April 3, 2010

Nice tool could help forgetful journalists

Note-taking web service

Those looking for another way to take notes might want to check a new service aimed at journalists: LedeLog  It's especially good for those of us who forget to save - this application does it automatically every 10 seconds.

It's equally good for those of us with a lot of drafts.. You can tag the notes/articles/blog entries and then search by tag or full content. A list of the most recent notes hangs on the right hand of the screen.

I like the option of sending your saved text to an email address, handy for those newsrooms set up to receive stories that way.

Use your Google account, or an OpenID, to sign in and rest assured that your data is your data. (OK, there is one warning that something critical might require sharing of data. From the site:
"nobody will view it unless a critical bug requires doing so"
Oh, one more thing. It's free for now but a note over on Google Apps Marketplace says pricing coming in three months. That's where you''ll also learn "professional journalists" have been using it since January 2009. No names and the quotes around professional journalists are mine. You know why.


Tip of the hat to Louis Gray for alerting us through Lede.Log: GoogleApps hosted Media Workflow Launches He even tested the app by writing that blog post about it on it.  Follow some of the conversation and reaction on Buzz and on Gray's post.

April 2, 2010

Imagined conversations not always right; real talk can lead to hack

Some of my high school days have caught up with me. So has some carelessness that had me posting a favorite movie.

Through the wonders of Facebook connections, I talk regularly with some I went to high school. Many of us enjoy competing on FarmVille, something to bring us together after a 30-year lull.

Still, I was surprised when I learned that a friend regretted how we parted and wanted to explain why. Too bad we didn't talk about this years ago as we could've said each other a lot of grief. We still would've ended our relationship - for one, I wasn't allowed to have those in high school.

But, he has helped me remember things I had forgotten about and helped me discover how I still do some things I did then.

The conversation soothes, but it also makes me want to seek out others to ask why. Perhaps, just like with this one, I am wrong about the reason why we no longer communicate, much less are friends. Simple misunderstandings? Perhaps.

Sudden silence stings

It's hard for me to understand how for many days, even years, you share insights, able to talk about anything, everything, and the then suddenly silence. Unfortunately, if you share friends that silence becomes loud in the real world, or, as I'm learning on the Facebook, people do notice when suddenly posts and sharing stops.

I've also learned that it doesn't take years to make a connection that hurts when it breaks. Even when your head knows how ridiculous it sounds to be hurt about broken promises, I am. I want to believe the other person is the party who did wrong, not me.I'd even like to believe those who tell me he's the loser, losing out on the opportunity to know me. But I'm the one who misses the questions, the contact, the debates, even the struggles.

Still, that friendship led to good things - new friends, a reminder of how this one movie influenced me, and what some of my forgotten dreams were. I learned some amazing things about myself through his questions and statements.

Watch what you say

Perhaps the worse thing I learned is how easy it is to become lax on the Internet - bad passwords, staying logged in, and being trusting of software programs, web sites, and networks. It is easy to say things here and there and forget that someone with search skills and desire can figure out to hurt you by hurting those around you.

A recent thread on Facebook asked what your first concert was. As people started sharing, someone reminded folks of a web service that uses that question and answer if you forget your password. Oops.

I think it was a favorite movie that allowed someone to slip into some of my accounts recently to send off some incredible, unbelievable messages and postings. Still trying to determine if the person knows me well enough to know that movie or if it was spotting it on a web site.

Either way, let me assure the hills are no longer alive with the sound of music when I'm answering security questions.

April 1, 2010

Mixing it up: Newspapers, Twitter and talking back

Odd that the same day I realize why it is hard for me to work my way through the newspapers still delivered to my house is the day I find a likeable, newspaper-like presentation of my Twitter feed.

Honestly, I did start the day determined to make my way through some of the newspapers that are piling up, demanding to be read or at least tossed. I made it through two front pages before I had a question and went to the Internet.

Next thing you know I've slipped into Google Reader, skimming, reading and, slap of the forehead, commenting. I had quickly marked 36 posts as worth sharing, or, thinking about. Most now carry a comment or a question.

Sample Google Reader items with my notes

Paper is limiting

It was while I was racing through Google Reader that it dawned on me why I find it frustrating to read the newspaper - commenting is tough and clipping articles for commenting later takes a system, takes effort.

That idea of the appeal of contributing to an article was reinforced as I skimmed a new Pew report on the news habits of Americans.  I am stopped by the idea of the growing percent of people - now 37% - who see news as place to participate, who make news a social experience.
"People use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news."
They contribute to creation of news, comment or disseminate via postings on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. In fact, the report also says that more then 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in emails

OK, back to Twitter.

I've been drifting from Twitter lately, almost overwhelmed by the speed at which things flow past. But then, something draws me to the site and one Tweet leads to another leads to another leads to another. I'm talking with people as fast as the fingers will fly.

Today I was trying to figure out what someone from London meant when he used the word cow twice on Facebook. His explanations were not helping. I knew a few Twitters might be able to help. (I was wrong.)

Next thing you know an hour or two has slipped by and I have had a grand time on Twitter.

Fat fingers

But Faceback was calling, the obligations of pages, groups, and games. Oh, friends and family, too.

Slippery fingers, however, mean I keep clicking on Facebook ads accidentally. But this time what turned up was a "newspaper" created from the tweets of people I follow on my mcwflint Twitter account. How could I resist playing?

(Above is my mcwflint account. That's a mix of journalism, social media people, a few geeks, and ... ? Below is one from mcwgs Twitter account - it is the account where I follow mostly people involved in Girl Scouts.)

Perhaps it is my past involvement with newspapers but I like this presentation of the Twitter stream.The pulled-in content from shared links made it easy to consume a lot of content quickly.

It is pulled together from SmallRivers, a "privately held startup incorporated in Switzerland (Lausanne) and located on the Swiss Institute of Technology EPFL campus." Find it at http://paper.li

The shortcoming is that I can only get the "print edition" once a day. But it is something to ponder. (But I'm not doing so well on working my way through the newspapers.)

March 31, 2010

Imagine that: Yellow things, cold things, news things

Golden sunshine is pouring through my window and I'm grateful that I want the light today instead of the darkness created by closed blinds, shuttered drapes or dark sunglasses. Perhaps, another headache behind me, much like another winter behind me.

I'm not as bold as my husband who put away the snow blower so I'll hang onto the winter necessities of gloves, hats, boots and heavy jacket. But, I'm continuing the spring cleaning, the decluttering of the computer, of a few rooms but mostly my mind. That is how there will be space for what is around the corner if I'm willing to keep moving.

Maybe moving is the key to staying alive, a way of breaking the patterns that threaten to hold us back, that hold us in, that hold us tightly within boxes supplied by others and accepted by us.

New refrigerator

Speaking of boxes, remember the joy an empty refrigerator box can begin. The young so easily turn the empty crate that delivers an American kitchen necessity into a magical place - a fort, a palace, a dollhouse.

Our new refrigerator was finally delivered. Sadly, there are no children to play in the box so the drivers took it away. Instead, I played with arranging the vegetables with names I forget, the cheese I can no longer eat and the fruit that I am eating one piece every day. (Let's celebrate - 15 days in a row!)

This new appliance, picked out by my husband and bought in time to earn a government rebate, takes up less space and, we hope, less energy.

I say let's hope because of that Congressional audit  that showed getting the Energy star really is no indication that you'll save. Of course, the program promises to change so that no longer can made-up products slip into the "do good, save energy" list. You can read the newly issued, 27-page report for yourself, but really the title alone tells you enough: "Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process Is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse."Of course, you'd miss reading about the gas-powered alarm clock and decorative light string.

Surprise, surprise

A few surprises are wrapped in that refrigerator. The men who delivered it could not believe it was the first time I was seeing this appliance, that I had "let" my husband pick it out. Seriously, why not? He's the one who wanted to replace the monster we've lived with since we first moved to the one town I told the real estate agent we would not move to. The questions remind me of patterns expected by some: Women shop, women choose, women turn a house into a home.

This model does not have a water dispenser in the door. I had agreed that the new model did not need it, but now I am surprised how often I go to that corner of the kitchen to refill my glass. It's just time for a new pattern to change this newly acquired habit of drinking enough water everyday.

I also was surprised that there was no "how to use your refrigertor" brochure inside this shiny new appliance. I'd been pumped to expect one after reading a Wall Street Journal article on how manufactuers were helping customers learn to use the appliance.

Find the news

That article "Why won't anyone clean the refrigerator" was enlightening. Also surprising as the guts of the piece are based on a 2006 study on how people organize their refrigerators and Whirlpool's 2005 survey of how people use their refrigerators.

The news peg is the new models, ones with germ-fighting shelves, bigger lights and tiny etchings to help keep spilled liquid to one shelf. (Yes, "find the news" or the reason why this article ran today is a frequent hobby of mine.)

But I was not surprised that Habitat of Humanity, which works so hard to provide houses, permanent places for those in need, willingly picked up the monster of a refrigerator.

Where did that come from?

This post was started over on FarmVille.com, a game I play sometimes while waking up or multitasking, when I picked up a "golden egg" to share with neighboring players.

I noticed today that FarmVille.com's personalization includes my profile picture at the top of the screen, right next to the "Welcome, Mary Ann." I know something is not computing in gameland when my name disappears and all I get is a "welcome."

There is a glitch because when I visit "my farm, I get a "Good neighbors" message from Zynga telling me that more then 485 people have visited my farm. That is a surprise since I "only" have 140 neighbors.

OK, back to spring cleaning, not playing, not writng. Enjoy.

March 30, 2010

Flint adds paper too

I let the March 23 debut of a Tuesday Flint Journal edition slide past. My husband did pick us up a copy the next day. But that was last week and I don't remember much about it other then a front-page letter from its highest ranking editor in Flint.

I know the new edition included:
  • An expanded weather package that returns some features cut under the new schedule: Pollen counts, for instance. (Too old to be useful, though).
  • Stocks and market page. (Not much help either. Unlike my hu

Selling the story

Columnist Andrew Heller is enthused about the return.
"First, I dearly love newspapers, and a Tuesday edition is a step forward. I'm not privy to the paper's long-term strategy, so don't think I'm hinting at anything here, but adding a fourth day is the first step toward adding a fifth day, and a fifth day might mean we'll someday see a daily newspaper back in Genesee County, which would be good for everyone, whether they subscribe or not.
I did notice that ads like the one above are running throughout the newspapers's online affiliate, mlive.com That's nice to see the support.

I also know there was a launch party at the Flint Institute of Arts for The Flint Journal. And, judging by comments on Facebook, T-shirts are available for the promotion of the Great Lakes Bay debut.

A few blogs noticed: Flint Expatriates, for instance. An AP story was picked up by the Dynamic World of Print and Editor & Publisher and others.

The Flint Journal has been making changes - a new editor oversees the Grand Blanc and Fenton area weekly editions. A new reporter is covering the Grand Blanc area. A few more stations/networks were added to the weekly TV edition.

Community invited in

Bigger news was the implementation of a 2008-09 plan to let the public contribute photos, videos, press releases, and other information  directly to the online affiliate. The first Flint area site I saw was for the community where I'm living, Grand Blanc.

Once a person registers for the mlive site, they can log in and submit news, photos, videos (above) or entertainment listings (below). Items need approval of the "blog owner" before making it to the site. The sites began March 7.

Users are not required to submit a bio but you can look at all the posts from one user. That let's you guess where someone is from or what organization is represented. Postings from The Flint Journal and The Grand Blanc News flow into the same blog. All are organized by time and day posted.

Amy L. Payne,  who says she is "part of the online content team for The Saginaw News, The Bay City Times and The Flint Journal. I'm a Saginaw native, and I've been working for these papers since 2007. I'm generally on the lookout for stories from around the internet of interest to Mid-Michigan readers" pulled together (if the byline is to be believed) community contacts.

The links are considered news links, so no charge.

I wanted to name the new Grand Blanc News editor. Unfortunately, I don't know where the physical clipping is, searching the archives on mlive or the newspaper gave me nothing but old news, and The Community Newspaper site appears to have been updated last in September 2008.

When I left The Flint Journal in May 2008, I was interactive media manager. It meant I oversaw the online edition for what once was a daily newspaper with a growing emphasis on creating online content. Of course, no one at a news organization does just one thing so I had other responsibilities, too. Online sales, for instance. Computer-assisted reporting. Database marketing. Mapping. You get the idea - I was a geek into words, distribution of information and Internet tools.

Over the years, I worked in the newsroom, and editorial, advertising and marketing departments. I delivered a newspaper when I was younger. In between, I was a reporter and editor at several weeklies and had the pleasure of being the top editor of the State News, a five-day-a-week broadsheet available to Michigan State Univeristy students, staff and neighbors.

Mid-Michigan gets another day to read newspaper

 As promised, a new newspaper for the Bay City - Saginaw Michigan area hit the newsstands today.

The Great Lakes Bay Edition comes one week after the start of a newsstand-only Tuesday version of The Flint Journal. The Bay City Times and the Saginaw News contribute to the Great Lakes Bay edition. (The three newspapers went to a Thursday, Friday, Sunday publication schedule in June 2009. The Tuesday versions are not delivered to homes, which some tea-leave readers, I mean commenters, suggest indicates delivery of all editions will be dropped.)

A nice feature for both editions is newsstand locator online. Type in a ZIP code and you get a list of where the newspapers are available. (Great Lakes finder under a short snappy URL of www.mlive.com/glbedition and the Flint Journal finder.)

I also noticed that today's announcement of the Great Lakes Bay  edition includes an invitation to "become friends" with John Hiner, executive editor of the newspapers that are part of Booth Mid-Michigan, which is part of the Advance Publications network of the Newhouse company.

John Hiner is the executive editor of The Bay City Times and The Saginaw News. He can be reached at (989) 894-9629, by e-mail at jhiner@boothmidmichigan.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/john.p.hiner.

The Great Lakes Bay Tuesday was announced March 14 in The Saginaw News to partner with The Bay City Times for Great Lakes Bay Tuesday print edition. 

Potential readers were told to expect a traditional newspaper filled with local news, sports, opinion, lottery numbers and ads. The audience, defined as those living in Bay City, Midland and Saginaw counties  (mid-Michigan, north of the state capitol, northwest of Detroit), also said expect a focus on news, people and causes making the region "more competitive for businesses and more attractive to families."

Support area

Today's announcement highlighted two reasons for adding a print newspaper under a new banner:
  •  "People still love a printed newspaper" and
  • Supporting regionalism.
Hiner's announcement includes this:
"Two, the communities that make up this region genuinely are pulling together in tangible ways to improve the business climate, attract outside investment, create efficiencies for institutions and governments in a tough economy, and bolster social and cultural offerings."

Shared mission

He also answers some of the objections heard within the community:
"I have heard some opposition to the regionalism movement. Some say it is an attempt to mask our communities’ problems; others suggest that the Great Lakes Bay name is too vague and, in that way, insults the heritage and unique identities of Bay City, Saginaw and Midland in service of public relations.

To the contrary, very little of what I’ve seen of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is packaging. I see key leaders, business and political, working together to pursue opportunities, both in and out of the area. I see institutions and businesses that were hidden gems in their towns getting more exposure to residents in the broader region. I see people from all walks of life networking, and hear them identifying opportunities to work and prosper together."
He rejects the idea of a master agenda.
This is a shared endeavor, one that will come together piece by piece as people, institutions and whole communities find they are strengthened, not diminished, by uniting."
Some of the snaping found in "Struggling newspapers promote rebranding of Saginaw Area Watershed." 

The announcement also says a reporter, Holly Setter, will cover the Midland area in print and online at mlive.com/midland.

Is The Oregonian going to shrink?

A telephone survey led a blogger in Oregon to ask:

Is the Oregonian going tabloid?

Why a smaller, easier to hold format is possible is explained in Jack Bog's Blog. In the comments is speculation about the possibility of outsourcing a print job and confirmation of the phone survey.

Other bloggers in Oregon also wrote about the possible shift but all seem to use this post in Jack Bog's Blog as the content source.

Smart move? Or dumb idea to research?

(And, how many of you thought I was going to tell you staff is shrinking again. That's coming - not news of more layoffs, but me catching up with the November buyouts and the February layoffs.)

Watchers of media release forbidden words

Oh my. I'd forgotten how careful newspapers sometimes try to be about using certain words.

Imagine the difficulty faced by a newspaper in a community where a "hip-hop retelling of "The Taming of the Shrew" is called "Slap That Bitch." What to do, what to do.

Oregon Media Central used the occasion to provide the list of banned words in The Oregonian. They looked through the stylebook. They searched the archives. And then they told the story.

Oh, they also did a followup to their "filthy article" to let us know what this Advance Publication / Newhouse newspaper handled previewing and reviewing "Slap That Bitch."

(I worked almost 30 years for a newspaper that falls under the umbrella of Advance Publications, aka Newhouse newspapers, or Booth Newspapers or ... From time to time, I can't resist checking out what's up with that newspaper or other media properties in the family. Even better, I can't resist sharing. So yes, I've written about The Oregonian before. Lawsuits, retirements, buyouts and more. Oh my. Oh my. Oh my.)

This subject remind me of the newspaper that forbid the word porn because it offended the Porn family who lived in the circulation area. OK, time for sleep.)

Reputation is today's keyword

The serependity of blog posts and real life makes reputation my keyword of the day. Maybe I've found one more argument in my war against separate personal and professional profiles anywhere. Or perhaps, we are closer to understanding the importance of now over yesterday.

Much chatter was started by Reputation is Dead. It's Time to Overlook Our Discretion, an acknowledgement that we all do some silly or stupid things and that just the sheer mass of Twitter, Facebook, and so much more means we can no longer pretend to keep our past just to ourselves.

Michael Arrington, who drops hints of a new application due out, first writes:
"We’re still wired to think of gossip as something that spreads quietly behind the scenes, and relatively slowly. But we’re already in a world where it’s all completely public, there are few repercussions to the person spreading it, and it is easily searchable."

Get ready to laugh

He calls it the closet skeltons moving to the front porch, acknowledges the obsuridity of trying to keep anything private today and suggests one day we'll look back and laugh about this.
"And the kind of accusations that can kill a career today will likely be seen as a badge of honor, and a sign of an ambitious individual who has pissed off a few people along the way."
Or, perhaps we can start believing that people change, grow and/or improve and what is most important is now, not yesterday, not tomorrow.

Flint seeks future

A belief like that would help the region I now call home - Flint, Michigan. The city is one 1,100 competing for a blessing from Google. There were videos, a sea of white at a meetup, a Facebook group (I bet the Flint,MI Google Broadband Project will get 1,000,000 fans), a website and much more to showcase how this once strong city is ready for new investment and technology.

Even though the city is best known now for its auto manufacturing, technology has always thrived here: bulletin boards, a free-net, free public computers and other efforts thrived beneath the main street visionaries.

Flint fights reputation

Still there is a reputation for this city, one built by the war between unions and bosses, acknowledged by the still controversial "Roger & Me," and reinforced by an out-of-context remark on bulldozing neighborhoods that draws worldwide media attention.

Indeed, a Facebook status from a man who just finished touring Buffalo, New York, muses on Facebook how the "town has been through many economic changes" that his hometown, Flint, could also turn-around but acknowledges the difficulty:.
"The Flint area can evolve and arise once we get past the idea that we are only a shop town."
Also from Facebook, this time from the Mott Foundation, is an acknowledgment of creating something new:
“Much like the ‘Little Engine’ children’s story,” notes this article, (on the Michigan Municple League's site) the Mott Foundation’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, is “gaining a reputation as the town that could.” Several economic development and revitalization projects – many funded with Mott support – are helping the community to reinvent itself and create a new future"

That means like the advice given in Reputation is Dead. It's Time to Overlook Our Discretions ..... we just need the world to overlook what it thinks Flint is and consider what it is or could be.

Reputation, yep. Today's word of the day.

March 29, 2010

Face it: Check what you send to see how it works

Click to see larger version

A recent exploration of some applications reminded me of the need to check what you send upstream and gave me some new points to share with Facebook page owners.

The first time I saw a my6sense post on Facebook I clicked on the "see more" link to read it. Whoa. What a massive block of type -- the application ignored the call for paragraphs. Fortunately, if you click on the headline you go directly to the original article.

The second time I saw a my6sense post on Facebook it was mine. Two yucks this time.

The first was for the block of type (too bad you didn't hear my husband's groan when it appeared in his iPhone feed - he didn't get the option to click see more and the post filled several screens). The second was for the link back to my6sense.

I was intrigued by the idea of "your digital intuition," a program figuring out what I needed to, wanted to, read first from the Internet stream. I downloaded the app from iTunes, figured out the settings and was amazed at the how well the application was picking out what I wanted to read first. Soon, I shared a post on Facebook.

Later that day, I clicked on the my6sense link beneath the post and it took me to a Facebook page that hadn't been updated in months. And, yes, I left a comment asking why have a page you're directed to if updates are not part of the plan. A reply came 2 days later from Ilana Gurman, marketing director at my6sense: We update our fan page at facebook.com/my6sense. 

The reply inspired three reminders for me to add to my Facebook routines for page owners:
  • If you give a web address on Facebook, make sure you hotlink it.
  • If you answer a question, make sure the answer will get to the person who asked it.
  • Act quickly - check the page at least once a day.

The second is important because I stopped being a fan when I didn't get an answer within 24 hours so I did not know someone had directed me elsewhere.

The only reason I knew about the reply is a Facebook friend liked a my6sense link and that took me to another my6 sense page that had lots of updates.  http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=138810560344#!/my6sense

I was intrigued enough to backtrack what I had done earlier in the week to get to the abandoned page and discovered the reply. Plus, I discovered I'm not the only one wondering why the company doesn't link to its active page.

Meanwhile, back to deciding if my6sense will occupy some of my iPhone space.

(A new development from the company is highlighted in the post I shared in the graphic at the top of this post:  My6sense Intros Attention API for Hyper-Relevant Web)

March 28, 2010

'Last Print Journo' making friends fast

The Last Print Journalist knows how to tweet. The Last Print Journalist is on Facebook, too, rapidly becoming friends (808) with many journalists, fans of 83 journalism or word-related pages and members of 7 journalism groups.

Mostly, though, the anonymous the Last PrintJourno, is having fun providing "the cheeky timeline that tracks how the glorious print newspaper finally put itself to bed. Forever."

It is clear that the Last PrintJourno has heard the legends of newsrooms, providing gems like:
5.02.12 From every last newsroom drawer in the land, workers remove all traces of the three most influential men in journalistic history: Jim Beam. Jack Daniels. And Johnnie Walker.

There were days when the "rewrite man" saved many of us rushing to get the facts, just the facts, but the right facts, so this one is sad:
12.30.18: The last real "rewrite man" dies. Instead of burying the body, the eulogizing mourners -- in fitting tribute -- instead bury the lede.
And let's not forget the office pools, some very ghoulish, some very standard, and this:
3.18.29: Office pools let people pick which of the final 64 print newspapers will be the last standing. Many brackets pick the NYT, in the belief that when gambling, never bet against a man named "Slim."
He helps me recall heated debates with items like:
06.09.17: After an employee complains to HR that such "coarse language" promotes a too sexually suggestive workplace, the newsroom phrase "put the paper to bed" is, itself, put to bed.
Have you thought lately about what has disappeared in your lifetime? Clearly, this word man has:
1.1.15: The term "On the record" finally loses all relevance whatsoever. Rejecting "On the CD" and "On the iTune," @APStylebook stiffly rules that the official replacement phrase shall henceforth be: "On the defunct vinyl."

Indeed, on the barely started blog we learn some of what makes the Last PrintJourno different:
"I'm a veteran writer/editor at a major newspaper. I still have a pica pole. A print Stylebook. And the distant hum of a Teletype ringing in my ears."
No surprise that interests (on the blog) or activities (on Facebook) include "comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and doggedly pursuing news facts and free comfort food."

Or that favorite movies are "Citizen Kane and Network" with "All the President's Men" and "The Innocents Abroad" books occupying a spot on the must-read list.

There's poking fun at social media:
9.9.14: In a desperate nod to social media, print reporters are ordered to write such jargon as "OMG," "WTF?" or "IMHO" after every single sentence. The move is an "Epic Fail." LOLROTFLMAO
Here is one of my favorites:
10.31.10: In a pioneering online strategy, a Texas newspaper doubles its Web traffic overnight by changing its name to the Austin American-"FarmVille." The Newark Star-"Mafia Wars" masthead quickly follows suit.
This one is good:
4.2.14: Perez Hilton reports that Wikipedia has purchased TMZ & Drudge. Because of the four sites involved, no one's able to confirm an actual sale.
Twitter does not escape unscathed:
12.31.30: Twitter buys the last U.S. print newspaper and buys out everyone older than 30. Instantly, the average Tweet now has more characters in it than does the nation's final print newsroom.

Some friends join in the fun. Vince Rinehart provides:
11.2.10 Watching trends in Texas, a central Florida paper renames its food section "Cafe World" and has an alarmingly round-eyed editor produce so many extra pork chops and tostadas that they're given away as a circulation promotion.

There's the reality of the new news model:
11.12.13: Feds replace the Witness Protection Program with the Pay Wall Program. Says the DOJ: "The journalistic model has proved it conclusively: Once firmly behind a pay wall, most people are rarely found again."

Money speaks loud:
3.22.15: To make money, newspapers begin to unveil "buylines," whereby readers can purchase traditional byline space and publish their own names instead above stories. Rapidly, Donald Trump becomes the world's most prolific writer.
There's hope:
07.4.27: As "Antiques Roadshow" does a day in Des Moines, a 1977 mint-condition pica pole is valued at $70K. Instantly, thousands of journos have new hope for a healthier retirement fund.
and stolen hope:
1.1.11: Sensing a keen need in the newspaper industry, CCI markets its bold, new de-employment software: "Layoff Champ." Selling point to buyers: Makes it easier to fire or furlough text and design people equally. Selling point to workers: If it crashes near the final deadline (probable), everyone gets to keep their jobs!
Let's say goodbye:
10.04.18: Journalism's last official "copy boy" is forced into retirement. He is immediately replaced by a "content-oriented postadolescent online junior work-flow correspondent." At half the pay.
Or maybe we should not:
01.24.28: The last print-only copy editor dies at 70. Because she herself is no longer around, her headstone is allowed to "Rest in Piece."
A request to blog about my new late-night chatter gets this reply:
"All I require is anonymity -- makes it SO much easier to e-speak my mind without worry or forethought."
So I learn:
"I'm a veteran writer/editor who had been mulling since last March how to share my thoughts on journalism online -- in roughly 140 characters. I experimented with a couple of efforts that drew a spark of interest, but there wasn't quite the same precise marriage of passion and concept. Hey--you feel it when it's right.
Over a few chats, I think I can guess that he's a long-time newsman. He reveals he is bouncing some of these off a younger colleague before posting and having fun.

He defines success as
"a site or feed that spurs an active, thoughtful and creatively/intellectually engaged community."
His goal is:
"to spur people to laugh, smile -- and then share their own journalism experiences with either me or each other. These are challenging times in our industry -- as several journo-related FB pages have shown already, we especially need the release of laughter right now."
Think I'll go send a few more Worthless Gifts for Print Journalists to former colleagues, see if anyone wants to buy one of my daughter's newspaper purses, and check for the latest chuckle.

But first, despite this:
12.30.21: Use of the journalistic mark "-30-" comes to an end. That is because (a) less than -30-% of journalists realize what it means; and (b) most everyone else thinks it's a vaguely naughty emoticon.


Mismatched pasts, cultural barriers uncover too much sometimes

What makes the Internet interesting also can make it frustrating.

Blossoming friendships with someones from other countries crash into barriers of culture and time zones. The relationships force me to confront regrets I don't realize I harbor until a simple statement or question reveals what was buried. The exchanges force a new definition of common sense.

The novelty of differences is intoxicating, inspiring rounds and rounds of questions and answers. The gratification of finding shared interests, thoughts and favorite books/movie/art erases caution of telling too much. The separation of miles, no countries even, quickens what is said, what is shared, what is revealed sometimes unknowingly.

Frustrations pile up

But I am frustrated - that we are on different time zones, mostly, and that we have these other lives from before, from now and forever more. So when I want to spend time questioning, finishing a conversation, explaining, suddenly it is past someone's bedtime or it is someone's work day or time for someone's family or friends.

I am surprised by what I believe is normal or common sense or that everyone knows raises questions and needs for explanation. A Brownie point, the SuperBowl, a CSO or so many other things confuse and toss us into silence or search engines or a soliloquy. Even the switching of clocks to "save/gain" daylight time occurs differently in different countries. Who knew.

But what is asked or misunderstood when I say something makes me examine my beliefs and my life. The conversations make me realize what I don't know about life in Egypt or Australia or Switzerland or the Netherlands or .... Indeed, I thought I had no regrets but I am learning that I do.

Actions louder then knowledge

I also show that knowing is not enough. I earned certifications that say I'm qualified to help others understand and acknowledge diversity in the workplace, school or community and spent hours of leading classes to help others respect the differences of culture.

Yet I fail to remember the basics of male-female relationships in the other countries until it is too late. I ask for hugs between people who do not. I seek explanations in a culture that forbids such requests. I stumble into social norms with the wrong set of words, explanations, even questions.

USA all the way

A simple conversation with one person - exchanging lists of the 10 places we want to see - pulls out pride and regret.

I am stunned that with two people the idea of visiting the United States, much less my state, never was considered. There is so much beauty in places like the Grand Canyon, the redwood forests of California, and the forests of Michigan. The uniqueness of some of our cities, the variety of music and even the mishmash of regional foods surely deserve some time in a world tour.

As I share my list, I recognize how impossible some stops on my dream list will be now. The regrets are painful because even though I strongly believe you can do anything you want I am also realizing that I'm not going to climb any mountains without some major medical advances. The some day has turned into never as I filled days with work instead of play, instead of travel, instead of dreams.

Simple joy, complex need

What also is hard for me is to realize what joy I get out of someone acknowledging that I can make them laugh just through words. I cannot believe that I still need acknowledgment and wonder how I let my confidence slip away.

Equally hard is seeing the trail of typos and misused words. Even though I know some of the verbal miscues are a result of multiple sclerosis, I do not like it. I crave perfection, even in casual times. I do not wear the title of the Typo Queen proudly.

Nor do I like how much time becomes available when I break bones in my foot. It allows too much conversation. Pain pills lower self-imposed barriers and I fear sharing too much unfiltered, knowing that I am very, very, very good at is pushing people away. I am especially good at frightening off people I let come close.

What you lose

I forget sometimes that no one sees the glint in my eyes or the smile on my face when I chat or text or email.

I forget that the intimacy of knowledge hides how short the relationships have been, even what the relationships are.

I forget how one-dimensional online relationships can be and how the isolation of black-and-white creates its own misunderstandings that cannot be erased because the miles forbid face-to-face confrontation, understanding, resolution.

Different expectations

Without remembering all that, I blurt out what's on my mind and retreat. Only later do I see how the words could be misunderstood. Only later do I realize what the retreat - a time for me to confront/understand/hold what I've just learned about myself, a normal practice for me to process findings - is to someone else - a slammed door, a shield, and a reason to retreat permanently.

The last words hang in cyberspace. The stories never get endings. The Ugly American striks again.