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Posts Tagged ‘TBD’

The Bloomington Pantagraph's first "Scoop," a Waco "90" biplane, pictured in 1929. Reprinted with permission of The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

The Bloomington Pantagraph’s first “Scoop,” a Waco “90” biplane, pictured in 1929. Reprinted with permission of The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

In the way that one idea leads to another which leads to another, this post is a flight of fancy. We start with an old family story about the ride my Uncle Pleas took 85 years ago on a plane called Scoop, then to some other stories I found from a bygone era when newspapers could afford their own pilots and planes, then to some flying stories from my career.

My mother, Harriet Buttry, was a tireless archivist of family writings before Alzheimer’s took over her mind. A shelf in her home displayed books by authors in the family, and notebooks collected magazine articles and other writings, including too many of my newspaper stories, columns and blog posts.

After helping Mom with a recent move, my brother Dan thinned the collection a bit and sent me some boxes of family writings. Most were my old newspaper stories. I was surprised how faithful I had been sending clippings to Mom, but not at all surprised how faithful she was at filing them away. But Dan sent me more than just my own work. The collection included The Great Depression: True Stories of Trials and Triumphscompiled by the McLean County Home and Community Education Association in Illinois in 2006.

That book had three family connections: My cousin Mary Lou Lawson was one of the editors, and a story toward the back of the book was written by my uncle, Pleasant J. Buttry (we called him Uncle Pleas and he also went by Pat). His sister (Mary Lou’s mother and my aunt) Minda was a key character. Here’s Uncle Pleas’s story: (more…)

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Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen may have overstated when he told journalists to quit their jobs if they can’t understand their organization’s business model. But Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan way overstated in telling journalists not to listen to Rosen.

I highly recommend reading both pieces. Rosen’s post is full of good advice for understanding the path your business is taking and contributing to making progress along the path. Nolan’s post is fascinating, the kind of scornful dismissal of Rosen’s visionary digital thinking that I normally expect from those clinging to legacy media, not one of the digital upstarts that the troglodytes are so scornful of.

Jay made 15 points that I recommend reading. I’m going to address seven points, somewhat repeating and overlapping with his:

  1. Journalists should absolutely try to understand your organization’s business: how you deliver value and how the company plans to make money from that value.
  2. Business models change, sometimes with little warning, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. You won’t always be informed immediately of the changes.
  3. Colleagues need to understand and believe in the value you provide.
  4. We can protect our integrity and still discuss and understand the business.
  5. Learn the language; you always have.
  6. Leaders are critical to the success of a changing organization.
  7. Business model issues are worth changing jobs over, but I recommend trying to change the organization before quitting it (and finding another job first, too).

I’ll elaborate shortly, but first I’ll defend Rosen against Nolan’s anti-intellectualist insult. Noting the New York University professor’s brief career at the Buffalo Courier-Express before joining academia, Nolan said Rosen “makes money by producing proclamations about journalism rather than by producing actual journalism.” (more…)

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Homicide WatchBusinesses don’t last forever.

I come from the newspaper business, where I worked for papers that boasted of roots in the 19th Century and visited a Digital First newsroom that traced its lineage to Benjamin Franklin.

In that context, you might think of Homicide Watch DC as a failure when founders Laura and Chris Amico announced its closing last week:

I think of Homicide Watch as a success story and will continue to cite it in classes and workshops where I discuss media entrepreneurship.

Here are some ways Homicide Watch succeeded: (more…)

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I was traveling and leading workshops this week for the anti-climactic final end of TBD. I didn’t have time to weigh in then, except on Twitter, after my former TBD colleague Jenny Rogers broke the news:

I don’t have a lot to add, but I’ve blogged a lot about TBD here, so I should note the denouement. TBD made our mark in part through effective aggregation of Washington local news, so I’ll note its passing with some aggregation on its brief history. It won’t be complete, but I invite you to add some more links in the comments. Where I aggregate content from TBD, I should note that I don’t know how long it will remain available. Archived content appears to be online, though the home page and some searches redirect to wjla.com.

Before we get to the actual demise, I have to share a link and screenshot from the coverage of our launch: I don’t believe any elaboration is needed here.

As for coverage of the actual death, it was pretty muted, perhaps appropriately for an operation whose life and death throes were perhaps overcovered. Here are the best accounts I saw of the final demise (normally that phrase would be redundant, but TBD’s demise was drawn-out enough that I consider it appropriate):

Erik Wemple’s No more TBD.com (Erik was TBD’s editor and now blogs about media for the Washington Post: (more…)

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Two years ago, I was working with Jim Brady, right, Mandy Jenkins, left, and Julie Westfall to launch TBD. Now we’re still trying to change the news business at Digital First Media. We’re together this week at the Thunderdome newsroom.

Two years ago today, an incredibly talented crew of journalists launched TBD. We had a lot of hype and a lot of fun, even if it didn’t last long. TBD now exists in URL only, its concept abandoned, its talent scattered, its name linked to history’s most famed sinking ship. But I have yet to talk to a colleague who doesn’t remember the experience fondly.

I blogged on the first anniversary of our launch last year about some lessons from the TBD. I’m not going to observe the anniversary every year, but I think two years after the launch it’s worth noting where the #TBDiaspora ended up and how we’re doing. The day Jim Brady left TBD in early November 2010, less than three months after launch, he said he hoped we’d “get the band back together” someday. Well, we have a quartet of the old band playing for Digital First Media: Jim, Mandy Jenkins, Julie Westfall and me. I’ve updated us plenty, but I wanted to check in with the rest of my colleagues. (more…)

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Creativity is contagious. One of the best ways to make a good idea better is to share it with other creative people.

Digital First’s new Social Media Wire is the child of two groups of creative people: the original Journal Register Co. ideaLab and the community engagement staff at TBD. The Social Media Wire is testing now on the site of the New Haven Register and eventually will roll out across Digital First Media’s news sites across the country.

Mandy Jenkins, our Digital Projects Editor, writes about the Social Media Wire on her Zombie Journalism blog. Mandy is leading the way on the project and played a key role in development of the idea at TBD.

As we were planning the TBD launch, scheduled for Aug. 9, 2010, I suggested that we tell the story of the day in Washington through the content people were creating about the day: Gather all the local tweets, Facebook updates, news stories, YouTube videos, photos and so forth that we could find and show them in chronological order, as quickly after they happened as we could. I thought if we promoted it well, it would be something people would come back to again and again throughout the day and would establish us as something different from traditional news sources.

I saw it as a one-day project of intensive work by the community engagement team. Fortunately, my team had better ideas. The team was Mandy, Jeff Sonderman, Daniel Victor, Lisa Rowan and Nathasha Lim. I don’t remember who had what ideas, but it’s fair to credit the whole group with the idea. Because once I outlined the idea, the discussion took off, with everyone contributing, and they just left my original idea in the dust. (more…)

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The old career advice doesn’t always fit today. For most of my career, veterans would have counseled a young journalist to stick around a while, so your résumé showed some stability. You want to show some commitment, an ability to hold a job.

Daniel Victor

But the New York Times just hired my friend Daniel Victor to his fifth job in just a little over two years. I was one of those others who hired him (to his longest tenure of the past three jobs) and I enthusiastically recommended him to other employers.

Dan was a reporter for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., when 2010 started. I hired him to join TBD’s community engagement team. When TBD cut its staff, Dan moved to Philly.com to help build an online community. When Amanda Michel was looking for someone to help with social media at ProPublica, I recommended Dan and she hired him. Then she moved to the Guardian and Dan got her job leading ProPublica’s social media efforts. Now he’s moving to the New York Times.

News is a volatile industry right now with lots more journalists looking for work than finding jobs. A journalist who has been hired four times in 26 months is a journalist in high demand.

Since I know a little about Dan and his career moves, I thought I would (with his permission) share some career lessons from watching him, as I did after hiring Mandy Jenkins for the second time. The first four lessons are nothing new and their importance can’t be overstated: (more…)

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