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Live chat replay: how to make LinkedIn work for you

With more than a quarter billion people using LinkedIn, almost 100 million of them in the United States, LinkedIn has reach.

But how do you get the most out of it? What can it do for your career other than show people your work history?

LinkedIn Corporate Communication Manager Yumi Wilson will walk us through some strategies. A former journalist and journalism professor, Wilson’s LinkedIn profile says she now links journalists with success. Find out how.

For this chat, open one window for and another for your LinkedIn profile page.

Join us for a live chat on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat after it has ended.

Visit to find an archive of all past chats.

To post a question: Log in by entering your name below or sign in with a social media account. Your question goes to moderation, and we’ll get to it shortly!

Twitter users can ask questions using the hashtag #poynterchat.

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Understanding opportunities and challenges in sponsored content (Replay chat)

Shane Snow, cofounder with two friends of Contently, manages a network of 25,000 freelancers. According to Contently’s website, the sweet spot where these freelancers thrive is creating content for “brands, nonprofits, and lean new media companies.”

Snow and his team, described as a mashup of journalists and nerds, are on the front edge of branded content or native advertising.

Forbes, a Contently client, recognized Snow this month in “30 under 30: These People are Building the Media Companies of Tomorrow.”

Snow joined us for a live chat on the opportunities, challenges and values of sponsored content.

Participants asked Snow about the ins and outs of branded content.

Twitter users can participate in any Poynter live chat using the hashtag #poynterchats. You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat after it has ended. You can find the archive of all past chats at

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What students need to know about code and data viz

A stunning amount of data is available to journalists these days, and it is growing exponentially. Not surprisingly, the need for data journalists is expanding as well.

Data-driven journalism is a diverse field that involves interpreting data, developing programming code, and creating databases, maps, charts and other visualizations. Some of the skills required take considerable study. But we often overlook the complexity of data journalism and leave our young journalists without the knowledge they need to succeed.

What should students know about code and data visualizations? What skills should be taught to best prepare them for jobs in data-driven journalism?

Northwestern University Medill School professor Jeremy Gilbert, University of Southern California Annenberg School professor Robert Hernandez, ringleader of For Journalism Dave Stanton and I got together to discuss the tremendous possibilities at the intersection of data, technology and news. Our live chat focused on what educators need to teach and students should learn to succeed in computational journalism.

Replay this chat to see the resources we all shared. Find our archives at

To ask a question, please use the comment box below.
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Ethics of unpaid internships

Unpaid internships have been getting a lot of attention recently, most of it unwanted, as the result of lawsuits and canceled programs.

ProPublica has been covering the issue, from Northwestern’s residency program to harassment legal loopholes leaving unpaid interns vulnerable.

It recently raised $22,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to hire intern Casey McDermott to document the story of countless unpaid internships across the country.

Replay the live chat to read what ProPublica’s reporting intern Kara Brandeisky and McDermott had to say on whether we are at a turning point in unpaid internships, how widespread the practice of hiring unpaid interns is and strategies for getting and surviving one.

You can find any past chat at


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How to turn hard facts into easy reading

I was recently hired by a department of the federal government to conduct a workshop on how to write reports that were short and clear. The director of the department who hired me pointed out the problem in her own official title. It was 29 words long.

I am “vice-president and senior scholar” at the Poynter Institute. I am embarrassed that my title is too long — and it’s only five words. What could I possibly do with 24 more?

“Bureaucracies,” I moaned, “is where language goes to die.”

The sixty policy wonks in the room collectively rolled up their sleeves. They understood the problem. They knew that they worked in a language club where jargon and thick information were king and queen. But they were stuck.

They wanted to know “how” they could change. They wanted to know “how” in the world it’s possible to take very hard, very complex, very technical, very academic, very abstract elements and turn them into easy reading.

To find out what I told them, and to air your own tough writing problems, replay the chat anytime. You can find every chats we’ve hosted at

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How journalists can build their own powerful brands

Dan Schawbel, author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success” and  “Me 2.0″ and founder of Millennial Branding, talked to Poynter and a live chat audience about what a career brand is—and what it is not—and how journalists in particular can further the brands that make them unique in their newsroom or the marketplace. Strong journalistic brands do for people just what they do for companies, leading to greater reach and opportunity.


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Have you lost that writing feeling? Is it gone, gone, gone…?

The dialogue with a stranger on a plane often goes something like this:

Stranger:  “What do you do for a living?”
Me:  “I’m a teacher.”
Stranger:  “What do you teach?”
Me: “I teach writing.”

The response from the stranger is almost predictable. Odd looks. Nervous laughter. Usually followed by an admission that he doesn’t like to write, or that she tried to write in school once but it didn’t work out, or that he has to write as part of his job — but hates it.

Even professional writers will confess their loss of passion for their craft.

So do we hate writing? Or does writing hate us?

This feeling has many different names: writing anxiety, writing apprehension, writers’ block, paralyzing procrastination, aversive conditioning. The best description of the problem comes from the international reading scholar Frank Smith, who once described literacy as “a club.” Usually, something bad happens in school that persuades people that they are not fit to become members of the “writing club.”

This is a very sad state of affairs. And more important: it doesn’t have to be this way. If writing is hard or frustrating to you. If you once loved writing but have now “lost that lovin’ feeling,” as the Righteous Brothers once sang, there is something you can do about it.


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5 reasons mobile will disrupt journalism like the Internet did a decade ago

Imagine being able to rewind to the 1990s and help your news organization make key decisions — and create new habits — to help prevent a landslide of layoffs and enable the business to thrive on the Internet. That’s the opportunity we have today with mobile, the second tidal wave of change about to collide with the news industry.

To compete in this new world, news organizations must adopt a “mobile first” mindset and create sustainable mobile businesses. But many newsrooms believe that a “mobile, too” approach will be enough, as advocated by Business Insider’s Henry Blodget.

“The reality is that we live in a multi-screen world, not a ‘mobile world’ that operates parallel to a ‘desktop world,’” he writes in a blog post. “For some services, such as news and information, the laptop/desktop screen is still by far the most dominant screen. So abandoning that screen, or designing for another screen first, just doesn’t make sense.”

Blodget’s view is matched by many in journalism, but it misses the big picture. Here’s why.

1. A responsive design isn’t a mobile strategy

The mobile revolution isn’t about design and distribution as much as it is about revenue disruption.

Rewind to 1996 when newspapers enjoyed fat profit margins, and two startups made their debut on the early Internet. One company all but destroyed newspapers’ biggest revenue driver, and the other ended up generating more advertising revenue — most of it local — than the entire newspaper business combined.

Both Craigslist and Google created new business models enabled by the technology and scale of the Internet. In the same way, mobile is enabling new business models and use cases. Just like the mid- to late 1990s, we’re at the leading edge of the ensuing disruption.

Two big drivers of mobile disruption are geolocation and digital payments. Taken together, they have the capability to disrupt local advertising all over again. The right technology with the right execution will be able to drive nearby consumers into local businesses and anonymously track their actual purchases at scale, closing the loop like never before. No more guessing about ad effectiveness. For local media organizations, that has the potential to destroy your business.

There’s a narrow window of opportunity to invent — or invest and acquire — disruptive mobile technologies and business models that could eventually sustain, grow or even multiply your revenue. A responsive design is a must for today’s news sites, but it’s not a mobile strategy.

2. Mobile will not only surpass the desktop, but begin to erode it

“In the next 12–18 months, many news organizations will cross the 50 percent threshold where more users are visiting on phones and tablets than on desktop computers and laptops,” explains Fiona Spruill, editor of emerging platforms at The New York Times. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

It’s already happening at the Guardian during certain times of the day. Facebook announced in its last earnings call that it crossed the threshold. At Breaking News, where I work, mobile skyrocketed over desktop early last year.

Mobile will become the dominant screen as early as next year. If you’re planning and building a news experience right now, it’s highly likely that it will be visited primarily by mobile users over its life cycle. By extension, mobile first is already here.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. An increasing number of users are visiting brands solely via mobile devices. Over the last year, Facebook said nearly 100 million more people started using the social network only on mobile, never touching the desktop.  Google has reported four straight months of declines in desktop search as mobile explodes.

As news organizations cross the mobile threshold and beyond, this growing “mobile only” crowd will erode desktop audiences. Many news organizations will see desktop traffic flatten, and in some cases, begin a long decline.

3. The desktop decline will pressure news revenues

There’s a huge gap in advertising yield between desktop and mobile experiences: $3.50 versus $0.75 in average CPMs, according to Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker. Mobile is growing so quickly, the explosion in available inventory is depressing advertising rates.  Ad agencies typically lag demand, which means this gap won’t be bridged anytime soon.

As audiences shift, the industry will be faced with more revenue pressure unless news organizations can create new mobile revenue streams to compensate. In many ways, this is similar to the shift from print to the Web. Just porting one business model to the other isn’t the solution. Traditional display advertising on mobile devices makes up a very small, declining fraction of total revenue.

And then there’s Google and Facebook. Taken together, they already control nearly 70 percent of all mobile advertising dollars, according to eMarketer. Empowered by geolocation, local search is a huge business. Google recently rolled out a new product that enables advertisers to bid on mobile searches that happen physically near their businesses (i.e. target your restaurant ad to anyone within a mile radius who searches for “restaurant” during evening hours.)  It’s hard to compete with such targeted products with traditional banner ads, and both Google and Facebook are working hard at closing that local advertising loop for the first time in history.

Some newspapers are beginning to see some traction from pay meters, which could hold promise for mobile subscriptions. But most news organizations are still in experimental phases on the mobile front, and there’s a very big dependency on Apple, Google and Amazon as apps continue to grow in popularity. Rapid experimentation and investment is a must.

4. News needs to solve problems

A study by Flurry in November found that the news category only accounts for 2 percent of total time spent on mobile apps. Social apps gobble up 26 percent. Facebook alone accounts for 23 percent of all time spent with mobile apps, according to Comscore in December. That beats every news organization’s app combined by a long shot.

As Facebook (and Twitter) grow in time spent – and since both are populated with plenty of news – they’re increasingly competitive with news organizations’ mobile experiences by sheer volume.

As a result, simply extending a news organizations’ current coverage into mobile isn’t enough. We need to solve information problems for our users and drive measurable revenue for our advertisers. Mobile is not merely another form factor, but an entirely new ecosystem that rewards utility.  Flipboard is a classic example of solving a problem (tablet-based content discovery) while The Daily is an example of a product that did not.

“The key insight from thinking about your business this way is that it is the job, and not the customer or the product, that should be the fundamental unit of analysis,” said Clayton Christensen, David Skok and James Allworth in a Nieman report. “This applies to news as much as it does to any other service.”

“The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself,” explains Y Combinator’s Paul Graham. “By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.”

5. Technology companies are mobile first and spending like it

Last year, Google proclaimed it was mobile first. Then Facebook. Then Yahoo. Twitter is already mobile first. These companies are investing at an unprecedented scale, acquiring mobile companies and beefing up development teams.

Meanwhile, there’s a new onslaught of “mobile first” and “mobile only” startups spanning communication, news, advertising and services. They’re attracting hundreds of millions of investment and some of the brightest minds in the business.

I don’t know about you, but a “mobile, too” approach worries me when the technology world is investing so deeply in mobile first innovation. Didn’t we learn this before?

This is why news organizations should shift to a mobile-first approach immediately. This doesn’t mean we ignore the desktop, but prioritize mobile over it — make mobile the default everything. When brainstorming a new product, start with a phone or tablet design and work backwards to the desktop. Set performance goals based on mobile performance over desktop. Conduct research that emphasizes mobile over desktop behavior. Put mobile numbers at the top of analytics reports. Compare competitive performance on mobile numbers first, desktop second. We need to immerse ourselves in devices and become a student of the industry.

We also need to talk less about social media and more about mobile. In many ways, social media has become the great distraction, diverting journalists’ attention away from radical change in our business. I’m guilty of this, too. Don’t get me wrong: social media is important, but let’s not forget that social platforms increasingly compete for audience attention and ad dollars. Growing our own mobile experiences should be the top priority.

Above all, we need to invest and experiment like never before. Whatever you’re spending now, triple it.

“When the Web was new, many of us went online with creativity and energy,” says Regina McCombs, who teaches mobile at Poynter. “Now, faced with even bigger potential and pitfalls for developing — or losing — our audience, most of us are getting by with as little investment as we can. That’s scary.”

If you’d like to learn practical ways to become a mobile first newsroom, sign up for Poynter’s upcoming seminar, “Mobile-first newsgathering and publishing.”  McCombs, Sara Quinn, Damon Kiesow and I will teach the course. There’s not much time to apply: registration ends this weekend.

Cory Bergman is the General Manager of Breaking News, a mobile-first startup owned by NBC News Digital.

Replay our chat about this topic here:

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What’s wrong with Jonah Lehrer plagiarizing himself (at least 13 times)

Here’s why Jonah Lehrer was wrong to recycle his words and ideas in at least 13 instances uncovered by three different people (make that four) and then by The New Yorker, which is adding Editor’s Notes to stories with duplication, including the ones listed below:

Lehrer is an idea-guy, a writer whose talent is taking a complicated concept — like choking (the failure-to-perform kind) or how intellectual ability undermines rational thought — and making it accessible and interesting, even intriguing to us mere mortals. His work makes us smarter.

As a reader, when you approach his writing, whether it’s in The New Yorker or Wired or The Wall Street Journal, you do so with an unspoken contract: You devote some of your precious time, he’ll take you and a few thousand others to a new intellectual space.

Only it turns out that new space isn’t so new at all. Like a boyfriend who recycles the same seemingly spontaneous romantic moments on a succession of dates, Lehrer has already taken some other audience to this same place, for that same experience.

Some of you may say, “I’m OK with that, it was a good experience for me.” But if he’d just told you upfront, “Hey, I went here with this other audience and now I’d like to take you on the same trip” it all might have been fine.

But he didn’t say that. Not to his readers and not to his bosses either. Instead he let us believe this was new territory, a fresh idea. Now instead of feeling smarter, we feel duped.

This cheating is a form of infidelity, a minor one. If he’d done it once, we his audience could simply give him the benefit of the doubt. But his pattern suggests a deliberate disrespect or even a contempt for the reader’s desire to experience something unique and genuine. The more instances of duplicity we discover, the more it seems Lehrer devalues originality – the very thing we turn to him for. Had he stolen words from someone else – plagiarized-plagiarized rather than self-plagiarized — we’d all be calling it quits.

Instead, we readers are disappointed. Our enthusiasm wilts ever-so-slightly. It  takes the shine off. Does it doom our relationship? Not immediately. But what happens in the coming hours, days, weeks, months takes on great weight. If we discover more indiscretions, then our trust withers. Perhaps beyond redemption.

So, when is it OK to recycle your own content? What are the ethical issues surrounding this practice? And how should news organizations respond when they learn that a reporter has “self-plagiarized”? We answered these questions in a live chat with Jack Shafer, Craig Silverman and Kelly McBride .

You can replay the chat here:

<a href=”″ mce_href=”″ >How unethical is it for journalists to ‘steal’ from their own work?</a> Read more


Keys to crafting an effective nut graph

Whatever you think of the nut graph, it has certainly earned a hallowed place in the news writing hall of fame. Among its many contributions, the nut graph has liberated a generation of journalists from the arbitrary requirements of the inverted pyramid and the hard news lead.

Nut graphs give writers an opportunity to have a little more creative freedom. Instead of packing the 5W’s into the first sentence, you can let the story breathe a little. You can begin a story with a short scene, an anecdote, a question, a bit of dialogue. Why would you do such a thing? To get the attention of the reader. To make the story interesting.

But this freedom carries with it an important responsibility. The writer has to justify that unconventional opening and explain to the reader “why” that stuff at the top was important. And the writer has to ask some important questions: Does this story need a nut graph? Does the nut graph have to go before the jump? How long does the nut graph have to be? Is there such a thing as a nut word, a nut phrase, a nut sentence — even a nut zone?

In this week’s writing chat, we’ll address these questions and talk about how to craft an effective nut graph. Twitter users can tweet questions ahead of time or during the chat using the hashtag #poynterchats. You can revisit this link at any time to watch a replay of the chat.

<a href=”″ mce_href=”″ >How do I craft an effective nut graph?</a> Read more


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