Tag Archives: journalism

5 Reasons Journalists Should Move to Seattle

Seattle. The name invokes imagery: a temperate rainforest, permanent rain, (God forbid) the Twilight novels, legal marijuana.

But actually visiting the city reveals something else: Seattle is poised to be the tech utopia of the future. Of course, this comes with problems. As journalists, here’s why you should get your ass to Seattle immediately and the challenges you’ll face:

Seattle is beautiful. A coastal temperature keeps the ever-present flora permanently green. Beautiful ivy and moss cover every corner of the futuristic, minimalist office and apartment buildings. Moody rainclouds part for glorious rays of sunshine. There’s no trash to be seen anywhere. Unlike the urbane vintage flair of New York or the historical weight of D.C., Seattle is building itself from the ground up as a city of the future. The downside: the Mediterranean climate means the weather doesn’t change often. No snow, no hot summers.

It’s perfect for millennials. Think West Coast values: widespread recycling, locally-driven grocery places like Pike Place Market, a chill music scene. Hardly anybody wears ties, yet there’s a clear frontier-meets-office-space fashion trend. Everyone you see on the street is young, hip, smart and attractive – why don’t you join them? The downside: Rent is wildly expensive, experiencing one of the steepest hikes in recent years. It’s only a few notches below New York.

Seattle is the new Silicon Valley. It’s a major shipping lane for Asian companies. It doesn’t have the same problems as SoCal. It’s been called the “Detroit of Tech Companies.” The Pacific Coast location makes Asia more accessible than New York. It’s home to giants like Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft, serious players in the tech scene. It refuses the fly-or-die tech startup blueprint popular in Silicon Valley. There’s none of the crazy Silicon Valley drama, either. In Seattle the vibes are chill and the tech progress is real. The downside: The tech industry has filled Seattle with tons of young, single men. Even though Seattle has a vibrant LGBT community, it could be hard for women to find equal upwards mobility.

Seattle has an evolving but distinguished journalism community. The Seattle Times is a hero of the digital future. Marketing agencies like Edelman are growing their presence in response to the technology industry. Legacy organizations like KING5, The Seattle P.I. and Amazon are picking up tons of journalists, especially Mizzou grads. Where the communication technology goes, journalism follows. The downside: Journalism jobs are disappearing, same as across the industry. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a job – it just means you might not end up as a journalist.

COFFEE. And fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood daily at the Pike Place Market. And legal weed, whenever you like. And awesome craft beers. And awesome mountain views. And the awesome American Northwest waiting for adventure, if you’re into that sort of thing. Seattle has a variety of things to offer, so isn’t it time you tried it out?

 

 

Vox Digital: Organizing talent and fostering creativity

I’m a Teaching Assistant for Magazines Across Platforms, a class run by Sara Shipley Hiles, Digital Director of Vox Magazine. These students, known as Digital Editors, make up the majority of the Digital Team, the web-based half of Vox.

As Digital Managing Editor, I’m basically the quarterback of the Digital Team, making sure we’re successfully producing digital content, maintaining our brand across social platforms and constantly exploring new storytelling mediums.

Last semester we only had 6 students, meaning our brand and production power was shoestring. This semester we have 16. I like to say the Digital Team’s accomplishments last semester attracted more students, but who knows?

Either way, this growth presents challenges for our organization. How do we engage these students each week while also hitting our production goals? Can we make this pedagogical, considering improving their skills will improve our content?

Here’s my major goals as a Digital Managing Editor for this semester:

Don’t let the organization descend into chaos. Our strength lies in our ability to organize, making sure everybody knows what they have to do and when. We’ve built a huge color coded spreadsheet with various shifts for each job we’ve defined, and each job has a perfectly clear statement of responsibilities and associated “How-To” documentation. Organization allows for forward planning and less on-the-spot attempts to produce content.

Discover, master and share digital storytelling tools with the entire Vox Magazine staff. The key to improving our digital content is showing people what we can create. If we show the staff all the interactive quiz, graphic design, and social aggregating tools we have, they’re more likely to implement them. Pair this with clear and concise how-to documents and innovation will spread.

Practice a clear and transparent style of leadership. Everybody knows what must happen and when they’re failing or succeeding. I want to drive all my students to improve upon themselves and practice loyalty to the organization. They will tell me what they want to learn, what works and what doesn’t, and how they think we can improve.  When they need help, I will be there. Office politics and drama will be at a minimum if everyone knows their role in the machine.

We know this is how to engage millennials in the workplace, so why not try it in class?

Innovate every single week. Digital organizations are in permanent beta, constantly changing and improving with every version of content. This goes hand in hand with technological advancement. We are no different. Each week we should build on the lessons we learned in the previous. As we continue, we set the bottom line for production quality higher and higher.

Teach every single student how to learn. The most important part of digital journalism is teaching yourself brand new tools. Because this industry requires multi-talented and multi-perspective journalists, that’s what we need to create. We need to create young professionals who both know the skills and understand theories. In the end they will adapt just as quickly as their industry changes.

Establish persistent and scaleable digital production methods. I know we don’t really know the best way for legacy print organizations to evolve in response to digital demands, but by God we’re going to try. Already I’ve established some methods that elevate our digital presence – hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have serious, long-term strategies laid in stone.

Here’s to hopefully having the best semester ever for Vox Digital.

Five ways to find a journalism internship

So it’s about the time of year that journalism students start looking for internships. I find myself digging for them, even as a graduate student.

Unlike business administration or finance majors that can find well-paid internships relatively easily, journalism majors can struggle. The struggle is worse for high-achievers (I see you) photography students or digital-first students.

Historically, journalism internships are like hazing rituals, horrible unpaid rites of passage necessary to climb the ladder. Ask anybody who interned at a NYC fashion magazine. Coffee runs, emotionally abusive editors, and a total lack of any real-world experience.  Some serious The Devil Wears Prada shit.

devilwearsprada

Pain and suffering doesn’t cover every internship out there, naturally. Some are extremely positive and can lead to full-time employment. So how do you find the right internship out there for you? 

1. Decide what you want from the internship. Do you need to develop your writing skills? Are you trying to break into a certain type of journalism? Do you have the skills, but you need a gold star on your resume? Knowing what you want will help you find a place.

2. Take stock of your resources. Do you need to stay close to home at a well-paid internship, or do you know somebody in Chicago who will let you crash on their couch for the summer? Does your school give scholarships for internships? Can you afford an unpaid position? Sometimes you should think about internships as an investment – just make sure you’re making a smart choice.

3. Apply for every internship that interests you, from the dream spot to the easy catch. Rank your internships from 1 to #OHMYGODISTHISREALLIFE and apply for them all. Hold out as long as you can for the highest rank one on your list. You never know if you have what it takes to get your dream internship.

4. Consider the obscure. If you’re looking for skills, consider taking a position at small publications you’ve never read. At larger publications, interns are often grouped together for menial tasks. Yeah, you might have interned at GQ, but if all you did was organize ties, was it worth it? Small publications have tighter budgets and will give you more work. You’ll have the opportunity to shine.

5. GO BOLD. This is the opposite of #4. Screw it, I say: apply for the wildest, most high-profile thing you can find. Hiking across Africa with Nick Kristof? Who cares about Ebola.  Foreign affairs reporting in the heart of Jerusalem? l’chaim! Anna Wintour’s personal slave? Don’t mind if I do. If you’re good enough to be her coffee bitch, you’re good enough to get hired at any journalism outfit in the country. Gold Stars look great on resumes, just be sure you have the skills to back them up. And be sure you’re okay regularly crying yourself to sleep. 

Good luck!

Behind-the-scenes at Vox Magazine

So I’m a first-semester graduate student in Convergence at the University of Missouri (Mizzou.) I’m also the Digital Managing Editor of Vox Magazine, which means some crazy person put me in charge of the magazine’s website. 

The website got a redesign back in the spring of 2014 to a WordPress custom platform, an iteration of the Genesis theme.

The theme itself is beautiful. The website (while not responsive) is easy to navigate, clean and coherent. It also presents content way better than Django, our former CMS. WordPress is arguably the best CMS out there for a variety of reasons. In most cases, young people have started their own angsty blogs on WordPress, so they’re familiar with the layout. It’s also free and comes with tons of customization options. Even the New York Times uses a WordPress CMS, and if it’s good enough for the Gray Lady, it’s good enough for me.

Like all websites, Vox has equal helpings of success and problems. On this blog I’ll be posting behind-the-scenes views into the efforts of our Digital Editorial Team, sharing strategy, content and solutions.

Expect Vox Magazine to become an even bigger force in Columbia’s digital news scene.