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Archive for January, 2010

Each time I take a new job, I think it’s going to be my last move.

I thought that when I came to The Gazette and gazetteonline as editor, and I thought that about the previous job and the one before that. And … well, a lot of jobs in the newspaper business.

My next job won’t be in the newspaper business. The news business, yes, but not the newspaper business. (more…)

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My Sunday post about the APME board’s use of Twitter drew a detailed, thoughtful response from APME board member Carole Tarrant.

Carole, editor of the Roanoke Times, had prompted the Sunday post with a tweet from a meeting of the Associated Press Managing Editors. She responded in a comment to the original blog post. But, recognizing that the comment will not receive as much attention as the original post, I wanted to call attention to it in a separate post. She put a lot of thought into her response and I thought it deserved more attention than blog comments sometimes get. I also wanted to respond to it. (more…)

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No one spins shocking news like people who think news sites need to charge for content.

If only 35 people decide to pay for the content you thought was worth $260 a year? No problem. Just say, “That’s 35 more than I would have thought it would have been.” That’s what Staci Kramer of paidContent.org reports that Newsday publisher Terry Jimenez said after the embarrassing number came out during a staff meeting.

Newsday erected its paywall around newsday.com starting Nov. 1 (during the World Series; think Yankee fans were able to find their baseball news elsewhere?).

The New York Observer had a different take: (more…)

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I’ve done the same exercise with University of Iowa students twice in the past week: I ask them to tell me about their media use over the past 24 hours.

I want to know how they learn about the world beyond their immediate circle of family, friends and faculty. I ask them to break it down by percentage among four delivery systems: mobile, desktop or laptop computer, broadcast and print. I write those percentages in four columns on a white board:

College students' use of media

(more…)

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Newsroom leaders struggling with the challenges of innovation will find help in a low-cost training opportunity next month in St. Louis.

Bring your Valentine with you to St. Louis (I’ll be taking mine to dinner at an Italian restaurant on The Hill) and join us for a Feb. 13-14 Mid-America Press Institute Seminar, Innovation and Managing Change in the Newsroom. (more…)

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I was delighted to read the news in a tweet from Carole Tarrant this morning: All APME board members are on Twitter now.

Tarrant, editor of the Roanoke Times, was tweeting from an APME board meeting and reported:

We just surveyed which #apme board members are on Facebook and Twitter. All 27 have accounts on both, I’m happy to report.

I was happy myself and ready to claim a piece of credit. Less than a year ago, I documented how few newsroom leaders were using Twitter, specifically checking the board members of both APME and the American Society of News Editors (then the N in ASNE stood for Newspaper). I could find Twitter accounts last March for only eight APME board members (more, actually, than on the ASNE board). I have been trying to educate colleagues on the value of Twitter for journalists. I led a webinar on Twitter for ASNE shortly afterward.

I almost retweeted what Tarrant had said right away, adding my praise for these busy editors taking the time to master a new tool. But then I paused. I was pretty sure every editor on that board has probably repeated the old journalism cliché: If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out. So I decided to check it out before retweeting Mom’s love for Twitter. I planned to document that newsroom leaders are using Twitter regularly and effectively, and how much their Twitter use has grown since last year. I planned to claim a little success in my Twitter evangelism efforts among newsroom leaders.

My plans didn’t quite work out. Actually, my quick research shows that most APME board members still are not actively engaged with Twitter. In fact, I could not find eight of them on Twitter. Most board members had not tweeted this year. (more…)

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One of journalism’s favorite notions is that we don’t become part of the story. We are supposed to be some sort of object (you know, objective) that doesn’t feel, that stays aloof and writes from an omniscient perch above it all.

It is a lie, and we need to stop repeating it. The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is “Seek truth and report it.” Here is the truth about journalism: Journalists aren’t objects; we are people. We feel. We have families and emotions. We have moral standards. When we show up for truly personal or potentially volatile interviews or events, we become part of the story and denying that violates our obligation to tell the truth.

But the Society of Professional Journalists denied it this week, somberly cautioning journalists in Haiti: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.” As I have written before, my family became a small part of the Haiti story this month. I will address the ethics of that story shortly. But first I want to write about the underlying ethical principles. I teach ethics in journalism seminars across North America (Ottawa, Canada, and Berkeley, Calif., this month), and I know that journalists sometimes like to reduce ethics to simple do-this-don’t-do-that rules. And ethics often aren’t that simple. (more…)

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My tweeps came through this week with lots of advice for journalists using Twitter.

On a trip to Ottawa, I led three workshops on Twitter for journalists for Carleton University, the Ottawa Citizen and Canwest News Service. I knew I needed to update the Twitter tips for journalists that I posted in July. Six months ago is a long time in the Twitterverse. So I crowdsourced this project. (more…)

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The high point of an emotional week for our family was seeing my niece Mandy Poulter and her husband Matt reunited last night with their daughter, Maya Esther, at an orphanage in Haiti.

Matt, Maya Esther and Mandy Poulter

Since I blogged last week about how an ABC News crew and Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts found Maya uninjured at the orphanage, efforts turned quickly to bringing her home. Sen. Tom Harkin’s office and the U.S. Embassy in Haiti expedited paperwork to get her a visa to enter the United States. (more…)

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Note: I have added an update, in bold below, since originally posting this.

A study of Baltimore news sources was more deeply flawed than I initially realized.

I blogged Monday about weaknesses in the How News Happens study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and about the misinterpretation of the report by many journalists and media outlets. After further study of my own and a response from Tom Rosenstiel, director of PEJ, I have concluded that old-media biases by the researchers were so profound that they truly didn’t understand the “news ecosystem” they were studying. (more…)

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Update: Maya Esther is in the United States. Read the update.

A journalist gets an unusual perspective on disaster stories.

Chances are you remember the Oklahoma City bombing from the horrific television images of the demolished building or the heart-rending photograph of a firefighter carrying a dead baby from the building. I remember the bombing from the grit in the air I could feel and taste covering the aftermath in downtown Oklahoma City.

You may have forgotten about the catastrophic mudslides that hit Venezuela in 1999. I will never forget walking with a woman on a devastated mountainside as she pointed at homes where she and relatives once lived. “Es mi casa,” she said, gesturing to some rubble, part of it recognizable as the top of a wall, the rest of her home swept away or buried in mud hardened like concrete. Another woman recalled that horrible night, gesturing downward with her arm, talking about the terror that came rushing down the mountainside, repeating, “cadave” — corpses sliding down in a torrent of mud.

My role as editor of The Gazette during the 2008 flood has received plenty of attention, so I won’t belabor it here. And I recently recalled my role covering the 9/11 attack from a distance. In a career that started in the 1970s, I have covered dozens of tornadoes, floods and other disasters as a reporter and editor. The stories are emotional. You can’t help but feel the human impact, sharing joy and heartbreak with people you interview. But you develop a sort of professional shell that helps you function and keeps you from feeling too deeply.

This week I learned a bit of what it’s like to be one of those people I used to cover, waiting anxiously to learn whether a loved one had survived, trying to bring her to safety. (more…)

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I will be leading three Twitter workshops for journalists in Ottawa next week, and I’d like some help from journalists using Twitter.

Please share your best stories (with links, if possible, to tweets/stories) about using Twitter as a journalism tool in the comments here:

  • What’s been your best experience using Twitter to connect with sources on a breaking news story? (more…)

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