Introducing Newsdesk


Infographic: A history of the wire service


To help celebrate the launch of Ebyline’s News Desk custom wire service we wanted some way to visualize the timeline of journalism innovation. The more we researched the histories of the various big news agencies—AP, Reuters, AFP, UPI—the more apparent it was that the wires have done more to consistently pioneer new models, new technologies and new products than anyone else in the journalism biz.

They seized on the invention of the telegraph to replace steamships and homing pigeons (no kidding), were the first to use radio for news, developed the distribution of stock market quotes that we rely on today and have generally been much more open to improvisation and invention than their clients. Of course, there have been some famous gaffes, rivalries, bankruptcies and indignities.

We’re happy to include the good, the bad and the bizarre in our graphic history of the wires.

This Week’s Headlines: Knight News Challenge Awards, Post Drops iPad Paywall

Hope all our readers on the East Coast are surviving this week’s heat wave! Here’s a look at the media and publishing headlines that caught our eye this week:

How The Wall Street Journal Uses Sound Bites on Pinterest

In this 24/7 news cycle world, with stories broken down into miniscule sound bites, The Wall Street Journal has found a clever way to present select ones from the News Corp.-owned newspaper via social media.

The Journal has been pinning “memorable” quotes on Pinterest. Beneath each quote, context is provided along with a link to the complete story online. WSJ staffers use Adobe Photoshop to create images of the individual quotes, which have blurred out text surrounding them. As of June 7, the quotes board alone has 6,524 followers and 45 pins.

The Journal must have smart social media editors working in its New York City offices because the quotes that are selected immediately draw the reader in – it appears they are pulled from controversial articles or ones of extreme interest.

Here are some examples this contributor viewed when writing this blog post:

  • “This is something we think we have the legal authority to do,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, defending his proposal to stop the sale of large sodas;
  • “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married,” said President Barack Obama, who previously supported only civil unions, in an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts; and
  • “The leading cause of death for young black men – those ages 15 to 24 – is homicide,” said Attorney General Eric Holder on the shooting of Trayvon Martin allegedly by George Zimmerman.

But this isn’t the only Pinterest board The Journal has going. It has 33 others, with a total of 8,857 followers, 874 pins, and 74 likes. Some of the other boards include: select front pages; WSJ Fashion, New York Fashion Week; #morningWSJ, through which readers were ask to send in their photos of how they start their day; WSJ Graphics; and many more.

Other papers using Pinterest include The New York Times (it just recently launched), USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and Orange County Register.

Now, let’s see how they compare by the numbers:

  • The Wall Street Journal: 8,589 followers, 34 boards, 874 pins, 74 likes;
  • USA Today: 2,228 followers, 17 boards, 552 pins, 126 likes;
  • Los Angeles Times: 1,181 followers, 61 boards, 1,517 pins, 232 likes;
  • The New York Times: 480 followers, 14 boards, 30 pins, 3 likes;
  • Denver Post: 130 followers, 12 boards, 175 pins, 16 likes;
  • Orange County Register: 174 followers, 11 boards, 197 pins, 14 likes; and
  • San Francisco Chronicle: 90 followers, 11 boards, 55 pins, 0 likes.

It looks like The Wall Street Journal should start celebrating. Perhaps with a quote.

How to Build an Enduring Freelance Career


Slipping into the life of a full-time freelancer was deceptively easy. A former classmate sent me a lead on a permalance copy editing gig at a daily newspaper, which I easily landed. I also parlayed an internship at a web magazine into another regular gig, managing and writing for their products blog. Sure, I took on other projects here and there… But it didn’t take much hustle to pay my bills, and I soon slipped into a sense of complacency.

Then, just as the recession was creeping close enough to slap us all upside the head, the newspaper I was permalancing at folded. Months later, the web magazine I was blogging for cut back on its posting frequency. Suddenly, I realized: I’d been coasting.

These days, the more projects I’m juggling, the safer I feel. Which is obvious, but what I’ve also learned is that the more you have to offer, the more projects you’re sure to have on your plate.

So I write and blog for print and online magazines. I ghostwrite ebooks. I do a bit of copywriting. I take on proofreading and copy editing projects. Not only that, but I earned my career coaching certification so that I could coach other freelance writers and publishing professionals. I host networking events. And — just for kicks — I’m an on-call funeral singer.

Aside from the singing, I feel as if all of the work I do is in some way connected, each service I offer a natural extension of the others. Which makes it easier to build a cohesive brand. So, as a freelance journalist, what else could you be doing to bring in the bucks?

1. Seek out different types of writing clients.

It’s all well and good to write for your favorite glossy mags, but when that lifestyle is characterized by pitching, waiting, more waiting, more waiting, maybe landing the assignment, pushed-back pub dates, and payments made at least 30 days after publication (why are we doing this again!?), it could be smart to consider additional forms of writing income. Some alternate forms of writing to consider? Industry-specific articles for business-to-business publications. Corporate copywriting. Ghostwriting (books… blog posts… even social media accounts!). Greeting card copywriting. The possibilities are endless!

2. Use your word nerd abilities to clean up the writing of others.

Always hand in perfectly clean copy? You may have a very bright future on the other side of the red pen. Consider copyediting or proofreading for a magazine, newspaper, or book publisher. Offer freelance editing to other authors. Become a section editor for a print or online publication. Consider angling for a developmental editor position at your favorite publishing house.

3. Self-publish.

Of course, if the thought of nurturing other writers instead of working on your own manuscript makes you wince, you could start a niche blog and find a way to monetize it. Advertising dollars aren’t what they used to be, but you could always use your blog to build up a mailing list and promote your other products and services. Speaking of products, why not develop an information product, like an insider report or ebook? You won’t have the power of a traditional publishing house behind you but, depending on how you self-pub, you could have all the profits.

4. Share your boundless wisdom.

There are universities with strong continuing education programs out there just itching for some high-quality, part-time writing profs. Sites like mediabistro also offer classes and publishing panels, and are always looking for new teachers. Or if you’d rather go it alone, you could host your own e-course. Of course, if the thought of teaching large groups of people makes you feel light-headed (I’m with you, man), you could do what I did and offer one-on-one coaching or consulting.

5. Brainstorm some other ideas.

Ask yourself: What do I love to do in my spare time? What parts of my job or other life activities do I most enjoy? What are my natural talents and my greatest successes? What are my passions? This list has a lot of ideas, but it’s not complete.

If you’re struggling financially, I strongly suggest that you consider diversifying. You have a lot to offer. More than you think.

How to Localize News from Libya & Japan, @WSJ Disavows Grammar, What Do Readers Want to Read?


For today’s bushel of information, we have a confession from the Wall Street Journal bureau chiefs about their disavowal of grammar. We also have  a few ruminations on how media outlets have developed technology to cover stories in far flung locales, and what stories their audiences really want to read. Finally we have stories about how to fund your indie journalism outfit, and how to streamline your Twittering.

For all the news fit to blog, it’s Ebyline’s Daily Dose:


Grammar’s Dirty Little Secret

“Listen, we’re going to let you guys in on a little secret: You can really put your commas anywhere. Grammar’s all a big sham.

Oh, the fancy doctors of English and keepers of the language must bristle to hear such a claim! But it’s true.”

Public Stays Focused on Japan as Media Turns to Libya

“The public’s news interests this week are far out of sync with the news media’s coverage: While the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami was the public’s top story by a wide margin, news organizations devoted far more coverage to the military conflict in Libya.”

Explainer maps locate, contextualize and localize news from Libya, Japan

“In recent weeks, the media have reported on how events in Libya and Japan are affecting Misurata, Az Zintan, Tripoli and Rikuzentakata. Is your geography good enough to know that Misurata and Az Zintanare in northwest Libya, that Tripoli is northeast of Kabaw, and that Rikuzentakata is a coastal town in northeast Japan? If not, then look at some of the maps that journalists at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CNN have published recently in print and online.”

U.S. Journalist in Libya Finds Audience Via Kickstarter

“What if independent journalists and article writers were funded directly by their readers and viewers? Rachel Anderson, a 26-year-old journalist from North Dakota, is using Kickstarter to find out. Anderson is asking the site to help fund her stay in Libya, where she is releasing weekly videos on the lives and struggles of Libyan rebels, revolutionaries and artists.”

21 Power Tips To Get Your Blog Content Shared On Facebook and Twitter

“Bloggers in the main, crave attention otherwise they wouldn’t write, so making your content easy to share is one step towards having readers show up every day to your blog. Providing a tempting and low friction content sharing environment requires constant optimizing and fine tuning of your blog and the social media ecosystem that sustains it.”