This week in class UMass alum Will McGuinness talked to us about his experience in the journalism world and his thoughts about multimedia journalism. I’m really enjoying these guest lectures because they’re giving me a good look into my post-graduation world.

McGuinness was recently hired to the Huffington Post’s Education section – after a direct email to Arianna Huffington. Proof, yet again, that to survive in this business you need to be able to stick your neck out and take initiative. Up until this gig at the Huffington Post he’s had a variety of jobs and internships, all dating from when he was about 14.

Yeah, let’s pause. This guy started working in the he was barely a teenager. According to his LinkedIn account he’s been a freelance journalist since 2005. I mean, I’m not feeling a little behind or anything…

Anyways, he went from freelancing to newspapers in his town to holding an internship at his local town paper and working on his High School paper simultaneously. After high school he became a journalism major at UMass, and a writer for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. In his senior year he became the Editor in Chief of the paper.

One thing that struck me was the amount of internships he said he did leading up to his college graduation. Off the top of his head, he said 7. That to me is amazing. I still need to land 1, let alone more than half a dozen!

After college he basically became a workhorse, first working for The Herald News, a product of Gatehouse Media, in Fall River, MA as their Digital Chief. Basically he integrated the media company into multimedia journalism, which seems to be his forte.

From there he worked as part of the CBS National News team and is now employed at the Huffington Post.

He graduated in 2010 and has already held 3 full time jobs in the journalism world. I’m definitely thinking I need to get some more advice from this guy, he’s doing something right! One interesting thing he did say that I may definitely copy is that he applied to 5 jobs a day after his time at The Herald News, as he wanted to get out of his home town. Having that kind of initiative is astounding and I can only hope I get that motivated some day.

Another nugget of advice? Work in different facets of the industry, such as for:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • TV

For a lot of the lecture we discussed multimedia in journalism which he was highly knowledgeable about. One thing he discussed that i really hadn’t considered before was the high cost of multimedia journalism. Funding for equipment and production costs is usually what prevents some smaller and more local newspapers from fully utilizing multimedia technology.

He stressed the importance of multimedia journalism though, in that it helps for news organizations to better connect with their audience. He recommended not keeping “journalism to one platform” since it’s about reaching audiences in every way possible, not being on a specific platform.

We also discussed Twitter and some of the new guidelines news organizations are setting when it comes to reporting news on Twitter. He said that he doesn’t really have an specific Twitter guidelines in mind but recommends “having a strategy.” He also talked about how it’s better to have the best story available in order to bring people back to your site than to report something first but really have no further information.

He ended the discussion with the idea that journalism is an ever changing industry, thus the technologies surrounding it are ever changing also. He definitely gave me a lot to think about.. and really made me want to start internship hunting..