editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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How not to get that journalism-related job

April 19th, 2008 · 4 Comments

Over the years, I’ve interviewed my fair share of candidates. And while the positions I’ve been hiring for have changed and the candidates have varied, here are five areas that keep my head shaking in disbelief.

So consider these points as either observations or, if you’re looking for a job, words of caution:

  1. No One is Perfect

I don’t care if you really believe that you have never missed a deadline or that your work has never needed to be edited; don’t highlight those points. When I come across a cover letter or resume that emphasizes perfection, it’s typically a bee line to the reject pile. In my eyes, there’s no such thing as a perfect performance and that view just indicates a dangerous detachment.

  1. I’ll Do Anything For You

Even if the song lyrics are stuck in your head, I wouldn’t recommend offering the phrase during an interview. I understand that the job market is tough and I can appreciate that you may be working at a job that you just can’t wait to leave. But when you come in for an interview, it is for a specific job and offering to do anything can raise questions about your suitability for the job in question. [Read more →]

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At a loss for words

March 30th, 2008 · 5 Comments

So a funny thing happened to me on my way to starting my new job. In addition to everyone in our household (with the exception of our cat, Boo) getting monstrously sick, I managed to lose my bloggers voice. I initially chalked up the occurrence to the toll the flu had taken on my body, mind and spirit. But the more I tried to get back into my writing and figure out what was going on, the more I realized it was more then just the lingering effects of my prolonged illness. What I discovered was that I no longer knew what I wanted to say.

The time that I had taken off from daily writing had left my mind muddied and the clarity that I once possessed regarding the myriad of issues facing newspapers was, for the most part, gone. And the more that I tried to figure out what to do, the more overwhelmed by it I became. Not one to give up, I gave it some more thought and realized that more than anything, I was actually frustrated, annoyed and even a bit dismayed.

See, I truly love this industry. And sure, like anything you love, it has it’s wrinkles and warts in addition to it’s ups and it’s downs, nevertheless you still love it. But increasingly, the industry is under attack. Disappearing print circulation, shrinking advertising and surging costs has left it fighting for its financial survival. In addition, our newsrooms and online operations are being overtly influenced by dinosaurs who are content with seeing their employer struggle and fail and by curmudgeonly young employees who have a warped sense of entitlement and the oft-mistaken belief that they alone have the insight and the answers to change this industry for the better.

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→ 5 CommentsTags: Blogging · Editor on the verge · Editor on the Verge · Industry · Mission

Bad online practices from the New York Times

March 11th, 2008 · 5 Comments

OK, here’s a prime example of a lost linking opportunity that actually annoyed at least one reader (me).

On Sunday, the New York Times posted a story “Dancers in the Crowd Bring Back ‘Thriller’.” It’s an interesting and entertaining piece about how Sony BMG has used viral marketing as part of the 25th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Central to the story is that videos of paid dancers breaking into “spontaneous” zombie dances aboard trains and on city streets have become very popular on YouTube, the video sharing site.

Although I’m familiar with the Jackson inspired dance (not that I can do it myself), I found the idea of a video of “zombies” dancing on board a London subway car an entertaining enough idea to check out. The article has visible links to Sony, Kanye West and Fergie (artists who both appear on the a Thriller tribute album) and Tesco. And thanks to their partnership with Answer.com, you can double-click on any term or word for a definition. But nowhere were there any links to the videos on YouTube, nor did the Times decide to embed them.

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→ 5 CommentsTags: Audience Development · Best Practices · Editor on the verge · Editor on the Verge · Metrics · technology · Tools · Traffic

In the name of efficiency, think first

March 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I believe that the phrase “no one can do it all and frankly no one should” must be part of the discussion at any newspaper serious about their online operation.

As I wrote in a previous post, there is a growing sentiment at many papers that there are just too few people to tackle what seems like ever-growing to-do lists. What concerns me about that reaction is that I fear it reflects organizations who are only considering the first “no one can do it all” part of the above phrase.

While organizations can keep on increasing the responsibilities for their reporters, editors, photographers or producers, the reality is quality will suffer and morale will decline. In my mind, it should not be a case of simply adding, but of adding and subtracting. I would encourage you to look for redundancies or places where you can leverage either your existing print or online operation.

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