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Hello from Joanne Stevens- Your New News Coach Blogger

What?! Another blog peppering the universe?

I’d never have suspected it would be mine. 

I am a colleague- and respectfully introduce myself to all of you.  For those of you old enough: we’ve worked side by side for 30 years.  I’ve been in many newsrooms but tend to work out of my ‘training studio’ in NYC.  My mind is an integral swirl of my experience, my educational background in journalism, speech/voice/language, and quite a few terms and theories that I’ve made up over the years. 
If you’re a dog person, you’ll get the concept that ‘I answer to many names’.
Whether it’s ‘coach.. talent coach.. voice coach.. TV coach.. video journalism coach.. media trainer.. or  Joanne’- my goal for everyone is the same: to help TV/digital/audio journalists move forward- perhaps surmounting hurdles- and blossom in their respective crafts. 
Almost all of my clients are pre-wired with the minds and hearts of a journalist and a passion for impeccable writing.  I too am an idealist geek who can’t help it- the need to know and to get it right has always been in my blood.  It became serious in seventh grade- I was the sole writer/editor of the Doodyville News and Melanie was the illustrator.
Jumping to the present: I believe we all express ourselves differently.  Our body language.. the sound of our voice.. the ways in which we emphasize information and convey semantic underpinnings are unique.  
Our profession ironically limits our communication with our viewers and listeners.  For the most part we only meet them directly in standups or when we share information on-camera.  Otherwise- as in radio- they get to ‘know us’ from our voices and tracking.
And this is where all hell breaks loose.  Many journalists seem to believe that ‘being on TV or radio’ has a superimposed professional façade.  Journalists start talking funny.. perhaps feeling the need to underscore that they are ‘professionals’. The cadence of their natural speaking voice gets lost.. sometimes becoming histrionic or loopy-sounding. Sometimes information becomes punctuated by too many pauses… or single words become emphasized to the exclusion of a complete thought.   
Other clients feel compelled to ‘sell’ their stories- rather than trust their reporting and writing.  People try pushing their voices out- only to sound tighter and higher-pitched..  Even some who choose to stick with a normal speaking voice seem to temporarily forget how they’ve been speaking all day long!  Standups- often the one chance to speak to viewers directly- can be under-utilized or too crafted.. coming across as orchestrated or cheesy.  Essentially- people lose their way.
This is where I come in- at work and soon in this blog.. which formally begins next week. I love helping journalists find their true voice.  Whether their goals require attention to writing, reporting, tracking, standups, lives, interviewing, voice, projection, an indefinable lack of comfort, an inability to ‘command the desk’.. a lack of ‘energy’.. (I could go on and on) or a combination of things: I am as dedicated to you as you are to your work. 
This blog will hopefully prove to be useful to many of you.  And, um, it may serve as an occasional catharsis for me.  
I’m smiling as I tap this.. and hereby plunge in. Thank you for inviting me.  See you next week- same place. 
My warmest to you all,

Previously featured on the Radio Television Digital News Association as the News Coach blog series.


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