IJNet shares “10 tips for aspiring travel journalists”

My earlier post discussed what NOT to do if you’d like to build a career as a credible writer. Here, the experts at IJNet share their “10 tips for aspiring travel journalists.”

"State of Flux" | Collage by Niña Terol-Zialcita (2010)

"State of Flux" | Collage by Niña Terol-Zialcita (2010)

Here are some  of my favorites from their list:

Find a niche: Many writers make the mistake of pitching broad ideas or city guides — big no-no, says Starley-Grainger. Develop an area of expertise — something quirky but appealing to a broad audience — and editors to commission.


Don’t just be a traveler, be a journalist: Those without journalism education or experience should learn and understand how to uncover facts, develop trustworthy sources and dig out obscure information, said Starley-Grainger.


Don’t over-do a destination: There’s a difference between writing an intriguing piece on a city with high tourism rates and “over-egging” a place, Mathieson said. If your interest lies in a popular location, seek out its underground appeal. Things like backpacking in Asia, as Hodson pointed out, have been done before.

Some of the tips might seem common-sensical, but too many aspiring writers take it for granted. Click the link above to read the full article.


Another cool Brain Pickings post: 7 Platforms Changing the Future of Publishing

What/who are Byliner, The Atavist, Unbound, Red Lemonade, 40K Books, The Domino Project, and TED Books? According to Brain Pickings, they are “disrupting the mainstream marketplaces for journalism, literature, and the fundamental conventions of reading and writing themselves” and “promise to reshape the way we create and consume ideas.”

I’m in.

Brain Pickings - 7 platforms

Read all the cool stuff HERE.

Ten tips for citizen journalists from Cairo’s “Tweet Nadwa”

I love getting my weekly IJNet newsletter, which offers a host of references, resources, and opportunities for journalists from all over the world. Here’s a great one from Cairo.

Ten tips for citizen journalists from Cairo’s “Tweet Nadwa”

This is an excerpt from Mohammad Al abdallah‘s post in IJNet. Click the link above to read the full entry.

1. “Keep your videos short,” said Salma el Daly, the first female video blogger in Egypt. Viewers get bored after 4-5 minutes, so short and simple works best.

2. If you are covering long events, whether by video or on social networks such as Twitter, expect your mobile phone battery to die on you. “That’s why I prefer Blackberry or any phone with a battery that can be changed quickly,” says Ahmad Al-ish.

3. Keep covering events even if it seems there is already blanket coverage. Update your Twitter feed, even if you read other people tweeting the same things. You may reach others that they can’t reach. Multiple sources of coverage for the same subject equal more credibility.

4. Try to influence others. People may not take you seriously if you film with a camera phone, because just about everyone has one. Using a separate camera gives you more credibility as a journalist and people will take you more seriously.


Want more tips? Read the rest HERE.

P.S. What is a “Tweet Nadwa”? You’ll find out in the full article, too. 🙂

Leak at WikiLeaks: A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts

An excerpt from Christian Stöcker in Spiegel Online

Some 250,000 diplomatic dispatches from the US State Department have accidentally been made completely public. The files include the names of informants who now must fear for their lives. It is the result of a series of blunders by WikiLeaks and its supporters.

In the end, all the efforts at confidentiality came to naught. Everyone who knows a bit about computers can now have a look into the 250,000 US diplomatic dispatches that WikiLeaks made available to select news outlets late last year. All of them. What’s more, they are the unedited, unredacted versions complete with the names of US diplomats’ informants — sensitive names from Iran, China, Afghanistan, the Arab world and elsewhere.

SPIEGEL reported on the secrecy slip-up last weekend, but declined to go into detail. Now, however, the story has blown up. And is one that comes as a result of a series of mistakes made by several different people. Together, they add up to a catastrophe. And the series of events reads like the script for a B movie.

Act One: The Whistleblower and the Journalist

The story began with a secret deal. When David Leigh of the Guardian finally found himself sitting across from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as the British journalist recounts in his book “Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”, the two agreed that Assange would provide Leigh with a file including all of the diplomatic dispatches received by WikiLeaks.

Assange placed the file on a server and wrote down the password on a slip of paper — but not the entire password. To make it work, one had to complete the list of characters with a certain word. Can you remember it? Assange asked. Of course, responded Leigh.

It was the first step in a disclosure that became a worldwide sensation. As a result of Leigh’s meeting with Assange, not only the Guardian, but also the New York TimesSPIEGEL and other media outlets published carefully chosen — and redacted — dispatches. Editors were at pains to black out the names of informants who could be endangered by the publication of the documents.

Act Two: The German Spokesman Takes the Dispatch File when Leaving WikiLeaks

At the time, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who later founded the site OpenLeaks, was the German spokesman for WikiLeaks. When he and others undertook repairs on the WikiLeaks server, he took a dataset off the server which contained all manner of files and information that had been provided to WikiLeaks. What he apparently didn’t know at the time, however, was that the dataset included the complete collection of diplomatic dispatches hidden in a difficult-to-find sub-folder.

After making the data in this hidden sub-folder available to Leigh, Assange apparently simply left it there. After all, it seemed unlikely that anyone would ever find it.

But now, the dataset was in the hands of Domscheit-Berg. And the password was easy to find if one knew where to look. In his book Leigh didn’t just describe his meeting with Assange, but he also printed the password Assange wrote down on the slip of paper complete with the portion he had to remember.


Read the full article by clicking HERE.

“Rules of the Road”: A conversation starter on digital journalism ethics

Here’s another great post from @The_Copyeditor’s Twitter feed. I love how it opens up the concept of “rules” to a more fluid, ongoing conversation about the way digital journalism is evolving, and what this means for digital journalists.

“Rules of the Road”: A conversation starter on digital journalism ethics

An excerpt of a post by Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement & Social Media, Journal Register Co. Read the full post by clicking on the link above.

I’ve already noted on this blog and in Quill how outdated the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics has become. While I maintain hope that SPJ will update the code, I am most interested in thoughtful conversations among journalists about how to apply ethics in the new situations of journalism. So I applaud J-Lab and Rosenberg for this contribution to the conversation.







Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, framed the need for this new guidance well in the foreword:


These “Rules of the Road” are very much a work in progress, shaped by a news landscape in which:

  • The threshold for news is lower. Misdemeanors, not just felonies, constitute news.
  • Stories unravel in real time. Editors post updates as they come in rather than wait for a fully baked story.
  • “Google juice” makes micro news have a macro afterlife.
  • Ethical decisions are as open to community feedback as the stories themselves.
  • Attachment to the community is valued more than dispassionate detachment.

I disagree with some points that journalists from local news sites make in “Rules” (for instance, some of the people interviewed are too ready to withhold names from police reports, in my view). But I enjoy the discussion, I can see why that journalist decides the way he does, and the discussion challenges my own positions and helps me consider multiple views of an issue.

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