A Peek Inside Emilie Ritter Saunders' Digital Life

Jun 18, 2014

Credit Frankie Barnhill

People involved in public media share how they wade through the digital news deluge. This month we spoke with Boise State Public Radio Digital Content Coordinator Emilie Ritter Saunders. According to her site, Emilie is a big fan of “data-driven journalism, artful storytelling, refinishing furniture and ice cream.” She previously was StateImpact Idaho’s multimedia journalist and before that Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief. Read on for more about how she manages her digital life:

Three daily must-reads

At the bare minimum, I always scan headlines at the Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times. For local/regional content, I check daily the Idaho Statesman, the Missoulian, and the Twin Falls Times News. I also have some holdover habits from my reporting days with StateImpact Idaho. I frequently read Stateline, ProPublica, and scan for latest data releases at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. 

Three people you follow (online) regularly
Ooof, this one is tough. There are several national and local reporters I follow (mainly on Twitter) who seem to always be working on interesting things and can spark my own ideas. Lately, I've found great value in my fellow digital public media peers like Kelsey Proud at St. Louis Public Radio, Martha Kang at KPLU, and Joe Wertz at StateImpact Oklahoma.

Three guilty pleasures online

  1. Buzzfeed,  ugh. Sometimes their listicle headlines are just too irresistible.
  2. Tumblr. I don't feel too guilty about this one, however, you can end up sucked into random blogs pretty quickly.
  3. NPR's Monkey See blog. Again, I don't feel too guilty here either. If I'm going to read pop culture, tv/movie reviews, it'll be through the always entertaining words of Linda Holmes.

First thing you check in the morning

Twitter. Then Facebook. Then email. Twitter has almost entirely replaced the need for me to search individual news sites, especially as I'm getting a first glimpse of the day's news. Twitter gives me a sense of the big stories of the day, and it also gives me a sense of what people are talking about (both news junkies and non-news folks).

Last thing you check at night
Twitter. I'll often take more time to read the stuff I saw early in the morning but didn't get a chance to look at.

Favorite news consumption time saver
I'm old fashioned here. While Twitter is my favorite aggregator of content, I still rely on Google Alerts to send me a daily digest of stories with certain keywords I've selected. For example, I have a Google Alert set up to send me all stories that include "Idaho." It can be a slog some days, but it is also helpful in making sure I don't miss anything that could be relevant or spark new story ideas. Also, I have Idaho's local newspapers and national news outlets bookmarked on my browser. It's not glamorous, but it's efficient for me.

Your most used mobile reporting tool or app
My most-used mobile reporting tool is the camera on my iPhone. If I'm in the field unexpectedly, or happen upon breaking/developing news, I always have my iPhone camera available to begin the reporting process. As for an app -- I use Twitter in the field more than anything else, especially for breaking/developing news. I can post there on the go and give people snippets of my reporting as it happens.

Any words of wisdom for your fellow shows/stations as they go forward with their digital efforts?
Especially for stations with small newsrooms: it won't all come together immediately, and you simply can't cover it all. In our newsroom, where we have just one full time general assignment reporter at the moment, I've found great value in content curation, and parsing out what might be one radio feature, into multiple web posts (especially when you have info/data that were left out of the radio version and can be expanded upon online). Both tactics are a great way to stretch good content when you have limited resources. 

Something that has helped reporters in our newsroom, is an understanding that a web post doesn't have to be THE WHOLE story. A web post can be 200 words. It can be PART of the story. It can be more like a reporter's notebook or blog that takes readers along on the reporting journey instead of always handing your readers a polished and complete piece.