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Quick Tips for Better Journalism: Selections from a NewsU webinar

Quick Tips for Better Journalism: Selections from a NewsU webinar

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If you're looking for affordable and convenient journalism training (that you can do in your pajamas), there are few better resources than Poynter News University. They have, for example, self-directed courses on covering hospitals and reporting on traumatic events.

On Tuesday, NewsU hosted what can only be described as a mega-webinar. For their 100th online seminar, they presented "100 Ideas to Make Your Journalism Better." Poynter faculty and associates offered tip-of-the-iceberg advice and good reminders about how to work smarter, from editing video to managing your time to dealing with difficult colleagues,.

This week in Career GPS, we bring you the best ideas for health journalists from the NewsU session. (If you're looking for a deeper learning experience in health journalism, the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, creators of this website, are a great way to go.) The week's health media jobs and fellowships are at the end of this post. Keep up with Career GPS via RSS.

Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, implores editors to give shorter stories better play and resist the temptation to spend all of your time on the biggest, "flabbiest" stories. Short pieces can have a lot of depth, Clark says, especially if they are serialized over time. Read good short work -- Facebook and Twitter updates that you find compelling, for example -- and look for what makes those updates powerful.

Aly Colón, independent journalist and instructor, says that you should look for a "listening post" to help find untold stories. Go to a place where people congregate and absorb what is going on. Seek out under-covered communities, he says, by studying their histories, finding "local guides," and by simply having open conversations with members of that community. Admit your ignorance and treat your sources with respect. "It really helps when people know that you really want to learn something," Colón says.

Media business analyst Rick Edmonds and author of The Biz Blog at Poynter says that journalists need to know what is happening in the business of journalism. "We're still looking at more reductions in news staff," he says, and we should be prepared for leaner times going ahead. Digital startups are good areas for opportunity, especially those with premium content and "meter models" where you pay per article. Print prices have gone up, making the need for dynamic digital content even greater. Federal and business coverage are booming, even though most other areas are contracting, Edmonds says.

Chip Scanlan, author of the popular Chip on Your Shoulder blog, says that "good questions are keys that open padlocks and doors to people's lives and beliefs." For better interviews, "Ask good questions, listen and shut up," Scanlan says. Thinks of an interview as a canoe, where the source does the paddling and the interviewer is simply steering. Open-ended questions -- how, why, when, where -- are therefore best, especially for people who have not been interviewed before. Allow silence so that people will open up and fill the gaps with rich answers. Close-ended questions are good for getting unambivalent, on-the-record answers but should be used sparingly.

Ellyn Angelotti, Poynter's interactivity producer, says that news is "no longer passive." You can engage with your audience before and after stories are published. She offered this excellent graphic highlighting the "new" news cycle:

new news cycle809

There is a lot of fodder for discussion and future posts here. Offer your top tips and let me know what you want to know more about in comments.

Health Media Opportunities

New Job and Internship Listings

Communications/Advocacy Associate, Global Health Strategies (via

Location: New York, NY
Status: Full Time
Medium: Communications

Health Editor,
Location: Atlanta, GA
Status: Full Time
Medium: Online

Health & Yoga Editor, BML (via Ed2010)
Location: New York, NY
Status: Full Time
Medium: Online

Medical Reporter, WABC-TV (via
Location: New York, NY
Status: Full Time
Medium: Television

Men's Lifestyle Writers/Editors, U.S.-based website (via Ed2010)
Location: "Ideally" Turkey, India, Mexico, or Brazil
Status: Freelance, $500-1,000 per month
Medium: Online

Online Editor, health vertical, Dallas Morning News (via
Location: Dallas, TX
Status: Part Time
Medium: Online

Temporary Online Photo Editor, (via Ed2010)
Location: New York, NY
Status: Two-weeks in March
Medium: Online

Senior Editor, iVillage Pregnancy & Parenting
Location: New York, NY
Status: Full Time
Medium: Online

Fellowships and Grants

Rosalynn Carter Fellowships For Mental Health Journalism
Eligibility: Open to journalists with at least three years of experience and citizenship from United States, Romania or South Africa
Included: $10,000 stipends to report on mental health issues, mentorship to complete reporting project
Deadline: Apr. 18, 2011
From the Website: "Fellowships are tailored to suit the needs, interests, and experiences of each fellow. They also generate knowledge and information to benefit the mental health field and the public. When appropriate, the program requests that fellows conduct one training session related to mental health and journalism for their peers during the fellowship year."

National Health Journalism Fellowship, USC Annenberg California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Open to professional journalists from print, broadcast, and online media, including freelancers. Applicants need not be full time health reporters, but they need to have a passion for health news (broadly defined).
Included: All-expenses paid six-day program in Los Angeles, $200 stipend and upon completion of what are expected to be ambitious, major fellowship projects.
Deadline: May 2, 2011
From the Website: "To stimulate collaboration between mainstream and ethnic media, we encourage applicants to propose a joint project for use by both media outlets. Up to two collaborators for each project may receive a stipend."

Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Grants, USC Annenberg California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Open to all journalist members of Center for Health Journalism Digital. Print, broadcast and new media journalists from anywhere in the United States are eligible to apply, as are all past fellows of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships.
Included: Provides funding for proposed stories or multimedia projects that illuminate or expose critical community health or community health policy issues and acceptance to the National Health Journalism Fellowship program.
Deadline: May 2, 2011
From the Website: "Proposals can focus on a specific health topic or delve into a confluence of circumstances and conditions that impact health, including environment; social class; crime and violence; urban development; access to health resources or the lack thereof; school absenteeism; transportation or city planning, and and disparities in health. Topics that would NOT be eligible would include clinical trials, medical research, or the latest treatments for a disease or any project involving a population outside of the United States."

California Health Journalism Fellowship, USC Annenberg California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Open to professional journalists from print, broadcast, and online media in California, including freelancers. Applicants need not be full time health reporters, but they need to have a passion for health news (broadly defined).
Included: All-expenses paid seminars in Los Angeles, mentoring for completion of reporting project
Deadline: Aug. 26, 2011
From the Website: "During the Fellowship sessions, Fellows get plenty of time to discuss with experts, and with each other, strategies for covering health news with authority and sophistication. Between the two sessions and for three months after the second session, Fellows confer by phone and e-mail with veteran journalists who guide them through work on major Fellowship projects."

Awards with Upcoming Deadlines

AHCJ-California Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Full-time California print, broadcast and online journalists and part-timers or freelancers who derive the majority of their income from journalism
Award:Financial assistance to attend Health Journalism 2011, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists Apr. 14-17 in Philadelphia
Deadline: Feb. 23, 2011
From the Website: "Fellowships are open to full-time California print, broadcast and online journalists and part-timers or freelancers who derive the majority of their income from journalism."

Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism
Eligibility: Open to journalists in all media working in the United States, Canada or Mexico who report on North American West environmental topics in 2010
Award: $5,000 prize is awarded at the annual Knight-Risser Prize Symposium at Stanford University
Deadline: Mar. 15, 2011 (book deadline has passed)
From the Website: "We want to reward and showcase reporting that best addresses important Western environmental issues - whether or not it was produced by journalists based in Western news organizations. Starting this year, we invite new players, from startups to nonprofits, students and citizen journalists to submit their finest work. Please refer to our standards for journalistic independence as explained below in the eligibility section."

Award for Excellence in Science and Medical Journalism, The Endocrine Society
Eligibility: English-language journalism related to endocrinology and published or broadcast between March 1, 2010 and February 28, 2011
Award: Award plaque and travel to the Society's annual meeting awards dinner in June 2011
Deadline: Apr. 1, 2011
From the Website: "The award recipient is selected by the Society's Advocacy and Public Outreach Core Committee (APOCC). The committee will give weight to entries that demonstrate thorough research, accurate reporting, originality and contribute to the public understanding of endocrinology."

Pfizer Award
Eligibility: This prize is awarded in recognition of an outstanding book dealing with the history of science. The book must be published in English during a period of three calendar years immediately preceding the year of competition (books eligible for 2006 were published in 2003, 2004, or 2005). Edited volumes, as well as works with more than 2 authors, are not eligible. A multi-volume work by one or two authors may be nominated only after the publication of all the volumes.
Award: The award consists of a medal and $2,500.
Deadline: Apr. 1, 2011
From the Website: "The prize committee may consider books where medicine or technology is a central theme. However, both the Society for the History of Technology and the American Association for the History of Medicine award their own prizes and while strict separation of fields is not always possible or desirable, the Pfizer Award should be given to a book that is principally a history of science."

Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment, Society of Environmental Journalism
Eligibility: Any journalism that is predominantly about an environmental subject and published or broadcast in 2010 with $30-$80 entry fee
Award: $500 first-place, $200 second-place and $100 third-place prizes may be awarded in all categories.
Deadline: Apr. 1, 2011
From the Website: "Honors outstanding environmental reporting. Award is given to encourage journalists to help educate the public and public officials on environmental issues. Results achieved by the reporting may be included."

Educational Opportunities

2011 Medicine in the Media Course, National Institutes of Health's Office of Medical Applications of Research
Eligibility: Priority will be given to credentialed, working health journalists in the mass media
Program: Course runs fromJuly 13-16, 2011 on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, accommodations and meals provided but participants will be responsible for covering travel costs
Deadline: Feb. 28, 2011
From the Website: "The course examines the challenges and opportunities inherent in the process of communicating the results of medical research to the public. Stressing an evidence-based approach and re-examining intuitive beliefs about medicine, the course will prepare participants for the crucial task of interpreting and evaluating research findings, selecting stories that hold meaningful messages for the public, and placing them in the appropriate context."

Masters in Specialized Journalism, USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication
Eligibility: Complete online application; separate requirements for each program
Program: Nine-month program with flexible schedule
Deadline: March 5, 2011
From the Website: "These highly customized degree programs are primarily designed for experienced journalists and gifted amateurs; the arts program welcomes practicing artists and recent graduates of arts academies and conservatories."


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[...] Edmonds is a media business analyst who writes the Biz Blog at Poynter Online. In Poynter’s "100 Ideas to Make Your Journalism Better" webinar last week, Edmonds said journalists need to know what is happening in the business of journalism. [...]

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[...] Tips for better journalism, including seeking out under-covered [...]

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I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website.

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