Browsing articles in "Resources"

Apply by Oct. 4 to be one of 2,800 winners of a Gilman scholarship for study abroad

Sep 22, 2016   //   by Michael Dorsher   //   Awards, Blog, Contest, Internships, Istanbul, Turkey, Norway, Oslo, Resources, Scholarships  //  No Comments
Mike Dorsher, Ph.D., is the executive director of ieiMedia. A journalism professor emeritus for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Dorsher was a Fulbright Scholar at McGill University in Montréal, 2008-09, and a founding editor of washingtonpost.com, 1996-2000.

Want to study abroad but think you can’t afford it? Think again, says Rachele Kanigel, who wrote this blog post as the co-director of ieiMedia’s new program in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the best ways to raise money for a study abroad program is to apply for a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This federally funded program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad.

Several students have won Gilman scholarships to study abroad with ieiMedia. This year, Amy Venn, a student at Valley City State University in North Dakota, won a Gilman scholarship to study in our Oslo, Norway, program, and you can see several of her blogposts here. In 2013 Taylor Gilman a journalism student at Metropolitan State University, won a $4,000 Gilman scholarship to study with ieiMedia in Istanbul. Kat Russell, a student at California State University, Northridge, won a $5,000 Gilman scholarship to study in Istanbul in 2011. You can read about her experience in this piece she wrote for MediaShift.

The Gilman program is designed to “broaden the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints,” according to the program’s website. It aims to “support students who have been traditionally under-represented in education abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in underrepresented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”

This year the Gilman program will award more than 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need; the average grant is $3,000. About 27 percent of students who apply win Gilman scholarships.

The program is open to students from public and private institutions from all 50 states; Washington, DC; and Puerto Rico.

To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States; 
  • Be an undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions);
  • Be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that he/she will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of his/her study abroad program or internship;
  • Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and four weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
  • Plan to study in a country not currently under a travel warning issued by the United States Department of State. (ieiMedia never holds a study abroad course in these countries when they are on the travel warning list.)

Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray study- or intern-abroad costs. These costs include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare.

The Gilman Program offers two summer application cycles for summer programs. The deadlines are Oct. 4 and March 7. People who apply in October will find out in late February; those who apply in March find out in May. 

All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time on the date they are due. The online application system will close at this time and no more applications will be accepted. This deadline also includes uploading official transcripts from your current college or university and any transfer institution listed in your application. 

Here are some tips for applying to the Gilman program:

  • Before you begin the application, contact the appropriate offices at your school to determine the correct study abroad and financial aid adviser(s) who must certify your application. Some institutions designate a specific financial aid or study abroad adviser to certify all Gilman Scholarship applications.
  • Submit your application at least a few days before the due date to ensure that you do not miss the deadline as a result of technical difficulties or because of heavy traffic on the Gilman website. Make sure your application is complete!
  • Some institutions require a written release of information form before your advisers can certify your application. Failure to submit a written release of information form to your adviser, if required by your university, will delay the processing of your application.
  • The Gilman application requires two essays: the Statement of Purpose Essay and the Follow-on Service Project Proposal. When writing your Statement of Purpose essay, stress what you hope to gain from the program and how it will help you fulfill professional and personal goals. For more information about the essays, visit the Gilman program website. (http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program/Application-Process/Essays)
  • Eligible programs must be a minimum of four weeks (28 days)— or two weeks (14 days) for current community college students — in one country and can be as long as one academic year. Students who are interested in ieiMedia’s Kyoto program should also plan to participate in the optional three-day Japan English Model United Nations Conference immediately before the international reporting program, so that study-abroad experience will meet the 28-day requirement.

If you do not qualify for a Gilman scholarship, contact your financial aid office and study-abroad office to inquire about other funding opportunities.

Fund Raising for Summer Study Abroad

Feb 4, 2014   //   by Andy Ciofalo   //   Resources, Scholarships, Study Abroad  //  No Comments
Andy Ciofalo (ieiMedia Founder and President) is professor emeritus of communication/ journalism at Loyola College Maryland, where he arrived in 1983 to found what is now The Communication Department.

People are aware that undergraduate tuition is usually supported by government and university financial aid and loans. They don’t realize that little support is available for summer study abroad. That’s why students seeking funds will need to reach out to family, friends, and various organizations.

What drives costs for summer study abroad programs? First, there is the variable of the foreign currency exchange rate. But the following fixed components are the main ones to consider while seeking outside support:

1. Housing
2. Meals
3. Instruction
4. Equipment
5. Airfare (usually not included in program fee)
6. Independent travel
7. Administrative overhead (facilities, insurance, etc)
8. Credits and fees

The cost of credits and associated fees, items 7 and 8, varies among institutions and usually doesn’t fit into an appeal for financial assistance because it is not relevant to being abroad. But a case can be made for the other items.

Summer study abroad must contend with higher prices when programs are located in popular tourist destinations, which affects items 1, 2, 5, and 6. Housing, meals, and airfare can easily be separated into distinct funding appeals, when a single source for all cannot be identified.

Programs that are transplanted lecture/discussion courses (with field trips) may have only one professor and 15 to 20 students, resulting in a lower cost. Experiential courses, like those offered by ieiMedia, may be more costly because the student-faculty ratio may be 3 or 4 to one. This is a special circumstance that may be cited in any appeal for funds.

There are many local merchants, community, religious (including parishes) and ethnic organizations that will assist students in special projects, like studying abroad, provided students describe their purpose in terms that would appeal to the donor.

In some cases, a student may approach potential donors with mass mailings, but where possible an individualized email or letter will work best, especially when contacting family and friends. The most effective communications will be personal, a letter that will communicate your passion for the proposed project. Break the project down into fundable units. For instance, if meals will cost $25 per day, seek a commitment for a certain number of days. And the donors should be promised some response upon the student’s return.

If a student needs to  take out a loan to attend, a powerful appeal can be based on helping the student to avoid this additional debt or pay off the debt…all because the program is that important to his or her education or career.

Many of these rationales can be crafted for the online fundraising sites like gogetfunding.comgofundme.com, plumfund.com, and fundmytravel.com.

Handy Apps for Study-Abroad Students

Nov 20, 2013   //   by Susan West   //   Resources, Study Abroad  //  No Comments
Susan West is an award-winning writer and editor who launches and advises magazines and websites. With an M.S. in science journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia, West started her career as a staff writer at Science News and Science 80. In 1986, she co-founded a popular health magazine called Hippocrates (now known as Health and owned by Time Inc.), which won four National Magazine Awards during her tenure.

The wired world is a smaller world, for sure. It’s also much more convenient, especially when you’re traveling and studying abroad. Recently, USA Today rounded up six apps that every study-abroad student should know about.

Among them:

  • Triposo for practical info on 142 major destinations worldwide, such as the current exchange rate and exchange locations, local transportation stops, and suggestions of local food to try. 
  • Evernote for recording lectures and taking notes. 
  • Snapchat to keep friends visually updated on your life, using WiFi instead of data. 
  • Viber to text and make calls over WiFi. 
  • Foodspotting for user-generated suggestions of places to eat. 
  • Google Translate to help you plan what to say and how to say it in interviews and casual conversation.

We’d add Word Lens, an app that translates printed words when you point your phone’s camera at them, letting you literally and instantly see what those those inscrutable road signs and menus are saying. And for serious students of language, there’s nothing better than the Collins series of dictionaries and verb apps. They run more than $20 each, but they’re worth it.

What’s your favorite app for travel?

 

Bake Sale, Crowdfund, Scholarship: How to Pay for Studying Abroad

Sep 3, 2013   //   by Susan West   //   Resources, Scholarships  //  No Comments
Susan West is an award-winning writer and editor who launches and advises magazines and websites. With an M.S. in science journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia, West started her career as a staff writer at Science News and Science 80. In 1986, she co-founded a popular health magazine called Hippocrates (now known as Health and owned by Time Inc.), which won four National Magazine Awards during her tenure.

Victoria Mita of FundMyTravel says it well: “I’m not rich but I studied abroad. So can you, if you really want to!”

In a post on The Traveling Advisor, Victoria sums up the various ways of finding cash to study abroad, from “old school” methods like bake sales and yard work to “new school” means like crowdfunding, as in FundMyTravel and ProjectTravel.

And, of course, there are scholarships. These three organizations offer complete lists of scholarships, grants, loans, and paid internships for students seeking to study in another country:

Fund for Education Abroad Offers Scholarships

Dec 23, 2012   //   by Rachele Kanigel   //   Blog, Resources  //  No Comments
Rachele Kanigel is an associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. She directed ieiMedia projects in Jerusalem (2013), Perpignan (2010 and 2011) and Urbino (2009) and taught reporting in Cagli in 2007. In 2017 she will co-direct ieiMedia's new international reporting program in Kyoto, Japan.

Looking for a scholarship to help finance your study-abroad experience? The application deadline is coming up for the Fund for Education Abroad scholarships.

FEA, an organization of study-abroad professionals dedicated to increasing access to international educational opportunities for students, will award up to 15 scholarships of up to $10,000 to support students planning to participate in “high-quality, rigorous education abroad programs” in the 2013-14 academic year or summer 2013.

Requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a college or university in the U.S.
  • Must be applying for a study abroad program eligible for credit at the student’s educational institution
  • Must plan to study abroad for a minimum of 4 weeks in country
  • Is committed to supporting education abroad in his/her campus community through work with the FEA and his/her campus education abroad staff upon return

Preferences:

  • Applying to a study abroad program known for its academic rigor and immersion elements
  • Applying to a study abroad program that includes studying the language of the host country (if not English)
  • Applying to a study abroad program with a sustainable service-learning or volunteering component
  • Applying to a study abroad program in a non-traditional destination
  • Demonstrates financial need
  • FEA strongly encourages students to apply who represent a group that is traditionally underrepresented in education abroad.

In addition to the general Fund for Education Abroad scholarships, FEA offers the following dedicated scholarships:

  • Rainbow Scholarship
    This scholarship will be awarded to a deserving LGBT student. Applicants must meet general FEA scholarship eligibility requirements & preferences. Students interested in being considered for this annual scholarship should indicate this through their application forms. This scholarship is made possible by the generous support of a group of international education professionals who are committed to advocating on behalf of LGBT students.
  • Hiliary Echo Douglas Memorial Scholarship
    In memory of Hiliary Echo Douglas, a study abroad advocate, beloved daughter, wife, mother, and colleague. Hiliary graduated from the University of Evansville in 1999 with a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in International Relations. She then traveled to Vietnam with a Fulbright Fellowship to investigate modern theatre in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. After two more years working for various international cultural collaborations in Vietnam, Hiliary joined CET Academic Programs as the Vietnam Immersion Resident Director eventually transitioning to become the first CET Campus Relations Manager for the West Region until her death in 2008.

    This scholarship will be awarded to a student who demonstrates Hiliary’s love for Vietnam and other cultures, her desire to give back to the world community, and her contagious love of life.

Applications for all FEA scholarships are due Jan. 18, 2013. You  can read about current FEA scholars here. FEA has a number of helpful materials on its website, including essay-writing guidelines, advice from current FEA scholars, sample essays and FAQs.

Here’s the application. Apply now!

Creating Cultural Context: Theatre as Teacher

Dec 5, 2012   //   by Terri Ciofalo   //   Armagh, N. Ireland, Creative Writing, Playwriting, Poetry, Resources, Travel Writing  //  No Comments
Terri Ciofalo is an Assistant Professor of Stage Management at the University of Illinois and the Assistant Production Manager at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. An expert logistical manager, Terri has toured nationally and regionally with a variety of theatre artists and dance companies as a Production and Stage Manager. Terri is Program Director and an instructor for the Armagh Project.

In developing a study abroad program, one of the most challenging aspects can be providing students with appropriate context in which to begin exploring the culture they are about to participate in. One of the most effective ways to share cultural context is through art. The art produced by a culture is a direct reflection of what that culture values, what it thinks is important. The art may reinforce or reject those values, but it reflects them and allows the audience to make decisions for themselves.

Students in the Armagh Program in 2012 exploring the city.

When ieiMedia went to Northern Ireland last summer, we relied on theatre to help us understand the complex societal relationships the students encountered. Even for a journalist, theatre is enlightening because it lets us see the culture enacted, spoken aloud.

In the Armagh Program, we examined the history of Irish Theatre as a distinct cultural voice in literary history. Students began their studies by reading plays by Sean O’Casey, who represents the voice of early 20th struggles for Irish independence from Britain through the point of view of the impoverished working class in Dublin, and, then, Brian Friel, who gives us the characters and stories away from war.

Armagh is in Northern Ireland, which is known to the world because of “The Troubles,” the conflict between Catholics and Protestants which raged for 30 years beginning in the late 1960s and ending with the Good Friday peace accord in 1998. This conflict affected everyone in Northern Ireland as more than 3,500 people were killed by Republican (Catholic) and Loyalist (Protestant) paramilitary or the British security forces. Fifty -one percent of the casualties were civilian. Nearly everyone we met had been affected by The Troubles in some way.

Art has a delayed reaction to history, so we found that “The Troubles” is the focus of a lot of plays being written and performed in Northern Ireland today. The Armagh students began this exploration with Belfast playwright Martin Lynch, who recommended that we read “The History of the Troubles, According to my Da,” a comedic but poignant look at life in a barricaded Belfast neighborhood. The highlight for many of the students (and faculty) was meeting Martin Lynch for lunch in Belfast and discussing the play with him. He told us that the characters were all based on real people from his childhood. His storytelling nature came to life as he told us stories from this time. He taught us that life, and laughter, continued behind the barriers that still mark Belfast neighborhoods. The original barriers built by the neighborhoods out of furniture and burned out cars have been replaced by concrete and steel permanent “Peace Walls” that separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods to this day.

During another trip to Belfast, the students met at the new Metropolitan Arts Center with the literary manager of Tinderbox Theatre, a play development company whose mission is to develop Northern Irish playwrights. We borrowed a DVD of plays that were harsher looks at the lingering effects of the Troubles on Belfast life; they represented the voice of the next generation of artists too young or not yet born during the times of highest violence, but who feel the effects. Towards the end of the John Hewitt International Festival of Literary Arts, the students performed the plays and poems they had written during their time in Northern Ireland. The audience responded enthusiastically to the student work, which represented the students’ growing understanding of the complex, fascinating, peculiar, warm and funny culture of Northern Ireland.

What Editors Look for in New Hires

Nov 21, 2011   //   by Bob Marshall   //   Blogging, Jobs, Multiplatform Journalism, Resources  //  No Comments
Bob Marshall is the veteran reporter, feature writer and columnist whose work at The Times-Picayune has earned two Pulitzer Prizes. He was co-author of the series “Oceans of Trouble: Are the World’s Fisheries Doomed?” which won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service from the Society of Professional Journalists.

When aspiring journalists discover I’ve been in the news business for 40 years – and still have a job at a newspaper – they pepper me with dozens of questions, one of which is a constant:  What are editors looking for in new hires?

I now have the perfect answer, thanks to this job listing on mlive.com,  which is Advance Publications’ (Newhouse newspapers) Web site for their Michigan properties.

I’d suggest directors of journalism schools across the nation be familiar with the prerequisites listed here. Editors see it as the template for our future. (http://jobs.mlive.com/jobs/detail/42915571/16).
                       
Reporter (All Topics) – MLive Media Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Job Details

ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF THIS POSITION
The Reporter will report and produce news stories for various platforms, and act as a statewide expert and discussion leader on high-value topics, meeting audience demand for immediacy, depth and engagement.
 
REQUIRED EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS
·         Degree in Journalism or Communications or related field required
·         Minimum of 2 years of journalism experience with a proven ability in reporting and writing required
·         Proven experience building, maintaining and engaging an active audience
·         Ability to work independently under deadline pressure and prioritize tasks appropriately
·         Demonstrated reporting, writing and organizational skills
·         Solid understanding of news writing, journalistic ethics and story structure
·         Experience with search engine optimization practices
·         Experience with using social media to source and promote content a plus
·         Demonstrated capability in capitalizing on high-value topics by engaging audiences in frequency and urgency
·         Understanding of the methods and tools used to deliver content across a variety of platforms such as Moveable Type CMS, SCC Budgeting and Archiving System, Smartphones
·         Understanding imperatives of multiple platforms – print, mobile, Internet, etc.
·         Mastery of social media and digital interaction
·         Proven ability to utilize a broad set of tools to tell stories and engage the audience
·         Ability to leverage relationships with sources to deliver content that differentiates the organization from competitors
·         Ability to work independently and remotely

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Duties and Responsibilities, work schedules and/or location may change based on evolving business needs
1.       Gather information and write journalistically sound news elements for use in all media platforms, existing and future, that is: balanced and factual; timely and topical; and, well –sourced and contextually correct
2.       Learn and employ all techniques for effective digital “beat-blogging” reporting across all platforms
3.       Post frequent and incrementally posting throughout the day
4.       Engage in story aggregation and topical link-posting
5.       Monitor and engage in reader comment streams on MLive impact pages
6.       Elevate comments into new posts when appropriate
7.       Interact on social media platforms, with story shares, objective commentary, promoting your topic and news organization’s content initiatives
8.       Effectively employ various means for monitoring audience interest and competitors’ posting on your topic, including setting up Google alerts, Twitter and RSS feeds
9.       Maintain operational communication with editor and, when applicable, production center,
10.   Understand and use hardware, software and cloud-based equipment and systems for direct-to-web production and engagement, including but not limited to:
·         a posting photographs and short videos to the web and any internal production systems
·         remote web reporting, using laptops and smart phones
11.   Understand and use our news organization’s audience traffic tracking systems and analytical reports
12.   Meet production deadlines

WORKING CONDITIONS AND PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS
Extensive computer use required. Some travel required. Ability to work flexible work schedules, including nights, weekends and holidays, as needed

The Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, physical or mental impairment, or any other category protected under federal, state or local law

Principles of Good Video Storytelling

Nov 8, 2011   //   by Steve Anderson   //   Multimedia, Resources, Video  //  2 Comments
Steve Anderson is the Ruth D. Bridgeforth Professor of Telecommunications in the School of Media Arts & Design at James Madison University. Prior to entering academe, Anderson was an environmental reporter and weathercaster for KCNC television, a network O&O station in Denver, Colorado. His reporting often involved in-depth examination of local and regional environmental issues and an explanation of the science behind them. He also worked as a news photographer, weathercaster and news reporter in other markets. Steve earned his Ph.D. from the University of Denver. He is ieiMedia's Program Director for Urbino, Italy.

Former NBC News President Reuven Frank once said, “the highest power of television journalism is not in the transmission of information, but in the transmission of experience.” While text is often better suited to telling the details of a story, the first person nature of video makes it well suited for conveying emotion and providing environmental context. With that in mind, one starts to see what types of stories, or aspects of larger stories, are best suited to each medium.

So, what are the key techniques of good video storytelling? Here’s a top ten list. (Thanks to Mark Anderson, former National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Television News Photographer of the Year, for some of these gems).

10. Avoid Big Mac stories. A Big Mac is made up of alternating pieces of bread, meat, bread, meat and bread. This is like a TV news package with two sound bites (meat) wrapped in pieces of narration or “track” (track, bite, track, bite, track). It’s the easiest type of story to create and requires only that you pick two sound bites and then write around them. The middle track or end track may contain a standup. So many stories are done with this basic approach, but it’s formulaic and boring.

9. Utilize an interspersing structure. Good visual stories keep the viewers attention with a sense of pacing. That often means liberal use of short pieces of natural sound up full, interspersed with short segments of narration. Reuven Frank said, “no one writes white space anymore.” If you find yourself writing long, continuous pieces of narration, ask if there are pieces of sound you can insert between sentences, and even phrases, to break up the monotony and provide white space.

8. Stories should have a clear beginning, middle and end. This is the essence of good storytelling in all forms. It could be going from specific, to general, back to specific, but the structure should be clear.

7. Editing begins when shooting. The best shooters are also editors. They think about what shots they’ll want/need later when editing. Shooting sequences, various angles of view, sound-up full – these things can’t be created in editing if not acquired during shooting.

6. Hold conversations – don’t conduct interviews. It’s always best to converse with people in their natural settings as they are engaged in some activity related to the story. Mark Anderson says, “no more guys in ties behind desks.” If that’s the best setting for your interview, ask yourself if you really need that sound at all. Avoid taking someone out of their natural setting, standing them against a wall and conducting a formal interview.

5. Standups are non-essential. There could be cases where a reporter standup serves a purpose (such as demonstrating something or to provide perspective on something where you have no video), but these things tend to be used simply to get a reporters face on TV. Remember, you are not the story.

4. Involve the camera. Mark Anderson says, “If your shots aren’t good enough, you’re probably not close enough.” Shooting something from 20 feet away with a long focal length is not the same as a shot from 3 feet away with a short focal length even if the subject is the same size in both shots. The closer shot widens the background and seems more intimate.

3. Good sound is the essence of good video storytelling. Natural sound in the background provides environmental perspective and should be a part of all voice overs. However, most essential is finding good natural sound you can use “up full” on its own for short periods. Wireless mics are invaluable for good sound. The mic should be invisible and unobtrusive. Wire up your subject with a wireless mic and they’ll forget they’re even wearing it.

2. Avoid pans, zooms and tilts. (Previously titled “pans, zooms and tilts are evil.”) Yes, you may need to pan to follow action from time to time, but even in those cases it’s often better to “pan with your feet,” meaning to follow the action by walking alongside. There is no human perceptual equivalent to the zoom. It’s unnatural. The main purpose of a variable focal length lens is simply to give you different levels of magnification for the various shots you’ll need. And, don’t underestimate the value of a tripod. Unless you have hands of stone, you’ll get shaky video and it will look amateurish.

1. Vary your shots. The most common mistake for a beginning news videographer is to shoot almost all medium shots. Most neglected are wide shots and close-ups. Perhaps the most neglected is the close-up. Shoot many more close-ups than you think you can use. Also, think about sequences of long, medium and close-up shots with matched action.

The best examples of these stories often come from television stations in markets like Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle. These markets tend to have stations that win NPPA Station of the Year honors for their visual storytelling. Some of the very best examples don’t come from television at all. Look to the New York Times and Washington Post online sites for examples of well crafted, sound-centric video stories.

Great Advice on Writing Travel Articles

Nov 2, 2011   //   by Susan West   //   Craft of Writing, Resources, Travel Writing  //  1 Comment
Susan West is an award-winning writer and editor who launches and advises magazines and websites. With an M.S. in science journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia, West started her career as a staff writer at Science News and Science 80. In 1986, she co-founded a popular health magazine called Hippocrates (now known as Health and owned by Time Inc.), which won four National Magazine Awards during her tenure.
Travel writing expert Don George

Travel writer Don George

 For anyone interested in learning or perfecting the craft of travel writing, I highly recommend a recent blog post by Don George, one of the deans of the genre. It summarizes his advice on how to put together a good travel article.

Don defines a travel narrative as “the crafted evocation of a journey, usually written in the first person, that is structured as a sequence of anecdotes/scenes, and that presents a quest that illuminates a place and culture.” And he stresses the critical need for a “a theme – lesson, message, point, illumination – that you as the writer are trying to convey to the reader.”

 

Here’s how he boils down the essential steps:

  1. Figure out the lesson of your travel experience or story.
  2. Figure out what steps led you to learn that lesson.
  3. Recreate those steps in your mind.
  4. Recreate those steps in words so the reader can live them with you.
  5. Craft your tale with a beginning, middle, and end that shape and convey your lesson.

There are lots more useful suggestions and insights in his full blog post—definitely worth reading. For an even deeper exploration of the topic, see Don’s terrific book, Travel Writing.

How to Pitch Your Story, Perfectly

Nov 1, 2011   //   by Michael Gold   //   Magazines, Multimedia, Photography & Photojournalism, Resources, Urbino, Italy, Video  //  No Comments
Michael Gold has been a writer, editor, and advisor for many publications, in print and online. He started his career as a reporter at various East Coast newspapers, then moved to magazines, serving as senior editor of Science 80 and executive editor of Health, which won three National Magazine Awards while he was there. As a consultant, he helped launch such critically acclaimed titles as Dwell, Afar, and University Business.

How to pitch a story: image of baseball pitcher

If a reporter can’t convincingly sell a story idea—to an editor or to a professor—the story may never be written, photographed, or produced. (It shouldn’t be, anyway.) For that reason, Susan West and I spend a significant amount of time in the early days of the Urbino magazine course laying out the elements of a perfect pitch.

We ask each student to write a memo that makes the case for the idea in one or two pages, which is very much like what we as magazine editors expect from professional freelance writers. Below is a handout from this past summer’s magazine course that summarizes the four key elements. What makes a pitch persuasive to you? Would you add anything to our list? Please post your comments below.

Elements of a Perfect Pitch
Urbino Magazine Project 2011

Focus: What is the one question that the story will answer? The single main point? The one thing you want the reader to take away? What do your target readers want to know about this subject area, this place, or this new development? Aim for their “sweet spot.” That is the focus, or angle, of your story. Specific, not general. Narrow, not “all about.”

Approach: How will you tell the story? What is the vehicle that will give the story structure and allow you to make all the salient points in a coherent, natural way? Will it be a first-person account, a straight analysis of the facts, a guided tour or travelogue (taking the reader along on a journey), a story woven together by a central anecdote, a 10-best list…? Whenever possible, give a sample of that approach in your pitch.

A Whiff of the Meat: Give some key tidbits of the information that the story will provide. Show that you have done enough research to know that there’s a there there. Ideally, the pitch previews the likely main points of the story. There’s no sense in bringing up an idea that may evaporate with the first few phone calls or after the first few interview questions. Preliminary reporting prevents nasty surprises, long hours, and drastic, unsatisfactory “save jobs” later.

Rationale: Why does the story belong in this magazine (and, maybe, why now)? How does the story hit the target reader’s sweet spot—serve his/her needs and interests? This is the “peg,” or “hook,” or justification for doing this particular story (at this particular moment). For example: You have identified an outdoor adventure sure to be of interest to the numerous nature enthusiasts among our readers and it is an easy bus ride from their base in Urbino. Or, your proposed story covers an authentic local cultural event that tourists can participate in—and it recurs every summer, when we know our readers will be in town. Whatever it is, your rationale must answer the question: Why are we offering this story to this reader in this magazine?

Pages:12»

ieiMedia Blog: Browse Topics

Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts
email iconBy e-mail | rss iconBy RSS feed

Get our Free e-Newsletter

Please enter your e-mail address below.

Our Students Get Great Gigs

Where do ieiMedia grads end up? Check our alumni news page.

Students Say...

My experience in Urbino can be adequately be summed up by one very key Italian phrase: “Mamma mia!” The hills, the history, the pasta and the overall experience were such enjoyable eye-openers. Studying abroad is truly a priceless opportunity, and I know my time in Urbino will send me back to the states with a new worldview that will forever be with me.
by Milana Katic, Indiana University, Urbino Project 2012