Archive for the ‘Student Journalists’ Category

For Young Journos: How to ‘not fail at journalism’ job finding

Finding a job as a new journalist isn’t easy. You may have to give up your money dreams, location dreams, beat dreams, news medium dreams — basically you might have to give up on all of your dreams, except for the being a journalist one.

So in order to help journalists find a job covering county fairs in the middle of nowhere for right about the poverty line salary, or a job as the next editor of the New York Times, we turned to Kenna Griffin for a #youngjournojobs Twitter chat. She gave tons of amazing advice, but her Twitter typing fingers could only type so fast. So, the assistant professor of Mass Communications at Oklahoma City University, graciously answered some bonus job-seeking questions for me.

Thanks Kenna for all of your hard work helping J-students!

Kenna Griffin Mug

Kenna Griffin

What are the best three websites to find journo jobs?

The best sites for media jobs depend on the type of job you’re seeking. You probably know that I post a list of media jobs on my website, every Monday and a list of internships every Friday. But, also, I recommend looking at local journalism organizations’ sites to see if they have job boards. They tend to be more informed than national sites. Journalism Jobs is a good site to look at if you just want to know what’s “out there.” LinkedIn is always a good resource for job-related things.

Is it better to have an online resume, paper or both? Why?

It’s better to have both. This gives you more methods of distributing your information and displays your multimedia mindset. It’s best to have your materials available in whatever format the potential employer desires.

What are the top three qualities news orgs are looking for in the young generation of journos?

News organizations are looking for professionalism, strong foundational skills in writing and reporting and an understanding of multimedia tools with a willingness to adapt to change.

How should young journos go about promoting themselves/their work?

Young journalists should have professional online presences (perhaps including a blog) that they use to display their work and understanding of the industry. They should participate in online discussion groups and Twitter chats related to the industry. They also should attend professional organizations’ networking events in the community in which they live. Establishing themselves as professionals and becoming known is key to establishing a strong career future. And, of course, they should work for student media and take internships for as many clips and professional experiences as possible.

Journos and fashion don’t always mix. What guidelines would you suggest for interviews?

Dress in business attire. Invest in a basic black or navy suit and dress shoes. You can always adapt to a more casual workplace, but it’s tough to undo a negative first impression. A special note from me: Flip flops are never appropriate work attire.

Should writing clips be paper or digital? Best organization of clips?

As I said above about resumes, have both. That way, you can send them in advance or guide a potential employer to your resume site. However, take a portfolio with you to every interview. Also, take a pen and paper. Nothing says “I fail at journalism” like not being prepared to take notes.

If networking=jobs, how do young journos go about networking efficiently?

Join professional organizations. Almost all of them have reasonable student rates. Many of them have local and campus chapters. If so, join both. Get to know as many people as you can in the industry. Attend every professional conference your journalism school provides. Attend dressed up and ready to network. Also, I’ve met so many amazing people through Twitter chats. Twitter has become one of my favorite networking tools. I highly recommend that students participate in some of these chats.

If young journos only have time to market one skill to potential employers, what should they focus on?

Adaptability. Our industry is changing in ways many of us never imagined. Students have to show that they have the basic skills they need now and a willingness to learn whatever storytelling tools the future presents.

Taylor Carlier Headshot

Taylor Carlier | Photo credit: Matt Thomas

Taylor Carlier is the communications coordinator at the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a 2014 Purdue University graduate of Mass Communication: Journalism and previously was the special projects editor at The Exponent. She can be reached at or interact on Twitter: @Taylorcarlier.

BRANDED: How young journos can make a name for themselves

Let’s be honest, I’m not great at branding myself in the journalism world, and if we run the stats I am probably not qualified to write a post about it. But, I am really good at regurgitating other people’s thoughts, so I went to someone with more experience, credentials, knowledge and really just someone who knows a lot more about branding than me — Robin J. Phillips.

Robin J Phillips











Robin J. Phillips

My Twitter followers: 356 (mostly pity follows)

Robin’s Twitter followers: 3,736 (probably all legitimate) 

I had the opportunity to talk with her at Excellence in Journalism 2014 in Nashville, when she was a speaker for the Branding for Journalists breakout session. Phillips just so happens to be the digital director for the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism and a journalism professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, so who more fitting to give all of us up-and-coming journos a branding lesson than Ms. Journo Branding herself?

Want more tips, tricks and advice on breaking into journalism as a young journo? Join SPJ’s  #youngjournojobs Twitter chat at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 with Kenna Griffin, assistant professor of Mass Communications at Oklahoma City University. In the meantime, check out her awesome website with loads of young journo helpful tools.

Now back to branding with Phillips:

Q: What are the top five things a young journalist who is trying to brand themselves must do?

  1. Get your own domain name. Register a Dot Com name that is as close to your real name as you can get.
  2. Even if you aren’t working as a journalist yet, get moving. Create a blog on a topic you’re passionate about and be creative. While you’re waiting to work as a journalist, be a journalist – write, report, take photos, make videos, show what you can do.
  3. Join journalism organizations where you can find training and begin to network with other journalists: There is a group or two for everyone like SPJ, NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA, NLGJA, NAJA, AWSM, JAWS, RTDNA, ONA, #wjchat.  If you don’t know what those are, go look them up, follow them on Twitter.
  4. Spend time every once in a while taking a look at the bios you have for all the social and online platforms you belong to. If you joined Polyvore or Pinterest as a kid and haven’t been back in a while, take a look at the photo and bio you have there and update them. You don’t necessarily want to kill the under-used sites, but it’s a good idea to make sure that if someone finds you there, they are seeing what you want them to see.
  5. Have fun. Social media and sharing things on the web is all about relationships. It’s time-consuming, but should not be a big chore. If you’re having fun – in a healthy, safe, professional way – then people will pick up on that and want to “hang out” with you.

Q: What is the worst mistake you see young journalists make in the name of branding? 

Trying to be something you aren’t. It’s important to be yourself. Figure out who you are, what you want to do and keep that in mind.  Life is too short to pretend you’re something else. That doesn’t mean you should stay the same always. Figure out your goals and make sure that everything you do to present yourself in a professional way is consistent with those goals.

For example, if you want to be an investigative reporter specializing in healthcare (could happen!), then follow healthcare reporters on Twitter and Facebook. Read everything you can about your subject and share the good stuff. Comment once in a while about what you are reading or watching – your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s about what is good and interesting.

Q: What are three incorrect stereotypes about journalist’s branding themselves?

  • People sometimes think Branding is being fake. See my answer above. Don’t be fake. Branding is actually being very real – true to yourself and true to others.
  • Some journalists think Branding is a sell-out and that your work should stand for itself.  Not true. There is too much news and information out there these days.  It’s OK for you to give your work a little push. Share it.
  • Journalists, who often are basically shy, can be critical about Branding because it feels like bragging. So what’s the matter with that? You don’t want to be obnoxious, but if you’ve done something new, interesting, smart, go ahead and blow your own horn. If you don’t tell people (prospective employers, for example), they may never know. That doesn’t mean Tweet each story you write 5 times a day. Just like any other relationship, share your successes, but don’t be obnoxious.

Q: What phone app can you not live without? 

Flickr. I love photos. My camera – HTC One – has a great camera so I take a lot of photos. I try to quickly kill the poor ones and upload high-resolution versions of the good ones to Flickr where I can keep them for later or share them with family and friends.

Q: If you could only use one social media outlet to brand yourself as a journalist, what would you choose and why?

It’s got to be Twitter. Twitter is great for journalists because it is so easy to find people interested in the same topics you are. A local journalist might have more luck on Facebook, but that gets too mixed up with personal and professional contacts. Twitter is a good place to establish your voice.

Q: If a young journalist was trying to better their personal brand and could only revamp three things, what would you suggest they focus on?

  • Review your bios.
  • Think hard about your true goals – what do you want to do, how to you want to spend your time.
  • Then start to think of yourself as a professional. Social media can feel personal and intimate, but don’t lose site of the fact that you are representing yourself as a young professional at all times. That gives you both power and responsibility. Use them wisely.

Q: Who are some examples of good journalists who are great at branding themselves?

Sarah Lane

Andrew Nusca

Afrah Nasser

Marcia Pledger

Carmen Drahl

Sonari R Glinton

Ivan Moreno

Personal Branding for Journalists slides in full.

Q: Do you think branding has become a completely digital game, or are there still tangible techniques outside of the online sphere young journos should be aware of?

Oh, in-person, real-life friendships and contacts are invaluable. After all, that’s what life is about. As you establish yourself in your field, you’ll find that relationships you make online go only so far. If you find a source online, you need to treat that person with suspicion, perhaps not quoting them at all until you’ve met in person, and certainly until you’ve talked on the phone. As far as friends and mentors and colleagues you meet online, you’ll find that you get a lot out of relationships that are only digital. But, when possible, turn those into real-life relationships.

Attend journalism conventions when you can and set up in-person meetings. If you’re on vacation to a new city, ask an online connection to meet for coffee or see if you can stop by their office. You’ll both know a lot more about each other because you’ve been following each other online. Go the local journalism organization’s meet-ups. Or organize one yourself. I once had a dozen people meet in a local bar to “attend” #wjchat on a Wednesday night. We were talking to people around the world on Twitter, but it was fun to be with ‘real’ local folks at the same time. This goes back to No. 5 above.  Sometimes it’s just more FUN in real life.

Taylor Carlier Headshot

Taylor Carlier. Photo credit: Matt Thomas

Taylor Carlier is the communications coordinator at the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a 2014 Purdue University graduate of Mass Communication: Journalism and previously was the special projects editor at The Exponent. She can be reached at or interact on Twitter: @Taylorcarlier.

The Working Press reporting interns: Life in the staff lane

Each year, before SPJ and RTDNA’s fabulous national Excellence in Journalism conference kicks off, a dozen talented student journalists gather in an eerily quiet hotel. The building will soon be full of journalists, professors, industry experts and students buzzing with new knowledge and thousands of coffee cups.

Through a competitive application process, SPJ chose these students to cover one of the largest annual journalism conferences in the country. They are The Working Press, and they do not take their jobs lightly.

Nikki Villoria (@NikkiVilloria) worked for TWP first as a student intern and later as a professional mentor. She sums it this way: “For almost a week, you surround yourself with the best journalists in their fields… all of whom are more than happy to share their knowledge, answer questions and take the time to get to know aspiring journalists.”

She’s referring not only to the more than 1,000 attendees the interns interact with, but specifically TWP advisers who work closely with student reporters.

Hannah Birch (@birch_hannah), a senior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a 2011 TWP intern in New Orleans, recalls reading the bios of the advisers before arriving “and being intimidated (New York Times, Associated Press, Dow Jones…), but they all worked to create a positive environment.

“A lot of them had been on staff with TWP for years, and it was clear they knew when to offer advice and when to step back a little,” Birch said. That’s the kind of guidance SPJ knows will give students a boost in their journalism education and, of course, their job hunt after graduation.

Birch is happy to report not only that potential employers ask about her TWP experience in interviews, but that she’s “headed to the Seattle Times this summer for a copy-editing internship, and I wouldn’t have even applied for that if Reginald Stuart, who hired me for TWP, hadn’t called me about it.”

Journalists who serve as TWP advisers are there with two goals: to facilitate the best reporting possible at SPJ’s largest event, and to ensure students on TWP staff get the most out of their experience.

That’s why SPJ continues to support this opportunity. All Working Press staffers receive complimentary conference registration and hotel accommodations. More importantly, though, students receive invaluable training, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Olivia Ingle (@Olivia_Ingle), a senior at Butler University and an SPJ member since her freshman year (now Butler chapter president), explains: “My experience on TWP staff reaffirmed to me that I’m taking the right career path…I also came back from the conference with several clips, stories that were edited by journalists who work for The New York Times and the AP.”

In addition to a daily print tabloid, The Working Press maintains a website during the conference. Click here to see last year’s reporting.

Interested in applying for an internship with The Working Press? Here’s the low-down:

By Abby Henkel, SPJ Communications Coordinator.

Congrats to our 2010 Ted Scripps leaders

Break out the bubbly and blare “Pomp and Circumstance”…our 2010 Ted Scripps leaders graduated over the weekend!

Nineteen pro leaders, 24 student leaders and six facilitators from around the country got together for three intense training days and brainstormed new ideas for their SPJ chapters. They learned a lot about themselves, their leadership styles and how to make improvements on the SPJ home front.

There was a lot of SPJ bonding going on. People seemed to feel more connected to SPJ’s missions after the program, and meeting others from different chapters was extremely unifying.

Executive Director Joe Skeel, President-Elect Hagit Limor and President Kevin Smith at the duckpin bowling alley. Everyone's a winner in SPJ!

Plus, there was duckpin bowling on Friday night…a Midwest experience that people couldn’t pass up. Despite the frequent gutter balls, spirits remained high.

Saturday, participants worked from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on setting goals for their SPJ chapters and visiting different roundtable discussions about programming, the newly renovated SPJ website and fundraising ideas.

The campus chapters had an interesting dynamic with one another. Some students were representing journalism programs that enrolled thousands of students. Others had 50 people in their entire program.

Despite the huge chapter differences, many leaders were facing the same problems. Apathy from students who had too much on their plates. A weak system of communication within the journalism college. Problems retaining members and keeping them coming to meetings and events.

Others were trying to revitalize stagnant chapters, whether they were campus or pro.

Despite having a lot of work ahead of them, the graduates left with pages of notes and overwhelming support from the SPJ community. Their awesome dedication will continue moving the national organization in the right direction.

Congrats again, 2010 Ted Scripps leaders. You guys rock.

Getting lost in Indy and a roadmap for new college chapters

It has been a full week here in Indianapolis, and I have already gotten lost a handful of times in the city. Instead of viewing it as an adventure, I start to sweat and irrationally think that I’m never going to make it home. Might as well call my folks, say some dramatic last words and then park my car somewhere in the void. Maybe it would be best that from here on out, if I’m going to explore a new town, I better pack a few boxes of Cheez-Its, a First Aid kit and flare gun.

Now that I’m at SPJ Headquarters, I have to admit that one of the things I’ve wanted to do after college is help students set up campus chapters, a process that may seem like an intimidating, winding road. However, Headquarters staff members are like the GPS of the organization: they can lead you down the right path (sometimes with an overdone British accent).

Right now, there are 129 campus chapters in SPJ, but there’s always room for more. A friend of mine over at the University of North Florida is in the process of beginning a chapter, and she is currently looking for an adviser. She’s got spunk and initiative, which is something that SPJ needs to continue thriving.

Don’t have an SPJ chapter on your campus? Start one. You have Headquarters backing you 100 percent (the people over here don’t bite), and the start-up process is going to quadruple your leadership skills. If you join this national organization as someone who had the drive to start up their college chapter, can you imagine how many professional contacts you’re going to make while in school? Don’t pass up that opportunity.

Here’s how to start:

1)      Let SPJ Headquarters know you’ve made the decision to start a chapter by calling 317-927-8000. You can start a chapter if you’re at a two-year or four-year university or college that has a school or department of journalism or that offers courses in journalism. At least 10 students need to back you up.

2)      Seek out professional SPJ members near you, whether they’re faculty or in a local Pro SPJ chapter. They’ll help you out and offer guidance.

3)      You have to send in some paperwork to Headquarters in order to become a provisional campus chapter, which means you have a year to work toward becoming a “formally recognized” SPJ chapter.

To look at the details on how to start up a campus chapter, visit the SPJ site. It includes paperwork information, programming ideas and tips on how to set up the chapter framework. If you have any questions about anything, call us at Headquarters at 317-927-8000.

Or e-mail me for campus chapter tips at I was an officer in the University of Florida chapter for four years, which included being president for two. I helped lead an almost dormant chapter to becoming the 2009 Outstanding Campus Chapter of the Year. Revving up a chapter is a lot of work, but we certainly had fun with all our programming.

I assure you, we’re not going to let you get lost in the process. So set aside that emergency box of Cheez-Its and flare gun, and start up your chapter this summer.

Coming soon: When to throw out a stale chapter and bake a new one

April Dudash is the summer 2010 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and does the bidding of SPJ Headquarters. She graduated from the University of Florida in May and has been an SPJ member since 2006.

Shield law bill in danger – action needed from journalists

SPJ has learned that Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) may propose a detrimental amendment to S. 448 — more commonly referred to as the federal shield bill — in the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. The amendment would limit who is protected by the bill to a “salaried employee” or “independent contractor” of a news organization.  This language would likely exclude from coverage many online journalists, freelancers without contracts, and students or volunteer journalists, among others. The amendment would also exclude people who publish anonymously or pseudonymously.

SPJ is adamantly opposed to this amendment. This morning, President Kevin Smith is on Capitol Hill to express the Society’s strong opposition. We encourage you to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as possible this morning to tell them that you do not support an amendment that limits who is protected by the bill. The Committee is slated to vote on this bill at 10 a.m. Eastern (for a live webcast of the meeting, click here). Please be sure they hear from you before that time.

The following is a list of Senate Judiciary Committee members (Click on names for contact information):

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Ranking Member
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Edward Kaufman (D-Del.)
Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)
Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Arlen Specter (D-Pa.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)

 To learn more about SPJ’s efforts, click here. Read shield law press releases sent earlier this year on SPJ News.

Thank you for your immediate action to support this pivotal legislation.

Giving thanks to teachers (aka in memoriam to Beth Wood)

It’s a day after Thanksgiving – but I can still give thanks, right?

As if teachers weren’t already underappreciated, I wonder how little thanks students give to those teachers who truly care. The ones that will stick out their necks. The ones that will help students personally and professionally.

For me that was Beth Wood, a journalism instructor at Indiana University. I technically didn’t have her for a journalism class, but rather PR for nonprofits. It was one of the most practically useful classes I took in graduate school. It also led to my job at SPJ.

For the class, fellow students and I designed a strategic communications and marketing plan for a local nonprofit organization. The all volunteer-run group was thankful for any help they could get. I was thankful I’d taken the class from Beth.

Post-graduation, I was working briefly producing and researching podcasts for a university research institution. Beth knew I was looking for a full-time job. She heard about a communications position at SPJ and practically made me apply. She helped polish my resume and offered useful feedback on a sample policy-oriented press release I wrote for the application.

I guess it worked, and here I sit a year and a half later, now as editor of Quill magazine. She was nice enough to invite me back last school year to speak to her undergraduate class.

Beth died Nov. 14 after a long battle with lung cancer. She’d taught class the week before. Her death was sudden and shocking to me and, I’m sure, her students, colleagues, family and friends.

Beth Wood, IU journalism instructor

Beth Wood, IU journalism instructor

Even more shocking was that I realized I’d never fully thanked Beth for her help, not only with career assistance but as a dedicated, thoughtful and selfless instructor. I know I wrote her an e-mail or two, updating her on my “life” and expressing gratitude for her help. But I can’t help but wonder: Was it enough?

Probably not.

I left the following comments in a news piece about Beth’s death on the IU School of Journalism Web site:

“Professor Wood was undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and engaging professors I’ve ever encountered. Taking a practical, not theoretical, approach to instruction, she gave students what they need: real-world lessons on how to do their jobs. She made students want to come to class – and she treated them as equals, especially at the graduate level, and always valued every student’s input. On a personal level, she guided me and gave me much-welcomed career advice – and even helped me land a job after graduation. For her helpfulness on a professional level, I am forever thankful. For her openness, honesty, sincerity, welcoming and amazingly bright personality, I will always cherish our interactions. She will be missed, not only by me and her former students, but by all who will never have the chance to take a class from the incredible Beth Wood.”

Lesson learned.

To students and young journalists: You have skills, and don’t underestimate those skills and their ability to advance your career. But there are people who help you at every step of the way. An instructor. An editor. A parent. An adviser. A mentor. A friend. Take time to properly thank the people in your life who have gone above and beyond on your behalf.

To teachers and all those who help students: Thank you! You’re appreciated, even if we young bucks don’t show it.

To Beth: You’re wonderful and a gift to all students. You will be sorely missed. Thank you.

Tip o’ the hat: SPLC turns 35

The non-profit Student Press Law Center is celebrating 35 years protecting the First Amendment rights of young journalists. And we here at SPJ headquarters – celebrating our centennial this year – wish all the best to SPLC and its cadre of volunteer lawyers, hardworking student interns, and, of course, ever-busy executive director Frank LoMonte.

SPLC sent a “party invitation” to recognize the occasion. There’s no physical party to attend – just a nicely designed campaign e-mail (and an ever-so-subtle suggestion to donate $35 … get it?).

One issue SPLC has been particularly in front of is opposition to FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The 35-year-old law is facing renewed scrutiny after a recent Columbus Dispatch investigation revealed universities arbitrarily and erroneously using the law to block public records. SPJ’s Quill magazine covered the controversy in the Sept/Oct 2009 issue, and SPLC’s Frank LoMonte was a crucial source. He provided some great tips for student journalists to overcome FERPA hurdles at their universities.

So, congratulations to SPLC on 35 years of defending the rights of the student press. Here’s to many more.


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