TIPA session notes

Here are notes from some Shorthorn staffers who attended the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention in Dallas earlier this month. (another post later will include thoughts from others who attended. Here’s the first batch.)

The sessions by various universities and journalism professionals are chock full of great ideas and tips on everything from multimedia to reporting, blogging and design, reporting and photography.

Very valuable information so give it a read:


Anna Gutierrez


Session: Ninja Turtles and Convergence

UT-Dallas: Linda Ngyuen, Esteban Bustillos, Elyse Mack and Jamie Park


Convergence. The good and the bad.


What is convergence? (multimedia???)

The idea of a convergence newsroom is simple: break down the walls between print, TV, radio, and web, and create a “hub & spoke” model where journalists gather the story, then tell it in different ways through different media.


  • Increased readership
  • More appealing
  • Professional preparation


  • Logistics
  • Buy-in
  • New concept
  • Pressure on students

Why traditional convergence doesn’t work for everyone

  • Organizations have their own individuality
  • Each organization has a variety of readers/viewers/listeners that make up their audience
    • We all have different roles that the organizations fill on campus
  • Not everyone learns at the same speed or has the desire to learn it all


  • Line of Fire – Newspaper, TV and Radio
    • Panel show with a moderator and a topic to discuss
    • Brings students from across campus to talk about it
    • 20 minutes long
    • published online
  • Mercury Morning news – newspaper and radio
    • NPR for campus
  • In studio recordings – tv and radio
    • Brings bands to studio
    • Record to put online and on social media
  • Tomorrow’s News Yesterday/Uranus News Network – TV and AMP
    • Satire news a la Stephen Colbert
  • End of the year concert – all 4 branches
    • Bring in artist to campus and puts on a concert
  • Student media vs student government kickball game – student media dept.
    • Raise canned goods to charity

How and why we make it work

  • Monthly student leaders meeting
  • Facebook group
  • Recent suite changes
    • No more cubicles
  • Cross-staffing and promotion
  • Off-campus socials
  • Student media banquet (all organizations) and kickbowl (kickball on a toilet trophy)
    • Print vs broadcast kickball game
  • Campus involvement

Quick takeaways

  • Don’t forget convergence doesn’t fit your organizations
  • All changes happen over time
  • Best collaborations come together from spending time together
  • Celebrate and preserve each organization’s individuality and unique identities


Session: Elevating the Everyday Assignment

Ashley Landis, staff photojournalist, Dallas Morning News

  • Do something different.
  • First things first – look and adjust for lighting
  • Find your angle
  • Look for lighting
  • Use fireworks as light and silhouette people
  • Get to the back of concerts
  • Use lighting to your advantage
  • Go on roofs and things as long as you don’t get arrested
  • Shoot wide! Why not?
  • Find the moment!!!
  • Stay a little longer if you can
    • You never know what’s gonna happen when everyone else is gone
    • Come early, stay late
  • During an important game – last 30 seconds keep your camera to your face. You NEVER know what’s going to happen!!!
  • Follow the ball
  • Pay attention to what the people continuously do
  • Be tricky
  • Play around with your photos after you’ve done your assignment
  • Movement is fun!



Session: Focus Pages: From Idea to Design

Natalie Webster, opinion wire editor/newspaper producer Journal Media Group (@UTAShorthorn alumna)

This session was about taking a single subject and turning it into a centerpiece or full inside presentation. These can be made in advance and used as needed in print or online, or planned around the holidays, big games or recurring newsworthy events.

  • This didn’t actually happen. They cancelled it and didn’t tell anyone until 20 minutes into the session.


Session: My Spring Break in Iraq

Daniel Carde, photojournalism student and aspiring war conflict photographer

  • Used student loans to take a trip for spring break, decided to do something worthwhile
  • Had a “fixer” previously to help plan his trip
  • Take wifi with you
  • Rent camera equipment if you don’t have it
  • Have a helmet and body gear
  • Having a fixer is absolutely crucial
  • Make sure to have adapters and things for electronics
  • Do your research
  • Stories will come to you
  • Take a voice recorder
  • Life changing experience
    • Appreciate the freedoms we have and the things we can sometimes take advantage of
  • The food was fresh and amazing
  • Language barrier
    • Learn minor words to get around
    • What’s your name?
    • What’s your story?
    • Other phrases
  • There’s so much going on over seas that doesn’t get reported on


Session: The Business of Blogging

Keith King, senior producer/freelance blogger, keithkingreport.com, urban beardsman

“Making a living through your writing”

This session was about how to start a successful blog, how to use social media to your advantage, how blogging can lead to opportunities (freelance) and how blogging can make you a better writer.

Where do you start?

  • Buy your own domain
    • $8-10 a year
    • Go daddy, weebly, squarespace, etc
    • Get rid of name.wordpress.com
      • Not as professional
    • In general, free does not equal long term success
  • Pick a specific topic that interests you
    • Stick to that topic
    • Try to find something that doesn’t feel like work to you
      • passion
    • Draws advertisers and attention to the blog
  • Want to write about something else? Start another blog
    • Have a different domain for each blog

Using social media to your advantage

  • Key to your success
    • Start a facebook page for your blog
    • Use twitter (keep usernames the same as domain)
    • Start a youtube page and make videos for your blog
    • Instagram, obviously

Blogging can lead to opportunity

  • Full time gigs – add in a “hire me” tab with a link to MUCK RACK
    • Ghost writers
      • No byline
      • Way to get your name into a company, not a long term plan
    • Staff writers
    • Virtual assistants (VA)
      • Online secretary
      • Check emails, update facebook, respond to comments/etc, for the company or person
    • Blog/website editor
      • If you run your own blog you can easily run someone else’s
    • Social media management
    • Other freelance opportunities


  • You can work as much or as little as you want
  • You can work anywhere there’s an internet connection
  • Ideally you should have another salary job to fall back on
  • Freelancing is a great way to make extra cash
    • Blogging can be a successful career but I don’t think it’s very dependable
  • Average length – 500 to 1000 words
    • Huff post recommends 500-1000 words
    • Length depends on the freelance job
    • No more than 3 tags

The more you blog the better you get

  • Practice makes perfect
  • Not a get rich quick scheme
  • You’ll be a better writer the more you write
  • Don’t burn yourself out! It’s okay to take a break
  • Google ad cents
    • Apply – have to be kind of successful first
      • Content and follower based
    • Allow you to put their ads on your website
    • Some restrictions (3 ads to a page)

Tips for blog titles

  • Tricky
  • Include what you would google in the title
  • Keep your topic a mystery
  • Numbers are good, lists are popular
  • SEO (search engine optimization) statistics


Contact: keithkingreport@gmail.com

Twitter: @the_keithking

Instagram: keithkingreport



Session: The Fun Side of Journalism

Steve Wilson, senior news artist, Fort Worth Star-Telegram


This session was about how to add fun things to your current beat. Sometimes it’s okay to do fun journalism, and Wilson kind of talked about how.

  • Blogs are done on your own time
  • Used to be things people covered, but not so much anymore
  • Do the things for free, if you’re good, show your editor and maybe you can get paid for it
  • People are always looking up how to get food, make food, etc.
    • Find a topic that is broad and can be expanded//variety
  • Leverage journalism for yourself
    • Ask for media passes for things you want to go to
  • People still think print first because of the deadlines
    • Online first is as soon as you can get it done
  • Online traffic
    • Early morning
    • 9 pm
  • Adobe creative suite – lightroom for editing photos
  • Web apps – you can create apps based on content
  • Try volunteering to cover stuff you like for fun
  • If you’re good at it, you might get it added to your beat
    • Editors don’t’ turn away content
  • Stay in your lane! Especially on social – stay in your brand lane.



Sorayah Zahir


This year’s TIPA conference had some of the best sessions that I’ve been to at a conference of this type. There were a ton of options, from photography to blogging and everything in between, it was hard to choose at times where to go next.


Below, I have shared notes from the sessions I found the most helpful.


  1. Avi Selk discussed how to make the most of a boring beat. Being on a boring beat can be sort of hard as student journalists on a college campus, but there are beats that can get repetitive. This is the situation Avi found himself in while covering the city of Irving. Going to board meeting after council meeting was just not cutting it. “Find one story line and tell the hell out of it,” Avi said. That’s exactly what he did when he found the Islamophobic underbelly of the city. He kept track of sources within this sphere who could push him forward on this story line and eventually found his big story, Ahmed Mohamed’s clock incident. Point is, Avi said focus on finding one story and focus on telling it well. There’s more news out there than can ever be covered but it’s quality that matters, not so much the quantity.
  2. There’s a lot of things that make a lede bad. They can be too long or too obvious. You should almost never start with a question or a quote. It can be tempting to just write something happened, like “Student Congress met…” But the best kind of lede is one that shows the unusual. At the very top you should have a lede that reflects your reporting. If the lede on your story is something you could have written when you were assigned the story, it’s probably not the best lede. Be specific and keep it to one sentence.
  3. This session was a big one for me: Open Records. I would suggests coming by to talk to me about this topic if you’re interested after reading this but I’ll give you the gist. Texas is a great state when it comes to open records and open meetings. The Texas Open Meetings Act rules that any governing body discussing public business is assumed to be open to the public to attend. A governing body is any group at any level of government that has authority. Anyone can record these meetings as long as they’re not being obtrusive. The Freedom of Information Act at the federal level states that all federal records are open to the public. Anyone can make an open records request. We pay for taxes so, naturally, we should all have access to these records. When making a request, the only information the governmental entity you are requesting from can ask of you is your name, contact information and what you want. Nothing else. All of this stuff is quite involved and interesting so, like I said, talk to me if you want to learn even more!



Dylan Bradley


The first session I attended was after my feature writing live competition was the student business meeting.



First we welcomed to TIPA, then we defined the roles of each officer position. This was my third semester as an officer, my first and only serving as president. I have never been given any description of what the roles for each position entail, so as a group we defined what each position would be responsible for. Without any bylaws, we played it by ear.


The treasurer/parliamentarian will be responsible for fundraising for a meal during next year’s business meeting to drive participation, and organize a student mixer.


The secretary will be responsible for keeping minutes, and putting together a monthly newsletter or email group message with updates on the treasurer’s fundraising goals, resources for student journalists, a newsroom welfare check, and sending that to a representative from each school.


The vice president will contact each school between conventions and get a commitment for a number of students that will attend.


The president will be a liaison between the adviser (Fred), possibly introduce some speakers, set the tones and goals for the officers for the next convention, introduce the hall of fame inductee and read the awards.


We held elections, which resulted in the following officer body.

Treasurer/parliamentarian: Mara Lopez – UT-Arlington

Secretary: Zak Wellerman – UT-Tyler

Vice President: Madelyn Edwards: UT-Arlington

President: Nathan Wright – UT-Tyler



  • The next session I went to was Avi Selk’s boring beat presentation.


Conflict and issues are reader candy, so stop covering boring mundane stuff and dig deep. It’s a tough balance between covering a beat and focusing on the one issue that can be followed up well, just do it.



  • Community Journalism with Brittany Hall

Community journalism is locally oriented, people-centered approach to story development. The journalists job is to cover all the beats, breaking news, city/county governments, cops, education, sports and features. They need to know photography, pitch stories, budget and plan, copy edit, write headlines and proof pages.

Community journalism will give basic skills for any job you want.

Find a story, follow up, assimilate info, deliver it.

Musgrove is eating this up


  • Student roundtable

Students from many different schools complained about their newsrooms, lack of control over anything but content, but mostly complained about staff. It took two hours. No other officer stayed. I wasn’t a fan.


  • Transfer panel

I was on Beth’s transfer panel, and answered questions about the transfer process from a two-year to a four-year institution. It was a lot easier to do that than answer the EIC committee’s questions.


I got the most from hanging out with everyone after things were finished. Most of my sessions were repeats, except for community journalism, which didn’t present any new information. If I’m invited to go next year I’m glad I’ll be able to go to more sessions and be less responsible for things other than myself.



Brittany Harborth


-I learned some blogging basics! A blog can be anything you want it to be and if you want to write for something, like a magazine or web page, give it a shot. If you’re good, it could turn into a long-term thing.

-In the workshop with the food reviewer, he said doing something you love or are interested in could be successful! The reviewer loved cooking and collecting knives, so he wrote articles and the paper published them.


-In another workshop, the speaker talked about working with millenials and it was super relevant considering that I am one! She said to try to help your co-workers find meaning in their work, and to be very noticing of jobs well done. We like being rewarded!


-I learned some blogging basics! A blog can be anything you want it to be and if you want to write for something, like a magazine or web page, give it a shot. If you’re good, it could turn into a long-term thing.

-In the workshop with the food reviewer, he said doing something you love or are interested in could be successful! The reviewer loved cooking and collecting knives, so he wrote articles and the paper published them.


-In another workshop, the speaker talked about working with millenials and it was super relevant considering that I am one! She said to try to help your co-workers find meaning in their work, and to be very noticing of jobs well done. We like being rewarded!



Kelsi Brinkmeyer


Sports Photography: Tom Fox


turn out photos at halftime

make sure to have an updated roster for every team

On field tags, so that at halfway you can already be culled


using photo mechanic to copy all captions basic info

call ahead of time to figure out wifi ahead of time

Tight is right

crop for emphasis- especially in sports photography

don’t drop your lens after the play – for every action there is a reaction

always have the ball or the face in the frame

do homework and figure out athletes regular body language in order to position yourself to get the face

mix in feature photography while shooting action

start out with best images in gallery, avg in the middle, and another great image in the end



Market Value of Photography: Brandon Wade

Find a market that you can profit in, ex:drone photography requires a pilots license

people will always go with someone cheaper than you

sit down and figure out your real cost of business – gear, mileage, time

“don’t you value the work that ill do to to increase the value of your brand”

register your photos with the copyright office if it could blow up -ASMP

word of mouth is the best way to get big – it takes years

smug mug to send images to clients

what can you offer that another photographer can’t?

the people who are in the business will not take kindly to you lowballing

charge hourly, people take advantage of day rates and make a minimum charge

fotoquote- app that gives you rates for what mags and news is paying to give you an idea of what is a reasonable price

don’t be afraid to say no – most people only need to use you once

freshbooks.com -online invoicing that lets you know if they see it (only put link on invoice)



Selby Lopez

Yamil Berard, an investigative reporter for The Star-Telegram talked about how to work on long-term stories versus short-term stories.


She defines a short-term piece as something that takes 0-6 weeks to put together and a long-term piece as a story that takes six months or more to complete.


The most beneficial thing I took from her was how to organize your schedule to have enough time to work on multiple projects.


She suggests working on one long-term story at a time, while simultaneously working on one-two short-term stories, and still being prepared for the “quick-hit,” or breaking news stories.


She gives some bullet points to help reporters keep their workflow smooth and to make sure they don’t stay stagnant.


  • Don’t spend a lot of time on daily work, fact check and boil it out
  • Write early. Before all interviews are completed, before your records requests come in.
  • Distill it into simple terms.

The presentation finished off with a quote that I really liked and would like to share with the newsroom.


“I never have to choose investigative reporters. They choose themselves. Whatever beat they have they find a way to do investigative work.”


In what was probably my favorite workshop at TIPA, Keith King talked about building your own blog and brand.


He mentioned how despite not getting paid that writing for The Huffington Post was a huge benefit for him as it drew a huge audience to his blog and increased his popularity.


The flexibility of blog writing was very appealing to me as he said how much you work is up to you, the blogger.


He also mentioned a pair of rules in blogging that I personally was not aware of but found very helpful. First he said Google Ads is the best ad service to use to get paid on your blog and that a general rule of thumb should be to have no more than three per page. He also said each blog post should have no more than three tags per page.


And finally a workshop that was probably the most entertaining was the “Bad Ledes” workshop with Chris Whitley.


He categorized ledes into the “duh” ledes, the question ledes, the too long ledes, the quote ledes, and of course the WTF ledes (his words not mine).


Basically the point he got across in all of these examples was to not overcomplicate your lede, keep it at one sentence, ideally avoid questions or quotes, don’t suffocate it with proper nouns, and be specific.


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