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Andrew Russo

Find the Right Media Role Through Diverse Internships

media-fieldsIt seems every mass communications or media studies student knows that he or she wants to be a television reporter, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, publicist, etc. It is a woefully misguided thought that we will have everything figured out by the time graduation rolls around. So, instead of applying to a variety of internships, aspiring media pros might narrow it down to one specific medium. That’s not always the best idea. Media interns should not limit themselves to one industry. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

1. A different medium teaches you something new. An important goal of an internship is to learn. It supplements the education you receive in school with real-world experience — beyond your university newspaper. Working in a different medium than you initially saw yourself working in also means you gain insight into the different ways that news and information is shared. Maybe by interning at a radio station you’ll be able to pick out what elements of a news story work well for that outlet as opposed to something written for your school paper.

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Basic HTML Can Be a Valuable Skill on a Media Intern’s Resume

Media-Intern-Post-4Compared to other millennials, I am late to the technology game. I didn’t have my first home computer until halfway through my freshman year of high school — in 2007. I still remember having to go to my dad’s office or a library to type up papers, which I didn’t even bother with until one English teacher complained about a handwritten short story I submitted. Mind you, my penmanship was impeccable (it’s since taken a turn for the worse).

Now that I’ve caught up and spend most waking hours in front of a screen, I cannot stress enough how important it is for media interns to be more than computer literate and fluent in Microsoft Word. They need to learn some coding.

I’ve said before that journalists should not be one-man bands, but this doesn’t mean they cannot know the basics of the technologies and tools they use today. And coding is a big one.

My experience with HTML before this past year was nonexistent. Aside from the one or two tips I’d glean from a friend who majored in computer science, I basically discarded the skill as something unnecessary for journalism. After all, I’d want to write, not produce. My time should be spent working on finding stories and polishing my writing. Read more

How to Temper the Fear of Dreaded Pitch Meetings

Pitch-Meetings-Bog-PostFor the first few weeks that I attended pitch meetings at Guideposts magazine, I was a nervous wreck. Every time 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning rolled around, I’d anxiously fidget and crumple the pitch sheet I’d prepared with palms that were already starting to sweat. I preferred to sit in the chair farthest from the table and look down at my now-damp paper, so I wouldn’t be called on. Part of the reason I got so nervous is because of my own introverted self, but the main reason is because as an intern you have an overwhelmingly strong desire to please your editor and any dissatisfaction makes you question yourself and your abilities. Now that I’ve had a few weeks of pitch meetings under my belt, I feel I can share what I’ve learned about making these meetings a little less terrifying for interns. Read more

How to Be a Community Journalist

There’s no doubt technology has made it easier to cover current events and breaking news on a global scale. Likewise, websites like Patch have helped to reignite the notion of reporting on local news. And for some freelance writers and photographers, going local is the ticket to getting steady work. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, we share some tips on how freelancers can break into the oft-forgotten field of community journalism.

The first step is to be invested in the community you’re covering — and to know it well. Lance Knobel, founder of community news site Berkeleyside, which covers Berkeley, Calif., said:

The benefit of writing for sites like Berkeleyside is that journalists can really dig into a local issue. It’s very much ground-level reporting; nothing happens at 35,000 feet.

You should also be prepared — at least for the first story or two — to write for free. The benefit, of course, is getting your name out there and gaining the trust of your editors. According to Tracy Record, editor of the West Seattle Blog:

Your work is likely to be read and remembered by more people via our readership than if you are buried somewhere in a mid-level metro.

For more tips from editors on how to start working in community journalism, read: 6 Ways to Break Into Community Journalism.

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.


Pack Your Bags, Journalism Majors: New York is the Place to Be for Media Jobs

shutterstock_152295734Growing up in Central New Jersey, I experienced no shortage of access to major cities. Manhattan was a 45-minute train ride away; Boston and D.C., only four hours north and south, respectively. And for making the transition from intern to a professional in the news and media industries, there probably is no better place to be. Except maybe living in New York City itself.

Travel two hours outside the Tri-state area and job opportunities and internships drop significantly. Yet on the tiny island of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, media jobs reign.

A friend of mine from Indiana recently shared her media job struggles on Facebook. My immediate thought was, “Well how many jobs are even out there?” Read more

Editors Discuss How Interns Can Make a Lasting Impression

As we all know, every career — media based or otherwise — begins at the bottom of the rung. But while you toil away at data entry work, research or transcribing interviews, it’s important to remember that your time spent as an intern could be your launching pad — so it’s imperative to make a lasting impression.

One of the first things interns should understand is what their priorities are. It’s great if a media job allows its interns to regularly pitch content and story ideas, but those opportunities should be secondary. Taylor Trudon, editor of Huffington Post Teen had this to say:

It’s not to discourage or dissuade anyone from writing about what they’re passionate about or taking a side project. But it’s also important to keep your editor’s priorities in mind.

You should also be open to being mentored by your supervisor or colleagues. Don’t just listen to your boss, really take in and implement what they are trying to teach you. Mandy Stadtmiller, deputy editor of xoJane, appreciates when she sees her suggestions being used:

I really notice when someone actually takes action and doesn’t just say, ‘Oh, thanks for the good advice.’

For more internship tips from editors, read: 8 Ways to Succeed at an Editorial Internship.


Until Our Education Changes, Journalists Can’t Be One-Man Bands

MediaIntern2Technology has made it possible to produce an entire article from the palm of your hand with a click-worthy headline and tweetable content. Countless professionals have continually told me that my (millennial) generation can’t specialize in just one particular medium anymore like professionals did 20 years ago. We’re supposed to be one-man bands.

This is a little troubling for me. While I love writing and photography, my talents as a videographer aren’t as strong as I’d like them to be. Recent journalism graduates and current students don’t always have the time or opportunity to learn different technologies and specialties while in school. A lot of schools are struggling with trying to integrate these lessons into their curricula, so those of us with freshly earned bachelor’s degrees are scrambling to pick up extra skills in our spare time.

It’s a multimedia world, so by the time graduation rolls around students’ resumes should include skills in photography, videography, Photoshop, Soundslides, html coding and more. The problem isn’t that we aren’t willing to learn all of these skills; it’s that these courses can’t be squeezed into a mere four years of college. And journalism jobs often don’t pay enough for the extra cost of attending graduate school to further our education. My school had one photojournalism class and one multimedia journalism class that was only started a couple of years ago. The rest of the courses I was expected to take were on different writing styles, principles and ethics. Photoshop was a class meant for those in advertising and marketing. Videography was for the film majors, photography for the fine arts majors, and coding for all seven of the computer science majors.

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From a Creative Writing Major to Two Journalism Internships

Andrew RussoI graduated from college more than a month ago, and in that time, I’ve watched more than half of my friends go on to land full-time positions in their field. I, however, am working two internships – one at Mediabistro and the other at Guideposts magazine – that have an expiration date at the end of August.

When you tell people after four years of hard work, dedication and thousands of your parents’ money that all you have to show for it is an internship — or worse yet, unemployment — they might give you that universal sympathetic look before saying, “Don’t worry, something will come along.”

In my case, though, I couldn’t be happier to have landed two internships in the field of journalism because I didn’t even major in it. About halfway through school, nearly finished with my BA in creative writing, I decided I really didn’t like it. I loved writing, but I had no time or dedication to think of plotlines or characters or read another thing by Nathaniel Hawthorne. So, I moved on to nonfiction. In news writing, the details, characters and motives are all there; all you need to do is put the facts into a cohesive whole. Another thing I love about the news is that you know what you write will be important to someone. Whether you’re covering the small-town high school prom or world conflicts, someone is interested in it, and that makes it important.

Since I changed my mind late in the game, I found myself close to graduating with only enough time to take the courses needed for a journalism minor and a few free electives to fill up with some multimedia classes. So I’m at Mediabistro and Guideposts to learn and grow. Read more

Technical Writing May Offer a Secure Career Opportunity for the Working Writer

For the creative writer who enjoys writing lifestyle content or dreams of publishing her first novel, delving into the world of technical writing might seem, well, not so fun. However, writer Amanda Layman Low says that a technical writing position is not the “facepalm-migraine it sounds like” and recommends it as a lucrative career option for any writer.

In the past year, Layman Low dipped her toe into the field and eventually landed a full-time gig as a technical writer for a sales consulting company. Basically, she writes eLearning course material that teaches sales representatives how to sell software. Although it might sound dull, she says, there are plenty of reasons to jump on board, especially given the changing landscape of journalism. Unlike that uncertainty, “technical writing isn’t going anywhere,” said Layman Low. You have the security of knowing that companies will always be looking for writers of content for training, presentations and other corporate materials.

And the higher-than-average money she earns as a technical writer versus writing for other markets doesn’t hurt either. Layman Low says:

Do I think it’s fair that technical writers get paid more than some journalists and novelists? No. I don’t think technical or sales writing is intrinsically “worth” more than beautiful prose. But I won’t deny that the income eases a ton of the stressors of my past life.

For more on the advantages of a career as a technical writer, read: The Case for Breaking Into Technical Writing.

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.

Kim France, Former Editor-in-Chief of Lucky, On Breaking in to the Magazine Business



Early in her careerKim France accomplished something that not many people can boast about: She launched a successful magazine, from the ground up. In 1999, Conde Nast hired France to launch a brand new shopping pub. Thus, Lucky was born.

Nowadays, France focuses on her latest passion project: Girls of a Certain Age, a fashion site dedicated to the over-40 crowd. And she has plenty of advice for today’s youth: “Do what you’re asked to do, and do it with a smile,” France says. “People will notice that you’re somebody who really wants to get work done and do it well.”

Check out the video after the jump for more straightforward career advice from France:

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