Category Archives: work

Learning to be a better journalist

I can cross another goal off the list!

Attend a workshop to better myself in my career.

ABA2015 CrewSaturday, I went to the 2015 Alabama Broadcasters Association Conference over in Hoover. It was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to hear Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute speak about all things journalism. There were four sessions that day with topics ranging from social media to mobile journalism.

We had a good showing from the station. Photographer Marlon and I stayed the whole day, while others filtered in and out. I took copious notes. Some of the information, especially on social media, I’ve heard before. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s perspective on how quickly that medium is evolving.

Al TompkinsAl Tompkins was great! He had a lot of really great information about open records in Alabama, where to find original source information and tons of awesome apps that can help me tell a story. I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I can start to utilize these great tools.

This was the first conference I’ve been to where I walked away with a mission. I need to work hard on delivering content on all platforms; broadcast, web, mobile, social. It can be overwhelming, for sure. Reporters are already asked to do a lot. I shoot all my own stories, write and edit them and post them to the web most days. When you add in tweeting, Facebook posts, Instagram videos, Snapchats, interactive web stuff, I wonder when I’ll have time to sleep!

ABA2015 NotesThe most important lesson I learned from #ABA2015 was to be flexible. From new platforms to new technology, my job changes almost daily. All I have to do to keep up is have an open mind and willingness to learn!

What things have you learned to keep growing in your job? Have you ever attended a work conference? I want to hear about it!

I met Oprah

wpid-20150118_191925.jpgI never really thought I’d say those words, much less be able to say I interviewed Oprah. That’s like meeting the President, only bigger in some aspects. She and some of the stars from the movie “Selma” were in Selma, AL, for a day long celebration of the movie on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend.

It was a really special day for that town. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the March to Montgomery that Dr. King led. The film’s director, producers (of which Oprah is one of) and a few celebrities came back to town. At the red carpet premiere, I had the chance to talk with John Legend, Common, David Oyelowo and Ms. Winfrey.

wpid-20150118_1926130.jpgEveryone has asked what it was like to meet Oprah. Well, it was loud and lasted about five minutes. Red carpets aren’t exactly exclusive. She was warm and gracious (everyone was, actually). She makes you feel very comfortable and relaxed. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. She’s an impeccable dresser (obviously). I always try to repeat in my head that celebrities are just people. It helps bring them down from the pedestal that society puts them on and makes interviewing them easier. At least, for me, it does. Oprah is an incredible person.

wpid-20150118_191311.jpgI only had two questions to ask (her handlers originally said just one), so I wanted them to be good. I asked her about the significance of being in Selma ahead of MLK Day. She said that Dr. King is smiling. She could feel his presence when they marched to the bridge earlier in the day. My second question related to her and the cast speaking to students at Selma High School. I wanted to know what she hoped to get out of the experience and from the film. Oprah’s response was, “That’s a great question. (pokes me in the chest) Great question.”

When Oprah tells you that you asked a great question…

A video posted by Michael Oder (@tvsmichaeloder) on Jan 18, 2015 at 11:13pm PST

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When Oprah Winfrey, a woman who has interviewed everyone under the sun, says you asked a great question, there’s no greater feeling. She could have said that to every reporter on that carpet that night. It still doesn’t take away that she said it to me, too.

It helped that I had all day to think of what I would ask, too.

Interview a celebrity.

I actually interviewed four! Didn’t expect to mark that one off the #101in1001 list so quickly!

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That’s Mr. Cattle Baron, to you…

Good news, everyone!

Josh Gorbutt and I have been asked to co-chair the upcoming Cattle Baron’s Ball! Cattle Baron’s benefits the American Cancer Society. It is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Unfortunately, they aren’t holding one in 2014. Instead, they are regrouping and planning on relaunching in 2015.

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Sorry for the MS Paint photo job. A rough approximation of our co-chair job.

It’s going to be a year of planning, meetings and hard work. I know that we can pull it off and make the 2015 CB Ball one of the best in Brazos Valley history. The last, great CB Ball was in 2008. They raised a ton of money for ACS.

I’m excited and really anxious. Josh and I work really well as a team. We’ve done it for nearly 5 years, in one form or another, at KBTX. He and I understand that there will be differences. We don’t have the same set of strengths. Hopefully, with the help of a great committee, we can make the most of our skills.

Our best friend Lauren is on the committee, too. We’re working with some great local business and community leaders. In the few weeks, since we were approached and asked, I’ve learned so much about ACS. The amount of support for cancer survivors is tremendous. I told Josh that my biggest challenge will be making ACS seem approachable to those who might want to sponsor CB Ball or donate. I want them to know specifically what each dollar goes towards. Accountability is key in ensuring trust with those who wish to help.

Josh and I looking a bit more professional with Dan Rather.
Josh and I looking a bit more professional with Dan Rather.

The bottom line is, cancer affects everyone. No one is removed. You will, at some point in your life, deal with cancer. The American Cancer Society is working 24 hours a day to end that battle. You want to know the really great thing? They say that they’re close. Research is going gangbusters. Progress is made every day. I’m glad I can be part of an organization that could, one day, eradicate cancer.

There’ll be plenty more about the 2015 Cattle Baron’s Ball in the future. I just wanted to share the news!

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?

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.

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!