Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Journalism fundamentals still key, editor says

The new crop of journalists needs to have the latest multimedia skills, a newspaper editor advises. But, more importantly, they need to know the fundamentals: critical thinking and fairness.

"The best thing an aspiring journalist can do is learn about audience needs and become an expert in numerous multimedia applications – video, web programming, etc.," Stu Shinske, executive editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal, recently told CubReporters.org.

"The key, however, is the ability to analytically think….they need to know how to distill information quickly, think on their feet, ask the right questions at the right time, and learn how to check personal preferences, biases and agendas at the door. Their skills will mean nothing if they’re not, first and foremost, objective…"

From time to time, I like to ask journalism experts and practitioners what tips they have for young journalists. Check out CubReporters.org's expanded journalism advice section for more insight from experts.

-Mark Grabowski

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Columbia's career services dean offers job search advice

Don’t wait for editors to invite you to interview for a job opening, advises Ernest Sotomayor, assistant dean of career services at Columbia University’s journalism school.

Instead, invite yourself.

“If you travel across the state or country and take the initiative [to contact editors] and say you’re just looking to get a half hour of guidance or want to explore possibilities, they’re usually willing to sit down and talk with you,” he says.

Indeed, The Hill reporter J.T. Rushing took that approach and landed his dream job covering the U.S. Senate.

I recently interviewed Rushing, Sotomayor and others for an advice column I wrote on finding a journalism job in last month’s issue of Quill. Below is some additional advice Sotomayor offered that didn’t make it into my column.

  • Get to know the people who hire at media outlets you’re interested in, and see if you can get your foot in the door by freelancing for them, he says. “A lot of it is getting to know recruiters, hiring editors – people in the organization that you can turn to for advice and counsel on what sort of jobs are available … what their needs are, how to freelance [for them].”
  • “Look back to school,” he also recommends. “Alumni connections are always great… Journalism professors have worked all over the world, and they know people everywhere. A lot of people like to get recommendations from professors who can give them extra insight into a job candidate.”
  • Finally, be open-minded. “It’s like being a reporter in the field writing a story. You spread your wings and look at different possibilities and keep your options open … How willing you are to get up and move from where you are is a factor. The smaller the size of the geographic territory for your job search is, the few possibilities there are … Just be open to a lot of different possibilities. The more things you’re willing to consider, the more opportunities you make available to yourself.”
-Mark Grabowski

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Arizona Daily Star intern coordinator offers advice

Leslie Anne Newell and I were fellow cub reporters at the Arizona Republic nine years ago. She's since reported around the country and is now assistant city editor at the Arizona Daily Star, a 110,000 circulation day paper in Tucson. She also directs the internship program there. Here's her advice to young journalists:
"Networking is incredibly important for young journalists. Companies are looking to cut every corner they can right now, which means not paying the fee to post on journalismjobs or other sites that also charge for the ad. With the state of the industry, companies also aren't hiring as often as they used to, which means fewer jobs for new grads. For both of those reasons, it's incredibly important for students/recent grads to get every foot in every door that they can. They're more likely to hear about positions. But on another hand networking isn't any more important than it ever was. I think managers have always relied on it to some degree. For example, I hire upward of 20 interns a year and I can't tell you how much more it increases a candidate's stock if someone I know sends me a good word about her/him. If a colleague comes back from a conference and gives me a folder on a good candidate, that goes to the top of the pile. If I see a professor at the UA whom I really respect is listed as a reference on a resumé, that also goes to the top. Young journalists cannot do too much right now to make sure they're putting themselves out there. And don't forget to tell them that means follow-up notes to every conversation they have with anyone who might help them."
-Mark Grabowski

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Internship/job-finding tips

Graduation and summer are both fast approaching. If you're in college and reading this blog, that means you're likely either looking for an internship or first job.

The Society for News Design offers some straight-talkin' tips. They're obviously aimed at designers, but it's nonetheless relevant for all journalists. There's also a handy worksheet to keep track of where you applied.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Orlando Sentinel hiring editor offers advice

I asked the Orlando Sentinel's staff development editor if he had any advice for young journalists. Dana Eagles suggests that college journalists create their own opportunities by offering to intern somewhere for college credit:
"It might be worth noting that some newspapers and magazines will allow students to intern part time for academic credit for a semester at a time. This can be an excellent way for younger students to gain some experience even if they don't qualify for a full-time, paid summer internship. For example, every semester we have four or five University of Central Florida students working for us part-time as interns in reporting, editing, photography and online producing. These arrangements might not be formalized in every case. The student might need to take the initiative to invent an opportunity, armed with information about what sort of credit his school is willing to give and how many hours of work are required to get it."
Eagles has also written a must-read article, "How to get a newspaper internship," that outlines how to go about finding and applying for journalism internships.

For more info on both paid and academic internships at the Orlando Sentinel, click here.

-Mark Grabowski

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Online editor offers advice for young journalists

From time to time, I ask successful journalists and editors what advice they have for young journalists. Robert Niles, editor of the Online Journalism Review, says young journalists should go digital with their resumes and reporting. He adds that new media offers great freelance opportunities:

"Blogs are the new resumes. Every journalism student ought to have his or her own blog, ideally located at studentname.com. Blogs should include links to the student's best published work, as well as regular Q&As, observations, photo essays, video features, reviews and commentary -- to fully demonstrate their abilities.

"Online sites, especially ones built on user-generated content, have an insatiable appetite for good copy. Students should engage in online discussion communities, and link to them from their blog, to show hiring editors their ability to participate and manage interactive communities. Volunteering to create original reporting features and reviews for such sites is a great way both to gain leadership status in those communities and to get impressive clips for the student."

Robert Niles
Editor, University of Southern California
Online Journalism Review

-Mark Grabowski

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Advice from Joe Grimm

I recently e-mailed Joe Grimm and asked him if he had any advice for college journalists. He responded with a couple tips:
  • "I always advise time-starved students to turn the writing they have to do for classwork into byline opportunities. Double-purposing this way saves time, it can bring clips, perhaps some money and a better grade. Look in 'Writer's Market' to discover a magazine that might buy a variation of that class assignment."
  • "Every college town is loaded with publications. Study them. Treat them as directories of writing opportunities and as sources of stories you can write for out-of-town publications. Smart journalists are always pitching stories that they have access to for distant publications."
Joe Grimm recruits for the Detroit Free Press and this year published "Breaking In: The www.jobspage.com Guide to Newspaper Internships." For more advice, visit newsrecruiter.com.

-Mark Grabowski

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Advice from L.A. Times' hiring editor

Recently, I asked the L.A. Times hiring editor if he had any advice for young journalists. He e-mailed back:

"I can't emphasize enough the importance of summer internships. The more the better. In a competitive job market, editors will want to know that their entry-level hires will be able to hit the ground running -- on a wide variety of assignments. "

Randy Hagihara
Senior Editor for Recruitment
Los Angeles Times

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Advice from a managing editor

Wish you could pick the brain of a managing editor at a major daily newspaper? My journalism website recently did. Find out what advice Joe Hight, managing editor of The Oklahoman, has for college journalists and young reporters.

-Mark Grabowski

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