I wish I’d joined Twitter sooner

31 May 2009

I joined Twitter just over a year ago, after the early-adopters but before the masses. Connecting with professionals and college media gurus online opened up a world of things for me to read and learn.

It’s also changed how I do journalism. I’ve used Twitter to livetweet a presidential debate; update students at UNC during a bomb hoax; provide instant updates from a court appearance for six men charged with murder; and gather story ideas. Part of dailytarheel.com’s redesign process has included gathering feedback from Twitter followers.

Twitter’s invaluable, and if you don’t like it you probably don’t use it enough. There are people out there tweeting what they had for lunch, but if that’s all their feed offers, I don’t follow them. There’s more to Twitter: If you focus the community of people you follow on those with like interests and thoughtful updates, it’s worth the time and effort.

A new look for the blog

30 May 2009

I’ve used the Journalist theme for a long time, and I still like it a lot. But I wanted to try my hand at modifying PHP code myself on a bare-bones blog theme. It took me the better part of the afternoon and evening, but I’ve finally got the site to where I’m happy with it.

Note: I know absolutely no PHP, so this was kind of an exercise in trial and error. Here’s the theme before I started tinkering with it. I got rid of the horizontal “about me” bar first, and then started playing around with the colors.

Changing the title’s color was easy, but the various links throughout the page are governed by seperate sets of code, and I still don’t quite understand each one. Something that was easier than expected was changing where the “Filed under” and “Tags” features appeared. They used to be at the top of the post, but I was able to separate them from the “post date,” “By” and “comments” features and move them to the bottom.

Overall, I like the new look, and mostly I’m just proud of the (minor) tweaking I was able to do myself. The more I messed around with the code the more it made sense, but I’ve obviously just started.

Related, but in a round-about way: I’ve decided to put both my delicious and Publish2 feeds on the site. I used to just have delicous, and I’ve been grappling with which service to use because I like them both. From here out, articles tagged with delicous will be interesting articles, and stuff tagged with Publish2 will be journalism related. Happy reading!

My take on the future of journalism

30 May 2009

This is a belated post, but I was interviewed earlier this month for a segment on Here and Now about the future of journalism. I don’t think I said anything groundbreaking, but I really am excited about the future of journalism. I love print, but I’m thrilled to see how journalism will evolve.

Listen to the show.

Coolest thing about radio? Do-overs.

First week at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

24 May 2009

I’ve almost finished up my first week at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and I’m finally settling down a bit in Little Rock.

I’m here for roughly 10 weeks doing general assignment work. So far I’ve covered a town meeting in Wrightsville (an unsuccessful attempt to replace the mayor who resigned a few weeks back), the ubiquitous Memorial Day travel story, a North Little Rock housing employee charged with rape while on parole for a 1980’s murder conviction), and various police briefs. (I’d link, it’s subscriber-only.)

I’ve had a great time in the newsroom so far. This is my first time working in a metro newsoom – my past two internships were at community papers – and the dynamics are definitely different. The DemGaz hasn’t been spared from budget woe and layoffs (they’ve had two rounds this year, the second this month), but the atmosphere here is much more positive than in other newsrooms I’ve visited. There is apprehension, but not yet depression, when the future of journalism is discussed.

The Washington Post ran a piece yesterday about the DemGaz’s online strategy. I think the point at the end, that each newspaper must find what works for them, is a useful one to learn, and what we’re emphasizing at the DTH.

And one thing that’s unmistakable is the quality of reporting and writing at the DemGaz. That’s something that’s important no matter the medium.

I’m excited for the rest of the summer.