A Pulitzer-winning couple tells GBJ students what it’s like to cover a mass shooting in real timePosted: March 6, 2017 Filed under: Global Business Journalism, Journalism Training | Tags: Alexis See Tho, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, GBJ, Global Business Journalism Program, Hailey Branson-Potts, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Mark Potts, Multimedia Business Reporting, multimedia journalism, New York Times, Oklahoma, Pakistan, Perry Daily Journal, Pulitzer Prize, San Bernardino, Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University 1 Comment
By Alexis See Tho
“It was an organized chaos,” recalled Mark Potts, a video editor at the Los Angeles Times, describing the scene in the newsroom when photographs, videos and Twitter posts poured in from the San Bernardino shootings two years ago.
Potts and his wife Hailey Branson-Potts, who is also a journalist for the L.A. Times shared the drama of covering a breaking news story of global significance with Tsinghua University’s multimedia reporting class. Branson-Potts and Potts were part of the Times team that received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, the top award in American journalism, for breaking news reporting.
“In the back of your head, you’re thinking, this is what I went to school for. You train and work your whole life so when you get into these situations, you don’t mess it up,” Potts added.
The prize-winning young journalists spoke to Global Business Journalism Program students in Professor Rick Dunham’s Multimedia Business Reporting course on March 1. Branson-Potts worked for Professor Dunham as an intern in the Washington bureau of the Houston Chronicle, where she covered the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, among other national stories.
The December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California, made international headlines when 14 people were killed an American man and his Pakistan-born wife. U.S. President Donald Trump has cited the shooting as a reason why he is seeking to restrict immigration to the United States.
Branson-Potts did live reporting on Twitter from the shooting scene, talking to the police and interviewing victims’ family members. And for days she stayed put in San Bernardino to get more information on the ground. It’s important to always be ready for moments like that she said.
“I have a ‘go-bag’ in my car,” Branson-Potts added, where she keeps a pair of jeans, comfortable shoes, make-up and supplies for at least a day.
But there are some areas that cannot be prepared ahead of time and only real-life experiences can be the teacher. Branson-Potts was answering a student’s questions whether news organizations train journalists on how to face situations such as the shooting.
“There’s no psychological training in newsrooms,” said Branson-Potts, who have worked and interned at news organizations such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the
She added that although her editor did ask how she was coping when she was on the ground in San Bernardino for days, the answer would always be “I’m fine.”
“You don’t want to be pulled out of the story,” Branson-Potts said.
Although she has worked for big names in America’s newspaper industry, Branson-Potts’ first taste of the world of journalism came when she was 15 when she worked on the printing press for her hometown newspaper, the Perry Daily Journal, one of Oklahoma’s smallest daily newspapers.
“They only printed 2,000 copies everyday, but it was real experience (for me),” Branson-Potts said. She advised students to find as many opportunities as they could to work in newsrooms.
“When we hire young people at our paper, we don’t care what grades they made at school, we don’t care what classes they took. We care about their resumés and the stories they produced as an intern,” she said.
For shooting and editing videos, Mark Potts’ greatest education came from watching bad movies during his student days while working at a movie theatre.
He added that a journalist’s work attitude is of utmost importance. “I approach things like there’s nothing below me,” he said, “I’ve done videos for subjects that secretly…I don’t want to cover. But I go in there and say, ‘I’m going to make a really good video. I’m going to cover this like I’ve covered the inauguration and a protest.’”
For both of them, they repeat the mantra: There’s no story that you’re too good for.
The big announcement: How the Twittersphere reacted to my new job in ChinaPosted: August 14, 2013 Filed under: Rick in the news | Tags: Aaron Pena, Al Weaver, Alan Blinder, Ayman Mhanna, Carla Marinucci, Dallas Times Herald, Daniel Wright, Dwight Silverman, Elizabeth Traynor, Emily Wilkins, Global Business Journalism, Hailey Branson-Potts, Harold Cook, Houston Chronicle, Jane Sasseen, Jay Root, John Cornyn, John Weaver, Joyce Barnathan, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Kristiina Helenius, Lisa Falkenberg, Mackenzie Warren, Matt Mackowiak, Melissa Aguilar, Priya Anand, Rebecca Acuna, Ricardo Ramirez, Rich Galen, Samuel Rubenfeld, Steve Stockman, Ted Cruz, Texas, Tsinghua University, United States, Wayne Slater Leave a comment
People who know me well know that I don’t possess one of the larger egos in American journalism. So I’m a tad apologetic for the blatant boosterism that follows. But I wanted to do it to thank all of my friends and the public officials who took to social media to respond to this announcement.
Breaking news, Twitter friends: I’m leaving the @HoustonChron to run a graduate journalism program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
— Rick Dunham (@rickdunham) August 13, 2013
My co-director job at Tsinghua’s Graduate Business Journalism program will allow me to pursue my love of multimedia journalism and training.
— Rick Dunham (@rickdunham) August 13, 2013
I am thrilled to be reunited with friends from @BW days: Joyce Barnathan, president of @ICFJ, and @janesasseen, who is joining me on faculty
— Rick Dunham (@rickdunham) August 13, 2013
The overwhelming — and rapid — response reminded me of the power of social media. Twitter and Facebook have transformed our means of communication in just a few years. (Six years ago, when I left Business Week for the Houston Chronicle, I had to send emails to all of my friends just to let them know what had happened.)
Just like we do on Texas on the Potomac, I’ll start with Capitol Hill reaction:
Best wishes in your next journey @rickdunham Thank you for the years of professionalism
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 13, 2013
Congratulations to @rickdunham and thanks for your years of service! Wishing you all the best in your next endeavor.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 14, 2013
Even former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who’s had to deal with my questions since my days as a young pup at the Dallas Times Herald, weighed in:
@rickdunham – you did a great job reporting for the @houstonchron! Tsinghua is one of the top univ. in china; an exciting challenge for you.
— Kay Bailey Hutchison (@kaybaileyhutch) August 14, 2013
In the polarized American political world, there was bipartisan agreement — for once.
.@RickDunham, TX & DC are losing a great reporter and a true pro with your departure. You’ll be missed. All the best in your new adventure.
— Ricardo A. Ramírez (@rramirez44) August 14, 2013
.@rickdunham @HoustonChron Whaaattt?!? I want to say congratulations but you will be so missed!!! Ok…congrats!
— Rebecca Acuna (@racunatx) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham @MattMackowiak @HoustonChron Wow! Great news for you and your soon-to-be students! Best of luck, Rick.
— Rich Galen (@richgalen) August 13, 2013
.@rickdunham Best of luck on your new journey. Thanks for your service to our community. Keep us informed.
— Aaron For Texas (@AaronForTexas) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham Rick, going to miss your coverage & insight! But, can you do all of us a favor and take Steve Stockman, among others, with you?
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) August 14, 2013
Reaction poured in from around the world, Helsinki to Beirut to Shanghai:
@rickdunham @HoustonChron Congrats. Thanks for great reporting. In the age of social media – and easy air travel – I’ll keep following you.
— Kristiina Helenius (@AmChamKristiina) August 14, 2013
Congratulations @rickdunham. Lucky students.
— Ayman Mhanna (@AymanMhanna) August 13, 2013
@nycjim @rickdunham @HoustonChron Sell America, Buy China
— Daniel Wright (@DanSWright) August 13, 2013
In Austin and Manhattan journalism circles, disbelief:
— Jay Root (@byjayroot) August 13, 2013
@rickdunham Wow. Just wow.
— Harold Cook (@HCookAustin) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham @joiechen @HoustonChron Whoa! Amazing! Congrats!
— Andrea Stone (@andreastonez) August 13, 2013
It was nice to hear from my colleagues:
@rickdunham Bummer for us, good for you! Congratulations!
— dwight silverman (@dsilverman) August 13, 2013
@rickdunham @houstonchron A grumpy goodbye to the least curmudgeon political reporter I know. I’ll miss ur wit, ur energy and ur Rolodex.
— Lisa Falkenberg (@ChronFalkenberg) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham Congrats to a true pro & great @Hearst colleague who will be so missed!! Onto great adventure at Tsinghua University in Beijing!
— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham @HoustonChron You will be sorely missed! Can we visit you in Beijing?
— Melissa Aguilar (@MelissAguilar) August 13, 2013
Yes, Melissa. Definitely.
I’m especially grateful for the kind words from my former interns who have made me proud over the past six years.
Congrats to @rickdunham on his move to Beijing’s Tsinghua U. Those journalism grad students are lucky they’ll get to learn from him. I was.
— Priya Anand (@Priyasideas) August 13, 2013
One of my greatest mentors. Congratulations. MT @RickDunham I’m leaving the @HoustonChron to run a graduate journalism program in Beijing.
— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) August 13, 2013
big loss for DC print scene. will miss you rick! RT @rickdunham I’m leavingto run a graduate journalism program at Tsinghua University
— Elizabeth Traynor (@ektraynor) August 13, 2013
@rickdunham Congrats!!! What an adventure. You will be missed.
— Mackenzie Warren (@MackWarrenTV) August 13, 2013
我希望这次是最好的! RT @rickdunham: I’m leaving the @HoustonChron to run a graduate journalism program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
— Emily Wilkins (@emrwilkins) August 13, 2013
Congratulations to @rickdunham, who I met as a rising college senior covering the DNC and RNC in 2008, and let me work at @txpotomac in 09
— Samuel Rubenfeld (@srubenfeld) August 13, 2013
All the best to @rickdunham and his move to China. Mentored me at my first real world gig at the @HoustonChron. Enjoy it, I know you will
— Al Weaver (@alweaver22) August 14, 2013
@rickdunham Thank you. And — OK! Sounds fun. Don’t ever forget our inaugural use of video (with giant flashcards) at @TxPotomac!
— Hailey Branson-Potts (@haileybranson) August 13, 2013
And I’ll leave you with the words of that ancient Chinese philosopher Wayne Slater:
@rickdunham Wow, sorry to see u leave but what a great opportunity. A great reporter. Like the proverb: May you live in interesting times.
— Wayne Slater (@WayneSlater) August 14, 2013