How to land a job in online media

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A presentation by VCU Mass Comm graduate Matt Birch

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  • 1. How to land a job inonline mediaBy Matt Birch (NFL Associate Editor, Bleacher Report)

2. What makes online media/blogginggreat for young journos? Its a great starting point where young journos can get their feet wet inthe online media world, as well as become familiar with the news cycle.Young journos can move up the ranks by contributing content or byworking on a copy editing or news desk to learn the ins and outs ofproducing online content. Its perfectly normal to start in online media at a small, alternative mediaoutlet. If you do a good job and build your brand, the option to switchover to print media may present itself. News organizations will noticeyour hard work and come calling. While media access/credentials may be harder to come by in the onlinemedia world, the position provides better experience than deliveringcoffee or fact checking as thats how young journos in print mediaused to pay their dues. Times have changed. 3. So how can you becomethe next Bob Woodward? 4. Establish a strong professionalresume/portfolio and clips. This is probably the most important thing I learned from CNS as it is the standard for the journalism job market. Every mediaoutlet is going to ask for these documents before they evencommit to bringing you in for an interview. My two cents: Its really not the most fun thing in the world. Iwont lie spending 10+ hours on this tedious task wasnt theway I wanted to spend last summer. But it was well worth it. Make sure the copy is clean/spotless. Write your rough draftand step away from the computer for a few days; and then comeback with some fresh thoughts on how to improve thestyle/verbiage/wording in your next draft. And edit then have a few of your friends/co-workers/ professors edit then edit, and edit, and edit some more until youre finally so sick of editing, you edit it one more time and its good to go. 5. Resume/Clips (Part 2) Clips are important because they give editors/humanresources a feel for your writing style, grammar and howfamiliar you are with the beat youre covering. --Mashable always has a ton of resume tips/help. Heres agood link http://mashable.com/2012/04/01/tech-resume-tip/ Daily Writing Tips also posted a great article on how to builda resume. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/resume-writing-tips/ 6. Sample resumeHeres what the beginning of mine looks like: 7. If new to online media, start apersonal blog or find a newsoutlet that will let you join as acontributing writer.This will help you learn the correct format for a blog postor content package. And pretty soon youll be able toproduce content in your sleep.Youll also learn about analytics how clicks andviews control what content/advertising is featured atdifferent times of the day, depending on the audiencethat is viewing at that specific point in time. 8. Build your brand byestablishing a social mediapresence (Facebook, Twitter)The best way to market yourself as a journalist is by engaging inconversation on social media networks.Twitter:Get a feel for news gathering, how news is created and how online mediaoutlets break news before broadcast ones (and certain print publications,too).Twitter is a great conversation tool that will allow you to hear the thoughts/opinions of various media types from all backgrounds with different beliefsystems thats powerful.Make a name for yourself voice your opinions to the public!LinkedIn:A great way to showcase your resume AND display which colleaguesyouve worked/networked with (yes, the Rolodex is dead!)Recruiters are searching LinkedIn 24/7 looking to fill open positions. Builda strong portfolio/profile, and maybe theyll reach out to you! 9. Benefits of Twitter: Give this a try: Send one tweet per day for an entire calendaryear. At the end of this experiment, youll notice the following: You will be plugged in and up to date on the biggest news forthe beat youre covering/interested in MOST IMPORTANT Your ledes and teases will improve for stories youre writing/airing. Your vocabulary will improve and youll also be able to saymore with less words, which is powerful. Defending anargument with only 140 characters at your disposal is noteasy! 10. Twitter is a news gathering toolthat operates in real-time. Check out this Twitter search for Afghanistan 11. Start from the bottom and workup look for a job as a copyeditor or on the news desk.Online media outlets hire from within. A great way to get inwith news outlets nowadays is to join their copy editing team, asan intern or (paid) editor. You can also man the newsgatheringdesk to follow and relay breaking news, as soon as it hits theWeb.Every journalist pays their dues before or during full-timeemployment. Online media outlets may ask you to work for free oras an intern for a short while. I contributed many hours to SBNation over a two-year span for next to nothing, but it paid off.Lucky for us, times have changed. A common phrase in thenewspaper business used to be, Has he paid his dues? Youngjournos would be closer to the coffee machine or the fact-checkingdesk than a news beat. We are lucky. 12. Speak up! Submit story pitches to your editor. It shows that you know how the news cycle works. Come up with ideas that will appeal to a broad audience shoot for something that will attract interest at both the localand national levels. This is advice I had heard from many in the sports mediaworld. Now that Im an editor, Ive come to see it as true. With real-time news breaking 24/7, writers nowadays areexpected to pump out so much content (stories), so itsimportant to come up with a few outside-the-box ideas onyour own. Sometimes its the only way to meet the (alwaysoptimistic and tough) quotas/requests from your contentbudget. 13. Dont burn your bridges! Journalists never forget! So be careful about what yousay on social media networks, as well as in emails/textmessages. This is common sense but many take it for granted and slipup. Networking is huge, and with social media networks likeLinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, potential employers canget the scoop on you with a click of a mouse and a fewkeystrokes. People talk. And everyone that is involved in the writingindustry knows each other (or so it seems). 14. Practice good communicationskills and make yourselfavailable for assignments.Availability is extremely important. As an editor, Ive dealtwith people that both lose and gain jobs by how often theycheck their email/messages and how they go aboutresponding to them. It is a trait we regard highly when lookingat adding prospective writers to our payroll.Deadlines are so important when working in the media.This makes communication just as important.Versatility is a very underrated trait. Editors love having utilityguys that can tackle a wide variety of topics spanning acrossvarious beats. 15. Learn to shoot and editvideo. Every news outlet is looking to expand and improve on two fronts: video content and media consumption from mobile/tablet devices. The best skills for young journos to have are solid writing/reporting skills for columns as well as lists/rankings [gaining in popularity] and the ability to produce short-form video content. Thats the perfect combination everyone is looking for, and thats what (I believe) will be in demand for the next 5+ years and beyond. I know my companys 2012 budget has set aside a good chunk of $$ for video production. And I recently read an article from Sports Business Journal which stated ESPN is doing the same. 16. Last but not least: good luck! Its tough out there in the journalism job market, but thecream rises to the top. Separate yourself from the next man/woman and give potential employers a reason to hire you!