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Archive for March, 2012

Steve Buttry speaks at Northern Kentucky University

Thanks to Tira Kitchens Rogers, Ryan Cahill, Stacey Barnes and De’Sean Ellis for Storifying the live-tweeting from my workshops at Northern Kentucky University yesterday.

Thanks also to NKU student Darren Jones, who shot the photo below, and Randy Little, academic coordinator for the NKU Communication Department, who shot the photo above. (I originally misidentified Darren as the photographer for Randy’s photo, but Darren sent me a photo that I have added.)

Thanks also to Gil Asakawa at the University of Colorado for sharing one of my slideshows yesterday with his students.

Thanks especially to my tweeps, who shared good advice for the students on finding jobs in digital journalism: (more…)

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Journalists learn (or could be learning if we took the time) about new tools almost weekly. As I started writing this Sunday morning, I had already learned about a couple new tools this week: Facebook’s Timeline Movie and Screenr, the screencasting tool I used to record my Facebook Timeline Movie and upload it to YouTube and embed it below.

But some journalism skills are timeless. They were as important when I started my career using a typewriter and fat editing pencils as they are today. And I think they will be important 40 years from now, when today’s journalism students are men and women of middle age, teaching the skills to young journalism students.

I will be leading four workshops today for students at Northern Kentucky University. The first three workshops will deal with issues of digital journalism. For the final workshop, we will deal with timeless skills that should serve them throughout their careers:

Get your facts right

Accuracy will be as fundamental to these students’ careers as it has been to mine. Trust still matters and you build trust by the diligent, unglamorous work of accuracy and verification. As Craig Silverman teaches, a simple checklist helps you ensure the accuracy of your work. (more…)

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I will be leading a day of workshops for Northern Kentucky University today. Here are the links relating to the workshops:

Becoming a digital-first journalist. We will discuss how to think and work like a digital-first journalist. Here are the slides for that workshop:

(more…)

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A fatal fire that eventually killed nine people showed how the Charleston Daily Mail is making progress as a Digital First newsroom.

The Mail has an unusual situation that presents challenges that other newsrooms don’t face. It is part of a joint-operating agreement with the Charleston Gazette, and the Gazette publishes the weekend print editions Saturday and Sunday. So, where many print-oriented newsrooms spend a lot of Friday attention on the huge Sunday paper, the Mail staff is working Friday on its Monday edition. With no Sunday paper, the news staff pretty much takes Saturday off.

In a November visit to the Mail, I encouraged a stronger digital focus, especially on Fridays. In a workshop, I taught about the value of Twitter in covering breaking news, about liveblogging and about using Storify to curate social media content. (more…)

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I wrote last week about the work of an engagement editor (or social media editor or some related titles), a fairly new job in lots of Digital First Media newsrooms. Today, I turn the blog over to some of those editors to explain their roles (lightly edited by me):

Karen Workman

Karen Workman

Karen Workman of the Oakland Press:

When I became community engagement editor, one of my longtime sources asked me what that meant. This was my response to him:

I care about our audience. I care about engaging them, getting news delivered to them across a variety of platforms, expanding the diversity of voices on our website, making use of their comments and contributions, audience building and in general, making sure we’re fostering that all-important community conversation that is the essence of what we do.

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

I find this job to be incredibly exciting so far. I don’t know a journalist who doesn’t say that one of the reasons they love their job is because they get to meet new people and be involved in the community; this job is the ultimate opportunity to be intricately engaged with and inspired by my community. I love the creativity it allows, and I find the “uncharted territories” of a brand-new position motivating and invigorating. (more…)

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Gathering String by Mimi JohnsonMy wife, Mimi Johnson, last week published her first novel, Gathering String.

Acknowledging my obvious bias and my financial stake in the success of her book, I want to share some writing lessons from her book experience:

Rewrite. I don’t know (and I’m sure she doesn’t know) how many times Mimi rewrote this book, but she rewrote multiple times: restructuring the whole thing, polishing chapters and individual sentences, updating, working out wrinkles in the plot. Rewriting is one of the most important and certainly the most neglected step in writing. As Forrester (Sean Connery character in the video clip below) says, you write the first draft with your heart and you rewrite with your head. Mimi did the heart part of this story years ago. But she had to finish the head part before it was ready for publication. Even if you’re blogging or tweeting, I recommend taking the time to rewrite. For a blog post or tweet, the rewrite might take minutes or seconds, rather than years. But rewriting is nearly always time well spent.

(more…)

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Congratulations to the American University School of Communications on the launch this fall of its new master’s degree program in media entrepreneurship.

The MA/ME program will offer students a master of arts degree starting this fall, with 10 courses presented over 20 months. I will be an adjunct faculty member, scheduled to teach in the final course for the first class of students, spring of 2014. The program is a partnership with the Kogod School of Business, with courses designed and scheduled for working professionals, meeting evenings and on Saturdays.

Congratulations to Amy Eisman and her AU colleagues on the development of this program.

 

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This is another post republished from my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. I added a few links that were not in the original. While the specific examples might be outdated, the general point still applies. This was published originally July 5, 2005. I have already republished a subsequent Training Tracks post that referenced this one.

You’re reading this online, so you have some understanding of the importance of computers in our lives. Unfortunately, too many of our colleagues aren’t doing enough to recognize the importance of computers in our profession.

The past two weeks, I have spoken at two outstanding journalism conferences: The South Asian Journalists Association meeting at Columbia University in New York and the National Writers Workshop presented by the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I don’t just speak when I go to conferences. When I’m not speaking, I listen to the other speakers. I’m listening to tips to make me a better journalist, listening for tips to cite in my training or writing for journalists, watching other speakers’ presentation techniques to steal some ideas if I can.

I heard lots of helpful tips at both gatherings. I might pass some of those tips along in a future column. For now, though, indulge me in a rant about a couple things that disturbed me.

At the SAJA conference, I sat in on a session on investigative reporting, led by a New York couple, Tom McGinty of Newsday (and formerly on the staff of Investigative Reporters and Editors) and Jo Craven McGinty of the New York Times. Tom asked the audience how many use spreadsheets regularly. A few hands went up, not even one-third of the journalists in the room, I’d guess. I think you’d get the same response, if not less, in most gatherings of journalists.

This is 2005. Public records are stored electronically. If you can’t access and analyze records, you’re not a competent reporter. I’m not saying you need to be a full-scale computer geek. I’m certainly not. In fact, I’m a bit embarrassed that I haven’t developed my computer skills further myself. But I can and have written page-one stories based on computer analysis of data. (more…)

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Note displayed at APILike a drawing on the Etch-a-Sketch that is so popular in politics now, my journalism past has pretty much been shaken clean. Almost everywhere I worked has been shut down or sold:

  • Columbus (Ohio) Citizen-Journal. Newspaper carrier, 1968-70. Citizen-Journal died in 1985.
  • Shenandoah (Iowa) Evening Sentinel. Sports reporter, 1971-72; intern 1975; reporter, editorial page editor, managing editor, 1976-77. The Tinley family sold the Sentinel to Park Newspapers in the 1980s and the Sentinel died in 1993. (more…)

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My Digital First Media colleagues at Heritage Media faced a huge breaking news challenge last week when a tornado ripped through Dexter, Mich.

The Heritage staff’s performance illustrates the range of breaking-news techniques that journalists use in covering disasters today. As Managing Editor Michelle Rogers explained in her blog post about the coverage:

As a group of weekly publications in print, it has been an ongoing challenge to get our audience to realize we’re now a daily online. I think the tragedy of the tornado served as a reminder to readers that they don’t have to wait until Thursday to get their local news, and we were happy to oblige, providing breaking news coverage, from news stories, Storify compilations, photo galleries and videos to Tweets and Facebook posts, and SMS texts to email alerts. (more…)

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Digital First Media newsrooms have several engagement editors and social media editors, most of them fairly new to these posts.

The duties vary depending on the needs of the community, the size of the newsroom, the initiative and interests of the editor and other duties (some of these editors wear multiple hats). Engagement and social media can be different positions (the New Haven Register has two full-time community engagement editors, Ed Stannard and Angi Carter, plus a city editor who also serves as social media editor, Helen Bennett Harvey.

I’ll blog here with a job description to help these editors as well as to help other top editors decide whether and how to name engagement editors for their newsrooms.

We’ll start with a tweet-length job description, then I’ll elaborate:

If some of that echoes my definition of community engagement, which I blogged about last year, that’s intentional. The engagement editor’s job is to lead community engagement efforts. (more…)

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Mandy Jenkins

I had mixed feelings when Mandy Jenkins blogged about why she was pleased with the new job I had just offered her. Because I had also offered her one of the “Twitter monkey” jobs she was glad to be moving beyond.

While Mandy and I worked together at TBD, I valued her contributions every day. I thought she had a great job and did a great job. So I was a little chagrined to read in her blog how she had spent the previous four years:

Watching and curating streams, responding to mentions, keeping an eye out for breaking news, promoting reporters’ work – it takes up so much time and mental energy that it’s difficult to do much else very effectively (and that includes being a spouse, friend, parent, pet owner, etc.).

Yeah, I guess that’s kind of what I expected from Mandy when she worked at TBD, though I think the part about being a spouse, etc. was unspoken (isn’t it always?), and I should add that Editor Erik Wemple sometimes added to my own expectations of Mandy at TBD.

And I should add that throughout my career, I could have written a similar description of many jobs I’ve held and supervised: sports writer, cop reporter, assistant city editor, political reporter, national editor. Journalism jobs can sap your time and mental energy and crowd out family, friends and pets at times. We get passionate about our work, and we and our bosses sometimes get excessive.

So I’m not writing this to excuse how demanding I was or to argue that Mandy gave the job more than I demanded (though she did). Instead, I want to continue my occasional blog posts with career advice by noting some lessons other journalists can find in how Mandy moved beyond Twitter-monkey status. (Mandy’s and my former TBD colleague Jeff Sonderman already provided some advice for how journalists can rise above digital typecasting such as Twitter monkey. (more…)

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