Colin Daileda Shares Mobile Reporting Challenges and Triumphs

Earlier in the semester when I wrote a blog post about a mobile journalist, I found Colin Daileda’s Twitter feed. He had been applying everything that we had learned in class thus far to his coverage of the Chapel Hill shooting, among other stories. All of the details of his coverage can be found in my blog post from Feb. 16.

A couple weeks later, I tweeted at him.

TweetWe exchanged a few emails and Professor Machalinski encouraged me to give him a call.

We chatted for about forty-five minutes and even though I was interviewing him, it was much less nerve-wracking than other interviews. It felt more like a regular conversation.

Daileda is a 26 year-old US & World Reporter at mashable.com. He covers a civil rights beat, which in the past three months has taken him to Selma, AL, Chapel Hill, NC, and Pasco, WA, to cover unfolding stories there using just his smartphone.

He graduated from with a journalism degree from Radford University in Virginia and decided that he wanted to go back to school. “I felt like I didn’t quite know what was out there,” he said. “I felt like I needed to get better at this whole journalism thing before I became a journalist.” He moved up to New York to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and graduated in 2012.

He interned at a few other places, including Foreign Policy Magazine and the American Prospect, but his most lucrative was his internship at Mashable, which eventually landed him his current job. We joked about the sometimes menial tasks that journalism interns get stuck with, but he said that Mashable did an excellent job of getting him writing right away. And then he came on full time.

He had a nonchalant attitude. When I asked him how long it took him to get traction, he said, “I will probably never consider myself to be out there. No, I don’t at all. Maybe someone has a different opinion of that.”

I told him a little about the mobile reporting assignment that we did and found out that most of challenges that we faced, like balancing the tweets, videos, photos and note taking without missing a beat, won’t go away.

Daileda keeps one ear on what’s happening and rapid fingers on his phone to switch between Twitter, Instagram and Vine, while still taking down more details on the Notes application on his phone. 

“It’s kind of frenetic and you feel like you’re missing everything, which you kind of are,” he said.

I remember back to that first mobile reporting assignment on Soledad O’Brien, where I was nervous about approaching people with a phone and asking if I could take a picture of them. How would they know that I wasn’t creeping?

Daileda said that he still has embarrassing moments when people on the street reject him and that those embarrassing moments won’t go away. But to provide “some light at the end of the tunnel,” he told me that he thinks once students become professional reporters that the reaction of rejection that we all fear so much will go away.

“I have not had a whole lot of trouble partly because phones are becoming more and more ubiquitous. People of all ages have realized that people are tweeting,” he said. 

Daileda described his civil rights beat as “invigorating” and when I asked him about his favorite story, his voice perked up.

While he was down at the vigil in Chapel Hill, the same mobile reporting coverage that I initially blogged about, Daileda met a young man named Kareem who was about his age. The two “bummed a ride,” from someone to get to the funeral, but after they realized it was so crowded they wouldn’t be able to get in, they decided to just walk around.

They began talking about Islam and the “betrayal of Muslims in the media,” as Daileda described it. When he was on a plane headed towards Boston to cover the storm, he wrote “an article about Muslim frustration and how they are portrayed in the media and why they feel there is a double standard when it comes to crime or acts of terrorism by Muslims versus by non-Muslims.” Daileda said that the article took him forty five minutes to write because of how eager he was to get the ideas down.

When I asked about his least favorite story he thought for a moment and then said, “everything else.” We chatted about getting through covering topics that you don’t feel passionate about, bad pitches coming from bad ideas and rookie reporting mistakes, like his investigative piece of transgender soldiers in the military, where Daileda wishes he had invested more time in reporting.

I wasn’t necessarily inspired by my conversation with Daileda, but rather I was encouraged to hear that he felt that those moments of fulfillment made dealing with challenges, some of which are similar to the ones we face as j-school students, all worth it.

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