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How Tos

How to Get The Most Out of Your Expert Interview

Whether you’re new to the journalism trade or just introverted, interviewing can be a daunting task – especially when you’re on deadline. In the latest Mediabistro feature, veteran writers give tips on how you can get the most out of your interviews, and what tools to use in the process. Though we have all sorts of technology to help us nowadays with recording and transcribing, there are some skills that will always be necessary in the art of interviewing:

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If your expert uses an unfamiliar term or draws an analogy that doesn’t make sense, ask her to expound. If you don’t understand something your expert says, your readership may not, either — and your job as a writer is often to boil down complicated or abstract ideas into practical information.

Freelance writer Rachel Heston-Davis admits she learned this after trial and error. She emphasizes the importance of asking an expert to reiterate because “you will not be able to figure something out from context later.” She adds that having misinformation in your article, or a lack of information, reflects poorly on both you as a writer and your interviewed expert. Getting clarification in an interview “really is better than the [expert] looking at your article and feeling like you didn’t understand what you’re writing about.”

For more on interviewing skills and tools, read Get the Most Out of Your Interview With an Expert.

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.

15 Steps For Changing Newsroom Culture

Change is hard. We all know that. But something about being in a newsroom makes it harder — the legacy systems, old habits, the necessity of providing content for old and dying mediums. But I think now more so than ever, newsrooms are ripe for change. They’ve been resistant for so long, but now I’m witnessing them coming around. The turnout to NICAR this year was the largest ever, Pulitzers are being awarded more often for digital storytelling, breaking news events keep teaching us more and more about social and mobile consumption. So in a very anecdotal way, I think the news industry might finally be at a place where it’s stopped denying that it’s moving too slow. Now, how to make that jump? This is my list of mechanisms, published here as a more thought-out version of an Ignite Talk I gave at West Virginia University last week. Not everything on this list will work for you, but it’s based on lessons I’ve learned first-hand and observed elsewhere.  Read more

3 Micropublishing Platforms to Start Your Publication

The world of publishing is treacherous. Today, coming up with enough capital to fully staff, produce and publish a magazine is a daunting task — and making a profit off of it is almost impossible.

But, it turns out, a new trend is rising that could help startup magazines produce, and even monetize, new and interesting digital content. Although micropublishing is not new — its roots date back into the book industry, when small Print On Demand books would get published — it has been an increasingly lucrative concept as more of the general public owns eReaders and tablets.  And, while its become popular among authors to produce micro-stories on platforms such as Kindle Singles, journalists now have the opportunity to ride micropublishing’s wave. Startups are scrambling to create proprietary CMS and publishing platforms that encourage anyone to produce a magazine.

Here is just a sampling of some of the different ways you can bring a digital edition of your startup publication to the hands of readers. They have different prices and limitations, but they should help you get thinking about whether micropublishing is right for you.

What do you think of micropublishing as a concept? Let us know in the comments.

1.  Zeen: Micro-Micro Publishing

If your work is less of a magazine and more of a one-off long read or a compendium of short articles with a single, then Zeen is the right choice for your micropublishing needs. Currently in Beta, Zeen is a free micropublishing website that enables users to input their own content, enrich it with multimedia (including pictures, video and maps), and lay it out in a “zine-like” digital format for publish to social media accounts or a personal blog. Read more

4 Free DIY Coding Tutorials for the Online Journalist

These days, proficiency in computer science and online coding is just as essential to a journalist’s education as writing, reporting and editing. As our world continues to blur platform lines, knowing programming languages is the easiest way to gain an edge to secure your dream job, take on more responsibilities and become an indispensable tool in the newsroom.

But, there’s one overarching problem when a journalist gets psyched up to code: tutorials and books are often filled with codes and jargon that natively go against the way a humanities mind works. Getting into the material can be difficult, and sticking with it until code mastery can be nearly impossible.

Luckily, in an effort to get people of all ages and backgrounds into online programming, many companies have put together smart, interactive tutorials that explain methods in clear and easy ways. Some of them rely on a story or concept to drive the knowledge across, while others use reward systems and badges to motivate users to sticking with it.

Here are four free, interactive tutorials that you can do at your own pace that will help you learn four coding languages that have rapidly become must-knows in the world of online production and development. All of these courses assume users are complete beginners, so jump in! Read more

How to Land a Journalism Fellowship

Scoring a fellowship can not only boost a journo’s career, but provide valuable resources to carry out a project in this cash-strapped industry. From year-long stints at Ivy League schools to short-term projects, there are many options for those looking to enhance their skills. In the latest Mediabistro feature, veteran journalists and fellowship directors give tips on what you can do to make your application stand out. Here’s an excerpt:

Come up with a doable project.

Some projects sound great but are far too ambitious, dangerous or simply not feasible to pull off within the confines of a fellowship program.

“Sometimes people have this idea that if they just come to Stanford there’ll be computer science geeks falling over to work on their project, but that’s not necessarily the case,” said Jim Bettinger, director of the John S. Knight journalism fellowship program at Stanford. “You have to show in your application that you have the skills to do what you’re proposing and that you are the right person to carry it out.”

For more, read 6 Tips for Landing Journalism Fellowships. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

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