Reviewing 2010 on this blog:
My job change to TBD was a major theme of the year here. My most-popular post of 2010 shared tips on job-hunting, from my own experience finding a new job and hiring the community engagement staff at TBD. That’s my second most-read post in two-plus years writing this blog. Other posts among the year’s leaders dealt with my job change as well: Pursuing a new opportunity in Washington, Wanted: vision for community engagement and Our community engagement team is taking shape. Another post relating to the job change took a longer view, discussing how I have twice redirected and rejuvenated my career. I also told how TBD’s launch prompted my first foray into public relations and brought back memories of an earlier launch. I explained why we need a director of community engagement, even though engagement should be everyone’s job. I have blogged as well for TBD, writing about our commitment to accuracy and transparency, and about why and how we chose TBD as our name.
Twitter remains a popular topic on the blog, both for me to write about and for people to read. I presume the Twitter haters who used to comment every time I mentioned it have given up on me or have been won over. My case study of how @statesman used Twitter in covering a breaking news story was the second most-read of my 2010 posts. My listing of resources for journalists using Twitter, criticism of the New York Times for declaring “tweet” not to be “standard English” (and thus frowned on for regular use in Times news columns) and tips on Twitter time management were also among the year’s best-read posts. I also noted how Twitter misses by miles (sometimes hundreds of miles) in locating me and I compiled tips and examples for using Twitter to cover breaking news. I noted that APME board members don’t engage much on Twitter. On TBD, I blogged about a “tweet wall” that enhanced a panel discussion of TBD at American University.
Business models for news continue to be popular topics for readers of the blog. A possible new business model for obituaries was my seventh most-popular post of 2010 (and related posts about LancasterOnline’s plan to charge frequent out-of-town obituary readers also drew some attention). I noted that Journal Register Co. is succeeding at innovation by changing its actions, not focusing too heavily on organization. I didn’t write as much about new business models for journalism this year as I did last year, but two 2009 posts, A Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection and News organizations need mobile-first strategy, remained among my most-read posts this year, ranking second and fourth in traffic for 2010. I wrote several more posts dealing with mobile strategy during the year, most notably A mobile-first project for your community on the go and 4 ways to measure the local mobile advertising opportunity. I wrote about new revenue streams for journalism. I advised a blogger worried about Patch coming to her community that competitors can also be collaborators. A whale-watching tour on my vacation in Tofino, B.C., underscored that principle for me.
Journalism ethics remain an occasional topic here. I suggested that the Society of Professional Journalists needs to update its Code of Ethics. I wrote about objectivity and humanity in journalism and about plagiarism, accuracy and anonymous comments. I faulted reporters who trade silence for access to sources. I praised the Guardian’s social media policy. I said reporters should be more reluctant to grant confidentiality to sources who are powerful and eager to dish. I noted that bloggers tend to link to their sources more readily than newspaper advocates who like to spin myths about bloggers.
Newsroom training remains a frequent topic. One of my top-10 posts for the year was an old handout from my writing-coach days. A staff member requested an old-fashioned writing workshop before I left Cedar Rapids, so I led a workshop (and posted tips) on finding and developing story ideas. In another throwback to my writing-coach days, I noted the demise of the No Train, No Gain website. I posted a couple of my old handouts from NTNG, on writing short narrative and conducting interviews about intimate topics. I hope to post more handouts from NTNG this year. I had expected to post more by now, but most of them need some updating and I haven’t had time to do that. I also posted new tips and links to accompany workshops on local digital journalism, blogging, multimedia storytelling, digital writing tools and types, middle managers’ role in innovation, training and presentation techniques, and Twitter for newsroom leaders and for all journalists.
I didn’t write a lot about bogus research, but when I did, I got some attention. Two of my top 10 posts of the year dealt with reports based on research I regarded as flawed: Academics measure new media (again) by old-media yardstick and Old media find comfort in study of Baltimore media (they didn’t look very close). I wrote a second time about the Baltimore study: Pew doesn’t understand news ecosystem well enough to study it.
Now and then I took a broader view of journalism. I told an APME NewsTrain seminar at Texas Christian University that this may feel like the worst of times for journalism, but I see opportunities that can make it the best of times. I exchanged thoughts with David Cohn about our respective generations and their leadership of journalism. I noted what students’ use of media shows us about the future of journalism. I predicted reorganization, consolidation and innovation in the coming year for journalism organizations (and failure for some who don’t).
Other topics which attracted some attention or generated some discussion (or which I remember fondly, even if they didn’t):
- News organization paywalls remained newsy in journalism. In addition to the post noted above about an obituary paywall, I commented on how misleading some paywall announcements were, took a look behind the paywall at Civil Beat and ridiculed the notion that Newsday would be pleased with only 35 customers paying for its content. Overall, though, I didn’t write as much about paywalls this year as I did in 2009. I’ve grown a bit weary of the topic.
- I continued criticizing misguided attempts to find help for journalism in government subsidies.
- I wrote about how journalism professors can learn and teach social media and argued that journalism schools can teach the basics and still prepare students for the dynamic changes they face in journalism.
- I taught a course in entrepreneurial journalism at Georgetown University, so I posted several times for my class: Reading resources on entrepreneurial journalism, A key decision for entrepreneurial journalists: What’s your content plan?, Entrepreneurial journalists should pursue several revenue streams, Entrepreneurial journalists need to master social media and ‘Good enough’ and ‘value-added’ work together in entrepreneurial journalism. For an earlier visit to the University of Iowa, I discussed entrepreneurship and photojournalism.
- I profiled three favorite journalists: Kay Powell, Chuck Offenburger (now at home in Iowa, recovering from a stem-cell transplant) and Craig Silverman.
- I blogged occasionally about personal matters: my search for the perfect sunset, my drowned iPhone, throwing away my maps, my mother’s fading memory, a surprising honor, and selling our Cedar Rapids condo. I told how my niece, Mandy Poulter and her husband, Matt, were able to bring their adopted daughter Mayahome to Iowa from Haiti following the earthquake. (If you want more personal stuff, read Mimi’s and my holiday letter.)
The thoughtful contributions from commenters throughout the year have meant a great deal to me. If you think that traffic is how you measure the success of a blog (or blog post), I should note that a list of the top 10 posts of the year by traffic and the list of top 10 by comments differ greatly. Six posts are on both lists. I appreciate readers as well as commenters.
My two posts about News Foo Camp, one of the best conferences I have attended in my journalism career, generated decent traffic, but neither was in the top 20 for the year. But one of the posts generated 30 comments (and trackbacks, which WordPress counts as comments). Adding 14 comments on the other post, News Foo generated one of my liveliest discussions of the year.
The liveliest discussions of the year were about anonymous online comments (49 comments), obituaries (three separate posts with 20 or more comments each, one of them a response from Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, to my criticism of his newspaper’s policy), the Pew study of Baltimore’s news ecosystem (30 comments each on two blog posts) and an exchange between Robert Niles and me about revenue streams to support news (22 comments).
The number of comments is not the best way to judge a discussion. My post on taking the job with TBD generated the most comments of the year, 51, but most of those were congratulations, not really discussion. The discussions about adding value (12 comments), the SPJ code of ethics (20 comments), copy editing (11 comments) and the New York Times guidance (they say it’s not a “ban”) on using “tweet” in news stories (18 comments) were much livelier discussions, though none of them made the top 10 in traffic or comments.
While I appreciate each comment, whether you agree with me or not, I should single out Howard Owens, Henry M. Lopez and a friend identified here as Elaine for their frequent and thoughtful contributions. Howard mixed it up (sometimes agreeing with me and sometimes disagreeing) on revenue streams, obituaries, competition, research, anonymity and adding value. Henry pitched in to discussions on News Foo, obituaries and bloggers. Elaine commented on copy editing, generational differences in journalism, obituaries, anonymity, advertising and revenue streams. These are smart and busy people and I appreciate their engagement with this blog.
Of course, a blog is part of the larger conversation of the web, and I have enjoyed that discussion as much as the give-and-take in the comments here, including mentions and links by Gerri Berendzen, Amy Gahran, Gina Chen, Bryan Cubbison, Rachel Kaufman, Laura McGann, Josh Stearns, Denise Graveline, Joy Mayer, Christian Burkin, Tyler Dukes, Craig Silverman, Mark Coddington, Damon Kiesow, Bill Mitchell, Joe Grimm, Mallary Tenore, John Zhu, Nick Bergus, Kevin Anderson, Judy Sims, Brian Smith, Newsies in the Field, Chris Murphy, Josh Korr, James M. Naughton, Robert Niles, Fiona Morgan, Jed Williams, Wikipedia, Bryan Murley, Jeff Sonderman, Craig Kanalley, Chuck Offenburger, Mike Masnick, Doug Fisher, Ivan Oransky, David Kaplan, Mandy Jenkins, Sydney Smith, John Bracken, Alex Howard, Mike Holden, Andria Krewson, Michele McLellan, Daniel Victor, Benét J. Wilson, and Mimi Johnson (and probably some that I forgot or that escaped my attention).
I didn’t generate as much traffic or write as many posts this year as last. My new job at TBD kept me too busy to match last year’s pace. But I try to write a blog post every now and then during my commute (notably longer than when I was in Cedar Rapids, and, since I commute by bus and train, I have writing time when I manage to get a seat). The blog has remained active enough that Mark Potts called it one of the 10 best blogs on the future of the news business (a narrow set, to be sure, and an incomplete list since it didn’t include Mark’s Recovering Journalist blog, but I’ll take it). Mark cited my old name for the blog, Pursuing the Complete Community Connection. When TBD launched, I renamed the blog The Buttry Diary because I like the initials.
Thank you for joining me in the 2010 conversation. What are some topics I should tackle in 2011?