Archives for posts with tag: Journalism

UPDATED

New York Times Insider has a fascinating piece by Gretchen Morgenson on how she broke into journalism, switched to a Wall Street job, and parleyed her “workingman’s M.B.A.” into a position as a finance columnist for the Paper of Record. It’s a model of the job-hunt process I described this week to students pondering their futures.

In my last week as a journalism teacher at Auburn University this week, I advised my students about how to hunt for journalism jobs. The venn diagram for this is one circle consisting of “Great jobs” and another consisting of “Great places to live.” One hopes you’d be able to find a job where the circles overlap. If not, you have to decide which is more important and work your way toward a position in which you are able to have both.

How do you get a job at the New York Times? Your first option is to be so good they can’t ignore you right now because you have your professors’ highest recommendations, you’ve had one or more prestigious internships, and have the skills, talent and drive to succeed at the Times right now. If you haven’t done all that, then you need to become so good they can’t ignore you. That includes finding out where the Times hires from and what skills and experience they want you to have, then do all you can to attain them.

Building a career in journalism works a lot like a baseball player working one’s way up through the minor leagues to the majors. If you’re pretty good but inexperienced, you can move from Single-A to Double-A to Triple-A to the Major Leagues incrementally. For me, that meant a few years in Double-A (papers with circulations between 20,000 and 42,000) to Triple A (a paper around 80,000 circulation) to the majors (where I finally started earning something approximating middle-class pay).

It also helps to start with the goal in mind.

When I started out, I wanted to work at the Des Moines Register or the Oregonian. So I found out the “feeders,” papers that were stepping stones to them, then made it my mission to get good enough that my work would be noticed and I could move up.

Funny things happen on the way to your destination, though. Your goals can change.

I discovered I liked being a big cog in a smaller machine in a more laid-back Western culture rather than a little cog in a big machine in a more formal work culture. Realizing that led me to leave Des Moines after I got there as a senior copy editor and go to the Santa Fe New Mexican, which I sincerely believe was the best community newspaper in the United States in the years I was there. When an editor at the Oregonian asked if I’d like to work there, I was too in love with what I was doing in Santa Fe to leave.

So you never know how your goals will change. Doing well for myself was important to me from the start, but doing good for others through journalism became too important for me to want to leave New Mexico at that time.

The American Dream is to better one’s condition throughout life. Morgenson shows you can do a lot of good for others while doing well. Her example shows you don’t always arrive at your ultimate destination on your first try. Life is full of transitions.

Speaking of transitions, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge one of my own. I taught my last sessions at Auburn University this week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my great students and colleagues at Auburn University. It’s been gratifying to see how much so many journalism students have grown in my time here.

For my next chapter, I’m on my way to the Motor City to take a tenure-track position as an assistant professor at Wayne State University, where I’ll be joining some old friends from my M.A. days at the Missouri School of Journalism and making a whole bunch of new friends in a program that’s deeply committed to hard news and diversity. Detroit has a great, innovative culture, and in teaching Multimedia Journalism this semester, the innovation bug bit me HARD.

Thanks, Auburn, for hiring me out of my doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and giving me the opportunity to grow as a teacher and scholar. I’ll always have a warm place in my heart for the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

UPDATED WITH MORE MAP LINKS

The Multimedia Journalism students are finding out how useful and straightforward Google Maps Engine is as an online storytelling tool. Each created a map of five places on a subject relevant to the topics of their blogs.

The maps are an interactive version of an old standby of static print infographics: the locator map. Locators have a simple ingredients list: Headline, chatter, base map, place labels, and descriptions accompanying each place label. The difference with Google Maps Engine is that you get the gift of interactivity: Users can see pointer boxes with names and descriptions pop up as they hover the cursor over a list of place names.

The five-place Google Maps assignment is appropriate as an introductory exercise in interactive mapping for beginning multimedia journalists for these reasons:

  • It challenges students to conceive of a piece they find interesting and (hopefully) that their readers will also find intriguing.
  • It requires that they do the kind of research that will be expected of them in the newsrooms that will hire them after graduation.
  • It gives them an opportunity to put to use what they learned in the step-by-step, in-class Google Maps tutorial, the Kansas City barbecue map. Hey, I’m a Kansas City boy, but some things translate well from the Midwest to the South, and barbecue is one of them. So we can almost all relate to the subject.

Here’s what the students cooked up this week:

Google Maps Engine is not hard to use, once you understand what it does and how it works. The technical questions are not difficult; the challenge, as I discovered when I sat in on the international hackathon session at Auburn University’s computer science program last fall, is figuring out a journalistic use for it.

Coders provide the conduit, and it is powerful work that they do. Journalists provide the ideas for content to flow through the conduit. Technical thinkers and journalistic thinkers complement each other. Especially now, we need each other.

I’m proud of how much my Multimedia Journalism students have built their technical skillsets while flexing their storytelling muscles these last 16 weeks. May they evangelize new media thinking in the newsrooms they join in the near future. They’re smart, they love storytelling, and they’ve demonstrated a capacity for problem solving and tenacity. Editors , directors and station managers, you need these young people. Hire them!

The Multimedia Journalism class is moving into chloropleths using Google Fusion Tables this week, but I’d like to encourage everybody to keep thinking of ways you can use Google Maps Engine to deliver useful info to online audiences. So here are a few interactive maps from the last few weeks that deserve your attention if you’re trying to get a handle on what you can do with Google Maps Engine:

  • Themed runs: Spingo.com has a nifty one that will help you locate color runs and other themed 5K and 10K runs.
  • Tracking the situation in Ukraine: Business New Europe tweeted about this interactive map of the state of play in the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. It is apparently the work of James Miller and his crew at Dissected News.
  • Google Maps Gallery: CNET.com explains the purpose of Google Maps Gallery as a searchable gallery “full of interactive digital maps from a variety of businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations, such as National Geographic, World Bank Group, and the US Geological Survey.” 

If you’ve clicked on those links, it should be clear that your options for using Google Maps for features and hard news are practically limitless. Now get mapping!

Google Maps Engine Lite is a great tool for building uncluttered, functional, interactive online maps if you don’t have a lot of artistic talent or technical skills. Here are a few things you can do with it:

  • Locator maps: Students in Multimedia Journalism this week will follow a step-by-step visual guide in class on how to create a geospatial data map of the top vote-getters in a poll by the Kansas City Star. Here’s what they’re aiming to create to prepare to make their own maps to post on their blogs; it might look familiar since I blogged about the Kansas City barbecue map yesterday:

    Made with Google Map Engine Pro

    Made with Google Map Engine Pro

  • Map routes: Robb Montgomery used Google Maps Engine to show how to get to an outdoor cinema in Berlin over a couple of different routes by searching for directions and drawing routes.
  • Layered geolocated data charts: You can import spreadsheets of data organized by location (e.g., state, county, other geographic boundary) in one column and data for each location in the second column. The result is a map with pins the reader can click on to see the data. The New Haven Register used this to map crimes in the city of New Haven, Conn.

That last option is not the easiest way for readers to visualize data if the info in question involves rankable rates or numbers by geographic region. If that’s what you have to work with, what you really want to make is a choropleth.

Don’t be afraid; that’s just a fancy name for a heat map, a way of presenting data that is color coded from most to least, best to worst, etc. Doing this can help readers visually recognize the rank order of each region.

To make a chloropleth, you need to use Google Fusion Tables, which I’ll blog about later this week. Google Fusion Tables can be used to create heat maps by merging a spreadsheet containing state-by-state (or county-by-county, or country-by-country, you get the idea) data with the geographic outlines of their corresponding geographic areas.

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