A Day at The Virginian-Pilot

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Journalism students in The Virginian-Pilot board room. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

by Brandon Gaddy, Breyon Gaddy, Hannah Amburn, Turner Carter and Maddie Cowan

Bishop Sullivan’s journalism class had a wonderful time at The Virginian-Pilot on October 7, 2015. When the class first arrived, we had a session with Erica Smith, the digital news editor. She told us about what was happening with Hurricane Joaquin and how it was going to affect our area. Then we were able to participate in the staff’s morning meeting where they discussed what they would feature in the paper that day. One of the topics of the discussion was a story involving a man who allegedly hired a hitman to kill his pregnant wife.

Ms. Smith addressing journalism students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.
Ms. Smith addressing journalism students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

Then the class had a meeting with Randy Greenwell the director of photography. He gave tips on how to take pictures for The Defensor. Mr Greenwell explained how to get the right angles and lighting for the perfect picture, and to capture ‘the moment.’ He also told us the importance of not manipulating a photo —  for example not using the filters on Instagram — for journalism.

Mr. Greenwell sharing tips on photography. Photo by Maddi Fink.
Mr. Greenwell sharing tips on photography. Photo by Maddi Fink.

The third individual we talked to was Denise Watson, who is a member of the features team and a general assignment reporter. She focused on ways to make a good feature story for our newspaper, The Defensor. She touched on some of our articles and addressed them individually. Ms. Watson liked the idea of the Michael Jackson article and we focused on that for a bit as an example of ways to expand on an interest of a journalist that might also appeal to readers.

“Denise Watson had a lot of good insight and she was able to teach us some new techniques,” said senior Turner Carter. “It was very interesting.”

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Ms. Watson speaking to students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

Ms. Watson mentioned that the first thing we should do when starting a article is plan. If a writer doesn’t have a good plan for an article, it will crumble. Ms. Watson told us that we need to do a lot of research on our topics and become experts. One way to do that is by interviewing multiple people. She continued by saying that we should interview around 10 to 17 people, even if we don’t use every source.     

Editor Steve Gunn talked to us about journalism and its importance in society. He described journalism as, “telling the truth to people in power.” He talked to us about how to write articles for an online publication, how we need to expand our reading and writing, and to always be truthful and factual.

“Free information is the only way for this democracy to survive,” said Mr. Gunn.

Virginian-Pilot Editor Mr. Gunn addressing students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.
Virginian-Pilot Editor Mr. Gunn addressing students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

After talking with Mr. Gunn we met Larry Rubama, the local high school sports writer. Mr. Rubama was very confident and outgoing. He inspired us to find something we love doing and to stick with it.

“Remember passion allows you to overcome obstacles,” said Mr. Rubama. “Find out what your passion is.”

Mr. Rubama said he loved his job and was excited to wake up every morning and work. As students, we all found that to be extremely motivating.

Mr. Rubama speaking with students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.
Mr. Rubama speaking with students. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

“He was very energetic and passionate about his job and his message to us students,” said senior Critt Johnson.   

Lastly, we met Donald Luzzatto, the editorial page editor. Mr. Luzzatto was very interesting in that he challenged us to think about world affairs. We talked about the wars taking place in the Middle East and how they affect the United States. His message to us, as young adults, was to stay informed with world affairs and political issues.

Mr. Lazzuto challenging journalism students on their global awareness. Photo Brandon Gaddy.
Mr. Lazzuto challenging journalism students on their global awareness. Photo Brandon Gaddy.
Students on The Virginian-Pilot Field Trip October 2015
Students on The Virginian-Pilot Field Trip October 2015. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.
The Virginian-Pilot Field Trip October 2015
The Virginian-Pilot Field Trip October 2015. Photo by Brandon Gaddy.

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