Archive for February, 2010

I can be a bit of a scold to colleagues, exhorting editors to move more boldly and swiftly into the future.

As an industry, newspapers have been slow and clumsy at innovation. But a lot of editors do outstanding, innovative journalism (as well as outstanding traditional journalism) and I would like to recognize some of them. I was honored today by Editor & Publisher, named Editor of the Year. As I explain in a separate post, I was surprised by the honor, not out of false humility but because I truly am no longer an editor.

While I am honored by this recognition, I do want to make the point that many editors are deserving of such recognition. Dozens, if not hundreds, of editors serve their communities honorably, elevate the journalism of their staffs and pursue innovative solutions, even in these trying times. (more…)

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Looking back over the past year or so, in many ways it was the most frustrating, disappointing period of my career. I normally would avoid looking back on it at all. I am a positive person and have been looking forward to a new job that has taken me out of the newspaper business.

But I sort of had to look back, mostly in surprise, when I learned in January that Editor & Publisher magazine, which boasts that it is “America’s oldest journal covering the newspaper industry,” was naming me Editor of the Year. The magazine announcing the honor arrives in newspaper offices this week, the week after I left the industry.

A year before I received the news, I was preparing to do two of the most difficult things of my career: (more…)

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Maybe the best piece of advice I can give for using Twitter to cover breaking news is to study how @statesman covered last week’s terrorist attack in Austin, Texas.

I almost didn’t blog about this. The attack occurred last Thursday as I was winding down work at Gazette Communications and preparing to move out to Arlington, Va., to start my new job. I took quick note on Twitter and might have let it pass. But it was a great example of community engagement and that’s my new job, so I decided I had to take the time to analyze the performance of @statesman Social Media Editor Robert Quigley in engaging his community through that breaking story. I’m writing about this several days after the fact because this is the best example I have seen of a media organization showing how Twitter can be a powerful tool for coverage of a breaking story.

My previous posts on the value of Twitter in breaking news have shown how citizens using Twitter provided a much better, faster account of breaking stories than professional media organizations did. I am pleased to show such an excellent, if belated, example of a professional news organization showing the potential for engaging through Twitter in a breaking story. (I should note that University of Texas student Douglas Luippold beat me to this.)

After I read through Quigley’s coverage, I emailed him some questions. I’ll intersperse his answers with my observations, presented as a strategy for a news organization using Twitter to cover breaking news: (more…)

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We just sent out this press release. I am looking forward to meeting and working with Erik Wemple.

Arlington, VA, February 22, 2010 – Erik Wemple has been named editor of the local news startup soon to be launched by Allbritton Communications in the Washington region. Wemple comes to Allbritton after eight years as editor of Washington City Paper. (more…)

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Today was my last day at Gazette Communications. Tomorrow morning Mimi and I will start our drive to Virginia, weather permitting, for my new adventure with Allbritton Communications.

This will be the fourth time I’ve bid farewell to Iowa. This state will always be special to me. I’ve spent more than 14 years working for three different newspapers in Iowa, and spent a lot of time over here in the 10 years I worked for the Omaha World-Herald.

I will cherish many memories of my time at the Gaz. All the best to the many colleagues, supporters and even critics I encountered during my time in Eastern Iowa.


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I really don’t have time to write a full blog post today. I’m wrapping up one job and getting ready to launch another, and I don’t have time for the thought, writing and rewriting that an original blog post requires.

So I think I’ll lift most of my material from others or recycle from things I’ve written before. This is all OK, because my topic is plagiarism.


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This is the handout for the workshop, developing story ideas, which I presented today for staff members at Gazette Communications. We discussed how to come up with good story ideas and how to develop a plan to execute them.

Every good story starts with a good idea

Story ideas are literally all around you. You need to be alert and imaginative in recognizing and pursuing them. You can generate story ideas by looking in a variety of places: (more…)

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