posts about or somewhat related to ‘tips and tricks’
— Jennifer Kahn to Kathryn Roethel, The Future of Freelancing. The Science (Not Art) of the Magazine Pitch.
Via Mark Straub at the Pessimist:
Writers, as a rule, aren’t usually held up as examples of anything good. We’re more… cautionary tales. You can live for a thousand years, and I guarantee you will never hear a disappointed mother tell her surgeon son, “Why can’t you be more like your brother, the writer?”…
…You might not get a lot of respect as a writer, but the crippling self-doubt and soul-crushing poverty make it all worth it. And though it might be too late for you to change careers, you can still learn some valuable lessons from those of us in the industry.
Here are the seven quick tips Mark gives the aspiring writer.
- Ignore deadlines.
- Take criticism badly.
- Burn bridges.
- Hate yourself.
- Trust no one (especially not yourself).
- Sabotage all of your personal relationships.
- Drink heavily.
Read through for Mark’s explanations of each.
H/T: Roger Johnson.
mefmarcedwardfishman asked: What is the best way to record and/or take notes during phone interview if you only have a cell phone and laptop?
When I want to record a call I use either Skype or Google Voice along with an application called Wiretap from Ambrosia Software (Mac only).
Wiretap allows you to choose the inputs to record (eg., the internal microphone which records you, and then an app such as Skype or your Web browser through which you’re using Google Voice).
You can also record a Google Voice call within Google Voice. However, for whatever reason, it has to be an incoming call. Instructions for doing so are here.
You can also use a conference service like Free Conference Call and use the recording capabilities built into it. That way, and crazy as it sounds, you can actually use your phone to make the call.
Looking for alternative solutions? The Next Web has a good roundup of cross platform Skype recording apps. There are also iOS and Android call recording solutions. I haven’t used any so can’t make any recommendations. Note though that they often charge for the amount of time recorded.
Remember that whatever your method, there are laws (in the US) concerning recording. You can brush up with a primer from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. And here’s another from the Citizen Media Law Project.
Hope this helps. — Michael
Have recommendations, add them in the comment section here.
Anonymous asked: For those interested in multimedia journalism, which software/programs should we be familiarized with? I feel like there are a lot, and I want to get learning
I can answer but my biases proceed me since a) I’m on a Mac and b) we have partners who help us out. If I mention them I’ll acknowledge them below.
- In General
Adobe CS Something. We’re currently working with CS5, but CS6 is described as great. Mind you, this is a suite of tools that ranges from design and photography stalwart Photoshop to the video production capabilities of Premiere. In other words, Adobe is creating an all encompassing product line for our multimedia needs.
Final Cut Pro. We’re on FCP X but have been frustrated by features we’ve lost since Final Cut 7 (long story). Fortunately, FCP X is adding these features with each new release.
Something to look into: Adobe’s Premiere. When Apple reinvented Final Cut with its X series, many video producers were underwhelmed and fled to Adobe and have great things to say about it. If you get Adobe’s CS 5/6 you’ll have Premiere and can take it through its paces.
This comes in two flavors: when we create jingles, soundtracks and general audio design we use Propellerhead’s Reason and Ableton Live. We then mix these with Apple’s Logic Pro.
Pro Tools is an obvious standard that’s used throughout the radio world but we’ve gone with Logic Pro because it fits easily within our overall workflow.
- Screenshots and Screencasts:
We go with two flavors here. For screenshots, Ambrosia Software’s SnapZPro. This let’s us take screenshots with dropshadows and other effects. It also lets us do basic screencasts.
But if we’re doing longform, voiceover screencasts we opt for Telestream’s Screenflow which has a built in video editor and is specifically created for doing screencast tutorials. For example, it has callouts for where your cursor is, can zoom in, zoom out on screen details, etc. (Disclosure: Telestream is a FJP partner.)
- Text Editors
These are underestimated until you actually code. We use Panic’s Coda but the more popular choice (for the Mac) is Macromates’ Textmate.
- File Transfer
Coda handles general file updates to our servers but we also use Panic’s Transmit for uploading/working within both our CDNs, Amazon and Highwinds (Disclosure: Highwinds is an FJP partner).
How to learn them all?
Start with each publisher’s site and then with general online searches. These will usually lead you back to communities on YouTube that provide tutorials.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for take out a subscription at Lynda.com. Lynda’s a learning community that provides screencast tutorials on both multimedia production and code development.
Better, the monthly subscription is inexpensive and your can cancel as soon as you’ve finished what you want to learn. For example, sign up for a month, learn a piece of software and then cancel until you need to learn something new again.
Anyway, that’s the biggie picture. Hope it helps. — Michael
Alright. It all begins with my utter frustration reading the news. My news diet right now is some combination of being awed by interesting things on the internet, wasting enormous dollops of time on Facebook, being the bookmarking queen of the world but never reading anything I bookmark, adoring print magazines, being unable to afford them, and generally feeling nostalgic for something I’m never going to get back. (Did I ever even have it?)
Mainly, I really dislike the feeling of not knowing enough. And to be honest, I think a lot of young people feel that way. To the point that many of my friends just don’t care about the news, and are happy with some combination of Facebook, Gawker and Jon Stewart. Everything else is sort of on an if-it’s-important-enough-it’ll-find-its-way-to-my-newsfeed-on-Facebook status.
I have an over-penchance for organization. Sometimes I want to organize the entire internet and have it neatly tabbed out at my fingertips on a web browser and read all the news every day. Instead, I read the Atlantic Wire’s media diet series more than the real news and I wish I could have the discipline or interest that half its contributors do.
So, on this Friday, September 21, I’m starting a blog in order to give myself a break on the lamenting, record how I construct a media diet that’s just right for me, and generally do something consistently, because step 1 of reading well and daily is to engage in the act of “daily,” and thus far, in my great 22 years of life, daily is far from what I do.
People have asked me before what I read, and where to get the news. And honestly, I have no idea what to tell them. I would generally say, hey set up a google reader account, add in the sources you like, sync it with Feedly, and bam, you have a pretty, daily feed. But I hate my feedly account. There are way too many sources in it, and I’ve recently realized that reading things on a feed like that makes me very ignorant about the publications who are producing the work. I don’t know what their websites look and feel like, and I don’t know their publishing schedules and I don’t know their writers on a first name basis. And it’s just…unfair to them, in a way. I want to have a relationship with the publications I’m reading. I think these things are important.
So what I’m starting with now is good ole google bookmarks. My homepage on Chrome opens to my bookmarks manager, which has folders for “news,” “blogs,” “media,” and “fun things to read.” Each folder holds links to the important biggies. You know, like the Times and the Post and about 8 more for news. Bloggers I like. Media sites I like. etc. etc. etc. (Give me a week or two with this system and I’ll actually divulge what sources I’m checking on the daily.)
My feedly is still holy mess of every other site I’ve liked ever and I’ll keep it that way for the Thursday afternoons when I’m procrastinating and ready to foray into the abyss of links for a few hours. But only then.
And finally, I really really like print magazines. So I’m allowing myself to buy 1 or 2 a week, at a newstand, so I don’t have to subscribe. And I will savor those one or two a week. This sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, and you probably already do it. But it’s a revelation for me, and a delicacy.
Oh and one day, I’ll organize my Twitter account into better lists, and maybe even downsize the people I follow on Tumblr. Because those are becoming painful to look at too. But not today.
Let the journey begin.
FJP: We’re hoping when she comes up for air she’ll teach us a thing or two.
Anonymous asked: I'm a recent college grad, who majored in communication and sociology. I've always been a strong writer and I'm realizing now that it's what I'd really like to do - BUT, I have no experience in writing for a campus newspaper, internship, etc. They're IMPOSSIBLE to find in my area. Any suggestions on how to get started? I have a blog with some original content but that's it!
Sounds like you feel yourself caught in a classic career starting conundrum: You don’t have experience but can’t get experience because you don’t have experience.
We posted a video recently of CUNY professor CW Anderson discussing an entrepreneurial journalism course he teaches. While he talks about many things, a key point I like is how he stresses that we all must write. Especially those of us out of a job or hoping to get into a job.
In July, I wrote something similar to a question a student had about putting together a portfolio. Here’s a bit where I mention what is was like before we could all have blogs and self-publishing tools:
Back then getting started was a chicken and egg proposition. You’d apply for something and be asked to show your clips. But you didn’t have clips because you were just starting out, and you wouldn’t get clips until someone overlooked that and took a chance on you.
That’s not true anymore. Want to be a science writer, start writing about it, start reporting about it, start curating about it. No one’s stopping you. Fashion more your thing? Do the same. More interested in the tech side of things? Start creating things and/or get involved in an Open Source project, and then write about what you’re doing and learning.
It takes some effort but that’s what we have to do. Block off 30 minutes a day to work on these things. Maybe even an hour.
After a month or a few you’ll be amazed by how much material you have to show people. You’ll also be amazed by how much you’ve personally learned by actually doing it.
So, you say you want to be a writer but there’s nothing available in your area. In that case, make something available to yourself.
There are stories everywhere. There are stories where there are lots of people. There are stories where they are no people. There are great stories about topics other than people.
So start writing them. Choose something that you’re passionate about. If it’s a character who lives down the street, approach him and ask if you can interview and write about him. If he asks why, and what for, say simply, “I like to write.”
Some people will say no but you’ll be surprised by how many people say yes. People are wonderful that way.
And if your passion is for a subject or topic that requires more discrete expertise, say science or medicine or art or local politics, start reading up and then start calling people up (eg, at local colleges, businesses, governmental agencies and what not) and ask questions.
Again, many will ask why and where will this appear and you simply say, “I like to write and its for a personal site I’m creating.”
And then some will say no but others will say yes but give it a couple months and you have yourself body of work. You’ve gotten started.
It takes effort. But it is doable. And find a trusted friend, former teacher or family member to give you feedback on what you do, to be an editor. And listen to what they have to say even if you disagree. Else you’ll write in a ramble like I do.
We wish you great luck and let us know how it goes. — Michael
Have a question? Ask away here.
zipporah asked: Hello! I'm a journalism student and I bought my own domain recently because I want to have my own website (to increase my "social presence", yenno). I want to put a bio there and to post PDF files of my clips. I really have no idea how to create that website or what websites to use to help me with that. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you :)
There are all sorts of ways to go about this. Here are some initial thoughts. I think the best way to choose from these and others you come across is actively take the time to play with them and see what best works for you.
- WordPress: Pick a theme and use “Pages” instead of “Posts” to organize your content. Since you indicate you want to have a portfolio site, when picking a theme do a search for… wait for it… “portfolio”. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can install WordPress on your servers for greater overall control.
- Contently: These guys are relatively new and have a relatively easy method for creating your online writing portfolio. As an added bonus, they’ve also created a freelancers network where organizations and writers can connect on writing gigs. Not entirely sure if they offer custom domains.
- Tumblr: Sure, why not? Like WordPress, pick a theme that’s portfolio centric and Tumble away. How to find one? Follow this link. And, of course, Tumblr offers custom domains.
- Flavors.me and/or About.me: These aren’t quite what you’re looking for but they are nice tools for aggregating your online presence in one place. For example, you can have your Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Google+ and other activities all connected to your About/Flavors account.
And, of course, you can always use your LinkedIn profile to link out to works you’d like to highlight.
Good luck, and send us a link to your site when you’re done. — Michael
—Michael Lewis on Reporting
While much is being said today about the veracity of Paul Ryan’s convention speech, if you turned off your set after listening to the talking heads last night you’d come away with the belief that this, by far, was: The. Best. Speech. Ever.
I had the unfortunate displeasure of listening to Politico’s deeply cynical panel that appeared late night on CSPAN. It was a good half hour of brushing aside the factually challenged and pimping the excellent and energetic delivery, the quotable one liners, the zing. Never mind that the main thrust of Ryan’s arguments are untrue.
While Politico’s on camera team waxed effusive about Ryan’s stirring rhetoric, Wolf Blitzer had one of his Wolf Blitzer moments. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo calls it Great Moments in CNN Euphemisms:
Blitzer: So there he is, the Republican vice presidential nominee and his beautiful family there. His mom is up there. This is exactly what this crowd of Republicans here certainly Republicans all across the country were hoping for. He delivered a powerful speech. Erin, a powerful speech. Although I marked at least seven or eight points I’m sure the fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute if they want to go forward, I’m sure they will. As far as Mitt Romney’s campaign is concerned, Paul Ryan on this night delivered.
Yes, I’m sure there’s a profession out there, somewhere, that might “want to go forward” with some of those points. Considering his perch atop CNN’s news team it’s too bad Blitzer hasn’t figured that out yet.
And in an up is down, left is right world, it’s Fox News (!) among the cable networks that starts to set the record straight?:
On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.
Fortunately, a journalistic slumber begins to lift. Over at The Atlantic, James Fallows collects a number of non-network sources debunking what he calls the “Post-Truth Convention Speech”:
To restate the larger points for the moment: The bad one is that a major party’s nominee for national office apparently just doesn’t care that he is standing in front of millions and telling easily catchable lies. The less-bad one is that parts of the media are noticing, and are trying to figure out what they can do in response.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent believes news organizations need to bring lies front and center. Stick them in the headline, he writes, don’t bury them four paragraphs deep. He praises the Los Angeles Times for doing just that when a Tuesday headline read, “Rick Santorum repeats inaccurate welfare attack on Obama”.
I didn’t expect this, but the epic dishonesty of Romney’s campaign is finally prompting something of a debate among media types about whether what we’re seeing here is unprecedented — and how to appropriately respond to it…
…There seems to be a bit of a strain of media defeatism settling in about this. James Bennet, the editor of the Atlantic, wrote yesterday that he is glad to see news outlets calling Romney’s falsehoods out for what they are. But he wondered whether we are about to discover that the press is essentially impotent in the face of this level of deliberate dishonesty: “what if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?”
I’m sympathetic to the question. Indeed, it goes to the heart of the Romney campaign’s gamble here, which is that the press simply won’t be able to keep voters informed in the face of the sheer scope and volume of mendacity it unleashes daily.
Earlier this summer Harvard’s Nieman Foundation released a report called Truth in the Age of Social Media.
"Verifying information has always been central to the work of journalists," its authors write. “These days the task has taken on a new level of complexity due to the volume of videos, photos, and tweets that journalists face. It’s not only the volume that presents challenges but the sophisticated tools that make it easier than ever to manipulate information.”
We recommend reviewing it. The report looks at how news organizations are addressing truth and verification. Would be nice if some of the big players covering our conventions would take notes on it too. — Michael