The question is, what can’t Media Bistro do?  Welcome to the first post of our Media Bistro series!  If you’ve not yet explored this multi-faceted journalism and  social media resource, then now is the time to  CHECK IT OUT! With everything from Morning Media News Feeds, to Twitter Resources, to a lengthy list of online writing courses, Media Bistro is the ultimate resource for writers, copy-editors, and everyone in between.

The mind behind the million-user site is that of  Laurel Touby, who’s idea began in the mid-90’s while she was struggling to make it as freelancer in NYC. By inviting successful freelancers to cocktail parties, Touby was able to create a place where writers and those associated with media could connect. She started a website in 1996 to feature job postings and the rest is history.

Today, an experience with Media Bistro can be as varied as browsing the job board, attending one of their many forums and expos in New York, or in my case, taking an online course. A few years ago, I enrolled in  Media Bistro’s Boot Camp for Journalists, an 8-week intensive that set me on my way to writing story pitches, brainstorming article ideas, and finding publications. The great thing about Boot Camp Courses is they cater to those who want to learn a specialized skill quickly. Want to boost your resume and credentials to land a perfect job? Try Job Search Boot Camp! Or learn how to write for women’s magazines with Stiletto Boot Camp (ouch!).

Coursework is done independently and sent to the instructor and weekly online chat room discussions facilitate interaction with and critique from “classmates.” And though courses can be a tad on the pricey side (ranging from about $350-$600), the highly specialized curriculum aims to make you an expert at whatever topic you choose to pursue. Instructors are those who’ve made it in their respective “biz,” such as ESPN writer Alison Overholt teaching Intro to Sports Journalism later this month; or America’s Most Wanted Contributor Jon Lieberman, heading up Researching and Reporting.

Their less-intense courses are worth looking into as well: ranging from two to twelve weeks, you can take a self-paced class to prepare for a career change, learn advanced copy editing to further hone your skills, or break into fashion writing.

But it’s not just the vast array of specialized and timely writing courses that gives Media Bistro my respect. It’s the emphasis on teaching writers the basics behind digital advancement. Courses like Understanding Social Media Metrics, Facebook Advertising, Blogging, and Intro to Social Media represent the exponential growth and importance of social media sites for authors and publishers. These courses, most of which appeared only in the last 2 years or so, will gradually be replaced as more learn the ins and outs of DIY social media. But Media Bistro has already shown it can advance right along with the changing needs of its writers in the new technological and economic environment.

There is much more to come about Media Bisto. In the meantime, you may want to follow them on Twitter, tune into Mediabistro TV, or sign up for course updates. The possibilities are endless!

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