April 3, 2009

Multimedia musings: A video on saving newspapers, a Copy Editor's Lament, and some weary journalists to entertain

Life is far too mysterious to be serious all the time, so thanks to Flint Expatriates and the Gannett Blog we can enjoy some outside-the-box revenue generating ideas in the Saving the Newspaper video.

That reminded me I never shared the Copy Editor's Lament (The Layoff Song).

The video is an adaption of song #79 from Jonathan Mann, who set up a goal of a song a day.
"The music is the same, but I enlisted the lip-dub and acting chops of my friends down at the East Bay Express, the local alt-weekly here in the East Bay. Yay!"
Express editor Stephen Buell, who has collected and framed final editions of newspapers since 1982, shares more revenue ideas in New Practices and Revenues for a New Era in Journalism.

"We're not just whining about our finances like the Chronicle. We're doing something about them" says Buell.

The Copy Editor's Lament (The Layoff Song) is from Christopher Ave, political editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He explained on his blog that copy editors struck him as having the most under-appreciated job in the newsroom.

Here are a few of the words:
'm a human safety net
I double-check the facts and vet
assertions before they are set in type.

I can provide punctuation
appropriate for publication
make the capitalization right.

I was there to fix your grammar
when you thought it wouldn't matter
cut all your extraneous blather down.
Listen to the MP3 for the rest. We'll wait.

Kurt Greenbaum shared a video from some colleagues tagged "Got rest ye weary journalists" back in December. It's seasonal, but I think as long as we're singing I'll share it.

May your day be merry and bright.

April 2, 2009

The Dearly Departed Daily: Detroit group to hold ‘wake’ for print journalism

Items like this keep my family from getting a meal on time some days.

A search for an update on citizens journalism at the Oakland Press uncovered the wake for "The Dearly Departed Daily" planned by a Detroit group. (The search was related to this post: Michigan media making news again)

Thanks to Elizabeth Voss, who wrote about the event on the Crain-powered Detroit Make It Here site, here's what I know now:

On April 23, one month after the announcement that Michigan would soon lose a major daily newspaper and three Booth Newspapers would trim the printing schedule to three days a week (and combine sections), the Women In Communications of Detroit group will host a wake.
Farewell Newsprint: Hello Digital Media
Women in Communications of Detroit will host Farewell Newsprint: Hello Digital Media at 6 p.m., April 23 at the Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby, 525 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit. The cost is $30 for Women in Communications and Society of Professional Journalists members and $35 for nonmembers. Movie fare appetizers are included. A cash bar and specialty coffees are available. Valet parking is $8 or next door surface lot parking is $6. Register by April 20 by online or e-mail at info@womcomdetroit.org or by phone at (248) 652-1460.
Jack Lessenberry, Metro Times columnist, a senior news analyst for Michigan Radio and journalism lecturer at Wayne State University. will lead the wake. He is quoted in the online article, saying he is worried that "people accustomed to getting a print newspaper won’t adjust well to the shift to three-day a week home delivery."

“The real issue is not whether print will survive as a news medium. The real issue is whether journalism keeps going. Thomas Jefferson said how can you possibly have a healthy democracy without journalism?”

After the wake, the event moves into a more positive direction, with Debora Scola, community affairs director for the Detroit Media Partnership, talking to the women’s professional group about changes the Detroit newspapers are making to compete in a digital era. The Detroit Free Press and The News reduced home delivery to three days a week and increased its focusing resources on digital media on Monday.

This first appeared on my Wired Journalists blog.

April 1, 2009

Michigan media making news again

Just a quick roundup of things I've posted here, there and everywhere or read about Michigan media today.

Livingston County Press cuts staff
My stepmother may have to change her media plans. She was counting on the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus to become her main source for news instead of reading the Detroit newspapers online. The long-time subscriber to the Detroit newspapers had praised the hometown newspaper for its coverage and said it was "good enough" and better than going online to read the news.

But today, an article by Mike Malott probably means the amount and type of news in the Livingston County newspaper will change. At least 10 percent of the staff is being laid off, according to the article. Executive Editor Rich Perlberg declined to specify the total number of layoffs, but said the number was "more than 10" from a total work force of 95.The layoffs included Managing Editor Maria Stuart and Metro Editor-Features Henry "Buddy" Moorehouse.

Perlberg blamed declining advertising.

I found it ironic that Stuart's March 29th column was "What would you do to save a co-worker's job?" She wrote about the efforts of the Howell Education Association. She's followed that up with "The Search for Silver Linings," calling it my chance to say goodbye.
"Lesson learned: In this fast-changing day and age, we should treat every conversation we have as if it is our last. We should leave nothing unspoken."
Moorehouse, who worked for the newspaper for 26 years, also penned a piece: Thank you and goodbye.

Job in Detroit
It's good news that journalism jobs in Michigan are opening. A reTweet of @NancyAndrews: We are posting our job opening for digital host/tv web anchor today. @elishaanderson is in charge of hiring. #dfpchanges

Update: Here's the job posting.

(Did you see that hash tag? #dfpchanges - go to search.twitter.com, type that in, and you can see all the tweets that will tell you about the Detroit Free Press changes; you can even get an #dfpchanges rss feed)

That reminds me that @BillSeitzler said Scripps & Fox create local news sharing deal in Phoenix, Detroit and Tampa; complete story on Broadcasting and Cable.
"Starting this month, the service "will pool content-gathering resources at general market news events, allowing the stations to save on duplicate efforts," the groups said in a statement. "By reducing costs, the stations will be able to increase their focus and resources on specialized franchise reporting." "
In Detroit, the stations are WJBK (Fox) and WXYZ (ABC).

TVNewsDay also reported:

"Content produced by the local news service can be used across multiple platforms, including over-the-air broadcasts, and online and mobile reporting. All employees involved in the shared operation will remain employees of their respective news organizations."

Oakland Press stopping paycheck
The Oakland Press is making news again. Hat tip to Paper Tiger No More, which led me to T.C. Cameron's blog The Write Referee and the post "Sacked by Citizen Journalism." Cameron says that an email informed him the newspaper would no longer pay for the syndicated version of The Write. A followup email invited him to post for free as a citizen journalist - an offer refused.

Cameron is no fan of citizen journalism, a big component of The Oakland Press' strategy.

Cameron says in his blog:
"Citizen journalism is the ingenious creation of editors lacking for legitimate journalistic resources and the financial inducements to compensate said legitimate journalists. As advertising revenue plummets, so does pay for real writers. What newspapers and an endless list of Internet blog sites offer is byline stardom in return for copy. The byline is the payment for the copy. All the newspapers pay for is the editor responsible for making sure it's true -- that's code for a once-over to make sure all the key facts of the story seem to be in place -- and the online platform they publish within."
However, you'll remember that The Oakland Press's executive editor Gil Gilbert said in December 2008 that Citizen Journalism will shape the new face of the Oakland Press.

The paper offered an academy to train citizens interested in contributing to the news organization in mid-Michigan. The first classes had 53 people participating.

Another Gilbert article in January said Citizen Journalism off to a good start, second class scheduled.

Gilbert acknowledged in that article that the idea of citizen journalism attracted some negative attention.
"Where it will lead is anyone’s guess, but it could be interesting. Our goal is to be more of a true voice of the people."
For now, it looks like it will be one less blog on the Oakland Press' web site.

Still waiting to see if other bloggers, like Tim Skubick, will follow. Of course, since Skubick also is now blogging for The Dome, perhaps not him.

March 31, 2009

Don't send John Hopkins cancer news please 'cause even Johns Hopkins denies it

I understand folks just want to help. That's good because the trend for twentysomethings with cancer is to assume no help is needed. But midway into the fifth month of my daughter's battle I assure you that's not true.

But, before you send me or my daughter the list of things you got via email on the real cancer story look to see what medical center is mentioned. There is no John Hopkins. It is Johns Hopkins. And Johns Hopkins has been saying over and over that the list is not theirs. Here's the December 2008 Johns Hopkins press release.

So if you get a note that starts out something like this:
Cancer Update from John Hopkins:

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size."
Please know if you get an email that seems unbelievable or you want to check before you send it on, please check it out at Hoax Slayers or Snopes.

As my daughter says over on her Myspace.com page:
"Just wanted to let you know about this email. I have received it several times now and I looked it up on the internet. John Hopkins didn't produce it and doesn't endorse the letter. However they say that some of the life style items could help towards cancer prevention but that the best sites to go for the information regarding food is the www.cancer.gov.

"I found this site that has statements from John Hopkins and information on the plastic container, the freezing and heating them.
She also shares some information about her diet because the "Hopkins" email does have some good diet tips.
"But one has to look them up on the website because some of the items prevent cancer can also cause it. Many vegetarians still get cancer even though they don't consume meat. It's really dependent on if the cancer type was hormone receptive and other genetic types to the cancer cells.

"I thought I would let you know since you stated you weren't sure. The diet I'm doing is mainly organic and hormone growth free meats, eggs, and milk. My reasons for this is my cancer type was homorne receptive to estrogen and proestrogen, and therefore I have to take a med that reduces my hormones in my system, i figure if I cut back the foods that contain hormones then that helps in the long run... I still go out to eat and eat sweets its just more in moderation then before."
So let's end with advice from my daughter:
"I don't want people to get scared passing this email around. Just don't believe everything that's got some name attached it. I've found this to be very true in all cancer research."

March 30, 2009

Computer-literate with kin in Detroit stand ready

If you know your way around a computer and if you have family or friends in the Detroit area, be ready for the calls for help.

Today's the day the Detroit newspapers stop coming into homes via paper most days of the week or as the Free Press says, starts a digital era.

So get online, read these new versions (Detroit News or Detroit Free Press) and wait for those calls to come in from your less techie friends and family members struggling to get what they need to know.

I say that even though the Detroit media have done some outreach, knowing that "Eye on Detroit as News changes." I say that knowing that none of the 29 people at my house yesterday knew the changes started today. I say that knowing how often I meet people new to email or Internet browsing.

Certainly, promoting the changes took some thought. I like that the plan is to give away thousands of the newsstand editions today. (I clipped part of a photo offered in a Detroit News gallery, showing how some of the hawkers hit the street today.)

I don't think the campaign went far enough and I think the level of digital comfort is underestimated by many.

I like the video (embedded here) using a Michigan musician, an attempt to build excitement for the changes. But it needed more on the specific changes.

Folks at local libraries, community education centers and computer clubs started offering "how to use the Internet" classes in 1995. Similar classes still fill up today.

Perhaps the Detroit media companies have solicited computer-literate mentors to offer hands-on training at local libraries and senior centers.

Perhaps the firms tapped into their Newspaper In Education network of teachers and students and have them prepared to answer the questions of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles.

Perhaps there have been kiosks with working models of the new news at the Cobo Hall shows, senior centers and shopping centers.

Perhaps the owners of computer stores and computer instructors were wined and dined or coffee and donuted so they stand pumped and ready to help. I know there's been an offer out since March 5 that said Reps available for talks. Still I know an offer often is not enough, personal invites are needed.

Perhaps computer screens at area stores throughout the region will point to a Detroit news page, much like all the TV screens in an ad show the same scene.


I still say many of us should expect conversations filled with navigating queries about the new websites.

Some links to reporting on the changes in Detroit:

March 29, 2009

Can you pull the plug for love?

How much of being on is too much? Should you send out Twitters to those who didn't pay to get to or into a conference? If you are there on a press pass? There because you paid to get in? Or there courtesy of someone who wanted you in the seats?

Or let's get personal as Susan Mernit recently did,

Is it polite to keep the laptop on top of your lap when your chatting with friends or family? Is it right to send out Twitters when your suggled up next to your sweetie? When you are the car's nagavator, charged with getting the driver from here to there?

My family and non-journalism friends do not understand why the closing of the Ann Arbor News or changes at the other Advance Newspapers sent me to the web searching for details. My daughter is amazed that I constantly use my iPhone or pull out the laptop, not to play a game but to know what's up, to read what others say and share my own thoughts.

Still, I am able to set aside all devices when family calls - did I mention 29 folks expected today at my house? - as no obligation to an employer reinforces the ingrained need to know.

Read Susan's post on Devices and love while I'm tending to love. I'll return to the devices tomorrow.

Oh no! Brenda fired!

On Saturday, the publisher threatened Brenda Starr with a furlough. On Sunday, Brenda says no and is fired. Yes, the comics are the real world once more.... Right down to a person saying "let's help a reporter and buy a newspaper" only to be told not to bother as the news is free online. See the Starr reporter online.