LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


The Future of Local News: Available Today. Watch this Space.

timthumb.phpIt's so easy in the run-and-gun world of local news to be far withdrawn from the academic and wonky talk of the future.  Especially now that you don't get to tool around in the station car with your photog trying to sneak off to the mall to get a little shopping done while "checking out a tip."  These days, your photog's got his own story to shoot, write and edit.

But trust me.  While the managers in your newsroom may be telling you it's belt-tightening time and that Action News will find a way to survive the bleak times and return to Number One, there's an army of creative media gurus (many with exactly no background in the Way We Do Things) who are redefining what local news may look like for consumers five years from now, ten years from now, or, in some spots, this afternoon.

In my tireless pursuit to keep you ahead of the curve whether you like it or not, I'll be rubbing elbows with these forward-thinkers today in New York, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where some of the brightest minds of new news modeling will gather at a forum--okay, a "HyperCamp" as the kids call conferences these days--entitled "New Business Models for (Local) News."

I'll report back to you here on what I discover.  But hey, in a get-your-feet-wet experiment in new news models, why not join me at the HyperCamp right now?  I'll be on Twitter and sending out the best stuff I can shoehorn into 140 characters.  Follow me at @standupkid for live updates through the day.  And I'd love to get your questions as well to direct to some of the smarty pants speakers.  (As soon as I know the hashtag for today's event, I'll tweet that)

I'd love to have some LocalNews readers with me for this.  It's our future that's on the table.  There's no reason not to get excited about it.  And since your news director insisted that you tweet all damn day, why not make it work for you?


On the Links: Content Matters, Going "Viral," and Out-Tweeting the Competition

OntheLinksThe New York Times reports on its website today that a hacker claims to have accessed internal documents from Twitter that indicate the company's expected growth:  reaching 350 million users by 2011, and ultimately becoming the first Web service to claim a billion users.  And to think, your news director still doesn't "get it."

Here's what I'd tell you if I was your coach:  forget out of touch managers and change-resistant reporters (remember all the bitching about going nonlinear?) and make sure you are actively participating in a platform that could quadruple in size by next year (to 100 million users, according to the hacker, identified as "Hacker Croll" (he's always been reliable, hasn't he?).

Need more incentive?

baGordon Borrell, writing on his Borrell Associates Blog, says follow the money:  Local Ads Moving to Social Networks. "We just did an assessment of advertising placed on social networking sites and were surprised to find that nearly 20% of all ad spending is by local businesses," Borrell reports.  It total numbers, it's not big.  But the trend is important.  In fact, Borrell says watch Facebook, where 74% of ad revenues are from local businesses.

kndx_fox26_bismarckTVNewsday Editor Harry Jessell's been having some very interesting conversations of late, and this one is worth a look:  Save Stations with Programming, Retrans.  The interview, with John Tupper, owner of FOX affiliate KNDX-KXND/Minot-Bismarck, ND, makes the case that it's not the economy killing stations, and it's not even the internet.  Tupper, who's chair of the FOX affiliate group, goes old-school:  It's the Content, Stupid.

picture-4I recently signed on as a freelancer at The Daily Beast, and in addition to the appropriate tax forms and payment info, I received a one-sheet entitled, Tips for Going Viral.  Now, if you hit this site with any regularity, you know I'm all about the links and all about spreading content around.  The Beast's advice is nothing new, but worth repeating:  link, link, link.  Add RSS feeds of your stories to your personal website.  Post links on Facebook.  And yes, use Twitter.

twitter-pic_1369969cSince by now I have hopefully convinced you TwitterResisters to abandon all hope and enter the world of tweets and mini-URLs, check out Patrick Thornton's Leaderboard post on BeatBlogging.org.  The focus is on live tweeting, which Thornton describes, naturally, as "the cousin of live blogging."  (You never did get to live blogging?  Oh, what am I going to do with you?)  If you need a brush-up on hashtags, retweets and embedded Twitter feeds, check out the post, and gain the wisdom of Tracie Mauriello at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Nick Martin at Heat City.


Dispatch from the Frontlines: Ann Nyberg

n1086603983_8700I'm fairly certain one of the following two things is true:  either Ann Nyberg never sleeps, or she has a staff of Twitterers, Facebookers and emailers who scan the world's news second by second, sifting for journalism and new media gold and then immediately firing links off to her followers with short notes like "this is worth a look."

Invariably, the things Ann Nyberg finds "worth a look" truly are.  And in a Seesmic Desktop world of nonstop shortened links flooding column after column, that's really saying something.  Ann's one of the smart people I've found through blogging and Twittering, and we share an interest--a passion, really--for answering that question:  "what next?"

When somebody answers that question, if it's not Ann herself, she'll be standing very closeby, and count on it--she'll be the first to Tweet the rest of us the answer.

DISPATCH FROM THE FRONTLINES:  Ann Nyberg, Main Anchor, WTNH-TV, New Haven

Okay so here goes, my first blog post for Mark Joyella, God I hope this is coherent. I, along with his new wife, Tiffanie, happen to think Mark is brilliant at trying to figure out what is next for news, media, content, whatever it's going to be called for the foreseeable future. Mark allowed me into his life thru Facebook...what a tool that is turning out to be.

As TV news, under its current model began to collapse in earnest last fall, I started following Mark's LocalNewser blog and was immediately plugged in to what he was trying to achieve. Mark was, is trying to make headway into a changing world and stay viable and true to the field he loves. Unlike so many who have spent their lives telling stories, Mark "quit" his job at his Miami, Florida TV station to marry the woman of his dreams. So smart, on Mark's part--personal satisfaction comes first, always first.

Ike:  The Rainmaker

Ike: The Rainmaker

I'm a television News Anchor Reporter for WTNH-TV...I've been in the business for 30 years, my career has taken me from Indiana, to Oklahoma, to Connecticut. Yep, I was raised in Indiana but was actually born in San Angelo, Texas in a quonset hut for God's sake on Goodfellow Air Force Base. During the time of my birth there In January of 1957, President Eisenhower came to call on the Air Force Base during a severe drought in West Texas...shortly after he left it began to rain....not sure if he hovered over my crib...but perhaps that was the beginning of my "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" kind of attitude.

At any rate...figuring out what's next...right, that's where I was. As I watched Mark online, in my own head I felt this huge push to do something, anything, to figure out how to help all the marvelous media types in print and TV and others lying on the side of the road, as I described it...laid off just wanting to put pen to paper or mic to hand. A vast amount of writers, gone silent, couldn't stand that notion, never will. I have said, if news doesn't thrive in this country we could be looking at a "police state." Though that  sounds rather out-on-a-limb...it happens...slowly...but it happens. Local stories aren't told, corruption rears its head, you know the drill. Iran.

So, what to do, my first notion was to start a think tank...bring together journalists to talk about how to fix this...just get the conversation going. Facebook allowed me to do that, to contact people I didn't even know and say,"hey, let's start talking." It worked because others were feeling the same way. For lack of a better name, but one that I thought sounded fun, WTNH-TV Sports Director, Noah Finz, suggested "Let's Get This Party Started."

Since I'm rather an "Auntie Mame" sort, that title was splendid I thought, and so with that title I sought out members. After mulling my idea over a bit I decided, in this new world, that the group needed to be fuller, more diverse, richer, more minds from other disciplines to obtain as many ideas as possible. Once again I reached out on Facebook and hit others with my idea. Our brain trust is now, journalists, an author, an architect, techies, an events planner, marketing specialists, entrepreneurs, a banker etc...no, no candlestick maker yet...but who knows.


This is in no way reinventing the wheel...but it's a start at really pushing the envelope for ourselves individually and as a group...we are loyal to each other--that is part of the mission. Banding together like this feels like there is a safety net for all of us, perhaps an extended family.  After a first meeting, our Yale architect said...I think we should call this group "Navigating Change" ...and so we are now "Navigating Change, Media Think Tank." You will find us on a fan page on Facebook under that name. We have a logo now too.

We have had a second meeting and a third is now being planned. Who knows how many titles we may have, but we have started something in this very democratic group to make a difference and navigate change for who knows how many.

Stay tuned.


And Now, at the Risk of Sounding Insane, Let Me Say It: All is Well

Yes, It Does Look Bad.  No, We're Not Doomed.

Yes, It Does Look Bad. No, We're Not Doomed.

It's going to be okay. One way or another, we will all be fine. Take a moment and let that sink in.

Now, sure, yes. Spend a day in a newsroom--TV or newspaper, doesn't matter--and you'll find most people are just not in the "it's okay" mode right now. The news at the top of nytimes.com at this moment? "G.M. Notifying 1,100 Dealers That They Will Be Dropped." That's 1,100 fewer sources of revenue for local television stations across the country, and not exactly the gust of desperately needed fresh air the sales folk were lighting candles and praying for. And yet, today, I insist, it will be okay.

Ariane de Bonvoisin's new book, "The First 30 Days," suggests that times of change happen--because we either make the change or, in local news these days, it's made for us. And yeah, that's scary. When P. Kim Bui was laid off last year, she feared for more than just her career: "When I got laid off, my whole world crashed. Journalism was and is my life. This is what I was meant to do and all of a sudden, I had someone telling me I could no longer work."  And she's not the only one, not by a long shot.  I received a lot of supportive feedback for my recent post about the loss of a my journalist's identity and the fear that I might never get it back.

Ariane de Bonvoisin:  "The First 30 Days"

Ariane de Bonvoisin: "The First 30 Days"

Ariane de Bonvoisin argues "life is on our side," and that if you can get through the first 30 days, you can not only survive, but thrive. "The first few days and weeks are often the hardest, most emotional time. It's when we have the most questions, emotions, doubts and fears, and when decisions need to be made. This is also the time when we are most in need of direction, information and support."

Direction, information, and support rarely comes in the pile of paperwork HR hands you on your way out the door.  It can come in the form of loving support from friends and family, and with the help of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it can come from social media connections and networking. There is power in talking and brainstorming.  It can also come more directly from a coach.

Coaching, in this case, does not mean picking up the phone, calling your agent and bitching about the lack of leads, the loss of work, and the generally sucky state of the business.  And it's not necessarily surfing the couch at your therapist's office.

It can be refreshing a resume that's looking a little too, well, 1999.  Deborah Brown-Volkman, a coach to senior corporate executives, says "no one is going to give you a chance to explain yourself. If you want a job, it’s up to you to prove that you can do it. Your resume is your proof." And if you're trying to translate a reporter's skill set to a new line of work, like PR or social media, re-writing your resume to make your case will be critical.  A little professional help couldn't hurt.

As Brian Curtis at KXAS/Dallas reported this month, an executive coach can help you reinvent yourself by developing a personal brand beyond the "guy/girl from the news" and, as Curtis writes, "understanding who you are and what you need."

Julia Stewart

Julia Stewart

A coach can help you leap from what you know--to what you never thought possible. As coach Julia Stewart puts it: "your skills are just as valuable as ever - maybe more so - the need for your skills is just showing up differently."  Stewart says the trick in coaching laid off journalists is getting past the past--and to the future.  "I might shift the conversation away from what's being lost to what you really want. That's usually where the opportunities are and there are probably more opportunities than ever for journalists.  Or I might ask, what do you see as the biggest problem that the media has and how could you help fix it? Or what does the world/your
community/your family/etc need most and how could you help with that?  After the big questions, you can narrow down to actual opportunities and that's where it gets fun."

Maybe it's the dream you put off--and off--because you couldn't break away from what always seemed like a pretty decent gig: bigshot TV reporter or anchor or news director.  "But I'm Channel 7's..." Well, now you're not.  So what are you? Maybe it's time to get back to that crazy dream.  What was it?

P. Kim Bui: Loss, then a New Direction

For P. Kim Bui, it was a move onto the internet, though she made the move without the help of a coach.  "I write a lot about feeling lost in my own journals and I wonder if having someone to help me think things through would help. It definitely would have helped with my initial panic and depression."  Those feelings, coaches like Stewart say, are absolutely part of the process:  "Self image can be the biggest hurdle and it can take some time to get over it. It's not unusual to feel grief over something like this, although it may show up as anger or depression."

I had a chance the other day to spend some time with a Coney Island sword swallower and fire eater. Not a personal or professional coach by any stretch. But she helped me see something nonetheless.  If I sat down--by myself--and tried to think my way from reporting local news to eating fire, I'd never get it done.  I could read a thousand books on the process and the history and the economic upside, but when it got down to the nitty gritty--the you know, eating-the-fire part, well, that might've been a problem.  As it was, I needed the one-on-one stop-thinking-and-just-give-it-a-try motivation to actually light that thing and put the flame in my mouth. The result:  euphoria.

The Power of Coaching:  a Journalist Learns to Eat Fire

The Power of Coaching: a Journalist Learns to Eat Fire

I did it twice more. The rush came in part from doing something I would have--on my own--thought my way out of trying.  My coach, covered in tattoos and ever so patient, showed me I had a talent inside I never knew was there.

We're all going through massive change.  We will find our new paths.  Some of us will even create the new model of local news and become very, very rich. Others will just hit the jackpot by discovering ourselves. Whatever:  All is well.


Local Newsers: You've Heard "Feed the Web." But Beware Throwing It Scraps.

KMSP/Minneapolis:  Great Story On TV, Not So Hot Online

KMSP/Minneapolis: Great Story On TV, Not So Hot Online

If you're working at a local news station worth anything, part of your job these days includes reporting for the 5:00, 6:00 and maybe the 11:00 and filing a version of your story for the station website.  Maybe you remember, as I do, the emphasis put on this part of the job by your news director in memo after memo after threatening memo:  "you must file a story with the web before your day is over," etc.

Some of us take this multiplatforming as a way to reach new audiences and flex new writing muscles (I, for one, love translating my broadcast voice into "print" format for the web, even if sometimes, it seems like rolling a boulder up a hill while riding in a livetruck back to the station at the end of a long day.  (Oh man...what was the name of the hotdog vendor we interviewed at noon?) What about leaving the job to an overworked web editor? Ah, my friend, beware.

For that part of today's life lesson, we turn the blog over to WCCO's Jason DeRusha, who not only worked for broadcast and filed for the web, but also responded to a Brooklyn blogger's last-minute request for a guest post. And he offers some damn solid insight into the risks and rewards of telling your story--and keeping control of your story--across all platforms.  If you're banging out the web version as an afterthought, or leaving it to someone else, you're playing with your own reputation.


As a guy who started in Davenport, Iowa in 1997, my job was clear. I was a television news reporter. My job was to go find out stuff and put it on TV. Maybe I'd write a VOSOT for 10, or the morning news. But that was it.

Today, my job is to do work across multiple platforms. I blog, I have webcam a at my desk, I Tweet and I turn my nightly TV news report "Good Question" into a story that can live on the web.

Writing my story for online publication may be the most important and least appreciated part of my job. I learned this a couple years ago, when a Google search of my name turned up a Pacific Business News article ripping me for a story I did where I supposedly referred to Hawaii as the "big island." I did no such thing, on the air. But the online version of my story, published under my byline (and written by a web producer), got it wrong.

Fox 9s Story on Twitter: Great on TV. Online: FAIL.

I bring this up, because a local Minneapolis Fox station took a great deal of heat online for the text version of a perfectly fine TV story. They should have expected that a story on Twitter would get a lot of attention on Twitter. The story I watched on the air was a perfectly nice introduction to Twitter. It was well-written and well produced. The story online was not. No links to the people in the story. No quotes from anyone in the story. With no disrespect intended toward the person who probably had to post two dozen stories that night, it appeared to be written by a child. The story was annihilated online: with Tweets like this: "That Fox Twitter story reads like a piece on the CB Radio craze submitted to me in 1976 when I edited the 6th grade paper." Not good.

At WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, several years ago management decided that reporters and field producers would write their own stories for the web. We had seminars, reminding us that writing for the web is different. Online readers expect you to get to the point right away. On-air, you might build your story to a climactic point. Online readers expect you to cite your sources, specifically. Online readers expect you to link to source material.

WCCO's DeRusha: Live on the Street, Live at his Desk


Some of us are pretty good at this, others need quite a bit of editing. But the web producers can work on editing, rather than trying to figure out what we were talking about when the TV script reads, "SOT: In: bob went.... OUT: pizza parlor." At first, I hated writing my web scripts. It jams more work into the end of my work day. Now, I love it. I love adding the extra information that I had to leave out because of time. I love the challenge of coming up with a provocative headline to attract viewers. And I'm proud of the fact that when people link to my stories, they get a well-written story, under my name, and under my station's brand.

If you wonder about the value of a well-written web story, go to your web team and ask to see some web traffic statistics. I'll bet you the text versions of stories get at least ten times more views than the corresponding videos. And unlink the television story that went out into the ether and disappeared, your online version will live nearly forever. So make it count.


WUSA/DC Local Newser Puts Himself on "Permanent Furlough" via Blistering Resignation Letter

Alan Henney said what others clearly felt:  something's changed--and not for the better--at WUSA/DC.  "We are doing less news gathering these days and more information posting," Henney writes in a memo to the WUSA news staff posted on DCRTV.  "Somebody needs to be driving the news machine at all times, actively pursuing news leads. We’ve lost our focus."

WUSA, as most who follow the evolution of local TV news already know, recently replaced traditional news crews with one-man-bands, and converted its newsroom into an "information center" devoted to fast-paced, multiplatform news production:  getting the story told fast, in a variety of ways, from Twitter, to blogging, and sometimes even on a regular old newscast.

Henney, a weekend assignment editor at Channel 9, says the "shock and awe" digital campaign has come at a cost in the most basic of places:  doing the news.  "WUSA frequently lacks the discussion that is vital to the success of a vibrant news operation and falls into this model. Many of us are reluctant to say anything, and the suggestion box on the first floor is not enough. The consultants and out-of-touch corporate management have ruined the newscasts with repetitive Web clutter, endless sidebar packages, and their preoccupation with the Internet. You won’t find a blog anywhere that will generate enough revenue to support a news operation of this size, there are simply too many. We’ve heard regular speak of “Web Winners,” but what ever happened to the “News Winners?” A dying breed?"

Web Alert:  Is Anybody Doing the News?

Web Alert: Is Anybody Doing the News?

Henney's letter has sparked a massive debate on the dcrtv site, and among DC local newsers.  It's an important discussion, and sadly sparked by a man who felt his only option was to walk out, leaving the weekend desk after nearly a decade.  "Any corporation that allows employees to blog as an excuse for not reporting to work on time is not an organization with which I want to be associated. Effective immediately, I am placing myself on permanent furlough from the Gannett Corp," he wrote.

DC newsers:  if you've watched the content coming from the Info Center, do you agree?  Has WUSA traded reporting for Twittering?  Can stations successfully do both?


And Now, It's My Story to Tell As Well


My Last Liveshot for WPLG

Last night, toward the end of WPLG/Miami's 6:00 newscast, I did a live package on Twitter, the hot social media platform, and how the station intends to use it to engage viewers.  

I'd been pushing to make Twitter a bigger part of the newsroom's daily life for a few months, after seeing the power of the site to connect with people in Miami and around the world;  many with excellent connections, ideas, and stories. I also believe that getting up to speed with Twitter makes local tv newsers more competitive in an increasingly difficult economic environment that's putting so many talented people out of work.

Fittingly, my story on Twitter was my last as a reporter at WPLG.  I wasn't laid off, and I wasn't fired.  Last fall, I approached my news director, Bill Pohovey to ask out of the remaining two years of my contract.  I had no new job, and no issues with the station.  I've been proud to be associated with WPLG and Post-Newsweek, and have benefitted from working alongside some of the most amazing journalists in the business, both in front of, and behind the camera.  My decision was personal:  I'm getting married.

My fiancee, Tiffanie Wong, also has a TV job she loves, as a technical director at CNN in New York. That's home for both of us, and despite months of trying to sell a Brooklyn girl on the South Florida lifestyle, it became clear I would be moving.  And so, on Friday, I will.  I'm packing up and heading North, two dogs and a cat in tow, and becoming one of the many reporters, anchors, writers, producers and managers who never imagined a climate like this--more stations firing than hiring--but facing the cold reality of it.  I don't know if yesterday's story will be my last, not just at WPLG, but period.

Getting a Taste of Multiplatform Reporting on a Bus to the Obama Inauguration in DC, with WPLG Photographer Mario Alonso

New York's going through a horrific period of layoffs and cutbacks, and as my fantastic agent has put it to me bluntly, there isn't any work, and there is a phenomenal amount of talent sitting on the sidelines ready to jump at anything that opens up.  

My friend and former WNYW colleague Jodi Applegate jumped at a job anchoring the news at News 12 on Long Island. Asa Aarons, forever a consumer reporter at WNBC, has hired on at NY1. Jobs that once would have been "beneath" us are now seen as life rafts in seas that threaten to swallow us up.  

It's scary.  My agent calls to "check on me" and tell me that no, nothing much is happening.  (Other than clients being laid off and let go)  I troll the job listings and send resumes, and find lots of not much.  I send resumes anyway, sometimes sending applications to listings that sound digital and interesting, even if I don't fully understand what it is that the job entails.

And at the same time, I'm excited.  The business is changing.  I can stay in my comfortable, well-compensated job, wait for the wave to hit in Miami, and lose the woman I want to marry, or--I can take the leap.  And the net, as they say, will appear.


WTNH's Ann Nyberg:  One of the Smart People

WTNH's Ann Nyberg: One of the Smart People

I am so damn curious where I will land.  I don't think it will be at a television station.  I don't know that I'll even be on camera. Fortunately, I've never been one of those get-a-reversal-and-a-two-shot-walking-down-the-hallway-and-make-sure-I-get-my-facetime reporters.  I'm a storyteller. I just love telling good stories.  And more than ever before, I believe storytelling's not in danger. Local tv news the way I've always known it is.  For years I've had the job of my dreams, meeting people, crafting packages, and getting to air them on TV.  Every day a different challenge.  Now, I think my dream is evolving, as much as my life is.

Will I end up in PR?  If I can't find a paycheck, I'll definitely look into it. Will I try to shoot my own stories and find an audience for them? You bet I will.  Will I keep a close watch on the smart people I'm meeting on Twitter and elsewhere--people like Ann Nyberg in Connecticut and Matthew Roberts in Denver--to see which way they think the wind is blowing? Oh you can bet your life on it.

And I'll still be right here.  I'm loving writing about this career I've had--and one way or another, will continue to have--and how it's changing, at times so painfully.  The blog (oh Lord, if only I could get paid to write all day!) will grow and be a place to share not just how others are responding to being out of work, but now, how I am, too.

I hope you'll be here with me.  I know this is going to be interesting.  And hey, no matter what happens:  I got the girl!

Life Calls--Even at the Worst Time to Leave a Job in Local TV History (Photo of Tiffanie and I in San Francisco by Anna Kuperberg)

Life Calls--Even at the Worst Time to Leave a Job in Local TV History (Photo of Tiffanie and Me by Anna Kuperberg/See more of Anna's amazing work at www.kuperberg.com)


Just Saying No to Social Media? That Could Hurt Your Local News Career

Need one more piece of evidence that knowing social media's increasingly part of being in the media?  Well, Twitter-resister, listen up:  "Learn to organize and socialize," writes Deborah Potter on her Advancing the Story blog.  Potter argues in a shrinking pool of local TV news jobs, people who have multimedia skills have the edge, no matter how good your walk-and-talk liveshots are:  "In the digital journalism context, it means knowing how to organize information from a variety of sources and how to push information out via social media, from Digg to Twitter and beyond."

The Poynter Institute's Joe Grimm says with so many experienced journalists competing for fewer and fewer jobs, the folks doing the hiring want that "something extra," and the newsers who have it get the gigs:  "Increasingly, recruiters are looking for that X factor, X being for extra. What can you do in addition to your base skills? Can you make a slideshow, gather audio, shoot video? Can you help us grow?"

Mike Elgan:  Loves Twitter, Hates "Bad TV News"

Mike Elgan: Loves Twitter, Hates "Bad TV News"

And then there's Mike Elgan's argument:  social media, more and more, does news better than old media do:  "Almost every day, I take a break or two from my PC, where I'm constantly monitoring social media, and I check out CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news or, if it's the right time of day, the network news on ABC, CBS and NBC. I'm always appalled by what I see on TV news. It's pathetic."

Elgan says local and cable newsers are trying social media, but not in ways that take advantage of the immediacy and power of the emerging social media platforms.  It's worth a read.  And one more argument to at least go and get on Twitter.  With the other guy Twittering his brains out making connections and finding stories, you're truly hurting yourself by sitting on the sidelines.

But hey.  Use your best judgment.


I Give You a Hot Tip, You Flatter Me in Public: That Something You Might Be Interested In?

Seen This Before? If Not, It's Time to Get On the Twitter Stick

As a career reporter, I'm just not in the habit of surrendering information except in the form of stories, hopefully the kind that grab viewers' attention, and send assignment editors and managers at competing stations into fits of swearing and desk-kicking as their run to their Nextels to scream at their reporters, asking why they didn't get what I just had.  (Happens mostly in dreams, but it's still a nice feeling)

At any rate, I'm willing to reveal an insider's goldmine to all you local newsers who, maybe like me, agonize about the morning meeting and the inevitable glare of the news director with his, "and what've you got to offer today?"  Lately, I've had more to bring to the table.  And I'm going to tell you how I've done it.  And yeah, snarky tech-resisters, it involves Twitter.  So if you can't handle that, just scroll on down and look at the pretty pictures of news choppers.

But before I go into detail, there's a catch.  I'm going to want something in return.  So, to quote Bob Ryan on HBO's "Entourage," is that something you might be interested in?  If so, read on.

On Monday nights, for the Twitterati who find themselves suddenly putting ampersands before people's names out of Twitter habit, the gathering known as #journchat has become a crowded, rowdy, and deeply informative experience.  Journalists, PR pros, and bloggers gather in on Twitter to ask questions of each other--to say, in essense, hey, give me hand here, what are YOU people all about?  The Q&A brings down walls and leads to a lot of common ground, funny lines, and--get this--story ideas.

Is That Something You Might Be Interested In?

"Is That Something You Might Be Interested In?"

If you've ever read a press release (and we all have) and wondered, "who the hell writes this crap," well, an hour or two talking free-form and no-holds-barred with PRs can be revealing.  Many of them just don't know what journos want or need.  You like phone calls or emails?  I recently griped about the hit-every-email-in-box-in-the-damn-newsroom syndrome with a "just between you and me" story pitch.  You go in, you say, "hey, I heard from somebody..." and stop when the other reporters smirk and eventually say in unison, "we got that email too."  FAIL.

Anyway, my advice to you:  get on the Twitter, and check it out. (And while you're there, don't forget to follow me: www.twitter.com/standupkid)

Now.  Payback.  Next Monday, #journchat's taking nominees for a guest moderator.  I think it's time a local newser took the helm for a night, and with your help, I.  Can.  Be.  That.  Man.  All I ask?  Comment on this post and let the world know why I'm (just talking points here--you know, to guide your thinking) witty, smart, fair, and profoundly gifted at anticipating the changes roiling the world of local tv news--and PR.  Or something like that.

The deadline is Wednesday.  A raft of rave comments will--hopefully--show a groundswell of support for me as the next moderator du jour.  So, you know, throw a guy a bone.  If you want.  I'd appreciate it.  And even if you don't, come join #journchat next Monday and learn some new stuff about PR, tv news, blogging and social media that might help you keep your job for another week or so.

So.  Tell me.  Is that something you might be interested in?


Twitter Resisters of the Local News World, Sit Down. Breathe. Read This.

Don't Panic. Be Like Capt. Sully.

There's a sense in local newsrooms around the country that the economy's so bad and jobs are so vulnerable that "now's not the time to try new things!" This stubborn, panic-fueled sense of shock reminds me of the refreshing calm that radiated from US Airways Capt. Sully Sullenberger in his gripping 60 Minutes interview. It all happened in 90 seconds. The mighty bird that just can't be simply knocked out of the sky, suddenly was, and the crew had two options--soil themselves or try something new.

It sounds a lot like local news managers and GMs. The bird that was so strong--the local affiliate that reliably printed money since the dawn of time--is suddenly falling out of the sky at an alarming rate. Passengers are screaming "we're all going to die" back there, and it feels like a lot of managers are just staring at the cockpit controls repeating a mantra: "the car dealers will advertise again...the car dealers will advertise again." But even when they do, things will have changed. The financial model, the way consumers get their info, it's all changing, mighty bird or no mighty bird.

Some are trying new things. In DC, Lane Michelsen and Patrick O'Brien are crafting an Information Center out of what was one of the most old-school of old-school stations, WUSA. Reporters provide for multiple platforms, Channel 9 hits its followers with Tweets, and you get the sense these guys stay at work late thinking, "what else? what are we not thinking of?"

Steve Safran/Media Reinvent

Steve Safran/Media Reinvent

So for those of you who still aren't even sure about Facebook (don't get me started, In mentioning to a friend that my engagement pictures were up on Facebook, and he should have a look, he told me he didn't have time for Facebook, couldn't I just show him the pictures? Huh? Like I carry them around in a paper envelope like it's 1978?) and for those of you who twitter at the mere mention of Twitter, Steve Safran at AR&D has assembled a gentle, it-won't-get-in-your-eyes-Mommy-loves-you post on "10 things to try right now that are cheap or free." He writes: "Here are ten things you can implement in your newsroom right now, cheap or free, that will improve workflow, Website performance or both."

What's the harm in just reading it? So sit down, take a breath. Take another. And click the link. Oh, sorry. You know the words that have lines underneath them? If you put your cursor (the think on the screen that moves around when you touch the mouse) over those words and click, you see the article. It's like magic! Anyway, click through and read. And don't freak when you see that Twitter is idea number 1: "Get several staffers on this."

A good, sensible read. You might learn something.