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Archives: April 2010

Educators: Want to win 25 copies of The Digital Journalist's Handbook?

Here’s your chance to win 25 copies of The Digital Journalist’s Handbook for your classroom, college, university, or educational establishment. It’s easy! All you need to do to win is answer the following question in 100 words or fewer:

Why is journalism education important?

Email your entry to contest @ on or before May 10 and include the words “10,000 Words contest” in the subject line. The best response will win 25 copies of The Handbook and will be displayed here on the site. The contest is limited to US residents. Good luck!

Mediabistro Course

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8 Things college journalists should do before they graduate

A new life and career is waiting for you once you graduate. Make sure you are prepared for it by following the tips listed here.

1. Create a portfolio

All the work you did during your college years, including internships or outside work, should be aggregated and posted to an online portfolio. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a collection of your best work that represents your skills. A portfolio is important because it serves as a destination for people searching for you on search engines. Broadcast students should also create a (short) reel and post it online on media-sharing social networks like YouTube for maximum exposure.

2. Blog

You should have been blogging the first day you set foot on campus, but if you haven’t its not too late to start. A blog will show off your ability to write or produce on a consistent basis and demonstrate to potential employers your commitment to journalism. Your blog doesn’t have to be just text either… you can create a photoblog, videoblog, or a blog based on whatever medium you specialize in.

3. Use those business cards

During your collegiate years, you likely talked to guest lecturers or other journalism professionals and perhaps acquired a few business cards. Shoot those individuals an email and ask them if they are hiring or, if you just need some post-graduation advice, if they have time for a cup of coffee. You won’t always get a yes, but the least you can do is ask.

4. Get a new wardrobe

Your collection of Abercrombie t-shirts and flip flops won’t work for your first day on the job or anywhere that doesn’t have beer on tap. Give yourself a professional makeover with suits or office appropriate attire that say “Yes, I have a college degree.”

5. Clean up your social network profiles

Naughty photos and naughty language posted online might get a few giggles when you’re still on campus, but once you leave it’s no laughing matter. Serious journalists should delete or make private anything that may be controversial or offensive to employers or to the audience of your post-grad newsroom.

6. Talk to your professors

Professors are often plugged into the job scene and may know of available journalism jobs. Be sure to ask your professor privately if they have heard of any openings or leads. While you’re at it, you can also ask to list them as a reference. Of course, this only works if you were a good student. If your professor laughs out loud when you ask them for a reference, it may be time to move on.

7. Band together

If you have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and shaping your own career path, work together with your classmates to create your own news organization or collaborative outfit. Identify the skills you can each bring to the table and craft a business plan and marketing strategy for your idea. The best, most innovative projects were started by an unemployed journalists and provided you have a workable idea, there’s no reason you shouldn’t toss your hat in the ring.

8. Have a plan B

Although the likelihood of getting a journalism job is a lot better than it was in the past two years, journalism students should anticipate the possibility of not landing a job at a newsroom. Identify your strengths and how you can parlay those skills into another field while you wait to make your entry into journalism.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Journalism Grads: 30 Things You Should Do This Summer
How to make the most of your journalism internship
3 Ways journalism classes are making education more interactive

5 Free alternatives to Ning for creating a social network

Ning, the online tool that allows anyone to create their own social network, recently announced that it will no longer offer its services for free. Current users will have to upgrade to the site’s paid services or leave the site.

This leaves many journalists and educators in the cold who use the site as a free way to communicate among each other or with students or classes. If your budget is tight, there are several alternatives to Ning that are waiting to take your business.

1. is a site with many features similar to Ning that allows users to create an online social network. The site offers up to the 10 GB of storage or 100 GB of data transfer for free. There’s even a group dedicated to those making the transition from Ning to


Like Ning, Groupsite offers users the option to create discussion forums, calendars, and have many different users on a single social network. Unlike Ning, Groupsite’s basic service will remain free. The “Basic” platform is ad-supported and includes 250 MB of storage.

3. SocialGO

SocialGO is another site for building online communities and social networks. It’s free plan offers up to 1 GB of storage and allows users to create custom profiles, sub-groups, forums, blogs, and post media such as text, photos and video.


WordPress fans who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with a little code may favor BuddyPress. The open source plugin builds on the WordPress platform and offers users the ability to create profiles, groups, forums and send private messages.

5. Posterous

While not an exact replica of the Ning framework, Posterous allows users to post, publish and share various media in a blog-like atmosphere. Multiple users can contribute a single feed, in effect creating an online community. Tumblr, a popular microblogging site, offers similar features.


Also on 10,000 Words:

How to turn online social networking into real-life relationships
Essential multimedia tutorials and resources for do-it-yourself training
What exactly is a social media editor/manager?

Why I switched from Blogger to WordPress and how I did it

10,000 Words has officially been moved from Blogger, the blogging service this blog has used since July 2007, to WordPress. The switch was made both out of necessity (Blogger will not support FTP publishing after May 1, 2010) and the desire to provide a richer resource for you that the old blogging platform simply could not support.

The major reason for the switch is that coming soon, 10,000 Words will no longer be a solo project and will solicit and provide content from a multitude of voices (official announcement and details to come). There will be more posts and an increased diversity in the topics covered on this blog. Even with the upcoming improvements, 10,000 Words will continue to focus on practical, usable resources for journalists and technologists.

When I first started the blog I never imagined it would have the reach it does today so I wasn’t very picky about a blogging platform. The site has had two major redesigns since it was first established, but this is the first major back-end overhaul.

So how did I make the switch?

First, I started off with this incredibly helpful post that outlined how to convert an XHTML/CSS site to WordPress. The process required stripping the existing 10,000 Words template of all the Blogger tags and breaking the site down into PHP-compatible chunks. I then used WordPress’ Import from Blogger tool to transfer all the old Blogger posts into WordPress.

To maintain all the old hyperlinks (Google is major source of traffic for 10,000 Words), I used a plugin to maintain the Blogger links in WordPress. Some of the formatting in the posts changed after the moved so I used the Search and Replace plugin to make minor alterations to all the posts at once.

The entire conversion process collectively took about a week to complete. That said, there may be some minor kinks to work out so if you see anything wrong on the site please send an email to editor [at]

I’m pretty psyched about the upcoming changes to this site and thank you for sharing in the experience. I especially thank those who have been with this blog since its humble beginnings and promise there are more great things on the way.

The multimedia tools I actually use (and you should too)

I wrote a post about two years ago about the tools I actually use and realized the list could use some updating. The following are a list of tools I use on a daily or weekly basis.


Probably my most used and most essential tool for multimedia and online work. I use it for everything from editing photos to creating web graphics and interactives.

The premiere tool for creating interactive stories on the web. You may have heard about HTML 5 taking over Flash, but it can’t create multimedia the way Flash can.

Adobe Audition
Audacity is a popular and useful tool for audio editing, but when you’re ready to step up your audio editing game, check out Audition.

Final Cut Pro
An advanced but easy to learn video editor. The industry standard.

An incredibly versatile tool for creating all kinds of embeddable maps. Very simple to use and creates highly customizable maps.

Map Builder
I use Map Builder for most map-based projects that have a lot of data or require heavy customization, including this one and this one.

An easy to use timeline tool recently used by the Seattle Times in its Pulitzer Prize-winning story.

Flickr/Creative Commons
When I’m looking for a photo of something and I don’t have time to shoot it, I sometimes look to Flickr for publicly available photos I can incorporate into my work.

The reason you don’t see a lot of posts about BlackBerrys on this blog is because I love my iPhone. Check out this post and this post for apps that can be used for multimedia production.

Social Networking

Twitter is such an integral part of my professional and personal life that I require several tools to keep track of it all…

An invaluable tool for finding out what people are talking about on Twitter. It searches your friends’ Twitter feeds for content they are sharing. I receive a fresh batch of popular content in my RSS reader using the site’s RSS feature.

I use this primarily for the California Watch Twitter account to schedule tweets to publish throughout the day. It works much better than a service like Twitterfeed that simply pulls from an RSS feed and makes the Twitter stream look robotic and cold.

A Firefox extension I always keep running that shows an alert when I receive new tweets.

I use TweetDeck a lot for work but when I just want to view a continuous stream of tweets that I can stare at for hours on end, I use Twitterfall.

I use LinkedIn perfunctorily the same way you accumulate a stack of business cards. I know the site has great community features, but I can’t say I ever use any of them.

The unsung hero of social networking. A great way to find new and interesting online content with people who share your interests.


Google Docs
I use Google Docs for everything, including sharing documents with colleagues and keeping track of upcoming 10,000 Words posts. I recently became especially intimate with Google Docs after using it to write my entire book.

I have a Delicious account that I use often, but do not share publicly because I use it for bookmarking both professional and personal online content.

Used for making internet calls (especially long conference calls) without running up the phone bill. Especially useful for video conferencing.

I recently upgraded to the free music player’s premium service. Listening to a continuous stream of music helps the day go by faster.
If I just want to share a quick bit of text or note between two computers or with another person, I use this simple tool.

Google Calendar
I use the calendar tool to keep track of upcoming events (mostly conferences and birthdays) and use the work calendar to share upcoming meetings with coworkers.

Google Reader
Without this RSS reader I would be lost. I use it to subscribe to the more than 150 blogs I use for research and inspiration.

Also on 10,000 Words:

7 Essential multimedia tools and their free alternatives
Steal This Blog!
The 99 Greatest blogs you aren’t reading