Wednesday, September 18, 2013

'Journalists need to educate themselves to stay relevant' -- Esther Vargas

Versión en español aquí.

Esther Vargas is a force of nature. She is social media manager for a news agency of the Peruvian government, she teaches at the Catholic University of Peru and she is a tireless promoter of education for journalists through her website, Clases de Periodismo.

The home page of Clases de Periodismo
She and her team of four dedicated collaborators compile the latest news and courses of interest to journalists and share it all through social networks such as Facebook  (54,000 "likes") and Twitter (@cdperiodismo 109,000 followers).

In addition, Clases de Periodismo -- "The Virtual Journalism School of Latin America" -- attracts 10,000 visits a day and generates enough revenue to pay salaries to its staff. The leading traffic source is Mexico, followed by Spain, Colombia, Argentina and her native Peru.

The financing model

The site has low costs. There is no office. The staff meets in cafes or Vargas's home. "We finance the site with workshops, consulting work and social media work for various companies and events," Vargas said in an interview in Puebla, Mexico, where she was giving a lecture

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why investigative journalism is good business

Versión en español aquí.

I may have misled people for the last few years by saying that investigative journalism is not a business but a public service.

Other people -- namely Felix Salmon, Jeff Bezos and four journalists cited by -- are reminding me that investigative journalism does, in fact, have commercial value.

First, Felix Salmon, the Reuters blogger. He made the case in a recent post that while investigative journalism may not produce the web traffic of popular topics, a media organization reaps intangible but valuable benefits. 

For example, advertisers will see that a site is a serious news outlet "and be that much more willing to pay premium rates to advertise on the site as a result. Readers who like having fast news during the day like having meatier stuff to read over the weekend," Salmon says. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What journalism schools can and can't teach students

Versión en español aquí.

A master's degree in English literature might not seem an ideal preparation for a career as a business journalist. Actually it served me well, for all the reasons given by advocates of a liberal arts education. 

But my own experience seems to have little to do with what the journalism job market is seeking today.  Should we be improving students' minds and souls or helping them get a job? 

These days I advise students to be practical. Employers and recent graduates are telling me that the current job market demands that job applicants know:

  • Multimedia storytelling skills. Producing slideshows with sound, shooting and editing video and photos, writing for the web.
  • Data and statistical skills for storytelling. Collecting, editing, analyzing and interpreting data to produce compelling interactive maps and graphics.
  • Audience development skills (formerly known as marketing and circulation) such as managing online communities, interpreting data on audience behavior, crowdsourcing for information, interacting with the audience.
  • Basics of programming. How to create compelling pages that attract web audiences.
  • The business of media. Journalists can help a news organization generate revenues without compromising their ethics, and today that skill is more important than ever.