Tag Archives: journalists

5, Must-Know Standards Citizen Journalists Should Know and Practice

Citizen journalism involves those who aren’t professionally trained in journalism to take part in one of the foundations of democracy by conducting their own reporting and interviewing. The rise of social media has allowed the number of citizen journalists to exponentially grow where information and visuals can be attained and shared in mere seconds. But there’s been skepticism regarding the growing number of citizen journalists and how they contribute, such as the accuracy of information, how that information is portrayed, and a lack of standard training unlike their professional counterparts.

If you want to report news and label such information as factual and journalistic, then you should have a grasp on the foundation and basics of journalism.

Five, Must-Know Standards Citizen Journalists Should Know and Practice:

  1. Journalism Ethics
  2. Learn about journalism ethics for citizen journalists and why upholding ethics while reporting information is vital.
    Image from Journalism Degree.
    Journalists are given or discover powerful information for a story at one time or another. Knowing how to ethically handle such information is important as the main role of a journalist is to report confirmed, factual information to the public while maintaining one’s reputation.

    Aidan White, Director of Ethical Journalism Network, describes the five core values of journalism, which include: accuracy, independence, impartiality, humanity, and accountability.

  3. Media Law
  4. Learn about media law for journalists and why citizen journalists should understand the major and most impactful cases.
    Image from Our Lady of the Lake University: Comm 2340 Media Law.
    What may be considered one of the more complex journalism areas, media law involves learning how past cases were handled and how such legal outcomes influence how journalists practice and report today. Understanding the bigger and more historical significant court cases allows citizen journalists to not only understand their legal rights, but also knowledge of how to handle any issues that may arise from obtaining or publishing information.

    From copyright to libel and slander, to invasion of privacy and first-amendment rights, journalists must know where the law currently stands with such areas, and how journalism and freedom of press evolved before and during those court cases.

    Resources on media law for journalists:

  5. AP Style
  6. Why citizen journalists should know AP Style.Journalists even have their own writing style that citizen journalists should adapt in order to maintain consistency and professionalism.

    When I was accepted into UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, all students were required to take a news-writing class that involved learning the do’s and don’ts of AP Style and other areas. I remember studying various parts of the AP Stylebook—literally—and being tested on them, such as when to write out names of cities and states.

    Purchase the most recently published AP Style guide and read through the more common sections to familiarize yourself with the proper forms of words and grammar. This, in turn, will increase your professionalism as well as the likelihood that a media outlet, professional organization or person will share or re-publish your article.

    Resources on becoming familiar with AP Style:

  7. Interviewing Techniques
  8. Learn how to interview sources and other resources for citizen journalists.
    Image from journalism.about.com.
    Being able to find, interview, and successfully include direct quotes and/or paraphrases into your story is a vital and strong skill to have as a journalist. Also, as discussed earlier in the ethical standards of journalism, ensuring the story has the whole story instead of only one side will not only make your story stronger, but will also seem more impartial.

    One of my first interviews I ever conducted happened my senior year of high school as an intern at my hometown’s local newspaper, The State Port Pilot. I was very nervous and tried to write down every word the source said, which I successfully did—although my notes were almost illegible! However, the more I interviewed, the more confident I became in my ability to find great sources and record the discussion. You don’t need to record every single word, but instead, be able to note the main topics he/she talks about as well as quoting one or two very strong quotes; this method worked well for me. Also, always ask if you can contact them again in case you need to confirm anything.

    Another method involves using a recording device while interviewing; however, there may be some limitations in recording sources, which you should review prior to using one. It’s also polite to let your source know that you would like to record them prior to the interview.

    Resources for bettering your interviewing skills:

  9. Fact-Checking
  10. Fact-checking and journalism: Jon Stewart quote.
    Image from AZ Quotes.
    Double-—no—triple-check the facts: names, places, quotes, and anything else that may slip by. By fact checking your work prior to publication and having a different set of eyes on it, if possible, you’re setting yourself up for success. Ensuring the names of people, places, organizations, etc., are spelled correctly will not only uphold your professionalism but increase the likelihood of no potential conflicts.

    Resources on fact-checking:

Citizen journalists who understand and practice these journalistic standards will find their reporting, ability to handle conflicts, and overall reputation become more confident and professional.

Have another tip or technique that all journalists should know? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

6 Low- to No-Cost Ways to Learn New or Improve Existing Skills

This post was published on First Draft, the Society of Professional Journalist’s Generation J’s Committee blog: blogs.spjnetwork.org/genj/2016/09/12/low-to-no-cost-ways-to-learn-tech-skills/

Education never ends for journalists especially those on the techy side. Understanding trendy technologies,  social sites, and learning new, necessary skills are all part of the job.
If you're looking for ways to learn how to use new technologies, then you'll love the blog post, 6 Low- to No-Cost Ways to Learn New or Improve Existing Skills.
But learning new or improving existing skills can be really expensive, right? Not if you know who to follow, what to learn, and how to find such opportunities:

  1. Stay-up-to-date with the latest technology and media news.

    By keeping up with the latest tech news and state of the media, then you’re less likely to be caught by surprise. One way to do this is by maintaining a semi-active Twitter presence and following related companies on LinkedIn to see most recent updates. There are many amazing sites that report on new technologies or the state of the media that you should follow. Here’s my take on four of the best media and tech news sites every digital journalist should know.

  2. Day-long workshops.

    Society of Professional Journalist's Journcamps.

    If you’re looking for a full day of training in the latest trends and technologies in journalism then you’ll love Society of Professional Journalists’ JournCamps. These events start with all of the attendees listening to a broad and relevant topic or issue in the media world. Afterwards, there are a total of four breakout sessions throughout the day where you can choose two sessions to take that cover specific topics.

    The Online News Association offers free sessions in their ONACamps, and check out the National Council for the Training of Journalistsresources, as well.

    Attending such low-cost workshops with top-of-the-line media experts is an amazing deal and experience.

  3. Volunteering increases your chances at finding a job. Learn why journalists should volunteer their skills to nonprofits.

  4. Volunteer your skills.

    Did you know those who are unemployed and volunteer have a 27% better chance of finding a job versus those who don’t? This is one of the many positives of volunteering your journalistic skills to a nonprofit whose mission you believe in. Not only does it allow you to learn new skills and become more experienced in existing ones, but you’ll also increase your network and improve your overall health.

  5. Free or low-cost apps for your smartphone.

    Smartphones are becoming more and more vital in the reporting world from professional lenses to video production applications. Practicing with such apps can definitely increase your expertise with them;Smartphone journalism requires knowledge of useful apps and more. if you’re reporting from the field and catching real-time video, you’ll be ahead of the curve. One of the free video apps for Android is KineMaster, which basically gives you a condensed production studio on your phone—from filming, planning, editing and publishing.

    Check out other top Android video editing apps recommended here. If you’re an iPhone user, check out some of your recommended video apps here.

  6. Online training in specific skills.

    Moz logo.
    Along with keeping up with the latest trends and news, finding sites that specifically train you in a desired skill are bountiful and extremely useful:

    • Moz offers countless trainings and blog posts about search engine optimization (SEO) and social. Diving into the SEO and understanding how it interconnects with other areas of a website is a very technical skill to undertake, but will vastly increase your knowledge and make you more competitive. Not only will you learn how SEO relates to a website and user interest, but you’ll have a deeper understanding of how the entire Web is connected.
    Google News Lab logo.
    • From teaching yourself HTML to C++, you’ll find it all in free coding sites, such as Codeacademy. Learning such skills will help you be more competitive and worldly in your skills. Here’s a great blog post about “45 of The Best Places to Learn to Code for Free” if you are looking for other sites.

    Google provides excellent training resources for its tools, and you can become certified in some of them (I recommend the Google Analytics one). Every journalist should know the basics of Google Analytics and be able to translate the metrics; however, some Google tools depend on what types of skills you want to learn. For example, Google recently developed Google News Lab, which includes various tools for journalists, such as Google Trends.

    adobe-tv-logo

    • If you want to create interactives or other types of visuals and have access to Adobe programs, then check out Adobe’s awesome training videos! Understanding widely used Adobe programs such as Premiere Pro and Photoshop, is extremely useful for any type of journalist. Check out the training videos here. Also, if you’re still a student, or still have access to your student email, then you can register for the student and teacher rate for only $19.99 a month for The All Apps Plan.

  7. Curriculum being taught at top journalism schools.

    What courses are future journalists being taught in the top journalism schools? Keep an eye on what courses are leaving, staying, or going and then compare it to new technologies, trends, and events. From there, you can decide if you should train in specific areas. When I entered UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, the sequences changed to more technical ones. Instead of following news writing as was my original plan, I chose the ever-changing world of multimedia and learned numerous technical skills.

It’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and the state of the media, but it can feel overwhelming at times; however, you’ll discover the types of training and frequency that fit your desires and schedules throughout your career.

First image at top from Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Device pile) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

A Tribute to Job Seekers

A tribute to those who are searching for jobs: here are some tips and experiences I've picked up along the way while searching for past jobs.

Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn. Job seekers are very familiar with these sites and use them endlessly in hopes of catching an interview, and, if things work out, grab the ultimate prize … a job!

But is applying to every open position that remotely fits your skill-set the right? Is applying to infinite jobs online worthwhile? Or are you just wasting yours and the hiring person’s time and energy (while also causing you fits of panic)?

From my experiences, I say (brace yourself for this wonderfully cliched phrase): It depends.

It depends on what area you are looking for, and what level of experience you are at (entry-level vs. mid-level). The majority of the time, probability will be against you as you blindly apply to every available position on Earth, throwing out 10 to 20 applications a day hoping to catch just one reply. What are your chances? More than likely hundreds, heck, maybe even thousands of others are applying to that same position with your same mindset.

So what is a job seeker to do in this day and age?

  1. Remove the Blindfold and Research
  2. Applying to companies that you’ve never heard of, or don’t connect with (or even known) their missions, isn’t very strategic. Let’s say that you did land a job at a company you could care less about, would you be happy after some time has passed? If you apply to be, let’s say, a social media manager for a high-end fashion company whereas you never stepped foot in any designer store or despise anything and everything clothing-related, what are your chances of being satisfied? (I’m sure there are many out there who would be more than satisfied, as I am merely speaking out of contrasting interests). If you narrow down areas that you would love to work in, or are already experienced in, then that will help out your job search IMMENSELY.

    I am experienced in the science communications realm where I absolutely love science and all that it stands for in terms of benefiting the world and humanity, though I am no expert in calculus or physics, I still think the process and results are exciting and relevant. Working at the U.S. EPA for two and a half years, I learned much about research and the science world, and I discovered that my passion lies in the environment, nature, technology, and anything science-related. After pinpointing those areas of interest, I started to narrow my search down to science-related positions in North Carolina. Lo’ and behold, I started receiving more interview requests and found that I was way more comfortable in those interviews. Why? Because I love communicating science and am experienced in it!

  3. Network. Network. Network!
  4. I cannot stress this word enough. You have a much higher chance of leveling up in your application process of a company if you know someone who works there, has worked there, or have a connection who knows someone there. Networking, especially to entry-level seekers, sounds terrifying. ‘How can I compare to those who have been in the field for years or even decades? Why should they care about knowing or talking to me?’

    Here in lies the rub. Every person has or knows something that another person may not know. You have some form of expertise in some area or experience that a person out there would love to know about, maybe even without knowing it themselves! Once you start to share your knowledge and opinions with others, then you can start talking about career goals, how you could work or volunteer with them, or help them network with people you know. I was 23-years-old when I first truly started to network, and I was nervous…but confident. I figured, I will promote what I do at my current job, explain why I believe communicating what I do in progressive forms of media (e.g. videography, online) is important, and hear what they have to say in return and how I can service them. Basically, introduce yourself, listen to them, and find a common topic to talk about. From there, you can get into the details of networking, companies, skills, etc. Sell yourself!

    Pass out your business card like candy! People will research you especially if they were interested in what you said or represented. You not only make great connections (some strong, some weak), but you also learn from and meet great, professional and motivated individuals in return!

    Resource: How to Network Like a Pro. (Business Insider)

  5. Become Digital
  6. Since I am a digital journalist, I have an online portfolio that I update and keep organized as often as possible and a blog (what you are reading), a LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and a Google+ page. My personal accounts are locked away, private and are there to keep up with friends and family. My public accounts are as professional as absolutely possible with a hint of my personal brand or representation of where I currently work or volunteer.

    If you have an online site–be it an online portfolio (if needed, which doesn’t hurt!), an online blog or a social networking site (I recommend LinkedIn)–then it shows that you are motivated, keep up with the times, and confident in your work. There are great sites out there that are free, or cost a minuscule amount to get started. I use WordPress hosting through GoDaddy and bought a template for my site, and I helped a few other people get started with their personal websites, as well. From there, you can use analytic tools (Google Analytics, or WordPress’ analytical tool/apps) to see which pages are most popular, which have the highest bounce rate, etc., where you can improve your site based off of such data.

I could give more advice and tips on how to improve your job searching skills and how to represent yourself to a potential employer or network connection, but these three are very important to master. Needless to say, I am writing these tips from my own experiences and from many articles, other blogs and studies I’ve read online.

By following these tips and actions above, I recently landed a new position at a company that I already love (their mission, and what they represent) and will be doing what I love to do. I also saw an increase in interview requests leading up to my current opportunity because of my change in how I searched for positions.

It pays off in the end, but there are two things you must NEVER lose on your journey in job searching: Patience and Confidence.

Never lose these very important traits. You are an awesome person to get where you are in life, and you will always face bumps. If you are currently in a bump, just know, as my mother always said during my bumps, ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’

Don’t give up! Learn from experiences and go from there! Please feel free to comment or email any questions or comments you may have.