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03 Apr

My keynote for JACC 2014

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Tonight I gave one of the most important talks I have ever given in my life.

In 1996, while a student at Pierce Community College, I attended my first journalism conference: Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC).

Now, nearly 20 years later, I returned to be its keynote speaker.

This was an intense, historical talk for me… and I knew I wanted to document it. So, while the audio isn’t perfect, I did a screen capture of my talk.

NOTE: The first 30 minutes is my talk, the second 30 minutes is the Q&A.

Thank you to JACC for inviting to speak.

And thank you to everyone who has changed my life. I mention many of you.

I did not do this alone.

The video (unedited):

Some of the pics from the event:

A ‘helfie’ as the students walked into the room for the keynote.

I apologized and warned the attendees that I would probably break down from the feels.

Great photo as I talked about my life where ‘stuff happened.’.

Someone sketched a cartoon of me during my talk.

I took a (forced) selfie with my first journalism professor Rob O’Neil. This man changed my life.

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.

28 Mar

A plea: Why you should not leave journalism

This isn’t a post defending why I love journalism. Nor is it one condemning those that have left it.

This post is a plea.

This morning I saw a tweet that led me to this sad reality:

A new study finds that, in 42% of companies, low performers actually report being more engaged – more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization, for example – than middle and high performers do.”

That line made me reflect on my life… and the lives of the peers I truly respect. We’re all frustrated and “unhappy.” Well, according to some people.

Why?

Because we are passionate.

Because we are not satisfied.

Because we know what it could be, which is so much more than what it currently is.

And we’re fighting for it. It’s a struggle… but we do it.

In many of my peers’ careers, including mine, you look around the organization and are in shock.

In shock because while we bust our collective asses in our struggle, others – these “low performers” – have moved up along side us.

They have failed up.

Don’t tell me you can’t immediately think of at least one name in your newsroom right now.

They’ve been there forever. Before you got there and started trying to change things… and quite honestly, they’ll be there after you leave. These people mean well… but they don’t fight for their beliefs like we do.

We – and I am not saying this is healthy – break down in tears from the frustration of our struggle. We question our own value, despite our incredible track records of change and success. We question our life and doubt all the sacrifices we’ve made along the way… even though we’d do it all over again.

But, which is understandable, we burn out. And we leave. Leave the heartbreak. (Or, which happens too, we leave the company for a better one. But we will inevitably be unsatisfied again.)

In all this… we also leave behind those satisfied “low performers” … and that’s how they move up.

Back to my plea.

I know it sucks. I know it is so crippling at times. I know you question the direction of your life. I know you think you are crazy (you must be, right, because no one is freaking out as much as you are). I know all this.

But I also know you are not alone. That you are not crazy. And that we are better off with you fighting for your beliefs.

We are better off with you in journalism – or in what ever industry you are frustratingly passionate about.

Take a break. Make a change. But don’t give up… and don’t you dare get falsely satisfied.

Stay hungry. I know it hurts sometimes, but stay hungry.

When you have doubts, look to your passionate peers. Remember Horizontal Loyalty. Re-read the Holstee Manifesto. And, occasionally, watch videos like this or this.

But stay. And make the difference.

PS: Please read this back to me if/when you see me doubting/questioning myself. Please.

12 Mar

Learn Code Project: A year ago…

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It was about a year that I was boarding my plane headed back to the West Coast, recharged and inspired by SXSW12.

By the time I landed, I had coded and launched this new project.
learncodeforjournalismwithme-logo-thumbnail
Man, what a difference a year makes.

Frustrated (and starting to get desperate) with finding partners to collaborate/experiment with, I figured I should put off the inevitable and teach myself code. I know I wouldn’t be the best coder — like I’m not the best audio storytelling or photographer — but I respected the craft and know its power.

I had been director of development for seattletimes.com where we designed and built cool shit, which was ahead of its time… and now feels… so… quaint.

In my quest for dev skills, I tried a variety of different non-journalism, code classes… from video to web-based tutorials. I, as ONA pre-conference and NAHJ conference coordinator, recruited friends and colleagues to craft custom journalism focused all-day coding workshops.

I even offered a (nearly free) all-day, intro to Python bootcamp at USC Annenberg thanks to the awesome PyLadies.

For the record, while this benefited the community as a whole, I was doing it for me. And none of it worked… for me.

But after SXSW, inspired by Codecademy‘s Code Year (even though I had given up on it like other New Year’s resolutions) and a curious user of Google+ Hangouts, I created the Learn Code for Journalism with Me project.

Yes, it’s a loooooong name. My partner-in-crime Kim Bui openly hates it. I know.

But it comes from a series of projects I’ve hung around the domain journalismwith.me.

Anyway, the idea was a simple one and the reaction to it was overwhelming. I was clearly on to something… and I wasn’t the only one trying to solve this.

Cindy Royal of Texas State University was trying to build a curriculum, Dave Stanton (who was joining two other friends and myself in launching a cooperative consulting firm) had expressed interest and I’m sure others were trying to grapple with this issue.

But, again, what a difference a year makes.

As I wait for my plane to take me back to the City of Angels still recovering from SXSW13, the landscape for this has completely changed.

There are two projects I want to point out:

First is Sisi Wei‘s Code with me project that offers weekend coding bootcamps for about $85.

Second is For Journalism, the successfully-funded kickstarter from Stanton, which will create journalism-focused coding tutorials.

Outside giving money to For Journalism and being a cross-country supporter of Code with me, I had nothing to do with their launches.

Even if their project names sound familiar, as people have point out … to be fair, my loooong title clearly had all the right words required for any successful coding for journalism project aimed to empower the community.

For my little project that is reaching its year anniversary, I didn’t have the bandwidth to make tshirts to use crowd funding.

It was just me.

Actually, it’s not just me anymore.

It’s me and my amazing cohort of determined classmates-turned-friends that still meet every Monday at 3PM PT via Google+ Hangouts since April of last year.

We’ve abandoned Code Year and have been developing our own journalism-based, project-focused coding lessons. We’re teaching each other code and hoping to share what we learn with others.

You can hear about the LCFJWM phase 2 in this View Source podcast interview or read about what I’ve learned in this post.

What a difference a year makes. And I am so glad talented people have come into this mix and found ways to address this need… in ways I couldn’t have for lack of the bandwidth or connections.

God only knows what the next year will bring, but we all know we’re going to benefit from this work.

15 Nov

Experimenting with Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker

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I’ve been keeping an eye on the Mozilla Popcorn project and just tested out their Popcorn Maker app… it is incredibly easy and really cool. Here is my experiment using my Ignite talk on Horizontal Loyalty as a test.

28 Sep

Nieman Lab piece on rebooting J-schools: Take control of your education

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I was invited by Nieman Lab to write a piece on rebooting J-schools. My take was bypassing the “debate” and empowering the students directly. Tell me what you think: Robert Hernandez: Reboot journalism school? Take control of your education instead

If and when I have time, I hope to Storify the reactions and add it to this post.

My favorite, though, came from Justin Ellis, who was the person that invited me to write the piece:


So we’re all “reboot the J-school” and then @ is like “Forget that noise. Google it.” http://t.co/C2nyPBt8
@JustinNXT
Justin Ellis

01 Sep

Video: Horizontal Loyalty Ignite talk at Spark Camp

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For those interested, here is video of my Ignite talk on Horizontal Loyalty. You can see my slides here.

22 Jul

My Ignite talk for Spark Camp: Horizontal Loyalty

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For geeks like me, Ignite talks are, well, a big deal… an honor, really… a rite of passage, if you will. There are so many powerful Ignites out there that have inspired, entertained and educated many… but, if you do one, bombing — in front of really, really smart people — is a strong possibility.

You have to be passionate, creative and brave. Well, in some cases, more foolish than brave.

As part of the opening of Spark Camp, I was foolish enough to volunteer to be among attendees to give a talk.

In an Ignite talk “presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.”

My “personal and professional passion” is Horizontal Loyalty. Here are my slides and my talking points (many of them I forgot!), but adapted for this platform.

Slide 01


Screenshot from my HorizontalLoyalty.com site.


Slide 02


Horizontal Loyalty is concept taken from Robert Krulwich‘s 2011 commencement speech to UC Berkeley Journalism School‘s graduating class.


Slide 03


For those who may not know, Krulwich is a legendary broadcast reporter known for explaining complex topics, often science related. He’s also the co-host of Radiolab. His speech was posted on Discover Magazine blog, where it began to spread across the Web.


Slide 04


First, let me tell you what Horizontal Loyalty isn’t. It’s not a cheesy stock image, an awkward high five or a corporate teaming building exercise. It hasn’t been co-opted yet.


Slide 05


As cheesy as this sounds — or this image is — Horizontal Loyalty is us. In the speech, Krulwich says don’t wait for a call from The New York Times. Don’t invest everything in your dream company. Don’t give your heart to strangers. Don’t wait your turn. Instead, invest in your friends. Look toward them, the ones you admire, and put your faith in them.


Slide 06


We support each other. We challenge each other. But, while every generation feels this way, the difference is that we can and need to build something together.


Slide 07


This is very much Web culture. We collaborate and share our work. From the concept of Open Source to in-real-life meetups, we see this collaboration coming from the Web. I’m a podcast addict and two that reflect this concept are Nerdist and WTF. These two comedians launched their own podcasts with their friends as a passion project… before their podcasts, some considered their careers were essentially over.


Slide 08


Horizontal Loyalty is in our circles. It’s here at Spark Camp. It’s in groups like Hacks/Hackers and the new ProPublica Pair Programming Project. I’m proud to say it is a core part of my work… in projects like #wjchat and Learn Code for Journalism.


Slide 09


For me, the true embodiment of Horizontal Loyalty is Tomorrow Magazine. Created by former Good Magazine editorial staffers — either fired or those who quit in solidarity — this crew decided to banned together and build something rather than to give up.


Slide 10


They decided to create one last magazine project and launched a Kickstarter campaign. By Friday, July 20, with five days remaining in the campaign, they have raised more than double their goal.


Slide 11


I believe in Horizontal Loyalty… it’s my mantra… it’s what keeps me sane… what keeps me going. But my belief in Horizontal Loyalty began in the 80s, with the film…


Slide 12


The Goonies.


Slide 13


If you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. It’s about a bunch of kids… misfits… that don’t wait their turn. They take action — go on a treasure hunt — to save their homes. To do something, because the adults in their lives failed them.


Slide 14


There is a scene in the middle of the film where the Goonies could turn back and give up… return to their traditional roles riding Troy’s bucket… but Mikey, lead Goonie, gives a powerful speech


Slide 15


“This is our time, our time… down here,” he says from the bottom of a well. It’s up to us.


Slide 16


Look, Horizontal Loyalty is not about the Web… nor is it about technology. It’s not about age, either. It’s for people who believe collaboration is a strength, not a sign of weakness.


Slide 17


The Goonies were made up by a cheerleader, a jock, loudmouth, hacker, heavy kid, four eyes and a dreamer. They are made up of us.


Slide 18


In his last words of the speech, Krulwich says “Fall in love with the work, with the people you work with… with your dreams… and their dreams. … Believe in your friends.”


Slide 19


Slide 20


Goonies. Never. Say. Die.

08 Apr

HorizontalLoyalty.com site launches

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In honor of the concept that Robert Krulwich spoke about nearly a ago, I launched HorizontalLoyalty.com … using some cool jQuery code called impress.js, I am using the site to explain and share #horizontalloyalty.

12 Mar

My proof, my metrics, my ROI on Social Media: #WJCHAT

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It happens on occasion (okay, with this friend it happens a lot), but I battle with a friend over Social Media’s role in our lives and relationships.

I’m not a fan of the outsider, knee jerk reactions to Social Media that say we are getting dumber, we can’t focus and we are so lonely.

All those things may be happening, but it’s not because of Social Media… not solely anyway. These are, in fact, the same claims that have been preached about with every new development ranging from radio, TV and, I believe, even books.

So, I’m not a fan of those re-occurring, blame-the-newest-thing-for-our-bad-thing argument.

Nor am I a blinded super fan of Social Media… there’s crap out there (lots of it) and “gurus” making money by ripping people off.

I am, however, a fan of the true connections that have been made possible because of platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These platforms are just the latest evolutionary step from mail to telegram to telephone to Internet to e-mail, etc.

And, as you may have guessed, I am a SUPER fan of communities like #WJCHAT, that support and educate each other by harnessing these platforms.

The two-year anniversary of our little community was in February and, in my hopes to gets some attention to it, I asked a couple journalism sites to do a write up on us. To be honest, I didn’t really make a hard pitch.

Naturally, as good journos, the question led to why… but more importantly, what has #WJCHAT done? Where’s the proof?

I don’t have those metrics.

While we often talk about analytics, ROI and such, for me, I don’t really care about those when it comes to #WJCHAT.

All I care about is that people know that they are not alone in their struggle to find their place in journalism, that they are getting educated on how to improve journalism and that they are sharing their knowledge and experiences so we collectively “save” journalism.

My latest reminder of this was today’s ONA featured member piece on Tauhid Chappell.

I remember Chappell popping into the #WJCHAT stream and meeting him IRL at an ONA event. But I didn’t know that our little community played a role in his journalistic development… but it was enough that he felt compelled to mentioned #WJCHAT in his profile piece.

That is my proof. He is my metric.

Tonight I will be meeting “strangers” for the first time IRL at our now annual #WJCHAT meetup at SXSW.

I will be seeing old friends and making new ones (once we get over the awkward oh-yeah-I-know-you moment after we connect the avatar or handle to the face and name).

That is my proof. They are my metric.

Do you know that I have only met, maybe, half of the people who volunteer each week to run #WJCHAT. Never meet them outside of email, a collaborative document or Twitter chat.

These folks are my colleagues. They are my friends. They, too, are my proof… my metric.

Everyone in this diverse community is my argument proving that Social Media is an undeniably positive element in our modern lives.

And, my goal when Twitter life and real life merges later today, is to be present with this community of friends… and, on occasion, awkwardly look at my phone to see if I need to tweet out something.

Thank you for being part of this community. < cheesy >It’s been a positive element in my life.< /cheesy >

π