May 23, 2009

No secrets: Sharing insights, sharing goals helps all

Since I haven't stumbled across the book on How to Use the Internet Effectively, Efficiently and Properly I'm grateful when folks share what they are doing online, how they are doing it and why.

I was reminded of this when Ryan Sholin recently wrote How I share: A tour of my personal linking behavior.. He talked about how he uses Twitter (and its short life for links) , Friendfeed (where he comments on his Google Reader shared items and picks up several streams of contributions - Netflix, Disqus), Delicious, and, of course, Publish2 (the source of his paycheck now). But the bonus for me is the post led me to try TwitterFon for my iPhone.

Do you know where you go?

Then Tech blogger Louis Gray posted Know and Master Your Social Media Data Flow, who described what he sent where and included a map to illustrate his flow of information. Though I'm primarily a word geek, I often think in pictures as it helps me see the process. (Later, he updated with this presentation.)
A comment on Gray's post led me to mrontemp's How I Publish. who explained back in 2008 not all of his shared items make it to his public flow of information:
" of my feeds consists of updates from my LinkedIn network. For a variety of reasons, I choose not to share that with the public. Similarly, I read a number of items that are specific to my vertical market. Again, for a variety of reasons, you can't see my interest in these items unless you're behind my corporate firewall."
That, of course, reminds me of some of the better advice I received from Ed Vielmetti and and others who save me from permanent damage. That advice has included:
  • there's a checkbox on that says Do Not Share. Not all computer pages should be shared.
  • Or why you need to see what goes where - I stopped sharing via Plaxo when business contacts saw what I wanted friends to see. Really, even though I know everything I publish is available to all, I'd ike to make it a little harder for some to find.
  • Paper journals are still OK as not all things you think need to be availalbe online. Still some suggest anonymous blogs are good spots to rant.
At the end of mrontemp's post is a link to Why I Publish, Last night was the first time I ran across mrontemp (I think) but I still found the discussion on the value of autopublishing vs writing something original intriguing.

Does anyone hear that tree fall? Me talk?

He quotes Alexander van Elsas, who dislikes Friendfeed for its lack of intention:
If I see something that I know my friend really likes and then share it intentionally with him, it provides us both with value. But if I spill my guts to the world without thinking about what I’m sharing it makes most of the things I share pretty worthless.
Has Alexander just figured out why so many are perplexed when first confronted by that Facebook status box or the Twitter request for what are you doing?

Lucky you. I waited long enough before getting all of my thoughts together I can share two more finds. The first is thanks to Susan Beebee, who earlier in the week wrote a post on the Top 200 Social Media Blogs, and then tweeted about Matthew Webster Ray's post on Your Social Networks Have Different Audiences. Says Ray:
"You have different audiences on your social networks - and your normal friends are not on the 15 different social networks that you are on! Play it safe and only post things on the social networking platform that fits that audience."
Time to get rid of clutter

So I know what's I've been doing during the down time in my daughter's cancer battle (chemo is done; surgery two weeks off) to trim services and figure out how to participate more fully in the ones that I choose to continue with.

The thinking about how I participate is just one of the reasons why I like Jay Rosen's post on mindcasting on Twitter. He explains why he started using Twitter, how he uses it, the difference between mindcasting and lifecasting and more. He offers a good set of links to help showcase how he got from there to here.

Just as he jumped into Twitter to better understand it, I've been jumping into new sites and services for a long time. I'm surrounded by online clutter and it is starting to bother me the way a messy desk once did. Time for a purge.

May 22, 2009

Lack of humans provides today's smiles

Twice in one day, I've run across examples where an editor would have helped just a bit.

For instance, I've been collecting articles about journalists who have moved onto new careers or new jobs outside of newspapers. The Daily Record published "Former newspaper reporter takes buyout, starts new career at home."

The news organization also tries to help readers find more stories you might be interested in. Unfortunately, the former Newhouse employee said this:
"I wanted to be a reporter since I was 12, and I loved every minute of it," she said. "Newspapers will go the way of the dinosaur because of declining advertising and the Internet."
And that's why Topix decided I might want to read news about dinosaur and paleontology instead of other ex-journalists who created businesses that use their writing and editing skills.

Not quite as funny was the report out about 11 a.m. Thursday that "Detroit papers say more readers kept than expected." I saw it on Editor & Publisher; Crain's Detroit and and the part that intrigued me was the last of four paragraphs:

"Free Press Editor and Publisher Paul Anger said at Thursday's panel discussion that the economy continues to hurt revenue, but he did not discuss potential cuts or layoffs."
I wanted to know what panel discussion and where because the four paragraphs wasn't enough for me.

Besides, if this really did happen Thursday it was said just hours before a staff memo announced June 22 as a deadline for cutting 150 jobs at the Detroit News and Free Press. (Among those who may be cut is a reporter who just won a Pulitzer.) Crain's published some details about the Free Press newsroom cuts.

At 4 p.m., a Google search found 118 articles across the Internet - all the same, all credited to Associated Press.

I was eager for details, but really was only offered a paragraph similar to this:
"Officials with The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and the partnership that handles their business operations say they have seen increased Web traffic and single-copy sales since March 30. That was the day the papers limited home delivery to Thursday, Friday and Sunday as a to deal with declining circulation and changing readership tastes."
So I guess I'm left to wonder why the editor/publisher spoke to what panel today about the success of the drop home delivery plan that still requires staff layoffs.

OK, before I head for the showers, have you seen Jilted Journalists? The opening page starts:
So welcome print, online, broadcast reporters, editors, photographers, bloggers, designers, ad salespeople, circulation folks, press operators, TV camera people, continuity directors, techs, producers, business office staff and all the others who once were fooled into thinking they not only had good careers and job security but decent 401(k) and pension plans that would last into their retirement years.
The site is created by:
"Jim and Sue Gold and a group of recently laid off journalists, their spouses, friends and frenemies.

Contact in chief: Jim Gold, a past senior editor (not an age designation when he got the title) at The Arizona Republic, a past editor in chief at The Record of Stockton, Calif., a past assistant managing editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and a past variety of writing, reporting, photography, production, circulation and ad sales titles at a variety of papers in California and Massachusetts. But he's not a pastor. "

May 21, 2009

Alabama newspaper makes it local, local, local

Last year this time, The Huntsville Times announced it was bringing in a new editor.

This year's offering at the Advance Publication in Alabama is a redesign of its newspaper, details shared in in an article and video (see below) on Blogger Charles Apple, of course, was right on top of the redesign so visit his post for before and after pages.

Like other Newhouse publications, local news is moving out of its own section and onto the front page and into the front section. Obituaries also are going in the front section. Staying, but reduced to one page Monday-Saturday and two pages on Sunday is Opinion.

What readers won't see in print is as much national and international news because as editor Kevin Wendt says in reply to a comment:
"Using less wire copy is a product of two issues. First, wire copy is generally something people can see all day long on Web sites or hear on TV. So it's not as unique as, say, our local news report. To cancel a wire service means we lose a lot more: If we canceled the Associated Press, we'd also lose stock listings, sports agate, etc. But we will use less space for national and international, which saves a little bit of paper."
Like other Newshouse publications, feature sections are changing and merging. Among them in Alabama is the merger of three sections, Enjoy!, Travel and Sunday Life into enjoy!Sunday. This is another place the newspaper plans to drop many of the wire features now filling the inside of the three sections.

Unlike other newspapers
, business will be its own section. Talking Biz Blog talked with Wendt about the changes, including a section on government and green living.

Another article focuses on the redesigned Opinion page today as one editor steps away after nearly 25 years heading the pages. (More then 60 employees took a buyout offered in February, according to a March 24 article on mandatory 10-day furloughs).

And like other parts of the newspaper, readers are told to expect more local, less national/world opinions.

The question driving the Opinion page redesign was "to define a mission for The Times' editorial pages in the Internet age. How can we be most relevant to you?"

The question of being relevant is one that Wendt has sounded frequently during his first year at the newspaper, including a column where he asked readers what should be in the newspaper.

Not a surprise from Wendt, who left the San Jose Mercury News about a year ago to become editor at age 30 and knew that figuring out what local newspapers could do best:
We will figure this out. Journalism and newspapers are too important, and there are too many talented people still affiliated with both, for us not to create a sustainable business model that supports what we do.
As Wendt said then:
"At our core, a great story, told well and presented wonderfully, will have an audience. I have to believe that if I’m going to make it the next 35 years to retirement!"
As shared in an earlier post, something is working in Alabama - it as one of one of 10 newspapers in the US that reported a circulation increase in September's Audit Bureau of Circulations report.

Huntsville Times editor Kevin Wendt talks about the paper's new design

By the way, The Syracuse Post-Standard in New York, another Advance Publication, redesigned its newspaper in April. I shared some changes in the Change part of a post and Apple shared a more detailed look once the design was released.

Three Michigan newspapers - Bay City Times, Flint Journal and Saginaw Nws - are inching to their new design as they drop to a publication schedule of three days a week. The Flint Journal food editor said in his column this week to expect sneak previews of the sections May 28.

May 19, 2009

Another editor leaving Michigan newspaper

Mike Lloyd, editor of the Grand Rapids Press, will join the Booth Newspaper editors rush out of the newspaper by retiring July 1.

The 63-year-old Lloyd joins Ann Arbor News Ed Petykiewicz, 57, who announced his retirement in late March, just before we learned the Ann Arbor News would close, publishing its last edition on July 23. Also leaving are John Foren, 47, who became Flint Journal editor on Jan. 13, 2009, and Paul Chaffee, 61, publisher/editor of The Saginaw News. Foren is leaving June 1; Chaffee is staying on as a consultant for a few more months.

The Bay City Times editor, John Hiner, 48, steps into an executive editor role, overseeing the Bay City, Saginaw and Flint newspapers that will begin printing morning newspapers three days a week starting in June. (A community editor was named at each newspaper.)

Lloyd hired everyone

But back to Lloyd, who has spent 31 years at the Booth Newspaper, hiring everyone who has a byline according to an article posted on That includes hiring Bob Becker, the sports editor who recently retired and whose mug was shown today by a Grand Rapids TV station announcing Lloyd's retirement.

The article says Lloyd's personal journalistic high are:
  • His series of interviews with the late President Gerald R. Ford,
  • A book he collaborated on for the 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series Championship and
  • The Press' 100th anniversary edition in 1992, with sections covering the news of each decade in the community.
Became editor at 33

The University of Missouri journalism grad, now 63, became editor at 33. That made him among the youngest to be editor of a newspaper with a circulation over 100,000, according to the article on mlive.

The article says that Lloyd said his decision to retire was influenced by the changing business and his desire to respond to other interesting opportunities.

The rest of Booth

I probably should mention that Foren replaced Tony Dearing, who in December was named special projects content coordinator for Advance Internet and now is heading up the content side of

No word on Rebecca Pierce, editor of the Kalamazo Gazette, or Eileen Lehnert, editor of the Jackson Citizen Patriot, or Paul Keep, who is publisher and editor of the Muskegon Chronicle. (In fact, Keep posted a column this week about the "rumors of our demise."

May 18, 2009

Journalist who blogs says time ripe for new trade organization

Enough is enough, says Danny Sullivan, best known for Search Engine Land but writing on his personal blog, Daggle.

It's time for a new organization to balance the very privileged newspaper industry and ensure that journalists outside the print industry start getting a fair shake, Sullivan says in a post titled "Dammit, I’m A Journalist, Not A Blogger: Time For Online Journalists To Unite?"

It is the idea that newspapers deserve special laws or special protection and Google's help that makes him rant:
"Bloggers got bumpkiss. We have no lobbying group. We have no organization designed to help members learn the intricacies of uncovering government documents. We can’t get government agencies to call us back at all, at times (I know, been there and done that). And we’ve got a newspaper industry increasingly portraying us as part of an evil axis that’s killing them. Blogs steal their attention, and Google steals their visitors."

Let's bond together, bloggers

So Sullivan, who has worked as graphics reporter and editorial researcher at newspapers before building a career in searching the Internet, says its time that journaists who blog need an “Online Journalists Association, or a United Bloggers” or whatever catchy name you come up with."

Some of his ideas for the new group's mission:
  • Ensure the news blogs get an equal seat at any table where news and journalism is being discussed
  • Help promote deeper reporting and recognition of work that already happens
  • Perhaps share correspondents and photos

Newspaper journalists losing fellowship game

Ironically, I read his May 16th post on the same day that I read "Newspapers No Longer Dominate Journalism Fellowship."
"Four of the best known programs - Harvard, M.I.T., Stanford and the University of Michigan — chose 29 employees of American newspapers for fellowships in the year that is now winding down, and just 11 for next year. There have also been declines in the number of people from magazines and wire services, but not as pronounced."

The New York Times quoted James R. Bettinger, director of the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford, as saying:
“The proportion of applicants from daily newspapers this year was the lowest it’s ever been. At the same time, 61 of 166 applicants had the word ‘freelance’ somewhere in their job description.”

Is now really the time?

And I know Sullivan is a smart guy so he knows that getting people to join organizations is not the easiest thing in the world.
Look, I'm a joiner - Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, etc., etc., etc. But I don't think we need another group.

I do like the idea of more respect, though, for journalists who happen to publish via blogging software instead of newsprint. I agree with Sullivan:
"Many bloggers are journalists, part of the news ecosystem, colleagues that are entitled to respect."

May 17, 2009

Using social media tool to get back at those dreadful calls

The Wall Street Journal has a story that anyone who wonders why using sites like Twitter, Delicious or, in this case, Reddit is worth the bother should read.

First, how many of those "Your auto warranty has expired" calls have you gotten?

Do you know what swarming means?

Catch up with the way people can organize with the Wall Street Journal article and know that not all agree with how people tracked down and then shared the phone number and other details about the firm where some of the calls started.
"They played judge, jury and executioner on a company that they haven't even proven has done anything wrong."
That's a quote in The Journal from David Tabb, the 42-year-old president of Auto One, an Irvine, Calif., warranty company with 60 employees.

He says Reddit users overloaded his phone lines with computerized calls, changed voice-mail greetings on his company's system, and even threatened arson.

This may not mean the end of calls. Auto One is one of many firms making these calls - not even
one of the three that a federal court in Chicago issued an immediate restraining order on Friday afternoon. The three companies are accused of aggressively making robocalls selling car warranties across the country, the Federal Trade Commission announced.

Yes, I'm getting the calls so that's why I sent a link out on the court order Friday over Twitter.

Journalism hurting? Editors say staff cuts hurting quality

The good news is that surveyed editors say they are staying in the news business because they believe in the mission of journalism.

The bad news is nearly a third of the editors participating in an Associated Press Managing Editors survey say staff reductions are affecting the quality of journalism offered.

"We rarely work on packages or series of depth anymore," one editor said. "We can't afford to give a reporter the time to work it. They are too busy doing all the meat-and-potatoes stuff."

And though 60 percent of the editors believe newspapers will become profitable again, most say a lack of staff and money prevent innovation and change.

At least one newspaper editor found a bright side in the layoffs and buyouts elsewhere:

"With the economy in the tank, I find I can hire higher-quality people than usual, so that helps make up for the cuts. However, I've ridden through other recessions so I know that when/if things loosen up, we may be back to entry-level hiring."

The APME survey, sent to 1,700 editors and answered by 351, also found:
  • 71% citing the mission of journalism as the main reason why they stay in the business. That includes the APME President: I believe in the mission
  • 40% plan to emphasize hyperlocal news more and national/world news less;
  • 60% think newspapers will find a way to become profitable;
Other questions hint that the profitability may come by charging more for print (28%), charging for online content (28%) and print-only features (20%).

I think one of the sadder pieces is that so many see a need for change and yet face overwhelming barriers to implementing change.

Yes, less staff and lack of money is a barrier. But I also think attitude is a barrier when I read a comment like this:
"Everyone's looking for a way to "save" newspapers, but the truth is we have to be so completely different than what we've been, it's too hard for the old guard to get their heads or hearts around."
Or is it a lack of believing, of people too comfortable:
"I'm going to hunker down until the economy improves."
"It's not that the pay is "too good to walk away" as much as it is "this paycheck is better than none."
I think some know they need to move on, but don't:
"By the time we're through this transition, I may be ready to step aside – if I'm not pushed aside first.
The unwillingness to change is also what bothered Newspaper Tiger Sharon Hill in a post on the Community Newspapers - Hear them Roar blog.

Oh, and 19 percent expect to layoff more people and 5% expect to drop some print editions.

More results and comments are available on APME's site.