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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Grimm’

After Five Years, Joe Grimm Bids Adieu To Poynter

Joe Grimm, he of Ask The Recruiter, the man who has dispensed endless advice to journalists seeking new careers, is leaving Poynter, he announced today.

The column is almost five years old, but before that it was an independent Q&A blog started in 2003.

He will still be hosting weekly career chats at Poynter, but the regular column will continue no more.

Grimm wrote:

It has been a privilege to be in this place and I am grateful to be here. The affiliation with Poynter has been great, my editors at Poynter Online are smart and patient and have challenged me continuously to improve Ask the Recruiter.

The greatest privilege has been to hear from so many other journalists who have questions about their careers. To be trusted with such important matters and decisions is an indescribable honor. I always felt that the best parts of anything posted here were the parts written by you. Thank you for trusting me and for teaching me so much of what I know about what goes on in all kinds of newsrooms and situations.

Need more Grimm fix? He’s writing a weekly column, Joe On Jobs, for MSU’s School of Journalism, and will be updating at least weekly.

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‘Tiger In The Kitchen,’ From Laid-Off WSJ Reporter, Out Today

In 2009, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan lost her job as a fashion writer at the Wall Street Journal. But a week later, she’d signed with Hyperion to write a food memoir.

Joe Grimm spoke to Tan about what’s happened between then and now.

Apparently, a lot. Not just the researching and writing of the book, but building her platform:

“‘I carried a notebook with me whenever I went into the kitchen or whenever my family was telling stories. Everyone has a different version of events.’ She used a camera and audio recorder to take notes.

“As she reported and wrote, Tan found material that she knew would not make the book. She poured that into her blog. The writing there already has helped her land a magazine piece with Food & Wine. She does a weekly piece now for The Wall Street Journal and will have a piece about her book this week in Newsweek.”

Another tidbit: She wrote the original proposal–all 11,000 words of it–in a month when she realized her job at the WSJ was in jeopardy. A month!

Now she’ll be doing travel, food, and fashion writing and seeing where her new status as author takes her.

The book is officially out today.

The Return Of Rewrite

Rewrite is back, journos!

Before most of the people reading this were born*, newspapers worked very differently. Instead of reporters writing their own stories, it was common for a reporter to gather information and call it back to the “rewrite desk,” where someone would compile the information into a story.

That fell out of practice decades ago, but, Poynter’s Joe Grimm says, it’s making a comeback.

“With newsroom staffs shrinking and the accompanying loss of local knowledge, some editors have said that the reporters or editors who have the skills to rework choppy copy into well-written prose are prized more than they have been in decades.”

Exhibit B, by the way: Deseret Media, in Salt Lake City, has a rewrite desk that re-packages video and still photography, audio, and text into various forms depending on whether it’s more suited for TV, print, or the web.

Moral of the story: if you can cobble a readable story out of multiple inputs (reporting, the wires, Twitter, etc), consider keeping those clips at the front of your package.

*This is an assumption based on almost no hard data. Don’t get snippy.

Cover Letters That Worked: “Long Hours And No Pay? Sign Me Up!”

cover letters that worked

This cover letter was not sent to us but it is such a good example of how to get your foot in the door that we had to include it.

We reported on this amazingly honest job listing from the Illinois Valley News earlier this month. Now,’s Joe Grimm notes: someone’s been hired!

The posting got 70 or 80 resumes, and it was ultimately 2010 U of Oregon graduate Darcy Wallace who got the gig. She told Grimm that the subject line of her letter was “Long hours and low pay? Sign me up.”

We love this: it’s ‘tudey, just like the original posting, but also says something about the jobseeker. Not many people would write that kind of line and mean it. We suspect that’s part of what drew IVN publisher Daniel J. Mancuso to his ultimate hire.

Mancuso said on CBS Radio affiliate KRLD in Dallas that “being a reporter is a 24-365 job and you have to be available when the news is available, and just because it’s Saturday afternoon doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. I want somebody who really wants to be a reporter and really understand what it is. The people I’m attracting, they know what I want. I want somebody that’s just going to work.”

Wallace added that at a small paper like the IVN, she’ll be able to do everything. And she has her own desk.

No Such Thing As ‘Being A Journalist’ Anymore

Are you a journalist?
Nope, says the group at Journalism Lives.

“If someone tells you, ‘I’m a journalist,’ tell him he’s being a bad journalist for being so vague,” JL wrote yesterday.

That statement, say the JL authors, could mean anything these days.

Instead, maybe you’re a “mobile maven,” someone who leads the way on mobile platforms, trying to figure out what content works best on mobile, researching app revenue models and promote mobile efforts. Or a multimedia reporter, shooting video and still images on top of covering your beat in print. Or a journalist/coder who understands PHP in addition to the police beat.

And timed so well you’d think they did it on purpose, Poynter held a live chat today about buzzwords on your resume. Because while specificity is good, what you don’t want to do is try to make your “journalist” title into a more specialist one by saying you’re a “social media guru” or “new media expert”..Poynter’s Joe Grimm said he would “never” hire anyone with one of those titles.

Other tired phrases: “platform agnostic,” “new media.” (Grimm says the web desk told him: “That’s not new anymore. To us, it’s just ‘media’.”)

Your titles and the way you describe yourself in person and on paper must change to suit the times. How would you describe yourself today?

Ten Things To Do Before You Leave Your Internship

starbucks coffee cup
an intern’s life. flickr: Steve Webel

Now that it’s August, if you’re a summer intern, you’re probably heading back to school in less than a month—or worse, you’re being kicked out into the real world.

Allison Green explains at U.S. News & World Report what you should do in your internship before it’s too late…and Poynter’s Joe Grimm also posted a list recently of four things specific to journalists.

First, thank people. “Talk to your manager about what you got out of the experience, and thank her for giving you the opportunity to work with her. People love hearing this sort of thing—don’t be shy about telling her,” says Green. Grimm’s list unintentionally echoes this but adds that you should really thank everyone, including “the people who handled your move, took care of payroll and helped you get reimbursements or appointments.”

Second, get feedback. And make sure you ask for it, both experts say, because exit interviews may not be standard practice. “Trying to finagle one on the last day will not lead to anything satisfying,” says Grimm.

Third, Green says, talk to people about your future plans, because they’ll probably have advice or job leads. Yours truly can attest to the power of this.

Fourth, update your resume, while the details of this internship are still fresh in your mind.

Fifth, reflect on the experience. “What do you wish you’d done differently or known when you started? Can you see yourself working in that field? Would you want to do the work you saw others doing? Was the culture one you’d like to work in again or try to avoid?”

Sixth, keep track of contacts you made. Export your Outlook address book if you’re extra organized, but mostly you just want to make sure you can reach your boss, mentors, and coworkers and that they can reach you. It doesn’t hurt, Green says, to send the occasional e-mail after you’ve left. “Very few interns bother to do this, but those who do really stand out—and often develop professional relationships that serve them well long into their careers.”

Seventh, and this one’s from Grimm, make sure your references are in order. “Find out whom you can count on for this. Go for people who know you best — they will have more to say — not the ones with the biggest titles.” And ask them beforehand what they’d say. If you don’t like the answer, find someone else.

Eighth, get good copies of your work. Hard-copy clips or your portfolio are well and good for tacking to fridges but you need something you can e-mail, so if you’re able to grab PDFs of your reporting, copywriting, or PRing while you’re still inside the intranet, it’s that much easier.

Okay, so there weren’t really ten things, since these two experts had overlapping advice for the most part, but we’d add at least one for media pros to this list: make sure your portfolio is something you’re happy with. Assuming you have some time left, maybe now’s the time to try that crazy story on spec or ask to write a press release by yourself. If your internship turned out to be a bust because all you were doing was sorting files, see if you can find a way to transform that resume line item into something productive at the last minute. Ask for a bigger project, more responsibility, or do something awesome in your spare time that the company just loves.

Understatement Of The Year: Do Your Homework When Pitching

Cautionary tale from Joe Grimm‘s Ask The Recruiter column: an editor wrote in saying that he’d received a freelance pitch from a local recent graduate.

“He’s pursued me strongly, using the fact that he lives in the community my newspaper covers as part of his appeal,” wrote the editor. “Then, when I asked him to come in and chat with me, he confessed that he’s never seen the newspaper and wonders if it can even be found in print…He explained that he works several jobs so he doesn’t get out much.”

The newspaper in question has been around for more than a century.

Needless to say, that graduate’s freelancing career may be over—at least at that paper.

Grimm agreed, and suggested things freelancers should do before pitching themselves, like reading back issues of the paper or magazine, learning about its beats, and reading the paper’s masthead. All good things.

But “do your homework” could be extended to almost any job or pitch. If you’re applying for a marketing job, learn about the agency–who are its clients? Who owns it? Who might you be reporting to? In the age of Google, it’s not tough to find this information.

And PR people, do your homework when sending pitches, too–like has the paper already covered this issue? Does the reporter even cover your beat or are you only pitching because Cision said to?

It’s amazing how few people do this, and how many people make easily avoidable blunders like the poor recent grad mentioned up top. And how easily you can make yourself stand out by just doing a little homework.

Just Don’t Blog About Your Boss

A cub reporter leaving the profession to do Teach For America asks: “Do you advise against blogging about your employers, or are there tactful ways to do this? And if I publish a blog that includes my first-person account of teaching and the views I develop about the system along the way, will that jeopardize my integrity as an objective journalist?”

Joe Grimm of Ask The Recruiter has, as always, the right answer: Don’t do it. “Your first concern about the content of your blog should be how it hits your employers, peers, students and their families, not whether it make you look good for later.”

By all means, take mental notes. Or real ones. There’s a lot here: a new grad’s first job, the experience of working for Teach for America, the people s/he meets along the way, education reform, and so forth. If nothing else, the experience will probably make for a great book later. Key word: later.

‘Feature Writing For The Web’ Makes UC San Diego Extension’s List Of Hot Careers

fire flames hot

It must be Opposite Day, because “feature writing for the web” has made a list of top careers. Fifth out of fourteen, in fact.

UC San Diego Extension also listed geriatric health care, clinical trials design and management, and marine conservation as fields to look into.

Joe Grimm at Poynter noticed the report and wisely noted that the “study does not address issues such as pay, numbers of jobs available and the like…but I nonetheless found it refreshing to see journalism show up on the list.”

So what does qualify a job as “hot” if not pay or availability? The study was based on “enrollment figures, national employment statistics and interviews with San Diego business executives,” the report says. Not quite as exciting as a working business model for online, is it?

photo: Paloetic

Why Won’t Copy Editors Apply For My Online Jobs? ‘If You Want To Hire Editors, Make Sure Editing Is Their Job’

Today’s “Ask The Recruiter” is the first we’ve seen from a hiring manager rather than a jobseeker, and the question (and response) is edifying.

An editor who runs a 24-hour digital news desk says she wishes more copy editors would apply for her open jobs, but so far, none have.

Joe Grimm responds:

Ask yourself whether the work you need to have done is truly editing or more like production work that does not have much to do with editing content. One copy editor told me that his new job was basically copying content and pasting it into little boxes in the content management screen. He valued editing, but didn’t think the online desk cared one way or the other. If you want to hire editors, make sure editing is an important part of their responsibilities.

Perhaps, and this was left unsaid but we’ll say it: perhaps the logic goes like this: copy editors are detail-oriented. Producers need to be detail-oriented. Perfect match!

Obviously in real life, filling a job is more than just matching up one of the many required skills.

There are other reasons why the positions may remain unfilled, Grimm says: “We sometimes feel that we should not have to sell good jobs, but if we want to get the best people, we have to sell.” And besides, some copy editors, he says, “shun online work and stick to what they know.” If that sounds like you, please reconsider.

But really now. There does seem to be a dearth of copy editing positions online and a glut of general-purpose copy “producing” jobs online. So if one group isn’t applying for jobs at the other, it’s because they’re not the same.