How NOT to do media relations: Fake-friendly pitches

Just because someone posts something personal online doesn’t mean it’s OK to use that to manufacture a faux-personal connection in order to persuade them to do you a favor.

Case in point: Yesterday a clueless media relations professional whom I do not know sent me an e-mail with the subject line: “I sent a poem to a wannabee crotchety old bitch.” He was alluding to my recent birthday post, in which I reflected on aging.

The comment this person attempted to append to that post — which I did not approve — was the poem When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. That was in itself a mistake, though not a fatal one. If ever there was an overused, reflexive cliche response to any woman who mentions aging in a positive light, that poem would be it.

So this PR guy e-mailed me to let me know he’d tried to post that comment. Here’s the start of his message, and where he really screwed up…

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It’s not HTML5 anymore

On Jan. 19, the group responsible for the long-overdue new HTML standard, announced a decision which WebScanNotes recently noted:

They must have heard murmurs of frustrations over their slowness in finalizing the HTML5 standards, and have came up with one of the most innovative ways to address it – by dropping the “5″ version and call it a “living standard”.

Read: HTML5 to Drop the “5

This makes sense from a standards-management perspective, and I guess it’s less embarrassing…  But I think it might make it harder for people who aren’t hardcore insiders to track the kind of developments that make HTML5 interesting, especially for mobile web projects.

Media mending the vocabulary gap: Polyamory and the Boston Globe

Last weekend, the cover of the Boston Globe Sunday magazine featured a good story about a topic I know well: polyamory. In Love’s New Frontier, Globe writer Sandra Miller did a far better job explaining this approach to relationships than most mainstream publications do. No wide-eyed, mock-shock sensationalism.

As a polyamorous person, I was rather tickled that this topic got such prominent play. I figured: Cool! There goes a chunk of the vocabulary gap!

If you haven’t heard the term, polyamory means being open to having more than one intimate relationship at a time, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Yes, I realize any new term sounds awkward until you get used to it. So: Get used to it. Because here’s what the vocabulary gap looks like to a poly person…

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What Is Citizen Journalism?

NOTE: I get asked this question quite often, so I thought I’d take a stab at providing a definition. This represents my view only — feel free to disagree, question, or elaborate in the comments. I intend this to be the starting point of a discussion, not the last word. I originally published this post in another blog in May 2007. I’ve been getting many questions about it lately from journalism students, so I thought I’d repost it.

“Citizen journalism” is a clunky term that manages to be as open to interpretation as it is controversial. I tend to think of it this way:

Any effort by people who are not trained or employed as professional journalists to publish news or information based on original observation, research, inquiry, analysis or investigation.

Here’s what that can mean, more specifically… Continue reading

What’s “Media?” Time to Update Default Assumptions

Yesterday it occurred to me — as I heard about yet another “multimedia workshop” for journalists — how dated and useless the term “multimedia” has become. It’s now normal for media content types to be mixed. It’s also normal for anyone working in media to be expected to create and integrate various types of content (text, audio, photos, video, mapping/locative) as well as delivery channels (print, Web, radio, TV, podcast, social media, e-mail, SMS, embeddable, mobile applications, widgets, e-readers, etc.).

Ditto for the terms “new media” and even “online media”, which imply that channels other than print and broadcast are somehow separate or niche.

The best take on why it’s important to update and integrate assumptions about the nature of media (and how that affects news) is shown in this hilarious skit from Landline.TV:

Here’s where media is at today: In the current integrated media ecosystem, every print and broadcast organization has an Internet and mobile presence — and most of these now go beyond bare “shovelware”. Also, more and more of these organizations are distributing their content online first, making print and broadcast secondary channels (if not secondary markets). In contrast, most media outlets and public discussion venues that began life on the Internet do not have a print or broadcast presence. These vastly outnumber print and broadcast media outlets.

Consequently, when you consider the number and diversity of media outlets, print and broadcast media have become the exception — not the rule…

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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 USAToday.com and USA Today executive editor Kinsey Wilson, Yahoo! News editor in chief Neil Budde and CNN.com 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!

Jott: Auto-Transcription as Entertainment

RBerteig, via Flickr (CC license)
Cattle eater? Huh?

I’m trying out Jott, a free service that transforms short (30-seconds or less) phone messages into text, sent by e-mail or SMS to you or whoever you choose. This fits in with my overall strategy of managing all my tasks through e-mail. (Yes, GTDinbox is still rocking my world.)

I’m using it not only to send reminder notes to myself when I’m away from my computer, but also to send quick messages to my husband. As I was cooking lunch a short while ago, I grabbed my phone to send him a reminder to get a couple boxes of cat litter.

Here’s what he received:

“Hey dude, we are out of cattle eater and that we need some. Could you pick some up today and bring it over, two or three baskets of it. Thanks.”

Well, needless to say, the local Safeway probably doesn’t carry much “cattle eater,” and certainly not in baskets. But he did figure it out and we both had a good laugh. Such is life when you rely on automated transcription as a communication tool. I’ve had fun with this before, especially with Babelfish.

I’ve heard that some people use Jott as a microblogging tool. That is, you can jot to an e-mail address, and several popular blogging tools allow you to post by e-mail. I was thinking of trying that too, just to see how it work. So if you see any requests for “cattle eater” or other cryptic items here, you’ll know what’s up.

What are your favorite Jotts or other autotranslations gone awry? Please comment below.