Young Journalist on the Job Hunt

I recently got a question from a young writer type asking how to get into the publishing industry right now. Below was my advice. I had meant to post this months ago, but got sidetracked…

Bad News…

Layoff Sign

As for getting into the industry in general (in this economic climate), I’m not sure I have any good advice. Here’s my bad news first: Everywhere you turn it seems that more and more publications are laying folks off, cutting back circulation or stuck in a hiring freeze. It’s a bad job market, and from what I hear from friends, colleagues present and past, etc., it’s not a good time to be looking. You mentioned Southern Living, for example? While there, I was told the best thing about working there was the job security because they never let anyone go. Then this…

Silver lining…

But here’s my good news. You’re young, so you don’t need to be paid as much as someone who has been there forever and a day. You’re young, so you’re more tech-savvy (I used to cringe when people said that because I thought it reflected an ageist attitude, but now that I’ve worked for a while, I’ve basically accepted it as true). And you’re young, so you’re flexible and can take on long work hours, have more time learn a lot of different skills since you don’t have kids, etc.

My take…

So here’s my advice in general: I’d look at getting involved in writing as much as possible. I’d look into a company such as b5 media (a network of bloggers). They don’t pay much, but the experience you would gain by a) writing on a daily (if not hourly) basis would be invaluable and (b) learning the vaguely defined skill of “building an online audience” is extremely valued these days. If you can head into a job interview at a more traditional media company such as the ones you described and tell them how you launched a blog with b5 media and grew it from nothing to 10,000 visits a month – well, that’s going to mean a lot to them. Also check into mediabistro & Poynter – they have good job postings.

Finally, my last bit would be to look online (as in, look at new/online media companies) in general and avoid print. Print companies aren’t hiring right now and, to be honest, I don’t think they are all that exciting to work for (that’s my “new media” bias though). At Southern Living, I was given a lot of encouragement to try different things on their Web site, because I didn’t work on the print side of things, and it was awesome! I launched a podcast, a blog, picked up some (rudimentary) Flash experience and learned a bit about Omniture’s Web Analytics software. It was a true jack-of-all trades experience, but I couldn’t have gotten it fetching coffee for the food editors like some of the other interns who worked on the print side of things.

Anything you would add, subtract, disagree with?

Business to business journalists use blogs as sources – report says

The Arketi Group, an Atlanta-based public relations and integrated marketing consultancy, issued a report looking at how business to business journalists use blogs. Here is one finding:
Arketi graph

The graph to the left shows that 84 percent of business to business journalists reported they would use a blog as a primary or secondary source.

This report kills me. Here’s why:

Blogs are defined by their medium, bloggers are not

Could you imagine a report asking whether or not a business to business journalist quoted a “speech” or an “interview” or a “written report” as a primary or secondary source? No, that’s nonsensical. All of the above, including blogs, are simply different media, across which sources of varying levels of reputability convey information – which brings me to my second point…

Blogs are not uniform sources of information

Do I get story ideas and learn about journalism trends from Jarvis and Romenesko? Sure. Do I get them from the latest blog indexed by Technorati? No. Just like I give more credence to something I read in the Journal as compared with the National Enquirer.

New York Times startup LifeWire provides syndicated lifestyle content

I recently saw a job posting on JournalismJobs.com for a full-time editor to commission and copy edit articles for LifeWire, an online content startup from the New York Times Co. that creates “on-demand lifestyle content” for top Web publishers.

LifeWire

A quick Google News search shows that, although their own page isn’t live yet, LifeWire has ran stories in CNN’s living, and travel sections for the past month or so.

I looked for some more information on LifeWire, but hadn’t read much about it. Any leads?

And P.S., doesn’t the site look awfully “Drupally”?

The future of journalistic objectivity

Chicago Tribune logoTimothy McNulty at the Chicago Tribune wrote a great article yesterday on journalistic objectivity.

Objectivity is an oft-debated topic amongst journalists. To what extent is it possible? Where are the lines drawn? Has it diminished in the age of cable TV’s talking heads and the numerous opining bloggers? Or, as McNulty says, does objectivity get reduced to neutrality? “On the one hand this” and “on the other hand this,” without any attempt to truly seek the truth?

One thing that interests me is the potential of objectivity on a macro level – especially given the democratizing potential and decentralized nature of the Web.

Continue reading “The future of journalistic objectivity”

Dean Lavine addresses Medill graduate students over lunch

Medill logoMedill Dean John Lavine told a group of Medill graduates today, “we are aggressively looking at a set of new clients” for their graduate run Medill News Service.

As we at Medill here have started turning more towards multimedia journalism, the clients who subscribe to our graduate-run wire service haven’t been able to support some of the Flash-based video pieces we’ve produced for our Web site Medill Reports.

The Medill News Service, a wire service run by graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism has provided local coverage on Chicago politics, business, legal affairs, etc. for area publications since 1995. Basically, Medill graduate students report in Chicago, and Chicago-area publications who can’t afford the reporting pay for the stories. (Clients include the Daily Herald, the Daily Southtown, the Northwest Indiana Times, the Chicago Defender, among others.) The Medill News Service also runs a Washington Bureau. Washington clients include the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Greeley Tribune in Colorado.
Continue reading “Dean Lavine addresses Medill graduate students over lunch”

IndyStar blogger fired for racial slur

Check out this post here for a detailed timeline of the debacle.

IndyStar logoBasically, a writer/blogger for the IndyStar.com wrote up some harsh criticism of a “city-county council president” near Indianapolis. What’s really interesting is that the writer/blogger revised his story a number of times. Apparently, he watered it down a little each time, before an editor at the newspaper read the post and took it down. Here’s the formal mea culpa.

stAllio!s wayWhat’s interesting, however, is that in the timeline mentioned above, an Indy blogger (on stAllio!s way) searched through the Google cache to find previous versions of the post, chronicling the “timeline of a slur.”

The whole situation is unfortunate, to say the least. But it brings an interesting point about blogging and the Web. Whereas it’s become popular to think of blogging and the internet as a wild, no-holds-barred, “anything goes” medium.

I’ve just never bought that.

People, and especially journalists, are still accountable for what they say or write, regardless of the medium. The ability to reach a global audience with no barrier to entry changes the way we communicate, sure. But I suspect that norms and mores surrounding that way of communication will evolve. And once that happens, we’ll look back on that perspective of the Web as a safe place for over-the-top commentary and editorial as pretty naive.

Update: It looks like some of the pages are even gone now from Google’s cache. The blogger is now linking to .jpgs he’s made of the original post

Northwestern’s News at Seven has avatars report the news

Update: Chicago Public Radio piece on “News at Seven.”

Northwestern University’s Infolab, which is part of the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, runs an interesting project called “News at Seven.”

In the “News at Seven” broadcast, avatars, not people, report the news. (It’s already gotten considerable press, but will launch a new beta version tomorrow, Monday, October 29th.)

Here’s a preview. (And more old newscasts can be found here or you can read the project blog).

Given my disdain for the broadcast medium, you can imagine the implications I draw from a nifty computer program that can generate video of avatars spitting out news stories. (Note to my broadcast buddies, I didn’t say I disdained the people or the reporting, just the medium).

That said, the avatars, in their present inception, do seem a poor substitute for real people.

Broadcasters, do you feel your job security is threatened?