NKU hosts ‘Digital Transformations in News’ for students and staff

In a daylong event hosted at Northern Kentucky University, students and staff from both NKU and Western Kentucky University attended sessions tackling varying subjects in journalism from the use of data and visuals to making your own way as a digital only newspaper.

Five sessions were held throughout the day all focusing on the changing world of digital journalism.

Digital Strategies at the Associated Press

The day kicked off with insights from Adam Yeomans, the Associated Press bureau chief for Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

“On any one day more than half the world’s population will see news from the Associated Press,” Yeomans said.

Yeomans gave some background of the Associated Press during his presentation and discussed how they cover news in today’s society. Since being created in 1846 the Associated Press has had to change how they get news to the public as technology and society have changed. 110 countries now get their news in some format from them.

“Video is no longer a luxury, it is essential,” Yeomans said.

Yeomans said that a reporter’s first job is to get the news. Today they will also be expected to get pictures and videos depending on the assignment. These images and videos can be added to print, broadcast, websites, and even news apps (the Associated Press app was launched in 2009).

“News websites and apps have the opportunity to challenge TV for the role of chief news provider,” said Yeomans.

How to tell stories with data and visuals 

The second session welcomed experts giving advice on the use of data, visuals and video in journalism.

Sandhya Kambhampati, digital producer of interactives and data for E.W. Scripps, shared tips for using data to help you tell stories and here are just a few.

Tip 1 – “Use this data and put a face to the numbers.”

Tip 2 – “Don’t get caught up in one fact of data.”

Tip 3 – “Think of who’s your audience, why they should care and what’s your main story.”


Dylan Lovan, a multimedia reporter for the AP, shared tips for how to get the best video in order to tell a great story.

Tip 1 – Get a variety of shots

“You want to be able to stand in one place and get a wide shot of your subject, a medium shot of your subject and then a tight shot of something related to the subject.”

Tip 2 – Get the best audio possible

“Good audio with bad video beats great video with bad audio.”

Tip 3 – Hold shots for at least 12 seconds

“Slow down, take your time, don’t rush to the next shot and stay where you are. You’ve setup your camera. You’ve got everything here. Get everything you can in this spot before you decide to move on.”

Tip 4 – Anticipate the shot

“Anticipate what’s going to happen and then capture those moments.”

Exit 34: A case study in multimedia journalism 

The lunchtime panel welcomed the WCPO Digital team that created the multimedia narrative “Exit 34: The Last Watch of Jason Ellis”

The team talked about the collaborative journalism process to work on a multimedia story and the lessons they learned.

Jessica Noll, the WCPO reporter who wrote the story said about this project, “You have to look at the story and not just think, ‘I’m going to write this.’ It’s how are you going to tell it? How are you going to give this to your audience and how do you want them to perceive it?”

Brian Niesz, multimedia producer for WCOP, worked along-side Noll for many hours on this story and said, “On the technology side, it’s really all about having the right tools at your disposal.”

“Once you have those tools together, it’s a lot easier to do repeatedly because…you don’t have to put together a set of tools to tell a story, you just have to put them together the right way,” Niesz said.

Chris Graves, WCPO Digital managing editor, said this project is a great example of basic reporting.

“This is all fancy pants stuff but at the end of the day, everything [Noll’s] talked about is access, ability to talk to people, find the right records, use the tools at your disposal, if you don’t know the right tools, go out and find them,” Graves said. “You guys learn that every day in your classes…then the brilliance is bringing it all together.”

Breaking the news mold with digital-only

For the panelists of the final professional panel of the day, the digital-only focus is something they’ve made hyper localized.

Michael Monks, editor of The River City News, created his digital-only paper to focus strictly on Northern Kentucky.

“You think about Kentucky and it’s this state that the South doesn’t claim because we’re North and the North doesn’t claim because we’re South,” Monks said. “And then we’re Northern Kentucky inside of the state, we’re the redheaded stepchild of the redheaded stepchild. We always seem to have to identify ourselves as Cincinnati.”

Monks created River City News, so that the perception of Northern Kentucky could be changed and no longer be seen as an extension of Cincinnati.

“It’s about claiming the region as our own,” Monks said.

Judy and Gene Clabes, editors of KY Forward, a digital-only newspaper feel the same about serving their region of Western Kentucky.

“We aim to be our community’s main new sources,” Judy said.

Sarah Whitman, managing editor of Soapbox Media, said that it isn’t just about remaining local, but also finding the content that people want as well.

The biggest point the panelists all stressed about running digital-only, localized newspapers is that you must rely heavily on freelancers and yourself.


Student Media Perspective on Digital

The day ended with a workshop discussion lead by Kevin Schultz, editor-in-chief of The Northerner, and Stephen Wilder, managing/copy desk editor of The Northerner.

All students expressed takeaways based on each panel, from the importance of video and other forms of multimedia to the inspiration of being your own newspapers.

However, the day was summed up best in one tweet from a Cameron Love digital editor of the College Heights Herald at Western Kentucky University.

“There are so many journalism nerds in this room and I kinda love it. #PartyLikeAJournalist #nkudiginews”

To see more tweets from the day check out @northernermedia or search the hashtag #nkudiginews.