AAJA Author archives for Furhana Afrid

Furhana Afrid is a Kenyan-born, multilingual backpack journalist and social media manager. Furhana’s professional journalism work has taken her from her native Kenya to California to Montana. She's reported on a wide variety of local, national and international issues. Her multicultural and multilingual experiences give her a greater understanding of complex and compact communities. Her life, spent mostly in her Nairobi home town, is influenced by her Pakistani upbringing, Indian and African experiences. Her international travels have taken her to Tanzania, Europe, South Asia, Middle East and now the United States. She speaks fluent English, Punjabi and functional Swahili, Hindi and Urdu. To see Furhana's stories visit: www.furhanaafrid.com

What’s in Your Backpack, Journalist?

If you’ve been looking for your next journalism position then you know your journey has probably been painfully bumpy against the backdrop of the lingering recession, newsroom cut backs, leaner paychecks, scarcity of jobs and scores of unemployed journalists eager to get back to another newsroom. Many others have even jumped the journalism ship in search of other opportunities.

Want a journalism job? Carry more tools to get hired, survive and thrive in the news industry. (Photo by Furhana Afrid)

You may have invested the last few months or years doing everything you could possibly do to help secure that next job. You’ve sent out hundreds of resumes tapes, relentlessly telephoned news directors to tell them why you are the “One,” hit the journalism conventions running and networked until you are blue in your face. You tweet and follow the who’s who on social media, and perhaps you accomplished all that on a very tight budget. It’s no wonder that your backpack feels heavier with discouragement and doubt about your future in journalism.

You thought you paid your dues by busting your rear end when you were trying to break into the journalism industry and then working yourself to the bone at your first or next job. Now it seems you are back to ground zero. Not really. You are a backpack journalist! (also known as a video, multimedia, multiplatform, digital or one-man/woman band journalist). You are accustomed to producing several stories a day under deadline. The tools in your backpack and your story-telling skills make it all happen. And with so much versatility at your fingertips you can do it all over again even if you are not working in a newsroom right now.

So journalist what’s in your backpack that can turn that long or short spell of unemployment or underemployment into an opportunity to innovate, explore and keep your skills sharp?

Three Tips to Strengthen Your Job Search Backpack:

Create Web Footprint: Employers are looking for creative self-starters. Your website is your broadcasting channel to showcase your multimedia skills. It’s your story-telling portfolio for video/online/audio stories, photographs and news writing. Many journalists are using WordPress.com or WordPress.org to create their sites and tell their stories. The good news…website design credentials are not required to own your own piece of real estate on the internet. You can also use other website developers like Tumblr, Drupal or Joomla. Plus free online tutorials will show you what to do. I’ve been using a WordPress tutorial from the Knight Digital Media Center. It’s an easy to follow, step-by-step approach. Try it.

Practice Super Story-telling: Jobs will come and go. So will tools. But your story-telling skills will be yours to keep and nurture. NBC multimedia journalist Thanh Truong told me at a recent AAJA convention that many journalists can shoot video, edit and deliver the news. But it’s how well you capture the essence of a story that differentiates one storyteller from another. As a master story-teller your chances of hitting a home run to your next journalism position improve significantly. So put your video gear to work. Check out Poynter’s News University online courses. These courses are affordable, sometimes free and will really help you craft compelling visual stories.

Nurture Strong Relationships: The journalism industry continues to shed jobs. CNN is reportedly one of the latest casualties with some fifty out the door. You know that you are not the only one. But when times are tough it is easy to spiral down into the abyss of pessimism, low self-esteem and isolation. So don’t turn into an island. Reach out to your trusted family, friends and peers. They will help you weather the storm and encourage you to stay afloat. Stay active in your community. Start groups with like-minded people. Volunteer your skills for a worthy cause. You have the ability to help change lives and your circumstances.

So journalist what else is in your backpack?

Furhana Afrid is a backpack journalist and social media manager.

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