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Posts Tagged ‘self-education’

To Interns, With Love: How To Work It In the Newsroom

It’s a Thursday afternoon in June and that means there are media interns across the country staring at walls, possibly showing too much skin, and playing around with your CMS. Since we know you’re reading now, journalism students and digital hopefuls, here’s my advice to you. Of course, it should all be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

1) I’ve only actually held one real, certified internship at a local cable news show. It was not as cool as some other internships that my classmates had — they were in more glamorous buildings with more glamorous names. Luckily, interning at a small, sort of uncool media company meant that I actually had tasks to perform, a producer to report to, and the fruits of my labor often ended up on the air.

And yet, there was still always about an hour and a half,  just after I knocked out all of my work and it had been approved, I asked for more work and there was none, and just before the cold open where I would run a teleprompter like a boss (it’s a shame this is not a marketable skill), during which there was nothing to do. I would fiddle with tabs on my browser like I was in a North Korean computer lab and try not to make too much noise as I popped the top of my Diet Coke can. It was excruciating.

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3 Things Journalists Can Teach Themselves Over Vacation

While not all news folk can escape from the news cycle during the holidays, if you’re lucky enough to have a day or few off, put down the cookies and milk and put that time to good use advancing your career. Here are three skills you can reasonably learn — or start learning — over your vacation that can help you do your job better or land a better job. If either of those are your New Years Resolution, take the time now to get a head start.

Lesson: Creating a blog and other basic digital skills

If you’re looking for a job or looking to network, there’s no better time than time off your day job to round up your clips/photos/reel/etc. and corral everything into a simple, personalized blog on WordPress or a similar site. If you want to really show off, or add a few more skills to fill out your resume, Mindy McAdams has done the hard part for you by compiling lessons needed to become baseline multimedia journalists. Her multimedia proficiency guide is a few years old, but these are still good basics to get started on everything from reading RSS feeds to recording and editing video and audio.
http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/2009/rgmp-15-maintain-and-update-your-skills/ (Note this links to the last lesson, the full listing is at the bottom of the post.)

Lesson: Use Excel for data journalism

Knowing the very basics of how to set up a spreadsheet and use the sort feature opens up new possibilities for your stories. Imagine how cool it would be if you could do even more. Even if Excel is outside your (or your newsroom) budget, you can still apply similar skills with free spreadsheet tools, such as Google Docs or Open Office. Dig a little deeper and you’ll soon be requesting government data and mashing up unexpected correlations in pivot tables that tell stories your competition can’t. Trust me when I say pivot tables will change the way you crunch numbers — for the better. Poynter recently posted a detailed explainer on organizing stories/data in Excel. It’s way more detailed than you really need to get started, but it goes from basics to advanced in one sheet, which I like. Don’t get overwhelmed, just dip your toes in and move on when you’re ready. Maybe it will spark some interest in more advanced IRE training?
http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/154584/how-journalists-can-use-excel-to-organize-data-for-stories/

Lesson: Write computer codes

OK, so this isn’t something that will directly translate into your day job (unless maybe you’re on the web team or want to transition that direction), but learning to code can give you some comfort and confidence with computer and web programming languages. It can help you learn the skills to eventually develop apps and websites, and since that’s the direction journalism is headed, these skills could open doors down the line. Codeacademy makes a game of learning to program, which could be fun if you’re into that. But if you want to expand on their lessons, I recommend Carl Herod’s really detailed lessons originally posted on Reddit, which start at the very “Hello World” beginnings and get more complicated and cool from there.
http://codeacademy.com
• http://www.highercomputingforeveryone.com/