Fox 8’s Cris Belle offered wise words to students during SPJ Speaker Event
As a digital content producer at any news station, continuing to learn and adjust is an everyday practice. New and exciting events are bound to gain attention in the field.
After most of her team goes home for the weekend, Cleveland Fox 8’s Cris Belle continues to push new stories to the station's audience.
And even if she’s unfamiliar with the content or topic, Belle must find a way to place digital representation on her team’s website.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Belle sat down with Cleveland State University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to inform future newsworkers about the dedication and skills needed to pursue and maintain a career in journalism.
As a former CSU journalism major, Belle shared a bundle of helpful tips and suggestions with the attendees, in person and over Zoom. From her perspective, understanding how to get all of the pieces of a story to be packaged as such is the main goal in her position at Fox 8.
Some of the most important things that she learned during her undergraduate studies at CSU was finding authentic sources for stories, how to quote properly and “having a good eye and ear for what’s newsworthy, while being able to present it that way.”
Different types of stories, as explained by Belle, require a number of different formats and ways of being written. For example, Belle broke down an ongoing bomb threat story that she’s been covering.
“Just to get the story started, I have that [information] as the basis,” the 2020 CSU graduate said. “We kind of want the headlines to be similar to group those stories together and just keep the link as the story develops.”
As for the most important elements of a story to Belle, personally, her interest in being able to make national news local bodes well for her loyalty to Northeast, Ohio and passion for emphasizing home.
“I think it's so important to know what's going on,” Belle insisted. “It’s easy to catch on to what’s going on nationally. That does impact us, but I think what impacts us more is what’s going on with our local government. That impacts us more in our day to day.”
As an Ohio native, Belle wishes for more viewers to tune in to what is most relative to their everyday lives, on a local level.
“So, if we’re not aware of what’s happening at City Hall, who our judges are in our county or who our police are, then we’re not really aware of what’s going on,” Belle continued. “I’m passionate about that and I think that it’s sad to see the huge election turn out every year for the president, yet there are those [smaller] elections that we don’t hear about until after the fact.”
After voicing her opinion about her passion for news, Belle spoke about some of the skills that students should build as they approach the job market.
“Definitely digital skills, [such as] learning WordPress,” Belle said. “Whatever platform that you can learn is great, because you’re then more likely to catch on to new platforms that your workplace may have.”
Belle also explained that having an understanding of many subjects is always very important for news writing.
“I’m learning that the hard way,” Belle followed up. “Now that I’m covering Saturday and Sunday afternoons, I’m finding that I have to cover football. And I don’t know a thing about football.”
She said she’s learning as she goes, and reading up on things to keep a level-head. However, Belle made sure to encourage students to keep a good focus on what they’re passionate about, regardless of how they may be covering it.
Internships, practicing interviewing and developing professional skills were a few of the other important ways that Belle detailed in helping students prepare for the field.
Speeding into a vastly digital age, Belle covered the importance of being familiar with social media. She told students that being active on social media “looks better than not using it,” while referring to general employer preferences.
As a young contributor to the news industry herself, Belle gave a handful of gems for each student to use in the direction they’re headed.