Archives for posts with tag: Online journalism

Advice from Alejandra (Alex) Hering

The internet and social media platforms have changed everything about the way we journalists do our jobs and how our boss’ boss makes money. As a result, today’s top editors are looking for journalists who can do it all, for less.

This is a massive opportunity. Take the time to understand how the web works, how users make money online, and how you can harness that into your next big break. For a competitive edge, you have to think bigger than print clippings in folders that you bring to interviews. The interview begins online when prospective employers and collaborators google you.

Here’s my guide to greeting them with a compelling online portfolio.

Step One: Write the content.

This is the most critical step in the process. Content is king and will drive the most visitors to your site. Journalism students should have the following pages:

Home – introduce yourself and talk about the purpose of the site (to inform prospective employers of how awesome you are, who you are and what you’ve done.)

Clips – this will be your most viewed page, so take the time to perfect it. FYI Every clip or every clip category (video work, print work, design work) needs a description of the circumstances when you created it (ex: written on 30 minute deadline, or 2 hours video editing total)

  • Post links to the PDF files of your stories or link directly to the news organization’s website. Another option for getting clips to your site is to sign up for a Scribd account. Scribd works the same any media uploading site does – you upload your jpegs or pdfs and you can embed the Scribd reader right into your site
  • Photographers: think about using a widget from Flickr to automatically slideshow your work on a blog page
  • Videographers/video journalists: your best packages should be on youtube/vimeo where you have the option of embedding them into a blog or website.

Resume – Highlight what you have done and where. Include links to the organizations you’ve worked with, longer descriptions of the work you did, and the awards you may have received for work you did. Remember that the web is immune to silly 8.5×11 inch dimensions so you can write in depth about the role.

Interests – Post a photo and a few graphs on an activity that keeps you sane. My interests page might seem a bit out of place but I love backpacking and I’d like a prospective employer to know I have a hobby. It may also be a conversation starter or the touch that makes you more memorable.

Contact – Link to social networks you belong to and think about having a professional facebook profile that doesn’t contain photos from last weekend. Provide your personal email address in case anyone has questions about the site content.The links I post and have good luck with are: linkedin, twitter (acts as both personal & professional), facebook (acts as both personal & professional), google public profile page, youtube (only professional) and/or vimeo. Things not to include on your contact page: myspace link, phone number or home address.

Step Two: Buy a domain and hosting

A domain is the URL of the site. Use your first and last name if you are a journalist (www.alexhering.com). Use a more jazzed up version of your name if you are a PR student (www.heyalex.com). Do not stray far from this formula. Remember to keep the domain short for twitter and business card’s sake.

Web hosting keeps your site and all the files associated with your site on the web for you. My advice is to use the same company for both domain and hosting. I went with doteasy.com for $25/year for the domain and basic hosting comes free with that purchase. They often have domain sales for as little as $4/year.

Step Three: Create a house for your content.

This can be done in several different ways. Sites like WordPress and Blogger offer the code and a management system. They are fully customizable and give you access to the page function that you need for the home, clips, resume, interests and contact pages.

If you wish to go the other route and code the site yourself, it would be best to enroll in a short web design class. I learned this art from Cindy Royal, a social media guru and professor at Texas State University who is getting recognition from professionals around the country for her course in social media and HTML coding. If you can’t get Cindy, follow her on twitter, it is well worth it.

The most important thing to remember about your website is that it is now your advertisement to the world and you should treat it the way you treat yourself – be aware of how it’s dressed, feed it with new content and show it off in every way you can.

Editors note: Alex’s website is, of course, very well done and reflective of her personality. For other great ideas, check out the sites of some other featured journalists: Jasmeet SidhuStuart Thompson, Chloe Fedio, Lucas Timmons.

About Alex

    Alejandra (Alex) Hering

  • Name: Alejandra/Alex/Ale/Al Hering
  • J-school: Texas State University – San Marcos, school of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Current/Past employers: MediaEDGE, Toronto Star, NBC, San Antonio Express-News, NOWCast San Antonio, Scripps Howard Foundation News Wire, Laredo Morning Times, The University Star and KTSW 89.9
  • Platforms: web, print and video
  • Twitter: @alexhering
  • Sample work: print, video and design work on my website.
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Advice from William Wolfe-Wylie

There are so many ways to succeed in journalism, it’s impossible to count them. What’s important to realize is that everyone must forge their own path based on their own passions, ambitions, loves and fears. The admirable list of bright young minds that Fabiola Carletti has compiled on this site is a testament the diversity of our chosen profession.

Sarah Millar is one of the most driven young journalists I know. Every piece of work she does, every decision she makes, every interview she conducts is of the highest professional standard she is capable of producing, and geared toward making herself a better journalist. She is a professional and her path to success reflects that: strong decisions, unparalleled drive and a head for learning on the fly.

Erin Millar, on the other hand, hates the idea of working 9-5 hours. She’s a musician, a bit of a hippy, loves to travel and has more ideas pouring out of her brilliant mind that anyone could collect. Her drive to become one of Canada’s top young professional freelancers is an evolution from these personal traits. Her desire to make her name, to achieve the highest professional standard, drove her to write her book and write for magazines most journalists don’t breach until they’re 15 years older than she.

Nick Taylor-Vaisey is smart and refuses to accept that there’s any such thing as bad news. I’ve never met a man more persistent, more optimistic and always able to work with a smile on his face. His work with OpenFile was a direct result of his community engagement, incredible knowledge of local issues, and desire to tell the stories of the everyday person. Nick loves, and it’s love that drives him forward.

Since 2003, I have been volunteering at conferences for the Canadian University Press, helping young people get their foot in the door. I offer one-on-one writing critiques to help them improve their craft and also help them to find freelance work when I think they’re ready for it. There are a few people I’m keeping my eye on to see how they develop professionally, some even at UBC right now. None of them mirror the images of the bright young people on this website. They are each forging their own paths, according to their own talents and passions.

Over the past seven years, “how do I make it in journalism” has been the second most common question that students I’ve worked with have asked. The most common is “how do I get better at my craft.” That, to me, is more telling than anything. So as you flow through this page, take every piece of advice you agree with, and disregard every piece you don’t. Filter everything through yourself. Spend some time being introspective, as terrifying a prospect as that can be. Figure out what drives you, what you love, and pursue those passions. Make friends, whether for networking or to share war stories. Call on them when times get rough, because they will. Pick yourself up when you fall, because you will. Never stop reading. Never stop paying attention. Love what you do, and if ever you stop loving it, have the courage to change it, because you’ll want to.

This is an enormously competitive and changing industry, but there is room for everyone who works hard.

Work hard.

About William

William Wolfe-Wylie

  • Name: William Wolfe-Wylie
  • J-school: None. B.A. in History from Mount Allison University
  • Current/Past employers: Current: Quebecor
  • Publications: Each of QMI Agency/Sun Media’s 200+ newspapers, Rabble.ca, Via Rail’s travel magazine, others.
  • Platforms: Print/online
  • Twitter: @wolfewylie
  • Sample work:

Laser attacks on planes on the rise
Social Networking and Gender Categories

Fair Trade Jewlery May Have Bright Future

Eyes on the Prize

Dungeons and Dragons banned from U.S. prisons

Remembrance Day hits home

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