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I know a number of journalists who are growing increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their careers. Those working for offline publications tend to worry more than most, and with good reason, given the tide of bad news in this space.

25 things journalists can do to future-proof their careers

But despite the problems with business models, there will always be a need for journalists. It isn’t game over for journalism, not by a stretch, it's just that the game is changing. Old media journalists will need to learn some new skills and adapt mindsets to accommodate changes in their industry. 

As much as anything it is a cultural shift: a mental challenge for traditional journalists. And I’m not just talking about 20-year veterans of the industry, but those young pups who have completed their NCTJ courses and moved into the world of local journalism. To many, and despite their youth, the internet is a thoroughly alien place. But more and more journalists will end up writing online, and they need to embrace it while they still have the choice to do so.

Over the years I have evangelised about technology and the internet as something that helps – rather than hinders – journalists. But I’ve encountered literally dozens of offline hacks who sneer at 'the internet'. To them, journalism can only be considered ‘proper’ if it finds a home in newsprint. I assume many of these people have since been certified clinically insane, as it’s totally nuts to think that a newspaper magically improves the quality of a story.

Or is it? Perhaps there’s something to this. After all, a newspaper story doesn't just have to be about text... the format also allows for a large image, for example, which may lend additional weight to the story. But hey, if that holds true for newspapers then what about the internet? An article online can include video, audio, image galleries, links to further reading, a direct response channel in the form of reader comments, and it can be read in any number of ways (online, RSS readers, mobile devices, etc). 

Considering all of the above, I think it’s up to the journalist to broaden their skills, to help futureproof their careers. It may mean figuring out how to write for the web, or simply using technology as a career aid. I see a future where journalists will need traditional skills and so-called new media skills, and will not be limited to writing for one media platform.

So here, in no particular order, are some suggestions that I often pass on to journalists who want to learn practical new skills and expand their horizons:

  1. Start a blog. Publishing anything on the internet used to be difficult, due to content management systems that were about as user friendly as Satan. They left a bad taste, but it's all change nowadays. It has never been easier to publish all kinds of content online. You don’t believe me? Try Posterous, which allows you to post articles online via email. Start your own personal blog today. Or better still, start a subject-themed blog. This will be very empowering if you haven’t done it before. Posterous will have you blogging within five minutes, and you don't even need to register and sign in to start publishing.
  2. Collaborate. If you’re worried about not having enough time to maintain a blog, then why not collaborate with some other people, or join an existing blog or some other publication? It will help broaden your experience, your CV, and is especially useful for offline writers looking to accumulate some online skills. People can achieve so much more when they work together. 
  3. Big up yourself. You may choose not to blog, but you should definitely have a portfolio site. Show off your skills and experience, and link to your work via your own online portfolio. There’s no reason not to.
  4. Write about your passion. And we’re back to the first point, about starting a blog. I know a number of offline journalists who are stuck in rut, writing news stories that they’re not remotely interested in. People rarely become journalists unless they like to write, so why not start enjoying it again? What’s stopping you from writing about something that you love? Try to write about a passion at least once a week. It will help build out your portfolio. You’ll feel happier about your work. You’ll be able to express your opinions. And you may engineer a way out of a dead end job. 
  5. Feeds FTW. Learn how to monitor your subjects, your stories, your top sources, keywords, competitors and so on. Do this easily by setting up RSS feeds for search terms on sites like Google News, Twitter and Digg. If you haven’t already embraced RSS feeds to subscribe to content (as opposed to visiting websites to read stories) then check out Google Reader and make the news come to you. I use the Byline app (iTunes link) for the iPhone to read these stories offline when on the move. 
  6. Embrace Twitter. Twitter is simply a huge echo chamber made up of millions of people. It is absolutely a source of news, but it is not ‘journalism’. That's your job: to make sense of noise, to validate sources and stories, and to unearth the news. As such journalists should tune into Twitter. Follow influencers and use Twitter as a filter. People will follow you back and you can use Twitter to create an awareness of your work. 
  7. Produce video. It is easier than ever to shoot and distribute video. There are inbuilt cameras in your phones and laptops. There are sub-£100 made-for-the-interwebs video cameras such as the Flip, and low-cost HD cameras for not too much more. There are loads of video sites to help you push out your content. Adding video you an online article is incredibly straightforward. Print-based journalists might find that some stories benefit from having a video element... you have the option of telling stories in richer ways. 
  8. Mobile is a truly wonderful tool. It has never been easier to capture ideas, build out stories, and publish content. There are so many amazing mobile apps out there that will help journalists. Audioboo. Dictaphone apps. To-do lists. Workflow tools. Built-in cameras. Video capabilities. Notebooks. Mindmaps. Messaging. The mobile phone really is the journalist’s best friend. The iPhone is simply amazing (if your boss only knew he'd surely pay for it). Learn how to get the best out of your phone...
  9. SEO is the one acronym that you really need to learn. It stands for ‘search engine optimisation’ and it is the science of pushing your stories towards the top of Google. You need to know how to optimise your work for Google, to boost ‘findability’. Today’s news isn’t tomorrow’s chip paper: it is archived in Google forevermore. In the future, writers with some basic SEO skills will have an advantage over those that don't possess any. Do your (keyword) research and figure out what you want to rank on in Google. Once you start seeing success in the search engines you’ll get the bug, and will understand the value of tagging and online copywriting generally.
  10. Learn to love links. Following on from the last point, links are what make the online world spin. They make Google tick. Links provide traffic and Googlejuice, so get into the habit of giving them out. Understand how to write quality links. Keep an eye on those people who link to you.
  11. Tag, tag, tag. Tagging content is a great habit to develop. Tags play a huge role in on and offsite search. They make it easier for people (and search engines) to find your content. Try to own a niche, because niche works best online. 
  12. Online copywriting. It’s really not so different from offline copywriting, though there are a bunch of new things to consider. I wrote an A-Z of online copywriting, which should provide you with the basics. 
  13. Readability rules. Journalists will already be familiar with Orwell’s rules of writing, and they should also be aware of the rules of writing for web-based readers. Huge paragraphs are out. Skim-friendly articles are in, and I think that's something that is transferring over to offline reading. I’m not sure that the trend towards list-based articles (like this one) is a particularly good thing, but lists work very well online because they are easy to digest and people click because they know what they’re going to get. Give the people what they want. In any event, figure out which formats work online (there are others), and experiment with new ones.
  14. Ignore the hype. You may have had your fill of phrases like ‘social media’ and ‘Web 2.0’. Alternatively they may give you The Fear. Just remember that some buzzwords are more meaningless than others. I loathe jargon and PRspeak but occasionally something that sounds terrible is actually full of substance and worth investigating. 
  15. Exclusives are passe. All journalists love a good scoop, but an exclusive story doesn’t stay exclusive for very long these days. TMZ bagged the Michael Jackson exclusive but there were more than 1,000 copycat stories on Google News within an hour. Exclusives are great for kudos and links, but ‘scoops of interpretation’ are perhaps just as important. And if you cannot interpret the story then speak to people who can help. Try to join up the dots for readers.
  16. Objectivity is overrated. Only a very small proportion of published articles in the mainstream media can be considered ‘objective’. Journalists may work hard to file truly objective copy, but any number of editors and sub-editors - not to mention publishers, proprietors, commercial bulldogs and influential advertisers - can transform stories beyond belief. Perhaps it would be better to position yourself on one side of the fence, rather than trying to sit on it? Obviously this won't work for every kind of story.
  17. Subjectivity kicks ass. Considering the above, is there a way of training your brain to insert a little bit more opinion into your stories? It might be that you’re not allowed to do this right now, given your platform (go start a blog immediately!), or perhaps the story doesn’t allow for it, but my favourite writers all have a strong voice and are happy to holler from time to time. Back your own views. Develop your voice. And don't be afraid to express an opinion. After all, opinions can help put you on the radar, can help you find new work, and may in fact be the future of the news industry (if they aren't already).
  18. Participate. Be seen, be heard. Leave comments. Respond to comments. Get your name out there. Let people know that you're engaged and interested in developing stories beyond the point of publication. But whatever you do, don't try to fake it.
  19. Listen. Writers are getting much better at interacting with their readers, and at tuning into what’s being said. Many publishers now allow readers to comment on articles, and a number of mainstream media publications display author emails in bylines or footers. Readers like to have their say, and also to communicate directly with writers (I wrote to one last week to congratulate him for the use of the phrase “tang of urea”). Develop relationships and let your readers flag up news directly.
  20. Real time news. We’re moving ever closer to the world of the present. News is now. Just watch how quickly things are spread virally. It’s rare that the first time you read about a big story is in tomorrow’s newspaper. A major story doesn’t go unnoticed for long (though one of my friends had no clue about Jacko for two days…). Don't sit on stories, and update them as you go along (the ability to update articles is a big plus when writing for online publications).
  21. Embrace crowdsourcing. I’m not a big believer in the so-called wisdom of the crowd, but there’s certainly a real value in asking for help and pooling knowledge. The crowd can help you put the meat on the bones of a story idea. The crowd won’t write your story, but they can help you research it. The Guardian has crowdsourced to great effect recently for the MP's expenses scandal. 
  22. Network. Get closer to your people! Make connections on and offline. Develop connections and go-to people to help you flesh out your articles with insightful comment. Join relevant groups. Follow interesting people. Do the LinkedIn thing and make it easy for people to hook up with you.
  23. Learn how to be thrifty. Why pay iStockPhoto $12.50 for the use of a picture, when you can grab something from Flickr? There are millions of quality pictures available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence. Use them. I do.
  24. Be platform agnostic. As mentioned, there remains a divide between offline journalists and their online counterparts. 'Online' journalism is still viewed with derision in some quarters, for reasons I can’t fully understand (but then I do live on this side of the fence). A story does not become good just because something appears in print! The best journalists will be able to transfer their skills across platforms. 
  25. Do it now. Don’t delay. Don’t fear the web. Don’t wait for your boss to tell you to learn some new skills. If you have a mental barrier and have filed yourself under ‘offline’ then slap yourself about the face, have a stiff drink, and then reset your watch. Forget about yesterday. There’s no time like the present. Embrace all that's available to you, the flexible journalist, and use the right tools for your trade. I promise you it won’t hurt a bit.

What did I miss? What suggestions can you offer to help journalists make the transition into the future?

[Image by gsfc via Flickr, various rights reserved]

Chris Lake

Published 26 August, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Phil Clark

Chris,

Agreed on nearly all of the 25, especially in trying to scotch a lot of the buzzwords that us digital evangalists can be prone to throw out, which tend to inspire added scepticism amongst our colleagues.

I'd add a couple: link and comment. Link in your stories or on your blog. Comment in other places that are relevant, and respond to audience comments where appropriate (if they are challenging facts or adding to your story).

I'd disagree with 15. In the space my firm operates (B2B in construction, architecture and property) exclusives are the lifeblood of our print and online operations. Without them why would audiences to come to our sites. They want news, and because we are focused on specialist areas we give them it. Mostly ahead of our competitors.

I understand that an exclusive somewhat loses its lustre online but without discovering something intrinsically new the job of a journalist is somewhat pointless and dull.

Good piece though.

Phil

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Phil,

Thanks. Exclusives certainly remain really valuable for lots of publications, no two ways about it. I guess it depends on the audience and type of publication, as much as anything, and maybe the frequency / distribution too. For offline writers - especially in a niche like yours - they're still hugely important.

But in many cases an exclusive isn't what it used to be, given the sheer number of me-too stories that crop up almost immediately, but they can still be great for links and traffic to the source story (if rewriters bother to link out).

I agree that readers want to see 'new' content, rather than me-too content... my point really is that 'new' comes in various shapes and sizes these days (hence 'scoops of interpretation'), and making your me-too story sufficiently distinct from all the others might also be considered 'exclusive'.

c.

about 7 years ago

John Duffy

John Duffy, Marketing Director at Nemisys

Hi Chris

As an outsider looking in, that was fascinating reading. <disclaimer> I'm looking in from out because I'm trying to work out what makes journalists tick for a specific service that I won't mention unless invited.</disclaimer>

I'd be interested in your view on a specific use for audio.

Journalists can now broadcast audio live from their own blog/web site, using any phone as the source - just dial and talk. And I do mean talking live directly on to their own web site, with just a couple of seconds delay. Not dictaphone style record & upload, and no internet connection required, though I recognise that has great value.

I think it would be attractive for news journalists in particular, as a back up for when all other means of communication fails if nothing else.

I'd be interested to understand your views. Happy to post a link but only if asked, I don't want to spam.

John

about 7 years ago

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Iain Hrynaszkiewicz

Interesting article. Re: #17. One of the first things they teach you at journalism school is not to put yourself in the story. No-one gives a monkey's who the hack is. Fine for blogs and opinionated columns, but inappropriate for the news.

about 7 years ago

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Doreen Pendgracs

Terrific list. Glad to see I'm already doing most of the things on it! Blogging and Twitter have been amazing tools in building my "author's platform." And networking ... right on! I belong to half a dozen writer's orgs and they all serve a unique purpose for me.  

about 7 years ago

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Journo8

FYI - journalism isn't PR. original, objective reporting is what makes journalism a public service. purge those essentials for more flashing lights and loudmouth opininig and it is society that suffers. hopefully journos can take many of the new lessons of online media without sacrificing the keys that make journalism what it is.

about 7 years ago

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Rob R.

I'm curious — how, exactly do these suggestions lead to a career?  Have publishers begun paying for blogs or Twitter posts?

I think the reason why so many journalists tend to privilege print over online media is that the first pays — though not very much — while the second, for the most part, doesn't.

about 7 years ago

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Luiz Carneiro

Hi Phil, very interesting article.

I want to translate it to portuguese so many people of Brazil can be able to access this information. Do you give me permission, I'll maintain your credits.

about 7 years ago

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Raj Marwah

Great piece! Good stuff!

about 7 years ago

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Susan Sawyers

Interesting, helpful post and similar advice offered by Sreenet over the years. Bottom line, no matter what your profession, technology isn't going away so learn as much as you can (always) and stay relevant. I like the idea of writing about a passion to build a portfolio. That's a new one. Thank you! @SuSaw

about 7 years ago

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Mousumi

Hi Chris,

Fantastic stuff. All 25 points are so worthy!

Thanks a ton!

Mousumi

about 7 years ago

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greald

Unlike your statement `there will always be a need for journalists` I think journalism will vanish unless journalists find another way. Most of your 25 guidelines show the necessary ways but I don`t think they are sufficient. The crowd will find ways to spread news and rumours and will apply the same means you advise for journalists. So applying the 25 guidelines alone cannot distinguish them.

Journalists may distinguish themselves as such by performing in depth research. The crowd will supply the raw materials; journalists should make sense out of it.

about 7 years ago

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Kolya

26. Find yourself a decent job that finances the hobby pts. 1-25 turn out to be...

about 7 years ago

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pink pig illustration

Really great tips here, for creatives in all areas, not just journalists.

I'm an illustrator/designer and really enjoyed it.

I would be careful about 'no.23-learn to be thrifty' however.

As a contributor to stock illustration/photography myself, I am required to supply : signed model releases for photos/ prove work is my own/ prove that the reference I used for an illustration is my own(i.e. I havent used a photograph or imagery which does not belong to me) , etc

In short, if you buy an image from istockphoto, you will be guaranteed you have the rights to use it without fear of reprisals from the real copyright holders.

A small photographic image suitable for web use ,from istock will cost you around £1-

which is a pretty fair price to pay for peace of mind.

Not to say dont use images from Creative Commons Attribution Licence, by all means, there's some great stuff to be had there- but just check thoroughly who really owns it,whether model release issues might be a problem, and exactly what rights you really have to publish etc.

about 7 years ago

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Greg Crawford

The list was Ok, but the real sustainability skill for journalists is to stop using the Internet as a means for lazy reporting. Information is only good if it's accurate. There's too much garbage on the Internet and not enough solid information. Wikepedia is just one example. The journalists today's universities are producing are lazy and don't know how to effectively communicate face-to-face. Great, get your name out there, use the Internet, but can we stop using this technology as a crutch. I can quote Shaq on Twitter. Why doesn't a newspaper reporter actually call the guy. And newspapers are failing because a bunch of overpaid curmudgeons couldn't figure out how to adapt to the Internet quick enough and are still charging for the newspaper. And my rant is over.

about 7 years ago

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Prachi Rege

Thanks Chris. I'm glad I read your piece. It's a very apt moment in my career, when after four years of writing for the print medium I have shifted to the online world.

It's been four months since I'm here and it's been a bit difficult to adjust to the new format. Fears like I will lose out on my offline readers and that eventually they will cease to remember me constantly bug my mind.

But after reading your article I certainly believe and feel relieved that the I'm where the future is. Thank you once again!

about 7 years ago

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suzanne edwards

I somewhat resent that final remark. I recently graduated from an excellent journalism school and we spent ample time on face-to-face interview techniques. Quoting one of my internship supervisors; "One of my favorite things to see is an empty newsroom. It means everyone's out in the field." 

Technology is not lazy-making if it's true journalism that guides you. Online journalism has all but mandated that we not only be able to write a solid story, but also shoot and edit the video, get photos, maybe work out a poll to go with the story, and roll out a related blog post. Lazy? Hardly.

That being said, when too much time is spent aggregating other online news and reader response, the reporting will obviously suffer.

I'll always believe that a journalists's place is in the field, not behind a computer. So far however, new mediums and technologies have only added to the work load, not supplanted it.

about 7 years ago

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Harold Evans

Points 15-17 are seriously misguided. The business of the press is disclosure; if exclusives are ‘passe’ then the tabloids wouldn’t spend tens of thousands of pounds a week sourcing them. Journalism is about telling people stuff they don’t know already or adding to their understanding of what they do know. That’s why Private Eye sells by the cartload and has a stable circulation despite having a token web presence. The regional press is flatlining precisely because it offers only ‘scoops of interpretation’ – ie reheated wire copy relating to stories that can easily be sourced online. No one is actually going out there and finding their own stories anymore. They’re chained to their desks in news factories topping and tailing press releases.
And objectivity is certainly not overrated; it is the foundation of trust and credibility for any serious publication. You can’t ‘allow’ your own opinion into ‘stories’; or at least you can only do so implicitly be deciding what constitutes a story in the first place. Solipsism is not journalism; in fact is the antithesis of journalism.
Does the author of this piece understand the difference between news and opinion? ‘My favourite writers have a strong voice.’ They may do, but you are failing to discriminate between great reportage (a much underrated and increasingly scarce skill) and mere polemic. Far from being the future of the news industry, the great bog-blocking opinion columns of the national newspapers (which existed to nothing like the same extent 25 years ago) have done nothing to halt the accelerating decline in circulation of major titles.  
Anyone interested in what proper journalism is about, and how it has been gradually debased by the commodification of news, should read Nick Davies’s book ‘Flat Earth News’, the last word on the subject.

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Sir Harold (if indeed it is you),

You make some valid points, and I was torn when writing 15-17, knowing it would draw flak from certain quarters. I absolutely agree that objectivity remains one of the cornerstones of reportage, hence the caveat that some (general news) stories demand an objective approach. But ultimately a story that appears in both The Guardian and The Daily Mail will be positioned very differently. This ability to shape the tone of a story by sub editors, editors and publishers means that even the most objective reporter may appear biased one way or another, regardless of the objectivity of the original copy. As such isn't the idea of objectivity within news reporting something of a fallacy? Certain stories allow for writers to add shades of opinion, though it very much depends on the type of story and publication. My points 1, 2, 4 and 17 provide room for a more subjective approach for those that want to explore this kind of writing.

Private Eye deserves to sell by the cartload because it is the very definition of proper journalism, and every journalist should read it. It sells not because it has a limited web presence, but because the content is exclusive and the means of distribution is restricted. I think that quality content is the key, and quality comes in various shapes and sizes. I actually think Private Eye does a remarkable job of joining up the dots, and many of its 'exclusive' stories are based on making sense of news that is already in the public domain. In that sense it is 'scoops of interpretation' that make for an exclusive, original article, which is precisely my point.

On the point about the regional press, I disagree. Many local journalists continue to dig up original stories. I think it's actually the mainstream media that often rehashes the same news. Certainly they do online, where the same AP articles are syndicated and republished almost word for word. And that's why Rupert Murdoch's plan to charge for content is fundamentally flawed: the content isn't exclusive, and people can easily read it elsewhere. Even 'exclusive' stories will be quickly replicated by competitors once the news is made public. It is this inability to protect the exclusive, and the speed that stories propagate across all media channels, that has reduced the value of the scoop. Of course exclusives still matter, but I don't think they're as important as they used to be. Doing what Private Eye does so well is one way of extending stories and creating content of real value... joining up the dots and making sense of information that is often already in the public domain.

about 7 years ago

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John

While I agree that journalists need to develop more web skills, I think you conflate writing PR with serious journalism, which I suppose is not unsurprising on a marketing blog.

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

John, 

I have not even remotely suggested that serious journalists should ever wear PR hats, nor would I.

about 7 years ago

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GNicholson

Not all Flickr photos are creative commons licensed ... I just spent a day hectoring a spammer to take down one of my pictures that was specifically labelled wih my copyright.

about 7 years ago

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Andrew Bruce Smith

I like the idea of "scoops of interpretation" - though a quick Google search reveals the phrase has been around a while - and that the man who apparently coined it, the late Tony Bambridge of the Sunday Times, used it to describe "phoney exclusives".

However, I think I know what you mean ;-)

about 7 years ago

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Ian

Private Eye could put all its content online and give it away for free, but then no one would buy the magazine and it would quickly go out of business. They're not stupid.

As some of the previous posters have noted these are all useful, smart suggestions but there is little money or income online writing per se. A blogger's only hope is to get recognised by the 'old media' major news orgs and get paid.

Murdoch's plan might be flawed or at least risky, but if he doesn't give it a go his business (like all the other major news gathering organisations) will quickly go down the toilet, and there will be nothing left to blog about, link to or aggregate.

Private Eye will be all that's left.

about 7 years ago

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Shaun Gerien

Be nice to all -  as Pete Hamill said:

     "Never look down on a person unless it's to offer your hand

to help them up."

about 7 years ago

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Tom Reaoch

I would add number 26: Write for the world. Remember that there are more people outside the US than in. Write for them and write to them.

about 7 years ago

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Norman Giller

I am from the Sir Harold Evans generation, weaned from the days of local papers through to the nationals on the theory that 'good stories sell papers.' In my local paper days in East London we used to have a bill poster aimed at individual streets ("Cable Street Widow Robbed"), which meant getting off your arse and digging out strong local yarns. On to Fleet Street (I am talking 60s and 70s), and 'good stories' continued to be the circulation drivers. As chief football reporter on the Daily Express I used to make it a point to see face to face as many of the major participants as possible, and not forgetting to build up vital contacts among the backroom staffs at clubs.

Now too many reporters are happy to be spoon-fed stories by agents and PRs, and they rarely get one-on-one with the managers and players. I will concede that it was easier "in my day" because footballers were more accessible and not locked behind high-security gates in their million-pound homes. But any proper journalist will find a way to get to them.

I have been banging on in my Sports Journalists' Association blog about the need for young journalists to make the web work for them. Congratulations, Chris, on your thought-provoking 25 'Commandments' but I hope you will have another look at your dismissal of exclusives. If you can get a fresh story into your newspaper and/or blog it will stimulate interest, even if it is quickly stolen. 'Good stories' continue to sell newspapers and attract on-line interest.

It was as true when Sir Harold Evans masterminded the Thalidomide exposure (rivalling Watergate as the No 1 scoop of the 20th Century) as it is today, with the Daily Telegraph's 'Wesminstergate' exclusives.

True journalists will always chase the 'good stories', and the imaginative ones will work out how to make it pay on line.

The world-wide web is a huge ocean and we have hardly got our feet wet yet. Creator Sir Timothy Berners-Lee is our modern Columbus. Now the new generation of journalists – with a mix of imagination and industry – must follow in his slip stream and navigate new routes.

Your future-proof ideas, Chris, should be necessary reading for all journalists as we head for unchartered waters. For 'Journalists' read 'Mediaists'.

about 7 years ago

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selina howells

How journalism used to work is not the answer. Too much has changed. Expensive, lumbering news organisations have lost their monopoly on news to the people thanks to the internet. A lot of us report for free especially if we happen to witness a plane crash or a drunk celebrity or corrupt politician. It costs us nothing and we are on the spot, reporting what we see and we do it not as a job. Michael McIntyre makes fun of us for filing news about things like toasters but we know he's old media and there's public service in news about the toaster we bought which old media with its cosy relationship with PR never told us. Old media does not like new media. But stories like Jaycee Lee Dugard demonstrate how inadequate news was when we relied on a few media monopolies to tell us what was happening next door. The eye balls that went to news organisations now go to Google which has the tools to find the news that we report ourselves, and Google gets the advertising revenue. The future for journalism will be so different to the past. In areas like travel journalism or motoring correspondents there isn't a future. News we will report ourselves and as technology reaches people in unreported places we will all know a lot more. 

about 7 years ago

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Bill Bennett

The part I'm not comfortable with in all this is the inherent narcissism of the online world.

Take me as an example, My web site sits on a domain that uses my name: billbennett.co.nz for branding. My Tweets go out as @billbennettnz and I'm spread all over the net with these names.

Tweeting feels narcissistic. Adding my two-bob's worth to stories which are really information pieces feel narcissistic.. and so on.

The mental health aspects of this worry me. I'm old enough and hard-bitten enough not to be taken in, but I've seen a number of younger journos have their heads turned by the attention.

I'm also concerned about the credibility of a world where opinion trumps fact.

And let's face it, a lot of people offering opinions are nincompoops.

about 7 years ago

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David Smith

Chris,

It would appear from your comments that like many others you think the content should be free, ie you want free pictures. We are a sports picture agency and have had pictures stolen and the uploaded to flickr. If as others have done in the past and used them on their own sites, we will come after you for payment.

Your article does not show any detail of how you get paid for this online content, this is the problem that us in the real world are having, most people using the internet think tht all content must be free, I think over the next few years you will see a reverse of this trend. Online news is paid for by print edition news or subscription.

David Smith

INSPORT

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi David,

I don't think quality content should be free, and I'm not entirely sure why you think that I do? I also know that many people are prepared to pay for content. I've written about this many times before and we have ourselves created a paid-for subscription business that works very well indeed, so I'm not a pessimist when it comes to the question of whether charging for content is possible.

But the article itself wasn't about business models: it was about the kind of skills that will help journalists to make themselves more attractive to future employers. These are the things I look for in a writer, and while not every idea is relevant to every role (as discussed, a news reporter should not ignore exclusives or be particularly subjective), journalists who embrace these will stand out from those who don't.

I appreciate your problem with the need to protect your content. That said, I'm not entirely convinced about your threat / ability to 'come after me' (not that I publish images I do not have the rights to use). If you complain and the image is removed from Flickr then it is subsequently removed from all sites that use the image source URL to publish the picture. This is what we do: images are not hosted on our server. Would you also go after Google, which does something similar? In any event, there are 6m images indexed in the Creative Commons database and I expect that the vast majority are not stolen.

Yours is a substitution problem, which is exactly the problem the likes of Rupert Murdoch are going to have when trying to charge for content online. If I can find a free photograph that does the job as well as a paid one, then why would I pay for it? Coming back to your question about business models, surely this is the smart thing to do? It's no good for the professional photographers of course, nor the distributors of their work, which is the business you are in. But if it means running a leaner publishing operation then I'm all for it. However if pictures are exclusive or are difficult to substitute in terms of their quality, then you'll still find buyers. So doesn't this help you raise your own game, and help you focus on producing / representing better quality content?

about 7 years ago

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Jean Stanula

Thanks for the tips--I've just recently finished a writing degree, and I feel many of these things were stressed throughout my program, but it is still important to have a refresher about how to use social media and the web. Learning some simple SEO skills really does make a huge difference! In response to previous comments regarding receiving pay for online writing, that has been an issue for me as well. I assume gaining popularity on the web will provide a CV for alternate (paid) gigs. Thanks! Jean

about 7 years ago

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mo.

"In the future, writers with some basic SEO skills will have an advantage over those that don't possess any."

That's wrong! They have already the advantage. I work as a journalist and dig into SEO now for years. My german portofolio-blog works damn fine for me. But more and more journalists realize that they need SEO. Of course, there are still hundreds not knowing, but if you know today already basic SEO-rules you get amazing jobs from the industry. the marketing people know about the power of SEO and search journalists/writers with these skills.

about 7 years ago

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Dave Van Horn

Whoa....

More subjectivity? So less 'truth'? Less facts? More interpretation, more 'secret' sources, innuendo?

I wish you a life of papparazzi hounding you....

Some really bad advice there....

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Dave,

Read the article properly. Firstly, I've pointed out that adding a dose of subjectivity doesn't apply to every type of article or publication. For news reporters it's important to present straight, objective news, and to stick to the facts (while understanding that their sub-editors, editors, publishers and commercial people may change how these 'facts' are presented). And if that sounds like your job then I suggested you start a blog, to be able to write with some passion.

A) There's no talk of less facts. More facts beat less facts.

B) Subjectivity should not mean 'less truth'. For me, it is about 'joining up the dots' rather than guessing where the dots might be in the first place. When I talk about subjectivity I'm talking about measured opinion, not random guesswork.

C) There is no talk of secret sources, though protecting your sources as a journalist can have its merits.

D) The tabloid press today is based around subjectivity, sensationalism, innuendo and repetition. Do you think the status quo should be left alone, or changed? Is the internet all that's to blame for the woes of newspapers, or are there other reasons too?

about 7 years ago

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Harache

Bonjour,

Je suis étudiante en deuxième année en Histoire et j'aimerai, par la suite, travailler dans le journalisme. Je viens de lire votre article et je souhaiterai savoir quels sites vous me conseillez pour commencer à écrire mon propre blog? En effet, je suis d'accord avec vous : c'est très important de se mettre "à la page" mais "faire le premier pas" dans ce monde si immense du web est impressionnant et même intimident. Pourriez vous me donner quelques conseils ? Et surtout un site fiable sur lequel je peux écrire ?

Cordialement,

Marine Harache

about 7 years ago

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Barry Dennis

It's time for the Reverse Search Engine that is part of an AutoEdit software, soon to become part of the Writer's software portfolio. It could take the form of using the tags to add the appropriate links, or, and this seems to offer less cogency, analyze and add  links by extracting the words and phrases in the article,  which might lead to less  relevant information.

While some may be interested in "just the facts, please" others would appreciate the opportunity, the need even, to look beyond the shallowness of "speed writing" and bullet  points.

about 7 years ago

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Paul Hills

Get a masters degree

about 7 years ago

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embroidery machine

Great post, I'm glad I read your piece.

almost 7 years ago

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Public corruption attorney

thanks for sharing this sinc from my school days i have a great desire to become a journalists and i heard somewhere that entry in this profession is not that tough but the survival is very hard so this things really help me in doing my job smoothly. keep it up

over 6 years ago

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JS

A lot of this sounds like things I've already learned in college, but some of it I wish I would have been taught in college. Obviously I've noticed the change from print to online media, I just wish I would have been taught more about online media while I was in school. Now I will just have to figure things out on my own. At least there are articles like this to help get me started. I like number 19. listen because writers really need to hear what their readers are saying. That's who you're writing for so you better listen to what they wanted in order for your work to be heard. And I will definitely try number 14. ignore the hype. I will just have to accept the change and try my best to adapt to it. Thanks for the article!

over 6 years ago

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rtyecript

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

about 5 years ago

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puotrambang

Terrific list. All the the 25 of them are correct and a successfull journalist need them. Thank alot.

almost 5 years ago

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Gugu Charlotte Mtshali

What great tips yoll have up there! Journalism is my life. And my JayJays out there,bear in mind that honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. Never feel guilty of telling a sour truth. photoJays should capture those nasty photos that everyone craves to see. Dig dig for that dirt! It's always there. The public needs hardcore journalism. We should just embrace change,rejuvenating and creativity. A mistake is simply another way of doing things. Read read read read.

about 4 years ago

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Chung

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago because of foot pain, still hurts?

about 4 years ago

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