Kevin Benz has been coaching newsroom best practices and talent performance for over 15 years. In that time he’s worked with nearly 1000 news directors and thousands of journalists at hundreds of TV stations; helping them perform better, make better decisions, tell better stories, build better newscasts and become more efficient in their work.
Kevin’s coaching can enhance your journalism and help you create a better, more efficient newsroom whether you are a producer or a news director. We don’t tell you how to cover your community — we figure you already know your community better than we do. What we do is deliver powerful, pragmatic journalism coaching and training and that’s all we do.
Here’s a review of some sessions we’ve delivered. Keep in mind, we also develop sessions based upon your needs, so ask if you need something not listed below.
Workshops & Programs
Newsroom Culture and Function
How does your newsroom function? I mean really function, as in how does a story idea move from a pitch to getting on TV? What systems are in place for tracking stories and follow-ups at the assignment desk? How well do your reporters, producers, desk and online teams communicate? I can help you answer those questions and teach systems that are working right now in some of the highest functioning newsrooms in the country. These systems are not complicated, you can put them in place immediately.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Culture
- Achieving with Purpose
- Building Positive Culture
- Change Management
- The Work Environment – WFH, Hybrid and In-house
News Leadership Boot camp
I can design a workshop for your news management team. We cover accountability, communication, best practices for scheduling, delegation, difficult conversations, ethical decision-making, staff feedback, performance reviews and more.
Here is a short video recorded by RTDNA in which I discuss the basics of our Ethical decision-making workshop:
Leadership training is not just for news directors. Who are the leaders in your newsroom? Producers? Senior reporters? Your anchors? All of those journalists could use some coaching in handling tough conversations, holding staff accountable, managing their time. We tend to promote good people because they are good at their current job and once promoted, we should help them achieve excellence by teaching them leadership best practices like these:
- Achieving accountability
- Building strong, healthy leadership teams
- Effective delegation
- Managing change
- Managing difficult conversations
- Effective time management
- Recruiting and Retention
- Burnout and Self-Care
Other than story-telling, good performance may be the most important skill we need and we must excel at it. It’s no longer enough to simply read the news or deliver the weather, our anchors and reporters must not only read well, but actually engage the audience from multiple perspectives. We teach a conversational, common sense tone from a positive perspective, and we work with talent to improve their online personality. We showing the best work and best products developed by the best journalists in the most successful newsrooms.
- The efficient MMJ
- Great stand-ups and live shots
- Anchor fundamentals
- Engaging weather and local sports
Ethics and Diversity
Reporting news is hard. We all want to make a difference in our community, hold the powerful accountable, bring a voice to the disadvantaged and shine light on wrong-doing. At the same time we have outside pressures put upon us — deadlines, social media posts, multiple versions of a story to write for other shows and online needs, sales — yeah, it’s hard.
We all need a good reminder of why we do this job and we could use a primer on how to make better decisions based upon the principles of journalism. A little “Big J” coaching can motivate and inspire your team, reminding them why they practice this craft we call journalism. This kind of newsroom training is especially effective right before your sweeps months begin.
- Practicing Inclusive Journalism
- Understanding and Reporting with Empathy
- Covering Hate, Hate Groups and Terrorism
- Covering Religion
- Ethical decision-making on deadline
- Covering Vulnerable communities
- Better crime coverage
- Covering Law Enforcement and Government
- Promoting not teasing
Newsroom Systems and Strategy
Is your newsroom firing on all cylinders? If you are like 90% of all newsrooms, you know there are areas you could be executing better. Our systems and strategy training is designed to help you discover problems and then implement the right systems for those areas in need of some, let’s say, tweaking.
- The 24-hour newsroom
- Digital Structure, Best Practice and Execution
- Systems to cover breaking news
- Content flow — conception to publish to air
- Editorial meeting effectiveness
- Newscast priority
- Beats – nontraditional systems
- Online story branching and efficiency
- Management team communication
- Producer workflow and efficiency
- MMJ efficiency
- Desk workflow
- Newsroom design
- Staffing priorities
- Anchor leadership
- Win with sports
- Newsroom departmental effectiveness
- Promotion and News collaboration
Reporting, Producing and Writing
Newsroom success depends upon the quality of our story-telling. We’ll help you upgrade the most basic journalism tools — enterprise reporting, writing and editing and covering breaking news.
- The Useable Newscast
- Creating an enterprise reporting culture
- Everyday investigations
- Systems to cover breaking news
How much training have you implemented in what may now be the first screen for news consumption? Social media and mobile are completely different platforms. You know you cannot simply translate your current product onto these platforms, you must develop the best practices necessary to be successful on each platform. If your newsroom does not do this well, you will be left behind.
- Managing social media
- Social Media reporting
- Social media ethics
- Digital execution
- Mobile first — Alerts and Notifications