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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

OK, I won’t give you the full witty exchange on Twitter that led up to this, but Ivan Lajara posted the purported “Paint version” of my new blog header:

For background, if this is all confusing to you, Gene Weingarten suggested the new blog name, Ivan designed the logo and people gave $725 to the ACES Education Fund to change the name of my blog for a month.

By the way, the fund-raiser is still open, if you want to contribute.

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John Paton tells the journalists at Thunderdome that we no longer have jobs. An amazing group. I've been honored to work with them.

John Paton tells the journalists at Thunderdome that we no longer have jobs. An amazing group. I’ve been honored to work with them.

I learned a long time ago that news was a tough business. I learned it before I watched the death of the Des Moines Tribune and before I experienced the death of the Kansas City Times. I learned it before I was fired as editor of the Minot Daily News and before TBD imploded. So I wasn’t surprised when the ax fell again today.

I’m exploring (and interested in learning about) opportunities in the news business and beyond. But I don’t know yet what my next stop will be. Here’s what I do know:

  • I’ve enjoyed my time with Digital First Media.
  • I’m deeply grateful to Jim Brady, Jon Cooper and John Paton for the opportunity to work at Digital First (and Journal Register Co. before it became DFM).
  • I leave with no regrets.
  • I knew the risks in 2011 when I went to work for a company owned by hedge funds. And I knew the risks in 2012 when I turned down an attractive offer from a family-owned newspaper company to stay with the company owned by hedge funds.
  • Anyone who says Thunderdome failed is wrong. As I said about TBD, you can’t fail unless you were given a chance to succeed.
  • I will do everything I can to help in the job searches of my DFM colleagues who lost their jobs today. These are extraordinary journalists who will provide great value for their next news organizations.
  • I wish all the best for my DFM colleagues who will remain with the company. We’ve worked hard together and come a long way. I hope that the company prospers and that this is the last cut. I’ve enjoyed working with them and know they will continue doing great journalism.

No denial or sugarcoating here. I don’t agree at all with today’s decision to cut Thunderdome or with the company’s new direction. But neither of those calls was mine to make and I’m not going to criticize them or waste time discussing them. I’ll post some links here to coverage of what’s happening at Digital First, but won’t comment on the accuracy of the reporting or the insightfulness of the analysis.

As I’ve said before, bitterness is like wreaking revenge on yourself. I’m too busy looking for my next opportunity to dwell on how this one ended.

The Newsonomics of Digital First Media’s Thunderdome implosion (and coming sale)

Digital First plans layoffs

Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome on chopping block

We need to keep experimenting in journalism

In another blow to local journalism, Digital First Media to shutter Thunderdome

Update: I should clarify that I was given my notice Wednesday, not fired immediately. My last day is July 1, if I choose to work that long.

About my blog name: Yes, I have a ridiculous blog name. It’s temporary, and it’s for a good cause.

 

 

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mmm smooth buttry goodnessI struggled to come up with a name for my blog and I’ve changed it several times. But I’ll keep this one for at least a month.

First this blog was “Puttin’ on the Gaz,” back when I was editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Not sure why I settled on that, but I never liked it much. Before long, when I was trying to lead some big changes there, the blog became “Transforming the Gaz.”

When I left Cedar Rapids, I sort of needed to get “Gaz” out of the name, so it became “Pursuing the Complete Community Connection,” a nod to my vision for transforming news organizations but a cumbersome title for a blog.

With the 2010 launch of TBD, I decided on “The Buttry Diary,” working my name into the title as well as the initials of my new organization. Well, Allbritton Communications decided to kill TBD in the cradle, but I kept the name. After all, my name hadn’t changed. And I thought most people wouldn’t notice the initials. And, if they did, I was happy to honor a great news team and a vision that, I’m certain, would have succeeded if we had been given a chance.

I was figuring it would be “The Buttry Diary” indefinitely. Until Gene Weingarten suggested a change:

Well, people with my surname don’t make it through junior high without a thick skin. I was Butthead before anyone thought of Beavis. And I was Buttface and Assbush and any number to plays on the part of my name that reminds people of their rear ends. I played along. In my fantasy baseball days, my team was the Kissmy Buttrys (league champions two out of four years before I decided to take my money and run). Posterior plays on my name are so easy to make that few have thought of playing on the dairy sound to my name.

So I decided to turn Gene’s suggestion into a challenge: If people would donate $500 or more to the American Copy Editors Society Education Fund, which provides scholarships for editing students, I would change the name one month for every $1,000 raised.

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mmm smooth buttry goodnessFor the right price (donated to a worthy cause), I will rename my blog.

Gene Weingarten initially raised the issue:

I quickly (but only briefly) complied, but Gene wanted more:

I replied with a facetious invitation to bribes:

While I knew no one would pay me to change my blog name, right after I posted that, it occurred to me that maybe I could make this a charity fund-raiser. See whether Gene really has enough sway with his followers to generate some meaningful “entreaties.”

Well, it so happens that I was already feeling a little bad that in my downsized condo life I couldn’t think of anything of value I have (and am willing to part with) to contribute to the silent auction at the American Copy Editors Society silent auction tonight to raise money for the ACES Education Fund. So …

I’ve started a Crowdrise campaign to change the name of my blog to “Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness.” (In reading the rules, I learned that Kickstarter isn’t for fundraising for causes.) Update: When I first posted this, I didn’t yet have the fund’s taxpayer ID number, so the campaign wasn’t live yet. It is live now. Grab your credit card and donate.

I’ll change the name for one full month for every $1,000 raised with a starting threshold of $500. If we raise at least $500 in the next week, I’ll change the name for a month. If we raise one dollar more than $1,000, then I change for two months. If you give $2,001 I change the title for three months, etc.

I need a suitable blog header. If someone will design a blog header incorporating the title, my photo (contact me for some possibilities you could use) and some sort of butter imagery, I’ll contribute $100 in your name. Update: we have blog header (Ivan has adjusted it slightly from what you see here to fit the dimensions of the header):

And, if I can’t even raise $500 to change the name of my blog, that might be a little humbling. And that would probably be OK with Gene, too.

So go ahead. Get your credit card and click the link above. I welcome your “entreaties.”

Smooth Buttry Goodness

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Just for one quick screenshot for Gene Weingarten, I have renamed my blog:

In case you missed it:

Smooth Buttry GoodnessEarly reaction is mostly positive:

 

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I blogged in 2012 about Tim Tamimi developing a new header for my blog (below), in gratitude for a blog post about his mother several years ago. I’ve used it for about a year and a half now.

Well, Tim decided I needed to update the look, so he sent me a new logo for the blog. I post it again with much appreciation.

What do you think? Which do you prefer?

cropped-blog-header1.jpgHere are other headers I’ve used through the years:

Me at Bryce Canyon:

cropped-steve-at-bryce-canyon1.jpg

The sunset at Tofino, B.C.:

cropped-tofino-sunset.jpg

Flags lining the Shenandoah, Iowa, cemetery for the 2012 burial of my nephew, Brandon.

cropped-brandon-buttry-panoramic-flag-shot.jpegI don’t have a favorite. I’ve enjoyed each of them and I appreciate a change now and then. Thanks to Tim for noting that it was time for a change again.

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A gift from Dad

My new nightstand, made by Dad 60-plus years ago

My new nightstand, made by Dad 60-plus years ago

I received a gift from my father today, almost 36 years after we lost him.

Luke Buttry was a carpenter who served the most famous carpenter ever. He spent his career as an Air Force chaplain, then an American Baptist pastor. He died of prostate cancer in 1978, just a little over two years into his second civilian pastorate, at First Baptist Church in Kankakee.

Wherever we lived, whether in government-owned base housing, a parsonage or our own home, Dad was building things. If the home didn’t have room for a workshop in the basement, Dad would spend time at the base hobby shop working on his projects. (more…)

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Ethics and leadership were frequent themes on my blog this year.

I blogged a series of nearly 50 posts (including some guest posts) on advice for new leaders of Digital First newsrooms in 2013. I also blogged dozens of times about ethics, commenting on issues in journalism and on various efforts in the profession to uphold and update ethical standards.

Both trends on the blog reflected my work for the year: I helped in hiring new editors for Digital First newsrooms and made extended visits to their newsrooms when they got started. I also worked on various efforts in the profession to update, clarify and explain ethics standards.

As you’d expect with a series geared to a narrow audience, the advice for editors didn’t attract heavy traffic. But I appreciated the feedback from various editors in our company and elsewhere. The most-read post in the series, with more than 3,000 views, advised editors to check the digital profiles of job candidates. One of my favorite posts in the series addressed the importance of being a role model and discussed one of my important role models, Dave Witke.

The leadership and ethics themes came together in my posts calling on editors to stand for accuracy and lead discussions of ethics.

My most-read post published in 2013 (with nearly 6,000 views) was on verifying information from tweets. That was one of the last and best-read posts in my #twutorial series, which started last year. Another #twutorial post, on what to do if you hit Twitter’s follower limit, was my second most-read post written in 2013 with more than 4,000 views. Another #twutorial post took note of my first tweet ever and discussed how Twitter archives might be useful. (more…)

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WordPress just informed me that I published my 1,000th post on this blog today.

Some quick and mostly self-indulgent observations/summaries from the first thousand:

  • Twitter is my most-used category on the blog (no surprise), with more than 100 posts, 28 of them in my #twutorial series. I’ve done nearly 100 on ethics.
  • My most-viewed post is one that gets great search traffic but almost no engagement, The 5 W’s (and How) are even more important to business than journalism. It ranks high in Google searches for the 5 W’s and has more than 24,000 views, but I think that’s an oddity.
  • My most-viewed post that I think people actually read is about ideas for new revenue streams for newspapers. It has more than 15,000 views. My only other post with more than 10,000 views is on how a Digital First journalist works.
  • After changing the name frequently in my first couple years. This blog was Puttin’ on the Gaz (when I was editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette), then Transforming the Gaz, then Pursuing the Complete Community Connection (after a blog post that for a couple years was my most-read). I changed it to The Buttry Diary when TBD launched. Even though TBD is long since dead, I think I’ll stick with it. I changed names too frequently.
  • I’ve used a few different headers, but I think I’ll stick with the one designed for me last year by Tim Tamimi.
  • I’m not blogging as often (or getting as much traffic) as I did last year. I topped 25,000 views in five different months last year, twice topping 30,000. I’ve only topped 25K once this year and twice I dropped under 20K. I attribute my less-frequent blogging to my work load and to better fitness. I usually do my blogging in the morning. I have been taking morning walks most of this year (cold weather has slowed that lately), and that has cut into my blogging productivity.

Other blogs

I have no idea where I hit the 1,000 milestone in total blogging. I’ve had several blogs and contributed guest posts to several other blogs.

I started the Training Tracks blog in 2004 for the No Train, No Gain website and later continued it at the American Press Institute. Also at API, I had blogs called Leadership Tips and Writing Tips (blog versions of email newsletters where I aggregated links on those topics, sprinkling in some of my own links and tips). None of those blogs are still available online, except for the Training Tracks posts I’ve republished here (I should have saved the other archives).

I also have three other current blogs:

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I got a chuckle (OK, and a bit of an ego boost) last week when a student blogger likened meeting me to meeting Brad Pitt. A louder chuckle (and not quite the ego boost) when I saw the photo accompanying a plug for my blog as one of the “experts” discussing the Boston Globe sale:

Other experts cited are accompanied by their real photos. I recognized Alan Mutter and Ken Doctor right away and Google searches confirmed that Michael Scully and Howie Carr were the people pictured with their comments. Jim Dempsey, a former columnist for the Worcester Telegram, got a stack of newspapers for his illustration. I presume they chose to illustrate me with a photo of some guy reading the newspaper (and about the age of a typical newspaper reader, too). But I’m pretty easy to find in Google. Or you could email me and ask for a photo.

For the record, this is what I look like. And the blog is The Buttry Diary, not The Daily Buttry.

Steve Buttry mug 2013

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Francena H. and Frank M. Arnold, my grandmother and grandfather

Francena H. and Frank M. Arnold, my grandmother and grandfather

Whenever I’m getting a little too full of myself, I can find some humble pie by recalling or looking up what my grandmother accomplished. I ate a lot of humble pie recently learning in greater detail than I ever knew about her achievements.

Grandma wrote her first novel, Not My Will, at age 58 (my age right now). And her books have sold more than 1.2 million copies. But until recently, she didn’t have a Wikipedia entry. Now she does. I wrote it.

Writing a Wikipedia entry – or at least editing a Wikipedia page – had long been on my someday-to-do list (a list on which I make meager progress). I was thinking I might write one about Bob Moore, a World War II hero from Villisca, Iowa, whose life (and the lives of some family members) I chronicled in 1997 for the Omaha World-Herald and updated in 2008 for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. He’s certainly worthy of a Wikipedia entry, but no one’s written it yet (and few know more about him than I do). But I hadn’t gotten around to it. Maybe I will someday.

My prod to become a Wikipedia contributor came in a series of emails starting last October. First an academic researcher contacted me (having found a brief mention of Grandma on my blog). The researcher’s work hasn’t been published yet, so he asked me not to use his name. So I’ve edited his email slightly to respect that request:
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Francena H. Arnold

Francena H. Arnold

Here’s my original draft of my Wikipedia entry about my grandmother, Francena H. Arnold. To leave it sort of in the format of a Wikipedia entry, I have left the footnotes as footnotes rather than linking in context (except to other Wikipedia entries). I also have added individual sales figures for her books and translation information, which I actually received after doing the first draft and discuss in my post about the process of getting Grandma into Wikipedia.

My cousin, Jan Worgul Ackerson edited this before I submitted to Wikipedia. I have used some of her edits, but have not made most of the cuts she suggested because I decided to use Grandma’s full story here (as full as I could tell it anyway). Jan correctly suggested that it probably needed to be more dispassionate for Wikipedia. While I did that for Wikipedia, I have not tried to tone down any passion here (for what it’s worth, I thought I was being pretty dispassionate when I wrote it, but Jan’s pretty passionate about Grandma, so I accept her judgment. You may see some hints of affection or admiration). I also added photos, which I have not done in the Wikipedia entry (if you’d like to help me figure out how to upload photos to Wikipedia, please contact me.)

Introduction

Francena H. Arnold was a 20th century novelist, author of the Christian fiction classic Not My Will and nine other books.1

Not My Will has sold more than 500,000 copies2 and has been translated into at least seven languages. Published by Moody Press, it remains in print and available as an electronic book 66 years after it was first published. (more…)

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