JRNL 10 – Guest Speaker: Leah Bush

Leah Bush did not set out to be in the journalism field. In college, she had been a philosophy major, and did not start working in journalism until much later. She was working with the Red Cross when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and began doing more writing and investigating while with them. From there, she started blogging more and wrote about a lot of social justice issues for free, so she could get her foot in the door.

Bush eventually started writing for the local newspaper in Oyster Bay, where she learned more about the field and how publishing a newspaper actually works. When Patch started, she started freelancing for them, still covering local news. When an editor at the site left she took over temporarily, and learned about how a news website is run, which is totally different than a traditional newspaper. Bush had to format posts and schedule them, and had to know HTML code for the site to keep it organized. “You’re competing in the most oversaturated environment for people,” she said about the area that Patch covered. After becoming the editor of the Northport Patch, she became more aware of how to write for online journalism. “People have a very short attention span so you want to be aware of that,” she said when talking about how visual aids can be helpful. “Visuals are everything today; it’s all images that get your attention.”

When describing how to package a story for online publication, Bush talked about the different elements to include. The story is obviously the most important part, and pictures should be included on the first post. Then everything should be shared on different social media platforms. If it can’t be a part of the first story, audio and video can be made into a follow up later. Bush also said that if the story needs to be published right away, a photo gallery with deeper and more descriptive captions can be posted first.

“The biggest thing you have going for you is being a storyteller, because everyone loves a story,” Bush said. “Never stop learning, stay on top of everything.”

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