Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

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We Are the Media, This Is the Media

I read BuzzMachine, a blog by Jeff Jarvis, on a regular basis, and yesterday I also happened to listen to On the Media.

Jarvis was interviewed for On the Media regarding his decision that the word media, so long the bane of grammar students, is not plural but singular.

The folks at On the Media are sticking with tradition.

It occurred to me today that there are so many angles to the word media, it might as well be both. I have a background in linguistics, so I might approach this a little differently.

Let’s start with the definition of media:

1. a plural of medium

2. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely

3. pertaining to or concerned with such means

OK, so if media are tools, and the tools are becoming a Leatherman Charge TTi (19 tools in one!), then it becomes singular.

We also use the word media to refer to the people holding the tools collectively: CNN, The New York Times, NPR. Singular or plural?

Jarvis would say it’s still singular. But I don’t think the lines have been erased that far yet, if they ever are. Even though everyone can participate online, not everyone does to the same degree. There are still the giants.

Companies now producing across various platforms. Across media. Plural.

Jarvis argues:

Today, still photographers shoot video with a still camera. Print reporters take pictures and make slide shows and shoot video. TV people write text. Magazine people make podcasts.

Yea, but those are still separate media. He gets closer when trying to qualify Twitter:

What is Twitter? A medium? A conversation? Both? Yes. So how does one
separate one medium from another? It’s impossible, I came to see.

So there are some platforms that are an indistinguishable mixture of media. Singular.

But you can still have each medium on it’s own. And sometimes they’re more powerful that way, depending on the subject. Plural.

Now I’m confusing myself.

I think it can be used both ways. And we’ll just have to figure out from context the intended meaning.

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College media needs CMS options

A few days ago I got an email from Daniel Bachhuber, who is working with the Oregon Daily Emerald.

He wanted to know if I was interested in discussion content management system options for college media. After my time as online managing editor at The Independent Florida Alligator, struggling with a CMS that liked to fight dirty, I’ve daydreamed of building a modular open-source system myself.

The problem:

College Publisher is an inappropriate platform for student newspapers
but most newspapers don’t have the resources to custom roll their own
CMS.

The Alligator uses TownNews, but the idea is the same.

Daniel started a wiki, College News Press, as well as a mailing group to keep track of ideas and coordinate discussion. The wiki includes tasks, benchmarks and platform comparisons.

His vision:

  • To create an easy to deploy, simple to use (open source?) content management system (CMS) with varying levels of sophistication that is specifically geared towards the student newspaper and local news market.
  • To provide abundant knowledge resources to student newspapers interested in switching platforms that have minimal IT manpower.

Daniel is even submitting an application for the Knight News Challenge!

I’m really excited to work on this, even though I’m no longer a member of the college media sector. The two biggest problems with newspaper Web sites are site design and CMS limitations. Hacking a CMS should not be among the things we have to do to be innovative.

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UWIRE 100

Today UWIRE released their list of the top 100 student journalists in the country.

Mindy McAdams nominated me for the award and thanks to her and others’ recommendations, I got it!

It’s weird to be recognized in this fashion. I don’t think I’ve done anything particularly spectacular. Just what I thought would be good.

So forget all that thank you crap. Congrats to the other 99 winners, especially Greg Linch, Jenna Marina and Nick Zaccardi.

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Berlin – Alone no longer

Michelle Harris arrived on Thursday afternoon. I was glad of the company, even if she did wake me up.

We went out for dinner that night at Cafe Prenzlauer for quintessential Berlin food and walked around a bit afterward.

The next morning, (Friday) Michelle and I got up early and walked down to Alexanderplaetze to take photos.
3 churches, the TV tower, some fountains and a museum later, our feet began to complain.
We made our way back to the hotel expecting to have time for showers and naps before Professor Freeman and the other students arrived.
Imagine our horror when we walk into our room and not only have the others arrived but we are expected downstairs in 15 minutes!

We were treated to a meeting with Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal Berlin Bureau chief, Pulitzer winner and UF graduate. Too bad most of us were half asleep! He talked about how he got his job in a foreign bureau and what possibilities there might be for us to crack the competition.

Then we went to the Bernaur Wall Park. I still can’t fully grasp what happened in this city, but the pictures and stories gave me the same quiet, sick feeling that I get from any account of human atrocities (the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia…).

We took a tram to “Prater Biergarten” for a dinner of sausages and beer. On the walk home my ankles finally went numb. Huzzah for scalding hot showers!

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Writing from Berlin!

So, after having dropped off the face of the cyberearth for a few weeks, I’m resurfacing in Berlin. I’m taking a Photojournalism class with Professor Freeman and some other students from UF.

And by the way, yes, I did manage to graduate! It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure some day it will. My move to Miami was anything but graceful, but everyone involved survived.

So I’m in Berlin for 2 weeks, then back to Miami for my internship. I’ll start uploading photos tomorrow and blogging about my experiences here.

So far, I’ve managed to get from the airport to my hotel, find food and walk 3 miles. And realize that my German is even more atrocious than I thought. I can read pretty well, but forget the rest.

This city has more graffiti than any other place I’ve ever been. Some of it is even extremely artistic, as opposed to just scribbles on the wall. Unfortunately, I wasted most of the daylight hours recovering from bouncing from plane to plane for 15 hours, but tomorrow I’ll be out and about bright and early. (Could I get anymore cliches in there?)

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The Alligator rockin’ at 10,000 Words

Mark Luckie at 10,000 Words isn’t “just a blogger,” he’s a print journalist gone online. Luckie has been looking at college journalism this week, and The Independent Florida Alligator got some awesome mentions:

Online Student Journalism: Best of the Best

1. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida
The Alligator is hands down the best online student newspaper and rivals the pros in its news coverage and use of multimedia elements. Just listing the stellar components that make up the site warrant its own individual post. The Alligator’s standout features are the Gainesville
Explorer , a look at the surrounding city using video and audio slideshows, the use of Google Maps mashups to illustrate problems like apartment overcrowding and rising gas prices, and its 11 blogsthat cover pretty much every spectrum of news. Admittedly The Alligator works on a larger scale than most student newspapers, but it is nevertheless an exceptional example of the possibility of online student journalism.

What a payoff for all the hard work we’ve done!

Online Student Journalism: Outstanding Use of Multimedia or Social Networking

7. Twitter, The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

It seems everyone is Twitteringthese days, but The Alligator is one of very few student newspapers doing so. The site uses twitterfeed to broadcast news stories and links, almost 2,500 of which have been sent since The Alligator began using the service.

Personally, I think we should have gotten more mention of our amazing multimedia, but at least my Twitter obsession has been justified.

Online Student Journalism: Best Site Design

4. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

The Alligator is an incredible example of the potential greatness of an online student newspaper. Its black and white design makes the fine journalism happening on the site look even better. Sections and stories are easily scannable and the site’s headlines are large enough to catch the eye. The Alligator also makes great use of its footer — a contrasting black to
the rest of the page — something that is rare in online student paper design.

That’s so totally what we were going for!

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Falling in love with blogging again

Zac Echola reminded me yesterday what this blog is about and why I started it.

  • 1. A networking blog should be a living document of your professional self. You should stay focused on topics that matter to people who may hire you. You should start reading blogs from people in your field.
  • 2. When someone makes you think, you should think out loud on your site. Have a conversation with others. Email people questions. Chat with them on twitter. Get to know people. Working a blog isn’t much different than working a room at a conference. Stay focused.
  • 3. Show off your work. When you do something good, show it off. Don’t be bashful.
  • 4. SEO the crap out of yourself.
  • 5. Seize every opportunity you can.
  • 6. Always remember that there’s a real human being on the other side of the machine.

I’ve been really bad at updating lately, and I’m going to work hard to fix that, starting with a bunch of updates on what I’ve been doing lately. I think short posts are preferred, so I’ll split things up. Keep an eye out for stuff on Twitter, Google Maps, Django and more.

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Next Newsroom: Wrap-up

I spent Thursday and Friday at the NextNewsroom Conference at Duke University. Thanks to Chris O’Brien for coordinating a great discussion and helping college students attend.

My interest in the conference stemmed from a previous interest in exploring the idea of a “virtual newsroom.” I wrote a little about this before.

Due to some initial crazyness at the Gainesville airport, I was late to the show, so here are some links documenting what I missed:

Greg Linch posted the highlights of Chris O’Brien’s opening words and collected some excellent quotes from Saf Fahim’s keynote speech. I’ve been following Greg on Twitter and his blog for a while now, and it was awesome to finally meet him. We even collaborated on live-streaming and recording sessions on the second day. More about that later.

Byran Murley used Cover It Live to keep up on speeches the first day and sessions the second. Cover It Live looks like a sweet live-blogging tool.

I did make it in time for Randy Covington’s speech on “New Roles in the New Newsroom.” I posted my notes earlier, but the quick takeaway was that the current structure of the newsroom is an impediment to convergence and integration between mediums. As examples of alternative structures he pointed to London’s Daily Telegraph and the Tampa Bay Tribune.

Next there was a panel discussion with Robertson Barret, Sharon Behl Brooks, Christian Oliver, Rusty Coats and Keith Hanadel as moderator. The discussion was a little disappointing, I felt like they kept drifting into different arguments instead of responding to the questions and comments posed via Twitter.

There’s video from all this at Ustream.tv.

On Friday, the second day, Greg and I joined forces (and equipment) to live-stream video from the sessions we attended. We had some technical difficulties, but it was really fun!

Session 1: We went to a discussion facilitated by Brett Erikson, Kathy Stofer and Sharon Brooks on operating a converged newsroom in the context of student media. Check out the video.

Session 2: How can the newsroom management structure be reorganized? Led by Bryan Murley. Takeaway: The Web editor needs to be high up on that ladder. I’m gonna point you to Greg again, as his notes are better than mine for this session.

Session 3: How to change from old news culture to new – led by John North, Knoxville News Sentinel. If we had come up with any answers to this problem, we could make a looot of money.

Session 4: Balancing work and class, learning and innovation in college media, led by Kathleen Sullivan. Ustream was crashing no matter what I did, so I switched to Yahoo Live. Unfortunately, it doesn’t save video, just broadcasts it. :(

The best thing about this conference was that after breaking out for different sessions we all gathered back together to share what had been discussed in each group. I’ve never done this at a conference and I thought it was a great way to walk out with as much to think about as possible.

So, what is the next newsroom going to be like? We don’t really know. There are so many aspects to consider, from roles and structure to physical space to technology. I’m still trying to remember names, Web sites, and ideas, gathering all my notes off of napkins, stray paper and boarding passes.

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Nextnewsroom: college media innovation

Facilitated by Kathleen Sullivan

How do we build in opportunities for trying new things?

How do student journalists balance work and classes?

How do we manage more (with only so much staff)? Where can you scale back, where can you do more?

Different deadline realities, diff sources for content, what can be delegated and what can’t?

Teamwork for stories instead of individual ownership?

The story doesn’t end when it goes to print. You can have all sorts of discussions online.

Build in-house wiki(s) to avoid starting over with new staff

Google 20% project time

Additional platforms = additional people, so ppl get territorial. How do you solve that problem?

Aside: Livestreaming is so cool!

Get interdisciplinary staff, not just j-students.

What can you make into a product (low-hanging fruit)?