Wednesday, July 30, 2008
And I've never been the same since.
She was at the Boston Globe, manning a table for her employer at UNITY in 2004. I was a sad-looking college student with no clips, no internships and no prospects. I did work at the school paper and all Ann was trying to figure out was how I expected to get an internship with no clips. That was around the time she tilted her head to the side. She opened her mouth, her dark lipstick parting ways in utter disbelief, and looked at my heads. Both of them.
I took a trip to the printer.
As it was, my clips revealed that I was not ready for the Globe. She didn't need to be Joe Sullivan (the Globe's sports editor) to figure that out. She knew that I needed to know a few people. That I should keep in touch with someone named Paula. And that I should keep writing. And reading.
How things have changed in four years. I've got a job and some experience. Ann, as far as I could tell, was not there, certainly not representing the Globe, having recently taken a buyout there. I've since published several dozen stories in the Boston Globe, my hometown paper. I'm proud of many of them.
My awakening happened last week in Chicago. One recruiter at UNITY stood up, greeted me by name, shook my hand and asked if I brought my stuff for them to update their files. Of course I did.
Then it dawned on me.
I never once thanked Ann.
Until now. continue...
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Unity is over. Usually I'd be in denial after such a fun and eye-opening week of journalizing, but it's kinda hard to ignore the fact that I'm sitting in my DC apartment -- looking at the pile of clothes that, five days ago, were rejected from my suitcase.
I guess I know what I'm wearing to work tomorrow.
Lukewarm denial (and wardrobe considerations) aside, I can say, in three years of attending journalism conferences, this week has been the best for me yet. I returned home re-energized and ready to take on the journalism world -- something that, yes, is par for the course, but my rejuvenation is more amplified this time around.
Probably because it's a more targeted rejuvenation. Usually folks have a broad goal (become the best darn journalist/producer/whatever ever!), but little direction as to how to get there. Which is problematic, because excellence and success comes in steps. So it's key to figure out what path you want to take to your goal.
I used to have a hard time figuring out that path, but after this week, I've come up with my first step: I want to build a reputation on my broadcast writing. I found myself in workshops this week dealing with putting words together for news, including one with Dr. Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute. And I realized -- I've gotten compliments and praise for my on-air writing before I even thought about the benefits of professional development. Imagine if I took more time to invest in that aspect of my craft. I could become a pretty bad mamma-jamma.
So that's my focus for now. Finding Veronica's Style of Broadcast Writing and getting it noticed. It'll take practice, training and seeking out advice and feedback -- all to enhance what (I'd like to think) is a natural ability.
But I know I'm not the only one rejuvenated after Unity. What steps are you taking so you can make your way to the top of the journalism world?continue...
Thursday, July 24, 2008Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times.
Yeah, I was doing it up. But not really.
See, the breakfast was sponsored by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In honor of the milestone, they invited alumni of their programs to this breakfast and conversation about the future of the industry with Sulzberger.
I ain't an alumni. But my boss is.
When I told her I was going to UNITY, she mentioned that she'd been invited to this breakfast and wouldn't be able to go. It sounded interesting so I asked.
"Do you think you could see if I could go in your place," I asked her. "Since I'll be there. I don't like mornings, but at conventions, I try to go to as many sessions and events as possible to take advantage of my time there. Just let me know if it is a possibility."
And the sausage, blueberry pastry and pineapple were mm mmm good.
That's one of the cardinal rules of internships, jobs, shoot, just life. Ask and ye shall receive. If there is an opportunity for you to even play a small part on a large project, or you see a reporter grumbling about a story you'd love to have, ask to help out. The absolute worst thing that can happen if you ask is that a person says no. At best, you'll have a great byline, or tagline on an important story and you'll build relationships with coworkers and gain reporting/interviewing/writing techniques by osmosis. So identify what you want, who might be able to give it to you, and see if they're willing to do so. You might be surprised at their answer.
To be honest, I almost didn't make it there this morning. Last night, we were out singing karaoke at a local club in the Sheraton lobby. I didn't make it to bed until 2:30 in the morning. So when that clock went off at 6:20 a.m., I pressed snooze.
And again at 6:45. And 7:00. In my head, I said no one would care if I missed this breakfast. And I'd get to sleep. But I'd asked and I really did want to go to the event. Plus, I was hungry.
So I dragged myself out of bed, threw together an outfit and hoofed it to the Sheraton. I found the room and hopped into the buffet line, figuring that by the time I got through it, everyone would have sat down and I'd be able to find a seat. I ended up standing behind Wil LaVeist, a former columnist at the Daily Press (the local paper in my college town) and we chatted it up about Hampton, his move away and back to the tidewater area (he now works for the Virginian-Pilot) and how I'm finding Providence. There was a vacant seat at his table, so we continued the chat over eggs and OJ.
The conversation, led by founder Dorothy Butler Gilliam (formerly of the Washington Post), centered on the changing industry and what our product and the journalists of tomorrow should look like. Among the highlights:
- In your newsroom, there should not be a newspaper division and a Web division, Sulzberger said. With the emphasis on the Internet as it is today, there should be one person coordinating the news and web postings for each section. Not one person coordinating the news and another posting it to the web. (Interesting because my paper is definitely set up with two distinct divisions)
- People have been predicting the death of newspapers for the last 10 years. But at the Times, Sulzberger said, the circulation has nearly doubled in recent years. While print readers have remained stagnant, the number of online readers has increased steadily.
- The average person spends 35 minutes a day with the paper; the average online reader spends 35 minutes a month on a newspaper Web site, he said. To survive, we have to find out how to make sites "stickier" so people will spend more time there.
- As we learn more about shooting video, writing stories and collecting audio, always remember the product. The tools are nice, but just remember you are using them to create quality work -- they shouldn't take away from that main goal.
- The Times is doing a great job with hiring minorities in its Web division, but those minorities are overwhelmingly Asian. They need a larger pool of qualified applicants from ALL backgrounds (hint: if you're trying to get in at the NYT, get your multimedia on).
I learned something else today, too. Sulzberger is pretty funny. He's a likeable guy -- at least from afar. Seems like it would be pretty cool to sit down to a cup of coffee with him.
Well, I at least got close to it today, just because I asked.continue...
Wednesday, July 23, 2008It's time for Unity! I'm finally in the Windy City, chillaxin' with fellow Ten95er Aaron in the Hyatt Regency as we wait for the for the rest of the crew to arrive (or for Marcus to answer his phone).
It's not even noon yet, and already we're overwhelmed with what the week has in store for us. Receptions, parties, lunches, brunches and dinners... and that's just in the first two days!
But my primary focus right now is a Saturday afternoon workshop called Paying it Forward: How to Maximize Your Internship. No, I won't be among those in the audience taking notes. I'll be on the other side of the podium instead, running the show as moderator.
Yeah. Someone put me in charge.
There will be another member of the Ten95 Brat Pack right there with me too. Talia is one of our panelists, along with fellow young journos Marlon Walker and Chloe Hilliard, and veteran recruiters Joe Grimm and Doug Mitchell. (And you can probably count on seeing the rest of our cohorts causing trouble somewhere in the room.)
But there's a bit of a dilemma: We have six professionals with one very important subject to talk about. And we only 90 minutes in which to talk about it.
Clearly -- and regrettably -- we won't be able to cover everything we want in just one session.
Thank goodness for the blog. The Ten95 crew is jumping on the internship advice bandwagon and will be posting on the subject throughout the convention. (And maybe, if we're lucky, our esteemed recruiters will even guest blog. *wink wink, nudge nudge*) That way, we have a place to share all the wisdom that time won't allow on Saturday, as well as all the reeeeeally, reeeeeally important stuff that does make it into the discussion, and that's worth discussing again.
So while you take in the sights of the Chi, be sure to keep one eye glued to this space for internship advice and all kinds of other Ten95 coverage from Unity. Happy Convention!continue...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
So, for the last few weeks, I've been bombarded with appointments, dinners, parties, etc. for the upcoming fete in Chicago.
I haven't retained half of it.
See, I'm a visual person with tactile tendencies. If I can't look at something and see it, it really doesn't exist. And if I didn't write it down, I won't remember to look for it. So I've been clamoring for someone to make an itinerary for me so I'll be able to keep my media receptions straight from my networking opportunities.
The good folks at UNITY answered my call.
They have this personal itinerary site where you can put in all the sessions you want to attend, request interview times with exhibitors and even put in other notes for outside functions or things to do.
Now I feel like my life is in order. Thank you, UNITY!continue...
Saturday, July 05, 2008
There's a story outside of my doorstep. Everyday. At 3 a.m.
He jumps rope. He runs five miles. Does 300 push ups. 500 sit ups.
He's preparing for a career in boxing.
Which, got me thinking about this apparent rich history of boxers from Harlem and, as result, this fighter's current dilemma as the sun now rises on a nascent career. It is essentially that he is a member of a gym in New Jersey, and another in Brooklyn. What happened to the Harlem prizefighter? To the momentum of Joe Louis' defeat of Max Schmeling? Of Sugar Ray Robinson's ubiquitous presence on Seventh Avenue?
I'll report. And report and write. But, be sure, if it pans out, this one fell in my lap. Didn't even have to leave home. continue...
Thursday, July 03, 2008
You know, Reuters. Associated Press. All those news services.
I respect them immensely. The reporters who work there are some of the best in the business and I've been scooped by them at least once (I know you all have, too). Shoot, some of my best friends work for wire services. I was thisclose to applying for a job at one of them myself.
I'm trying really hard not to hate on them because they don't deserve it. It's just, lately, everywhere I look, I see another collegue leaving a newspaper to go to a wire service. If the trend continues, there may not be much of a newspaper for wire services to put their copy into.
Maybe it's the money (I hear they do pay well). Maybe it's the exposure (you get run in papers across the country and online and broadcast!). Maybe it's the fast pace of the deadlines and the ability to make everything a national story and get out of the hyper-local crack newspapers have been on for the last decade.
But as I see some of the best and brightest move to wire services I can't help but think: who's going to be left to write for the newspaper?
Yes, I know the industry is "dying." Many people greater than me have eulogized my dear industry more times than I care to count. Yes, I know everything is going online and people want news now, now now. I got that. But am I the only one saddened even a bit by this trend?
I was talking to a friend of mine who has applied for a job at the AP. The wire service, she says, is the only way to get her out of the small market she's in and into the NYC metro area. The paper she's at, she says, is not longer challenging and the internal politics are wearing on her.
For her, the wire represents a way out.
Here's what I wish would happen:
I wish that all of the great writers everywhere would go to their local newspaper and write the hell out of a beat. When they do that, I wish they would be paid for what they're worth. I wish that everyone -- old newsroom curmudgeons, jaded journos and everyone in between -- would take ownership of the dead trees that land on their doorstep every morning and commit to making it better. I wish that companies would invest more money into the newsroom so the journalists there could have the money to tell the stories they need to tell, the ones they are more than capable of doing.
This is not to knock the hustle of anyone who goes to a wire service because it's a good fit for them, because it's a great opportunity covering something you love, or just because you work there. That's not what this is about.
I want great papers to go to from Providence, and great reporters to learn from while I'm there. And I just wish I didn't feel that the only way to survive in the newspaper business is to jump ship.continue...
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
A morning paper should have a busy newsroom at 11 p.m.
Hartford Courant Colin McEnroe says nobody has ever suggested it would be a good idea if he ran a newspaper. Still, he has some ideas for the "new" Hartford Courant. "The building should be damn near empty until 2 p.m. and full until 11," he writes. "Somewhere a long the way, newspaper jobs gradually started to resemble other white collar jobs. We all wanted to go home to the suburbs, have a glass of wine, interact with our spouses and kids. ... If the news staff is going to be an elite strike force, it had better include a lot of workaholics and night owls."
(*speaks in tongues)
Some of Colin's tips to journalists in dying newsrooms:
1. REGAIN YOUR SENSE OF URGENCY.
4. GET SMARTER ABOUT THE WEB.
5. BRACE YOURSELF. (Love that one!)
Read the full blog post, here.continue...