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How to land a job in online media


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A presentation by VCU Mass Comm graduate Matt Birch

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How to land a job in online media

  1. 1. How to land a job inonline mediaBy Matt Birch (NFL Associate Editor, Bleacher Report)
  2. 2. What makes online media/blogginggreat for young journos?  It’s a great starting point where young journos can get their feet wet in the online media world, as well as become familiar with the news cycle. Young journos can move up the ranks by contributing content – or by working on a copy editing or news desk to learn the in’s and out’s of “producing online content.” –  It’s perfectly normal to start in online media at a small, alternative media outlet. If you do a good job and build your brand, the option to switch over to print media may present itself. News organizations will notice your hard work and come calling.  While media access/credentials may be harder to come by in the online media world, the position provides better experience than delivering coffee or fact checking – as that’s how young journos in print media used to “pay their dues.” Times have changed.
  3. 3. So how can you becomethe next Bob Woodward?
  4. 4. Establish a strong professionalresume/portfolio and clips. This is probably the most important thing I learned from CNS – as it is the standard for the journalism job market. Every media outlet is going to ask for these documents before they even commit to bringing you in for an interview. My two cents: It’s really not the most fun thing in the world. I won’t lie – spending 10+ hours on this tedious task wasn’t the way I wanted to spend last summer. But it was well worth it. Make sure the copy is clean/spotless. Write your rough draft and step away from the computer for a few days; and then come back with some fresh thoughts on how to improve the style/verbiage/wording in your next draft. And edit … then have a few of your friends/co-workers/ professors edit … then edit, and edit, and edit some more until you’re finally so sick of editing, you edit it one more time and it’s good to go.
  5. 5. Resume/Clips (Part 2) Clips are important because they give editors/human resources a feel for your writing style, grammar and how familiar you are with the beat you’re covering. --Mashable always has a ton of resume tips/help. Here’s a good link Daily Writing Tips also posted a great article on how to build a resume. /
  6. 6. Sample resumeHere’s what the beginning of mine looks like:
  7. 7. If new to online media, start apersonal blog or find a newsoutlet that will let you join as acontributing writer.This will help you learn the correct format for a blog postor content package. And pretty soon you’ll be able toproduce content in your sleep.You’ll also learn about analytics – how “clicks” and“views” control what content/advertising is featured atdifferent times of the day, depending on the audiencethat is viewing at that specific point in time.
  8. 8. Build your brand byestablishing a social mediapresence (Facebook, Twitter)The best way to market yourself as a journalist is by engaging inconversation on social media networks.Twitter:Get a feel for news gathering, how news is created and how online mediaoutlets break news before broadcast ones (and certain print publications,too).Twitter is a great conversation tool that will allow you to hear the thoughts/opinions of various media types from all backgrounds with different beliefsystems – that’s powerful.Make a name for yourself – voice your opinions to the public!LinkedIn:A great way to showcase your resume AND display which colleaguesyou’ve worked/networked with (yes, the Rolodex is dead!)Recruiters are searching LinkedIn 24/7 looking to fill open positions. Builda strong portfolio/profile, and maybe they’ll reach out to you!
  9. 9. Benefits of Twitter: Give this a try: Send one tweet per day for an entire calendar year.• At the end of this experiment, you’ll notice the following:• You will be plugged in and up to date on the biggest news for the beat you’re covering/interested in – MOST IMPORTANT• Your ledes and teases will improve for stories you’re writing/ airing.• Your vocabulary will improve – and you’ll also be able to say more with less words, which is powerful. Defending an argument with only 140 characters at your disposal is not easy!
  10. 10. Twitter is a news gathering toolthat operates in real-time.  Check out this Twitter search for “Afghanistan”
  11. 11. Start from the bottom and workup – look for a job as a copyeditor or on the news desk.Online media outlets hire from within. A great way to get inwith news outlets nowadays is to join their copy editing team, asan intern or (paid) editor. You can also man the newsgatheringdesk to follow and relay breaking news, as soon as it hits theWeb.Every journalist pays their dues before or during full-timeemployment. Online media outlets may ask you to work for free oras an intern for a short while. I contributed many hours to SBNation over a two-year span for next to nothing, but it paid off.Lucky for us, times have changed. A common phrase in thenewspaper business used to be, “Has he paid his dues?” Youngjournos would be closer to the coffee machine or the fact-checkingdesk than a news beat. We are lucky.
  12. 12. Speak up! Submit story pitches to your editor. It shows that you know how the news cycle works. Come up with ideas that will appeal to a broad audience – shoot for something that will attract interest at both the local and national levels. This is advice I had heard from many in the sports media world. Now that I’m an editor, I’ve come to see it as true. With real-time news breaking 24/7, writers nowadays are expected to pump out so much content (stories), so it’s important to come up with a few outside-the-box ideas on your own. Sometimes it’s the only way to meet the (always optimistic and tough) quotas/requests from your content budget.
  13. 13. Don’t burn your bridges!• Journalists never forget! So be careful about what you say on social media networks, as well as in emails/text messages.• This is common sense but many take it for granted and slip up. Networking is huge, and with social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, potential employers can get the scoop on you with a click of a mouse and a few keystrokes.• People talk. And everyone that is involved in the writing industry knows each other (or so it seems).
  14. 14. Practice good communicationskills and make yourselfavailable for assignments.Availability is extremely important. As an editor, I’ve dealtwith people that both lose and gain jobs by how often theycheck their email/messages … and how they go aboutresponding to them. It is a trait we regard highly when lookingat adding prospective writers to our payroll.Deadlines are so important when working in the media.This makes communication just as important.Versatility is a very underrated trait. Editors love having “utilityguys” that can tackle a wide variety of topics spanning acrossvarious beats.
  15. 15. Learn to shoot and editvideo. • Every news outlet is looking to expand and improve on two fronts: video content and media consumption from mobile/tablet devices. • The best skills for young journos to have are solid writing/reporting skills for columns as well as lists/rankings [gaining in popularity] and the ability to produce short-form video content. Thats the perfect combination everyone is looking for, and thats what (I believe) will be in demand for the next 5+ years and beyond. • I know my companys 2012 budget has set aside a good chunk of $$ for video production. And I recently read an article from Sports Business Journal which stated ESPN is doing the same.
  16. 16. Last but not least: good luck! It’s tough out there in the journalism job market, but the cream rises to the top. Separate yourself from the next man/ woman and give potential employers a reason to hire you!