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Archive for March 21st, 2012

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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Since I wrote yesterday about overcoming obstacles, I thought this would be a good time to republish this post from my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. I think it’s the first time where I discussed this in writing, though I know I have repeated the point in writing and speaking many time. It’s one of the principles of journalism practice that I believe most strongly.

I edited lightly to update, adding a few links, but have not checked the links I published at the time to see if they are still active, though I think I should leave them in either way. This was published originally Aug. 16, 2005. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the writing; I tried to tie two points together and probably should have addressed them separately. But this is an archival post, not a rewrite.

The post refers to some other posts about computer-assisted reporting. I will republish those posts soon. The post refers to a comment by Iqbal Tamimi on one of those posts. Because the original post is no longer online, I can no longer find the full comment.

I figured I was done writing about journalists and computers for a while after three posts on the subject in a month’s time. But then I heard Sree Sreenivasan. And then Iqbal Tamimi wrote me. So I’m addressing the topic one more time.

I’ve read Sree’s “Web Tips” columns for a few years now. He wrote once about the “No Train, No Gain” web site that I help Dolf Els run along with some other newsroom trainers. After Sree interviewed me for that column, we’ve kept in occasional touch by e-mail and we finally met in June, when I spoke at a conference of the South Asian Journalists Association, of which Sree is a founder. I finally heard Sree train journalists last week at API’s seminar for news editors and copy desk chiefs. (more…)

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I asked my tweeps yesterday for examples of news-based games. They responded, so I Storified their responses. (I initially published the whole thing to this blog from Storify, but the coding was garbled somehow, so I deleted it. The embed code doesn’t work on wordpress.com, so it’s best to read from the link above.

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