Job: Develop WordPress blogs for the New York Times

[Ed. note: I normally stuff interesting job postings into the feed that runs down the right rail of this blog, or in your feed reader, but this one is too interesting not to point to from here.]

The New York Times is hiring a WordPress developer.

The job is posted on the PaidContent new media list, and I imagine it’s elsewhere as well. This is pretty high up there on the list of jobs I want, in about a year or two.

I don’t read the NYT blogs – I think some of them are behind the TimesSelect paywall, but I never stick around long enough to figure it out.

But still, there must be a dozen highly qualified WordPress developers out there who would drool at a gig like this.

Oh – note to J-School students – learning this stuff does, in fact, get you hired.

The Spartan Daily is blogging

Meanwhile, back at the Spartan Daily, SJSU’s student newspaper, Daniel Sato and Neal Waters (I’m guessing they both had a hand in this) appear to have taken a few days off from their redesign of the online edition of the Daily to set up a WordPress blog for the paper.

Sports Editor Andrew Torrez live-blogged the Spartans’ 35-34 victory over Stanford yesterday (Oh, by the way, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!), and it looks like a staff writer is blogging from the Dew Action Sports Tour meet in San Jose today.

Nice job, fellas. I sure hope you teased all this in Thursday’s paper…

I love this use of a student newspaper blog: Updates on news/sports/etc. over the weekend and between print publications, because you can and should engage your readers every chance you get.

Deadline Day, v1.0

Today I turn in 12, count ’em, 12 copies of my 33-page thesis proposal. (The first draft was longer, believe it or not.)

I finished it up last night shortly before 1am, but it’s safe to assume I’ll get it back in September with conditional approval (I hope) and notes on mechanical changes, plus a few pleas for more Rogers and a more detailed explanation of the qualitative analysis I’m planning.

Nonetheless, turning it in now means I get at least two if not three weeks off from screwing around with it, although my preliminary data gathering will continue unabated.

Oh spreadsheet with full little cells, how I pine for thee.

Will the real newspaper video model please stand up

What kind of video do you want in your online newspaper?

Broadcast-style stand-ups? Afternoon reports from the newsroom? Snarky into the camera videoblogs from your columnists? Straight news packages?

Mindy McAdams at Teaching Online Journalism has been talking about this all month, drilling down on things like the fancy new HD cameras that will let photojournalists shoot video and just pull the high-quality stills they want from there.

Yesterday, she pointed out Cade White’s efforts to get into the field and find out how pros are dealing with newspaper video. Cade followed a photog to a shoot that led to this cool bartending trick.

Okay, so here we have another category of video for your online newspaper, and I’m a bit of a fan of this one: supplemental content.

That’s right, I think blogs, podcasts, and video should all be supplemental content when it comes to newspapers.

Video is a great example of this: No one really wants to sit through half an hour of a city council meeting or a talking head interview or a panel discussion when they came for news and maybe entertainment. Hosting that sort of thing in a searchable archive is nice, but I’d rather be reading a story online and see a package of links in a box, one of which is an image that leads me to some relevant and interesting video.

A blog or podcast can be a topical, focused way to get more information to your readers about your beat. Does it mean more work for you? Maybe. Does it mean driving readers to your brand that wouldn’t have stumbled upon it otherwise? Surely.

And that translates, bluntly, to more eyeballs on your advertising. Because in the news business, page views still matter, although getting respect and Attention (with a capital A) for your brand gets more important with every link.

Career paths of glory

(Just thinking out loud here…)

There’s the multimedia producer version, where I keep learning Flash and web design until I can get myself a job putting together interactive graphics and training others to do it. Extra points here for my video editing skills and general understanding of visual style. Those four years of film school gotta be good for something, eh?

There’s the community editor position, which doesn’t seem to exist in many places, wherein it’s my job to bootstrap the newspaper’s online connections to local bloggers and community members, launch hyperlocal sites comprised mostly of stories written by The People Formerly Known As The Audience, and manage them. This means learning some more web design and coding to modify some existing open source software, but the hard part is getting the community (and the editors) to see your newspaper as a place for participation.

One job I’m pretty sure I could handle today if I had to is more of a project: Design a template for a newspaper’s blogs, get all the disparate blogs created by different departments together on the online front page, create an aggregated page where readers can find links to all the blogs, recent posts, recent comments, and maybe later, blogs from outside the newspaper.

Once that exists, then it’s time to evangelize within the newspaper, get more reporters and editors to blog, create a standard workflow and outline a few elements of a blogging policy. I’m seriously considering a run at this, because it involves a bunch of knowledge I already have, plus more PHP and web design, which I want to keep learning anyway.

I’m also pretty decent at talking people into blogging, which is a plus. The only downside I can see is the possible path-crossing with my thesis, although that’s probably a good thing. On second thought, that’s definitely a good thing.

Way out in right field, there’s the “additional schooling required” career paths: Law School or a Ph.D. in communications. The former results in Ryan-the-First-Amendment-lawyer, and the second results in there being two Dr. Sholins in the house, which I find amusing. Oh, and I’d teach. Both of those are more like 15-years-down-the-line possible tracks, though. Not right now.

Of course, the Billings Gazette is looking for an online editor. Damn, that’s tempting. Do they have winter in Montana? Crap. Maybe they need an online editor in Tulum

Your comments are welcome on the topic of What Should I Do With My Life For The Next Few Years?

Does your college newspaper cover the blog beat?

Bryan Murley at Reinventing College Media lays out some instructions for covering the campus blogosphere.

I think it’s a good idea, but I look at it another way: Reading blogs written by students, faculty, and alumni should be a way to find story ideas — not necessarily a beat in itself — unless, of course, your campus has an exceptionally vibrant blog scene.

But, if you do have the sort of college blogosphere that’s worth including as a once-a-week feature, the only place I would consider putting this in print would be on the opinion page, and I would only include quotes from posts that were on topics the newspaper had covered that week or about local/campus issues. Quote from the campus blogosphere to provide a range of perspectives on a controversial issue, but try to keep things relevant to your audience.

That said, assigning a reporter to monitor campus and local blogs is a great way to dig up stories before they bubble up to the local metro newspaper or the fax machine. Ideally, you’ll find out what students and community members are excited about, angry about, or interested in.

So keep an eye on the blogosphere, bring some different opinions together in print if you can, or just start a blog at your student newspaper and point to your fellow campus bloggers early and often.

The short list of tools you need to do this: Technorati, Bloglines.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the blog

That might not be the first (or last) time I use that title, but it seems appropriate enough for the always entertaining discussion that ensues when journalists say things like

“Any blog entry counts as journalism if the person posting it says it is, but journalism written by professionals cannot lose its special qualities and become just another blog posting, whatever we may wish.”

That was Bill Thompson writing in the Guardian.

Thompson is a journalist, a blogger, and (sigh) teaches online journalism at a London j-school.

He makes the case that professional journalists are always on the job, whether they like it or not, and thus, the public expects more out of them, so they should be prepared for the onslaught of fact-checking, name-calling, and misunderstandings that come with turning comments on in the blogosphere.

Special qualities?

I call them rules, or standards, or guidelines of journalism — but they’re nothing special. In fact, they’ve got nothing to do with me. A professional journalist can also write a novel, or fiction, or poetry, so what’s to keep a journalist from keeping a personal blog that touches on topics other than their area of authority section of the newspaper?

Say it with me now: Blogs are just a medium.

I get the impression that journalists come at blogs with the attitude that they’re all out there, disseminating information and covering the news without playing by the rules.

Covering the news?

Well sure, some hyperlocal bloggers might report hyperlocal news, and the tech/gadget blogs do plenty of reporting (often far better/faster/ahead-of-the-curve than print publications), but the other gazillion folks out here are just offering up analysis and opinion, as as well as first person experience, poetry, fiction, images, sound, video, and pictures of their cats.

It’s a common misconception that the reading of blogs is replacing the reading of newspapers. I read newspaper stories online. I open Google News every morning, scan the headlines, including some custom sections on things that interest me but don’t bubble up to the front pages. I click on a few stories, opening them up in tabs. Then I read the news.

Then I open up NewsGator, and scan the headlines of recent blog posts from a few categories, depending on how much time I have.

I read some posts, clicking through to open up anything I want to read the comments on, or comment on myself, or if I see something I think I might want to mention in a blog post of my own.

Quite often, blog posts will lead me to more news stories, and I’ll read those, too. If I’m really interested in something, I might go back to a blog search engine and see who is commenting on the news story I just read.

So there I am, a blogger, reading news stories and blog posts and then linking to both of them in my own blog.

Am I reporting the news? No, I’m just pointing at it, and adding my own commentary or analysis based on my experience, my point of view, or other reading I’m doing. A good blog post might even synthesize information and opinions from a few places, pointing out the best ideas in the mix.

When I’m doing journalism, I’m doing journalism. When I’m analyzing, synthesizing, or opining, that’s what I’m doing. In this particular personal unmediated medium called blogging, you can usually tell the difference.

Will I keep blogging about the newspaper industry after someone starts paying me to work in it? Sure. Plenty of people do, and no one expects them to do anything more than offer their insight and opinion.

The process of journalism is a conversation.

Or at least it is now, these days, in the best places. Jeff Jarvis responded to Thompson, and a good discussion is ensuing in comments there.


“I think you still see journalism as a product and that is my fundamental disagreement with you. It is a process. And the conversation and accountability and ass-fact-checking and help that goes on in public now — not in a still-controlled and private letter to the editor — is that process.”

So, future professional journalist friends of mine, are you willing to to participate in a public conversation that might involve your readers publicly correcting, lambasting, or otherwise launching pixelated harangues at you?

Sounds like fun to me.

Why news organizations might be afraid to blog

Terry Heaton:

“I believe media companies are afraid of interacting with their audiences, because they (mistakenly) believe that their audiences are made up of people just like them — resentful, mean spirited, backbiting, hostile egomaniacs with inferiority complexes who, if given the opportunity, will spout their opinions without regard or respect for anyone but themselves.”

How to get ahead in the newsroom

Steve Outing in E&P:

What seems to be becoming the norm in newsrooms these days is that a growing group of reporters, photographers and editors are now working in jobs where there’s a wide variety of tasks to be done each day: feeding the newspaper’s Web site; writing for blogs and interacting with blog readers; gathering audio for the website and/or radio partners; recording video clips; participating in online chats and discussion forums … Oh, and writing for the newspaper’s print edition.”

Outing goes on to talk with four real live journalists working in real live newsrooms. Three out of four are blogging, and the fourth is a photo editor pushing multimedia content.

What’s the best way for young aspiring journalists to prove to recruiters that they’ve got these skills?

Would you include a link to your blog in a cover letter or e-mail to a recruiter?

Is that the best way to explain to a recruiter that you’re not just scratching out a MySpace or LiveJournal blog? (Note to young aspiring journalists: You probably don’t want to send recruiters to your MySpace page.)

Building a community with newspaper blogs

John Robinson, editor of the blog-and-citizen-journalism-happy Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina, points to Robin Roger’s UNC-Chapel Hill master’s thesis on “Creating community and gaining readers through newspaper blogs.” [The full thesis as a PDF is here.]
Robinson on the broad strokes of community-building:

“We use the blogs to help us add information, context and further depth to news events. Because the online world is so fluid and natural, we talk with readers, readers talk with us and with each other. Ideas and information are exchanged. Arguments break out; perhaps even understanding and acceptance occur. That’s community. That’s civic engagement.”

Roger surveyed blog readers, asking them questions about the sense of community they get from participating in the newspaper’s blogs. Her findings have a bit of tail-chasing to them. Readers who visit the blogs more often report a greater sense of community; readers who start off with a stronger sense of community report visiting the blogs more often.

From her conclusions:

“The results of this study suggest that a strong sense of community may influence people to visit more often, or vice versa, but only half of the respondents reported a strong sense of community online. One suggestion would be to increase the sense of community online and see if daily page views increase. The question is “how does one do that?” The people at the News & Record have taken the first step by asking readers what they want and involving them in this ongoing experiment. Agency and ownership can contribute to a sense of community, and these elements have been implemented from the start.”

I think creating that sense of ownership is key, and I’m interested in finding out how big a step of letting-go that is for editors and management to take. Lucky me, my research is going to focus on that sort of question. While Roger concentrated on the reader’s point of view, I’m planning to stick with the decision-makers at the organizational level who decided to launch blogs at newspaper sites, focusing on figuring out why they did it and what factors influenced their rationale.