Friday, July 16, 2010

How Leezel got to the Big Apple

Wow wow wow.

That's all I've got right now about my week at Poynter.

On our last day, we did three minute "pitches" of our web-based journalism projects to a panel, explaining the audience, the problem our site would solve, what our competition is, and how we'd generate revenues. (If this sounds like fun, take Entrepreneurial Journalism this fall! Seats still available!)

Poynter videotaped our presentation, and the panelists gave us great feedback on our presentations, where they needed tweaking, and what we did well. I won't talk about the other projects because the Las Vegas rule was in effect. (What happens there stays there.) Although you may see some of them soon on a website near you.

Our "graduation" ceremony was surprisingly emotional. Journalists are pretty fun people and we had all become friends pretty quickly! Several people who had been laid off or who had faced other life challenges spoke from the heart about the sense of renewal and the hope they had built during the week, as they found some clarity about their projects and where they fit in the new journalism landscape.

For anyone over 40, it's landscape that has changed around us, a lot like that John Cusack movie where he's barely escaping in the plane as the entire state of California falls out from under him.

They had all discovered, over the course of five days, that they may actually have a future in journalism--even though it's not quite clear what that future is. And they now understand--just like you UMass Journalism Program students need to understand--that you're going to have to shape your own journalistic future way more than previous generations.

Are you ready? That's what Entrepreneurial Journalism is about. And we'll be talking about that more and more this year.

I got a lot of resources that can help you think about that future and I'll be posting over the next few days once I get home, and sharing in my courses next year.

First. Gotta tell you about Leezel. Here she is. Not much older than you. She's from SoCal (but not too much longer. More about that in a sec.)

She is 27, went to UCLA. Did internships, in both print and broadcast. Went into the graduate program in Asian studies, and, "instead of doing a masters thesis no one would read," developed a website to serve the huge community of young (twenty-something) Filipinos in SoCal.

These are the next generation of Filipino immigrants, who may not have even been back to the Phillipines. The site provides both services and information.

Leezel did her graduate work while working fulltime on the overnight at KCAL 9, an LA TV station, in the news dept. Worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Went home at 7 for a little sleep, then to classes, then home for a little more sleep. Then back to work. Over and over again.

She developed her web chops, her writing chops, and her networking chops. Went to any journalism conference she could, even if she had to volunteer to work at it, or it cost her a lot of money, because she knew it was an investment that she had to make.

And it paid off. She'll be back to doing the overnight next month. Only this time, she's doing it in the Big Apple. At She learned the big news while she was here.

Her advice: dive in to it all. Don't define yourself as a print journalist or a broadcast journalist. Develop yourself as an online, multimedia journalist, because no matter where you thought you wanted to work when you started college, online is where the opportunities are now. And being an online person means knowing how to do it all.

So, say you're a photographer. You want to go work for a print outlet, right? Tell that to David Gilkey, who's a photographer for NPR. Er, a radio network.

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