HOW ONLINE JOURNALISTS CAN SURVIVE

By: Staff Reports

Tips For the Downsized


With content definitely not king, many creators are pounding the
pavement these days.

Julia Lipman recently lost her job as a free-lance columnist at
boston.com’s DigitalMASS, which produced original content until
New York Times Digital cut costs in January.

“I understood that they didn’t really have any choice,” said
Lipman of NYT Digital’s decision to cut DigitalMASS columnists.
So this fall, she’s headed back to school to study computer
science at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She plans
to keep writing and she still considers the job at DigitalMASS
one of the best opportunities she’s ever had.

Other online journalists and producers are still trying to stand
upright on a ship that’s taken its fair share of waves.

Laura Lorber, managing editor at CareerJournal.com, has several
suggestions. “The best thing that journalists can do is make sure
they have strong journalism skills,” she said. “Technology used
by news organizations is only going to get easier for non-techies
to use. If you want to be a techie, learn more tech skills. If
you want to be a journalist, break news and get scoops.”

But it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on your job when
layoffs seem imminent. Lipman suspected the worst when she saw
the plethora of house ads plastered on the site.

Lorber said that if you can see the writing on the wall, jockey
for a different position early. “If you think your department
will be targeted for job cuts, consider switching to one that’s
in a strong position,” she said. “Plus, don’t be shy about
letting other people, especially decision-makers, know about your
contributions. If you get scoops, written kudos on articles or
awards, let people know,” she said. “Toot your own horn.”

Lorber added, “Keep in touch with your old buddies from newsrooms
past. You don’t want to have to call them from out of the blue,
asking for a job lead.”

Lipman, a 1999 MIT grad, didn’t have a print network to fall back
on since online journalism is all she’s done so far. Lipman only
met one other DigitalMASS columnist “in the flesh,” instead
creating an online network.

Lorber said that skills learned online can translate to other
mediums, but, more importantly, job-seeking journalists need to
know how to present the skills a different medium demands to
potential employers. Former online managers, Lorber said, “might
want to emphasize their problem-solving abilities. These are
prerequisites for jobs at many online operations but are needed
for success in any organization.”

When online journalists and managers do start interviewing,
Lorber said, “It’s important to know yourself – your skills,
talents, preferences, experience, and achievements – and
know the employer – its needs, culture, recent history,
personalities of decision-makers. Then you’ve got to match what
you’ve got to offer with what the employer is looking for.”



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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