Redesign interrupted, actual content to follow

As much as it pains me to do so, I’ll interrupt my ongoing monologue about this blog’s ongoing redesign (Almost done! IE6 sucks!) to bring you actual links to actual information that has nothing to do (as far as I know) with cute cats verbing ur nounz.

Bryan Murley interviews Rob Curley by IM over at ICM, and it’s worth a read if you happen to be in the news business, or a journalism student, or, really, in any business where innovation is a daily challenge.

Here’s a snippet:

“I think that if a student in a newspaper journalism program is only taught about print, then that student will likely think the only “real” newspaper journalism is print, or is never taught about other ways of telling stories and reaching readers, then that student will have that mindset.”

Go read the whole thing.

I’ve sounded off loudly and frequently about what I think J-School students should learn, so I won’t bore you with yet another long list, but if you’re a journalism student in a newspaper program, and no one is teaching you how to tell stories in a medium other than text, you need to start learning on your own.

Get a blog, look at its guts, get a Flickr account, get a Delicious account, use an RSS reader, start networking, start reading everything you can get your eyes on about what it is you want to do with your life.

Don’t wait for it to come up in class. – the ultimate student media vertical?

Two weeks ago, a little business brief zipped across my workflow radar at the office – mtvU buys*.

For those of you keeping up with the college newspaper business, last summer, mtvU bought College Publisher, by far the largest hosting and CMS provider for online student media.

Now, the Viacom subsidiary adds RateMyProfessors to its stable.

Awesome move.

What’s the best vertical service your college newspaper can provide to you readers? I say it’s a professor-rating site, closely followed by a textbook exchange bulletin board of some sort. (Note to self: develop ultimate Web 2.0 textbook exchange site and sell to mtvU for millions.)

Soon enough, we’ll start to see professor rating widgets showing up on college newspaper sites. Very cool, very sticky, and very useful to readers.

So what’s the one vertical your small-to-medium sized newspaper not on a college campus needs to provide to its readers?

Let’s put it this way: What’s the one thing unique and special and specific about your town that you simply should not get outdone on by any other media outlet or service?

*(School spirit disclosure: RateMyProfessors was founded by an SJSU alum, inspired by SJSU profs.)

The best thing about being on a team…

…is that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

That’s what I’m finally learning after 3.5 months at my new job. Everyone has a specialty, and the best thing you can do is let everyone do what they do best, whether it’s design, code, manage, write, shoot, edit, record, or evangelize.

I spent my lunch hour today forgetting to eat while having a cup of coffee with Chris Jordan, a photographer and multimedia specialist out of Montana who’s in the Bay Area right now. (Hint: Hire him.)

We compared notes on what’s going on in online news, and it definitely reminded me that we all have our own skill sets, and newsrooms are looking for journalists who can do any one of the things we specialize in.

The task for j-schools, of course, is to teach every journalism student at least ONE of the following skills:

  • Multimedia: Video and audio recording and editing, plus any Flash skills at all. This gets you hired.
  • Interactivity: Know everything about blogs, and think about how to manage and moderate commenting systems, forums, and community sites. This gets you hired.
  • Data: Be a wizard with Excel at the least, maps mashups if possible, and Django if you want to go further down the rabbit hole. This gets you hired.

If you’re in school and you’re not taking a class where you’re learning at least one of these things, start teaching yourself now. Get a blog and start reading blogs about new media and the Web. Experiment. Learn.

Knowing how to do nothing but report and write gets you hired … as a freelancer.

Journalism students need new heroes; Journalism heroes need new students

This week’s running conversation between Mindy McAdams, Bryan Murley, Howard Owens, and Ron Curley, among many others, boiled over into the U.K. media blogosphere, and I’m finding myself alternately cited, enlightened, and humbled.Let’s start with some enlightenment from a 19-year-old journalism student at the University of Lincoln, UK: Dave Lee.

Lee read Martin Stabe’s follow-up to “The conservatism of journalism students” and put out a call for more heroes in journalism.

I’ll second Bryan’s list as the first part of a response, but the bit in Lee’s post that made me raise my eyebrows and grin was this, about his experience in an online journalism class:

“Knowing HTML in principle is useful – but being taught to use Dreamweaver is an utterly useless skill. We’ll only end up being re-trained in a year or two. Teach us the qualities that make a good online journalist – not how to use a piece of software that will be replaced next year.”

Yes, that. Exactly.

Dave gets it, so well in fact, that after founding a student newspaper at the university, he (and his classmates?) set up a WordPress blog as a companion piece to the print edition.

Yes, that. Exactly.

Somewhere in the middle of all this is Kevin Anderson, Blogs Editor at the Guardian newspaper in the U.K.:

“Whenever I speak to students, instead of saying that they need to learn Flash, or Final Cut or Rails, I say you need to learn reporting, audio-visual storytelling and research.”

That’s essentially the takeaway from all this, as far as I’m concerned: The heroes are out there, in the news business and in the schools, even if we don’t know it yet. They’re starting to read blogs and toy with Soundslides and video and podcasting. And that’s the important step right there, that they’re willing to put their work out a limb and try something other than text to communicate with readers that are increasingly becoming commenters, viewers, and listeners.

So, soon-to-be-journalism-heroes, take your first steps. Start blogging and sharing your work.

We’re waiting for you.

Newspaper blogs appear to be hitting the takeoff point, if they haven’t already

It appears to be time for me to get back to doing some preliminary data gathering for my thesis in my spare time:
Web newspaper blog traffic triples in Dec.-study (via Reuters)

“Blog pages accounted for 13 percent of overall visits to newspaper sites in [December 2006], up from 4 percent a year earlier. Total visitors to the top newspaper sites rose 9 percent to 29.9 million.”

Those are awfully pleasant numbers.

Somewhere in my laptop, there’s a spreadsheet giving me the evil eye right now; it’s half-full of data on newspaper blogs.

My side projects at this point are starting to outnumber my work and school projects – Well, maybe not my work projects, but you get the idea. And of course, I’ve been blogging a bit more the last week or so, keeping me away from wrapping up any of the side projects. Now where was that post about procrastination?

Move along, nothing to see here…

Don’t get wrapped up in the ‘so-called pajama media’

In this wide-ranging interview with Bryan Murley of Innovation in College Media, Gatehouse Media’s Howard Owens points out what I battle through in conversations with both journalism school faculty and students over and over again:

ICM: Which leads a little bit into my next question … The online media universe has been changing dramatically over the last two years. What parts of that change do you think are most crucial for student journalists to comprehend?

Owens: Blogging and video. I don’t think many people grasp how much we can learn from blogging about how the way people consume information is changing. Those wrapped up in the Packaged Goods Media paradigm only see the so-called pajama media, and aren’t paying attention to what the real attraction to blogging is: authenticity of voice, relevance of subject, frequency of publishing, ease of consumption.

And then with video, a lot of the same applies, but visually, which has it’s own draw and engagement. [Emphasis mine, link Bryan’s]

Blogs aren’t just about politics, folks. Go find a blog about something you like, and read it. Click on the links, look over the blogroll, find out who else links to that blog, leave comments, sound off, and eventually, you’ll want one of your own. When you do, try Blogger or WordPress out – they’re both free and easy. Get started.