Emma L. Carew

A reporter's online portfolio

J-school bucket list: 5 things you should consider before graduation

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Most of the advice out there for young journalists right now focuses on skills, and ways to stand out technically, like this post from 10,000 Words. This is all important. The best young journalists are insanely bright and their portfolios are star-studded. But after I commented on this post on SPJ’s Gen J blog, I gave it some more thought.

Not enough advice is being given to coach young graduates about what kind of journalist they want to be — and I don’t mean “features writer” or “cops reporter.”Do they want to be a skills master, a teacher, a mentor, or just the guy who comes into work, keeps his head down, and gets the job done?

Journalism is a small, small world. Ask any editor, meet a group of new interns  and you’ll see it. With students moving around more (taking 3 or 4 or 5 internships), and the reliance on social networking, everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows what you’re doing. So it’s important to make sure that when your name inevitably comes up as someone’s shared connection, think about what those people might say about you.

5 things you should be doing before you graduate:

* Teach someone something. You weren’t born with the knowledge of how to put together a kicking online portfolio, or how to craft a clever cover letter. Someone took the time to teach you, and help you. Pass these skills on, whether its to a classmate struggling to find his/her next gig, or to a young staffer at your college publication.

* Recommend someone in your circle. If you’re out there, doing all that networking to try to find a job for yourself, chances are good you’ll hear of an opening or make a contact that could help a friend, classmate or colleague of yours. Take 30-seconds and make an elevator pitch for that person. Connect them in an introductory e-mail. Look at the 5 journalists closest to you (friends, classmates you admire, a combination of both) and think about why you would recommend them: “he’s a great narrative story teller,” or “she can handle gear and pump out stories side by side in multimedia channels,” or “he’s an unrelenting digger for data.”

* Volunteer with a professional organization – contact the local journalism org of your choice (SPJ, ONA, ACES, ASNE, The UNITY groups) and see if they have an upcoming event – annual banquet, convention, etc. and if there is a way for you to volunteer. You’ll meet other professionals in your area and get to spend out of the office time with them.

* Send a sincere thank you to your adviser or the professor who had the biggest impact. Journalism educators don’t get nearly enough credit (in fact, more often get slammed as part of “outdated j-school curricula”) so make sure the ones who were the most important to you hear it loud and clear.

* Contact at least two people at your next place of employment – be it internship or job. Look them up online, read their recent clips, and send them a short note. That way you’ll have someone to grab coffee or lunch with in your first week on the job. (and, for crying out loud, if one of them makes the first move, e-mail them back!)


Written by emmacarew

May 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Live tweeting: the new live blogging

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Being fairly new to Twitter, I’m slowly trying to figure out who to follow, and why I should be following them. Last night, I wished I was following more political journalists and health care policy folks. I follow a couple of people who were live tweeting the House debate on health care, and I myself was twittering through it (though not for journalistic reasons).

I was surprised, and kind of disappointed, to see the number of news orgs and reporters that I do follow that weren’t live tweeting or at least giving regular updates. A simple search of #hcr just showed a bunch of crap — mostly from people like me: those who were watching the debates, and had the occasional thought or reaction to the happenings. What I really hoped for was more information from the beat reporters and policy wonks who know this stuff inside and out.

A TechCrunch article yesterday blasts citizen journalism and its ability to pollute the stream of information with low-quality, unvetted, mis-information. Paul Carr specifically cites the Twitter feed of a soldier on the base during the Fort Hood shootings last week. His ultimate conclusion: “There was just one problem: Moore’s information was bullshit too.”

Last night would have been a great night for reporters to put live tweeting to use — as one pointed out, it’s slicker and easier to do than live blogging. It also seems like a great way for journalists to promote lots of solid information to an audience they might not otherwise reach. Hopefully the next time around I’ll find more folks to follow.

Written by emmacarew

November 8, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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Originally from Minneapolis and currently interning at The Chronicle of Higher Education on the money and management team. My areas of interest are education (K-12 and higher ed), computer-assisted reporting, local business and health, although I’m always interested in learning about new coverage areas and locales.

Currently, I’m searching for reporting positions at daily newspapers, any size, and location.

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Written by emmacarew

November 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized