With all the layoffs in the news industry in the past few years, it’s easy to get down on journalism. However, journalism is not dead, it’s adapting.
Two people who know that better than just about anyone are Laura Frank and Jennifer Lord Paluzzi. The two former mainstream journalism employees spoke Friday morning at the Online News Association Conference about how they lost, adapted, survived and eventually thrived as journalists.
Frank, who worked at the Rocky Mountain News (which shut down in 2009), decided to create a news startup, the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, when she was laid off. The I-News Network is a nonprofit investigative organization that has found its way.
Frank, the networks executive director, says the organization makes ends meet in the following ways:
* Donations and grants (which she said was the seed money)
* Underwriting (the nonprofit world’s version of advertising)
* Partnerships with mainstream media.
* Products and services – As an example, Frank said the organization created a summer camp for high school students interested in investigative reporting.
Frank said the key is to “dip your toe in.”
“I’m not going to launch USA Today right away, but I’m going take steps that lead me toward my goals.”
Paluzzi, the managing editor of Main Street Connect in Massachusetts, said she capitalized on a small-but-growing blog about small-town news when she got laid off.
She said her former colleagues probably belittled her little blog until it grew into a nine-site network. She said they were then saying, “Why did we lay you off again?”
Paluzzi sought to cover small towns that were ignored by regional newspapers, which had cut back on coverage.
“The blog blossomed into something quite bigger than what I expected. That’s the fun part.”
After 16 years in the newspaper business, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else, but that’s just what I’m going to do, starting at the end of this summer. I am very excited to announce that I have accepted an offer from the University of Texas to be a full-time multimedia journalism professor. I’ll start in August, and I’ll continue at the Statesman through July.
I’m excited because this is a rare opportunity to be part of a major transformation at a great journalism school. The UT School of Journalism recently voted to change its curriculum, putting much more emphasis on teaching all journalism students the necessary tools to succeed in a still-rapidly changing landscape. I expect to be a driving force behind the school’s transformation. UT’s journalism program is already excellent, and I know the faculty and staff there want to push ahead. What sold it for me is the enthusiasm of Glenn Frankel, the relatively new director of the journalism school. He has a clear vision for what they can be in a few years, and he has won over faculty and administration.
The very hard part for me is leaving the Statesman, where I’ve worked since the spring of 1998. Throughout my career here, I’ve had incredible support and guidance from management, including Zach Ryall, Tim Lott, Fred Zipp, Debbie Hiott, John Bridges and Michael Vivio (who has since become president of Valpak). I wouldn’t have been able to do half of what I accomplished without their help. The other major reason I found success in pushing ahead at the Statesman is my remarkable colleagues. They “get it” when it comes to new media, which made my job much easier. Some of the finest journalists in the nation work at the Statesman, but they’re not just colleagues – they’re my friends. I met my wife here. I also met the best man at my wedding here. I will miss mixing it up with everyone in the newsroom, but I’m glad I’ll still be in Austin with them.
I’m not leaving because of anything going on at the Statesman or inthe newspaper industry. I know that I could continue pushing the envelope when it comes to social media and new media into the future at the Statesman. I have no doubt that the Statesman will remain a national leader when it comes to social media and new media, and I’ll eagerly follow the Statesman’s social streams to get my news and to interact with the staff. The UT job was just something I felt I couldn’t pass up.
In my new role, I’m looking forward to teaching the bright minds who come to UT. I’ve been a guest-lecturer several times at UT and at Austin Community College, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely each time. I’m also going to blog about the latest techniques in the field of journalism, with professional journalists as my target audience.
This wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m very excited about where it will take me.
In the past few days there’s been a blog post about the top 25 newspapers on Twitter that’s been making the rounds. In fact, it’s been circulated so far and wide that I’ve heard about it from multiple coworkers who don’t tend to run in different Twitter and/or reading sharing circles as I do, and who were wondering why two of our newspapers weren’t on the list (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Austin American-Statesman).
The problem with the post over at The Wrap is that it worked off a list from Journalistics.com from the fall. Back then, the Journalistics post only looked at the top 25 newspapers in terms of circulation because it was part of a series comparing those exact 25 papers on Twitter, Facebook, website traffic, and Google PageRank. I commented on the recent blog post to point this out, as did Jeremy Porter, the author of the original list at Journalistics.com. But because Dylan Stableford hasn’t clarified in the post that his list is just for the top 25 newspapers by circulation (although he did update it to include at the bottom a few of the omissions, thank you) and since most people don’t read comments anyway, I figured it would be best to just provide my own list of the top 25 newspapers on Twitter, one that actually goes by number of followers on Twitter, not circulation.
Some will argue that ranking Twitter accounts by number of followers is a load of hogwash, either because Twitter’s recommended list skews things or because it’s not a good measure of “engagement”. The truth is, you could argue the same about any type of metric. Companies don’t share specific traffic numbers, so the only way to compare websites to each other is to use ComScore’s number of monthly unique visitors. Uniques don’t measure how long visitors stay on sites, how many page views they provide, how many comments they leave or pages they share with their friends.
Which leads me to my next thought: we shouldn’t have to resort to manually compiling lists like these of top accounts on Facebook and Twitter (by the way, Chris Snider does this every month for the top newspapers on Facebook). MuckRack has rankings of journalists by beat and region, but only tracks individual journalists, not brands. Jeremy Porter had a great idea when he compared newspaper circulation with other online metrics – but it would be great to see that kind of stuff for more than just the top 25 (mostly national) papers. And why look only at newspapers? I keep secretly hoping Cory Bergman at Lost Remote will compile a list of top TV accounts on Facebook and Twitter, since he’s one of the only ones to cover what local television stations are doing with social media – but again, he shouldn’t have to. (UPDATE: actually, he already did, ha!). Wouldn’t it be cool to compare TV ratings or radio cumes with online stats? And why keep it to media organizations? There are so many brands out there that fudge the line between media, and, well, everything else. Just like ComScore tracks unique visitors for websites, it should also track number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
Anyway, here’s my list, and here’s my methodology:
- I used the top of a list that Robert Quigley had compiled on this very blog in the wake of the original Journalistics list (which didn’t really state clearly that it was part of a series comparing how the top 25 newspapers tacked online in a variety of metrics, so it too drew a lot of criticism from people who didn’t get it at first, including myself. Apologies Jeremy!) However, I kept to just the top 25-ish, because frankly I don’t have time to be as thorough as Robert was and go through nearly 200 newspapers.
- I’ve kept the list to US newspapers – no online/iPad only publications and I also took The Onion off the list. Sorry guys, it’s just easier to compare apples to apples. All the more reason somebody like ComScore should be tracking this for everybody, not just newspapers, perhaps not even just news orgs.
- In the case of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Arizona Republic, I went with the Twitter accounts that Jeremy Porter/Journalistics and Dylan Stableford/The Wrap used rather than the ones Robert Quigley had on this blog – as in, @sfgate instead of @sfchron_alert and @azcentral instead of @arizonarepublic. That seemed only fair since Robert’s list used @bostonupdate instead of @bostonglobe and @coloneltribune instead of @chicagotribune. That explains why the Chronicle went from 51st to 18th place, and Arizona Republic from 158th to 25th.
- I also added the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which The Wrap and Journalistics lists did have, but Old Media New Tricks did not. Interesting to note, it looks like the username used to be @mn_news and was changed to @startribune without claiming the old username. So I just did, to avoid someone else perhaps ill intentioned grabbing it. Hey Minnesota Star Tribune folks, if you want @mn_news back, holler and I’ll gladly hand it over.
- Because I removed The Onion from the list, I’m only confident about the top 24 or so listed. Beyond those, I had a quick look around the various lists to find the lucky #25, and that’s how I realized the fudging up of the other accounts like the Chronicle, Republic etc, so I extended the list to beyond 25, as a means or righting a previous slight I suppose J. If I missed your newspaper, I apologize. I’ll happily share the Google doc with you so you can add it yourself, or if you feel like updating Robert Quigley’s list of 200 papers (thus further emphasizing my point that someone like ComScore should really be tracking this stuff instead)
- A word about growth rates since the October lists: The Chronicle, Star Tribune and Washington Post lead with 127%, 91% and 84% (followed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with 63% – shameless plug, they are one of Cox Media Group’s papers – and a handful of others in the 40-50% range). Interestingly, there is one account that had a negative growth rate: The Chicago Tribune @coloneltribune account with -2%. Ouch. I wonder what the story is there.
If you’re a reporter or editor, you know that you have to do a bit of tweaking in your Web searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s easy to find a static Web page, but finding sentiment about a topic may be tricky.
As a result, Google has announced the release of a bigger search toolkit. When you do a search, try clicking the “Show Options” link that appears right below the search box once the initial results page comes up.
If you were to do a search for “Daniel Honigman” this page will come up. (As you can see, I’m not too exciting.)
You can find my name mentioned on Web sites, in videos and in forums. For you, this is a great opportunity for you to find groups of people talking about your idea; these are potentially the same people who may be linking to your story when it’s published.
The “reviews” results are a bit tricky for search terms that aren’t reviewable, like your name — unless your supervisor posts your employee reviews publicly — but for products and services, the new Google search appears to be spot-on.
Try a few of these searches out. Please let me know if this works.
So, seeing as the second word of that is “conversation,” we figured we’d ask what you think we should talk about. Please feel free to post your ideas as comments, or you can e-mail/Tweet/etc. us as well.
If you’re trying to do social media in your newsroom, you’re probably looking for an easy way to explain it to your newsroom, and more importantly, your supervisors. They’ll probably have questions like:
- What are the benefits of social media?
- Why should we interact with our audience?
- I just don’t get it. Where can I start?
That’s what Old Media, New Tricks is for. But sometimes, a picture — or in this case, a video — tells 1,000 words.
In case you haven’t seen this, we give you “Social Media in Plain English.” Enjoy.