Entries from September 2010 ↓

Watching from afar

I didn’t get to attend… The many jobs I hold and a low travel budget kept me from attending the Block by Block Community News Summit. It was a chance for many small community news start-ups to meet together, get to know each other and talk about the future of journalism. I may not have attended in person, but technology allowed me to keep an eye on the event from afar. My favorite mode of watching was the #bxb2010 hashtag. I loved it so much I archived it with TweetBackup so I can look back and find the many teachable moments shared during the meeting in Chicago. I also kept track of it from a live feed and live blog through the Reynolds Journalism Institute (where I had a fellowship in 2008-09). The leader of the event, 2009-10 RJI fellow Michele McClellan, also kept a Block by Block blog.

I enjoyed the discussion during the event, but I think I’m even more interested in the aftermath. Many of the attendees and journalism organizations are still talking about the meaningful weekend. Small journalism organizations don’t often have a chance to see so many people who understand each other. Small journalism organizations don’t often have a chance to discuss the challenges of funding and the future of funding whatever we consider the future of journalism.

Here is a list of some of the great blog posts and discussions I’ve followed today:
Howard Owens: For -profit, non-profit and ???
Susan Mernit: Block by Block 2010: Time for the next steps
Nonprofit Communicator Blog: Online news experts descend on Chicago
Megan Garber (Nieman Journalism Lab): Block by Block: Once you’ve launched, what’s Phase 2 of a community startup?
Anne Galloway: Bit by bit, “Block by Block,” small online news publishers find their way

I realize there are many more posts and talks in the days to come, I’ll try to continue to add links here.

Cheerleading to a large audience

I spoke to a large classroom today – it’s a presentation I do each semester for a course that’s best known as “journalism for non-journalism major.” I usually get up in front of the class, talk about the new and incredible developments in social media and hope that at least oner person gives me eye contact at some point in the 50 minute presentation.

I usually start things off like a cheerleader. Super excited. Super energetic. I was never a cheerleader in school… but I’ve had the energy to do something like that. Somehow my energy reached more than one student today. I actually had the class interacting with my questions. I had students raising their hand to add more input. I made a couple of jokes that had some people actually respond with a chuckle. Some students chatted with me after the class.

It was awesome.

I’m energized from the experience. I’m not sure why. But I had to share because it’s little moments like these that make me extra happy to have the chance to introduce and share the world of journalism that I love.

Talking about blogs

I often speak to classes about ways to build your personal brand… and I consider blogs as the core of that brand building process. A blog is a space to share your brain, your interests or at least examples of your professional work. The more you post and share and collaborate, the easier it is for search engines to find our who you are and what you’re all about.

Today I spoke to a group that is assigned to post weekly blogs. It’s a task I enouraged a few years ago. Students early in the Missouri School of Journalism should try to think about web-based writing early on in their journalism career. I’m glad it was added. About a year from now, the students in today’s class who start blogging will end up taking my class. That means I end up reading what these young bloggers write. After a few semesters of reading these old blog posts, I realized I need to better explain blog tone. That’s what I tried to do in class today.

What is blog tone?
What I mean is I think there’s a difference between a “dear diary” tone and a conversational tone. I’ve found many new bloggers who are given an assignment to use a blog tool start off sounding a bit giggly and nervous. Often the blog posts talk about fun with friends, student life and comments that sound similar to “Oh my gosh! I just reported my first shift in the newsroom.” I challenged the students today to try to think about their tone as a professional from the start. They can be conversational: “My newsroom shift included the challenge of traveling two hours into our viewing area to shoot a package, get back and turn it within an hour and a half. It was exhausting but I’m proud of the final result.”

The only way to learn about the difference between diary and conversational is tricky. So I told the class that this is a great time to jump into blogging. For most students in the classroom, there’s at least a year before they head into the “real world.” They can learn a conversational tone with enough time to practice, get input and then jump in feet first into the less officialy, but just as important ways of delivering news, information, thoughts and experiences.

By the way, if you’re curious about how I’m trying to tackle student fear of failure, feel free to visit my new blog post on PBS’s MediaShift blog.

[Photo courtesy of Adikos via Flickr.]