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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Sonderman’

I’m a keynote speaker at the Journalism, Leadership and Management Conference for student media leaders this weekend at the Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University.

I was asked to talk to the students about leadership and the future. My primary point is that young journalists are already providing important leadership in our profession and they have an extraordinary opportunity and extraordinary examples to shape journalism in their careers.

I don’t have a written version of the address, but my slides are below. I sought advice for these young journalists from some outstanding successful journalists. I shared some of the advice on my slides. In other cases, I drew my advice from things these journalists had posted online (or things they said in interviews). Or I just drew my own lessons for the students from these journalists’ careers.

Here are the responses from the young journalists who sent advice to the students: (more…)

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I encourage you to read Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present, released Tuesday by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

I started reading it last night and I’m far enough in to say that it’s good and should stimulate some conversation and thought among journalists, and hopefully lead to some change. But I may not have time to finish it and blog about it for a few days. Josh Benton of the Nieman Lab and Jeff Sonderman of Poynter have already blogged some thoughts on it. Update: So has Mathew Ingram.

Emily Bell, who wrote the report with Clay Shirky and C.W. Anderson, interviewed me in the process of working on the report.

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I was traveling and leading workshops this week for the anti-climactic final end of TBD. I didn’t have time to weigh in then, except on Twitter, after my former TBD colleague Jenny Rogers broke the news:

I don’t have a lot to add, but I’ve blogged a lot about TBD here, so I should note the denouement. TBD made our mark in part through effective aggregation of Washington local news, so I’ll note its passing with some aggregation on its brief history. It won’t be complete, but I invite you to add some more links in the comments. Where I aggregate content from TBD, I should note that I don’t know how long it will remain available. Archived content appears to be online, though the home page and some searches redirect to wjla.com.

Before we get to the actual demise, I have to share a link and screenshot from the coverage of our launch: I don’t believe any elaboration is needed here.

As for coverage of the actual death, it was pretty muted, perhaps appropriately for an operation whose life and death throes were perhaps overcovered. Here are the best accounts I saw of the final demise (normally that phrase would be redundant, but TBD’s demise was drawn-out enough that I consider it appropriate):

Erik Wemple’s No more TBD.com (Erik was TBD’s editor and now blogs about media for the Washington Post: (more…)

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Creativity is contagious. One of the best ways to make a good idea better is to share it with other creative people.

Digital First’s new Social Media Wire is the child of two groups of creative people: the original Journal Register Co. ideaLab and the community engagement staff at TBD. The Social Media Wire is testing now on the site of the New Haven Register and eventually will roll out across Digital First Media’s news sites across the country.

Mandy Jenkins, our Digital Projects Editor, writes about the Social Media Wire on her Zombie Journalism blog. Mandy is leading the way on the project and played a key role in development of the idea at TBD.

As we were planning the TBD launch, scheduled for Aug. 9, 2010, I suggested that we tell the story of the day in Washington through the content people were creating about the day: Gather all the local tweets, Facebook updates, news stories, YouTube videos, photos and so forth that we could find and show them in chronological order, as quickly after they happened as we could. I thought if we promoted it well, it would be something people would come back to again and again throughout the day and would establish us as something different from traditional news sources.

I saw it as a one-day project of intensive work by the community engagement team. Fortunately, my team had better ideas. The team was Mandy, Jeff Sonderman, Daniel Victor, Lisa Rowan and Nathasha Lim. I don’t remember who had what ideas, but it’s fair to credit the whole group with the idea. Because once I outlined the idea, the discussion took off, with everyone contributing, and they just left my original idea in the dust. (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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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

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The crowd can save your journalism career.

I encourage any journalist to read Journal Register Co. CEO John Paton’s message to last week’s WAN/IFRA International Newsroom Summit: How The Crowd Saved Our Company. (I also encourage media executives to read John’s message, but I’m writing here about individual journalists seeking career success in a time of great upheaval.)

I want to suggest how individual journalists can learn from the JRC experience that John shared. I won’t belabor what John said about how the newspaper model is broken and can’t be fixed. I’ve said that plenty of times myself, and if you’re still in denial about that, you’re not ready for the rest of his message or mine. John concluded that discussion with this important point:

You don’t transform from broken.

You don’t tinker or tweak.

You start again anew and build from the ground up.

John was providing advice for his fellow executives for building their organizations from the ground up. I’ll focus on advice for the journalist hoping to make yourself a valuable asset for such a starting-anew organization. (more…)

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Jeff Sonderman

When a friend at The Poynter Institute told me Poynter was looking for someone to write about mobile and social media, I thought immediately of Jeff Sonderman.

Jeff starts his work with Poynter next month. He will be the final member of the outstanding community engagement team I hired last year to leave TBD. Other than me, he will be the only one to make it to his first anniversary, and just barely.

I first met Jeff when he was an editor at the Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., and I was leading a discussion for a seminar at the American Press Institute. I probably met 30 editors at that seminar, but Jeff was the only one to stay in touch. I left API to become editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. We followed each other on Twitter and through reading and occasionally commenting on each others’ blogs.

When I announced that I was leaving Cedar Rapids to join Jim Brady’s as-yet-unnamed and still optimistic local news venture in Washington, Jeff immediately sent me an email saying he wanted to join our team. He stood out among a strong field of candidates and I hired him as our senior community host. (more…)

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I try to understand a subject before I write about it. So I won’t have much to say about the changes taking place at TBD.

Here’s what I will say:

  • Working at TBD has been a highlight of my career. I am proud of what we have achieved. Working with the staff and the colleagues here has been a delight and a privilege. (more…)

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Monday night I criticized a Pennsylvania newspaper’s plan to charge loyal online readers to read the obituaries. Today I want to suggest a more innovative, future-focused approach to obituaries.

I was interested that Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, cited my Newspaper Next experience in scolding me for Monday’s post. He clearly had an awareness that N2 was about innovation, but (like many of his peers in the newspaper business) he did not learn the core principles of disruptive innovation that we taught in N2.

One of the fundamental lessons of N2, based on the disruptive-innovation research of Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen, was that innovation opportunities rest in identifying “jobs to be done,” needs people have. Innovators who provide welcome solutions to those jobs are on the path to success, Christensen says. (more…)

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