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Archive for June, 2011

Here’s more help on personal branding: Joe Grimm, perhaps the leading voice on career development in journalism, is leading a workshop on personal branding Sept. 16 for my old friends at the American Press Institute. At $15, including lunch, it’s practically free.

Joe’s a longtime friend who used to recruit for the Detroit Free Press and for a few years wrote the Ask the Recruiter blog for Poynter (he now continues it independently). His Jobs Page is an essential resource for job-hunting journalists, and I linked to his post on building your own journalistic career brand in yesterday’s post on my own branding strategy.

I’m pleased to see Joe leading this workshop and to see API offering such valuable help for journalists at such a great price.

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I don’t have time to write a thorough analysis of the new Twitter for Newsrooms guide that Twitter published yesterday for journalists, but I’ll share some initial observations.

The guide is helpful. It promotes Twitter’s Advanced Search, and it always surprises me how many journalists don’t know how to search to find tweets about the topics they are reporting on. The guide encourages journalists to use Topsy for archival search, which I had forgotten about (Twitter Search doesn’t go back more than about a week). The guide is worth a look, especially if you aren’t using Twitter much, and probably has a few helpful tips if you’re experienced with Twitter.

But frankly, I was disappointed with Twitter’s guide. It strikes me as more promotional than helpful (when being more helpful would actually be better promotion, especially with as tough a crowd as journalists). The guide promises “more to come,” which is good, because it’s light on tips for crowdsourcing, covering breaking news, verification and discussion of ethical issues. This should become a place for sharing case studies of how journalists use Twitter. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

I had the busiest day ever on my blog Friday, thanks to the power of Gene Weingarten’s brand.

Update: That record was broken Monday and then again Tuesday as the branding conversation continued.
Gene started the discussion with his Washington Post Sunday Magazine “Below the Beltway” column, answering a journalism student, identified only as Leslie, who asked how he had developed his “personal brand.” Gene’s response: (more…)

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I wrote a blog post this morning about personal branding in journalism, responding to a column Gene Weingarten had written for the Washington Post, claiming that branding was ruining journalism. Weingarten was responding to an inquiry from a journalism student he identified only as “Leslie.” In a comment on my blog, Owen Youngman, a journalism professor at the Medill School at Northwestern University, identified himself as Leslie’s professor, though he, like Weingarten, protected her identity. He also quoted from her paper. I asked Youngman if he would tell Leslie that I’d like to publish her paper. So Leslie Trew Magraw, a Medill master’s student, sent me this research paper, with permission to publish it. I have added links and made a small edit or two, but otherwise, this is Leslie’s work.

Update: Youngman has blogged about this, too.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

As any good brand practitioner will tell you, brand health is all about diversification — making sure you’re not a one-trick pony. Gene Weingarten is no one-trick pony. He’s more like an onion – that can make you laugh just as easily as he can make you cry. Like a satisfying meal, he sticks with you.

Though he is perhaps most widely known in the DC metro area for his weekly humor column in the Washington Post’s Washington Magazine called “Below the Beltway,” Weingarten is also a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for serious feature-length journalistic work.

Everyone I polled (and I quizzed more than 25 people and spoke to four others at length), knew who Weingarten was and had a fairly strong opinion of him. Most people had a soft spot for him, at the very least. Others were Gene fanatics – and a small minority thought he was overrated (As my publisher friend, Alex Orr, put it: “I think he’s a generally unfunny, unoriginal hack who holds onto his job only because he’s been there so long that folks now overlook the question of whether his work is any good and instead embrace him as a ‘beloved’ fixture in the DC journalism world.”). That his name inspires instant recognition and triggers such powerful emotional responses suggests a robust brand power. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: Weingarten has responded twice. Please see the first comment and his later comment.

Gene Weingarten has developed an outstanding personal brand as a journalist. But that brand will not let him write, except scornfully, about branding and journalism. So I will answer the question a journalism student (identified only as “Leslie”) asked him: How he built his “personal brand” over the years. Update: Leslie Trew Magraw, the student in question, gave me permission to post her research paper on Weingarten’s brand. And Owen Youngman, her professor, blogged about this branding discussion as well.

The question was a belt-high fastball for Weingarten, whose brand is equal parts wit, sarcasm, insight and the ability to write tearjerking (from laughter or other emotions) sentences that you wish you could have written. He swung at the pitch and wrote a funny column, How ‘branding’ is ruining journalism.

Weingarten’s response:

The best way to build a brand is to take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot. Then, apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question. You want a nice, meaty sizzle.

Lots of journalists might have been smart enough (and scornful enough of branding) to think of the basic response of turning the branding question around into a branding iron that would inflict pain. But that “nice, meaty sizzle” kicker is a classic Weingarten line that I wish I would have written, even though I disagree with Gene on this. (more…)

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Consider how storytelling has evolved through the centuries in art and literature: oral storytellers, epic poems, myths, legends, parables, fables, fairy tales, tall tales, campfire stories, ballads, sonnets, tragedies, comedies, mysteries, biographies, novels, short stories, free verse, comic books, operas, soap operas, animated cartoons, situation comedies, TV commercials, and on and on.

Storytelling in journalism has evolved, too: inverted pyramid, news briefs, columns, reviews, charticles, timelines, series, Q&A’s, narrative journalism, and on and on.

In a recent blog post, Jeff Jarvis committed journalistic heresy, questioning the use and future of the article, the most common product of newspaper journalism. “An article can be a luxury,” he wrote. (more…)

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The crowd can save your journalism career.

I encourage any journalist to read Journal Register Co. CEO John Paton’s message to last week’s WAN/IFRA International Newsroom Summit: How The Crowd Saved Our Company. (I also encourage media executives to read John’s message, but I’m writing here about individual journalists seeking career success in a time of great upheaval.)

I want to suggest how individual journalists can learn from the JRC experience that John shared. I won’t belabor what John said about how the newspaper model is broken and can’t be fixed. I’ve said that plenty of times myself, and if you’re still in denial about that, you’re not ready for the rest of his message or mine. John concluded that discussion with this important point:

You don’t transform from broken.

You don’t tinker or tweak.

You start again anew and build from the ground up.

John was providing advice for his fellow executives for building their organizations from the ground up. I’ll focus on advice for the journalist hoping to make yourself a valuable asset for such a starting-anew organization. (more…)

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Update: The workshop is over. I used Storify to curate the conversation and information about curation during and after the workshop.

I will be leading led a workshop this afternoon June 10 at the Middletown Press on curating the community conversation.

I will do a blog post on my curation advice soon. I welcome your tips and questions about curation as well as examples. During the workshop, I will curate tips and examples provided here on my blog and on Twitter, in response to my request for tips and examples. I’ll add that link here later. (more…)

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I’m leading a workshop on liveblogging starting at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time for the newsroom staff of the New Haven Register. The Register is livestreaming if you’d like to watch.

I would appreciate your contributions of liveblogging tips or examples on Twitter using #liveblogtips or on the liveblog about the liveblogging workshop.

Here are my slides for the workshop:

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I’ll be leading a crowdsourcing workshop this afternoon at the Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn., the first of 18 Journal Register Co. newsrooms I will be visiting in June and July. The workshop starts at 4:30 p.m. and we’ll be livestreaming it.

Some aspects of community engagement draw skepticism from traditional journalists because they represent significant new directions. Old-school journalists should embrace crowdsourcing because we have always worked hard to find good sources in the community.  Crowdsourcing gives us more efficient techniques for finding sources. (more…)

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When you tell the family you have a new job, the initial response, of course, is to congratulate you. If your new title is director of community engagement and social media, the second response is: What does “community engagement” mean?

I’ve been answering that question some since joining the Journal Register Co. (and answered the same question last year when I went to TBD to lead community engagement efforts).

Journalists aren’t as puzzled by the phrase as relatives, but I get questions from journalists, too. Some are skeptical, as journalists tend to be (and should be) of any buzzword. Some are enthusiastic about the general topic, but unsure what all it entails. Some suspect that community engagement is more about marketing than about journalism. Some fear that community engagement is one more chore stacked upon the already heavy workload of journalists in shrinking newsrooms.

My new Journal Register colleagues have been quite supportive of my new responsibilities. They are asking excellent questions about what we will be doing together to deepen engagement with the communities we serve.

I’m going to address all these questions in a series of blog posts that probably will take several weeks. Today I will provide an overview of community engagement. In coming weeks, I will dig into the various engagement techniques that I will cover only briefly here.

Let’s start with a tweet-length definition: Community engagement = News orgs making a top priority to listen, to join & lead conversation to elevate our journalism.

Update: Jeff Jarvis and Matt Terenzio said on Twitter that they thought I should have used “enable” instead of “lead” in the tweet above. I agree that enabling conversation is an important aspect of engagement (and I’d say it’s included in good leadership). But I’m not sure it’s more important than leadership. The community is pretty well able to converse already and is already doing so. But I’m pro-conversation, so I welcome this crowdsourced editing help:

Community engagement = News orgs make top priority to listen, to join, lead & enable conversation to elevate journalism.

I’ll elaborate on some key words there: (more…)

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