Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Great Accomplishment

To all recent graduates,

As I sit in my living room, piling around all the job ads I should be applying to, I have been thinking about the mentality of a job seeker. As many of us know way too well, this is not the best of economic times. Whether you are still searching for the right opportunity, took a decent job just to move away from home, barely making rent or even working for your dream employer, the same mentality applies.

Recent graduates have forgotten about the work we have done. Many of us, who have recently graduated from a four-year university, are forgetting about what we have accomplished. Whether you went to the University of Illinois, Montana, West Virginia or Judson, you did the work to get out of there alive. You had those all-night study sessions cramming a semesters’ worth of material into your brain. You sat through those boring lectures that counted towards your attendance grade. You went into office hours trying to get help on that lesson you learned last week. You did it all.

Now, since some have graduated and have yet to find that perfect fit somewhere, we forget about everything we have done. Graduating college is no small feet. Just because we are not where we thought we would be, doesn’t mean we are failures. I know from first hand experience that I have felt like a failure in these last couple of months. I then ask myself; why am I failure? I know I have done all I can to land that great writing job I know I deserve. I know I got through college, met new people, branched out and did things I never thought I could. I am sure everyone had great accomplishments during those four amazing years that they never even dreamed of.

What I am trying to say is that no matter where you are in life, you can’t forget what you have achieved. Just because you are not where you want to be now doesn’t mean you won’t get there. Failure is defined as an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful. None of us are that. I think everyone needed to be reminded of this.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

State of Journalism

Hello all journalism lovers,

Welcome to an edition of Jacob's thoughts on journalism. It has been a long time since that journalism 420 editing class (thank g-d that ended). After re-reading some of my posts from about a year ago, I would like to bring back some of those conversations with a new and updated look on them.

All journalism majors have heard for the past four years is that our future looks bleak. Let's face it; people are not buying newspapers as much as they once were. Even being a journalist, I understand why. Who would pay for the Chicago Sun-Times when they can get any article for free online? Having just graduated, with the little money that I have, I am learning the true meaning of a dollar. People are tightening their belts and when something can be replaced for gratis, people will give in.

Despite this fact, despite people telling me for four years I am in the wrong industry, I am not giving up. I am so tired of people saying you shouldn't do this since it won't be here in 10 years. I am tired of people saying you are not going to make any money. I am tired of people saying you won't make it. I am tired of you people.

Unless you are a true journalist, you do not know the effort that goes into being a full-time reporter, photographer, editor or designer. You do not know our drive to capture the moment or break that once in a lifetime story. You do not fully comprehend our AP style of journalism. Most importantly, you do not understand our love for the industry that can not fail.

Chicago readers will always want to see what Richard Roeper has to say about Illinois’ hot topic. Sports fanatics will also look at what Rick Telander or Rick Morrissey have to say about Ozzie Guillen or the Chicago Bulls or anything for that matter. These kinds of people matter in our town. I am going to be one of these people. The reason why? Journalism!

So where do I see our industry in 10 years. I see it better than ever. I see new newspapers popping up all over the nation. I see a digital newspaper in everyone’s inboxes. I see new and exciting technology that brings the reader or viewer or whatever closer to the story. I see an industry that stood up the words “I can’t” and said “we did.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Importance of Headlines

This week, we discussed headlines. I think headlines are the most important aspect of journalism a reporter needs to know. If you don’t have a good headline, people will not read your story. If people are not reading your stories, how could any reporter expect to move up in the world?

This brings me to my next point. I don’t know how professional papers do it, but why does the DI have the copy editors write the headlines? The reporter knows the story best. The reporter is one who went out and talked to sources. The reporter has a feel for the story that no one has. Shouldn’t the reporter be writing the headline? I think so.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Industry in 10 years

This week in lecture, we were asked where we see our industry in 10 years. I would like to add my two cents. Honestly, I feel newspapers will be no more in 10 years. All news, other than TV and radio, will be online. People will start having to pay to visit Web sites such as and I also see protests outside of newspaper buildings begging them to print again.
This may seem like a bleak future, but with new times come new technology. Let’s face it; people are not paying for a newspaper anymore. They are going online, for free, where they can search for what they want to read. Old school people will not like it, but these are the times we are living. Better get use to a computer screen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Understanding Diversity

This week I would like to talk about my conclusion from my research paper. I researched newsroom diversity. For the last 15 years, newsroom diversity has stayed relatively consistent at around 12 percent. Honestly, I feel that this number is fine.

Obviously, minorities will not agree with me. They will argue that in order to cover a diverse populace, you need a diverse newsroom. This is simply not true. Journalists are professionals. They need to master their craft. They need to be able to cover topics that don’t relate to them. The reporters themselves can and need to cover a diverse population.

Keith Woods, the diversity guru from Poynter, helped journalists with this problem when he came up with the equation E = w (y + c + f). E stands for excellence. W is the amount of work. C is your craft and f is your frames. Woods substitutes excellence for diversity because journalism is not about diversity. In “The Values and Craft of American Journalism,” Woods explains why he didn’t put D into the equation. He says that all journalists in a free press adhere to the same principles. “They stand for truth, accuracy, fairness, courage, precision, comprehensiveness, independence, giving voice to the voiceless, holding the powerful accountable, informing, educating, taking people where they can’t or wont go” (Woods 106).

Our job is bigger than diversity. Our responsibility is to the people. To fulfill our responsibility, we need to understand them. We need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to feel comfortable asking questions. These are the things the journalism industry should be concentrating on, especially in a time of economic uncertainty. These ideas, as Woods says, are “an ageless journalistic truth, not new math” (115).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Writing Captions

Until this week, I never knew how hard it was to write captions. I honestly thought photographers had one of the easiest jobs in the world. All they have to do is take a picture and then describe it. Until you have actually written caption, you have no idea how hard that is.

How about writing lead-in captions? The photographers have to not only describe the picture in three words or less, but also have to grab the reader’s attention. It’s not like a headline where you can explain more in the lead. You have to do everything in three words or less. That is not easy. I almost feel lucky that I want to be a reporter and not a photographer.

I know no one except people in our class will be reading this, but this post is meant for people not in journalism. It is a call out to all those people who think being a photographer is so easy. Go to newspaper Web site and try to write a caption or two for stories you know nothing about. Try to write a caption in less than three words and then ask yourself; would people read this story? I am willing to bet you can’t do this as fast as you think. Good luck.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Industry

This week, the journalism industry took another big hit. Certain papers have decided to decrease their circulation or even go to online only. This is just another casualty of the economy. This is probably the third or fourth time this semester where we discussed a topic that makes me question why I am going into journalism. Why am I going into journalism? Is it because I have the need to know things? Is it because I want to be underpaid? Is it because I want to do sports writing? The fact is I am not sure. I'm sure I am not alone on this case.

It is hard for a 21-year-old to figure out what he is going to do with the rest of his life.
I think we need to discuss more positive issues in class. We should be talking about why journalism is such a great career. We should talk about how important our future jobs are. Let’s be optimistic for a change.