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Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

One of the things my advertising research professor repeatedly emphasized throughout the class was that brand planners (those people that figure out what consumers want and how they rationalize their buying habits) have to be chameleons. By this, she meant that brand planners must be able to get along with people from all walks of life, no matter how weird or disturbing they might find the consumers’ lives to be.

Also, brand planners have to be able to insert themselves into social situations with consumers if they want to retrieve any valuable information. I think journalists need that same ability. We’ve got to be chameleons, too. We have to be able to blend into the story’s environment.

The key is adaptability.

We’re not in Romania yet, but we’re already running across some logistical obstacles. While the situation is stressful, we realize that we’ve been dealt a certain hand and we’re going to adapt. This stuff happens, and we can’t control it. But we can control how we respond, so we’re creating a backup plan for a new set of circumstances.

When I was soliciting advice from photojournalists, one of them told me about a trip of his overseas. He was going to be in this country for a week and he had absolutely nothing with two days left. He had an enormous amount of pressure on him because his editors would have been slightly upset if he arrived with no good story/photos after spending a week abroad. Since what he was doing wasn’t working, he switched gears and found a new story/angle to run with. It worked out for him, and we’re hoping what we’re doing will work out for us.

These obstacles will most certainly change our experience, but they won’t stop us. Because we’re like those little lizards that change color. We can be chameleons, too.

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I’m going to build on my earlier post that made the oh so bold and unprecedented claim that the traditional world of journalism is crumbling.

I definitely still stand by that, but today I spent the morning and afternoon wandering the (pretty empty) halls of the Belo building downtown, listening to lectures, partaking in panel discussions and eating LOADS of food as part of the Belo Scholarship Day.

You would think that spending a day with a company that is constantly downsizing and reconfiguring would be a bit of downer. Strangely enough, I left inspired and encouraged. And I left feeling like Lindsey and I (and nearly all aspiring journalists) are sitting with a pretty decent view of how it’s all going to go down. We’re at least better off than those who are in the midst of the rubble trying to dig themselves out, right?

I think that the best thing about the industry realizing it needs to “reinvent” itself (reinvent was definitely the most used word of the day) is that we’re sort of in charge of doing that. Media companies like Belo Corp and A.H. Belo Corp are looking for innovative minds to hire. They’re looking for young people with passion and initiative.

During the panel discussion somebody posed the ubiquitous question that in essence asks “how the hell do i get a job?” And their answer was pretty much do everything you can to show you stand out. Show you want this job more than anyone else and show them you’re worth more than anyone else.

The Dallas Morning News managing editor George Rodrigue told a story about some girl in Seattle he knew who got an internship with a paper because she had gone to China with a flip camera on her own dime to do a sort of first-hand report on teenage interaction with the media. His point was that all the applicants for that internship had solid clips, strong references and some experience with their university paper or Web site. But only she had gone to China with a flip camera.

I guess what I’m really getting at is…Lindsey, want to buy a flip camera?

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Good news or bad news first?

Here’s the bad news: the old model of journalism is, well, sort of crumbling.

Good news: We’re figuring out how to adapt. (And by ‘we’ I mean Lindsey and myself. I’m not exactly sure what the rest of the journalism world is doing).

As journalism nerds, Lindsey and I are well aware of the uncertainty surrounding the industry off of which we hope to make a livelihood. But a meeting this morning with one of our project advisers, SMU photojournalism professor Robert Hart, has left us thinking (or was it weeping?).

We met with Hart because we wanted advice .You know what we wanted advice about? Our blog. You know what he thought about our blog? He hasn’t read it. But we forgive him because he managed to share some words of wisdom about the blog without even seeing it.

You want to know what else he told us? The same sort of stuff we’ve been hearing–prepare yourself for increased layoffs, increased competition and how to be poor. But he also told us we’re on the right track. Freelancing is a good thing. It’s our attempt to stay afloat in some very turbelent waters.

Experience is the best learning tool and so we created an opportunity for ourselves. There is no way we’d get to do something like this at a newspaper or magazine right now. They don’t have the money. So we’re on to plan B– do it ourselves.

But so here is my question, does that make us citizen journalists? And is that such a bad thing?

UPDATE: Maybe I should give a bit more background on citizen journalism. I probably resisted doing so in the first place because it’s a difficult term to define. But I understood it to be citizens actively reporting and publishing (be it on blogs or other publications) news and information. And I guess my thinking was along the lines of: Lindsey and I are seeking the news and if the stories we report are not picked up by major media outlets, the news will still be reported through our blog. So what does that make us? Are we journalists only if our work is published in a paper or magazine? Or are we journalists regardless only using a new medium to report the news?

And thanks, Hart, for reading up.

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I joined Twitter last night. To those of you already on it, you’re saying, “Glad you finally joined the crowd.” To those of you who know what it is and refuse to create an account, you’re thinking, “Why would you do that?” And those of you who have never heard of Twitter are going, “What are you talking about?” (By the way, I was in the second group not too long ago. I’m what marketers call a late adopter. I know, I know, that doesn’t make me an ideal candidate for this industry, but I’ll change…eventually.)

According to Twitter’s site, it is “a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.” Basically, people send out messages of no more than 140 characters about whatever they want. Your friends can choose to “follow you.” When this happens, your message appears in their stream of messages that they can get on their Twitter homepage or phone.

You might be wondering what convinced me to join. A good friend has been telling me repeatedly that I need to create an account. She invited me last night by telling Twitter to send a message to my phone. I decided to go for it and created an account through text messages. Here’s why I gave in:

  1. I subscribe to Will Sullivan’s Journerdism daily e-mails to keep up with current events in the journalism industry (he sends out links to interesting articles). Twitter makes an appearance at least once a week. It’s time I really understand what all the articles are about.
  2. I hope that by Twittering I can bring more attention to this site and the stories that Sommer and I hope to tell.
  3. My curiosity about this weird phenomenon got the best of me.

I was totally addicted last night. I wanted to learn the in’s and out’s of the foreign site and figure out what makes it so great and how to best utilize it. I’m still learning, but this crash course in how to effectively use new media to connect with people and drive traffic here is exactly what I need. I’m finally starting to understand what all these journalists have been talking about, and it feels great.

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