Friday, April 20, 2018

Thinking About Beats

The Kings of the Beats
The Kings of the Beats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The history of the word

There's the cowpath (a beat primarily based on location)


Deans' Office
President's Office
Media Studies Department
      Media Lab (location)
      Careers Panel (event)
Library
     Thacher Gallery
           Who was Thacher? (history of site)
           New carpet (physical improvement)
           Current exhibit (news event)
     Rare Book Room
          17th Century Manuscript Section
     Plaza
Cafeteria
    Pizza Station
    Sandwich Cooler
    Dessert Bar
Koret Center
    Pool
    Weight Room
    Cafe
University Terrace Neighborhood
     


And there's the watering hole (a beat primarily based on a central idea)

Aging
   Exercise for those over 65
      Exercise-related injuries for those over 65
           Exercise-related joint injuries for those over 65
               Exercise-related knee injuries for those over 65
                   Preventing exercise-related knee injuries for those over 65
                   Rehabilitating exercise-related knee injuries for those over 65
Agriculture
Arts and entertainment
Business
Census 2020
Computers
Disasters
Economics
Education
Environment
Family
Food
Guns
Health
History
Housing
International
Military
Politics and policy
Race
Religion
Science
Sports
Terrorism
Transportation
Weather
Work

Monday, April 16, 2018

Many Reporters do Work in Just This Way, Including Me

Heatmaps! Mousetracks!! Where Do Your Eyes Stick When You Read Online?

This is something I don't know much about. I am trying to learn. Here's a business-oriented perspective.

19 Things We Can Learn From Numerous Heatmap Tests
Business Insider posts some heatmaps you'll find rather more interesting.

The Phrasing of Questions Matters

I pulled the block quote below from a post on the Daily Kos blog. Background is that, based on polling, three separate news stories suggested three different, even contradictory, public responses to the proposed Wall St. bailout package, the price tag for which was given as $700 billion. Dig down into the questions from the pollsters and you find how the phrasing of the basic question drives the answers. The lesson for us, I suppose, is that you can ask questions several different ways to tease out attitudes.

From the blog post

The Times/Bloomberg Poll  asked respondents if they believed it was "the government's responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars." A majority said no.

The Pew Poll, by contrast, asked respondents if "investing billions to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure" was the right thing to do. A majority said yes.

ABC/WaPo  (Q 16.): Do you approve or disapprove of the steps the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have taken to try to deal with the current situation involving the stock market and major financial institutions? Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

To summarize:


Do you think it's good to stave off economic collapse? Well, sure!

But do you think those dirty rotten scoundrels should be rescued with your money? Hell, no!

And as for the specific steps? Well, maybe.

Which Lead Do You Prefer and Why?

1) Most coaches would steer clear of a team that went 5-27 the year before but being that bad was exactly what Jennifer Azzi was attracted to when she took the job of head women’s basketball coach at the University of San Francisco at the start of the 2012 season.

        Azzi, 45, says that she loves the Bay Area and couldn’t pass up the opportunity of coming in at this point in the team’s history, “I’d been through it as a player and so I was looking at this as a diamond in the rough.”

2) It was not the pickup line Marcia Clay was expecting to hear when the handsome man in the
tuxedo flirtatiously approached her.

      “What’s it like to be so cross-eyed?”

       Offended and slightly irritated she replied, “Some of us are lucky enough to have defects that     show.”

        He thought she was talking about his big ass, Clay says, but she was actually alluding to his arrogance.

       Clay looks like the girl next door, blonde hair and blue eyes,  —if the girl  next door had
 Cerebral Palsy.  Her big blue eyes are crossed, her tall frame is slightly hunched due to her limp,
and one of her hands falls near her side and curves in.


Beat Reporter's Digital Day

Taken from the great Romenesko



OREGONIAN MEMO DESCRIBES A BEAT REPORTER’S DIGITAL DAY


An unsigned, paper version-only memo (how ironic!) titled “Portrait of a Digital Day — Beat Reporter” is being given to Oregonian staffers as they meet with managers to discuss boosting the Newhouse newspaper’s digital efforts. The tipster who faxed it to me writes:“It’s so wonderfully glib in describing a brave new world that some journalists would consider disturbing. It’s hard to imagine that the author ever put in much time as a reporter. And at the end, it says of enterprise work: It’s possible. It’s desired.”
Most media-watchers expect the Oregonian to eventually reduce its print publishing schedule and focus on digital.
Here is the memo:
PORTRAIT OF A DIGITAL DAY — BEAT REPORTER
The goal is to build audience on OregonLive.com by being the No. 1 place the market goes for news and information.
The keys for you are time management, attitude and agility. Your work flow will be your own.
Reorient your thinking to what you can deliver for the web today. Cover your beats, push information, don’t worry about where or whether a story will play in print. Editors will worry about that for you.
Consider social media/engagement, OregonLive.com posting of real-time information, visual storytelling.
Start with social media/engagement:
Set the table for the day with your readers/followers. Tweet early, let folks know you’re up and at ‘em. (Joe Rose’s tip: Twitter is always on via TweetDeck and iPhone notifications.) Don’t just use Twitter as an RSS feed; that’s no good for you or your readers — you need to engage. As you post during the day, Tweet. Watch for story ideas from your followers. Respond to questions. Retweet other stories of interest. /CONTINUES
From Joe Rose, who spends maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day on Twitter, with a goal of 10 Tweets/day:
“This is where people increasingly gather to talk and share stories that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. When it comes to picking up story tips and crowd-sourcing, there’s nothing like Twitter.
“I use it to talk to readers, answer quick questions, develop sources and aggregate commuting-related stories that I think will get retweeted. Ultimately, that leads to more followers and readers.
“I see myself as a curator of a Twitter account. My hope is that followers will eventually find enough value that they will pull my account out of their catch-all home feed and give it its own column in TweetDeck.”
During the day:
Aim to post multiple times a day. How much might vary by beat, but consider a range of three to 10. Some days this will be far less, some days, more. This is not a quota, but a target to get you started as you build a new rhythm and workflow that’s digitally focused.
Start the day with an aggregation, perhaps. City Hall Watch is a great example for enterprise beat reporters. A short news item with some meat, followed by 4-6 links, some on our site, some outside. Kick off the news day with things that your readers might be interested in.
Work your beat per usual. Talk to folks. Do your thing. But instead of working through the day and saving information for a story you begin writing late in the afternoon, publish that information as you go. Make it short and punchy, and Tweet it.
If a good story pops up, write a quick version for OregonLive.com and post it as quickly (and accurately) as possible. If that’s all it needs, be done. Move on. If it has potential as a cover story for print, update the online version as you gather new info. (If it’s enough that the hed changes, or the information is that much better, do a new post with a new headline. In the old post, link to the new post. Tell readers where they can find updated information.)
New is best — always — but here are some other kinds of posts for beat writers, to establish expertise and make you a desired read:
* If you’re working on a story and have an interesting interview, do a quick post summarizing that and teasing to a story that’s to come.
* Tell readers something about what you saw behind the scenes of interest, maybe that’s not going to fit the story A scenic detail; a personal anecdote; some tangential information that’s not on point with your reporting but is interesting nonetheless.
* Have a story that you’ve published but have extra information from an interview or your reporting that didn’t make it? Turn that into a post and link back to the full story.
* Do a profile of someone? Maybe the next day take that story and aggregate it, plus profiles in other publications of that person. Or do a post on the reaction.
* Set up interviews to come. “I’ll be talking to Gov. Kitzhaber about the CRC this afternoon. If you were me, what question should I be sure to ask?” Give a little background, link to stuff you’ve already written. And you set yourself up for another post after:
* Here are two reader questions I put to the governor yesterday and his answers… Look for my full story on this online now/later today/in the next couple of days/etc.
* Do a poll. Easy to set up, fun engagement opportunity for users. Can unscientifically measure feelings on an issue. Sports does this very effectively.
* Set up an evening meeting: The school board will be voting tonight on a bond measure. Here’s the background. Link to previous stories we’ve done on the subject.
* Often beat reporter get all kinds of information that readers might find interesting but that we don’t. Maybe it’s reports, studies, events, speakers, etc. Post it. “This study crossed my desk today, and I’m not planning a full story, but I share it with you in case you’re interested. I’ve written about this topic before, and here are links to that and a link to this study.”
* Not attending something that might be of interest to readers? Ask them to tell you what happened. Ryan White has done this, and it’s a great idea. “I couldn’t go to such and such concert, but tell me about it. Here are links to reviews of previous shows here or in other cities.” Then do a new post writing those comments through. “I’ll be at the school board meeting tonight and can’t make XX speech by XX. Write in and tell me about it, and I’ll share with readers.”
* Do quick rewriters of lesser news items off your beat that won’t compete for print.
Engage with readers, not only in the posts but also check comments. Just take a spin through every couple of hours. If you’re drowning, tell an editor or online, and we can help.
Think multimedia/have your equipment:
Whenever you go out on a story, make sure you have the equipment to gather, photograph and post a story you might stumble across. For some, that might be an entire kit with a MacBook, video camera, audio recorder and MiFi — for others, it might be just an iPhone.
If you’re talking to a person, take their photo. We should have a mug at least with our posts. If they’re particularly colorful, shooting a quick clip video would enhance a reader’s understanding of that personality.
Never let a phone interview on a big story end without asking if the person would mind a videographer coming to talk to them. Leave open the possibility of other platforms, even if we don’t end up going that route. It’s a good habit to develop.
*Important note: Everyone in the newsroom should remember that they are deputized breaking news reporters. So often, reporter or editors will call the breaking news team to say, “I just passed a gnarly traffic crash.” But when asked if they stopped to talk to witnesses or take a photo, the answer is invariably no.
Enterprise:
It’s possible. It’s desired. Nothing digitally is designed to minimize our appetite for scoops and investigative work. But plan for it and think about it in new ways. Work with your editor so s/he knows the days you might be light online. Pick your shots and make sure they’re worthwhile. Don’t find ways to get out of doing digital work, because it’s a priority, too. Instead, find ways to use the digital platform to inform that enterprise reporting. Be bold. Engage the online and visuals team early to brainstorm ideas for digital.
Consider also:
* Documents. In the reporting process, there always are things we could post as we go, with a story or afterward that readers might dive into and offer questions about.
* Reader questions about a story, project, series. Turn those questions and your answers into a post. Other readers might share the question and appreciate the additional information.
* Minor updates. Often things happen with the subject of a story or an issue that aren’t quite enough for a full print story but make a perfect post.

AP Styles Changes


Who cares?

That "they" thing.

Freaking out!!

A lively timeline

Robertson is Old Fart. (Dr. Old Fart to you.)

laid vs. lain

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The entrance sign to Mount St. Mary's Universi...
The entrance sign to Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed.

Is a valid strategy to improve a college’s retention rate to encourage students at risk of dropping out to do so in the first few weeks, so they won’t be counted in the total numbers reported to the U.S. Education Department and others?


That is a question raised by emails leaked to the student newspaper at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. The emails suggest that the president had such a plan in motion—despite opposition from some faculty members and other administrators. The board chairman at Mount St. Mary’s released an open letter in which he did not dispute the emails but said they were taken out of context. The board chairman’s letter did not detail what was allegedly out of context. Primarily, his statement blasted student journalists for publishing the contents of confidential emails.

The president, Simon Newman, acknowledged to the Washington Post that he was pushing a plan to intervene early on with students who may be having difficulties. But he said that this was to help them, although he said that the help in some cases might be for them to see that they might be better off a less expensive public institution. The student newspaper also reported (and the Washington Post quoted a professor confirming) that Newman told some faculty members they needed to change the way they think of struggling students.

He reportedly said, “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

The president told the Post that he didn’t remember the language he used in that discussion. But he acknowledged that he sometimes uses harsh language, sometimes to his regret.

“I’ve probably done more swearing here than anyone else,” Newman told the Post. “It wasn’t intended to be anything other than, ‘Some of these conversations you may need to have with people are hard.’ ”

The emails quoted in the student newspaper, the Mountain Echo, suggest more than just trying to reach at-risk students. The emails describe using a survey given to new students to help identify those who may be likely to drop out. And then an email from President Newman says: “My short term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th [of September]. This one thing will boost our retention 4-5%. A larger committee or group needs to work on the details but I think you get the objective.”

According to Education Department data, the six-year graduation rate for full-time first-time students at Mount St. Mary’s is 66 percent, and 78 percent of freshmen return for a second year. While both rates are above national averages for four-year colleges, many private, residential colleges that serve traditional-age undergraduates boast of significantly higher rates.

A letter to the Mountain Echo from John E. Coyne III, chairman of the university’s board, does not dispute the various emails quoted in the article but says the article is based on “selected quotes” that give the article a “slant” and create a “grossly inaccurate impression on the subject of the Mount’s efforts to improve student retention.”

The letter goes on to criticize the newspaper’s editor, saying that the emails in question are confidential. “You propose to use those private, confidential emails to advance your journalistic interests and to do so without any concern for either the individual privacy interests of the faculty involved or the damage you will render to this university and to its brand,” the letter says.

Top Comment

Couldn't we just put them in the trunk and drive them a few miles into the country, to let them loose?  More...

177 CommentsJoin In
Coyne adds that using confidential emails is “quite frankly irresponsible” and violates the college’s code of conduct.

Newman became president of Mount St. Mary’s last year. His prior career was not in higher education but in private equity and business. His biography says that he founded or co-founded four businesses and worked at various times for Bain & Co., JP Capital Partners, and Cornerstone Management Group.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How to Deal with Lack of Coverage of Public Meetings

You could enlist citizens.

“There are hundreds of public government meetings, from the police board to local school councils, the education board, it goes on. A lot of these meetings are not reported on, and some of that’s through lack of [local reporters] — for example, DNAinfo,” said Darryl Holliday, City Bureau’s co-founder/editorial director and a former DNAinfo Chicago reporter, in explaining the existing setup in Chicago. “A lot of those meetings are not attended by the public. There will be meetings that go on where there’s literally no one there from the public present for these really big decisions that affect us in a lot of different ways. Documenters can be trained, and in our case paid, to go out and document these public meetings for the public.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Laberinto 1 (del Nordisk familjebok)
Laberinto 1 (del Nordisk familjebok) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Begin with a scene from the labyrinth, or at least the church. I want you to interview at least three other people who are there, either walking or observing. If the cathedral has not changed the way the walk is organized, a docent will take groups into a side chapel and explain the history of labyrinth walking. You will quote him or her.

* Of course, I want you to walk the labyrinth. This may become a very personal experience during which you think on your past life and philosophy, or on some current challenge. You may choose to write in detail about this or you may not. You may choose to be "objective," relying on observation and description, and on comments by others. But if you do choose to share your own experience, make it a separate story, a sidebar.   

* You have an option. One of these two stories may be longer than the other. You may choose to emphasize your personal experience or the news feature.

* Here are some leads from past stories from Arts Review classes. These approaches are fine for your personal story. But in any case, I want you to write a traditional news feature about the experience. I urge you to give this experience a try. This is extra credit, though it can substitute for a story you missed. No one gets a bad grade on this assignment:

- Driving east up the hill on California Street, Grace Cathedral’s size and ruddy color loom from the surrounded buildings, playground and opulent hotels and venues. Inside, I find the architecture and artistry astonishing, busying with myself with taking photographs I might share with my mother. It was also to stall in participating in the “meditative labyrinth," something which made me feel the opposite of the enthusiasm I had about playing photographer.

This “meditative labyrinth” and its accommodating choir was exactly what I wanted to avoid. My mother said, “You should try it and take it seriously,” but I had already done such things in elementary school all the way through high school, completely being negative to the whole experience or what they call, “closing yourself from God."

- I can not remember the last time that my Grandpa broke-wind in a church.  I actually can not remember the last time he was even in a church.  But there he was, crop-dusting his lunch gas across the Grace Cathedral's candle-lit corridors.  My Grandma was quite embarrassed, but I believe that it added to the experience.

There we were, at the top of Nob Hill inside the old stone place of worship, where pigeons and bums take refuge and all religions are welcome.  It wasn't the devotion service or the architecture that drew us in, but what was built into the nave's floor. 

- Many people seek to find themselves. I’ll admit, growing up in my teens, I did not know who or what kind of person I wanted to be. In the Jewish Community, a Bar Mitzvah signifies as a rite of passage to who a boy is to become but I wasn’t Jewish. For others, finding self can occur through hot-stone yoga, a run at Golden Gate Park, or at the Labyrinth in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

There it lay, the labyrinth at the center of the church. It wasn’t exactly what I expected to be there when I heard that I was visiting a labyrinth. My first thought was that we were going to be lab rats in a maze in search of the cheese.

- I was raised a Christian Scientist – no, not Scientology (though I do favor the notion that aliens exist) – a religious practice that puts the power of healing into God’s hands and not a physicians. I would go to Sunday school, draw some pictures of God (who apparently looks like a firefly...), and not pay any attention to the Bible stories being taught. As the members of our church steadily began to die from old age, untreated sicknesses and suicide, I began cementing my notion that religion is utter garbage. This is the view I had all throughout my adolescence: that religion is a bunch of trite fiction that gets renamed and recombined; subsequently spurring people of “different” faiths to annihilate one another through endless warfare. As we all recall, adolescence is a time full of angst, and these notions were certainly fueled by my anti-authoritarian fervor. 

Here's a recent San Francisco Chronicle story on the labyrinth.


 Only about half of the people who’d arrived at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral for a recent Candlelight Labyrinth Walk decided to attend the the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress’ pre-walk explanation of the labyrinth’s process and purpose. Artress gathered her small group out of the main cathedral and into the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel, in a wing just off the front doors. A portion of the original AIDS quilt hung on a wall facing Artress as she cheerfully offered advice and history on walking the labyrinth.

Outside the chapel, many of the folks who had already begun to walk had no idea they were missing a free explanation by the godmother of the modern labyrinth movement.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

British Comedian Has Lessons for American Journalism

English: John Oliver, American Comedian Origin...
English: John Oliver, American Comedian Original description by Ted Kerwin: :Mitch and I were interviewed by John Oliver, lets see if we make the cut. :We made it at 1:30 www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=156 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John Oliver says he's not a journalist, but he has some good ideas.



But save the usual sarcasm and biting jokes at the state of the world that keeps everyone in the conference room belly-laughing, Oliver has a lot to say about how to report on President Donald Trump. Given the daily onslaughts on the media from the White House, the crusade against facts, and the labeling of any dissent or critique as "fake news," these lessons are critical and welcomed.