Evelyn Tipacti

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    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Other
    • Title:Community Editor
    • Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
    • Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
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    Media 411: Digital Tools for Journalists

    Friday, November 13, 2015, 2:20 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Journalists today do their jobs with a plethora of tools and gadgets, unlike days past where all that was needed were a notepad, pen and maybe a 35 mm camera.

    But the wonderful thing is that today, because of those tools, there are incredible ways to cover a story, to create a visual and aural masterpiece unlike ever before. Audiences can feel like part of the story and journalists can be unique storytellers.

    The following are links which share some of the tools that you should be using as a journalist. Even if these tools aren't used on a regular basis in your newsroom, learn about them and immerse yourself in the future of journalism. 

    One day these tools will also be considered as archaic as the notepad and pen, but for now, these are the things you should know about and use.

    Poynter

    Medium

    International Center for Journalists

    International Journalism Film Festival

    MediaShift

    Knight Foundation

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Should Journalists Consider Grad School? A Conversation on Continuing Education (Recap)

    Monday, November 2, 2015, 4:01 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Returning to school to get a graduate degree isn’t for everyone and there are several things to consider including cost, time commitments, working while getting a degree and other life events. How do you know it it’s the right thing for you?

    Last week ProfNet hosted a webinar called "Should Journalists Consider Grad School? A Conversation on Continuing Education" that may guide you and point you in the right direction if attending graduate school for journalism is on your mind.

    Our guest was Kevin M. Lerner who serves as an Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He teaches American press history, media law, narrative journalism, news editing, and reporting and writing integrating contemporary technology and social media tools.

    Lerner discussed the questions to ask yourself when considering a graduate program, what to expect when you step foot in the classroom after several years, how to make use of your degree and much more.

    What follows is a recap of the webinar with a link here to the complete presentation. The recap provides highlights but watching or listening to the webinar is highly recommended to fully grasp the information presented.

    What’s the first question you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of attending grad school?

    Why are you doing it? Have a clear idea why you’re going for any reason. Don’t do it if you have no other idea what to do. You need to be clear with regards to the goals you want to accomplish. Spend some time planning and researching programs before applying.

    In the eyes of the hiring manager, does it make a difference whether you get your graduate degree immediately after finishing undergraduate studies versus years after receiving a bachelor’s degree? Or is it better to work a few years and then return to school?

    There’s not one answer to that since the students and hiring managers come from so many backgrounds. However, it may be better for most to have a few years of experience so you understand what the world of professional journalism is like before considering a professional degree.

    Reasons to Attend Grad School

    • Learn a technical skill – Audio, video, digital, etc.
    • Redirect a career path.
    • Learn a specialized content area. Become a specialist in the area you cover.
      1. Economics
      2. Arts
      3. Science
      4. Health
      5. Politics
      6. Etc.
    • Study with a particular person or group of people. Know the program to which you’re applying and do it because it has the people, tools or program in which you’re interested.
    • Learn from experienced editors without daily deadline pressure.

    Does a higher paycheck await with a journalism graduate degree?

    There is no guarantee. You’re not going to know that having this degree will get you more money. It’s not like a degree in engineering or law where it’s a requirement for these jobs. Some of the highest paid journalists never went to graduate school. There’s no requirement. 

    Anyone can do journalism whether or not you’ve gone to journalism school. A degree can attract more prestigious publications and outlets if you have knowledge-based education where you can come in and demonstrate a skill you couldn’t before. Medical and business reporters, for example, can do very well. Be an expert at something.

    Reasons Not to Attend Grad School

    • Cost. It can be very expensive and you can have debt for a long time. Know going in you’ll have to pay as there are few scholarships for professional programs.
    • To secure an entry-level job. If you haven’t been working as a journalist, have no experience and want to put it on a resume, then it may be a reason but not the main one.
    • Because you don’t know what else to do. Go with a purpose.

    Some say experience is more important than a graduate degree. Do you think this is true in some cases?

    Once you get to a certain level of experience, a master’s program in journalism isn’t what you’re looking for. If you’ve been around for 15 years and you’re stuck, you’re better off using your resume. It’s not for everyone.

    Types of Graduate Programs

    • Professional/skills-based programs
    • Knowledge-based programs
    • Entrepreneurial journalism programs
    • Laboratory programs
    • Certificate programs
    • Fellowships

    Graduate Program Alternatives

    • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course)
    • Webinars
    • Lynda
    • Poynter 
    • Etc.

    What about online programs?

    The programs purely in journalism are very new, few and may be the future but a lot of the benefit is the face to face interaction you have with editors and professors. Since online programs are new, we don’t know the effects of them on career.

    Funding for Graduate School 

    • Federal financial aid (loans)
    • School-based scholarships
    • Outside scholarships
    • Graduate assistantships (rare for professional schools)
    • Parents or spouse
    • Work 

    What should you expect once you step foot in the classroom for the first time after a long absence from an academic setting?

    It may depend on the length of absence. If away for a while you may be surprised how technological classrooms have become. Classes are based in computer labs and pace is more similar to a professional pace than an undergraduate pace. Deadlines move at difference pace. You’re working on a three-month basis for a course instead of a daily or weekly deadline.

    How does a graduate degree help?

    The value lies in the education, not the training. It’s a matter of taking time out from daily career pressures and thinking of what you do as a journalist. You can get a self-awareness you may not get if you’re trying to just please your editor or producer. It’s about trying to make the best quality journalism you can and understand how what you do fits in the world of journalism.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Should Journalists Consider Grad School? A Conversation on Continuing Education

    Friday, October 23, 2015, 2:59 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Going back to school to get a graduate degree is a thought many journalists have from time to time, but is it something to seriously consider?

    If you're pondering the idea, our webinar, "Should Journalists Consider Grad School? A Conversation on Continuing Education," will help guide you through the process.

    Our guest will be Kevin M. Lerner who serves as an Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He teaches American press history, media law, narrative journalism, news editing, and reporting and writing integrating contemporary technology and social media tools.

    He earned his doctorate in journalism and media studies from Rutgers University and served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of journalism at Marist College for 2009–2011, and an Affiliate Assistant Professor there from 2011–2014. Previously, he taught journalism at Seton Hall University and LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York.

    Lerner will discuss the questions to ask yourself to see if you're prepared, what to expect when you step foot in the classroom after several years, how to make use of your degree and much more.

    The webinar will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. and will last no longer than one hour.

    It's FREE and all you have to do is register here: bit.ly/1028webinar

    Join us!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Journalist Spotlight: Daniel Pearson, Canby Herald

    Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 1:14 PM [Spotlight]
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    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    Daniel Pearson is the senior reporter for the Canby Herald in Canby, Ore., a weekly newspaper in the Pamplin Media Group family of community newspapers on the southern edge of the Portland metro area. He covers city government, schools, business and general assignment news for the Herald.

    Pearson worked for more than 14 years as a freelance writer, from 2001 to 2015, where his work appeared in publications that include USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, MSNBC, PR Week, Utility Spotlight, and countless others, including the San Diego Transcript, Triangle Business Journal (Raleigh/Durham), The Source Weekly in Bend, Ore. and the Cascade Business News, where he was editor-in-chief from 2008-2009.

    He's won eight Oregon Society of Professional Journalist awards for reporting, two American Advertising Federation awards for copy writing and self-promotion, and an Oregon Coastal Writer's Series award for best fiction. 

    We hope you find Daniel's SPOTLIGHT enjoyable and informative. 

    Where was your first job as a professional journalist?

    I landed my first gig as a professional journalist while still in college, covering high school sports for the now-defunct Springfield News in Springfield, Oregon.

    Did you always want to pursue journalism or did you start your career doing something else?

    Well, first I was working to become a professional baseball player, or more accurately a pitcher. I had been scouted by a handful of universities while in high school, but I blew my arm out.

    I went to my second love, which was music. I completed the one-year, intensive program at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood and then took two more years of classes at Palm Beach State College. I wrote original music and toured in a band for about three years before deciding that industry was way too rough and difficult to earn a decent living.

    So, I went back to school and pursued my third dream, which was to become a writer. I actually started a neighborhood newspaper when I was in grade school, complete with its own comic strip, classified ads, and a sports page. So, when I said I was going to pursue journalism most people who knew me were not surprised, but I was.

    What stories do you like to write about most?

    Actually, I like the ones that just sort of fall into your lap. But anything that requires investigative work, city government stories, and business stories are my favorites.

    Are your stories assigned or do you also pitch ideas?

    Writing and reporting for a weekly community newspaper I am expected to come up with my own stories each week – typically anywhere from four to eight depending on what is happening in a given week. Sometimes my editor assigns me a story but that rarely happens. When I was a freelancer I had to pitch stories all the time, but some were assigned by editors I had an established a relationship with over time.

    What do you like most about your job?

    I like the freedom to come and go from the office as I please, and the ability to work flexible hours. I also enjoy meeting a lot of different people who are active in the community, and establishing sources so I have a bunch of bird dogs out there who are always sending me ideas, or contacting me with rumors or information about something that happened away from the public eye.

    What advice to do you have for those in PR or anyone else who may want to pitch you a story idea?

    Send a well-written email with all contact information included, and as much background information as you can. It’s hard to say whether or not I want to pursue a story when all I have is, such and such did something.

    Please learn how to write a proper press release. It’s amazing to me how many PR professionals do not write a proper press release with all contact information and background information. Background information is just as important as the lede.

    What should they always do and never do?

    Don’t call me. Ever. Period.

    If I am interested I will call or email you. And please stop pitching stories, getting me contact information for your client, and then putting in no more effort. If you are pitching me a story you need to follow through all the way to the end.

    How can someone in PR develop a positive working relationship with you?

    Read the newspaper. Read several issues. Get to know what types of stories I cover. Get to know what the newspaper covers. Don’t call me unless I call you. If you know something you can pass along that makes a good story, send it even if it doesn’t pertain to one of your clients.

    You once founded and sold two marketing/advertising boutiques – what made you get into that side of the business?

    Pay. Pure and simple. I was tired of working 60 hours a week and making squat. Unfortunately, that is not likely to ever change for journalists. However, I finally came to the conclusion that I love journalism more than anything else. I’d much rather work doing something I absolutely love than getting paid a ton and dreading the work.

    What advice do you have for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    Send me a quote I can practically copy and paste into my story. DO NOT send me an email saying you can talk to me if I want with nothing else included in the email. That’s akin to calling and saying, “I just wanted to make sure you received my press release.”

    What type of experts do you prefer to work with?

    Those who are well-spoken and are passionate about their realm of expertise. There is nothing worse than contacting someone who offers himself or herself as a source, then provides nothing more than one-word answers. You need to have a conversation with the writer, true, but you need to do 99 percent of the talking.

    What’s most different now from when you began your journalism career?

    Well, there are tons of hacks out there today. Many independent bloggers and wanna-be freelance writers, who have little to no formal training or experience as a reporter, take gigs for next-to-nothing-pay and they ruined the freelance industry for a lot of established writers, as well as the perceived credibility of legitimate journalists. Their lack of experience working with an editor side by side shows in a lot of the content that is out there today.

    How do use social media at work?

    I take a lot of photos from around town asking people to guess where the subject can be found. I also mine the newsfeeds for potential stories and sources. Finally, I post every story that runs in the paper, but not all at once. Scheduled posts over the week seem to generate much more “likes” or whatever rather than posting them all the day they were published.

    Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you’ve had as a journalist?

    Probably having Richie Havens call me early in the morning on my cell phone, and he didn’t even block his own number!

    What do you like to do when you’re away from the office?

    I spend a lot of time with my wife because we don’t see each other very much during the week. We watch a lot of movies and TV shows, and do a lot of cooking. I haven’t played much music the last couple of years, but I’m constantly coming up with bits and pieces of songs that I record and save for later.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Investment Reporting For Corporate & Media Writers

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 1:16 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    On Tuesday, Oct. 13, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Investment Reporting For Corporate & Media Writers," with our guest Susan Weiner

    Weiner, a writer, editor and chartered financial analyst (CFA), helps financial professionals increase the impact of their writing on clients and prospects.

    She discussed ways of getting ideas, what to stay away from, finding a focus for your stories and much more.

    Please follow @ProfNet and @ProfNetMedia on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.

    Susan, please tell us about yourself and about what you do.

    My background? Financial reporter, asset management company employee and chartered financial analyst (CFA). CFA is a credential held by investment portfolio managers, securities analysts and other investment professionals. I write and edit white papers, investment commentary and articles for investment and wealth management firms. I train financial pros to write better. I’m also author of Financial Blogging: ht.ly/TeedF 

    What do you consider to be the biggest challenge with regards to financial writing both for corporate clients and media outlets?

    Conveying complex information clearly -- there's lots of investment jargon. Also, experts forget about WIIFM, What's In It For Me. "Me" is the reader. Writers don't say why readers should care. For example, how do you help readers achieve THEIR goals?

    Where can finance reporters go to learn about all the technical vocabulary experts sometimes use in interviews?

    Websites: @Investopedia @Morningstar @InvestorWords, InvestingInBonds.com . Also websites of large fund companies focused on individuals. Do Google search on "Define: TERM". Attend industry events. Read financial publications. @wsj & @nytimes do a good job explaining complex terms.

    Should you ask for clarification when you don’t understand what an expert is saying?

    Of course. Try putting their explanation into your own words to see if you really get it.

    In your writing, should you use plain English?

    Yes. But sometimes I get pushback from my clients when I use plain English. "We don't want clients to think we're dummies," they say. I refer them to example of Warren Buffett, who writes plain-English annual shareholder letter. Sophisticated investors like Buffett's letter, too. They don't call him a dummy.

    What’s the best way to break into writing for investment/wealth management firms? 

    I began my business through informational interviewing to learn how I could help firms. They liked my reporting background & clips, as well as my CFA and corporate experience. You can try LOIs—letters of introduction—to introduce yourself to prospects.

    Is experience necessary? You had a solid background but what if you don't have that type of experience?

    Companies like reporting experience, especially in financial services. Reporters are fast, clear writers. Most financial pros aren't. Industry experience helps so you understand topics, compliance constraints and internal politics.

    How did you become interested in becoming a financial reporter?

    I like taking complex subject matter and making it clear. That led me to corporate writing and then reporting. I started my career with PhD in Japanese history so it wasn't a straight shot from school to reporter. 

    Where can you go to find people to interview or get ideas?

    Besides @ProfNet? To find financial professionals, contact trade associations. I've had great experiences with @cfainstitute @fpassociation @napfa @IMCA. Data providers like @MorningstarInc help, too.

    Sometimes the amount of information you get when covering a story is overwhelming and it’s hard to find a focus – what’s the best way to manage the overload?

    I'm a big fan of mind mapping. It's a visual, non-linear way of brainstorming & arranging your thoughts for analysis. I use it to record my ideas so I can get perspective from a bird's eye view.

    Here's an image with the start of a mind map:

     

    Bird's eye view helps me decide what's important and analyze.

    Would you say you use a lot of social media to help your clients?

    I do use social media to find sources and get ideas,

    When you’re a blogger running out of ideas is fairly common. What’s the solution?

    Look at questions your firm's clients or your publication's readers ask. Ask readers what they want to hear about. You want to meet THEIR needs. Take a contrarian stance on a popular topic. It's good to generate controversy. Use mind mapping. I once mind mapped a photo of Barbie on a beach to generate investment management topics: ht.ly/Tejic 

    I offer more ideas on my blog and in my book.

    If you’re a commentary writer, are there topics from which you should stay away?

    Yes. The regulators—SEC and  FINRA—have rules. For example, stay away from guarantees. Your larger clients may have written guidelines. Also, try to avoid scaring people unnecessarily.

    Where do you draw the line when mind-mapping, given readers' short attention spans? Do you touch a bit on each topic or do a deep dive on one? 

    I use mind map to prioritize. So I don't try to cover more topics--or details--than readers can absorb. Deep dive vs. covering all? I'm somewhere in between. For example, I'd pick 3 out of 6 themes to cover. I'd drop the rest--or mention very little.

    What can ruin your credibility as a writer and how do you fix it?

    Not admitting when you don't understand something. Not meeting deadlines. Not communicating well. Fix with clear, concise communication.

    What’s the best advice you can give to those who write financial white papers?

    Remember that a white paper is not an advertisement. Sure it's a marketing piece, but it has to provide value to reader. Most important is to identify a problem you can solve for readers. Remember WIIFM. A big part of my value as a writer is helping clients to focus on the readers' problem.

    Can you please tell us about your latest book?

    Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients: ht.ly/TeedF 

    It offers step-by-step instructions for financial pros. It has worksheets, too. It starts with brainstorming ideas & walks you through writing, editing, & promoting. If you're not ready to buy a book, sample my ideas on my blog: www.investmentwriting.com/blog/ 

    What's the rule of 42-14-2 and how does it help writers?

    42-14-2 grows out of research by direct marketers. Readers' attention falls off when you average longer than 42 words/paragraph, 14 words/sentence, 2 syllables/word. You can look at your averages and try to shorten. For financial writing, averaging 14-22 words/sentence is more realistic. A good exercise: measure your averages and then try to cut.

    How do you help financial professionals to learn to write better?

    Content marketing is becoming more important to financial firms, despite compliance constraints. These days, more financial firms want their professionals to do the writing. That's why I train financial professionals to write better through presentations, workshops and coaching.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Upcoming Twitter Q&A: Investment Reporting For Corporate & Media Writers

    Thursday, October 8, 2015, 2:10 PM [#ConnectChat]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Our next #ConnectChat, "Investment Reporting For Corporate & Media Writers,” will feature Susan Weiner (@susanweiner), a writer, editor and chartered financial analyst (CFA) who helps financial professionals increase the impact of their writing on clients and prospects.

    Susan will discuss several topics including how to become a better investment/financial reporter; helping writers who are overwhelmed by the amount of information collected find a focus for their articles; writing for investment and wealth management firms and more.

    This #ConnectChat, will also address helping experts who tackle financial writing without a lot of writing experience; taking advantage of online resources that define technical vocabulary and other relevant topics.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT.

    To submit questions for Susan in advance, please email profnetconnect@prnewswire.com or tweet your question to @ProfNet or @ProfNetMedia. We'll try to get to as many questions as we can.

    Of course, you can also ask your question live during the chat. To help you keep track of the conversation, we’ll use the #connectchat hashtag. Please use that hashtag if you are tweeting a question or participating in the chat.

    If you can't make it to the chat, don't worry -- a transcript will be provided on ProfNet Connect the next day.

    About Susan Weiner

    Susan Weiner, CFA, of InvestmentWriting.com, writes and edits white papers, investment commentary, and articles for leading investment and wealth management firms.

    She is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, trains financial professionals to write better, and publishes free e-newsletters with tips for financial writers.

    Earlier in her career, she led investment communications for two asset management firms and was a staff reporter for a weekly mutual fund publication. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Percentage of Minorities in Newsrooms Remains Steady

    Thursday, October 1, 2015, 2:48 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    The percentage of minority journalists has remained steady between 12 and 14 percent for over a decade, according to the annual census conducted by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). When ASNE first began the survey in 1978, only 3.95 percent were minorities and today we have seen improvement, but not as much as desired.

    The stagnant percentage of minorities in American newsrooms proves there’s a lot of work to be done in order to increase the numbers, but more specifically to make substantial gains with regards to Hispanic journalists.

    The 2015 census revealed a decrease in the number of Hispanics from 1,637 in 2014 to 1,377 in 2015, a drop of almost 16 percent. We asked Mekahlo Medina, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) about the troubling situation and how the organization would address it.


    What do Latino journalists need to do to improve their presence in newsrooms?

    We need more Latinos in manager and executive roles. More Latinos making decisions on editorial and strategic planning to reach the Latino dominant audience.

    At the NAHJ conference, I talked about the "new main stream America." Latinos make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, but when you factor in people of color and those married to Latinos or people of color, you have the majority of American households living in minority household with Latinos leading the way. Companies will be looking for those candidates that can lead editorial and strategy for this new mainstream.

    How can companies understand the importance of a more diverse newsroom?

    Understand the bottom line. Latinos are no longer a demographic. We are nearly a quarter of the American people and growing. Our culture is the American culture. Newsrooms like Buzzed, Fusion and KPCC baked Latinos into their business models. They understand the present and the future.

    What is the NAHJ doing to help increase the hiring of Latino journalists?

    We are hoping to change the structure of the board to have a laser focus on our mission - more Latinos in newsrooms.

    For 30 years, we've followed a structure that trains, develops and focuses on building the structure of an organization rather than accomplishing our mission. As a result, after 30 years, the number of Latinos in print/digital newsrooms have increased less than one percent.

    Our proposed bylaws change focuses the organization on why we exist and not on how we exist. A laser focus on mission is important to achieve it.

    Additionally, we are working with corporate sponsors to better facilitate how we have them interact with our members. We are creating different sponsorship that are not simply a conference booth, but a program that allows them to track our members more closely and in turn hire them more often. Examples of that are NBC Universal's NBC University held at our national conference. The company selected 20-30 members for an all-day conference to introduce them to the company and really get to know the members. CNN held two similar programs for on-air journalists and producers.

    ASNE’s goal is to have the percentage of minorities in nationwide newsrooms reflect the percentage of minorities in the nation’s population by 2025. Presently, minorities make up 37.02 percent of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number is set to increase to 42.39 percent by 2025. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query 

    Journalist Spotlight: Jen A. Miller, Freelance Journalist and Author

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 2:13 PM [Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    Jen A. Miller has been an independent journalist for over a decade. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Runner's World, Running Times, Bankrate and CIO.com, and she writes a weekly running column for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Her next book, Running: A Love Story, will be published this spring by Seal Press.  

    We hope you find Jen's SPOTLIGHT enjoyable and informative. 


    Was journalism what you always wanted to do or did you have other plans?

    No. I went to college for marine biology. When I saw how much time would be lab work (and realizing I got seasick on boats), I switched to an English Literature major thinking that it would give me a base for whatever I wanted to do. I got my MA in English Literature too with the idea of going into academia, but stopped at the MA instead of going for the PhD when I realized I wanted to write for a wider audience.

    How did you begin your writing career?

    My college - then - didn't have a journalism program, but I worked on the student newspaper for four years. The fall of my junior year and all of my senior year, I was editor in chief (the spring of my junior year, I studied abroad at Oxford University, where I also wrote for a student newspaper). It was the best training I could have gotten, in part because we didn't really know what we were doing, but learned while on the job. I did an internship with a news service in Washington, DC, which steered me away from a traditional newspaper career, and I'm glad it did. I'm not a breaking news person. I think I'd have been miserable in an entry level reporter job and might have left the field all together before I even got started.

    Where was your first job as a professional journalist?

    I was editor of SJ Magazine, a local magazine about South Jersey when I was 23. I'd been freelancing since I graduated from college. I left the magazine to freelance full-time. 

    When did you decide to become a freelance writer?

    The magazine - which had different owners then - was having financial troubles. I was working a lot of hours for not a ton of pay, so I figured I might as well do that for myself. More than a decade later, I'm still at it (though I don't work a ton of hours anymore).

    What type of stories do you like to cover the most?

    I write a lot about running. Most people assume that's all I do (and that's what I share most on social media), but I also write a bi-monthly column about technology for CIO.com. Sounds try, but it's really interesting, and a really interesting time to be on that beat given how quickly things are moving in the world of data security and payment systems.

    Is there something you like best about what you do?

    I love being my own boss. I've joked that I'm unemployable because I can't imagine commuting let alone dressing in work clothes five days a week.

    What advice to do you have for PR reps or for those who may want to pitch you a story?

    Please, please, please read my website. Look at my twitter feed. If you pitch me something off target, I'll just delete it. Also, don't ask who I write for. Google is there for a reason.

    I also don't like being pitched on social media. My contact information is on my website. It's not hard to find. I read every email.

    Two more no no’s: A pitch as a calendar invite. Who thought up that idea? Horrible. And if I say no, don't press why. I've had PR people want a breakdown of why I said no because they think it's perfect for me. Sorry, I know what's perfect for me, and I don't have time to do free assessments of PR pitches.

    What should they always do and never do?

    Don't lie to me. I can usually tell. If your client is dragging his or her feet, just tell me that. It's better than me waiting for a response you know I'm not going to get. Also, don't go around me to my editor. That's just crass. 

    How can someone in PR get to know you and develop a positive work relationship with you?

    Don't be a pain in the ass. My job isn't to place stories for your clients. That's your job. Realize too that it might take a year or two for us to work on a story together. I don't take a lot of PR pitches, but I do save them - even if I don't respond.

    Also, one follow up is fine, but three or four is excessive. It tells me you're going to be a high maintenance PR person, and no source is worth that.

    Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    Don't hold back information. If you ask who the pitch is for, I delete your email. If you say "I have a client who might be of interest" - I'll probably skip you too. Sometimes I get dozens of responses. I want to know who your client is, their job, and a link to the website. And if you're not quite right for the story, I'll usually put the pitch in a folder for later. I often get back to people months later with a different opportunity. 

    Also, make sure you know where you're finding the queries. I get a lot of emails saying they're responding to my HARO query. I don't use HARO. It makes you look amateurish. 

    What type of experts do you like to work with?

    I use ProfNet most for my CIO.com column just because my area of focus shifts so often. Best experts are on time, not calling from their cell phone in the car, and ready to talk about the specific topic I've brought up. Also I don't mind a PR person sitting in on the call, as long as he or she doesn't keep jumping into the conversation. 

    What’s most different now from when you began your career?

    Social media has changed everything - for better or for worse. I joined Twitter early on and I enjoy it. It's a very important part of being a freelancer. I have gotten a dozen clients from relationship formed there.

    How do use social media?

    To share stories, to complain about my day, to post pictures of my dog. I sometimes use it to find sources. I've also drawn story ideas from popular topics of conversation.

    I said it before but I'll repeat it again: do not pitch me on social media. Email me through my website.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query 

    Media 411: Legal Challenges Journalists Face

    Thursday, September 17, 2015, 3:37 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Journalists face a tough enough job as it is. Add any possibility of legal woes and Bam! -- you’ve got an even more stressful job to contend with. However, most newsrooms have a legal department to help with such matters before anything goes on the air or gets published. If you’ve ever had to run to or have been called by the legal department at work, you know it can be a scary situation.

    There are several issues journalists (including student journalists) need to think about such as defamation, recording in secret, privacy concerns, providing correct information, sharing on social media and so much more.

    The following links may help you think about how you currently approach your job, how to get help and how to avoid any legal problems for yourself or for your newsroom. Legal issues can cost you or your company a lot and not just in a monetary sense.

    The top 10 legal issues today’s Journalists, Creators, and Entrepreneurs share  (New Media Rights)

    Avoiding Legal Landmines in Social Media (Poynter)

    Handbook of Journalism (Reuters)

    Legal challenges facing online journalists (edwalker.net)

    Challenges facing young business journalists (Talking Biz News)

    The Student Newspaper Survival Guide

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Media 411: Preparing for Your First Newsroom Job

    Thursday, September 10, 2015, 3:46 PM [Media 411]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Starting a new job can be scary for anyone, but starting your first job ever in the professional world can be quite daunting. However, it need not be so frightening if you’ve prepared properly, and this goes for any profession, including journalism.

    Marie Franklin, associate professor of journalism at Lasell College in Newton, Mass., recommends students “take as many writing classes as possible during college, but balance them with classes in graphic design, photography, video, radio and social media.”

    Franklin knows very well how professional newsrooms function, having previously worked at the Boston Globe, and offers a few more suggestions to help students prepare:

    • Be a "backpack journalist" and know how to use all the tools of the trade to prepare for careers in the digital age of storytelling.
    • Be a part of your campus newspaper and website. Not only will you gain confidence in your skills, but you'll develop a good portfolio to showcase those skills after college.
    • Do as many internships in the field as possible before you graduate. Internships help you gain confidence, contacts, and often jobs.

    Once you’ve taken all these steps and have finally landed that first job in a newsroom, it’s natural to be full of anxiety. Even the pros get nervous, so you’re definitely not alone.

    Franklin says, “As far as being anxious about the first job, relax. Everyone has to start somewhere. The fact that you've been hired is already in your favor. Once on board, find a mentor, someone a bit more experienced than you, but willing to help you learn the ropes. It always helps in the workplace to have someone you trust look out for you as you mature.”

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query


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