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Panel discusses journalism’s future

News Editor

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 13:05

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Earl Z.M.

Editors of The Record engaged Buffalo’s media leaders in a conversation about the future of journalism at the Burchfield Penney Art Center April 10.

 

In celebration of its 100th birthday, The Record invited the entire Buffalo State community to
attend a panel discussion about the future of journalism with four distinguished media leaders of
Buffalo last week at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
 
Students and professors of Buffalo State and other local colleges were in attendance April 10 to
listen to panelists Buffalo News Editor Mike Connelly, WGRZ-TV News Director Jeff Woodard,
Artvoice Editor Geoff Kelly and WBEN NewsRadio News Director Steve Cichon.
 
Senior associate director of athletics and Buffalo State alumnus Tom Koller served as the
discussion’s moderator.
 
The conversation began with the panelists explaining the changes in journalism and media they
have observed over the course of their careers.
 
When he first started in television, Woodard said the copies of scripts that were printed were all
attached, forcing the news staff to have to rip them off one by one to give to all the anchors and
directors.
 
“Technology obviously has come a long, long way since then,” Woodard said.
 
Kelly said that when his journalism career began 15 years ago, the Internet was just starting to
become essential for journalists to learn how to use.
 
Cichon said that smart phones and social media have changed some of the formats of
journalism since his career began 20 years ago.
 
Connelly added that when his career first started over 30 years ago, he used a typewriter to
write his stories.
 
“I’d have to sit down at the typewriter and edit it, rewrite it and if you didn’t get it right, you
wadded it up, threw it over your shoulder and started again,” Connelly said.
 
When discussing the future of journalism, social media was a topic that held the conversation
for a good portion of the evening.
 
“What interests me about the digital world is not the latest social media tool,” Connelly said. “It’s
the ability it gives me to report and tell stories.”
 
Woodard said that how journalists use social media is key.
 
“The question is as reporters and journalists, what do we do with that information,” he said.
 
“How are we using these tools to better inform our community?”
 
Cichon also said that social media can also make it easier for journalists to make mistakes.
 
“It’s instantaneous now,” he said. “Fewer and fewer eyeballs passing over whatever it is you’re
putting out there makes it easier to make mistakes.”
 
Kelly said that he is amazed by that fact that anyone is capable of recording scenes or stories
via smart phones and other devices
 
“It’s not just journalists walking around with these phones, it’s everybody, and they could be
your sources too,” he said. “It’s amazing, if you think about it, all the things that are recorded or
recordable by people who are just walking around.”
 
The panelists also discussed the job market for student journalists and offered advice as to what
skills are necessary to land jobs in the field.
 
“Everybody has to have multiple skills,” Cichon said. “Everybody has to be able to write well,
know how to speak into a microphone, to know how to look into a camera, to know how to do all
these things all at the same time.”
 
Although many past, present and future changes in the field of journalism were noted by the
panelists, Connelly brought up one aspect of journalism that should never change.
 
“The heart of what we do hasn’t changed much,” Connelly said. “It’s still about getting people to
tell you things they’re not supposed to tell you.”
 
The communication department collaborated with the Alumni Association in hosting a panel
discussion and roundtable conversations on April 11. The event was organized by Nick
Stutzman, general manager of WBNY. The panelists were all Buffalo State alumni and included
Matthew Pitts, producer at WGRZ-TV, Dave Masi, traffic and advertising director of NFTA,
Ed Bassler, director of sales of WIVB and WNLO and digital sales, Gary Walker, director of
communications for the city of Rochester, Elizabeth Carey, reporter for Business First and Chris
Parker, sports radio show host of WGR 550.
 
Katie Anderson can be reached by email at anderson.record@live.com.
 

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