Posts tagged newsroom
Posts tagged newsroom
Roanoke Times food writer Lindsey Nair wanted to write about all of the creative Halloween treats she saw on Pinterest. So she challenged a few staffers to try whipping them up themselves.
I made these *scandalously easy* witch hat cookies (photo by Rebecca Barnett | The Roanoke Times).
The best part? After photographing all of the yummy sweets (including Frankenstein crispy rice treats and a pumpkin-shaped cake), she shared them all with the newsroom in a casual Halloween party.
Read the story here.
This reminds me of my “Quest for the Best Margarita” series in our Inside Out entertainment section in 2006. I tried to create social opportunities for our ragtag team of freelancers, so we met every couple of weeks to rate restaurant margaritas. This made for engaging (and incredibly popular) content throughout the summer — and each stop became a relaxed incubator to joke about story ideas.
To celebrate Inside Out’s first birthday in 2005, I hosted a small staff party at my house — we rated store-bought birthday cakes (Kroger’s chocolate with whipped vanilla icing won us over).
This is my own (numberless) data visualization to explain a digital journalist’s skill set.
Lisa Williams of Placeblogger.com and MIT Media Lab’s Center for Future Civic Media shared some tips on creating powerful data visualizations in this free “Diving into Data” webinar from the Knight Digital Media Center (Oct. 30, 2012).
1. Why should I care? Why is learning data visualization tools so important? Because the problems we face as a nation/world/species are ever more complex and can’t be told adequately in narrative forms, says Williams. (HOORAY FOR ALT STORY FORMATS! She’s my people!) Data viz is persuasive and shareable (think viral Facebook memes) because it’s so visual. It can teach the story better. This was one my favorite examples from the webinar: Billion Dollar O-Gram, which puts the billions of dollars of global spending into context using a treemap.
2. Data viz *IS NOT* new. The Vietnam War Memorial is data visualized. Also, Florence Nightingale displayed her death statistics from the Crimean war in a powerful chart.
3. Go to the ‘gym’! Yes, we’re all incredibly busy doing our jobs. Who has time to learn how to make data come to life? We just have to make time, says Williams. Try to develop an exploration mindset — one of continuous learning. How? Intentionally carve a few hours a week to update your skills and try some of these tools out. Think of it as a “gym for your career.” Fantastic analogy!
4. Where should I start? If you’re hunting for data, be sure to search what’s already available at data.gov and datacatalogs.org. How to turn the data into fancy charts and graphs? For beginners, Williams recommends Many Eyes. More options: Buzzdata (more visual snap) and Tableau Public if you’re really serious.
I’m still processing all of the amazing ideas from the second CityWorks (X)po in Roanoke, Virginia, over the weekend. I connected with so many creative, cool people; tweeted from the conference like a maniac; and boiled down all of the good stuff into 5 top takeaways that I can apply to my own life and work at The Roanoke Times.
1. Think big, stay small
Don’t forget the power you have to improve your neighborhood, city and world. But progress happens in baby steps — small ways every day (Mike Edson). You don’t have to do it perfectly or expensively (Mike Lydon), the most important thing is that we DO IT — and magic can happen. But don’t pin too much on magical wishing, said the refreshingly blunt speaker James Howard Kunstler. His new book (which I bought — and he signed) says it all: “Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation.” A sobering alarm about our finite energy sources — and one that emphasizes contraction: Our systems will be forced to be smaller, more local.
Keynote speaker Kennedy Smith shares “The Best Ideas of 2012” on the first day of CityWorks (X)po.
2. Millennials are taking us back to the future
1912 is coming back again (with some twists), according to Kennedy Smith. Millennials will impact our economics and design for years to come: They think local; are more environmentally conscious; reuse and recycle (see: rise of consignment, repair shops); and appreciate playful, techy interactivity (see Peapod grocery shopping). Most importantly, a huge number expect to own their own businesses (see: popup shops). An entrepreneurial explosion on the horizon?
3. Could we create a real Times Square?
All the talk of placemaking — and especially Mike Lydon’s examples of “tactical urbanism” (like DIY crosswalks) — got me thinking about our imminent launch of the Times Square blog on roanoke.com. We want Times Square to become a bustling digital town square, where we’ll invite conversations about the most important — and most popular — Roanoke Times stories; spotlight contributions from the community (reader photos, videos, etc.); and connect the community with our journalists and staff through Q&As, behind-the-scenes tidbits and schedules for meetups and events. But couldn’t we create a *real* Times Square — possibly outside our doorstep, on the lawn of Roanoke’s Municipal Building? Or on our little-used roof garden? We could host picnic lunches — meetups about various issues discussed on the blog. Would there be interest?
Robin Williams, an architetural historian at the Savannah College of Art and Design (and the guy in the hat), was impressed with the abundance of art deco style in downtown Roanoke. He urged the owner of the building behind him (which houses the City Corner buffet) to restore the bottom half to its original art deco glory.
4. Let’s go on historical scavenger hunts
The architectural tour of downtown Roanoke (thanks, Robin Williams) was a fascinating peek into our past. Williams was impressed by all of the art deco (a sign Roanoke was booming during the 1930s?), and was especially moved by the building that houses the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce. Who knew it was such a special example of postwar modernism? He mentioned creating some sort of architectural scavenger hunt to help folks learn to look up — and it reminded me of Inside Out’s St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunt in 2008, which relied on many architectural elements for clues in our puzzle. Perhaps we should do another version, asking historians to provide the stories behind the buildings? This time we’ll have QR codes.
Who knew the building on Jefferson that houses the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce was such a special example of postwar modernism?
5. How can we help bring neighbors together?
We heard Aaron Naparstek’s hilarious “Honku” poetry — this was his therapeutic way of dealing with the incessant honking outside his Brooklyn home. His project helped unite his neighborhood over a problem. But during CityWorks, I also met committed Roanoke neighborhood advocates who were trying to find ways to bring their communities together over positive issues. This got me thinking about our own Good Neighbors Fund that The Roanoke Times has sponsored for years. How might we reinvigorate this fundraiser — or take advantage of social media? I keep focusing on the name: Good Neighbors. Sadly, I don’t know my own neighbors very well — but I’d jump at the chance to help organize an effort to raise money for a good cause, which would help me get to know them better. Perhaps we can help neighborhoods brainstorm ideas on how to raise money for the Good Neighbors fund — either around the holidays, or throughout the year? We might offer a “starter kit” of sorts for these neighborhood connectors? Hmmm. Wheels are turning ….
Did you attend the (X)po? What were some of your biggest takeaways?
My top 5 takeaways from The Art and Science of Editing webinar with consultant/educator Merrill Perlman (@meperl), formerly of The New York Times
This Oct. 3, 2012, webinar is “for writers and editors who want to learn to identify when you need to edit something, when you don’t and how to explain your changes to others.”
Most important: Your job as an editor is to stand up for the reader. Your goal is to make something more accessible — what is the writer saying? What is the reader hearing?
Good editing follows guidelines, not rules (except when it’s a law).
You want to edit, not change. A change is something you *want* to do … an edit is what copy *needs* to be clearer. “An edit always keeps its main focus on the reader. A change is made for convenience sake or to obey a rule.” And editing improves copy as *invisibly* as possible.
“Good editors understand why they do what they do … and can explain it.” When you do explain an edit, avoid terms like “you did” or “I fixed.” Instead: “The idea is unclear” or “a reader might misunderstand …”
How to give a story a fresh read? Change the font size to make it bigger … or print it out and read on paper.
Our style on The Roanoke Times Twitter account is always evolving, but I thought I’d explain my new goal:
Not only do I strive to find the (verified) Twitter account of any business/politician/etc. mentioned in the tweet, but now I’m trying to add reporters / photogs whenever possible. This gets your attention —- and gives our 8,500 followers an opportunity to engage with – or follow – you, too.
Here’s a good example:
Ideally, I would have added this businessman’s Twitter handle, but alas – couldn’t find it in a quick search.
For more about WHY @mentions are so important to build your network — and TO GET YOU NOTICED, read this post on Steve Buttry’s blog.
And I try to keep our list of @roanoketimes journos as up-to-date as possible, so please let me know if you’re missing! Find our Twitter “phone book” here
What a wonderful online opportunity: “A Crash Course on Creativity” begins Oct. 17. I’m trying to gather a small team from The Roanoke Times / roanoke.com newsroom …
In this Sept. 14 Poynter webinar, James Janega (@JamesJanega) of the Chicago Tribune talked about developing voice in social media (something I’m always thinking about, as I tweet/Facebook as The Roanoke Times throughout the day).
Here are my top 5 takeaways, which I emailed to the newsroom:
Whenever you doubt the amount of time and energy we spend interacting with folks on Facebook/Twitter/whatever, remember this quote:
“Journalism is no longer a mass medium; it’s a series of personal connections that add up to millions.”
Janega said this was the most important idea to take away from his webinar, and I couldn’t agree more.
Not sure what to tweet? I liked his Rule of Thirds (he stressed this was a guideline … not a rule.): One third your material, one third other people’s material (retweets), and one third personal highlights (showing your personality, what you’re reading, etc.).
How do you develop a social media voice without compromising your news credibility? Janega used the example of Chicago Tribune news reporter @StacyStClair, who tweeted pure facts from the recent Drew Peterson murder trial. BUT, she was able to develop a voice worth following by describing fascinating details about the jury (apparently they wore the same colors before verdict was reached), Peterson’s reactions, etc.
So look for the fascinating nuggets … or as I like to say, hunt for the tasty the Lucky Charms.
Want to see what’s trending on Twitter locally? Check out trendsmap.com — this morning (Monday, Sept. 17), it was all sports around Roanoke: #steelersnation, cowboys, redskins, nfl and pittsburgh. I’m not sure how to use this information, but it’s worth bookmarking.
Cheat sheet! Some scribbles from the webinar provided by Janega:
I’m so grateful I decided to pick up “The Nature Principle” at a newsroom benefit book sale earlier this year — and took the time to read it, as I don’t consider myself an “outdoorsy” gal.
In late July, when I asked our newsroom to pick a 30-day creativity challenge for the month of August, I was inspired to choose my own project based on reading just a few chapters of this book by Richard Louv.
Citing all kinds of studies, Louv argues that nature can stimulate ideas and boost creativity. He devotes the first part of his book exploring this angle, telling us about great thinkers and writers who use outdoor walks to help open their minds and connect the dots. One particular Danish study showed that outdoor kindergartens stimulated children’s creativity much more than indoor classrooms.
So based on his book, I created my “15 minutes of sunlight” challenge — to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day outdoors per day throughout August. I’ll write more about the challenge in a separate post.
Now that I’ve finished the book, I’ll note a few specific notes, quotes and questions:
» Overall, the most important takeaway is my new appreciation and curiosity about ancient Appalachia: What’s the geology? Fossil record? Native plants? How might I incorporate more nature in my yard, my home, my daily surroundings?
» “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.”
» I never realized the Native American word “Shenandoah” meant “daughter of the stars.” (p. 178-179). I think about this during my daily drive down Shenandoah toward the Mill Mountain Star in downtown Roanoke.
» Louv devoted more than a page (p. 148-149) to report about Chip Donahue, a Roanoke dad who was inspired by his previous bestselling book, “Last Child in the Woods.” Donahue (with his wife Ashley, who helped teach me volleyball skills at a Hollins University summer camp many years ago), formed the club Kids in the Valley, Adventuring! (KIVA). The Roanoke Times has reported on this four-year-old family nature group through the years, and KIVA has received national attention on NBC’s “Today” show.
» As for the newspaper’s role in the community, shouldn’t we “own” outdoors recreation / business/ geology / culture / history / policy as a master narrative? How can we organize this knowledge better? What are some existing resources / schools / organizations that we could help connect?
» Besides all of the recreational opportunities, how is our region pursuing “nature therapy,” especially as a medical hub — and with the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding us.
» In one of the final chapters focusing on nature careers, Louv introduces a pioneer in “vanguard agriculture” — Anthony Flaccavento, an organic farmer and former executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), which created a co-op organic farming program for former tobacco farmers. His name seemed really familiar — and a quick Google search showed me why: Flaccavento is a Democrat running for Congress in the 9th district — against incumbent Morgan Griffith of Salem, where I live.
Our latest “Tea with TED” Talk was by science journalist Joshua Foer, who focused on memory.
I chose Foer because he will be speaking about his book, “Moonwalking with Einstein,” at Roanoke’s Jefferson Center on Monday, Sept. 10. Find ticket info here.
The main point I took away from his talk was reinforcement that we are visual creatures — and why visual storytelling is so powerful (and important if we want folks to engage with — and remember — what we create).
From TED: There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique — called the memory palace — and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.
The talk is 20 minutes long. WATCH HERE »
“Successful innovators ask users to embrace — or at least tolerate — new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.”
How would this apply to journalism innovations? My first thought is civility … how might we raise the level of discourse, especially on divisive political issues?