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Are you using LinkedIn? You should be!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Paul Scott, the co-founder of the ADDO Institute in Atlanta for an article that focuses on how students should use their time over the summer.  Scott and the ADDO Institute work with students throughout the country in developing leadership abilities through a variety of ways.

As journalists, it’s crucial for us to get our names out there through strong networking and top-notch connections.

He was BIG on using the time off to intern rather than getting a job.

“It’s vitally important to intellectually invest in opportunities that provide a platform [for the future,]” Scott said.

And he said resumes will help but not as much as the experience will.

“They’re secondary to the story you have to tell,” he said. “The real life story is more attractive to the person interviewing you.”

He said the worst thing students can do is nothing and that they should be involved someway in order to develop that “story.”

One way to let others see your stories is to start using LinkedIn. (If you don’t have one yet, I strongly suggest creating a profile.)

I like to think of LinkedIn as a creative, professional, Facebook profile.  It lets others see your accomplishments, jobs, educational history and much, much more. It also showcases the profiles of businesses and their hiring managers…people with whom you should become very familiar.

There are some steps you can take to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that you’re getting that most out of it and impressing the right people.

Take a look at the headline. You have 120 characters at the top of your profile to describe to the world what you do. Many people just put their official job title. Again that’s many people.  OR you can REALLY use the system to your advantage.

Choose descriptive and compelling keywords make you as marketable as possible, help you get found by the right people. Remember, LinkedIn is a search engine.

Work on your summary. It could be a “copy & paste” of your resume’s summary section…but it could read more like your bio. You could list a few skills you bring to the table.

You could take an accomplishments approach and list the three or four big results you have achieved on behalf of your past experiences or employers

Make yourself searchable and marketable.  Employers want candidates who will fit the company culture, so you need to research the culture of your ideal companies and embody it in your profile. Take advantage of the opportunity to stand out and land the perfect job.

Finding a spot to tell your story will be a HUGE benefit. And with LinkedIn, you’re sure to get it out there.












Are YOU getting the most out of social media?

It’s pretty obvious that social media sites are things of the present and are most likely here to stay. CBS Philadelphia recently reported Facebook hit a new milestone of 1.28 billion active monthly users worldwide.

Social media is rapidly changing the world of journalism. And by that, not only do I mean it’s changing the world of journalism, but it’s be integrated with the world of journalism. That means every journalist, reporter, writer, MMJ, producer, anchor, weather guy/girl…even YOU…should be engaged in social media.

Even if there are social media sites you don’t use, you should still create one. It never hurts to have a Google+ account or an Instagram…JUST in case it might help you get a job. But it also puts your name out there. Along with branding, it’s your way of saying, “Yes, I’m here!”

If you want to get out there, you NEED to be on social media. Everyone is using social media, you should be, as well. It’s common practice.

Connecting with your audience is the primary reason you should be constantly involved with social media. Interacting with your audience is essential. In fact a high number of “followers” on Twitter or “Likes” on Facebook will aide you in landing a job at a news station or other media career.  If you have high numbers, those hiring will see that you can attract people, possibly to their network. Remember to stay active with them…no one “likes” to feel left out.

Postings need to be more informal and conversational, provide commentary or analysis on the news and invite people to participate. Ask them to answer a question or provide suggestions for stories. Perhaps you could find out what sort of angle you should take. I like to gear my writing so it “sticks up for the little guy.” It helps give others a voice of informs those who might be affected by an issue.

Here are a few other reasons you should think about social networking…if you aren’t already:

  • Social networks are great for generating conversations among people about stories…news outlets may find the volume of reader comments on a story posted on Facebook can exceed comments posted on the news organization’s actual website.
  • Reporters can join the networks, converse with people and showcase their stories. It’s yet another way for reporters to develop personal brands for their work. We can all use some self-promotion, right?
  • News sites can use apps like Storify to pull together postings to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites on a particular topic in the news, especially a breaking news story.
  • Journalists also can use social networks like Facebook to find sources for stories. See for example Facebook’s Graph Search that can be used to locate people who work at particular companies or organizations, live in specific towns or cities or have particular interests. You also can create Interest Lists in Facebook to create a custom feed of postings by people around specific topics.
  • Don’t forget chatting on Twitter is booming with the ever-popular hashtag (#). These handy little tools will help you connect with your audience about anything.

In  closing, you should always remember that once you click “post,” it’s out forever and ever. You aren’t the only reporter our there, it’ll have an outcome on all of us.

Reuters says it best.

“Before you tweet or post, consider how what you’re doing will reflect on your professionalism and our collective reputation.”




What YOU need to know about Data Journalism…Behind the Numbers and Into a Story

Data journalism is becoming more and more common in the field of mass communications.  Take a look at The New York Times website; they have a WHOLE page dedicated to data journalism and multimedia publications.

When I first heard about ‘data journalism,’ my first question was “how is this different than other types of journalism?” And maybe you have the same question, as well.

What makes data journalism so different is the new possibilities that open up when you combine the traditional ‘nose for news’ and ability to tell a compelling story, with the sheer scale and range of digital information now available.

Data journalism is so important in the field because it requires that gathering, the filtering, and the visualization of data beyond what the eye can see.  Now, in this day of social media, anyone can be a ‘journalist.’ But it will really take a true journalist to be able to mine and sift through data to tell a compelling and dramatic story.

Journalists, including we, the up-and-coming journalists, should see data as an opportunity to help the public. They can, for example, reveal how some abstract threat such as unemployment affects people based on their age, gender, education.  Our goal is to make sure that we are making this data relatable, instead of thousands of numbers thrown together in a document.

In our field, we are constantly looking for trends in order to tell a story or to inform. Take crime as an example. We can pinpoint the certain spots that crimes happen and then report on a trend, perhaps with possible input from police agencies. This can all be displayed on a map, embedded into the online story. And there you have a great example of data journalism. The best part…it can all be done in a Google Doc along with a free add on of Google Fusion. It even spits out a link that you can embed into your site and/or article.

Thinking about designing for data journalism should make us stop and think about how we write our stories and how we push them out to the audience. Are we drawing the audience in? Can we interact with them? That word ‘interact’ is HUGE these days.

The more we can interact with our audiences, the more effective our work will be.

Data journalism needs experienced journalists, who have the stamina to look at often confusing, often boring raw data… we need to be able to ‘see’ and ‘tell’ the story that lies behind the numbers

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