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Archive for December, 2011

My move to Journal Register Co. and Digital First Media and my work for my new companies dominated my writing this year on this blog. I’ve reviewed my blogging each of the past two years, so I’ll do it again in a post that clearly is self-indulgent. Still, I think it’s good to look back on a year’s work, and as long as I’m doing that, I might as well blog it.

The most notable posts of the year were a series I wrote the week before Christmas, explaining aspects of Digital First journalism. The piece on the workflow of a Digital First journalist became my second most-read blog post ever in just a week. While it’s more than 3,000 views behind my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, I’m sure it will eventually become my most-read blog post. It took the C3 blueprint nine months to reach 5,000 views. The Digital First workflow topped that in just over a week. Three other posts in the series topped 1,000 views quickly.

My work for JRC and DFM contributed to the blog in lots of other ways. I explained what community engagement means. More than a dozen blog posts offer tips, links and slides for workshops I did in visits to Digital First newsrooms. I also blogged frequently about how Digital First Media colleagues are using social media and engaging the community: (more…)

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I have compiled all of my recent series on Digital First journalism as a pdf.

Yeah, it’s a little odd to present Digital First content in a format so people can print it. But I already acknowledged that the purpose of the series was to help people through a transition from print to digital. If you prefer print, here it is. I did this for my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection and Mobile-First Strategy blog posts, and was surprised at how many people read the pdfs.

If you prefer to read them online, and missed any of them because of the holidays:

How a Digital First approach guides a journalist’s work

Digital First journalists: What we value

10 ways to think like a Digital First journalist

Leading a Digital First newsroom

How Digital First succeeds at making money

Here’s the pdf. I only include the comments where people used a full name. I edited them slightly, adding links to some comments and cutting out my responses that merely thanked someone for their comments. I also edited the blog posts slightly, cutting out references to upcoming posts and other small tweaks like that. I did not include the tweets that I added to a couple of the posts.

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I got a lot of high-powered help in calling George Bush The Elder the winner of the 1980 Republican caucuses. Seated next to me is Jim Flansburg. Standing from left are Dan Pedersen, Paul Leavitt, Merrill Perlman, Michael Gartner, Jim Gannon and Arnie Garson. That's an astounding amount of journalistic talent and experience surrounding me. And I had more hair then, but not on my face.

Let’s bid farewell to the Iowa caucuses. They’ve had a long run, but it’s time for someone else to launch the presidential campaign process.

This state with far more hogs than people has hogged its place at the front of the political line far too long. It is past time for the Hawkeye State to practice the manners that Iowa parents and teachers have been teaching Iowa children for generations: Take turns.

Someone will need to wrench the spotlight away from Iowa, but I hope someone does. Iowans will not relinquish without a fight what they unreasonably regard as an entitlement. (I use that word because the Iowa Republicans who would never give up their spot at the front of the line hate entitlements, except the ones they receive.)

I voiced this view privately during the 2008 caucus season, though I never wrote it. I wasn’t using Twitter regularly yet. My only communication outlet at the time was a blog about journalism training, and the caucuses didn’t fit my niche, so I didn’t express my views publicly. (It’s not a perfect fit now, but I blog more broadly about media, and let’s face it, the Iowa caucuses are a creation of media hype.)

When I became editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette later in 2008, I wondered whether I would have the courage to voice this heresy from such a prominent Iowa forum during the 2012 caucus season. Other opportunities drew me away from Iowa, so I offer my opinion now, one week before the 2012 caucuses, from the safety of Virginia.

While I am no longer living in the state, I offer this view with a lot of love for Iowa and a ton of caucus experience. (more…)

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I have blogged this week about various aspects of digital-first journalism. For any of that to succeed, digital-first must succeed as a business approach.

It will. It is. I’m not going to explain that in detail in this post, though. I’m going to shift to curation (an important process and skill in digital-first journalism), because lots of people have already explained the business aspects of the digital-first approach well.

John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media (and Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group) explained the company’s business approach better than I would (which is good, since he’s the CEO) in his June address to the International Newsroom Summit in Zurich: How the Crowd Saved Our Company. His recent post on news media as medium and messenger elaborates, including the slide below. His September post announcing the formation of Digital First discussed some of the results of the approach so far (and we’re just getting started).

Digital First revenue: stacking dimes

(more…)

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Digital-first editors are caught in transition.

Many are longtime print editors. However much they have been embracing and resisting the digital transformation the past couple decades (and most of us have been doing some of both), they understand now that the future is digital and they want to help lead that newsroom of the future. Even the editors who are digital natives who’ve worked more online than in print are caught in this transition because they are leading staffs through the transition.

Don’t look at the suggestions here as an exact checklist for the digital-first editor. We want editors who don’t need checklists, who find creative solutions for their newsrooms. The staff dynamic, size and abilities, the community’s needs and the editor’s own strengths, weaknesses and creativity will determine the right leadership approach for each newsroom. And the challenges and opportunities for each newsroom are unique, at least in their details, and leadership must respond to them with solutions that are unique, at least in their details.

Don’t look at this checklist as a yardstick by which to measure the success or failings of a particular editor. Perhaps some editor excels in all of these areas (I wouldn’t, if I were still leading a newsroom), but that would be a rare editor.

View these as my suggestions for digital-first editors trying to meet the challenges and opportunities this transition: (more…)

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Digital-first journalists think creatively and individually, so this is a post that can’t be completely true.

To whatever extent my observations here are true, digital-first journalists will reflect wide variety in the degree and application of the ideas and views I describe here. But I think these are ways many digital-first journalists think that differ from traditional journalism thinking.

  1. A digital-first journalist views a story as a process, not a product.
  2. A digital-first journalist likes to be first with the story or the idea, but likes to link when she’s not (as I linked above to a blog post where Jeff Jarvis discusses the view of the story as a process). (more…)

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Journalism values are not timeless and etched in stone. Values have changed through the years and the digital-first journalist recognizes that they are changing today.

In some ways, a digital-first journalist shares the values of traditional journalism but may pursue them in different ways. In other ways, we pursue values that we think are more appropriate for the networked world we work in today.

We won’t entirely agree on values. Where we share values, we may vary in priority and practice. Digital-first leaders trust our journalists and the editors leading our newsrooms to make smart, ethical decisions. So don’t view this as a narrow template into which we must squeeze our journalism or as unanimously held views. These are some thoughts on values that guide journalists — how they are changing and how they endure. I share these views to stimulate discussion about digital-first values because I believe we value candid and vigorous discussion about journalism and journalism values.

I am examining and explaining digital-first journalism in a series of blog posts this week. I started yesterday with a discussion of how digital-first journalists work. Today I address the values that guide digital-first journalists: (more…)

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