RTDNA Webinar Series

RTDNA offers webinars on a variety of topics to provide accessible training for journalists. Our webinars are free for members, and available to non-members for a nominal fee. To view archived versions of any webinar, log on to the member portal.

Talking to Strangers: Craft and Conduct Interviews That Will Get Even the Haters to Talk

Even in an era of data journalism, we still need the perspective of human beings to translate, explain and humanize our stories. We need to be able to talk to experts, witnesses, officials, perpetrators, stakeholders and victims. But getting them to talk to us can be a challenge. Getting people to talk to us, and then getting them to tell us something useful, doesn't have to be all instinct, or all luck. This workshop gives practical advice on procuring, and then conducting, great interviews that get past clichés and get you quality responses.

Dean Nelson is the director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, a freelancer for the New York Times, and publications including the Boston Globe, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Magazine, Westways Magazine and elsewhere. His book Talk To Me: How To Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro will be published next year.

When Tragedy Strikes: Covering Mass Shootings
Ensure your newsroom is prepared by planning ahead, even – especially – for the kinds of situations we hope never to see.

The RTDNA Ethics Committee will guide your newsroom in developing your coverage plan for these catastrophic events by illustrating its recently published coverage guidelines including:

  • How to ensure your own and others’ safety on a scene.
  • How to apply our Code of Ethics’ guiding principles of accuracy and transparency when much is unknown or uncertain.
  • How to put information in the appropriate context.
  • How to avoid the contagion effect.  

RTDNA WEBINAR: RESPONDING TO FAKE NEWS ON CLIMATE: How to present fact-based journalism in this political climate
Debunking climate change myths and misinformation in the age of fake news

Hosted by Climate Matters in the Newsroom and RTDNA, featuring Dr. John Cook

Responding to misinformation in the age of fake news
How should journalists respond to the growing presence of fake news and misinformation? Join Dr. John Cook, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication, at George Mason University, to learn the psychology and techniques behind debunking myths. Have you ever noticed people holding fast to false information even after given the facts? Oftentimes attempts to debunk fake news inadvertently reinforce misconceptions rather than dispel them. This webinar will delve into the psychology of misinformation, how it affects people, and how to respond. It will explain the optimal ways to address misinformation, based on psychological research.
About Dr. John Cook
John Cook is a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. He founded Skeptical Science, a website which won the 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for the Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge and 2016 Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education. John co-authored the college textbooks Climate Change: Examining the Facts with Weber State University professor Daniel Bedford. He was also a coauthor of the textbook Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis and the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand. In 2013, he published a paper analyzing the scientific consensus on climate change that has been highlighted by President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. He recently completed a PhD in cognitive psychology, researching how people think about climate change, and developed a Massive Open Online Course on climate science denial.
RTDNA WEBINAR: Using Data as a Catalyst for Newsroom Culture Change

Sponsored by TopicPulse
According to a 2017 digital news study by the Reuters Institute, over half (51%) of all Americans now get news via social media. This is up five percentage points since last year, and double the 2013 number. News organizations all across the country are asking: how do we compete for attention in this fragmented news and information environment? Increasingly, the answer is by using data-informed decision-making to create content more appealing to target audiences and do better journalism. And creating and maintaining a newsroom culture that embraces data-informed decision making is critical to success. This workshop, led by veteran news executive and TopicPulse Product Manager Jill Manuel, explores ways to build a responsive, data-informed newsroom culture that empowers journalists to effectively use analytics in editorial decision-making.
RTDNA WEBINAR: Harnessing social media to build community and build a brand

Advice from a national Edward R. Murrow Award winner: From the station that won the first ever National Edward R. Murrow Award for social media, see real examples of how social media managers were able to engage with an audience in ways the broadcast alone could never do. From driving conversation and awareness, to sourcing first-hand accounts, photos and videos from anywhere, anytime, KHOU 11 reveals the strategy that won them the Murrow. And, it can earn your station the long-time loyalty that builds ratings.

  1. How to leverage social media to amplify an event in your market, connecting your community through your reach as a media outlet.
  2. Integrating technology to enhance social media experiences.
  3. How social listening plays an important role in your social efforts.

RTDNA WEBINAR: Track News and Win on Social Media

The free and powerful tool every newsroom can use today to track news and win on social media: Drinking from the firehose of Twitter, or trying to Facebook follow every public agency in your market is impossible, and you'll always miss interesting posts. What if there were a way to alert you whenever a PIO posted something that was generating more interest than usual? What if there were a way to find that fascinating post from a source, amidst all the routine stuff they tweet? What if you had a real-time report of how your competitors' Facebook posts were doing that you could use to inform social media selections, web story assignments, and even your 5pm lead? What if the tool were free, and available right now? RTDNA is teaming up with Facebook's newly acquired social signals service, CrowdTangle, to show you ways to mine social media for breaking news, stories that are not yet viral but will be, and audience interests that can help your station and website engage viewers in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Presenter: Amber Burgess, Local News Partner Manager - CrowdTangle
RTDNA WEBINAR: Covering an Unprecedented President

In this webinar, we focus on covering the Trump administration and the new challenges of the President's approach to the media. We examine techniques, angles, and ethical questions to guide newsrooms in covering President Trump when conventional paradigms have changed. This session is an example of the type of training you can expect at the RTDNA/SPJ/NAHJ Excellence in Journalism 2017 conference this September in Anaheim, CA.


Brandon Mercer, SFGate - San Francisco
Vincent Duffy, Michigan Radio - Ann Arbor, MI
Terence Shepherd, WLRN-FM - Miami

Topics we cover:
  • How to take your coverage to a higher level, looking at WHY not just WHAT is being said by the government
  • How to handle denials or unusual restrictions to media access
  • How to be transparent and above reproach in covering deeply divisive partisan issues
  • How to handle the new “fake news” campaigns to mislead the public
  • How to make your newsroom beyond reproach as political coverage turns to the surreal

Links discussed in this webinar:
RTDNA Code of Ethics:
FAKE NEWS:  Defining it, defending against it, being called it
The story behind one of the most viral fake news items every created
Understanding PIZZAGATE
What’s really going on at news conferences
THE DOSSIDER: Dealing with questionable documents
SLATE:  “This is fake” tool
Creating a web story, tool or boilerplate script to help readers
POYNTER: Access for the media, arrests, covering protests; slack channel for FOIA issues

What RTDNA is doing
When you are faced with “interview ground rules,” how do you be transparent with your audience?
From Jay Rosen:  38 measures journalists can take when covering the president: http://pressthink.org/2016/12/winter-coming-prospects-american-press-trump/
Evidence-based versus Accusation-based reporting
From Politico: 7 rules for covering Trump
Goodbye Garden Gnomes: Little Tips To Make Your Standups Stand Out

Presenter Joe Little from KGTV in San Diego provides tips and strategies to make your standups look great, along with other ideas to make life easier for one-person bands gathering the news every day. Learn these techniques and get re-energized about storytelling when you’re doing it all yourself.

Deconstructing Digital Video: What You Know About TV Doesn't Apply Online

RTDNA partners with the Online News Association to bring you a webinar, focused on best practices for using video online to draw clicks and engage viewers. You'll learn technical tricks to make your videos look their best, as well as approaches to promote your work across multiple platforms.


Best practices from digital and social video pros:
  • iHeartMedia’s Director of Local Social Media Strategy Bilal Morris
    • Snackable videos
    • Why length matters
    • How to choose your subjects
  • Good Housekeeping’s Senior Producer Erin Phraner
    • Square video
    • Point of view
    • Stop motion
    • The new rules for graphics
  • AJ+’s Senior Producer, Engagement Japhet Weeks
    • Titles    
    • Winning the first 3 seconds
  • SFGATE.com’s Executive Producer and RTDNA Region 2 Director Brandon Mercer
    • Moderator
Topics we’ll cover:
  • Square, vertical, or “old fashioned” horizontal
  • Point of view and time lapse
  • How to use titles effectively
  • Winning the first 3 seconds, and what length is best?
  • Telling a story without audio
  • Acquiring videos versus making your own
  • Quick tricks that make huge differences in engagement
Please note: The example videos used in the presentation are not embedded in the webinar video due to copyright restrictions in the software. See the links below to watch the examples.
Webinar: New Ethics Codes

Produced in cooperation with our partners at the Society of Professional Journalists, we examined ethical questions in the digital age, including issues raised by trying to report news via social media. The session features real-world examples of ethical decisions, using the SPJ and RTDNA Codes of Ethics as a framework for decision-making.

Presenter: Kevin Benz, Ethics Faculty - The Kneeland Project / iMedia Strategies / Former News Director, Past RTDNA Chairman

SPJ’s Joe Radske, WISC-TV Executive Producer; and RTDNA’s Scott Libin, senior fellow at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will lead the discussion.

Three topics will be addressed:
  • In the on-going coverage of #BlackLivesMatter and racial unrest, a look at how and why we identify race and other distinguishing characteristics and thoughts on how we might do it better. ("Do no harm")
  • The increasing influence of sales on content - How to balance commercial interests and editorial integrity
  • Following the Rolling Stone / UVA story retraction, how well are we checking sources in the age of social media journalism

Our first webinar in the new series focused on how to producing great newscasts:
What makes a Murrow-winning newscast? Successful ideas for audience engagement

Producing tips you can start using now, for radio, television and digital content

A group of National Edward R. Murrow Award winners share their techniques for producing amazing newscasts. You'll see real-world case studies from producers and managers who will demonstrate how they:

  • Created compelling newscasts using techniques that actually save time and use fewer resources, while creating a better product
  • Created a nationally viral hashtag about a station event that informed the community
  • Organized community town halls around topical issues like the Ebola scare
  • And more.
Topics include:

Engaging the community, both virtually and in the real world:
Lessons From WFAA’s Ebola Coverage
Creating your own viral campaign around a significant news item, informing the community while creating lasting engagement with your TV product and social and digital brands, with former WFAA EP and now WTLV-WJXX News Director Meagan Harris. WFAA is a national Murrow winner for best large market newscast
Producing more engaging live content by tapping into trusted newsmakers
Producing More Powerful Live Interviews, For Radio And TV
Adding urgency, relevance, and a new perspective, the secrets of using trusted newsmakers to create more engaging newscasts, even in a tightly formatted late news, with KCBS Radio News Director Ed Cavagnaro. KCBS is a national Murrow winner for best large market newscast
Break the format, fix the newscast
Simple, easy-to-implement ideas that can turn any routine newscast into something memorable, relatable, engaging, and even award-winning with National Murrow Award winner from WBIR, producer Lisa Leko. WBIR is a national Murrow winner for best small market newscast
As more webinars are produced, details will added to this page and videos will be added in the member portal.