Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

The opposite of clapping

In Online media on 24 Aug 2017 at 12:08 pm

This week, Medium, the popular blog platform that I have adored since its inception, announced that it intended to pay at least some contributors based on the number of “claps” (which used to be “hearts,” which were essentially “likes”) that a contribution generated.

This is a terrible idea and the reason I canceled my paid membership this week.

Succinctly put, we shouldn’t measure the value of media by the reaction it elicits. While that seems blindingly obvious to anyone who has toiled for newspapers as long as I have, there are apparently those among us who consider any other value proposition a dispiriting holdover of legacy thinking that is dragging our business into the toilet. (Hello, Medium founder Ev Williams!)

This “claps = value” concept devalues the slow clap we should be giving serious journalism. Take the insightful analysis of what is happening today in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which I highlight in Their Best today. It will never be applauded as much as this YouTube video, which I literally found by Googling “dumbest thing on YouTube.” At my newspaper and many, many others, we report on the city administrator’s salary and from the sewer authority meetings and about the school board’s tax proposal not because it is popular to do so, but because doing so is important to the continuation of the democracy. An uninformed electorate is capable of unfortunate things, and I’ll leave it at that. … Read the rest of this entry »


1,000 and counting

In Uncategorized on 10 Dec 2015 at 12:24 pm

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.39.05 AM

This is the 1,000 post on The Kicker. And that does not include the weekly “our best” and “their best” features that would bring the total well over 1,600.

No wonder I’m so tired.

In announcing the new blog in September 2008, I wrote that the idea here was (and remains) a Friday reflection on our business. We’re so busy all the time. There is precious little space for us to think about the calling that we love and how to do things better and not worse. I hope this has been one such space.

Too often, The Kicker consists of my ramblings on something topical – coverage of terrorism, censorship on college campuses or some such. While I’m gratified to able to express my thoughts on these journalism issues, I think it works best when I am able to identify a real-world problem at one of our sites (as I did here, here and here) and offer some guidance or observation. Perhaps better yet: Sometimes smart people among us offer their own insights on The Kicker and I would love to have more of those. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

It has been particularly gratifying to spotlight our best from week to week. I usually also give the “winner” a shout-out on Twitter and I’ve heard that folks appreciate the recognition when sometimes it seems that is not coming as frequently it is deserved.

Read the rest of this entry »

The bloggers are attacking

In Online media on 20 Feb 2014 at 5:06 pm
Tyne & Wear Archives and Museum

Tyne & Wear Archives and Museum

Friends, if you are like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about fashion. Nothing brings me more joy than a strappy sandal, some knife pleats and a vented yoke.

OK, I don’t know what any of that means. When my couture is haute, I generally put on some shorts and a T-shirt. But I was nonetheless interested in Josephine Collins’ blog post about blog posts and their place in the fashion world. I’m interested because she could have been writing about online car reviews, music sites or any other thing that print journalists used to own.

Collins, who teaches fashion journalism at the University of the Arts in London, argues persuasively that the legions of new commentators have democratized the catwalk and made the job of “real” journalists more challenging … and more interesting.

“It’s easy to be snobby about fashion bloggers as untrained arbiters of style. But the fact is that these aficionados of fashion have become important, perhaps the central, 21st-century trendsetters,” she writes.

She goes on to say that those of us who get paid to comment have to provide history and context and not merely say something like, “Look at this dress. I like it.” After all, anyone with an Internet connection can decide for herself whether that new frock is for her. … Read the rest of this entry »

Medium has a message

In Online media on 9 Jan 2014 at 2:31 pm
Medium's illustration of the offending burrito.

Medium’s illustration of the offending burrito.

Here’s something I stumbled upon because I love burritos and loathe when they are done wrong. I’m speaking, of course, of @luckyshirt’s brilliant post titled, “Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito.” (If you don’t mind a little cussing and a lot of laughing, go ahead and read it. I’ll wait…)

It’s published on Medium, which is a long-form blogging platform that allows people to collaborate with other writers and make notes on what they’ve just read, among other things. As the New York Times notes, it’s beautifully done. It’s the brainchild of those Twitter guys and they seem to be interested in undoing a little of what they have wrought with their 140-character obsession.

What they are not interested in, apparently, is making money at the moment. Which is fine for people like Ev Williams and Biz Stone, because they are billionaires.

There is a school of thought that people like these guys and Jeff Bezos and a new brand of Internet tycoon will save the media. They will be patriarchs – and let’s face it, they are nearly all men – in much the way William Randolph Hearst and the Chandler family once ruled benevolently from on high.

I’m not so sure. But maybe. Many of these people, including Medium chief Williams, who was a vegan anarchist in his younger days, say the right thing. They say they are about democratic impulses and spreading the freedom that technology allows. Perhaps they will exert their power in positive ways that build community and point to a better way for the rest of us in the business of imparting information. … Read the rest of this entry »

Pay for training

In Online media on 12 May 2011 at 2:35 pm

Once again, the Palo Alto Weekly is doing some interesting things here in California. This time it is offering a rather intensive video academy for would-be videographers as well as new paid blogging positions. The stated intention is to create a trained cadre of citizen journalists with an allegiance to the newspaper.

First, the newspaper partnered with a local educational outfit to offer a four-week course in reporting skills and video production. It is not simply an overview. It asks participants to commit to six three- to four-hour courses and pay $215 for the education. That strikes me as a rather large commitment, but the training looks valuable too. In a story printed online, the newspaper promises to make program graduates into community correspondents, sending them out to cover stories, conduct interviews and work alongside staff.

In addition, the newspaper is looking for a few good bloggers – good enough to merit pay. The newspaper already links to a stable of bloggers and is now offering to “feature” those who prove they can generate a lot of pageviews. This is a big idea in journalism at the moment and the subject of J-Lab grants and a lot of talk at a recent American Press Institute gathering that I attended.

Suffice to say, the jury is out on the value of such exercises, but it’s important to note that if you don’t aggregate these community bloggers, someone else likely will. I’m interested to see how the Palo Alto experiment works out.


Swing your partner!

In Online media on 10 Mar 2011 at 4:45 pm

Lately, several large newspapers have gone to bed with bloggers in their area, including some who have traditionally trained their venomous snark on those very traditional media outlets. Strange times make for strange bedfellows.

Blame J-Lab. The journalism think-tank has been providing seed money that has paid for curators and other managers to assimilate community journalists in with the more old-school variety.

Suffice to say it’s an experiment – series of experiments, actually. Whether you consider them a success probably depends on the way you define the term. At places like the Miami Herald and the Charlotte Observer and the Portland Oregonian, which have benefitted from J-Lab largesse, editors have sought out the best community partners and offered them space in a variety of ways on the newspaper’s online products.

The Miami Herald gives selected participants the keys to the content management system (OK, some administrative access) and allows its partners to post directly to its site.

The Charlotte Observer has gone so far as to use content generated by non-staff bloggers on its front page. I know! It’s blasphemy … it’s also an acknowledgement that the newspaper just can’t cover as much ground as it once did. (By the way, the image at the top of this post was provided by Steve Gunn, director of Strategic Products and Audience Development at the Observer.)

The Portland Oregonian – sometimes known injuriously as “The Death Star” in local blogging circles – goes to citizen journalism meetups to bridge what can be a cultural divide. It is now in the process of partnering with these same bloggers for content… Read the rest of this entry »

Blogging about blogging

In Online media on 24 Feb 2011 at 11:33 am

People ask me every day, “Clay, how did a digital dummy like you manage to make such a beautiful blog?”

OK, no they don’t. But sometimes I get the sense that some loyal Kicker readers think there is a bit of magic involved in blogging. They are laboring under the false impression that you have to know computer code or have a close personal relationship with Mark Zuckerberg to make things look right. Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Platforms like WordPress, which I use for the Kicker, and a host of others make it very easy.

I noticed that WordPress has demystified the whole thing here.

I mention this because I think there are a whole host of reasons to blog – beyond trading cookie recipes and sharing pictures with grandma. You could start a blog that covers one small corner of your community very well. For instance, you could start a high school baseball blog that would include reader comments, a place for folks to submit their own photos and video, a coach’s corner, schedules and whatever else you can think of. You could even get a sponsor and make the whole thing pay off. Once it was set up, it wouldn’t take much effort to keep the thing going… Read the rest of this entry »

Blah, blah, blog

In Online media on 4 Nov 2010 at 4:34 pm

Hey, do you keep a blog?

You might have one for work and another to occupy your fingers at home, for nothing other than the thrill of transmitting your thoughts into the wild blue yonder. I think it’s a cool thing to do.

Writing is like hitting a baseball. (Wait here while Clay meanders into something he knows very little about…) Repetition is important. Even if you don’t make contact, you are working on the muscle memory that makes it easier when you come to bat with the game on the line. Writing for fun makes better those who write for profit.

Well, if you blog, then you already know it’s a different animal than straight newswriting, or long-form fiction or anything else for that matter. You probably want to be conversational, you don’t want to go on and on, you need to be timely, and you want to engage readers.

You don’t have to believe me. Take it from Laura-Lee Walker. I actually don’t know much about her, but I thought her tips on blogging were right on the money… Read the rest of this entry »

Blogging the meltdown

In Ideas on 17 Jul 2009 at 7:39 am

I wanted to point out something cool in the Wall Street Journal this week. The nation’s best general-circulation financial newspaper reported on the current boom for financial blogs.

Two things to note. No, three.

The WSJ was secure enough to mention “the competition.” There was probably some voice in the background asking why the newspaper should mention Web 2.0 alternatives to the Journal, including folks like Paul Krugman, who works for a rival newspaper in New York. But the Journal not only reported on the success of these blogs, it included a list of the best to help readers find them.

The story itself points to something we should be aware of. There are niche opportunities during a crisis. Many more people are turning to blogs like “The Angry Bear” and “Calculated Risk” to explain what is going on in the economy. When things went south last year, traffic more than doubled in a month for some of these things. The great thing about blogs is that they are nimble; you could create a blog to focus on something of interest in your community in no time at all.

The Journal added value on its Web site. The print newspaper ran an accompanying sidebar with notes on 10 financial blogs. But on the Web, where the ink is free(ish), the journal put together a slideshow on 25 financial blogs, complete with an image to show readers what they looked like as well as some notes on each one… Read the rest of this entry »