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How do I make the most of a journalism job fair?

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Walter Middlebrook, assistant managing editor for news at The Detroit News. We used to recruit head-to-head when I was the recruiter at the Detroit Free Press. Alas, Middlebrook defeated me. He’s good.

During the chat, Middlebrook offered practical tips on how to make the most of a job fair. He talked about how to prepare for the fairs, how to market yourself at them, and how to land successful interviews with the editors and recruiters there.

You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat.

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Journalist turned author explains how to start a small book business

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Jennifer Bott VanderWeele, a former business reporter who has started a small book publishing venture. She once was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

During the chat, VanderWeele talked about being a personal historian and shepherding people through the book publishing process. She and her partner offer clients a variety of services through their company, “Your Personal Memoir.”

You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat below.

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Jim Sheeler explains how to report & write stories about life & death

The most significant stories we write in journalism and fiction are about life and death: the war in Afghanistan, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the anniversary of 9/11, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

You don’t have to be a foreign correspondent to be a life and death journalist. If you work for a small news organization, you will on a daily basis be writing about public safety, drug abuse, mental health, cancer rates, gang violence and many other issues. You will be required to interview people who are hurting or mourning. You will be forced, in the words of Francis X. Clines, “to tell the morbid truth.”

No reporter I know has been better than Jim Sheeler at reporting and writing these life and death stories with courage, dignity and grace. Even, on occasion, with good humor. Sheeler — who won the Pulitzer Prize for his “Final Salute” series — joined me for a chat about writing stories of life and death. You can replay the chat below …

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Slate/France editor shares reason for publishing name of alleged rape victim in Strauss-Kahn case

This week’s news about Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s baby has raised interesting questions about how news organizations have handled the identification of the woman with whom he had a child while married to Maria Shriver.

The Los Angeles Times chose to withhold the name of the woman and the child she had with Schwarzenegger, citing privacy reasons. Some say the woman should be protected because she’s a private citizen, while others argue that she shouldn’t because she’s become a public figure by virtue of her own actions.

At the same time, Slate/France has been criticized for naming the woman who has accused IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg criticized The New York Times for quoting someone who said the woman was “friendly” and a “good person.” The character of the alleged victim, he said, is “completely immaterial.”

In a live chat, Poynter’s Kelly McBride and Jezebel’s Irin Carmon — who has been vocal about her criticism of Slate and the Times — talked about the Schwarzenegger and the Strauss-Kahn cases. Specifically, they looked at how both cases illustrate the notion that whether we name a person has a lot to do with whether we consider them to be victims.

“By virtue of the accusation, we protect the accuser, though we do name the accused,” Poynter Online Director Julie Moos told me. “But what about a situation in which we have no sense of guilt or innocence? Rielle Hunter was named as the mother of John Edwards’ baby with little concern about protecting her.”

Because journalists don’t typically name victims of sexual assault, it’s not surprising that some have shown concern over Slate/France’s decision to name the woman Strauss-Kahn allegedly attempted to rape. Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, said he doesn’t favor using her name, and that Slate U.S. will not do so.

“I do think who the victim’s nationality, religion, family status, general area of residence are all relevant to the story,” Weisberg told me, “and I have no issue with publishing them.”

Slate/France’s editor-in-chief Johan Hufnagel said several other news sites in France had already published the woman’s name, and that the story was intended to protect the woman “from rumors, accusations held against her and other conspiracy theories that were running wild about her,” Hufnagel wrote. “According to her family, she is not the Machiavellian tool of a dark plot.”

Hufnagel also said that because the woman’s name is “common,” it seemed more justifiable to publish it.

“That name might seem to a lot of our readers like a rare one, but it is not a case among inhabitants of Guinea,” he said. “The name of this woman is as common in parts of West Africa as ‘Françoise Martin’ in France or ‘Jane Smith’ in the United States. A quick look at Facebook makes it pretty clear. We would probably have acted differently if her name had been less common.”

As for the Schwarzenegger case, more news sites began revealing the staffer’s identity and publishing photos of her. But there are still a lot of unknowns about whether the relationship was consensual or whether it was ongoing. This information could deepen our understanding of the case and our views on whether journalists should have withheld her name.

An informal poll showed that 57 percent of readers think the woman should be named, while 23 percent think her name should be withheld unless new information warrants that she be identified.

You can watch a replay of the chat below to find out more about readers’ thoughts on this issue …

<a href=”″ mce_href=”″ >How should journalists handle naming of women in Schwarzenegger, Strauss-Kahn cases?</a> Read more

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‘Producer Matthew’ explains how to use Tumblr to build your brand as a journalist

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Matthew Keys, a social media junkie who has built extensive networks in journalism, public relations and communications. Keys, known as @ProducerMatthew on Twitter, has been blogging for seven years and was a former online content producer and manager at KTXL, a television station in Sacramento, Calif. He has since left the station and is now freelancing.

During the chat, Keys talked about how he uses Tumblr as a more visual extension of Twitter and as a way to archive his work. He also talked about how he’s used the site to pitch his skills as a journalist to potential employers.

You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat.

<a href=”” mce_href=”” >How do I use Tumblr to build my brand as a journalist?</a>

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How can I use LinkedIn as an effective reporting & job-hunting tool?

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Krista Canfield, who regularly coaches journalists on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Canfield, who is LinkedIn’s senior manager for corporate communications, offered tips on how to use the site as both a reporting and job hunting tool. Along those lines, she also talked about how journalists can use the site to find sources and story ideas.

You can visit this link at any time to replay the chat.

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Do we want a ‘narrative,’ or reliable facts about bin Laden’s death?

Something interesting has happened since news broke that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed. We have already received different accounts from government officials about what happened during the American raid on the compound in Pakistan.

These accounts are being referred to as “narratives,” and some journalists are concerned with the implications and connotations of that word. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd tweeted that he found it “odd and a tad troubling” that the Department of Defense has used the word in such a way.

In a live chat, which you can replay below, I talked with Ben Montgomery, a narrative writer at Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times, about the use of the word narrative, and how it differs from a report.

When we hear the word report, we think of a vehicle for conveying information. A report contains at least some of the five Ws. A report is also written with language that is unloaded. A report is subject to verification by independent parties.

A “narrative” is something completely different. A narrative connotes story, expressed in scenes, moving in time, and communicated by a narrator, a storyteller. A narrative can be truthful, of course, as in the phrase nonfiction narrative. But its purpose is not to inform. A narrative is a form of vicarious experience, a virtual reality that transports us from the here and now to some distant place called Abbottabad.

The earlier narratives described bin Laden firing a weapon and using some woman as a “human shield.” Later versions said he had no weapon, and that a woman was injured trying to protect him.

This topic of the difference between report and narrative is essential to our understanding of how government uses and abuses language, and how journalists hold them accountable.

You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat.

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What skills, traits do journalists need to become more entrepreneurial?

In this week’s career chat, we talked to Doug Mitchell and Alli Joseph, the folks behind NewU: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY.

Created in 2009, NewU is a program for journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs. New U’s financial sponsor, UNITY, recently received a $200,000 Ford Foundation grant to continue the project.

During the chat, Mitchell talked about the key skills and traits that journalists need to become more entrepreneurial. He also gave examples of how these skills have helped journalists, and why it’s increasingly important to be entrepreneurial. (You can read some of’s previous coverage on entrepreneurial journalism here.)

You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat.

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What skills do journalists need to effectively engage audiences?

In this week’s career chat, we talked with Chrys Wu, journalist and user engagement strategist. Wu, who has worked in newsrooms from coast to coast, now helps businesses deepen their connection to their audiences through community-building strategy and research.

During the chat, Wu drew upon her experiences and explained how journalists can effectively use social media to connect with both audiences and prospective employers.

You can replay the chat below.

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When writing, how should you handle slurs like the one Kobe Bryant used?

Last week, LA Laker basketball star Kobe Bryant was caught on video mouthing what was widely described as a “slur” against a referee who had slapped Bryant with a technical foul.

What did Bryant actually say? Well, if you read some of the Los Angeles Times’ coverage, you would know. If you watched sports news and talk shows on TV, you might have to go to YouTube and lip-read what Bryant said.

If you haven’t heard by now, Bryant used the f-word. Actually two different f-words, one a noun, the other a present participle. Curiously, it was the noun “faggot” that was deemed more offensive. Go just beneath the surface of this and other cases and all kinds of raw issues come bubbling up: race, gender, sports, homophobia, a culture of alpha male domination, and on and on.

In this week’s writing chat, I offered insight into how journalists use and misuse taboo language. You can watch a replay of the chat below and read a related essay I wrote here.

<a href=”” mce_href=”” >When writing, how should you handle slurs like the one Kobe Bryant used?</a> Read more


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