Want to be a journalist?

Want to be a journalist?

  1. A couple times a year I get asked to talk to journalism and communications students at nearby Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M. I say a lot of the same things, talk about what I did in college and some of the biggest stories I’ve covered (so far). 

    One lesson I repeat each time is owning your “brand.” Every person has a different brand. Find out what your passion is and be a point of information for others. Budding journalists have great resources online to do this; Twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. 
    So, I asked some of my online friends to share some advice they’d give to aspiring journos. Those with journalism backgrounds or experience chimed in. First up? A former intern.
  2. @TVsMichaelOder @TAMUSPJ Look at the world around you. Practice writing. Learn photo/video editing. Generate story ideas. Be honest & fair.
  3. @TVsMichaelOder just gave a talk to UT students. Told them about sketchy gas station bathrooms, many stories a day, knowing stations brand
  4. I think this advice is great for students or those just starting their career (myself included). There’s also some pretty good life advice in there as well. 

    What advice would you give to someone starting out in your line of work?

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Defining Life at 26

KBTX is the first station I’ve worked for post-graduation. I worked here before graduation, too. I was very lucky to get a part-time job as a photographer. Very quickly I met people here that have changed my life. Many I consider to be best friends. Working at KB feels like being part of a large family.

Our General Manager, Mike Wright, does a great job about reminding us about the “family.” He asked us to come up with a set of defining statements a few years ago in one of those painful all-station meetings. “Write down why you think we are important to the community,” he instructed. “Why should people care about what we do?” he continued. After smaller sessions and some filtering, he came out with four simple axioms:

I trust KBTX.
KBTX does not waste my time.
KBTX is easy to watch and easy to do business with.
KBTX cares about the community and about my family.

He also made them into tiny cards to keep at our desk, or in my case, my wallet. I carry it around everywhere. I don’t think about it nearly as much as I should.

The other day, in an department meeting, our Internet Director Thomas made a presentation about forward planning. He’s the newest departmental head hire and began by talking about our defining statements. He had just been made aware of them. It could only have been done by an outsider, but he managed to sum up the four statements into four words:

Thorough – Relevant – Efficient – Ethical

It blew me away.

Thomas managed to put our philosophy into four succinct words. He also made the point that these four ideas are pretty good personal life goals as well. We should all strive to be thorough, relevant, efficient and ethical.

Again, he blew my mind.

I’ve never taken the time to sit down and write out my position on topics. Journalists take the easy way out and say “objectivity” keeps us from having strong opinions or feelings. It’s not entirely true. We all have to stand for something. Those four words hit me like a brick house in that meeting. Suddenly, I was taking notes. I was speaking out when asked for input. Suggesting ideas for 2013.

It’s been only a few days since that meeting, but I find myself looking at the card more. Trying to remember why I need to be thorough, relevant, efficient and ethical in my job and life. Being relevant to the people I love and care for. Be thorough in what I’m doing, at work or at home. Efficiency goes with being thorough. Get it right the first time, but don’t dally. Being ethical is a sterile way of saying “make the right choices.” Doesn’t always apply to the group. You have to make the right choice for you.

I turned 26 five days ago. I was struggling to rediscover my relevance in life. I wasn’t being as thorough as I wanted in my job. I know I wasn’t being efficient in anything. As for ethical, I haven’t broken any laws or made any regrets, mainly because I haven’t made any choices at all.

I was in a rut.

Hearing Thomas’ brief, personal message about how it’s important to have definition in your life pulled me up out of the muck.

Does anyone else have personal defining statements? Do you have them written down? How often do you look at them?

That time I danced Gangnam on TV

We have a lot of fun on Brazos Valley This Morning.
I’ve been on the show for over a year now and Barbara and Shel make waking up at ungodly hours worth it.

On Monday, we showed the Korean music video that is sweeping the internet – Gangnam Style by PSY. See it here.

The song is super catchy, right? Try not to be in a better mood after hearing it.
Plus, you know, this happens:

Back to me, working the hours we do on the morning show (my alarm goes off at 2:45am) we try and keep it awesome.
So then, this happened as we went to commercial break:

.

Yeah, we danced off the set. It’s really just 90 minutes of fun each morning.

The New World

The New World

KBTX-TV newsdesk under construction. Expect to see the new studio complete in early July.

The New World

KBTX-TV newsdesk under construction. Expect to see the new studio complete in early July.

My Conversation with Bill Flores

One of the added perks to my job is getting to meet some pretty important people. A few weeks back I had the chance to sit down, one-on-one, with my Congressman. Bill Flores was elected a year ago on a landslide vote defeating an incumbent 20-year Democrat. His election was seen as a ‘changing of the guard’ throughout the district.

One year in office and he told me he’s disappointed. He’s not where he thought he would be after a year. Not much has been accomplished in Congress. He contends the House is trying to move things forward, but the Democratically-controlled Senate and White House are dragging their feet.

No matter what your political inclinations, I believe that Bill Flores spoke honestly with me about the frustration that he feels. A frustration that we all feel.

Scratching another goal off the list – Interview an elected official. 

P.S. I rushed over to the Congressman’s office after having just produced a show with breaking news of a plane crash South of Brazos County. I should have tightened my tie, I know, but the Congressman understood. 

KBTX Post: Making the ‘High Definition’ Change

If you told me when I graduated high school that by 24 I would have a job at a station close to home, anchor the morning show and be there when that station switched to HD, I would have said you were crazy.
The last ten months have been a whirlwind of change. Some people said goodbye. Some people we’ve welcomed into the KBTX family. Each change has moved the station toward one goal; being the best we can. It’s a goal we try to fulfill every day. I’m not out to waste your time or mislead you. Neither is anyone else who works for KBTX.
The biggest change is our High Definition transition. If you’ve watched in the last 48 hours, I hope you’ve noticed the change. You are seeing KBTX in a way that it has never been see before. HD is the last big hurdle (for now, anyway) for most television stations.
It means that we’re getting a new newsroom and studio. Those projects are currently underway now, and will be progressing quickly over the next few months. Everyone is excited about the new digs. So, please mind our dust if you have to come by the station or if you see some construction in the background during a newscast.
It also means I have to be more particular about what I wear each morning. Never imagined that, at 24, I’d have a hard time picking out what to wear! It’s a jungle out there. Does this tie match this shirt? Is this tie too “busy” for the camera? Is this pattern too small? Will these colors run?
The questions abound.
Not to mention, my new best friend is a lint roller! We have a lot of animals come onto the set each week. As an animal-lover, I’m having a hard time to restrain from petting the animals and picking them up. I know the second I do, I’ll be covered in fur. Thankfully, we have lint rollers just about everywhere, just in case.

So stay with us as we grow to better serve you and the entire Brazos Valley. As our General Manager Mike Wright says,”You’ll never be at a station making this type of bold change ever again!” We hope you guys are just as excited as we are.
Feel free to get in touch with me!
Twitter: @TVsMichaelOder
Facebook: Michael Oder
Google+: +Michael Oder
Email: oder@kbtx.com
Phone: 979-574-7653
Carrier Pigeon: 4141 E. 29th Street, Bryan, TX 77802
(okay, so the last one is a joke. But if you have trained carrier pigeons, that’s awesome!)

I work for KBTX-TV in Bryan/College Station. I blog for the station, but like to include that content on my personal blog as well. I have disabled comments here in hopes that you will visit KBTX.com. The original blog post is here.

Meeting Mr. Rather

My job affords me some great luxuries. Usually it’s a pass or ticket to some big event, but every now and then I get the chance to meet someone. I’m a graduate of Sam Houston State University’s Mass Communications program. The program is housed in the Dan Rather Communications Building. Rather is a graduate of SHSU as well. I spent four years learning about my one, true passion in a building with his name on it. Two weeks ago, I got to meet Dan Rather. 
Me. Dan Rather. My friend (and current SHSU student) Josh. 
It was a small moment, but it had a very big impact. Mr. Rather is a huge professional role model to me. Regardless of your personal opinion of him, Mr. Rather has done so much for journalism and, especially, for Sam Houston State University. 
He was on campus for a full day and spent most of it talking directly to students. He was extremely gracious with his time answering everyone’s questions. The impact that Sam Houston State had on him while he was as student here is still fresh in his mind. The faculty believed in him and wanted him to succeed. They saw the potential in Mr. Rather when he didn’t see it in himself. We need more teachers like that.

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

I accomplished these goals before the list went active. So I’m going to check them off now!

Submit something I have worked on for an Emmy.
     I’m lucky enough to work with extremely talented people at KBTX. Every football season, for the last eight or so years, the station airs a Texas A&M Preview show before every home game called Aggie Gameday. I was honored to produce it last year. We made some changes, brought the show into the social media century and produce quality television.
     This year we submitted one show and one segment from the end of the 2010 season to the Lonestar Chapter of the Emmy’s. We should find out this month who is nominated. After that, it’s in the hands of the voters.
     I’m extremely nervous. Every time I think that I’ve forgotten about the nominations coming up, I think about the nominations coming up. It’s a dirty, vicious cycle. I think we stand a good chance to be nominated, but we do have some great competition. So we’ll see!

Become an Emmy member.
     This was a nice by-product of helping out the Lonestar Emmy’s last year. If you help judge entries, they let you be a member. For free. All I had to do was watch about three dozen DVD entries and score them. Piece of cake! Plus, it helped me get some great ideas for Aggie Gameday.
     Sadly, they don’t hand out membership cards or anything, so I can’t say that I’m a card carrying member. Maybe one day they’ll have cards. Who knows. But I’m proud to be a member and hopefully can submit work that others will find just as fascinating as I do.

Two down; 99 to go!