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Archive for February, 2010

I can be a bit of a scold to colleagues, exhorting editors to move more boldly and swiftly into the future.

As an industry, newspapers have been slow and clumsy at innovation. But a lot of editors do outstanding, innovative journalism (as well as outstanding traditional journalism) and I would like to recognize some of them. I was honored today by Editor & Publisher, named Editor of the Year. As I explain in a separate post, I was surprised by the honor, not out of false humility but because I truly am no longer an editor.

While I am honored by this recognition, I do want to make the point that many editors are deserving of such recognition. Dozens, if not hundreds, of editors serve their communities honorably, elevate the journalism of their staffs and pursue innovative solutions, even in these trying times. (more…)

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Looking back over the past year or so, in many ways it was the most frustrating, disappointing period of my career. I normally would avoid looking back on it at all. I am a positive person and have been looking forward to a new job that has taken me out of the newspaper business.

But I sort of had to look back, mostly in surprise, when I learned in January that Editor & Publisher magazine, which boasts that it is “America’s oldest journal covering the newspaper industry,” was naming me Editor of the Year. The magazine announcing the honor arrives in newspaper offices this week, the week after I left the industry.

A year before I received the news, I was preparing to do two of the most difficult things of my career: (more…)

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Maybe the best piece of advice I can give for using Twitter to cover breaking news is to study how @statesman covered last week’s terrorist attack in Austin, Texas.

I almost didn’t blog about this. The attack occurred last Thursday as I was winding down work at Gazette Communications and preparing to move out to Arlington, Va., to start my new job. I took quick note on Twitter and might have let it pass. But it was a great example of community engagement and that’s my new job, so I decided I had to take the time to analyze the performance of @statesman Social Media Editor Robert Quigley in engaging his community through that breaking story. I’m writing about this several days after the fact because this is the best example I have seen of a media organization showing how Twitter can be a powerful tool for coverage of a breaking story.

My previous posts on the value of Twitter in breaking news have shown how citizens using Twitter provided a much better, faster account of breaking stories than professional media organizations did. I am pleased to show such an excellent, if belated, example of a professional news organization showing the potential for engaging through Twitter in a breaking story. (I should note that University of Texas student Douglas Luippold beat me to this.)

After I read through Quigley’s coverage, I emailed him some questions. I’ll intersperse his answers with my observations, presented as a strategy for a news organization using Twitter to cover breaking news: (more…)

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We just sent out this press release. I am looking forward to meeting and working with Erik Wemple.

Arlington, VA, February 22, 2010 – Erik Wemple has been named editor of the local news startup soon to be launched by Allbritton Communications in the Washington region. Wemple comes to Allbritton after eight years as editor of Washington City Paper. (more…)

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Today was my last day at Gazette Communications. Tomorrow morning Mimi and I will start our drive to Virginia, weather permitting, for my new adventure with Allbritton Communications.

This will be the fourth time I’ve bid farewell to Iowa. This state will always be special to me. I’ve spent more than 14 years working for three different newspapers in Iowa, and spent a lot of time over here in the 10 years I worked for the Omaha World-Herald.

I will cherish many memories of my time at the Gaz. All the best to the many colleagues, supporters and even critics I encountered during my time in Eastern Iowa.

-30-

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I really don’t have time to write a full blog post today. I’m wrapping up one job and getting ready to launch another, and I don’t have time for the thought, writing and rewriting that an original blog post requires.

So I think I’ll lift most of my material from others or recycle from things I’ve written before. This is all OK, because my topic is plagiarism.

(more…)

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This is the handout for the workshop, developing story ideas, which I presented today for staff members at Gazette Communications. We discussed how to come up with good story ideas and how to develop a plan to execute them.

Every good story starts with a good idea

Story ideas are literally all around you. You need to be alert and imaginative in recognizing and pursuing them. You can generate story ideas by looking in a variety of places: (more…)

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I’ve always loved maps.

I credit my longtime love of the New York Yankees to my love for maps, which goes back even further. I had flash cards with maps of the states and countries of the world, and memorized the shapes, capitals and other facts before I was six years old. The cute-little-kid stories my Mom told about me often involved maps (gnawing my toast into the shape of New Hampshire and correcting a TV quiz show that said Detroit was on Lake Huron. I knew it was on Lake St. Clair). As far back as I can remember, I knew I was born in upstate New York (Sampson Air Force Base). (more…)

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Here is the one-page handout I gave newsroom leaders Saturday at a workshop on Twitter for newsroom leaders at the Mid-America Press Institute. I referred participants to my slides for the workshop as well as to my earlier blog posts on leading your staff into the Twitterverse, Twitter time management, Twitter tips for journalists and Twitter’s value in breaking news.

I don’t know how long Twitter will remain important and useful for journalists in the swiftly changing digital world. But right now a journalist who doesn’t use Twitter is running a huge risk of missing something important. (more…)

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As one who is leaving the newspaper business for a digital startup, it pains me just a bit to write this blog post. As one who spent 38 years in the newspaper business (starting in high school, so I’m not as old as that may sound) and wishes my print colleagues nothing but the best, I am mostly quite pleased to tell this story:

Mimi and I signed a deal Thursday to sell our condo after just three days on the market. And it was an ad in Tuesday’s Gazette that brought the buyer to us. (more…)

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The weakness of the arguments for government subsidies for journalism can be seen in their inconsistency.

The advertising model that has supported journalism for more than a century has broken down, authors Robert McChesney and John Nichols argue in great detail in their book The Death and Life of American Journalism. They argue strongly for heavy government subsidies for journalism. And how would they finance the subsidies? One of the taxes they propose — and I’m pretty sure they were serious — is a tax on advertising.

After telling us emphatically that advertising is on its deathbed and can’t possibly support the journalism that our democracy needs to survive, they turn around without a hint of irony and insist that a tax on advertising is somehow going to help give new life to journalism. (more…)

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I first posted Twitter time management tips in February 2010. I updated them Sept. 4, 2012 as part of my #twutorial series. 

As I visit newsrooms and since I started my #twutorial series of Twitter advice for journalists, people often ask how they squeeze Twitter into their busy days.

At one level, the answer is simple: You make time for what’s important. In my last post I noted why Twitter is valuable for journalists. If something is valuable, you prioritize and figure out how to fit it into your workday.

But I also understand the question and the challenge. Twitter can easily suck up big chunks — or lots of little chunks — of your day. And busy journalists face so many demands in shrunken newsrooms that we have to manage time carefully even with the tools that are valuable.

The tips specific to Twitter are coming shortly. But first a caveat: You need to invest some time learning to use Twitter, especially mastering advanced search and connecting with people in your community. I’m not going to pretend you don’t need to spend some time to learn and to develop a helpful network.

Learning and connecting take some time, but keep in mind that Twitter also saves you time. I’ve already noted how Twitter helps you connect with sources quickly in breaking news stories. You also can use Twitter (once you’ve developed a large, engaged following) to save time in other ways, getting quick answers to questions and finding sources for routine stories. (I’ll do a separate #twutorial post sometime on crowdsourcing.)

Now for the tips on Twitter time management: (more…)

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