Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moreno, 'Courier' staffers awarded NewsTrain scholarships

Journalism instructor and Western Courier adviser Rich Moreno was awarded a McCormick scholarship to attend the Associated Press Managing Editors/ Midwest Press Institute NewsTrain workshop in St. Louis March 6-8.

“Three Western Courier editors also were awarded student scholarships,” Moreno said. “We are looking forward to attending.”

For details on the conference, go to http://www.newstrain.org/seminar_stlouis_highlights.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Electronic White Knight for Newspapers?

An interesting article about one possible solution to the current crisis in the newspaper industry:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Journalism's White Knight
By Joe Marchese

Advertising alone cannot save great journalism; in fact, it may just be killing it. As Walter Isaacson points out in his piece "How to Save Your Newspaper" in Time magazine, an over-reliance on advertising can have seriously adverse affects on journalism.

I would go a step further and say that the limitless choice and democratization of content provided by the Internet (and even the ever-expanding cable channel list) is having a serious impact on the quality of our news, as news stations must compete for ratings as I outlined in "All The News That's Fit To Monetize." Personally, I would love to see a graph of the number of pop culture stories covered by CNN over the last 5 years. My guess it is up and to the right.

A huge part of me truly believes that Isaacson is right, and that micro-payments for content is the way to go. The problem is, as he points out, we have been conditioned to expect Internet content for free.

This mind-set really began with cable TV. I pay my monthly fee for cable and, other than a limited a la carte and premium channels, I consume as much of as many channels as I want. Breaking this type of mind-set of the Web-savvy public might be nearly impossible, but then in rides a white (literally) knight. Thank you, Kindle.

Last week I read my first issue of The New York Times cover-to-cover. I had, for years, only darted in and out of nytimes.com, reading the articles by my favorite journalist, and those on the "most emailed" list. But with a single push of a button on my Kindle, I was charged 75 cents and got my own copy of the Times. I didn't even think twice about the 75-cent charge, and I would consider myself one of those Web-savvy people who have gotten very used to getting content for free.

But the Kindle is a different medium, with a micropayment system attached to the device/account. It's more like iTunes than paypal. The Kindle, or whichever digital reader becomes the killer device, can do for professional, quality journalism what the iPod did for music. What will make the difference is the way in which people access the content. We are very used to paying to download content.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

State legislator keynotes Spring J-Day

The importance of journalism to democracy is the subject of the 13th Annual Spring Journalism Day on Monday, March 9, when an Illinois lawmaker who used to be a newspaper reporter will speak in the Union Sandburg Theater.

David Leitch has been a Republican State Representative from west-central Illinois for 20 years and before that was a reporter for the Peoria Journal Star and president of Local 86 of The Newspaper Guild labor union there.

The presentation will be less than an hour starting at 3 p.m. that day, including a question/answer session for students.

Re-elected without opposition in November, the 60-year-old Leitch (shown above) now serves on committees including Housing & Urban Development, Appropriations-Human Services, Environment & Energy, and Public Utilities, and is an Assistant Minority Leader in the House. He’s most active in efforts to reform education and the state’s mental health system and in advocating for economic development and health-care issues.

His appearance is sponsored by the Western Society of Professional Journalists and the Visiting Lectures Committee

Ebony, Jet editors on campus Wednesday

Editors of Ebony and Jet magazines will be joined by WIU faculty and Western Journalism students on Wednesday for two panels in the University Union addressing the topic “The Past, Present and Future of Minority Media.”

Ebony Senior Editor Sylvester Monroe (above) and Jet Managing Editor Mira Lowe (above right) will take part in a 9:30-10:30 a.m. Lincoln Room panel about minority participation in media also featuring WIU students Robert Amaefule and Alisha Cowan and WIU faculty members Lisa Barr and Mohammad Siddiqi. Amaefule is president of the campus chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and Cowan is editor of the Western Courier and a former Ebony intern. Barr is NABJ’s faculty adviser and Siddiqi director of Western’s Journalism program.

From 2-3:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rooms, Barr will moderate a discussion of media depictions of African Americans now and in the 1960s, when the federal Kerner Commission studied dozens of riots in 1967. Panelists will include Safoura A. Boukari and Jo-Ann Morgan of WIU’s African American Studies department, and Bill Knight and Pearlie Strother-Adams of WIU’s Journalism program.

A reception will follow in the Sandburg Lounge.

The College of Arts and Sciences and the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center also assisted in the program.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Job-hunting for young journalists

Andrew Nusca from Editorialiste has compiled a compelling list of tips for young journalists searching for work.

And it may not be nearly as lousy a job climate as one may conclude from reading about bankruptcies, layoffs and wage freezes.

"The number of full-timers employed by U.S. news-media organizations today has increased by almost 70% compared with 1971, according to The American Journalist in the 21st Century," said Jack Shafer in Slate a couple of years ago. "The book doesn't even include in its census the new jobs in online newsrooms or at the business-wire upstart Bloomberg News."

Here are 10 fine suggestions:
*Send in applications everywhere you think you’ve got a shot — then prove it to each company in your application. It’s worth the time to tailor your application, even if you never hear back.
*When you’ve sent out all that you can, send more. I can’t stress this enough. The job search becomes exhausting, but you must persist.
*Contact friends and mentors and coworkers not for jobs, but for advice. Very few actually can and have jobs to offer you, but everyone has a wealth of experience on how they got where they are today.
*Tell everyone that you’re looking. I had several friends, not all of them close, regularly send me jobs they came across. Some I had seen, some I hadn’t, but those morning e-mails were a great pick-me-up when things felt grim.
*Take a break. The job search is nerve-wracking because it feels as though fate is closing in on you as your funds for living run out. Don’t go a day without sending an application somewhere, but don’t go a day without smiling. The whole job search is an internalized affair, like a tea kettle nearing boil. So make sure you get out of the house and see friends. Or go to the gym. Mental health is important at this time.
*Take people’s advice with a grain of salt, but listen. As a journalist, this goes without saying. I received a ton of contradictory comments in the two posts I wrote, but what I gained most from the whole affair is that people are listening (I even received a freelance offer). Use that momentum as inspiration to keep applying places.
*Keep your online presence up-to-date. I received lots of comment when I changed my LinkedIn status message to “Looking for a job.”
*If you get rejected, politely ask why. I was rejected for a position that I thought I had a particularly good shot at; turns out that with so many job layoffs, the publication was overwhelmed with overqualified applicants. So I replied and asked what I could have done better as an applicant. The editor was kind enough to answer in specifics why I didn’t make the cut, and encouraged me that I was a solid applicant who was just blown away by the circumstances. She also offered to take my pitches for stories, which would have been important had I not taken my current position. Remember — editors know what it’s like, and more often than not, they’ll relate!
*And finally, when it comes to the actual job: negotiate that salary.
*Once you’re settled in, don’t forget to repay the favor to your friends by helping them find jobs or listings.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

College Newspapers Not Immune from Economic Downtown

Bryan Murley, assistant professor of new and emerging media at Eastern Illinois University, has written an insightful blog entry about how the difficulties facing the mainstream media are starting to affect college media. Check it out at http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2009/01/college-newspapers-finally-hit-by-economic-downturn028.html.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Modest Proposal

The Associated Press is reporting a unique bailout for the ailing French newspaper industry:

Sarkozy offers new help for French print media

By LAURENT PIROT – Jan 23, 2009

PARIS (AP) — The French state will help provide free newspaper subscriptions to teenagers for their 18th birthdays, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday. But the bigger gift is for France's ailing print media.

Sarkozy also announced a ninefold rise in the state's support for newspaper deliveries and a doubling of its annual print advertising outlay amid a swelling industry crisis.

Sarkozy argued in a speech to publishers that the measures are needed because the global financial crisis has compounded woes for a sector already suffering from falling ad revenues and subscriptions.

In a speech to industry leaders, Sarkozy said it was legitimate for the state to consider the print media's economic situation.

"It is indeed its responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists," he said.

This is sensitive territory for Sarkozy, who has been accused of cozying up to media moguls and exerting influence over them. He is also no stranger to heavy criticism in the country's often opinionated newspapers.

In measures to take effect next month, the state will increase its annual support for newspaper and magazine deliveries to euro70 million ($90 million) from euro8 million last year, and spend euro20 million more a year for its advertisements in print publications. The state will also defer some fees the publications face.

One of Sarkozy's solutions to help the industry is a pilot program that will give teenagers celebrating their 18th birthday a free, yearlong subscription to any general news daily of their choice. The publisher is to give the newspapers away, while the state pays for the deliveries.

That initiative appeared designed to assuage industry fears that young readers don't share the same appetite for print media that their parents and grandparents have, denting current and future revenues.

"The habit of reading the press is learned very young," Sarkozy said, while insisting that the aid would only buy time for publishers to adapt to the new media landscape.

The initiative is designed to help the sector over three years "to modernize and invest in the print media sector in exchange for important structural reforms," he said. The measures he announced Friday largely came from recommendations in a three-month study into the industry's health that was released on Jan. 8. The study also recommends that newspapers restructure their finances and that journalists be better trained for multiple forms of media, including online.

"None of the proposed measures ... will be useful in the end if the profession doesn't meet its challenges," he said. "The industry has a future to reinvent. ... Time is running out."