Connecticut SPJ

Experts offer advice on securing the perfect job

Posted in Uncategorized by Connecticut SPJ on September 2, 2009

By Jodie Mozdzer
CTSPJ TreasurerSPJVirgilSmith

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. — Turmoil in the journalism industry has created a strange dynamic among job seekers in the field.

Recent journalism school graduates are pitted against the droves of laid off and bought out journalists looking for jobs. And some candidates are being told by some recruiters that they have too much experience and by others that they have too little experience.

“Sometimes it does come down to luck,” said Virgil Smith, the vice president for talent management at Gannett Company, Inc., who spoke to several dozen journalists at the national Society of Professional Journalists conference Friday.

Smith was one of three panelists at the lecture “A Bulletproof Career,” aimed toward journalists looking for advice on getting or keeping their jobs. He was joined by Dan Bradley, the vice president of news for Media General and Ernest Sotomayor, the assistant dean of career services for Columbia’s graduate school of journalism.

Although, as Smith conceded to questioners Friday, the answers are not always so cut and dry, the panel did offer some advice for journalists looking to get – or keep – their jobs in this difficult market.  The advice also applies to anyone looking for jobs during this tough economy.

Here’s a sampling:

– Seek a review on more than a yearly basis. Be engaged in the process. Bradley said when managers are looking to reduce their rolls, they often look at review files reaching back three years. A once-a-year review doesn’t let employees fix problems continuously, Bradley said.

“If you’re only doing it once a year, you’re shortchanging yourself,” Bradley said. “It’s your career. It’s your life. Be in control.”

– Job seekers: Reach out beyond your typical freelance and intern opportunities. Make sure you have your own Web site to highlight you clips and portfolio work. Freelance at an alternative weekly. Volunteer.

– Be flexible, said Smith.

“Sometimes you have to take a pay cut to get in a job,” Smith said.

Smaller salaries are becoming more common in the field, the panel said.
Many companies, especially in the broadcast market, are renegotiating high salaries down when it comes time to sign new contracts, Bradley said.

– Be persistent.
Sotomayor said job applicants should send follow-up resumes to companies that didn’t have positions when they first applied.

That way, when a new job opens up, the management doesn’t have to dig through its piles of old resumes to find you.

“The reality is, you’re going to have to keep applying in the same place,” Sotomayor said.

– Look beyond the internet.

“Network. And I don’t mean just going online and asking someone to be your friend on Linked-In,” Sotomayor said. “Networking means going to seminars, workshops. Continuing to meet people.”

Sotomayor said the key to networking is to get to know people better and not always do it simply for jobs. Asking for advice, gaining a mentor, may be just as beneficial, he said.

– Mail resumes as PDF files.
Microsoft Word documents work, too. But almost everyone can open PDFs – and the files keep particular formatting in tact when different people open the file. Plus, you can add in working links to lead recruiters to your Web site, the panel said.


Sound Off: Monitoring the News

Posted in news, police, sound off by Connecticut SPJ on March 1, 2009

The Stamford Advocate is looking for help.

The lower Fairfield County daily newspaper has been without a Stamford police scanner since October when the department went to a digitally encrypted 800 mhz system.

A similar system has been in place in Wilton and Westport for some time and the newspaper has been at the mercy of their judgment as to what should be released to the fourth estate to be made public.

While the Advocate still has access to the Stamford police blotter, without a scanner, they say they are flying blind.

The plea comes on the heels of last month’s Stamford chimpanzee attack that the Advocate learned about through state police communications.

Have any other media outlets dealt with this issue? If so, how was it handled? Even if not, what advice would you offer?

Looking for a few Good Leaders

Posted in 2285062, Leadership by Connecticut SPJ on February 2, 2009

The Nominations Committee of the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is seeking nominations for all officer positions and three board positions for the 2009-2010 year.

Positions open for one-year terms are: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. There are three other board member positions open for two-year terms.

To be considered for nomination you must be a paid national and Connecticut chapter member. All nominations should be submitted in writing to Chairman Jerry Dunklee at by March 1.

Calling Prospective Journalists

Posted in contest by Connecticut SPJ on January 22, 2009

2009 High School Essay Contest
Topic: Why free news media are important
All entries should be postmarked by March 4, 2009.

Who is eligible?
All students enrolled in grades 9-12 in public, private and home schools. Students must submit original work and have a sponsoring teacher sign the contest entry form.

What is the format?
The essay should be 300-500 words and must include an entry form. Entries may be typed or handwritten but must be double-spaced.

Connecticut entries should be mailed to:
SPJ High School Essay Contest
c/o: Cindy Simoneau
Journalism Department
Southern Connecticut State University
MO 202C
510 Crescent St.
New Haven, CT 06515-1355

For more information and the entry form, please click here.

Pizza, Drinks and New Faces

Posted in networking by Connecticut SPJ on November 22, 2008

Tonight’s young journalists networking event was a great success.

More than a dozen young people with a common passion for journalism converged at Eli’s on Whitney in Hamden for our chapter’s first young reporters and editors networking event.

Young professionals involved with print, broadcast and Internet platforms shared career advice, their job-hunting experiences and contact information over pizza and drinks.

If you missed tonight’s event, don’t fret, similar events are planned for other parts of the state.  Stay tuned!

Young Journalists Unite!

Posted in networking by Connecticut SPJ on November 20, 2008

The journalism industry is going through some tough times, but free pizza and good conversation could ease the pain.

Connecticut SPJ is hosting its first young journalists networking event to help young professionals from the various media platforms to meet other reporters, editors and producers from across the state at:

Eli’s on Whitney, lower level
2392 Whitney Avenue, Hamden
6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21

The chapter plans to host similar events at various locations across Connecticut to help young journalists connect with each other.

At this first event, there will be a brief panel discussion with:

Jamie DeLoma, news editor,
Catie Talarski, producer, “Where We Live,” WNPR
Jodie Mozdzer, schools reporter, Hartford Courant

The conversation will continue over pizza and a cash bar.

We hope to see you there.