The journalism industry continues to redefine itself following the arrival of the Internet. Advertising has dried up, major newspapers have folded for good and many experienced journalists are out of work.
It’s a scary time for long-time editors and reporters trying to adapt. It’s an equally challenging time for young journalists looking to gain a foothold in a newsroom. What jobs are out there? What skills do they need to have to help them succeed?
“I think that journalists, young journalists in particular, need to be able to strike a balance between traditional journalistic skills like reporting and editing and mix those with more sort of modern day skills that journalists need,” said Mallary Jean Tenore, managing editor at Poynter.org.
“Many of those skills relate to social media and they also relate to programming and thinking about stories in new ways,” she said. “So, one of the things to think about is, ‘How can you, perhaps, create a new position for yourself? Or create something that hasn’t already been created?'”
A young journalist herself, Tenore recently wrote an article describing 10 ways for young journalists to make themselves more marketable.
“For a long time, I think journalists were in this mindset that they needed to sort of just go back to what they had been doing and think about it in new ways,” she said. “But now, when I’ve been talking with young journalists, I’m realizing that some of them are actually wanting to create new things.”
Using journalism’s new tools to tell a story
The inspiration for the story came to Tenore as she prepared a presentation she was going to give at her alma mater, Providence College.
“The idea was that I wanted journalists to get a better sense about how they can get a job and how they can put themselves out there,” she said. “And since I was doing all this preparation already for this talk, I figured I might as well write a piece about it and then I can use this piece actually in my presentation.”
Tenore assembled a bunch of tips on her own but then decided to employ one of journalism’s new reporting tools — crowdsourcing — to solicit more ideas.
“Since this wasn’t a big scoop and I wasn’t afraid that someone else was going to take this story, I said, ‘I might as well let Twitter followers know what this story is that I’m working on,’ she said. “What I did was I just sent out a question on Twitter and said, ‘Writing a piece about ways that young journalists can make themselves more marketable, what advice should I give them?'”
|Read a transcript of our interview with Mallary Jean Tenore.|
Dozens of journalists sent in ideas and Tenore used Storify to assemble all of the suggestions for her article and the presentation. “It was a great way to be able to get different voices into my piece and to really use Twitter as a way to advance my reporting,” she said.
While crowdsourcing and social media are a useful tools, Tenore cautions that just like any source of information, a journalist has to be smart in how he or she uses them.
“You don’t necessarily want to make it seem as though everything that people are telling you is fact,” she said. “I always say that social media is a great starting point. So, it’s such a great place to find ideas and potential sources. But you always have to do your followup reporting and rely on your traditional journalism skills to actually verify whether the information you’re getting is correct. So, a lot of times, what I use crowdsourcing for is not so much to get factual information, but it’s to get people’s opinions on something or to get their advice on something, similar to the advice that I got in the piece for young journalists.”