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Archive for February, 2014

Feb trafficI must correct an error in a Jan. 31 blog post. After analyzing how I’d set a record for traffic on my blog in January, I closed by saying, “I think I can safely predict that I won’t be breaking this record in February.”

I was wrong. Even with three fewer days, I set another traffic record in February, passing the January figure of 35,739 late this afternoon. I’m at 35,851, with a good chance of passing 36K this evening. And no post that I published in February topped 500 views or made it into my top 10 most-viewed posts of the month. More than 90 percent of this record traffic came from my archives.  (more…)

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Kansas City Times final editionI was present for the deaths of two newspapers: The Des Moines Tribune in 1982 and the Kansas City Times 24 years ago today.

The first time I was an editor at the surviving paper, the Des Moines Register. It was rough watching our sister paper die and it was rougher watching 50-plus journalists on both staffs lose their jobs. But it was unquestionably better, if you kept your job, to work for the surviving paper.

In Kansas City, the death was shared between the two staffs. The evening paper was dying, but that was the Star. And the name of the surviving paper was the Star, so the Kansas City Times was dying, too.

The company pretended that both papers would live on somehow in the new morning Star. The final edition of the Times didn’t even merit an above-the-fold mention. The story is at the bottom of the page, with the bullshit headline: “Death of a newspaper? No, a grand rebirth”: (more…)

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Thanks to conservative Texas Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick for this illustration of why you should edit tweets with rigor:

Here’s what Patrick meant to tweet:

If you go to the original tweet now, though, here’s what you see: (more…)

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Mike Crist, a Digital First Media colleague at the Delaware County Daily Times, asked recently about the importance of editing as newsrooms change:

Good question, actually. I answered in a few tweets, but said it would probably be worth a blog post. So here goes:

Project Unbolt logoEverything has changed in newsrooms and Project Unbolt is designed to accelerate that change in Digital First newsrooms, “unbolting” from our newspaper-factory processes and developing new processes (and standards) for a newsroom primarily focused on producing digital content.

We still want rigorous editing, but how we edit will certainly change. If “rigor” means multiple layers of editing, like newspapers enjoyed back in the day, I believe that won’t be returning. Newsroom staff cuts have already reduced editing ranks, and Project Unbolt isn’t going to change that. If we’re successful in growing digital revenue, we can stop the staff reductions and perhaps grow someday. But unbolting needs to happen, whatever size staff we can maintain.

I do expect every journalist who handles any copy, starting with the reporter, to edit rigorously. Absolutely we need to write and edit grammatically and follow AP style (or a local newsroom’s style) in our stories. And verify our facts.

As I have noted before, reporters (and photojournalists who write cutlines and occasionally stories) need to take responsibility for the quality of their own writing. (more…)

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I blogged in 2012 about Tim Tamimi developing a new header for my blog (below), in gratitude for a blog post about his mother several years ago. I’ve used it for about a year and a half now.

Well, Tim decided I needed to update the look, so he sent me a new logo for the blog. I post it again with much appreciation.

What do you think? Which do you prefer?

cropped-blog-header1.jpgHere are other headers I’ve used through the years:

Me at Bryce Canyon:

cropped-steve-at-bryce-canyon1.jpg

The sunset at Tofino, B.C.:

cropped-tofino-sunset.jpg

Flags lining the Shenandoah, Iowa, cemetery for the 2012 burial of my nephew, Brandon.

cropped-brandon-buttry-panoramic-flag-shot.jpegI don’t have a favorite. I’ve enjoyed each of them and I appreciate a change now and then. Thanks to Tim for noting that it was time for a change again.

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About halfway into my #twutorial series, I realized I needed a better table of contents.

The point of the series is to help journalists use Twitter effectively to do better journalism, and how I steered people from one post to others was with a growing list of previous posts at the end of each post, mostly in reverse chronological order. For a while, I’ve been meaning to organize the links by topic, to be more helpful for journalists seeking help with using Twitter.

Thanks to Suzi Steffen for giving me the nudge in this recent exchange of tweets:

So here’s an index to my #twutorial posts, organized by topics (with some appearing more than once if I think they would fit multiple places; the one on search will show up several places). I’ll update periodically with posts from other journalists that I think are similarly helpful as well as with my own posts. I am the author of all posts listed here, unless I mention another author.

(more…)

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I am leading some workshops for the Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University today. 

I participated in a panel discussion on “Ethics, Urgency and Accuracy” this morning.

Here are some links relating to ethics, urgency and accuracy (I made some of the points you’ll see in these links).

How to verify information from tweets: Check it out

Suggestions for new guiding principles for the journalist

My version of Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist

The Verification Handbook is now available

I led a morning workshop on using Twitter to cover breaking news. In addition to the links above, this workshop covered information from these workshops:

Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques

You don’t tip competitors on Twitter; you beat them

Twitter is an essential reporting tool

Here are my slides for that workshop (I developed them knowing we weren’t likely to cover all the topics. We covered the first three and skipped to verification):

I developed these slides to use in either the panel discussion or the breaking-news workshop. I ended up using them to wrap up the breaking-news workshop:

I also will lead an afternoon workshop on showcasing your work and your skills in a digital portfolio. This workshop is based primarily on this blog post:

Use digital tools to showcase your career and your work

The workshop also will cover points made in some of these posts:

Your digital profile tells people a lot

Randi Shaffer shows a reason to use Twitter: It can help land your first job

Elevate your journalism career

Tips on landing your next job in digital journalism

Job-hunting advice for journalists selling skills in the digital market

Here are my slides for that workshop:

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The point of Project Unbolt is not to wrench the four pilot newsrooms free from print culture and workflow. We want to unbolt all our newsrooms from print.

We decided to concentrate our attention initially on the four pilot newsrooms: New Haven Register, Berkshire Eagle, El Paso Times and the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio.

I was planning some specific steps to encourage other newsrooms to start their work in the next few weeks, but was delighted by an email yesterday from Nancy March, editor of The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. She is already hard at work leading the Merc staff in unbolting. (more…)

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The first week of February was my best traffic week in a long time.

The first week of February was my best traffic week in a long time.

I had a lot of traffic on my blog the first week of February, nearly 12,000 views, one of my best weeks ever. So I must have been busy posting popular content, right? Not really. I posted three times last week:

That’s it. Fresh content accounted for fewer than 400 views that week. My fresh content did better the week before and the week after. In fact, my content from the previous week did better that week than the fresh content did.

Yet I had the busiest week I can remember (weekly traffic stats only go back to July in my WordPress dashboard and I’ve paid closer attention to monthly and daily traffic).

The point here is not to boast about that week’s traffic (or to expose the weak traffic for the fresh posts), but to emphasize the importance of understanding metrics, not just following them blindly. (more…)

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Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record for pass completions in a game. But he still had an awful game, showing how metrics can be misleading. Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post. Used with permission.

Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record for pass completions in a game. But he still had an awful game, showing how metrics can be misleading. Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post. Used with permission.

Sports uses metrics much better and more creatively to measure success than news organizations do. Sports metrics (sports fans are more likely to call them stats) also illustrate how misleading numbers can be.

You know who owns the Super Bowl record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl? Peyton Manning, who set that record this month in perhaps the worst loss of his career.

Manning, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback, completed nearly twice as many passes as Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl for 74 more yards than Wilson. But no one watching that game thought that Manning played a better game. (more…)

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Project Unbolt logoOne of our most important challenges in changing Digital First newsrooms will be measuring success. As I explained last month, Project Unbolt involves changing the culture and workflow of our company’s newsrooms.

But how do we measure our progress? How do we know when we’re succeeding? I’ve asked the editors of our pilot newsrooms to consider these questions as they assess their newsrooms against the characteristics I’ve described of an unbolted newsroom.

In some cases, we will be able to chart our progress using detailed metrics that are already available to us. In other cases, we might need to measure ourselves in some way (and decide whether the time and effort of measuring are worth the insight we gain). In some respects, numerical measurement will be difficult, but we can describe how we operate now and how we’ve changed at some point down the road. Project Unbolt will probably require all of these ways of measuring and more.

(more…)

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A gift from Dad

My new nightstand, made by Dad 60-plus years ago

My new nightstand, made by Dad 60-plus years ago

I received a gift from my father today, almost 36 years after we lost him.

Luke Buttry was a carpenter who served the most famous carpenter ever. He spent his career as an Air Force chaplain, then an American Baptist pastor. He died of prostate cancer in 1978, just a little over two years into his second civilian pastorate, at First Baptist Church in Kankakee.

Wherever we lived, whether in government-owned base housing, a parsonage or our own home, Dad was building things. If the home didn’t have room for a workshop in the basement, Dad would spend time at the base hobby shop working on his projects. (more…)

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