On to the next chapter…

Here’s the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version:

– I came in to The Post to help build something. We built it, and now it’s time to move on.

– The most difficult part of this very personal decision has been the incredible team we’ve assembled.

– Up next: 1) developing a video strategy with McClatchy newsrooms across the country, and 2) expanding Spark Camp, which is growing much larger than the side project it once was.

* * *

There’s something that never gets old when those elevator doors swing open and you enter the newsroom. The Post is a magical, crazy, inspiring place.  It’s been a professional dream come true to work here, particularly as someone who grew up in the DC area.  It’s hard to explain the gravitational pull of 15th Street. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. Continue reading

A Stroll Down the Midway at the Carnival of Journalism

It was my pleasure to host this month’s Carnival of Journalism (and was almost as rewarding as that year I judged an apple pie contest).

Just as appetizing was this month’s Carnival of Journalism question:  What is the role of online video in the newsroom of the future?

More than twenty posts were filed by deadline, and the more I read, the more I was convinced: There is no single, clear-cut answer on the future of video.  But there are some compelling ideas. Continue reading

Carnival of Journalism: Future of Video

This month I’m hosting the Carnival of Journalism — a monthly compendium of smart ideas on the future of journalism — and need your brainpower.

The question we’re tackling:  “What is the role of online video in the newsroom of the future?”

I wouldn’t pose the question if I didn’t think this part of the industry had a future. However, I’ve found there’s a collective murkiness around what the future actually looks like. Newsrooms have had a complicated relationship with online video.  (More on the topic in the original post.)

So, tell me about your perspective: How do you use video in your day-to-day work, as a producer or as a consumer, and how do you think it ought to be used? Or tell me about your vision for the future: What works, in your eyes, and what does not? How do we harness this terrific medium and make it shine?

Even if you’re not closely connected to the topic, I hope you’ll take a stab at the issue. In fact, your perspective may provide a valuable view from the outside.

All the details on how to participate are in this Carnival of Journalism post.  The deadline to weigh in is Sept. 30 at 5 PM.  Hope you’ll join in!

My Next Chapter

Very exciting news: Next month I will join the Washington Post to help refine and guide its video strategy.

This is a role I never imagined. Sure, I raced my mother to the curb every morning to grab the paper, and yes, I took the school group tour of the fifth-floor newsroom.  But in my years as a budding journalist, working at a traditional “newspaper” was not an aspiration — I was a television guy.

Now, of course, the journalism world has changed.  “Newspapers” produce some of the most engaging interactive content online.  These are news organizations that took to the web early and have built an audience on the knowledge and skills of some very talented journalists. This is the time for smart newsrooms to get a handle on web video — and no, that does not mean putting television on “newspaper” websites.

The Post has exceptionally talented visual journalists and emerging digital leaders who have been doing this for years.  My charge is to help them hone, develop, and execute a video strategy that positions the organization well for the future.  I am excited to join a team that is trying new things and thinking hard about how the organization relates to the industry as a whole.

More details on my role to follow, but needless to say I am fired up to hit the ground running.

The flipside of this excitement is that I will be leaving my role as editorial director of J-Lab.  In my time here, I have grown remarkably and been afforded opportunities I also never imagined.  I was able to truly study innovation, particularly in local news, from the bird’s eye view to the hands-on.

The people we work with on a regular basis have made this experience all the more rewarding. I’ve crisscrossed the country, learning from entrepreneurs as they take risks and follow their passions.  I’ve enjoyed being part of the academic community at American University’s School of Communication.  And I’m honored to have worked with a team committed to the success of journalists on the ground.

And with that, it’s time to turn the page. This is at once a fascinating and daunting challenge.  You’re invited along for the ride.  If you have thoughts on the future of online video, let me know!

SPEECH: Why I’ve Left TV News …For Now

I was invited to speak at Jeff Pulver’s #140Conf in New York today.  Jeff has done a very good job of galvanizing a community of interesting people. Not necessarily media types, not necessarily attention-seekers, just interesting people.  I had hoped this would resonate across disciplines. I believe it has.

You can watch it here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/15422195

Why I’ve Left TV News …For Now
Delivered June 16, 2011
92nd Street Y, New York City

It’s an effing cat in an effing tree!  I was a local TV reporter and that’s how I described on the phone to my wife the story I was assigned to cover.

And it wasn’t just an effing cat in a effing tree: it was a cat that had been in the tree and splashed on the front page of a major newspaper for three days.  Even after the cat came down and scampered away – because after all, that’s what cats do, it was still a story on the 5 o’clock news that night.

So yes, I guess I was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it.  That was my Howard Beale moment.

Continue reading

Event: Social Learning Summit at AU this Weekend

If you’re in D.C. this weekend, I can think of few reasons not to attend the Social Learning Summit at American University. In fact, the organizers — all A.U. students, by the way — have pulled together 10 reasons why you have to be there.

I’ll add an 11th: Me.  I’m on a panel at 12 p.m. on Sunday about journalism in the social age. (Full schedule here.)  And it’s a helluva group assembled.

Here’s the event’s description:

This weekend conference, April 1-3, 2011, aims to bring together studentseducators, and professionals to learn from each other and with each other about what’s next in education. Topics will cover a wide range of issues at the intersection of educationinnovation, and social media, including what’s happening in classrooms now, what’s coming next, and what’s happening in fields such as advocacy, international affairs, politics, and more.

Now I just have to figure out what journalism in the social age looks like…

South by Southwhat: I Can Hear You Now

If there was one theme that could be derived from the cacophonous meeting rooms and corridors at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival last week it’s this: Mobile, mobile, mobile.

You've come a long way, kids. (flickr: seanaes)

 

The production and delivery of news is increasingly mobile.  Marketing is focused on mobile.  Gaming is set on mobile.  Music is tuned in to mobile.  Even in the crowd there were far fewer laptops and far more iPads than I’ve ever seen.

Mobile devices are now essential hardware in our daily lives – and news organizations of all sizes need to consider mobile the battleground of the next decade, as Peter Gelb, head of mobile practice at Razorfish, put it.  He notes the average person looks at their handheld 150 times a day.

A number of relevant takeaways for digital journalist-thinkers, all relating to mobile: Continue reading

Adding Community to Every College

It all seems so logical: If you want to connect with your neighbors, invite them over.

The public is invited to join daily news meetings at the Register Citizen. (From RegisterCitizen.com)

That’s the concept behind one of my favorite experiments going on in journalism these days.  Just a few weeks ago, the Torrington (Conn.) Register Citizen opened a newsroom café – coffee and muffins and all – where the public is invited to be a part of the process.  Residents can explore the paper’s 134 years of archive material, mingle with reporters and weigh in at afternoon editorial meetings.

But for every Register Citizen, there are a dozen other newspapers seemingly unsure of what to do with newly discovered extra space in their newsrooms (the result of a decade of downsizing), with an archival bounty and with the desire to connect with the community.

This is where universities can step in.  These institutions of advanced learning, these manufactured communities, have built the fiscal infrastructure, developed the resources to archive materials and honed the skills to effectively teach people.

What if universities created open newsrooms that journalists from hyperlocal or community news sites could use collaboratively? Or, what if a local newspaper opened its doors so that a university-run news site could share its space?

Continue reading

This Post Brought to You by Transparency

One of the biggest journalism buzzwords in recent years has been transparency.  The term so often used by journalists (as in, Congress ought to be more transparent about earmarks), should be used more about journalists.

Two steps-in-the-right-direction came this week, but both demonstrate the industry has not embraced the issue with the same fervor as it has Wikileaks blame and ski lift ‘tragedies’.  One was a Walmart-sponsored piece on the Today Show that is not clearly labeled as such, and the second is an apparent third case of plagiarism for upstart Patch.

Screen capture from msnbc.com, with no visual or audio representation that the piece was sponsored by Walmart.

Today Spreads Walmart’s Cheer

The first was delivered just before Christmas, as Matt Lauer began a segment on military moms-to-be in much the same fashion as you might expect:  More than a hundred excitedly screaming pregnant military moms crowded in a liveshot and after the heart-tugging taped story, Lauer was interviewing three military moms-to-be and a husband just back from Afghanistan, complete with child born during deployment held in the man’s arms.

And this is where things took a turn.  I was fully expecting the “big surprise” to be a husband-and-pregnant-wife reunion on national morning television, one of those moments that touches your heart.

Continue reading