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What it takes to make hyperlocal journalism work

AOL’s decision to close or sell unprofitable Patch sites and lay off staffers has renewed attention to hyperlocal journalism in recent weeks.

Dr. Michelle Ferrier, associate dean for innovation, research/creative activity and graduate studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, is tracking how the Patch changes have affected the hyperlocal news landscape. She has done research and writing on hyperlocal news throughout the years and has a lot of ideas about what it takes to make this type of journalism work.

She shared some of her ideas in a live chat, which you can replay here:

 

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Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013

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How to write longform stories

You knew it was only a matter of time until the author of “How to Write Short” would turn his attention to “How to Write Long.”

It turns out that long and short writing are not necessarily in conflict. Think for a moment about your favorite magazines. Compared to newspapers, the long stories in magazines are longer, and the shorter pieces are shorter. It’s the combination of short and long that make a publication versatile for readers.

Although I’ve met some writers who tell me “I want to write shorter,” that is the exception.  Most writers I know — including me — want to go longer. The daily beat reporter wants to do a Sunday feature. The Sunday feature writer wants to do a series. A series writer wants to do a book. The book author wants to do a trilogy.

If you have had any of these aspirations and want tips on how to write longform pieces, replay out chat:

 

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Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013

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How journalists can build powerful brands

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, this chat has been postponed. We are rescheduling it and will update this post once we’ve determined a new date.

In today’s career chat, we’ll talk with Dan Schawbel, author of the just-published, “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success.” Schawbel is also author of “Me 2.0″ and founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm.

From 3 to 4 p.m. ET, we will talk about what a career brand is — and is not — and how journalists can develop brands that make them unique in the marketplace. Strong journalistic brands do for people what they do companies; they lead to greater reach and opportunity.

Twitter users can ask questions ahead of time using the hashtag #poynterchats. You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat after it has ended.

 

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Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013

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Are you a happy writer or a sad writer?

Yesterday was a happy day for me as a writer after I received an enthusiastic review of my new book “How to Write Short.”

But what if it had been a negative review, or a hostile review, or an insulting review? I would like to think that it still would have been a happy writing day. But how is that possible? It’s because I’ve finally reached a point where my self-worth as a writer is not determined by the reaction of others: not editors, not readers, not critics.

Of course, such reaction “influences” my feelings, but it does not “determine” them.

To apply some of the principles of cognitive psychology to the writing craft, here are some of our emotional responses that I now think are “cognitive distortions”:

  • “An editor changed my story, proof that I cannot do good work on my own.”
  • I’ve received a dozen rejections on this book manuscript; I must be a terrible writer.
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Thursday, Aug. 08, 2013

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Tips for writing short and well

With official publication date three weeks away, I am happy to hold in my hand the first copy of my latest book: “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.”

I have never had more fun writing a book, and I hope it shows. During a writing chat, I offered a practical preview of the writing strategies described in the book.

I’ve learned a lot about short writing over the last three years and want to share that knowledge widely — especially at a time when good short writing is more in demand than ever before.

Tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, text messages — all these newer forms of expression have brought short writing into the foreground. That said, the Internet is a bottomless pit, a container for some of the longest, emptiest pieces of writing in human history.

In our online chat we:

  • Discussed the best ways to learn good short writing.
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Tuesday, Aug. 06, 2013

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How journalists can become more familiar with programming

In our latest career chat, we talked with Michelle Minkoff and Nathan Griffiths, two interactive producers from the Associated Press.

They talked about how all journalists can become more familiar with programming and play a bigger role in creating interactive content. The work can take a couple directions: One is to collaborate more with developers, (something Minkoff has written about before for Poynter.org); the other is to actually learn some programming skills. Minkoff and Griffiths will offer advice for people wanting to take either direction and will answer your questions.

You can replay the chat here:

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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How to boost your narrative journalism skills, experience

In today’s career chat, we talked with Joe Donnelly, executive editor of Mission and State — a site that aims to deliver “powerful, deeply reported, richly experienced narratives” from Santa Barbara, Calif. The site features investigative and explanatory journalism delivered on multimedia platforms.

During the chat, Donnelly talked about how narratives are told now, how journalists can grow their narrative skills, and where they can get published. Donnelly is the founding publisher and co-editor of the longform journal Slake: Los Angeles and was the deputy editor of LA Weekly.

You can replay the chat here:

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

girl writing at table by pen and ink indoor in summer day with s

How to practice ‘escapist writing’ this summer

It’s a standard of American culture that we use the summer for both enrichment and escape. On the sour end are high school students who receive a recommended summer reading list. On the sweet side are those opportunities to head for the beach with that trashy mystery or romance novel tucked into our canvas bag next to the sun screen.

If we eliminated summer, John Grisham would go broke.

But wait a minute. If we are allowed and encouraged to indulge in escapist reading, why can’t we use the dog days of summer as a time for escapist writing?

Escape from what?

  • Escape from writing from an objective distance to write something personal.
  • Escape from journalism by writing in a new genre, say poetry or fiction.
  • Escape from conventional forms of reporting, by writing a radically different version of a traditional story.

I just looked up the word “escape” and see that it derives from the Latin and means to “get out from under one’s cape.” That is, to feel the freedom of throwing off your conventional garments to try something new. Read more

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

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What journalists need to know about changes in investigative reporting

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist John Sullivan has a unique hybrid position that is pushing the conventions of how reporting gets done. Recently, he was jointly hired by Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University and The Washington Post.

That alliance allows him to bring investigative reporting training to the classroom and bring university resources to the Post.

During this week’s career chat, Sullivan talked about inventive new strategies that sustain investigative reporting and offer tips for those who are already doing investigative reporting and those who want to do more of it.

You can replay the chat here:

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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How photojournalists can improve their job security

The Chicago Sun-Times’ decision to lay off its entire photo staff raises important questions about how photographers can keep themselves in high demand. During this week’s career chat, we talked with Jeff Knox, senior director of photography at the Chicago-area Daily Herald and president of the Associated Press Photo Managers.

Knox talked about how photojournalists can fireproof their career — by creating new opportunities for themselves, developing new skills and increasing their ability to adapt to changes.

You can replay the chat here:

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