Personal Branding and the Job Hunt

On Tuesday, we’ll start talking about jobs, personal branding and how to land that first gig. Skim/read this “Superpowers” report about the expectations of modern media employers. Peruse the Journo Salary Sharer to see how much reporters make around the country. Check out this Dallas Morning News graphic about the social résumé and Poynter’s 10 Ways to Make Your Journalism Job Application Better Than Anyone Else’s. And if this class has intrigued you about job opportunities related to audience engagement, read this Digiday piece about the evolving job duties of social media editors and/or this recent Columbia Journalism Review piece — you may recognize one of the sources. 🙂

Your homework (5 points) is to email me, answering/reacting to one of the following questions by 11:59 p.m. Monday:

  • What was the most memorable advice you took away from any of these readings?
  • Browse through some of Batsell’s favorite journalism job listings below. What trends/patterns do you see in what employers are looking for?

JOB/INTERNSHIP LISTINGS:’s searchable job database
Mashable jobs
MediaBistro jobs
DFW Communicators Job Bank
Negotiating tips

News as Conversation

My book, Engaged Journalism: Connecting With Digitally Empowered News Audiences (Columbia University Press, 2015) examines the changing relationship between journalists and the audiences they serve. I’m eager to hear your reactions. For Tuesday’s class, please read Chapter 2: News As Conversation (the PDF is on Canvas under “Files”). By 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, post a reaction of 100 to 200 words as a comment on this post addressing the following question: How (if at all) did the chapter change the way you think about the role the audience plays in the journalistic process? For full credit, cite specific examples from your own reading of the chapter, as well as your own observations and experience. It’s not acceptable to piggy-back on your classmates’ answers without reading the chapter yourself. This assignment is worth 10 class participation points.

Twitter’s power as a journalistic tool

For class on Tuesday, Aug. 29: After reading the assigned portions of Briggs in Ch. 2, post a 100-to-150-word comment on this post answering this question: How did the reading change the way you think about how you use (or don’t use) Twitter as a tool for journalism and/or your career goals? Be honest and specific. This is worth 5 class participation points and is due no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28.

Meet Your Professor

Welcome back to SMU, and welcome to Digital Journalism! I look forward to navigating the digital jungle with you this semester.

Here’s a short self-profile I produced for the Video Journalism Movement soon after I started teaching at SMU. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting newsrooms to conduct research on how audience engagement is changing journalism as well as best practices in the business of digital news.

I also invite you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, as well as our still-developing class Twitter list.

Digital Journalism Job Summit!

At Tuesday’s Digital Journalism Job Summit, we’ll visit with three recent SMU and Digital Journalism alums who all are thriving as Web-empowered media professionals:

    • Shelby Foster, public relations manager for NorthPark Center, will join us in person for both classes. During her time at SMU, Shelby blogged as “The Southernista.”

Two additional recent alums will participate in each class via Google Hangout:

  • 11 a.m. class
    • Aida Ahmed, formerly a crime and government reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, is a senior marketing specialist for Deloitte in New York City.
    • Cameron Luttrell is a national reporter for, a network of 1,000 hyperlocal news sites all over the United States. She also is based in New York City.

Follow these star alums on Twitter, and come to class with questions! BONUS: Marissa wrote a blog post for an earlier Digital class with all kinds of helpful job-hunting tips:

Hi Jake!

I’d like to think I learned a thing or two over my job search process so here goes! I apologize in advance for any typos..

1) ENJOY YOURSELF: Enjoy your last few weeks at SMU, they really are some of the best weeks of your entire college career. Graduation, especially the Meadows graduation is such an amazing time spent with your family AND friends!

2) Don’t think you need a job by May 15. You don’t. You’ve worked really hard the past four years and the right job is out there. I remember thinking I should apply to PR jobs just to have “a job” by May 15 like my older siblings had. That couldn’t be more false! In reality, this could be your last summer without a 9-5 job, so enjoy yourself!

3) …that being said, DON’T CREATE A GAP IN YOUR RESUME. The beauty of journalism is you can build your resume anytime any where. Could an accountant build their resume while laying on the beach all summer? No. Journalists can! I spent my summer after college writing for WhatsUpTucket, a social media hub for the island of Nantucket off of Cape Cod. ( I wrote every week, if not every day. I had so much fun interviewing people and writing stories covering what was happening on the island. No matter what you’re doing this summer, blog about it! Tweet about it. Talk about it! Even if it’s “20 things I learned in summer 2012”- use your digital journalism skills and turn it into a piece you can bring in to interviews! When I interviewed at E! for my current job in New Media, they wanted to hear more about my summer writing for WhatUpTucket than my summer spent interning at The View in NYC. I specifically talked about how the site truly branded itself and wrote for a unique audience. This is something all of you have probably already done on your website!

4) NETWORK! It really is the name of the game. While on Nantucket for the summer I met so many different people who knew so many different people who worked in the entertainment field. SO many people you don’t even know yet want to help you find a job! (Myself included!) Tell people upfront that you just graduated from SMU with a degree in journalism, tell them about the daily update, your personal website etc! People will listen and they will help you – so don’t be shy and definitely don’t be embarrassed to say you don’t have a job yet! Trust me, you’re in good company!

5) The Job Search: Be patient, but be persistent! Make a list of job sites that you’re interested in and check them a few times a week. where I found my job, updates their website EVERY day! I would research jobs every Monday and Wednesday of the week last summer and I typically waited to apply to jobs on a Monday or Tuesday. I’m not sure if there’s any truth behind this, but I didn’t think people would be interested in my emails on a Thursday or Friday when they were thinking about the weekend! Also, create a list of companies you’d like to work for and follow them on twitter! Starting today. If you’re intereted in ESPN, follow @RecruiterStacy – she tweets jobs all the time! So does @DisneyABC, foxcareers, etc. I was given the advice to apply for jobs that had “coordinator or assistant” in the title. Don’t be dismayed at careers that require 2-3 years of experience- majority will! Mine did! You have been immersing yourself in many different news platforms the past four years of college — and your hard work should be credited! Talk about your digital journalism work; your knowledge of vimeo, wordpress, garageband etc! Recruiters LOVE to hear from young people who have a good grasp on the futue of the industry, and all of you do!

6) You found the perfect job – but how do you let them know you’d be perfect for it? Many times when I was applying for jobs online I was convinced my resume and cover letters were getting lost in cyberspace. There really is know way to be sure that a job you submit online gets read by the proper person. Try to find someone in HR at the company- many times even just googling the company and HR you can locate a recruiter. Also, don’t be shy about asking around! If your cousins friend brother works at Good Morning America and that’s your dream – send him a facebook message simply asking if he knows the contact information for HR. You’re not asking for a job, you’re simply asking for an email address and everyone who has a job today was in your position at one point. If you can, drop in to the place you’re applying and submit your resume in person. This sounds so old fashioned, but I know many people who landed job this way! It show that your eager and enthusiastic.

7) Interviewing: I truly believe that landing an interview is harder than nailing an interview. Once you have an interview lined up prepare yourself – update your website, tweak your resume, and show up to the interview with writing samples. Be enthusiastic! If nothing else, leave the interview knowing that you were the most enthusiastic person they met that day. Many recruiters are just looking for personalities that are teachable — you can learn any skill set with the right personality and eagerness to learn. Show up prepared with questions – one question I asked was “What is the most common mistake new hires make?” – and people always love that question! People also love to talk about themselves- ask them how they got their start in the industry, where they went to college etc. Highlight your work at SMU and in internships. Be prepared to talk about things you learned along the way. I always say that my summer at The View one of the main things I learned was managing personalities. On and off the screen, ‘The View’ is made up of a cast of characters- there were so many unique personalities and learning how to work with each one of them was the hardest part of the job! It’s “real world” experience like that which shows people that at 21/22 you’re prepared for the industry.

If you need any help brainstorming or talking about ways to highlight your skill set have a mock interview with Jake or Lucy! I am also more than willing to help you. If any of you have any questions, feel free to email me!

Good luck y’all — and congrats on graduating!

Remember: there’s no better time to be a journalist! Really!

All the best,


Take-home audio gathering exercise


The ultimate goal of our two-part audio gathering/editing lab exercise is to produce a short audio clip of 30 to 45 seconds that tells a coherent story. Here’s an example from Digital Journalism alum Laura Rowe, who visited an SMU isotope lab:

And just to show y’all that even old fogies can do this, here are two more example audio labs completed by two of your favorite professors:

Batsell — The Fountain on a Late Winter Day

Suhler — E-mailing: The Scourge of the 21st Century


From these examples, you can see that you will need 1) NAT SOUND; 2) VO and 3) a short INTERVIEW describing the sound (preferably with someone you don’t know).

Save your three (SHORT) raw audio files on your computer or an external drive and post them individually to SoundCloud. Email them to me by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. On Thursday, bring your raw files to class, along with your laptop and some earbuds or headphones. You’ll use GarageBand to edit your three clips into an NPR-worthy masterpiece!

P.S. Looking for some tips on voiceovers? Here’s a great tutorial from the Knight Digital Media Center.

The Power of Multimedia Storytelling


For class on Thursday, Oct. 13, read the “Drilling Down” boxes in the Briggs book on pages 164-5 and 178. Then watch this four-minute audio slideshow by The Washington Post, “No Greater Love.”

In a previous edition of Journalism Next, NBC News Vice President Stokes Young says the promise of multimedia storytelling is to provide what he calls an “immersive experience: bringing the story to viewers through multiple senses and, hopefully, bringing viewers into stories — the experiences of other folks — in ways that increase understanding.”

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, leave a comment on this post (worth 5 class participation points) answering one of these questions:

  • Did “No Greater Love” deliver an “immersive experience” and, if so, how?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

Talking Data Journalism on #NewsEngagementDay

As we’ll hear today from SMU alum and Fox 4 weekend sports anchor Edward Egros, more news organizations (and even major sports leagues!) are using data to engage their audiences and to help people explore things for themselves.

During class today, we’ll dive into data ourselves, splitting into small groups for a short exercise:

Which playoff matchup favors the Texas Rangers? The Toronto Blue Jays host the Baltimore Orioles in tonight’s American League Wild Card game. The Wild Card winner travels to Texas to face the Rangers on Thursday and Friday. For the next 10-15 minutes, your group’s mission is to research statistical trends for the Rangers, Blue Jays and Orioles and then agree as a group on your best educated answer: Which team should the Rangers want to play on Thursday, and why? Is one team more prone to strikeouts than the other? How did each team fare on the road during the regular season? Which team plays better during the day compared to at night, on grass versus turf, etc.? A few resources you may want to consult:

Once you’ve settled on your answer, discuss how you could visualize the data in a way that other sports fans can understand. Pick a spokesperson to share your group’s pick, rationale and ideas for visual presentation.

Live blogging: A staple of 21st-century journalism

Live blogging is an important journalistic tool that can deliver context to readers as they are processing the news in real time. Live blogging often is absorbed a “second-screen” experience during which people simultaneously view live events such as political debates, sports events and even entertainment awards shows.

During today’s live blog exercise, you will bring context to Monday night’s presidential debate by carefully searching for — and evaluating the credibility of — news reports and other resources that provide your readers with critical background and perspective. We will use CoverItLive, which is used by many journalism organizations to provide running coverage of live events. In the past, SMU J-students have even used CoverItLive to live blog about the SMU Student Senate, college lacrosse and SMU’s Celebration of Lights.

We will live blog the speech for about 25 minutes. For your live-blog entries, you can paraphrase the candidates’ comments, use direct quotes, provide links or share your own journalistic observations. (Whether you personally agree with the candidates doesn’t matter … you are simply trying to bring context to your readers who are following the speech.)

When the speech goes live, it’s going to seem a little chaotic. That’s OK. There are no points at stake here. It’s a practice exercise.