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young journalists

How to Get a Publication to Pay You Without Going to Small Claims Court

chess-knightsThis week we wrote about how journalists should be paid in the digital environment. Journalists being paid is a hot issue, especially since a lot of times, we’re asked to write for free or for exposure. That, too, is a loaded issue — sometimes it might be worth it, or it never, ever is.

And sometimes, we agree to do work for payment and never receive it. This is a classic freelancer dilemma and while most of you are, hopefully, sitting in newsrooms with a salary and benefits package and paid sick days, you never know when the shoe is going to drop and you need to pick up some work. Or, as is common in the digital environment, your contract allows you to write other sites every now and again, as long as you’re not competing with yourself.

Recently, I made a rookie mistake by taking on work for a start-up magazine. The work kept coming and the pay was in line with my experience and time. I won’t disclose the name of the publication (just to say it wasn’t this one), since the affair is — almost — concluded. But I did learn some lessons. Not about how to prevent this from happening again — there were contracts and tax information and all the legalese you can dream up.

So, short of a lawyer, who wouldn’t have been worth the sort-of small change I was owed,  and one step away from small claims court, here’s how I won my war.

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New Media Resources for Journos


“Anyone mourning the ‘death of journalism’ based on the closure of a few newspapers hasn’t been paying attention,” begins’s latest feature on new media resources. We couldn’t agree more! (Full disclosure: We’re honored to be featured in the piece). With 105 sites/tools/resources for traditional and new media journos alike, it’s definitely worth a bookmark. The feature covers ‘General New Media Journalism,’ ‘Digital Storytelling,’  ‘Interactive Media’ and ‘Video and Photography.’

Check it out here.

Plagiarism and Attribution Tests for Journalists: A Must or Not?


If there’s anything journalists know, it’s how not to plagiarize in our writing. Right? Right?! Wrong, apparently.

Wednesday Jim Romenesko broke the news on his blog that Digital First Media (DFM) has been having some issues with their reporters failing to attribute sources correctly in their work and as a result, their leadership team is asking everyone to take a “plagiarism and attribution quiz.” In a memo from Steve Buttry to DFM staff members, Digital Transformation Editor Buttry wrote that there had been “too many plagiarism cases recently in DFM newsrooms” (read the full memo, first published by Romenesko, here).

On top of the five-question quiz, reporters will have to complete a webinar regarding Web journalism and ethics. In the staff note, Buttry cited DFM’s reputation, “integrity” and “standards” as reasons to encourage all DFM journalists to go through the quick training.

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WATCH: Five Things I Didn’t Learn In J-School

Something they don’t always teach in college is that learning doesn’t really happen until you’re out of school. But by that time it’s called working on your craft. And you get paid for it.

Stephanie Tsoflias, New York market TV reporter and Mediabistro instructor gives her list of the top five things she didn’t learn in journalism school.

If you like what you hear, click on this link to sign up for Tsoflias’ “TV News reporting” class or go to to search for something else you may want to learn.

3 Rules for Getting To Sources On Social Media

While it’s easier than ever to read about what people think online, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to reach them. Trying to get Hillary Clinton on the line is like trying to get to Beyonce — you probably have to have a good reason and a good connect.

Although, when I wanted to talk to the person for a story, out of my five extended networks, I have been able to reach people through Twitter (just not Hillary Clinton, yet). You don’t want to interview people on Twitter, but social media is a great way to get to someone you don’t already have an email or phone number for.

1) Bypass The Direct Message

I hate direct messages on Twitter, even more the Facebook kind, and don’t get me started on LinkedIn. If you’re going to DM someone, I find it’s more efficient to tweet right at them. Maybe it’s annoying (reporters are annoying), but I like the idea of making their phone buzz and forcing them to get back to me. If you’re going to message, you might as well just dig up an email, or guess at one.

2) Respect Their Time

Get right to the point. Tell them why you want to talk to them — they can figure out who you are easy enough with enough clicks. And ask, don’t demand. Just because you reach out to someone doesn’t mean they have to respond, especially last minute. Be humble, but forceful.

3) Be Worth Knowing

New York Magazine dug up the reporters and publications that Congress members follow on Twitter. If you just use social media to retweet links and share your own stories, start editorializing. Don’t you want the school board president or council members to know who are? This way, the next time, they’ll reach out to you.

What about you? What’s the most unorthodox way you’ve gotten a scoop or an interview?