Tag Archives: technology

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.

Embrace the Evolution of Digital Journalism

Why journalists should embrace technological changes and adapt to them without frustrations.

Newspapers are dying. Clicks are a must. Sensationalize headlines. Cause a media frenzy on Twitter.

From the start of the printing press to drones and virtual reality, it’s evident through history—printing press, telegraph, phones, TVs, computers, social media, etc.—that technology dictates the format of and access to news.

Earlier this month, Pew Research Center published an article on “5 Key Takeaways About the State of the News Media in 2016,” and the following stats reveal how quick and unpredictable technology is in the world of journalism (I mean, who saw podcasts coming back in full swing?):

  1. “2015 was perhaps the worst year for newspapers since the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath. Daily circulation fell by 7%, the most since 2010, while advertising revenue at publicly traded newspaper companies fell by 8%, the most since 2009. At the same time, newsroom staffing fell by 10% in 2014, the last year for which data were available.”
    Besides being scored as having one of the worst career outlook, newspaper reporters are struggling not only to make end’s meat in new advertising strategies and dealing with the ongoing ad blocking fiasco, but they’re also trying to adapt to new formats, keep pace with a highly adaptable audience, and beat out other publishing companies in terms of acquiring clicks, engagement, and other areas. It’s a boxing match with one side having the upper hand … and, unfortunately, it’s not the newspaper world at this current moment. But, as podcasts came, went, and are returning, I wouldn’t be surprised if print and newspapers will one day do the same.
  2. “Digital ad spending went up 20% last year, and mobile advertising now tops desktop, but journalism organizations have not been the primary beneficiaries. There was explosive growth in mobile advertising, which increased by 65%…”
    If you don’t have the clicks and impressions to prove that your site is attracting users, then how do you convince advertisers that it’s worth purchasing ad space? Along with the (above mentioned) issue of ad-blockers, this is a troubling area in the journalism world. Instead of directing frustrations at ad blockers and their users, there may be a solution that doesn’t punish users who use these legal apps in order to control their personal browsing experience.
  3. “Local television news revenue is relatively steady at $18.6 billion – at least for now.” 
  4. “Driven in part by a highly competitive presidential primary season, cable news saw its viewership jump 8%, to an average of 3.1 million viewers in prime time.”
    Local politics and community impact a person more than state or national issues—even though voter turnout at local elections is depressing—so the above stat on local TV news isn’t a huge surprise; however, the cable subscriptions continue to decrease with one in seven Americans becoming “cord-cutters” especially among those under 30.
  5. “Podcasting continues to experience audience growth–though this includes both those podcasts focused on news and those looking at other subjects. About one-in-five U.S. adults ages 12 or older (21%) listened to some kind of podcast in the past month, up from 12% six years ago, and 36% have ever listened to a podcast, up from 23% in 2010.”
    This is the format that surprised me. Podcasting was the ‘thing’ years ago, and then the media type slowly faded, but now they are back at what seems like full force!


    Image above from: buzzsprout.com/learn/what-is-a-podcast

    I recently started listening to podcasts and see the immense benefit of listening to various interests—in my case true crime and comedy…weird combo, right? I’m very curious to see how podcasts fair in reporting breaking news stories.


Those in both digital and traditional media discuss how to break into this insane, fast-paced online journalism world all the time. It seems that in order to be successful, one must acquire every single digital skill out there, such as web design/development, interactivity, search engine optimization (SEO), and others. I’ll share my story as I went from a news reporter intern at my hometown’s local paper to a SEO and social media specialist at an eCommerce and niche interests company:

From early on in high school, I wanted to be a news reporter, specifically an investigative reporter. I was on my school’s newspaper for three years and was editor for two and had the opportunity to intern at the local newspaper, The State Port Pilot, before attending the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism.

When I was accepted into the school my sophomore year, they had completely revamped the sequences and curriculum. Originally, I was on the news writing track, but I changed to—what may have been one of the best decisions of my life—to the multimedia track. Before entering this field, I had rarely touched a video camera and was a novice at coding and social media. In the School, we were required to take news writing and editing classes as well as ethics and media law classes, which should be a requirement for all professional journalists to take.

Needless to say, taking the multimedia track introduced me, and my fellow now-alumni, to the world of videography, graphic design, interactive web design and development, Adobe Flash—which I’m quite glad is slowly disappearing into oblivion—and photography. Now imagine taking all of these different skills, and compiling them together into a real, interactive user experience—you wouldn’t necessarily want to compile all of these various components together as it would overload the user, but you know what I mean. My mind opened from merely writing and taking still photographs, to exploring the digital world and seeing what type of medium best fits a story (video, photos, only writing, etc.).

Regardless, I learned basic and intermediate skills needed to be a novice; however, nothing prepares one for real-world projects and demands. My first gig was at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development where I was a contractor in communications. This position introduced me to the intriguing world of STEM journalism. From producing videos on air, climate and energy research to soaring in web development and management, I found my strengths and weaknesses: Coding and video had become more natural to me, yet writing—the very thing I set out to do in life—was my weakest point. It took me a while to accept this self-realization but, looking back now, it almost seems fit.

From there, I dived deeper into coding by becoming the Web Managing Editor for Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society and its award-winning magazine, American Scientist—check them out: They have actual, long-form science that’s still science and not Buzzfeed ‘science!’ From there, I learned more content management skills, taught myself the basics of animation, improved my skills in videography, and became well-trained in social media. But I wanted more technology, more in-depth coding, more analyses…

That’s how I found my current gig at F+W Media as a SEO Development Specialist, which required a cross-country move from NC to Colorado with my husband, cat, betta fish, about 10 houseplants, and some tedious-to-move items. Now I know—and continue to learn—the ins-and-outs of SEO, structure of websites, Google tools, and analytical technology.

When I look back on my life, I’ll always remember how the historical change of technology affected where I wounded up. College assisted me immensely by introducing me to the world of digital journalism—as well as a slap in the face in terms of how unmerciful technology, online comments, and viewers can be; however, real-world experiences and finding the motivation to teach myself various areas that would help me along in my career were most rewarding.

In the end, you have to be flexible and accepting of current and upcoming technologies. Technology won’t adapt to you, and users won’t wait for you to catch up with their expectations of technology. Only YOU can read through coding books, websites, and stay up-to-date with current technological trends and how they will affect the way we report stories and events. And, honestly, I think that’s the biggest issue today in media: Journalists must be comfortable in adapting to and adding new technologies to their repertoire, and they should be optimistic in doing so. It gives us journalists the opportunity to hit our stories home in new, maybe even better, ways that really touch the emotions and discussions of users and readers everywhere.

*Photo used in header from: haylena.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/old-school-or-new-traditional-vs-online-journalism/

Best Tech News and Media News Sites

If you’re like me and love to stay in the know with the latest tech news and media news, then you probably have a vast list of sites you visit that offer the latest tidbits and technical updates and news, but in a world of information overload, what are the best sites to follow that will give you the most in-depth and real-time information?

Being a technical and online journalist and keeping up with such topics on a daily basis, I’ve come to find the sites that I revisit time and time again for the latest news and updates.

Here’s a list of some of the best tech news and media news sites for you to follow based on my experiences and research:

  1. Nieman Journalism Lab:

    Nieman Journalism Lab provides amazing digital journalism and media news updates on a daily basis. This popular media news site discusses the state of the media, media companies and digital journalism updates and forthcoming sites and projects. If you want only news related to journalism, then this is the site for you. Quoted directly from their site, “The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.” As journalism and how people receive their news continues to evolve with changing technologies and apps, the state of the media can often keep the most seasoned media professional on his/her toes. With Nieman Journalism Lab always being on top of the latest online and digital journalism updates, you’ll be sure to stay in the know of where things are going for journalism. Visit their website, and I recommend signing up for the daily and informative eNewsletter, too.

  2. Digital Trends:

    Digital Trends provides some of the best tech news and tech project updates on the web. Definitely making my list of one of my all-time favorite tech news sites out there, Digital Trends never disappoints in providing some of the best tech news, technology reviews and anything related to innovative tech ideas and projects. For me, I love to read the latest reviews on digital products, such as digital video technologies, cameras, updates to programs or sites, etc. They have a fairly informative, daily eNewsletter, as well, but I recommend following them on Twitter and Facebook for real-time articles on upcoming technologies and tech projects. Visit their website, Facebook and Twitter.

  3. The Next Web:

    The Next Web provides awesome online, apps and tech news updates.Similar to Digital Trends, The Next Web tends to focus more so on technical websites, such as browsers and Google Analytics updates, applications, and tech business and culture news. They give an insightful overview of upcoming or implemented tech projects where you’ll always love their clear and concise writing. I recommend following them on Twitter and their website.

  4. Moz:

    Moz is the best option for anyone looking to dive into SEO and online marketing with tech blogs, applications and more. For those who are more into SEO and marketing, then Moz is the best site for such updates and tech news. They have awesome, informative eNewsletters on various topics, a beautifully designed and well-updated blog, and great analytical and SEO tools (some free, some require payment). The expert advice on this site, especially their blog, will help you increase your site’s visibility as well as your knowledge in learning the best ways to approach SEO and content marketing in general. From beginner marketing and SEO to more in-depth information, you’ll find it all on Moz; don’t miss out this amazing resource. I recommend checking out their website, Blog and Twitter.

There are plenty of other sites that discuss technology news, media news and SEO items, but start with these recommended sites to get the best of the best and stay well-informed of the most important tech and media updates out there.

Do you have other sites you follow for tech news and media news? Share them below in the comments, and I’ll add them to my blog!