‘Backpack’ journalism: the new reality

By Joshua Kagi

Gregg Brekke leads “Backpack Journalism: Multi-platform story creation” workshop.

Photo by Julie Brinker.

In less than a generation, the role of a journalist has changed significantly. Stories which were once produced by teams of four or five people in traditional newsrooms are now expected to be produced by a single journalist. There are new demands on content creators. Writers are now expected to be photographers. Video producers are expected to write. Nearly everyone is expected to be able to produce a multi-format story.

“In a period of 30 years, everything has changed,” stated Gregg Brekke, in opening his 2019 RCC-ACP Convention workshop, “Backpack Journalism: Multi-platform story creation.”

Using the DPDPD acronym, Brekke presented a process toolkit to help journalists and aspiring storytellers with the current reality.


RCC holds annual business meeting

By Cherilyn Williams

Jackie Fuller, president

Shirley Struchen, executive director

The room was chilly but the spirit warm when President Jackie Fuller called the annual meeting of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) to order on Thursday, April 11.

Executive Director Shirley Struchen reported that RCC has 420 members at last count and 57 were registered for this convention event. The Associated Church Press is meeting with us and have approximately 47 in attendance.

Treasurer Kurt Gwartney was clear that the group’s revenue streams are limited and in decline. Some of the faith groups that have been most supportive are losing communicators. However, Vice President Eric Shafer challenged members to give a $90 gift to celebrate the RCC’s 90th birthday. A total of $720 was collected during the meeting. (You can still contribute on the RCC Donate page.)

In another link to the birthday number, the membership team headed up by Fuller and former president, Casey Tom, announced a special rate of $90 for new members. In addition, the membership team is specifically targeting Jewish, Muslim, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and Sikh faith communities to invite membership.


When it comes to strategic communications, begin at the end

By Susan Gottshall

Heidi Thompson leading workshop at convention

Photo by George Conklin

The smallest details so often tell the biggest tales. In the case of the Communication Research and Planning workshop at RCC’s 2019 annual conference, it was the punctuation in the featured PowerPoint’s title that gave it up.

That punctuation, an exclamation point, in Heidi Thompson’s presentation – “One Page Communication Plan!” – made it clear that, above all else, the plan’s the thing.

The one-page plan is “getting back to basics,” but it’s much better than staring at and starting from a blank page of paper, said Thompson, an organizer, marketer and publishing executive with 25 years of nonprofit experience.

“Get agreement on the ‘Big Stuff’ up front,” Thompson said, and you have something to refer to throughout the process. That ensures everyone working on a project is on the same page, and it forces the team to set priorities because there’s only one page for all major aspects of the plan. Keeping the plan to one page also keeps it accessible to everyone.


Religion communicators convene to see in new ways

By Brian Fesler

Judith Valente speaking at the RCC/ACP 2019 Convention

Photo by Julie Brinker

More than a hundred journalists, editors, publishers and other communications professionals convened April 10 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago for the combined annual conventions of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and Associated Church Press (ACP).

Entitled “Seeing in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions,” the convention brought together two of the oldest professional associations in the field of religion communications. RCC, formed in 1929, is the oldest interfaith professional organization in the world and has the mission “to provide opportunities for networking and professional development for people working in communications for a wide variety of faith-based organizations,” while the ACP, tracing its origin to a 1916 meeting, is brought together by a “common commitment to excellence in journalism as a means to describe, reflect, and support the life of faith and the Christian community.”


Engaging on social media - remaining relevant in a crowded newsfeed

By Kathy Williams

Matt Preven leads workshop at RCC/ACP 2019 Convention

Photo by Julie Brinker

Matt Preven, sales engineer at Sizmek, absolutely delivered a home run with his workshop presentation on the importance of engagement in social media on opening day of RCC’s joint convention with Associated Church Press (ACP) in Chicago.

This ten-year veteran of digital media and advertising’s overall message was, “Let’s focus on the good that social media can provide to our organizations.”

Preven focused specifically on Facebook and Instagram in his talk. He stated, “In 2019, you need a social media strategy. Shared experiences define our lives, and social media makes it easier to share these experiences.”

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