2000 strong at Wired Journalists

So many milestones this week…

Here’s another one:  Wired Journalists now has more than 2000 members.

The Ning-powered social network that Howard Owens, Zac Echola, and I created back in January has exceeded our expectations, in terms of numbers, interaction, community, and the learning/teaching that’s going on there.

Plus, it’s really bringing some people out of the woodwork.

I’m talking about beatbloggers like Matt Neznanski and Web staff from smaller papers, like Carlos Virgen from Walla-Walla.

Jay Rosen has been talking about using Wired Journalists as a pool of talent to find reporters and editors and bloggers like Matt and Carlos as they bubble up to the surface of the network, and I’m excited about the possibilities.

We created Wired Journalists to connect the non-wired with the wired, to give everyone a place to speak freely about online news and experimentation on the Web, as it’s happening in newsrooms around the world.

I think what we’ve learned, in the first 120 days and 2000 members, is that not only are there thousands of journalists out there ready to improve their craft and expand their skillset, but that journalism is alive and well around the world, in all demographic groups.

In recent days, I’ve seen members at Wired Journalists from Iran, I’ve seen a French version of the network, I’ve seen high school journalism students join the network to extend their education, and I’ve seen entire television news staffs join up over the course of a day or two. (What’s up, Topeka?)

So, thank you.

Thank you for answering the call to join Wired Journalists and thank you for helping each other learn about what’s next for journalism.

I like it when you’re angry

So I’m the last person in the world to blog about AngryJournalist.com, a good (albeit a little twisted) deed done by Kiyoshi Martinez to give folks a place to vent in public, anonymously.

While I would certainly prefer that you do something potentially productive with your time other than whine about how little of it you have, I’m particularly pleased that so many of you (almost 2,000 comments as of this morning) have found it.

That’s right, I’m happy to see you there, because to find it, you must have either been reading about journalism online, or you have a friend who does. So, whine on. At least you know how to use a Web browser, which is a plus.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent uplifting comment from Angry Journalist #1973:

“I can accept the low pay, low respect, uncompensated overtime, etc.
What I can’t accept are these jag offs who talk about the importance of community journalism but keep me from wandering through the community looking for worthwhile things to write about. The most important thing j-schools should teach is that the largest obstacle a reporter has to overcome daily are the people that logically should be helping him but are too worried about covering their own asses to let him explore instead of punching a time clock at the copy factory.”

(Not pictured: HappyJournalist.com.)

[UPDATE: Apparently, the Angry[YourJobHere].com thing is becoming a meme. Kiyoshi points to periodistacabreado.com en Español, and AngryResident (for the medical profession).]

[ALSO: Pat Thornton talked with Kiyoshi about AngryJournalist in a podcast here.]

Work with us, people

GateHouse Media is hiring two reporters. Here’s the important bit from Boss Owens’ post on the matter:

The ideal candidate:

  • A recent college graduate (or graduating this spring)
  • At least six months experience blogging
  • Capable of shooting and editing his or her own video
  • Ready to do more than sit in an office and make phone calls or pull the latest agenda item from a city council meeting and try to turn it into a story
  • Believes in local news and local community and sees a role for journalism in helping a community communicate and learn about what is happening in that community

Go read that whole post and write to howens [AT] gatehousemedia [DOT] com if you’re interested.

As an added bonus, I’ll probably bug you on IM and Twitter and SMS all day about when you’re posting your next video or blog post or podcast or whatever you choose to produce.

Next Newspaper

Funny thing about the newspaper business.

If you’re interested in innovation, you find yourself constantly trying to demonstrate the present to people with their feet (and desks, workflow, and hierarchy) planted firmly in the past.

And while The Future of Newspapers mostly gets ink for being bleak, the future of news does not blink, or miss a beat, or stop to have a meeting to decide what color the background of its new Web site will be.

The future of news is Qik and Twitter and Friendfeed and Google Reader and Seesmic and Yahoo Live and whatever launches tomorrow that lets the people in your community share information and produce content by pushing a big red record button.

The future of news looks more like Blade Runner than Minority Report. And I don’t mean the part where Deckard reads the print edition. I mean the crazy chaotic floating blimp advertising and the bits of information flowing around mobile screens in places like taxicabs and the exposed innards of machinery.

So stop waiting for The Future of Newspapers to arrive, wrapped in a plastic sleeve with a business model printed on the outside, slipped politely behind the screen door by the paperboy. He got laid off last week. You’re going to have to try something new if you want to survive.

A vote for change…

We talk a lot in the circles I run in about a new skillset for reporters and about how a wired journalist in 2008 should be keeping up with the technologies and communities that are quickly looking like Michael Johnson in 1996, looking back at newspapers over their shoulder, smugly.

Yoni Greenbaum walks right into the glass office and says editors need a heaping bowl of New as well:

“If I was a publisher, corporate officer or even an employee, I would want an editor who is active online; who blogs and uses Facebook and MySpace; who has a digital camera and knows how use it and how to upload those images; who has a cell phone that use beyond just work emergencies; who knows how to identify Flash applet on a website; who knows that Ruby on Rails is not a MySpace band; who uses a newsreader; I could go on, but the point is the old skill set of paying their dues and being a wordsmith and possibly an amateur accountant just does not cut it anymore, honestly it hasn’t cut it for a long time.”

Plenty more where that came from.

If I were a reporter looking for work, I’d be looking for a gig somewhere where the editor has a GMail address for his or her personal e-mail. That’s a simple barometer, but the second I see a potential boss reach for the Hotmail bookmark in IE6 during an interview, I get a little queasy.

Five ways to produce online news without asking the web guy for help

You don’t know what it’s like for the web guy at a newspaper.

All day long, requests and ideas funnel in his direction, with no end in sight, and little help.

Web guys, this is for you.

Reporters, listen up. Here are five ways you can put together something wonderful for the web without asking the web guy a single question. All you’ll need to do at the end of each of these exercises is to send him a link or a hunk of code, if that. He’ll know what to do with it.

  1. Make a movie: Record your video. Edit it in iMovie (free on your Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (free on your PC). Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory.
  2. Produce an audio slideshow: Record your audio. Gather your photos. Forget about SoundSlides for the moment and edit it as a video file in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory of your award-winning tearjerker.
  3. Create a podcast: Record your audio. Pick a photo or two to go with it, even if it’s just mugs of the people talking. Edit it as a video file in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Upload it to YouTube. Send the web guy the URL. Bask in the glory of your ingenuity.
  4. Create an interactive map: Go to maps.google.com. Click on ‘My Maps.’ Follow the instructions. Add as much or little information as you have for each point you add to the map. Photos and videos go a long way. (Use the embed code from your YouTube videos here.) When you’re done, send the web guy the ‘link to this page’ URL or hit the ‘Customize and preview embedded map’ link, turn it down to ‘small,’ and send the web guy the embed code. He’ll know what to do with it.
  5. Create a social network: Go to ning.com. Follow the directions. I recommend choosing a topic that helps you serve the needs of the people you take the most phone calls and e-mail from. (Obscure high school sports coaches? Real estate agents? Kindergarten teachers? City council members?)

None of this requires any technical know-how. You don’t need any training to point-and-click your way through this process. Don’t sweat the details about things like ‘settings’ or ‘encoding.’ If questions come up, type them into Google. You’ll find the answers.

Most important: Don’t wait around for someone else to hold your hand through this stuff. You’re an adult. You can handle this on your own. Get started today.

(Yes, I know, I know. Next time I’ll use the phrase ‘web gal.’)

If you don’t get unbundled media, you’re not selling attention*

Command-and-control, top-down, masthead mass media is dead.


It’s over, and the readers/users/viewers won.

And without getting all “Information wants to be free,” I’ll just say that if you don’t get what Howard** and Zac are talking about here, it’s time for you to start understanding it.

Take Howard’s advice, young journalists:

“Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed.”

Read blogs. Read everything you can get your eyes on about what you’re passionate about, whether it’s your beat or not. Are you into a concept, a game, a book, a movie, a tv show, a political candidate, a business? Really get into it.

Stop reading all those press releases in your inbox and find a slate of blogs that tell you things you need to know, everyday, to know everything about that one thing you’re passionate about.

Take Zac’s words to heart, newspaper publishers:

“Brand isn’t a name anymore. Brand is interface. Flickr is a dumb name. So is Twitter. So is Google. But we’re not looking for a name. We’re looking for usefulness. We’re looking for content. We’re looking for what we want.”

We’re looking for what we want.

Exactly. We don’t care what the name at the top of the page says, we’re your neighbors, and we’re looking for information, or entertainment, or a diversion — this isn’t new. This is why readers pick up a newspaper, in any form.

*Huh? Selling attention? What was that supposed to mean?

**Full disclosure: Howard is my new boss.

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.

Halloween debriefing

With all this talk about the Death of Newspapers going on and on and on, I started thinking, “What about the undead reporters?”

103106 010

Best interview of the night?

Dick Cheney: He kept saying “It was a hunting accident, I swear.”

Then he pointed the plastic shotgun at me.

Video of all the chaos and skin that is Downtown Santa Cruz on Halloween is online.