SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Attendees crowd into critique sessions, work samples in hand

By eijnews

By Olivia Ingle
The Working Press
Tong Gao, a junior at the University of Missouri, was one of the lucky people who managed to snag an appointment at Monday’s critiquing sessions, which were in high demand by attendees seeking to burnish their journalism portfolios. More than 50 attendees signed up for resume, video and writing critiques to get advice from experts.
“I was offered good advice for improving the way I deliver news stories,” said Gao, who attended the video critique in the Oakley Room to get advice on her broadcast reel. “I learned ways to make the stories more conversational.”

Television news director and RTDNA member Chad Cross of Wichita, KS, talked with St. Louis resident Kim St. Onge, an RTDNA member and student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, during a video critiquing session. Kevin Zansler/The Working Press

The resume sessions were particularly popular with convention-goers, with sign-up sheets filling up fast and some attendees being turned away.
Natalie Sgro, a student at Quinnipiac University, said she was disappointed there weren’t many spots left for the video critique and hoped she could secure an appointment on Tuesday.
Lynn Walsh, a freelancer and chair of the Society of Professional Journalists Generation J Committee, critiqued resumes at the expo booth and said this year is busier than last.
“Getting an outside perspective on a resume is key to getting a job,” Walsh said. “A resume is a working document that is never done with. There’s definitely a need for these critiques.”
Journalists should remember to spell out in their resumes exactly what they can do for a position, Walsh added, explaining that nothing is implied.
“I would even encourage drafting a different resume for every position applied for,” she said. “Switch it up.”
Robert Milton Knight worked the writing critique booth and said he was receiving a fair amount of articles to review. Knight is a former senior editor at the City News Bureau of Chicago and author of “Journalistic Writing: Building the Skill, Honing the Craft.”
“The writing is very important,” Knight said. “Reporting has to take precedence over writing, but if a story is written sloppily, the reporter should have just stayed home.”
A floor above the expo, in the Oakley Room, news directors critiqued video clips submitted by attendees.
Nick Dalley, president of Intentional Communications Inc., coordinated the video critiques, found news directors to sit down with convention-goers and organized the sign-up sheets for attendees.
“The critiques are useful for students because the news directors can tell them exactly what they need in their videos and exactly what news directors are looking for,” Dalley said.
Nadia Ramdass, a reporter from New York who is currently searching for a job, said the critiques were extremely helpful.
“I had an idea what I might need to do to critique my reel,” she said. “It’s good to know that what I was thinking is also the general consensus with the news directors I met with today. It’s good to get feedback from them.”
Walsh said there’s one thing she wants young professionals to remember.
“It’s all about selling yourself and your brand as a journalist,” she said. “Tell them in a way that sounds employable.”
Tips
• Use active, not passive, voice
• Sell your brand as a journalist
• Look professional
• Don’t underestimate how you appear on camera
• Rely on the AP Stylebook
• Get outside perspectives on your resume and work
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