"Friday Faculty Focus with Brandon McDermott” airs each Friday at 7 a.m. and noon on all-classical 90.7 KVNO, a broadcast service of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
On Friday, May 12, KVNO aired McDermott's interview with Dave Ogden, UNO professor of communications.
During the interview, Ogden discusses his career in broadcast journalism, how the industry has changed, and why clear, concise writing will always be the most important skill in communications professions.
Listen to their conversation or read the transcript below:
Brandon McDermott: Dr. Dave Ogden thanks for coming on the show.
Dave Odgen: You bet. Thank you Brandon.
Brandon: You teach a wide range of topics from media communication research, radio/TV and online news writing to public relations - which do you enjoy the most?
Dr. Ogden: I like them all. That's kind of a straddling the fence answer, I know, but I truly like them all. With the challenges they bring, the different types of students that are in those classes - I've spent professional time in broadcast journalism, I spent quite a bit of professional time in public relations -media relations primarily. So it's kind of fun to tell stories from the trenches and use my past experiences to frame the concepts that I teach the students and to illustrate how this stuff we talk about in class is applied.
Brandon: What are a couple things that you try to pass on to journalism students you teach?
Dr. Ogden: Most of my focus is on broadcast journalism or electronic journalism. Despite how technology has changed - it's changing rapidly and it will continue to - there's different ways of packaging news now, there’s social media and a burgeoning web universe. But, one thing that remains true and won't go away - I don't think in my lifetime at least - is the need for clear, concise writing. That means writing in simple declarative sentences, using the active voice, present tense when appropriate -those tenets that don't change, as you know, regardless of what media you're using - I pound those home. I’m a grammarian - I refer to myself as a grammarian where grammar, spelling, syntax - all those all those things still mean something. There's still enough old school news directors around, like me, I was not a news director but (I was) old school. That’s what they expect as well, if you've heard from one employer in the communication industry, you heard it from them all - writing is the most important thing you can bring to your profession, if you're going to be a communications professional - so, really I just to hammer on the basics. But once again, I talk about too, how you apply these: the circumstances and situations in which you have to make informed decisions and perseverance as you well know as a broadcast journalist, you have to persevere to get stories to get information to double source things like that. Not only the mechanics of writing for broadcast journalism, but also the process and how things intangibles play into that oftentimes.
Brandon: You started here at UNO in the late 60s as a DJ and on radio. Talk about how much the medium has changed in radio since that time.
Dr. Ogden: Well, tremendously. Before the tape rolled here we were talking a little bit about this. There's a lot of homogenization right now and I had the opportunity, and I was fortunate enough to work in Omaha radio news during really its heyday. When KFAB and KKAR and WOW all had viable, well staff newsrooms and there was a real feeling of competition. So, I was fortunate enough to work for a great news team at KFAB: Chuck Ashby, Dennis Friend and Terry Leahy who really taught me the craft. Working with them, observing them going out on some nice rich, fat stories, those were just as important to my training as anything else. So, when I blended that with my background in public relations. There's a lot of crossover and media relations is where a lot of that crossover is. But, it's just fun to, for lack of a better term extol the virtues of those things.
Brandon: You talked about the size of some of the newsroom was back in the 70s. Do you see that changing now with the last presidential election?
Dr. Ogden: If there ever was a need for investigative journalism, it's now. We've witnessed what at times appears to be a full frontal assault on legitimate news organizations and it is up to the students we're teaching right now to make sure that a free and unfettered press remains free and unfettered.
Brandon: Dr. Dave Ogden, thanks again for joining me.
Dr. Ogden: Thank you Brandon.