Ethics and leadership were frequent themes on my blog this year.
I blogged a series of nearly 50 posts (including some guest posts) on advice for new leaders of Digital First newsrooms in 2013. I also blogged dozens of times about ethics, commenting on issues in journalism and on various efforts in the profession to uphold and update ethical standards.
Both trends on the blog reflected my work for the year: I helped in hiring new editors for Digital First newsrooms and made extended visits to their newsrooms when they got started. I also worked on various efforts in the profession to update, clarify and explain ethics standards.
As you’d expect with a series geared to a narrow audience, the advice for editors didn’t attract heavy traffic. But I appreciated the feedback from various editors in our company and elsewhere. The most-read post in the series, with more than 3,000 views, advised editors to check the digital profiles of job candidates. One of my favorite posts in the series addressed the importance of being a role model and discussed one of my important role models, Dave Witke.
My most-read post published in 2013 (with nearly 6,000 views) was on verifying information from tweets. That was one of the last and best-read posts in my #twutorial series, which started last year. Another #twutorial post, on what to do if you hit Twitter’s follower limit, was my second most-read post written in 2013 with more than 4,000 views. Another #twutorial post took note of my first tweet ever and discussed how Twitter archives might be useful.
I’m signing up for twitter and trying to decide if it’s worth my time
— Steve Buttry (@stevebuttry) December 29, 2007
That verification post reflected the interest in 2013 from me and my blog readers in accuracy and other ethics matters. On my list of most-read posts of the year, a 2010 post (and even older workshop handout from No Train, No Gain) on tips on accuracy and verification came in right behind the 2013 verification post, with nearly 4,700 views.
I also blogged this year about the Summit to Fight Plagiarism and Fabrication, the new Guiding Principles for the Journalist, the Verification Handbook project, Verification Junkie and an effort to update the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. I called for more detailed ethics discussions and welcomed a guest post from Tom Kent of the Associated Press about the Online News Association ethics initiative he is leading (and in which I have agreed to help).
Other posts dealing with ethics this year focused on confidential sources, linking and accepting gifts. That linking post (about how routine linking would have prevented journalists from falling for the Manti Te’o fake-girlfriend hoax) led to my busiest day of the year, 2,881 views on Jan. 17, the day I posted it, according to WordPress’ annual report for my blog. As you’d expect, the attention for that post was short-lived. It got a little over 2,400 views total.
Old posts relating to ethics also did well this year. My 2011 post recycling an old No Train, No Gain post (and workshop handout) on attribution was my third most-viewed post of the year with nearly 6,000 views and my 2010 call for SPJ to update its Code of Ethics got 3,000 views this year (and finally the update is under consideration).
Another series I started this year looks at old stories from my reporting career, sharing updated lessons about how I might pursue the stories differently now as well as some of the lessons from how I did them at the time. Updated lessons from stories about abortion and domestic violence were part of my package of posts on confidential sources. Other posts told updated lessons from stories on Afghan teachers, a famous photograph, a murderer and a girls basketball team. I expect to take updated looks at several more stories in 2014.
I held engagement contests for Digital First newsrooms, awarding candy to the newsrooms with the best engagement projects for Valentine’s, March, fall and winter (voting still open through Sunday for the winter contest).
Other memorable (to me, anyway) blog posts of 2013:
I finished a Wikipedia page for my grandmother, novelist Francena H. Arnold and blogged about the experience (posting the first draft here). Neither got even 200 views, but they were some of my favorite posts of the year. Grandma’s Wikipedia entry was my favorite writing project of the year.
- In another post dealing with family, I shared some observations about the media from my brother, Dan’s, memoir, Peace Warrior.
- In two more pieces with family ties, I saluted retiring Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, whom I covered many times and who is now the boss of my son, Tom, and I noted my connection to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former boss of my son, Mike.
- I gave a keynote address at the Journalism, Leadership and Management conference at Iowa State, posting my advice to student media leaders here on the blog.
- After Politico published a hatchet job, based mostly on unnamed sources, claiming that New York Times Editor Jill Abramson had “lost” her newsroom, I blogged about a time a boss told me I had “lost” a newsroom (that was BS, too).
- I also saluted John Lumpkin, retiring as director of the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University, my alma mater.
- I observed the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination by taking a look at front pages (and an interesting story on Page 2) from papers my father saved from 1963 and from a Look magazine I found in an antique store.
- I weighed in on a discussion about whether journalism schools should teach students to code (they should).
- I discussed how long newspaper stories should be.
- Posts noted my international travels this year to conferences and seminars in France, Italy, Canada and across the United States: Atlanta, Anaheim, St. Louis, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Madison.
- I published guest posts from Sue Burzynski Bullard, Nancy March, Dan Rowinski and Teresa Schmedding (all part of the advice-for-editors series) and promoted a post in that series which Tim McGuire published on his own blog. I also published guest post from Susan Steade, Scott Bryant, Buffy Andrews and Jeff Edelstein and a Q&A in which I answered questions from Russian journalist Sergei Yakupov, who published the Russian version on his blog. If you’d like to address a journalism issue with a guest post, please let me know.
I noted Digital First engagement efforts in the openings of the News Lounges in Pasadena and San Bernardino and the launch of the News MoJo as well as several regional engagement workshops. I noted successes by DFM journalists in crowdsourcing, using Twitter in investigative reporting, curating and commenting on breaking news and using archived photos for engagement.
- This isn’t a humor blog by any stretch, but I do try to inject humor from time to time. My funniest post didn’t come from my humor, but from a post about me, using a photo that, trust me, wasn’t me.
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) August 5, 2013
I don’t know how much this reflects that I blogged less this year (and generated less fresh traffic) or how much it reflects that some posts have lasting value and/or good SEO, but seven of my 10 most-viewed posts of the year were posts I wrote in previous years, including the old ethics posts I already mentioned.
As I’ve noted before, I have two posts from 2011 that rank high on searches for the 5 W’s (however you punctuate it), and they ranked first (with more than 10,000 2013 views) and seventh (4K+):
- The 5 W’s (and How) are even more important to business than to journalism (the fifth result if you Google “the 5 W’s” or “5 W’s“)
- The 5 W’s (and How) of writing for the Web (No. 2 if you Google “the 5 W’s in writing“)
This tidbit from the WordPress annual report confirms the search-engine attraction: three of the five search terms driving the most traffic to my blog are “5 Ws,” “5 W’s” and “the 5 W’s.” The other two top searches were “columnist” (I don’t rank high on a search for that word alone) and “steve buttry” (people actually search for that?).
Another 2011 post has continuing appeal (perhaps reflecting continued curiosity over newspapers’ need for more and better revenue streams). My second most-read post of 2013, with over 6,000 views, was about ideas for revenue streams for newspapers. I wish I could tell you that 2013 was the year that lots of newspaper companies adopted those ideas and started making more revenue. Maybe next year.
While this is my primary blog, I have a few others. Their activity isn’t worth separate blogs posts (not sure this one is, but since I review for my own purposes, I do post it). But here’s a quick review of 2013 in my other blogs:
It was a down year for the blog as well as the team, but I did blog about this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame snubs, Kevin Youkilis joining the Yankees (and others who have played for the Yankees and Red Sox), how Bernie Williams would be a sure Hall of Famer in football or basketball, Mariano Rivera’s incomparable career, Tommy John’s continuing exclusion from the Hall of Fame, Joe Torre’s election to the Hall of Fame and my memories of Paul Blair’s brief hitch as a Yankee.
As with The Buttry Diary, the year’s most-read post was from the archive, a piece debunking the myth that strategy is more difficult and important in the National League. That had more than 400 views this year, obviously driven by search (100 of them in October, obviously driven by World-Series-related searches). In fact, if you Google “national league strategy,” I’m the No. 1 hit.
I blogged heavily about our trip to France, Switzerland and Italy on the travel blog I share with Mimi. And we did our personal review of 2013 on our travel blog. I blogged as well about visits to Shenandoah, Iowa, Royal Gorge, the Berkshires, Carlsbad Caverns and California. Mimi blogged about visiting Disneyland as well as our European trip.
This blog, promoting Mimi’s novel, was busy in 2012, when she published it. This year was slower, but on the anniversary of publication, we posted Mimi’s observations about her biggest challenge in writing the book: where to end it, along with the epilogue that she cut from the book before publishing. If you were one of the readers who loved the ending (and many did), don’t read the epilogue. But if you were one of those who thought she ended too abruptly (that was her most frequent criticism, but at least we know they made it to the ending), go read the epilogue and it will tie up some loose ends.
Other posts on this blog just took note of reviews by David Higgerson, “Thin Blue Smoke” author Doug Worgul, Mark Loundy, Rick Thomason and “A Madness” author Dan Conover and noting that the book made Higgerson’s holiday reading list.