There was a time – in the not so distant past – when telling someone that a radio reporter would be required to capture video would make you sound like a crazy person. But that’s the reality for reporter Justine Lewkowicz — who’s typical day in the field reporting for Newstalk1010 can include recording a press conference on an audio recorder while filming a video and simultaneously tweeting. No easy feat!
Justine shares a glimpse into a typical day (hint: there’s no such thing as typical in this business), her top tips for PR people and her answer to the age old question, coffee or beer? Follow her @justinelewkowicz.
What is it like to be a radio reporter and posting video online as well?
It’s the new reality in the online/social media world we now live in. I can barely remember the days, years ago (I can’t believe I just said “years ago”), when all I needed was an audio recorder to cover a story. That was when I only used my phone to call the newsroom with information, or to go live.
Then my newsroom got me a Smartphone. All of a sudden, we were using our phones to take video. What I do remember well was the first time I videotaped a press conference on my iPhone, as well as a “selfie” stand-up. The camera guy next to me asked “what in the world” I was doing. A few months later, a PR person came up to me to say how impressive it was to see me not only keeping an eye on my audio recorder during a press conference, but also taking video with one iPhone with my left hand, and live Tweeting on a second iPhone with my right hand. And I was doing that while listening to what the police chief had to say, and asking follow-up questions.
Now I use my iPhone to … take video, edit video, post video directly to our website … record audio reports, edit audio reports, send audio reports directly to the news anchors back in the newsroom … to live tweet … And on, and on.
So what is it like being a radio reporting while posting video online, and live tweeting, and being a journalist? It’s like juggling 10 balls at the same time.
How has social media changed the Canadian media landscape?
It has changed the media landscape immensely. It has both made our jobs easier, and more difficult. While Twitter has made the exchange of information instant, it has also increased the margin of error. When you’re using a site like Twitter to investigate or share breaking news, you have to take a step back and think. You have to consider the credibility of the information, instead of giving in to the need for instant communication. The ease and speed with which one can get information these days creates a lot of pressure. You want to be the first news organization to break a story, or details within a story – and these days, that could mean being seconds faster than the competitor. But what hasn’t changed is the need to confirm information received, which can take minutes or hours.
At the same time, social media has improved communication between media and the public. There are so many more stories we find today because of Tweets, Facebook notes, YouTube videos, Instagram photos posted by anyone who has an interesting story to tell.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The best part of my job is that it changes every day. One day I might be in the newsroom covering four different stories by making phone calls to confirm information, get reaction, or investigate a story. The next day I might be at City Hall covering a committee meeting and crunching the budget numbers. And on any day I might be stuck outside in -20 degree weather, covering a shooting, robbery, missing persons case or talking to people about the -20 degree weather.
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
Know the organization you are calling. What kind of stories do we cover? What kind of angles do we cover? If you are looking to get on to one of the programs at Newstalk 1010 – know the hosts. Every host and show has a bit of a different focus. While you might be able to get a food-related story onto one of the weekend shows, it probably won’t be of interest at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Favorite story you’ve ever worked on?
That’s a tough question. I work on a several different stories a day and they all have their unique aspects. In my early days in the industry, it may have been the day I was covering a Blue Jays game and was standing at field level. More recently, it may have been the day I chatted with Bill Murray while he was wearing a crown on his head. Those were the fun stories. But the most memorable stories I have covered are the ones I will think back to 20, 30 years from now. Stories that many people will remember, and stories that we will probably never see again. Like the tumultuous Ford years.
First website you load in the morning?
The Newstalk 1010 app. I walk around my condo with my iPhone, listening to our morning show, as I’m making my coffee and brushing my teeth.
Coffee or beer?
Coffee at 5 a.m. Beer at 5 p.m.