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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 On to the next chapter…


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!

Think Differently

This just blew my mind.  Forget searching for travel in the traditional Orbitz-Sidestep-Delta sort of way…

The old way.


Hipmunk takes that normally drab and painful experience and instead offers a visual representation of your options that makes it easier to find exactly the right flight. See it for yourself after the jump.

Continue reading Think Differently

Yes, I’m alive.

Don’t worry, friends.  I’m still here.  But most of my time is focused on Censorship and Media, a course I’m teaching this fall at American.  Care to follow along?  Read our class blog: This Blog Is Censored, where we’re taking on craiglist’s recent decision to “censor” the adult services ads they used to run, for example.  Your regularly scheduled programming will return in the near future.

Checking in with the WSJ

Suffering Foursquare fatigue yet?  The Wall Street Journal certainly hopes not.

That paper based in the financial underbelly of New York today fired a cannonball across the bow of the Old Gray Lady with the launch of its new local New York section.

But better than the WSJ’s “Greater New York” lead story in the morning (This just in: “Rats Mob the Upper East Side“!) is that the paper immediately partnered with Foursquare to focus on engaging users.

[Quick explainer: Users “check-in” on their mobile phones when they arrive at various real life places . They can elect to follow their friends and send out a message or a tweet whenever they move locations to let them know where they are every minute of the day. The WSJ collected more than 700 friends by the early evening Monday.]

The Journal and Foursquare wisely created three branded badges for users to attempt to collect — two of which may just ‘remind’ users of the WSJ as they’re out and about.  For instance, two months from now when they happen to visit Staten Island, they’ll realize they just unlocked a badge they heard of today.

Foursquare, for better or worse, connects people by place.  While the friends the WSJ can track won’t amount to a hill of beans for advertisers, it is getting the paper some buzz on launch day — in addition to just the fact that it launched.

And it is that connection with readers that will drive subscriptions and prove to advertisers that you have a solid base, rather than random traffic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check in somewhere with someone.

Back in the day…

Hey kids – back before the googlesphere and twitternet, the news was delivered to you in the form of an afternoon or evening newspaper.  They looked like this:

The Evening Star survived in Washington, DC through 1981. (image: UN-Omaha)

After getting home late from an event one night this week, I had hoped to get caught up on the day’s news – without watching Extra (sorry, Slater) or the screaming heads of cable news.  And I wondered why newspaper brass have not again embraced the notion of shifting to an evening edition.  You’ll often hear the criticism of the morning’s paper being “yesterday’s news”, so why not publish today’s news today?

I presume one facet of the argument has to do with deadlines, as in, reporters write the day’s news and then editors work on laying out the paper and there’s no way they can get it on the printing press before 11 p.m.  But with newsrooms churning out stories during the day to satisfy the needs of online readers, the entire process has been accelerated.

Another argument, I imagine, is that newspapers enjoy their role of “setting the day’s agenda”.  I can respect trying to hold on to that tradition, but since that same paper will still be on the kitchen table at 7 a.m. AND you get to have it in your readers hands earlier, what’s the harm?  Will it have greater significance if readers think they have the latest news? Perhaps.

If you’re holding onto the next Watergate story, trying to show you’re in control of it, you’ll likely post it on your website around midnight anyhow.  So why not get it on doorsteps sooner?  This applies double for a major story that happened during the day. Show you’re on top of it since the story is already in the news ether.

With everything people do in the morning, I’m not sure why you would not want to give them a greater opportunity to read your product. Consider it a head start.  Heck, with drivel on prime time television, perhaps you’ll even gain a reader or two.

Reloaded, all thanks to what was on the doorstep.

This is how my Sunday morning began, thanks to the New York Times:

There's a sample of Multi-Grain Cheerios in that bag!

I was thrilled, not just to race to the Sunday Styles section, but because we had run out of cereal. And so I was going to tweet this picture with something to the effect of: Brilliant, @nytimes!, you saved me a trip to the store; I’ll pay for an afternoon edition if there’s a chocolate bar — which was true, too.

Before the coffee could kick in, I realized not only did the NYT just make money off of Cheerios by delivering me their yummy sample and coupon (and not only did they make me very happy), but they may have also hit on a new model for newspapers: Why not deliver breakfast with every paper!?  The delivery system, for those who print their “content” on newsprint, is already in place.  And that has some value.

And with that, I frantically finished packing, drove for six hours and am now poised to embark on my new challenge in a few hours…

I’m assuming the role of editorial director at J-Lab tomorrow.  It’s a nonprofit institute that is focused on innovation in journalism.  We believe that there is a future for news — you know, the stuff that comes with your cereal delivery each morning.

I will be better about the blog, promise…

The Sandbox

At a journalism conference last month, I was inspired to get back into the sandbox, as speaker Susan Mernit put it.  I need a place, like this, to romp around in, explore, sit and ponder, and, of course, create things.  Even if only in my head.

So I will write daily, and have decided to also start  For a while, I have been keen on video – particularly online video journalism.  This site features some of the best (and maybe worst) of what’s out there.  Yes, the Drudge of its genre.