Entries Tagged 'Brain dump' ↓

What a year

In the last year, I’ve watched my use of technology change dramatically… I used to tweet, blog, facebook openly. But I watched myself become more mindful and thoughtful about how I use some of these tools. If you read any of my updates on any of these social media tools, you may think I’m still quite loud. But there are some differences.

I used to lifecast a lot more than I do now. As my number of followers jumped and as those followers were more and more involved journalism and technology, I became more mindful towards what I wrote and started to mindcast more. I explained my thoughts on lifecasting/mindcasting earlier in 2009. I think I still believe in a combination of mind/lifecasting. But I toned down the life portions. Twitter turned into a more professional venue than when I joined in 2007.

I also took Twitter and made it a mainstay in our newsroom. Thanks to the CoTweet tool, I have multiple people helping manage the tweets from all of our daily general assignment reporters in the newsroom. Feel free to check out how I explained the use of that tool if you’re curious. (Hootsuite is another option if you are curious about other options that offer similar benefits.) My focus on newsroom Twitter use quieted me down a lot on my personal account.

I have always used Facebook as a place to connect with people I have met face-to-face. I’m more open about the information I share about my children and I post a bunch of pictures. I tend to connect with friends and family in this space. But in the last year, Facebook became a more powerful tool on a professional level and for my newsroom. I started friending more people in the industry and I picked up my use of fan pages for my newsroom. I plan to start using some of the settings that allow me to regulate security based on groups when I have a little time to myself. (Good luck to me.) I haven’t perfected a process of using Facebook on a professional level for the newsroom at this point, but I look forward to getting better at it in 2010. The one thing I do know about Facebook is I moved a lot of my lifecasting from Twitter over to Facebook in 2009. I also started looking at how a fan page may be more useful for certain businesses over building a blog or Twitter account. Of course it all depends on the target audience or customer. But I found myself recommending the creation of Facebook fan pages for the first time in 2009.

I run three blogs. I have this one and blogs about each of my children. My son’s blog is mainly aimed towards family members. It hasn’t picked up a lot of organic viewership. I don’t market it… but it’s a sweet space to share his life updates. My daughter was born with a physical difference and it has gained followers organically through my membership in online communities and support groups. (I help co-moderate a support group in Yahoo Groups) After my trip to SXSW in 2009, I started considering taking her blog up a notch and actually working on SEO and increasing its marketability. I’m still not sure if I will go in that direction. My trip to SXSW in 2010 will probably convince me. Of course I have this blog. I wish I could give it more love these days. The newsroom job and my efforts to put my thoughts into practice are really important. I would love to spend more time writing out my thoughts on our work. These are excellent goals as we head into the new year.

The one major change I made in my blogging practice in 2009 was to move my mom blogs to WordPress. (This blog has always used the WordPress platform.) I spent more time playing with templates and learning the potential of this CMS for other news-focused websites. I played with the Money Commons site and there is a possibility the project could come back to life this year.

I’m an iPhone user. I’ve had one since it first came out. Lately I’ve found I use it even more. The expansion of applications help me run a mobile version of almost every tool I use on my computer. I can work entire days without opening my laptop. I am not ready to travel without my computer, but I can see that happening in the near future if it becomes possible to upload the photos I take from my SLR camera or the HD video from my point and shoot camera to my phone.

Online Portfolios
I have taught an Internet-based course for the last four years and a major focus of it has been to teach my students the skills needed to build an online portfolio and know how to keep up with it when they graduate and move on with their careers. That way they can continue to promote their work online without needing to spend extra money or rely on someone else to build a website. In the last year I really focused on showing students how to take advantage of open source CMS or free tools (with the opportunity to upgrade) like Wix and Weebly. My tools page expanded this year to include document sharing and collage making tools. Since moving away from Dreamweaver and into more user-friendly tools, I’m seeing more of my students continuing to update their online portfolios and keeping potential employers interested in their work. These days I’m also talking more about why LinkedIn is a helpful tool. I’ve also expanded my use of these tools personally. I used Weebly to build a personal family holiday website and I’m starting to just jump in and use these tools to help friends expand their career potential online because I think what I’m teaching is useful for any career – journalism or not.

Other Tools
There are more and more tools coming out to help us communicate. In the last year, I started finding ways to use Ning, Livestream, Qik, Cover It Live, Google Wave and Google Voice. My goal is to constantly try these kinds of tools, offer my newsroom opportunities to test them and put them into the workflow of our newsroom if and when it is appropriate. In the meantime, I’m also hoping to find more opportunities to use these tools in the classroom. In 2010, I hope to allow my students the chance to live blog, tweet, stream… Whatever we can think of… Just to give them the experience of playing with these kinds of tools.

Happy new year to everyone and I’d love to hear how you’ve changed your use of technology in the last year.

Using tools to save money

I don’t normally write about personal things on this blog… But I’ve realized my work with new media has reached a new level on a personal level this holiday season. In an attempt to save money, I decided to put my efforts online to work. I figured, why not spend time working on a website for the holidays instead of spending the money it takes to create a holiday card and mail them out.

siteSo I used the tools I’ve collected on my site: Flickr, Weebly, Scrapblog¬†and Google Docs and created a holiday website for my family. I’ve included a downloadable version of our holiday card, stories about each family member and a spot for people to leave messages in place of spending money on a holiday card. Total cost for the website: Free (if you don’t count the fact that I have a pro account with Flickr)

There really are benefits to these tools beyond journalism!

A new look… And a goal

I think I’ve settled on a new look for this website. I hope to merge some of the content I work on into one site. I’m not sure if this is the template I’ll stick with, but I think I’ll stay with this look for at least a few months.

While I haven’t had a lot of time to blog, I’ve started on dozens of blog posts and haven’t completed them. I hope to go back to all of them, add finalized content and post them – back dated so it isn’t too confusing. I have posts talking about the Beyond Broadcast conference I attended this past summer (I know, I am a terrible blogger for not posting sooner), my thoughts about Twitter lists, comments about my Reynolds Journalism Institute fellowship (which ended in May – once again, what the heck was I thinking?) and a number of other posts.

This fall I have found myself focused on three things: my students, my children and my health. I started running this past January and found that I’ve allowed healthy living trump my drive to blog. Terrible I know.

In the meantime, I find myself thinking about blog posts while I run. I should add a recording device to my iPod running playlist so I can just spew ideas and post them to this blog. My students have gotten many more ideas and thoughts than this blog. I will try to transfer some of our “aha!” moments to this site during Mizzou’s intersession (which starts December 21).

I appreciate your patience – while I try to rework blogging back into my work life!

We interrupt this holiday…

To take a moment and visit this blog.

I spend so much time helping my students build up their sites, I realize it’s time to do more with mine. So for a while this site might be a bit under construction. I’m planning to merge my blog with my portfolio, twitter, flickr and other accounts and see if I can make something out of this page.

Thanks for your patience!

Let’s keep learning

I spend a lot of time talking. I spend a lot of time teaching. I spend even more time managing a newsroom these days.

Since returning to the newsroom full time after my stint as a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, I’ve learned it’s so hard to do things really well when I desperately want to change newsroom functions. I need to provide guidance to my reporters on so many levels. They need to cover legitimate local news. They need to find ways to deliver the information they’re gathering throughout they day. They also need to cover that information in on air newscasts. What is the priority? In my view, it should be online and online properties. But for many people who work in my newsroom, the newscasts are still getting priority. Why? Because I’m working in a traditional newsroom. No matter what, our major product is currently newscasts. I’m striving to transform and improve the many other alternate (and in my world more important) information outlets inside web and mobile tools. Growing pains.

I stood in front of a class today and admitted I don’t know everything. I told them that I’m still learning and that’s why I expect them to continue to learn. I am trying to be open minded. I want them to be open minded.

Journalists in this transformational age need to be open minded. Anyone who manages information or communication needs to be open minded.

So instead of spending non-stop time talking about what is going wrong, let’s focus on learning, listening and watching how people are communicating and ingesting information. Just watching can go a long way. Just experimenting can go a long way. Deciding new ideas are not worth trying just because it hasn’t been perfected is close-minded. Let’s keep learning and maybe, just maybe I’ll feel like I’m making a difference as I’m in the thick of my current newsroom absorption.

Playing with Google Voice

I know many others have already written about Google Voice… But I haven’t had a chance to play with it until now. I set up Google Voice for my cell phone and my home phone. I decided to call it using my husband’s cell phone to see what the experience is like. When you call a Google Voice account, it asks you to leave your name and then Google Voice alerts the account owner. My phone rang saying my husband was calling. I answered and Google Voice asked if I wanted to answer the call, let it go to voice mail or listen in while the person leaves the voice mail. I opted to let it go to voice mail. I left a quick message after that.

The result: I quickly had an inbox message on Google Voice with the audio and a transcript of the voicemail. It wasn’t a perfect transcript, but it was incredible how quickly it was completed. Along with the ability to call the phone back or send an SMS, I can even embed the voicemail:

Let’s think about this in the sense of news collection. You could have a reporter call in, leave a voicemail report and quickly share the text with the news producers or editors while placing the audio recording onto your newsroom’s website. The audio is also downloadable. What if a reporter used Google Voice to call in his or her voice track for a news package? Who knows. I hope to try these ideas out in my newsroom. Does anyone else have good ideas for the use of Google Voice?

UPDATE: I was too excited to play with Google Voice – I missed that it gives you an option to record your phone conversation. The next thing I hope to investigate is how long Google Voice will record your audio. Imagine the simplicity of collecting a phoner interview using Google Voice. A transcribed interview before you even sit down to write.

Making Twitter legitimate in the newsroom

I haven’t had the chance to blog a lot lately. That’s because I’ve been busy trying to renew and rethink the way KOMU8 News and KOMU.com delivers news to our audience. A big part of that has hovered around using Twitter as an effective news delivery tool for general assignment reports.

It all started back in March when I was at South by Southwest Interactive Festival. I had an opportunity to see a demo for CoTweet. It helps multiple people manage the one Twitter brand at the same time. To me, this sounded like heaven. The program not only helps multiple people tweet at the same time in an organized manner, it also sends you email alerts if your Twitter account gets any kind of mention. (In my newsroom’s case, that means I get an email anytime someone uses @KOMUnews in a tweet) I was very lucky to get access to the company’s private beta. That private beta moved into a public beta last week and that’s pushed me to make sure I wrote up my newsroom’s CoTweet process so others can follow the fun and possibly try it out themselves.

To remain extra transparent in how our newsroom uses Twitter, I collected the photos and initials of each CoTweet user and added their photos onto the side of our Twitter page.

Currently, the people who manage CoTweet with me are a mix of full time managers (our Executive Producer and Managing Editor) and part time web editors or newscast producers. I’m working on trying to blend in more of our traditional managers to look at ways to incorporate Twitter workflow into the daily news gathering and sharing process. CoTweet makes it easy to place each person’s initials public next to the Tweets they post on the @KOMUnews account. That helps Twitter followers know who is posting the information and it helps our brand become less vague. I got the Twitter image idea from the CoTweet folks. Their Twitter background looks very similar. (I just have many more people who are helping manage KOMU’s account)

We have many reporters in our newsroom, and I’ve decided to keep their online tweets separate from the @KOMUnews Twitter brand. I’ve asked each of the reporters to create their own professional Twitter accounts. (Professional means they use their real names and post legitimate information about their life and work in their Twitter profiles) As the reporters gather information from the field, I ask them to send tweets about their story with @KOMUnews or #komu included in the 140 character reports. CoTweet picks those up and my crew and I can decide if the information is good enough to share (or in Twitter lingo, we “retweet” reporter posts) on KOMU’s Twitter feed. We’ve recently published an internal handbook on how reporters should post tweets and how managers and keep up with CoTweet to share the best information on the KOMU brand.

Anyone who is “On Duty” will get email alerts to the @KOMUnews tweets. Anyone who is a member of KOMU’s CoTweet will be able to follow KOMU’s followers without knowing KOMU’s Twitter password, so that keeps only a small number of people privy to changing the look and settings of KOMU’s account, while many others can keep an eye on its content updates. CoTweet also makes it easy to email Twitter questions or thoughts to other members of our newsroom. If a viewer asks @KOMUnews a question, I can quickly email the question to a reporter or anchor to get their input. If that reporter or anchor is on Twitter, I ask them to reply on Twitter or using Twitter’s direct message function. It helps so many more people participate and actively keep KOMU’s Twitter account an active element in our newsroom.


The process isn’t perfect, but it’s helped us cover breaking news effectively. It has also helped our reporters share information about their reports throughout the day instead of just focusing their efforts towards our traditional 5, 6 and 10pm newscasts. After testing this process for the last month and a half, KOMU.com has launched a new look and it includes easy access to our Twitter feed. It doesn’t look pretty, but it is effective to give our most recent updates. It’s faster than posting information into our content manager. It’s faster than getting an anchor in front of the news desk to report on the air. It’s also helping open our minds to a new 24/7 process of news gathering and sharing. As I told a news director friend of mine last week: I’m not helping build reporters who report for newscasts, I’m helping build reporters who can report the news – whenever and however they need to report it.

One other thought about CoTweet: The company responds to your thoughts and questions. Any time I needed something or shared ideas on CoTweet’s site, I’ve gotten rapid replies and assistance. I think that’s pretty fantastic.

Please let me know your thoughts and if you need anything better explained about our newsroom CoTweet workflow. I’m happy to tweak this post to help make sure other newsrooms understand what I’ve been up to!

Thinking Beyond Broadcast


I’m in Los Angeles attending the Beyond Broadcast 2009 conference at USC Annenberg School of Communication. I had a chance to learn more about the school yesterday and see how the broadcast and multimedia programs work at the school. Today I’m looking forward to learning more about how others use new media to reach the public.

The highlight so far was enjoying the opening keynote speech from Henry Jenkins. He spoke about his definition of “civic media” and the changing media landscape. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say about the changing directions of citizen journalism and public media. I took away many thoughts and ideas I’ve had but may not have fully verbalized. I look forward to even more great conversations and ideas to develop across the next two days!

Back to “normal”

With the end of my fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute, I’m transitioning back into a full time role in my newsroom, KOMU-TV and KOMU.com. As part of this transition, I’m taking on new roles as a morning editor in charge of our morning assignments and online initiatives. In many ways, I’m putting my money where my mouth is… I’m working on finding ways to get my day turn reporters to think beyond the original broadcast goal of reporting for the morning, noon, 5, 6 or 10 newscasts. That’s not how things work anymore. My general assignment reporters will be expected to tweet, send cellphone photos, email information directly to the newsroom. It requires a new mindset. It doesn’t require many different rules of video or still image editing or even the tenets of being a journalist. It just requires a wider scope of focus when you are collecting information.

I will try as hard as I can to chronicle this process. But I also realize that my returning focus to daily work in the newsroom will make it pretty hard to blog more often. But I will do my very best! And if you’ve seen success in using twitter and other mobile tools on a daily basis in your newsroom, please share it with me!!

Talking about the future

After working on a number of projects in the past year and trying to grapple with the lessons I’ve learned… I’ve learned about the importance of teaching and developing a knowledge of growing and fostering communities. So I have this need to bring the lessons I’ve learned into the classroom and find ways to extend it — teach journalists how to cultivate and grow communities, use the tools to deliver information and listen to people.

Not long ago, I posted a blog asking the question, “Who is going to lead the future of journalism?” After I posted it and shared the link on Twitter, I was asked to lead an online chat about this topic tomorrow at 1pm Eastern Time on Poynter’s website.


I’d love a range of people to participate — a few people responded to my blog post, others left messages on my facebook page, some send me thoughts over Twitter. This may be a great spot to bring all of those thoughts together in one place. So please feel free to join in tomorrow, May 14 at 1pm ET.