Tag Archives: journalists

New Year’s Resolutions for Digital Journalists

New Year, new you. If you’re a digital journalist, some of the resolutions below will help you bring in the new year on a positive note. Here’s to actually keeping them!

1. Start considering new definitions for the roles of journalists. The age of journalists as “gatekeepers” are over. Anybody can find anything thanks to Google. These days, many journalists are more like “tour guides,” aggregating the best parts of the web for their users, while still providing original content. Journalists have become thought leaders, commentators, live bloggers, and conversation starters. How does your audience view you?

2. Talk about your audience as “users” not “readers.” Your audience does more than just read things on your website – they click links, scroll around, watch videos, use search bars, comment and share socially. Calling them “readers” boxes our focus only on content. How are your users interacting with your site? Do you want them to do more (or less) of something? Look at your UI and UX. 

3. Learn how to talk with developers, programmers, graphic designers and photographers. Digital journalists often need unique elements for their content, whether it’s special photography or additional graphic designs. This is especially true for programming. Learn their languages. Understand the Rule of Thirds. Dabble in network administration. Know the difference between Ruby and Python. Better communication, better collaboration.

4. Start using Reddit. Reddit is the model for successful internet forums, and the communities here are influential across the web. Find where you belong, whether it’s /r/TheWalkingDead or /r/cumberbitches. There’s a lot to learn about commenting, moderation, and building an internet community, all valuable lessons for digital journalists. And don’t forget to install the Reddit Enhancement Suite.

5. Plan ahead. It’s a lot easier to finish projects when you aren’t scrambling for content at the last second. If you’re uploading somebody else’s content, do you know where to find it? Save yourself some deadline grief, man.

6. Don’t forget journalism is a business. It’s a never-ending cycle: good stories bring more users, more users bring more ad revenue, more ad revenue means better stories. Once again, communicate. Have conversations with the advertising department. They’re probably in your own building – stop in and visit. I bet they like coffee.

7. Uploading a story doesn’t mean it’s finished. If an error runs in print, retractions are noted in the following issue. Online, the fix must happen instantly. Once a story goes live, be prepared to continually update it.  Sometimes code doesn’t work. The more you prepare, the less you have to do later.

9. Be a part of the community. You’ll find Voxers at Ragtag Cinema every Friday night, all seeing the latest movies. By the time you’ve heard it, restaurant gossip is old news in the Vox office. Because our journalists are out there as active members of the community, we know what’s happening and when. This is the true nature of journalism, isn’t it? By the people for the people?

10. ????? Whats a best practice for digital journalists I’ve left out? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Crowd Expedition, Flickr. 


The Journalist’s Creed: Revisted

The Journalist’s Creed is a document written by Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. Gender-specific pronouns aside, this is one of the most important manifestos ever written about journalism. In fact, it’s worth revisiting with a few annotations. The Creed is in Bold. 

The Journalist’s Creed

I believe in the profession of journalism. Before journalism became a paid profession, it was a moonlight hobby. Many writers had jobs in politics and government, creating natural conflicts of interest. Having full-time journalists ensures excellence and intelligence. 

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust. The journalist is betrothed to their readers; the very nature of our industry outlines our responsibility to protect and preserve the public good. 

I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism. Naturally. 

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true. Many journalists will tell you they cannot write things that are not true, and many more have resigned to protect these stout personal values. This is the mark of a great journalist. 

I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible. Democracy cannot function without the checks of the 4th Estate.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends. This echoes a previous point. Journalists should be fully and deeply committed to their ethical values. To corrupt the public trust with bribery and excuses is to betray the responsibility of our industry. 

I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service. This outlines standards for the relationships between advertising, opinion and editorial, but notice it doesn’t define that relationship for publications. How much of a public service does your publication provide?

I believe that the journalism which succeeds best — and best deserves success — fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world. This needs no interpretation. As you go forward, let the lessons of Walter Williams echo in your work, and someday you may be a journalist as great as he. Wise shall be the bearers of light. 

6 tips for new, drunk journalists

Just a few quick tips today for sharpening your reporting skills. Practice these and you’ll be a total news reporting badass.

1. Remember people. Master the art of actually meeting people. Use whatever strategy works for you, but genuinely remember people’s names, their interests, their work. Focus on details. If you’re at a party, meet as many people as you can. Then half an hour later, mentally quiz yourself. Do you remember their names?

2. Practice “photographic listening.” If you’re listening to the radio and you hear a song you’ve never heard, commit yourself to remembering a verse. Then find a piece of paper to write it down and check yourself. Do more than just songs – memorize and write down what that weird dude from across the hall just said, or some offhanded comment your professor made. Eventually you’ll find yourself remembering even casual conversations verbatim – a powerful skill for a reporter.

3. Don’t use your laptop to take notes. When you need to remember anything, physically write it down. For one, you won’t be Facebook creeping instead of taking notes, and two, science has proven that physically writing something helps you remember it. Go low tech, bro.

4. OBSERVE. Life is happening around you at all times. Do you actually see what’s going on? When you’re in a group, notice the dynamic: when everyone in the group laughs, who looks at who? When interviewing someone, what does their body language reveal? Your brain is automatically wired to notice these patterns. Embrace it and your ability to communicate will deepen.

5. Learn how to ACTUALLY talk with people. Even people who speak the same language as you talk totally differently depending where they’re from. Learn to enter their spirit. Cultivate tact. Is your conversation partner deeply sarcastic and cynical? Match their tone. Are they shy and directly literal? Don’t come out with sarcasm. Understanding how to adapt to conversations will make you a powerful communicator, both near and far.

6. Do all of the above while you’re drunk. If you can teach yourself to practice tact, conversation, and memorization after waaaaaayyy too much PBR, you can do it totally sober. This will also increase your drinking discipline. When you’re at an open-bar networking event (of which there are many) you’ll be sharp enough to take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere. Serious work relationships, business deals and awesome promotions are often sealed by how you handle yourself at social events. Practice at bars, clubs, frat ragers, pool parties. Then when you meet a drunk Wall Street guy in the St. Regis and he rattles off the names of two dozen inside traders, you’ll be ready – even if you’ve had four martinis.