“The State of the News Media 2014 is the eleventh edition of an annual report by the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project examining the landscape of American journalism. This year’s study includes special reports about the revenue picture for news, the growth in digital reporting, the role of acquisitions and content sharing in local news and developments around digital video. In addition, it provides the latest audience, economic, news investment and ownership trends for key sectors of news media, including a new, searchable Media & News Indicators database. Read the Overview.” (Pew Research)
Being a leader, finding myself in control or wanting to take control is impulsive. How many times a person said I should be a lawyer because of my demeanor is beyond me. It seems I lack being able to not look at a situation and think to myself, “I can make this better someway, somehow.” With great thought, what I have taken from those said words is the truth that I am abrasively direct. I do not hesitate in putting my neck on the line to compete. I’ll be the first to step up to bat, any day. By competing, more so, getting to a story first is something I love to do. As a journalist, it’s something you should love doing. It takes passion to be on top of something and ambition to want to keep on it. Don’t be the new guy at the budget meeting who says nothing, adds no new ideas and doesn’t make what’s going on a scintilla of better.
Yet, to be on top means to be on top of your own game. Being competitive means you are competing with yourself to do the best job you can do and certainly, better than the guy’s down the street is. The drive to compete for articles is, in a lot of ways, a rush and a crafted skill. Being a leader and a person who wants to take chances is hard sometimes, or is intimidating within itself. Especially if you have never done it. By now, for me, it’s like tying my shoes. I compete naturally because I’ve made myself a competitor. I compete with ideas. And it’s not that I am having an editor sail stories my way quicker than I can pick and choose from. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s a thinking game, a numbers game and what it comes down to is that I come to the editor – day one – with an overwhelming amount of article ideas. Simply and in large, that is what it takes to be a competitive young journalist — lots of ideas and you have to be able to see the future, in a way. It’s a numbers game by the amount of news worthy ideas you can pump out. Make it a principle habit. Have a notebook in your back pocket, a pen in your ear and be jotting down anything that pops into mind.
Having that constant bank of story ideas solves half the battles of being a journalist. Having the ability to go through the process of watching an event unfold over a period of time, like a BP oil spill – or for my most recent job, reporting Colorado Buffaloes Pac-12 football – and being able to pick up stories everyday from the event should become a principle habit. Applied, as I stand along the sidelines during a practice, I am not watching one story unfold, because I am watching five, six…ten stories ready to break. Because there is a story behind every element and new elements arise daily. It’s being able to find the relevance in details, which really proves to be a big help getting a career going as a daily journalist.
And of course, making connections from the details before everyone else is a must, that is the essence of competitive jounralism. Again, it’s a skill. Practice by researching and putting pieces together to find where a story is, but most importantly, is going to be. That takes effort, consistency and knowing what you are doing. And if you don’t know what you are doing, ask or read a book, because being confident that you can do it takes being ready. Looking for trends, hot topics and things that will become a national headline story takes knowing what is happening. Knowing what is happening takes keeping on it. And keeping on it will make you a better reporter, both in your words and with interviews. It all helps to get the best information possible, to serve the public good and yourself.
Another quality of being competitive, is one thing that has possibility of being negative to a young journalist by having a bad habit from the start. I often hear student journalists say, “a story will take a long ‘x’ amount of time to do, it’s a lot of work for me right now.” Sure, taking time on an article is nothing too detrimental for a college publication and student, but when you are at a desk, in a real paper, there is expectation to perform big articles in zero time. Personal ‘right nows’ are nothing that an editor cares about. Pages need filled and your articles need written, right now. There is no ‘x’ amount of time to do, more so, it’s an ‘x’ amount of articles to do…in a single day, or hour. Some jobs ask for more, some for less. And jumping on stories before the competition, that is, if you are working on a tight budget, is how you do the job. Being in college, with no stress of actually losing a job, is a great time to work on speed. If you make sure your accuracy keeps, test yourself in a weeks time and see if you can budget, write and publish five articles – an article a day. There is no being competitive in the market if you are only giving out one article to the public a week, because the guy down the street is pumping out one a day.
Being a leader and having an abrasive approach are some keys to being competitive. The end to the mean is seeing a opportunity and saying, “This is something I can do well, fast and it’s only mine to lose.”
It didn’t take all too long for everyone to accept that the news was going to be an online and page-less entity. The powerhouses that rule the printed news are even surrendering to the realization that subscriptions are growing to the online community, as dwindling revenues of the door-step paper continue. Though, all is not lost and we know that getting published online has a lot of advantages. It reaches a larger, wider audience. It gives a wire of information to be shared among the journalism community. It has a phonetic quality to the way it operates and continues to evolve. It is the future of journalism.
In terms of building a career fresh out of college, most importantly, it gives a unique opportunity for young journalists to self-promote their names to the eye’s of readers. Journalists that are using such platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, have access to an endless amount of views for their online work and can thus, self-promote themselves.
(Pros of self-promoting: Forbes, by Margie Warrell)
College papers, like the one I currently work for, Colorado University Independent (CUI.com), are taking a cut in the online action to get writers published, provide quality news and make a name for employee resumes as credible sources. Every time you get published is another chance to make a good impression in the market and, of course, build a better portfolio. That is your No. 1 tool; your portfolio and it’s built by getting published. Working online is another way to get clips and as your own articles begin to make their debut as an official URL – searchable and all – the friends and followers begin to take a role as a small network of possible eyes, potential jobs and lots of buzz. A once small group of friends, family and occasional strangers that were only known as feed-fillers, are now a huge pool of people to self-promote yourself with.
(Tip: Always work for your affiliated university paper. See advantages told by Allie Wright of USA TODAY College, here.)
For every person that clicks the link you posted to your article, also gets the viewer onto the website that the rest of your articles are on. It gives your fellow writers more eyes on their articles. It gets more recognition to the site, the writers, editors and begins to lend even more credibility when slapped onto a resume. The problem seems to be that it begins as a selfish system and some would say that it is about serving the public, only. But the real result is that it promotes the entire source that hired you, and all of those that are affiliated.
A Pew Research study of what “The Role of News on Facebook” had some encouraging facts that show that people are consuming large quantities of news via the platform – 30 percent of adults on facebook consume news. (view: Pew Research Info Graphic)
Sometimes to get your name into the right people’s mouthes it takes more than a business card at a career convention. Remember, when you write, you share.
So as you read in my last blog, my latest internship has come to an end. My college semester is coming to an end, too. For a month I will have free time. Now, most college students would go home and surrender to a workless month, but since when as a striving journalist have you been able to take a break?
I hope young journalists see that when these opportune moments arise to “make the next chess move” in a career, or essentially when things end, that they get into something new right off the bat. I mean, when you quit writing for one, get right back into another. You’re fresh off the press. Your pens are hot from writing in the last job. Don’t stop getting published now.
I think what I am trying to say is that you can’t stop your stride. For the last three months and before that a year; and before that a year, I have been writing. I never stopped my stride. I think that it is always important, as a journalist building a career, to keep an eye on what you are doing.
(Check out what Steve Martin has to say about building a dream career.)
Are you gaining reputation in the business? Are you networking? Are you out there writing and creating news? If you stop, people stop thinking about you. Editors and connections quit saying your name, and faster than you know you’re out of the loop. Back out there trying to get connections to find somewhere to write.
My internship ended yesterday, so today I applied to a few writing gigs. Two magazines, a online blog and some other small things. It is about keeping your name in the loop and keeping your chess moves sharp, and thought out.
Don’t stop your stride.
For some, yes, internships go like butter. For me, not so much. And I am not saying it was bad, or even really difficult. Yeah, there were times it was challenging me with a new experience, which meant I had to adjust, but nothing that really threw me a 100-mph curve ball. That is the honest truth. So why am I saying that it didn’t go like butter? Or the reason I titled this “The rush, nervousness and sheer chaos?”
It has nothing to do with the work. There was certainly a ton right at the end, but only because of my own lack of attention, of course. To get to the point, this week is the end of my first real internship. The Colorado Daily was awesome. I officially am more head over heals about journalism than I was when I started. It’s a rush. A rush of nervousness combined with sheer chaos. For me, nothing beats it. Im hooked.
WOAH…the end of my first internship..now what? My case exactly. This is when the real rush of nervousness and sheer chaos ensue.
Here is my advice.
People who ask me, “what are you going to do now?” I tell them that this game I play is a game of chess. I make a move, stay a bit. Finish that move up and make my next. The whole point is to work your way up the ladder. A lot of hard work needs to go in and yeah, maybe that first internship won’t be what you thought you could do, but that’s life. You go into the next opportunity with what you got and expecting to come out the other end with even more. So far, it is working to my benefit. My hard work and concept of taking opportunities as they come is paying off. Though, I have to make my next move. Times up. For those of you who know me, like I say, that’s life.
From USA TODAY COLLEGE, here are 5 things to look at and keep in mind when you finish up an internship.
As a journalist, someone says to you at some point that “it’s your duty to serve the public interest.” Correct, it is. We do that by finding and confirming the truth. Some will argue, though, that the truth in its most prime state is too much to handle for some. Correct, it is. In light, I question the line of thinking that says the news must be subjected to ‘gagging’ if there is a threat posed by the public interest in the truth, or facts.
Is it alright for the media to allow to be gagged and not release the truth? To the more extreme, is it okay for the media to publish a story and choose certain facts to be left out?
Patrick L. Smith said in a opinion on Salon:
“Responsible journalists grasp their ethical responsibilities, worry not about where chips fall and do their jobs, and in so doing are good citizens. That is how they contribute to security and safety. The rest is a swamp. Advocating, collapsing boundaries, making a “we-and-they” of the world are not the tasks of journalists. Claiming the right to decide what people should and should not know is preposterous—so stupid one cannot even call it arrogant.”
I believe he is right and being realistic. I believe that the truth should not be a ‘pick-and-choose’ type of process that can possibly shed the public’s trust from media. There are a lot of different reasons for things needing censored before release, but I don’t condone the idea, though, I realize that some measures need be taken in extreme cases. Patrick L. Smith, for me, is being realistic and taking the question in hand. Approaching the subject, which is very debatable and giving the journalistic approach that most of us should take to considering.
We are only as strong as our weakest link and the truth makes sure those links are strengthened. We cannot choose to make a chain with certain links when all the links are needed to support responsible journalism and the truthful right of a journalist to serve the public interest.