By Chris Etheridge, PhDAssistant Professor William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
What is the description paragraph for? Each piece or series of pieces you add to your portfolio should have a description paragraph. Remember that hiring managers are going to be looking at hundreds of these portfolios, so to get yours to stand out, you want a way for the hiring manager to see what you can do quickly and efficiently.
What should the description paragraph have in it? The description of your project is an opportunity to show how this piece or series of pieces are good examples of your tech and storytelling skills. Follow this formula for writing a good description paragraph for each project you post to your portfolio. This process may seem formulaic and boring to you, but it will allow a hiring manager can quickly get what they need out of your portfolio. They will appreciate it and could improve your chances of getting a job.
The description paragraph can be written with you as a subject (I found…, I developed…, I collected…) or with the project as the subject (The project describes…, This piece identifies…, This story shows…). But pick one or the other. Do not mix and match subjects. Your description paragraph should have at least three sentences but really not more than four.
The description paragraph should include:
- WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS PROJECT?
- Explain what drew you to this project. Link to a story in the news or a personal experience that inspired you.
- Discuss what you hoped to accomplish, how the project connected to news values, or what gap in available content it addresses.
- HOW DID YOU DO THIS PROJECT? Here is your opportunity to discuss the skills and tools you used, something hiring managers will be looking for.
- Highlight the tools, techniques, and skills you used to complete this project.
- Discuss the methods of information gathering.
- Explain how you analyzed what you collected.
- WHAT DID YOU FIND? In one sentence, explain the “big insight” from the project.
- Summarize what you might tell someone you discovered by doing this project.
- If this is a journalistic piece, you might re-write your lead in this sentence
When the University of Alabama announced the cost of their 2021 football game tickets, I wanted to see how the Crimson Tide compared to other college football programs. To do this, I collected the highest and lowest tickets prices for the 2021 season for each SEC team by going to each university’s website. Then, I used Microsoft Excel to analyze the data by creating pivot tables and Tableau to visualize the results. My project shows that Alabama’s tickets are more expensive than nine of the 14 SEC teams.