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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Sonderman’

Mandy Jenkins

I had mixed feelings when Mandy Jenkins blogged about why she was pleased with the new job I had just offered her. Because I had also offered her one of the “Twitter monkey” jobs she was glad to be moving beyond.

While Mandy and I worked together at TBD, I valued her contributions every day. I thought she had a great job and did a great job. So I was a little chagrined to read in her blog how she had spent the previous four years:

Watching and curating streams, responding to mentions, keeping an eye out for breaking news, promoting reporters’ work – it takes up so much time and mental energy that it’s difficult to do much else very effectively (and that includes being a spouse, friend, parent, pet owner, etc.).

Yeah, I guess that’s kind of what I expected from Mandy when she worked at TBD, though I think the part about being a spouse, etc. was unspoken (isn’t it always?), and I should add that Editor Erik Wemple sometimes added to my own expectations of Mandy at TBD.

And I should add that throughout my career, I could have written a similar description of many jobs I’ve held and supervised: sports writer, cop reporter, assistant city editor, political reporter, national editor. Journalism jobs can sap your time and mental energy and crowd out family, friends and pets at times. We get passionate about our work, and we and our bosses sometimes get excessive.

So I’m not writing this to excuse how demanding I was or to argue that Mandy gave the job more than I demanded (though she did). Instead, I want to continue my occasional blog posts with career advice by noting some lessons other journalists can find in how Mandy moved beyond Twitter-monkey status. (Mandy’s and my former TBD colleague Jeff Sonderman already provided some advice for how journalists can rise above digital typecasting such as Twitter monkey. (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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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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Jeff Sonderman

When a friend at The Poynter Institute told me Poynter was looking for someone to write about mobile and social media, I thought immediately of Jeff Sonderman.

Jeff starts his work with Poynter next month. He will be the final member of the outstanding community engagement team I hired last year to leave TBD. Other than me, he will be the only one to make it to his first anniversary, and just barely.

I first met Jeff when he was an editor at the Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., and I was leading a discussion for a seminar at the American Press Institute. I probably met 30 editors at that seminar, but Jeff was the only one to stay in touch. I left API to become editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. We followed each other on Twitter and through reading and occasionally commenting on each others’ blogs.

When I announced that I was leaving Cedar Rapids to join Jim Brady’s as-yet-unnamed and still optimistic local news venture in Washington, Jeff immediately sent me an email saying he wanted to join our team. He stood out among a strong field of candidates and I hired him as our senior community host. (more…)

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I try to understand a subject before I write about it. So I won’t have much to say about the changes taking place at TBD.

Here’s what I will say:

  • Working at TBD has been a highlight of my career. I am proud of what we have achieved. Working with the staff and the colleagues here has been a delight and a privilege. (more…)

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