I Could Do That (ICDT) 27-9-10

September 27, 2010

A selection of jobs that might suit ex-journalists. Intended to spark thoughts, new directions and inquiries.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change wants an editor (and reading their job ad, my goodness you know it’s true). Based in Bonn, which is a very pleasant place indeed to live; and doing something interesting and worthwhile. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1028400/editor/

Editorial Director for the medical communications division of a PR agency. Involves writing, editing, managing a load of medical content. Would suit medical writer with a degree in science, and some experience outside journalism. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1029172/editorial-director/

Editorial Director for the financial services arm of a business information firm. With responsibility for the collection, reporting and quality of data and content on a new database. They want an experienced financial journalist, though the base salary is £35k…. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1029172/editorial-director/

Corporate Communications Manager (Speech Writing), Trade Body, London, £40k. Involves speeches, blogs, PR. Hard to say much more without knowing their client, but a good springboard job if you know the industry (whatever that is). Comes via Stopgap, an agency – if they had said who the trade body was, it would be easier to know who should apply for it. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1025893/corporate-communications-manager-speech-writing/

Communications Specialist, Islamic Relief, Alexandria VA. Islamic Relief is seeking a qualified individual who will be reporting to the Communications Manager in the Buena Park, California office.  Would suit a journalist with about three years experience; an interesting org. Job opportunity found on http://www.nedsjotw.com/blog.

Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), New York, NY. JAFI is works on all manner of issues relating to the Jewish diaspora and Israel. Vice President for Marketing and Communications is a fairly senior position. Job opportunity found on http://www.nedsjotw.com/blog.

Director, External Relations and Communications Department, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. UNRWA is the United Nations agency responsible for the protection, care and human development of Palestine refugees . This is a pretty senior job, with a salary over $100k; based in Jerusalem. Job opportunity found on http://www.nedsjotw.com/blog.

Communications Director, International Center for Transitional Justice, NY, NY. The International Center for Transitional Justice helps countries and societies pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse. This is a fascinating job; think I will have ths one for myself, actually. Job opportunity found on http://www.nedsjotw.com/blog.

Journalists for Human Rights, a Canadian –based media development organization, seems to have a bunch of jobs of various sorts, many involving media internships in Africa. Looks an interesting organization. http://www.jhr.ca/en/contact_hp.php#

Senior Communications Manager, Witness, Brooklyn, New York. WITNESS uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. It captures the stories of human rights atrocities on video and putting them at the forefront of human rights campaigns. Nive job. Might have a look at this one too, though my experience of video is mainly down to Simpson DVDs. Job opportunity found on http://www.nedsjotw.com/blog.

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Finding the news through Facebook

February 4, 2010

Facebook is increasingly being used as a way of reading the news – real news about real-world events, not just the tedious meanderings of self-obsessed friends.

ReadWriteWeb has an interesting article on the use of facebook as a news source. “Hard numbers have now confirmed that Facebook is already the biggest news reader on the web,” it says.  Hitwise has some good stats and a good graph. Last week, Google Reader accounted for .01% of upstream visits to News and Media websites, about the same level as a year ago. Google News accounted for 1.39% of visits and Facebook 3.52%.” Any facebook user will have noticed that friends increasingly link to news; and that news producers increasingly encourage staff to use Facebook as a means of distribution. “Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn,” says Hitwise.

Many people use RSS readers like FeedDemon to read news; but for the casual browser, these are a bit intense and clunky. Facebook is easier: you encounter what your friends suggest, and that element of casual surprise that is part of the news experience is reproduced.

Facebook is increasingly aware of this, and targeting the phenomenon. “Late last week Facebook threw its hat in the ring and called on users to use its service as a news feed reader,” says ReadWriteWeb.

“Last week, Facebook’s Malorie Lucich posted to the company blog encouraging users set up their Facebook accounts for news reading. Lucich suggested becoming a “fan” of news organizations that publish to Facebook, then adding those connections to a dedicated “list” that only displays updates from news sources.”

Other news on social media use: a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that blogging is (predictably) less fashionable and microblogging is (predictably) more fashionable, especially amongst the young. “Since 2006, blogging has dropped among teens and young adults while simultaneously rising among older adults. As the tools and technology embedded in social networking sites change, and use of the sites continues to grow, youth may be exchanging ‘macro-blogging’ for microblogging with status updates,” says the survey. Meanwhile, “Both teen and adult use of social networking sites has risen significantly, yet there are shifts and some drops in the proportion of teens using several social networking site features.”


BizWeek on the Journalism Job Market

September 20, 2009
Michael Mandel at Business Week has done some great work analysing changes in US journalism jobs. The bad news: a decline of a third in newspaper jobs in a decade. The good news: more internet jobs and twice as many information services jobs. But the net result is that this sector is shrinking. “What we have is a wipeout in newspapers, plus what looks like a combination of secular and cyclical declines in other “journalistic” industries.”

Bureau for Investigative Journalism seeks boss

July 20, 2009

A very desirable job is on offer at London’s new Bureau of Investigative Journalism as Managing Editor. The Bureau, likely to be based at City University, is funded by the Potter foundation. This is the press release announcing its launch.

“Its aim is to foster independent public interest journalistic inquiry while encouraging a new generation of reporters,” says Roy Greenslade in the Guardian.

“It will hire a managing editor, two or three reporters and will also fund freelance investigators and researchers,” says Press Gazette. “Its aim is to dig out – and then sell – the stories that many news organisations say they can no longer afford to cover in-house.”

“One of the journalists behind the campaign, Stephen Grey, will be acting editor of the new bureau as it prepares for launch, until a permanent managing editor is appointed.” Many journalists will know Grey from his work on extraordinary rendition.

The project is supported by the Investigations Fund, launched by the newly created Foundation for Investigative Reporting. The FIR includes a a number of UK luminaries, including Grey, Misha Glenny, Antony Barnett, Martin Bright, Heather Brooke, Peter Barron, Nick Davies, Nick Fielding,  Mark Hollingsworth, Andrew Jennings, Philip Knightley, Paul Lashmar, David Leigh and Jason Lewis.

The organisation is essentially a copy of ProPublica, the US body. “ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” it describes itself. “Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.”

Gavin Macfadyen, the Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, and one of the founders of the Bureau sayes in the press release: “We will experiment with all the techniques available to us from ‘crowdfunding’ to ‘crowdsourcing’ and provide content across the media spectrum. But there is no substitute for first rate reporters being given time and resources to deliver great stories, which hold the powerful to account. The Bureau will offer investigative journalists both proper funding and the support of senior and experienced editors and researchers to carry out important investigations that are in the public interest.”

Will it work? That probably depends on what you mean by work. It will produce journalism as a “production house” rather than a publisher – a news agency. Such models are hard to make work. The lack of a commercial factor will help in the sense that revenue will not be a daily fixation, but it still needs money to survive. And the lack of publishing platform means that it will need others to help drive audiences.

As paidContent sniffily says: “Journalism Now A Charity Case.” It notes “the irony – buoyed by The Telegraph’s MP expenses investigation and The Guardian’s mobile hacking story, investigative and data-driven journalism is more popular than it has been in years.”


On Content Strategy

March 2, 2009

Content strategy is an emerging field that could do much to define whether old and new media can succeed and make money. It is also an emerging opportunity for consulting and careers.

The term won’t be familiar in old media and even in new media, it isn’t that common. In old media, the model for how to use and display good writing had been around for hundreds of years, and there isn’t usually much need for new strategies. In new media there has tended to be an assumption that this can be left to either the content creators (writers, for example), or the techies, or the sales folks. It can’t, in my view.

“Content” means all the stuff that goes onto a website, and indeed increasingly refers to all media material of any sort: writing, pictures, video, music. It is inherently threatening to a former journalist like me. When I first heard it at a dotcom back in the golden age, I bristled: it sounded as if the thoughts that I spent so long honing were just the stuffing in a cushion, commoditised, indistinguishable, raw material for some sausage machine. That was indeed what it meant, it turned out. However, I realised that if the “content” was right -the right people were attracted to it, and spent the right amount of time with, and then did the right things afterwards – then it would help make money; and if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t. So: the content – and the strategy for creating it – had to be right.

Most newspapers’ content strategies derive from a formula laid down many years ago, to do with selling papers to a local community from a stand or by subscription; selling display ads to retail stores and car companies; and getting the readers to stay on a page for a while, long enough that they clock the ads and then buy a coat or a car. This doesn’t work so well any more, and it tends to work very differently online, so evolving the content strategy is one key dimension for what happens next to media. The other key dimensions are the business model and the technology. All three need to fit. Mostly they don’t at the moment, and one reason is that in general the content strategy didn’t change, or didn’t change enough.

“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content,” says Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic, a web content agency, as part of a recent attempt to define this emerging field in the excellent site A List Apart.  “Content strategists combine the skills of writers, editors and publishers to think in a holistic way about what users should see when they visit a site,” says Jeffrey MacIntyre, the principal of Predicate, a content and editorial strategy consultancy for digital publishers. “The analogy I’ve been using recently is that content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design,” says Rachel Lovinger, a Senior Content Strategist for Avenue A | Razorfish.

It is easier to define by doing it than explaining it. This article by Robin Good on MasterNewMedia is a useful one: what makes a blog post get attention? Ed Roussel of the Telegraph speaks here about their content strategy for breaking news. This piece by MacIntyre sets out some useful issues and arguments.

There are already Content Strategists with Capital Letters and there will be More. This book sets out how to become a content strategist, especially from a technical background. “The role of the Content Strategist is to scope and plan interactive media product’s content and determine its overall style – what to say, how to say it effectively, when and where to say it,” says Skillset, the industry Skills Council for Creative Media in the UK. “He or she will usually work alongside an Information Architect, and the role has similarities with that of Web Editor, though the latter is mostly concerned with on-going web site maintenance after launch, and is usually found within the client organisation, whereas the Content Strategist tends to work within the supplier company during the product’s development.”

To old media types this will sound like reinventing the wheel. Any subeditor from a daily newspaper, any layout person, page editor, news editor, is a content strategist (some much better than others). The problem is they are used to doing it in a context where the commercial principles were fixed, and some elements of the technology had been around for a very long time. Their creative energies need to be turned to a world where these are very different. And in particular, they need to think about making money, and quickly.

Good content strategy – the right stuff, laid out well and with the right ads – makes money. In the jargon of the web, “Content helps drive traffic, which leads to results,” says Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, and formerly with The Economist, writing at Clickz.com. “Content is intricately woven into your brand. Content attributes such as voice, presentation, area of expertise, markets covered, and points of view define a brand. These factors all contribute to attracting a reader base. The contrarian, irreverent approach to investment advice of “The Motley Fool” differs from in-depth, low-key reporting style of “The Wall Street Journal,” for example.”

So: lets reinvent the wheel. Some of this is about news values; some of it is design; some is editing. All together, it seems to me, is the way to think about it – helping media to build audiences that achieve the business’ strategic goals.


NewsVision Conference in Washington

February 28, 2009

NewsVision Conference in Washington, March 30.

The NewsVision conference, organized by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, is designed to be an annual gathering of some of the nation’s top journalists from digital and traditional media. It provides an opportunity to come together and take stock of where the industry is, discuss where it is heading, and debate ways to strengthen its future.

Join other top journalists and media managers at the Newseum for a day-long symposium and conversation on the future of news. Listen in as some of the best minds in journalism share how they are adapting to the struggle for sustainability as news goes digital.
http://www.newsvision.org/


Apparently, it’s quite an honor

February 28, 2009
Doonesbury: Taking the package

Doonesbury: Taking the package