National party conventions, graphic photos, social media’s bull$#!t, open data, and a world stream


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By Brian Frank: Here's a quick roundup of stories and conversations that caught our attention in the past week, the first in what will gradually become a regular series. Convention City: For the next two weeks, we'll be barraged with reportage from the Republican and Democratic national conventions. As MediaShift points out, a lot of attention among media observers will be paid to how a variety of digital tools are deployed, much like it was during the Summer Olympics. The media industry blog has already put together a helpful list of resources for following the conventions. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has launched a new feature it's calling The Grid, which is an interesting way to scan through all their various social media and reporting channels and get the latest on the RNC (and next week the DNC).

My response to The Hartford Courant’s “Spanish-language strategy” with Google Translate


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By Robert Hernandez: "Como una cortesía para The Courant, por demostrando ignorancia y falta de respeto a su propia comunidad, déjeme decir: lo cagaron." If you were to translate this using Google Translate, guess what… it would be wrong. Anyone who is bilingual wouldn’t be surprised. But they would be surprised in hearing that a news organization would solely depend on using this primitive service as their “Spanish-language strategy.” Sadly, this isn’t a joke: Hartford Courant’s Spanish site is Google Translate by Poynter. But, instead of just being disgusted or insulted by The Courant’s “strategy,” let me offer some tips for an actual strategy.

What’s missing from the debate on "rebooting journalism schools"


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By Geneva Overholser: "Rebooting journalism schools" has been a hot topic this spring and summer, culminating at the recent convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Chicago. A key figure in the discussion is the Knight Foundation's Eric Newton, who headed a group of foundation leaders calling on America's university presidents to put "top professionals in residence" and to focus on applied research. Newton had previously challenged journalism schools to consider a new degree structure to "put professionals on par with scholars and give the highest credentials to people who are both." This Newton post offers a good sampling of the discussion to date. Another leading voice is the Poynter Institute's Howard Finberg, whose speech in Europe in June helped launch the debate. Finberg followed with a good summation. It's a lively discussion. Lots of truths have been spoken, lots of silly things said, and many topics worthy of debate have been raised. Here are a few points I think need adding (or stressing more than they have been to date):

What’s missing from the debate on “rebooting journalism schools”


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By Geneva Overholser: "Rebooting journalism schools" has been a hot topic this spring and summer, culminating at the recent convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Chicago. A key figure in the discussion is the Knight Foundation's Eric Newton, who headed a group of foundation leaders calling on America's university presidents to put "top professionals in residence" and to focus on applied research. Newton had previously challenged journalism schools to consider a new degree structure to "put professionals on par with scholars and give the highest credentials to people who are both." This Newton post offers a good sampling of the discussion to date. Another leading voice is the Poynter Institute's Howard Finberg, whose speech in Europe in June helped launch the debate. Finberg followed with a good summation. It's a lively discussion. Lots of truths have been spoken, lots of silly things said, and many topics worthy of debate have been raised. Here are a few points I think need adding (or stressing more than they have been to date):

Shazam! NBC may have just given us a glimpse into our transmedia future


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By Brian Frank: Now that the Olympics are over, we can reflect on the performances we witnessed not only from the athletes (awful, great, and everything in between), but also from the network that brought London into our living room and onto our smartphones (ditto). NBC caught plenty of flak for tape-delaying a giant portion of the events rather than broadcasting them live. For frustrated sports enthusiasts and vitriolic Twitcrits armed with the #NBCFail hash tag, that was something of a mortal sin, not least because in this media-saturated age spoilers pervaded the atmosphere like a greenhouse gas. There are economic factors to consider, however. NBC paid about $1.2 billion for exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympics. The company had to recoup that money somehow. Rolling the marquee events, highlights, and personal stories into a single primetime package consolidated eyeballs and, by extension, boosted ad revenues. The strategy seems to have worked, as ratings for the London Olympics were reportedly the highest of any in decades. People clearly tuned in despite the time-shifted broadcasts. NBC Research President Alan Wurtzel even told Reuters reporter Liana B. Baker that people appeared even more likely to tune in when they already knew the results. Of course, it's tough to credit any strategy, alone or in combination, when the company had a monopoly on coverage. Television viewers didn't really have anywhere else to go, so the only solid conclusion one can draw from NBC's ratings success is that a lot of people wanted to watch the Olympics and did. Whatever you think about NBC's broadcast strategy, though, you have to give them some credit for pushing the envelope just a little further on the digital front. The company's transmedia approach to covering the Olympics was a promise, even if not quite fulfilled, of a future in which the Internet and TV (and, really, all media) finally, harmoniously, converge into a kind of unified and, yes, very social experience.

Lessons From Penn State: Journalists Should Stop Idolizing Athletes and Coaches


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By Steve Fox: I took my 9-year-old daughter to her first Mets game last week. They lost. The Mets lose a lot these days. She asked me at the end of the game if I was mad that the Mets had lost. I explained to her that it would have been nice if the Mets had won, but I really wasn’t mad that they had lost. Loss is one of those subjects that can be tough to wrestle to the ground with kids. I don’t care about the Mets losing. I care about the loss of innocence. All parents face this as their kids grow older. As parents we try to shield children from the realities of life for as long as we can. It can be difficult. Parents split up. People die – often senseless deaths. But sport has always provided a combination of beauty and innocence. Most of us are attracted to sports and athletics at a young age and find joy in the sheer excitement of competition. I’ve watched a lot of sports over the years and have always marveled at what athletes – both men and women – can do in times of tremendous stress. For my daughter, the innocence extended to the simple things – she counted the number of planes that crossed over Citi Field during the game. She barked back at the hot dog guy patrolling the stands while he woofed it up. She took countless pictures of the ball field on a beautiful New York summer night. I’ve always loved sports…and I’ve tried hard to pass that love onto my kids. I’ve been able to sit close and have access to athletes while working as a sports journalist, and I now teach a Sports Journalism course in the UMass Journalism Program. I’ve watched and covered everything from women’s softball to the NBA…and everything in between, even soccer. But at some point the love of sports and what athletes do on the field crosses over into blind idolatry. It’s inevitable. We place athletes on pedestals, holding them up to standards impossible to maintain.

Lessons from Penn State: Journalists should stop idolizing athletes and coaches


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By Steve Fox: I took my 9-year-old daughter to her first Mets game last week. They lost. The Mets lose a lot these days. She asked me at the end of the game if I was mad that the Mets had lost. I explained to her that it would have been nice if the Mets had won, but I really wasn’t mad that they had lost. Loss is one of those subjects that can be tough to wrestle to the ground with kids. I don’t care about the Mets losing. I care about the loss of innocence. All parents face this as their kids grow older. As parents we try to shield children from the realities of life for as long as we can. It can be difficult. Parents split up. People die – often senseless deaths. But sport has always provided a combination of beauty and innocence. Most of us are attracted to sports and athletics at a young age and find joy in the sheer excitement of competition. I’ve watched a lot of sports over the years and have always marveled at what athletes – both men and women – can do in times of tremendous stress. For my daughter, the innocence extended to the simple things – she counted the number of planes that crossed over Citi Field during the game. She barked back at the hot dog guy patrolling the stands while he woofed it up. She took countless pictures of the ball field on a beautiful New York summer night. I’ve always loved sports…and I’ve tried hard to pass that love onto my kids. I’ve been able to sit close and have access to athletes while working as a sports journalist, and I now teach a Sports Journalism course in the UMass Journalism Program. I’ve watched and covered everything from women’s softball to the NBA…and everything in between, even soccer. But at some point the love of sports and what athletes do on the field crosses over into blind idolatry. It’s inevitable. We place athletes on pedestals, holding them up to standards impossible to maintain.

Want to save local newspapers? Then break the chains that hold them back


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By Robert Niles: The economies of scale that once helped place the journalism business among the economy's most profitable now threaten to help sink the industry. America's newspaper chains missed their moment of opportunity to use their scale to dominate the information business online. Now, it's time for those chains to break up, in a last-ditch effort to save many of their newspaper titles. The principle of "economies of scale" says that, in certain cases, businesses can work more efficiently by getting bigger. For newspapers, big chains can spread of the cost of creating and obtaining out-of-market content across dozens of papers. It can run single, shared bureaus in state, national and international capitals. It can employ a single national sales force to sell ads across the entire chain. It can centralize IT, HR, and purchasing operations. It can standardize design and obtain better deals on syndicated content than individual papers could do on their own. The chain also needs to employ additional layers of management, at the national and sometimes regional level, to oversee that centralized work. But the cost savings of eliminating all that duplicative work at the local level more than covers the cost of that additional management - and provides bigger profits for the chain's investors. At least, they used to. When the Internet destroyed local newspapers' control of the flow of out-of-market news information in their communities, it eliminated many of the economies of scale that justified local newspapers being bought up into large, national chains. What good is a deal on wire service content when your readers can get that same information for free elsewhere on the Web? (And you can just link to it from your website.) When journalists can use consumer-grade technology to produce their publications, what's the advantage of maintaing a large, slow-moving, change-resistant, central IT department? What's the sense in paying for a large national sales force when the unique, defining characteristic of your audiences is that they are local? It didn't have to be this way.

Lies, liars, lying – just three of the delightfully negative words journalists shouldn’t be afraid to use


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By Robert Niles: If by any chance you're feeling good about the state of journalism today, allow Mr.-Gloom-and-Doom Me to wipe that away with a single link. Take a look at Barry Ritholtz' Yeah! The Housing Bottom Is Here! It catalogues six years of compliant reporters dutifully shoveling up quotes from real estate industry sources proclaiming a bottom to the housing market, implicitly urging readers to get out there and buy some real estate right now. Each article follows the rules of good journalism. They include stories from many of the nation's leading news organizations. Many articles offers multiple sources, in well-edited narrative. There's no indication in any of the stories that their reporters misquoted anyone, or misrepresented what their sources were trying to say. Yet, every article on that page is spectacularly, dangerously, and offensively wrong. And that illustrates the gravest problem facing journalism today. It's not competition from the Internet, or even the loss of local advertising monopolies. If journalism as an industry were producing consistently accurate, forward-looking, and unique reports that helped people live better lives, without ending up underwater on a crappy mortgage, competition from inferior news sources - even cheaper or free sources - wouldn't threaten the industry's survival. The gravest problem facing journalism today is its continued adherence to a stenographic model of reporting, one that accepts accurate recitation of quotes and data as truthful reporting, overlooking the very inconvenient fact that people very often lie to reporters. J-school cliche says "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." But far too often in news reporting, "checking it out" means simply calling up another source, and presenting their confirmation or denial of mommy's alleged love in the next grafs of the story.

Paying for information versus *access* to information: A key distinction for news publishers


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By Robert Niles: You can't find the right answer if you're asking the wrong question. If you (or your bosses) aren't finding a solution for making money from news online, maybe you need to ask yourself some fresh questions about the real nature of your business. Start by reading a post Dave Winer put up last month called Paywalls are backward-looking. In the piece, Winer focuses on the heart of the news business model over the past century, and shows why traditional thinking about the news business won't help it survive in the Internet era. "Before the Internet, news orgs had a natural paywall, the distribution system. If you wanted to read the paper you had to buy the paper. And the ink, and the gasoline it took to get it to where you are. In fact, everything that determined the structure of the news activity, that made it a business, was organized around the distribution system. "But that's been over now for quite some time. And paywalls express a desperate wish to go back to a time when there was a reason to pay. Now news, if it wants to continue, must find a new reason." Let me back up a moment before advancing Winer's point. Many beginning news publishers cripple their business by failing to recognize who their customers are. A customer is whoever writes you a check (or gives you a credit card number). Too many publishers naively believe that their customers are their readers, when the customers actually are the advertisers or foundations that are paying the bills to keep the publication running. In a similar way, many news publishers - rookie and veteran - mistake the benefits that they provide these customers in exchange for that financial support. This is the brilliance of Winer's post. It illustrates the real value, the real benefit, that news publishers once provided to the market: the ability for information to flow more easily. Customers paid for access to that information distribution system - readers paid for home delivery or newsstand access to the information included in the day's paper, and advertisers paid for access to those readers. The Internet, of course, allows information to flow even more efficiently than even newspapers ever could. Which is why the Internet - once widely adopted - meant the inevitable doom for the newspaper business model.

The Digital Rap Sessions, or how die-hard traditionalists and emerging media yahoos became One


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By Allan Richards: I had seen it happen before. When I was a kid, acoustic instruments went electric, outraging traditional musicians. When I became a musician, electric went electronic and the traditionalists who objected to electrifying instruments now denounced synthesized sounds as not even being music. But music, organized tones, has always remained the thing—not the amplification through wattage or the digitizing of instruments. Many traditional journalists reacted much in the same way to digital and social media, and, in journalism and mass communication schools across the country, professors often railed against and slowed the development of digital media programs, even as the rest of the world moved rapidly on. A year ago, in this journal, I wrote about an experiment in which I added digital elements to my Intro to Journalism class. As the associate dean and lead multimedia professor where I teach at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) in Miami, I thought it was time to include Web development and the use of social media in classes before students were admitted fully to our program, instead of in the capstone journalism course when they were exiting the school. Intro to Journalism is traditionally offered as a lecture class, not a skills class, with periodic quizzes based on a textbook, a mid-term and final. Some of my students were taken aback when, on the first day of class, I asked them to develop a Wordpress site and post a written assignment. Those students who had a sense of the digital now, whose reach was beyond personal posts on Facebook or Twitter, were enthusiastic about the opportunity. There were 112 students in the lecture class; in hindsight, a couple of teacher assistants to help read the postings and comment on design elements would have made this a more efficient experiment. Still, a year after the experiment, those students who were in my Intro class and were now in my capstone multimedia class were more advanced in developing and writing for the Web than the students who had been in more traditional such classes. These students had an extra year to meld journalistic values and reporting skills in a digital environment. While teaching Intro, I thought it was a good time to gather a few faculty I knew who also were infusing digital and social media components into their classes. Our school has two departments—journalism and public relations/advertising—and though we newly had added a multimedia course to our core undergraduate curriculum, in which students are taught Final Cut, Soundslides and Audacity, and had updated our graduate programs (a Spanish Language Journalism master’s program and Global Strategic Communications program) with Web and social media work, we had not yet developed a formal digital major or graduate program. I thought this would be a good opportunity for us to compare notes and maybe find a path to a more cohesive way of teaching new media in our school. I didn't want to call a formal meeting, or ask faculty to serve on yet another committee to evaluate our digital relevance. As the ongoing change in media lends itself to improvisation, I sent out a vague email saying that I was holding a Digital Rap Session in the dean’s conference room. My idea was to gather a small, free-wheeling circle of professors, sort of like a musical jam session, where we could basically riff about our in-class digital experiences. As nobody RSVPed, I thought I’d be having a meeting of one. I was surprised, actually thrilled, when eight faculty from journalism, public relations and advertising, some technology-oriented and some more traditionally-based, wandered into the conference room.

Refocusing student media to align with digital first approach


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By Aaron Chimbel: We all know the way people get their news has been upended in the past two decades. If you wanted to get the day’s news a few years ago you had to get it when the news organizations said you could have it. That usually meant a few times a day on television and radio or when the newspaper was published. By the time what we now call legacy media was able to present the news it was inherently old. Times, of course, have changed. News organizations have to change, too.

Refocusing student media to align with digital first approach


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By Aaron Chimbel: We all know the way people get their news has been upended in the past two decades. If you wanted to get the day’s news a few years ago you had to get it when the news organizations said you could have it. That usually meant a few times a day on television and radio or when the newspaper was published. By the time what we now call legacy media was able to present the news it was inherently old. Times, of course, have changed. News organizations have to change, too.

10 Reasons Why Online Journalists Are Better Journalists (In Theory)


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By Emily Henry: 1. We’re fighting to still be here All the on-the-fence journalists have left the field, leaving behind the few, the passionate and the dedicated — as well as those who are just plain bewildered. But they’ll figure it out soon enough. The new new (new?) journalist can’t be the grumpy introvert of yore, but an engaged member of the community, and an energetic entrepreneur. And while newspaper journalists would say they weren’t in it for the money... we could really make that our catchphrase. 2. We have to be more useful We’re providing more information and more background, but keeping it to the point. Because users won’t read a long story, we have to be better at determining the most important points, presenting them succinctly and knowing when to stop. We then offer you a choice to delve more deeply, if you want, by including links, PDFs, photo galleries, videos and a whole host of other assets for you to explore or ignore. 3. We’re paying attention to what people want Newspaper numbers were inaccurate and extremely limited. But online newsmakers can see — in real time — how many people are reading our stories, how important those stories are, and who thinks so. Being a successful journalist means paying attention to those numbers and responding to what people want and need, rather than what we think they want and need or — worse — what we think they should want and need. 4. We’re ditching the “he said, she said” Inserting a quote in between every paragraph to support the former or upcoming statement is a dead practice. No one was reading what was in between the quotation marks anyway, but skipping over it instead, and now all the supporting quotes are provided after the story has been published — by you, dropping your thoughts into the comments box.

10 Reasons Why Online Journalists Are Better Journalists (In Theory)


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By Emily Henry: 1. We’re fighting to still be here All the on-the-fence journalists have left the field, leaving behind the few, the passionate and the dedicated — as well as those who are just plain bewildered. But they’ll figure it out soon enough. The new new (new?) journalist can’t be the grumpy introvert of yore, but an engaged member of the community, and an energetic entrepreneur. And while newspaper journalists would say they weren’t in it for the money... we could really make that our catchphrase. 2. We have to be more useful We’re providing more information and more background, but keeping it to the point. Because users won’t read a long story, we have to be better at determining the most important points, presenting them succinctly and knowing when to stop. We then offer you a choice to delve more deeply, if you want, by including links, PDFs, photo galleries, videos and a whole host of other assets for you to explore or ignore. 3. We’re paying attention to what people want Newspaper numbers were inaccurate and extremely limited. But online newsmakers can see — in real time — how many people are reading our stories, how important those stories are, and who thinks so. Being a successful journalist means paying attention to those numbers and responding to what people want and need, rather than what we think they want and need or — worse — what we think they should want and need. 4. We’re ditching the “he said, she said” Inserting a quote in between every paragraph to support the former or upcoming statement is a dead practice. No one was reading what was in between the quotation marks anyway, but skipping over it instead, and now all the supporting quotes are provided after the story has been published — by you, dropping your thoughts into the comments box.

Want to cover local? Then you’d better BE local!


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By Robert Niles: Allow me to suggest one more mistake that the newspaper industry made that we shouldn't allow the slip down the memory hole. It was a practice that I am sure struck many newsroom managers as a smart one... at the time. But it ultimately helped sever ties between publications and their communities, leading to less informed, less engaging coverage that left readers - and advertisers - with fewer reasons to support their local paper. What was this practice? It was conducting national job searches to fill local reporting positions. When I began my journalism career, J-school advisers told us to expect to start out at a smaller paper in a national chain, then try to work our way up to larger newsrooms, bigger cities, and more desirable places to live. You had to "pay your dues" in some small town before you could move up to a major metro. The model was that of an assembly line, where you started by proving yourself on low-risk tasks that weren't particularly critical to the overall operation, before moving up to higher-speed, higher-pressure jobs with national visibility. (By broadening the candidate pool for every local reporting job, this helped chains keep labor costs down, too.) But while the smallest papers in a chain might be next to invisible to the suits in corporate HR, they were real, and important, to the people living in the communities they served. Most of those readers weren't trying to "move up" to some bigger city. They were home, and happy there. The old newsroom hiring model saw the nation's communities as interchangeable rungs on a corporate ladder. But, despite the billion-dollar efforts of companies such as Walmart, Target, McDonald's, and Applebee's, people in those cities and towns continue to resist their commoditization. Sure, they shop at Walmart and eat at Applebee's, but only because they're cheaper than alternatives. (Which often were run out of business by big-chain outlets operating at a loss until they killed off that competition.) Cookie-cutter newspapers could hold onto their local customers only so long as they offered the cheapest way to get information, too. When online competitors such as Craigslist and Yahoo! News gave readers a cheaper alternative for classified ads and national news headlines, they bailed. And understandably so. It's hard to appeal to readers' sense of loyalty to local voices when those voices are recent college grads who've only lived in the community for a couple years and who flee the state whenever they get three or more consecutive days off. Those new hires didn't grow up in the community. They barely know anyone outside the newsroom and the official sources they encounter on their beats. And frankly, they don't care, either. They're looking to "move up," and get out of town. If you're a local, you might as well get your local news from a discussion board. At least the people posting there actually know the town, send their kids to school there, and are planning to stick around a while.

Want to cover local? Then you’d better BE local!


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By Robert Niles: Allow me to suggest one more mistake that the newspaper industry made that we shouldn't allow the slip down the memory hole. It was a practice that I am sure struck many newsroom managers as a smart one... at the time. But it ultimately helped sever ties between publications and their communities, leading to less informed, less engaging coverage that left readers - and advertisers - with fewer reasons to support their local paper. What was this practice? It was conducting national job searches to fill local reporting positions. When I began my journalism career, J-school advisers told us to expect to start out at a smaller paper in a national chain, then try to work our way up to larger newsrooms, bigger cities, and more desirable places to live. You had to "pay your dues" in some small town before you could move up to a major metro. The model was that of an assembly line, where you started by proving yourself on low-risk tasks that weren't particularly critical to the overall operation, before moving up to higher-speed, higher-pressure jobs with national visibility. (By broadening the candidate pool for every local reporting job, this helped chains keep labor costs down, too.) But while the smallest papers in a chain might be next to invisible to the suits in corporate HR, they were real, and important, to the people living in the communities they served. Most of those readers weren't trying to "move up" to some bigger city. They were home, and happy there. The old newsroom hiring model saw the nation's communities as interchangeable rungs on a corporate ladder. But, despite the billion-dollar efforts of companies such as Walmart, Target, McDonald's, and Applebee's, people in those cities and towns continue to resist their commoditization. Sure, they shop at Walmart and eat at Applebee's, but only because they're cheaper than alternatives. (Which often were run out of business by big-chain outlets operating at a loss until they killed off that competition.) Cookie-cutter newspapers could hold onto their local customers only so long as they offered the cheapest way to get information, too. When online competitors such as Craigslist and Yahoo! News gave readers a cheaper alternative for classified ads and national news headlines, they bailed. And understandably so. It's hard to appeal to readers' sense of loyalty to local voices when those voices are recent college grads who've only lived in the community for a couple years and who flee the state whenever they get three or more consecutive days off. Those new hires didn't grow up in the community. They barely know anyone outside the newsroom and the official sources they encounter on their beats. And frankly, they don't care, either. They're looking to "move up," and get out of town. If you're a local, you might as well get your local news from a discussion board. At least the people posting there actually know the town, send their kids to school there, and are planning to stick around a while.

How to use your interviewing skills to trend on Twitter


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By Robert Niles: Journalists can be their own worst enemies when they try to interact with their audience online. If you think that the online medium somehow fundamentally changes the way that people interact, and that you need to adopt a new set of principles for interviewing and interacting with people online, you're just setting yourself up for failure. It's like watching an actor psyche himself out before going on stage, or a golfer giving herself a harsh set of the yips when approaching the green. Journalists I've met and worked with too often talk themselves out of their natural state and familiar skills when they start thinking about online interactivity. And those fears of failure quickly become self-fulfilling. Here's a success story story for you to consider, instead. Not to get all hokey on you, but I do believe that if you're thinking about success when you interact with your readers, you're putting yourself in a better place than if you go into conversations with negative thoughts. The key take-away from this success story is that it happened by using good, old-fashioned, print-era, j-school techniques for doing interviews. No special "online" skills required.

How to use your interviewing skills to trend on Twitter


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By Robert Niles: Journalists can be their own worst enemies when they try to interact with their audience online. If you think that the online medium somehow fundamentally changes the way that people interact, and that you need to adopt a new set of principles for interviewing and interacting with people online, you're just setting yourself up for failure. It's like watching an actor psyche himself out before going on stage, or a golfer giving herself a harsh set of the yips when approaching the green. Journalists I've met and worked with too often talk themselves out of their natural state and familiar skills when they start thinking about online interactivity. And those fears of failure quickly become self-fulfilling. Here's a success story story for you to consider, instead. Not to get all hokey on you, but I do believe that if you're thinking about success when you interact with your readers, you're putting yourself in a better place than if you go into conversations with negative thoughts. The key take-away from this success story is that it happened by using good, old-fashioned, print-era, j-school techniques for doing interviews. No special "online" skills required.

Sometimes you have to cut back to move forward


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By Robert Niles: If you think that innovation is just about creating new products and services, you're missing what might be the most important step in leading a publication forward. A publication makes its greatest progress not when it introduces new products and services but when it shows the discipline to leave tired or failing efforts behind. You must fight the inertia that's holding you back. This month I began shutting down what where once the most popular services on my family's violin website. While these were the first services we offered on the site, and the ones that defined us to our early audience, they'd become a major time drain for me, and were failing to leverage any significant income for the site. Making the decision to close these services not only created an opportunity for me to devote more time to the stuff that is working on the site, it also forced me to confront the reasons why these services weren't thriving anymore. An innovator who's also designing and launching, but never taking a look back at her work - axe in hand - never learns any valuable lessons from the audience and customers she's trying to serve.