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Archive for September, 2013

This post continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Earlier this month I finished a chore that was a lot of work and worth every minute: Planning and emceeing a program to recognize the best work of 2012 by Digital First Media journalists.

Kudos to CEO John Paton and Editor in Chief Jim Brady for spending the money to give cash prizes and plaques to the DFMie winners and for bringing them from across the country to Denver for the awards program.

If you’re a local DFM editor (or an editor in another company), you may not have the money to do an awards program at the newsroom level, but at least you won’t have travel costs. And you should try to put a local recognition program into your budget. All the DFM senior publishers were at the DFMies and commented on what a great program it was. Maybe they’ll fight to get some local recognition in your budget. But they won’t do that unless you ask. One of my rules of journalism and life is “never say no for someone else.” So don’t say no for your publisher. Ask for a recognition program for your newsroom.

And if the publisher says no, recognize excellence in a way that’s cheap or free.

We do the DFMies monthly and annually to recognize the best work companywide with cash awards. While the cash is important, and adds meaning to the recognition, I believe the recognition is more important than the cash. If you can’t get cash for the awards, get the newsroom involved in brainstorming another meaningful way to recognize excellence: Maybe a traveling trophy (it could be serious or silly) that sits on the winner’s desk for a month or a quarter until the next winner is chosen. Maybe lunch with the editor. Maybe a paid day off. (more…)

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I have long said that Twitter’s excellent advanced search is one of the most valuable tools for journalists today.

It is the superiority of Twitter’s search that makes it a more useful tool than Facebook for journalists, in my view, despite the fact that far more people use Facebook.

Well, Twitter search just got waaaay better with the development of twXplorer. Read Rich Gordon’s piece about twXplorer, then do some searches. I’ve just played with it a little and I’m really pleased and amazed.

What twXplorer does is analyze the results of a Twitter search and give you not just the tweets from a search but also patterns in those tweets: the terms, hashtags and links that show up most often in your search. And each of those terms, hashtags and links is hyperlinked, so you can click on it to filter just those tweets from your original search. You can also use it to search within a Twitter list.

It’s a great tool for refining searches and drilling down to find the most useful results. (more…)

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I am pleased that Tim McGuire has offered a contribution to my series on advice for new Digital First editors.

Tim spent 11 years as editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and is now a professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Tim has blogged about what he wishes he had done differently as an editor. I encourage you to read his full post, but here’s the core of his advice:

I lost personal control of my calendar and my priorities, and I never thought quite big enough.

I know that in these days of reduced resources many editors are going to scoff at my two pieces of advice but I actually think the tough times make them more important than ever. 1. Don’t waste your time on minor issues and process oriented meetings and, 2. think big, transformative change, not incremental change.

I dearly wish I would have set up a rotating list of five big, direction-changing issues and insisted that my calendar allow me 75 percent availability to concentrate on the five big ideas.

Tim gives excellent advice and I appreciate his contribution to this series.

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McBride_New_Ethics_of_JournalismI like the new Guiding Principles for the Journalist, spelled out in the opening chapter of The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century.

The overall concepts of these principles reflect the same core values as Bob Steele’s Guiding Principles from about 20 years ago, but also reflect the need to update journalism ethics. Bob’s principles were organized around these three themes:

  • Truthfulness
  • Independence
  • Minimizing harm

The new principles, authored by the book’s editors, Poynter’s Kelly McBride and the American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel, are organized around these three themes:

  • Truthfulness
  • Transparency
  • Community

The new principles note the value of independence, but recognize the complexity of today’s journalism and give excellent advice on being transparent about connections that may influence our content. In my October suggestions for the Guiding Principles, I merged independence and transparency into one section, so I’m pleased with this change. The new principles still call on journalists to minimize harm, but do so in the broader context of guidance about our relationships to the communities we serve. As a frequent advocate of community engagement, I am delighted to see it recognized as a core principle of journalism.

My primary disappointment in reading through the principles was their failure to explicitly address the ethics of linking. The transparency section generally calls on journalists to show their work and “explain” their sources, but in an apparent effort to avoid mentioning specific platforms in the principles, the authors stopped short of directly addressing a significant issue on which many journalists are either lazy or resistant. (more…)

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I highly recommend that you read Mindy McAdams’ post about aggregation and curation.

The post cites (and praises — thanks, Mindy!) my blog post last year on aggregation guidelines.

I said aggregators should link (Mindy did), attribute (ditto) and add value (certainly, especially with three strong examples). Excellent aggregation by Mindy. One indication that this aggregation is good journalism and not theft: I feel honored, not ripped off.

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Butch Ward of Poynter wrote an excellent post posing an important question for editors to ask the journalists who work for you: What do you want to be someday?

Butch, one of the best teachers in the news business, said the question we’re often asked as kids — what do you want to be when you grow up? — remains an important question throughout our careers:

Good managers understand that dreams and ambitions don’t die once we land in the workplace. In fact, they know that taking an interest in their staff’s future can help build strong working relationships with them. Once I believe that you really care what I want to be someday, I’m much more likely to trust your advice, respond to your suggestions and take an interest in your needs.

I highly recommend Butch’s post and make it part of my series on advice for new Digital First editors. (more…)

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I couldn’t resist aggregating Erik Wemple’s post on aggregation and the Washington Post.

Erik, who blogs about media for the Post, contacted me yesterday asking for a reaction to this statement by the Post’s soon-to-be new owner, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon:

The Post is famous for its investigative journalism. It pours energy and investment and sweat and dollars into uncovering important stories. And then a bunch of Web sites summarize that [work] in about four minutes and readers can access that news for free. One question is, how do you make a living in that kind of environment? If you can’t, it’s difficult to put the right resources behind it. . . . Even behind a paywall [digital subscription], Web sites can summarize your work and make it available for free. From a reader point of view, the reader has to ask, ‘Why should I pay you for all that journalistic effort when I can get it for free’ from another site?”

It was a bizarre statement, sounding as though it came from a longtime newspaper publisher, shaking his fist at those damned Internet disruptors on his lawn, rather than coming from one of those disruptors, supposedly offering hope by bringing new ideas and a new perspective to one of the most treasured newspapers. (more…)

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