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Archives: September 2013

How the Chicago Sun-Times Photographer Layoff Created Two Unique Blogs

rahm front pageThe Chicago Sun-Times has been without its 28 full-time photographers for roughly four months now, after announcing a shift toward more video content and an all-freelance photography department.

The day after the layoffs were made public, former Sun-Times columnist and current Time Out Chicago media columnist Robert Feder broadcasted on Facebook that the struggling paper planned to train its reporters on “iPhone photography basics” to avoid any lack of visual content. There were protests. Some readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions.

So the question is… how are things in the photography department at the paper these days? Well, over the last couple of months, two photojournalists started blogs to chronicle life after the layoffs.

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Sports Journalism + Comics = A Win for the New York Times

tomatocanbluesWhat do you get when you merge stellar storytelling skills, the suspense of a blockbuster film, the narrative quality of a gripping crime magazine piece and vivid illustrations? The New York Times‘ latest experiment with multimedia reporting — “Tomato Can Blues.”

Wednesday morning when my Twitter feed starting blowing up with accolades about the long multimedia piece, which chronicles how an amateur cage fighter pretended to be dead in order to escape his circumstances (owing lots of money to scary, Mafia-related drug dealers, etc.), I knew I had to set aside some time to see what all this fuss was about.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Blogging

Blogs. Once a platform for chronicling the banalities of daily life have now become legitimate sources of information. Not only that – some have become profitable, won a Pulitzer and led to book deals [sub req'd], (this blog included). Think you’ve got the next big idea for a blog? Willing to put in the hours to generate content and build up a readership? Good. However, keep in mind that just because a blog rakes in a lot of traffic doesn’t mean advertisers will be easy to come by, or that a book deal will land in your lap. In the latest Mediabistro feature, Blair Koenig, author of the viral blog STFU, Parents, shares what she’s learned from building a site that gets 1.5 to 2 million hits a month:

If you’re in the beginning stages of starting your blog, there are several things you can do now to avoid difficulty down the line.

  • Create brand consistency by registering your blog’s name as a domain name and on social media. Koenig admits, “I totally dropped the ball at one point and noticed someone had started an “STFU Parents” YouTube channel… I could never get it back; I didn’t even try.”
  • Once you have a social media presence, drive traffic to your site by updating posts on Facebook, Twitter or whichever other sites are appropriate for your blog. Koenig scours the Internet daily for interesting parenting-related stories, and updates her STFU, Parents Facebook page with links and photos.
  • Establish consistency with posting. You don’t have to post every day if you don’t have the time, but choose a posting schedule, perhaps once a week, and stick to it religiously. If your readership looks forward to one post a day, and suddenly you drop it down to one a month, you may lose your audience.

For more tips and advice on blogging, read What You Need to Know About Writing for Blogs.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Journalism and Open Data Wins: Knight Foundation Announces Community Information Challenge Projects

The Knight Foundation annouced the winners of their Community Information Challenge, which will share a total $545,000 of matching funds. For the first time, according to the release, the challenge “prioritized awarding funds to Open Government projects” and those that focus on strengthening local journalism and those that promote government transperancy.

All of the project winners have fairly simple, almost obvious, ideas on how to use digital media, technology, and data based journalism to connect people and causes. Instead of reciting “hyper-local” three times and clicking their heels, these smaller organizations are actually practicing it. The problem with AOL’s Patch, for example, was that they focused on replicating a print model, and even layout!, to the digital landscape. Sometimes innovation is just using what’s in front of you in new ways. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

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How To Maintain a Work Appropriate Social Media Presence

It can be hard to separate the professional from the personal, especially when it comes to social media. Many journalists seem to have a hard time keeping their thoughts to themselves these days and the results are never pretty.

Remember when Shea Allen, the former investigative reporter for WAAY in Huntsville, Ala. got fired for her controversial blog (where she confessed to, among other things, going bra-less on live TV?) Or what about the NBC staffer who was fired for posting an embarrassing video of Bryant Gumbel on the Today Show from 1994, looking foolish and wondering aloud, “What is the Internet, anyway?”

There are so many examples of employees embarrassing themselves on social media platforms (and ultimately paying the price for it). After all, we live in a world where over-sharing is the norm, and privacy has become a thing of the past. Read more

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