About a year ago, I was sifting through one of my favorite journalism blogs that I had learned about at the CMA Journalism Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The blog called College Media Matters focuses on college media and journalism. While scrolling through this blog last fall, I stumbled across a post called, “Student Journalist Portfolios: How to build, Sell your brand” and found it intriguing.
In the post, Dan Reimold writes that every single multimedia journalist should have an online portfolio, but, “simply having one is not enough. And most of the ones I’m sent or come across organically are, well, self-centered crapola.” The post went on to summarize an article written by Rosaleen Ortiz for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Her article included tips on how to make sure your online portfolio is top notch and not well… “self centered crapola”, “Think of it as a multimedia cover letter.” Ortiz wrote pointing out that potential employers will be clicking through the site.The post then went on to show examples of multimedia journalists who had gotten it right.
After clicking through some of these websites, I became fascinated by how these websites made these college journalists look so professional. It also occurred to me that since all of those college journalists were my age at the time, they would also be my competitors vying for the same jobs once we all had graduated. This realization forced me to realize that I had a lot of work to do.
As a wedding videographer, I had been building an online brand for myself already via social media, but it really never occurred to me that I would have to do the same to be a journalist.
But if you think about it, it really does make sense. With this evolving world of technology, being connected is the only thing that is going to keep print newspapers and broadcast news relevant. As a result, modern journalists these days not only have to write an article or produce a package, they also have to blog, tweet, facebook, and google plus it out across the web to ensure it will reach the masses that spend most of their time online.
All in all, it makes sense that all of those college J-school seniors gave themselves a head start to prove themselves in this new journalism landscape. By having and up keeping their journalism portfolio websites they were showing their future employers that they get it–that they understand what kind of online presence you need to succeed in this field.
One of the portfolio websites that was featured on College Media Matters blew me away. The website is Abby Niezgoda’s portfolio and the feeling I got as I looked through it was a mixture of envy combined with a swift kick in the gut. She seemed to be doing everything that I wished I was doing to market and brand myself online.
I recently checked on her website and saw she got hired right out of college in Providence, RI (a market 52 station) which goes to show that she knew exactly what she was doing. After I found her website, a simple google search of “multimedia journalist portfolio” led me to dozens of websites for college journalists that were my age at the time. They were all excellent! At that point I realized, I needed to begin thinking about branding myself as a multimedia journalist online as well.
I spent a few weeks this past spring building my portfolio website, which doesn’t hold a candle to many of the other websites that I had perused but I think it does the job. It has all of my newspaper clips, my resume reel, a portfolio of my short and long form documentaries, showcases my wedding videography, displays the recognition that I have received for my work, gives a short biography of myself—but mostly it adds a face to a name.
So while others may just be a name on a resume, once someone looks at my website–they will leave feeling like they know a little bit about who I am.But of course set against many of the other websites that I have seen, there is a lot of work to be done on my portfolio website because it kind of still is boring and –in Reimolds words, “self centered crapola”.
The overall point is that many of the online portfolio websites that I looked at last fall, many of those individuals were hired right out of college as multimedia journalists. And when I say hired “right out of college” I mean they had jobs before they even walked across the stage to accept their diplomas.
So tip of the hat to all of you guys, makes me wish I had built my online portfolio sooner!
Finally, want to know the best part of an online portfolio? You can track your site stats! Why is that exciting? Well do you know the feeling of applying to job after job after job and never hearing anything back?
I certainly do, but the fun part of having an online portfolio is that you can track IP addresses and see which employers showed even a teeny bit of interest and looked at your site. It kind of gives you hope that at least they took time to click-through your website instead of just throwing your resume in the trash or hitting the delete button to your email.
So if you want to work in the media field, invest the time in making an online portfolio to show all of those employers out there that you understand the future of this business.
Here is a link to a video explaining how to build an online portfolio on wordpress. It’s kind of long, but worth a look if you are interested: