36 percent had a negative outlook. The data showed that more experienced journalists had more positive views than their less experienced counterparts. Ingram and Ragas speculated that more experienced journalists have been seen the economy bounce back in the past, thus giving them a more positive outlook.

Health of Financial Journalism in the U.S: The majority of respondents had a neutral view of this topic — 44 percent. A smaller percentage, 34 percent, had a positive outlook on financial journalism in the country. The data also showed that more experienced reporters were less optimistic about the field. “Maybe they’ve seen the field change and are not pleased with the changes,” Ingram said.

Most Influential News Organization: A large group, 71.9 percent, said the Wall Street Journal is the most influential financial news organization. Bloomberg news came in second on the survey at 60.1 percent.

Most Influential Financial Journalist: Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times came out on top with 23.9 percent of the vote. Gretchen Morgenson, also from the New York Times, came in second with 21.1 percent. The New York Times dominates this list with half of the journalists in the top ten for this survey.

Sources for Stories: The survey listed many different resources and had respondents give points based on how often they used the listed source. Journalists used the numbers 1-7, 1 being not at all and 7 meaning very often, to provide feedback. The majority, 59.5 percent, said they got story ideas from other publications and readings.  Only 5.1 percent said they used corporate social media sites to get ideas, surprising both Ingram and Ragas.

Gorkana provides products and services for public relations specialists and journalists in an effort to  better communication in these fields.

 

 

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SEC chairman details lessons learned and future plans

Mary Schapiro

Mary Schapiro

Chairman Mary Schapiro detailed lessons learned from past financial challenges and explained what the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has planned to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen again.

Schapiro, who became the SEC’s chairman in 2009 after several scandals that raised public concerns about commission’s effectiveness, shared these remarks during Thursday’s keynote speech at the 2012 Society of American Business Editors and Writers Annual Conference in Indianapolis.

Schapiro mentioned the 2008 credit crunch and the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. She emphasized the importance of learning from these downfalls to prevent future issues.

“When the next shock comes, without a strong regulatory regime, financial markets will be vulnerable,” she said.

Schapiro said her primary goal is to ensure market transparency.  This includes plans for capital and margin requirements, regulated trading markets and secure anti-fraud rules. She also wants to consolidate audit trails to make it easier to track data.

“We’re beginning to transform from proposing rules to adopting them,” she added.

Schapiro said her present concerns include money market funds and future flash crashes. She believes that without capital infusements, these mutual funds might have “broken the buck,” leaving American taxpayers on the hook for $3 trillion.

“As a regulator that saw the damaging effects, I find it hard to remain on the sidelines,” Schapiro said.

After her speech, Schapiro took questions from the audience filled with business writers and editors. Andrew Leckey, president of the Donald W. Reynold’s National Center for Business Journalism, asked the SEC leader about journalists’ role in covering business topics.

“It’s absolutely critical,” she said. “We learn a lot from journalists. Journalism is a  part of what we do in policing the markets.”