The messy beginnings of an online portfolio

It’s not organized as well as I’d like, and it’s neither finished nor comprehensive, but if you can’t help but be interested in the sort of stories I wrote as a reporter (way back in 2006, mind you), there are now a few clips from the Spartan Daily and Oakland Tribune posted on my Work page.

There’s a video mixed into one story there that I overshot and Shaminder painstakingly edited down to something useful.  It was shot with my Panasonic consumer-grade handycam, and I think the reasoning behind the small size had everything to do with the way College Publisher processed Quicktime videos back then.  Pretty sure they have  a Flash solution now.

All of the stuff I’ve posted there is pretty old at this point. I’ll try and add some links soon to projects I’ve produced on at the Sentinel, videos I’ve shot, etc.

Enjoy, critique, deride, lambaste, and most of all, build your own online portfolio showcasing your work in your choice of medium.

Remember when I asked you what I should learn next?

A refresher for those of you who weren’t taking notes: An informal poll on what I should learn next (March 10, 2007).

Apparently, that was six months ago. Yikes.

So after everyone weighed in, multimedia storytellers voting for Flash, programmers voting for programming, and executives voting for business-sense, more or less, I said I would learn Flash.

Right. I gave it another shot, I made the ball move across the screen, I checked out lots of great journalism presented in Flash packages, and I moved on.

It’s fun and all, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t have the same return on time invested for me as other projects does. I enjoy making things move across the screen, but much more than that, I like knowing when to put a reporter, photographer, and a designer together to make things move across the screen.

Which brings me to what I’ve really been learning, every day on the job in a newsroom: Management.

No, not the suit-and-tie motivational poster sort of management, but the same sort of thing I’ve always done in groups of friends and colleagues: Put the right ideas and the right people together and the motivation will take care of itself.

And so, I’ve been learning by dealing with reporters, photographers, editors, managers, developers and designers every single day to get things done. A graduate-level class or an MBA or something of that sort would be nice, but really, there’s simply no time for that.

On the more practical, you-could-learn-this-too, side of things, I’ve continued to hack the heck out of WordPress code for a couple projects — one for work and one for school. With any luck, both will make it out into the open Web soon.

But working in WordPress is an awesome way to learn some bits of PHP and database logic without staring too long into the abyss of things like regular expressions. Plus, there’s the added sport of finding the hunks of code you’re looking for, monitoring what’s bubbling up in the active distributed community of developers and designers building on WordPress, and constantly tweaking functionality and design based on what you find.

And there’s nothing on this short list of things I’ve been learning that isn’t going to come in remarkably handy, quite soon.

Three blog posts I haven’t had the time to write yet

These are not un-busy times.

Without further explanation or caveat, here are a few things kicking around in my head, if not necessarily in pixels just yet:

  • What Are You Reporting On?: An explanation of the idea and how the Twitter ID, the Facebook group, the blog, the Knight News Challenge grant application, and the allusions here all come together in my head. I won’t post more about it until I’ve drawn something up, because without that, I’m not sure anyone is really understanding what I’m talking about.
  • Mine, mine, mine: A simple Digg-ish profiley vision for what a user’s digital identity should look like at a All I really want are bookmarked stories, because most readers actually don’t use Delicious or Digg or Reddit, etc. Give them somewhere to save stories on your site, and tie that ID in to the registration and login you require for everything else. This is a key feature that will get users to follow your reg/login rules for commenting systems, says I.
  • Cheering up SJSU’s photojournalism majors: Prof. Michael Cheers, one way or another, appears to be getting things done at SJSU. I’d love to interview him in something as simple as e-mail or complicated (and suitable) as an audio slideshow (when I have time) about changes, additions, summer programs and partnerships. Good things are cooking there, I hear.

If you’ve got ideas or input about any of these ideas, feel free to start blathering on about them before I do.

Spartan Love

News from San Jose State’s J-School:

  1. Kyle Hansen is skipping town, headed for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive to work with Rob Curley. The Spartan Daily’s loss is internology’s gain.
  2. SJSU is hosting an NPPA Flying Short Course in October. Daniel Sato is furiously wrangling multimedia shooters behind the scenes to set up an awesome program.
  3. I take full responsibility blame for the completely inappropriate title on Daniel’s blog post that closes with the following incredibly intriguing announcement:

    “The San Jose State photojournalism department will be holding multimedia workshops during the two summer sessions each year. Each session will be three weeks and will take place in a foreign country. The kicker, as if working on stories abroad was not enough, is that our school has two partners in this project. The Mercury News and National Geographic will each be sending either a photographer or an editor for one week to assist students as they learn multimedia storytelling techniques.”

The moral of the story: This is a really good time to be a J-School student at San Jose State University.*

*Disclaimer: I have every reason to be kissing up to certain faculty members right now, but really, I mean it!

I don’t care what journalists are reading; I care what they’re writing

Scott Karp and friends (and those are some pretty smart friends) are up to something interesting, but I sure as heck can’t tell what it is based on a rambling post at the new

It sounds like something that’s supposed to clean up all the doubling and overlapping of social networks the media blogger scene is enmeshed in at the current moment.

Whatever it is that Scott’s up to, while I was trying to figure it out, an idea popped into my head. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because I feel like I heard this idea passed through the filter of something like New Assignment at some point:

I want to know what journalists are writing.

Right, right, I know, I can scan Google News and read the papers and all that, but what I mean is I want to see trends develop on a large scale across the country (and yes, world) by tracking what stories journalists are working on.

And then I want the people formerly known as the audience to have a space to vote for what they wish journalists were working on.

Picture it as a mashup of Twitter and Digg, where reporters are constantly answering the question “What are you working on?” in a broad way so as not to tip off their competition — or editors. 😉

For example, I might post something like “Organic certification” without much detail about who I was pulling FOIAs on and what hunches I had about what I would find.

The algorithm (which someone else would program, eh?) would find common terms in other journalists’ posts and move topics up the list on the homepage a la Digg based on the number of reporters working on a topic:

::::::23 journalists are working on stories about organic certification.::::::

With space for comments, folks to add links, reporters to talk to each other about past stories, non-reporters to add information, etc. Suddenly there’s a thread of conversation built up for everyone working on a given topic to play with.

On the other half of the homepage, everyone answers a question like “What’s missing from your news?” to basically request coverage on a certain topic or issue.

And yes, users vote topics up and down the page, add comments and links and conversation a la Digg.

Fact is, there are a million little aggregators out there for the news that already exists, to filter information and bring the good/important/weird/salient stuff to the surface.

I don’t need another filter — I need a sounding board and a request line.

If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll pursue this a little further down the line, or maybe you’ll just point me to the place where this already exists. Either way, I think it’s an idea worth chasing down — even if it were just internally at a newspaper company.

How would that be – a network of news organizations full of journalists that actually talk to each other! Ha!

Meta notes: Where to find my microchunks

If you get the feeling I haven’t been writing here as much lately, you’re right.

But I’m still out here, reading everything I can get my hands on and throwing up links left and right.  They’re just not always where you’re expecting them, eh?

So then, if the meager postings to Delicious you find on the right sidebar and in the usual spot aren’t satisfying your link-devouring needs, take a glance at my shared Google Reader thingie from time to time (three-month-old + keyboard shortcuts = happiness).  Those also show up on my Facebook profile, along with just about everything else I do in the known online universe.

And yes, you can easily find me on Twitter and/or Pownce, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Notes on migrating three quarters of a mile

So we moved. And by “moved,” I mean we loaded our stuff into a truck and drove less than a mile to an apartment with more space, less drunk people throwing up next to our bedroom window (so far), and far more sanity all around us.

The state of our new living room as of a night or two ago:

A portion of our possessions

Yes, we did this with a seven-week-old in our arms the whole time, for those of you taking notes.

Many thanks to all the friends who lent a hand or a back over the weekend.

And thanks to my bosses who resisted the urge to insist that I work today. (We sent an intern to the illegal fireworks at the beach with a video camera – I’m banking on greatness.) I can hear all the action from our dining room table, now that we live on a block that’s actually above sea level.

One of the fun parts about all this packing and piling has been reading Grapes of Wrath in the middle of it all. The Joads just got to California, and they’re hanging out by the river near Needles waiting for the sun to go down so they can cross the desert.

Our short trip wasn’t quite so dramatic, but it was worth it.

Happy Independence Day.

I like San Francisco signage

The last time I was in San Francisco, I battled with a bout of nostalgia as I missed the real City.

But hanging out in North Beach yesterday, I remembered the thing about San Francisco I noticed a few years back: The signage hasn’t been updated in 20 years or so.

San Francisco signage and scene

Check out the old-school logos. They’re all over town, especially the soda signage, for whatever reason. And not a trace of Copperplate Gothic Bold in sight. Seriously, Copperplate Gothic Bold is the new Comic Sans. It’s not a bad font on it’s own, but now it’s everywhere, etched on every new retail window in some cities. (I definitely noticed an onslaught of it in Boston, for example.)

I’m just sayin’, if there’s something I like about San Francisco (other than the fact we all had a good time yesterday, circumnavigating the festival going on in the park and eating cannoli) it’s the signage.

Well that was an interesting week

It has been a long time since I’ve been this happy to see a Friday night.  It’s the end of my first full week back at work since the birth of our daughter.  It’s the end of a week that started with a blog post that was intended to get approximately the amount of attention it got.  It’s the end of a dramatic week in terms of staffing changes at work.  We (my family, not my employer) also seem to be squeezing the act of changing addresses into the month of June, although it’s all just paperwork and phone calls at this stage. (If you live in Santa Cruz and have a stash of good cardboard boxes around, drop me a line.)  Somewhere in there factor in an oncoming series of family visits and a long list of tasks and a large stack of paperwork or two.  I usually call this a rains/pours situation, and I stopped being surprised by it long ago.  Being surprised isn’t in my job description — any of them — but keeping my sense of wonder intact definitely stays high on the list.  Luckily, I have a 6.5 pound source of wonder in my lap as I type this.

The journalism program we’ve all been waiting for

The Knight Foundation handed out some money today, notably to Henry Jenkins and company at MIT and Mr. Holovaty, who is getting plenty of press for his jump from WaPo to startup.

But just a little lower on the list, you’ll find the future in the form of a grant to the Medill J-School at Northwestern to, well, for lack of a better explanation, Make More Holovatys.

This is exactly what a number of folks, myself included, have been advocating for a while: Teach programmers journalism and/or teach journalists programming. With at least one of those steps built into this Master’s degree, things are looking up in Evanston.

If I were still spending any time at all on campus at San Jose State, I’d be bugging the J-School to talk to Google or Yahoo about throwing around the small amount of money necessary to fund a few graduate fellowships for programmers. The campus is already teeming with excited young coders — it shouldn’t be that hard to reel in three or four.