Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend read: Reporters as 'maestros'

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
It's the weekend, so pull up a chair and settle in for some interesting reads:

"Chapter Nine: Managing Digital" (Columbia Journalism Review): Somewhere during the course of the week, it was suggested that this chapter of the new report on digital journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism would be particularly eye-opening. And it is. Consider this evaluation of how Forbes' Lewis DVorkin assesses reporters: "He expects Forbes journalists not just to cover news, but to be 'maestros' of comments and of followers." And from DVorkin himself: "It used to be a question of how they [reporters] develop their sources. Now it's how they develop their sources and their audience." Take note, veteran journalists.

"Main Street Connect’s Tucker: Hyperlocal Needs Scale" (Street Fight): No sooner had founder Carll Tucker been interviewed about his growing network of hyperlocal news sites -- he has established 10 in Connecticut and will add 32 in Westchester County, N.Y., on June 1 -- than he added 10 more in Massachusetts with the announced acquisition of CentralMassNews. Main Street Connect has kept a relatively low profile since raising close to $4 million last year, but it apparently has been busy behind the scenes. (Tucker, by the way, believes his hyperlocal model is way better than AOL's Patch.)

Musical interlude

"Meet Facebook's Journalist Ambassador (Yes, We Said Ambassador)" (FastCompany): If DVorkin, above, is correct, reporters needing a platform from which to build a fan base may have a friend (pun intended) in Facebook. And helping them learn best practices is Vadim Lavrusik, a social media ace who just became journalism program manager at Facebook.

"Google Adds News Near You -- Newspapers Still Nowhere" (GigaOM): Here's another shout out to newspapers to get mobile fast because Google is getting ready to eat their lunch again. This time, it's with a feature that can deliver news that is "personally relevant" no matter where the reader may be. And for how long have the experts been saying the potential for mobile is huge?

Video interlude: It wasn't just the recession that cost the U.S. jobs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

When job postings baffle

I've seen an occasional oddball posting as I've trolled various company and journalism job boards, but never one like this with a list of "physical demands":

(Click to enlarge)

It's for a job as a digital content creator at a radio station, and many of the requirements sought of candidates include the usual variety:
  • 3-5 years reporting/writing/editing experience
  • Proficiency in Photoshop, HTML and audio editing
  • Excellent writing and editing skills under tight deadlines
  • Attention to detail with content, including grammar, punctuation and fact checking, and layout
  • Understanding of social media and its relationship with news consumers, online marketing and web traffic
  • Be part of a team to develop new and innovative content for the web and on-air
  • Ability to thrive in fast-paced, breaking news situations
  • Flexibility in work schedule
  • Etc., etc., etc.
But being able to exert "up to 10 lbs. of force occasionally," as I've highlighted above? That's a new one. And just what does "including human body" mean? That you're able to get up from your chair successfully?

I'm baffled -- except to note that the job is at a radio station that says it caters to an audience of federal workers in Washington, D.C. Perhaps some Fed-speak has rubbed off.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On creating a first-class news experience

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
Here are a couple of end-of-the-weekend quick hits:

"Business Class: Freemium for News?" (Information Architects): In the how-do-we-fund-the-news discussion comes this idea: offer a user experience comparable to flying first class vs. coach. That means visually attractive web pages and additional perks that enhance the experience enough that people will pay for it.

"ASNE Offers Good Advice on Social Media, But Too Much Fear and Not Really ‘Best Practices’ " (The Buttry Diary): Steve Buttry, late of the online-only news experiment in Washington, D.C., worries that print editors still don't get what social media is all about as they proffer best practices for journalists using Twitter, Facebook, et al.

Video interlude: Check out this video from Fast Forward News, a project of the video storytelling workshop at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University that explores journalism's future. (I picked this particular video because it's the worst nightmare of any reporter: being replaced as a writer by a "robot.")

Man vs. Machine from Fast Forward News on Vimeo.

Music-video interlude: Here's a toe-tapping explainer developed by a New York University class to accompany ProPublic's series about gas drilling and the technique known as "fracking."

Musical wrap-up: And last but not least, a cool remix of the "All Things Considered" theme song.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

77 cents: Recession spreads pay-gap pain

Chart from Center for American Progress report,"Not Working:
Unemployment Among Married Couples" (click to enlarge)

The 2007-09 Great Recession often has been referred to as a "mancession" due to the cutbacks and job losses seen in industries populated by men.

But now comes word that we all soon could be paying a price for the wage gap that long has plagued women in the workplace because the recession turned them into the prime breadwinner in many families.

Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., has published a paper, "Not Working: Unemployment Among Married Couples," that makes just that point:

"With so many wives — and women more generally — supporting families, there could not be a more important time to ensure that women are paid fairly. The typical woman earns an average of 77 cents on the male dollar, and so when a husband loses his job the family suffers since her earnings are typically lower than his."

Boushey also notes that older couples are particularly vulnerable, given the man's longevity on the job (= higher wages) and the likelihood the woman took time off to raise children (= lower wages). Add to that the hit the couple's nest egg took during the recession as the financial markets skidded and the equity they may have lost in their house as the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. The resulting outlook for retirement isn't pretty, and there could be implications for Social Security in the future.

Plus, as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been showing month after month, older workers laid off in the recession are finding it harder to get back into the job market. As of January 2010, Boushey says, that included two-thirds of unemployed men and women aged 55 to 64 vs. just 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women aged 35 to 44.

Boushey's conclusion? "Addressing pay equity should be a key priority as we address the recession."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Of souvenirs, PR and Twitter: Read!

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
Time to catch up on some weekend reading:

"Newspapers as Souvenirs" (Huffington Post): You gotta love the sentiment here of the newspaper as witness to history. The big, big story, of course, was the death of Osama bin Laden, and -- once more -- newspapers were in demand: as souvenirs of the day's heart-thumping news. (If only that were the case for print every day.)

"PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms" (ProPublica): The headline says it all, and in typical ProPublica fashion, the narrative is exhaustive. "The dangers are clear," says the piece. "As PR becomes ascendant, private and government interests become more able to generate, filter, distort, and dominate the public debate, and to do so without the public knowing it."

Graphic interlude: I'm not sure what to call this -- an animated timeline? -- but it's a cool way to show the development of the California Watch series "On Shaky Ground."

"Why Newspaper Ad Sales Are Not Recovering" (Reflections of a Newsosaur): It's disheartening to read that Newsosaur Alan Mutter doesn't think we've hit bottom yet in newspaper ad sales, even as the economic recovery chugs along. But he's right that "stubborn unemployment and a nearly moribund housing market" aren't helping.

"How 4 People & Their Social Network Turned an Unwitting Witness to bin Laden’s Death into a Citizen Journalist" (Poynter): Take a look at how networks of Twitter users bridged the continents between Pakistan and the U.S. to relay the so-called first-person account of the raid that led to Osama bin Laden's death. (The post later was criticized as suggesting that mainstream media had been eclipsed by the social media platform.)

Video interlude: Here's a double dose of in-your-face chutzpa for newspaper doubters. The Newspaper Association of America reports that Internet users flocked to newspaper websites in the first quarter, and the Society of Professional Journalists assures us that The Fat Lady Has Not Sung.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jobs picture: Still tough out there

Career-help display,
Lucius Beebe Memorial Library,
Wakefield, Mass. (via library's Flickr account)
Today's uptick in the April jobs number notwithstanding, it's interesting to note that this Forbes career how-to on cover letters, posted in late March, is still gaining clicks.

When I first stumbled on it Wednesday, the clicks were just above 12,700; today it's up another 500 to more than 13,200 clicks. (As an aside, I must say that I find it oh-so-satisfying that the post's author, who writes regularly about careers, admits to being flummoxed when asked to help a friend write a cover letter, a task I continue to find arduous.)

What does that +500 mean? That people still are out of work and still looking for jobs, so they still need advice on cover letters. Just take a look at a couple of points in today's Bureau of Labor Statistics release on April's employment picture:

  • "The number of unemployed persons, at 13.7 million, changed little in April."
  • "The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed over the month..."
  • "In April, 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier."
For those of us in journalism's corner of the world, the Kansas City Star announced additional layoffs earlier in the week. And on Monday a site for media professionals suggested there was a stall during April in the pace of listings on various help-wanted job boards.

Bottom line: It's still tough out there.