Being a jack of all trades: Ensuring job security


In the wake of what has come to be known as “backpack journalism,” the average reporter now serves as writer, copy editor, photographer, graphic designer and html coder, all rolled in one.

Fantastic writing alone no longer cuts it. In order to be marketable journalists, we must diversify our skill sets. Check out some of the free educational tools I listed below that can help writers stay valuable in this unstable industry.

  • Html Coding

Basic html coding is easy to learn and looks great on a resume. Html, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is a technical language for creating web pages. The right-brained spirit in us cowers at the sight of html text, which initially looks like several scary lines of gibberish.


Thankfully, Code Academy, an educational program that teaches html, is an easy and free way to learn coding while beefing up your resume. Another html platform, Python, teaches users to simplify and condense code. This program is for more sophisticated coders. Use the easier Code Academy courses as a stepping stone to Python.

  • Resources

The Poynter Institute offers ten online tools for journalists that are pretty sweet. These include FOIA Machine, which posts hard-to-find public records and Public Insight Network, which serves as a source-finding engine. Just to name a few.

  • Copy Editing

No2Pen, a writing and editing blog, suggests that all copy editors should keep a condensed stylesheet handy when reviewing their work. Print out No2Pen’s free stylesheet template to facilitate your copy editing.

No2Pen also has a free proofreading checklist that users can review before submitting their work.

  • Photography

Fotor is a photo editing site that offers  free services, from basic editing to special effects. “PC Magazine” also offers ten basic photography tips for starters, including advice on lighting and exposure. A great way to measure your progress in photography is by uploading your photos to the image hosting site Flickr. You can edit your photos and view the evolution of your technique by comparing them over periods of time. It’s a popular website for users to embed and share personal photographs in the online community. Bloggers can also host images that they embed in social media and blogs.

  • Video

In addition to hosting photos, Flickr acts as a video hosting site that offers editing tools and storage space for your work. Check out Flickr’s “Explore Video” tool to find out more.

You might be a jack of all trades and a master of none, but you these tools can amp up your journalistic game and make your resume stand out.


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