Social media for journalists who don’t want to do social media

It’s 2020 and social media is all round us – on our phones, on our computers, the subject of countless news stories.

Young journalists effortlessly navigate this landscape, as people born to it should.

Older journalists are probably using some platforms, some of the the time, with irritation or resignation or resentment. Because social media took our lunch, right? Google and Facebook and Twitter took the advertising and now our business model is stuffed. Continue reading

Four email newsletters worth trying

My 17-year-old son doesn’t understand how people can possibly spend large portions of their day reading and answering email.

As far as I can tell, he deals with the issue by magisterially ignoring all email sent to him.

For the rest of us, the inbox is a place where we seem to spend a lot of time. I have systems to make email easier, and I regularly cull emails that I don’t ever read, or that I don’t need.
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Journalism skills – what you need to learn (and keep learning) to succeed

In the old days, just four or five months ago, if I met new people (remember that? going out and meeting people?), if I was asked what I did, I would say: “I am a journalist.”

Truth be told, that doesn’t really cover what I do at all. In the lengthy process of re-evaluating my business this year, doing an online business questionnaire revealed that what I actually do is help busy people get things done. I take the skills I have acquired and put them to use doing whatever needs doing: writing, editing, proofreading, sub-editing, online journalism, social media, being a shoulder to cry on, making a plan when things have gone wrong, providing gentle observations about what I see, helping untie management knots, cutting through to the heart of a problem, keeping track of projects… you get the picture.

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How to tell truth from… everything else (Fake News 101)

This is the year of the little round virus. So it’s also the year when we all really, seriously, need to get a grip on “fake news”. It’s always been important, but we are now in a place where sharing something dodgy on WhatsApp might affect someone else’s health.

Journalists are engaged in complex debates about this (of course) – what is fake news, how to counter it, is fake news even the right term for it?

For everyone else, this is what you need to know.
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When a caption goes wrong…

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A White House reporter for the Associated Press found herself in a spot of bother this week: a tweet in which her “caption” did not identify one key figure was picked up by South African on Twitter and all hell broke loose.

One Darlene Superville was attending the G7 Summit in France and snapped a shot of a clutch of world leaders, one of whom was South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Thing is, she initially called him an “unidentified leader” in her tweet (effectively a photo caption). She later re-did the tweet, this time with his name, but not before she had been called lazy and disrespectful by South Africans on Twitter. Many people suggested that a simple Google search would have done the trick. Continue reading

Copyright: What it is, why it is important

Advert for my coaching businessOne of the trickiest things in online publishing is the question of copyright – especially with regard to photographs and other kinds of illustrations.

Collins Dictionary’s learner section has a simple way of defining copyright:

If someone has copyright on a piece of writing or music, it is illegal to reproduce or perform it without their permission.

Oxford (a premium version but here is the link) is a bit more complex:

The exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.

In other words: someone, a real human being or beings, made something. It belongs to them and they have a right to be paid if you use it. Continue reading

From truth to ego: Effective journalism in the digital age

I was recently asked to be a presenter at a workshop offered by Safrea (the freelancer’s organisation in South Africa) – and given the topic: Effective Journalism in the Digital Age.

When I sat down to prepare for the workshop (which mutated in the end into a webinar), I realised that I needed to define what effective journalism means. The term was thought-provoking – probably because journalists themselves don’t often think about what they do in terms of its effectiveness.
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