Author Archives: keatonbenfield

Keaton Benfield Reading Response #7

These two chapters helped refresh my memory on some of the key concepts that we must all keep in mind when reporting as well as when we are gathering information in order to report our complete findings. Some segments of Chapter 7 were bits of information that we should have already ingrained within our minds, but it was also a nice thing to read again, just to be sure that I remembered most of it. Having correct grammar or numbers / statistical data is very important, as always, and both are things that we all strive to always have.

Another interesting part of this chapter was the various explanations of events and interests that can be covered, as well as the steps we must take if things do not go as planned. We must be quick to adapt to the changes that may unexpectedly come our way, which I know is something that I could work on!

I’ve always heard the term “beat” when watching the news and I’ve never gotten around to looking that up to see the significance it had for news reporting, but now I know and I’m very interested! There are various types of beats and they can all sometimes branch off into even smaller sections that can handle specific coverage of different areas for a more in-depth story.

These concepts and pieces of advice will really help me through the disaster drill that is coming up soon. I’m still nervous about that one, but after reading these sections, there are ways to work around that, to keep calm and make sure that the information that is needed is collected and shared in a professional manner.


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Keaton Benfield: Reading Response #6

Knight and Filak’s work goes hand-in-hand with one another. Both texts tackle the basic components needed to become a great, credible and respected journalist. Knight’s discussion concerning the overall ethics of journalism, staying on top of the subjects the writer is trying to convey to an audience, as well as the ability to prohibit the use of language that can be misleading, offensive or harsh, is something that all writers must keep in mind.

Critical thinking comes into play here, as well. As an English major I have already grown quite familiar with thinking critically, trying to dig beneath the surface-level information in order to find the more complex meaning, a better understanding of what it is I am either reading or researching. Filak does a great job with handling this topic. I noticed as I was preparing for my interview with my first profile story, I was afraid that i hadn’t researched enough, that I did not really present the right questions that I needed to ask in order to fully understand what it was I was wanting to discuss.

However, reading this chapter now gives me some helpful tips to be more prepared. It is important that adequate information is obtained beforehand and even if it is a complex topic, it is alright to explain it to my audience who may also not be familiar with it. Finding out how this information affects your readers, practicing those skills needed and respecting the audience all are things that I will definitely keep in mind.

Keaton Benfield Reading Response 5

For Knight and Filak, understanding your audience and making sure that their attention is kept throughout an article— whether it is online or in print– is a crucial part of journalism. Knowing your audience and writing with specific questions in mind regarding their interests and the information that affects them is also something that is emphasized and encouraged in order to convey newsworthy stories in any media format in the modern age.

Media outlets have grown over the years and social media has become a point of interest for people to get their news and other stories. However, with this comes an issue of credibility. Television, newspapers, magazines and any online format can be biased or even pander to a particular target audience, resulting in “fake news.” Filak and Knight both write about this in their texts and how credible journalists combat sources such as this.

Another thing that really stuck with me is the ability to resonate with your readers,  giving them credible outlets and being fair all while entertaining them and keeping them interested in the topics that you are discussing, even if the subject isn’t something seen as exciting, like taxes for example, as shown from Knight. Knowing what works as well as what should not be done really improves one’s own writing and ability to convey the newsworthy events in an interesting and thought provoking manner.

A Passion for Piedmont: Dr. Stephen Whited Profile Story By Keaton Benfield

In the philosophy of Dr. Stephen Whited, Piedmont College offers students a unique learning opportunity, the community aspect of a small college, that is crucial to creating and fostering an environment for exceptional learning.

“My hope is that people will realize that this is an awesome opportunity to dig in and be independent and take control of your education,” said Dr. Stephen Whited, a professor of English at Piedmont College. “You’re surrounded by people who help you with this and you’re not doing this alone.”

Whited found his way to Piedmont College 25 years ago, but before he became the English professor that he is today, he really didn’t expect to have such a passion for English as a major.

“It never occurred to me to be one,” Whited said. “Once I was in it, I loved it.”

“Some of it was just kind of following an instinct, it really wasn’t a plan,” Whited said. “It was an instinct that worked out.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English and poetry from Georgia State College, Whited went on to receive his doctorate in English from the University of Kentucky. He began to harness his appreciation for English through teaching experience.

“At the University of Kentucky I liked it,” Whited said. “I was kind of getting the hang of this thing of asking people questions and pestering them to think a little bit.”

In 1993, after teaching at another small college near Lake Michigan, Whited decided to move south and he finally discovered Piedmont College.

“It’ll be 26 years in August,” Whited said. “It’s been a good run, and I’ve had a lot of fun.”

While teaching at Piedmont, Whited integrated a game into some of his courses. This game gives his students a direct approach to the subjects discussed, as well as an appreciation for the history the games represent.

“It’s kind of a hyper setup of a debate,” Whited said. “All of them are arranged around some historical moment. By playing the game you not only have to know the history, you argue it out to see what would happen, and you learn that history sounds like a roll of the dice. It’s life!”

Allyson McCollum, a 21-year-old junior English major, had the opportunity to experience two classes involving these games.

“People were invested in their roles,” McCollum said. “The ones in ‘Nature Writers’ were more difficult because they were newer, but they were still kind of enjoyable.”

Alongside teaching, Whited also took over the reins of the Piedmont chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, known as Alpha Delta Phi, an international English Honor Society.

“I was in Sigma Tau Delta when I was an undergraduate, and it started here right after I got here,” Whited said. “It’s a club for people who like to read. It tends to be English majors, but we do have people from other humanities and departments, and I would like for it to be a bigger blend of that.”

Emily Pierce, a 21-year-old senior English major and social justice minor, is the current president of Sigma Tau Delta at Piedmont College. Looking to the future, she hopes the club continues to grow and prosper.

“We tend to go to the Shakespeare Tavern every semester and many of our members go to conferences,” Pierce said. “I’ve had hopes for the club that haven’t panned out, but I haven’t given up on them, either.”

Whited encourages students to explore their interests, adding that he does not regret any of his college experiences. He only wishes that he knew about Piedmont College during his undergraduate years.

“If I were an undergraduate right now, I would do this in a heartbeat,” Whited said, referring to Piedmont College. “I just think it’s a great little school.”

Whited’s enthusiasm for inspiring students to achieve their goals shines through his teaching and he wants students to appreciate the time they get to spend at Piedmont.

“I just hope people realize that this is a great little place, and a great opportunity to learn,” Whited said. “You’ll never have it again.”

Profile: Austin Elliott by Keaton Benfield

The ability to say or write exactly what one means is a valuable skill to have. That is what 21-year-old Piedmont College student Austin Elliott wants to stress to anyone pursuing a career involving any type of writing or communication that benefits from having these skills.

“I would urge more people to try writing a script. You have to be concise, so you have to say what you mean and you have to take this huge idea that you have. You have to say exactly what you mean as concisely as you can, and more people need to be able to have that skill,” Elliott said.

In his free time, or when he is able, Elliott helps his friend Sam with a short film series called “Tell Me a Story” that is currently in production. Even though he loves making films, Elliott does not want to turn it into a full-time career.

“That is not my career path at all. I could probably turn it into a career, but I don’t want to,” Elliott said. “I still do films all the time and it means a lot to a lot of people and it’s cool, so that’s why I do it.”

Despite his decision to not pursue filmmaking, Elliott is very passionate about his projects, and while he works on his family’s farm, Sunburst Stables, he thinks about trying to be a radio journalist in the future.

“I would absolutely be a radio journalist. I would love to have a podcast. I think that would be the coolest thing ever to do that on the side, as like a side hustle,” Elliott said.

While creating his short films or getting involved in journalism, Elliott discovers the importance of being concise. He knows that he must first be aware of how to convey the ideas that he wants to put out into the world.

“If you write a script and you put those things on paper of a situation that maybe is from your own life, you can get really good at exactly what you want to say,” Elliott said. “If you get good at writing what you want to say, you can get good at saying what you want to say, too. The world would be a much better place.”

Elliott continuously strives to improve his own work and his writing skills. He often finds new ways to not only help himself but those around him, as well, all while remaining proud of the work he has already produced.

“You’re always looking for what the next cool scene, setting, view, inspiration is going to be,” Elliott said. “What’s around the next corner is always really exciting.”

Keaton Benfield: Reading Response #4

Writing a great lede is crucial to your story. It sets up for what is to come and helps all of your information flow smoothly. Both Knight and Filak have written about the importance of having a strong lede, and even though I already feel a little stressed about making sure that I have written a lede that successfully gets across the overall idea of what I want to talk about in my story, even though I haven’t even written one yet, I know that all of this information that both have provided will help me feel less stressed about it all.

I see a lede as being similar to writing a great introductory paragraph in an essay, it has to capture the reader and make them curious about what comes next. It must inform the reader of the 5 W’s and H in a way that draws them in to reading more into the story. Making sure that quotes are used correctly can be viewed similarly and both authors here have done a great job at showing how to use them effectively and even when to stop writing if it seems like I am just dumping all of my information into my story.

Figuring out what information I should keep and what I should abandon will also make a story stronger. Adding the important information, as well as any that might be of use to the reader and the progression of the story, creates a well-rounded piece, and even though writing a lede seems intimidating to me now, Knight’s inclusion of tips from veteran journalists was really helpful and I will have to think about those as I begin my own ledes for my stories!

Keaton Benfield: Reading Response #3

I started off by reading Knight’s chapter on “Building the Story” and I enjoyed how he started off by describing his own experience with former president Richard Nixon, how he only only received information that any other reporter could’ve figured out. Knight goes on to talk about the issues that he could have mentioned to the president and how he failed in doing so, telling the reader that this was not how an interview should be conducted.

It was helpful to read about ways to improve an interview and how to obtain more information from other sources if needed in order to fully flesh out the story wanting to be told. Learning about the various techniques that outlets use to write their articles was another interesting thing to take note of here, as well as knowing when to stop describing everything in too much detail.

Filak complements Knight’s chapter very well and it’ll definitely be helpful when we have to begin our own profile assignment. He goes through the process of conducting this type of interview and the importance of secondary sources in order to get a well-rounded perspective on the subject, which I thought was very helpful and I’ll go back to this section when the time comes if I need any assistance.