Friday, October 14, 2005

One more

Allow me one last thing..I have been meaning to post this for a while but between the move and the holidays it got away from me.

I have been thinking about my future in this industry. I want to become indispensable at work, as per your suggestion. So, as soon as the move is complete, I'm ready to start.

Editing, producing, the works.....I want to ensure future job security somehow.

I'd also like to sit down with you and HR and discuss the health insurance thing.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Closing the door, quietly

I was going to do this offline, but I figured it would be appropriate to blog it instead. I think we've come to the end of the blog experiment. You and I are using this less and less, so it seems sensible to end the blog now. This is in no way a reflection of anything at work -- if anything, I think it has been a successful way to launch a working relationship. We got to communicate in an open forum for your initiation.

The open door is never closed. I think you've seen I am always open to discussion and the exchange of ideas.

So this door closes, but another opens. Good work.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogmedia

A friend of mine (who is not in the media/news/TV business) recently asked me where do blogs belong in the media world? Does having a blog make you a journalist?

Part of me thinks that anyone can write an influential article and as long as all the sources and facts check out it doesn't matter what media they created it for. This happens in academia when someone publishes a 'scientific' paper in a peer journal and might be asked to adapt it for the New York Times Magazine. Or one can be a traditional journalist and simply cut and paste an article they wrote onto their own blog (as Esther sometimes teases us with her clips ). Or you could be the anchor of a national news show and sometimes blog and no one will think that you are less of a journalist for doing so.

I am beginning to think that an area where bloggers are making more of an impact is in the op-ed area. As Jay Rosen points out, there is not necessarily an editor or fact checker or researcher for every blogger who fancies himself a critic.

Another thing is that is different with a blog is you, as an author, have an almost instant feedback loop with your audience. Jay Rosen basically states that the essay he posted is a draft and he planned to check the Comments section. he refers to it as 'After Matter: Notes, reactions & links'. I don't really think that Ted Koppel has that option with viewers of Nightline. Neither does Frank Rich- I have to read his column first in the New York Times (paper version).

{Note- I am curious to see what Steve thinks of this, being that he's way more experienced with the Tao of Blogging}

SAFRAN: Oh, it's a long-running argument without an answer, and it's starting to bore me. Asking "Does blogging make you a journalist?" is like asking "Does painting make you an artist?" The answer is: some times. When I paint, I am clearly not an artist. Ditto others with blogging. Remember: there is no such thing as a "blog." Blogging is software used to make a web page. What you do on that page is what matters. I am (clearly) not a news snob, but a couple of things are clear:

1. Blogging no more makes you a journalist than taking an aspirin makes you a doctor. Most blogs link to other stories, which is meta at best. Writing about your own life is not exactly journalism, because you're not trying to get the "other side." And writing opinion is just that: opinion.

1a. Just because you blog, doesn't mean you're going to replace the traditional media. Remember: someone's got to aggregate the millions of pieces of information out there.

2. Rosen is right, in that blogs are terrific for writer/company feedback from our customers. Most companies still don't get that. See: Jarvis v Dell.

3. Bloggers love to talk about blogging. It's getting cult-like. We pat ourselves on the back way, way too much. Some blogs are terrific, some are decent and most are of little value.

4. To answer your friend's question: blogging is a part of the overall world of journalism. Pictures didn't do away with writing, video didn't do away with pictures, and blogging won't take over, either.

Thanks for the input and for adding to ongoing debate about this topic.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Headlines

Typhoon Longwang heading for China

I almost put this headline on the newsticker the other morning...until I realized that we might get nasty phone calls telling us that the station is putting perverted things on the ticker. Did I make the right choice?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Complaints

I'll admit it - the higher up I go in the food chain, the more complaints I hear. Part of that's natural - it's my job, and people should let me know when there are issues. I do my best to resolve them and yes, occasionally I forget or am not especially successful. Still, I get annoyed when presented with a substantial problem but not at least one solution. I can't help but think that this part of my job takes me away from doing what I do best -- just writing the damn story. Funny how the higher up one goes, the further it takes you from your core passion. (Not directed especially at Lyss, and I think you and I should just stop writing that apologia... we're sharing thoughts, not personal attacks.)

LYSS:
Overall, it's better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.
My mom has worked as a social worker for NY state for over 35 years, in fact this is still her first job out of grad school. She's great at what she does and has been asked many times over to move up the food chain to be a supervisor of one kind or another. Not that it means much more money, but she's always refused those offers as she does not want to deal with the politics that come with being management.

Stress

I had an experience this week that reminded me all-too-clearly about the need to relieve stress. I firmly believe stress is unhealthy, and in a very real way. I think most science has caught up to the idea that some people suffer physically from stress-related ailments, and it's not just a matter of "Oh, chill out. What are you worried about?" Stress comes in different guises, and I'm not saying our job is any more or less stressful than others. (Although the deadline thing is always looming overhead.) I am all about learning more about stress abatement and healthier ways of releasing my frustrations. (My current method is to write long, ranting memos to my boss and fume all the time. I'm not a screamer, and I've always thought that was a good thing. Obviously, I'm not going about this correctly.)


LYSS:
Now you can write long rants in this blog so as not to take it out on the powers that be. They have stress too. The memos might only serve to annoy them more and not help. Unless that method has worked well in the past. If so, then keep it up.

I agree with you completely. I have learned in the past few years that exercise really can help, even a little. I always knew that but didn't practice it until my dad got sick. I badly needed something, anything, to ease the tension of spending ten hours a day in a hospital room. I realized I needed something when the pet therapy person of University of Michigan hospital came to me visit me with the dog, not my dad.
Everyone deals with stress differently. I tend to either try to ignore or or I have been known to freak out a bit if there is simply too much piled on all at once.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

News is....

...more emotionally exhausting than I ever imagined. Sure I worked in the newsroom at the last station when they needed help, but those were usually in times of undue stress (blizzard, Election Night, etc...). Maybe my opinion/experience so far has been colored by what has gone on in the world since I began my new job- the Gaza Pullout, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita....

My opinions about what I do and what others who work in news (any kind- newspaper, TV, etc..) do. I am beginning to feel more proud of my job because it enables me to do something to help disseminate information- info that might help someone in a time of need or even just make them laugh when they're having a bad day. This does not mean that I am going to take myself too seriously and start having some sort of ego trip because I am the gatekeeper of some information. But at the end of the day it makes me feel better that I've done my (small) part in the very selfish society that we live in.





SAFRAN: I'm in it for the beer. There is nothing selfish about seeing yourself as a "gatekeeper of information." In fact, I kind of like that analysis. There's a slightly more cynical version of that you will hear around newsrooms, and that is "News is what I say it is." The best that you can do is distill. There is more information out there than ever. And it's up to us to decide what people care about most, what affects their lives most, and what they will enjoy most. Journalism is suffering from a lack of pride; add to the much-needed confidence and you'll feel even more rewarded. Remember: the hardest news days are the slow ones.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What am I?

I had to categorize myself on a form today. The closest applicable title was 'journalist'. Is that appropriate? Am I a journalist? What are the criteria in these days of multi-media internet fabulousness?

While thinking about my impending move to be closer to work I found myself wishing that I could gaze into a crystal ball and see what my (career) future might be. Care to offer up a opinion Steve? I am grateful that you had the confidence to hire me and sometimes wonder if you glimpse something in me that I do not yet see in myself. ..raw talent that needs honing...stuff like that....

SAFRAN: The first (and often only) answer I give to the "What's your job?" question is "I am a journalist." To me, it's the only title that matters. The rest of our titles are ones that few civilians would understand anyway. If I am known as a journalist for the rest of my life, I will be very proud of that.



Of course you have the raw talent. You can improve your writing. That's not a personal critique, per se - we can all improve our writing. I'm convinced I am a B/B+ writer right now, and I want to get the A.



Chill a bit. I think you're looking for too much, too fast. Work the ugly hours, come in as much as you can (even when you don't want to) and make yourself indispensible. I know you'll hate to hear it - but you're young, you're just starting, and there is an awful lot to learn. You can't expect to do it all at once. 15 years in, and I only now feel like I have a grip on the thing - but certainly not perfection. Your news judgement will forever be honed. Your style, your confidence - it never stops. My only advice is one word: LEARN. If there is ever a day where you think you're not learning, do something about it. Bother me, or another manager, or even take it upon yourself. You can't stop learning.



I'm reading books on management style, something I never thought I'd do. To me, management style consists of saying "Do this until it's finished, then go home." Obviously, that's not all that useful. Friendly, perhaps, but not useful to anyone hoping to learn from me or surpass my knowledge. If you ain't learnin', you ain't at the right place. The first question I ask myself in job interviews is "What can these people teach me?" If the answer is "Not much," I don't bother with the rest.

Content wells and ergonomic wish list

1. When the partner site gives us instructions it would be helpful if they could provide screen shots of the Bonzai version of the page, not the final public URL.
Safran:: GOD yes. It's been a bugaboo since the beginning of the relationship. They simply know more about code and Bonzai than we ever will - or ever care to. I've asked them to dumb it down for me.

2. Can we get a new keyboard? The buttons on this one stick, resulting in my pounding on the keyboard, which kills my wrists and fingers. Good ergonomics make for happier and healthier workers.
SAFRAN: I will ask the IT Gods. When they say "No," I'll take you to Staples and buy the damn thing myself.

Thank you.

3. And a trackball? That would help as well.
SAFRAN: Now that's a personal preference thing. I don't like trackballs.

4. An employee lounge with a couch for people to nap on. Like a hospital has for on-call doctors. I can't tell you how many people asked me if we had this upon hearing about my Sunday/Monday schedule.

SAFRAN: And a shower. We really need a shower. Sadly, there is the fear in most newsrooms that a shower would be, ahem, abused. Shame, really, because it would encourage more people to bike to work, exercise at lunch, and it would be a boon to us when news breaks and we work overnight into the next day. If you are ever tired, a short nap goes a long way. I don't know why napping gets a bad rap in our culture - it works wonders. If I ever needed to lie down during an overnight, I got a tech to let me into one of the offices with a desk. Or I just slept on the floor.

The old station had a shower in one of the bathrooms. Leftover from when ti was a jewelry facotry and in case someone needed to get the hazerdous material off of them. Was never abused. Mainly used for people to change into gym clothes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Audience

Steve, I wonder if anyone reads this besides us (and my friends on occasion)?

SAFRAN: Oh, I doubt it. On the other hand, it's still an experiment and I wonder if the goal is to have an audience at all - or simply to improve the boss-employee relationship by communicating this way.

Alyssa's training stunk

And it's my first mea culpa here at The Open Door Policy. Simply put, we did not train Alyssa as well as we should have. A month or so into the gig, and she is still revealing gaps in the knowledge I should have imparted to her. The site had several problems over the weekend, and I blame myself for not preparing her better for that. Lyss: my bad. I apologize and will try to make things clearer.

Lyss:
Thanks for acknowledging the issue. Hopefully we can use it to learn how a few things can change, thus making life easier for everyone in the long run.
I also feel my training was a bit chaotic. Not because you three were bad trainers, but it's tough when you have three people telling you three different ways to do things- some of which vary by a great deal and some only a little. What I feel we need is an S.O.P. for all parts of the job, written down (preferably with many easy to read bullets). That way if one of us has to sub for the other we'll be able to go have ready-to-go instructions.
Ex: Someone (I think J?) wrote out a bunch of instructions for my first morning alone at the station. This was very helpful and made lie easier. I referred to them my first few mornings alone for guidance.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Manic Monday

Whose idea was this crazy late Sunday night to early Monday a.m. shift? It's insane to ask of anyone's body clock. I am now useless on Mondays. I drive home from work (not the safest driver after doing the 80 mile round trip twice in under 24 hours) and crash.
I have a list of things To Do on my desk but I have not done any of them. All I can manage is sit slothfully on the couch most of the day. Sure I'm blogging now but it's because I needed to get this off my chest. I am also apparently rather amusing when overtired, or so I've been told.
I'm all for paying dues, but some things are insane. I had no idea of the reality of how this would wreak havoc on my body clock and in turn my life (ex: undone To Do list). It doesn't help that I do live so far away. I like my house here, it is my home, but I need to be way closer to work.

SAFRAN: Time for Mean Old Boss Man to show his ugly head. And you're dealing with the hardest part of getting started in news - shift work. Overnights and early calls are hideous, awful and take a toll. I had to leave an overnight gig several years ago because it actually put me in a depression. You're amusing when you're overtired - and amusing when you're awake. And you're right - being closer to work will help things and will also mean a safer drive. I once glanced a phone poll while leaving the station's parking lot after an overnight.

Lyss:
This was sort of prompted by my near miss with a fire hydrant off Highland Ave.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

FAQ

All your silly TV News questions answered here.