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New Year, New You: 5 New Year’s Resolutions For Media Folks

We may already be well into the first week of January, but it’s not too late to decide on a New Year’s resolution. Better yet, it’s never too late to change your resolution to something that you could feasible see yourself keeping. As media folks ourselves, we know you won’t be able to last more than a week — tops — on resolutions to cut back on coffee or red wine, to stop bringing your work home with you, and to sit up straight at your desk instead of crouching in your desk chair pounding away on your Macbook.

If you’re still scrambling to find a New Year’s resolution, here are a few ideas that are worth it being a new decade and all.

I will get my own website.

If you’re in the media, most of your time is spent being the ambassador for your company. You write articles, blog posts, Twitter updates, whatever — for your business. Most of the time, you also probably have a lot more that could be said than what fits in the limited space your employer provides. Instead of throwing out those lost words, bring them over and put them on your personal website or blog. There’s a difference between writing for work and writing for pleasure, so have a little fun with it and get creative, maybe even a tad saucy, on your own site.

I will build my own brand.

This is an extension of the previous resolution, and if you’re feeling particularly ambitious this year, it’ll be an easy one to tag on to get your own website. Social media has made it be more about the people in the company than the company itself. Users need a name to along with a face and crave knowing who they’re actually talking to within the company. So, take 2011 and start making a name for yourself that’s not just “Journalist at Newspaper X” or “Media Specialist at Company Y.” Start blogging regularly, not just for your site, but for other websites where you can lend some of your communications expertise. More often than not, industry blogs welcome guest posts with open arms. And it gives you the opportunity to generate some links back to your website.

I will no longer pass off-Web language as “that geeky stuff.”

As a wordy journalism background with little patience for anything math or tech-related who works in a web design company, I’ve adopted this as my official 2011 New Year’s resolution. (Pause for applause.) I’m not saying anything new that everything, and I mean everything, is moving online; one-day online journalism is going to be considered “traditional journalism.” So, it’s high time that you brush up on the basics and learn to speak the back-end language that makes up where you’re writing. This is also my personal plea to see if there’s anyone out there willing and patient enough to give this grammar geek the “nut graph” of CSS and HTML. Anyone? Anyone?

I will remember that I am what I tweet.

It’s far too often that media folks get fired from a tweet or Facebook post. It happens to 20-year veterans at CNN. It happens to staffers at local stations who mistake personal accounts for work accounts. (Huffington Post has a good collection of 13 tweets that got people fired for more.) The fact of the matter is that Twitter, more so than Facebook, is public knowledge and while what you do on your personal time is one thing, you’re held to a certain standard if you’re in the media, and your tweets and messages should reflect that. If you’re unsure about posting something, chances are you’re better off not putting it out there at all.

I will read more often and from more sources.

We were taught on day one in J-school that good writers are good readers. While there’s a lot I learned in school that I found out was, to put it bluntly, complete crap, that’s one tidbit that’s stuck. Expand your knowledge base and pick up a few new cool words to add to your vocabulary by reading more and from a broader disbursement of sources. Maybe that means X-ing out of The Onion and tabbing over to The New Yorker. Or maybe that means sticking to reading more actual books before you call it a night. Either way, make a commitment to read something that’s out of your normal Internet surfing routine.

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