EIJ Day 2: So You Want to Be a Foreign Correspondent?

We’re sharing highlights from the Excellence in Journalism national conference. Follow @spjonadepaul on Twitter for more journalism news and tips!

By Carina Smith

“So You Want to be a Foreign Correspondent” took place on the second day of the EIJ conference and featured a panel of four journalists who had a variety of experience across the world reporting on a number of foreign issues.

The panelists were:

The journalists spoke about the trials and tribulations that come with being a foreign correspondent. They openly discussed how hard it can be to maintain relationships and find a steady paycheck, especially in the modern era when so many outlets don’t seem to care about what is going on outside of our own borders. The panelists also spoke openly about times when they had risked their lives while reporting and were treated as enemies by the local governments.

However, the panelists also spoke about why they continue on this career path: because they love it. The journalists said that despite the downsides they continue to report abroad because they think it is important for America to know what is going on in the rest of the world. The panel ended with the speakers telling everyone who is interested in being a foreign correspondent to do it. It may be hard, but the payout is worth it.

EIJ Day 2: Bad News Writing

We’re sharing highlights from the Excellence in Journalism national conference. Follow @spjonadepaul on Twitter for more journalism news and tips!

By Erica Carbajal

On day two in Baltimore for EIJ 2018, the “Bad News Writing: The no good, the bad and the ugly” session led by radio journalist Christopher Cruise served as a good reminder for fellow journalists in the room: write like you talk.

The breakout session started off by highlighting the “strange” ways we as reporters often talk and write, and how it’s almost like its own language. The audience poked fun at this while watching the “How a local news anchor makes a phone call” video by feature reporter, Kate Welshofer. The crowd laughed and nodded along in agreement at the exaggerated pronunciation and change in tone, recognizing Welshofer’s demonstration of news reporter speaking style in themselves.

Cruise’s presentation then transitioned into the overused phrases and journalism cliches that can be seen in almost any local newscast. “What does an ‘area resident’ mean?” Cruise asked, “Why don’t we just say ‘local resident’?” and the audience laughed in agreement. His favorite though, is “local hospital.” Cruise said he sees this in almost every script that comes across his desk. His simple solution is to write like you talk. “Just say ‘hospital,'” Cruise said, reminding everyone that no viewer or reader will assume a victim was taken to a hospital hours away.

My personal favorite phrase that I hear often, particularly on broadcast news, was “brutal gang rape.” Cruise said “Is there any other kind of gang rape?” reminding members of the field to avoid fillers and tell a story similar to the way you really talk, while maintaining balance and professionalism, of course.

Cruise convinced us to always consult the “Overused Phrase List” when in doubt, and to never reference tragedies as “terrible” again.