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The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

Posts Tagged ‘manchester

Moving east: I’m headed to Detroit to begin covering Redford for the Observer and Eccentric

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I’ve waited a while before making this official on the Internet, but its finally time.

I am making a job change, moving from Heritage Media in Washtenaw County to the Observer and Eccentric newspapers in Wayne and Oakland counties, later this month.

I’ll be covering Redford Township, which lies directly west of Detroit and east of Livonia.

I’m excited about the opportunity, and to return to the area I grew up, which is to the northeast in Royal Oak. I’ve truly enjoyed working in Washtenaw County, spending a lot of my time in Manchester and Saline, but I’m excited for new opportunities.

I’ve learned a lot about covering local news at Heritage, and it’s been a great experience working the online desk and managing web efforts. I’ve enjoyed becoming a face of the paper in Manchester, and hope to replicate that in Redford.

Thank you to my boss, Michelle Rogers, for the opportunity to hire me into my first job. Washtenaw County is a great place to cover, with a wide range of diversity and events. I had the opportunity to cover higher education, local government and even chase some police news. Working at Heritage was the right move for me back in 2010, and I’m happy I made the move.

I’ll be back living in Metro Detroit (Southfield, to be exact), and I’ll be spending a lot of my time in Redford, as well as at the Detroit Free Press/Detroit News building in downtown Detroit. I’m looking forward to it.

Written by David Veselenak

May 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Journalism

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2011 year in review

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If 2012 brings half the challenges 2011 had, I think I’ll be set.

My year was consistent when it came to journalism, spending my entire year at my first “real” job, working as a reporter and online coordinator for Heritage Media West, a news organization covering Washtenaw and western Wayne counties owned by Journal Register Co.

While slightly worried when I started that working for such a small newspaper — the weekly I wrote for, The Manchester Enterprise, has a total coverage area of about 10,000 people — I learned throughout the year weekly print publication

Downtown Manchester.

face different, yet equal challenges, as larger coverage areas.

Below is a month-by-month look at my year in review:

January 

I started at Heritage Media Jan. 10, covering the Village of Manchester and doing some online work; managing social media pages, posting stories, etc. I started off slow, still getting accustomed to using a whole new system and news flow. Working at a weekly product meant different deadlines, and a whole new content management system (going from Movable Type to Town News). I began getting accustomed to learning township and village government, and started covering both.

I started dabbling in iMovie, a program I hadn’t used before, to produce news videos. As the year went on, I began using it more and more.

February

The month was smooth-sailing, until the end when I received an email from my Manchester copy editor while at a meeting saying she was leaving the company. This left the Enterprise, a weekly print product of approximately 30 pages, with no editor, a job I was assigned to take over. Soon after, I assumed the role of copy editor and reporter, leaving many of my online duties behind.

We started using a new video client, Syndicaster, instead of VMix, a move that was a significant improvement. Not only did it allow for embedding of videos cleaner in story posts, it also allowed us to share content among other news orgs in the company.

March 

I spent the entire month copy editing and reporting for the Enterprise, something I was, frankly, scared to death of. I had not been in charge of a product like the Enterprise since being editor-in-chief of Central Michigan Life during the summer of 2009. Writing 7-9 stories a week, as while as coordinating user generated content from the community, copy editing pages and posting online content was how I spent my days during the month.

The challenge wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be, and I was still able to produce a daily newscast video for heritage.com.

July

An image that appeared in print and The Wire blog taken with my Incredible 2. The plate is a traditional dish served at the annual Manchester Chicken Broil.

Fast forward to the summer: I acquire a new tool designed to help my professional life: a Droid Incredible 2 smartphone. Among the many things I’ve been able to do with it include posting quick tweets on breaking news, take high-quality images for print, post to our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and track page analytics using SiteCatalyst. It’s been a blessing to have the device, even though it’s acted strange with some of my contacts recently.

September

My role at Heritage took a turn in September: a newsroom re-organization made me the full-time online coordinator for Heritage Media, decreasing my role as a reporter and charging me with a higher responsibility to the website. Since, I’ve spent more time focusing on analytics and bringing as much traffic as possible to the site, assisting reporters with making their stories pop on our site and curating content from our sister publications close to Detroit.

I also spent two days at a conference held by the Reynolds Journalism Institute in St. Louis, Mo. Going with two colleagues, we attended several sessions focusing on tablet use and development, as well as online strategy. You can read about my take-backs from the conference on the Heritage West Idealab blog, a page ran by my boss, Michelle Rogers.

October

Video content in our newsroom gets a refresher, with more instructions saying more in-depth, produced pieces are the way to go. I start curating more of our videos to other sister sites, and trying to build of off the directive to create higher-quality videos.

The group from Heritage West that attended the annual AP meeting in October in Mount Pleasant.

I also attended the Michigan Associated Press editor’s meeting in Mount Pleasant. This was a great opportunity to hear stories from the Grand Rapids Press on how they covered a mass shooting in town this past summer, more legal issues pertaining to journalists and how to best use social media in a newsroom.

Goals for next year

  • Learn more coding, starting with HTML and CSS.I asked for a basic book for Christmas, and I received

    This is the book I'm planning to crack open as soon as I hit publish.

    one of the coding books “For Dummies,” as its called. I plan on starting to use it tonight after posting this. I’ve used it lightly with embedding videos and maps on heritage.com, but I’d like to use it to create some different things, and maybe make some site changes here.

  • Continue learning about the mobile world. I’ve been using my phone for many uses, but I’d like to keep pushing it to the brink, using it to extract and capture as much info as possible. Eventually, I’d like to learn mobile to development as well.
  • Push the blogs on heritage.com more, and do more blogging myself. This is one element of my job I’ve really enjoyed doing, starting off with blogging for The Wire, the Manchester Enterprise’s blog. We’re encouraged to post to a staff blog at least once a week, and with our re-organization, all of us have access to each community’s blog. I’ve contributed to the Idealab blog, talking about technology and media, a site created by Brian Manzullo called JournU, a place for young journalists to share advice and stories, and my outdoors blog, where I touch on everything Michigan-relatd outdoors.

I’m always looking to improve, but these are just a few concepts I’d like to keep driving. Are there any other I should look into doing this year?

Written by David Veselenak

January 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Branching out: I’m blogging other places, too

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It’s difficult to update this blog when you’ve got several other things running, both journalism and non-journalism

A screenshot of another blog I host, entitled "Lacing up my hiking boots," a look at the Michigan outdoors from my perspective.

related.

In the last seven months, I’ve gone from starting at a chain of weeklies as a timid fresh ex-intern, and have grow significantly since in my online and community reporting habits.

I’ve also spent my time blogging at other places, which explains the diminished amount of posts here. Here’s a look at where my blogging skills have been utilized elsewhere:

  • The Wire, the staff blog for The Manchester Enterprise, has been my main blogging home. Since my former copy editor left in early March, I’ve made it a goal of mine to keep the blog fresh and updated routinely, a goal I’m happy to say I’ve done. At least one post a week on this blog, and it’s mostly dedicated to the Greater Manchester area and events there. I venture to state issues sometimes, including this post about the redistricting plans for Michigan, and this one about a bill proposing banning pit bulls in the state of Michigan.
  • Less frequently, I’ve blogged at the Idealab blog for Heritage Media, my current place of employment. Mostly, this is blogging in regards to our experimentation with online reporting tools, and my boss uses it to keep track of her Idealab project, a project being run by Journal Register Company. So far, the only post I’ve got on there is a detailed explanation of using UMapper, although I plan on doing another one on Storify, the fantastic storytelling service through social media.
  • I’ve recently launched a more specialized blog to a non-journalistic interest I’ve had since I was young: the Michigan outdoors. The last few years, I’ve really noticed how beautiful and wonderful the State of Michigan is, so I’ve decided to dedicate some of my skills to writing about the Wolverine State. It’s my first “niche” blog writing, so I’d gladly take any advice from bloggers out there!
  • Finally, I’ve been enlisted by my former boss and roommate Brian Manzullo to guest blog at a website he has recently launched called JournU. It’s a site he has envisioned as a place for young and student journalists to share advice, stories, tips and other tidbits. It’s something that hopefully will inspire some younger journalists, since it can be such a scary time to be interested in the media right now.
I do plan to utilize this blog more, and I apologize to any loyal readers (do I have those?). I plan to update my story list, as well as multimedia posts soon as well. In the meantime, check out some of the other places I’m penning my work.

Written by David Veselenak

August 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm