I think I’m getting good at something

So here’s a confession: I’ve never felt like I was good at my job. I never advanced past concessions at the movie theater. I found working a drive-thru at Diary Queen overwhelming, and the swirls on my cones always fell apart. As a copy editor, I made too many mistakes. As a page designer, I felt like a failure. But lately I’m starting to feel confident in my skills — at least some of them — and that’s a feeling I’ve waited 26 years for. Continue reading

Three ways to cover live events online (without clogging my timeline)

The go-to medium for live coverage online seems to be Twitter, and for good reason: It lets journalists get the news out almost immediately, without waiting for reporters and editors to craft a full-on story. It’s especially great for breaking news — though the definition of “breaking news” is sometimes stretched.

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This is not breaking, and I’m not sure it’s really even news.

For not-so-breaking news, Twitter can be great or terrible. Live tweets that include commentary or supplementary information can be part of a solid second-screen approach.

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Seven really easy steps to improve your news org’s online presence

A while back, I wrote about seven reasonable things news organizations should be doing to manage their online presence. I think moves like hiring a web editor (or several web editors) and encouraging reporters to cultivate their online identities are perfectly reasonable, but they’re still big steps. Here are some even smaller steps newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations can take today to improve their online products. (As usual, screen shots are taken from my iPhone, where I view tweets in Echofon.)

1. Shorten links on Twitter. Simply pasting a link into a tweet takes up valuable characters and makes the whole thing look ugly. It’s easy to use free services like Bit.ly, Goo.gl, and TinyUrl.com to clean up your links. Twitter will automatically truncate long links to 20 characters, but that usually leaves you with a link like this: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/06… Still ugly. Still taking up more characters than necessary.

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See how much better that looks? And the link is only 11 characters.

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Seven reasonable things news orgs should be doing online

In journalism school, the only professor I ever addressed as “Dr.” was my multimedia management and leadership teacher James K. Gentry. He was the former dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, so maybe I sensed some extra gravitas. But I still referred to him as Jimmy Gentry when he wasn’t around. It’s still j-school.

One thing Jimmy Gentry taught me that really stuck was the management concept of low-hanging fruit: When you’re looking to improve your product or your workplace, start with the the changes that are easily within reach. When it comes to online journalism, news organizations are missing out on a lot of low-hanging fruit.

As a copy editor/designer, I don’t get to do as much online work as I’d like, and I’m definitely no expert. But here are seven reasonable things — low-hanging fruit — news organizations should be doing to manage their online presence, according to Sarah Kelly, for whatever that’s worth.

1. Put someone in charge. The No. 1 thing newsrooms are doing wrong: Not hiring someone to oversee their online product. If you’re serious about becoming the go-to news source in your market, you can’t make your website and social media an afterthought. It should be someone’s full-time job. Hire someone to add stories to the website as they come in, update them with new information when you have it, and correct any errors you find.

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