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Archive for April, 2012

Airport lounge media useWhen your flight is delayed three hours, you have some time to observe your fellow travelers. So I walked around the lounges at Gates E5 and E6 at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, observing what people appeared to be doing and using.

Here are the numbers of people using various devices to pass their time:

  • Phone 13 (I can’t swear that I could tell an iPhone from an iPod, so it might be more accurate to say handheld device)
  • Tablet 11 (mostly iPads, but I noticed at least one Kindle)
  • Laptop 10
  • Book 6
  • Newspaper 4
  • Television 2 (some people were not sitting in position to watch TV)
  • Magazine 1

Three pairs of people were conversing with each other. One appeared to be working on some papers from his briefcase. I counted the woman pictured above as a laptop and a phone because, well, look.

I just counted the people I saw in a brief walk around the waiting lounge, trying to catch just the people in a particular area as I walked by, rather that counting people as they came and went. So the woman who just sat down across from me with a smartphone isn’t included. I did not count myself (keeping tabs on my iPhone, then blogging on my laptop) and I did not count Mimi (iPhone in hand, iPad on lap).

This is a small sample and just a snapshot. I don’t think any deep analysis here is merited, so I won’t attempt any. But I’m pleased that my company is pursuing a Digital First course.

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At the risk of repeating myself, don’t let valid obstacles in your newsroom become excuses for your failure to develop as a digital journalist. No one benefits (or hurts) more from your career than you do. So don’t leave your career success or fulfillment in the hands of bosses who are stuck in the past.

I also should note that this prolongs my already-long curmudgeon conversation. This post is prompted by a comment from “FormerStaffer” on my recent lessons-learned post, following up on my “Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon” post. FormerStaffer makes some valid points:

Some curmudgeons are made by their own newsrooms. Lack of decent training is a big issue. If a newsroom worker doesn’t have personal time off the job to learn these new skills (new baby, sick family member, working two jobs, aging parents, or similar problems), is it fair to penalize that worker for the problems in his or her private life?

Newsrooms also give mixed signals. If the paper claims to be web first, but only posts some stories first on the web, what is the message to staffers? If there are no consequences for failing to post on the web, but missing press deadline by 10 minutes produces an angry memo, what message is being sent?

If a staff member trying to learn Twitter asks for guidelines about using Twitter (what to post, what kind of language shouldn’t go in a quote in a tweet, whether tweets should refer to rival news operations, whether out-of-focus photos that are banned from the printed product can be sent with tweets, etc.) then the question shouldn’t be ignored or brushed off — someone should think about writing some guidelines, even if they’re only four or five items on a list.

I will address the issues shortly, but first I want to say this: I will be emailing FormerStaffer to ask whether he or she worked recently in a Digital First Media newsroom. If one of our newsrooms is operating this way, then Jim Brady and I will want to address these issues directly with the editors leading that newsroom. I’ll also offer to email FormerStaffer’s former editors if he or she doesn’t work in our company. Editors who operate like this need to be called out on their backward behavior. But now, I want to address FormerStaffer directly: (more…)

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The witty woman behind the People of Wal-Mart music video has a musical take on the declining newspaper industry.

Ken Paulson‘s Freedom Sings programs are a popular feature of the First Amendment Center, where he is president and CEO. On his last evening as American Society of News Editors president last week, Ken hosted an evening program at the Newseum examining parallels between the music and news businesses, starting with Robert Levine, author of Free Ride, and then turning to musicians.

While I enjoyed the veteran songwriters on the program, original Cricket Sonny Curtis (“I Fought the Law” and the Mary Tyler Moore theme) and Jim Peterik (“Vehicle,” “Eye of the Tiger”), the highlight for me was Jessica Frech, a young musical entrepreneur who has made her name with humorous songs on YouTube. Her most famous tune is “People of Wal-Mart,” a clever music video viewed by 6 million people. She entertained the editors with the premiere of her new song, “Where Have All the Newspapers Gone?”

It’s a silly song, but a fun one, with lines like, “I don’t understand how they can get all the news from the palm of their hand.” The “Subscribe” pitch at the end could be part of her newspaper humor, but I think it’s actually a pitch to subscribe to Frech’s YouTube channel.

(more…)

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I’m leading a webinar today for the Ohio Newspaper Association on how journalists should use Facebook and Twitter.

For reading on this, I recommend my list of resources for journalists using social media as well as Mandy Jenkins’ social media helps. You also might check out the Facebook + Journalists tips on Facebook search.

This video (produced for public relations specialists rather than journalists) has some good search advice:

Here are my slides for the webinar:

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Friday’s letter to newsroom curmudgeons resulted in my busiest day ever on this blog, 4,882 views, smashing my previous record by 58 percent. After less than 72 hours online, the post is already my fourth most-viewed post in three-plus years blogging here. With more than 80 comments, I presume it already is my most-discussed post, though I should note that probably a third or more of those are me responding to comments.

Few things I have written have received as much praise or as much criticism (the two often go together), certainly not in their first day or two after publication. I try to make a common theme of this blog discussions of digital journalism and lessons we can learn about what works and what doesn’t. This post worked and failed in notable ways, so I should try to learn (or relearn) something from the experience:

Pronouns matter. I made some of the same points about curmudgeons in a post last fall. That post answered a question from someone asking how to “convert” curmudgeons to using Twitter. So I responded in the third person, essentially discussing curmudgeons behind their backs as him and her. That post got some attention, one of my top 40 in page views, but it only got half as much traffic as Friday’s post got on its first day. It made a difference, I’m sure, to address my post to curmudgeons, inviting people to email the link to a curmudgeon or to print it out for one to read. In another post a couple years ago, I wrote in the first person about how I redirected and rejuvenated my career. It offered sincere advice to others, and advice that stems from personal experience can be the most valuable advice. But unless you are sharing the lessons from your mistakes, advice offered in the first person always has a boastful tone, however helpful you’re trying to be. “I” is not an engaging pronoun. “You” is one of the most engaging words in our language, and it worked in this post. (more…)

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Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon,

I sometimes share your anxiety and occasionally share your concerns about some of the changes in journalism. I learned journalism in the old school, same as you. I am steeped in the same values of accuracy, fairness, dogged reporting and good writing that you cherish. But I’m having as much fun as I’ve ever had in more than 40 years in journalism, I have as high regard for my colleagues’ work as ever and I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been about the future of journalism and the news business. If you would like work to be fun again, if you’d like to be optimistic again (or, if you never were, to finally be optimistic), I’m writing to tell you about the fun and optimism that I find in journalism.

I wrote about you last fall, but you probably didn’t read that blog post. You’re probably not a regular reader of my blog or a regular user of Twitter, where a lot of journalists learned about that post. Maybe you’re reading this because a colleague emailed you a link or printed it out for you. That’s OK. I’m writing this because an editor asked me recently how to deal with curmudgeons who resist learning the skills, tools, techniques and principles of digital journalism. I gave him an answer off the cuff and sent him a link to that earlier blog post. But upon reflection, I think the best way to deal with a curmudgeon is to talk candidly and directly with him or her. So I’m doing that. (more…)

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David Cohn

David Cohn has decided to leave Spot.us, the crowdfunding project he launched in 2008.

I am blogging this from a conference room of the American Society of News Editors convention (a group that would really benefit from Dave’s presence and membership). I don’t have time to blog at length, but I will say this:

  • I think Spot.us might be the best community engagement startup I’ve seen in journalism. Without question, it’s one of the best.
  • Journalism needs people like Dave who combine digital savvy and journalism ethics with a commitment to quality journalism. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
  • Dave was a guest speaker by Skype with my American University entrepreneurial journalism class last year. He was generous with his time and provided both useful insight and inspiration to the students.
  • Every time I have crossed paths with Dave at News Foo, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and digitally, I feel smarter and uplifted because of sharing his creativity, insight and energy.
  • I enjoyed our “Generations in the desert” blog exchange in 2010. Dave is one of the reasons I am optimistic that his generation of journalists will serve our nation and our communities in outstanding ways.

I can’t wait to watch the next chapter of his career unfold.

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