To-do or not to-do, that is the future

Edward Vielmetti distinctly remembers attending the Shakespearean classic, Hamlet in Stratford, Canada when he was handed a promotional advertisement, “To-do or not to-do, that is the question.”  Little did he know that when he’d become the Lead Blogger for AnnArbor.com, this would be his strategy in how to deal with digital clutter.

Digital clutter can be described in several ways.  For news organizations, it’s clutter that fills up email inboxes, Twitter, Facebook, and the news organizations websites.  And journalists have to do their best to systematically work through it, to pick out what they need and what they don’t need; to-do or not to-do.

Photo of Edward Vielmetti, former Lead Blogger for AnnArbor.com. Photo courtesy of Concentrate.

“I don’t think digital clutter is a corporate issue, it’s a personal issue.  It has everything to do with how you as the reporter filter what you should do and what you shouldn’t do,” Vielmetti said.

Vielmetti suggests making that classic to-do list and balancing it with a not to-do list.

“To-do or not to-do, that’s the question.  If you need to de-clutter, having a list of accomplished goals and tasks will give that reminder at the end of the day what you did and didn’t do.  Either way, you must meet a deadline and I think you as the journalist must come up with a way to balance while accomplishing a deadline,” Vielmetti said.

Jennifer Eyer is the Director of Audience Engagement at AnnArbor.com. Photo courtesy from AnnArbor.com.

In the attempt to turn a profit in a competitive, online world, AnnArbor.com has proven itself in the branding arena.  By keeping its website clutter-free, it has given the reader the sense that their reporting can be trusted.

And with that, comes user interaction.  In an attempt to brand journalists, Jennifer Eyer, Director of Audience Engagement for AnnArbor.com encourages individual reporters to interact with consumers via Facebook, Twitter or the website.

I think that because Facebook has become such a fabric of the online world and the way we interact with people, users want that connection.  With the comments attached to the story, people are looking for a connection with the writer, and we definitely encourage the reporters to respond to people in the comments, don’t leave questions just hanging out in the air,” Eyer said.

With branding being an important part of the future of journalism, experts are hesitant to predict what will happen to print and digital journalism. Eyer hopes the print product never goes away and sees it holding strong for AnnArbor.com.

“I think that for a long time to come there’s going to be a place for both, I would hesitate to make a prediction for 20, 30, 40 years from now.  But for the time being, I think we’ve seen that the print product is holding strong at two days a week and our website traffic is growing exponentially so that is where the growth is but there is still is a certain segment interested in print,” Eyer said.

However, Mark Glaser, Executive Director of Media Shift – a blog dedicated to the digital media revolution is very optimistic for the future of journalism.  In a blog post entitled “10 reasons there’s a bright future for journalism” Glaser writes:

“One of the unsung advantages of the Internet is that it gives us access to content from newspapers, TV channels, blogs and podcasts from around the world. No longer are we limited to our local media for news of the world. Now we can go directly to that corner of the world to get a local angle from far away.”

And Glaser is right.

With the evolution of smart phones, i-Pads, and websites designed to track our every move.  There is no such thing as having to find our news, more or less it will come to us.

Websites such as Spot.us are trying to create brands while trying to stay in business.  Spot.us is a community funded reporting site.  The website will indicate how much the story needs to be covered and the users will fund it.  According to the about page, Spot.us reports its mission as “an open source project to pioneer ‘community powered reporting’.”

“Through Spot.us, the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics. Contributions are tax deductible and we partner with news organizations to distribute content under appropriate licenses.”

And while there is skepticism about the future of the print product, online journalism still continues to find its way into people’s lives.  As long as we continue to find new mediums to push content to the users, the future of online journalism seems prominent.

“Through Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletter, we use those methods to push our content out so were not relying on people to come to us.  We’re getting in people inboxes, getting in their news feed on Facebook, and getting in their twitter feeds.” Eyer said.

No longer does the journalist need the traditional tools of the 20th century to get their story out.

This is the future.

To be anonymous or not?

When I read the New York Times article, “News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments,” I immediately thought this:

Anonymity equals Drama.

When online social networking, and online chat conversations were becoming popular,  I reflect back to my middle school years of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).  In those individual chat boxes and in those chat rooms, people would stop at nothing to tear each other down, swear like crazy and at the end of it, really not say anything beneficial at all.

I think within news organizations, anonymity shouldn’t be allowed.

If we are commenting on credible news organizations websites, anonymity is just another excuse for people who really have nothing to stay, to say something of no value for all to read.  It’s a waste of time when that happens.

Obviously I keep on my local news organizations, and I do enjoy reading the comments at AnnArbor.com but when I see an article that has 25+ comments, I only pay attention to the top 3 that were voted in by other commenters.  After all, I don’t have a lot of time and I will not waste it on people merely bitching and not saying anything to put a resolution to the problem if there is one.

Seattle Times and AnnArbor.com are very similar.  Both newspapers monitor the comments by the staff.  Seattle Times just erases the comment notifying the user by email that the comment was deleted.  AnnArbor.com actually writes a statement in the comment section indicating a comment was removed because it violated their comment policy.

I think the same rules apply.  If you will not provide you’re name, we won’t use you as a source.  It has to work in actually reporting the story, it should work with the people who read and comment.

Downtown Ypsilanti’s new business, B-24’s proves to be sustainable

Just after two-months of operation, B-24’s in downtown Ypsilanti is proving to be viable.

Paying tribute to Ypsilanti heritage, B-24’s name originates from World War II when 8,700 “Liberator’s” bombers were flown out of Willow Run Airport.  During peak volumes, Willow Run employed nearly 42,000 people including “Rosie the Riveter.”

Famous B-24 logo outside of the shop in downtown Ypsilanti

Martha and Tom Rumford, Ann Arbor, who own the building where B-24’s is located, has always seen this space as a coffee shop.

“This is the industrial path of the area.  So in this way, we connect our generations,” Martha Rumford says.  “Some people don’t know what a B-24 is and when 8,700 airplanes were flown out of here, that’s quite an impact on the world.”

Walking in, the clean, sharp ambiance fits with the industrial-life, World War II theme.  Lining the back walls, black and white pictures from the Ypsilanti Historical Society of the bombers depict life back then.  At the front of the store, signs calling all local artists for open-mic night.

Rebecca Manney, Ypsilanti, along with Martha and Tom Rumford tasted coffee from several different local roasters and finally settled on Roos Roast and Mighty Good coffee both from Ann Arbor and also Chazzano’s coffee from Ferndale.

Operations Manager, Rebecca Manney poses in front of the traditional espresso machine used at B-24's

 

 

“The freshness and the quality and the fact that it’s local are really the main reasons that went into our coffee selection,” Manney said.

 

 

 

 

View of the famous pour-coffee coffee that B-24 brews.

 

 

 

“We feature pour-over coffee so you can pick up every hint and nuance of each coffee,” Manney said. All bakery and bagel items are freshly baked every morning at B-24’s by Lesley Austin who owns a dress shop down the street from B-24’s.

 

Barry Dauphin, Ypsilanti, was excited to see a coffee shop re-open in this space after the disappointed closing of the former Bombadill’s.

“I like the décor,” Dauphin said. “I think the new theme is local and very connected to the area.”

And Dauphin is very happy to see life springing back into Ypsilanti.

“Every time one thing opens, something else closes. It’s almost like karma,” Dauphin said.  “And so I’m hoping with this place opening, others will move into a direction of more vitality in downtown.  There wouldn’t be a downtown without folks like this.”

 

Art gallery posted in the dining room at B-24. Artist: Fritz Ho

 

 

Every month, B-24’s features a local artist.  This month, Fritz Ho, a barista who works at B-24’s is featuring six pieces for sale.

 

 

 

 

In an effort to increase traffic, B-24’s is advertising for local artists to play in their space.

“We want to be a meeting place for groups and for live music,” Manney said.

And that’s what is happening in this space.

Open mic nights are being offered every Friday from 7:30-10 p.m. and sign-up’s can happen either their Facebook page or in store.  Also, calling local bands and artists to play sets other nights of the week.

“It’s interesting tying coffee and airplanes together but it awesome showing Ypsilanti heritage,” Manney said. “And the locals appreciate the name.”

As regulars become familiar with B-24’s, Manney discovers that a lot of people don’t know what the B-24 bomber is.

“It’s interesting to hear the reactions from the customers when they ask questions about the heritage,” Manney said.

With acknowledgement from the local neighborhood, B-24’s is looking to promote their sweet treats and their local music events also serving up ice cream for summer time around the corner.

“We are looking to hit the local business school for next year and canvas the neighborhood,” Martha Rumford says. “For now, were into summer and looking forward to the local festivals and the music it will bring to our part of town.

For more information, visit b-24’s.com or their Facebook page.

test video post

2010 Detroit Auto Show test

 

What the still photo does for journalism-

In the article, “What the still photo does best,” Hank Klibanoff depicts a world becoming more dependent on photo journalism and video and how one picture can capture the viewer’s emotion immensely.

It is so doubt that with the evolution of smart phones, flip cams, and cameras, that it has become much easier and more acceptable to shoot video or photos of events taking place.  And although, the typical person doesn’t have any photo training, we are able to depict history making events at any moment in time.  A trained photographer is not always on the scene to snap something.  However, still photos will be able to capture and cultivate the human experience rather than any video.  Although a video can be watched over and over again, we can also stare at photos for a long time and really try to get inside of what was really going on in that place and time.

Vice President Joe Biden, joined by daughter Ashley Biden, left, wife Dr. Jill Biden, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, react to a joke made by performing artist Jamie Foxx during “The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House,” a concert celebrating Black History Month and the legacy of Motown Records, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The quality of the still photo and how it can be refined and edited will always have it’s place as well.  In screen shots of video, you cannot clean them up.  Even though Neda Agha Soltan’s death was recorded on video by a cell phone, the screen grab doesn’t capture how trying that moment in time was.  However, the fact that someone did record it and then was forwarded to become national news is incredible.  To really capture my emotion and reaction, I would rather not see a screen grab and watch the video. Events such as these needs to be documented to become the news.

There is a reason that Brian Storm has a photograph by Charles Moore hanging in his office depicting the emotional scene in Birmingham of a black woman and two black men being pounded by a fire house.  For Storm, it more than likely is daily reminder of what this country went through to get to where we are today when it comes to the social injustice of blacks back then.  And really, you can’t get that everyday from your office if it’s not in still photo.

President Barack Obama receives a leather-bound 2009 edition of the "Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States" from David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, center, in the Oval Office, Feb. 25, 2011. Joining them are staff from the Office of the Federal Register and National Archives and Records Administration. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It is unsettling that Webinars are starting to replace typical workshops and classes for photo training.  After spending a large amount of time in my first career, developing Webinars and introducing them to my staff became second nature.  However, at the end of the day, I saw what Webinars can’t do for several individuals.  It still cannot provide that one-on-one approach that so many of us need.  Sometimes convenience cannot take the place of thorough-ness.  I think that for something as important as photo-journalism, we cannot afford mistakes.  Most of the time, we only have one chance to depict history and because someone chose convenience over getting it right the first time, is sad especially if it’s the only chance we had to get the shot.

Seattle times/ how it links.

For the most part, Seattle Times doesn’t link to their actual news stories unless they are pulling it from other news sources.

However, for opinion pieces and blogs, the writers will link to specific topics they are referring to.  For example, Brier Dudley’s blog links to specific topics most of the time.  His latest blog post which is titled “Microsoft partners made $580 billion last year, IDC says,” lead says “Microsoft must be getting tired of all those stories about Apple app developers striking it rich” and then providing a link to an article by Julie Weed, Special to the Seattle Times.  Her article which titled “Lots of small ways apps can make big money,” provides another link further down the page when describing how small businesses can be matched with translators. And that’s where the trail ends… 🙂

Seattle Times also doesn’t open a brand new window to see these links, it transfers you to the site within the same tab.  I think this is something they can improve upon because not everyone wants to completely deviate from the original article.  And many times, if deviated, users won’t have the motivation to continue looking for the original article they started from.

Seattle Times does use shells and on the main page, has links at the very top that is of interest to the general user.  These topics include local, nation/world, business/tech, sports, entertainment, living, travel, and opinion.  And on the right hand side, in a light blue bar, (the other topics are in a dark blue bar), you will see: shopping, jobs, auto, homes, rental, classifieds, buy ads.  These topics are in the light blue bar due to their lesser importance of the first set of topics.

On their home, local page, the shell I believe would be referred to as a story shell according to Foust.  The front page depicts a story on an investigation entitled “Bed Brokers scramble to cash in on home placements.” On the bottom of the box for the story, it links to the series.

I have not found any links that don’t work yet.

Nancy Leson, a restaurant/food blogger for the Seattle Times has a blog entitled “Why I love our Asian Markets,” and it links to five Asian markets. Only I thought, that maybe that link would actually link to a website of five Asian markets in Seattle.  It doesn’t.  It only links to another blog of Leson’s entitled “A region rich in Asian markets.” The original link has a false interpretation making the user think a.) there are five Asian markets in Seattle and b:) the link provided will indeed link you to a site for these five Asian market that do not exist!  Yes, five Asian markets are profiled but with a simple google search, you will find many other Asian markets missing such as Paldo World.

Seattle Times does at best, invest a lot in links but more in opinions and blog pieces throughout the website.

A2 local foods and surrounding areas

I am very passionate about purchasing and/or digesting anything local.

I firmly believe in the necessitation to try and keep our purchases local.  Thus, purchasing locally, that money goes back into aiding the local economy.

Therefore, I chose to start a fan page on Facebook called A2 local food & surrounding areas.  The purpose of the page was to showcase local food movements, local restaurants, local food events, local chefs, and post the updates from the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.  I want the page to be that one stop shop if you want all news on local food, you go there to get your updates.

My strategy, more or less was to post facebook and twitter updates requesting my friends to follow my page.  Also, used the word technique and talked to my friends to like/follow my page.

There is a blog called the Farmers Marketer and I’ve wanted to model my pages behind her blog but in a facebook/twitter social media outlet.

On this page, I also offered for the fans to post on the page of things they comes across as well.  As of yet, I have 28 fans and was able with some of them about Selma Cafe.

I included things about Selma, the Farmers Market, and the local food summit that took place last week.  I’m still updating it as I come across things.

On Twitter, I started an account named A2localfoods and although I posted most of the same things there, it hasn’t gotten as many followers as I’d like.  I’ve always been better at using Facebook then Twitter.

Aside from this project, I do plan on keeping up with the facebook part of it.  I was very motivated by the fans and how I was able to interact with them.  Now, I just need to find a new facebook profile picture. 🙂

Tweeting for the Seattle Times

I hate Twitter.

No, really I do.

It’s just another social network to keep up on.

But in the last week, I’ve watched my Twitter, really trying to like Twitter and see what it offers as opposed to email and Facebook.

Of course, I’m following every Seattle Times account on Twitter.  And so, today I found a reason why I like Twitter.  To answer the question of how many Twitter accounts the Seattle Times has, it has nine accounts which aren’t all updated in a timely manner.  For instance, they have an account called Seattle Times Photo.  The last update was August 31, 2010.  But the last update is what made me sort-of like Twitter.  The last Tweet, was of a homeless Mother and Son and the link, directed me to the Seattle Times website to view the entire article and photo’s.  Click here for the full story.

Or another example, a photo to the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Absolutely breath-taking.

I would have never seen those things if I would have directly went to the website, let alone to even think to search for photo’s like that.

The main Seattle Times twitter page updates sometimes every 12 hours or every hour.  Of course, yesterday was a bit crazy with it being the Super Bowl and everything.

As far as the rest of the pages, they are broken up into individual beats such as sports, business, opinions, life, and breaking news.  There is even a page dedicated to writing about the American Idol TV show but it hasn’t been updated since September.

So, I guess I’m turning my opinion around.  I like being able to have just a few stories thrown at me at a time, determine whether or not it’s something I would be interested in and filter it that way.  I would have never seen the invisible families post or the meteor shower post if it weren’t for Twitter.

Sometimes you want to read the news but aren’t sure of what you’re looking for that interests you, Facebook and Twitter are both social media outlets that allow that to a certain degree.

Now I just need to download Tweetdeck.

Seattle Times- unquestionably my favorite city in the entire world

Seattle– a city that I never could get sick of exploring.  I never thought I could fall in love so quickly.

I hadn’t really followed the Seattle Times until.. (music please), I saw the Rock N’ Roll Marathon pictures on the front of the Sunday Seattle Times.  I ran that Marathon and although I didn’t see any pictures of myself (I’d be too lucky), it was a newspaper I would always keep.  Now, if I could only find it.

Right smack dab on the front of the website, Seattle Times has a Blog link.  Click that.

You are led to eight different kinds of blogs all divided into Business and Technology, Opinion, Entertainment, Living, Local, Nation/World, Sport, and Travel.  After reviewing each, it looks as if these are beats assigned to Seattle Times reporters whom report weekly on their given topic.

On the right side of the Blogs page, there is a forum link.  Click that and you are led to community discussions that are started by commentators.  Of course, you can comment on the blogs in this part of the website.  Wow, there is so much to explore on this website.  No offense to Annarbor.com but this website makes them seem like a wash.

I’m constantly interested.

On the bottom right hand side of the page, you can see most read, most commented, and most emailed.  It weeds out the less-important that you might not want to read about.  I like this filter system.

I like the forum discussion part of this website.  It gives the readers a chance to bring up any questions or debates about the area just in case it’s a topic that hasn’t been covered yet.  On the other side of that comment, it’s a way for news to come to the reporter.. instead of the reporter racking their brain looking for it.  Maybe?

Looks like it’s working.

Click here for the blog portion of the Seattle times.

New dietary guidelines urge Americans to change lifestyles

I’ll be the first to admit, my parents didn’t feed me well.  I’m sure others don’t recognize my problem, I think about what I put in my mouth each and every day.  I’ve almost become obsessive about it.  And even with that, I still struggle with the problem of losing weight.

When I was younger, my parents didn’t hesitate to push me into every sport I enjoyed, every curricular activity that was offered and in high school, especially my senior year, I averaged 4 hours of sleep a night.  Ok, enough complaining.

Each night, they probably made the choice to eat Chinese Food, Taco Bell, the all-American favorite Pizza, and maybe they would cook once every two weeks.  Goodness, how I loved my parents in those days.

However, it wasn’t until my senior year when my oldest step-sister came over for Thanksgiving and her and my Mother got into an argument because all-of-a-sudden, my Mother couldn’t cook for her anymore.  Erin had become a Pescetarian (Vegetarian who eats fish).

Constantly interested in the vegan movement to be more precise, I finally met my new friend Alison, who was a Vegan.  After six-months of knowing Alison, I made the decision to go Vegan, cold turkey and all.  Over the last two-years, I’ve drifted back and forth from Vegetarian and Vegan but for the most part, I have never felt so healthy in my life.

Which is why I’m excited to report that new guidelines will be released by the federal government to urge American’s to clean up their diets.

Our diets are filled with sugars, salts, junk-food, fast food and un-fulfilled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

For the full report on dietary guidelines, click here:

It is sad to say that two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese and one-third of children are on the same track.

“We are saying to Americans: You really need to think about your diet because you want to live a good, healthy life and you want your children and grandchildren to have that same opportunity.  You need to be conscious of what you eat,”  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told USA TODAY.

23 recommendations will be made today when the guidelines are released, to name a few:

  • Consume fewer calories from solid fats and added sugar.
  • Obviously, eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
  • Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
  • Reduce daily sodium intake.

And of course, incorporating a little exercise into this change is necessary.  For advice on exercising in the winter, click here.

And now if only I could get my parents to hop on the band wagon and nutritionists became more affordable, everyone would be a bit more healthier.

For the full story from USA TODAY, click here:

 

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