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Journalism Advice

News Corp, Columbia, NYU Collaborate on Data-Visualization Tools for Journos

Newscorp-MedialabConsider a new partnership among News Corps and two academic institutions an early Christmas present to journalists who enjoy tinkering with data but may not possess lots of technical knowledge.

A working group consisting of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University and the Integrated Digital Media Program at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, as well as News Corp, promises to build “visual programming tools” designed for journalists who don’t speak hacking languages.

“The idea is to develop a robust tool for the rapid deployment of data-driven storytelling for journalists,” said NYU professor Luke DuBois. “This will be an open source tool that allows journalists to link in a data set, process it using a pipeline of commonly accepted statistical methods, and extract a wide variety of different visualizations that can be easily embedded within a narrative context.” DuBois is overseeing four graduate students who will focus on software development and user experience for this project.

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Mediabistro Course

Middle Grade Novel Writing

Middle Grade Novel WritingStarting January 15, work with a literary agent to write your middle-grade novel! In this course, you'll learn how to develop strong characters, write compelling dialogue, master the art of revision, and market your work to publishing houses and agents. Register now!

Jennifer Senior on What Makes for the ‘Worst Interview’

JenniferSeniorPicNew York magazine contributing editor Jennifer Senior picks and chooses her interviews. But when she publishes one, it’s always memorable.

Traveling from New York to Florida for this weekend’s Sanibel Island Writers Conference, she took a few moments to chat with Florida Weekly‘s Nancy Stetson. Senior proved to be a pretty good interview herself, quickly expounding when asked, ‘What makes a good interview?:’

“The worst interviews are the ones where you have two collisions of sensibility. Either the interviewer has an adversarial point of view, or they’re not empathetic, so what happens is that you don’t actually get to experience the world from the point of view of the subject.”

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‘Mad Men’s’ Matt Weiner: ‘Find a Way to Turn Rejection into Something that Inspires You’


ABC News anchor Robin Roberts, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus, and CBS chief research officer David Poltrack are among the newest members of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Their honors came Monday night at a black tie event at the Waldorf Astoria co-hosted by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas.

MediabistroTV caught up with several TV luminaries, including Kelly, Costas, “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner and even former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, to get their keys to success. WATCH:

Erik Wemple’s Cautionary Professional View

ErikWempleSlugErik Wemple is one of the nation’s most widely read media critics. He works for a newspaper that, under new owner Jeff Bezos, stands a better chance than most of successfully figuring out the shifting print media horizon. His wife, Stephanie Mencimer, is a staff writer for Mother Jones magazine as well as a board member with the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

And yet… In a Q&A with the Daily Gazette, covering the Schenectady, NY region where Wemple grew up, the Washington Post columnist’s final answer speaks cheeky, realistic volumes. Asked by reporter Mark McGuire whether he plans to encourage the couple’s young son and daughter to pursue writing, Wemple replied:

“Let’s put it this way, I haven’t yet. …My wife is also a journalist. Neither one of us are counseling them to be a journalist. If they do that, it is all on them.”

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So You Want to Interview a Celebrity?


While landing a celebrity interview may be hard, the interview itself may prove even more of a challenge. You’ll likely be working under a limited time frame, provided a list of blackballed question and topics, and, chances are, the celebrity won’t be the only person joining you for the interview.

If you can come up with an original hook, are tenacious about getting through to a publicist, do your research and prep well, that first successful celebrity interview might not be your last. Just remember to keep your idolization in check, as did Kristen Fischer when she interviewed Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey:

I never told Dempsey that I all but wore out the VHS tape of his ’80s flick Can’t Buy Me Love because I watched it so much… and I never called him McDreamy or told him I had seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Although I was nervous to interview one of my favorite actors, keeping a professional tone helped foster a better dialog.

For more advice on acing your celebrity interview, read: The Keys to Landing a Celebrity Interview.

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.

What One Freelance Writer Learned After Taking the Leap to a Full-time Career

contract-salaried-blogThere are a lot of freedoms that come with being a freelance writer. You have the flexibility of choosing which publications to target and the types of stories to pitch. Not to mention you get to work from the comfort of your couch — in your pajamas, if you want.

However, as writer Amanda Layman Low discovered, the benefits of making the jump from a freelancer to a salaried position helped her not only become a better writer, but also learn more about herself. She was also able to stress less about finances. Layman Low says:

When I was a full-time freelancer, every moment was an opportunity for more income, more ideas. I never stopped working. As a salaried technical writer, I work from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, with no worries about missing an opportunity and losing out on a bunch of money over the weekend.

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High-Profile Clips, Networking Help Pave the Way to a Celebrity Ghostwriting Gig

Writers willing to forego a byline and venture into the world of celebrity ghostwriting should know that the work is fiercely competitive. But there are steps you can take to help break into this profitable market.

Before writing the life and times of Steven Spielberg or LeBron James, a writer who seeks to enter the celebrity ghostwriting field needs to be considered a credible journalist with more than a few stories published in respected publications. According to Madeleine Morel, a literary agent who only represents veteran ghostwriters:

You really have to get your name out as many places as you can. The more you can build your inventory of published material, the better chance you have of being taken seriously.

Another important aspect of celebrity ghostwriting is networking with other freelancers. Michelle Burford, a best-selling writer, recommends reaching out to colleagues and offering to take on any projects they decide to turn down.

For more tips on how to get your own celebrity ghostwriting gig, read: How to Land a Celebrity Ghostwriting Gig.

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.

How Freelancers Can Break Into Community Journalism

For journalists just starting their careers and breaking into freelance work, national magazines and newspapers are the usual avenues for which to concentrate pitches. However, an often-overlooked market is right under their noses. Covering local news and events for websites and publications might just be the ticket to landing steady work. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, editors offer tips for entering the field of community journalism.

One tip is to ask for advice from your freelancer network. Writers should speak with successful colleagues in their areas to get the scoop on where to find writing opportunities. Beth Winegarner, a writer for the Poynter Institute, said tapping your fellow freelancers is invaluable:

Knowing who’s writing, and who they’re writing for, gives you a good sense of which publications are open to taking freelance work.

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Editors Give Tips on How to Succeed at a Media Internship

Now that summer is here many young media professionals have begun internships with the hope of acquiring the skills and contacts that will help make getting a job after graduation that much easier. However, it is not enough to just have a list of editorial internships on your resume. The time at your job has to be well spent. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, we asked editors for advice on how to succeed at your summer internship.

One tip involves receiving constructive criticism from your supervisor:

When an editor gives you feedback, it’s important to be able to take it in stride and know that it’s nothing personal against you or your writing,” says Taylor Trudon, editor of Huffington Post Teens. ”They’re taking their time away from whatever they’re doing to help you improve.

Another tip is Googling the small stuff (like what a specific journalism term means), but asking about any big concerns you have about your assignments, the office culture, etc.:

Ask questions if you don’t know,” says Trudon. “A lot of interns are either scared or embarrassed, but it’s better to ask than to make a mistake, backtrack and have to clean up a big mess.

For more tips from editors on how to make the most of your editorial internship, read: 8 Ways to Succeed at and Editorial Internship.



How to Create a Successful Fashion Blog

While the Internet and online communities have always been viewed as a dwelling for the wardrobe challenged, Vicki Sullivan bridges the gap between fashion and the blogging world with her blog, Aspiring Socialite. In fact, her work stands as a testament to just how successful a truly dedicated fashion blogger can be.

In our latest Journalism Advice article, Sullivan offers advice on how to use your fashion blog to jump-start a career working with top luxury brands and developing incredible contacts in the fashion world. One big aspect according to Sullivan, is choosing just the right moniker:

The name you choose for your blog must be a natural fit that truly expresses who you are, as it is the essence of your personal brand. Often, the name can come to you rather unexpectedly.

Says fashion blogger Melissa Tierney: ”The name for my blog was a joint effort. I took a notebook and wrote down tons of different possible names. Finally, as I was walking to my office on Madison Ave., I came up with Missy On Madison.”

In addition to choosing the right name, Sullivan shares how to find your own voice, brand and the importance of a good URL.

To read more about fashion blogs and how to create your own, read: The Keys to Starting Your Own Fashion Blog.