Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keeping Up With Your Inner Journalist: A Brief Memo on Maintaining and Improving Skills


Some of us multimedia journalism students are graduating this weekend, and some of us are sticking around for another semester.

No matter what the case is, keeping up with journalistic skills we acquired at UT will prove to be extremely beneficial in any school or career path.

This is because journalism requires critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a vital component of surviving and thriving in the real world of internships, jobs, and graduate schools.

Journalism is best simplified as the gathering and sharing of information, two topics every productive society must pay attention to.

Researching stories, shooting video, organizing a photo shoot, prepping interview questions, and creating marketing plans all require the analysis of various factors others might not immediately think of.

These abilities are not only valuable for reporting but are also useful in other fields. To know how to effectively gather and share knowledge is an invaluable tool to harness and nurture.

Here are three things you can do to sustain the freshness of your talents.

1. Make sure you own the tools you need to efficiently gather and share information.
  • While the terms "mojo" and "backpack journalism" seem silly to some, the concepts they describe are not.
  • The ability to capture events and send them to contacts is important. If you cannot achieve this on your person, competing in the future will more difficult. This is because with the increased popularity of handling all business via cell phone (calls, messages, photos, document sharing, etc.).
  • This can be achieved by remembering what the essentials are: your smart phone, a laptop if possible, and a USB port or SD card to store the things you capture.
2. Maintain a contextual perspective on journalism by reading a healthy dosage of blogs dedicated exclusively to the topic.
  • By even just scanning a variety of journalism or tech blogs on a regular basis, your mind will automatically pay attention to key words it recognizes, and consequently be able to recognize the overall trend and what it means.
  • For example, usage of the word "tweet" exploded in the past year. This indicates how embedded social media has now become in our culture. This is pertinent information to everyone, not just news makers.
  • Keep up with these to start with: Mashable, Media Shift, and CyberJournalist.
3. Multimedia journalism is relevant to your life, no matter what. Challenge yourself to encourage it!
  • This is the hardest thing to do, not just for recent graduates. As people become distanced from material they learned, the less relevant it becomes.
It really is important to maintain these skills we have learned, even if they are just the basics. You never know what people or future employers might be impressed by. Be knowledgeable about your crafts. Yes, even the ones you thought you forgot, or think will be unimportant.

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