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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category
28 Sep

Nieman Lab piece on rebooting J-schools: Take control of your education

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I was invited by Nieman Lab to write a piece on rebooting J-schools. My take was bypassing the “debate” and empowering the students directly. Tell me what you think: Robert Hernandez: Reboot journalism school? Take control of your education instead

If and when I have time, I hope to Storify the reactions and add it to this post.

My favorite, though, came from Justin Ellis, who was the person that invited me to write the piece:

So we’re all “reboot the J-school” and then @ is like “Forget that noise. Google it.” http://t.co/C2nyPBt8
@JustinNXT
Justin Ellis

12 Mar

My proof, my metrics, my ROI on Social Media: #WJCHAT

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It happens on occasion (okay, with this friend it happens a lot), but I battle with a friend over Social Media’s role in our lives and relationships.

I’m not a fan of the outsider, knee jerk reactions to Social Media that say we are getting dumber, we can’t focus and we are so lonely.

All those things may be happening, but it’s not because of Social Media… not solely anyway. These are, in fact, the same claims that have been preached about with every new development ranging from radio, TV and, I believe, even books.

So, I’m not a fan of those re-occurring, blame-the-newest-thing-for-our-bad-thing argument.

Nor am I a blinded super fan of Social Media… there’s crap out there (lots of it) and “gurus” making money by ripping people off.

I am, however, a fan of the true connections that have been made possible because of platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These platforms are just the latest evolutionary step from mail to telegram to telephone to Internet to e-mail, etc.

And, as you may have guessed, I am a SUPER fan of communities like #WJCHAT, that support and educate each other by harnessing these platforms.

The two-year anniversary of our little community was in February and, in my hopes to gets some attention to it, I asked a couple journalism sites to do a write up on us. To be honest, I didn’t really make a hard pitch.

Naturally, as good journos, the question led to why… but more importantly, what has #WJCHAT done? Where’s the proof?

I don’t have those metrics.

While we often talk about analytics, ROI and such, for me, I don’t really care about those when it comes to #WJCHAT.

All I care about is that people know that they are not alone in their struggle to find their place in journalism, that they are getting educated on how to improve journalism and that they are sharing their knowledge and experiences so we collectively “save” journalism.

My latest reminder of this was today’s ONA featured member piece on Tauhid Chappell.

I remember Chappell popping into the #WJCHAT stream and meeting him IRL at an ONA event. But I didn’t know that our little community played a role in his journalistic development… but it was enough that he felt compelled to mentioned #WJCHAT in his profile piece.

That is my proof. He is my metric.

Tonight I will be meeting “strangers” for the first time IRL at our now annual #WJCHAT meetup at SXSW.

I will be seeing old friends and making new ones (once we get over the awkward oh-yeah-I-know-you moment after we connect the avatar or handle to the face and name).

That is my proof. They are my metric.

Do you know that I have only met, maybe, half of the people who volunteer each week to run #WJCHAT. Never meet them outside of email, a collaborative document or Twitter chat.

These folks are my colleagues. They are my friends. They, too, are my proof… my metric.

Everyone in this diverse community is my argument proving that Social Media is an undeniably positive element in our modern lives.

And, my goal when Twitter life and real life merges later today, is to be present with this community of friends… and, on occasion, awkwardly look at my phone to see if I need to tweet out something.

Thank you for being part of this community. < cheesy >It’s been a positive element in my life.< /cheesy >

06 Mar

Horizontal Loyalty: Video of Robert Krulwich’s 2011 UC Berkeley commencement speech

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The moment I read the line — a line that was almost lost in a list of things — I knew I had found the words that captured my career and it’s challenges… in fact, my colleagues’, generation’s, students’ careers and their challenges.

It became my mantra.

It has become my religion.

“Horizontal Loyalty” has because the gospel I preach to colleagues to keep them and myself going as we try to change (and, yes, save) journalism.

That term, that phrase came from the 2011 UC Berkeley commencement speech given by RadioLab‘s Robert Krulwich.

And, thanks to my friend Jeremy Rue, the words come alive with the power of video:

You can find the text of the speech posted on the Discover Magazine blog: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/05/12/%E2%80%9Cthere-are-some-people-who-don%E2%80%99t-wait-%E2%80%9D-robert-krulwich-on-the-future-of-journalism/

06 Jun

Crowdsourced tips to landing your first, paid journalism job

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Okay, chances are this didn’t really happen.

I’m not sure how I heard this, but the story –false or not – stuck in my head when I was beginning my journalism career.

The story allegedly goes that a young Herb Caen, who later became the legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist, walked into a newsroom and asked for a job.

The clerk asked Caen if he knew how to type.

Caen said no… but was hired anyway.

Whether this actually happened or not, getting a journalism job these days is a bit more challenging. When I started, aspiring journalists needed to have one, big internship to get closer to landing your first job. Now, you need three or more… or, you start your own publication.

As a flood of new journalists graduate from J-School, I asked people to share their experiences in landing their first, paying journalism job and what advice they have to offer newbies getting into this great calling.

The crowdsourcing led to dozens and dozens of responses, the majority anonymous due to an early decision I made on the Google form. You can see the unedited results here and read a collection of first jobs and earlier tips here. I did my best to try to break down the diverse responses into digestible takeaways.

What are the top three skills you think journalists need to get a job now?

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Top three skills you think journalists need to get a job

Traditional skills dominated the list. A strong foundation on the basics like writing, reporting, ethics, news judgement… and a few mentioned AP Style.

“Don’t think your social media expertise or wildly-popular Hipstamatic photos will get you anywhere; AP style, strong English as both a writer and editor, research and fact-checking skills, and news judgment will make you stand out (you’d be surprised how many people doze through reporting 101 and 202 in favor of their multimedia courses, or what-have-you),” said one participant.

But of course, a close second is having basic technical knowledge. Know the tech, but more importantly know how to use it to tell a good story.

Attitude and work ethic is a quality that stands out.

“Everyone is doing more with less these days, you’ll be expected to work hard and fast and to do so with little hand-holding. You need to show a positive, enterprising, tenacious and competitive attitude.”

Another participant said: “Proving you’re willing to take on what nobody else wants to, and doing it well. (You don’t have to like it, but don’t complain.)”

These suggestions also stood out:

“Don’t just be a reporter or just a copy editor. Take some photos. Blog. Tweet. Blah, blah, blah. But, also, read the news. (It’s shocking how many young journalists I know can talk endlessly about the latest tools but aren’t caught up on what’s happening in the world.)”

“Bullshitting abilities (resume, website, etc — fake it ’til you make it)”

“You have no idea how much patience you’ll need for this job, it really is a skill that not a lot of people have.”

“Managing management”

What is the key to getting a journalism job?

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Key to getting a journalism job

Without a doubt, responders overwhelmingly said it’s all about who you know when you are trying to land your first – and future – jobs.

“Know the right people – networking is huge. Go to job fairs and journalism conferences, make appointments to see editors or reporters anytime you go on vacation, ask friends to introduce you, and keep in touch when you meet someone,” said a participant. “I once met an LA Times editor sitting next to me at the theater, I got an internship after keeping in touch even after I was rejected once, I got another internship by sitting in the lobby from 9 am to 2 pm asking to see the editor.”

Here are some networking tips from one participant:

You have to pursue opportunities to talk to people who do the work you want to do.
-Reach out to them on Twitter, look at who follows them and whom they follow and educate yourself about the subjects they discuss with colleagues in their tweets.
-Attend their public lectures and presentations, comment on their blogs and attend conferences they attend.
-Participate in chats they participate in
-Read blogs that address topics in your desired niche.

I can’t echo this enough. From visiting newsrooms to cyberstalking people, do what you can – within reason – to meet people in real life and stand out from the pile of resumes. Use your network.

That said, this journalist had a different take on networking.

“Knowing people. ‘Networking’ is for shills. But seek out people whom you admire and they will think you are so smart for recognizing their brilliance that they’ll want to hire you or help you out. People in our industry are vain.”

Another theme was to apply widely and have a thick skin.

“To get a job, apply to lots of news outlets, not just your dream workplace. Start small and work your way up from there,” said a participant.

And, perhaps most importantly, once you get your foot in the door, you have to have the skills you keep that job.

Other great tips:

“Know the territory. Don’t go into a job interview without doing research on the town/state/station/newspaper. The more you know the better off you will be. Don’t be cocky, be genuine.”

“Recommendations from people who have been blown away by your portfolio — and can testify that you did it yourself.”

“A willingness to question and push traditional journalism practices while still being willing to work your way up and learn from veteran journalist.”

“Know also that being a journalist means you NEVER stop learning. You need to always know a little something about everything to be at the top of your game. Even the best journalists still take some kind of classes or seminars to build their skills constantly.”

“Editors and other journos can tell a sharp blade from a dull one, and keeping your edge keen is what will get you your start and keep you employed.”

Give a one-word tip to aspiring journos trying to land a gig.

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One-word tip to aspiring journos

“Not giving up after 97 rejections,” advised one participant who was clearly persistent.

“The key is to get in the door. I don’t care if it’s a tiny weekly in Nowheresville. Just get that first job. The rest will follow,” said another.

We all made it – and are making it – in good times and bad. Journalism is a calling. And if you want to make it, you can never give up. Good luck and remember to pay it forward.

12 Mar

Tips and tricks for a successful SXSWi 2010

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NOTE: Originally published on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201103/1950/

Robert Hernandez: Well Pekka, we are just a few days away from the SXSW / SXSWi 2010 conference … aka Geek Spring Break. We’ve both been to the festival before and, for this post, are going to interview each other to share tips, experiences, goals, etc. as we do final preparations for the week. Let’s start with sharing our experiences. What number is this one for you? How many times have you attended?

Pekka Pekkala: This is my number three, did first one back in ’96! I was a starving student, so no Interactive tickets for me, just free music… You?

RH: For me, this is going to be my second. I was a n00b last year, a rookie. And, boy, did I learn a lot … and think I’m ready for the coming week.

How would you describe the conference to people? Mainly SXSWi.

PP: Best place to meet people like you who are not journalists. It’s really a good way to mingle with programmers and business-savvy people who understand content. And a total 5-day hurricane of seminars, meetups and parties.

RH: A ‘hurricane’ is a great way to describe it … tech, smarts, hipster glasses and more. I was really overwhelmed last year, attending so many different, random sessions and meeting great people. I have really started to prepare for this year.

For me, I think it’s an international meetup of innovative minds that mashup technology, business, art, culture, news and information. The Future of Journalism has been officially added as a track this year. I got inspired last year and hope that happens again.

PP: What did you pick from the Future of Journalism track? Is it all the same people that you’ve seen in journalism seminars before?

RH: Well, I have to be honest… half of the sessions did not resonate with me. Some of same ol’ same ol’ topics … and some things that aren’t really reflective of the topic. That said, there are some that I hope to attend. Naturally, I want to attend a breaking/late addition: Lessons Learned from the ‘Arab Spring Revolutions with Mashable‘s Vadim Lavrusik among other panelists. I’m a super NPR and Public Media fan and see a lot of sessions related to that, so I plan to attend those. I also am thinking of attending The Death of the Death of Longform Journalism, Conde Nast in Start Up Mode, and Hacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism panels. Here’s a link to my SXSW schedule: http://schedule.sxsw.com/user_events/user_8645 Here is my event calendar: http://bit.ly/eaj5EK

Are you attending the journalism ones?

PP: There’s a lot of good stuff there, but I couldn’t help noticing the vast amount of consultants / inspirational speaker types. I’m trying to find the people who are actually making stuff and creating financially sustainable sites. So I’m probably hopping between the Journo and Business tracks a lot. My calendar here: http://schedule.sxsw.com/user_events/user_dc1b96a2231851a7ebe0e02fe4a0b1a5

RH: Yes, I noticed that too. Did you notice the number of advertising panels that suggested storytelling and journalism as the answer? Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising is the session that surprised me. Journalism to save advertising? I might have to check it out.

PP: Umm… yes. That sounds like a trap :D I’m more interested in Free Your Content! Who Really Owns UGC? session. :)

RH: Ha! Speaking of ‘trap’ the beauty of SXSWi is the randomness of some of these sessions. I have a few personal interest ones I hope to attend like, Star Wars Uncut: The Force of Crowdsourcing. Other personal picks are: A panel about an audio-only video game, a TRON session (yes, I’m a geek!), trends in Internet art and hearing from the ad agency behind the Old Spice guy ads. Do you have some random panels that peaked your interest?

PP: Yes. My advice would be to pick some big names you haven’t heard yet. I’m trying to see at least Bram Cohen (BitTorrent), Jason Calacanis (Mahalo), Clay Shirky (NYU) and Christopher Poole (4chan). Secondly, pick some really weird stuff like “Singularity,” “Synthetic Life” or “IBM: What is Watson?” sessions. Thirdly, do some boring stuff just for networking. Which is not really that boring in SXSW atmosphere.

RH: I attended a session last year led by Jonathan Stark, who taught how to do an easy iPhone app … the guy has written several books about designing/building apps and will be a panelist on the Building Native Apps Across Platforms session. Also, I have to promo the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights session with USC’s Prof. Jack Lerner and Lisa Borodkin, both have spoken to my classes numerous times about media law.

Can you talk about your goals and strategy for SXSW? What do you hope to learn and get from going to this conference? What is your strategy behind what sessions you try to attend?

PP: I always try to get away from the journalist mindset: I’m really scared of the journo hive mentality in every aspect. Mix it up! Trying to find some interesting cases to be interviewed for my Sustainable Business Models for Journalism study. Bootstrappers and small sites mainly. What about you?

RH: Yes, agreed. The session I pick tend to be more techie… I like to go to ones where I learn something new and, ideally, I can find ways to incorporate it into journalism… long before someone else even thinks about that angle. Right now I’m obsessing about Augmented Reality, and there are several sessions on that… mainly on biz/dev side. My goal is to learn more and more coding, building… and that tech constantly evolves. Last year I attended a great HTML5 vs. Flash panel … this year I hope to attend a few of those. Anything that experiments and pushes me to grow and think about the mashup of technology, design and information. Lots to choose from… and, sadly, some are at the same time!

PP: Sounds like a cool plan and something SXSW is really good for! Last year I went to Jaron Lanier speech and right after it (the cyncical journo in me) was saying “blah, another hippie from the Bay area saying you guys spoiled our Internet.” But the stuff he said really haunted me somehow and now I’m turning into a hippie myself. :D Ted Nelson FTW!

RH: He’s an extremely interesting guy. He recommended reading The Machine Stops … a must read for tech people.

Let’s get to some tips … what apps/tools do you use when at the conference? Now and while attending? What tips do you have while there?

PP: Just mark down everything that looks interesting via the SXSW schedule page, download the mobile app and off you go. Having a plan doesn’t mean you have to go according to it but it helps to visualize what is going on. It’s a shame sxsw.lanyrd.com doesn’t sync with SXSW schedule, would be great. Any cool apps you’ve found?

RH: Exactly right, I’ve signed up for a ton of things … who knows if I’ll attend them. But at least I know what’s, generally, out there. Last year’s app was, well, less than satisfying. That said, I’ve download this year’s version and it looks much better. I’ve used the official session selector. But I have to also pass along a great recommendation from SXSW veterans that recommended sched.org because it includes *all* events, even the many unofficial ones. I also used SitBy.Us last year and thought that was very cool. I’ll be tweeting and checking in on FourSquare, of course. Mashable has a SXSWi great guide, which has a good collection of apps/tools.

PP: Sched.org looks cool, have to try that one. Being from Finland, I have to plug @dittoapp! Any tips how to survive the physical aspect of SXSW, meaning the walking, not sleeping and forgetting your gear in the cab at 1am? (I’m still pissed I lost my FAIL book with Ben Huh‘s autograph last year!)

RH: Oh yeah… I learned you have to ditch the laptop! I have a shoulder that is about one inch lower than the other because I’ve carried a messenger bag with my laptop for years. Skip that! This year I’m rolling with just my iPad and iPhone. I also bought an external battery to charge them both :) I’m still traveling with my laptop, in case my plan backfires. Also, wear comfortable shoes, ’cause these will be looooong, fun days. I just downloaded Ditto (but it keeps crashing).

PP: iPad 2 I hope, it’s SXSWi! I find it hilarious when people take iPhone, iPad and MacBook out in a seminar: tech is supposed to make your life easier, not _literally_ harder :D I’m taking my Droid 2 Global (physical keyboard is still WINNING) + charger. Travel light.

RH: Let’s end with this question… how will you know you’ve had a successful SXSW 2010 experience?

PP: I fall asleep in the plane before it takes off from Austin. And when I’m home, I notice my brain is a mess of weird ideas and my pockets are full of business cards with hastily written notes on them. You?

RH: Ha! Well said. For me, if I feel like I’ve learned some new things and expanded my network of smart innovators, it’s been a success. I want to walk away energized and ready to go try some new tech experiments.

Well, sir, it was great chatting with you and I’ll see you in Austin!

PP: Same here, can’t wait! Let’s keep in touch via Twitter! @pekkapekkala

RH: Yes. I’m @webjournalist

27 Feb

DIY and passion give birth to #wjchat

NOTE: This piece is also running on OJR: The Online Journalism Review

For me, it began with a snarky tweet: #journchat Bad name, good PR.

Apparently that tweet touched a nerve and prompted Web journalists to come out of the Twitterverse to express agreement.

Before I continue, let me define two things:

  • #journchat is a Twitter chat that is “an ongoing conversation between journalists, bloggers and PR folks” held weekly on Twitter. Created by @PRsarahevans, the first Twitter chat was held Monday, November 24, 2008. While it has “journalism” in the name, it skews heavily toward public relations.
  • A Twitter chat essentially is a regularly held chat, usually weekly, on a specific topic… tied together through a hashtag. A group of Twitterers gather and talk about whatever… blogging, book editing, etc.

Moments after that snarky tweet went out the hunger for Web journalists to network and learn from each other was apparent.

It makes sense.

We’re a community that is constantly evolving, struggling to find the “right” solution for our unique situations… from inside our newsrooms… often alone. Many of us have met at conferences or through social networking, but never regularly.

It was that passionate need mixed with the DIY-spirit of the web that got @lilgirlbigvoice @killbutton @kimbui and myself together to create #jchat within five hours from meeting each other the first time.

While I had known P. Kim Bui from the past, I had just met Bethany Waggoner and Amira Dughri during the Feb. 1 journchat. Soon, our group grew and included Kate Gardiner (@kategardiner) and Robin Phillips (@RobinJP) among others.

We worked out the details for the debut chat first through Google Wave, but moved to the more stable Etherpad. We selected a topic, drafted some questions and volunteered our first guest moderator… which turned out to be me.

After finding that the @jchat Twitter account was taken and essentially dead, we changed the name to @wjchat. We also launched the blog site.

Through the power of our networks we promoted the inaugural chat that launched Wed., Feb 10, 2010. You can read the first transcription here.

We’re now three chats in and, dare I say it, the weekly conversation is a success.

It’s been my honor and privilege to see how this idea has been embraced by the community. For me, this is just another example of the power of the Web and the value of social media.

I encourage you all to join us this, and hopefully every, Wednesday at 5PM PST as we, together, go through these unprecedented changes in our industry… learning from each other, supporting each other and building our community.

02 Feb

SMS + QR Code = Awesome geek business cards

Okay, okay… so you are saying to yourself, “Robert that SMS business card thing your wrote about is a little tech geeky. So, can you make it even MORE tech geeky?”

Why, yes. Yes, I can.

I mentioned QR Codes in a few posts back. These are new bar codes that anyone can generate to point to a specific URL, display text, share a phone number or send an SMS.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

If the answer is merging Contxts.com with QRCodes and printing them on the back of business cards, then you are correct! And, well, we may need some mental help. But who cares. Nerd is the new cool, right?

So, here it is… I created a QR Code with the SMS number of 50500 and message of webjournalist. All you have to do is take a picture of the code using the appropriate app on your phone, and your phone *should* send out a text message to Contxts and get my contact info.

My business cards with QR codes.

I say *should* because depending on the QR app you have (and believe me there are many) it may or may not work.

Hey, it’s cool. (Don’t judge me.)

28 Jan

Two business card alternatives: Save the trees, embrace the geekiness

My paper contacts in my office.

A few months ago, I uploaded a photo of my trusty, old Rolodex onto Facebook.

Over the years I have met some great people, collected a ton of business cards and attempted to alphabetize them in my Rolodex.

That alphabetizing part only lasted about 20 minutes some ten years ago.

Since then, I have had piles from different conferences strategically growing on my desk, in my backpack and around my Rolodex.

So, if business cards don’t work for me, what would?

Here are two ways I’ve begun sharing my contact info. Both of these I learned from people at I’ve meet at conferences.

The first is the extremely, iPhone-geeky-awesome Bump. This was introduced to me by David Stanton (@gotoplanb), Poynter Institute and University of Florida instructor, and all around cool tech guy. We met at AEJMC and sure, it probably took longer than physically swapping business cards, using the bump was much more fun. More importantly, it gets the contact information into your phone!

Why is it called Bump? To swap info, each iPhone user first loads up the free app, establishes a connection, then does a fist bump. Okay, the fist bump is actually optional… but the gesture/motion between the two iPhones triggers the app to look for a receiver/sender and syncs up the info. [See the video]

The second is simply, simple and I can’t believe it is free. At this year’s CES, I met some great L.A. tech folks, including Lisa Borodkin (@lisaborodkin). She’s an Entertainment + new media law and policy expert that is jumping into Web journalism reporting for LAist.

I didn’t believe her, but she asked me to text her first name to get a text back with her contact info. I did it, it worked. I set mine up.

Contxts is awesome. The downside: it’s in the SMS side of your phone, not contact side. But, it’s in your phone and adding it to your contacts shouldn’t take too long.

How’s it work, exactly? Just have people text your name/code to 50500 and boom, they get your info. I got greedy, so I have two accounts: webjournalist and roberth.

Try ’em out and tell me what you think.

There are TONS of alternatives to business cards swaps, and these are just two I’ve played with. Which ones have you used? What do you recommend we try or try to avoid?

Let’s do what we can to save the trees… and embrace your inner geek.

π