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The Original Watergate Papers

We’re journalists. We’ve read All The President’s Men inside and out, watched the movie more times than we’d care to admit. We’ve researched Watergate ad nauseam and held the highest regard for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein since we picked up a pen and paper.

But somewhere along the way, there’s a chance we missed a step: We didn’t read the actual coverage that originally appeared in The Washington Post back in the early 1970s. (I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s a reasonable chance I speak for a substantial group).

What’s all the fuss really about? Were the articles all they were cracked up to be?

They changed the history of politics and journalism in one fell swoop, so it’s no doubt worth the time to read the original articles here.

The Post has pieced together a Watergate timeline that doesn’t end with the 1970s by any means. It’s a solid, comprehensive read or re-read if you’re looking to remind yourself of what investigative journalism is really about.

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Grad School: From the Source’s Mouth

Graduate Journalism Degrees Q&A

Grad School: From the Source’s Mouth

By Stephanie Forshee

For just about every journalist, there comes a time in his or her career when it’s only natural to question whether grad school could be the next step. And almost just as surely, many simply wonder: Why? Why should I go to grad school? Is it worth the money? Would I be better off trying to find a job instead? Will I be guaranteed legitimate employment in the field upon graduation?

As those December deadlines quickly approach, it will be helpful to browse this run down of what the admissions teams at some of the top journalism graduate programs have to say.

Participants include Elizabeth Weinreb Fishman, associate dean for communications with Columbia University in New York City; Allyson G. Hill, associate dean of admissions at University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles; Andrea Tang, academic operations coordinator, and Marianne Barrett, senior associate dean for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University; and Colleen Marshall, director of admissions at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

Even if a journalist is considering applying for grad school, the bigger picture usually revolves around pinning down the right timing. So, when is the best time for someone to consider pursuing a Master’s in journalism?

CUNY: Do they feel confident with their skill set after college to find a journalism job in the real world? If not, they may need to consider grad school. For those students who do work for a few years in the field before grad school, they come in knowing exactly which skills they need to hone and have a clear vision of their reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree. We also have career changers who have worked in a different industry for most of their life and feel it is about time for them to make their passion their profession.

Columbia: The appropriate choice, an individual one, depends on where an applicant is in his or her career and what skills and knowledge they’d like to add to their resumes.

Our M.S. program is the foundational program of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Designed to train multimedia journalists who are at the beginning of a career in journalism, the M.S. teaches the rigors of reporting, writing, the use of images, sound, and social media from the ground up. It offers specializations in investigativedata and documentary journalism. There are also dual degree programs with the schools of Engineering (computer science), International and Public Affairs, Arts and Sciences (religion), Law and Business.

Our MA program is for journalists with three to fifteen years of full-time professional experience who want to deepen their knowledge in one of four subject areas: politicsarts & culturescience, or business.

(Sorry, there’s never a magic bullet on that one).

What can students expect upon graduation in terms of job prospects?

Columbia: Our graduates are in demand worldwide: In 2014, 75 percent of our graduates had employment plans within a month of graduation. Employers recognize that they can rely upon a Columbia Journalism credential.

USC: In our 2012 survey of May 2012 graduates, 96 percent of the graduates had jobs in mid-sized markets, big media companies and new media.

ASU: What really distinguishes us is that we’ve really been on the cutting edge of what’s happening in journalism education. That’s why we have such a high placement rate (95 percent). We have a number of partnerships with media organizations and major stations here locally, all the way to the Washington Post and The New York Times.

CUNY: On average, 75 percent of students find a job in journalism within four to six months after graduation. However, this past year it’s been over 85 percent. Some students are working at major media organizations such as NBC News, The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Sports Illustrated. Others have chosen to work for younger organizations such as Buzzfeed and DNAInfo.

How has graduate school for journalists changed from, say, five to 10 years ago?

USC: Twelve years ago, Annenberg began teaching “convergence journalism.” Four years ago, we eliminated the distinct degree program names since students are expected to function across platforms. Last year, we closed the two-year degree program and created a 9.5-month program that was more intensive and required professional or internship experience as a condition of admission.

What is the worst thing, in your opinion, that a potential student can do when applying to grad school?

ASU: The most common thing we see is a student will apply to one school and use it as a template for their application to schools across the board. The lack of attention of detail can really be a disadvantage to an applicant.

CUNY: We read hundreds of applications each year and can tell when a student’s personal statement was probably used for other schools and wasn’t tailored to that program or institution. There have even been times when a student would forget to change the name of the school at the bottom of their personal statement. Wow! That shows a lot in the eyes of the admissions committee.

Students should really ask themselves why they are interested in that specific field and why they are applying to that specific school and, therefore, they can fine turn their personal statement with those things in mind. This is the opportunity for the student to stand out and show a side of them that we can’t see in their transcripts or test scores.

Columbia: Think about the application as a story – one of the most important profiles you will write in your life – your own. Take advantage of each section to tell us your story – who you are and why you want to be a journalist. Each section of the application is important. Use them as building blocks. Make your argument. Read the application instructions for the program to which you are applying carefully for hints. Review the information about the program to which you are applying and be sure that you make it clear to us why you are a good fit for the program – and how the program will enable you to accomplish your educational goals.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, a student is accepted to more than one program. Why should he or she choose to attend your school?

Columbia: As the opportunities for close mentoring in the workplace have diminished, the intensive instruction we offer in our M.S. and M.A. programs is increasingly valuable. Our faculty work in small groups, and often one-on-one with students, editing their copy and guiding them in learning the reporting, writing and multimedia skills that are fundamental to journalism. Of course, young journalists can acquire these through years of professional experience. But at Columbia Journalism School, it takes only nine or 10 months – and you study with the very best journalists in the country.

Columbia Journalism School is also the home of two Centers dedicated to digital journalism and media innovation:

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, which opened in fall 2010, is dedicated to advancing and creating new forms of digital media.

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, established in 2012, is a collaboration between Columbia Journalism School and Stanford’s School of Engineering, designed to cultivate new endeavors in media innovation.

USC: We have the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, the Media Center, award-winning media outlets, professional faculty, comprehensive school (communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations taught in the same school), rich reporting opportunities in the No. 2 media market, plus, optional paid internships or study abroad opportunities.

ASU: One of the highlights of our curriculum is that students complete their last semester of the program working in one of our professional program experiences. Students complete the program with a portfolio of their work and the necessary skills and practical experiences needed to pursue a career in journalism and mass communication. The Cronkite School also offers networking opportunities. Our students work and learn alongside award-winning professional journalists and scholars, and the school regularly hosts events that bring in prominent journalism and media professionals. Located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, the Cronkite School is close to major news operations of all types that provide additional opportunities for our students.

CUNY: We are not a stale program and have revised our curriculum since we opened the school (which was only eight years ago) in order to make sure our program reflects these changes in journalism.

We have an Entrepreneurial Journalism program where the goal is to help shape the future of journalism by having our students become entrepreneurs and develop their own startups, or create innovative projects within traditional media companies. We just launched a new Master’s degree in Social Journalism where the goal is to help students reshape journalism as a service that helps communities meet their goals and solve problems with skills involving relationship-building, data, social media, and business.

CUNY also has a paid summer internship program. We guarantee a $3,000 stipend to each student over the summer during his or her internship. We don’t know of any other school that does that.

Finally, we are a small and intimate school so students won’t get lost in the crowd.

Are there any myths out there you’d like to clear up, as they relate to graduate school for journalism?

Columbia: People wonder whether it is worth the money to go to graduate school to study journalism. There is no question about it – a year at Columbia Journalism School is an investment that will reap a lifetime of professional and personal rewards. Yes, it is worth the time and money.

USC: Myth: It’s better to get a job in journalism than to go to J-school. Reality: Cross-platform and digital skills needed in news organizations are not taught on the job because the necessary skill set is not present. Students educated and trained in hands-on, professional graduate journalism programs, such as USC Annenberg, bring the talent, modern perspective, ethics, outstanding writing, and entrepreneurial mindset to all organizations.

ASU: When researching graduate schools for journalism, it’s not all about the name or numbers. Students should search for programs that will give them professional experience, offer them the opportunity to build their portfolios, and provide opportunities to grow their professional networks.

CUNY: Some myths about journalism are that it’s dying and there are no jobs out there. Frankly, that’s not the case. Journalism is evolving due to the expansion of the Internet and technology and the way people get their news has changed. Not too long ago, people would read the newspaper at breakfast or on their way to work and at the end of the day, families would sit down and watch the evening news.

Today, with the growth of the Internet and smart phones, everyone has immediate access to news, minute by minute via social media and news apps. If you’re a journalist, this means you need to have the multimedia skills to deliver the news on a variety of platforms, be active on social media and constantly add to your journalist toolbox to keep up with the changing industry.

That leads me into a myth about graduate school for journalism: that you don’t need a Master’s degree to be a journalist. I would say yes, that’s true. The actual degree isn’t going to land you a job in journalism, but the skills you received while in grad school will. People go back to school to develop technical skills, improve their writing, find network opportunities, learn from professionals and to make their mistakes in school, rather than in the real world.

These interviews were edited for length and clarity.

Other notable journalism graduate programs worth investigating:

New York University

Northwestern University

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Missouri

Q&A: How AP counts the vote

What a (“Jyrno”) Tool: Jyrno (.com)

Q&A with Jyrno.com’s Daren Copely

By Stephanie Forshee

Photo: (From left to right): Heather Nauert, Daren Copely, Lis Weihl and Mercedes Colwin
Photo: (From left to right): Heather Nauert, Daren Copely, Lis Weihl and Mercedes Colwin

Jyrno.com’s mission is to help aspiring journalists, or “jyrnos,” connect with others in the industry – whether it be to land a freelance gig or internship, to be matched with a mentor or just to showcase their clips all in one place. The online hub is the brainchild of 34-year-old Daren Copely, a newsman turned entrepreneur.

To date, he’s recruited more than 53,000 jyrnos to his site, formerly known as The College Press. Jyrno.com just welcomed 15 new interns this semester, so it’s a busy place in his Orlando office and for the scores of writers who contribute remotely.

The website is updated daily with posts from young jyrnos on topics in line with just about any traditional news publication. Coverage ranges from news and business to sports and entertainment, with several categories in between. But the big difference is that this news is generated by young journalists – mainly in it for the clips and exposure.

Jyrno.com ranks its top stories and top reporters right on the front page, so that’s one approach for writers to gain recognition. There is also a place within the site where reporters can network and view others’ writing samples as well as video and audio clips.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jyrno.com Founder Daren Copely. Here is a segment of that enlightening conversation:

(Q) In Other News: How did the idea for Jyrno come about and how long has it been in the works?

(A) Jyrno: The idea for Jyrno (previously called “The College Press”) came about in 2001 right after 9/11. I was just getting into journalism school, and I found it hard to connect with the media scene and have my content published. Using Jyrno, I developed confidence and content that landed me an amazing internship at Fox News at the age of 22.

Q: Very impressive. What else can you share about your background in journalism?

A: In a nutshell, I always loved writing, talking to people and traveling. Journalism seemed like a perfect fit. I attended journalism school at (University of Central Florida) UCF in Orlando, Florida. While in school, I used Jyrno and the content I created to land an amazing internship at Fox News Channel in New York City, as well as a full time job, after graduation, as a national news producer with CBS.

Q: Jyrno.com has some pretty significant testimonials professing how innovative your concept is. How did the reviews from outlets like FOX come about for the site?

A: The guys from FOX have worked with several of our writers on certain stories. We know many people in the industry and connect with many – for instance when we publish stories and give credit to photogs, etc. So, when it came time for site blurbs, we asked if they could speak of their experience with Jyrno and our team.

Q: Tell me more about the business venture behind Jyrno.com. In a previous conversation, you mentioned Jyrno almost failed four times. What’s the story there?

A: Wow! It is a massive adventure. (Maybe one for my book one day.) I can say, in a nutshell, it has been wild. We worked very hard to raise our initial investment to begin Jyrno, only to have it all stolen by shady web developers who promised the moon. We like to say it was a $10,000 “learning experience.” But it stung…bad. These various people came into our lives as Jyrno was being built and we just had to learn to end it quickly before too much damage was done and move on. We had to change passwords and so on. We now have an amazing team and are rolling well. The horror stories are now things to laugh about.

Q: Is the business now on track for what you had in mind?

A: Yes. We are now launched in beta form. This means we tell our current and new users to expect bugs and if they find any, let us know. This is definitely the state where Jyrno needs to work out the kinks before our final and full launch. But as it stands, we are happy how the company looks today.

Q: I understand Jyrno raised $400,000 in capital. How did that come about?

A: Again, this is a huge adventure story, but I can say in short that we begged everyone we knew in the business, as well as personal family connections. We found people who believed in our idea and wanted to see it succeed. We are very lucky to have these people backing Jyrno. We would not be here today if it weren’t for them.

Q: When do you expect Jyrno will be out of beta?

A: We are hoping for summer of 2016 for a final, out of beta launch. We want to make sure the network is perfect before saying it is “done.” We feel we owe it to our users to provide them with the best features in order to land that perfect job.

Q: Speaking of the perfect job, have you had any success stories from jyrnos connecting with others on your site for jobs, freelance work, etc.?

A: Our students are always emailing us after landing a cool job to thank us for the experience at Jyrno. One of our favorites was Margie Monin a few years back. She landed a job at Random House publishing and then broke away to write her own series of books. This is the reason we are in business. We love helping our kids succeed.

Q: I would imagine stories like this help Jyrno.com’s credibility. What else is it going to take to make the company successful?

A: Well, I would say the main reason companies fail is due to under-funding. As long as we keep showing growth and potential, we should have the funding to make this company flourish. Beyond that, the main way for Jyrno to succeed is our reporters. Without them, nothing is happening on our pages. We want to keep them interested and will do whatever we can to make this happen.

Q: What are your main challenges at this point?

A: (Laughs) If you looked at our bug list, I would say a million. Each day we find code bugs, sign up issues and other things we need to fix. It is a never-ending cycle. But any great business will always have these types of things happen. You just have to stay on top of all of them and make sure it doesn’t hurt your users and their experience.

Q: Have you run into any competitors in this space?

A: Right now there is no direct threat to us. Of course we cannot know every website on the net, but we haven’t been able to identify anyone who is in our zone. So we feel amazing to be the only ones currently. Outside of this space, in general, there are a few companies talking about their own beta. But more often than not, they don’t understand the start-up costs and many times fold before launching.

Q: Is your company yet profitable and how does Jyrno make money?

A: Yes. We are currently making money with ads and membership fees.

Q: How many full-time staffers do you have?

A: Since we re-launched in beta, we currently have 15 active staff members – some in-house, some off-site.

Q: How can people start writing for Jyrno?

A: It is very simple. Simply go to jyrno.com/register and fill out the application form.

Q: Anything else we should know about you or Jyrno?

A: There is a ton you should know about Jyrno! But, we will wait for your next article for those goodies. All we can say for now is that your readers should visit our website and social sites. We have a ton of useful info about Jyrno and our mission there.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What a (Journo) Tool: Sleuthing Around

Ryan Evans, Source Sleuth CEO
Ryan Evans, Source Sleuth CEO

What a (Journo) Tool: Sleuthing Around

By Stephanie Forshee

Occasionally even the most seasoned journalists get stumped when searching for the perfect outside voice to round out a story.

For instance, one journo, Andrew Wicklander, was stuck when he sat down to get one of his podcasts together for Project Idealism, a blog published by Chicago web development company Ideal. Wicklander wanted to speak with someone who had been to space, so Source Sleuth connected him with astronaut Clayton Anderson.

The reason reporters are quick to turn to Source Sleuth more and more is because of their promise to deliver credible sources in 48 hours or less. (There are, of course, exceptions for varying deadlines).

The sleuthing

Much like with Help a Reporter Out (HARO), ProfNet and like services, a journo will visit SourceSleuth.com and answer basic questions about the type of source he or she is in search of.

But Source Sleuth takes a different approach in its sleuthing to enhance the results it delivers.

“HARO, while it’s good, has a lot of inefficiencies,” said Ryan Evans, chief executive of Source Sleuth. “We just realized the process could be better.”

Evans came across HARO when he was planning marketing strategies for his digital marketing company, Lift Marketing. “One of the things we wanted to figure out was how to get journalists to write about us,” Evans recalls.

Enter HARO. Evans was impressed at the idea of a more cost-effective solution than hiring on a big, expensive public relations firm.

With HARO, Evans’ firm Lift paid a fee to show up in journalist’s results to be considered for a source in the story.

“We started from the opposite side when we started introducing our marketing service and were monitoring requests from journalists. In doing that, we kind of realized there were some ways we could do it better ourselves.”

Evans’ main beef with HARO is that they have a massive email distribution list that they dispatch to for every request from a reporter. According to HARO, an average query receives approximately 18 pitches, but can vary.

“Multiple people get back to you. However, only a small percentage work for what you’re working on,” Evans said. “From a journalist side, instead of giving them 30 or even 25 people who don’t make any sense, what I could give them is a handful who do make sense. On the flipside, it’s the same thing: Businesses don’t want to be connected with people who don’t make sense.”

Profnet, a subsidiary of PRNewswire, works similarly to HARO but differently than SourceSleuth in the sense that it does not filter results, rather reporters and experts connect directly.

“No one knows the article the reporter is working on better than the reporter themselves,” said Sandra Azzollini, VP of online communities at ProfNet, in an email. “The expert may not be perfect for that particular story the reporter is working on but might make a good sidebar or might be an expert the reporter would be interested in contacting for a future story.”

Beg to differ

So with its streamlined approach, Source Sleuth launched about a year and a half ago.

Pulling from his staff of six, Evans uses the entire team that works across all three of his companies, even though Gina Spencer works almost exclusively for Source Sleuth. Everyone primarily telecommutes, since four team members live in Chicago, while the others live in Virginia and Russia. Evans said the company also works with contractors in various parts of the world.

As far as what the core team is doing behind the scenes, he said it varies each day based on the amount of requests flowing in.

The team starts each request with its proprietary database it built. (Industry experts are placed in Source Sleuth’s database from a variety of sources – people who have been in the press before, who are affiliated with a particular university, have an authoritative website, etc.)

“Honestly, it’s still a bit of a gut feeling for some,” admits Evans, noting each source is given a score based on his list of criteria.

“If you work at Tesla, you’re probably more credible than someone at a smaller startup,” he explains about weeding through all potential sources. “And then if they’ve been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, that carries a certain weight to it.”

Evans did not disclose the total number of users on the Source Sleuth site, but the company boasts about 2,700 Twitter followers. In fact, Twiiter was one of the main vehicles Source Sleuth used to get its name out there.

The company has been active for a year and a half, but as Evans was quick to note, there was a significant gap between when they launched it and when everyone knew about it.

“Journalists are typically on Twitter, so we started paying attention to what journalists were saying,” Evans said. “We were active in comments that made sense and tweeting out stuff people would find interesting. “

The initial awareness might have spawned from Twitter, but Evans has found other users through word of mouth and by networking at journalism conferences such as SABEW’s two major events it hosts each year.

The sleuthing site is still hoping to receive more feedback from users so it can more accurately track which sources were actually used.

“We have people who are coming back again and again, so we’re assuming those people used it,” Evans reasoned.

Google model

To date, Source Sleuth isn’t yet profitable. Only a small percentage of professionals are subscribed to get top billing in reporters’ search results. Which at this point, Evans finds to his advantage because they are using this time to win over journalists’ trust.

The company might have a little ways to go to catch up with HARO and ProfNet, which both are used by about 30,000 journalists. (They have both been around longer, though, so only time will tell).

As Source Sleuth’s network grows though, Evans believes experts will pay a premium fee to appear among the shortlist. HARO’s basic “freemium strategy” is a model that starts as free for sources, but paid versions with more features are available for $19 to $149 per month.

ProfNet membership is priced on a sliding scale that starts at $80 per month and varies depending on the type of business and number of people at the organization who will receive the queries.

Evans said journalists shouldn’t worry about the Source Sleuth quality going downhill once more sources begin to pay to participate. He likens his Source Sleuth model to that of Google’s AdWords: A company might be paying to keep the No. 1 spot in search results, but if you think about it, the top results are typically very relevant to the search topic.

Evans pointed out that, for example, a soap company is not going to be paying to show up first in “soap” searches if they are not completely relevant to that audience. So he envisions Source Sleuth’s experts will eventually pay in to do the same.

For the time being, Evans said, “We are in the business to make money but we think that will happen if we provide a good experience for journalists. Over time, we’ll have a very solid model, but we have to earn the trust of journalists,” Evans said. “Everything else comes secondary. That’s the fundamental difference in us and what other people have tried or are doing now.”

Check back for more tools for journalists at InOtherNews.me.

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