Welcome!

Article

What is Your Beat, Citizen Journalist?

Three Suggestions for Becoming an Expert

Most aspiring citizen journalists I meet have a favorite topic that interests them and they want to write almost exclusively about that subject. For instance, a good friend of mine writes solely about hunting and fishing in Iowa and Nebraska. Another submits articles to his local newspaper about the activities of his Rotary Club. Another citizen journalist I know submits articles about green issues and the climate change debate.

All newsrooms at one time structured things that way; they would assign reporters a certain beat to cover. One would write on business issues, another sports, another lifestyle issues, another local politics, etc. More recently, with budget cuts and the changing business model for newspapers, journalists have been forced to become generalists rather than specialists.

One publishing company in Colorado owns several community weekly newspapers but can only afford to assign one writer per community. That means each reporter must cover a vast variety of news that sometimes results is less than complete coverage or poor reporting. Not because the writers are unskilled, but because of the pressures of being a generalist and the merciless demands of weekly deadlines are out of balance with good journalism.

Most citizen journalists have the luxury of assigning themselves only the beat they are interested in. The lady who covers green issues would never be interested in writing an article about a Rotary Club golf tournament, and the guy who writes for the Rotary Club hasn’t been hunting or fishing since he was a teenager. The hunting and fishing writer has never attended a Rotary Club and he doesn’t think much of global warming issues. So each are happy with their beat of choice!

What is your area of interest or expertise? What is your preferred beat as a citizen journalist? If you are not assigned a beat by a local newspaper or news website, then your beat is entirely up to you. Once you select your beat or beats, there will be much to learn before you can become a really good reporter.

Here is where to begin – start by becoming an expert on your subject of choice. This means you must know your subject inside out. You may think you’re already an expert on a particular subject but can be taken aback and intimidated when in the presence of someone who really is an expert. Suddenly you feel like a grade schooler in a graduate-level university course.

Here is my three-step formula for becoming an expert in a specific area:

Step one is to read the top three current books on your subject. That will get you up to speed on what is being written about your topic. To find those books, go to Amazon.com and search the topic. In seconds you’ll know exactly what you should be reading. Some books you might want to purchase, others you will likely be able to find in your library.

Step two is to find three or more of the most credible websites on your subject. Search the subject on the Internet and you’ll have at least a weeks-worth of work to do in becoming an expert. Some of the best websites on your subject may not be search-engine optimized so you will have to look a little harder to find them. A good way to do that is to utilize Google Alerts. If you don’t know how they work, just go to Google and search “Google Alerts.” Their search engine will find the right link for you. It is easy to set up and the alerts are free. Over time, Google Alerts will find for you every website, article, YouTube video and other web presence that deals with your favorite topics.

Step three is to write some stories on your favorite subject. Take a small topic within the broader topics surrounding your area of interest and write just on that topic. Let’s take our hunting and fishing writer as an example. He could write an article on bass fishing in small Iowa lakes or how to field dress a dear or how to build a duck blind. When you actually write on your subject of choice, you exercise your writing skills and developing your writing style and voice. Have someone you respect read your stories and offer suggestions on your writing style.

For help in writing in a true journalistic style, consult the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” a book I co-authored with Susan Carson Cormier.

More Stories By Ron Ross

Dr. Ron Ross is a publisher, author, speaker, radio personality residing in Loveland, Colorado. He is the author of two published books and several e-books. He is the host of Tidbits Radio on 1310KFKA-AM and on CastleRockRadio.com. He writes a weekly motivational and inspirational column that is published in a variety of newspapers.

Latest Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...