Part of your summer reading program should be the fluff that you might never get to any other time. Stuff with absolutely no redeeming value except that you love it. But in case you want to keep one book going that will help you professionally, especially as an editor or manager or publisher, here’s a good place to start. The blog Entrepreneur Corner has an article on the seven “must reads” for entrepreneurs. Some are management-oriented, and some, like Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, just help us to understand the new world in which we all do business, no matter what our corner of Texas.
Mindy McAdams of the University of Florida is the queen bee of multimedia educators in universities. And she’s able to make multimedia accessible for non-geeks, too. So consider this Multimedia 101: In a downloadable pdf you can put on your desktop and visit when you have time, Mindy walks you through basic multimedia use. If you know, or don’t care to know, some competency she discusses, just skip to the next one. And as I said, this is for the non-geek/wonk/nerd/dweeb, etc. In other words, it’s plain English explanations. If you’re serious about expanding your multimedia horizons, this is the place to start.
The very best way, of course, to get an overview of social media and to see how you can use Facebook and Twitter and the like is to come to one of TCCJ’s workshops (And you’re in luck, because another is scheduled for the University of Texas at Tyler on July 21). But here’s a nice summary of how individual journalists and newspapers are using Facebook. It also includes a look at some of the ethical issues we have to deal with when we begin to use social media at our newspapers.
A new interactive map now shows broadband access throughout the state of Texas. You can check out broadband availability for any city, and even any specific address, in the state. The map shows that 96 percent of Texans can access broadband, but that still leaves out about 250,000 homes. Be sure to surf through the entire website — it contains loads of information on every county in the state, including detailed broadband-availability maps of your county. The maps are a project of the Texas Department of Agriculture. The department’s news release quoted commissioner Todd Stapes as saying: “High-speed Internet is directly related to business development and is a critical lifeline to vital services like telemedicine and education. Every Texan should have the opportunity to drive in the fast lane on the information superhighway; however, some Texans are stuck on a dirt road. This new statewide broadband map will help us bridge the digital divide for rural communities and households that remain unserved by broadband service.”
Here’s a blog you’ll definitely want to follow. It’s by Broc Sears of the Center’s staff; Broc is also a professional in residence in new media at the Schieffer School of Journalism. Broc is leading a team of students who are redesigning the Daily Skiff at TCU, but he has done something that lots of community papers can emulate when they do a redesign — he is blogging the redesign, asking the campus community for input. A university is much like a small community, and a university newspaper is community journalism — TCU, for instance, has a campus community of about 10,000 students, faculty and staff. Broc and the redesign team have taken the campus community on the redesign journey, and it’s very much worth following. It’s amazing how much the campus has followed the blog — it’s a great way to get the community to identify with the newspaper and to buy in to the whole redesign effort. When it’s all over, Broc will be writing a blog for the TCCJ website on how, and why, to do a redesign “in public,” but for right now, this one is worth following.
If you’ve ever wondered what sites get the most visitors on the Web, wonder no more. Google has compiled the list. No. 1: Facebook, with 540 million unique visitors.
Our friends at the Motley County Tribune in Matador are sponsoring a writing contest that may interest Texas journalists. It’s the Douglas Meador Writing Contest, named for the long-time, celebrated editor and publisher of the Tribune, who died in 1974. Publishers Laverne Zabielski and Larry Vogt tell what they are looking for: “We are interested in stories of those who came to the American West after 1850 and those who were here when the pioneers arrived. We want stories with authenticity, lively details, and a sense of place that capture the spirit of the land and highlight and celebrate rich traditions, struggles and accomplishments.” The website above gives all the information you’ll need for entering.
You’ll want to read this one and then post it in several places around the office, and maybe put it in your online stylebook (if you don’t have one, that’s another issue to address). There are actually 44 tips for reducing errors, and they’re down-to-earth, common-sense ideas. Like #3: Always find the first reference to a person in copy. Make sure that on first reference you have a first name and title, and doublecheck to make sure the first reference hasn’t be omitted rearranged or deleted in trimming copy. To which I would add: Make sure the reporter hasn’t omitted the first name of the mayor, just calling him Mayor Smith on first reference. Simple stuff, but really valuable as a review for new employees.
Alan Mutter’s always-interesting blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur, draws some conclusions about Internet start-up news operations that are certainly of interest to Texas newspapers who may someday face competition from online-only media (some already do). The bottom line, Mutter says, is that frequently the startups are run by journalists who are interested primarily in producing a good news product. In other words, the focus is on good journalism rather than building the business model and focusing on how the startup will make enough money to survive. Journalists who start these Internet operations frequently assume that good journalism will make a way for itself. To borrow from the baseball movie, they assume that if you build a quality news medium, the readers will come and so will the advertisers. But they’re so busy with journalism, they neglect the how-am-I-going-to-make-any-money-off-this end.