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What's "good" in this transition

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by TUNA04, May 31, 2012.

  1. TUNA04

    TUNA04 New Member

    Hey everybody. I'm a young guy looking to move up from the small daily in Podunkville, State. I'd like some feedback as to what constitutes a good journalist in this climate for what SEs are looking for at the bigger papers as we all transition to Web trafficking. Is social media the way to go? Videos? Blogging? Constant breaking news updates on the paper's Web site? Podcasts? What makes an editor raise his or her eyebrows and say, "I want this reporter on our staff"?

    Obviously all of this is important, but I guess I'm just taking an unscientific poll here.
  2. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Small, unmarked bills.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    You probably won't move up to a decent paper by applying to jobs posted on JournalismJobs. Editors are looking for reporters with various skillsets. Each position is different, as a beat writer will need to be hard-nosed to get breaking news. A general assignment reporter has to be versatile enough to cover anything and turn it into a decent story. There isn't just one thing that you can do to catch an editor's eye as different papers have different priorities. Heck, I'm guessing Gannett will have five different priorities to cycle through by the end of the year.
  4. That being said, there are some general guidelines. If you're a beat writer now, show how you own your beat with breaking news, features that go past gameday, enterprise work, etc. If you're GA, show your breadth at covering different things, as Stitch suggested. Being familiar and skilled with online reporting -- blogs, Twitter, podcasts -- is becoming a must as more papers transition to the Web.

    So if you have all those skills, the best way to move up from your current paper is being young and being able to work cheaper than the person who held the job before you. I'm not being snarky. Companies are trying to cut costs, and cheaper labor is the one cost they can control best.

    That gets you out of Podunkville to mid-level. From there, your talent can take you to the big leagues (before you're too expensive to hire).
  5. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    Wondering if you're in the same company as I am. Name would suggest you're familiar with the area.
  6. If I had a reporter opening to fill, I'd look for the most versatile person.

    I'd want to see, before anything else, good reporting. That means meaningful and well-researched features, significant (to your previous beat) breaking news, solid gamers and maybe my interest would be piqued most by some thoughtful enterprise, which seems harder and harder to come by as we all rush to tweet everything around the clock. Ideally, I'd also like to see a notebook or two in the clips to see the depth of the coverage you had on what I'm assuming is a Podunk High beat.

    Then I'd look for web presence, or at least an understanding of it. Everything with a news peg to it goes online first. That means the ability to post up three- or four-graf gamers on the site right after games when possible. Does this writer have a Twitter presence? I don't care if six people are following, but if he's trying to engage people and is the voice of his beat on Twitter, that's great. Does this person have some understanding of what's a good blog versus what's a good full-length story?

    Multimedia experience would be a very significant part of the process. If this person can do quick video, particularly, it's a big plus. If not, a willingness to learn how to do it - and the willpower to get in the habit of doing it and doing it in ways that supplement the stories - is just about as good.

    Finally, any photography experience would stand out, and the biggest bonus is page design experience. I woudln't want my reporter necessarily doing regular page design shifts, but with most places short staffed, it's nice to know you'd be able to help fill in for a vacation or two every once in a while.

    I don't know what your situation is, but not too long ago I was at a small paper covering Podunk High, too, and we didn't really have the resources to do some of these things. The website wasn't - and still isn't - as far as I know capable of hosting any kind of video or the manually posted HTML embed codes you'd need if you hosted videos on YouTube, making that useless. And there's no blog format, either. So you may be fighting an uphill battle in that regard.

    But if you can improve any of those things in any way, don't let Podunk Press' lack of forward thinking hold you back if that's the case now. Become the voice of your beat, if you're not already, even if it means pissing a few people in town off because they're not used to someone aggressively covering their beloved Podunk High. If you have to, as a last resort, use your own video equipment. There are some great, relatively inexpensive handheld HD cameras out there ($60-100), and you can even do a good deal of stuff with an iPhone and a $4.99 iMovie app if the other camera is out of your budget. And if you're not already capable of putting out a few pages every once in a while, use this summer to learn how to do that.

    If you've got some more questions or run your resume/portfolio by someone, feel free to PM me.
  7. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    I don't get why everyone hates on the Podunk Press. They have a huge staff, they're always hiring and everyone covers their teams.
  8. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    From an outsider's point of view and based just upon business and experience, diversity is great but I would suggest that you be an expert in the area(s) that editors need the most because if you're not that, then diversity won't help. Secondly, be an innovator because innovators are self-starters and plan-executors. It also has the benefit of placing you where future employers want to go, or where some already are. Closely aligned with innovation is efficiency. Whatever way you can use to make things work for you to accomplish a task faster or more precisely, learn it and get it set up especially if it's free. e.g. I follow close to 2000 people on twitter and some 1,200 on facebook (plus groups). Well-placed friends of friends can tip you off, not purposely, to the questions you need to ask. Creeper? Maybe. But they place the info for all to see.
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