Why I stopped working for a newspaper company

Jugendschutz im Internet by licensed under CC BY NC 2.0
Jugendschutz im Internet by Frank Zimper licensed under CC BY NC 2.0

When I admitted yesterday that I don’t read newspapers, I didn’t cite that as a reason for my departure from the Orange County Register. It’s no secret that the Register offered buyouts in June and Gustavo Arellano reported early on that I was on the list of journalists who would leave.

My decision wasn’t easy. When I joined the the Register in 2005, it was an exciting news and information organization trying to exceed online just as much as it had in print. Continue reading

Why I left newspapers

Urban Tumbleweed by Vonderau Visuals, licensed  under CC BY NC 2.0
Urban Tumbleweed by Vonderau Visuals, licensed under CC BY NC 2.0

I don’t read newspapers. There. I said it.

It’s not that I don’t like newspapers. I love the way their carefully crafted words merge with pictures, illustrations and graphics to tell stories. I’m amazed that large groups of people can work together to essentially produce a short book. Every. Day.

It’s not you, newspapers, it’s me.

I’ve grown as a news consumer over the past couple of decades, and I need someone that understands my modern needs. Continue reading

How to get your story on the front page

If the front page ain’t what it used to be, then how does a journalist get a story on those new front pages? First, accept that the reader is the now the front page editor. Then, make sure your editor knows when you’ve created a new piece of content, and why it is worthy of front page consideration.

  1. Twitter: Add a tweet button to your story and create content that people want to share with their friends.
  2. Facebook: Add a “like” button to your post and create content that people want to share with their friends.
  3. Search: Make sure your stories include words that people might use when searching for the information that you’ve provided, and create content to which people want to link.
  4. Text (messaging): Create content that people want to share with their friends.
  5. Tablet: Create content that people want to share with their friends.
  6. RSS: Make sure readers can easily subscribe to your RSS feed and create a stream of content to which people want to subscribe.
  7. Time shifters: Add a “read later” button and create content that people will want to read later.

Oh, and make sure you know in which publications you want to appear, and don’t write to appear in other publications. In old school terms, don’t write for Playboy if you want to appear in the Washington Post.

The front page isn’t what it used to be

There was a time when reporters worked hard to write stories that editors chose to appear on the  front page of a newspaper. But the front page isn’t what it once was.

  1. For microbloggers getting most of their news from Twitter, the front page is wrapped in 140 characters (with links bringing them to the full story).
  2. For old friends who count on former classmates and colleagues for newsworthy links, the front page is a Facebook stream (with links bringing them to the full story).
  3. For the student using search engines to find information, the front page is the first page of search results is the front page (with links bringing them to the full story).
  4. For digital nomads who rely on alerts to deliver timely news, the front page is a short text message on a phone (with links bringing them to the full story).
  5. For people relaxing with their new tablet, the front page might be an app like Flipboard (with links bringing them to the full story).
  6. For news junkies living on the cloud, the front page might be a group of RSS feeds displayed by Google Reader (with links bringing them to the full story).
  7. For time shifters like me, the front page might be a list of headlines gathered througout the day and saved on Instapaper (with links bringing them to the full story).

With all of these ways that people get their news and information – not to mention my6sense, paper.li and umpteen other services – journalists have more opportunity than ever to appear on front pages. The best part is that these are front pages for very customized publications where people get only the news that they’ve either chosen to follow or actively sought.

Image by “whurley” via Flickr