Tag Archives: journalism

How I plan to examine/research/submerge myself in community newsrooms

Photo by Flickr user Aprilesole

Soon I’ll find myself out of a newsroom as I head for university life, spending the next four months in academia.

(Cue fish-out-of-water cliches.)

In June, I was awarded the first-ever Michener-Deacon Fellowship for journalism education.

As part of that fellowship, I’ll be a journalist-in-residence at Carleton University, and teaching a multimedia class to third-year journalism students.

Another part of that fellowship involves a research project, and in my proposal I outlined how I’d like to examine community newsrooms.

My original plan was broad enough to be a PhD dissertation, I worked with Christopher Waddell, the Director of the School of Journalism at Carleton, to sharpen its focus. I’d like to examine Canadian initiatives, as well as projects south of the border. And most importantly, it has to be a study that can be completed in four months, the length of the fellowship.

So, here goes – thus far:

Continue reading How I plan to examine/research/submerge myself in community newsrooms


Letting the crowd direct Parliament Hill coverage

Photo: Chris Mikula, Ottawa Citizen

Albeit quietly, there was an interesting journalism experiment conducted on Parliament Hill this week.

Every day, there is a list of committee meetings, panels and other goings-on in Ottawa. The trick for most journalists on the Hill is figuring out which one to attend, and which event will hold the most interest for readers.

So Macleans‘ Nick Taylor-Vaisey decided to ask his readers to decide: to tell him where he should spend his day.

Continue reading Letting the crowd direct Parliament Hill coverage

You just can’t ignore the dollars and sense

If you’ve read an earlier post on metred content how it changes the objectives of a newsroom, you might think I’m all about the cash grab.

Or that I’m a Pollyanna, putting a positive spin on things.

Yeah, people got mad at that post. The thought of public service journalism  (and that is exactly what journalism is when done correctly – I’m talking about more than a Kim Kardashian photo gallery) costing something is outrageous.

To which I say: how much did that coffee cost you this morning?

Here’s the thing, here’s the ugly truth: reporters, photographers, editors, copyeditors, paginators, web editors, developers… cost money.

Continue reading You just can’t ignore the dollars and sense

Thoughts from a shrunken newsroom on transitions

I am by nature a positive person.

So today, I am working to find a good spin on the fact that our newsroom is nearly 24 per cent smaller than it was yesterday.

Yesterday we saw section editors, copy editors, photographers and writers leave our newsroom – all of them excellent journalists – as part of a buyout program.

It’s no understatement to say the news business is in a period of transition, and change is never easy. This, too, is as cliched as it is true.

Our newsroom’s changes got me thinking about triathlons.

I recently started competing in triathlons again  (No, not Iron Mans, and I’m no Simon Whitfield), and while the race is grueling, most competitors will agree that it is the transitions between sports that are the toughest test.

Continue reading Thoughts from a shrunken newsroom on transitions

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.

Continue reading What do students want out of j-school?

What I’ll be doing during my Michener-Deacon Fellowship

The amazing folks at the Michener Awards Foundation have recognized the importance of journalism education, and created a Michener-Deacon Fellowship this year that allows for a ‘journalist-in-residence’ at a journalism school in Canada.

More amazing is that I’ve won it.

I’ve had a few people ask me what exactly I’ll be studying/researching/teaching about community journalism at Carleton University from January to May 2013. So, I decided to post my proposal here. (Where, I’ll also be reporting my findings throughout the Fellowship)

Continue reading What I’ll be doing during my Michener-Deacon Fellowship

The first commandment of journalism: Be F.A.S.T.

We had a group of visitors to our newsroom-  business types, not journalists – and they started asking me about our online operations.

One of our guests was most interested in the monitoring I do of traffic to our sites, examining what our readers are interested in, and how I watch our competitors’ websites throughout the day.

“Why is it important to be first?” he asked.

I was dumbfounded. I’m naturally quite competitive, so I couldn’t think of anything anyone might want to be but first.

As I gathered my thoughts to explain, he expanded his question: “What does it really matter if I read a news story on your site, or if I read it at [our competitor] first and then on yours 10 minutes later?”

Continue reading The first commandment of journalism: Be F.A.S.T.

Do not fear the newsroom: Tips for journalism interns

Recently I was asked to share tips as part of a panel at Carleton University for journalism students looking to be interns at a newsroom near you.

I’ve interviewed prospective interns, I’ve managed interns… and I’ve been an intern in TV news,  at a national women’s magazine, and in online news. (Full disclosure: Most of these were paid. The magazine, however, was not –  but they took me out for a nice lunch at the end of the internship.)

I’ve made some mistakes as an intern, witnessed some mistakes, so I have a few lessons to share. And heck, I’m just so impressed by the students I see in school these days I couldn’t say no.

The students gave us  a list of questions they wanted to see addressed. I don’t want to suggest for a minute that any of these ‘brilliant’ thoughts are trademarked, so I thought I’d post some of my key points here too:

Continue reading Do not fear the newsroom: Tips for journalism interns

Journalism, by the numbers

Today, I am giving the students in my second-year journalism class a math test.

When I told the students in this lab – which is mostly a “journalism boot camp”, focusing on interview skills, background research, focusing a lead, writing a strong feature story with an emphasis on CP style – they were shocked.

“But we went into journalism because we aren’t any good at math,” one student said.

Indeed, many of us did, I answered. But journalism is not a refuge from math, numbers are everywhere. And if you’re wrong on your math in a story, it’s as detrimental to your credibility as misquoting someone, or being wrong on the basic facts of a story.

Continue reading Journalism, by the numbers

With 63,206 characters Facebook is our Gutenberg Press

Facebook has announced it is allowing people to post updates as long as 63,000 characters (word count has been made so quaint by Twitter, hasn’t it?)

I learned this, of course, from my Facebook subscription to Mashable’s CEO Pete Cashmore, along with a link to ‘Your new Facebook Status update: 63,206 characters or less. ”

“Oooh,” salivated another of Cashmore’s subscribers, “That’s a novel.”

As the news industry ties itself in knots trying to set its books in order, I’ve often said that we are applying a business model based on Gutenberg’s Press to the Internet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how Facebook makes everyone a Gutenberg. Take Cashmore’s subscriber, for example, thinking first of her soon-to-be-classic epic.

Continue reading With 63,206 characters Facebook is our Gutenberg Press