Matt is a breaking news behemoth.
He spends his time deciding what stories of humanity are worth telling, and who will be denied their 15 minutes of fame. His Midwestern news station has seen their fair share of crazy tales, but it’s Matt’s job to choose the best ones.
Matt took the time out of his busy day of sensationalizing the truth to tell BOJ how the media world really works.
BOJ: How did you get interested in journalism? Do you just like having to write term papers constantly?
MATT: I got interested in journalism in high school while managing the school paper. That developed into an interest in feature writing in college, and I chose to focus on online journalism because that’s the way the industry generally seems to be heading.
BOJ: What is your role at the station?
MATT: My official title is Web Producer. I write breaking news stories (shootings, fires and car crashes) for our website as well as edit many of the other stories that on-air reporters write. They hired me specifically to adapt the on-air stories for our website.
BOJ: Are you responsible for finding your own stories, or are they assigned?
MATT: I largely get to decide what content I put on the site, though most of what I write is breaking news that we confirm after we get viewer tips or hear something on the police scanner. Our station republishes a lot of our national coverage from CNN because we have a partnership with them, but we obviously don’t just copy and paste every single thing they do. As a general rule, if I hear producers talking about it in the newsroom, there’s a good chance it needs to go on our website if it isn’t already on there.
BOJ: How many others work at your station?
MATT: Well, I work the evening news shift, which is from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. During that time there are roughly 15 or so people working in the newsroom, though it fluctuates from day to day. There are crews roughly that size for the morning and afternoon as well, though I’m not sure on the exact number.
BOJ: What is the most ridiculous story you have covered?
MATT: This happened on my first day at work here. Nothing has been weirder.
BOJ: Have you ever made a typo or mistake regarding information?
MATT: (of course not) Yaeh.
BOJ: What types of news media do you follow personally?
MATT: I regularly read things from Mother Jones, The Atlantic and The New Yorker. I also follow more traditional news outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post, etc.
BOJ: Where do you think the journalism world is headed as an industry?
MATT: If I had an answer to that question I probably would be a millionaire. Although I majored in Online Journalism, print is not something I look down on or consider dead. I do, however, look down on people who look down on online media or different ways of storytelling.
BOJ: What would you say to those looking to get into journalism as a career?
MATT: Get involved in a publication, online or in print, as soon as you can. Start getting your byline out there. Whether it’s affiliated with your university or something that’s just getting started (or something you start up), it’s important to constantly hone your skills. It’s also important to learn how to be edited.