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01 Feb

The journalists’ (and my) struggle is real

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NOTE: Let’s get this cleared and out of the way. I am not a typical journalist. I don’t have a regular byline nor do I have a media company having to deal with angry voices that value perception more than reality. So, these thoughts are “easier” for me to express than others in our industry. I’ll also add, these are just my thoughts… often thinking, speaking or tweeting out loud as I try to grapple how I fit in the world around me.

BACKSTORY
This wasn’t a new internal debate I’ve been having. In fact, since the middle of the primaries, I’ve been asking myself – and any journalist who would let me bend their ear – the question about how I, or we, as a journalist am feeling about the the tone and coverage as the country began to select the next president.

I, as someone who aims to be an informed citizen, couldn’t tell what was real. I didn’t know what was fact or what was “fake news.”

And, to get this on the record, this concern wasn’t limited to one candidate. In the end, both the Democratic and Republican candidates had some significant flaws that should force any voting citizen a moment to pause.

But, let’s also be honest, one candidate said and behaved contrary to some fundamental beliefs I hold dear. I am unapologetically against racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and anything that leads to discrimination of others.

I, like I believe many people have, have always thought about “what would I have done” if… if there were a robbery, would I be a hero? If I saw police brutality what would I do? And, the ultimate hypothetical scenario, if I were around the time of Hitler, would I do something to speak up and defend the Jews.

I am also a Catholic (although I do not agree with many of the church’s political stance) and this past Sunday’s set of readings really affected me as President Trump’s executive order banning the travel of Muslim immigrants was happening.

All this got me to tweet. Not saying it was a good or bad decision, but here they are with some context.

I keep my faith to myself. I hate preachy people. But I thought there was hypocrisy and discrimination with the Muslim Ban and these readings really called it out.

I then tweeted out quotes from the readings, which I will spare you. But here is Tweet 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the series.

This was the tweet that would spark a Poynter piece about this struggle.

This is the moment where I went off my planned topic and decided to be more open and share my struggle with our current reality.

There were lots of “likes,” retweets and replies, including this one from Joshua Johnson.

This led to an exchange with Katie Hawkins-Gaar of Poynter, who asked if she could use my tweets for a piece she’d write based on this struggle many of us seem to be facing.

That led to this:

I will admit, I was and still am nervous for sharing. I took a risk in exposing myself. So far I haven’t gotten in trouble.

But others aren’t so lucky.

Lewis Wallace wrote about his struggle in this new reality too. But he was then fired from his job at Marketplace.

Clearly I disagree with this move.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know this is something we need to discuss and examine. This is happening. This is a reality. This isn’t something we can simply ignore or kick out of our newsrooms. This is the time for journalism to embrace the diversity of perspectives from every side and find a way to factor them into our coverage, ethically and transparently.

This is part of the new journalism, and it’s going to get uncomfortable and messy.

I am ready. Are you?

Categories: Culture, Personal, Rant, Twitter Tags:
09 Oct

My teaching style inspired another professor

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When I started the semester last fall, I put my faith in gnomes and underpants.”

The opening line from a MediaShift post written by Prof. Stacy Forster.

It was an analogy I’d heard over the summer from the University of Southern California’s Robert Hernandez at the Poynter Institute’s Teachapalooza seminar. Hernandez said he approached student projects like the gnomes in a South Park episode approached a business plan.”

I’m honored that my style of teaching inspired another professor… and their project sounds pretty bad ass!

Go read her piece! http://mediashift.org/2015/10/how-wisconsin-students-took-the-lead-on-water-quality-projects/

21 Feb

NENPA: My #realtalk presentation to newsroom leaders

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I was invited to speak at the New England Newspaper Publishers Association in Boston to talk about industry challenges, pulling no punches. “We would be quite interested in your views on what most newspapers appear to be doing right or wrong, and the best path forward,” the invitation said.

I had been invited to speak at a different newspaper publishers association in the past.

It didn’t work out. (I got uninvited when I told them my topic.)

But NENPA was committed and even wrote a piece on what I was going to say in my talk.

This talk, for me, was years in the making… one that I imagined giving when I was in the newsroom and one I wanted to give if I have a newsroom leader asking for advice.

Here, for those interested, is my talk*:
[ Hour and 15 minutes ]



Direct link: http://youtu.be/Hc6ZwLKDLP4

* Sadly, the projector changed the color of the slides… it’s not perfect, but it’s the content that matters, right? Right??

For those not interested in watching the entire video, here’s an animated GIF of the nutgraph from my talk:

realtalk-with-news-leadership

29 Aug

Change the ratio! But I’m auditing myself first

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NOTE: A version of this post ran on PBS MediaShift on Oct. 10, 2014. Lessons Learned from a #GenderAudit on Twitter

If I follow you on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve have added you to a Twitter list: Male or Female.

There’s also a private list for People of Color*.

Before you freak out, let me explain what I am trying to do.

A few weeks back I heard a great segment on On The Media with Buzzfeed writer Katie Notopoulos, who created a holiday called Unfollow a Man Day. The piece originally aired on the tl;dr podcast.

Check it out:

This ‘holiday’ came from Notopoulos’ decision from realizing she was following a ton of dudes on Twitter, rather than other females.

She explains it here: Why I Created The #UnfollowAMan Movement

Anyway, that got me thinking… for about a year, I have consciously been trying to diversify who I follow on Twitter.

I never want to be caught in an echo chamber, and I have learned that I get a beneficial edge when I hear outside voices, instead of hearing the same people from within the journalism industry.

But while my diverse follow was a conscious act, I still don’t know if I have struck the right balance.

So, why not find out?

And that’s where these lists come it.

By going through the 960+ people I follow and doing an inventory, I can achieve a couple of things:

1- What is my actual ratio? If I am preaching diversity and parity, am I practicing it too? I don’t know, and that’s what I am looking to find out. This self-experiment really is an audit.

2- In the interview with Notopoulos, she said she realized that some stories that were seen as newsworthy coming from “Twitter buzz,” were only a buzz for men. Meaning, because she followed dudes, dudes’ topics dominated. For me, inversely, I want to see what topics are not buzzing in my stream… or who is it buzzing with.

There is such a thing as Black Twitter. Latino Twitter, non-English Twitter… but most users don’t know (or care) because they follow people and communities they know… or reflect their experiences.

Side note: I wrote this post at 11:30PM-ish, because some people were weirded out by being added to a list. And one person, I feel, began to project some assumptions on what I am trying to do… hence this quick post.

But, let me be clear… just like Twitter, this is for me. I use Twitter for a tool that benefits my knowledge. And now I am using Twitter lists to benefit me as well. I am dying to know the results of this self-imposed audit and see if I can spot any patterns. I am coming in with NO ASSUMPTIONS, open to whatever results may come.

And, for the record, I don’t care if this is scientific or not. This is me grouping subjective follows along gender lines and see if anything emerges. I’m a hackademic, not an academic.

Now, after reading this post, I want to invite/challenge you to do the same thing. Find out if your stream is skewed by following one community more than another… hell, find out if you have a bias. Let me know if you try this thing… and, of course, feel free to share your thoughts on what I am doing. I’m trying to be open and transparent… and I am coming with good intentions.

UPDATE: At 12:21AM, I renamed my lists to be Gender Audit Proj: Female and Gender Audit Proj: Male, to be clearer on what I am doing.

NOTE: I started this “self-experiment” late this evening on a whim… and my brain is turning into mush as I add *everyone* to a list… so I assume I have made some errors. If you spot one, please let me know… thank you!

* The People of Color list is currently set to private, because there is a chance I add or leave out someone accidently and I don’t mean to offend.

// UPDATE & ADDITION (5/14/15)
A student recently told me about TWEE-Q, which analyzes which gender you retweet more. If you think about, having a balanced gender feed is a great step, but how you engage with the feed is an important metric.

What’s the point of following a balance if you only engage with one side?

So, I ran my Twitter name through the web app and got this result:
Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.49.04 AM

“@webjournalist retweeted 48% men and 52% women.” I am proud of this result!

// OTHER AUDITS
Feel free to tweet me your audit results as well!

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

28 Feb

Launched! [blank] is the future of journalism

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blank-is-the-future-of-journalism-animated

[Blank] is the future of journalism is bar game for jaded journalists, created by Kim Bui, David Cohn, Maite Fernandez, Robert Hernandez and Matt Thompson at a DC bar in January 2014.

The premise is that you have two minutes to become a pundit and seriously preach/defend/sell the randomized concept, or [blank], to your jaded friends.

Go play and send us feedback: http://blankisthefutureofjournalism.com/

10 Jan

MUST SEE: Video of Brad Frost’s ‘Death to Bullshit’ talk

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Brad Frost (“web designer, speaker, writer, consultant, musician, and artist in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA”) gave an amazing talk I shared last year, but I just realized I never posted it here for me to remember and refer to. (If you haven’t noticed, this blog is for me… a collection of reminders, inspiration, random thoughts and occasional rants.)

So, see this. It’s AWESOME. So f*cking good.

2013/4 Brad Frost from CreativeMornings/PGH on Vimeo.

Paper is bullshit.
Jargon is bullshit.
Sensationalism is bullshit.
Opportunism is bullshit.
QR Codes are bullshit.
Disruptions are bullshit.
Cruft is bullshit.
Spam is bullshit.
Anti-patterns are bullshit.
Advertising is bullshit.

The talk was part of a series put on by CreativeMornings/Pittsburgh. See more of their videos here: https://vimeo.com/cmpittsburgh/videos.

CreativeMornings talks are happening in many cities, including international. Go to one near you: http://creativemornings.com/

05 Nov

“I am the bard. I am the poet.”

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An old friend and Seattle Times colleague Thaddeus Hanscom sent me a link to this video. And he added: “Watch that. Replace ‘poet’ with ‘journalist.'”

I want you to do the same.

I hope you feel what I felt.




I am the bard.

I am the poet.

And to be a poet while the Internet exists… man we got an opportunity!

— Poet Steve Roggenbuck, an Internet Bard at last.

10 Jun

Intro to Ninja Gaiden via Vine


As some of you know, I’ve been playing with a Vine hack by Chris Medina. I wrote a blog post walking you through how to do it but, after a Vina app update, I thought the hack/trick was killed.

Turns out it still works. I updated my ‘how-to’ blog post with how I did this series of Vines based on videosI edited in iMovie (of all places) and uploaded into the app.

An homage to one of the bestest game intros ever.



These were taken from this YouTube video… hence the visual quality isn’t the greatest: http://youtu.be/_rkaiKYEkDQ

13 May

Google Glass in context

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I want you to take a moment and recognize something: Google Glass looks as technologically cutting-edge as the first Motorola Razr did in 2004.

This incredibly thin phone, which was a leap from its predecessor Motorola StarTAC, was fashionable and functional, making it the best-selling clamshell phone in the world to date and causing a dent into Nokia’s indestructible brick phones.

Everyone had to have one and no one could believe how small it was.

For some tech context, in 2004 Google was still a private company.

iTunes was finally was made compatible with Windows machines, which made the iPod have its largest year since its launch in 2001.

AOL was still known as America Online.

The New York Times, and many other sites, looked like this: http://web.archive.org/web/20040306074613/http://www.nytimes.com/

We thought we knew tech. I thought we were in the future because I could text a question to GOOGLE and get an answer back.

(For more context, know that Facebook in 2011 was as big as the entire Internet was in 2004.)

Now, I want you to realize that Google Glass is at an earlier stage than that. Much earlier.

Think Zack Morris phone.

Think back when mobile phones were just for yuppies.

Who would ever want to carry a phone around with them?

Only those elitist businesses people who can afford that ridiculous technology… like Gordon Gekko

Check out this report on cellphones and yuppies:



Anyway you look at it, Glass is in its early stages. And it will soon look so outdated. It’ll look like the first iPod.

Embarrassingly dated.

Zack_Morris_Glass

(Don’t get me started on the short-lived pagers.)

15 Apr

John Cleese’s Factors to Make Your Life More Creative ht Maria Popova @brainpicker

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This is gold.

“As we all know, it’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent, like thinking. And it’s also easier to do little things that we know we can do, than to start on big things that we’re not to sure about.”
— John Cleese

GOLD!!!

Maria Popova / @brainpickerThis post by Maria Popova on her brainpickings.org site is gold! Go there and give it deserved traffic: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/12/john-cleese-on-creativity-1991/

Go there! Click… and even donate!

So, why am I posting parts of it here?

If you haven’t noticed, this “blog” is more for me… and I want to remember this post. I want to find it easily… and get the inspiration from it when I need it.

John Cleese’s entire talk on being creative:


Some of the best highlights: http://youtu.be/ijtQP9nwrQA

John Cleese’s factors to make your life more creative:

  1. Space
  2. Time
  3. Time
  4. Confidence
  5. Humor

“Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.”
— John Cleese

Categories: Culture, Personal Tags:
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