I’m reading a project management book, and in the first chapter is a nifty observation: Your current employer owns your job. You own you’re career.
With that in mind, I thought I offer five things newspaper people could do to benefit their own their careers that, oh, by the way, is also good for their present employers.
- Start a blog. This isn’t an experiment any longer. This is an essential adjunct of 21st Century media. Don’t blog about work. I would say, don’t even blog about media. Also, don’t blog too much about your personal life (lots of landmines there). Blog about something you are passionate about — physical fitness, stamp collecting, beer, etc. Learn the difference between opinion and point of view/informed insight (practice the latter). Read Kevin Roderick or Doug Fisher to learn how two grizzled veterans of the news game learned to adapt their writing and reporting style to the Web, and then do what they do.
- Buy a multimedia camera, such as a Sony Cybershot. You need a quality, but small and inexpensive, camera that does digital stills, audio and video. Buy a holster to clip to your belt or stick it in your purse, but never let it be more than inches from your hand. Citizen journalists do this. You should, too. Sign up for an account with a photo sharing site and post frequently. Link to it from your blog. Take newsworthy pictures on the job and offer them to your newspaper.com.
- Learn to edit video. Buy good software if you like, but both Windows and Mac come with good enough free video editing software. Shoot and edit your own video and upload it to YouTube. If you come up with something newsworthy, offer it to your newspaper.com. But learn the tools of the trade, your trade.
- Become more mobile and digital. This one may be the hardest to do on a reporter’s salary, but if you can find some way to do it, it’s a good investment. Buy a laptop. Make sure you own a mobile phone with all the bells and whistles. Be able to do e-mail and SMS. Be able to post anything from anywhere. I also recommend mobile video, such as SprintPCS offers, so you can learn this emerging delivery method. Buy a video iPod.
- Try your hand at podcasting. I’m not convinced podcasting is the wave of the future, but it might be, though it may not be for you, but nonetheless, it will teach you some essential multimedia skills and expose you to another realm of digital delivery. You should at least try it.
If you do these things, you invest in yourself, you invest in your employer, and you invest in our industry. This is a good thing.