Tag Archives: Jeff Jarvis

Torrington’s Register Citizen: Using community to remain relevant


Matt DeRienzo has welcomed the community into his newsroom, unlocking the doors and letting them walk right in.

This hasn’t led to any security concerns, and he has only had to call the police once – when he spotted “a kid watching porn on one of our computers, and refused to leave,” DeRienzo said. (I was lucky enough to join some journalists from the Cape Cod Times for a tour of his Newsroom Café in Torrington, Connecticut  in March.)

Opening the doors means learning a lot about your community, he explained. He’s had a homeless man come in to use Google earth on one of the public computers to find a place to sleep.

When some of his staff complained about the homeless using the space in the winter, DeRienzo said he pushed back. “I will address the issue if there is a smell, but not the fact there is a homeless person here.”

Besides, he added “it’s noisiest when my kids are here.”

DeRienzo opened the Register Citizen‘s News Café in December, 2010. To do this, he moved his newsroom to a new location (an abandoned ball bearing and sewing machine parts factory) in downtown Torrington, with an eye to a place that could host a space “for coffee and pastries.”

In this setting, the front door is unlocked, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. There is no reception or security desk. But it is one of three locations in town with free wifi.

The public can – and has – walked in and talked to a reporter about a story. Sometimes this is a good thing, DeRienzo said, it can result in story leads. Other times, people have to be reminded they’ve made their point, and that reporters have a job to do.

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Booze, Twitter and what people really want out of a tweet

A friend of mine, recently promoted to an executive-level position, asked if I could help her with Twitter.

“I’ve been told I need to twit,” she said.

It’s extremely (if dangerously so) easy, I told her, and I offered up this gem: don’t drink and tweet.

Indeed, when Jeff Jarvis was in Ottawa last fall promoting his book Public Parts and advocating for publicness, he spoke of an incident where he did just that.

After a few glasses of wine, he was watching a TV report on the debt ceiling, and he tweeted this:

One of Jarvis’ followers suggest he use the hashtag ‘#fuckyouwashington’ and things took off – a week later more than 100,000 people were using the hash tag. (Jarvis has a hilarious account of the incident, and a data visualization of the flurry of #fuckyouwashington tweets)

But at his Ottawa talk, Jarvis said that while the flurry of the hash tag was interesting and exciting, he wasn’t sure twitter was the right place to go after a drink or two.

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What do students want out of j-school?

Me, as an intern, a week after graduating (in red). I am still grateful for the skills I learned in j-school.

Convocations around town have me thinking back … way, way back to my own graduation from journalism school – and what I was hoping the experience would give me.

Recently I received the anonymous student evaluations from the ‘Fundamentals of Reporting’ (boot camp) course I taught last year at Carleton University. I took a version of the course when I was a Master’s student at Carleton.

The course emphasizes basic interview skills, preparing a background file, investigating sources and an emphasis on Canadian Press style  – with weekly assignments and a major feature at the end of the term. While it’s not their only journalism course, it is one where second-year students get to stretch their legs the most and get out there and do some writing.

As important as the grading system is  (I presume if your evaluation marks are astonishingly awful, you won’t be asked back as an instructor), I place as much importance on the comments on the back.

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Does the public need to know what journalists think?

I’ve noticed a shift in how people regard journalists, and the transparency expected of them.

When I first started out in this business, it was quickly apparent that I as a journalist should never be openly vocal about my views on an issue while reporting on it, or having a hand in reporting it.

For example: during an election, I never have a candidate’s sign on my lawn.

In my view, I’m supposed to remain impartial during the campaign (the fact that I no longer put words in the paper or online is irrelevant. I’m an editor, and can direct our coverage). A sign on my lawn would indicate – not just to my neighbours – that I have a preference.

But after a great ethics discussion with journalism students at Carleton University, I wonder if there has been a shift.

Indeed, Jeff Jarvis says that we should share as much as possible in  ‘publicness’  – I would assume this would include a reporter’s political leanings.

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Jeff Jarvis reveals his Public Parts

Jeff Jarvis is an unabashed optimist.

He acknowledged massive changes brought on by the Internet – likening this era to the early days of the Gutenberg Press – and said we need to embrace publicness.

Publicness, he explained is putting it out there, letting it all hang out.

Right now you’re probably cringing, thinking about how to reset your Facebook and Google+ privacy settings so that the unknown student in India doesn’t see those pics of your son in little league.

And that’s a natural reaction to change, Jarvis pointed out during the launch of his book Public Parts Friday night at a Third Tuesday meetup.

He talked about the introduction of the Gutenberg press, and the use of the Kodak camera, and people were first most concerned about their privacy.

“It’s important when we have change we worry about the bad things that can happen, but it’s also important to realize what good can happen,” Jarvis said.

“Privacy matters. It’s important, it needs protection. But we are talking so much about privacy that I have a fear about publicness. That’s why I wrote this book.

Continue reading Jeff Jarvis reveals his Public Parts