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Businesswoman stressed out

Overworked and overwhelmed? Consider these 7 questions

If you’re feeling swamped at work these days, you’re not alone. I’m not talking “I don’t get to go out for lunch very often” busy. I mean “I’m buried in work, never fully off the clock and still feel I’m letting people down” busy. I hear it regularly from the managers I teach and coach.

It’s a function of the downsized staffing but increased demands and responsibilities in changing organizations.

The story is familiar: to hit budget numbers, the company cuts head count but leaves fully intact the expectation of quality, service and measurable results. (I’ll give CNN president Jeff Zucker credit. Referencing the depressing specter of buyouts and layoffs, he didn’t try to spin it as some great opportunity for the survivors to work smarter, not harder.… Read more

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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Tear gas shot at protestors

5 lessons the St. Louis Post-Dispatch learned from covering Ferguson

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers worked to break up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near West Florissant on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Credit: Robert Cohen

The teamwork and quick thinking required to tell the biggest story in St. Louis transformed the newsroom at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

During a conversation with Poynter senior faculty Kenny Irby, Post-Dispatch director of photography Lynden Steele and video director Gary Hairlson discussed how covering Michael Brown’s shooting and the protests that followed forced the paper to reconsider its safety precautions, its policies for licensing photos and the way its reporters prioritized their coverage.

Poynter pulled out some of the lessons from the interview and listed them below:

1. Raw video rules
Raw video was a huge traffic driver during the Ferguson protests, helping the paper accumulate about 1.5 million pageviews during one week, Hairlson said.… Read more

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Live hangout: lessons from Ferguson

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers worked to break up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near West Florissant on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Credit: Robert Cohen

How did the St. Louis Post-Dispatch keep its journalists safe while reporting on the protests and riots in Ferguson? How did the staffers build and maintain relationships with the community while covering the tumultuous event? Join two journalists from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Poynter senior faculty Kenny Irby for a discussion on some of the lessons Post-Dispatch journalists took away from one of St. Louis’ biggest story in years.

Participants:
Lynden Steele, director of photography for the Post-Dispatch
Gary Hairlson, video director for the Post-Dispatch
Kenny Irby, director of community relations and diversity programs for the Poynter Institute

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Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

Calendar Pages and Clock

Want to avoid procrastination? Impose an early deadline on yourself

When I wrote “The Glamour of Grammar,” I turned in the manuscript about three months late. Not a good feeling.

Friday morning, I turned in a finished draft of my next book, “The Art of X-ray Reading,” three months early. A very good feeling.

The key part of the word deadline, remember, is not the “line” part, but the “dead” part.

Now solve this riddle: When does a deadline become a lifeline?

The answer: When it is self-imposed.

I describe the process in my book Help! For Writers:

Many writers procrastinate until the deadline roars toward them like a train, the writer standing on the tracks. Pressing a deadline is a devil-may-care form of exhibitionism, a Houdini escape from a straitjacket, just in the nick of time, fueled by adrenaline.

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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Jay Nixon

Was Ferguson a ‘news desert’ until two weeks ago?

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks during a news conference in Ferguson, Mo. Violent protests in Ferguson erupted in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer on Aug. 9. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Coming late to the Ferguson story, I have a modest thought to add to the ongoing discussion of why the police shooting and the bumbling local response to protests happened there.

My hunch is that like many aging and changing suburban communities, Ferguson had received only the most episodic of news coverage until all hell broke loose.  Political theory and high profile reports from the Knight Foundation and FCC suggest that when a town is a news desert, low civic engagement is almost certain to follow.

So if that’s the theory, isn’t Ferguson the practice? … Read more

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Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

ron1

Veteran photojournalist talks about going into hotspots

Photojournalist Ron Haviv

“The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL,” President Barack Obama said on Wednesday. “He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.”

Around the time of the speech, I was discussing the impact of honest photographic reporting on an Associated Press Photo Managers’ online panel. One the many takeaways from the panel: The role of the photojournalist is often misunderstood. These women and men see themselves as the eyes and ears of the community. One just needs to ponder the disconcerting experience of seeing this focused group of individuals who rush to the epicenter of drama and trauma while others flee for safety.… Read more

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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 5.28.32 PM

Lauren Bacall and the value of reading your old stories

Lauren Bacall signing copies of her successful autobiography " By Myself." (AP Photo/Press Association)

A couple of days after Lauren Bacall died, I ran into an old friend who remembered that I had once interviewed her for the St. Petersburg Times. To my shock, he even quoted a line from the story: “You wrote that she could scratch your back with her voice.” There was a lesson here about the power of the written word, that a reader could remember a story that the writer had mostly forgotten, and that the language of that story could stick with the reader for 35 years.

With the help of the good folks at what is now the Tampa Bay Times, I unearthed my profile of Miss Bacall.… Read more

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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

4 tips for creating efficient newsrooms from Vox’s Yuri Victor

Yuri Victor, a senior user experience designer at Vox.com, began his talk at TedxPoynterInstitute Tuesday by explaining how a newsroom shouldn’t operate.

Dysfunctional newsrooms are characterized by a lack of communication that makes creating new things difficult, Victor said. When somebody gets a good idea, they have to wade through endless bureaucratic roadblocks to make it a reality. And when the final project is released, it often doesn’t resemble the original idea.

These journalists, who are stuck in organizations where they can’t get anything done, end up miserable because they feel ineffectual, Victor said. They get into journalism to make a difference, but never get the chance.

RELATED: Using design thinking to build new news products

During his talk, Victor outlined a few points for transforming newsrooms from places of frustration and unrealized ideas into hubs of communication and collaboration.… Read more

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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

4 tips for adjusting to the tempo of digital news from veteran designer Mario Garcia

The key to telling stories in the digital age is remembering that the news cycle is propelled by two tempos that each require different strategies, veteran news designer Mario Garcia explained at TEDxPoynterInstitute Tuesday.

The tempos, which Garcia calls “24/7″ and “curation,” are different from one another, but every news organization has to pay attention to both to fully serve its audience, Garcia said. He shared some tips, gleaned from four decades of design consulting with 700 news organizations, on how to manage the two storytelling modes. Here are some highlights:

1. Don’t rehash the background of the story

While Garcia consulted for Aftenposten, which he called the “NYT of Norway,” the paper started to replace long text-based stories full of outdated background information with small, compact updates.… Read more

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Modern wireless technology and social media

8 Tips for Techno-Evangelists

Journalism and technology don’t always go together very well.

I think there’s a natural conflict between the gathering of news and information and the various means of packaging and distributing it. This conflict is especially challenging for newsroom managers. On one hand, they want to focus on the journalism; on the other, they need to stay aware of technological changes and motivate their staffs to try new digital tools.

Newsroom leaders need to be evangelists for change — and that includes technological change. They need to better understand the role of technology adoption within their organizations as the means of gathering and sharing news shifts at an increasing rate.

The rate of technology adoption is critical to the success of news organizations, which is why we are embarking on new research about the topic, starting with a survey of journalists, educators, students and others.… Read more

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