Upcoming Journalism Training

By Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

It's right around the corner, but there's still time to register for Media Bistro's online course Reinventing Print Content for the Web. The class, which starts Monday, June 2, is aimed specifically at magazine writers and editors. You may be able to register even after the official start date; you'll have access to all lectures and transcripts of any class chats you might miss by signing up late. According to the Media Bistro web site, taking the course will teach you:
  • what skills you need succeed as a writer or editor for a magazine Web site.
  • where the role of editor ends and that of Web producer begins.
  • pitfalls to avoid in reworking content for the Web.
  • which new Web technologies are essential and how to develop them.
  • when, how, and why to incorporate user-generated content and how to encourage it.
  • how to identify, evaluate, and manage potential content partnerships.
A similar Media Bistro class is Writing and Editing for the Web, starting June 10. This course covers a diverse range of material, including how to:
  • write great copy for the Web (and why Web writing is different from writing for print).
  • use Web technology to tell a story.
  • avoid common mistakes.
  • find reliable information online.
  • use bulletin boards and online communities to find story sources and subjects.
  • the pros and cons of blogging, and whether you should do it.
  • selling yourself and your work on the Web.
And if you're in the New York City area, don't miss the June 6 ASBPE New York chapter panel discussion Make Your Job Indispensable: Tales from Four “Survivors.” This event aims to help you develop the multitasking skills you need to keep working as a B2B editor, writer, or freelancer. You’ll learn how:
  • B2B editors are managing print, web news, e-newsletters, live events, webinars, and other products.
  • enterprising freelance editors and writers are enhancing their multimedia skills and nabbing opportunities to do online slide shows, podcasts, video, blogs, and more.
  • editors can manage their time more efficiently and balance priorities using quantitative analysis techniques.
  • publishers can develop in-house training programs to provide both staffers and freelancers with the expertise they need.
RSVP deadline is May 30.

Journalistic Skills

The Poynter Institute's NewsU offers Introduction to Ethical Decision-Making, a free on-demand web course that teaches processes and principles you can use to analyze difficult ethical questions you may face as a journalist. A library of case studies and other resources are also available.

Media Bistro's online Interviewing Skills course starts June 3. The class promises to teach journalists conducting story interviews how to:
  • ask succinct questions.
  • ask the right question at the right time.
  • get compelling sound bites.
  • relax and let the interview flow.
  • handle difficult interviewees.
  • land a hard-to-get interview.
Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Creating Alternative Story Forms is a free on-demand class offered by NewsU that introduces students to nontraditional, more accessible storytelling styles. This line from the course description particularly caught my eye: "You’ll learn to break down information by theme and organize stories to make them snappy and more useful to time-crunched readers [my italics]." B2B editors have been dealing with readers who have no time to read at least since I started my career, long before the advent of the Internet.

Another free on-demand NewsU program, Math for Journalists, consists of six 30-minute modules. The course covers material ranging from math essentials (reducing fractions, for instance) to topics specifically for journalists (calculating costs of living, estimating crowd sizes). NewsU also provides supplementary learning tools, including quizzes, games, and interactive charts and tables.

Finally, NewsU offers two ways to learn about headline writing: Writing Better Print Headlines, a four-week online class next offered on Sept. 8, and Writing Headlines for the Web, a replay of a 2007 webinar that you can access at your leisure.

Copy Editing and Grammar

Media Bistro has a trio of online copy editing courses coming up. In chronological order, they are:

Advanced Copy Editing, starting Sunday, June 1, teaches the finer points of grammar, how to create an in-house style guide, dealing with office politics, and how to know when you've overstepped the bounds with a piece of copy, among other topics.

Intro to Copy Editing starts June 2 and covers common copy editing marks and proofreading symbols, reference materials, preparing for copy-editing tests, and more.

Intermediate Copy Editing starts June 17 and deals with topics such as the relative merits of the popular style guides, how to recast sentences, and the role and responsibilities of the copy editor.

For a general refresher on grammar issues, you might sign up for Grammar, Punctuation, and Meaning, a four-week web course that starts June 23. Or try out the free self-directed on-demand program Cleaning Your Copy from NewsU.

For Freelancers

The Whole Freelancer, starting June 12, is a multiweek online course for those considering a full-time freelance career. It will cover basic skills such as effectively pitching ideas, managing your career, and building relationships with editors.

Advanced Freelancing starts June 18. It's designed for writers who've already had articles published and will cover strategies for selling more articles, getting more money for the articles you write, expanding your stable of publishing venues, breaking into new subject areas, renegotiating when necessary, and other skills.

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Thinking About Starting a Blog? Me Too!

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Like many editors nowadays, I too am thinking about starting a blog. I vowed to familiarize myself with the blogosphere after attending ASBPE's national conference in Chicago in 2006. It took a little while to find some blogs I really liked. But once I did, blogs became a regular staple of my online consumption.

One of the best blogs out there about blogging is ProBlogger.net. It's loaded with practical advice. My only criticism of the blog is that its updated with new tips so often that trying to digest all of the information is a bit like sipping water from a fire hose.

Book About Blogging. That's why I purchased the book that the blog's creator, Darren Rouse, recently coauthored: Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Don't be put off by the book's somewhat garish subtitle. Rowse and coauthor Chris Garrett reiterate in practically each chapter that blogging is not a way to get rich quick. While, the book does address how to make money blogging, much of the content is equally valuable to someone who just wants to blog for fun.

The book offers nice overview of topics such as:
  • how you should go about picking a subject or niche for your blog,
  • the technical issues you're likely to face in setting up a blog, and
  • how to write blog posts.
Here are some interesting things I learned: Before picking a niche to blog about, go to Google Trends and type in some key words. Besides getting idea of what your key words are, this will also allow you to see who some potential advertisers might be.

Copyblogger.com is a good resource on writing good copy for blogs, and blog posts that contain tips or are tutorials are generally the most popular.

When it comes to blogging, B2B journos are ahead of the game because we understand the concept of covering a niche topic for the benefit of our readers. Taking the time to study up on how to succeed at blogging might give you the edge you need to make it in the blogosphere.

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How Editors Can Use LinkedIn to Look for More Than Network Contacts

Photo: Erin Ericksonby Erin Erickson
Chicago Board Member

I recently wrote about LinkedIn, its perks and the ASBPE LinkedIn Group that has been established. (You have joined, right?)

Now I bet you're wondering exactly what you can do with LinkedIn other than find old coworkers. One of my favorite bloggers, work expert Penelope Trunk, writes a great blog post about 10 Ways Journalists Can Use LinkedIn. Some excerpts:
2. Build a network without making networking your full-time job. … LinkedIn works best when you connect to your top sources, important industry contacts, coworkers, and people who know you well. …

4. Use a connection to get a great assignment. If you’re a freelancer or looking for a job, perform a search in the “Writing and Editing” industry sorted by “Degrees away from you” to see who might be able to help you in your network.

5. Find an expert fast. The advanced search feature is [one of] the most powerful tools you can use on LinkedIn. You can search for any combination of keywords, job title, company, location, industry, and you can sort by “degrees away from you” to find people close to you in your network. This is a great way to find experts in almost any field or subject matter. You can also track down executives at companies.
I've listed a few of her pointers. For the rest of her list, head over to her blog, Brazen Careerist.

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Are you LinkedIn?

Photo: Erin EricksonErin Erickson,
Chicago Chapter Board member

Your spouse may be doing it; the guy in the next cubicle probably is; even your high school English teacher has probably dabbled in it. It's LinkedIn and it's the "professional version MySpace," as many people have called it.

According to the site, "LinkedIn is an online network of more than 20 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries." It's been responsible for connecting people to new jobs as well as new storylines and sources.

It's also a handy way to keep up with your fellow ASBPE peers.

If you have a LinkedIn profile, click here to access the ASBPE LinkedIn Group where you'll have access to the profiles and networks of other ASBPE'ers. If you've not joined LinkedIn, pop on over to the website and see if you're interested.

Still not convinced? Check back for more blog posts about the advantages of using LinkedIn for your own network as well as your articles and sources. Just click the “Social Media” link below for updates.

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Are B2B Editors Experiencing a Leadership Lapse?

By Howard Rauch
President of Editorial Solutions Inc.

If you believe everything you read on industry websites, the biggest impending trend is the abandonment of print in favor of a stronger website position (whatever that means). Recent blogs and articles warn that print is dead or dying. Among other things, this means that every editor must become extremely proficient at posting web articles. Allegedly, there is a big difference between writing for print vs. the web. Well … that depends on your point of view.

In my case, it seems that no matter in what media format our articles eventually appear, there is — or should be — an equivalent standard for highly informative, universally adaptable content. And no matter what else is true, we as editors should maintain an industry leadership position in terms of what we publish.

So what is “leadership?” In fact, it’s something we’ve let slip for a number of reasons. An obvious one might be lack of resources. Another might be the current round of belt-tightening that’s spurred a spate of salary freezes. Or perhaps we’re so preoccupied with the newest challenges to become technically proficient, we’ve let timely, high-quality editorial material slip through the cracks.

Am I exaggerating? Are we as good as we used to be? Here is a simple four-question challenge excerpted from a 16-factor self-scoring profile I’ve used in my consulting work. Each factor earns a maximum score of 25 points. The profile is a good starting point for any future discussion about rebuilding editorial enterprise. Please rate yourself right now!!!

(1) More and more, I am accepting second-best performance from staff members and myself. You deserve 25 points only if you never accept second best. Give yourself fewer points depending on how often you allow yourself or others to fudge on quality. SCORE: _____

(2) Alibis such as “not enough time” or “had to fill space” have become more acceptable to me when I decide to run second-rate material. Give yourself 25 points only if such rationalizations never cross your mind. If they do, downgrade your score accordingly. SCORE: _____

(3) I have developed an “I have paid my dues” attitude that exempts me from working on nitty-gritty — or “getting down” with my staff in emergency situations or when the workload is unusually heavy. Score 25 points only if your crew can count on you for an extra pair of hands when things on the firing line go bananas. SCORE: _____

(4) I find myself devoting a greater percentage of office time to personal business and justifying it. Give yourself 25 points only if personal business amounts to a maximum of a few minutes a day. Subtract points liberally if you shut your office door often so you can deal uninterruptedly with personal matters. Chop off even more points depending on how frequently you are out of the office, ostensibly on business, but in reality taking care of other affairs. SCORE: _____

If you scored 90 out of 100 points on this miniexercise, your leadership position should be solid. The next consideration is whether leadership opportunities are confined to the chief editor or distributed evenly among staff members.

Perhaps we can delve into that matter at another time via a follow-up self-scoring challenge.

Editorial Solutions Inc. is a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at howard@editsol.com.

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ASBPE Award Judging Underway

By Erin Erickson ASBPE Chicago Board Member

Judging is currently underway for this year's Azbee Awards. With more than 2300 entries this year, the judges are extremely busy tallying their votes.

According to the folks at ASBPE headquarters, all regional and national finalists will be notified via fax and e-mail in early June.

The notifications specifically state if you have won a regional award or a national award. It is not two separate competitions. If you've been notified as being a national finalist, it means you will receive an award -- Gold, Silver or Bronze. The level of the award is not revealed until the award ceremony.

According to Holly Lundgren, ASBPE award coordinator, "Each finalist will receive an e-mail alerting them to check their fax. They MUST check the faxed notification letter as that is where the information to appear on the plaque is. Each finalist is responsible for 'proofing' their own information for the plaque."

Still have more questions? You can e-mail Holly here.

ASBPE awards page.

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B2B Publishing: Time to Fear?

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President and National Blog Chairwoman

Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. There are times when I feel like knowing too much information can be scary. I get several daily emails updating me on B2B publishing industry news. A few weeks back, I got one from Folio: that included a link to story wondering if it is time for B2B publishers to panic.

Well, maybe they didn't need to, but little ol' freelancing me; I panicked. Turns out the owner of one of my main freelance writing gigs was laying off its newsies. I immediately emailed my editor with a link to the story and he reassured me that he still had an office, so I still had work. *whew* But, what next?

The Folio: article's source said the sky isn't falling. So, I'll take that as some comfort - along with the continued writing gigs - even if they have slowed down some. What is everyone else experiencing, I wonder?

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Save the Date: ASBPE's 2008 National Editorial Conference

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Start making plans to attend the American Society of Business Publication Editors' (ASBPE) annual conference, July 24-25, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kansas City, Mo.

Each year, the ASBPE conference brings its members together to for two-days of educational sessions, and to announce the winners of its annual editorial excellence competition. ASBPE's 2008 National Editorial Conference event will feature expert panels, keynote speakers, and networking events.

Educational sessions will offer:
  • insights regarding editorial multitasking in the digital age.

  • hands-on tutorials on how to produce a podcast or video.

  • practical tips for rebuilding poorly written articles by industry experts.

Our keynote speaker, Paul Conley — a B2B media consultant and blogger — is often at the forefront of ethics and journalism training issues. Conley will talk about Web-first publishing and B2B publishing issues.

The conference marks the 30th year of the Azbee Awards of Excellence. To commemorate the occasion, ASBPE will announce the top magazines and Web sites since 2000. As in the past, we will also honor all of the winners for 2008.

A special award ceremony will be held for Abe Peck, ASBPE's Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Peck made major contributions to the business press after working for a variety of publications such as Rolling Stone.

Finally, at this summer's conference we will launch an important initiative for our organization. ASBPE will unveil the ASBPE Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that will fund a number of important initiatives aimed at raising the level of education and professionalism in the business, trade, and association press. Among other things, the proceeds from the foundation will help fund the educational components of our annual national conference.

More information on the conference is here.

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Time to Reassess With Whom You Compete and Cooperate

By Thomas R. Temin
Media and Government Consulting

After nearly three decades in print B2B journalism, I find it hard to get the classic model out of my head. There’s an audience; there’s a set of advertisers; and there is a publishing company that hires the people necessary to sell, produce and market a magazine. It has printing contracts and people who understand the postal service.

As the editor, you have a fleet of reporters, two or three if a small magazine, more if a big one. You get the idea.

But two developments in my own career in the business-to-government market have changed my world view of the centricity of traditional magazines.

The first development is my joining the world of radio broadcasting. I host a show on a station that focuses on the federal government—makes sense in Washington, D.C. A kind of B2B magazine of the air, it covers many of the same topics as the magazines I used to edit and compete with. But on the air, we borrow heavily from the B2B magazines and web sites that compete with us in the market. Nobody minds. We take care to attribute the stories we quote, but the real benefit to the magazines is, their stories get amplified and redistributed in a value-added way, the added value being our commentary, and the immediacy and liveliness of radio. We get material that augments our small reporting staff and roster of live guests each morning.

Everyone seems okay with the arrangement. Sometimes, the publications attribute a story to our radio station.

The second development is a new web site developed by a large, local advertising and PR agency. I work on a retainer basis as the editor of its large list of contributors, some quite prominent, all of whom are in the same field, government, both federal managers and contract workers. This site has a place for any visitor to post information — white papers, videos, press releases, you name it. The agency has an industry e-mail list of more than 40,000 to which to market this site, and it is operated independently of the agency and its clients.

So you see? What many editors thought was competition can actually be complementary media, at least editorially. And what you might have thought was irrelevant can become a competitor. Although our radio station is on both the Internet and the AM band, many new stations are Internet-only. So neither publishers nor broadcasters have the expensive barriers to entry they faced yesteryear.

New competitors are hitting traditional publications from a variety of sources, all digital. With stealthy marketing, these online offerings can capture readers and advertisers before your publishing staff is even aware of them.

This means editors have to be less parochial about sources of material than they used to be — not so much repurposing what other people publish, but willing to form cooperative arrangements for content. And it means something you’ve known forever. That is, you’ve got to stay really close to the audience and the market so you don’t get taken by surprise.

Thomas R. Temin is a consultant with 30 years of publishing experience in media and information technology products and services. He is co-host of "The Federal Drive" with Tom Temin and Jane Norris, a weekday morning news and talk program on Federal News Radio AM 1050 in Washington D.C. You can see his weekly column on the op-ed page at www.federalnewsradio.com and contact him at tom.temin@gmail.com.

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Behind the Times — and I Don't Mean the NYTimes

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President and National Blog Chairwoman

There are times when I feel technically challenged and I often fear that this lack of comprehension of technology will hurt me if I ever want to return to a newsroom full-time. I've gotten spoiled to working as a freelance writer and editor - making my own hours, writing in my pajamas and working on the laptop from Panera when I need a break from sitting next to a basket of laundry that needs to be put away and a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded in the next room.

Then, I read Folio:'s commentary on MS Word falling out favor in the publishing world. It definitely makes me worry about how competitive I'll be when I go back into the world of magazines and newspapers.

What other programs out there should I be looking for and learning about? What sorts of technology and programs do most publishing houses, magazines and even newspapers use these days?

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Helpful Sites

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
ASBPE Washington, DC Chapter President

I'm cheating a bit for my blog post today. At a loss for something insightful or witty to say, I’m tapping into my Bookmarks for some helpful sites to share. I'm curious what sites you depend on to get through your day. It varies, I'm sure, depending on what level you're at. As a deputy editor, I find myself somewhere in the middle…reading industry blogs every day is important, but so is having the dictionary a click away.

Here's a list of a few of the sites I frequent regularly. Many of these I didn't discover on my own, so credit is due to my colleagues and to the sites themselves for providing their own lists of links.

What are your daily hits? Share them with others in the comments section.

Aside from this one, of course, here are a few more media and B2B blogs that can keep you up on the industry and/or make you think about our business and daily life:

Folio: blog
Experts from the magazine industry weigh in on breaking news as well as design, editorial, and pressing issues.

Paul Conley
The B2B publishing industry's preeminent blogger.

The minsider Blog
Industry news and economics

Mag Grab Bag
Former min’s editor Jeremy Greenfield continues his blogging with this new site, which includes industry economics as well as his opinions on magazines, design, etc.

Trade Pressed
Relatively new, this blog from an anonymous insider discusses the highs and woes of trade life that most of us can relate to.

Merriam-Webster Online
I haven't opened my 6-inch-thick dictionary in years thanks to this site. Not only is it faster than leafing through pages, it suggests words if you misspell the one you’re looking for. The unabridged version requires a subscription, but on those rare occasions you can simply dig out the print copy.

Visual Thesaurus
You can use Merriam-Webster.com for a thesaurus, but Visual Thesaurus is a word-lover's visual fantasy. The interactive tool breaks synonyms down into word maps, graphically displaying the results by meaning and relationships, and providing related words and antonyms far beyond what the dictionary does. (Free trial for a few words; annual subscription required after that.)

Acronym Finder
Stumped by SEOs and HREFs? This site deciphers abbreviations PDQ.

Online Conversion
When you absolutely must know how many meters are in a league.

Bill Walsh's Blogslot
Style and grammar from The Washington Post's copy chief

Common Errors in English
Find mistakes you never knew you were making.

Testy Copy Editors
The title speaks for itself.

American Copy Editors Society Blogroll
The society compiles items from a variety of copyediting blogs around the Web into one convenient spot.

Newsroom 101
Test your editing knowledge with nearly 2,000 quizzes on grammar and AP style.

American Copy Editors Society Quizzes
More tests.

Cliche and Phrase Finders
Struggling for a headline? These two sites give you a leg up on wordplay. Cliche Finder isn't quite as comprehensive, but it's free. The Phrase Finder is much more thorough, but requires a subscription.

Journalism commentary, training, jobs, and more.

Poynter’s online training arm, chock full of helpful courses.

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