Online journalist reflects on Elon experience Elon alumna encourages students to get involved By Morgan Ilaw
Olivia Hubert-Allen thought she wanted to be a print reporter. During her first year at Elon University, she got involved in campus media. She wrote and edited print copy for Elon‟s newspaper, the Pendulum, the Magazine of Elon and the Elon University Viewbook. But during her sophomore and junior year, she had a revelation. Olivia said she realized online print was what she wanted to do. She thought about online print because of a curiosity in technology. “I kind of grew up loving computers,” she said. “I sort of had a geeky interest in it.” Olivia also took an interest in online print because she wanted to gain more experience. She would ask herself, “Where are the holes in my portfolio? And what can I do to fill these holes?” Olivia‟s extensive experience in writing online, creating multimedia packages and graphics for websites and editing for her peers landed her a job with The VirginianPilot in Norfolk, Virginia after graduating from Elon in 2009. She now works as an online producer, journalist and web producer for PilotOnline.com and HamptonRoads.com.
Olivia Hubert-Allen‟s Top 10 tips for Online Journalism 1.
Have a strong lead. Get people in there initially. Really make the lead say what it needs to say and use rich, interesting language 2. Get something up quick and update it as you go. As soon as you know something turn in at least a nutgraph so you can let people know what‟s happening. 3. Follow trends online. Google trends. We use this a lot for our pop culture blog. It also helps us learn what type of stories we need to put in. 4. Promote your work using social media. Social media sites help get your stories out and reach a wider audience. You don‟t want to bombard people with every story that‟s out. Add what is interesting or what they need to know. 5. Own your story. On occasion, you will get a scoop you can own and control. 6. Short is sweet. However, some people will read 1800 words or more. It‟s becoming more okay. But try to keep it short. 7. Always think “what is the best way to present this story online? Photos? Other helpful links?” How would you make this story most interesting and most relevant? What am I trying to present?” 8. Be interesting. They may not care but you have to make them care. Find a way to make them want to care. 9. Never sacrifice credibility for facts or speed. If it takes a little more time to get the story right, take the time because it‟s worth it. 10. Try to read quality journalism. Read the Pendulum, etc. Figure out who you want to be like, what you want to do. Really just be cognizant of what you‟re reading.
That seemed to be her plan all along. Olivia encouraged students to get involved as much as possible while at Elon and to put themselves out there, just like she did. She said that although it may be awkward at first, it pays off in the end. She added that if students don‟t use the available resources while in college, companies will begin to question their character. “If you‟re not involved here,” she said, “then companies will think „is he/she driven enough?‟” Peers can be resources too. She encouraged students to use each other as resources, such as taking photos or editing each other‟s work. She said to use each other‟s skills and advice to professionally present yourself.
Olivia told students to never underestimate their natural talents for social media. “Your talent is too good to waste sitting in your dorm eating popcorn,” Olivia said. But above all, Olivia said to continue learning. “Keep learning,” she said. “You never should stop. You‟ll leave here and it‟ll slow down but if you do it, you‟ll end up exactly where you want to.”