Recruiting journalism interns in the digital age

Intern candidates will be asked to "Pick a tool. Any tool. Or two."

Intern candidates will be asked to “Pick a tool. Any tool. Or two.”


For the first time, in my role as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab and as director of community engagement and editorial training for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Group, I’ll be recruiting interns from Central Michigan University. I initiated contact with CMU after seeing a post on Facebook that MLive would be there recruiting interns, and thought 21st Century Media should be doing the same.

What I hope will make the experience different for students with our media group is that I will ask candidates to demonstrate their digital storytelling skills. I will still ask them the standard questions about their backgrounds, passion for journalism and career goals, but I’ll also ask them to produce content about Digital First Media, its CEO, media labs or other related news using digital storytelling tools. What I am interested in seeing is their choice of tools, whether they choose to write a blog post; use Storify or RebelMouse; create a video, audiocast or photo slideshow; or maybe make a timeline or NewHive expression.

I created a NewHive expression to share the challenge with the students. I also will come armed with copies of Digital First Media’s recruitment brochure, list of editor contacts at our publications across Michigan, and internship opportunities at Digital First Media’s Thunderdome office in New York City’s Financial District.

A promotional piece about our recruitment efforts on CMU's website.

A promotional piece about our recruitment efforts on CMU’s website.

Thunderdome is a nationally focused digital newsroom that works with more than 100 local newspapers, including The Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, El Paso Times, New Haven Register and The Oakland Press.

I’ll be meeting Jim Wojcik, the internship coordinator at CMU’s Department of Journalism. He has lined up a few students interested in interviewing with 21st Century Media. They’ve been asked to send a link to their resume and clips using Pressfolios. I’ll give the students a short deadline for turning around their digital-first assignment, and then make recommendations to our editors based on the candidates’ skills and location preferences, and editors’ needs.

Digital First Media's Thunderdome is looking for interns.

Digital First Media’s Thunderdome is looking for interns.

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Digital storytelling and liveblogging with social media guru Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry, social media guru and director of community engagement for Digital First Media, is at the Community Media Lab teaching a workshop on digital storytelling and liveblogging. He started by asking an audience of 11 to introduce themselves, describe what they do and what upcoming stories they have coming up.

He suggested reporters ask themselves to consider while working on their stories:

  • What are the potential multimedia elements of your story

    Tanya Wildt and David Veselenak at the workshop conducted by social media guru Steve Buttry.

  • How can a map help tell your story
  • How can you engage the community
  • Can you cover the story live
  • What links will provide greater depth
  • Can data provide depth, perspective
  • What form will tell this story
  • What content should you curate
  • You may not use all, but want to weigh what would apply in your circumstance while covering astory.

Multimedia elements include photos (galleries, time lapses, audio slideshow, submitted, social, media,); videos (raw, edited, in story, webcam, webcast, security cameras, user-submitted, social media, link to video); animation; audio; and bring it all together.

We need to put photos and video into our reporting. Looking at what is our there and curating it to enhance our storytelling.

Steve referenced Heritage Media-West’s coverage of the tornado touchdown in Dexter and talked about how a map can help such reporting. He gave an example of a map from a county assessor’s office. Using a before pictures of parcels in the community, a photographer can shoot the property after the tornado and share before and after photos. In another example, security camera footage can be used of the devastation.

Liveblogging allows a weekly to become immediate. Buttry says liveblog as the story happens using C

overItLive, ScribbleLive, update story/blog; live tweet and feed into liveblog; livestream with webcasts, feed tweets into blog/story using a widget; live data; and text alerts.

Steve talked about team liveblog in which we can provide a play-by-play; provide commentary; live tweet via #liveblog; find and add links; photos; moderate questions.

Liveblogging situations include breaking stories, meetings, festivals and events, trials, daylong cov

erage such as Election Day, sporting events and live chat.