Reporter, Life and Culture – Alabama Media Group – Mobile, AL

Opportunity Snapshot

Alabama Media Group knows you can write a lede, but can you think differently? Are you an incessant reader of BuzzFeed, Upworthy and Mashable? We’re looking for writers with a modern Internet voices and sensibility. Exercise your insight and judgment in real-time reporting. Show your voice in online conversations with the audience. Grow our following and yours in social media. Find new ways to tell stories. Shoot video. Take pictures. Be a presence in your community and infuse yourself in the local culture. Find independence. We are continuing to build a strong infrastructure to leverage digital technology and adding a talented core of reporters to support the appetite for immediate news and information. If you’re a professional journalist or a person who has already found success in the digital world, this is a prime opportunity to build your career. If you like the idea of being empowered to identify which topics are important to the community and interact directly with readers, consider using your talents and influence to build a cutting-edge journalism career with Alabama Media Group.

This role will cover local culture, entertainment, arts and leisure around the city of Mobile. As the life and culture reporter, you should have your finger on the pulse of the community, capturing the music and arts scenes, identifying trends using social media, and covering events important to all ages and cultures. A writing sample will be required for all positions.

Alabama Media Group is a digital media company that operates , one of the country’s largest local websites, produces television and video programming, and publishes Alabama’s three most prominent newspapers: The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and Mobile’s Press-Register, as well as Birmingham magazine and The Mississippi Press-Register. The company also offers digital marketing solutions – including audience targeting, search engine marketing and social media optimization; plus creative services, data analytics and event sponsorships.

Alabama Media Group is part of Advance Local, a leading media company comprised of 12 local affiliated news and information websites that rank #1 among local media in their respective markets and more than 30 affiliated newspapers known for their award-winning journalism. Advance Local is part of Advance Publications, along with Condé Nast and American City Business Journals.

The Requirements

Alabama Media Group is seeking a well-rounded writer with a history of success in digital media and the ability to cover a variety of entertainment, arts and leisure events and topics. Whether you’re a new media industry veteran enthused by the digital platform and excited about transforming your career for the future, or someone who is just starting a career but enjoying attention from writing an engaging blog, this role could be the perfect fit.

To be a successful life and culture reporter, you will need:
A bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or a related field (preferred), or a combination of education and/or experience including a strong track record of writing success.

A minimum of two years of journalism experience with a proven ability in reporting and writing. You should be able to use a broad set of tools to tell stories and engage the audience. We’re willing to consider new graduates with extensive student work and / or internships.

A mastery of social media and digital interaction; experience using social media to source and promote content.

Specific experience covering life, culture, leisure and entertainment or related topics.

Proven experience building, maintaining and engaging an active audience.

The 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, and the ability to write strong, engaging and catchy headlines.

Experience with search engine optimization (SEO) practices.

Comfort working in breaking news situations, including understanding the standards and philosophy of real-time news.

The demonstrated ability to capitalize on high-value topics by engaging audiences with frequency and urgency.

An 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, etc.

An understanding of the imperatives of multiple platforms — print, mobile, Internet, etc.

The ability to leverage relationships with sources to deliver content that differentiates the organization from its competitors.

The drive and ability to work independently and remotely.

The ability to work a flexible schedule, as needed, to provide 24/7/365 coverage.

The ability to travel on occasion and to come into the office for a meeting or training approximately once per month.

In addition to these requirements, you should have strong computer skills and the ability to take compelling photographs or video. You’ll need to understand and use hardware, software, and cloud-based tools for direct-to-web production and engagement, including:

Posting photographs and/or short videos to the web and other internal production systems.

Remote web reporting using laptops and smart phones.

It’s important to note that key stories will also appear in print.

The Role

Reporting to the Senior Managing Producer, Life and Culture, as a life and culture reporter in Mobile, you will report and produce stories on high-value topics about people, culture, lifestyle, events and other human interest topics. You should be acutely aware of local venues, homegrown bands, community events, local art and culture, and more. Although you’ll definitely cover events, restaurants and other traditional entertainment topics, we’re moving more towards the human element of stories, and looking to capture the essence of our community in your work.

You’ll develop ideas and interesting ways to cover any life and culture activity with potential to attract a large group of people, then identify related stories to maintain interest. In addition, you’ll be adept at covering important events — shooting video, taking pictures, and quickly posting copy that is compelling and accurate. It will be your mission to develop ideas and interesting ways to cover local topics, and then identify related stories to maintain interest.

The reality of news in the digital age is that it is instant. With a tech-savvy audience that engages daily news through multiple platforms, you will be tasked with leveraging social media and other platforms. You’ll keep your finger on the pulse of the community and stay up-to-the-minute with information that is of current interest. In other words, you’ll be accountable for meeting audience demand for immediacy, depth and engagement, through real-time news and digital media interaction.

Specifically, you will:
Gather information and write journalistically sound news elements for use in all existing and future media platforms. Your stories should be balanced and factual, timely and topical, and well-sourced and contextually correct.

Learn and employ all techniques for effective digital blogging and reporting across all platforms.

Frequently and incrementally post throughout the day.

Engage in story aggregation and topical link-posting.

Monitor and engage in reader comment streams; elevate comments into new posts when appropriate.

Interact on social media platforms via story shares, objective commentary, topic promotion and the Alabama Media Group’s content initiatives.

Effectively employ various means of monitoring audience interest and competitors’ posting on your topic, including setting up Google alerts, Twitter and RSS feeds.

Maintain operational communication with the hub director and production center, when appropriate.

Learn and understand audience traffic tracking systems and analytical reports.

Build and maintain relationships with other reporters, and work as a team when required.

As noted, journalism is on the forefront of a new frontier, meaning there’s a level playing field for reporters. The middle ground is removed — no longer does copy move through a third party path of editors and copy editors prior to publication. The story is written and posted immediately. Editors will still review some of your work, but it will be after it’s live. And, instead of receiving feedback from a subjective third party, in the digital age measures are quantitative and performance based — you can leverage real-time data to know how you’re doing. In addition to knowing how many page views you are getting, you’ll also want to understand how engaging your interactions are on social media, and whether or not they are helping create and grow interest in your story. You’ll gauge how well you are stoking interest via reader comment strings, and if your stories are getting enough attention to be published in print. The measures are many and success requires that you understand your impact and use all the tools available to increase interest as appropriate.

Because this is an instant world, you must be quick on your feet and strong with grammar and self-editing. You’ll also need to be highly ethical because you don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t true.

You’ll join a statewide team of talented reporters and you can expect to collaborate and share ideas virtually and in face-to-face meetings. This is a fun group–we like to play and work hard. In fact, the life and culture team’s primary focus right now is finding the best pizza in Alabama!

Note: This description is intended to give you a general overview of the position and is not an exhaustive listing of duties and responsibilities.

Keys to Success

To excel in this role, you will be a driven, dynamic reporter and writer with the ability to deliver a high volume of content every day. You should be able to proactively identify stories in your assigned area and respond quickly, keeping the quality of content consistent and engaging. Nothing of interest to the readership should be missed. Because we are an online, daily operation, you will also need to be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment. You should be someone who excels and thrives under pressure and can produce quality work regardless of the deadline.

Additionally, in order to be an outstanding life and culture reporter, you will be autonomous and enjoy working independently. You will have a great deal of autonomy in this role, from choosing your content topics to posting your own articles online — so you should be at ease in a self-directed environment and eager to hit the ground running.

You’ll know you’ve found success in this role if you are successfully working independently, displaying curiosity, engaging with the audience, and generating unique and interesting story ideas focused on life and culture that are compelling to readers in Mobile and the state of Alabama.

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