Teaching Examples

Jobs in a smart news organization
June 6, 2007, 4:39 pm
Filed under: jobs, journalism, multimedia, newspapers, online

Some newspapers reinvent themselves to ride the obvious wave in consumption of news and information in North America. Others retrench, diverting money and resources away from the online — or worse, leave the Web site in the hands of the marketing department.

Which kind of newspaper will survive and thrive, do you think?

The Las Vegas Sun appears to be pursuing the former strategy, according to David Domingo.

The Sun is seeking to fill four new jobs:

Flash designer … good at building Flash graphics and 3D motion graphics to go with analytical news stories written by our reporters … also work with photographers on enhancing their Flash graphics skills … with our artist and cartoonist on animating their work. (I want that job!!)

Videographer … has skills at shooting, editing and processing video news stories for the Web. I was hoping to find … help the Sun create a new video identity online.

Web content editor … work with reporters and editors at building deep, evergreen content sites that would contain granular content about specific Las Vegas area topics … a good writer … also have multimedia Web skills.

Web technician … have all the skills of a multimedia reporter, but would mostly do processing work at a desk … process video, audio and provide other assistance for the multimedia for our daily updates and for our deep content sites. Skills in editing video and audio clips, helping to create podcasts and vodcast will be essential.

The guy doing the looking for people to fill these positions: Dave Toplikar, until recently a multimedia reporter at LJWorld Online — you know, that wildly successful newspaper in Lawrence, Kanasas, that’s not only making money but also winning awards for great design and even better innovation projects. Just look at their multimedia page.

Update: The jobs are posted here.

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Cool online internship
May 22, 2007, 1:01 pm
Filed under: jobs, journalism, online, television, video

The advertisement reads:

INTERACTIVE Help build our award-winning website. Assist with online community building, web research, interactive features, HTML coding, image/audio/video editing and writing articles and interviews.

The internship is at P.O.V. (Point-of-View), the public television series of independent non-fiction film and video. “P.O.V. films have won every coveted television and film award, including 18 Emmys, 11 George Foster Peabody Awards, eight Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Awards, three Academy Awards, and the Prix Italia.”

P.O.V. also has a very cool Web site, where all kinds of additional material (and video) has been posted about their excellent documentaries.

P.O.V. is seeking entries of documentaries for the next TV season. The deadline is one month away.

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Changes at the Orlando Sentinel
May 2, 2007, 3:37 pm
Filed under: future, jobs, journalism, newspapers, online

Following its announcements of staffing cuts at the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, the Tribune Co. continues to make plans for the future. From the memo to the Orlando Sentinel newsroom:

  • We must grow audience rapidly on the Web. That means changing the way we work. It means gaining new skills and creating new beats. It means becoming a multimedia, 24/7 news operation. It means creating new databases and managing user-generated content.
  • We must keep the newspaper strong. That means a sharper emphasis on watchdog journalism, consumer journalism, unique local coverage, personally useful news, innovative storytelling and provocative commentary. We must focus relentlessly on what readers perceive as valuable – not on our preconceptions or traditions.
  • We must each take ownership of our work. Every staff member needs to take personal responsibility for making the newspaper and web site a success. Individual creativity, commitment and energetic action will be rewarded. The flatter management structure will require more self-discipline, initiative and self-management.

Complete memo at Online News Squared.

And to put all this into perspective, I recommend Matt Waite’s post about controlling your own destiny: Stop waiting for them to save you. Matt’s not an “online guy” per se, but he’s one of those can-do journalists who is absolutely not sitting around waiting for the sword of Damocles to fall.

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An internship you’d love
April 27, 2007, 4:15 am
Filed under: jobs, journalism, online

Rob Curley is looking for summer interns at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

We want solid journalists who can write their backsides off. We’re also looking for programmers with an understanding of Django. And if you’re a kick-ass designer with killer Flash or motion-graphics skills, we want you.

Via Meranda Watling.

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What a hiring editor looks for (or, what’s your URL?)
April 20, 2007, 2:30 pm
Filed under: jobs, journalism, journalists, online

Yet another sign of how out-of-touch some journalism teachers and professors are: Do aspiring young journalists need hardcopy of their clips today? (Do they even need clips at all?) Maybe the old-style packet of a printed résumé and photocopied clips is outmoded.

Meranda Watling has been the education reporter at the Journal & Courier, in Lafayette, Indiana, for three months (almost four). It’s her first job out of college. She wrote:

I learned this relatively early in my job search from an editor who was impressed with my resume, mostly by my demonstrated new-media experience. But she raised one extremely valid point about my package. In her words, “Why is this carbon-based?” Good question. Why was I, of all people, applying on paper?!

As soon as she said it, I knew she was right. It was the catalyst I needed to organize my professional work online. The next week, I registered a domain, started my blog, uploaded my resume and posted my clips online in one central location.

Don’t think you don’t need clips at all — I hear from enough editors at U.S. newspapers that there are still two things they need to see before you even get a phone call, and those are: (1) news story clips, at least from the student newspaper; and (2) an internship.

Increasingly, however, they want to see your URL.

So let’s have a quick chat about what you should have on your professional Web site.

  1. A résumé — designed well for the Web page it’s on (example). Don’t forget to feature all of your internships prominently on your résumé!
  2. A link to a PDF of your résumé for anyone who might need to print it (such as the human resources office). See the example at No. 1 above.
  3. Links to your clips: Try a list of linked headlines, each one followed by the title of the publication AND the date of publication. If all clips come from one publication, then you can put that in the heading. Here’s a good example (although it’s lacking dates).
  4. Examples of your audio, photo, video, and/or design work — like this or this.
  5. A brief, well-written bio that summarizes your individuality. I suggest a 150-word limit. Here’s a good one at a lean 99 words.
  6. And finally, of course, a home page that makes all the relevant bits easy to find (and that does not link to any embarrassing photos of you). Like this or this or this. Don’t forget to include functional contact information.

So, get cracking. You can buy hosting and a domain name at any number of sites, such as Dreamhost or Bluehost (read comparisons here and here). A Wikipedia article explains Web hosting pretty well.

Be sure to proofread as well as spellcheck every single word on your Web site very, very carefully.

Addenda (April 21): All the links in items 1-6 go to sites by graduates (or almost graduates) of the journalism program at the University of Florida (naturally). Also, I’ve used Dreamhost for about six years; I host all my Web sites there, and I love the service.

For speakers of British (not American) English: A résumé is a CV. Clips are cuttings. (Thanks, Andrew.)

But wait, there’s more! Lucas Grindley, content manager for HeraldTribune.com, left a comment on this post telling you what you should NOT include! “The Herald-Tribune is the third-largest newspaper in the New York Times Co. and the largest newspaper in the New York Times Regional Media Group” (source). So listen up.

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Long-form writing belongs on paper
April 18, 2007, 4:08 am
Filed under: jobs, journalism, online

Paul Conley asks us to revisit the novel “The Great Gatsby” online.

What you’ll find is that even “Gatsby” cannot sing on a computer screen. Writing well is about choosing the right medium as much as it is choosing the right word. And the computer screen (or a PDA) is not the right medium for Fitzgerald.

So yes, when I think about hiring young people, I’m not very interested in their ability to write in long form. I care more about reporting ability. I care more about ambition and entrepreneurial spirit. I care more about multimedia skills than print skills because I accept that young journalists are entering a business where the page is not as important as the screen.

This prompts me to mention that a few people have recently written (in print and in blogs) about “basics.” That means know how to write correctly, grammatically, clearly, and without any embarrassing spelling errors.

I have no problem with that. I tell my students that if they use a possessive where they should have used a plural, they ain’t gettin’ no job. I wouldn’t hire them. I don’t care how great their ActionScript is. You don’t know how to use a freakin’ dictionary, I don’t want you touching stuff that needs to be accurate and fact-checked. You’ll bring in a libel suit. You’re a liability to the organization.

People who emphasize that all young journalists must know the “basics” also mean reporting skills, how to ask the right questions, how to listen well (really listen), and the ethics of the field, like “Don’t erase stuff from photos!”

Again, you’ll get no argument from me. It’s all good.

But what gets me feeling kind of angry is when they drop the other shoe. They like to follow all this with some total baloney about how the “basics” are so much more important than all that multimedia stuff.

Anyone who tells you that has not tried to get a journalism job in the past year or two. And people writing this misleading information in newspapers and trade journals clearly haven’t been making the hiring decisions. In short, they are out of touch. Well, either that, or their news organization is going down and they can’t even see it.

So beware the advice of people who might not see the full picture.

Basics are, in fact, very important. Necessary. Not to be neglected. But basics alone are not enough to carry you. You can’t do it without them. But you’re going to need more than basics now.

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Jobs in the new journalism
April 16, 2007, 1:26 pm
Filed under: jobs, journalism, online

I compiled this selection of three real, current job announcements as a snapshot of what’s happening in our field:

KGTV, the ABC affiliate in San Diego, is looking for a “convergence manager” to work with “the news director and Web managing editor to improve the quality and relevance of coverage on air, online and on mobile, and to increase new media skills and participation in the newsroom.”

National Public Radio (NPR.org) is looking for “a creative video producer and filmmaker” who will “help develop the stories and strategy that translate NPR’s signature style of in-depth storytelling and journalism to a new medium…. Requires five years television and/or professional video experience in a news or documentary setting.”

The New York Times online needs “a journalist with a portfolio of long-form audio storytelling” who will produce multimedia for both news and features sections. Experience: At least three years producing audio features “for broadcast on air or on the Web.”

These job announcements were easy to find — there are 131 online journalism jobs listed right now at JournalismJobs.com.

Tip for students: Read job listings in your field at least once a week, even years before you’re ready to apply. This is how you can figure out if you’re learning the right stuff!

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