Reflecting on EIJ and journalism

Cafe du Monde based in New Orleans, the site for the recent Excellence in Journalism conference. (Photo: justinsomnia.org/Wikimedia Commons)

Cafe du Monde based in New Orleans, the site for the recent Excellence in Journalism conference. (Photo: justinsomnia.org/Wikimedia Commons)

The famous author E.L. Doctorow had a saying about writing: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”

The same can be said of the Excellence in Journalism conference, which took place this week in New Orleans. Journalism, in this case, is an exploration, and you’re constantly learning as you go along.

This week was a week where I was reminded of why I became a member of SPJ in the first place, from discussions on its work on pursuing an open government fresh after Immediate Past President Paul Fletcher’s letter to the editor in The New York Times, to sessions (be they keynote sessions from Martin Baron of the Washington Post and PBS talk show host Charlie Rose or educational sessions from SPJ members and others) about the enhancement of one’s craft.

It was also a week where SPJ itself made history, as for the first time since its establishment over a century ago, three women will lead the organization into the next year — President Lynn Walsh, President-Elect Rebecca Baker, and Secretary/Treasurer Alex Tarquinio, an event that signifies the importance of women in an industry that is evolving every hour of every day.

Yet, to me, there was something more significant about the week that had equal parring to a reminder of why SPJ is so important — a reminder of why journalism (and working in it) is important.

Recently, there have been many days where I’ve been in doubt. I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if in this ever-changing landscape if a career in journalism is viable, whether if the work I do is important, or if I’ve botched things entirely. I was worried. I was struggling. I didn’t know what to do.

I found a few things helped — the support and candor of family, friends and colleagues, and, though I was absent from the convention, the tweets that came from the events at EIJ. I had been convinced that I didn’t make a mistake. I began the week thinking that, and EIJ strengthened that notion.

Many of us are wondering what the future will look like — whether the aim to do the most good for the world around us can be accomplished, and if we can continue to be inspired to do that, when we are accustomed to hearing news of more layoffs and profound distrust in the media. After EIJ, as is the case every year, I feel energized and inspired to do the best I can, to help my SPJ colleagues nationwide to strengthen journalism, to help my industry peers explore its future, and to enhance this profession that I’m incredibly lucky to work in.

So if you’re in doubt, wondering if journalism is right for you, you can find solace, and indeed inspiration, from many sources, including the contributions from the dedication, passion, and perseverance of the Board of Directors, staff and members of this organization that is the Society of Professional Journalists.

Journalism is indeed an exploration, and you’re learning as you go, with a little help from EIJ.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of the SPJ Digital community, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

How weird do I want to get?

As part of Generation J’s ongoing series of guest essays, Emily Bloch of Florida Atlantic University considers why a different element of programming can help reinforce some journalistic principles.

Interviewing musicians is a lot like interviewing zombies: they can be easily sidetracked, are often monosyllabic and they don’t always smell great.

It’s not their faults — the musicians or the zombies — they’ve probably had a long day with the press where they keep getting asked the same questions after having spent the last hour performing. Plus, they’re probably hungry. (As for the zombies, well, they’re zombies.)

But I’ve learned how to interview both through SPJ programming.

As a soon-to-be graduate, a former two term editor-in-chief and someone who’s been actively involved with SPJ for four years now, my one piece of advice I’d like to give to other Gen J-ers is to get weird now.

I’ve learned more from SPJ events funded by Sigma Delta Chi than I ever have in a classroom.

From knowing how to deal with lawsuit threats because of the First Amendment Free Food Festival — where you sign away your rights for a sandwich — to how to write a kick-ass obituary from the Death Race — where a Pulitzer Prize winner pretends to die, SPJ holds their funeral and students are given an hour to write an obit.

Emily Bloch says that programs like the First Amendment Free Food Festival and Death Race are essential in showcasing key principles of journalism. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Emily Bloch says that programs like the First Amendment Free Food Festival and Death Race are essential in showcasing key principles of journalism. (Photo via LinkedIn)

After learning so much from these events, now I’m the one who hosts and runs many of them. Last year, at the College Media Association convention in Austin, Texas, 50 student journalists attended Zombie Stories.

The premise is that participants walk in with a clean white shirt and have a set of zombies to interview. Ask a bad question, get squirted with blood. The cleanest shirt at the end of the day wins.

The event was a complete success and the zombie questions were so good, we ended up splitting the prize money three ways. Creative questions included “do different blood types taste different?” and “Do people taste different based on their life style? Can you tell if they are vegan?”

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, I’ll be hosting another round of Zombie Stories at CMA’s Atlanta convention this October.

If you can’t make it, hold your own — I’ll even help.

I love hosting these events, but I can’t be everywhere. I want to help other student chapters put on their own events. That’s also why I’m running for national board. To bring hands on programming nationwide.

I’ve already gotten money commitments and logistical help to bring these programs to student chapters that want them.

All you have to do is sit down and ask yourself, ‘how weird do I want to get?’ I hope the answer is ‘very.’

Emily Bloch is a senior at Florida Atlantic University and the president of her school’s SPJ student chapter. Bloch is also the SPJ Florida pro chapter’s student representative and serves as a student programmer for SPJ Region 3. You can reach her at emdrumss3@gmail.com, and interact with her on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

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

    Image from SPJ.

    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. Volunteer your skills.

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

    Image from Nonprofit Quarterly.

    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.

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

    Smartphone journalism requires knowledge of useful apps and more.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; 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.

  5. Online training in specific skills.

    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 logo.

    Image from moz.com.

    • 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.

    • 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 News Lab logo.

    Image from TechCrunch.com.

    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

    Image from tv.adobe.com

    • 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.

  6. 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.

The author in Colorado Springs, Colorado earlier this year. (Photo via the author)

(Photo via the author)

About the Author:

Katie-Leigh Corder is a SEO & Audience Development Specialist at F+W Media in Fort Collins, CO. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with dual bachelor’s degrees from the School of Journalism and Media and the Department of History and is originally from Oak Island, NC. She’s been a member of SPJ since 2014 and loves the Society’s JournCamp trainings! Follow Katie on Twitter @kvcorder or her website at katieleighcorder.com.

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

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

A formidable dream: Mistakes college journalists make on their way to professional journalism

Guest Post By Victoria Blake @victoriablake22

When you start writing a paper, it is sometimes encouraged to write the ending first and the rest will become easier. However, when transitioning from college to professional journalism, this can be daunting. What if you don’t know the ending so you start with your beginning first? Could you end up making a mistake you wish you could take back?

I asked Cessna Winslow, one of my professors at Tarleton State University, this question in an email: “What are the mistakes college journalists make going into professional journalism?”

Here are her responses.

  1. Be professional sounding in your written communication. Read: Proof your work for AP/grammatical errors and clarity.
  2. Be teachable! You are still learning. Make the most of your rookie season.
  3. Be open to new ideas and experiences.
  4. Be willing to do what may appear to be below-you tasks. You learn a lot from the ground level!
  5. When around people whom you don’t know, assume they are more important than you. Be kind and communicate respect. You never know who is watching you and if you may need their help in the future.

Number three, “be open to new ideas and experiences,” reminds me of an article from Poynter about “The 5 ways young journalists can thrive in the newsroom” and what to do when you’re almost there. The bullet point “Dream now” stuck out to me the most, as well as this quote: “You fell in love with journalism. You dreamt about it. You decided to follow that dream. Well, now you’re here. Give it a year or two. Or three. Give it your best shot. And if your dream doesn’t work out, move on to your next dream…”

Another article from the Columbia Journalism Review discussed “the fear of screwing up.” The author emphasized “too little fear is bad,” writing “Tough important stories aren’t just tough to report. They’re tough to take on. Who wants to risk a career-crippling misstep if they don’t have to?” It gives life and body to the idea that everyone screws up. Even when you don’t see it personally happen. The fear of “that could’ve been you.”

We do not know what happens later in dreams, life, or in fear. Remember when I started this column? Truth be told, I slightly lied. I had an ending in mind, but a very vague one. One that changed over time, morphed with the story as I kept writing the beginning and middle and kept going back to edit constantly. Another example is coding. It requires you to write the program with an end in mind: Where do you want you’re ending to be? What do you want it to look like in the end?

You began with an end in mind, and you made mistakes much like anyone else does along the way. Just hope that it wasn’t as big as not hitting “Save” after working several days on one project. With the new school year looming over us like a big cloud, grey or white depending on your perspective of school, let’s give it our best shot with an ending vaguely written.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Peter Mansbridge and public broadcasting

It was the night of the 20th of October, 2015. I switched my TV on to C-SPAN 2 where they were simulcasting with the CBC, the public broadcaster in Canada, to air coverage of the country’s elections. The night ended in what many saw as a political upset — Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party would win a majority in Canada’s House of Commons, and he would become the next Prime Minister, replacing Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, who had been in power for almost a decade.

At the helm of the coverage was Peter Mansbridge, a longtime CBC journalist and presenter of its flagship news program, The National.

Tonight, during that program, Mansbridge announced his plans to step down from the role on July 1, Canada Day.

Mansbridge had been a fixture of Canadian journalism for decades, covering, according to the CBC, 14 of the country’s elections and conducting over 15,000 interviews. The National also attracts viewers in the US who watch CBC in border communities. Mansbridge has also been a fixture in the world of public broadcasting, championing the role that public broadcasters like the CBC, as well as NPR, PBS, the BBC and countless others, have to educate, inform and to enlighten.

We enter this profession not because we desire to seek fame or fortune. Instead, we enter the profession because we believe in the public service component of the work, whether we write, sit behind a microphone or step in front of a camera. Mansbridge, to those in Canada and indeed the rest of the world, epitomized the mission of journalism, and the idea and principle of education, and the role both can have for the common good, as do others in these organizations here and internationally.

I believe in the role journalism and education can have. It is why public broadcasting strongly aligns with my own values, and why a career in public broadcasting is something I want to pursue as I begin my own career in journalism. Like Jim Lehrer (now Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill) did on PBS, as did the producers of Morning Edition, programs from the BBC World Service, as well as Charlie Rose, Mansbridge set the tone for what journalism should be, and how much of a difference journalism can have in every day life.

Peter Mansbridge may be stepping down, but he will have a legacy that continues to inspire those to pursue journalism in Canada and around the world, to know that the work that is done can have the most good, and to know that no matter where the industry goes, there will always be a need for the people who pursue the work we love — journalism.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of the SPJ Digital community, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Why you should volunteer your journalism skills

In this digital age, landing a job has become more difficult. Here, SPJ’s Katie-Leigh Corder considers how volunteering can help you in the job market.

In a society where both new and seasoned journalists are expected to keep up with the digital revolution and competition, feelings of being overwhelmed are commonplace. How are you expected to land a job if:

  • You just graduated and don’t have any years (or decades) of professional experience
  • The skills required include either a few or ALL of the following: produce videos, manage social media, write stories and blogs, build graphics, build a rocket ship to the moon, etc.
Volunteering can help you not just in improving your skills, but also improving your network too. (Photo: Pixabay)

Volunteering can help you not just in improving your skills, but also improving your network too. (Photo: Pixabay)

That’s where volunteering for just a few hours a week can save you in more ways than one.

According to a Forbes article, “The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.”

My first journalism-related, volunteer experience was with Citiwide Pre-Vocational Center in Washington, DC, which seeks to improve and foster employment opportunities for low-income families in the metro. I had a quick email and phone interview with the founder and became the Social Media and Website Coordinator from 2012 to 2013. While there, I cleaned the website’s HTML and CSS, managed social networks, and designed a new logo for them.

Another experience involved volunteering at Fuzzy Faces Refuge in North Carolina, which provides a sanctuary for common and endangered animal species and works to promote safe interaction  with humans. While volunteering, I helped maintain their website and social networks, photography and videography, and even helped market a few events.

According to this article from US News and World Report, volunteering can increase your morale, grow your network, upgrade your resume, teach you new skills or improve on existing ones, and even help you choose a career.

Every time I had an interview with a company during or after these experiences, the interviewer would be very interested in my volunteering background. Those experiences became a unique part of my background and helped me land two different jobs after college. Volunteering also helped me increase my network and skills.

In addition, volunteering makes people feel good about themselves because they help without expecting anything in return. People donate their time and efforts to a non-profit whose mission they believe benefits society.

According to a post on the blog of Harvard Medical School: “Participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.”

The author in Colorado Springs, Colorado earlier this year. (Photo via the author)

The author in Colorado Springs, Colorado earlier this year. (Photo via the author)

Searching for a job right out of college can be hard and challenging. You may be left with feelings of low self-esteem as well as a fear of the unknown, but volunteering can benefit you!

According to a study from the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, volunteers have lower levels of depression, enhanced well-being, and are more satisfied with life. There’s also evidence “of an approximately 20 percent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, I recommend the following sites to get started:

Also, if you don’t already have an online presence (aka LinkedIn), I would recommend creating a profile so you can easily share it with prospective non-profits.

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in your career or are a seasoned journalist, you should consider volunteering your journalistic skills as it will benefit you in some way. I couldn’t wait to help at events or to promote content for the non-profit because I knew I was benefiting their mission while expanding my own skills and network!

Katie-Leigh Corder is a SEO & Audience Development Specialist at F+W Media in Fort Collins, CO. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with dual bachelor’s degrees from the School of Journalism and Media and the Department of History and is originally from Oak Island, NC. She’s been a member of SPJ since 2014 and loves the Society’s JournCamp trainings! You can interact with Corder on Twitter or through her website.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Why bookstores are paradise for journalists

Bookstores, including the Strand Bookstore in New York, are beneficial to journalists and aspiring storytellers. (Photo: Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons)

Bookstores, including the Strand Bookstore in New York, are beneficial to journalists and aspiring storytellers. (Photo: Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons)

Recently, an independent bookseller in Minneapolis launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a bookstore. Milkweed Editions is known within the Twin Cities literary community as an independent bookseller, and announced their plans to exist in the form of a gallery.

Bookstores and journalism have recently been subjected to speculation on their futures, as the digital age allows us to be accustomed to accessing information and material in new ways. Yet, there is a reason why bookstores and journalism continue to coincide and thrive — for their ability to, albeit through different means, inform, educate, and enlighten.

Indeed, there is also a similarity when it comes to investment, for while an investment in journalism is an investment in the future of democracy, so too is the time and money spent at your neighborhood bookstore, be it an independent one like Milkwood in Minneapolis, the Strand Bookstore in New York City, or a local Barnes and Noble just up the street.

Journalism helps you be informed about the world, and books help you be engaged and enlightened about it. Bookstores are the marketplaces of ideas and education, connecting the two together, helping them coexist.

For journalists, bookstores are not only a cultural institution. They are also sources of inspiration for aspiring storytellers, no matter the medium. They are, in the words of Stuart McLean, the Canadian author, journalist and broadcaster known for his program The Vinyl Cafe (heard on some public radio stations), safe places, happy places, places where you could duck in and be called by name.

As we attempt to create our careers in this ever changing world of journalism, books and bookstores are necessities, for they are not only places where we can admire good stories, they are places where we can think, consider, and pause, whether to think about our own crafts, or learn about others, and be inspired.

I hope Milkweed Editions gets its bookstore, for it will benefit not just the immediate Twin Cities community and bibliophiles, but also journalists too. Bookstores, like journalism, have not been written off, and are still worth investing in, and will leave you a better storyteller by the time you’re done.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of the SPJ Digital community, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

All The President’s Men and their ethics

January 20, 1973 — Inauguration Day in Washington.

In the newsroom of The Washington Post, reporters discuss stories while Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward sit and type at their desks. Simultaneously, televisions in the newsroom air the scene of Richard Nixon being sworn in for his second term as President of the United States.

Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting had been the subject of national attention leading up to the final moments of the 1972 campaign for the Watergate Scandal, a scandal that would see Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

After his inauguration, the teletype machine shows the headlines and events that followed. That scene signifies the end of the film All The President’s Men, released 40 years ago, and it ranks as one of the top films about journalism that have been released over the course of the last century.

The 1976 film, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, invigorated a generation’s interest in the profession, believing in the value of public service journalism, the idea that holds all politicians and those in power to account, the idea that journalism can make a positive effort in society.

Though it showcases the fundamentals of journalism, it also presents a reminder that such journalism must be guided by ethics and judgment — that conscious, mindful journalistic ethics, including those at the center of newsgathering, help guide the construction of such a narrative, and that a level-headed judgment that is fair and impartial, and has no intention of malice, drive the language of such a story.

The film All The President's Men, examining the work of reporters like Bob Woodward, give a reminder of the importance of ethics to all journalists. (Photo: Jim Wallace/Smithsonian/Wikimedia Commons)

The film All The President’s Men, examining the work of reporters like Bob Woodward, give a reminder of the importance of ethics to all journalists. (Photo: Jim Wallace and Smithsonian/Wikimedia Commons)

For those who are starting their careers in journalism, the idea of ethics is crucial. Ethics will guide you from story development and conception to putting it in its final stages, whether it will end up on the front page of a web site or newspaper, or take the form of a script that will end up as a broadcast on radio or television.

The SPJ Code of Ethics embodies the principles of ethics through 4 key values — seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent. Even though the consumption and dissemination of journalism has evolved, the ideas at the core of this code applies, as I wrote over on the Net Worked blog this past April outlining it for Twitter.

The Code of Ethics is not mandatory, nor is it there to intimidate or designed to look down upon certain journalists. Instead, the role of the Code of Ethics is a guide to help you be a better journalist, to help you do your job better and to support your colleagues, either through collaboration on a story, advising, or other means.

In the film, Woodward and Bernstein exercised ethics, from their newsgathering and verification, to owning up to mistakes, notably the article from October 1972 in the Post, which said that the White House Chief of Staff at the time, H.R. Halderman, had controlled a fund within the Nixon Administration that had been at the core of the scandal and part of the contents found at the break-in, according to contents of court testimony to a jury from the treasurer of Nixon’s 1972 campaign, Hugh Sloan.

Even though the means of how journalism is presented are changing, the fundamental goals of journalism are not. Ethics therefore are a necessity to help guarantee fair, accurate, impartial reporting, to build trust with your audience, to enhance your credibility, to showcase the reason why journalism is regarded as ubiquitous with public life, and quintessential to the future of democracy.

Whether or not you are writing a 140 character message on Twitter, a script for a 3 minute radio segment, a 450 word web site piece or a 900 word piece that will end up on the front page of your newspaper tomorrow, a good story is a story that can be held to ethical standards, and a journalist that can be held to ethical standards can be a successful journalist.

It is why resources like the Code of Ethics are worth saving for reference. No matter what beat you cover or what medium you work, these resources are designed to help you be a better journalist, to ensure the narrative of your story remains strong, and the content that you produce can educate, inform, stimulate and enlighten, time and again.

Yet, the benefits of resources like the Code of Ethics go beyond the journalists themselves. They go toward the people who matter most of all in this line of work — our audience.

Editor’s note: Ethical queries on stories can be made to the SPJ Ethics Committee through the Ethics Hotline, either by telephone (1-317-927-8000 X 208) or by email. Inquiries and messages will be forwarded to the Committee for response.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of the SPJ Digital community, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Supporting women studying journalism

Recent studies show that more women are studying journalism around the world, including in London, than men. (Photo: Pixabay)

Recent studies show that more women are studying journalism around the world, including in London, than men. (Photo: Pixabay)

Beginning in a few weeks, students will transition back to educational life at university — some for the first time, as others return to continue, or complete, their degrees. This also holds true in the case of those studying journalism. But as classes resume, the industry as a whole continues to change, and many students are wondering about their prospects, and if their degree will pay off.

Last June, with the help of a scene from the TV show Frasier, I wrote a post on the Net Worked digital blog, advocating for journalism students, especially those who just graduated. I believe that each student that walks through the doors of a university’s journalism program is a necessity to our profession, in spite of the industry changes and debate, and the economic downturn.

Whether you study at a large journalism school or in a small program, the contribution that you are making to this industry is profound, significant and something to be proud of. You have chosen a great field to pursue a career in, and despite all that is being said about journalism’s future, there will always be a need for journalists in the world.

Yet, as students return, a trend continues to unfold — more women are studying journalism compared to men. Many studies, most notably from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford in the UK, have indicated an increase in women studying at journalism programs in countries including Britain and the US, despite men holding the majority of the positions in the industry.

Indeed, 2013 data from the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollment (the latest available) indicated that women made up approximately 64 percent of undergraduate journalism students in the US.

At Kettle Magazine, the UK based publication which I edit and contribute to, the majority of our editors are women (of the 25 currently held editor posts, including editor-in-chief, 15 are held by women). Their dedication and contributions to the profession have allowed Kettle to become a better publication, and for journalism itself to be a better industry.

Indeed, there are many female journalists (to borrow a portion of the slogan from the Poynter newsletter The Cohort) kicking ass in media — from Katie Hawkins-Gaar at the Poynter Institute, Tory Starr at public broadcaster WGBH and Laura Davis of the University of Southern California, to some of my SPJ colleagues, including Sarah Bauer Jackson, Robyn Davis Sekula and Elle Toussi, as well as many others around the world.

The role women in journalism play is paramount to the success of this industry, for the ideas they have can help reinvigorate our profession. Therefore, not only must we champion women currently in the industry, but it is detrimental that we support those who are studying it, whether they are starting out their degrees, or progressing towards their completion.

We must give them opportunities during their studies to hone their craft and their role in the industry. This can be done by expanding mentoring programs, allowing women studying journalism to shadow and be mentored by women currently working in the industry, to help them network, to help them see life in the industry firsthand, to help them emerge from their degrees eager to make their mark on this profession.

We must also provide opportunities to help women boost their leadership skills and their confidence — to encourage them to share their ideas and insight, for the ideas they share and the decisions they make will ensure journalism can be stronger and sustain itself amidst uncertain trends.

Women represent the future of journalism, and we must champion them and support them in any way we can. We must do it for not just their future, but for the future of this industry.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of the SPJ Digital community, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Generation J community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Why Our First TV Bosses Gave Us Our First Jobs

By: Kristyn Caddell, SPJ Gen J National Writer
Twitter: @KCaddellTV

genj2

genj1

 

 

Television Reporter Lindsay Cohen says she owes her first news job to a painting dog, while Investigative Producer Lynn Walsh feels it was her enthusiasm that sealed her first tv deal. And, for me, I have always credited landing my first gig to a cross country journey and the ability to carry around a 75 pound DVC pro camera even when I had no clue how to turn the thing on…

We all remember the moment it happened…when we got the long-awaited, much anticipated call, and maybe the person on the other end said something like this. “ Sure I will give you a shot…it will be on the 3 am shift, on the weekend, you’ll be standing in the freezing cold weather and you might have to shoot your own video and oh, by the way you’ll be living in Presque Isle Maine ( DMA #206) with a paycheck totaling a whopping $13,000 a year….but THAT my friends was all we needed!

While teaching and mentoring journalism students I am constantly asked the same question how did you get your first job and what do we need to do to break into this ever-changing industry. Some journalists are fortunate enough now and don’t have to move to the smallest market in the country and can even score big and get their own photographer, but all still have to catch the eye of a news director.

So what better way to find out what it is was that made the news bosses of journalists around the country give them their first jobs than ask them. And, this a step further and compare notes with what we journalists have long thought the answers were.

So back to Lindsay Cohen, probably one of my favorite reporters to watch because of her way with words..Just when you think she can’t possibly squeeze another subtle pun into her storytelling she does it beautifully and without the cheese.

IMG_6338

Lindsay Cohen Anchor/Reporter
@lindsaycohen

First Job: Reporter
First Boss: Paul Conti
Station: WNYT, Albany, New York

Why Lindsay thinks she got the job: “I often joke that I owe my first job to a painting dog. It was the kicker on my resume tape. Paul wasn’t looking for a reporter when I sent him work, but I called him up and asked him if he’d take a look. When I asked for feedback a week later, he gave me his overall insight, and told me he was impressed by the writing on that piece. He then threw a pop quiz at me. Paul was famous for that. He asked, “how many senators does New York have? Who are they? What’s the top story in the country today?” He asked this of all his candidates. I think he wanted to make sure his employees had some basic smarts — and could also talk on the fly about the top news of the day. After making my way through that, he told me they just had a part-time job open up for a weekend reporter. ”

Why Paul Conti says she got the job: “ I hired Lindsay twice!!! The first time was for a vacation relief position at the TV station. During my tenure as news director staffing was not as great a challenge as it is now. Normally when I hired a vacation relief reporter I hoped that individual could do basic reporting on some simple spot news. In a short period of time I could tell that Lindsay’s talents exceeded routine accidents and fires. She is great at enterprising stories, which is not easy to find in a reporter. And she is a great story teller. I liked to tell my middle managers at the station that you can coach a young journalist on how to do a more appealing standup or how to tighten up a script but you can’t coach smart. Lindsay is smart. As the vacation relief job wound down I lobbied to get a full time reporter position. I must have promised something horrible to the budget people because investing in additional payroll positions was never an easy lift. Everything I knew to be true about Lindsay as a vacation relief reporter was certainly evident during her time as a full time reporter. As an experienced, veteran reporter in Seattle her Emmy wins are a testimony to her skill set.

IMG_6334

Jay Cashmere Anchor/Reporter
@jaycashmere

First Job: One-Man Band Reporter
First Boss: Rebekah Caldwell-Mason; Mike Sullivan
Stations: WJRD Tuscaloosa, Alabama ; WTOC Savannnah, Georgia

Why Jay thinks he got the job: “I think my first bosses gave me my jobs because I was motivated and eager to get experience and that’s what it’s all about. My first job was at a small start-up WJRD in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was a one-man band reporter making only $13,000. After about a year Mike Sullivan at WTOC in Savannah, Georgia gave me a shot in a bigger market. I consider both these bosses as giving me my first shot in the business because of how quickly I moved from one station to the next. It’s not about the amount of money you make; it’s about how much experience you can get that will help push you into your next job in a bigger market.
You have to be hungry for experience and not feel entitled to it. This industry has humble beginnings, but can give you a front row seat to the world’s biggest stories.”

Why Mike Sullivan says he got the job: “Jay had a fantastic attitude. He showed us that energy and positive outlook when we interviewed him and he never lost it. Our initial appraisal held true . He grew professionally and just as importantly he was a great person to have in the newsroom. A young reporter may not have the best audition tape in the stack, but if he or she demonstrated motivation and enthusiasm we could always work with them to improve their skills. ”

IMG_6337

Kristyn Caddell, Reporter
@kcaddelltv

First Job: Photographer
First Boss: Scott Howard
Station: KHSL-TV Chico, California

Why Kristyn thinks she got the job: “I graduated from college, packed up my Mustang and headed west with all of my belongings and the resume tape I made during my internship. By the time I got to the station, Scott had no choice but to give me a job because the reality was I drove 3,000 miles to pursue my passion. After two days he offered me a photographer job ( I had no clue how to shoot at the time) and three months later; I was on-air reporting. I always listened to every critique from anyone who had something to say and knew there was always room to get better.  So, whenever I was told to ditch the large man blazers with shoulder pads, I did!

Why Scott Howard says she got the job: “Kristyn was hungry for the job and hungry to be good at it. And ,the clincher was when Chico had its only high-rise fire ever (Chico State ninth floor dorm fire) and she was my only option to go live… (Main anchor Matt Keller broke his hand playing basketball on his break). Kristyn didn’t blink an eye when I said “we need you to go live.” We packed up the live truck, headed down to the campus for her first official spot news live shot and she nailed it. I say “official” because I’m not counting the time she took (snuck) the live truck out on her own to do a Saturday live shot
at some psychic fair!!!! That’s being hungry, I guess….”

IMG_6335

Lynn Walsh, Investigative Producer
@lwalsh

First Job: 4PM Producer
First Boss: Pat Casey (Pat Casey passed away in 2011.
Station: WKEF, Dayton, Ohio

Why Lynn thinks she got the job: “I was enthusiastic, passionate and eager to work. I showed my willingness and ability to do just about anything they might need in the newsroom.”

*Pat Casey spent thirty years helping propel television newsrooms and programs around the country. He not only worked at WKEF, but also at stations in Baltimore, Washington, Los Angeles and Cincinnati.

IMG_6336

Renee Lavine, Photographer
@camera_girl_nee

First Job: Photographer
First Boss: David Williams
Station: KLPC, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Why Renee thinks she got the job: “They had a photographer position open for four months. I was local and was able to take the low-paying salary and live at home with my parents. I had just graduated and had a resume tape with three packages that I shot and edited.”

Why David Williams says she got the job: “As you can probably imagine hiring employees in such a small market can be difficult. Thankfully, Renee was a native of the area and knew a lot about Lake Charles. She also had a great attitude and was willing to do whatever was needed for the position. Small market TV needs people with a positive attitude like Renee had early in her career.”

Up until now, we never thought to ask our bosses why we got hired… For many of us it’s twelve years later hearing what it was that got us our first gigs.
The running theme here seems to be a good attitude and the will to do whatever it takes. You might not know how to turn the camera on, but you can figure that out. You might be scared to move to the middle of nowhere, but you’ll be fine. You might think ad-libbing the fire of the century is impossible, but it isn’t. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because you always can.

Be different. Be versatile. Be YOU .
**Thank you to all of the journalists and news managers who contributed to this article.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Connect

Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn


© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ