Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pizza and political blogs: Is something going on today?

OK, ONE more post then I'm REALLY on medical leave:

Happy Election Day! First, here's a sneak peek at tonight's most potentially divisive battle: The fight over newsroom pizza.

Then (and thanks to Leanne South and Dale Rice for the heads-up): Dale Rice's political blogging class is featured today in both the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Batt. Check it out!

And now, back to today's regularly scheduled news frenzy. I wish you all many early returns!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Battalion wins Pacemaker award!!

OK, one quick last post and then I really am on medical leave (see below). The Batt staff won a Pacemaker!! Wooooohooo! Congratulations to all of you! Here's the top of the Batt story:
At the 87th Annual National College Media Convention on Saturday, The Battalion was given a Pacemaker award presented by the Associated Collegiate Press and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation.
The awards are considered to be the highest national honors for student journalists and several issues from each newspaper's production schedule are selected at random to be judged, which ensures that to be competitive for a Pacemaker, a publication must show consistent quality over an academic year.
"The Pacemaker is college journalists' equivalent of the Pulitzer prize and the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a college newspaper," said Robert Wegener, the general manager of Student Media. "It is a recognition of all of the hard work that is constantly put into the newsroom, and I am really proud of the staff."

Your Aggie Journalists blogger is temporarily AWOL

Well, actually, on medical leave as it turns out. I'll be back very soon, but in the meantime, there's been so much effort and goodwill that have gone into making this blog a vital place for interaction that I would hate to see it falter just because I step out briefly. So if I may ask you all:

Please keep it going till I get back!
I love getting the e-mails you guys send me and helping keep people connected, and I will be back before you know it. Gig 'em!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What does FJSA do?

I was compiling this for a meeting awhile back and it occurred to me y'all might like to read it too:

FJSA stalwartly supports journalism at Texas A&M.

Professional journalists teaching and speaking to students Since the Journalists-in-Residence program began in 2005 (bringing three or four professional journalists each spring to teach JOUR 490 for a week apiece), nearly every one has come from the ranks of FJSA. FJSA actively helps in recruiting these journalists and also those who come to campus to teach classes, speak to classes and work with students at the Battalion, during fall, spring and summer.

Scholarships In Fall 2007, FJSA created a fund for a new scholarship, the C.J. "Skip" Leabo scholarship, and is currently raising money. The FJSA Bob Rogers scholarship is awarded every spring, supplying an outstanding journalism student with up to $1,600.

Networking In the past year FJSA has created several new ways to bring current and former students together. Nearly 300 members are now connected through FJSA's Facebook and LinkedIn groups. The Aggie Journalists blog, begun in March 2007, regularly publishes news and updates from former students around the nation and the world, as well as current students, the JOUR program and A&M's student media. The blog and Aggiejournalists.com also contain a substantial amount of information geared toward helping current students land internships and jobs and prepare them for success in journalism.

Publicity FJSA honors an outstanding graduate each fall at its reception, which is covered by local media and also serves as a platform to review the achievements of the journalism program. Current and former students make connections at the reception. Recent honorees include: 2007 recipient Kathleen McElroy '81, a senior editor at the New York Times; 2006 recipient Rolando Santos '78, a vice president at CNN; 2005 recipient Jon Heidtke '81, a vice president at Fox Sports Net Southwest.

Advising Members of FJSA are part of A&M's journalism scholarship advisory board, helping select scholarship winners, and A&M's Student Media board, helping select editors of the Aggieland and Battalion.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crystal ball time: Good story on journalism's future

Nice analysis of the past and future of the journalism biz in the San Diego Union-Tribune a little while back. Here's the top:
By Thomas Kupper
There was a time when newspapers were a monopoly business, when people had no good way to get information other than to subscribe, and when businesses that wanted to promote their products had little choice but to buy newspaper ads.
Philip Meyer says that period is gone forever, and he knows when it ended: 1923.
It's a good read, talking with experts about
  • 85 years of moving away from mass media to niche media;
  • the "decoupling of news and advertising";
  • why half of our newspapers will go under in the next decade;
  • local and national papers' potential for increased audience;
  • and how the journalism biz as a whole may survive but not be nearly as fat:
“It will be a good business compared to the average business,” (UNC professor) Meyer said. “But it will be a poor business compared to the easy money that newspapers used to make. It will be good enough that someone will want to do it.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 job interview questions 'decoded'

(For more like this, see our Job Resources page, which includes internship links and others including "Questions they can't ask you," "Questions you might want to ask them" and this interactive practice interview. Those last two are tailored specifically to journalism jobs.)

Here's an insightful little list of 10 interview questions and what they really mean. A sample:
What are your greatest weaknesses?
What they're really asking: How honest are you being about yourself with us? How realistic are you? Tips: Present your weakness as a positive. Don't talk too long or emphasize your downfalls.


Where do you see yourself five years from now?
What they're really asking: Will you be here for only year a before moving on, or are you committed to staying here for a while? Are you a stable person? Can you set goals for yourself?

Remember, too, that as many as 90 percent of new job opportunities don't come from standard application processes, but rather from people you already know -- and students are more than welcome to join our LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A&M class covers wide range of political blogging

Texas A&M News & Information last week put out a great story about Dale Rice's political blogging class. Here's the top:

Journalist Instructs One Political Blog At A Time

The good, the bad and the ugly of political blogging and how it is affecting communications is the subject of a new course at Texas A&M University taught by a 35-year newspaper veteran.

Dale Rice, who spent the last 19 years at the Austin-American Statesman, teaches the communications course and his aim is to make students better communicators and thinkers, keep them more informed about the American political process and above all, to learn that there is no such thing as a bad opinion—be it from the far left, the far right or even completely off the radar screen.

NewsU offers free Online Media Law course

Poynter's NewsU has a new course, Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers, designed both for newbies and for longtime journalists tiptoeing out on the Web.

It's one of their online courses that you can take anytime -- not like the Webinars, which are on great topics too, but always seem to be held right when I'm on deadline. When I took their Math course it even let you stop, save your place and come back to it. (Math takes me a while sometimes.) More details:
This course addresses three important areas of media law that specifically relate to gathering information and publishing online: defamation, privacy and copyright.

....See what the law says and learn about new legal developments and related protections and risks for bloggers and other online publishers. Know what red flags you should watch for to stay on safe legal ground. Test your new knowledge on some recent court cases involving bloggers in the "You Be the Judge" activities.

The course is offered free to registered NewsU users, which I am, at least if I can remember my *$&%# password. See you in class! I'll be sitting up toward the front, wearing my "Farmers Fight" sweatshirt and drinking a Dr Pepper.

Discussions on our LinkedIn group -- Football tix!

Click here to join our growing LinkedIn group, which as of last month has new features:
  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members.
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive.
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.
Right now there are two tickets to Saturday's home game against Colorado available in our discussion group!

A word: LinkedIn doesn't automatically notify us when you click to join, so if there's a time lag before you're "approved," feel free to shoot a message to both managers (Sue and Sara) to prompt us to check for requests.

And if the LinkedIn group has been useful to you, please leave us a comment and tell us how. We don't always know whether people are finding the features useful, or how they are using them (job connections? getting in touch with old classmates?) and we'd love to hear!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dr. Starr on 1954 Pulitzer-winning storm coverage

I checked in with Dr. Starr about his Distinguished Achievement Award (story here) and also asked him, just out of my own curiosity, for a little background on the Pulitzer. Here's what he says:
There is no finer award for a teacher than one that comes from the students. That award brought honor not for me alone, but also for the Department of Leadership, Education, and Communications.

Yes, I was a reporter, one of the team that helped the Vicksburg MS Post-Herald win the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. All of the reporters -- there weren't that many -- were assigned to cover the aftermath of the tornado. For my part, it was 48 hours of combing the streets, interviewing victims, and law enforcement officers, and national guardsmen about what they saw and heard, and describing the destruction that I saw.

I visited hospitals and interviewed the injured and the survivors (a difficult task for a reporter new to that situation), the doctors, the paramedics, the police, and sheriff's deputies. And I lived on Red Cross coffee and doughnuts.

What impressed me was the number of volunteers, ordinary citizens, who came from up to 200 miles away to help "because I figured they needed my help." That was the days before the special teams that we have today.

True, the power was down, but the telephone lines were out of whack. For some reason, the cityroom telephone was connected to the switchboard of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To make a telephone call, we had to get an outside line from the cityroom and another outside line from the Engineers switchboard.

No matter how good a job we reporters did, the major credit goes to the backshop crew who somehow got power to the presses and put out the newspaper when it was needed.

A year after -- this did not figure in the Pulitzer Prize -- I did an anniversary piece and found that life had returned to normal, except that some families had fewer members. One of the buildings that collapsed was a movie theater. The roof fell down on the matinee audience that consisted mostly of children. Those who hid under the seats survived because the seats held off the roof. Fortunately, not many died.

Similarities are that people, teams and volunteers, helped those in need then and help now, without waiting to be called into action. I saw that in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Bonfire.

Differences are that, in those days, since there was no television to speak of, people depended upon radio and the newspaper, and both worked to provide what was needed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Seeking: Communications/PR post in Austin area

Shout if you know anybody looking to hire for a communications/public relations position in the Austin area, mid-level...

Martin's plaque joins honorees on Batt's wall

FJSA Hall of Honor plaques in The Battalion newsroom.

Photos by Jonny Green/The Battalion

Roland Martin '91 was inducted Oct. 11. See the entire roster of honorees at http://www.aggiejournalists.com/fjsahallofhonor.

Many thanks to Mr. Wegener for sending these photos!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A&M's Association honors Dr. Starr for his teaching

Texas A&M's Dr. Douglas Starr and two other professors were honored recently by the Association of Former Students with 2008 Distinguished Achievement Awards for Teaching, College Level.

Dr. Starr has won numerous awards in his long career, not least of them a Pulitzer in 1954 with the staff of the Vicksburg (Miss.) Sunday Post-Herald for coverage of an F5 tornado that killed 38 people. I was curious and read up a bit on this, my mind on recent Hurricane Ike coverage, and thought I would share this description from the Vicksburg Post Web site:
Under the most difficult conditions, Publisher Cashman's staff, improvising without the gas to fire the Linotypes, worked to publish the newspaper and keep citizens informed as to the fate of their friends and families. They worked tirelessly to quell rampant rumors that spread in a darkened city, most of which was without power and communications.

And as a bit of lagniappe, here's a piece of Dr. Starr's own writing, about being an 18-year-old "tin can sailor" on the destroyer U.S.S. Nicholas.

My thanks to Bill Gibbs, Texas A&M AgriLife communications manager, for his help with this. Congratulations, Dr. Starr!

Batt features NASA's Byerly '99, KBTX's Galny '01

Two stories in the Batt earlier this month featured Aggie journalists Crystal Galny '01 and Josh Byerly '99.

Galny, a news anchor at KBTX in Bryan, gave the Batt's Angela Rodriguez a look inside the station, including a chance to try reading the news:
KBTX gave me the opportunity to do a mock newscast. By far, it was the coolest thing I have ever done. Even though the cameras were not rolling, it was intimidating sitting at the desk and reading the news aloud.
Galny said live recordings were nerve- racking at first, but now it's just part of the job.

Byerly, a KBTX alum himself, talked with the Batt's Calli Turner about his career and how he came to be the voice of NASA:
"I've always kept close tabs on NASA. I've been a space geek since I was a kid," he said. "They had a position open in exactly what I wanted to do at exactly the right time."
Byerly serves as the public affairs officer for NASA based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He said this is the first time his work hasn't felt like a job.
"You get to witness history being made every day," he said. "It's a lot of pressure but it's something I'm honored to do."
Byerly said it helps to have a working knowledge of what NASA is.
"You learn really quickly because you're immersed in it," he said. "It's like learning a foreign language in a different country. You just have to go in there and do it."
Byerly sits in mission control and provides real-time commentary. During a shuttle mission he is in mission control 24 hours a day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More from the reception: new officers, update on major

Dr. Randall Sumpter, head of Texas A&M's Journalism Studies program, spoke to us, talking about some of the great internships our journalism students are getting, about new lecturer Dale Rice (whom I called a full-time journalism lecturer, which is not quite right; Dr. Sumpter noted that he is not teaching solely journalism right now) and also on the status of the paperwork to allow A&M students to declare an interdisciplinary journalism major. It's been submitted for approval and will go through some hoops, probably undergo a modification or two, etc. Dr. Sumpter encouraged FJSA members to stay active and involved in the process. Also, he'll soon be lining up the Journalists-in-Residence for next spring.

Also at the Fall Reception: FJSA elected new officers: President Rob Clark '95, Vice President Doug Pils '92 and Secretary Frank Smith '87. Whoop!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A nod to Galveston reporters Foley '05, Meyers '05

We took a moment at the FJSA Fall Reception on Oct. 11 to recognize Aggies who worked to keep news coming to Texans during and after Hurricane Ike. Particularly mentioned was the work done for the Galveston County Daily News by Rhiannon Meyers and Sara Foley, two members of the A&M Class of '05. This description from Galveston Editor Heber Taylor was read out at the reception:

Sara Foley and Rhiannon Meyers worked tirelessly through the storm and its aftermath. Rhiannon’s apartment was destroyed. For awhile, she and Sara were living (along with a few other news folks) in The Daily News building. The newsroom was operating more or less around the clock.

Some of their best work was in telling the stories of people who left everything behind or who lost everything.

Sara rode a bus to Austin with poor people who had no other way to get off the island. She stayed with them in a shelter until some of the authorities, offended by what she’d written, forced her to leave.

Rhiannon talked to people in the public housing projects whose homes took in about 5 feet of water. She described how they picked through the wreckage, trying to salvage something here and there.

Their work was immediate, accurate and powerful.

Both of them are awfully good at what they do.


Foley and Meyers have both worked to help FJSA this year and we thank them for that also. Sorry we couldn't see you guys at the reception, but Foley was moving to her new job at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and Meyers had to work over the weekend! We missed you both. And thank you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

KBTX to feature Martin tonight; he's in a 'who's who'

** Edit: Adding link to Oct. 12 KBTX story -- and it's a good one, plus has video from the FJSA reception -- here: "Roland Martin on diversity at A&M" **

Still working on getting more stuff together from the reception (I'm afraid, after all my scurrying around, that the audio portion of most of the video clips is too unclear to use. I live and learn. Still trying to salvage some, but if the reason the sound's garbled is that so many people were having a good time chatting with each other in the galleries, then I'm OK with that). BUT:

KBTX will air its interview with Roland Martin tonight, and I'll link to the video here. Read their earlier story here:

Nationally known Aggie journalist honored

Also, the Star-Telegram included him today in a "Who's who of the power players of political punditry."

(Above: Roland Martin addresses the Former Journalism Students Association at Texas A&M, Oct. 11. FJSA handout photo)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Roland Martin '91 joins Hall of Honor, gives $10,000

Reception in the Stark Galleries today was lovely; Dr. Sumpter gave us an update on the state of the journalism program and some of the great internships that students have been getting, and Roland Martin '91 was inducted into the FJSA Hall of Honor; he gave a great speech (more to come on that) and ended by surprising us all with a $10,000 gift to FJSA. Wow! FJSA officers will talk with him about how that will be used. More photo, video (hopefully, if the mike was working OK) and text TK soon from the reception.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

He was multimedia when multimedia wasn't cool

Excellent* story in the Eagle today by Kayla Slimp about our Hall of Honor inductee-to-be begins:
CNN's Roland Martin says he considered himself a multimedia journalist before it was a widely known concept.

The 1991 Texas A&M University journalism graduate began working in television, radio and newspapers while at Jack Yates High School-Magnet School of Communications in Houston. From the start, he said, his goal was to learn multiple facets of the craft.

Over the past two decades, he's done just that.

His peers have taken note of his success and are scheduled to induct him into the A&M Former Journalism Students Association's Hall of Honor on Saturday.

*Except for the bit from me, that is.

Newspapers can't make money online? Not so!

Your moment of sunshine for the day: Geneva Overholser, writing for the Online Journalism Review about planning a career in journalism, says:
...the economic models just aren't working for newspapers online, lamented one student attending USC Annenberg School of Journalism Director's Forum.

Not true, said Osder, fresh off consulting work with Tina Brown's just-launched "The Daily Beast." Plenty of people are making plenty of money online. (As if in confirmation, David Westphal, Annenberg's executive in residence, noted that McClatchy right now makes more money online than it costs to pay all the editors and publishers in the company.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

KBTX seeks full-time news photojournalist

KBTX is the CBS affiliate in Bryan-College Station; here's the job listing (although the part about it including 3 days/wk in sports is being corrected -- this is a full-time news photographer position).

While experience is preferred, they will look at shooters who might not have much (if any) camera experience but are willing to learn and think they have an eye for putting a visual story together... in other words, recent graduates or someone who's been away from the newsroom for a few years but is looking to get back into the biz.

Many thanks to Jordan Meserole '05 for sending this along!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trade paper on FJSA floor: Aggie Rolodex cards!

Paper's making a comeback, baby. No, not that paper. Or that paper. The Internet's up and the economy's down, but your Rolodex cards will always be around! They never crash and lose your data, they're compatible across all platforms, their bootup time is zero seconds and, really, what's a more suitable way for two Aggies who meet in some Facebook or LinkedIn group to exchange their e-mail addresses or drop Twitter handles? Couldn't be more appropriate. (See also: Aggie Web log that uses a typewriter for its logo.)

Get yours now at these low, low prices, or look for them at the FJSA Fall Reception this Saturday, 11 a.m., MSC Stark Galleries! (Yes, this is all just a ploy to keep talking up the reception. But, like our Aggie Gernalist bumperstickers, they are actually real and you could get some if you want them.)

5 cards: Free, just e-mail me your mailing address
15 cards: $2
30 cards: $12.67

Why the steep increase in market value there at the end? Price includes one beef stirfry in garlic sauce with egg drop soup and crab rangoon at Suzi's. If somebody actually wanted a bunch of these things, I'll happily make 'em, but if I'm going to spend another half-hour of quality time with the Safety Super Roller Cutter down at Kinko's, somebody's buying me lunch.

Obama talks with Martin '91, reacts to Palin words

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke with Roland Martin '91 on radio's Tom Joyner Morning Show on Monday. Obama responded to comments from GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on his links to William Ayers:
"Mr. Ayres is somebody who lives in Chicago," Obama told Roland Martin on the radio show. "And he engaged in these despicable acts 40 years ago when I was eight years old. I served on a board with him. And so now they are trying to use this as guilt by association."
Obama went on to say while he feels "the American people deserve better" and the candidates should instead be discussing the economy, he is not afraid to enter into a character debate with (Republican presidential candidate John) McCain.
Ayers, a Chicago education professor, in 1969 cofounded a radical group that bombed buildings, including the U.S. Capitol in 1971.
Obama and McCain will take part tonight in their second presidential debate, this one in a town hall format featuring questions from audience members and Internet participants.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Steffy '86 does live chat on bailout, economy

Houston Chronicle business writer Loren Steffy '86 got so many questions fired at him in today's live chat that it ran a half-hour long, or as Loren tweeted, "I got blisters on ma fingers!" You can still read the recap at his blog. Readers pelted him with their concerns about their individual situations and about broader concerns, ranging from "Will the euro become the world currency?" to "Realistically, for the average consumer who doesn't need to go out and borrow money, do you really see much difference in their life?"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Starting salaries for 2007 journalism grads

Some salary data from the most recent UGA Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication. This is starting salaries for people who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in journalism or mass communications. Overall, the average was the same as last year: $30,000.

Text breakdown and comparison with previous year

All fields: $30,000, same as for 2006 grads
Daily papers: $28,000, up nearly $1,000 from 2006
Weekly papers: $26,900
Radio: $25,000, down $2,000 from 2006
TV: $29,300, down $440 from 2006
Cable: $30,500
Advertising: $32,000, up $2,000 from 2006
PR: $32,000, up $2,000 from 2006
Consumer magazines: $32,000
Specialized info publishers: $32,000
Web: $37,400

Job interviews: Stuff you can ask, stuff they can't

First, just for the heck of it, here are 10 things employers can't ask you.

Then, here are some thoughts on things you might want to ask them. Many job candidates really want to know some basics like "What's it actually going to be like working here?," "Is the boss a pain or not?" and "Where can I go from here?"

So I brainstormed questions that might help you find some of those answers in a newsroom environment. I don't suggest you ask all these, just use them as a way to think about what you really want to know and how to find that out. Hope it helps your process! And please, send suggestions or tell me if you disagree with any of this, or have other ideas.

Ask the bosses
Particularly if you get to meet the person who'll be your direct supervisor:

I'd like to get a feel for what's expected. What's a typical week or day like?
(Often, you really want to know something quantitative like how many stories do reporters file a week, or how many pages you'll be asked to lay out each night. But of course quantity's not the only issue, and there are many variables. Stories can be long or short; copy-editors can move quickly or spend time on details; designers can do pages quickly or spend time making them great -- or do only a few pages but also be asked to tone the photos and pull the wire copy.)
How long have you been here? What did you do before this?
Does this seem to be a helpful person who will teach you, a knowledgeable person with a strong background who knows many things you can learn, a good leader whose management style you can watch?)
How do (reporters/copy editors) normally get feedback on their work? (How will I learn, mostly?) Sometimes editors have a lot of time to sit down and go over changes in a story with you; sometimes, there is more of a hurry and your story or headline will just be"fixed" for you, but they might explain later what happened.
If I do well at this job, what is it likely I would move on to next/after a few years?
(You probably don't want to seem like you're already eager to leap to your next job, but also, bosses should generally be glad to hire someone who wants to improve and/or move up in the organization.)
Generally, what are career paths are like in this department or at this paper? (Do copy editors move up to be page 1 designers or to be copy chiefs? Do reporters move to bigger beats? Or on to larger papers?)
Let me make sure I've got the basics down: Like the working hours -- night shifts are not all the same, and most people who work days in news are expected to work at least occasional nights or weekends. If you're a city council reporter, what night meetings will you go to? Also the pay, vacation policy and benefits. Not deal-breakers, necessarily, but things you don't want to be surprised by later, and things that might help you decide between two otherwise similar positions.

Ask the coworkers
If you get a chance to talk to people on your level (reporters/copy editors/designers), you have an opportunity to gather some information that might help make your decision:

What's working here like? (They might not say "Horrible," but they probably won't say "Great!" unless they mean it.) When does it get really busy, and what's that like? Do you like it here? What do you like best about it?
I'd like to get a feel for what's expected. What's a typical week or day like?
(Same as above)
How do people normally get feedback on their work here? (Might be a different answer than the boss gave...)
How long have you been here? What did you do before this? (How much turnover is there here? Low turnover could mean there's little chance to move up -- but it could also mean people are happy working there.)

We have an advantage here: Journalism is one field where asking lots of questions is a sign that you're going to be good at your job. (And a journalist who doesn't ask questions... well, that can be a bad sign!)

Please feel free to send me more questions, opinions or advice. What would you ask? What has helped you in the past?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Batt feature on new A&M journalism prof Rice

The Battalion's Alison Holstrom recently did a feature on Dale Rice's background as dining critic for the Statesman. A good read! Here's a little nibble:
In addition to prepared snail, Dale enjoys sweetbread, the gland of a calf. His taste buds favor exotic and unusual selections, but he met his match in China when he tried deepfried scorpions.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Job hunting: Manage your online image

Over at Innovation in College Media, Angryjournalist.com founder Kiyoshi Martinez has a long and detailed post offering sharp, updated advice to journalism graduates seeking a job. (Mild language warning.)

Some excerpts (but the whole column is worth reading):

You might think you know journalism. It’s writing articles for a newspaper. Or shooting photographs. Or designing pages. Or maybe even that new media stuff people keep mentioning. Wrong. Those are skills. Knowing the business and industry means realizing the broader challenges journalism as a whole is facing.
Get a professional-sounding e-mail account that uses your real name. Get a domain name with your real name and server space to setup a homebase for yourself. Make sure it’s SEOed properly (search engine optimization, if you didn’t know that, then you should’ve Googled it). Start blogging there. Feature your new media projects and post your clips and portfolio. Keep it professional and well designed, because the idea is you want your employer to Google your name, find your site and say “... I want to hire this youngblood.”
... don’t ruin your personal branding by putting stupid photos up on Flickr and Facebook. Think before you write a drive-by comment on a blog or newspaper Web site. When you contribute to the conversation online, make sure it’s adding value, not destroying it.
When you’re in a job interview, you can be one of two people. You can say, “Well, we didn’t have blogs at our college paper,” or you can say, “We didn’t have blogs at my paper, so I decided to leave and create my own publishing network on campus.” Which candidate would you hire?

Another thought of mine on Facebook/blog comments/MySpace, et al: I've mentioned this in passing before, but I'd like to elaborate on why I suggest that job seekers should get rid of their online political diatribes -- and even more passive signs of partisanship, such as membership in "1 million against Random Candidate," friending a candidate or just displaying a slogan on your profile.

Here's why: Most journalism employers don't want their staffers being publicly identified with any party, position, issue or candidate. A lot of them specifically ban even such acts as putting a bumpersticker on your car or a yard sign up at your house, making political donations and taking part in political rallies. This has been the case at least since I got into the biz about a dozen years ago, and though I seem to hear more journalists expressing discomfort with it this year, I personally have always viewed it as part of the job.

But back to the point: When somebody who is thinking about hiring you does a search on your name, perhaps to check your clips or whatever, and comes across a profile with your political opinions branded on it, a red flag goes up. For one thing, it shows that you don't yet "get it." And obviously, if they hired you, anybody else could search and find the same information, and use it to make a case that their news organization is biased.

Now, it may not always remain this way. Mainstream American media has been experimenting somewhat with going ahead and declaring its biases, and someday strictures like this may seem antiquated. But for right now, if you want to get a job at one of those mainstream orgs, you should know this is a red flag for employers. And if this is totally unpalatable to you, there is a growing number of alternate kinds of employers. So you've got options.

For me, I honestly believe there's a positive effect to requiring journalists to remember that they're not supposed to display bias publicly. It creates a working environment, in somewhat the same way that either requiring employees to dress up or allowing them to dress down does. Just my 2 cents.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Job tips: Don't take calls in Target, and more

John Wagner '84, who owns his own PR/marketing company called Wagner Communications, based in Houston (and is a former sports editor and managing editor of the Battalion) sends some more great advice for students and new grads seeking jobs. Previously, he was general manager of the PR group at Bates Southwest Advertising & Public Relations: "We did a lot of recruiting at A&M in our heyday (1998-2003)," John says.

Thank you, John, for these -- they are great! Here's what he sent:

I used to hire lots of young journalism/PR grads when I worked for Bates Southwest … and I often spoke at A&M about how to find a job.

So I read with interest your tips for job-seekers on the Aggie Journalists blog. Great stuff.

May I recommend a couple for your consideration?

I always told students NOT to put their cell phone number on their resume. They should use their home number (I liked talking to moms because I knew their son/daughter would get the message!) If all they have is a cell phone, they need to learn to screen their calls during their job search. It is extremely frustrating to try and talk with a candidate about a possible interview while he/she is hanging out with friends, shopping at Target or driving down the road (and unable to write down your phone number or check their calendar) with loud music blaring in the background. Let voice mail pick up the call and return it when you are in a quiet place and ready to talk like a professional.

Be specific and detailed on your resume and communicate the results of your jobs/internships. Too many students just list their jobs but fail to include the detail that lets people know what they actually did and learned. Tell about the beat you covered, important people you interviewed, what projects you handled, how many stories/news releases you wrote, what kind of response those stories/releases received, etc.

The Facebook/MySpace info you gave is excellent … too many young people fail to understand how damaging that stuff can be. Profanity and party photographs are the worst. Plus, don't blog about your job search. I currently screen blog posts for a major client and provide weekly reports … you wouldn't believe how many job candidates leave the interview and trash the company thinking only their buddies will see it.

If you don't have writing samples, blog, blog, blog. This is an excellent way to build a portfolio that the oldtimers never had available! PR firms and newspapers are desperate for people who can write … and they want to see samples. But be sure and keep the content focused and clean!

Hope this helps, Sue. I used to love to meet with students and share all this kind of stuff … I helped a bunch of folks get jobs back in the day and it always made me feel like I was repaying A&M back for all I learned there. – jw

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Newsroom is where new Batt editor is happy, she writes

Here's a column addressing the university from the Battalion's new editor-in-chief for fall 2008 and spring 2009, Nicole Alvarado. A couple excerpts:
I started at The Battalion as a reporter. I wrote general news stories, but began covering the Corps of Cadets beat before long. Despite all the difficulties I encountered in reaching people and making stories interesting and informative, I was truly happy. I had finally found my niche.

... Four semesters and four positions later, I find myself locked away in the basement of the Memorial Student Center five nights a week, eyes glued to a computer screen, watching the time with bated breath. Deadlines, stories, copy editing, AP Style…industry terms rush through my head as quickly as the second hand on the clock. The adrenaline rush and positive stress of working for the paper is what really gets my blood pumping. I can't imagine myself being this happy with any other job.

K-State game not on TV; FJSA reception stays at 11 a.m.

The Big 12 announced Monday that the K-State game, like the Oklahoma State game this* week, will not be on TV.

So the FJSA reception time will not move: 11 a.m. Oct. 11 in the MSC Stark Galleries. (If you're in the Flag Room and you look north, there are big glass walls looking into the galleries; the door is there, kind of to the left.)

We'll have A&M Journalism Studies head Dr. Randy Sumpter speaking; we'll vote on officers, drink some punch and nibble on fruits; and of course we will celebrate Roland Martin '91 and induct him into FJSA's Hall of Honor.

*I originally had the week wrong. Mil gracias to Jerry C. for the catch!

WTAW, Eagle sponsor FJSA's Fall Reception

Thank you, thank you to the Bryan-College Station Eagle and WTAW 1620 AM radio for making the FJSA Fall Reception possible. Their generous donations will allow us to gather together for our annual business meeting, to hear speakers updating us on journalism education at A&M and to honor our 2008 Hall of Honor inductee, CNN's Roland Martin '91.

FJSA Fall Reception: 11 a.m. Oct. 11, MSC Stark Galleries

Bryan Broadcasting (WTAW/KZNE)
is the official flagship station for Aggie athletics on the radio. A&M Athletics says WTAW was at one time owned by the university and the call letters originally stood for "Watch The Aggies Win." Whoop! I'm assuming it was at one time also a TV station or else we've got the makings of a fantastic Aggie joke here. Anywhere in the world, 'cept maybe China, Ags can listen to the station (and thus Aggie sports) online.

The Eagle has launched the careers of many Aggie journalists and regularly rakes in the awards, including recent recognition by Texas APME for its Web site, community service, specialty reporting, sports photography, infographics, headlines and more. Of particular interest to Aggie readers inside or outside the B/CS Megaplex might be the Eagle's excellent Dining Guide, its many RSS feeds through which you can subscribe to A&M news, and its Aggie sports Web site, Aggiesports.com.

Did I mention we are grateful for their support? We surely are. Go click on their content for us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Job market steady for new journalism grads

A new journalism graduate under the nom de plume "Freaked Out" recently asked Poynter's Joe Grimm:
If you had graduated college this May, would you have gone into newspapers? And for us budding writers who are still young and unfettered, is it time to switch paths?

Joe's answer is a good one (oversimplified version: Newspapers? Maybe not. Journalism? You bet), and gives a long-time newspaper employee's perspective on the change facing our industry.

And though news orgs are laying off and buying out, there are signs that for new journalism graduates, the job picture isn't as bad. UGA's annual survey of the journalism job market found that:
  • 63.3 percent of 2007 journalism and communications graduates in 2007 had a full-time job by the end of October 2007, almost exactly the same as the year before.
  • Median salary also stayed level at $30,000.
  • 78.3 percent had at least one job offer upon graduation, up from 76.2% the year before.

The report makes a statement with which most journalists out in the field will probably agree: ..."graduates mostly enter the labor market at the bottom, so turmoil at the top of the market isn't likely to affect them immediately." My translation: Companies who may not be hiring older, experienced (and thus more expensive) employees might still be seeking younger workers who start at a lower salary level. They also want your tech savvy and intrinsic knowledge of the youth market -- it's not just a cheap labor thing. : )

A related thought on the value of studying journalism in school: Though it is true that you don't absolutely need to study journalism to be a journalist, I would say that you will start off as a better journalist for having studied it in school. Which means, speaking in purely mercenary terms, that your first job will be a better-paying job at a larger news organization. Essentially, you are starting higher up the ladder.

Our own survey of Texas newspaper editors indicates that they often look for a journalism degree to help determine whether a new hire can do the essential work of a journalism job.

And this entry on the National Review's higher education blog does an excellent job of explaining the value of a journalism education, including these key points:
  • The most important thing a journalism school does is teach the basics. This comprises reporting and writing.
  • Journalism professors don't just present the material, but give students a chance to practice it, and get professional feedback, without publishing the results. Learning "on the job" in journalism, you can't make mistakes without misinforming the public. It's important to hone your chops outside the newsroom.
  • There are journalism-specific skills that only a journalism major will teach.

Apply for journalism internships now; here's help

The deadlines for many summer 2008 newspaper internships start to fall around the end of October. Now's a great time to start getting your applications ready, even if you still have a couple years before you graduate.

A solid first internship can lead to a great second internship before you graduate -- and a better job afterward. Multiple internships also let you try out different jobs, which can definitely shape your decisions. And in the current converging world of journalism, those with skills on many platforms are most attractive: You could combine, say, a summer of producing video or creating content for a Web site with a summer of beat reporting at a local paper. That would make a pretty appealing package.

First, some links to get things started:
Second, some quick advice, with more to come later this week on this blog:
  • Sign up for a professional-looking e-mail address (e.g., just your name, not icanhazkitteh345) -- and, if you can afford it, your own domain. More on this below.
  • Join LinkedIn, fill in your background (and join our group for contacts!)
  • Scrub any embarrassing photos, political diatribes and anything else you don't want your boss to see off your Facebook and MySpace pages, your old blog from high school and anything else that comes up when they Google your name.
  • Start saving printouts, clips or links to your best work now. It's harder than it might seem to round it all up the Thursday night before it has to be sent off. Get in the habit of saving these and adding your best new work to the top -- it sounds like a pain, but I have learned through mind-grinding experience that this is a habit that will serve you well.
  • Read about internships that interest you and see what they are asking applicants to provide (links to four videos you produced, three news stories, etc.) If you don't already have those, you still have a month to get some together!
Extra credit:

If you can, spend $10 to reserve a professional-sounding domain -- your name is a good choice, but not the only choice. Plan to use it to showcase your work. Poynter's E-Media Tidbits recently had some great advice on using a blog as "career insurance" for media professionals, giving specific advice on choosing a domain name, managing your site and what to post on your blog.

Now that you've polished your online presence, here's a great article a coworker of mine wrote on how to polish your personal image and why -- even in creative fields -- looking neat matters when you go to the interview or while you are on the job. It's a new world and we're not talking about wearing suits. But what does a trendy haircut say about you? What colors can make you look more professional in almost any type of clothing? Read on...

Both of these articles talk about "your personal brand," which seems to be the current buzz phrase in journalism job-seeking and other endeavors. The idea seems to be that you may change jobs a lot (or you may not), but within that you can always sort of "work for yourself" and maintain a professional identity of your own as, for example, Sue from sues-news.com who Tweets as @aggiejournalist ... an identity you can control. (My Web site looks icky, I'm working on it.) And the president of a career-management company recently told me that 80% to 90% of jobs in a field like mine come from people who already know you.

That's it for now -- but more posts on job hunting, interviewing and strategies are coming this week!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hotard '65, cofounder of FJSA, retiring from airline

A cofounder of Texas A&M's Former Journalism Students Association and also FJSA's 2003 Hall of Honor recipient, John Hotard '65 will retire this month from his long-held position as a spokesman for American Airlines. I hear they are having a party for him at which they're going to roast him. Roast gently! And congratulations, Mr. Hotard.

Journalism dollars flow at TCU, ACU and more

No sooner do we leap over the equinoctial solar perpendicularity, it seems, but the cash to journalism programs starts falling like leaves:

The TCU Daily Skiff reported Friday that a $5.6 million renovation will add a television studio and converged newsroom to the TCU Schieffer School.

Also on Friday, Abilene Christian University dedicated its new converged-media newsroom:

On the newly renovated second and third floors of the Don H. Morris Center, the $1.1 million project offers common spaces and floor plans designed to encourage collaboration among students and faculty as well as a space for the department's first advertising and public relations agency.

Dr. Cheryl Bacon, chair of the school's department of journalism and mass communication, said it used to be enough for students to enter the job market with a good education and clips, an impressive portfolio or a great audition tape to display practical, real-world experience.

But "for students to get jobs today, it's not enough for them to have only one skill set," she said. "They have to be able to write, to shoot, to edit, to design. They have to do stories for print, for broadcast, for online."

While students may still specialize in one area of media, they will emerge competent in multiple platforms, she said.

Back in August, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation announced $1.85 million in grants to journalism organizations, and last week Chicago's McCormick Foundation announced more than $4 million in journalism grants, including:
4. Investigative Reporters and Editors (Columbia, MO) $100,000
To assist in conducting customized workshops for ethnic
media reporters
5. Kansas University Endowment Association (Lawrence, KS) $50,000
To strengthen its Military and the Media Projects
6. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) $1,355,000
For the Medill School of Journalism and its national
security training initiatives
7. The Trustees of Indiana University (Indianapolis, IN) $75,000
To launch a Nonprofit and Philanthropy Reporting Program
8. University of Colorado Foundation $110,000
To launch the Resolving Door community journalism project
9. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) $120,000
For coverage on urban environmental justice
10. West Virginia University Foundation, Inc.(Morgantown, WV) $85,000
To launch a multimedia training program between journalism
schools and rural newspapers

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bryan-College Station Eagle seeks two reporters

The Bryan-College Station Eagle - an award-winning daily newspaper between Austin and Houston, Texas with a circulation of just under 30,000 - has immediate openings for two reporting positions. Experience a must.

• City Hall beat: Reporter will cover the municipal affairs beat and general assignments. The vastly different cities of College Station and Bryan make for interesting stories while constantly testing reporting skills.
• Business: Reporter will be responsible for keeping up with the trends in Brazos Valley, along with the businesses selecting this region as their home. GA reporting included.

You will help shape our coverage of a community that includes Texas A&M University, the George Bush Presidential Library and eight counties.

In 2008, the newspaper won multiple Texas Associated Press Managing Editor awards, adding to the newsroom walls already covered with writing and design honors. It's no coincidence that many use The Eagle as a launch pad to the major metros.

The Bryan-College Station area offers an active nightlife and arts scene, great schools and all that Texas A&M University and Blinn College have to offer. B-CS is a growing metropolis in the heart of Brazos Valley.

We highly value our community and our employees, who are compensated with a good benefits package (health insurance/401K) and competitive pay. Send cover letter, clips and resume to Kelly Brown, managing editor, 1729 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan, 77802 or e-mail her at kelly.brown@theeagle.com. No phone calls please.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jobs/internship links for Texas TV stations

Recently, Daniel Gertson '03 of KABB in San Antonio gave us some good, specific advice for students wanting to jump into broadcast journalism, which included finding a small(er) station and jumping right in. And whether or not you are planning a career specifically in broadcasting, these days some TV and video experience on the resume can be a good thing no matter what. So it's good to see lots of job and internship openings around the state.

Here's a list of, well, pretty much every TV station in Texas that I could find, with their job and internship links where I could find those. (Send more if you got 'em!) They are ranked in order of market size, which can help you get a feel for the viewing areas. They are NOT, however, ranked by their ratings within the individual markets. (I couldn't find that info for free :)

Designated Market Areas and their national ranks are 2007-2008 from Nielsen Media.

DMA: Dallas-Fort Worth (Rank: 5)

KERA/KDTN (PBS) Jobs page
KSTR (TeleFutura)
KUVN (UNI) Empleo
KDFI (MyNetworkTV)
KDTX (Ind)
KLDT (Ind)
KMPX (Ind)
KTAQ (Ind)
KXTX (Telemundo)

DMA: Houston (Rank: 10)

KLTJ (Ind)
KAZH (Azteca America) Trabajos
KTMD (Telemundo)
KFTH (TeleFutura)
KHTX (Ind)
KZJL (Ind) Empleo

DMA: San Antonio (Rank: 37)

KABB (Fox) click "Employment"
KVDA (Ind)
KVDA (Telemundo)
KMYS/KRRT (MyNetworkTV) Jobs link
KVAW (Ind)

DMA: Austin (Rank: 51)

KVC (Ind)
KGBS (Ind)

DMA: Harlingen/Weslaco/Brownsville/McAllen (Rank: 88)

KTLM (Telemundo)

DMA: Waco/ Temple/ Bryan (Rank: 95)

KWKT / KYLE (Fox) Jobs Internships
KBTX (CBS) scroll down to "Internships"

DMA: El Paso/Las Cruces, N.M. (Rank: 98)

KTFN (TeleFutura)
KTYO (Telemundo)
KTDO (Telemundo)

DMA: Tyler/Longview(/Lufkin/Nacogdoches) (Rank: 111)

KYTX (CBS) Jobs page
KETK/KLSB (NBC) Jobs page

DMA: Corpus Christi (Rank: 129)

KUQI (Fox)

DMA: Amarillo (Rank: 131)

KVII / KVIH (ABC) Jobs page
KPTF (Ind)

DMA: Beaumont-Port Arthur (Rank: 141)

DMA: Lubbock (Rank: 148)

KGLR (Ind)
KPTB (Ind)

DMA: Wichita Falls/Lawton, Okla. (Rank: 149)


DMA: Odessa/Midland (Rank: 157)

KMLM (Ind)

DMA: Sherman/Ada, Okla. (Rank: 161)


DMA: Abilene/Sweetwater (Rank: 164)

KPCB (Ind)

DMA: Laredo (Rank: 188)


DMA: San Angelo (Rank: 197)

KLST (CBS) With KSAN, it's owned by Nexstar. Contact page
KSAN (NBC) With KLST, it's owned by Nexstar. Contact page
DMA: Victoria (Rank: 204)

Every single one of these stations is part of the Victoria Television Group. For the group's jobs page, go here.
KVCT (Fox)
KVTX (Telemundo)
KUNU (Univision)
KXTS (MyNetwork)


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall lineup: Journalism courses at A&M

Here's the slate of classes being offered this fall (note that the political blogging course is a COMM course, so not listed here). Info and number of seats filled are taken from the online schedule.

JOUR 102 - American Mass Media (instructor Ed Walraven, 80 seats filled)
JOUR 200 - Mass Media Information (instructor Ed Walraven, 24 seats filled)
JOUR 203 - Media Writing I (instructor Ana Martinez, 11 seats; instructor Dale Rice, 12 seats)
JOUR 301 - Mass Comm Law and Society (instructor Joshua Heuman, 11 seats)
JOUR 303 - Media Writing II (instructor Ed Walraven, 16 seats)