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Roger Clyne Makes Peace With The Media

By on May 6, 2015 in Featured, Journalism, Marketing, Music | 0 comments

Not one, not two, not just three errors. A half-dozen, at least, and ones that don’t even require significant research to fact-check. That happened in a recent review of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show in Boston*, when the writer made mistakes ranging from the number of albums to the theme of certain songs. Many people or companies, when faced with so many egregious mistakes, would demand corrections, retractions, apologies. They would send nasty emails to the writer and vent about the disrespect for months or years. Not Señor Clyne or his band of amigos. Instead, they did what they do night in and night out as an exceptionally hard-working independent band. They raised a glass to the writer. Here’s the thing: The article perfectly captured the loose atmosphere of a Roger Clyne show. It also portrayed his strengths, and his growth, as a songwriter. Even with (or despite) the factual errors, the article was great for the band and its fans. Many would argue it’s easy to ignore the errors in a positive article, but in practice that seldom happens. As a reporter and editor, I received countless complaints from the subjects of positive stories, often about obscure and or meaningless errors. One example: I once wrote about the preservation of a historic locomotive but misidentified its number. Organizers and others derided me publicly and to my editors because of this mistake — which did not change the substance of the story — and many of them attacked me personally. I’ll let you guess what happened when they contacted me for a follow-up. So should you ignore errors? No. Most reporters want to get the facts right and will make requested corrections. But use such a request as an opportunity to build a relationship with the reporter and the media outlet, not bash the media or accuse them of some deeper conspiracy. With this review, the band likely knew their passionate fan base would let the reporter know about the mistakes. But by thanking the writer publicly, they also primed that fan base for positive interactions with the reporter. This will serve them well in the long run. Not only will they almost assuredly get a positive preview the next time they visit Boston*, but other reporters will likely recognize the band’s humanity and more willingly cover concerts elsewhere. Here’s to life. *This post originally identified the city where the show took place as New York City. Yes, I made an error in a blog post about errors. Of course I...

Kindness = Happiness

By on Aug 16, 2013 in Featured, Journalism, Philosophical | 1 comment

Allow me to humbly confirm that I do indeed look good, in a Life is Good, Happy Dad sort-of way. More than any one thing, it’s an evolving commitment I’ve made to simply being kinder.

Farewell (Trucker’s Atlas)

By on May 19, 2012 in Journalism, Philosophical | 0 comments

The road trip ends like this: peacefully and without long farewells. It ends with the car limping home, beer cans littering the floor, pretzel dust coating the seats. It ends as it began, accidentally and unintentionally and entirely dictated by the road. After 15 years as a journalist, it ends like this: peacefully and without long farewells. I leave a business sputtering into the future, with my fingers ink-stained and beer cans mingling with bylines on the newsroom floor. It ends as it began, accidentally and unintentionally and entirely dictated by the road. Recollections bounce past me like super balls in a stairwell, erratic and fast and generally indistinguishable. That’s not to say I consider my time spent committing news a waste, because there are sources of pride among the thousands of stories I’ve written. In fact, I have no regrets about my first chosen career path. “Where next?” you ask, and I shrug. Pause. Pull out the trucker’s atlas, flip through the pages. “Options,” I say, and it’s true. Ahead the roads lead … elsewhere. Away from here. Here … is not a place. It is a mindset. The path I’ve followed is no longer. That’s not to say I won’t write, create, engage. That’s not to say I won’t tell stories. It’s just to say that the hitchhiker named News that I picked up years ago and allowed to navigate has reached the end of my line. Many have preceded me in their departure from the business, and too many of them were forced by circumstances that overwhelmed them. Luckily, I have remained in control of my future and ultimately decided to leave journalism because I considered my family life first. I wanted the flexibility to coach my sons in whatever sport they play, to travel with my wife more, to relax on my weekends without obsessively checking Twitter and my email. I got into journalism because I love telling stories, and on occasion it afforded me that opportunity. I still love telling stories, and I am grateful that as I move forward I can continue to pursue that passion as a hobby and professionally. I also hope to once again write, on occasion, for an audience of one (me) where the rules are ignored, if only for a moment in time. Farewell, news. The road awaits. “It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.” — Wallace Stegner, Angle of...

Six Pack on the Dashboard: Journalism

By on Sep 26, 2011 in Journalism, Six Pack Updates | 0 comments

Free on-the-go reporting and free GIS tools. Free apps for journalists. Free yourself to fail. Plus, second-screen battles the business side of hyperlocal news sites. Here’s six articles that won’t waste your time, especially if you’re a journalist. 1. Mapping the News: Geotagging news stories is a capability I wish I knew more about and something I wish I could utilize more often. This is a nice write-up of some introductory tools that I aspire to dabble in soon. 2. Chicago Tribune Tools: List and links of open-source apps and programs developed by Chicago Tribune staffers. 3. Think Small: The problem for many start-ups, especially those with localized missions and little funding, is thinking too big. This is a nice essay about why “small ball” strategies that build on early successes are important. 4. Second Screen: Strategies for winning the “second screen,” which is whatever people use to supplement a viewing or reading experience — i.e., checking stats on the smartphone while watching a football game. 5. Hyperlocal Biz: The founder of joins UC-Berkeley j-school staff to help their hyperlocal news sites with biz development. He about the challenges and possibilities. 6. Spotting news: 10,000 Words highlights a cool app (iOS and Android) that allows people to report news while out and about, including location, multimedia and other news reports in the area. It’s called meporter, and it’s pretty cool. Blog post is here and video is embedded...

End of the Crawler

By on Aug 23, 2010 in Journalism | 0 comments

Media Matters: The great Salt Lake Tribune online experiment is over. Glen Warchol, canceled. In a staff memo this evening, Salt Lake Tribune editor Nancy Conway announced that The Salt Lake Crawler is no longer. Instead, Warchol will now be a features writer. She says his blog had a loyal readership, but his skills would be better utilized elsewhere — emphasizing one of my greatest frustrations, a print-first mentality at newspapers. It’s a shame, because Warchol was one of the better local bloggers, even if he worked for a giant media corporation. He had a voice of his own and was one of the best at pointing out the absurdities of local politics. Beyond that, however, he brought a reporter’s mentality — due to, of course, his many years as a reporter — and often did his own work for his many daily posts. Warchol was also one of the better media watchdogs, and usually had stories about the trials and tribulations at the Deseret News during my time there, especially the last couple of years. The memo from Conway: Colleagues, In an effort to better serve readers in print and online we are reassigning Glen Warchol to a reporting position in the features department. We have asked him to focus on the under-covered consumer and business side of arts and entertainment and to put an emphasis on personality profiles. Michael, Ellen and Glen will be working out the finer details of his beat as it develops. Glen’s blog, The Salt Lake Crawler, was launched as an experiment more than two years ago and while it has a steady and loyal readership we feel his considerable skills and abilities will be better used enriching the daily offerings for both the print and online products. Thanks,...

Open Container Update: Deseret News Layoffs

By on Aug 12, 2010 in Journalism | 0 comments

Significant layoffs are expected at the Deseret News, prompting questions about its future as a print publication and even its location in the Downtown Rising blueprint.— More than a dozen confidential sources inside the paper, including some holding management positions, have confirmed that layoffs are planned for late August or early September, with the first wave hitting Aug. 20.  And the layoffs aren’t small: Likely a third of the staff will be let go, with some estimating cuts as high as 50 to 60 percent. When I left the paper a year ago, the LDS Church-owned Deseret News boasted about 200 employees. If the percentages I’ve been told bear out, that means at least 60 employees, and maybe more than 100, will be laid off. Some may be retained on a contract basis, working as freelance editors or bloggers paid per printed article or for the number of online hits their stories receive. The layoffs have been expected for awhile, and I first started hearing serious rumors a few weeks ago. At the time, however, dates were still a moving target and the numbers were in the air. Still, one person sitting in the meetings told me a couple of weeks ago that “it’s going to be traumatic.” Those rumors crystalized this week, and, generally, the reactions from people telling me the numbers and dates were accompanied with simple declarations like “holy shit.” I attempted to verify the numbers and dates with new president and chief executive officer of the Deseret News Clark Gilbert and Mark Willes, the head of Deseret Management Corporation. I was told Thursday by their assistants that neither Gilbert nor Willes would “comment on rumors,” even to deny their accuracy. Messages left with Editor-in-Chief Joe Cannon, managing editor Rick Hall and city editor Tad Walch, in which I asked for a comment or a denial of the “rumors” didn’t net responses, either. Additionally, staffers at the paper told me that when they have asked their bosses about the rumors, they get no response. As one person said, “Their silence says everything.” Full disclosure: I worked at the paper for more than a decade, leaving primarily because of disputes with upper management about their push for a “More Mormon” newspaper. My grandfather, Glen Snarr, was the chairman of the board for the Deseret News from 1996 to 2006, where he brought in the first non-Mormon editor-in-chief, John Hughes, and pushed the paper to become a morning newspaper. Thus,I will be the first to admit that it makes me mad as hell what they are doing to my grandfather’s legacy. For that reason alone, it’s not at all surprising that Willes, Gilbert & Co. wouldn’t call me back. However, they have talked to other media, with the most telling article being published by Poynter Online. In an interview with media business analyst Rick Edmonds, Gilbert, who Edmonds described as a “specialist in disruptive change,” talked about the growth of the digital side of the Mormon media properties, of which 60 percent came from outside of Utah. The Mormon audience, he said, “gives us a chances for a world-wide audience” and does not have to rely on local readership. He also said that there would be the elimination of some “inessentials” at the Deseret News. For newspapers around the country, those “inessentials” are replaced by things like outsourced copy desks, layout templates instead of a full-time production staff, and more freelance artists and photographers. At the Deseret News, that started to happen a couple of weeks ago, when the head of the production team was replaced and a manager — not a page designer — was put in charge.  Gilbert also told Edmonds that “there was never a great business model for news content,” and that the cost of producing news should be on par with generated revenue. In 2010, that means scaling back full-time reporters and replacing their work with the work of local bloggers. Thus the layoffs are, possibly, only the start of what could be major upheaval for Salt Lake City’s second-largest daily newspaper, with a circulation of about 79,000 on Sundays. Cutting almost half of the staff would mean that their current home, in the 9-story building at 30 E. 100 South that the Deseret News Publishing Co. built with cash 12 years ago, will become very empty, even with three floors already leased out to other businesses (including the Associated Press bureau). The building is prime real estate in the up-and-coming City Creek development.  About a half-dozen Deseret News staffers have speculated to me that the paper might be moving to the Triad Center, which would allow them to more easily converge with KSL and create a mega-news website. It also raises questions about the paper as a daily publication. I have long asserted privately that by the end of 2011, or sooner, the Deseret News would become an online-mostly publication, with printed papers published 3 to 5 days per week. In the place of a daily newspaper, they would tout their “24/7 online” content as the heart and soul of its operation. I am now comfortable making this assertion publicly, even though most people have told me I’m crazy. The Open Container Update is published every weekday. It’s often a news round-up and analysis, but sometimes will be used to publish exclusives, as with today’s update....

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