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Andrew Russo

Are Personal Essays the Future of Digital Journalism?

personalessaysPersonal essays have never been more popular online. Sarah Hepola, Salon.com’s personal essay editor, thinks she knows why: “People have always been drawn to personal narratives. It’s one of the fundamentals of storytelling: Through your story, I better understand my own. As human beings, we like to see others fail and hurt and triumph.”

It’s not just random blogs that publish these confessional articles anymore. Digital (and some traditional) news sites are getting in on it too. Salon is a perfect example of such a site. Since its inception in 1995, it has gained a reputation for being a reputable source of information about news, politics, pop culture and everything in between. But it’s that ‘in between’ category that, in recent months, has really gotten the public’s (and the Internet’s) attention. Personal essays now garner hundreds of comments a piece. Controversial topics (and click bait headlines) have become the norm. And it’s not just Salon — outlets like The Daily Beast, Time and Slate all use similar tactics in the race for traffic. Read more

XoJane.com Wants Writers To Get Personal

xoJane

XoJane.com, the brainchild of Jane Pratt (former founding editor of Sassy and Jane) is an incredibly successful women’s website that garners 2 million monthly visitors. The site’s success stems from many things — the name recognition of its matriarch, the constantly fresh content, the easy to read layout. But what really makes xoJane.com stand out are the extremely personal (and often cringe-worthy) essays from real women, dealing with issues anyone can relate to: dating disasters, family drama, addiction, gender issues, weight struggles, motherhood, pregnancy, birth control… the list goes on.

The writing on the site feels genuinely authentic due to its no holds barred attitude and the robust comment section is well worth a read in and of itself (it’s not uncommon for a controversial article to get over 1,000 responses). XoJane.com’s content is 75 percent freelance, so it’s a great place for writers to get their foot in the door. Executive editor Emily McCombs explains what makes the pub different:

“The idea of the site was definitely for it to be written by a group of women with strong voices, strong personalities [and] strong opinions who are living what they are writing about,” says McCombs. She adds that the advice comes straight from the writer’s own experiences — what she’s wearing, what she’s watching, what makeup she’s wearing — rather than quotes from experts on various topics.

To hear more tips on how to get published on xoJane.com, read How To Pitch: xoJane.com

Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How To Maintain a Work Appropriate Social Media Presence

It can be hard to separate the professional from the personal, especially when it comes to social media. Many journalists seem to have a hard time keeping their thoughts to themselves these days and the results are never pretty.

Remember when Shea Allen, the former investigative reporter for WAAY in Huntsville, Ala. got fired for her controversial blog (where she confessed to, among other things, going bra-less on live TV?) Or what about the NBC staffer who was fired for posting an embarrassing video of Bryant Gumbel on the Today Show from 1994, looking foolish and wondering aloud, “What is the Internet, anyway?”

There are so many examples of employees embarrassing themselves on social media platforms (and ultimately paying the price for it). After all, we live in a world where over-sharing is the norm, and privacy has become a thing of the past. Read more

How to Take the Perfect Photo or Video

photo videoMuch like “proficiency in Microsoft Word,” writing alone isn’t going to cut it anymore in the Internet era; successful journalists need real technical chops — starting with quality picture-taking.  And no, that doesn’t mean buying a $3,000 camera.

If anything is to be taken away from the time the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff, it’s that journos can work with what they’ve got.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, media pros share their tips for taking a good picture or video:

1. Pay Attention to Lighting
“Lighting is everything,” says Charlie Castleman, in-house videographer for esd & associates, a full-service marketing and PR firm based in San Antonio, Texas. As a general rule, if you’re having trouble seeing the subject’s face while you’re shooting, the viewer definitely won’t be able to, either. That said, lighting isn’t as difficult as it seems and, says Castleman, “You don’t have to be an expert cinematographer that spends three hours [on] lighting.”

For more on wielding a camera like a pro, read 6 Tips to Help You Take the Perfect Perfect Photo or Video.

Sherry Yuan

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Write to ‘Inspire and Encourage’ at Entrepreneur.com

Entrepreneur.com

Unlike other small biz publications such as Inc. and Fast Company, Entrepreneur has expanded into the lifestyle territory, addressing the facets of entrepreneurs’ lives that extend beyond the boardroom.

“Entrepreneurs have sort of become the rock stars of our era,” explained executive online editor Laura Lorber. “It’s very popular to call yourself an entrepreneur now, and it’s a very aspirational status. Basically we’re looking for content that helps them improve their work and their personal lives.”

Good news, journos. Editors at Entrepreneur.com are open to pitches from new writers, as long as they stay in tune with the brand’s mission: to inspire and encourage.

For pitching etiquette and editor’s contact info, read How to Pitch: Entrepreneur.com.

Sherry Yuan

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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