All-Access Pass: It’s Not Just for the VIP Anymore


Assignment Snapshot: Explain why people in the following roles should use social media – i.e. how would they benefit: Foreign news correspondent. Local beat editor. Photojournalist at TV News.

The All-Access Pass.

It’s kind of a right of passage when you become a journalist. Your photo is snapped. A number is assigned. A logo is embossed. You get your first badge. I remember my first badge with that beautiful, colorful NBC peacock. I felt like a bad-ass! (And don’t think I didn’t try to casually flash that sucker every time I could).

Then you grow up. You see a lot of things. You cover a lot of stories. The badge becomes a necessity, a lifeline, a key in and sometimes a one-way ticket to a swift exit.  There are several reasons a foreign correspondent, a beat editor and a photojournalist should use social media but the greatest of all is access. It’s not just access TO the user/reader/viewer but it’s also access FOR the user/reader/viewer.


NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent is Richard Engel. I don’t know him personally but have interacted with him over the years in coverage and find him to be very sharp. His political views are worn on his sleeve at times and he is deemed controversial by many for his public comments on ISIS, Syria and the Middle East in general. He is very active on Twitter and truly worth a follow.

Foreign correspondents broaden perspective for their users by giving them access to places they can’t go. They both expose and enlighten. In the slide show below, you will see a small collection of Richard taking you to places (Everest) you may never see. Additionally, it’s an opportunity for the correspondent to get intimate and if necessary, defend their reporting. You may recall that Richard Engel was kidnapped in 2012 in Syria. In one of his tweets, he talks about that and adds the additional context of linking to his story:

While I can argue a case for social media and the foreign correspondent, I would much rather let the foreign correspondent do it himself! Below is a lengthy but fascinating segment on MSNBC with Richard Engel.  In it he discusses what I believe is perhaps the greatest reason that foreign correspondents should use social media: they can affect change.  He talks about the power of social media in the face of violent regimes among other things. It only strengthens the point that the foreign correspondent is able to give us access we’ve never had before.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


We don’t really use beats in my current newsroom In fact, the beat is a bit of an outdated concept in most TV newsrooms I have been in. I was curious to see if the word “beat” would even come up in a basic google search with a semantic tie to a journalist. This is the result:


As you can see, it pulls from the concept of the police officer’s area of surveillance. There are reporters who naturally gravitate to certain areas they live in but the days of the crime beat, city hall beat and county beat seem to be behind us. The one beat that lives? The Political Beat.

The benefits for a local beat editor include all those mentioned above for the foreign correspondent but I would also add that for this person specifically, it’s a great resource.  A local beat editor can narrow their focus, create lists of key influencers in their beat, follow and engage with local organizations and develop relationships. Social media give a local beat editor a multi-directional channel to talk with their users as well.  This really applies to all but for local–it can become intimate because most of the time you are working where you live.


When I first got into TV (and I do mean TV) I was working for my father on a magazine style show. It wasn’t journalism. It was infotainment. I learned by spending hours upon hours hanging out with the photographers/shooters. They were incredible. They could see things I never saw. They could look at a vast landscape or a person’s face in an ugly room and find the most beautiful shot possible. I became a sponge. I learned how to shoot, frame, iris up, iris down, rack focus and so on. I learned that a story isn’t much of a story without pictures. (is it any surprise the social media that performs the best is visual?) So I took this knowledge with me when I entered a newsroom, ever-vigilant that a good picture or a good piece of video will always add impact.

For everything I said above, photojournalists should be on social media. They typically are motivated by the visuals not just the facts. They see things others don’t see. They capture the moments that sometimes don’t require any words. They are promoters and advocates of journalism and take GREAT pride in what they do.  I’m lucky in that I work with a lot of people who just *get* social media. Fortunately, some of them are photojournalists. I’ve captured two tweets below from Jim Zorn on Twitter and Erin Coker. Erin is just starting to develop her tweet chops but Jim speaks the language well and 99.9% of the time includes a photo.

One thing that hasn’t entered our newsroom yet but I believe should and will: Periscope. There is no one more primed to use that then the photojournalist. When they are on the scene they can live stream using their expert eye bringing people access to what matters. The other aspect of Periscope I like specifically for the photojournalist (and the foreign correspondent) is the ability to interact live in real-time with the viewer as things are happening. Viewers/users can ask questions and perhaps even steer coverage. It’s a whole different level of engagement.


If you work in a newsroom, you are in the business of information dissemination. In this new media world we occupy, we all have the opportunity to tell stories any way we want. I’m a believer that everyone who works in this environment should be on social media: Producers, managers, photographers, digital staff, on-air talent and so on. Each person plays a role in the craft of storytelling and we all have something to offer the social discussion. We are the all-access pass only this one doesn’t require a velvet rope and a clipboard.

7 INSIGHTS TO SURVIVAL: My Apple Watch, The Me Channel & a Time of Death

By Kelly Frank

At the risk of sounding old, I took typing in high school. Yes, typing on an actual typewriter. There were computers but I went to an underfunded religious school so typing class was taught on this thing we call a typewriter.

I also remember walking in to my first television newsroom and seeing a teleprompter with a coiled roll of paper and a giant print press under it. We didn’t use it but the fact that it sat in a key position in the newsroom told me its days didn’t precede me by much.

Yep, that’s me. Courtesy of a really cool Google cam at ONA 2014 in Chicago

I also remember creating my Twitter account at CNN in 2008.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a prime spot in my career with a balance of just enough appreciation of where we came from and just enough understanding of where we are going. I’ve heard many colleagues refer to social media as the great disrupter in the newsroom. While that may be true, it still doesn’t change what my chief responsibility as journalist is. Tell you a story.

So about that great disruption? Here are 7 insights for survival:

  1. Digital First Mobile First won’t just be a suggestion, it will be reality         Digital first is a very popular expression in television newsrooms these days but very few are truly thinking and doing this way. In order to survive, television newsrooms must not only become digital first by year’s end, they have to think mobile. Consider this from Pew Research Center: 64% of American adults own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.  Of those, 68% use their phone at least NewsButtonoccasionally to follow along with breaking news events, with 33% saying that they do this frequently. 67% use their phone to share pictures, videos, or commentary about events happening in their community, with 35% doing so frequently. 56% use their phone at least occasionally to learn about community events or activities, with 18% doing this “frequently.  Any questions?
  2. It’s not a news network, it’s a brand and not all will survive

I have a pretty obnoxious title: Sr. Managing Editor: Broadcast, Digital & Social. My job didn’t exist 6 months ago. It was proposed by me in collaboration with my employer Meredith Corporation, specifically the Atlanta CBS affiliate. They were looking for a traditional Managing Editor. The problem with that is local newsrooms need to take a page from the marketer’s notebook. We are in the business of content distribution. We must evolve beyond the broadcast box into multiple platforms and speak the native languages. Get on board or prepare to sink. I work in a market where the advertising dollar available to television stations is decent but completely hoarded by one dominant station. There are four TV stations in this media market. In 5 years, there will only be two…and this story will play out across markets nationwide. The key to those left standing? Become a brand, not just a place that does TV News.

  1. Forget Engagement Try Marriage

See point 2. Read again. This goes hand in hand. It’s not just a pretty ring and a promise. To become a successful brand, you have to understand that being a slave to Nielsen overnight ratings is a thing of the past. Gone are the days when we told you what was going on and you passively listened. Yet we still program like this is the case. We have to be where the people are. In sickness and in health. For rich or for poor, ‘til the next evolution do we part.  I know when I woke up today, I was on Facebook on my phone before my feet hit the floor. I’m not alone.

  1. Read Tell Show me a story

Video. Video. Video. Sites that haven’t will soon redesign to become all video, all the time. Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feed.  How far before you see a video? Instagram? Tumblr? Even Snapchat is completely built around a shared visual experience. We shoot video, we share video, we stream live video. Let’s face it people: We like to watch! Where there is demand, there will be a supply and the good news for the bean counters — it’s where the money is.

  1. Me

You think it’s all about me now? Just wait. It’s only going to be more about me. Why? Because I don’t need you. I already tailor my social feeds to the sources I want and I’m not born of the generation that only knows digital. I watch my toddler with my iPad and then watch her interact with the rest of the world. She gets pretty miffed when the PBS logo at the bottom of the television screen doesn’t respond to her touch. My point? We are looking at a generation coming up that gets what they want, when they want and how they want it. (Thank you Steve Jobs). Learn how to program the “me” channel now.


As we move forward at the speed of tweet, it is time to acknowledge the pending time of death on two journalism institutions.

  1. Walter who?

I’m a Tom Brokaw kid. If you don’t know who that is, I don’t want to hear it. At one point, he signaled bed time and I would run and hide. Then he became a voice of comfort and authority in a changing and sometimes scary world. Why the world may still need the Tom Brokaws is another article altogether but the bottom line is…the anchor as we know it will soon be dead.

Frank Rich wrote a compelling piece for New York Magazine last month on what he dubbed an “inane institution”. In A Dumb job he writes, “No doubt some Americans of a certain age may still turn their lonely eyes to a patriarchal television anchor during a national disaster, but many more will be checking their phones.” By the time my 3 year-old is 10, the anchor will be nothing but a memory. Personality and emotional resonance replaces authority. People want and crave deeper relationship in an over-connected world and the person sitting on high, delivering information we already know is unnecessary and perhaps even insulting.

  1. The death of appointment news aka the evening TV newscast

I’m calling it. By 2025, the network evening newscast will go the way of the typewriter, the evening edition and that paper-filled teleprompter from my first newsroom: to a museum.

It can be summed up by something I heard just this evening while watching the NBA playoffs. LeBron James sealed the win on Game 3 for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Atlanta Hawks. It was in overtime and the game was a battle. He fell to the floor as the buzzer blew. He stayed there on all fours. Exhausted. Emotionally spent. It was a sight to see. The old-school commentator said, “This will be a photo that will be all over the place in tomorrow morning’s news. I laughed and thought, “tomorrow morning? Try 5 minutes!” If there is no demand, there will be no supply. In short, there will be no demand for an evening newscast once a certain generation is gone. That time is coming. Coming fast.


From the oldest book to the classic rock song, we know there is a time for everything under the heavens.  A time for the typewriter. A time for the newspaper. A time for the network newscast. That time will soon pass. While social media may in fact be the great disrupter, I would offer it is only in method.

At the end of the day, a good story is a good story. From hieroglyphics in caves to ink on paper to the printing press to radio to television, we are born to tell our stories. We all need our *once upon a time* to make us feel something.

I still have a typewriter. I also wear an Apple Watch and can tweet at the speed of light (ok, slight exaggeration). My point? It’s a journalist’s responsibility to appreciate where we’ve come from, to know where we are going, and to understand that in the end, it’s about the story. We just have to continue figuring out how to tell show it.