Tips for managing your career, especially for job seekers.

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What journalists need to know about changes in investigative reporting

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist John Sullivan has a unique hybrid position that is pushing the conventions of how reporting gets done. Recently, he was jointly hired by Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University and The Washington Post.

That alliance allows him to bring investigative reporting training to the classroom and bring university resources to the Post.

During this week’s career chat, Sullivan talked about inventive new strategies that sustain investigative reporting and offer tips for those who are already doing investigative reporting and those who want to do more of it.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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How photojournalists can improve their job security

The Chicago Sun-Times’ decision to lay off its entire photo staff raises important questions about how photographers can keep themselves in high demand. During this week’s career chat, we talked with Jeff Knox, senior director of photography at the Chicago-area Daily Herald and president of the Associated Press Photo Managers.

Knox talked about how photojournalists can fireproof their career — by creating new opportunities for themselves, developing new skills and increasing their ability to adapt to changes.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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How journalists can turn a passion into a startup news site

During this week’s career chat, we talked with science and health reporter Jane Stevens, who turned her passion into a news startup, ACEs Too High. (ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.)

The site — which focuses on how childhood trauma affects people and the science and policy surrounding that issue — has attracted foundation support and has a companion social network for professionals. We chatted with Stevens about sizing the potential for a website, launching it, seeking support and retaining independence.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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How journalists can create new beats, niches

In the crowded world of sports journalism, Justin Rice created his own beat by writing about Boston’s high school sports teams — a topic that he thought was undercovered. Rice created his own website, Boston Public School Sports, which the Boston Globe has since picked up.

Rice, who was recently featured in Forbes, shared advice about how to carve out opportunities to do what you like most in journalism, and how to turn an idea into reality. He drew on his own experiences and also answered related questions from chat participants.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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How mentors can help accelerate journalism careers

Few successful journalists make it all on their own. Most have help from mentors and become mentors themselves.

During this week’s career chat, we’ll talk with Randall Yip, senior producer at KGO-TV in San Francisco. Yip and I are co-directors of the Asian American Journalists Association’s national mentoring program.

We talked how to find a mentor, how to be a mentor, and why mentoring is so important in journalism. We also explained what constitutes successful mentoring — whether you’re mentoring someone through a formal program or on an informal journalist-to-journalist basis.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

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How journalists can make the most of newsroom internships

The busiest internship season of the year is just beginning, and we want to prepare interns and newsrooms for some great experiences.

During today’s career chat, we talked with Joanna Hernandez, director of career services at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining CUNY, Hernandez worked in more than half a dozen newsrooms, including The Washington Post, Newsday, The New York Daily News, The New York Times Regional Media Group, The Star-Ledger and the San Francisco Examiner. Hernandez is also a past president of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity.

Hernandez talked about how interns can make the most of their internships, how newsrooms can best help interns, and where young journalists can look for internships. You can replay the chat here:

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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013

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How journalists can develop mobile video skills

There’s a good chance you already have the equipment you need to add video to your reporting skill set. In an increasingly visual and mobile news environment, that can be a job saver.

During a live chat, experienced multimedia journalist and real-time mobile video trainer Val Hoeppner talked about the phones, software and experience you need to develop mobile video skills.

She talked about how to file live from the field and appeal to audiences who are increasingly looking to their phones for news. Hoeppner, who has been director of education for the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and multimedia director at the Indianapolis Star, also gave advice on which videos tend to work well on news sites, and which ones don’t.

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Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2013

Dictionary Series - Resume

Digital portfolios for journalists: What are your options?

Until recently, many journalists built their own sites to highlight and promote their work.

Now platforms like Pressfolios, Muck Rack, Clippings.me and Contently offer turnkey solutions. But do they offer a substantial enough advantage to justify the time required to compile, archive, digitize, organize, optimize, connect, upload and then maintain an anthology of brand-consistent clips, feature stories and — in some cases — multimedia work on yet another social platform?

Recruiters and HR departments simply “don’t always have the bandwidth” to research a candidate on the Internet, said Lars Schmidt, NPR’s senior director for talent acquisition. Schmidt said he prefers journalist portfolios that are clearly categorized. He also advises journalists to organize their portfolios according to the job they’re seeking.

For instance, “if the position requires audio,” Schmidt said, “have all your audio clips together and laid out in a way that makes it easy for whoever is trying to find it to find it quickly.”

For this piece, I compared online digital portfolio platforms from Clippings.me, Contently, Muckrack and Pressfolios. I inventoried the features that would help journalists categorize, customizable and brand their interface.

I then presented my inventory to all four of the portfolio platform developers in the form of a checklist and asked them to confirm the features that were and were not available on their software. The checklists were then finalized and verified. Features currently in development or scheduled to be released soon were excluded. Here are the results (you can click each chart to view it bigger):

Pressfolios

Pressfolios co-founder Marc Samson, who was featured in a live Poynter chat about online portfolios in May 2012, said the newly launched Pressfolios has “a fully redesigned user interface, new portfolio customization options and story management tools” that highlight the system’s new PDF-uploading feature.

Pressfolios automatically clips a full PDF version of any story you add to it, regardless of whether or not it was submitted as a URL link or a PDF doc, Samson said. In essence, Pressfolios provides users with an automatic and secure cloud-based file backup system.

Samson said the backup system protects users without compromising their privacy because the “PDF clippings are only available to the user who added the story and are never displayed on the user’s public-facing Pressfolio.”

Muck Rack

Gregory Galant is CEO of Sawhorse Media, which owns Muck Rack. He said Muck Rack functions as a who’s who for the industry. He therefore resisted defining its journalist portfolios as a job search tool. “Lots of people use it who don’t need a job,” he said.

When asked whether or not he know of any instances in which a Muck Rack portfolio user had successfully secured either a job or an assignment as a direct result of their Muck Rack portfolio, Galant responded with the following analogy, “If you go to a cocktail party, you might meet someone who will become a career opportunity, but that’s not the entire point of the party … the goal isn’t to be as transactional.”

A journalism job board is an additional Muck Rack feature. As it is also newly launched, it hasn’t been heavily populated yet.

Clippings.me

Clippings.me founder Nicholas Holmes “toyed with the idea” of adding an internal networking feature to the platform, he said, “and came to the conclusion that most journalists just wouldn’t have the time or see any practical value in being able to do that.”

To him, the value is in “hooking your portfolio up to the platforms that are established rather than trying to create something new”; users can embed RSS feeds from their portfolios on their LinkedIn pages, he said, and they can create accounts using social networking logins.

Clippings.me has a feature that uses tags and automatically compiles a directory of journalists that public relations professionals can access through a sister site, MediaGraph. As with Muck Rack, users can opt to not be pitched or can specify the kinds of stories they want to receive.

Multimedia journalists “can easily embed YouTube, Vimeo, AudioBoo, SoundCloud or Storify clips and it embeds them in portfolios (just like a Facebook timeline),” Holmes said. The service offers customizable tabs so journalists can decide whether they want to categorize by topic, media or publication.

Contently

Contently cofounder Shane Snow says journalists vetted into Contently’s premium network can also opt to be approached by editors from newsrooms as well as by editors from corporate publication departments, but he says opting out is just as easy. Editors from traditional and commercial publishing departments are willing to pay for access to a database of vetted journalists. Contently also provides a suite of tools journalists can use to handle everything from editorial calendars and getting paid to kill fees.

Contently profiles feature a prominent link to a resume, as well as a “ticker” of publication logos that show where users have had their work featured. Snow says he designed Contently to provide “all the things they have to be good at to be a journalist today.” Those things include “getting credit. Finding clients and billing clients.”

“Industry-agnostic” platforms

Paul Franz, a multimedia producer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he’s sticking with WordPress because he considers it the best way to showcase his robust spectrum of multimedia projects. “For what I do,” he said, “it was important to show design and coding skills along with just the content I product.” Although Franz’s WordPress customizations are “not hardcore coding per se,” he said they show he knows how to build a site.

Franz credits his WordPress theme modifications with getting him freelance jobs and showing clients he knows what he’s talking about. Whether or not a position requires coding, industry-agnostic platforms like WordPress provide myriad design customization options as well as the opportunity to curate a blog that will supplement and enhance an online clip and publication portfolio.

NPR’s Schmidt said journalists should use knowem.com to research and monitor the availability of their first and last name, or preferred “handle” for social media accounts. If your first and last name is already taken, then claim a relevant alternative, as Schmidt did with his own domain after realizing larsschmidt.com had been taken.

Schmidt’s final recommendation, interestingly, is an old-fashioned one. He urges journalists to “include a resume and have it up on your portfolio.” Yes, a resume. An easy-to-find resume, Schmidt said, is still the best way to say, “here’s what I can bring to your organization.”

Correction: This story originally omitted a section about Contently. Read more

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Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2013

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What journalists need to know about covering education reform

Scott Elliott, incoming president of the Education Writers Association, is the education reform reporter at The Indianapolis Star.

That’s a pretty unusual job title and a beat that Elliott pretty much carved out himself. During a live chat, Elliott talked about how he crafted that beat and why it’s increasingly important and relevant. He addressed the complexities of teacher evaluations and education reform, and offered tips on how education reporters can navigate the challenges of covering these topics.

The chat was held in advance of a Specialized Reporting Institute workshop, Grading the Teachers. You can find out more about the McCormick-sponsored workshop and apply for it here.

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Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013

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How to use social media to get your next job

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Randy Essex, senior editor for local news at the Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati.com and Kentucky Enquirer/NKY.com.

Essex uses social networking sites to find people for jobs in his newsroom, and job opportunities have come to him through the same channels. Social media is now one of  the main ways job information is shared. During the chat, Essex explained how to best use social media to network, market yourself, and find job opportunities.

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