Sunday, September 7, 2014

Episode 27: Steven Allen Adams

Episode 27 of #CommunicationBreakdown is live and it's the second ever video version of the podcast, the collaboration between myself and Eric Proffit.

As I wrote here sometime last week, Eric and I took a day and drove throughout the state getting some video interviews. Steven Adams was the second interview we recorded that day and the first that we are presenting to you.

This is a must-listen for anybody living in West Virginia. We talk about all sorts of issues facing people in the state. Some of what we talk about: 

- The death of Robert C. Byrd in 2010 and how the state is still recovering from it.

- WV being a Republican state who elects Democratic leaders, and how that may change this November.

- Is West Virginia a good state for young people to have a career and live here?

- Pros and cons of Natalie Tennant and Shelley Moore Capito, the two women vying for Jay Rockefeller's Senate seat. Plus, we get Steven Adam's prediction of who will win.

- Social media in West Virginia, including what hashtags are important and what can be done to improve communication.

- What is the proper "West Virginia hot dog" and why nobody should care.

All that and more. Below is a partial transcript of some of my conversation with Steven.

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His job, Constituent Outreach Speciliast for the WV Senate:

My job primarily with the State Senate is using social media twofold, A) using social media to help lawmakers reach their constituents and their district about what laws they are trying to pass, about what initiatives they are trying to push and vice versa. My job is to try and help constituents through social media get their concerns in front of the lawmakers. I do this a bunch of different ways. We instituted a lot of video when I started. We put ourselves - we, meaning me; I’m the only one in the office - we use that for the committees.

TV News reporters using social media: 

They’re not as concerned with getting that story on the web as quickly as it should in a world where that’s what people are relying on. They haven’t really figured out a way to do that because they are trapped in their time slots. And, even if you look at some of the stuff TV reporters do on twitter when they try to tease their shows, they do their traditional tease that you would hear right before Seinfeld comes on leading up to their news show to promote their news. That’s great for TV, but that doesn’t really work for twitter where, you know, there’s something happening in St. Albans, ‘Wanna know more about it? Tune in at 5.’ I don’t wanna tune in at 5, I want it now.

Robert C. Byrd's death and its effect on WV: 

I call it the big domino effect. Robert C. Byrd was the big domino. And when that domino fell, we’re still seeing the results of that even now and you’ll still see them in this coming election here in November. Robert C. Byrd was a powerhouse. Whether you liked him or didn’t like him, whether you were on the same political side as him or not, you had to acknowledge at the end of the day he had a pretty positive affect on West Virginia and we’re still benefitting from that. And, because he is gone, we’re also hurting from that because a lot of the federal money that came in the state, he’s responsible for. Since he had the seniority there for so many years, West Virginia benefitted from all of that greatly. You have a situation now, as soon as he fell, as soon as he died, you just saw a major cascade in West Virginia politics.

Somebody who has a poli. sci. degree ought to get their butts to West Virginia, because I think it’s a really interesting study, and you can trace it all back to Robert Byrd. For the younger viewers, and you’re right, there are some younger reporters who don’t quite get it either because they’re too young or they’re not from West Virginia and haven’t really experienced that.

Is West Virginia a good state for young people: 

Well, no. At least not yet. I’ll talk to you about the only thing I can really kind of compare it to: journalism. For any of you future, budding journalism stars out there. You see stories all the time, you have Gannett newspapers, they’ve now spun off their newspapers to concentrate on TV. We’ve got the same situation with Tribune. Newspapers are in trouble, at least across the nation. 

West Virginia is sort of shielded from that, at least for the moment, and all of that has to do with the fact that broadband implementation in the state is just crap right now. It’s getting better but it’s crap. As soon as it gets better, you’re going to tend to see more people going online. 

When you’re talking about your journalism pay, you’re talking about the largest newspapers in the state are three blocks that way. Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston Gazette. They pay, maybe starting out, $26, maybe $27 and I may be being generous. The people they recruit are usually people right out of college. So, people that just literally graduated from Marshall or WVU j-schools and this will be their first job, maybe second job. And, they’ll stay. They’ll stay for about one year, sometimes two years. But, they’ll go. 

And they’ll either go for one or two or three or a dozen reason. Either because they want to keep moving up in their career, so they go to the next biggest publication they can go to, A) because it will pay better and B) because of the recognition it will bring to their career. Or, you have a situation where you want to make more money for the same reasons I mentioned earlier. You want to provide for your family or for the future family you’re going to have. So, making $27 just isn’t enough money to do that. So, you leave for the next market or you leave to take a better paying job. And the cycle continues. Instead of trying to hire a journalist that has several years experience that has several skills, they’ll go back to the well of the recent college graduate and grab them and hire them. So, they can’t keep anybody; they can’t pay what needs to be paid.

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All that and more is included in my nearly hour-long interview with Steven Adams. If you have any questions for me or him, feel free to leave them here or Facebook or Twitter. 

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