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10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do

10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do
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As the recent experience of Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais proves, there is often a high price associated with exposing truths and scandals. Facing libel charges after writing about the horrors of a country’s diamond trade, serious journalists must place themselves at considerable risk if they are to uphold the values of honesty and integrity while delivering newsworthy content to their readers. This harsh reality is often overlooked, thanks to the antics of a select few tabloid journalists and editors who deal in sensational narratives rather than those with genuine value for the reader. The importance of serious journalism should never be underestimated, however, and neither should the sacrifices that journalists make in the quest to report real news in real-time to their audience.

With a small minority of tabloid reporters responsible for an entire series of misconceptions, let’s look at the following facts about serious journalists and how they stack up against popular stereotypes:

1. They are Deadline Driven

The world of news moves quickly and in real-time, meaning that stories have to be written, edited and published to a prohibitive deadline. This poses an issue for journalists, especially those who are forced to deal with regular interruptions with colleagues as they work. This can trigger a less than welcoming response that is perceived as rudeness, when it is in fact little more than a coping mechanism that enables them to maintain focus and deal with significant pressure.

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2. They are Versatile and Adaptable

Depending on their status and background, some journalists are required to cover numerous genres of news and stories over the course of their careers. Rather than highlighting inadequate levels of focus or a lack of clear orientation, this underlines a keen sense of versatility and willingness to accept unfamiliar work with minimal notice. So while established bloggers often receive more credit in the current marketplace, it is important to remember that they are able to create single-minded content that is dictated by their existing knowledge and expertise.

3. They are Calm in the Face of Criticism

While anyone who shares their work and opinions in a public forum are opening themselves up to criticism, people often fail to realize that journalists are human beings with emotive views and feelings of their own. Criticism is particularly hard to take when it is aimed at an honest and unbiased piece of journalism, especially when it is directed by Internet trolls who well-versed in the art of dissecting sound and well-reasoned arguments. When you consider the journalists have to face such criticism on a daily basis, they are constantly required to remain calm and professional in response.

4. They are Often Their Own Harshest Critics

The nature of journalism is interesting, as each author is given individual accreditation for their work and must take ownership of the content. This breeds both pride and a yearning for self-improvement, especially when they reread a published article and uncover sentences or paragraph that they would like to restructure. In this respect, journalists are often their own harshest critics, as they learn over time to remain strong when they doubt their ability and use mistakes as motivation to further hone their craft.

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5. They Work in an Incredibly Competitive Industry

The issue of self-improvement is an interesting one, as the journalism industry is as competitive as it is fast-paced. This means that a strong work ethic and a relentless quest for self-improvement are crucial to your chances of longevity in the sector, regardless of whether you work for a traditional media firm or an online brand. Many outsiders categorize those who work within the industry as being cut-throat and ruthless, when in fact they are simply committed to succeeding and carving out a long and rewarding career.

6. They are Deceptively Humble

Although some have described journalism as “an inherently arrogant profession,” this is at odds with some of the core elements of the sector. Not only is there a strong hierarchy within any typical media or news agency that commands a degree of servitude, but the majority of writers have their work shaped, changed and embellished by meticulous editors. So without a sense of humility and respect for the chain of command, journalists would not be able to survive in the industry.

7. They Risk their Careers Everyday

While many serious journalists may be deceptively humble, they are also courageous despite carrying a burden of great responsibility. Those in the front line of their field (such as investigative journalists) are forced to place their careers at risk every single day, as they strive to deliver insightful and often difficult news to the public regardless of any influential figures who may be involved. This can cause tremendous unrest and may even trigger lawsuits, meaning that journalists must have the courage of their convictions and remain true to their values at all times.

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8. They are Part of a Thriving Industry

The traditional news industry is undoubtedly moribund, but this is often misconstrued as the death of journalism. This is far from the truth, as the number of media outlets, online news carriers and reputable blog sites has risen at a considerable rate and created even more opportunities for skilled and experienced journalists. Many of the most established writers also have the opportunity to freelance in the modern age, as they look to maximize their earnings and report news across a rich diversity of media.

9. They are Highly Skilled and Qualified Writers

Conversely, the rising number of online media outlets has also created opportunities for those without a journalism degree or any associated experience. Alongside the emergence of independent blogging as a potentially lucrative career option, this has diluted the marketplace and created a perception that many writers are able to operate without a defined skill or academic qualifications. Journalists remain set apart from other writers, however, as they are all college educated, highly talented and exceptionally knowledgeable within their fields of expertise.

10. They Live in a Male Dominated World

From a female a perspective, the drive for equality and equal opportunities in the workplace has never been more strongly backed. These efforts have not yet been fully reflected in the world of journalism, with an estimated 79% of all newspaper articles penned by a male author. This means that female journalists face an even harder challenge to sustain their careers within the sector, despite the perception that they are able to operate from a fair and even playing field.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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