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How To Avoid Becoming a Journosaurus

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I am always amazed by the depth and breadth of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force.  I recently wrote a column for the quarterly NABJ Journal on Twitter.  I sent a note our to our Yahoo listserv asking for members who used Twitter on the job, and one of my respondents was Nicki Mayo.

Nicki Mayo

Nicki is a reporter/video journalist for YNN Buffalo, part of a statewide network of Time Warner Cable 24-hour news channels that started about a year ago.  I was so impressed with her signature line: which includes her blog and her Twitter account, I wanted to chat with her about how the news game has changed.

“The industry changed while I was in it,” says Mayo, who is 30 and graduated from college in 2001. “When I came out, I thought I’d just be reporting and not have to carry my own stuff.”

Now my company wants me to be online and get those Google hits, said Mayo.  “And as a reporter, you have to be searchable, because employers are looking for you,” she said.  “They need to be able to find me and know what I’m about.  Everyone has a resume reel, but you have to be able to show you’re a multimedia journalist.”

Mayo does it all: writing, online and live shots.  “The last two stations I worked for were convergent markets where I had to go across platforms,” she observes.

TV stations are not stuck on “is she cute enough” anymore, Mayo notes.  “They now want to know things like ‘can she upgrade the web site, write for our newspaper partner, go live from the field and offer news updates with Twitter, Facebook or the web site?,” she asks.  “At YNN Buffalo, we want it to be known that we’re all over the place, telling the community we have you covered online, print and TV.

This is what news stations want everyone to do now, says Mayo. “And I need to market and brand myself as a multimedia journalist,” she states. “I have journalism friends who see the same things, but don’t put in the work.  You have to put up or shut up. You can’t make the industry go back to the way it used to be.”

How did Mayo get her training? “I got jobs where they told me to carry a camera.  I went to Syracuse University, which is one of the top journalism schools, especially in television,” she says. “I had all those classes and other opportunities. Syracuse made sure we were prepared, but you didn’t have to be in the school of communications to excel.”

Mayo later learned to shoot on a large or small camera, and carry her equipment.  “I was on the producer track, but I also did reporting and I liked it,” she recalls.  “Once you get command over the video, the station wants it quick, fast and dirty and you looking good doing it.  I also learned how to juggle TV with the writing and got used to it.”

“By the time I got to Buffalo, I was ready. It was a great opportunity, because it was a start-up station,” says Mayo.  “While the station working to get on the air, I was writing stories to go online.  I put them on my personal blog because we didn’t get our new web site until November.”

She now writes small stories on her personal blog with links to the YNN Buffalo web site. “You need to have your own place to post your own stuff. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep up a web site, since you can use a blog,” she says. “When I’m a news director, I should be able to find many samples of your work on Google.  There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find you.”

She employs the KISS principle – keep it simple, stupid.  “Multimedia and new media are not that hard.  For example, I have connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts so only have to do one thing,” she states.

Mayo weighed in on the old school versus new school of journalism. “I did not coin the phrase, but I like journosaurus.  You can’t be one.  You can’t pay bills and hold onto the old school mentality,” she warns.

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Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

8 thoughts on “How To Avoid Becoming a Journosaurus

  1. This article was very insightful and filled with words of wisdom for up and coming journalists as well as the vetrans in the business.

  2. I’m JUST noticing the kudos on this piece. THANK YOU all so much. This is a brutal economic time. Every industry is just looking for a means to cut back. So you have to marry the old with the new. -Nicki

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