Tag Archive for Journalism

6 Nuggets Of Multimedia-Reporting Wisdom…And What Comes Next

IMG_0454It’s my last day at Boise State Public Radio, and my last day (for now) working in public media. I’ve grown and learned so much over the last decade in public radio. And I know for sure the future is bright for public radio stations across the country.

Thanks, Idaho, for listening, for your support, and for helping me grow!

Here are six little pieces of wisdom I left my Boise State Public Radio newsroom colleagues. These are tailored to digital journalism, but really, these nuggets can apply to so many other worlds.

  1. Never publish your first headline. Headlines are mini works-of-art; take your time, write a bunch, riff with someone. Your headline is the window to your story. Sell it!
  2. Plan out the best way to visualize your post. Every story is different. Is it a visual story? Should you rely on photos/video? Should you use sub-heads? What about charts or maps? Let the contents of the story direct how you’ll present it. It won’t be the same each time.
  3. Pretend like you’re a copy editor. Go through each post with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you don’t have silly spelling errors or grammar mistakes. If what’s written doesn’t really make sense to you, the editor, it won’t make sense to someone else.
  4. Sell your content. Don’t assume people will just stumble upon your brilliant post on their own. Use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. — whatever tool works best — to drive eyes to your content. Remember that old saying, “if a tree falls in the forest…..”
  5. Pay attention to details. Double check how your story is categorized, tagged, add external links, and related content.
  6. Experiment. You won’t break the Internet. Digital journalism is changing rapidly. Don’t be afraid to try new tools. See what works. Learn from mistakes. Make it better the next time. Have fun!
As for what’s next, starting later this month I’ll be the Communications Director for Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau.

Map: Montana’s Uninsured Rates By County

Montana UninsuredMontana’s share of uninsured people declined by 1.6 percent, from 21.6 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013. Even with the decline, Montana was among the top 10 U.S. states with the highest rate of uninsured people.

The U.S. Census Bureau released this week its Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2013. The data doesn’t yet reflect an anticipated decline to the uninsured rate because of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange subsidies that became available in 2014.

The Census data show 40 of Montana’s 56 counties still have an uninsured rate that is higher than the state average. In 18 counties, more than a quarter of Montanans under the age of 64 were uninsured.

Garfield County had the largest share of people without health insurance, Lewis and Clark County had the smallest.

Click around the map to see how your county stacks up.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders

Highest uninsured rates by Montana county:

  1. Garfield County, 32
  2. McCone County, 31.4
  3. Golden Valley County, 30.8
  4. Sanders County, 30
  5. Glacier County, 29.8
  6. Carter County, 29.2
  7. Blaine County, 29.1
  8. Lake County, 28.6
  9. Big Horn County, 28.5
  10. Wheatland County, 27.9

A recent Gallup poll finds Montana’s uninsured rate has dropped more than most since the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented.

More than 48,000 Montanans have signed up for coverage through the federal health insurance exchange.

Montana, like Idaho, hasn’t expanded Medicaid to provide health insurance coverage to more low-income adults.

See how Idaho compares, here.

Loss Of Federal Timber Payments Mean Tough Choices For Rural Schools

Warren Barnes teaches music at Basin Elementary and Idaho City High School. Barnes works with this preschool class during his prep period. (Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders)

Warren Barnes teaches music at Basin Elementary and Idaho City High School. Barnes works with this preschool class during his prep period. (Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders)

This story aired on NPR’s All Things Considered March 12, 2015.

The Basin School District in Idaho City has something most districts in the state don’t, preschool.

On Wednesdays, 12 preschoolers leave their small house-turned-school and walk across the playground to the high school’s music room. The children sit cross-legged in a circle and the music teacher hands out two brightly-colored sticks to each student. Music class for these preschoolers is all about rhythm, following directions, and giggling.

Idaho doesn’t have public preschool, and schools that want to offer it, have to find creative ways to pay for the program. State money isn’t an option.

Over the last 15 years, the Basin School District has paid for their unique preschool program with a grant, a voter-approved levy, some tuition, fundraisers, and federal Secure Rural Schools act money.

“I don’t know how the program could be reduced any more than it already is,” says teacher Mary Allen. “It’s already only two days a week.”

Basin’s entire budget is about $3 million. It’s taking a double hit because its levy funds runs out next year and it’ll lose Secure Rural Schools Act money.

Congress has allowed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act to expire. Rural counties across the country now have $250 million less to work with.

6 Tips For Making A Multimedia, Dual-Newsroom Series Succeed

Audrey Dutton contributed to this post. This post first appeared in the Idaho Press Club newsletter.

In October, Boise State Public Radio and the Idaho Statesman launched a collaborative, multimedia series exploring Idaho’s fragmented mental health system. The collaboration was the first of its kind for our two organizations. Instead of simply sharing content, the series was a true cross-platform collaboration where both of us crafted stories specifically for three platforms: Print, radio, and online.

The idea of the collaboration started – as many of these things do – when we were having drinks back in June. We both were eager to take on a big project, but felt with our regular workload that adding a multimedia series and diving into Idaho’s mental health care system was too big a job for one person. We settled on mental health care because it’s a subject that is under-reported and is in the midst of systemic change in Idaho.

In Crisis: Idaho Police, Social Workers On The Front Lines Of Mental Health

Philip Mazeikas, mobile crisis, mental health Philip Mazeikas has schizophrenia and was aided two years ago by a Mobile Crisis Unit. His parents had called police, seriously concerned about their son. The crisis unit's visit was the first step in getting Mazeikas the help and medication he needed. [Credit Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman]

Philip Mazeikas, mobile crisis, mental health
Philip Mazeikas has schizophrenia and was aided two years ago by a Mobile Crisis Unit. His parents had called police, seriously concerned about their son. The crisis unit’s visit was the first step in getting Mazeikas the help and medication he needed.
[Credit Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman]

This story published in the Idaho Statesman and was broadcast on Boise State Public Radio’s KBSX 91.5 FM Oct. 28, 2014. See the entire series, here.

Two years ago, Philip Mazeikas answered the front door of his family home. The course of his life changed when he opened it.

At 24-years-old, Mazeikas found himself in the middle of his first psychotic episode. He thought he’d been contacted by aliens who were using him in a scheme to control the world. He wasn’t eating well. He was drinking his own urine.

“I was storming around the house, really angry, when I heard a knock at the door,” Mazeikas recalls. “I remember thinking to myself, stay cool, act normal, whatever you do, don’t say anything about aliens, because they’ll think you’re crazy.”

In Crisis: Idaho Medicaid In Flux Causes A Big Shift In Care

Kendra sits with her community based rehabilitation worker Jennifer Beason working on her feelings journal during her last CBRS appointment. [Katherine Jones | Idaho Statesman]

Kendra sits with her community based rehabilitation worker Jennifer Beason working on her feelings journal during her last CBRS appointment. [Katherine Jones | Idaho Statesman]


This story was published in the Idaho Statesman and broadcast on Boise State Public Radio KBSX 91.5 FM Oct. 30, 2014. See the entire series, here.

Nine-year-old Kendra sits in one of the private rooms on the second floor of Boise’s Downtown public library with her community-based rehabilitation services worker, Jennifer Beason.

Beason slides a workbook to Kendra. It is what she calls her feelings journal. “Do you know what relieved is?” she asked.

Without missing a beat, Kendra rattles off examples of feeling relieved.

“Like you forgot to bring home a paper, a really, really important paper, and then you brought it home, but you left it in your backpack and you thought you left it at school,” she said. “And then you’re relieved you still have it.”

For a year and a half, Kendra and Beason have spent about four hours each week developing social and personal skills Kendra falls short on because of a tumultuous start to her life.

By the time she was 3, Kendra was in a foster home, removed from her biological parents because of severe abuse and neglect.

“No child should go through what she went through,” said Kendra’s adoptive mother, Ginger Kreiter. “Because of what she went through, it put her in severe trauma. She had no coping skills with your ordinary life.”

What It Means To Be ‘Fiercely Independent’ In Idaho, A State Surrounded By Government

The Baker family's three ranches are in the East Fork valley. That's the snow-capped top of Castle Peak in the background. [Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders]

The Baker family’s three ranches are in the East Fork valley. That’s the snow-capped top of Castle Peak in the background. [Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders]

This story aired on Boise State Public Radio’s KBSX 91.5 FM May 15, 2014.

If Hollywood needed a setting for one of its westerns, this spot along the East Fork of the Salmon River just might be it. In fact, one of Clint Eastwood’s famous westerns, Pale Rider, was shot not too far from here.

For the dwindling number of ranchers who still earn their livings on this land, this valley is nothing like a romanticized western – it’s gritty, year-round work.

The Baker family has lived, and ranched here for more than 125 years.

“This is the house right here,” Sarah Baker says as she pulls off the narrow road and points the small, weathered cabin her grandfather was born in 92 years ago. It was built around 1916 and isn’t far from where Sarah’s great-great grandparents settled when they moved west from Georgia in 1888.

What Do Idaho Voters Want? Without Recent Public Opinion Polls, It’s Hard To Tell

Election day might be the most consequential poll, but routine public opinion polling can also impact policy. [Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders]

Election day might be the most consequential poll, but routine public opinion polling can also impact policy. [Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders]

This story aired on Boise State Public Radio April 17, 2014. It was published in the Idaho Statesman April 23, 2014.

Idaho voters will soon be inundated with campaign ads and sound bites from political candidates who proclaim to know exactly what Idahoans want. But it’s unclear how voters are feeling heading into the May 20 primary election, thanks to a lack of public opinion polling. Without such polling, it’s tough to tell if politicians’ rhetoric matches the electorate’s viewpoint.

U.S. Senate candidate Nels Mitchell, a Democrat, said at his campaign announcement that voters “tell me  they don’t want their government shutdown, they want their government to work. They want a government that is efficient, and is responsive.”

Mitt Romney Returns To The Campaign Trail, This Time Stumping For Idaho Politicians

Rep. Mike Simpson, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Jim Risch, and Gov. Butch Otter speak with Idaho media. March 20, 2014.

Rep. Mike Simpson, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Jim Risch, and Gov. Butch Otter speak with Idaho media. March 20, 2014.” credit=”Emilie Ritter Saunders

This feature aired on NPR’s Morning Edition March 21, 2014. You can find the full transcript, here.

If there’s one place failed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can still be effective, it’s in Idaho. The former Massachusetts governor won nearly 65 percent of Idaho votes in the 2012 presidential race.

Romney has kept a relatively low profile after his 2012 presidential defeat. But he’s back on the campaign trail, this time he’s stumping for Idaho’s two-time Republican Governor Butch Otter, eight-time Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, and Republican Senator Jim Risch, who’s running his first re-election campaign.

Back In The Saddle: Co-Hosting Idaho Reports

During the pundits' panel, Melissa Davlin and I spoke with Betsy Russell, Jim Weatherby, and Dan Popkey.

During the pundits’ panel, Melissa Davlin and I spoke with Betsy Russell, Jim Weatherby, and Dan Popkey. Credit: Seth Ogilvie / Idaho Public Television

I took a big leap back into TV news this week as a guest co-host for Idaho Public Television’s Idaho Reports. It’s an hour-long show focused on policy and the state Legislature.

The content of the show is right in my wheelhouse. I’m a political news junkie and follow policy closely for my job with Boise State Public Radio.