Why limiting employees’ online presence is a big mistake in journalism and elsewhere

Recently Forrester Research decided on an unfortunate, shortsighted policy. Forrester analysts can no longer can their own personally branded research blogs. They’re allowed to run their own blogs about their personal life or topics unrelated to their work at Forrester. But all their blogging on work-related topics must be done in blogs that are owned by Forrester.

Forrester’s rationale for this, according to VP Josh Bernoff, is that “Forrester is an intellectual property company, and the opinions of our analysts are our product.”

Which IMHO is the equivalent of saying “If you work for us, we reserve the right to own your brain and your social/professional network and reputation.”

Here’s why that’s a bad idea all the way around — not just for research, consulting, and IP companies, but for news organizations and journalists, too… Continue reading

Public Media Collaborative, Mar. 11 meeting, Berkeley

Scott Rosenberg, Susan Mernit, and lots of other smart people chatting at the Mar. 11 Public Media Collaborative meeting, Berkeley.

Scott Rosenberg, Susan Mernit, and lots of other smart people chatting at the Mar. 11 Public Media Collaborative meeting, Berkeley.

Last night I attended a meeting of the Bay Area Public Media Collaborative. I’m impressed by how this group is pulling together significant and diverse energy and talent.

The point? To “bring together bloggers, journalists, technologists, media and environmental justice folks, community organizers and activists from around the Bay area to explore and discuss social justice and emerging technology issues in a way that links theory and practice.”

One nonprofit group represented there last night, Independent Arts and Media, is planning a Journalism Innovations Expo II. Collaborative members discussed tacking a social/online media train-the-trainers Barcamp-style event onto the beginning or end of the expo.

I live-tweeted last night’s meeting. Here’s what I posted… Continue reading

Blogging: Every word counts

On Sunday morning, from 10:45-noon MT, I’ll be speaking in Denver at the Thin Air Summit. (Twitter hashtag: #TAS08) It’s a new conference on new media that I hope will become an annual affair. A lot of intriguing new media people and companies live and work along Colorado’s Front Range. We’ve really needed our own event. (Hate to break it to ya, Bay Area, but you’re not the only new media hub in the country.)

The title of my talk is listed on the schedule as “Blogging: Making every word count” — which I’ve just decided to re-edit because I dislike unnecessary gerunds, especially twice in the same title 🙂

Grammar aside, that title is deliberately nebulous. Here’s why… Continue reading

Posting to wordpress from my iphone

I’m writing this on my iPhone. Just installed the free wordpress iPhone app. This would really be great if there was a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone. (I loathe this $@?:&@!!! Touchscreen keyboard for anything more than a few words at a time…)

But the big bummer here is that I don’t see any way to create links in a blog post here. Just text. Hmph.

(UPDATE: I might be wrong about that. Editing here to add a link to my Twitter page. We’ll see if that works…)

(UPDATE 2: AHA! It does work! I can handcode HTML with this app. But it’s ultra-tedious.)

Of course, there’s still the glaring usability problem that there is NO GODDAMN COPY AND PASTE on the iphone! :-/

What am I supposed to do, memorize URLs 4 characters at a time & keep switching between the wordpress app and mobile Safari until I get the whole thing? Probably I’ll just scribble them down in my paper notebook and then type them in. How’s THAT for cross-platform technology integration?

Well, at least the WordPress iphone app works. That’s a good start.

UPDATE 3: TECH BREAKING NEWS!!!

New iPhone copy & paste tool:

Is this thing on?

For the last couple of days I’ve been struggling with WordPress. The old version I was on (2.3) for some mysterious reason started slamming my web server to the point it would bring the site down whenever I’d try to write or edit a post. (Tech support at my web host, Bluehost.com, was spectacularly UNhelpful in troubleshooting this problem, BTW. Tom Vilot and I figured it out independently. Bluehost support utterly wasted nearly two hours of my time yesterday in four separate calls….   Grrrrr……)

So now that Tom helped me get WP manually updated to 2.6 (Bluehost only offered automated update options to 2.5.1 — another grrrrrrr……) WP now seems ready to cooperate. (Well, except that my secure login stopped working.) I’m trying it out with this post. We’ll see what happens.

Moment of truth: Is this thing on? If you’re reading this, it worked.

UPDATE: OK, now that I know I can use the site again, here’s a gripe I have that maybe WordPress developers can do something about:

Why is the WordPress update process so F*CKING OBTUSE???

Here’s what I mean…
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Ethical Quandary: Assistant, Blogging, and Logins

I’m wondering how to handle a tricky aspect of working with an assistant.

Hi, all. Sorry I haven’t been blogging here much lately, but I’ve been slammed trying to keep my head above water with my client projects. I’m working on a strategy to lighten my stress level (and reduce the near-constant sensation of being pecked to death by ducks) by considering hiring an assistant.

OK, assistants (virtual and otherwise), PLEASE don’t consider this an opening to pitch yourself in my comments! I need to think through some issues first, and here’s a biggie:

Posting to blogs takes an inordinate amount of my time — not writing the post, generally, but simply making the post — logging into a client blog’s back-end system and dealing with its formatting and other idiosyncrasies to make the post go live. This is especially time-consuming for one client’s blog, which relies on an entirely custom-made, clunky, and bug-ridden content management system.

One thing I’d like an assistant to do for me would be to take the post that I’ve completed and edited, along with illustration (if any), log in to the client’s back-end, and actually post the entry — and preview it to check it before it goes live.

I’m about the ethical and logistical issues. Here are the questions I’m pondering:

  • Should I get the client’s permission beforehand before giving my assistant access to the blog back-end?
  • Should I ask the client to set up a separate login for my assistant, or just give my assistant access to my login for the blog?
  • What questions or concerns are the blog owners likely to have about this, and how might I address them constructively?

I’d love to hear thoughts on this — especially from anyone who has outsourced blog posting (rather than writing). I’d especially love tips for training, oversight, expectations, etc. Please comment below!

Why I keep talking about Nokia’s US Service

Some people have asked why I keep talking — on this blog and elsewhere — about Nokia’s US service problems. This video explains my motives. In a nutshell, it’s because I want to keep options open for journalists. Tools like the Nokia N95 represent a way for journalists to make their own opportunities, regardless of the fate of news organizations. But if Nokia continues to mishandle its US market, it could easily lose out to the Apple iPhone — which, while slick, is not the best tool for mobile reporting/blogging.

Geneva Overholser: Transparency Trumps Tradition

On Saturday I attended an event held by the Northern CA chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. I was covering the keynote panel, “New Money, New Media, New Hope,” live via my amylive Twitter account. Fellow journo and Twitter user Saleem Khan submitted a couple of questions for me to ask the panel. However, the panel ended before I got a chance to pose them.

Fortunately afterward I caught up with one of the panelists, Geneva Overholser, who’s about to take the helm at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism. She was kind enough to offer some thoughtful answers to Khan. Here’s what she had to say.

(Note: My apologies for the different audio levels between the intro and the interview. I recorded on two different devices and edited in iMovie HD, which I don’t yet know very well, so it’s a little clunky. I’m still learning.)

Here’s more info about who was on this panel…

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Toxic Journo Culture Oozes Across Blogosphere

E-Media Tidbits on Poynter.org
My Tidbits post yesterday seemed to resonate with a lot of journalists. Check out the comments .

My E-Media Tidbits post yesterday, Journalism: A Toxic Culture? (Or: Why Aren’t We Having More Fun?) (cross-posted to Contentious.com) has gotten many comments and also picked up wider traction. Here are the various people who’ve added substantive comments of their own to this public conversation. Check them out!

  1. Raising hell and having fun , by Charlotte Anne Lucas (A breakfast conversation I had with Charlotte Anne last weekend in Las Vegas actually gave me the motivation to write that article. Thanks!)
  2. Curiosity and journalism , by James McPherson
  3. The only journalism that counts is by mainstream news , by Mike Gregory
  4. Giv mig journalistik med Bøvl og Begejstring , by Kim Elrose
  5. Carpe diem, baby! by Sanjay Bhatt
  6. Journalists, Keep the Change , by Craig Stoltz
  7. The Capital Times Moves From Print to Online , by Kim Pearson
  8. It’s not whining if we have a good reason , on Smays.com
  9. Learning to love change , by Charlie Beckett

I’ll add more later as I find them. Glad my piece was useful to so many folks!

Where’s Your “Personal Brand,” and Why?

There are lots of different ways to brand yourself.

Yesterday my colleague Jim Kukral wrote about why he’s decided to focus on centralizing his personal brand. He wrote:

“My biggest mistake from the past 7-years or so was not building my personal brand on my own blog hard enough, earlier enough. Some may wonder why someone like me who’s been around for a long time blogging (since 2001), only has about 600 rss subscribers. I’ll tell you why… because I never focused blogging and building my brand here on JimKukral.com until recently.”

That got me thinking about Contentious.com and my own “personal brand.” Although I have an innate dislike to the term “personal brand,” I’ll admit it’s a useful and important concept for people in media-related work and many other fields these days.

The simple reason for that, I think, is that these days it’s unwise to rely on any company, organization, or institution to stick by you. The only leverage most professionals have these days depends on their ability to find or make their own opportunities — which means they need to be known as individuals. not just as faceless functionaries.

Jim seems to gauge the success on his personal brand by traffic to his site and feed. For a lot of people and purposes, that’s perfectly valid and appropriate.

But personally, I see a lot of value in the hybrid home base/distributed presence approach to personal branding…

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