If you’ve been checking this page or its RSS feed in the past few days, you’ve noticed a resurgence in posts and possibly the new appearance. An explanation of each follows, in that order.
I pay for this server space, and I’ve spent the time to populate this site with thoughts about my profession. It seems silly to let that all go to waste. I hope to continue spreading pearls of wisdom about online journalism. But I also reserve the right to post the occasional Tumblr-like post about whatever I’m thinking, reading, watching or doing. It could be completely unrelated to journalism. Consider yourself warned.
I hope you like the new layout. I’m no CSS pro like Ryan Pitts, but the Atahualpa theme in WordPress does let me pretend. I welcome suggestions about improvements to the appearance. Seriously. Font, line space, padding. Just post it in the comments.
With the morning off, I’ve had the luxury of spending more time with my feeds. Not surprisingly, the area of focus today is on the election.
Rather than post a lot of links individually, I’m buying in bulk. Here are two aggregations of online resources to help you watch the election results stream in. Go past the jump to see live results from MSNBC’s embeddable widget.
It’s been a strange five weeks. It began with a relaxing Montana getaway and culminated Friday night with toasting two dozen laid-off colleagues at the billiards hall down the street from the newsroom.
Rewind. On Oct. 1, eviscerating cuts were announced at my newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. It’s old news by now for some: Twenty-one mostly younger staffers were named in an involuntary layoff roll call. Steve Smith resigned as editor. The next day, Assistant Managing Editor for Local News Carla Savalli stepped down. Managing Editor Gary Graham has been tapped to take the editor’s reins. Last Wednesday, three managers were laid off, and another was moved to a nonmanagerial position.
Amazingly, I still have a job. The layoff list stopped just below my name. But I haven’t felt much like celebrating. Or, evidenced by my five-week blog hiatus, reflecting on my trade.
My departing co-workers are an insanely talented bunch. A few have gone public with their fates (here, here). My co-producer, Thuy Dzuong Nguyen, was on the list and wrote emphatically about the impact of these cuts (Colin Mulvany republished it on his blog). Her last day was Wednesday, and I’m already feeling the increased workload.
These were not just co-workers: Nearly all were friends. Many of us bonded on the Gang of Eight newsroom reorganization squad. I played music with one. I hung out with others. One of the managers gave me my first journalism job.
This has made for a depressing few weeks. But last week, I decided I couldn’t stay in this rut of gloom any longer. If I’m going to stay sane in this job, then I’ve got to dive back in head-first. I’m not alone. This isn’t to diminish the loss of my former co-workers. I’ll notice their absent every day. But I can’t dwell on it.
We have a huge election coming up. Our new website should launch in the not-too-distant future. And there remains plenty of multimedia to produce and package on our current site. I shouldn’t have trouble staying busy at work.
The remaining question is how I’m going to breathe life back into my blogging and the professional development resources it showcased. I’m going to do some reflecting on this site and my long-dormant Burger, Revised. I want to follow Mindy McAdam’s advice and make fuller use of social bookmarks and Twitter.
Five points to anybody who guesses the significance of the above image.
Where will I be working next month? Where will I be working next year? What’s the best platform for this story? How do I learn video storytelling?
These questions speak to one of the biggest challenges facing young journalists today: the need to be agile.
A quick bit of context: I’m writing this to participate in a blog ring of young journalists. This month’s topic relates to the challenges facing young journalists. I’ve been a working journalist for just about three years. And in that time I’ve observed that staying in this field for very long will require flexibility.
As someone else noted, a good attitude will give you a foundation. I want this post to be constructive, not discouraging, so I’m linking to resources that can help you become agile in terms of…
I used Wordle to create a word cloud of stuff I’ve written about here (it’s above).
It was super simple.
- Go to Wordle.
- Type in the url for any blog or site that generates a feed (e.g. atom, rss)
- Use the Wordle menu bar to customize the appearance.
- Export it as you wish. I chose to use the Grab function in Preview to save a jpeg.
I didn’t realize I was using the word “posts” so often. How boring.
Since starting this WordPress-powered blog, I’ve experimented with several Flickr plugins.
I’ve tried WordPress Flickr Manager and WordPress Media Flickr, which came highly rated by users and made it simpler to add photos to posts. But what I really wanted was something that would display photos in the sidebar. Because, you know, visuals help.
- Like the others I tried, this plugin has a function that inserts photos from my photostream into posts. I find this function cleaner than the others.
- Flickr Photo Gallery can create a photo gallery page on your site, and all you have to do is create a URL in the plugin settings. Mine is right here.
I’m back from a short trip to Portland and Seattle, and I’ve got a few more days off to play around with this site.
Two immediate changes:
- I’ve created a portfolio page, which you can access via that nav links above or by clicking here.
- I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.6 after ignoring the prompts for several weeks. I’m happy to report it was quick and painless.
I’ll be back with a real post soon.
I’ve been holding out from getting a Twitter account for years. Recently, my resistance has been slipping because:
- Twitter users transmit news faster than the news wires. Case study: Wednesday’s L.A.-area earthquake.
- There are tons of Twitter tools out there to play with, such as twhirl and summize.
- It’s beautiful in its simplicity.
- It’s like IM from your phone and SMS from your computer all at once.
- Many of my favorite bloggers use it and recommend it. (e.g. here, here and here.)
But then again…
- I’ve already got a couple hundred friends on Facebook, and I can use my status message as a tweet.
- Do I really need one more social networking account out there?
- I have a hard enough time keeping up on my RSS feeds!
- For news, how reliable is information provided via Twitter? Case in point: Subway Jared’s nondemise.
- I’m doing everything I can to maintain a longer attention span; I can’t see Twitter helping that.
So, who out there loves to Twitter? Who else is holding out?
The other day I joined the club about how time-consuming it is to keep up with my RSS feeds. Why do I call it a club? Because a Google search tells me people have been moaning about this for at least three years. That’s OK. Although redundant, the exercise was cathartic.
And it yielded ideas. My friend Sara passed along the tip of organizing feeds by importance: must read, would like to read, entirely optional. 43 Folders shares a similar but more detailed take on this method.
A good idea, I thought, but can I really stand to throw away my careful categorizations? Well, I don’t have too. Google Reader and, I imagine, any decent feed reader will let you assign feeds to multiple folders/categories/tags. (Continues below the image.)
Here’s how I organized mine:
- !Must: Miss these and I’ll feel really guilty. Most have to do with my job and industry. The ! moves this grouping to the top of my subscription navigator pane.
- !S-R: These are Spokesman-Review blogs, and I must stay up on them. But I created a separate category because there are so many.
- !Like to: I can let these pile up and check them as I have time.
- !Gravy: Pure entertainment.
My other problem was retaining the information I read. No quick fix there. Now I just put faith in the brain that got me through college and grad school without too much sweat and trust I’ll retain anything ultra-important. And I use Google’s starring function or a del.icio.us bookmark to file away anything that might have reference value.
Why bother to repeat what 43 folders said so well? Maybe a different audience will find this post. Why do I spend time worrying so much about an activity that’s supposed to be leisure? In an industry that’s going through hull-puncturing changes, I’m pretty sure that that someone out there is going to come up with an idea that could help me maintain a livelihood in journalism or online media.
This morning I tried to catch up with my RSS feeds, my daily review of which fell apart during a particularly hectic week at work. It took me an hour to scan about 200 posts from the blogs and rss feeds that I’ve categorized as “new media” in Google Reader. That included reading in full those items that particularly caught my attention and visiting links that compelled me.
Now my rss reader tells me I only have 231 unread items. But what have I gotten for my effort besides that smaller number? A headache, and the feeling that I’ve been cramming for tests in about five different subjects the day before the exams. I’d have a hard time articulating just what I’ve “learned,” but I know it covered topics such as video production, the dire straits of the newspaper industry, citizen journalism, online April Fools gags, online publishing trends and several conferences related to this kind of stuff.
I would love to read a tutorial that goes beyond an explanation of using rss, such as embedded in my previous post about Common Craft, and learn expert blog readers’ tips for managing all this information and putting it to use. I think I saw one on a feed a few weeks ago, but, befitting my problem, I’m not sure where it went.
I love that there’s so many ideas and so much information bouncing around on the Internet. I just don’t want to use all of my free time trying to stay up with it. If you’ve got a suggestion, please leave it below.