Death and writing short – the missing SXSW session

I once heard the great Francis X. Clines of the New York Times tell a group of journalists never to apologize for writing about death.  “We tell the morbid truth,” he said.

I was scheduled to deliver a workshop on “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times” on St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW.  But on Friday the Thirteenth my mother, Shirley Clark, died at the age of 95.  I cancelled my trip to Austin and turned my writing skills to crafting her eulogy.

Here are some of the things I would have said at SXSW if I had been able to make the trip.  It riffs off my handout for the session, which you can access here.  When I picked the selections of short writing for study, I didn’t realize how many of them were about death:  dying, almost dying, fear of dying, recovering from a death, remembering a death, the legacy of death.  Read more


New study finds millennials are strong news consumers, but take an indirect path

Millennials are getting a bad rap as a newsless and disengaged generation, according to a new study of their news habits. But print newspapers and digital home pages are not their main way of finding what they are looking for.

Rather social media and search are the two top avenues for finding news, according to a report released today by the American Press Institute, Associated Press and NORC center at the University of Chicago.  Facebook is the top way of encountering news, used by 88 percent of those who do.

Eighty-five percent of 1,000 millennials surveyed said that news is at least somewhat important to them. News is their third top digital activity after e-mail and check of weather and traffic. Games and keeping up with friends came in fourth and fifth. Read more


The death of Mr. Spock was the most tweeted story in February

NewsWhip, the Dublin-based technology company that tracks how news stories are shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media sites, has released its list of the most tweeted news Web sites for the month of February. Here are the details.

The British Broadcasting Corporation easily won Twitter last month, as its stories were shared more than 5 million times. The New York Times came in a distant second, with readers tweeting its stories just over 2.6 million times. Interestingly, the number of times Mashable stories were tweeted rose by 400,000, making it the third most tweeted news site and trailing the Times by just 7,680 tweets. Mashable was the most prominent of all the digital news sites, but BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and the Bleacher Report all competed with more traditional outlets like CNN and ABC for slots in NewsWhip’s top ten list. Read more

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Tech blog Gigaom shuts down

Good morning. Here are 9 media stories.

  1. ‘This hurts more than I can say’

    Gigaom, the tech blog founded in 2006 by journalist Om Malik, has shut down due to apparent financial problems. Several staffers, including senior writer Mathew Ingram, tweeted about the news Monday. "This hurts more than I can say: I was just told Gigaom is shutting down -- it has run out of money. We tried our best, but it wasn't enough." (@mathewi) | Malik published a statement about the closure. "Gigaom is winding down and its assets are now controlled by the company’s lenders. It is not how you want the story of a company you founded to end." ( | The site posted a terse explanation about the closure: "Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time.

Read more

ESPN’s Vince Doria retires without ever posting a tweet

Vince Doria

Vince Doria

As ESPN’s director of news, Vince Doria has been at the forefront of the new media. Yet he never has posted a tweet.

He is on Twitter at @VinceDoria. However, Doria didn’t set up the account. His colleagues did it for him in the hopes that he might share some of his thoughts.

It didn’t happen. Under number of tweets for Doria, the number still says 0. Doria gets that it’s part of the job these days, but he simply is adhering to the age-old doctrine that journalists should remain objective.

“I just never felt it was good to do it in my current role,” Doria said. “No matter how you cut it, Twittter turns out to be a platform for opinion.”

And a platform full of potential landmines. Read more

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‘Tweet your story four times’ and other advice from’s Erica Palan and Diana Lind

Melody Kramer spoke with’s Erica Palan on Tuesday about how Palan works with her coworkers on social. Included in that conversation was the mention of a recent workshop for staff at, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News called “How to get your story read.”

After Tuesday’s story, people asked Palan to see the presentation for themselves. She has posted them here, and the presentation she created along with Diana Lind, director of digital audience development, is full of tips including why you need to get the headline right and how to get your story out on social media.

The purpose of the conversation was to help explain the elements of shareable content, Lind said in an email, and to show “how an article’s framing can have a strong impact on whether or not it gets shared, and therefore read.”

Their most popular content is breaking news and sports, Lind said, by far, “so the presentation didn’t focus on those subjects. Read more

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Melody Kramer: How PRI’s David Beard makes a Twitter feed worth following

David Beard is a scanner. Every day, the executive editor of scans every story from his site, as well as stories from the many newsletters, Twitter feeds, and news sites he follows throughout the day. He then selects ones that he thinks will particularly resonate with the audience, adds a bite-sized fact or quote from each piece, and pushes them out on his own Twitter feed.

At various points in the day, you might see him tweeting about art, RPGs, jazz, public health, film, or gender politics – all while running a busy newsroom. What I like about David’s feed is that it’s authentic but not overwhelming. He’s there, for a time, and then he’s not there – because he’s doing other things at work. Read more

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Career Beat: Jessica Morgan named contributing writer at Cosmo

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Simon Rogers is now a contributing editor at Vox. He is Twitter’s data editor. (Poynter)
  • Juliet Eilperin is White House bureau chief at The Washington Post. Previously, she was a staff writer there. (Washington Post)
  • Heather Cocks is now a contributing writer at Cosmopolitan. She is the co-founder of Go Fug Yourself. Jessica Morgan is now a contributing writer at Cosmopolitan. She is the co-founder of Go Fug Yourself. (Fishbowl NY)

Job of the day: The Chicago Reader is looking for an editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more


Twitter’s data editor named contributing editor at

Simon Rogers, data editor at Twitter, will be a contributing editor at, the company announced Wednesday.

At Vox, Rogers will develop “data journalism and visualization tools” and improve the editorial, design and product teams, according to a press release from Vox Media. He will keep his job at Twitter.

Rogers, the founder of The Guardian’s data blog, was hired by Twitter in 2013 to be the company’s first data editor.

Here’s the release:

New York, NY (February 4, 2015) Vox, one of the world’s fastest growing news sites, announced today that Simon Rogers is to become a contributing editor for the site.

As contributing editor, Rogers will work with Vox to help develop its data journalism and visualization tools, and the editorial, design, and product teams in expanding the site’s interactive features.

Read more
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5 other times media Twitter accounts have been hacked

BuzzFeed | UPI | Mashable

On Friday, Twitter accounts for both UPI and the New York Post were hacked, BuzzFeed’s Ellie Hall and Nicolás Medina Mora reported.

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UPI reported on the attack on Friday.

It started on Twitter, where six fake headlines were posted in about 10 minutes, starting about 1:20 p.m. Some of them were about the Federal Reserve; others contained a false report that the USS George Washington had been attacked.

So it’s not the start of World War III, as Mashable’s Brian Ries reported. Here are five other times that the Twitter accounts of news organizations have been hacked.

Wall Street Journal

On May 6 of last year, four Wall Street Journal Twitter accounts were hacked.

Read more
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