P E R S O N A L   N E W S

Seriously, when did we start calling new job news “personal news” and why? It’s professional news. It’s just me, getting a new job. Personal news is “we adopted a dog” (we did!) or “we’re having another kid” (we’re not!) or maybe “we’re moving to New York” (also not happening!).

But other things *are* happening.

Personal News
I am excited to tell you that I have a new job starting next week.

I’m joining Chalkbeat to lead product and growth. Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization that’s reimagining local news with a focus on issues of inequity in education. I’m grateful to be stepping into an amazing team in four cities, and I’m eager to help them grow and continue to build a sustainable model for nonprofit education news.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 13.24.28

In years past, I’ve said young people don’t care about local news until they buy a house and send their kids to public schools. Guess what? I care about local news these days! And I’m a two-issue local news consumer: 1) Full-day kindergarten, and 2) are we ever going to build the stadium for that NASL team we were promised? The first issue is more important. And it’s tied to issues of managing housing development in Loudoun County a little more consistently. This might be a first world educational issue in my corner of the county, for now, but I’m an engaged local news consumer.

When the opportunity came up to get involved with an organization dedicated to covering high-poverty schools across the country, I jumped at it.


I’m grateful to everyone at Gannett for the opportunities I’ve had there over the past five years. It’s been a privilege to work with local journalists and technologists on the biggest challenges facing the news business. My mission in journalism has always been to make a difference at scale, and Gannett was the perfect place to do so.

But now it’s time to move on, and I can’t wait for everything that comes next.

Any questions? I’ll start.

Q: Chartbeat? Cool, real-time analytics are totally addictive!
A: They sure are. Love that stuff. Not working for them, though. It’s Chalkbeat, like the chalkboard beat, like education news. If there’s one thing I know about education, it’s that repetition can be important. Chalkbeat. Education news. In context. Chalkbeat. Dot-Org.

Q: It looks like Chalkbeat is in New York. Are you moving to New York?
A: Chalkbeat’s leadership team is in New York, but there are also teams covering the Denver area, Indianapolis, and Memphis, too. It’s a distributed organization, like many nonprofits and startup news orgs these days, and I’m not moving anywhere. Ask me about my new home office, and the standing desk I’ve been building. And the walls I’ve been painting. And the bed and dresser I have up for sale on Craigslist. Please, ask me about the furniture. Bring a truck to ask me about it.

Q: So… [whispers] …are you hiring?
A: SO GLAD YOU ASKED! As a matter of fact, Chalkbeat is hiring a Full-Stack Engineer. This person will work directly with me on product development. WordPress is the core of the proverbial technology stack right now, but there’s amazing work to be done on measuring impact (read about Chalkbeat’s MORI here), as well as other big ideas around audience analytics. We’re going to be supercharging Chalkbeat’s already strong remote culture with inspiration from Vox Product, 18F, Fusion, and others, so although New York or DC-based candidates would be cool, remote would work for the right candidate, too. You should ask me more about this role. You’re probably right for it. Yes, you.

Q: What can I say, I’m inspired! How can I help?
A: First of all, if you have kids or family who teach in New York, Denver, Indianapolis, or Memphis, head directly to your local Chalkbeat and start reading today. Subscribe to an email newsletter. Follow Chalkbeat on Twitter. Like Chalkbeat on Facebook. You can do all of these things.

But also, you can make a donation today to support one of the few nonprofit news organizations in this space doing local reporting on some of the most critical issues facing schools in America’s poorest communities. Want to help tell this story? Help fund the important work they’re doing today.

Q: We know you’ve been listening to Hamilton a lot lately. Does this have anything to do with Hamilton?
A: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, you forget yourself.

Q: Is there one more thing?
A: You know there is. It’s about finding a new job you love. You don’t find a job by obsessively refreshing LinkedIn, or Glassdoor, or searching Idealist and Media Bistro and Journalism Jobs multiple times a day. Nope. Doesn’t work. Good luck!

You find your new job on Twitter. Seriously. I should know better than to use any other method, but I first heard about this job listing in a tweet during ONA. I wasn’t even at ONA. I guess I was following the hashtag in Tweetdeck and happened to look up at the screen? Maybe? Or someone retweeted this. This:

Screenshot 2015-12-01 13.20.10Thanks, Twitter. Thanks, Sarah!

Things to do…

Now that I’m back from vacation, here’s what’s on my to-do list for, uh, the foreseeable future:

  • Finish developing the pre-alpha version of ReportingOn and launch it.  Like, really, really soon.
  • Go to SND/APME next week, speak on Sunday, go to some awesome sessions and pimp ReportingOn to every editor I meet.
  • Write the first draft of my graduate school project report regarding ReportingOn.
  • Get someone to redesign Wired Journalists, or run a contest inviting users to edit their own theme and submit it.  The winner gets, um, a prize of some sort, and all sorts of link love.
  • Think about developing a Wired Journalists job board.  Seems like there are plenty of spots to place ads for generic news jobs, but nowhere to place an ad for a high-end online news job somewhere frequented by the best in their class… This could be profitable, yes?  Authentic Jobs is the model.
  • Put up another baby gate or two. The kid loves practicing her walking with my help.
  • Write much more for Idealab.
  • Do something interesting with a domain I bought recently: newstangle.com.
  • Talk with Canon and other companies about sponsoring Wired Journalists so we have some gear to give away by the end of the year.  Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved.  (In giving stuff away, that is.)
  • Move this blog to Django and redesign it, adding a hardcore linkblog element instead of aggregating it from the cloud.

So what’s on your list?

Migration and alternate reads

I’ve been a little busy for the last week or so moving across the country, although going weeks between posts isn’t really anything new here, eh? As always, I’m posting to Twitter far more often than I could hope to blog here.

While I’m slammed with life and work busy-ness, please check out the following if you haven’t yet:

  • Sean Blanda’s Confessions of a journalism student: “The problems facing journalism schools are similar to those facing colleges overall: industries moving too quickly, lower barriers of entry into certain job markets, and the cost of education outpacing the reward.”
  • Shawn Smith on How to write Web headlines: “Be interesting, not mysterious! Interesting doesn’t mean making readers guess what a story is about. A web reader won’t often click into a story to figure out what your headline means.”
  • The Knight News Challenge runners-up: Including Matt Waite’s Louretta CMS for small-town news sites.
  • Hartnett introduces us to Backyard Post: “What I’d really like to leave you thinking about today is simply the foundation on which Backyard Post is built: Neighborhoods. Not cities, ZIP codes or some other vague, gigantic or similarly off-the-mark stab at reaching actual humans in the actual neighborhoods where they actually live.”

Our new washer and dryer will be here any minute, so I’ll leave it at that. Rumor has it our car is in New Jersey, so we’ve got that going for us. Moving is easy. Migration is hard.

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.

Seven Inklings for 2007

Fire in the Evening by Paul Klee

(I started this post out as a list of the most popular posts on this blog this year, and then immediately got bored with it, which I figured wasn’t a good sign of the prospects of you, dear readers, becoming bored as well. Hence, the following seven inklings/predictions/resolutions.)

  1. Reinvent one thing at a time. Choose your passion, your poison, your niche, your specialty, and become an expert in it as fast as you can. Then move on to your next passion. Keep learning.
  2. Take care of your body and your mind. Stretch both frequently. Challenge yourself as a habit.
  3. Develop a network of sources for inspiration, filtration, and discussion. Anything is possible, and anyone can have the right answers.
  4. Use collaborative tools at work to save time and avoid doubling up on tasks.
  5. Step away from the computer from time to time. Go out and report on something. Take pictures, shoot video, whatever you like, but get outside and experience the world first-hand. Worry about sharing it online later.
  6. Get some input from outside your niche. Print designer? Learn about CSS. Web designer? Hit the museum and check out some Paul Klee. Writer? Listen to This American Life.
  7. Don’t forget to have fun. If you’re not doing what you’re doing on purpose, think about what you’d rather be doing, and work toward doing it.

Thanks to all for a great year.

Beers and birthday cake


[UPDATE:  Proof of concept available at Flickr…]

When: Thursday October 19th, 6 p.m.

Where: Gordon Biersch on San Fernando in Downtown San Jose (map)

Who: Um, that would be you, and a mix of SJSU grad and undergrad students, and whoever else shows up. All are welcome, especially if your birthday is anytime soon.

How: See post title.

Feel free to just show up, no RSVP necessary. We have confirmed multiple birthdays…