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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I Could Do That (ICDT) 20-9-10 Updated

September 20, 2010

Some media  job opportunities from this morning’s Guardian Media Section and Ned’s Job of The Week:

Press Officer at Clarence House, working with HRH Prince of Wales. Paddy Haverson, head of comms, is probably one of the nicest people in the world; this would be a really interesting job, whether you are a republican or royalist.  http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1027147/press-officer-clarence-house/

Writer for Bluefrog, a specialist marketing agency working for the charitable sector. You won’t retire wealthy (20-30k) but a good niche and if you’ve just banked a couple of years salary in redundo, an interesting opportunity. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1027161/writer/

WorldView Project Director. A UK scheme to improve UK understanding and awareness of the developing world via the mainstream broadcast media. Would suit TV person with a bleeding heart. Not a bad whack either for the non-profit sector; linked to the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1027424/worldview-project-director/

Advisor Media Relations and Special Events, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC. I had never heard of this lot before; would suit communicative, healthy, Spanish speaking Washingtonian. Got this from Ned’s JOTW.  http://www.comminit.com/en/node/323369/ads

Senior Specialist – Public Relations, ABA, WASHINGTON, DC. Working with the criminal justice section, so a few years doing the courts would help. . Got this from Ned’s JOTW. https://www5.recruitingcenter.net/Clients/abanet/PublicJobs/controller.cfm?jbaction=JobProfile&Job_Id=10422&esid=az

Director of Alumni Affairs, Office of the Dean, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. “The Director of Alumni Affairs is responsible for all alumni programming designed to engage the alumni of the McDonough School of Business (MSB) with the school in meaningful ways.” (Someone else looks after the meaningless ones?). Wouldn’t hurt to be a Georgetown alum oneself I would have thought.   Got this from Ned’s JOTW. http://www12.georgetown.edu/hr/employment_services/joblist/jobs.cfm

Content Writer and Editor, Contract Position, Christensen Fund, San Francisco, California. The Christensen Fund (www.christensenfund.org) is a fifty-year old foundation in Northern California with a long history of funding the arts, environmental conservation, and education — locally and internationally. Lots of writing and editing. Got this from Ned’s JOTW. http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/jobs/job_item.jhtml?id=308200023

Director of Public Relations, Demand Media, Santa Monica, California. Demand Media is one of the new content factories, churning out articles that meet the demands of the online ad industry. Smart model; and interesting to work for the people that were supposedly responsible for putting journalism out of business…  Got this from Ned’s JOTW. http://jobs.prweekjobs.com/careers/jobsearch/detail/jobId/29776879

Associate Editor, Ford Foundation, New York, New York. Relatively junior job, for someone with 3-5 yrs experience as a reporter/writer. Someone more senior might still be interested as part of a process of converting out of media, though. Ford Foundation unlikely to run out of money any time soon. Got this from Ned’s JOTW. http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/jobs/job_item.jhtml?id=307800020


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.


Counting the paper cuts

February 2, 2009

Last week was a grim one for newspapers. The US press has suffered a series of body blows  stemming from the recession and the consequent loss of advertising, the specific effects of sub-prime, (real estate ads), competition with other media, declining rates – you name it, it is there. Jobs are going, titles are at risk, and the industry itself will have to confront all of its demons. This summary in the Wrap is a good overview. As always, Jim Romenesko at Poynter is a good place to keep count, or Editor and Publisher, the industry’s trade mag, or in a graffik at Paper Cuts

The industry in the US has decided to try to fight back. “Newspapers and their online offspring combined are more popular than ever imagined and yet media reports nearly always paint a portrait of an industry gasping for air in the digital age,” says an article on Editor and Publisher. They’ve created a Web site that will feature stories and commentary about the value of newspapers, and share tips on how they can cope with the tough times.

This doesn’t alter the fact that hundreds are losing their jobs. I will run a series of articles this week on life after journalism: Ten Uses for an Ex-Journalist. How can you change career? It is aimed at people thinking of moving on, engaged in that task, or who have completed it. It is only some eight years after taking the journey myself that I feel some perspective on the whole thing.