Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From Student to Struggler

A tale of disappointment and frustration...so far.

My phone rang about three days ago, but in typical fashion, I missed the call.  I didn't notice the voicemail until around 8:00 p.m., hours after the initial contact.

With all the random phone numbers that show up on the screen of my now-old-tech iPhone 3GS, I get nervous.  Is it the power company? Or is it Comcast, calling to steal even more from my wallet?  I knew it couldn't be a job offer.

And it's not from a lack of trying.  In the month that I have lived in Denver, I have had more than five interviews with different companies, and that doesn't count the number of applications I filled out - more than 25.  Not only were most of the managers interviewing me less professional than even myself, the sessions lasted less than 30 minutes.

The Interviews

The first interview I had was an awkward joke.  After sailing though the group "interview," which turned out to be an informative meeting and round-table with two questions for each of us to answer...all 15 of us. So I made it through that, only to be thrown into an interview with a malicious lady and a stoner manager.  About half way through the interview, she asked me "So, why are you so nervous?  You seem nervous."

"Ummmm..."  What was this lady implying?  It's a entry-level position at a massive corporation.  I'm not too paranoid.  "I'm not nervous at all, sorry for seeming so."

"Oh, that's ok, maybe it's just your energy level."

Ok so now I'm neurotic?  Well, as you can guess, I got a call saying they were going another way.

My third interview was at another, similar job.  But everyone employed by this branch is female.  I don't care, my sexuality lends itself to being respectful to women - both of us have to deal with men.  But the manager asked me, "And, how would you fit in with this group of women?"  In case your eyes aren't wide yet...that question is illegal.

But not to worry, I covered my ass quickly.  I consider that to be a great personal trait.  But, when after a week I hadn't received a phone call, I went into the store.  The manager informs me, in a "Cash Cab" type of response, "Well, we offered the job to another person...." (long pause)  "And she accepted."

"She?" Amazing...

I'm still considering a lawsuit.

Yet, in what I consider to be the worlds shortest interview, I not only said very little about myself, I was more or less asked to conduct the interview.  "So, what kind of questions do you have about the position," my interviewer asked.

"Well, what about the sales goals for team members?"

"We need to sell...." Blah blah blah, same as any other retail interview.  And after a quick discussion of advancement, I was asked again, "Well, do you have any questions about the position?  Any more?"
"No, I think that's it," I said, subconsciously shaking my head.

A total of less than five minutes.

Needless to say, as I left that interview, I was more or less done with the job search.  If I was meant to make money then the job would come to me.  Maybe I'm not getting these jobs due to fate.

The Outcome

-- It's 10:00 pm now and I still haven't listened to the voicemail I received earlier.  By this point, I was having a good time, celebrating the 4th of July a bit early.  So I gather the courage and tap the voicemail.

"Hey Mark, this is ___________ from ________."  Ok, here we go, moment of truth, could be one way or the other.  "Just wanted to talk to you about your application with us, please call back."

SO CLOSE! I almost didn't have to stress for that night.  But now, I had to worry about having to call in and hear, live, the outcome of my interview.

When I finally called, I heard "We had about 300 applicants for the position and we have decided to go ahead and hire you."

".......Wait, really?!"  I actually said that.  Oops.  But he laughed it off and said I should come in and fill out some paperwork to get me on my way.

So here is the long and short of it.  I no have a job.  Here are the things that I am disappointed about:
     1) The job I have is retail, starting position, and only part-time, paying minimum wage.
     2) It's not in journalism

But, this is the life of a newly graduated student from Colorado State University in the college of Liberal Arts, the school Journalism and Technical Communication with a concentration in news and editorial.  It's a tough job market, full of filled positions and unbelievable competition.

I am grateful for this job I have been offered.  Every day I go, I am going to remember that there is a chance that I can move up in this company, maybe even head the marketing one day.

Hey, I have a business minor.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Allegedly Ethical

Chelsea Handler, The View and a bevy of other television shows have recently landed on a disturbing habit: Using the term "allegedly" simply to cover their bases.

This is my point: When someone watches any of these shows and hears a celebrity is "allegedly" this or that, people will start to tune it out.  Allegedly is no longer used on television to make sure that nothing is proven, it is used to make sure they don't run into a lawsuit. 

Don't get me wrong, I love Chelsea Handler and all of those celebrity talk shows, but I recently ran into another clip from the View in which they are discussing the sexuality of church ministers and used the term allegedly as an afterthought.  After stating "And he is gay," Whoopie Goldberg later emphasized "allegedly," more or less defeating the purpose of the word.

So be ethical and make sure people know that "allegedly" needs to be used ethically.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Journalism needs to market itself

I went out and found a couple articles discussing what the journalism industry can do to better market itself to consumers.  Read the articles and check out my summary, let me know what you think!

     The article describes the importance of using social media and enabling user-created content for newspaper websites, and how doing so has proven to be a powerful market awareness tool.  One website, used as an example in the article, which has seen website traffic "rise 15 to 20 percent," an impressive statistic noting the current decline of newspaper profits.  When a newspaper receives more traffic, advertisers are more likely to place ads in the paper, thus adding incoming cash flows. 
     In class, we discussed the importance of market recognition and how, generally, more recognition is better.  Say, for instance, that The New York Times online implemented a social-media section, and the name was to grow in popularity among the "facebook users," the company would be more highly recognized and it is likely that newspaper sales could increase as an effect.

     The Internet if full of news websites.  So full, in fact, that creating a serious segment of penetration within the online news market is extremely difficult.  According to this article, however, it is easier for established newspapers to grab hold of online readers, and the increase in market penetration has helped awareness among readers.
     Market penetration, as discussed in marketing classes, is achieved primarily through more aggressive marketing mixes, which is what many newspapers are doing by changing the place distribution methods of their articles (moving online) as well as price decision changes (giving news away for free).

     This article states the main point that a newspapers target group “feels it simply can’t live without a newspaper.”  And this is true, but the definition of newspaper is changing.  A newspaper without an online source for video and audio doomed to fall behind the rapidly evolving industry. 
     To me, this represents a blend of market penetration as well as market development.  While the newspaper industry is looking to involve a more diverse, new market, they are trying to pay attention to the core consumers who drive the industry and incorporate them into a new marketing strategy.

     While newspapers are lacking in ad revenue, it is still important for companies advertising in these outlets to reach their consumers.  An ad for Chrysler ran in an Canadian newspaper promoting a discount for Chrysler employees, but the deal was actually available to any customer.  Many found this to be “convoluted” and misleading, which a company is never looking for.
     This is an example of the importance of defining marketing strategies for new promotions.  Why would a company advertise that a sale if available for a select few when it could be more successful advertising to the whole applicable consumer group?

     Advertorials have become a common occurrence in today’s magazine media.  Advertorials are ads that run almost incognito as an article written by authors of the publication.  These ads, however, are written by the company being advertised.  The ethical implications of such issues are obvious.  The article states, however, that these ads are less intrusive on the reader, and therefore positive for magazines.  For this reason, many companies are leaving the burden of the ad for the publication due to the intense need for ad revenue.
     In class we discussed the ethics of advertorials.  I agree with this article in that advertorials are a good way for a company to reach a target audience, but leaving the burden of advertising on publications raises serious journalistic ethics questions.  Should advertising and promotion be combined with truthfulness and honesty?  Many think it is an impossibility.

US to hold Press Freedom Day in 2011 after praising England's arrest of Wikileaks president


Bittersweet, it would seem, that the US was selected by the United Nations to host next year's annual Press Freedom Day during one of the most polarized press freedom discussions in recent history.

Founder of the website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was arrested in England and jailed, according to an article in The Daily Caller, due to sexual assault charges and a warrant issued by Swedish authorities.  We all know, however, of the recent allegations against Assange and the fears that he is committing espionage by releasing classified information.

A CBS News article noted Sen. Joe Lieberman as taking a drastic stand: if wikileaks broke espionage law, so has the New York Times.  Now we have a problem.

Where is the line?  The New York Times has had a solid reputation throughout its existence and has even admittedly held stories from the paper in order to protect US citizens.  Wikileaks, however is nothing more than a blog ran by a guy who is way to into his own power and far too willing to endanger the United States.  Wikileaks is not news, it is not press, it is simply vanity.

In the short of it, do not pull the New York Times into a serious espionage investigation.  It simply does not make sense.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Josh McDaniels and The Internet

It's no question that now ex-head coach of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels, made recent mistakes, including the taping of previous games and what many have called poor sportsmanship. Because of this, fans called for his resignation, holding signs at games encouraging the investors to fire the coach.

This evening, McDaniels was officially fired, and the response was mixed.  Some said it was about time, others were shocked that the team decided to make such a costly financial decision.  But the most impressive thing about this story is the speed at which the news spread.

Within 30 minutes of the ESPN story being posted on the website, the term "McDaniels" was trending worldwide on Twitter and a facebook post on the Denver Broncos profile had reached over 2,000 "likes."  It is becoming apparent that if you are logged on to the internet, you are likely to run into a breaking news story that will may become huge news the next day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The AP Stylebook and New Editions: A Necessary Nuisance

     Every year, out friends at the Associated Press decide that new rules need to be applied, and thus, that we all must purchase, or at the least pay attention to, the newest version.  At nearly $25 per edition, the costs can add up on a tight budget, which is a factor for many journalists these days.  Each edition contains minimal changes, but yet these changes are large enough that most of the industry pays attention.

     This years edition, however, contains some of the most important changes in recent memory: the addition of the social media guidelines section.

Website: Now that looks better
     According to a press release on the AP Website, the style book has changed the term "Web site" to now be "website" due to increased usage of this version in print as well as online.  This is a welcome change, as the separated version of the word tended to stick out in professional pieces due to constant misuse.
     A skeptic and/or someone outside of the realm of journalism would say, "Isn't this just a word?"  But to those of us in the know, it may meen something more significant.  The AP Stylebook is the go-to bible for writers and has stood highly as a "this is how it is" type of organization.  But the overuse of a word spelled incorrectly forced AP to change their tone.  This is just something to think about.

Twitter is not a substitute
     Another important addition to the 2010 AP Stylebook is the discussion of twitter.  It makes this one important point: Twitter is a great way to find sources, stay in contact with those sources, and even find story leads.  But this is in no way to act as a substitute to real journalistic work.  It is still as ever important to make those cold calls, to ring the doorbell, and to otherwise search for stories on your own.

     It can become very easy to take the easy way and find interviews through impersonal contact, but think about it this way.  The initial conversation with your source is extremely important: it is a chance to let the source know you are looking to speak with them, a way to introduce yourself, and a way to set a tone for the interview.  If a person reads your intentions on a screen, they are more likely to decode the message incorrectly.

     So remember, the internet is truly changing the way journalists work, but it is in no way a substitue to true, satisfying journalism.  Watch for the changes within the AP Stylebook, because it is a great answer for most of your online questions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Holiday Gaming: Fallout VS. Fable

Ahh holiday gaming.  Its a splendid time of year, when hundreds of games enter the market to be sold to willing customers.  But which are the ones to focus on this season?  Here are two of the most popular thus far.  Be sure to listen to my audio commentary on both games. 

Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is the sequel to the highly popular "Fallout" franchise which originally debuted in the PC Game era.  The game is a gritty and realistic look at what life could be like after nuclear fallout, and the dangerous life that comes along with it.  The environments are beautiful in their bleakness and destruction, but nothing compares to the reimagined strip of Las Vegas, now called New Vegas.  The world is divided and resources are scarse as competing factions battle over the last beacon of hope and civility, the Hoover Dam.  Be sure to watch the video and bet excited to enter into the world of Fallout for another amazing adventure. Find out more at IGN.com

Fable 3
Fable 3 is exclusive to Xbox 360, but it may however change how people view the series as a whole.  Fable 2 was infamous in its failure to deliver on what the customers wanted, but Fable 3 is right on track to changing that image.  The updated graphics give way to more immersion and detail, while the game mechanics themselves have been dumb-downed to be more reasonable for some new gamers in the market.  The story follows the previous games stories, but Fable 3 continues into the fantasy world of kings and peasants.  Grab a hold of the $60 game and $60 controller for the full experience. Find out more about Fable 3 at IGN.com