Alum in Alaska

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– image from kttu.com

Cameron Mackintosh (class of 2015) is currently working as a digital producer and reporter for KTUU Channel 2 News in Anchorage, Alaska. KTUU Channel 2 is an NBC affiliate, and the largest news source in the state with a market share of about 85%. In this post, Cameron reports to us about his work:

My job primarily involves reporting on breaking news stories, particularly those related to crime, fire, car accidents, plane crashes, and of course the occasional bear mauling or moose attack. Whenever events like those occur, the newsroom relies on the digital department to get the story out online as fast as possible. It takes a lot of time and resources to mobilize news crews and broadcasting equipment, all for a news package that could only get aired hours after the fact. The Internet allows us to disseminate breaking news a lot quicker. I’m already on a first name basis with public information officers, the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers. They’re usually the first people we call when something goes down.

In addition to reporting, I’m also responsible for managing the website and the newsroom’s social media accounts.  Mostly this involves copyediting and posting stories submitted by our reporters along with video and media galleries. We also take on a lot of initiatives with user generated content. For example, we’ll often showcase photographs of wildlife or the northern lights that are submitted online by our readers/viewers. We work hard to make sure there’s always fresh and interesting content on the web. In fact, we try and post something new on Facebook every twenty minutes, which can be exceptionally strenuous at times.

I use my English major every single day I step into that newsroom. Writing and copyediting news stories requires both stylistic prowess and analytical skill. Every story gets put under a microscope before it’s posted online. We don’t just check our stories for spelling and grammar—the tone of the writer and the ordering of the graphs are just some of the things that must be considered. There can be no room for misinterpretation or inaccuracy because this jeopardizes the reputation of our news team and, even worse, opens us up to lawsuits.

It’s not enough for stories to just be airtight. They also have to be snappy and readable; they have to sound good. In the age of Twitter where the average Internet user has the attention span of a goldfish, it’s more important than ever for headlines, leads, and photographs to be brief, captivating, and interesting. It takes real skill to do that. Honestly, it’s a skill I’m still mastering.

To rigorously and exhaustively analyze text; to write with grace and clarity under the constant pressure of time: these are endeavors to which any student of English can easily relate. Moreover, they are skills that, I feel, were put to the test time and time again during my years as an English major at Wittenberg. And they have thus far served me invaluably since entering the professional realm.

– Cameron Mackintosh ’15

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