Brand Me a Journalist

Using Social Media to Create a Professional Niche

Posts Tagged ‘Carnegie Corporation

Twitter as Your #Resumé

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I have a confession to make: I really like using Twitter. Most of my friends and family can’t imagine why I’d waste my time with it, but I have fun watching news break as it ripples through the dozens of news sites I follow (usually lead by @breakingnews– go figure!) I enjoy checking out trending topics during a pop-culture moment and following what other journalists find noteworthy. Although none of my friends have a problem with texting, most wouldn’t dream of sending a DM with a quick question or comment.

How journalists use Twitter was one of the most pervasive topics at the Carnegie-Knight Initiative’s conference, A Way Forward: Solving the Challenges of the News Frontier, held in New York earlier this month. Twitter factored into every breakout session and panel discussion. That was when I fully appreciated how essential it has become as a journalistic tool.

Mathew Ingram, a Canadian journalist I follow, recently sent a tweet about Twitter from the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Innovate News conference on Jan. 30:

Jim Brady says that he follows people who apply for jobs on Twitter, to see how they use it, and if they don’t use it “that’s a problem”

If Brady, the former executive editor of washingtonpost.com made such a statement, that’d be quite an endorsement. Now president of digital strategy for Allbritton Communications, he made the comment during a panel discussion at the journalism education conference in Toronto. Given that he’s currently developing a local online news site for Washington, D.C., and planning to build a staff of up to 50 people, this pro-Twitter comment caught the attention of Twittering journalists.

When I contacted him to verify whether he’d made the comment, Brady confirmed he had but said he wanted to clarify one part since the tweet didn’t allow for context. “That’s mostly right,” he said, “though I added something to the effect that it’s not a dealbreaker if you don’t use Twitter, but since this web site is going to use social media aggressively, it is a strike against you if you’re not using those tools now.”

He added he does look at Twitter feeds of people who have applied for jobs so he can see how they’re using Twitter. “It’s going to be part of their jobs,” he said, “so why not take a look?”

The most compelling part of Brady’s statement for me was how he thought Twitter should be used. “It’s important for journalists to use Twitter, and as more than just a place to post their stories. They should post other stories relevant to their beats, provide some color around stories they’re reporting and engage the reader,” said Brady.

This sentiment affirms what we are being taught at Cronkite about how journalists can use social media to build an online identity, connect with their communities and strengthen their personal brands. Well-crafted tweets can help define who you are and increase your exposure.

In addition to contacting Brady, I also reached out to Mathew Ingram to find out why he sent out the tweet. He emailed me the following response:

“I re-tweeted what he said not necessarily because I agreed with it, but simply because I thought it was an interesting comment from a guy who was in a position to hire people for a new-media venture, and therefore his take on it was newsworthy. He told me later that he saw a lot of the re-tweets and thought he probably was more emphatic than he really meant to be, and that he certainly wouldn’t exclude anyone because they didn’t tweet– but that he saw using social-media tools as a crucial part of a new-media job, and therefore would like to see people using them and experimenting. I would agree with that perspective.”

So whether you’re putting together your resumé for an online news job or planning to blog as a career, remember that your Twitter stream can play a supporting role in the brand you build for yourself. (Now try and say that in 140 characters or less.)

Written by Jennifer Gaie Hellum

March 2, 2010 at 2:21 am

The Entrepreneurial Journalist

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Carnegie Corporation’s two-day summit A Way Forward: Solving the Challenges of the News Frontier, held at the Paley Center of Media in New York. Deans, faculty members, students and journalists gathered to discuss how “journalism education should transform in order to best prepare students for careers in the 21st century.” A tall order, to be sure. One moderator joked about the seemingly presumptuous, or at best overly ambitious, task of “solving the challenges” in the course of a two-day gathering. But for the most part, the event’s speakers earnestly tried to address how this generation of journalists will need to adapt their skills and enrich their knowledge base to compete in the digital media age.

Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Comm faculty and grad students at the Carnegie Corp. and The Paley Center for Media’s Summit on the Future of Journalism Education

It’s a topic we grad students at Cronkite examined at length last fall in Professor Tim McGuire‘s course on 21st century new organizations and entreprenuership. (Unfortunately, the blizzard caused Tim’s flight to be cancelled and he couldn’t attend with the rest of us.) From early in the semester, Tim stressed that the days of a journalist spending his or her entire career with one organization were a thing of the past. More likely, he said, journalists will be identified by their names rather than their association with a particular news outlet. Our task will be to strategically cultivate a personal brand, with a distinctive voice and unique subject-matter expertise, which will allow us to create our own job opportunities. This career strategy, which incorporates blogging, tweeting and using social media to develop professional contacts, seemed like a reasonable approach to the majority of us in his class.

Yet during a panel discussion on entrepreneurial journalism moderated by Jeff Jarvis (who spoke to Tim’s class via Skype last fall,) Geneva Overholser, director of Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, acknowledged just how radical a shift this is:

“Five years ago I’d rather have cut my tongue out than tell a journalism student, ‘Be your own brand.'”

Nonetheless, there she was, urging us to accept the reality, evolve our craft and create our own career paths. Clearly these are revolutionary times in media.

As John Thornton, chairman of the Texas Tribune put it, “Things are fuzzy. People who aren’t comfortable with ambiguity aren’t going to make it in entrepreneurship.” (We’ve heard this from Dan Gillmor and CJ Cornell in our Digital Media Entrepreneurship course.)

Still, those who have gone before us into the new media frontier, such as POLITICO editor-in-chief  John Harris, offered reassurance to the students in the audience that respecting time-honored principles of journalism, such as reporting credibility and authority, can still guide us and lead us to rewarding experiences.  “I’ve always thought that you can be loyal to enduring values of journalism while still finding your voice. Focus on your distinctive value and learn how to market yourself, and you’ll have more fun, and probably get more pay.”

More fun and more money. Sounds good to me.

That may be counter to everything the current climate of layoffs and upheaval seems to suggest, but if these journalism educators and industry leaders can adapt and optimistically embrace what the new media realities offer, we entrepreneurial journalists surely can, too.