It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Video is online

Knight Digital Media Center
Me waving to the internet from the stage at USC.

As I mentioned earlier, on Oct. 1, I helped moderate an excellent panel discussion at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism in Los Angeles called It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, UGC meet Journalism. This was part of an intriguing seminar at the Knight Digital Media Center called Journalism in a 24/7 World: Decision-making for the Online Editor, and my panel was offered in partnership with the Online News Association.

The video for this session is now online! You can watch the whole thing here. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page.)

Blogging Ethics: WSBD? (What Should Bloggers Do?)

Timothy Lloyd, via Flickr (CC license)
There are lots of ways to make ethical decisions. This probably isn’t the best one.

I’ve pulled together an interesting panel session for Blogworld Expo. It’s called Blogging Ethics: Making Tough Decisions, and it’ll be held Thursday Nov. 8, 10:15-11:45 am at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

(Right now they still have my session listed as “citizen journalism,” but they should have the info updated soon.)

Frankly, I’ve found most media ethics discussions to be dreadfully stodgy and dull. I definitely don’t want this session to be boring. So I’ve invited some bloggers who represent diverse approaches and goals:

  • Christopher, a Vegas resident who blogs (sans last name) at While Las Vegas Sleeps: “Real stories from the most unreal city on earth.” I chose him to explore the ethical issues of personal blogging — especially from a place where the long-standing local communication ethic has been “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
  • Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing, who’s great at articulating the business, marketing, and PR approach to blogging.
  • Graydancer, a leading blogger and podcaster for the rope bondage, performing arts, and BDSM/kink communities. Talk about people with unique considerations around communication, privacy, and freedom of expression!
  • ADDED OCT. 24: Charlotte-Anne Lucas, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She teaches online journalism, web publishing and design, and digital storytelling. She was an early blogger at and at, where she instituted ethical guidelines, along with strict corrections policies on blogs and online writing in general. She also requires her journalism students to blog.

Here’s what I have in mind for this session…

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Having fun online without freaking out

dbking, via Flickr
Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

On Monday I’m giving a private workshop in DC for staffers at a science publishing organization.

The main reason they want me to talk to them is, as far as I understand it, they’re feeling a bit pressured by being asked to do more and more online. Also, they’re simultaneously intrigued and overwhelmed by the new online options for multimedia, publishing, search and research, conversational media, and productivity tools.

Yeah, it is a lot to keep up with. Especially for folks who have long been immersed in a very different model of media (print and broadcast).

I only have an hour to guide them through some options, so I want to be sure to hit the ones I think they could immediately use and experience benefits from. So I intend to start by asking them about their biggest concerns, immediate needs, and major areas of curiosity. Then I’ll choose from this list of options to give them whatever they most need.

I’ll update that list after the workshop to add other links that we’ll discuss…

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Ask, and you shall receive — with help from social media

Discussion on the Facebook group for Tidbits readers.

This Sunday my colleague Barb Iverson and I will give a workshop called “Web Productivity and Tech Tools Workout” at the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Washington, DC.

We’ve mapped out several cool topics to cover. This is the first of a few posts that will serve as “living handouts” for that workshop.

In my work as a journalist, consultant, blogger, trainer, and speaker, I’ve often found that the smartest thing I can do is surround myself with smart and relevant people. Therefore, for me, the main concrete benefit I’ve experienced from participating in social networking sites is the ability to quickly share knowledge with a trusted network of friends and colleagues.

I currently use two popular social networking services: LinkedIn and Facebook. One very useful feature of both services is that they allow you to easily pose questions within your personal network of contacts, or to other selected groups. Yeah, you could do this by personal e-mail, but it would be a major hassle.

Here’s how this can help your work and career (especially if you’re a journalist), and the basics of how to do it…

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Webcast tonight: It’s a conversation, stupid!

Greetings from Los Angeles, where I just flew in because in a couple of hours I’m speaking at a cool event at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. And you can watch — and participate!

Michelle Nicolosi of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and I are co-chairing a panel at 5pm Pacific. It’s called “It’s a Conversation, Stupid: Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, UGC meet Journalism.”

UGC…. UGH!!!!! I loathe the term “user generated content.” It smacks of mechanism, hierarchy, and just plain condescension.Unfortunately it’s common among mainstream-media types, and you can bet I’ll have something to say about that! Like: Why don’t we just call it “contributed content?”

…Ahem… Anyway, this is part of an intriguing seminar at the Knight New Digital Media Center. (because “new media” ain’t new anymore) called Journalism in a 24/7 World: Decision-making for the Online Editor. Tonight’s event is offered in partnership with the Online News Association. If you go to this page at 5pm Pacific, you’ll find a live link to the webcast.

You also can submit questions during the event via this form. I’ll ask them on your behalf during the event as time permits. No softballs, folks!

Here’s the official blurb for the event:

“What happens when the audience becomes content producer on the nation’s top news web sites? Do you ‘moderate’ or let ‘er rip? How do journalism values and standards survive a User Generated Content world? Hear how and USA Today executive editor Kinsey Wilson, Yahoo! News editor in chief Neil Budde and vice president and senior producer Mitch Gelman are opening their web sites to their audiences as never before. Get a chance to weigh in from your cell phone and laptop as Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson paints the future of collaborative journalism. Moderators will be Michelle Nicolosi, assistant managing editor for interactive at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Amy Gahran, conversational media consultant and editor of Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits.”

Hope to see some Contentious readers there. Please say hi!

10 Ideas: What To Post to a Conference Blog

Check it out: The SEJ2007 unofficial conference blog.

I’ve been working hard lately to get the unofficial conference blog up and running for the 2007 conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. This blog will be authored by a team of volunteer bloggers — SEJ members and others attending the conference.

Whenever I do one of these conference blogs, the volunteers always want guidance on what they should write about. In this case, I expect most of our contributing bloggers will come from print media. They know how to write, but they’ve probably never blogged before — and most of them also have little or no experience in creating any content specifically for online media.

Consequently, they aren’t familiar with conference blogs. That’s fine — many people aren’t, although that’s starting to change. I’ve worked on some conference blogging efforts, so I’ve pulled together a list of 10 kinds of posts that work well on conference blogs.

As with any conversational media effort, it helps to know your audience, as well as your community of contributors (both bloggers and commenters). What skills and expertise do they bring to the table? What do they want? Ultimately, that should be your guide.

Here’s my list…
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Shared Docs: Gateway Drug to Wikis?

Chris Carfi, via Flickr (CC license)
Wiki maven Liz Henry of SocialText.

At the unconference segment of BlogHer 2007 in Chicago, I sat in on a small-group discussion about wikis (sites that can be collaboratively edited either by a defined group, or by anyone at all).

The discussion was led by one of my favorite wiki mavens, Liz Henry of Socialtext. I was glad that this group included some total wiki newbies (even wikiphobes) as well as wiki fans. That diversity of view was useful because, I’ve found, the concept of a wiki is rather alien and even suspicious to many people. It’s hard to give up the idea of one person having control over a document.

One thing that emerged from this discussion is that most of the wiki newbies or wikiphobes did know, and had used, shared documents via services such as Google Docs or Zoho. That concept was less alien to them than a wiki because it utilized familiar document types (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) and because it solved a common problem — the frustration of a team working on a document passed around by e-mail.

That got us thinking: If you’re trying to introduce a team or community to wikis to aid some sort of collaboration, and if you’re meeting resistance or low adoption rates for the wiki, try working first with a shared document. Once they get used to the idea of collaborating on a document (any document, really) via the Web, wikis start to look more appealing and make more sense.

What do you think of this approach? Have you tried it? Did it work or not? Please comment below.

(NOTE: I originally published this item on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits.)

Wiki as presentation tool: Pretty cool!

Editing the wiki during this workshop was really easy.

As I mentioned earlier, yesterday I gave a workshop about current trends in online media to about a dozen staffers at New Hope Media here in Boulder. In that workshop I tried something new: using a wiki as a presentation tool.

Wow, that worked really well, I think! Definitely better than using a blog post as a presentation aid/handout, which is what I normally do — and of course light years ahead of a Powerpoint presentation, which I loathe under any circumstance.

Here’s the wiki I created for that workshop, using the free service PBwiki.

And here’s what I liked about this approach… Continue reading

Wrap your brain around online media: Amy’s 10 tips

New Hope Media
New Hope Media publishes Delicious Living magazine and lots of other yummy stuff…

Tomorrow afternoon I’m giving a short workshop for staffers at New Hope Media here in Boulder. They want me to explain blogging and other crucial aspects of today’s online media to them, show them how to use them, and give them some guidance on how they might make the most of these options.

Before I get into the various tools and options, I’m going to help them wrap their brains around online media. Here are my top 10 tips for this, geared toward people who are most accustomed to print publishing…

  1. Be findable, relevant, engaging, and connected.
  2. Conversation works better than publication (alone). Participate in your communities.
  3. Go where your communities are, and join them on their terms. (It’s not just about your site or brand.)
  4. Participate in other communities. All competitors are potential collaborators.
  5. Experiment, explore, and be flexible (media, formats, communities, distribution, partners, tools, etc.)
  6. Never create something that you haven’t already tried for a while, gotten used to, and genuinely like.
  7. Never build any tool or site you don’t have to.
  8. Great content (including from your communities) is the best search engine optimization strategy.
  9. Be transparent: Whatever you try to hide or introduce by surprise is exactly what will bite you.
  10. Stay human: It’s really about people and communities — not technology, not markets, not audiences, not numbers, not brands.

…Whadya think? What would you add, subtract, or change here? Please comment below.

Notes and links for my full presentation are on this wiki. I’ll be tweaking it during and after the workshop (wifi permitting)

Pithy video advice on citizen journalism

At BlogHer this past weekend, I stayed out way too late on Friday night with my friends and citizen journalism colleagues Lisa Williams, Tish Grier, and Beth Kanter.

Back in the hotel room after a fair amount of wine and Italian food, Beth shot this incriminating video and asked us for advice on citizen journalism. The result is simultaneously succinct and incoherent.