September 7, 2010

More buyouts for Advance in New Jersey

No time for comment but I thought some of you would be interested in this Editor & Publisher article:

Newark 'Star-Ledger' Offers New Round of Buyouts
While the Garden State's largest daily is not revealing how many buyouts are being sought, Publisher Richard Vezza wrote in a letter to employees that based on its performance over the first seven months of the year, the paper is projected to lose $10 million in 2010.

The Star-Ledger is part of the Advance Publications network, sometimes called Newhouse newspapers.

August 9, 2010

Dads march into daughters' lives

I smile everytime I watch this video of a "It's a Dad's life," marveling at how expectations of what dads do, should do, will do has changed over the years.

We've moved dad's role from main money man to one more involved with every aspect of their children's lives. I cringe everytime I hear a father say he's babysitting his kids, a line I have never heard a mother say. I envy dads who play daily with their kids, who drive them places and never require a DNA check.

Jealous, of course

Summer is when I miss my dad the most. We built some pretty good memories around Christmas too. Mostly though, we postponed.

We started postponing when I first discovered the earring that was not my mother's. Someday, he would say, I would understand why.

We continued as I struggled to understand why he forgot to come get the five of us for bowling or sledding or whatever dad-time outing was planned. Someday, he would say, I would understand why you work when you can,  why there was so little to say, why it was hard to for him to be around.

The first divorce

That divorce way back in the 1960s made our family unusual in the neighborhood, our schools, and especially our church. It changed our childhood as we became the first family to have a mom who worked, who celebrated Christmas twice, who skipped most events requiring a dad.

Someday, he said we would be closer, someday when I was older.

Once I had my driver's license, it was easier for us to meet him at his house on the lake. In winter, the trip almost always meant a new scratch on the car when I hit the tree at the bottom of the hill. In summer, there were boat rides, barbecues and chats by the grill.

Mismatched visions

He did not understand why I went to college or why I continued after marrying that nice young man. He expected I'd used my cooking, sewing, household skills for my own family, not knowing how tired I was of that life.

Still, he sent what he could. His campus visits almost always included a football game, a nice dinner out and a little extra cash slipped into my pocket. He was at the wedding. He was dad-proud at graduation.

Years later, he said he was sorry for telling me to stay married, sharing he was afraid I would follow his lead of multiple marriages and divorces and not recognizing the abuse, my cry for help, my need for my dad.

Birth breaks barrier

We repeated years of silence as I slipped into single life, wild life and then a new married life. Wisely, we let the birth of my daughter wipe out  the barriers that led to month after month of no contact.

Christmas became fun again as he and my stepmother spoiled the grandchildren. Summers meant pontoon boat rides, grilled steaks, and water things like splashing and fishing.

Pattern continues

Mostly though we continued our postponing tradition.

Some day, but not this year, we would decorate the pantoon and participate in the Fourth of July water parade that took place in his "backyard."

Some time, but not now, we would look through photos and try to match memories and names and he would tell me stories of his growing up.

Some winter, but not right now, he would help replace the kitchen cabinets in the "new house." He had recognized the cabinets the first time he visited. They were  cabinets from the company he worked at from high school until the end.

We postponed fishing trips, visits and calls.

Mismatched visions

I miss my dad right now because he would be taking me out on the deck for a private chat and a what-for. He spoke plainly and hated my ideas of what I thought life and love and work should be. He'd help me shake the blues, finding the rightness of now.

He thought the buyout was a great idea, giving me time to do nothing, to do crafts, to relax. He thought I deserved an easy ending to counter the hard start. He thought maybe nothingness would ease the pains of multiple sclerosis.

Mostly though, he thought we would have more time together. Instead, he postponed sharing symptoms with doctors, he postponed treatments but he couldn't postpone death.

Not so surprising is how my dad's death is linked to the grandchild that reopened our grill gabs, dad-daughter dreaming and predictable postponements. He died from cancer on the day my daughter started her cancer treatments.

August 6, 2010

Dance now idea led to moody musings

I'm struggling with a proposed class on social media that might be offered in March. It's frustrating to try to predict what web site, tool, or technique will be hot in seven months.

It's equally frustrating because I don't know how I'll be today much less seven months from now.

In fact, I'm frustrated that I'm not keeping promises that I've made to myself or to others. Even knowing that there is no way that I would know what multiple sclerosis would deliver, I'm still frustrated.

I want to walk easily. I want to talk easily. Oh what the heck, I want to write and I know that is never something done easily.

I know the randomness of multiple sclerosis with its symptoms that come and go makes planning or promising useless. It seems there are more bad days then good ones, more times of the year when I know the best I'm going to do is make it to the recliner.

Precious tears

Plus, I know I'm frustrating my family and friends who want to help. I'm not surprised that as I'm writing I hear Rob Thomas explain the story behind Her Diamonds on the Rachel Ray show. (video below) The song is about a couple dealing with the effects of  an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis.- His wife has another autoimmune disease. From Thomas' online bio:
"Her Diamonds” was written “about a couple dealing with that on a day-to-day basis. There’s an incredible amount of sadness that comes with something like that."
There's incredible frustration too. The song  Her Diamonds starts with a woman laying back down in frustration with a familiar line of "I just can't win for losing." Then:
And I don't know what I'm supposed to do.
But if she feels bad then I do too so I let her be
And she says ooh I can't take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
Cause I can't help her now
Yet, there's the reminder that we all face hard times. From that bio:
"There are moments where I think I flirted with a thinner personal line than I’ve ever done before, but, really, I’m writing a song about how people deal with hard times, and that hard time is universal, that hard time can be anything.”

In fact, what I thought I was writing about today was something inspirational for a friend facing hard times. That started with a video of disco-dancing cows (below)because how can you not smile when watching that.

Just dance

I wanted to credit the oft-quoted phrase of dance like nobody is watching. Perhaps I should credit William Watson Purkey, who closed speeches with:
"You've gotta' dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth”

But I liked how Crystal Boyd's  inspiring piece, which uses the phrase as a title, writes of the importance of not waiting until the kids are older, the mortgage paid, the time is just right)

Then Rob Thomas popped up on the TV screen and I realized the hard times are here as well as there. I'd like to make it easier for all, but I don't know what I need much less what I want that is possible.

For now, I'll go tackle the improbable task of predicting what I'll teach about social media in seven months. You watch the videos, OK?

August 1, 2010

Daughter's challenge inspires crew

Losing a bet led to this
Yep, that is my daughter licking a dumpster, a most unusual stunt for a germ-fearing kid.

She challenged her crew to make it a 4k day to see her lick the outside of the collector of trash. Had they sold 5k worth of pizza, bread sticks and drinks she would have licked the inside. Fortunately, they were $50 short of that last goal.

I'm still not sure who came up with the payoff. But even with less then two months at her new store, I am sure the crew knows how important cleanliness is to her. I'm sure they have scrubbed every surface, noticed the newly painted ceiling and learned the health department standards are minimum suggestions.

This is the daughter who sends unsused silverware that sat on the table during a meal to the dishwasher. This is the daughter who always checks the best used date on every box and bottle before consuming. This is the daughter who carries antibacterial cleansers everywhere and says "Purell is my friend."

Perhaps she's always had that cleanliness streak but I did not notice it until she came back home to successfully fight breast cancer. All of us stepped up the cleanliness madness, wiping surfaces constantly, degerming everything she touched and using hand sanitizer as if it were a lotion guaranteed to give us smooth skin.

That cleanliness obsession makes this motivating action even more surprising. Still she gave her word, never expecting the crew would make it the store's best day of the year.

Not surprising she did clean the spot first.
"lol I did it but I still scrubbed like crazy! Still gross lol. But the loophole was the purell they never said I couldn't lmao!"
 A friend online labeled that action "deception by omission." Her response:
"lol hey they never said I couldn't! It was still disgusting :)"
Even as I cringe, I'm proud of my daughter finding creative, non-monetary ways to motivate people working with and for her.

Even as I beg her to look for a safer payoff next time, I celebrate this one step that shows cancer is loosening its grip on her life.

Even as I worry about my mistakes as a parent, I recognize the successes illustrated in this stunt - the importance of promises, the benefits of working together, and the neccessity of being prepared.

Today I understand even better that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

I've written about my daughter's cancer crusade, including the challenge of hair, chemo and TV shows that make me cry.

July 26, 2010

Wrong about beauty, being dumb and other thoughts Facebook feed provokes

The first glance today at my Facebook feed finds so much more then FarmVille, FrontierVille, and other mindless chatter that replaces the workplace coffee pot and/or water cooler.

The casual mutterings loosen up my fingers, my brain before I step into another major challenge of dealing with the three layers of government, one nursing home, a man with Alzheimer's, a confused spouse (the man's, not mine) and an overstressed grandmother frustrated by juggling too many grandkids, a mother with fading abilities, a long-distance wedding and, well, life. (Just writing that tells me why my lower back hurts.)

Via a Blackberry and straight into my stream comes:
"Beauty fades, but dumb lasts forever"
Perhaps it is the age of the sharer that makes her feel that way. She'll learn that you fix dumb with an education - in school, via books (or is that reading), and life experience. You fix beauty by cultivating the good or helping the community learn what real beauty is - the glow of motherhood, the spark of new love, the warmth of old love.

Comics change

Then, there's the viewpoint that ComicCon has changed as movie studios came into an event where geeks once reigned.
"Comic-con sure has changed. Went a couple times with my kids and it was fun. I liked all the unusual, but devotedly geeky people who knew about Green Lantern and Captain America when they were still 2-D. This year the studios took over and it feels as fake and polished as Hollywood. I miss the geeks."

Indeed, the definition of news, comic books and collecting is changing. A piece on some national news broadcast looks at how comic books are moving from paper to digital. Within 60 seconds, there is:
  • Reflection about the benefits of seeing the characters in crisp, bright colors immediately in a form that the young - the traditional starter comic audience - prefer. Bits over paper.
  • Moaning about how electronic delivery means the destruction of investing in comics as having a first-edition version of Superman loaded on your iPad won't ever increase in value like the coveted first paper editions in perfect condition in perfect environment will (or is that did?)
  • Prediction of the loss of community created by enthusiasts who bonded at local comic stores while waiting for a new shipment of comics on paper. (Or is that a prediction of another business doomed to die unless it finds a new niche?)
Back to the July 22-25 ComicCon in San Diego.The simple status update reminds me of what I like about Facebook - its ability to let me know a little bit more of people in my community. I watch as people press the like button on Facebook, leave a few words, and reveal just a tiny piece of information that helps define the uniqueness of each.

Hint of the news

One reply leaves me wanting to know more:
"geeks must still be there ,,, how else would someone have been stabbed with a pen (pocket protectors are now holsters.)"
That takes me off to the Internet to learn how one man vented by using his pen to attack the face of a man who sat too close. Ah yes, crowd control is crowdsourced.

CNN shows us video of the stabber handcuffed and escorted out and share quotes on why the convention folks must find a way to comfortably shoehorn in enough people to make a profit without risking multiple meltdowns that lead to pen stabbings and other horrors.

Back to work. Back to unraveling the bureacracy that uses registered mail to deliver a notice of change for skilled nursing care on the same day the change takes place and a mere 24 hours after the deadline to protest.

July 23, 2010

Juicy, red tomato says summer with every bite

We watched the plant blossom, a small green tomato grow bigger, a green tomato turn red, and finally we released it from our garden, brought it inside, washed it and brought it to the dinner table:
"Had the first tomato out of my first garden yesterday. It was really good. Nothing like a vine ripe tomato."
That was a Facebook posting from a friend that I could have written.

A backyard- or porch-grown tomato shares such a different taste from those from the Flint Farmers' Market, Whole Foods, the local grocery store.

We've been munching on the cherry tomatoes from the yard but nothing compares to the just-picked big ones.

I love tomatoes even when they don't love me back. So I enjoyed three big slices and (almost) gladly suffered through the migraine.

I wish I understood why the canned tomatoes or the market tomatoes don't trigger a headache. Heck, I wish I would remember about the garden effect BEFORE I ate the tomato.

Yet, I know I'd still eat that first one. And I know that I'll keep eating them - maybe just a smaller portion until I find the magical, safe quantity. Or maybe a dose of Benadryl before eating?

I'm thankful my husband planted and cared/s for the minigarden.

I'm thankful for one more sign it is summer (despite the back-to-school sales that are sprouting up in my community.)

I'm especially thankful for homegrown tomatoes.

July 8, 2010

Something for fun may turn profitable for hobbyist moving on

FarmVille is serious business for some folks. One guy, known best as the FarmVille Lawn Jockey, was among the first to bring the power of databases and spreadsheets to the game first popular on Facebook. Looks like he will leave with cash for his hardwork.

The creator, who started playing too late to get the short-lived lawn jockey (it was taken away when some complained it was racist), calculated which crop to plant to earn the most points and the most funds. He looked at which animals were the best to keep around to raise funds, even calculating how many animals fit on each precious square.

The site kept growing - offering easy to use tools for others to blog about the game, to keep track of their successes, and to communicate with other FarmVille fans.

But his attention is turning elsewhere and his site is up for auction over on Flippa. Already 10 bids are in and his minimum reserve of $500 has been met.

He could have just abandoned the site, but confessed:  "I'm pretty busy with all kinds of other stuff and I really would like someone else who has the time to grow this site to its full potential."

I can't wait to see what the other stuff is, what someone pays and how they develop the site.

July 6, 2010

To grease up or not is summer's hot question

fun in pool

Sun, water and kids of all ages creates a perfect summer day.
I stand out at any outdoor outing from June through mid-September. Just look for the woman covered from head to toe and in the shade, my attempt to avoid the damaging rays of the sun.

Some of my prescriptions carry warnings about exposure to the sun. Plus, as someone who overindulged in the sun as a child and teenager and has already had some sun-related skin issues, I don't like to tempt fate.

I prefer the clothing method over sunscreen when I can for many reasons, including I often forget to reapply sunscreen and I don't like the feel of it on my skin. Today, my husband shared a link that reinforces some of my ideas: Does sunscreen cause cancer?

Here are some highlights from the Ask Pablo blog post:

  • More is not better as most sunscreens rated above SPF 55 offer 1-2% more sunburn rays than an SPF 30 rated sunscreen. They offer a false sense of protection.
  • Sunscreen loses its effectiveness so replace it when the expiration date pases.
  • Check the ingredients as some are known to "cause cancer. (I've got "cause cancer" in quotes as I'm not convinced we really know why some of us get cancer and some don't.)
  • Look for sunscreens with avobenzone, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc for UVA coverage. The Environmental Working Group recommends these sunscreens. Alba Botanical and Beyond Coastal top the lists.
  • Limit time out in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm and  stay in the shade.
  • The best sunscreen is the kind you wear. Outdoor clothing manufacturers are producing SPF-rated clothing to keep you comfortable and sunburn free.
  • If you already have sunscreen check a nifty little database :to see how yours is rated.
  • When you buy sunscreen follow Environmental Working Group's list of recommended sunscreens.
You can read the entire The Bottom Line on Sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group. The government Food and Drug Administration site also provides sun precautions.

I'm heading out on the web to see about replacing some of my clothing.

Boy with big heart, rare disease asks for and gets help, hope

Every day, someone learns how rare they are, how unique. Sometimes that rarity is the happenstance of having a disease few do. Tyler Fehsenfeld has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease only about 15,000 boys have.

It's the type of diagnosis that leaves little hope for the sufferer, family and friends. It is the type of diagnosis that often makes us turn inward, focusing on finding the best options for our connection.

But, sometimes, a family is energized by joining with other families for support. They work together, using their connections, to raise money for a better life for those with the disease, for research for a cure, for somthing that will make a difference.

So Tyler is lucky. His grandfather, the publisher of Michigan's largest daily, home-delivered newspaper, and grandmother sponsored something wonderful recently.

An event orgazined around the local premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" raised funds for research on the disease. The movie's opening on June 29 was a chance to learn more about the disease and do good while having fun.

A June 30th update from Dan Gaydou:
"Generous friends continue to come through for the PPMD cause. As of this afternoon, the total raised is $139,840; $3,120 more just since last night. Thank you everyone for your support and God bless you."
The Grand Rapids Press published an article online that will help you learn why I called Tyler a boy with a big heart, a boy who may never celebrate a 30th birthday. The western Michigan news operation followed up with "Mission of 'Twilight:Eclipse' movie premier party was clear: End Duchenne (You'll find a video, photograph and more about the event, organized by Anessa Fehsenfeld, Tyler's mom.)

Gaydou asked his Facebook friends to help promote that event in hopes that many would attend the premiere.

(Sorry, I'm late - it is one of the posts I forgot to publish. But you still can contribute and at least be aware of the disease. You can donate online or send a check  payable to Parent Project Muscular Dystophy to Dan Gaydou at 155 Michigan NW, Grand Rapids 49503.).

The boy's father once was the Newspaper In Education coordinator at The Flint Journal.

The family has tried many things. In 2006, the family rocketed into the spotlight when the federal government delayed delivery of Deflazacort, a medicine approved in other countries but not in the United States.  A U.S. specialist had prescribed the drug.

"I'm choosing to give this drug to my son that a doctor says he needs, and my country says he can't have it," Anessa Fehsenfeld is quoted The Grand Rapids Press in an April 5, 2006, article. "As if the diagnosis isn't bad enough, and then you have this to deal with."

The options for treatment are few. The Internet has helped many parents to connect, including the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy site which offers ideas, hope, support and more.

Still, it takes funds for that and for research. That's where events like Run for Our Boys and this western Michigan fund-raiser give help and increase the amount of hope.

July 3, 2010

Green tea failure? Or payback for pill-popping post?

I am drinking so much green tea you would think I would turn green!

Alas, it seems my holiday tradition continues since I woke up with a throat that feels as if I have swallowed razor blades the last 24 hours. I WILL be fine by Sunday (hear that body, I WILL).

Meanwhile, maybe you will have better luck with this supposedly magical potion.

(Oh no. Do you think I am being punished for my blog post about understanding why someone might want to skip the potions, pills and prescriptions? Could it be karma? Or is it my family physician is lonely since I keep postponing some tests and visits. mmmm. I'll ponder that while farming)

Note: Yes, that illustration is from the FarmVille game. Yes, this post was started over on FarmVille.

Assumptions almost made me, others miss beauty, inspiration

Sometimes even wearing my glasses is not enough help to see the most wonderful stories. Lucky for me I know people who share so that I know more about epsilepsy and indoor kite flying. (Look before you laugh.)

It is a co-worker connection that led to the sharing of this video clip (below) over on Facebook and in Free From Editors.

You don't need that hook because this clip stands on its own. Watch it for the story. Watch it to see a mother's love. Watch it to see how one moment, this moment, matters.

I confess that I noted the co-worker connection and almost moved on without clicking because America's Got Talent is not one of the TV shows I value. Blame that prejudice on reading the fine print too may times, uncovering the scams or "real story" too often.

I clicked because I wanted to see how Tim Doran has fared since he left his job at The Flint Journal (see below the video). The story of why his son, a high school student, has perfected the art of indoor kite flying, yanked tears out of me. The gracefulness of the kite flying surprised me, calmed me, enveloped me in quietness.

And then there's the music that his son chose to play while making the kite dance across the stage in Oregon.  Sarah McLachlan's Angel, first recorded in1997 and covered by many, only emphasizes the story that many will miss because, like me, they don't watch these types of television shows.

How can you not relate to lines like this:
"... There’s always one reason
To feel not good enough"
As always, I find it interesting to see what unfolds with a find like that. It moved through Facebook rapidly, found its way into at least six blog posts, and now the video is on the front page of the Epilepsy Foundation's web site. and discussed in its forums.

Not bad for a piece of fluff.

Tim, who worked at The Flint Journal in Michigan, lists became managing editor of The Bulletin in 2003 on his LinkedIn profile. Bend, Oregon. Staff sheet now lists the 1988 University of Missouri-Columbia graduate as business reporter for the newspaper printed by the Western News Company and I didn't see a managing editor's job listed. Follow his business news tweets on NewsInBender. 

A web search shows that he's stayed active in pushing for the freedom of information, including a stint on the board of Open Oregon and active in the Sunshine Week push.

Watch for another post on the Doran family soon. Meanwhile, another video of Connor's kite flying.

July 2, 2010

So how many of my friends in the US took part in the holiday tradition of filling their tanks on Wednesday BEFORE the traditional raising of gas prices that seems to ALWAYS come just before the start of a three-day weekend?

I forgot but that is OK because I'm not traveling. Nope. I am staying home and having folks over.

I'm almost done with food preparations so I won't have to cook (he-he) and I'm about to lay in a stock of paper products even though my husband already believes I must have lost the brain cells that remind you exactly how to load and unload a dishwasher so he does it 99% of the time (he-he).

Ah, summertime and the living is easy.

Note: This post began its life on FarmVille, when I "found" fuel while plowing and shared with farming friends. Why should they have all the fun of reading my posts, eh?

Living through excuses erases opportunity to "yell"

I remember being shocked that anyone still needed a reminder to finish an entire prescription of antibiotics.

It was beyond believability that a multiple sclerosis patient would ignore the opportunity to postpone relapses to avoid nightly injections.

Don't get me started on the rant about following the instructions on a prescription - you know, the ones that suggest eating certain foods render the drug useless or dangerous.

It always was easier to understand why some chose to eat rather then buy medicine. Even with insurance some drugs require an impossible hefty payment in days of layoffs, leaky roofs and lingering financial obligations to feed your famly.

I remember being baffled at the weariness on my aunt's face as she sat at the kitchen table and worked her way through a shoebox of pill bottles. These were the pills that kept her disease under control, that enabled her to walk with less pain, that might give her more time here with us.

I loved her puffy face. I adored her cane, so useful for pushing items and fun to twirl. I liked her long, floaty dresses that spelled freedom so much better then miniskirts or shifts or polyester pants.

But now, with the wisdom that comes with age and experience, I understand so much better why some days the puffiness, the cane, and the dresses were/are burdens, obstacles and sacrifices.

I understand the weariness of working your way through bottle after bottle of prescribed medications. I understand why the possibility of promises in the pills may not be worth the side effects or even the time that it takes to take them, to order them, to pay for them.

Is it really necessary to self inflict the sharpness of the needle on a night when staying awake is preferable to sharing a mattress moved by another body? Why would one dose make a difference? Show me the research.

Can one grapefruit really hurt? How can it be bad to try to calm the burning sensation with the dryness of Saltines an hour before food is allowed? Why should one more tall glass of water be necessary in a body already retaining enough to require a bigger shoe size most days?

If I stop taking the medications, can I pretend that everything is all right? Just for tonight? Just for awhile? Just forever?

What if I apologize to all those I judged for choosing medicine vacations? Does that earn me the right to hide all the bottles, donate the blue box of Copaxone to someone or stop ordering the endless supply of symptom suppressors?

If I promise to never "yell" or critique the medical habits of others can I slide on some of my own?

Summer heat tends to worsen my multiple sclerosis symptoms so I know that is why I am not recovering as fast as I once did.  I will not listen to the whisper that I've recovered as far as I will and this is the new stage of remitting. I have too many miles to cover, too many things to read, too many quilts ... well, you get the idea that there is much to do on my list of musts.

July 1, 2010

Our household shrinks

drawing of amy dog

Daugther's chalk drawing of the dog 

hangs in our living room.
It is a work day so that means I am home alone. Really alone. As in the dog that has lived in this house almost as long as our family is gone.

The disappearance was not unexpected. I think it hurt my husband that four hours home from a conference I still had not mentioned her absense.

I'm more then OK with Amy's leaving as it was painful to see her stumble, to ache, to get so little pleasure from life, to play tag vigorously and then move slower with no grace.

The lack of a dog means I move around less because I don't need to open and close the door a zillion times for a dog whose bladder and/or memory was bad.

The lack of a dog means I can leave all interior doors open, the toilet seat lid up, and food on any counter or space that I want.

The lack of a dog means no one eagerly eats what I drop, licks my laptop or knocks over my piles.

The lack of a dog means I don't need to leave on a light at night, trip over water or food bowl or sleep lightly so I  heard the scratching request to go out and not make my husband get up.

The lack of a dog eliminates the need to sweep up the hair, may reduce the number of required allergy shots and might save the household a few bucks in vet bills, food, medicines, lodging, etc.

What was good about the dog was the delight it provided my husband and daughter over the years. They loved the dog from the day they picked her up from the Genesee County Humane Society. They played with the dog, provided for the dog and trained the dog.

The dog was a reason for dad and daughter to play outside, to walk outside, to talk.

Amy's exploring gains her collar

of trash can lid
The dog helped ease the transition from city to suburbs for my daughter when we moved in the midst of a middle-school year.

The move was sparked by anger that her school (or the local newspaper) did not see the setting of her hair on fire in a classroom as a big deal.

The move meant we finally had a back yard bigger then a sandbox, removing the excuse for not having a dog. The dog helped as we adjusted to a lifestyle without  museums, the library and friends within walking distance.

The dog helped ease the transition of losing our daughter twice now to a community 624 miles away for my husband.

The first time she left for a household that already had a dog and so left "her dog."

The second time she left it was clear "her dog" was her dad's dog now. Plus, the move would be tough on the rapidly aging dog who already seemed to forget where she was or what she did. Besides, our daughter had another dog of her own.

This dog was the third in my life. I barely remember the first - an Irish settler that lived outdoors. The best thing about the second dog was its litter financed a dishwasher for my family. That was almost enough to forgive her for throwing up in my shoes.


Amy never needed forgiveness.

June 30, 2010

Tip-toeing back into Inside Out: Recognizing what delights

Waking up early and slowly today let me uncover some thoughts, some smiles and some tears before throwing off the covers.

Like most days, I reached first for my iPhone to check on the time, to check for messages, to check what's new via Facebook.

Unlike most days, I skipped over to the Safari application and visited a few blogs. Although each blog delivered delights and insights, I also recognized the pleasure of reading the blogs in their native environments. It is the design, the completeness - blog post with comments - and the focus that delivers the punch of pleasure sometimes hidden when you read through a feed.

Or maybe it is the slowness, the appreciation of the steps taken to get to a specific spot on the Internet and the ability to move from post to post and indulge in a feast on one topic or one writer.

Blog inspiration

There were three that feed an addiction and have inspired my blogging - FarmVille Freaks, FarmVille Fanatic, and FarmVilleFeed. There was one - Free From Editors - that made me cry and delivered a reminder that my blogging is changing. There was one - Louis Gray - that reminded me some people talk about authentic conversations while others have them.

Happy and growing

I still smile when I remember how happy the bloggers were when Zynga, the FarmVille creator, recognized them by distributing giftable items to them.

It has been inspiring to watch them learn to credit the blog that had the information first and to give Zynga the credit for images.

Equally interesting is watching the designs grow. One frequently ends posts with questions that inspire comments or use multiple-choice questions to garner interest in options. The categories change as do how the information is presented.

I knew that!

I can't type in a web address without thinking about Free From Editors, a blog by a former colleague who will never forgive newspapers for giving away content for free on the Internet.

That led to an a-ha moment as I read Jim's post on a Bay City Times reporter who has moved on to a new venture. Reading the post made me recognize the urgency of this blog, my blog, to report on Michigan media changes is fading fast. I had stumbled across Jeff Kart's change via a LinkedIn update, asked a few questions but never posted here about the Mr. Great Lakes site or his new job as online director of Michigan League of Conservation Voters.(since May 2010).

Multiple streaming

Reading Free From Editors also reminded me how I am once again scattering my shares/likes/finds across the Internet and how Facebook is helping me connect with more things. The reminder came in his post on Connor Doran, the son of another former colleague.

I'd shared the video on Facebook on Sunday, meant to write about here and well, you know how that went. I do have a post pending, just waiting for an answer to a question. Stay tuned.

Walking the talk

I'm running into the phrase "authentic conversations" on a regular basis. The disappointment comes with those who limit being authentic to words, not action. I am rarely disappointed with Louis Gray, who models an admirable openness, delivers good information and always pushes items onto my to-do list.

Today's reading added three actionable items and a watch reminder:
As I said, I'm rarely disappointed by the return on investment when I spend time at His post on The art of being pragmatic in a world of fanboys is just part of a series he offers on where he is coming from and what he is doing online. I admire him for not only thinking about it, but sharing his insights.

Quick sidetrack: Jesse Stay's blog post on Who Are the Mormons? yesterday reminded me of Gray's openess. It also made me think about why Gray and Stay are at the top of my bloggers to read list.

(Note: I corrected the spelling of Mormons)

June 21, 2010

Pardon the dust

Let's pretend I chose to take this break from most Internet things.

Let's pretend that multiple sclerosis is not a God that decide when relapses and remitting occurs.

Let's pretend I choose what is affected and when by this disease and that at most each person can have 1 function - and only 1 - affected.

Perhaps when those who know the truth stop laughing I will return to blogging, tweeting, facebooking, farming, and all things virtual. I hope for a return.

Meanwhile, we can ask for forgiveness of the dust created via virtual construction of what is next. Yeah, that is what I am doing - planning.

June 14, 2010

Getting started is the tough part

I start a gazillion blog posts - in my head. I think I will remember the thoughts. I think I will squeeze in time on the computer to craft a post from the thoughts.

Sometimes, I start the post here, get sidetracked by needing to check on a fact or find the right word or spelling and forget to get back here to finish and then publish a post. In fact, once more I have more posts started then posted. Fortunately, the Blogger software lets me do that.

Yes, blogging is no different then the rest of my life. I start so much more then I finish.

Sometimes, I stop by choice. I am more comfortable now casting aside books that don't deserve to be finished by me.

Take The Blind Side, for instance. I stopped reading it because the story kept getting lost in the details of football. Had I noticed the rest of the title: "Evolution of a Game" I might have never started reading this story of a boy who grew up without a bed and helped change the game of football. It was the boy's story I wanted, not the explanation of football evolution. That's the story the movie focused on. I finished the movie.

Casting aside books is fairly new for me as I had been trying to give the author the benefit of doubt. I pushed past my uncomfortable level, hoping, no believing, the words would become more valuable as I got deeper into the book.

Remember, this is the woman who drove librarians in Livonia nuts begging to be allowed to check out more then 5 books at a time, asking repeatedly to be allowed access to the adult section. My first oral reports were to those librarians who asked questions to make sure I was reading the books, not using them as props.

Oh, how I remember the feeling of accomplishment as I worked my way through the fiction shelves: All the authors whose last name began with an A, with a B, with a C, and so on and so on and so on.

Now, though, I realize that was just one of the first unfinished projects as a job in a bookstore (dream job, of course) and other priorities took over.

Now, though, the potatoes are done so I need to answer the call of the boil. I'm calling this post done as well.

June 5, 2010

Surprised, perplexed, exhausted from/at/in Journalism That Matters

I am amazed at the optimism and positive outlooks at a Journalism That Matters event taking place now in Detroit Michigan. With a subtitle of Create or Die, with the dying of traditional journalism, the amount of change in media, with media in Michigan this could have been a somber affair.

An opening exercise invited all who had worked in a newsroom to change places with someone else in a circle of participants. Nearly everyone moved elsewhere. But only two moved when the question was who works in a newsroom.

Tonight, I ran through a slideshow of photos from the event. Notice how many are smiling.

Participants set agenda

This is a conference where those who are present create the agenda. Someone has an issue, an idea, a proposal to examine and announces the idea to the group. Anyone can stand up and suggest, sometimes ideas are combined. All ideas are posted to a board, get a time, get a room. Then participants choose where they want to go, if they want to go.

Unlike other Journalism That Matters conferences, the hope was that some projects would be a direct result of the talking, sharing and exchanging that happened at the event with a tagline of Innovate, Incubate, Initiate.

You can see the topics proposed and notes from the sessions online as well as photos and video of some parts.

The plan

What I planned to do at this meeting was buzz from session to session to gather a sense of what happens and to create an ongoing report of the outcomes after people left Detroit, returned home and moved on. I did some conference work, picking up supplies, making some wall hangings, and inviting some people. I helped people make collages of who they are for a wall of faces. I planned to gather words each day to pull together as a poem to recap the end of the day for all.

Social gaming for journalism

But a series of conversations on the opening day led me to host a session on  Social Media Gaming to foster understanding of Journalism and Civic Engagement That session went past the initial time, rolled through lunch, through the afternoon and onto a plan for all day Saturday.

There was a revolving, evolving set of people who flew in and out of the conversations as we talked about different types of games, how could we encourage people to understand why journalism mattered, the  of state of gaming journalism, racial and gender issues in gaming and much more.

But, by the end of the first 90 minute session a small group of us knew we wanted to create a game that was fun, that could be viral, that could help others understand the complexity of finding the story as a journalist, that might lead to more people caring what happened in their community.

Long way since Space Invaders

I would not consider myself a gamer, although I admit I've played a variety of games online, on consules, on mobile devices, even my phone. I've played when the games required text commands like "get ball" made a character move across the screen and in more complex games.

Lately, I've been watching and reasearching FarmVille as a powerful example of how to make money online, create a game that lets you succeed with little time spent and offers some life lessons I wish more would encourage: Being nice to neighbors, working together for the success of all and celebrating success.

Still, I think the traditional gaming industry appeals mostly to males and those under 30, if not younger.

Breaking out

One fascinating part of the session for me was who was in the group. Only two or three (it depended on the time) were active gamers, by which I mean played multiple games, knew the types of available games and could speak off the cuff deeply about the gaming industry.

The group was predominantly female - many games are male dominated in developing, characters and players.

I continued to faciitate the process for the next five hours, pulling ideas of games that worked, that didn't from those who play games regularly and those who didn't. There was pulling of what is journalism from those who once were journalists and those who never were or intended to be.

We explored possible characters, possible approaches to storytelling, platforms and so much more. We left with the idea to continue the next day with blueskying, picking one scenario to flesh out and doing preliminary building so that we could present some sort of a game to a panel of coaches on Sunday.

Right people, right place

There are four principles of Open Space, the technique of this gathering:
  1. Whoever comes is the right people
  2. Whenever it starts is the right time
  3. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  4. When it's over, it's over
What happened early Saturday was remarkable. By the time, I entered the session where that day's agenda would be formed I knew I was too exhausted from the first day to continue as facilitator. I also knew that I didn't want to focus my energy for the next few months developing this game. Yet, there was no time to hunt for any of the participants to let them know of my change in plans.

Unexpectedly and with great appreciaiton, one of the first people to bounce up with an idea to lead a session was one of the women who floated in and out of the first day's conversations/planning/sessions. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Some others dropped out, others droped in. I stayed for some of the planning and then moved on.

New energy builds on the start

Today ended with the project -- Create a game to interest the public in the continued creation of an evolving journalism -- being picked as one of four (out of nine) to get coaching on the last day of the conference.

The game may never make it to the real world but the process of learning what hooks gamers, gaming journalism, what those inside and outside of journalism define as journalism was exciting. All who worked on the gaming plan agreed that any of us could use parts of what we discovered/learned/developed to use.

I am about to end the day, smiling in amazement at what happens when you are willing to give up the shoulds.

I wrote about this conference as part of a post on citizen journalist iniatives in Michigan

May 21, 2010

Oregonian reporter fired for writing for Glamour without OK

A 12-year career with The Oregonian ended with a firing because a reporter wrote a story for a national magazine without clearing the job with her newspaper editors first.

Details about the firing, including a comment from the editor, are posted in Williamette Week.

The story, published in Glamour under the headline " 'I Found Out My Mother Was A Killer': the Rebecca Babcock Story," is about a 26-year-old woman learning her birth mother, Diane Downs, was convicted of shooting her own children in 1983.

Downs was pregnant with Rebecca during the trial, the result of a "brief fling with a newspaper reporter" according to published reports. (The Oregonian published several reports, including this one, on "one of the most notorious murder cases in Oregon history.")

20/20 also featured Babcock's story. and "Why did Diane Downs Plot to Kill Her Kids?". You also can watch an interview with a reporter about how the story developed. The story of Diane Downs was the subject of Ann Rule's book "Small Sacrifices," and that was turned into a TV movie.

Most news organizations either restrict employees from contributing or publishing in other sources or require advance permission and first refusal rights.

May 17, 2010

Jef Mallett: Control what you can

How much in life can we control? As a woman who lives in a temperamental body - oh, thank you MS - I know that sometimes the answer is nothing.

But Jef Mallet, who I first met through The Flint Journal, suggests how we can control the start of the day in a blog post under the headline of Reveille. He sneaks in a review of John Hiatt's Muddy Waters.

I also like reading how Jef invites those of us on Facebook to head over to his latest blog post. Here's the intro for today's post:
"Most of life just happens the way it wants, even for those of us who like to think we're allergic to passivity. Truth is, you can only control a few little pieces. They might as well be key pieces. First three minutes of the day seems pretty key to me."
Most times you'd get his lead:
"People who don't like waking up on Monday mornings apparently don't wake up the way I did this morning: To John Hiatt's "Crossing Muddy Waters," from his 2000 album of the same name."
It's a perfectly good way to start a blog post. But I like how he takes the time to craft a summary of his latest post. Here's what he said over on Facebook when I left praise for his intro:
"I like how that spreads the word and drives traffic, but mostly I like how it forces me to do an instant evaluation of what I've written. Great training."

Me? I like waking up to read the blog posts of long-time and short-time friends despite being allergic to mornings. Finding a role model or learning something new can perk me up almost as much as a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Refresher 'course' uses humor to improve grammar

Me and her? Double negatives? Run-on sentences? The College Humor site takes us through some grammar lessons. But such a tragic ending, I'm afraid.

Fear not: Internet helps shrink world into villages again

Great reminder from Jason Kottke who has been sharing online since March 1998, about How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.

Click on that link and you'll see what Kottke pulled out as a stark reminder that it is us on the Internet.

Then head to the original piece by Douglas Adams, which first appeared in The Sunday Times on Aug. 29, 1990.

One of my favorite lines?
"Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it."
It's part of three sentences of what in the world is normal and what is against the natural order of things. Unfortunately, most of us won't believe those sentences until we've made it past the age of 40 or so.

But I also like the reminder:
"Another problem with the net is that it’s still ‘technology’, and ‘technology’, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is ‘stuff that doesn’t work yet.’ "
But what I like best is this reminder of who we are and why we reach out via email, Facebook, FarmVille, Twitter, and so much more:

"We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.

"Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them."

Won't you be my friend? Or follower? Or neighbor?

May 14, 2010

Do your Facebook friends follow the crowd on quizzes, games and more?

I'm so grateful none of my friends on Facebook suck. Do yours?

After checking out the 8 websites you don't need to do because someone else has already done them, I stumbled across "How to Suck at Facebook" So, of course, I shared it on Facebook, which led to more people sharing and laughing. Some even volunteered to share with me some of their friends who do suck.

Concentrate on brand to avoid 8 website mistakes

Why re-invent what others do?

The Oatmeal, which the creator calls an entertainment site, gives you 8 Websites You Need to Stop Building, which I'm boiling down to say the world does not need a web site that:
  1. Tells what my friends are up to
  2. Shares things
  3. Clones successful websites
  4. Requires registration (use what's out there - Facebook Connect, Google, etc.)
  5. Opens with mandatory Flash introductions
  6. Proves you are a social media wizard
But if you just accept my version you will miss the opportunity to see Matthew Inman's 8 reasons illustrated in comic strip form. It's a quick read so check it out.

For inspiration on what and why Inman creates what he does read his post on Why I quit.

Then, get back to thinking about what you want to do for you, your organization or business. How can you ensure the death of an online site won't eliminate your community?

May 13, 2010

Setting privacy settings on Facebook requires many clicks

Wow. Send out a thank you to the New York Times which uncovered the privacy settings for Facebook: 50 settings with 170 options.

An article, The price of Facebook Privacy? Start clicking, and a graphic maps out what you can do with Facebook's general privacy settings, ads and application settings.  

(Find general privacy settings under Account, Privacy Settings - See illustration above - and Facebook ads  under Account, Account Settings - See illustration below. And for more fun, check out Application Settings.)

 Plus the NYT shares information like the growth spurt of the Facebook privacy policy:
  • 1,004 words in 2005; 5,830 words in 2010
  • Longer then the United Staes Constitution without the amendments.
Facebook also has a guide to privacy, which is where you can find its policy, and details about the most recent update. Facebook suggests the world will be a better place if you allow "Everyone" to see everything. The New York Times had no recommendation.

I tend to recommend Friends or Only Me settings for most people, cautioning that once you put something on the Internet consider that someone somewhere will know at some point in time.

May 12, 2010

When you hear 'journalist' what do you see? Database collects 75,000 images

Your age might be a predictor of the image that the word journalist pops up in your mind. But if you've got the time,  the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture database can show you about 75,000 different entries.

There are video, photos, and hundreds of articles that feature journalists in a variety of roles.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts is the Sob Sisters parts that shows the conflict of female journalists: "How to incorporate the masculine traits of journalism essential for success – being aggressive, self-reliant, curious, tough, ambitious, cynical, cocky, unsympathetic – while still being the woman society would like her to be – compassionate, caring, loving, maternal, sympathetic."

The opening essay highlights some of the conflicts, including:
"... does anyone really want to be Hildy Johnson chasing after one more story or Lois Lane crying her eyes out because the person she loves is out saving the world and doesn’t have time for domestic tranquility or Mary Richards, widowed and penniless, trying at the age of 60 to make one more comeback in television news, or Murphy Brown raising a child and battling breast cancer while still holding on to her number one position in TV news ..."

Here's what Joe Joe Saltzman, professor of journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. says we'll find among the 75,000 entries on journalists, public relations practitioners and media in the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture database:
  • Television (27,000 items); 
  • Films (19,500 movies, movies made for TV and miniseries); 
  • Fiction (12,300 novels, 1,550 short stories, 500 plays and 200 poems); 
  • Radio (2,900 items);
  • Cartoons, Comic Books & Comic ... See MoreStrips (5,900 items); 
  • Non-Fiction (Documentaries, News, Sports, 3,150 items); 
  • Humor (710 items); 
  • Commercials (350 items); 
  • Games (140 items); 
  • Music (Songs-Compositions, 95 items); 
  • Internet-Websites (90 items), 
  • Art (40 items).
The IJPC Database includes:
  • print journalists (from large urban newspapers to small country weeklies, including editors, reporters, photojournalists, correspondents, columnists, publishers, newsboys), 
  • broadcast journalists (from networks to local stations including reporters, anchors, correspondents, producers, writers, technical personnel, news directors, station owners, network executives and management), 
  • public relations practitioners (from press agents to publicists), and 
  • the news media (anonymous reporters who show up in countless films and television movies ranging from press conferences to packs of reporters shouting questions or chasing after the main character to individual reporters asking questions). 
Here are some tips he shared over on Facebook:
  • If you want to see all the entries, don’t fill in any of the query categories and simply hit submit
  •  If you’re interested in a particular film or novel or any other popular culture title, fill in the TITLE query
  • If you’re searching for a particular journalist (a columnist, a critic, an editor), a specific actor or a specific group (African-American or Female or Gay for example) simply fill out the COMMENTS query.
  • If you’re only interested in movies or novels or poems or humor, simply click on the TYPE or types you are interested in and only those entries will show up.
  • If you want to see if your favorite author is included, go to the AUTHOR column and type in LAST NAME followed by a comma, and then first name.
  • If you’re interested in a specific country, type that country’s name in the REFERENCE query.
  • Each column can be set up in ascending or descending order by simply clicking on it.
  • If you want to read more about any individual title, click on the title itself.
  • If you want to borrow some title from the IJPC Collection of more than 12,000 DVDs, then check the FORMAT column to see if it’s available.
All the tips on how to use the database are included in the IJPC Database Introduction.

Go. Enjoy.

May 11, 2010

Imagine if life were like Facebook

Toss a drink! Deliver a poke! Write on a wall!

A group took those things we say and do on Facebook and turned them into a video. Go ahead, click Facebook In Real Life on Facebook or on the Crossroads web site You need a laugh today.

Next up: When Facebook is your life -- now, that's a real laugh.
 By the way, Crossroads, which produce the video, says it is for those who have given up on church, but not God.

May 10, 2010

Unfinished business stays that way

I'm playing butterfly today. You know, those times when you flit from project to project, place to place, and unfortunately, blog post to blog post.

I'm picking up nuggets of thoughts from here and there. I start pulling it together and suddenly I see a brighter and sweeter flower. How can I resist? I just looked and I.see I once again have more draft posts then published posts :(  for the year.

Maybe I should go work on those Facebook pages that are demanding attention.

Or maybe I'll go study that butterfly quilt once more and nap.

The nap is needed because either we need to sleeping pills for dogs or a way to train them to sleep from midnight to 8 a.m.

May 8, 2010

Share on Saturday: Why 4 easy steps ensure popularity on Facebook

I could have published this post early Thursday morning. Instead, I'm listening and waiting for this blog post to hit Facebook on Saturday.

That simple step might be key to spreading the word on Facebook. Think weekend, numbers and sex. Or post about Facebook.

Hat tip to the News Leadership Blog through the Knight Digital Media Center for its summary in 3 tips for getting your stories shared on Facebook

But head to Dan Zarrella's blog for a post on "Data shows on Facebook sex sells."

Learn why it pays to post on weekends if you're looking for something to spread. Here's a hint: How many employers now ban Facebook and other web sites?

Be stunned to learn that digits in headlines help in popularity.

Then find out why including Facebook, why or world  make a post more likely to get shared on Facebook.

(By the way, these blog posts are now flowing onto my Facebook page. The page  was created in 2007. I dusted it off as I ramp up to more Facebook work. It's much easier and safer to experiment with FBML and other things there instead of on the clients' site.

Some pages grow faster then others - Soyla's Mexican Cuisine is up to 60 fans/likers while the main Facebook page for Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan is around 1,800 fans/likers). Meanwhile, I'm working on revising the Facebook 101 classes - again! -- and adding a Facebook for Small Businesses 101 class. That's one setting where Dan's research will come in handy.)

May 6, 2010

Simple explanation very inviting

Isn't the simplicity of this web page stunning. Even at the end of a long day - yeah, not the best time to evaluate anything - I'm just blown away by the simplicity of instructions.

I grabbed a snapshot because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Note: If you want to know about the service and its preview head over to for Regator Revamp Adds Blog Tremds. Monitoring, More.

April 30, 2010

Seriously, you thought you could hide forever

I am sure my mother had eyes in the back of her head. I am sure the sun will rise tomorrow. I am equally sure that if I say or do something on a computer or device connected to a network I give up the right to privacy.

Perhaps it comes from growing up in a community where many eyes watched and reported the moves of members. Or maybe I learned that private actions are limited while digging through reports, listening to speeches and asking questions to create articles for newspapers, the web and books.

Or maybe I've lived through enough private networks becoming public, seen enough innovations wipe out previous practices and endured company ownership changes that render lifetime guarantees useless.

Teach privacy impossible

So Facebook wants to take over the world.So Facebook will learn more about me if I share my likes within  and off site. We already knew our reputations are dead.

Rather then worrying about teaching people how to keep their behaviors, thoughts and actions quiet why don't we teach them the basic truth that if you share it online someone will find it.  Yesterday it was Google. Today it is Facebook. Let's see who is next.

That's a long way of saying I don't see why someone  would be gleeful that they've managed to fool Facebook by listing concepts and values as interests and activities, a move that ensures useful ads are not served. I don't get playing hide and seek on Facebook.

One last time

I actually like those programs that tell me who I'm following across social networks, that serve up suggestions of what or who I might like.

I agree with Chris O'Brien in the San Jose Mercury News that the benefits of a Facebook monster is that I don't have to keep reinventing my profiles.

Says O'Brien in Sorry, Google, but Facebook is the Web's most important company now:

"The problem with the social Web until now is that each time you joined a new site, you had to create a new identity and refind your friends and drag them along with you. That's a pain, and each time you really had to think about how much time you wanted to invest. You had to build dozens of social networks, try to manage them and remember to check them."

But the changes mean, O'Brien explained, that "now, your Facebook network will just travel with you seamlessly across the Web ... This will make social networking far simpler and more effective for the vast majority of users."

It does means Facebook has a ton of information about me. I'm OK with that. So does my credit card company, Comcast and a ton of others. Unfortunately, a Freedom of Information Act request won't let me know what all they know.

Just go, will you?

I'm OK with Tyler Romeo "not to be a copycat or anything but I'm leaving Facebook." He's going to leave a lot of things through the years.

Nothing in the conversation that followed when Louis Gray shared it on Google Buzz persuaded me to follow Romeo's example.

I still believe don't say it or do it if you don't want to see it on the front page of your "local newspaper." It's just that these days my "local newspaper" has morphed into a global online network.

April 29, 2010

More citizen journalist initiatives starting at Michigan newspapers

Looks like Michigan's Oakland Press will get help in expanding its citizen journalism pool.

Plus more Michigan communities will start relying on neighbors to help cover the news.

The Journal Register, which owns the Oakland Press, Macomb Daily, Royal Oak Daily Tribune, Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant in Michigan and 13 other daily newspapers in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, partnered with SeeClickFix

A shared item on Facebook let me to this article in the Dearborn Press and Guide:
Newspaper group starts citizen journalist initiative.
"The partnership provides SeeClickFix portal pages on JRC Web sites that will allow users to observe, report and follow issues in their communities. Web site users will be able to create watch areas and track items ranging from poor road conditions to blighted buildings."

Think of it as a community neighborhood watch group for news.

The Oakland Press launched a citizen journalism academy in late 2008, even gained circulation when other Michigan newspapers cut back. But the move brought plenty of attention to the Oakland Press.

The company believes this partnership will benefit the communities by:
  • Encouraging the audience to use the SeeClickFix platform to alert fellow residents of impact issues.
  • Empowering residents to work with the company’s journalists to address community needs.
  • Highlighting those who participate and make a difference through news reports.

How's that for a press release reprinted in a newspaper as if it were a story.

The press release at the company site says:

The company expects to expand its network to its other properties, including the other weekly newspapers in Michigan. Those include the Advisor and Source in Shelby Township, Voice Newspapers, Southgate News-Herald, Heritage Newspapers and Morning Star Network, according to the company website.

Meanwhile, the Rapidian on the west side of Michigan is going strong.

Create or die

We are also about a month away from a Journalism That Matters unconference in Detroit.

The idea behind the event is "How can we reshape journalism so that it engages and serves all people & communities?"

A Facebook announcement said:
"A focused, three-day gathering of results-driven journalists, entrepreneurs, programmers, technologists, bloggers, videographers, funders, venture capitalists, artists and educators to discover, assess, shape and create new enterprises and new approaches to participatory media and civic journalism. We'll meeting in St. Andrew's Hall, a National Register-listed former church, with
state-of-the-art TV production facilities next door, and dormitory suite or hotel accommodations.

Learn about Detroit's changing economy as a metaphor for the journalism change and opportunity. Arrive Thurs., June 3, at mid-day, begin with an afternoon orientation, buffet dinner and evening program. Share/work Friday and Saturday using circle-round and break-out 'unconference' collaboration; wrap up and commit to next steps on Sunday morning."

Some expectations:
  • New and unexpected cross-sector collaborations
  • Broadening a community of practice among people who care about journalism innovation
  • Nurture and develop journalism entrepreneurship especially for underserved communities and people of color
  • Learn from stories of successful projects
  • Discover and engage financial/funding sources to seed new projects

Developing the program has started, but much of it depends on who shows up.

I'm registered to go, expecting to work behind the scenes capturing and then sharing some of what is discovered at the event. A few obstacles for me to overcome, but I think some exciting conversations will happen.