Articles tagged with: journalism
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My lack of distinction between a busy, underpaid freelancer and a semi-busy, way underpaid general assignment reporter was exactly what got me the interview.
Two recent articles have highlighted the importance of ditching your preconceptions about what constitutes the pinnacle of getting published and start embracing online media outlets – especially if you’ve been dreaming of getting hired by print publications you’d never dream of paying real money to read.
The Atlantic just came out with an epic piece of multimedia journalism. Nadya Labi profiles Gus Zamora, an ex-army ranger who hires himself out to go grab kids who were illegally snatched and taken out of the country by one parent. Nadya follows Gus down to Costa Rica to observe the “rekidnapping” of kid number 55 and is actually in the car the child is recovered. Nadya gets the audio of the rekidnapping and takes photos just moments after the reunion. Partially because of the story matter but also because of her story telling, my heart was pounding while I read the article. Wow wow wow. Inspiration in word, audio and photo form. Read it here.
The Atlantic just came out with an epic piece of multimedia journalism. Nadya Labi profiles Gus Zamora, an ex-army ranger who hires himself out to go grab kids who were…
I reluctantly subscribed to Gawker two days ago, reluctantly only because my Google Reader feed is out of control and they are notorious for posting. A post this morning made my increasingly chaos-theory-proving Reader worth the headache.
A Gawker blogger made fun of an article in the Washington Post about a “generation guru,” a woman paid obscene amounts of money to explain to adults how us kiddos think and work and all that rot. Gawker pulled three excerpts from the article, with the longest one hitting 93 words. Unlike some reposting, however, the Gawker blogger put in commentary and analysis instead of just block quoting the article. Fair usage, right? Guess not, at least not for the Washington Post. The journalist, Ian Shapira, is furious that his hard work is being ripped off and making someone else money while pulling the best (ie funniest) bits and he said as much in a response on WP’s Outlook and Opinion page.
Gawker’s Gabriel Snyder brought the pain in her take on the whole thing to my utter delight. Railing against the old media’s stifling style, she calls Shapira out on actually just being upset that Gawker got to write the funny piece he couldn’t. Ouch.
Then, like any good story, the end shocks and awes. Washington Post had actually sent Gawker the story! So they would blog about it! AND they send stuff all the time! Fancy that!
This whole journalism cat fight puts the new (blogging) vs the old (newspapers) perspective in a different light. Blogging isn’t as esteemed as being printed on dead trees, but that whole mindset, for me at least, is changing. ESPECIALLY when such smackdowns occur with newspapers coming out so bruised and bloodied.
I reluctantly subscribed to Gawker two days ago, reluctantly only because my Google Reader feed is out of control and they are notorious for posting. A post this morning made…
In the past few months, I’ve thought a lot about work—working to live as we all do to sustain ourselves but also the concept of working to work. By this I mean the creative pursuit so many artists undergo: to work just enough to meet one’s basic needs but also reserving enough free time to realize one’s true ambitions. In a perfect world, we’d all get paid a living to do what we love, but in case you haven’t noticed, this is not a perfect world and many fields—especially those artistic in nature—require talent and notoriety, which fruit from years of practice and climbing the ranks.
Journalism is not unique in this regard, although we like to victimize ourselves, particularly amid the current economic climate and media transformation. But actors, fine artists, designers, musicians, models as well as creative writers and the like all have to start at the bottom, working random jobs or unpaid internships–living on couches or in closet-sized apartments–until they build up their skills and portfolio enough to get noticed.
A Time article I read a while ago about ways to pay journalists if nothing “saves journalism” got me thinking about all the creative ways journalists—and artists—support their work. The article mentions creative writers often teaching in MFA programs to support themselves. It also references William Carlos Williams, the American poet who primarily worked as a pediatrician, Wallace Stevens, who was a lawyer as well as a poet, and a handful of others who are experts in a particular field and have secondary careers as journalists, like Sanjay Gupta and Jeffrey Toobin.
Of the Meridian crew, I’m currently working retail (sigh) and teaching surf lessons to get by as I intern for Spot.us and try to freelance. Jackie is working for a photo agency that specializes in event photography. She gets paid a descent wage to edit photos and shoot fashion and events, although she wishes she were shooting “the things happening with or without her presence” as she put it, rather than beautiful people posing for the camera.
I give Jackie props, however, for getting paid to edit and shoot, and for still being motivated enough to land gigs with the Village Voice and City Scoops in her free time, pursuing her interests and building her clips in the process. Kudos also go to Will for getting by solely on freelance photography and as a stringer for the La Jolla Light, no matter how frugal he has to be (not to mention the admiration I have for Will’s current adventure across Europe, Russia and Kazakhstan in a Nissan Micra!) And although Doug is getting bored with the regular city council meetings he has to attend, he’s getting paid better than all of us to produce videos and he still finds time for personal projects like his most recent music video.
Plenty of others our age waitress, bartend or do any thing they can get their hands on while they go to school, intern or just practice their art on the side. Of course the problem with this is not being able to focus exclusively on your interest. Investigative journalism, for instance, takes a lot of time and energy to nurture and the quality is threatened when a person doesn’t have time to do the required research. I think this is a valid fear that comes with the changing media landscape, but I’m of the belief that good, community-service journalism will still be supported. It may be that it’s harder to make it, but those who have talent and bust their balls, I’m confident will eventually get paid for their work.
I think the most important thing for us young journalists to focus on now is defining our interests and developing our craft. Too many people who have found paying media jobs wish they were doing something else–something deeper, more creative, more important. Here is my current strategy for effective working:
Obviously the best option would be finding a paying job or internship that allows you to focus on your interests and build relevant skills. The free job boards I most often peruse are journalismjobs.com, Media Bistro, Poynter Institute, The California Newspapers Association site for newspaper jobs in California and the Berkeley Journalism School’s job bank for jobs and internships across the country. Of course there’s also Craigslist, where I’ve recently seen some good paying blogging gigs, but always take these listings with a grain of salt.
Plan B would be a journalism-based unpaid internship and a part time job or freelance work to support it.
If all else fails, do what you have to do to live, but try to freelance and blog as much as possible in your free time to keep strengthening your skills, even if you’re not getting paid. Did I mention that unpaid work often leads to other revenue sources? I just found out today that another former UCSD Guardian colleague Teresa Wu may get a book deal at age 20 based on a blog she writes.
If you have a good idea that just needs help producing, there are also grants and scholarships. I’m starting to think about travel grants myself, which would allow me to live in an exotic places and produce the pieces I’ve been dreaming about…
The bottom line is working just enough to pay the rent but not too much to lose sight of what you really want to do. Maybe that means working a pretty well paying part time job and writing on the side, or working full time for a while to save money for an upcoming hiatus. Also keep in mind that we’re young and still need to explore the world and ourselves before truly knowing what we really want. Whatever the case, produce, produce, produce and have faith in yourself that your passion will eventually pay off some day, some how.
In the past few months, I’ve thought a lot about work—working to live as we all do to sustain ourselves but also the concept of working to work. By this…
The only person I have been too tongue-tied to talk to since arriving in New York has been Dave Eggers, whose accomplishments are truly staggering. His latest awesomeness in written form is Zeitboun, a book about one Syrian-American man’s experience during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and his subsequent nightmare of an arrest. Eggers wrote from the Zeitouns’ family point of view, using their recollections and stories while vigorously fact checking. Like his last book, What is the What, Eggers uses a collaboration between personal narrative and journalism to tell the story. I swear to god, if Egger’s starts a new form of journalism, I’m starting an Eggers-based religion.
If that wasn’t enough, in a Salon interview that came out today, Eggers’ talks about working with students on printed media and how he has hope for the future of journalism.
The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don’t see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it’s dead or dying. I think we’ve given up a little too soon. We [i.e., McSweeney's] have been working every day on a prototype for a new newspaper, and a lot of what we’re doing is resurrecting old things, like things from the last century that newspapers used to do, in terms of really using the full luxury of the broadsheet newspaper, with full color and all that space.
Attempting to save journalism with young people? Dave Eggers, you the man.
The only person I have been too tongue-tied to talk to since arriving in New York has been Dave Eggers, whose accomplishments are truly staggering. His latest awesomeness in written…
As an aspiring journalist, I often ask myself, should I go to journalism school? In fact, I’m thinking about taking the GRE in September and applying to a few schools this fall. But in today’s emerging field, the question deserves some thought before we all go rushing for more student debt to study a profession that’s in a state of disarray. I’ll admit that since graduating from college, part of me has longed to re-embrace life as a college kid, delve back into the buzz of campus life and study something that really interests me rather than a broad interdisciplinary major that doesn’t lead directly to any thing (I majored in Human Development. What’s that right?) But nostalgia aside, I also know that since I didn’t major in journalism, I could probably use some training in things like long-form magazine writing or to build skills in web, video, and television which I’m currently lacking. But couldn’t I also learn these things on the job? I’ve only had my Spot.us internship for a little over a month and I’m already hosting a radio show with no prior experience…
I’ve heard good arguments on both sides of the spectrum. J School advocates boast that journalism school will teach you needed skills to preserve quality journalism and hook you up with connections for a job that’s still in many ways an insider’s game. On the other hand, journalism is unique in that it doesn’t require a graduate degree. It’s more about proving that you can handle the stress, ask probing questions and deliver–on deadline.
Some of the best advice I’ve received on the subject was from a former co-worker at the UCSD Guardian and kick ass reporter, Ian Port, who went straight to working at a daily newspaper after graduation:
“…Working at the Daily Post isn’t my dream job. I’m still not sure what is. But I’m learning. And that’s one thing I think a lot of people forget about journalism, especially in this age, where you can buy a degree that says you’re qualified to do anything: if you haven’t done it for real, on deadline, with real people calling to bitch at you when you fuck something up, and a real editor breathing down your neck for that one piece of information you forgot to ask for, then your training wheels are still on. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s a fucking lot to learn, and you won’t even be able to fathom how much until you get out there and start doing it.
…Also, many, if not most, of the world’s best (or most famous, anyway) journalists do not have journalism degrees. A disturbing number of them have ivy league degrees. Or law degrees. Or relationships with people in important places that get them the jobs we all wish we could get. A lot of them are also just so fucking crazy that they sent themselves into strange countries and war zones with fake credentials and got stories no one else did.
…I think you get more out of [journalism school] if you have real experience. You’ll get better internships and just know more than the people who haven’t actually been journalists before. And let me tell you: J-school is just like any school. It will teach you the way things should be. Working as journalist will teach you the way things are. I think it can’t hurt to know both, and it’ll filter out some of the high-minded bullshit that I know jschool profs feed their kiddies…”
I know right, isn’t that the advice you wish every one gave? I think reading this email almost a year ago subconsciously encouraged me to hold off on applying to journalism school until I really got my feet wet in the field. And a year later, I feel like my experience has only just begun; I haven’t even written a published freelance article yet (although I’m working on a story for Spot.us that will hopefully be published somewhere, fingers crossed!)
I recently read this post by a Columbia journalism student named Alana Taylor who laments the fact that Columbia–one of the most prestigious J Schools in the nation–only offers one online journalism class. Would this really prepare us for a media career today?
David Cohn, founder of Spot.us, who happens to be my current boss/colleague, also wrote a thoughtful blog post on the the pros and cons of journalism school and his own experience interning at Wired for a year then attending Columbia University. It doesn’t provide a needed answer but he’s right that J school is relative to each individual person and situation. Some people benefit from it; some regret it, and every thing is subject to change because schools are in flux. Personally, I haven’t decided yet, but I think it’s important to be honest with myself and follow my gut. More rambling on the subject is bound to happen as I continue wrestling with this decision.
As an aspiring journalist, I often ask myself, should I go to journalism school? In fact, I’m thinking about taking the GRE in September and applying to a few schools…
I recently moved to Northern California, among other reasons, to focus on journalism. Most people think I’m crazy for quitting a perfectly good (although temporary) job while millions are getting laid off to try my hand at arguably the most unstable profession in recent history– journalism. Thinking logically about these facts, most people are probably right. I am crazy. But, out of some strange compulsion perhaps, I feel like I’m right where I need to be: twenty-two years old, ambitious, living in the Bay Area amid a digital revolution.
That feeling was enhanced by a “Journalism Innovations” conference I attended last Friday. I heard about it through Kara Andrade, a friend of my cousin, who is an organizer for Spot Us–a Bay Area startup that’s experimenting with community-funded journalism. The conference was a meeting of the minds between news veterans and innovation leaders, centered on one main question: what is the fate and future of journalism? Being new in the area, I went to the conference with the goal of networking; however, I left with much more than a few business cards in my pocket. Yes I did my share of shmoozing; I think I even said the words, “let’s be friends” after discovering that a man with Nuestra Voz lived in Santa Cruz, but moreover, I was inspired and thoughts have been swarming in my head ever since about the media revolution we are currently facing. As a newbie in the field, I won’t relay all of my personal thoughts, but I do want to pass along some of the avant-garde ideas that were shared:
First and foremost, we should be comforted by the overwhelming sentiment among media veterans that journalism is not dying; it’s just the business model of the newspaper industry that has collapsed and needs to be recreated, mainly due to the rise of the Internet. That’s not to underscore the current crisis we’re in, where people have less access to the fact-based journalism that may help them recover from economic crises, swine flu, you name it. But, on the other hand, there is tremendous opportunity to break out of the corporate owned model, tell stories in more creative ways and connect people more than ever before through the Internet, blogs and social media. Of course, it’s funding quality journalism–which takes time, editing and fact checking–that is the challenge, so whatever emerges from this “crisis” needs to meld journalism that serves the public with a sustainable business model (the hardest part for us creative folk). Below is a list of startups that may hint at our future:
Reelchanges.org is owned and operated by the nonprofit Center for Media Change. Like sites such as IndieGoGo, Reel Changes uses the concept of “Crowdfunding” to facilitate public funding for documentary film projects. Filmmakers upload works in progress and fans donate in return for perks like screen credits.
Spot Us is another nonprofit crowdfunding project of the Center for Media Change, pioneering community funded journalism in the Bay Area. Freelance writers pitch story ideas (mostly investigative) to the public and individuals can fund the stories they wish to see written. A New York Times article wrote about this concept and questioned the possibility of content creation by donors. Founder Dave Cohn said that each article must be funded by a group of individuals and any one person cannot donate more than 20 percent of the article’s cost.
Kachingle is a very interesting for-profit business model, also based on crowdfunding, that targets money for existing news sites and blogs through a very simple, user centric program. Users pay $5 per month to fund the sites they love, chosing which sites to donate to and the money is then distributed fairly based on how often the user visits each site. Learn more about Kachingle on this Poynter Institue blog.
L3Cs or “Low Profit Limited Liability Corporations” are what many news organizations hope to be their saving grace. Like LLCs, they can attract wealthy investors but there is one amendment–an L3C must provide some social benefit, besides just maximizing profit. L3Cs solicit a new breed of investors that share the values of the social enterprise–in this case, public service journalism. L3C investors can put in large sums of money up front without expecting the immediate, high returns associated with venture capitalism. Learn more about L3Cs here.
And, of course, there are many other quality sources of online journalism that predicted the media transformation early on such as Slate.com, the Huffington Post, ProPublica and VoiceofSanDiego that utilize various funding models, just to name a few. Whatever becomes of journalism, it is our generation that is creating it through blogs and multimedia, on facebook and twitter, and it is us young journalists who will carry it out. We can either sit back and wait for this new industry to emerge or we can join the revolution and help create it. Please share your ideas and comments below so we can start a dialogue about the digital renaissance and our role in it.
For further reading on the media shift, see this Slate.com article, the PBS ‘Media Shift’ Blog, the Poynter Institute’s ‘NewsPay’ blog and Charlotte-Anne Lucas’ blog.
I recently moved to Northern California, among other reasons, to focus on journalism. Most people think I’m crazy for quitting a perfectly good (although temporary) job while millions are getting…