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Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

A few years ago I started following a company called Storyful on Twitter. I don’t even remember the reason I followed them. Perhaps people were talking about them and I was investigating.

In the time since then, the company established it as a force to find, verify and (when needed) acquire user-generated content on the social web for news agencies. They are a social media news agency. It’s also grown to the point when NewsCorp acquired the company while retaining its independence.

And on Monday, I’ll be joining the Storyful Open Newsroom staff in New York for my new adventures. I couldn’t be more excited because I know this is the right place for me.

To say the last few months since learning I was being laid off from NJ.com were difficult is an understatement. I have kept my chin up with hope for the future that I’d land on my feet even at the worst of times. Being laid off stinks, but in 15+ years of journalism I’ve never been laid off while working in newsrooms that have suffered cuts. I consider myself considerably lucky for that. And I kept spinning negatives into positives. Unemployment would mean I’d get a break from the stress of working in news.

During those months I’ve talked to a lot of people. I’ve talked to my contacts about jobs. I talked to perspective employers (about me, about them, about the future). I talked to my friends and family for support. Everyone had a lot of different things to say to me, including how I should face my job hunt.

I always promised myself that I wanted to find the right job not just any job (something some people couldn’t quite understand). I took myself out of the running for one job for this very reason. I could have landed the job, but it wasn’t the right place for me.

Then I started talking to the folks at Storyful in what felt like a whirlwind. Every conversation felt like that — a conversation. It wasn’t an interrogation and I didn’t feel like I needed to do the “please hire me” dance. We talked about the current state of social journalism but also the future and where we all feel it’s headed.

I’ve always admired the work they do at Storyful, especially as someone who has had more than one conversation interrogating colleagues about verification and permissions for user-generated content (just because it’s social media doesn’t mean you stop being a journalist). Talking to everyone just made me feel more excited about the work they’re already doing. There’s so much passion and vision for the future.

The intersection of social media and journalism interests me, and the open newsroom sits there. Newsrooms across the world are trying to figure this out, but Storyful has already figured it out and continues to be a leader. I can’t wait to be a part of that and to face the challenges moving into the future.

Thank you to everyone who has been there in the last few months, providing leads and support. The power of the journalism community is robust, and I’m thankful I know so many good people.

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I should consider myself lucky. I’ve spent 15 years in professional journalism (realizing this fact frightens me) and only now was I a casualty of a layoff.

A little over two weeks ago 300 people were laid off across my company, and I was one of the people told I wouldn’t have a job come September. The fact I have until September is a blessing since I have some time, but it doesn’t make it sting any less. Plus our layoffs happened during a rough week in journalism with Digital First Media also shutting down Thunderdome.

Since then I keep getting asked what I’ll be doing next. That’s still a hard question to answer since I still don’t know. I’ve done so many different things in journalism that I love that I don’t know what I want to go next. And it adds to the stress of the situation.

But the point of me writing this is to echo what Steve Buttry wrote on his blog about journalists helping each other in hard times. The emails, the tweets, the text messages, the phone calls — They keep coming from people wanting to express their support to me. Most often they come at times when I’m feeling really down with my uncertain future. There are words of encouragement, there are job leads and there are just moments of saying hi.

One of my friends calls the people who are helping me “job angels,” but they’re more than that. As someone who suffers from depression (and who doesn’t hide it), I can’t say how important all of this has been to me. It’s made a rough, stressful time so much better. I cannot say thank you enough.

People ask me why I stick with journalism after all these hard years for the industry. The outpouring of support has been one of the many reasons why I stick around. And, honestly, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

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Life never works in absolutes, does it? There’s always an exception to the rule. I know there have been times I did something I’d never said I’d do. I’ve broken my personal rules far too often. But if I didn’t do those things, I wouldn’t have experienced some rewarding things in my life.

We should remember that when we’re talking to young, aspiring journalists. I remember sitting on a panel with a woman who told a class of journalism students to never work for mainstream media. So the advice is to never get a job too because there are only so many jobs in independent media? You shouldn’t be closing doors for yourself.

Just like the advice of “never work for free.” Of course we all want to be paid for our work, but isn’t there more reward to some work than just dollars and cents? It’s why I liked this blog post that factors in the “unless” factor for working for free. “Don’t work for free unless it’s adding to your value in the market.”

I know the debate happens quite often about if we should pay interns or not. Many people can’t afford to be interns without being paid. It’s understandable. But what if the experience gained you networking opportunities that could open further doors for you? Or the internship could help you develop skills?

When I was in college I had two internships. Neither paid much money, and the small stipend barely covered my transportation costs on the Washington Metro. One of the two internships, in the communications department of a lobbying group, didn’t teach me much. I babysat the copier and labeled slides. Many times I did homework for my evening classes. I would say the experience was worthless except to teach me I didn’t want to do public relations.

But the second, an internship with the Student Press Law Center, was far more rewarding. The journalism interns report and write stories for the organization’s magazine. We were the ones who would put together the whole thing. And Mark Goodman, who was the center’s executive director, was a great editor and mentor (I ran into Mark at a conference nearly a decade after my internship and he remembered me). Needless to say I learned a lot. The internship also gave me perspective on freedom of speech issues that still sit with me today.

Today there’s plenty of things I won’t do for free, especially as an accomplished journalist, but there are a great deal of things I will do for free. I’ve joined the crew blogging at Ranger Nation recently, something I’m not paid to do. But it’s fun and it’s about a team in which I am passionate. It might not even give me an edge in my career, but it is an outlet away from my regular work that is fulfilling.

Always think of the “unless” factor about anything, including working for free. What opportunity could working for free give you from the experience? What skills could you gain? How can it add value to your personal brand? If it’s something that could help you down the road, it’s worth considering.

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