Monday, February 24, 2014

The Latest News: A Career as a Reporter

Did you ever wonder what it's like to be a reporter--on radio, on TV, or for a newspaper?

Reporters generally need a Bachelor's Degree, or a Master's Degree, in one of these areas:

Journalism, Broadcast Journalism
Mass Communication
Political Science

Most major colleges and universities offer one or more of those majors-including:

U of M:
St Cloud State:
University of Wisconsin- River Falls:
University of Iowa:
University of Minnesota, Moorhead:

Coursework will include:
News Writing
Global Reporting
Sports Writing
Public Relations
Public Speaking

Also helpful would be:
Knowledge of several languages
Interest in traveling
Honesty and an ability to report without giving your opinion
Understanding of other cultures
Ability to befriend people easily
Keen Observation Skills
Persistence-Ability to get a story when others have failed
Ability to keep up with a fast-paced work environment

You need to enjoy having to 'drop everything' and head out to cover a story: it is "The News," after all. In some cases, you must be comfortable with a certain amount of risk that comes with reporting current events, whether that means venturing into a part of town with a high crime rate or, if you work for a national news program, dangerous situations in other countries.

Keep in mind that your story and all the work you have put into it, is news today, but tomorrow you must move on to something...well..New.

Do you have an interest in a particular kind of news? You might be the 'go to' person for politics, foreign relations, medical news, or social issues such as human rights, schools, or legal issues. You might want to be a sports reporter, or an entertainment reporter.

Do you want to work for a local newspaper or news station, or a national one? Do you want to travel to other places to report?

Reporters are also used in radio and on news websites. Writers posting on websites must have excellent writing skills, since the public will be reading the stories rather than listening to them.

 A radio station with announcer and guest. Notice the shapes on the walls which give better acoustics (sound quality)

You will notice if you watch a news program, read an item in the paper, or listen to news on the radio, and then visit the website of that program or paper, the reporters also have blogs and use Twitter; the site will likely have ways to contact the people who are seen or heard on air or who write for the paper. This is a way to keep the news fresh and also to evoke 'the personal touch' that allows viewers to interact with reporters.

Some journalists are called 'multimedia journalists' because they not only do their reports, but also edit the photography or film, add graphics, and finish their reports on their own rather than having several people contribute.

Below is the Control Room of a news station--several people are needed in addition to the reporters, to put the news on the air; look at the multiple screens they have to keep track of, and the timers and clocks:
The timer at the upper right (red numbers) gives the time but also helps to 'count out' the program. The technicians have to know when and where the advertising spots are, and that the program begins and ends on time.

Did you know that some companies hire 'kid reporters'?  Check it out:

Time Magazine   

 Sports Illustrated for Kids


To become a reporter, after completing your degree, you will probably need to seek out an internship to become more experienced and learn what really happens day-to-day in this field. Working on your college newspaper, local cable station, and/or school radio station will be very helpful as well.

Here are several links to local and national internships; keep in mind that sometimes internships are unpaid, but the experience you gain is very useful:

Minneapolis Star & Tribune Newspaper:

                            The larger the city, the bigger and busier the newsroom.


Local station KSTP: Note, this job was posted in November 2013, but it does give you an idea of the qualifications you would need for an internship at KSTP.


If you want to try for an internship with a national broadcaster, here is NBC: 


and ABC:

CNN and a number of cable companies owned by Turner Broadcasting:

 Think about being a reporter: it's a job that involves several types of knowledge, it's about investigating and researching, it involves travel, and you never know what each day will bring.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Angry Birds---a Career??

Do you think you'd like to work with a company that makes video games? It can be done.

Consider what has to happen before that game is in your hands:

What kind of game is it?

A goth race-to-escape kind of game?

Something more in the line of saving a princess?

A children's video game?

  • First, someone has to imagine the game---what is the goal, what are the rules, how difficult is it going to be, how do you 'outsmart' it?

  • Engineers create the software, working out any bugs
  • Graphics for the game are drawn: characters, obstacles, actions, settings
  • Music and sound effects are added
  • Instructions have to be clear and easy to follow in order to play the game
  • A copyright or patent has to be requested so no one else can claim he or she created the same game
  • The game has to be packaged
  • The game has to be marketed: who is your target audience, in other words: who do you think will want to play the game? How do you get them to buy it?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How will the game be sold? Online, in stores, or both? Who will sell it?
  • Manufacturers also hire people to test the game, looking for pros and cons for customers
  • How will you update the game so that people want to buy the newest version?
  • Can people buy add-ons for the game?
                    Sound effects and music are added to the game with the right timing

The people who have these jobs will need degrees in the following fields:

  • Computer Science
  • Engineering, specifically electrical engineering or computer engineering
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Law
  • Marketing

                  Designers switch back and forth between completed and early stages of graphics

Many video game manufacturers are based in California, or even in other countries. Here are some websites for video game companies that have careers listed. You can check them out and see what degrees they are looking for:

Nintendo (Wii)   

LucasArts (George Lucas, creator of Star Wars--the company is now owned by Disney):  click on 'careers' at the bottom

Microsoft Game Studio (Xbox)

nSpace--games like Toy Story 3, Heroes of Ruin, Call of Duty, and apps for smaller devices (Golf Ranger):


Impress your parents and friends: Get paid to invent video games!

Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 Olympics By The Numbers

Are you getting excited for the 2014 Winter Olympics? This time, it will be held in Sochi, Russia. Sochi won the right to host this Olympics in 2007 and has been planning ever since.

Sochi is a town of about 343,000 people located on the coast of Russia across the Black Sea from other countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. It is the only area of Russia that has what is termed a 'subtropical climate.' Because its usual mean (average) temperature in February is 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit, it is the warmest place ever to host the winter games. Sochi is considered the premier resort/vacation destination in Russia, with warm summers and mild winters.

                                         Sochi in the summer...

                             Palm trees in Russia: Who knew?

             Winter Olympics=not on the beach.

The Olympic torch will pass through 83 cities in Russia and will be carried by about 14,000 people... 
This is a map of Russia with all the stops the torch will make (white dots) 
...Taken to the depths of Lake Baikal---and then back out via a man with a jetpack:
Olympic flame carried underwater in world’s deepest lake
And has even been to outer space....
and it will finally arrive in Sochi for the opening on 2-7-2014.


Russia has invested about $10 billion to host these Olympics. They expect a 'surplus' of about $300 million once it is over.

Here is a map of the main venue:

And how it looks in reality:
Here is part of the Olympic Village, housing for the athletes:
 More than 2500 athletes will participate in the games.
The Bolshoy Ice Dome, where the hockey final will be played, holds 12,000 spectators:

Here is the Ice Dome from outside, at night:

The Ice Skating Palace, where Figure Skating, Speed Skating, and Short Track will be held, also holds 12,000 spectators:

The Fisht Olympic Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, will hold 40,000 spectators:
There are five more venues for Skiing, Snowboarding, Bobsled, and Luge.

                              The Luge at Sochi up close 
Want to buy tickets for events at the Olympics? Here are the costs:

Opening Ceremonies         from 6,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles  (about $250 to $1300)
Figure Skating Gala Exhibition:    4,5000 to 23,000 rubles- 20,000 rubles is roughly $626.00

Womens or Mens Biathlon: 1500 to 6500 rubles (about $45- $250)

Note that as in the rest of Europe, dates are expressed with the day first, and then the month: February 7, 2014 is 7-2-2014 to them (7th of February 2014).

There are four Minnesotans on the Olympic mens' curling team, 2 Minnesotans on the womens' curling Team, and members of mens' and womens' hockey teams are from Minnesota. Two others are playing for Team Finland and one is playing for Team Austria. Emily Wiencke, from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, is a top woman snowboarder and is expected to make the Olympic team.
Here is a 100-ruble bill minted especially for the Sochi Olympics:
The medals for Gold, Silver, and Bronze look like this:
Closeup view: The medals depict the sun filtering through a 'patchwork quilt' of the different areas of Russia. About 1300 medals will be awarded during these games.
The last truly gold medal was awarded at the 1912 Olympics. Currently, here is the composition of the medals:
Gold              92.5% silver and 6% gold plate
Silver             92.5% silver
Bronze           'Real' bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin
The value of a gold medal (in 2012) was $621. If it was actually solid gold, its value would be about $1208.00.
Medals are required to be 3 mm thick and 60 mm in diameter. Giving medals began with the 1904 Olympics; in the past people received trophies or certificates.
Did you know that countries sometimes award money to their medal-winning athletes? In Italy, if you win a gold medal, your country gives you a 'bonus' of $182,000. In the U.S., a bonus for gold is $25,000; for silver, $15,000; and for bronze, $10,000. These bonuses are paid by your own country's Olympic committee. Great Britain does not award bonuses to their athletes.
Here is the official Sochi website:

Sochi will have several mascots: The Polar Bear, the Leopard, and the Hare:
The Snowflake and Ray of Light will be mascots for the Paralympics. Read more about the Paralympics here:

            Welcome to Sochi! Have Fun at the Olympics!
        in Russian:  Добро пожаловать в Сочи. Удачи на Олимпиаде!
 In English letters: Dobro pozhalovat' v Sochi. Udachi na Olimpiade !

Motto of these Olympics:

                      "Hot.Cool.Yours." (Russian: Жаркие. Зимние. Твои.)