Zhang Kaiju studies Missoulian’s online strategy

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I’ve had two days of job shadowing at the Missoulian, from July 29 to July 30. On July 29, I followed Rob Chaney, an environment and science reporter. We started our day by following his “trap line” online to see if anything interesting or important had happened. We stayed in office, so I got a chance to talk to other people about their new media strategies.

According to the Editor Sherry Devlin, the paper’s main strategies are to be very quick and very visual. And the current statistics on the monitor are only used for short-term decisions, like identifying under-performing and over-performing stories to move them around on the website. I found that the digital data supplied by online readers does’t have that much influence on the paper’s news judgment, but it plays a big role in determining where and how stories are displayed.

The Missoulian has different platforms to release news, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc; and it has a video program called 406, in which a reporter is videotaped as he or she describes the  important news each day, just like a television newscast. The video the appears on the paper’s website. I watched them recording a new video for it with simple equipment. It was interesting.

On my  second day, I followed Kathryn Haake, a cops and courts reporter, to the courtroom to see the sentencing of a transient man who beat another man within inches of his life over a pork chop, and then we went to the police station to learn more details. In the afternoon we visited the jail in Missoula. It was not that scary and it seemed that everything was in order.


Yu Shijie shadows a Missoulian photographer

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I was with Tom Bauer, a photojournalist for the Missoulian, for two days. The first day we went to downtown to look for something to shoot because we got some information that there would be a crowd of people riding motorcycles to help veterans. Yet, unfortunately, they weren’t there when we got to the motorcycle shop. So we went around the Clark Fork River, and we found some people preparing to go floating. We took some pictures of them, and the photos might be used in the newspaper.

The second day, we drove to a farm with another journalist. We took lots of pictures of the plants of the farm, and we also tasted fresh beans. When we went back to the Missoulian, Tom Bauer put all the photos into the hard drive and then picked the best pictures to edit. When editing pictures, he said, we mustn’t change the content of them. We could do just some nourishment of color, which would make the image more real and easier for audience to see on the Internet or in newspaper. Every picture has two versions, one for Internet and one for newspaper. The color of the Internet one should be saved as RGB, while the newspaper one is CMYK.

There are two important things that I learned form this two-day job shadowing. One is that I should have a good eye for interesting things, and the other one is that I should be honest about what I’m doing.

Check out these Missoulian photographs.

Chen Yijun trails a reporter on the crime beat

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I spent two days  job shadowing with Kathryn Haake, a cops and courts reporter for the Missoulian. On both days, our first thing to do was to look up special cases in criminal records, jail records and court schedules. We looked for people who had just been charged with a committing felony crimes, including a former college basketball player who was charged with selling drugs.

Police and crime news is not like other news. It requires great efficiency and timeliness in the reporting because what happened today must be written today. After we looked through the records, we talked to officers in police station and at the sheriff’s office for more details and things we may have missed. These cases are undoubtedly depressing, but it is exciting to know every clue leading to the truth.

On day two we covered the sentencing of a transient man who beat another man within inches of his life over a pork chop. The transient was sentenced to 15 years in prison. This story sounds just as ridiculous as it really was. We rushed to the courtroom at 10 o’ clock to see the sentence and noticed that the defendant is also a multi-state offender. Kate was taking notes to get a general view and recording the audio in case she needed accurate quotes, which are helpful to put together the story.

She had three stories to report this day. There was only one during day one. This unpredictability makes the daily routine different and more interesting.

Thanks to thoughtful Kate for taking me and Zhang Kaiju to see the jail. I learned a lot about the jail system, and “jail” is now a less scary word.