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Archive for April, 2014

Well, it was fun changing the name of my blog (at the facetious suggestion of Gene Weingarten) and raising $725 for the ACES Education Fund. But it’s been a month, and that’s what I committed to, so I’ve reverted to The Buttry Diary.

I went back to an older header design by Tim Tamimi because Tim’s most recent header had my Digital First Media job title in the header, and I won’t have that title much longer.

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One of the highlights of my tenure at Digital First Media has been hosting the annual awards programs.

I don’t have much time to blog about this (during a connection on my flights home), but we had a wonderful time yesterday and honored some truly stellar journalism by my Digital First Media colleagues. If you missed it yesterday, you can catch the Touts and tweets after the fact from the liveblog.

I was surprised and honored, along with my colleagues Jim Brady, Robyn Tomlin and Dan Shorter, with a video, kind words and beautiful keepsakes of our time at Digital First:

With the four of us all short-timers, along with two winners, because of the closing of Thunderdome, it could have been awkward. But everyone handled the situation with grace, class and fun. The only comments critical of the closing of Thunderdome came from journalists who didn’t lose their jobs (and we appreciated their kind words).

Karen Workman, winner of the DFMie for SEO headline writing, thanked the company for firing her. She started with DFM’s predecessor at age 19 and 10 years later, she said, was like finally getting kicked out of your parents’ basement to make it on your own. (And she’ll make it. She’s got a great new gig, which I couldn’t announce yesterday, but she’ll announce it soon and her career will continue to soar.

Jessica Glenza was named DFM’s Journalist of the Year (the judging was before the Thunderdome closing) for reporting she did at the Register Citizen before moving to Thunderdome. She was named last month as Journalist of the Year for small-daily newsrooms, and yesterday collected a second plaque as journalist of the year for the whole company. She was entirely gracious in remarks, not mentioning that the company had fired her, but just expressing her joy at being a journalist. She’ll be fine, too. She starts May 12 as a breaking news reporter for Guardian US.

If you’re looking for a top-flight journalist for your news operation, you need to move quickly because the Thunderdome team is finding new opportunities swiftly. But send me information on your opening and I’ll pass it along to my colleagues.

We had a great team of journalists at Digital First, in Thunderdome and in our newsrooms across the country. We still have a great team, even with Thunderdome closing. I wish all the best to my colleagues, whatever lies ahead. It was great to celebrate our excellence yesterday.

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I’ve rounded up some of my links to help with job-hunting and dealing with being fired.

Most of these links won’t be a huge help to my Thunderdome colleagues because they already have excellent networks and strong digital profiles. But I’m going to reread my own advice because something I know that’s not at the front of my mind might be helpful to me as I move on from Digital First Media. So I share it in case it might help my colleagues or others who’ve been fired (sadly, we have plenty of company).

Tips on landing your next job in digital journalism

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

Use digital tools to showcase your career and your work

Confessions (strategies) of a branded journalist (or a journalist with a reputation, if you prefer)

Your digital profile tells people a lot

These posts have more general advice than job-hunting advice, but they still might be helpful:

Enduring lessons from being fired 20 years ago

Bitterness is like wreaking revenge on yourself

In addition, I pass on some interviewing advice from a friend who asked not to be identified, to protect the confidentiality of job interviews. The friend stressed the importance of advance research on the company you are interviewing with:

They all had some basic knowledge, but didn’t know where we were located — one didn’t know what kind of company we were. Highly qualified people, but I remember journalism professors telling me (way back in the day) to go to the library and look up their papers — flip through them. Once everyone got websites, it was easy to know what was going on and to learn about the community.

About my blog name: Yes, I have a ridiculous blog name. It’s temporary, and it’s for a good cause.

 

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OK, I won’t give you the full witty exchange on Twitter that led up to this, but Ivan Lajara posted the purported “Paint version” of my new blog header:

For background, if this is all confusing to you, Gene Weingarten suggested the new blog name, Ivan designed the logo and people gave $725 to the ACES Education Fund to change the name of my blog for a month.

By the way, the fund-raiser is still open, if you want to contribute.

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In one of the emails wishing me success in my job search came some questions from a young reporter. I enjoy few thing more here than answering journalists’ questions, and I much prefer that to writing about myself.

So here’s the question:

How do you think journalists can network with other reporters effectively in the digital age?

For instance, I’m interested in working at a number of different outlets in the future, from alt-weeklies to dailies to online media. I’d love to connect with reporters and editors at those outlets, but it’s harder to ask that reporter to chat with you over coffee when you’re miles and miles away.

Do you have any advice for how to cultivate that digital relationship with other journalists?

Yes, I have advice for cultivating digital relationships with journalists: (more…)

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For much of my first five or six years on Twitter, I tried to convince other journalists of its value. I’d assure them that you didn’t have to tweet about what you had for breakfast and that it really helps you find sources, report stories, etc. I’ve pretty much stopped doing that.

If you’re a journalist not using Twitter in 2014, you’ve chosen to be less skilled, less relevant, less visible and less connected. That’s your choice and I no longer care much about changing your mind. I can think of a few times in the last month that I’ve encountered journalists who were defiantly resisting use of Twitter and I just smiled, if I acknowledged their defiance at all.

But here’s one last try: You might get fired at any time. Every journalist knows that, especially these days. When you get fired, Twitter is an incredible source of encouragement and even job leads.

I’ve been fired twice in my career: in 1992 when I was editor of the Minot Daily News and Wednesday when Digital First Media announced that it was shutting Thunderdome and told me my job would end on July 1.

I had support from friends, family and colleagues in 1992, but it was one of the worst days of my career.  Wednesday was another difficult day. But it was still one of the best days of my career. I will always remember it fondly for the warm embrace of friends, especially on Twitter. (more…)

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John Paton tells the journalists at Thunderdome that we no longer have jobs. An amazing group. I've been honored to work with them.

John Paton tells the journalists at Thunderdome that we no longer have jobs. An amazing group. I’ve been honored to work with them.

I learned a long time ago that news was a tough business. I learned it before I watched the death of the Des Moines Tribune and before I experienced the death of the Kansas City Times. I learned it before I was fired as editor of the Minot Daily News and before TBD imploded. So I wasn’t surprised when the ax fell again today.

I’m exploring (and interested in learning about) opportunities in the news business and beyond. But I don’t know yet what my next stop will be. Here’s what I do know:

  • I’ve enjoyed my time with Digital First Media.
  • I’m deeply grateful to Jim Brady, Jon Cooper and John Paton for the opportunity to work at Digital First (and Journal Register Co. before it became DFM).
  • I leave with no regrets.
  • I knew the risks in 2011 when I went to work for a company owned by hedge funds. And I knew the risks in 2012 when I turned down an attractive offer from a family-owned newspaper company to stay with the company owned by hedge funds.
  • Anyone who says Thunderdome failed is wrong. As I said about TBD, you can’t fail unless you were given a chance to succeed.
  • I will do everything I can to help in the job searches of my DFM colleagues who lost their jobs today. These are extraordinary journalists who will provide great value for their next news organizations.
  • I wish all the best for my DFM colleagues who will remain with the company. We’ve worked hard together and come a long way. I hope that the company prospers and that this is the last cut. I’ve enjoyed working with them and know they will continue doing great journalism.

No denial or sugarcoating here. I don’t agree at all with today’s decision to cut Thunderdome or with the company’s new direction. But neither of those calls was mine to make and I’m not going to criticize them or waste time discussing them. I’ll post some links here to coverage of what’s happening at Digital First, but won’t comment on the accuracy of the reporting or the insightfulness of the analysis.

As I’ve said before, bitterness is like wreaking revenge on yourself. I’m too busy looking for my next opportunity to dwell on how this one ended.

The Newsonomics of Digital First Media’s Thunderdome implosion (and coming sale)

Digital First plans layoffs

Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome on chopping block

We need to keep experimenting in journalism

In another blow to local journalism, Digital First Media to shutter Thunderdome

Update: I should clarify that I was given my notice Wednesday, not fired immediately. My last day is July 1, if I choose to work that long.

About my blog name: Yes, I have a ridiculous blog name. It’s temporary, and it’s for a good cause.

 

 

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