Internship opportunity: Work with CICM to help push innovation in college media

Bryan Murley announces the CICM internship program:

The pitch: How would you like to learn new media skills while having a positive impact on the college media environment? Join us for a semester of new media opportunity as the first intern for the Center for Innovation in College Media for Spring 2009.”

Sounds like a great opportunity to work on your Web production and development skills while helping out  an organization that’s been pushing student media forward for years now.

Deadline to apply: January 18.

Get on it.

Sometimes, robots just aren’t enough

TechMeme adds a human editor to make adjustments when the algorithm fails:

“Any competent developer who tries to automate the selection of news headlines will inevitably discover that this approach always comes up a bit short. Automation does indeed bring a lot to the table — humans can’t possibly discover and organize news as fast as computers can. But too often the lack of real intelligence leads to really unintelligent results. Only an algorithm would feature news about Anna Nicole Smith’s hospitalization after she’s already been declared dead, as our automated celeb news site WeSmirch did last year

Would Google News add humans to the mix to craft a more up-to-date, relevant news site?  I doubt it.

But I’d be interested to see further variations of the algorithms that run Google News, TechMeme, and perhaps to a lesser extent, Digg or Reddit, to see what else is possible when it comes to translating the logic of linking behavior into actual prioritization of “importance,” if that’s still a relevant metric.

via @jayrosen_nyu

You are the future of journalism. Aren’t you?

Without much preamble, I highly recommend you enter Publish2’s “Are you the future of journalism?” contest, wherein you can WIN A JOB.

Considering how many journalists lost their jobs today, and how many likely will lose their jobs tomorrow, and how many have lost their jobs this year, I’m betting there’s a pretty big pool of talent out there.

So before you start looking for a gig in public relations, please consider the simple idea that you need not work for a newspaper to call yourself a journalist.

This isn’t about who has the thickest resume:  You can submit your entry as a video, slide show, or plain text i that’s what you’re into.

(I’d probably go with a fast-paced screencast-style presentation, but that’s just me.)

More details about the contest and the opportunity in Scott Karp’s blog post about it.

Who’s hiring? Blogs.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo on plans for 2009:

“So January will usher in a new Democratic Ascendancy in Washington. And here at TPM we believe we are uniquely qualified to chronicle it. So to that end we are hiring two new reporter-bloggers to be based in Washington, DC, one assigned to the White House and one assigned to Capitol Hill. The Obama White House and the expanded Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill are unquestionably the political story of the next two years. And with your help we plan to be there on the ground and and here in New York, covering it in force, fully, critically and down to the minute.”

TPM is often the argument-ender if you find yourself stuck in a blogs vs. journalism debate circa 2004.  It’s journalism; it’s original reporting; it’s profitable.

Oh, and it has 10 employees.  And they’re hiring reporters. Right now.

See also: Josh Marshall on the growth of Talking Points Memo and independent media

via E-Media Tidbits

Things to do…

Now that I’m back from vacation, here’s what’s on my to-do list for, uh, the foreseeable future:

  • Finish developing the pre-alpha version of ReportingOn and launch it.  Like, really, really soon.
  • Go to SND/APME next week, speak on Sunday, go to some awesome sessions and pimp ReportingOn to every editor I meet.
  • Write the first draft of my graduate school project report regarding ReportingOn.
  • Get someone to redesign Wired Journalists, or run a contest inviting users to edit their own theme and submit it.  The winner gets, um, a prize of some sort, and all sorts of link love.
  • Think about developing a Wired Journalists job board.  Seems like there are plenty of spots to place ads for generic news jobs, but nowhere to place an ad for a high-end online news job somewhere frequented by the best in their class… This could be profitable, yes?  Authentic Jobs is the model.
  • Put up another baby gate or two. The kid loves practicing her walking with my help.
  • Write much more for Idealab.
  • Do something interesting with a domain I bought recently: newstangle.com.
  • Talk with Canon and other companies about sponsoring Wired Journalists so we have some gear to give away by the end of the year.  Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved.  (In giving stuff away, that is.)
  • Move this blog to Django and redesign it, adding a hardcore linkblog element instead of aggregating it from the cloud.

So what’s on your list?

Dealing with the elephant: Hire Web-native salespeople

This is the third post in a short series I’m going to write about the business model for online news before I go back to my usual habit of banging my head up against walls made out of giant rolls of newsprint.  The starting point, the givens in the equation, are listed here.  Suggest what I should throw my weight at next using the Skribit widget in the sidebar of my blog.

Elephant in the room, part deux. by Cody Simms on Flickr
Elephant in the room, part deux. by Cody Simms on Flickr

Perhaps you’ve read, once or twice, a screed that I or others have written about what sort of skills an entry-level reporter should have these days if they expect to get a job anywhere other than a community weekly. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The problem is, I don’t know if anyone has given your advertising department the same speech.

This is a crucial step in the incremental-growth projects I’m laying out here.

Because you can’t sell video business listings if your salespeople don’t know what’s going on in the online video world.  Because you can’t explain why your business directory looks so superior to search engines if you don’t read up on SEO.  Because you certainly can’t explain your local blog network to advertisers if you’re not familiar with the traffic and content and level of activity in the local blogosphere.  Because you can’t sell a fleet of niche social networks to advertisers if you can’t explain the value of the Long Tail.

The list goes on, full of things that should be obvious to news content producers at this point, but what about advertising content producers?

That’s right, you’re going to need sales reps who can produce content; I’m talking about something more than a graphic artist here.

Here’s what I’d be looking for in an ad sales rep if I were hiring one today:

  • Blogs and reads blogs.
  • Participates in social networks.
  • Knows how to shoot, edit, post video, and watches online video.
  • Has marketing skills beyond stickers and t-shirts.  Can make an engaging presentation in any format, whether it’s a handshake/smile/chat, Powerpoint, flip chart, or video conference.

And if you can’t find someone who can fill that role full-time, consider hiring a local videographer or small production house to put together advertising video from time to time.  Find a local partner and try to pay them (in part) with a sponsorship or advertising in trade.

When it comes to marketing, keep in mind that you, news producer, desperately need to get across to sales reps what it is that’s new, different, better, improved about your online product.

That means making presentations to them about new products, verticals, databases, and your fancy new content management system.  Yes, to be clear, I’m saying that you absolutely must get up from your desk and go stand in front of a room of advertising employees and explain to them why that mashup you just built is so cool, and what sort of advertisers you think might be interested.

Crazy, right? News and advertising working together?  Get used to it.  If you can’t find sales reps that understand what you’re working on, then you’ll need to consider going out on sales calls with them yourself.

That doesn’t mean you need to start memorizing rate cards and upselling, it means that you, person who built that awesome map with all the data overlays of crime, liquor store robberies, and standardized test scores, need to go tell the community (read as: the chamber of commerce, or the Elks, or the Rotary Club) why your project is so cool.

So get out there.  Hire people who can sell more than a banner ad.  Train your current reps to shoot and edit video.  Don’t skip over the advertising department when the new computers and cameras get ordered.  Write simple one-page summaries of the cool stuff you build online, and send it out to the whole department.

Hire like you mean it.

Hire a sales force for tomorrow’s product, not yesterday’s.

You can be a journalist without a job at a mainstream news organization

That headline seems obvious, no?

Then why is it that when journalists see layoffs, buyouts, and newspaper companies in trouble, they sigh and say “Should I stop wasting my time and start applying to advertising agencies?

Really?

Here are a few ways you be a journalist without a full-time job at a mainstream news organization:

  1. Become a placeblogger.  Report on your community.  Beat the local newspaper, because you’re on the ground in your neighborhood and they’re probably not.  Make friends, and eventually, you may find yourself in the advertising business after all, selling space on your awesome local news blog.  Example: Baristanet.
  2. Freelance.  It sounds scarier than it is.  If you’re passionate about your beat, you might already be blogging about it.  That means you have some sort of body of work, or demonstration of your expertise on a given subject.  Use that to sell your ideas to magazines, niche publications that have money to spend and small in-house staffs.  My first paid reporting gigs were in a tiny little niche of the tech industry that I was interested in, if not necessarily passionate about.
  3. Got an idea?  Get a grant.  The Knight News Challenge is a great place to start.  If you have a great idea for how to do something innovative with local news, anywhere, you should be applying for a News Challenge grant, and this time next year, you could be getting paid to do something amazing, full-time.
  4. Get a job at a non-profit, and do journalism that matters for them.  Is that something like PR?  Maybe, but if you love the work they do, isn’t this a bit of a shortcut to saving the world?

None of these gigs involve working full-time for a big media company.  What was it exactly that you wanted out of journalism?  To work for a big company, or to be a journalist?

It’s not that simple, of course.  My health insurance is a bit more reliable now than it was when I was a student or a bartender.  (And you don’t even want to know how underinsured I was when I freelanced in the movie business.)

But if journalism is your passion, you’ll find the work you want.

Work with us, people

GateHouse Media is hiring two reporters. Here’s the important bit from Boss Owens’ post on the matter:

The ideal candidate:

  • A recent college graduate (or graduating this spring)
  • At least six months experience blogging
  • Capable of shooting and editing his or her own video
  • Ready to do more than sit in an office and make phone calls or pull the latest agenda item from a city council meeting and try to turn it into a story
  • Believes in local news and local community and sees a role for journalism in helping a community communicate and learn about what is happening in that community

Go read that whole post and write to howens [AT] gatehousemedia [DOT] com if you’re interested.

As an added bonus, I’ll probably bug you on IM and Twitter and SMS all day about when you’re posting your next video or blog post or podcast or whatever you choose to produce.