Entries from February 2009 ↓

It hurts… And it’s the beginning

The newsroom at the Rocky Mountain News found out yesterday that Friday, February 27 would be its final edition. It was heart breaking to read and watch. What made it extra painful was how the newsroom came together to share the painful experience with anyone who wanted to watch. Through the day I followed their Twitter stream that was unedited ad painfully honest about how difficult it was to be in the newsroom.

If you tour their website you can see the experience in so many ways… But the most amazing piece of video tops their site and I think it’s worth sharing in so many ways. The newsroom started this video the day Scripps announced the paper was up for sale on December 4th. The sudden end of the paper rushed the video to final production and posted to Vimeo around 11:00PM on February 26th.

Poynter started a support page on their site for the Rocky employees and made it a place for the journalism community to reach out and help. There’s a live chat in a few minutes as well.

It hurts even more knowing this isn’t the last paper to fall.

(One other thing I just found. Someone is trying to make a little money and let out some steam with the website, Who Killed The Rocky?)

Facebook gets democracy


After a huge revolt against Facebook’s Terms of Service the company announced it plans to go about things differently.

In the Facebook Blog, we learn that members will be asked to vote on new Facebook Principals and a new Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. I will be very curious to see how many people read it, post comments and then see what comes of this process.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg writes:
History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We believe history will one day show that this principle holds true for companies as well, and we’re looking to moving in this direction with you.

I’ll be interested in seeing if that actually happens. (Yes… You can hear a slight note of pessimism. It’s the journalist in me) Are you going to join those groups to put your five cents into the process? Will anyone take the time to do the reading and giving input? Is Facebook that important to you?

Introducing new ideas… without sounding crazy

I am one of the younger faculty members at the Missouri School of Journalism. I’m also a bit energetic.

Okay. I have a lot of energy.

So when I present the faculty with a new idea or a great concept… Some of them tune me out because they assume they won’t understand what the heck I’m talking about. I get excited about new ways journalists can share information. I get really excited when journalists are only a piece of the news gathering process. I get super excited when life is simplified with the help of technology.

So after enough professors and students asked… I’m putting together a presentation on how journalists can use Twitter next Monday. I’d love to hear the ways you use Twitter so my presentation isn’t JUST my ideas. There are so many different ways, it would be wonderful to get input from places beyond my world so I can prove that I’m not the only person who thinks Twitter is a helpful tool. So please leave comments here or on Twitter or even on my Facebook page if we’re friends. I would love links and stories about successes and failures when it came down to journalists using Twitter. Thanks!!

The blog readers have spoken….

And they say I should blog more often. Thanks to everyone who gave me input from yesterday’s blog post where I asked what makes a great blogger. Obviously a great blogger posts more often than I do… And may have a better sense of humor than I have. But I sure as heck can give it a try. So here we go. There are a couple of things going on today… But I’ll start with what happened when I turned my computer on this morning and opened up my Safair 4 browser for the first time. I downloaded it just before I went to sleep last night so I hadn’t tinkered with it yet.

So I hit the keyboard macro to add a new tab (you know, Open Apple T) and instead I see this:


The Safari 4 beta doesn’t launch a new blank page, instead it gives you a peek at your top sites! Obviously Twitter and Facebook come up on top… along with a kid blog and followed by work – a new site I’m building, a Ning site we’re working on for KOMU.com , the actual KOMU.com site and then this site. I could go on but I don’t want to bore you. But it was kind of cool to find a visual display of my online obsessions. You can move the windows around and click and choose. I dig it. Another item I’ve noticed: when you type a URL into the browser, it instantly pops up your history with that site. Also, tabs are at the very top of the window instead of right above the website. That confused me for a minute since I wasn’t sure if I was actually getting new tabs when I asked for it until I looked up a little higher on the screen. The only problem I’ve come up with it so far is it crashed when I tried to add a link in WordPress 2.7 when I was using the visual tab. If you don’t use WordPress, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about and that’s really okay. Just know that the screen freezes and I haven’t figured out a way to fix that!

Anyway – let me know if you’ve found any other cool things the new Safari beta can do. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s a place you can do that.

And for you the blog reader, I want to let you know that I am going to try a lot harder to share my busy and nerdy mind as best I can for you here on this blog space. I’ll do that as long as you talk back to me!! Obviously we don’t have to chat here. Many of us talk on Twitter as well… But as long as we can keep talking, I’ll promise to you that I’ll keep blogging. Thanks again for all of your input!

What makes a great blogger?

I’m sitting in a room with Matt Thompson and Jane Stevens while Matt holds a small group session on what makes great blogging. I strive to be a great blogger but I’ve found a number of things get in my way:

  1. My new found obsession with health (I’m working out 6-7 days a week)
  2. I love Twitter
  3. I have two blogs that talk about my kids
  4. I teach a class
  5. I manage a website
  6. I have to sleep at least 4-5 hours a night
  7. I co-moderate a special needs Yahoo Group and keep watch over a couple of discussion groups at BabyCenter 

But I aspire to be a helpful source and a reason to keep great conversation. My little rant about “forced twitter use” got things rolling. It was wonderful to watch a conversation that originated on Twitter continued onto this blog. I’d love to do that more often.

So how can I commit to this page? How can I get you interested in visiting and commenting? That’s a part of what Matt is talking about to the students in this meeting room. But what do you think? I have a thousand ideas… but I want to hear from you. What can make this blog work? How can I help infuse a new discussion?

Your turn.

Talking about my work

As a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, I have the opportunity to focus on projects that I wouldn’t normally have as much focused time to get the job done. So it’s exciting to see many things starting to emerge here at the Missouri School of Journalism. I’m teaching 21 students this semester and I have them all working on fantastic projects. Some of them are working on the projects from my “fellow fellows” Jane Stevens and Matt Thompson. Some are working with me on a project I’m calling Money Commons. Some are putting together content to give to new journalism students when they get an iPod Touch with their computer package. Some are working on social networking for KOMU. I also have a group that’s trying to create a self-sustainable high school basketball series. All of these projects are in various levels of execution. What’s fun is watching how we’re all doing things a bit differently.

With my project, I’m starting to collect content from the partner newsrooms, KBIA, KOMU and the Columbia Missourian. I’m hoping to partner with other newsrooms in the area as we try to document and assist the mid-Missouri area during this recession. I’m hoping to add site-based content as well: a database of contacts who can help people in economic crisis, original content that is based on a web-first presentation and hopefully a number of easy ways for people to communicate with each other on the site. I’m currently playing around with Google’s Friend Connect tools. It’s a VERY young site and it doesn’t have everything it needs at this point. But it’s starting to roll. I’d love some thoughts on how to take this site and make it into an online hub of information. My goal is to help the community and help newsrooms collaborate. It has a better feeling than what happens when you visit Smart Decision ’08. But both projects have the same goal: bring multiple newsrooms together to better inform and collaborate with the community. That’s why I keep doing everything I’m doing. I want to help journalists remain relevant while helping my community. It’s a great feeling. I’m planning to talk to a group of students (and anyone else who wants to watch) during a Society of Professional Journalists presentation tonight. I hope to talk about this project and brain storm with the crowd about what could really happen on this little space on the web.

Twitter making a difference

I don’t seem to write much about things without throwing Twitter into the topic line — I’ll work on that since there are SO many interesting developments and discussions that I’m involved in these days as we try to create a new future for journalism. But first I need to mention my pet project that reaches its conclusion tomorrow night: The worldwide Twestival celebration. (The image above shows a map with many locations for the event) Here’s a little bit about what it’s all about:

I jumped into this project to try and have a productive reason for Twitter users who live around Columbia, MO to get together. I announced it over Twitter and eventually on Facebook as well. We could have as few as 25 people in attendance (27 if you count my two children who will attend with us) and as many as 50. The location was donated, the food, fun stuff like a projector and screen, music and a Wii. It will be fun. The whole point is to raise money for charity:water. I didn’t know much about this organization until I helped put this event together with the Twestival organizers. Each location got its own blog and support in setting up services that help you collect funding. Services like Amiano and TipJoy. These are tools I would have never known about without joining this experience. We plan to have a webcam up so you can see the fun from the LiveEarth site. Many people will tweet the event using the #CoMoTwestival hashtag. I hope to take pictures if I can. 

I participated in the twitter chatter behind Poynter’s NewsU introduction to Twitter for journalists. They created a wonderful page that explains Twitter for Journalists. I hope newbies will check it out. There’s also a really nice collection of links on this delicious page. With all of this talk about Twitter, I recently set up a date to give an introduction of twitter to the general journalism school: March 2. I’ve had so many people interested in this tool, I hope I can break through the stoic disbelief and really show how it can be helpful for journalists. Tomorrow I’m certain it will show that it can make a difference and reach the Twestival organizers’ goal of raising $1 million. News events like Mumbai and the Hudson River Crash should help prove it as a useful journalistic tool. (By the way – here’s my first post on Twitter to prove that I’ve been obsessed about this stuff for a while)

“Forced” Twitter Use

Here I go again… Talking about Twitter. But I just got involved in a really interesting conversation on Twitter that I think is worth bringing to this blog (Thanks to Scott Hepburn’s encouragement). I’ve been on Twitter a while — I obviously blog and speak about it a bunch. I also like to share how to use it as a journalist. I haven’t mastered all of the answers. But I do think a personal relationship with your followers on Twitter helps you gain a personal relationship with people who live in your news market. If you’re transparent, you can gain story ideas, access to developing news and a way people know they can reach you.

The Twitter talk has grown recently at the Missouri School of Journalism. I’ve added it to my class. I encourage my students to get their own personal account to start playing around in there. They have a new outlet to build a personal online identity as they get closer to entering the job arena. I also ask them to use it by keeping up with what people are saying who follow KOMU and use it to post information about what we’re covering or post breaking news.

I started going on a rant on Twitter about student journalists who get forced to use the site. I saw a number of new members of Twitter who followed me recently complaining that they’d been forced to use Twitter. And I guess I got all up in arms because I worry about reporters who start using Twitter because they “have” to. That leads to situations like when a news reporter tweeted during a 3-year-old’s funeral. He could have made that work if he had been more sensitive. But if you read the posts, you realize that he didn’t understand the personal conversation you have using this tool.

The conversation went on and on. Somehow I even got Ana Marie Cox – formerly of Wonkette – to tell me she found Twitter on her own and was never forced to use it. My little rant got a lot of people talking about why should journalists be on Twitter (I’ve ranted on that before) and is it right or wrong to get forced into it. Then a number of people started sharing great tips. Howard Rheingold shared his favorite links about twitter. Cecelia Hanley shared her experiences: “@jenleereeves I usually use @gazettefood for work related tweets, and I follow other bloggers & papers. Great way to spot trends to localize.” Jenn Jarvis over at KWWL-TV said she joined Twitter to be able to reach lawmakers. Twitter seemed to be the only way to reach them when they were in session. Many, many others talked about how Twitter is a great tool to help boost your career or get your name out there.

Some professors told me how they are “forcing” their students to tweet… And it seems to be working out fine. My husband (@newsmonkey8 on Twitter) says I’m worrying about something that is just plain silly to worry about. But I’m just going to say this before we keep this conversation rolling: Twitter is a wonderful tool for journalists as long as we use it responsibly. If enough newsrooms force reporters, producers, editors and managers to use the tool without really understanding its potential, Twitter users will turn away from us. They will ignore us. For now, journalists can offer an insider view of the news on Twitter. I would love to keep that excitement rolling.