As journalism has changed dramatically over the past several years, so have journalists.
It used to be that reporters were judged solely by the quality of their reporting and writing. They and their editors would agree on a story to work on, and after the reporter turned it in and the editor was satisfied, their work was done.
Now that’s just the beginning. Reporters today are expected to help create the audience for their work.
Although our printed newspaper is still a robust part of our daily presence, we also produce our journalism on platforms ranging from desktop computers to mobile devices like the smartphone and tablet, and it’s becoming a bigger portion of our audience.
Use of social media is a huge part of the equation.
Over the next few months I’d like to introduce you to some of the writers at the Star-Telegram and show you what their jobs are like.
First up is Bud Kennedy, whom I’ve known for almost 30 years. He celebrated his 33rd year at the Star-Telegram last week (not counting the time he worked for us as a high school sports correspondent).
Bud is one of the paper’s most-read writers. After starting as a sports editor in 1981, he later moved over to work as an editor in our features department. He began writing about restaurants in 1986 and became a general interest columnist for our afternoon edition a year later.
Bud was a great “old-school” newspaper reporter. He knew how to find a story and how to write it for maximum effect.
And now he may be the best example of what a “new school” reporter is.
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Bud is one of the kings of social media in Fort Worth, helping spread his journalism far beyond the reach of the printed Star-Telegram. He figures he’s got about 31,000 potential online readers, which is roughly the circulation of the Fort Worth Press, where he worked when he was 17, before it closed.
Bud has 18,000 followers on two Twitter accounts and another 13,000 Facebook followers on his personal and Star-Telegram accounts. He keeps them engaged by posting about 8-10 general interest items a day, as well as a few restaurant news items for his Eats Beat column.
Some of his followers don’t even know Bud works for the Star-Telegram. They just see him as some guy who seems to always be in the know.
Bud even uses social media as sort of a “test kitchen.” Often he’ll put out two or three different ideas to see which ones resonate the most with his followers, then he’ll flesh out the winning idea into a full-blown column .
Bud’s so good at marketing that when social media began to really take off a few years ago, we ran a campaign in our newsroom encouraging our other writers to “Be Like Bud!”
Bud checks between 15-20 online sites for news daily and watches his Facebook and Twitter feeds constantly. You never see him without his phone, iPad and computer all going at once. He’s the ultimate multitasker.
I asked him what he would have been if he hadn’t been a journalist.
“My mother always thought I’d be a cab driver because I know the way around town. Maybe today that’d be an Uber driver.”