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Posts Tagged ‘Foursquare’

This continues my series on professional networking.

If you don’t think promotion should be part of journalism, I understand. I did little to nothing to promote myself or my work in the first 20-plus years of my career. And I had a good career: rewarding mid-level editor jobs and senior reporting jobs at metro newspapers, top editor of a smaller newspaper.

I can’t think of a single self-promotional thing I did for the first two decades of my career, unless you count some internal boasting in newsroom chit-chat or an occasional humble brag to make sure the boss knew my role in a story.

I didn’t do anything to actually promote myself (that I can recall) until 1997. And I think my career since has benefited greatly from self-promotion, and from overcoming a strong journalistic resistance to promotion.

I decided in 1997 that I wanted to train journalists and get paid for doing so. I thought I had something to teach journalists after all those years of work, and I thought I would like training, and I could use the money. And no one would know that I was available to do training if I didn’t promote myself.

So I developed my first website, promoting my training services and posting workshop handouts online. I was taking a web design class under Father Don Doll at Creighton University, and my website was all about me and my training services.

York News Times logoBut that was early in the history of the web and well before Google, so I also developed an amateurish flier promoting my services (design was never a strong suit of mine). I mailed that flier to newsrooms and press associations around the Midwest and landed three training gigs: with the York News-Times (a Nebraska daily not to be confused with the New York Times), the North Dakota Newspaper Association and the Minot Daily News. Since I was a former Minot editor and well known to the folks at NDNA, those gigs came through a mix of networking and promotion. But I didn’t know anyone at York, and that first training gig came from the amateurish flier. (more…)

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I taught a class Monday in data visualization for Josh Grimm’s In-Depth Reporting class at LSU.

I’m no expert in data visualization, but I studied the use of interactive databases for the American Press Institute in 2008 and my students experimented with a variety of data viz tools last spring in my course on learning interactive storytelling tools. (I’ll add some links to the students’ posts on data-viz tools later, but I want to get this published now and I won’t have time to add links until later.)

My point in this class is that you can tell stories lots of different ways using data, and that you can teach yourself pretty easily how to use some effective data viz tools. I admire the skills of some data specialists I know, and hope some of our students will follow them into that specialty. But I hope every student (and professional) journalist develops data skills to find and tell stories routinely.

Examples I used in the class (and a few I didn’t have time to use):

Thanks to Kyle Whitfield, Mark Lorando, Tom Meagher, Maryjo Webster, Daniel Tedford, Kevin Dupuy and Michelle Rogers for providing these examples.

I collected information from the students using a Google Form and used it to create some data visualizations about the class using Infogr.am and Google Maps. I was running out of time and rushed through these pretty quickly, but you can make pretty simple graphics quickly using these tools. I elaborate a bit more here on some of them.

I wasn’t able to embed the resulting Infogr.am graphics in my free WordPress blog (they should embed on most websites). Here are some screen grabs of the graphics (with links below to the interactive versions):

Infogram devices

You can see the interactive version of the graphic on devices here.

This pie chart, I noted, would be more effective with graduated shades (perhaps yellow to red) than the random colors assigned to each number:

number of devices

In a graphic about the students’ use of social media, I tried different data viz tools offered by Infogr.am. This line chart didn’t work for me (though it might work for other detail). An effective graphic makes a point quickly and this one requires some study:

infogram line graph

This horizontal bar graph also took a bit of work to understand, but quickly shows that the most popular social tools with the students are Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and that the students aren’t using Foursquare at all. The graphic on devices was filled out later, when I had 26 responses instead of 24.

I deliberately didn’t update this because it actually illustrates some points you need to check in doing data visualization: The data need to be accurate. My first take of this didn’t have fully accurate data: You can see that I only have 23 responses, instead of 24, on Snapchat and Instagram. Actually, I had 24 responses at the time, but failed to double-check my data before uploading it for the graphic. These are the kinds of errors you need to avoid and double-checking you need to do both before uploading data and after finishing a visualization project.

infogram bar chart

The most effective graphic on social networks, I thought, was this layered pie chart, where you can (in the interactive version, not the screengrab below) see how differently students use the social tools. It would have been more effective, though, with a gradual color scale, perhaps with yellow for 1, orange for 3 and red for 5, with shades in between at 2 and 4. But I was trying to show how quickly you can make a simple graphic. That’s the first step in data visualization. I’d expect such improvements in subsequent projects.

infogram pie chart

Moving to Google Maps, I quickly imported information from the spreadsheet of student responses to create a map showing where the students were from (that embed works here):

During the class, Deanna Narveson did a quick data viz project on social media engagement by Louisiana gubernatorial candidates:
https://public.tableau.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js

Dashboard 1

Here are my slides from the class:

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I can’t remember the last time I posted a photo to Flickr or checked in on Foursquare.

I have no idea whether either or both social platforms will thrive just fine without me or whether others are moving away from them, too, and they’ll fade away soon.

Flickr was the first social network I used actively. I joined in June 2006, about six months before joining LinkedIn. Back when sending huge emails with lots of attachments was a big deal, Flickr was convenient for sharing photos. I’d just send out a link to photos of Mimi and me visiting Bryce Canyon or a shot of the family gathered for a wedding. I’d email links to family and friends along with an account of the trip or the gathering, and they would email back with encouraging or funny or sympathetic remarks, depending on the nature of my photo or message.

It was actually quite like posting a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter today. Except that the conversation all happened on email, rather than on Flickr. Most of my family and friends never joined Flickr. But since my photos were public, they could see them and I shared photos more regularly than most of them.  (more…)

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This will be my keynote address to the Arizona Newspapers Association fall convention in Scottsdale today. I didn’t follow the script closely and I trimmed the court-liveblogging section for time, but this is the written version. I also will lead a breakout session on revenue-building ideas.

It’s kind of early on a Saturday morning to start thinking about the weighty matters of the news business, so I’m going to get us started with a little exercise. If you don’t feel comfortable with Twitter, please stand up (if you’re physically able).

OK, if you’re not comfortable using Foursquare, I want you to raise your right hand above your head if you’re already standing or stand up if you’re still sitting.

If you’re not comfortable with Facebook or Pinterest or Reddit or Banjo or Google Voice or Spundge or Storify or ScribbleLive or some other tool with an odd name that you’ve heard might be important, raise your left hand if your right hand is already up, your right hand if you don’t have a hand up and stand up if you’re sitting.

Now, if you’re not comfortable letting the public come into your newsroom every day and use your computers, browse your archives, drink your coffee, chat uninvited with your news staff and attend your news meetings, (in person or online), wave your right hand if both hands are up, put up your left hand if it’s not up yet, your right hand if it’s not up yet and stand up if you’re sitting.

OK, if you don’t feel comfortable with a future built on revenue sources beyond advertising and subscriptions, wave both hands if you’ve already waved your right hand, wave your right hand if both hands are up, raise your left hand if only your right hand is up and raise your right hand if neither hand is up and stand up if you’re still sitting.

Finally (no, I’m not going to make you jump): If you’re not comfortable with crowdsourcing, curation, live chats or user-generated content, clap your hands, whatever you’ve been doing so far.

OK, everyone sit down. Is there anyone who stayed sitting through this whole exercise and didn’t clap? Please stand. OK, you’re excused. You don’t need to listen to anything I’m going to say. But everyone else look around and identify some of these people. You might want to sit next to them at lunch or buy them a drink tonight and talk to them.

I’m going to talk today about what makes us uncomfortable as journalists and news business leaders. I’m going to talk about embracing your discomfort and working through that discomfort to find the hope and promise that lie on the other side.

My father was an Air Force chaplain and later an American Baptist pastor, so once a year he had to give what ministers call the “stewardship” sermon, preaching about the importance of tithes and offerings to support the chapel or church. His favorite line was: “Give till it stops hurting.” I’m going to steal and adapt that line from Dad today (I’m sure my sons have heard many lines that I stole from Dad). Here’s my advice from Dad filtered through my media lens: Journalists and leaders in the news business need to change till it stops hurting. You need to get comfortable in your discomfort zone.

(more…)

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As I was live-tweeting an interview of Foursquare General Manager Evan Cohen Tuesday, Joey Kulkin asked a good question:

I promised an answer:

So here goes. Why do I “check in” every time I eat at a restaurant or attend an event (or even at each train stop as I roll home from New York tonight as I write this)? (more…)

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It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, who wrote one of the greatest leads of all times, that is the theme for my presentation leading off an APME NewsTrain seminar at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth this week. (The two-day seminar breaks the group in half, with each half following a different track each day, so I will open the same program for a different group each day.) The seminar organizers asked me to give a big-picture overview of the changing media landscape for the frontline editors who will be attending. This is a blog version of that presentation.

It was the worst of times. I won’t spend much time on this, because everyone at newspapers (my primary audience at the seminar) knows how bad things are. So I’ll just review quickly: (more…)

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Bloggers, including this one obviously, are abuzz about Google Me, the Facebook-killer-wannabe rumored to be under development in the Googleplex.

Of course, the naysayers are pointing out that Google has flopped with two ballyhooed social tools in the past year: Wave, which was launched with lots of hype and anticipation, and Buzz, which snuck up on the market, generated a lot of brief (yeah) buzz, then virtually vanished from the social conversation. (more…)

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