I’m having quite the time teaching journalism this semester with twice as many staff members before, which means many more eager, opinionated students. I have the most trouble getting my point across when it comes to accuracy, especially spelling and grammatical errors. But it’s more troubling with the bigger mistakes, like word choice and changing meanings. A few students this semester recently expressed the desire NOT to be a journalist, making it harder for my lectures to sink in, I think. One of my fellow Society of Professional Journalist members, Erika Esola, spoke to my class of 14 aspiring journos last week about getting off your rear end, going out there and hustling. “You’re not going to get lucky if you don’t work hard,” she told the class, most of whom subsequently turned their attention from their computers to the young professional standing at the front of the room. Erika is a confident gal – we met at a journalism conference when she approached me to see if I was the one who retweeted her, and then she handed me a blank white card with a QR code on it and told me it was nice meeting me. I was shocked for a second, then impressed and secretly jealous for another brief second, and finally happy to have met her. She’s responsible for motivating me to get this domain back at no1jenn.com so I can continue making opportunities for myself. “Then doors will open up,” Erika said.
Erika’s other tips for the class included finding a niche market and running with it. She created a blog about NFL gossip and was subsequently sued and ordered a cease and desist letter, which ultimately earned her a paycheck. Score!
She spoke about finding her voice for on-camera interviews and I could tell the students clung to her words about confidence and staring at herself in the mirror practicing segments. She talked about her job at a local publication and showed the homepage up on the projector screen – the Twitter widget was filled with her latest: “I’m like the only peron who tweets,” she said, somewhat defensively. “It’s pretty sad.”
The most compelling argument to back up my demand for correct concise writing in addition to multimedia skills and creating Twitter accounts or utilizing the Facebook page of the student newspaper was Erika’s call for the “five tool players,” a baseball term being carried over to journalism. “It means being able to write, edit, shoot photos, edit video and do social media,” Erika explained. “If you’re going into journalism, you need a Twitter. It’s crucial.”
I sat back, smiled smugly, knowing I said the same thing on the first day of class but only about five students took the advice.
Erika reviewed a few students’ Twitter accounts, telling one to “lay off the hashtags. It’s too much.”
Then, she picked out one student and Googled her name, finding old model photos of said student in a bikini…Erika reiterated the importance of professionalism and ended by asking for a few interns for her upcoming documentary project. I was proud when two students quickly volunteered.