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. Youâ€™ve sent out hundreds of resumes tapes, relentlessly telephoned news directors to tell them why you are the â€œOne,â€ hit the journalism conventions running and networked until you are blue in your face. You tweet and follow the whoâ€™s who on social media, and perhaps you accomplished all that on a very tight budget. Itâ€™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 whatâ€™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. Itâ€™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 newsâ€¦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. Iâ€™ve been using a WordPress tutorial from the Knight Digital Media Center. Itâ€™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 itâ€™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 Poynterâ€™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 donâ€™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.
Come hear tips and hard-won wisdom from award-winning journalists.
Learn about Chinese-American Vincent Chin, whose 1982 murder in Detroit lit the match of the Asian-American movement.
Build your network of industry contacts and meet recruiters.
AAJA holds its National Convention Aug. 10-13 in Detroit. If you haven’t registered yet, you’re lucky: National is allowing people to get the LOWEST rates for three more weeks. The deadline has been extended to July 8.
Looking for a roommate at convention? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can let you know who else is seeking a roommate.
Here is a list of the chapter members who I know have registered or are attending on a scholarship. If you’d like me to add your name to this list, just send me an e-mail. If you see our scholarship winners, please congratulate them!
Kyle Kim (VOICES scholarship)
Caroline Li (Ford Foundation scholarship)
Peter Sessum (Founders scholarship)
Sarah Wallace (Ford Foundation scholarship)
Sunny Wu (Ford Foundation scholarship)
If you want to share the promo video link with your friends and colleagues, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKvJ5dx7P-Y
Join AAJA New York member and author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and longtimeÂ AAJA Seattle member Terry Tazioli, host of TVWâ€™s â€œAuthor Hour,â€ for a conversation about food and family in her tantalizing memoir â€œA Tiger in the Kitchenâ€ at Elliott Bay Book Co., and then come to a VIP private reception/fundraiser at Tazioli’s home!
Conversation: 8 p.m. on Friday, June 10
Location: Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Avenue, Seattle (Capitol Hill neighborhood)
Based in New York, Cheryl is a freelance journalist who has worked for the Wall Street Journal, InStyle magazine and the Baltimore Sun. She has given much back to AAJA as a longtime former AAJA Governing Board member.
After growing up in the most food-obsessed city in the world, Cheryl left home and family at eighteen for America to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. (It was proof of the rebelliousness of daughters born in the Year of the Tiger.)
But as a thirtysomething fashion writer in New York, she felt the Singaporean dishes that defined her childhood beginning to call her back. Was it too late to learn the secrets of her grandmothers’ and aunties’ kitchens, as well as the tumultuous family history that had kept them hidden before? In her quest to recreate the dishes of her native Singapore by cooking with her family, Cheryl learned not only cherished recipes but long-buried stories of past generations.
If you liked â€œEat Pray Loveâ€ or you have noshed at Malay Satay Hut in Seattle, you will devour Cherylâ€™s book. You can check out her blog at http://atigerinthekitchen.com and follow Cheryl on Twitter @cheryltan88.
A VIP reception with author and AAJA member Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Friday, June 10, 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Location: The Leschi home of Terry Tazioli, host of TVW’s “Author Hour”
We’ll be eating late-night snacks with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at a VIP reception immediately after her book reading at Elliott Bay Book Co. In Singapore, we call the midnight snack siew yeh. You’re invited to siew yeh with Cheryl after her reading Friday!
You’ll get personalized cooking tips from Cheryl and the New York Fashion Week style forecast straight from the one-time InStyle magazine editor.
All attendees will receive a signed copy of a new special recipe designed for Seattle foodies by Cheryl that is not in her book. You’ll also be able to purchase autographed copies of her new book at the reception.
It’s all for a great cause. Proceeds from the reception will benefit the Founders Scholarship program for the nonprofit Asian American Journalists Association Seattle Chapter.
We will also be selling tickets at Cheryl’s book reading at Elliott Bay Book Co. at 8 p.m. on June 10.
Buy your tickets today from Brown Paper Tickets!Â AAJA members get in for $25. Non-AAJA members pay $40. These prices do not include Brown Paper Tickets’ service charge.
Any time in June: Buy your copy of â€œA Tiger in the Kitchenâ€ by AAJA member Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan from Elliott Bay Book Co. in June and the store will donate 10 percent of sales proceeds for the book to the AAJA Seattle Founders Scholarship!
You donâ€™t need to live in Seattle to take advantage of this offer. You can order a copy of Cherylâ€™s book by mail from Elliott Bay and she will sign it for you while she is in Seattle on June 10! To order, call 206-624-6600 or email email@example.com
Voter Eligibility. Only full members, whose dues are paid for the current year, are eligible to vote in this special election.For questions about the election process or the duties of the National Secretary, please contact Elections Officer Janet Cho: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Absentee Voting. On Oct. 1, eligible voters will receive an e-mail with voting instructions and the link to the electronic absentee ballot, and have until 5p.m. (PST) Oct. 22 to vote. Ballots by mail/fax must be RECEIVED BY 5p.m. (PST) on Oct. 22 and are subject to member verification.
AAJA Special Election Ballot
5 Third Street, Suite 1108
San Francisco, CA 94103
FAX: (415) 346-6343
[Mary Pauline Diaz, far left, with fellow Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship winners Katelin Chow and Peter Sessum and AAJA co-founder Bill Sing during the 2010 AAJA National Convention in Los Angeles.]
Mary Pauline Diaz, a 2010 Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship winner, spent her summer writing for the Seattle Weekly. As a recipient of AAJA Seattle’s Founders Scholarship, Diaz she also was able to attend the 2010 AAJA National Convention in Los Angeles in August. As AAJA Seattle’s student members return to school, Diaz, a junior at Seattle University, shares why she returns with a renewed confidence in her career path.
It’s easy to feel daunted and overwhelmed by the changing state of the journalism, especially at this point in time. But at the AAJA National Convention, the language and the feeling definitely exuded a renewed hope. As a nervous convention first-timer and forward-minded student, it was refreshing to be around so many journalists who wereÂ excited about the future of journalism, who had enough passion to propel themselves past hurdles or who were gearing up for the hurdles they were facing: unemployment for seasoned vets, first forays into a fickle field for students and recent grads and the utter volatility of the industry for everyone.
And that’s not the only good news. The good news (and I think this is good news) is that journalism as we know it is being turned on its head. I jotted down a few quotes from some convention workshops that totally threw me for a loop, but they indicate exactly how journalism itself is being redefined and regenerated.
Get excited. The time in front of us is the perfect time to experiment, reexamine our roles and position yourself for the upper hand in the market.
“New media, digital media, perhaps even journalism don’t really apply as terms for what I do.” – John Bracken, Director of New Media at The Knight Foundation
Let go of those traditional conceptions of your job description. Regardless of what Bracken himself does, every journalist has to face the transitioning ambiguity of what journalism is, what media is and what audiences consider their sources of information.
“Audio is really a visual medium.” – Sora Newman, Senior Trainer at NPR
Though every format and every story is unique, the richest part of a converging media market is indeed the convergence. It’s not just about the parts sitting beside each other but the way they meld and speak to each other. Newman and the others on the Audio Storytelling for Print Journalists panel challenged participants to look beyond the verbal portion of audio stories and to capture the ambient sounds and bits that paint that “picture” for the listener.
“Content is king, but collaboration is queen. If you think of a chessboard, the king is the most important, but, let’s be honest, the queen is most powerful.” – David Cohn, Spot.us
The most hopeful thing to hear over and over again at the convention was the call to collaborate, a particular theme of the hyperlocal news panel featuring Cohn. Especially as citizen journalism grows and culture’s demand for transparency and immediacy grows, the spirit of collaboration not only grows in importance but in creativity. Spot.us, for instance, uses a unique model of collaborative funding â€” freelancers can pitch stories, and community members can pitch in the cash.
“It’s not about what the staff is doing. It’s about what the reader is experiencing.” – Wasim Ahmad, Multimedia Journalist and Assistant Professor at Stonybrook University
So often we get caught up in what all of this change means for our jobs and our futures, but journalists should really be mindful of what the changing media landscape means for the audience â€” not only in how it will change the way people receive information but also the way people interact with information and what they choose to do with it.
“The business of journalism is the business of relationships.” – Raja Abdulrahim, Staff Writer at Los Angeles Times
“You’re not just a journalist. You’re a human being.” – Eiji Yamashita I put these two together because they pull at a similar issue. So often do we, in the pressure to remain objective, lose sight of the communities and people who are affected the most. It’s not impossible to be both empathetic and fair, and perhaps empathy is intrinsic to justice. Our work as journalists are strengthened by nurturing relationships and trust with the people around us.
“This is not news in one point in time. I want to tell a story with an arc.” – Christopher Wong, Filmmaker of Whatever It Takes Especially with tools like Twitter, there’s a lot of hype around up-to-the-minute bites (or bytes) of news, quick snippets of information. And the reality is, there’s definitely a demand for that in this fast-paced world. Yet as we reimagine different ways to make the news, we gain more opportunities to harness the power of a compelling story, something that isn’t just informative in an intellectual and utilitarian sense but something that speaks to the bigger picture.