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Archive for June, 2012

I was surprised to see this week that the Des Moines Register building, my workplace for nearly a decade, may soon be demolished.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. As I’ve noted before, nearly every organization I’ve worked for has been sold or closed or both. Two of my former workplaces have already been leveled.

I spent more than a decade (in two hitches) at the Omaha World-Herald and a year or so after I left, they moved across the street and demolished the building where I worked. The photo below is me sitting in the park that now occupies my former workplace.

While I have many fond memories of working at the World-Herald, they center more on the people than the building. A couple memories of the place: (more…)

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I guess I should admit that I occasionally recycle points and lines in my blog and in speeches and workshops. I don’t think I do this in the way that Jonah Lehrer did in his New Yorker blog. I think Lehrer crossed a noteworthy line and I don’t think I have. But I do recycle.

I’ll discuss all that shortly, but here are some points I believe I have repeated in some fashion (and I’m pretty sure this list is incomplete):

  • Don’t turn obstacles into excuses; make them the war stories of your innovation success.
  • Newspapers are experiencing a time similar to the pre-Gutenberg monks who handmade artistically inscribed Bibles.
  • Several points about why paywalls on newspaper websites are a bad idea.
  • Tips on using Twitter.
  • Criticism of newsrooms with restrictive, fear-based social media policies.
  • Tips on maintaining your digital profile and finding jobs in digital journalism.
  • Blogging tips.
  • Never say no for someone else.
  • Newspapers need to develop more diverse digital revenue streams. (OK, I’m going to stop coming back here and adding bullets; I think you get the point and I already said this list was incomplete.)

Some people have used the term “self-plagiarize” to describe what Lehrer did. I don’t consider that phrase accurate. Plagiarism is theft of words and you can’t steal from yourself. Recycling, remixing or repurposing seem to better describe what he did (I just changed that sentence to take out the word “offense” because I don’t think recycling, remixing and repurposing are offenses in themselves. They are honorable and common writing practices). (more…)

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Thanks to Tim McGuire for his recent “This I believe” blog post, spelling out his core values and views about journalism, newspapers and the future of media. I think it’s helpful, especially in turbulent times, for journalists (or people in any field) to reflect occasionally on what we believe — core values as well as our beliefs about where our profession and our industry are going. I promised earlier this month to blog a response.

This I believe about journalism and the future of media:

I believe journalism plays an essential role in our democracy.

I believe journalism plays an essential role in community life. (more…)

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Editors in Michigan face an interesting community engagement challenge and opportunity: How do you curate and join the community discussion when it centers around the word “vagina” and its synonyms?

When a big local story becomes a big national story, with equal measures of humor and outrage, that’s a huge engagement opportunity. But when it involves a word that newspaper editors tend to use with care, if at all, you engage (see, even that word can be read wrong in this context) carefully.

If you missed the background, Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown, a Democrat, used the V-word (no, I’m not going there; she said “vagina”) Wednesday on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives, in a debate on a bill to restrict access to abortions. Her statement (which you can hear in context in the video below):

Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’

Brown was rebuked by House Republicans and was not allowed to speak in a Thursday debate on an unrelated issue. Charlie Crumm of the Oakland Press reports that Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, said Brown’s remark had “crossed the line.” (more…)

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The Gazette’s double-truck front page from June 13, 2008

Wow, I didn’t think this date would sneak past me, but it did. Not until Chuck Offenburger tweeted did I realize that this was the fourth anniversary of the Cedar Rapids flood:

I’m not sure whether I’m amazed that it’s already been four years or that it’s only been four years. But it doesn’t seem like four years ago.

Maybe next year I’ll anticipate the anniversary and write something more thoughtful. But here are some quick reflections: (more…)

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Mandy Jenkins and I are making plans to hire and launch a curation team for Digital First Media.

If you wonder what a curation team is, don’t bother to apply. If you wonder what a curation team could be, and have some ideas, we want to hear from you.

Mandy, who will supervise the curation team, has a draft of a job description that will be included with the official job postings for a curation team leader and two curation editors. But we want people in these positions who will be finding the right directions for their jobs, not following our direction.

So here’s an invitation to journalists interested in curating for Digital First (or those interested in contributing to a broader conversation about curation): Tell us how you think a national journalism curation team should work: (more…)

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With all the upheaval going on in the newspaper business, the sale of Freedom Communications piece by piece is getting relatively little notice. Warren Buffett wasn’t the buyer and staff cuts were not as dramatic as those going on at Advance Communications.

But I noticed.

In my three years at the American Press Institute, Freedom was by far my leading client. I led regional seminars for newsroom staff members in Destin, Fla.; McAllen, Texas, and New Bern, N.C. I spoke at editors’ conferences in Dallas, Tempe, Ariz., (publishers joined that conference) and San Antonio. I spoke at a National Writers’ Workshop in Fullerton, Calif., hosted by the Orange County Register. (more…)

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