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Back to School Links: 3 Pieces New (and Old) Journos Should Wrap Their Heads Around

adrevenueIt’s back to school season, which means there will be a lot of journalism students sitting around debating how to best make money doing it. We just can’t stop wondering or examining how it’s all changed. The discussion isn’t just happening in ivory towers, either. In the past week, current journos and editors at large have been pondering it as well:.

  • David Plotz took to to his Twitter feed to tweet out all of the options. Then, he did the right thing and just compiled them into this post on Slate.  What’s interesting is how 2014 compares to 1998. He could only think of five good ways to raise money — banner ads, being the biggest earner. Now? With membership models like Slate’s Plus, podcasts and conferences, things are just more complicated, but hardly as bleak. 

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Do You Yo? And Should Your Newsroom Be Yo-ing?

yo-its-that-simpleIt’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up with what the kids are doing these days, but I’ve at least heard about ‘Yo’. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the app is a messaging service that bases its platform around the frequent sending of a two-letter word: “Yo.”

No fancy filtered photos. No emojis. Just one, single greeting (with possibly a link/short hashtagged tack-on, thanks to a recent update). Whenever you want to get someone’s attention, you simply send “Yo,” and ideally, your straightforward message would notify your friend, the receiver, as effectively as a text message or email might. According to the American Journalism Review‘s Cory Blair, the app has seen 2.6 million downloads since April 1 of this year. For whatever reason, people are really into “Yo-ing” eachother.

Reported Blair, the Washington Post‘s audience strategy and social media teams want to experiment with using the Yo app for letting readers know when stories have been published. As if Twitter’s 140-character limit doesn’t present enough of a communication challenge, Yo provides even less space for disseminating information. The idea is to have WaPo readers and social media followers who use the Yo app to follow the newspaper on Yo. Then when they have a story to share, they will send a “Yo” to subscribers, and those folks get a notification on their phone. No need to open up (or pay for) a news app to get instant access to news anymore. Others including NBC Nightly News and the Nieman Lab are doing it, too, Blair wrote. Publishers can choose how and when they want to “Yo” — it could only be for beat-specific stories or at a certain time of day.

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Grading the Media on Ferguson Coverage

Now that the Ferguson protests are slowly beginning to wind down, it’s likely a good time to assess how the media handled the coverage of the recent unrest, triggered by the police shooting of unarmed teen, Michael Brown.

From the coverage I’ve seen myself, I would have to grade the media a C to C-, mainly for coverage that I thought was uneven, at best, with some national reporters even crossing journalistic lines to become advocates, rather than unbiased, objective third-parties. Read more

Media Internships Don’t Lead to Jobs. So What?

help-wantedWe all know internships are the best way to get a job in media, right? Er, not so much, according to this interactive chart via LinkedIn.

The research doesn’t even delve into the issues of paying interns or what, if anything, you can get from working in digital media. If you scroll down and click through the Media/Entertainment category you’ll see that:

  • In Sports, Publishing, and Media Production, there are lots of internships available (as any job board search will show) but very few actually turn into full time positions.
  • If you want to get into broadcast as a journalist, you’re in even worse luck: few opportunities, and of those, you have almost no chance of getting a job.

For communications and journalism majors starting school this season, that can be discouraging. But it’s also the nature of the industry. Scrolling over Financial Services, you might be wont to change majors. But big accounting firms, for example, recruit their interns and breed them into full time employees. It’s sort of like being in the military, you pass one test, or grueling six month program, and move up the ranks.

In news and publishing, it’s a little harder. Some solutions:

  1. If you don’t land an internship at a large media company — which is also hard to do if you’re enrolled in a school anywhere but New York, stay local or small. There’s nothing wrong with working for the little guys, except that they are most definitely not paying you. You’ll probably get to do more hands on work anyway, and make contacts that actually have time to email you back when you reach out post-graduation.
  2. Go niche. Are you really into sports? Marijuana legislation? Climate change? There are lots of great publishers making their name by being experts in one little thing. Seek them out and beg. And make sure you’re web presence and writing is easily found.
  3. I know there’s the catch-22 of often needing an internship to graduate or for credit, in which case, too bad for you. But if I could go back to school right now, I’d be blogging like nobody’s business. Write. Find your beat. Interact and engage with other writers on social media and in their comments. Then you’ll have more than just a semester of cutting video clips and fiddling with a publisher’s social media accounts: you’ll have some experience.

What are your internship woes? Let us know in the comments or @10,000Words.

3 Takeaways From the Knight News Challenge ‘Lessons Learned’ Report

KNClessonslearnedreportThe Knight News Challenge released a report this week on “Lessons Learned,” from past projects. The report, completed in a collaboration with Arabella Advisors, uses survey and interview data with 2010-2011 winners and is a great resource for anyone looking to submit a proposal for the next challenge — or anyone thinking of starting a news focused project in their newsroom.

Some takeaways:

1) Figure out what kind of manpower you need. You can mix full time staff with volunteers, but you definitely need a dedicated, paid, group of people to be focused on the project all of the time. Passion is always a plus. We all have a passion for journalism and innovation, so much so, that it’s kind of a boring trait to have. But nothing gets people motivated like being compensated fairly for their time. Think about this in the newsroom: you want more interactive data visualizations. You can’t just ask someone to do it in their free time if you’re serious about increasing the use of them on your site. You need to give someone more money to launch that project or hire another team member.

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