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News director of Fox Charlotte shares insight into the journalism industry

September 29, 2012

Ken White works as news director for Fox Charlotte and serves on Elon University’s School of Communications Advisory Board.

Ken White knows where to find the news.

“Make friends,” said he news director of Fox Charlotte. “Don’t ever be shy. Interact with people. Listen to what’s on their mind.”

White, a member of Elon University’s School of Communications’ Advisory Board, met with student journalists in a reporting class to share insight about reporting and advancing in their first job.

He encouraged the students to interact with the local people and frequent the neighborhood establishments to understand what matters to the audience.

White’s experience proves the value of his advice. The inspiration for one of White’s popular stories derived from a conversation about American Idol his wife overheard at the supermarket.

When Clay Aiken, 2003 American Idol contestant, progressed to the national competition’s finals, Fox Charlotte dug up video of the singer’s audition in Charlotte…when the news station eliminated him in the first round.

“People who live in your town can help you with the context of the story,” he said.

While White acknowledged it is important to familiarize one’s self with the people, a reporter must know the organization for which he is working as well. Do research on an organization’s past stories and do not to pitch a story idea that had already been produced, he said.

“It might be new to you, but don’t assume it’s new to that market or to that station,” White said. “Don’t come in and tell me the sun is rising in the east.”

But in addition to a solid story, personality attracts an audience.

“If you’re a reporter, I want you to be memorable,” White said.
Currently, White is challenging his reporters to promote stories without using the commonly heard phrases, such as “coming up” or “next,” he said. He calls it cliche-free teasing.

“I don’t look for people who are average,” he said.

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