The Globe and Mail lays off editorial staff, the Chicago Tribune files for bankruptcy, the Rocky Mountain News shuts down after nearly 150 years of serving Denver. If you’re a journalist in 2009, it feels like there is no end to the bleeding.
Thankfully there’s hope for all those out of work news men and women, and it comes in the form of a 140 character resume.
The microblog phenomenon Twitter is already being used by journalists around the world for research, for scrounging up sources and for breaking news, so it’s only natural that it be used to try to keep them employed. An anonymous collective of publicists who initially needed a way to keep track of the massive changes in the media landscape started tweeting job information to over 12,000 followers. They setup three feeds, all beginning with “The Media is.” There’s The Media is Dying, which chronicles the outlets shutting down, laying off and handing out severance packages. On the flipside there’s The Media is Hiring, which posts job listings from different media outlets. And there’s The Media is Hunting, which gives unemployed journalists a chance to sell themselves to potential employers in Twitter’s140 character space.
Perhaps the best example of this mix came from film critic Larry Ratliff who posted, “Will Work for Milk Duds: Nationally known film critic Larry Ratliff looking for new gig. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The limited space and the potential for tweets to get lost among so
many others on screen means that landing a gig through Twitter takes a
lot of luck, and a very specific skill set. “The most successful
resumes are the ones that give a little personality with the facts,”
says one of the co-founders of The Media is profiles, who, along with his colleagues, wants to remain anonymous and insists they don’t
need any recognition for their services. “We still work in the media
and it’s not like we’re doing anything wrong, or are ashamed of what
we’re doing, it’s just not something we need recognition for.”
It’s also recommended that job seekers find space to link to their website or an online version of their real resume. “People naturally want more information than 140 characters can give them. Keep a good body of work online and up-to-date, so many people just expect names to sell themselves and in these times people want to see what you wrote, as well as whom for. Make it easy for them to find everything.”
The publicists at The Media is have only been helping journalists get jobs since late November 2008, but already there are signs that people will get hired soon. “We have people saying they are in talks and that they got multiple calls, but I’m not sure if we’ve landed anyone their dream job just yet,” says one of the founders.
So far, feedback for their efforts has been overwhelmingly positive. More and more followers of their feeds have been copying The Media is posts and sharing them with other members of their own network. This is called a retweet and it’s the highest form of praise a feed can receive on Twitter because it means the information is valuable enough to share with a non-follower.
The only complaints the collective have received are about the name of their flagship profile, The Media is Dying. “The name has been one of the main gripes for people. We’ve thought long and hard about it, but in the end, and with much research, we decided it was fitting, so it stuck.”
The Media is profiles aren’t going away anytime soon either. “Twitter is fast, easy and everyone likes getting just the facts, so as long as [the feeds] stay useful they will continue to live on,” he adds. “We’d love for someone to sponsor us.”
Aaron Broverman is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. His Twitter address is twitter.com/Broverman
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