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Huffington Post UK: Writing for free is a ‘grey area’

As the Huffington Post goes live with its UK site today, ahead of the official launch event this evening, many journalists feel the site is wrong to recruit 300 unpaid bloggers.

Dave Lee, freelance journalist at the BBC, thinks that the Huffington Post causes damage to journalism.

 

While Manchester-based freelance journalist Louise Bolotin criticised Arianna Huffington for her policy.

 

However, not all reaction has been negative. Kat Brown has written a piece for Huffington Post’s lifestyle section titled Writing for Free Doesn’t Have to Mean Betrayal.

Writing for free is a grey area. Despite the ubiquity (and importance) of blogs and that many high profile sites trade content for prestige only, it’s often looked down upon if it makes up part of your career. When, as a newly-hatched post-grad, I joined one journalism forum, the stance was: “Don’t write unless you’re paid. It undermines you and it undermines journalism.”

So why write for free?

Free is why people write fanzines, update blogs and tweet. It’s pressure off, it’s the opportunity to practise something you enjoy and share it with people immediately. And particularly online, there’s a limited supply of people who will pay. My pitching skills are sufficiently atrocious that, if I were only to write for money outside my main job, I would probably forget how to hold a pencil within a year. I don’t want that, because I love writing and I need to do it.

Take a look at the full article here.

 

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Can journalism students blog their way into a job?

October 27th, 2010 | 12 Comments | Posted by in Events, Jobs

Having a job in mainstream media before the age of 25 is fanciful thinking for many aspiring journalists, but having a blog could help turn those dreams into a reality.

Just ask young journalists Josh Halliday of the Guardian, Dave Lee of the BBC and Conrad Quilty-Harper of the Telegraph, all of whom credit their blogs as being fundamental to their success.

Speaking at an event at City University London last night, Halliday, a technology and media reporter and Sunderland University graduate, said: “The most important thing I did at university, including my degree, was to blog and get online. That’s what got me the job.”

Lee, who also started blogging while doing his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University, echoed Halliday saying: “I credit everything I’ve got to my blog at university.

“There is no possible way that I would have been able to go into the BBC newsroom on the basis of my degree, or the basis of my freelance cuttings or the basis of my student newspaper. ”

While Quilty-Harper, a data mapping journalist, said having a good blog and presence on Twitter, which he could readily show to potential employers, was what got him his job after he finished his postgraduate degree at City University London.

The three online trailblazers yesterday revealed their experiences of how to “blog your way into a job”:

Build a brand

Using your blog to promote yourself correctly is essential. Halliday stressed the importance of “being yourself” and marketing yourself in a way that is “likable”. While Lee highlighted that you never know what part of your branding will be the most fruitful, so you must do it all.

Conversing, linking and networking
Linked to the above is the idea that you must be in active dialogue with as many people as possible to build a dedicated following. Part of this involves linking to people who are blogging about similar topics to you, to create a mutually beneficial relationship. However, do not forget that, as Halliday highlighted, it’s a “two-way street”. So don’t just push yourself, relationships – especially ones with journalists already in the industry – should develop organically. Use the net’s networks  appropriately.

Be patient

You won’t go from 20 to 5,000 twitter followers overnight. Cultivating a twitter following and developing a community takes time, so don’t get too caught up on this. Make content the driving force behind your website or blog and the community will come.

Find a niche
With an increasing amount of people entering the blogosphere standing out is harder than ever before, but what could really help is finding a topic that nobody else or very few people are writing about. Lee blogged about his experiences of being a student in the developing online media using himself as a “case study”; Halliday created a hyperlocal blog about Sunderland; and Quilty-Harper had a blog about gadgets and technology. All three were unanimously behind blogs having a niche, as Halliday highlighted “journalists are paid to cover a single beat, so just do that”.

Advertising
Increasing traffic to your site is one of the most difficult elements of blogging, but all three panellists deplored the idea of buying advertising space to this end declaring it a waste of money. Instead they advocated networking and conversing with the right people as the means by which to increase your popularity.

Rajvir Rai is a postgraduate journalism student at City University London. He can found on Twitter @R_Rai.

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Journalism graduates, you may be inexperienced but you have momentum on your side

June 22nd, 2010 | 5 Comments | Posted by in Jobs, Training

If you’re reading this as a final year journalism student, you’ve probably just finished your course. It’s a good feeling. After a few years of practicing, preparing and, indeed, pretending, you’re now free to be a real journalist in the real world.

If you’ve done it right, you’re being described by your peers as one to watch for the future: A real prospect – the prodigy that’s heading places. Everyone wants to work with you.

And then you graduate.

Overnight, you turn from a young up-and-comer to an inexperienced, untested and – if you’re not careful – unemployable journalist.

Why the change? Well, firstly, you now cost money. No longer can you put on a big smile and throw yourself into your work in exchange for little more than a satisfying “well done” from the news desk. Secondly, all those already in the jobs you want have been on the very same journey. They were all described as “budding journalists” once. They’re you, but older, better, and more experienced.

Frightening, isn’t it? But don’t worry. You have something up your sleeve: momentum. Keeping that momentum until you land the elusive first job is the key to short and long term success.

Remember that editor you did some great work for over the Easter holidays? He probably remembers you. He would probably recognise you in the street. But he won’t next year when another sprightly young journalist turns up on his doorstep offering free work. So strike while the iron’s hot.

Think of all the people you have ever worked or drank with. Check in with your tutors – many know what the local industry landscape is like through social connections – and make everyone you know on earth fully aware that you are a journalist looking for work.

Keep track of your coursemates. Without sounding cruel, their struggle will spur you on further. Or, on the other hand, some of them might strike it lucky and get a quick job themselves. All it takes is one friend within a publisher or broadcaster to spot a vacancy, pass on your CV and you’re one step closer to a done deal.

Cash in all those editors you met along the way that invited you to keep in touch, or gave you their card. Most of them will have just been acting polite – but you’re bound to have stuck in the minds of at least a few of them. Even if you didn’t, being at the right place at the right time can be all it takes to get a set of shifts on a newsdesk.

While it’s easy to be dazzled by your big companies – your BBCs and Guardians – it’s well worth remembering that you may make a better name for yourself working for a tiny publication where they’ll be relying on you to innovate and experiment. That’s where you can really make your mark. Keep in mind that this stage it’s about the job, not the publication. If you’re really lucky, both will be great.

These approaches could see you in a job within a month. Or three. Or a year. Perhaps two. Truth be told, none of these methods are a surefire way of getting a job, and a big part of getting that first job in journalism is about preparing to be unemployed. Maybe for a very long time.

It’s a horrible feeling. On the worst days it feels like you’ll never even have a job, let alone one remotely related to journalism. But that’s where an unexpected luxury of journalism comes into play: you don’t need work in order to be working. Unlike, say, an out-of-work plumber who needs a customer’s pipes to ply his trade, the dole-friendly journo can do so many things.

Fill your days with productive activity. There’s only so much time per day you can devote to job-searching – so apply yourself during your down time to equip yourself with even more knowledge. You’ve really got no excuse not to start a blog. Hyperlocal is all the rage – and forever will be, let’s not forget – so set something up for where you live and get started.

If you’re really good, you may even discover that through the process of unemployment you will end up employing yourself.

Or, after all that hard work, you’ll finally get that phone call or email that heralds the beginning of your career.

Until then, though, prepare to feel useless, depressed and deflated. It’s an unrelenting test of your resolve, and many around you won’t make it. But consider it a quality control mechanism. When you do eventually get that job, you’ll want everyone around you to be as determined as you are.

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SuperPower Nation: how the BBC translation experiment fared

We recently reported on an innovative departure from normal BBC broadcasting practice: a six hour live translation experiment called SuperPower Nation.

Various BBC International News channels broadcast from the event on 18 March 2010, where speakers of different languages tried to communicate without relying solely on English. It involved music and theatre, as well as face-to-face and online discussion.

While the SuperPower Nation ‘hub’ was in London, participants also gathered in cafes and centres around the world  – or took part from their own homes.

A live message board simultaneously translated the conversations into Arabic, Chinese, English, Indonesian, Persian, Portuguese and Spanish using Google translation software.

A breakdown of some of the conversations can be found at this link.

Now the BBC reports on how it did: it received 11,711 messages, from 2,078 locations around the world.

English, unsurprisingly, still led as the dominant language, with 5626 messages, followed by 2767 in Spanish and 1781 in Portugese.

Less popular were Arabic (208); Persian (146); Chinese (simplified) (126) and Indonesian: (31).

BBC World reporter Dave Lee, says that the event was “perhaps the toughest scrutiny” of Google’s translation software to date. He reported:

“This is the largest translation project I’ve ever worked with,” said Chewy Trewhella, new business development manager for Google.

(…)

The translations were far from perfect in places, but Mr Trewhella added: “It’s about trying to get the message across… [users] are happy with 80-90 per cent effectiveness.”

More information and links can be found here.

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#Followjourn: @davelee/online journalist

November 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Dave Lee

Who? Broadcast journalist for the BBC World Service. Former co-editor of the BBC Internet Blog.

What? Online journalism advocate who can be found on a variety of blogging and social media platforms.

Where? @davelee/http://daveleejblog.com/

Contact? Send him a tweet or get in touch via his contact page.

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Essential journalism links for students

June 30th, 2009 | 9 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Training

This list is doing the rounds under the headline 100 Best Blogs for Journalism Students… and we’re not on it. Nope, not even a smidgeon of link-love for poor old Journalism.co.uk there.

The BachelorsDegreeOnline site appears to be part of e-Learners.com, but it’s not clear who put the list together. Despite their omission of our content and their rather odd descriptions (e.g: Adrian Monck: ‘Adrian Monck writes this blog about how we inform ourselves and why we do it’), we admit it is a pretty comprehensive list; excellent people and organisations we feature on the site, our blog roll and Best of Blogs mix – including many UK-based ones. There were also ones we hadn’t come across before.

In true web 2.0 self-promotional style, here are our own links which any future list-compilers might like to consider as helpful links for journalism students:

And here are some blogs/sites also left off the list which immediately spring to mind as important reading for any (particularly UK-based) journalism students:

Organisations

  • Crikey.com: news from down under that’s not Murdoch, or Fairfax produced.
  • Press Review Blog (a Media Standards Trust project) – it’s a newbie, but already in the favourites.
  • StinkyJournalism: it’s passionate and has produced many high-profile stories

Individuals

  • CurryBet – Martin Belam’s links are canny, and provocative and break down the division between tech and journalism.
  • Malcolm Coles – for SEO tips and off-the-beaten track spottings.
  • Dave Lee – facilitating conversations journalists could never have had in the days before blogs.
  • Marc Vallee – photography freedom issues from the protest frontline.
  • FleetStreetBlues: an anonymous industry insider with jobs, witty titbits and a healthy dose of online cynicism.
  • Sarah Hartley previously as above, now with more online strategy thrown in.
  • Charles Arthur – for lively debate on PR strategy, among other things

Writing this has only brought home further the realisation that omissions are par for the course with list-compilation, but it does inspire us to do our own 101 essential links for global online journalists – trainees or otherwise. We’d also like to make our list inclusive of material that is useful for, but not necessarily about, journalists: MySociety for example.

Add suggestions below, via @journalismnews or drop judith at journalism.co.uk an email.

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Goodbye Press Gazette: round-up of the links

We bid farewell to our fellow media reporters at Press Gazette, unless, as Roy Greenslade hopes, a buyer comes forward (again).

We haven’t produced our own coverage, as there has been more than plenty – with insider perspective – elsewhere. We would, however, like to wish the editorial team at Press Gazette the very best of luck in the future with whatever they go onto do. We’ve enjoyed meeting Press Gazette team – past and present – at events, and being kept on our toes when we’re covering the same stories.

Here’s a round-up of the coverage in links:

Please do add any others of note in the comments below.

Newly added:

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Dave Lee: ‘The NUJ is a cowardly union’

February 10th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Dave Lee on why he won’t be joining the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) any time soon.

Full story at this link…

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Dave Lee: Cunning stunt targets BBC webcam

February 4th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Some juvenile humour on the BBC Nottingham webcam, just to lighten the mood.

Full story at this link…

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Calling all young journos: Welcome to Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists

August 19th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Journalism, Training

Journalism.co.uk and journalism blogger Dave Lee are proud to introduce a new forum for young journalists.

The Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists blogging ring (or TNTJ between you and me) is a place for young journalists from across the globe to share their experiences/anxieties/ideas/random thoughts…

To take part there are just a couple of criteria:

1) you must be under 30-years-old
2) you must blog about journalism (for more details on what this entails read Dave’s introduction)

Each month a topic/question will be put up for discussion. Interested parties can register and contribute their thoughts in a blog post, which will then be published on the TNTJ site. Feel free to post away on your own blog too.

You can log in and post your entry for about a week or so after the first post – though there’ll be no time limit on leaving comments.

We’re kicking off with the following: “The biggest challenge facing a young journalist in today’s media is…”

So far we’ve had some great responses, so why not have a read, young journos, or better still post your own.

You can follow updates to TNTJ through Journalism.co.uk’s journalismnews Twitter feed.

For more info or queries contact Dave Lee at davelee.mail@gmail.com or email laura@journalism.co.uk.

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