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A Letter From Laurel

From the desk of Laurel Touby, founder and senior vice president

- December 25, 2009

Conversation, community, engagement: The buzzwords that are re-shaping the media have been at the heart of since we raised a glass at our first cocktail party 15 years ago. We're more committed than ever to finding ways to bring you new opportunities in what continues to be a challenging economy. And while many in the media can't wait to see 2009 in the rear-view mirror, let's take one last look before we put the pedal to the metal and rev into a new decade.

The overview: While many companies retrenched in 2009, was in growth mode. We acquired two new blogs, AllFacebook and SocialTimes, to help keep us all up to speed on digital innovations across the industry. We created exciting new events like eBook Summit and Mediabistro Career Circus (both were standing room only!). We also brought all of the resources of into the fold, expanding our coverage of design with sites including Brands of the World, Ads of the World and CreativeBits. Read on for more highlights of 2009 and a peek at our plans for 2010.

Jobs were at the top of everyone's minds this year. The unemployment rate became the new anti-Dow as we watched and wondered just how high it would go. Yet, through the turmoil, remained the preferred place for organizations to turn to when they did need media talent. And though the job numbers didn't break records, every day of the week, every week of the year, dozens of new employers posted on the job board. This wonderfully eclectic mix represents the media landscape of the future and includes growing companies such as Babble Media, Blurb and Deep Focus. Don't be surprised if your next job is at a company you've never heard of before. Keep checking the job board, whether you are looking for a job, thinking about your next career move or just wondering what the future holds for the industry. And if you are a freelancer (or moonlighting), see what's new in our Freelance Services (below)!

With more than 10,000 students a year taking live and online courses, continues to be the best place for media folks at every level to build skills and push their careers in new directions. We've made it a priority to continue to deliver results-oriented education in newly flexible and affordable formats. A full two-thirds of our multi-week courses are offered online, so students across the country can participate on their own schedules.

One of the quickest, easiest and most affordable ways to get up to speed at the 'bistro is through our Mediabistro On Demand videos. The library now features nearly 300 original videos that give you direct access to leaders in digital media and the latest tips, tools, and trends on career, new media, and journalism topics. If you are a graphic designer (or want to develop your design chops), we added more than 100 videos from our sister site on topics like "How to Create a Flash Web site" and "How to Build a Logo." You can access the complete video archive for a full month for less than the price of two movie tickets in Manhattan.

This year we introduced self-paced courses, inexpensive content-heavy curricula to work through at your own speed independently (no instructor or fellow students). Self-starters can learn Copy Editing, polish their On-Camera Video abilities, immerse themselves in New Media, or make a total Career Change. The courses feature video instruction, written lectures, and assignments that will push your work out into the social Web.

Finally, in response to your many requests, launched new Certificate Programs! Ambitious students can complete a six-course curriculum certified by in Digital Journalism, Public Relations, and Copy Editing.

Our signature cocktail parties are going strong in 19 cities (with several each month in New York City alone). Who attends? Everyone from fans of our blogs to site contributors to students, teachers and job-board employers. Nowhere else can you find such a warm and fuzzy environment of like-minded people; the soirees are always overseen by one of our friendly hosts. If you'd like to don a feather boa and become a host, we'd love to have you. Email us!

While we're known for our fabulous cocktail parties, our conferences really took on a new life this year. We staged nine large-scale events, with leaders in digital media delivering every single one of our keynotes, including Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Guy Kawasaki (Garage Technology Ventures), Vivian Schiller (CEO at NPR), Gary Vaynerchuk (WineLibraryTV), Marco Argenti (VP at Nokia), and Tim Ferris (The 4-Hour Work Week). UGCX, a conference about connecting with user-generated content and Web 3.0, about the next phase of Web technology, a.k.a. semantic Web, took place on both coasts. In New York, TVNewser Summit, Think Mobile, Mediabistro Circus, Mediabistro Career Circus, and the eBook Summit, drew large crowds eager to contribute to the conversations that are setting a new course for the industry.

We're proud to proclaim that AvantGuild,'s premium membership program, now has more than 11,000 paid members. AG members get exclusive access to our valuable How to Pitch guides for publications like Marie Claire, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine, and feature articles like our timely interview with Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame. And keep an eye out for our January feature package, "Profit From Your Passions." Every week will focus on a different area to help folks blend their interests with careers in media.

We continue to add new membership benefits, including substantial discounts on Zipcar, FreshBooks, and on basics like office supplies and gym memberships. As always, we help our community get access to affordable insurance, including health, dental, drug, supplemental, and liability plans. (We even have pet insurance!) And every month, we hold a drawing where one lucky AvantGuild member can win a Kindle. On Twitter, @mediabistro has quickly become an indispensable way to stay on top of breaking news, and our many Facebook fans share tips and get access to exclusive offers.

Did you know that we launched a blog called We the 'Bistro, featuring content created entirely by members? Some of your colleagues have already weighed in on topics such as Managing the Stresses of Being an Editor or Journalist and What Sex and the City Taught Me About Writing. If you don't feel like making the commitment to the daily upkeep of your own blog, but still want to be read by thousands of people, write a post for We the 'Bistro!

To expand the ways we match up freelancers and employers, we recently launched Freelance Connect (FC), where freelancers of all kinds can bid on projects. To date, 29 projects have been posted to Freelance Connect -- everything from logo and business-card design to copy writing and typesetting. Get bidding!

And don't forget to add your profile to our long-standing Freelance Marketplace (FM), where employers regularly search for freelancers with specialized skills. We are currently offering freelancers a one-month free trial on the Marketplace. Cover all your bases: bid on freelance work at FC while you make yourself visible to more employers by posting your profile today on FM!

Our busy editorial team launched 4 new blogs this year: WebNewser, BayNewser, eBookNewser, and MediaJobsDaily. We've even brought a few of our freelance bloggers on board full-time to expand the coverage at AgencySpy, PRNewser and GalleyCat.

Want to get the lowdown on the hiring scene from both sides of the process? Our MediaJobsMonthly newsletter is a smart read and useful roundup of employment stories you should be following. We tell you why employers hire back so many of the very people they've laid off, how social media is changing search strategies for recruiters and recruits, and what unemployment numbers really mean for the media.

Throughout the site, you'll see a lot of video, with more to come in the new year. Media Beat, our new weekly video series, kicked off with media legend Ken Auletta of The New Yorker. We also scored interviews with Dan Rather, Jay Lauf (VP and publisher at The Atlantic), and Nick Law (R/GA chief creative officer).

And, if you want a good belly laugh, The Week in Advertising, produced by our AgencySpy blogger and our TVNewser editor, is a romp through the best and worst in the ad biz. Speaking of which...

More and more advertisers are coming to to reach our influential crowd of tastemakers via the blogs, video, newsletters, events, and sponsored parties you love. With us, advertising is about introducing you to a community 1.5 million strong and growing. Some of our happy advertisers this year have included NBC, Columbia University, Yahoo, Macmillan Publishers, Full Sail University and Vocus.

There's so much more to tell you about, but I think this is a good sum up. I truly hope that you'll check out some of the new features I mentioned above and feel free to suggest others we haven't dreamed up yet.

I'm always here for you. Feel free to write me any time.

Love and best wishes for the holidays and for the New Year!


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