Confessions of an online journalism tool

Journalist Noah Barron has been with OJR for two years now and, having completed his Masters’ degree, is ready to (re)join the real world. Guest writer W00tBloggyBlogg interviewed Noah about the secrets to success in online journalism that he learned at Annenberg and OJR as well as his plans for the future.

W00tBloggyBlogg: u graduated wtf are you gonna do now?

Noah Barron: Boy, I sure wish I knew. I’m looking for a job but it’s turning out to be really difficult, given the journalism market right now.

WBB: lol srs? u prolly suck at jourlsm amirite? or maybe they saw ur uggfase on fasebook hehehehe 😉

Noah: I hope not. I think I bring a variety of skills to the table–writing, editing, Web design, video production, photography and graphics, but mostly I’m finding it’s well-nigh impossible to get any kind of response from employers I send applications to.

WBB: wtf is well-nigh? also dont end ur sentences w/ a preposition. so like u send apps in & the doods are like “rofl this fool sucks” or wut?

Noah: Honestly, I have no idea. I send out resumes to nearly every position on MediaBistro and other similar media job sites–dozens of applications total–and have never gotten a single return e-mail or call. Not one.

My only job leads are from internships I’ve done and personal contacts I’ve made. I guess I’m just surprised that in the age of digital journalism, a digital journalist’s digital job searches are so seemingly useless.

WBB: whatvr dood dont cry QQ y not start ur own blog and make bux on ads etc?

Noah: I mean, that’s definitely an option. I already have a site, but haven’t developed it properly. I just feel like I need health insurance and a steady income coming out of graduate school…is that too much to ask?

WBB: obvi!!!! u should post more lohan upskirts imo 😛

Noah: See, that’s what I’m trying to avoid. If I’m going to be a DIY-blogger/journalist, I want to create meaningful, interesting content that is relevant enough to belong in a newspaper, but is tailored to an online audience.

WBB: o so like blah blah darfur blah blah global warming zzzzz yeah thatll get lots of hits. gg dood.

Noah: Come on Bloggy, don’t you think we can find a way to package socially-conscious, important news for the casual Web reader while also turning a profit?

WBB: ….

Noah: Well, what do you suggest?

WBB: durr y not offer something useful to ur readers instd of whining on the interwebz? that’s y most blogs r real boringzzzzz urs included :/

Noah: You’re right, Blogg. It’s not too late to turn this column around and offer helpful content. How about a toolbox filled with essential survival equipment for freshly-minted online journalists, resources I’ve gathered over the last two years?

WBB: rofl!!!! whatever dood too bad google ads doesnt pay u in foodstamps AYO!!!

You: Online

Presenting your body of work, identity and bona fides online is the first step in the right direction. That means you need webspace, a UI and a URL. My first day on the job at OJR, Robert Niles told me to register my own name. Best advice I was given at grad school. If you can’t get your name, you likely can find a variation that’s not already taken.

[WBB: lol unless ur given name is perezhilton or freepr0n…]

1. Get a free blog at Blogger or WordPress, or. if you’re a bit tech-savvy…
2. Put the WordPress platform on your site, for which you will need…
3. Webspace and your own domain. There are a million places to register a URL and buy hosting space…I use GoDaddy, but there’s probably one tailored exactly to your needs.
4. Or, just use GoogleAps and Google Page Creator to easily create a clean, simple site with 100 MB of free storage.

[WBB: …o rly? i just use myspace for the journalism imo. and by journalism i mean spring break pix]

The right tool for the job

There are a multitude of free (or cheap), powerful tools available to the online journalist that approximate expensive software and make you look more professional than you are. Which is a good thing.

5. Slide and Picasa offer great free image hosting and cool slideshows for your multimedia journalism projects.
6. Picnik approximates Photoshop for refining and color-correcting those images.
7. OpenOffice is the free solution to not having the money to get the MS suite for your small business. It supports one-click PDF export from Word and text documents, too. Very handy.
8. VistaPrint is a great place to create business cards, stationery and other stuff for almost free (usually the cost of shipping) and smart perusal of RetailMeNot often yields coupons that make it even cheaper.
9. Submit your podcast audio (which is hosted on your server) to iTunes so everyone can find it.

Make money

More likely than not, a recent grad/DIY journalist with a just-launched blog can’t subsist purely on Google AdSense revenue and PayPal donations. Sooner or later you might have to find a part- or full-time gig. Here are some of the more obvious online J-job portals, such as they are.

[WBB: yeah worked real well for you lol ps i’d like extra ranch and no onions lolll]

10. JournalismJobs
11. MediaBistro
12. MediaPost
13. Ed (2010), for internships
14. New Assignment for open-source reporting jobs

There are thousands more tools, techniques, job sites and opportunities–so please contribute to this evolving list. After all, that collaborative process is what makes online journalism so exciting.

[WBB: thats what she said]

(Shoutout to Nick Sylvester, from whose explanation-of-why-he-was-fired-from-the-Village-Voice-blog I kinda lifted the gimmick for this article. Semi-NSFW?)

About Noah Barron

Hi, I used to be Robert Niles' research assistant, but I actually graduated and actually found a dead tree j-job at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, where I am general assignment/verdicts and settlements reporter.


  1. u no bout Lunix n stuff, rt? I hv frlnc bdgt, mayB can gv u sm wrk, no ft ATM, mayB l8r.

    AIM = roblimo – you hv my fon & email etc, rt?

  2. says:

    Good lord — that technobabble is difficult to read.

  3. says:

    I would be careful about using Vistaprint. I, and many others, found unauthorized charges on our credit/debit cards after ordering “free” business cards from them. I’m shocked this isn’t documented anywhere in the mainstream media, instead finding only reports on how well their stock is doing.