Jordan Young of the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University walks readers through the steps she took to get her side project, Boxx Magazine, off the ground with funding. My two favorite tips are things that many journalists have trouble putting into practice …
Get Help. Track down people who have been awarded grants before and ask them for advice. If you’re like me, you’re not naturally inclined to ask for help and you haven’t done anything like this before. You’re learning while doing. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. The best way to save time is to gather all the helpful tips from those who have tried something similar before.
Learn some business. You will need at least a basic understanding of business concepts, or have a partner who does. Not everyone majored in business — I’m finally glad I did. Again this is where research is your best friend. Take a class, ask for advice, and use that Internet.
Stephanie Yamkovenko, a freelance journalist in the Washington, D.C., area, discusses how she overcame her fears of tweeting and discovered that Twitter could be a boon, not a bane, to her career. Early adopters may find some of her former fears somewhat exaggerated, but I think this post is a great comfort to more old-school journalists who still wonder what the hoopla is about and how to use the platform responsibly.
Here’s a sample of what she’s talking about, in a segment where she discusses overcoming the fear of appearing biased if she used Twitter:
I feared seeming biased.
I’m no ideologue, but I prefer not to share my opinions publicly and was afraid these might “slip out” on Twitter. I’ve found it’s possible to stay politically neutral on Twitter, though it does take some effort. Before I follow someone or retweet something, I try to imagine how a reader might interpret that action. If it would make someone question my objectivity, I don’t do it — just like I don’t put campaign signs in front of my house or bumper stickers on my car.
Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, shares brain research that articulates precisely why storytelling produces such a profound impact on our brain and the brains of others. He also provides several tips for leveraging that power to accomplish your goals in terms of influence with other people using storytelling.
Caroline O’Donovan, a staff writer for the Nieman Journalism Lab, writes a thought-provoking piece about Arizona State University journalism professor Dan Gillmor (who is a heck of a nice guy, BTW – I have interviewed him for a podcast and he’s judged a writing contest my magazine held) and his attempts to help journalists better understand online security systems and controls. Gillmor’s concern is that journalists aren’t aware of the impact of widely used platforms (like Facebook, for example) when they block or censor content. She quotes Gillmor talking about why remaining ignorant of this issue can do more than just put their own careers at risk – it can endanger the lives or livelihoods of their sources:
It’s not just employees and others who want to blow whistles who need to be more careful — such as using external accounts, encryption and a lot of other tools to be safer. (Note: I didn’t say “safe”, because absolute safety is exceedingly hard to achieve, if it’s even possible.) Journalists, too, need better tradecraft when it comes to their dealings with sources. My impression of the typical newsroom’s precautions is that there aren’t many.
It’s a great introduction to a topic I have to admit I hadn’t really given much thought to before.