The Durango Herald | Extra extra

Staying ahead of the news

The public tends to view reporters as experts on the issues we report on. We try to be those experts, and we are constantly trying to stay on top of an ever-changing field.So how do we learn new skills and keep up with the daily grind of the news business?

Denver correspondent Joe Hanel said he relies on sources and fellow reporters. He said that if he doesnít understand an issue heíll call up a source and ask them to thoroughly explain it to him before he writes a story.

This is Hanelís seventh year covering the legislature for the Durango Herald, and he said when he first started out covering the beat, he learned from the veteran reporters. Now that heís the veteran, he tries to pass that on to fellow reporters.

ĒIíve told myself Iíll leave and open the door for someone new once I stop learning and caring about it,Ē Hanel said. ďHasnít happened yet.Ē

Education and business reporter Emery Cowan also said she relies heavily on talking to other reporters and former editors to get story ideas and learn new skills.

Cowan has her hands full covering Fort Lewis College and Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield school districts, as well as business stories. How does she stay on top of all of her beats?

She said she does a lot of reading to see what else is going on in the state and attends almost every meeting to keep a pulse on the community.

A great resource for reporters, no matter what beat they cover, is webinars: web-based seminars. Organizations like Poynter have webinars that cover business, investigative projects, social media and other various topics related to journalism.

Our reporters typically participate in at least one webinar a month. Itís a great way to stay on top of skills we already and learn new ones.

Crime reporter Shane Benjamin just returned from a week long computer-assisted reporting seminar in Missouri where he learned to look through databases and numbers to add a new, fresh angle to stories.

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