Brett Hall is a multimedia journalist for CNYCentral which provides news for Syracuse and Central New York on NBC3. He also works for 99.1 WNEW, a radio station serving the D.C. – Baltimore – Annapolis region.
Prior to graduating from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Brett served as the teen anchor/reporter for ABC News. For a young journalist, he has extensive experience in both broadcast journalism and print journalism.
Brett was gracious enough to speak with me on the phone and answer a few of my questions regarding the impact that social media has in the life of a journalist.
Q: What is your preferred method, as a consumer (not as a journalist) to read the news and stay informed?
A: I am an old-fashioned guy so I listen to the radio and watch the news; both my station that I work for (NBC3) as well as competing stations.
Q: As a journalist, what form of social media do you find the most effective in promoting your work?
A: Twitter, without a doubt. It really has replaced the AP wire. It’s a great way to crowd source information as well.
Q: What challenges do you find that using Twitter presents for a journalist?
A: The biggest problem is the instant ability and gateway that it provides because it leaves room for many errors. Journalists are supposed to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics. It is better to be correct than it is to be first in providing the news, but social media challenges that. There is a pressure to be first from the sales side of the news business, yet as a journalist it is more important to be accurate.
Q: Do you feel that the exercise of distilling your point down to 140 characters on Twitter actually sharpens or hinders your writing skills?
A: You really have to get concise with your writing and the wrong idea can be communicated because of the limited space. If you want to tell a story narratively, Twitter is OK because you have to write tight and you can reveal information little by little. Smaller details don’t make the tweet because there isn’t enough space.
Q: Do you feel that stories are cheapened by the use of social media or do you feel it is just another way to make something important known?
A: Social media can help reveal the facts about a story little by little. As a journalist, you can build and add to the story and give it “meat.” Stories can get cheapened by the reader if they don’t read enough of the story to learn the facts. In that way, social media can perpetuate the fast food news climate where the reader doesn’t get all of the content.
Q: Who are some of the journalists that have inspired you?
A: I really like Steve Hartman, Donna Hamilton and Laurie DeYoung.
Q: What is one piece of advice that you can pass along to journalism students?
A: Have thick skin. Be determined and know your facts.