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Posts Tagged ‘Gene Weingarten’

I get a little attention now and then in blogs, columns, stories and other discussions of media issues. Here were some of my 2014 mentions:

New York Times

I was “one reader” in a New York Times blog post (but was really pleased that the Times, after my urging, is calling for better linking by staff members). It is accurate. I am a Times reader.

On the other hand, I did get a mention and a second quote, attributed to Digital First Media, my company at the time, in the New York Times Innovation Report (mention on P. 87, blind quote on Page 15).

Other Times mentions included a quote about verification of video images in Margaret Sullivan’s Public Editor blog, and a quote in Ravi Somaiya’s story on the demise of Thunderdome.

Dean Baquet response

The Times made no notice of Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet’s response to my criticism of him and other top editors who don’t use Twitter. But the exchange was noted by the Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Fishbowl, Tim McGuire, Michael Conniff, Alexander Howard, Mathew IngramJeff Jarvis, Staci Kramer, Richard Prince and Dave Winer. It certainly drew more attention than anything else I did on the blog this year. (more…)

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The leading theme on the blog this year was Project Unbolt, which occupied most of my attention the first half of the year. I worked with four Digital First Media newsrooms on their efforts to “unbolt” from their print workflow and culture and produced more than 30 related posts on this blog and more for the INMA Culture Change blog.

The project’s posts drew good traffic, but nowhere near my best traffic of the year. My post introducing Project Unbolt drew more than 3,000 views, and my “manual” linking to all the Project Unbolt posts and my post on how an unbolted newsroom works each drew more than 2,000.

Other notable posts of the year dealt with my professional transition: the closing of Thunderdome by DFM (nearly 4,000 views, my third most-read 2014 post), noting the response on Twitter (more than 2K), taking a new job with LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication (1,100+) and sharing job-hunting tips (1K+). My farewell to my DFM colleagues was meaningful to me (and to some of them, I hope), but drew fewer than 300 views. A post on preparing for your next job hunt while you’re still working drew just over 400 views.

As in previous years, Twitter was a recurring theme on the blog and one that drew attention. I received nearly 3,000 views for a post noting that editors who aren’t active on Twitter undercut their pleas that their staffs need to innovate. I mentioned Dean Baquet as such an editor and invited him to respond. He was kind enough to respond, warning that social media use could become another bogus “priesthood” for journalism. That post drew more than 7,000 views, my second-most-viewed 2014 post. And it resulted in the busiest day ever for visitors to the blog. A third post on the matter (noting that Lexi Mainland, an editor on the Times interactive desk, had agreed that it’s important to have a top editor active on Twitter) generated another 600 views.

I blogged a fair amount about the New York Times last year, and some of those posts attracted pretty good traffic. An embarrassing Times correction (later named correction of the year) prompted a post about why journalists should link (nearly 2,500 views); a follow-up post about links being a matter of ethics, not just convenience (just over 300); and a later post applauding Patrick LaForge for exhorting his Times colleagues to make better use of links (not even 300). (more…)

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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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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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mmm smooth buttry goodnessI struggled to come up with a name for my blog and I’ve changed it several times. But I’ll keep this one for at least a month.

First this blog was “Puttin’ on the Gaz,” back when I was editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Not sure why I settled on that, but I never liked it much. Before long, when I was trying to lead some big changes there, the blog became “Transforming the Gaz.”

When I left Cedar Rapids, I sort of needed to get “Gaz” out of the name, so it became “Pursuing the Complete Community Connection,” a nod to my vision for transforming news organizations but a cumbersome title for a blog.

With the 2010 launch of TBD, I decided on “The Buttry Diary,” working my name into the title as well as the initials of my new organization. Well, Allbritton Communications decided to kill TBD in the cradle, but I kept the name. After all, my name hadn’t changed. And I thought most people wouldn’t notice the initials. And, if they did, I was happy to honor a great news team and a vision that, I’m certain, would have succeeded if we had been given a chance.

I was figuring it would be “The Buttry Diary” indefinitely. Until Gene Weingarten suggested a change:

Well, people with my surname don’t make it through junior high without a thick skin. I was Butthead before anyone thought of Beavis. And I was Buttface and Assbush and any number to plays on the part of my name that reminds people of their rear ends. I played along. In my fantasy baseball days, my team was the Kissmy Buttrys (league champions two out of four years before I decided to take my money and run). Posterior plays on my name are so easy to make that few have thought of playing on the dairy sound to my name.

So I decided to turn Gene’s suggestion into a challenge: If people would donate $500 or more to the American Copy Editors Society Education Fund, which provides scholarships for editing students, I would change the name one month for every $1,000 raised.

(more…)

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Alan Mutter makes a point that I’ve been hearing editors make most of my career: Most newspaper stories are too long.

I’m sure he’s right. But some newspaper stories are too short. And story length is way down the list of problems facing the newspaper business.

I remember when I was at the Des Moines Register, Jim Gannon, who I believe was executive editor at the time, decreed that no story could be longer than he was tall. He was 5’10”, as I recall, so a story couldn’t be longer than 70 inches. 70 inches! Register reporters were writing so long that Gannon’s idea of introducing some discipline was to limit stories to 70 inches (and newspaper columns were wider then than they are today). (more…)

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Thanks to Jeff Edelstein of the Trentonian for showing a good way for journalists to use Klout.

I have wavered in my views on the value of Klout.

I think you can overdo metrics, especially when you are measuring the wrong things. But I do think we should try to measure the results of our efforts. And Klout tries to measure influence in social media. (more…)

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Journalists hate few things more than buzzwords. Many of us regard ourselves as guardians of the language (as if protecting the First Amendment and being watchdogs of the powerful weren’t enough guard duties). Buzzwords feel to many purists as some kind of assault on the language.

Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton writes scornfully of my pursuit in his column today:

This is what “engagement” — the buzzword of media theorists and marketers — is all about. It’s using Twitter and Facebook to build a tribe or family of followers, even disciples, who will keep reading you.

I won’t try here to set Pexton straight on what engagement is all about, though my earlier post explaining community engagement might educate him a bit. What I want to address here is the widespread dismissal of new terminology by my fellow veteran journalists.

(more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

I had the busiest day ever on my blog Friday, thanks to the power of Gene Weingarten’s brand.

Update: That record was broken Monday and then again Tuesday as the branding conversation continued.
Gene started the discussion with his Washington Post Sunday Magazine “Below the Beltway” column, answering a journalism student, identified only as Leslie, who asked how he had developed his “personal brand.” Gene’s response: (more…)

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I wrote a blog post this morning about personal branding in journalism, responding to a column Gene Weingarten had written for the Washington Post, claiming that branding was ruining journalism. Weingarten was responding to an inquiry from a journalism student he identified only as “Leslie.” In a comment on my blog, Owen Youngman, a journalism professor at the Medill School at Northwestern University, identified himself as Leslie’s professor, though he, like Weingarten, protected her identity. He also quoted from her paper. I asked Youngman if he would tell Leslie that I’d like to publish her paper. So Leslie Trew Magraw, a Medill master’s student, sent me this research paper, with permission to publish it. I have added links and made a small edit or two, but otherwise, this is Leslie’s work.

Update: Youngman has blogged about this, too.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

As any good brand practitioner will tell you, brand health is all about diversification — making sure you’re not a one-trick pony. Gene Weingarten is no one-trick pony. He’s more like an onion – that can make you laugh just as easily as he can make you cry. Like a satisfying meal, he sticks with you.

Though he is perhaps most widely known in the DC metro area for his weekly humor column in the Washington Post’s Washington Magazine called “Below the Beltway,” Weingarten is also a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for serious feature-length journalistic work.

Everyone I polled (and I quizzed more than 25 people and spoke to four others at length), knew who Weingarten was and had a fairly strong opinion of him. Most people had a soft spot for him, at the very least. Others were Gene fanatics – and a small minority thought he was overrated (As my publisher friend, Alex Orr, put it: “I think he’s a generally unfunny, unoriginal hack who holds onto his job only because he’s been there so long that folks now overlook the question of whether his work is any good and instead embrace him as a ‘beloved’ fixture in the DC journalism world.”). That his name inspires instant recognition and triggers such powerful emotional responses suggests a robust brand power. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.

Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.

Update: Weingarten has responded twice. Please see the first comment and his later comment.

Gene Weingarten has developed an outstanding personal brand as a journalist. But that brand will not let him write, except scornfully, about branding and journalism. So I will answer the question a journalism student (identified only as “Leslie”) asked him: How he built his “personal brand” over the years. Update: Leslie Trew Magraw, the student in question, gave me permission to post her research paper on Weingarten’s brand. And Owen Youngman, her professor, blogged about this branding discussion as well.

The question was a belt-high fastball for Weingarten, whose brand is equal parts wit, sarcasm, insight and the ability to write tearjerking (from laughter or other emotions) sentences that you wish you could have written. He swung at the pitch and wrote a funny column, How ‘branding’ is ruining journalism.

Weingarten’s response:

The best way to build a brand is to take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot. Then, apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question. You want a nice, meaty sizzle.

Lots of journalists might have been smart enough (and scornful enough of branding) to think of the basic response of turning the branding question around into a branding iron that would inflict pain. But that “nice, meaty sizzle” kicker is a classic Weingarten line that I wish I would have written, even though I disagree with Gene on this. (more…)

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