When I sat down to write this, I thought about doing it all professional-like, pretending it would be something that would appear in Wired or some such. But I decided to opt against that. Why should I pretend that I don’t have strong feelings on something? That would be very unlike me. So here goes.
Last night I saw some posts on ADN (that’s what users call App.net btw) from someone I have followed on Twitter for years and someone I respect, Patrick LaForge. Editor of News Presentation at the New York Times. Patrick’s posts expressed, among other things, a desire for ADN to become distinct from Twitter and Facebook. Reading this, I became compelled to finally write down what I’ve been wanting to say for a long time.
ADN is not like Twitter. Let me repeat that. ADN is not like Twitter. One more time with feeling. ADN IS NOT LIKE TWITTER.
Allow me to explain the way I know best, by using a metaphor. Think of Twitter as a hammer. It’s made of metal, but the metal has been fashioned into a hammer. A hammer is mostly only good for one thing: hammering in nails. I suppose you can misuse it to bash someone’s head in, but most people just use it to hammer in nails. So outside of a few edge cases, it has a discrete and finite purpose.
Now think of ADN as metal. It can be shaped into a hammer, but it can also be shaped into anything else metal can be used to make. Currently, ADN looks like a hammer to many people, because that’s the most prominent thing that has been made from it. Also, it’s recognizable. After seven years of Twitter i.e. the hammer, people see another hammer and say aha! I know exactly what this is. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing ADN is even right now and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only thing it will ever be.
I actually don’t understand why the concept is so difficult for people to grasp. All of you reading this probably use Facebook, right? You can use your Facebook account to post updates, photos, share links, etc., but you can also use it to play games and do lots of other things via applications that developers build for Facebook. The same is true of ADN, It’s just early still and no one seems to knows about the non-Twitter like applications that have already been built. Many more will surely follow.
Does everyone get it now? I really hope so. If you still don’t, why not try it out and see for yourself. You can also sign up for free via the iPhone app or the Android one. And please find me if you have questions.
In my next post, I will talk further about what makes ADN so special and why it is more than worthy of your time and attention. But for now at least, I hope we have the idiotic Twitter comparison resolved.
Until somewhat recently, I’ve always worn makeup. Like many girls, I started in my teens and never looked back. Why wouldn’t I wear makeup? It’s what the grown-ups do, right?
As I got older, I learned that less is more, but I continued to put on makeup to go to work, go out (even if just to the grocery store ) and practically every other life situation. Very, very faintly, somewhere in the background, I heard men saying that they like when women don’t wear makeup. Ha, I thought. That’s just because they haven’t seen us first thing in the morning. And everybody knows that after a certain age, women don’t primp to impress men. They do it to impress other women.
Though never a heavy user, I nonetheless felt naked and unkempt if I left the house without any makeup whatsoever. I felt like everyone was looking at me thinking how ugly I looked (I’ve thought that plenty even while wearing makeup, but that’s a story for another day). I felt self-conscious. I felt judged, mostly by myself as it turns out. Putting on makeup to me meant a woman cared about her appearance and took the time to make it a priority. The alternative was obviously a lazy slob who couldn’t take even 5 minutes to powder her shiny nose.
Everything changed after the birth of my son in the Fall of 2011. I suddenly had no time and no perceived need for makeup. With a newborn, especially one like mine, you don’t leave the house much.
At first, I thought I’ll go back to my old makeup routine eventually. And I still did it occasionally. A wedding. A job interview. The seven months that I went back to full-time work. But then something started to happen.
The more I saw myself without makeup, the more I realized I actually liked how I looked. So I stopped putting on anything to leave the house, not even concealer or powder which is makeup that is somewhat undetectable as such.
It felt kind of exhilarating. Freed from the fear that people were staring at me and thinking I looked terrible, I felt so much more comfortable in my own skin. It radiated to other things too, like body image. No one loves their body after having a baby and I still want to make changes for my health, but I’ve accepted myself for now and it feels fantastic.
I’m hardly the first to the no makeup party of course. The image atop this post is from a Twitter account promoting natural beauty and the #nomakeup hashtag on Twitter is always fairly active.
So I decided recently to ask women on my new favorite online place, ADN, for pictures of them without any makeup. I was surprised at how many readily shared them and I want to share them here so that we can all see what true, unadulterated beauty looks like. Some of these came from Twitter as well and you’ll find a link to the lady’s ADN or Twitter profile next to each photo.
Please enjoy and if you’re a woman who always, always wears makeup, I’m not judging you. You should do whatever you like to feel beautiful. But maybe you could try this sometime.
Jessica, wife of Jeff
And finally me.
I hope this helps give some of you the courage to try going without makeup. And if you do, I hope you’ll find it as liberating as I have.
Russians in a Skokie Panera are discussing Rahm Emanuel in a way that makes me very, very tired. Allow me to explain.
It’s an older woman and an older man. The man lives in Florida and is here visiting. The woman fills him in on local current events. Let’s call her “Irene” and let’s call him “Boris.”
Irene: There was a demonstration yesterday about the school closings. You know, on the south side.
Boris: Oh yeah?
Irene: Do you know what one of the placards said? “Jewish Decision.” Why did he [Rahm] have to get into this office? Why be in a position of political power at all? As soon as someone gets in, they hate all of us.
To many Jews, this will sound familiar. I have heard this all my life growing up. My father used to say that at the manufacturing plant where he worked, people blamed everything that was wrong with the economy on Alan Greenspan, another Jew in power. And that’s just here in the U.S. You can imagine what they said in the Soviet Union.
The thinking then goes that Jews should stay out powerful positions, lest all other Jews suffer for decisions they make that could foment Jew hatred.
When I hear things like this, I think are you freaking kidding me? Who cares if Rahm Emanuel is Jewish?
Then I think Christ (ha!), are there really people who blame Jews in this way?
I guess I live in echelons of society where this is not the norm, but I’ve always been warned it exists elsewhere. I don’t know to what extent it exists. It’s almost like a Jewish urban legend, but it strikes into my chest a visceral fear nonetheless. The Jews who lived in Hitler’s Germany also thought they were so deeply integrated into society than no one saw them as different, as “other.”
But now “Irene” and “Boris” have turned to discussing something else I’m very familiar with; the unfortunate situation of someone’s grand-daughter. The poor girl is 25 and unmarried.
Today I submitted my resignation. My last day as a Pioneer Press/Sun-Times Media Group employee will be April 9.
There, I think I’ve finally learned how not to bury the lede
Before we get any further, I want to clarify something about the title of this post.
It doesn’t mean that I’ve not been doing journalism in my job at STMG. In fact, as many of you know, I bristle at the “big J” journalism definiton of the same.
This post’s title just means that, in leaving this job, I’m not leaving the media business. So you’re not through with me yet. I will always be a reporter, even if I don’t always report. It should go without saying that I will always be a blogger.
I now plan to freelance, work on things I am passionate about and spend more time with my family, especially my almost-18-month-old son (suck it, Sheryl Sandberg). I am open to any and all opportunities though. If you have something you want to talk about, let me know. I also might be lauching an online publication/business of my own. Stay tuned.
Especially to those whom I haven’t spoken much recently, it may seem odd that a person who wrote this is now willingly leaving a full-time staff editorial job at an actual print newspaper. A lot can change in the space of a just few years though.
As I just told my editors, this was not an easy decision. I worked for nearly five years to become a journalist. I didn’t study it as an undergrad. I didn’t edit my college or high school paper; I didn’t even write for either paper. I didn’t go to journalism school. I just shoved my way into it by sheer force of will. Maybe one day I’ll tell this story in greater detail.
Given all that, it wasn’t easy to walk away from this opportunity. I want to thank everyone who has advised me. You know who you are.
There is a great deal more to say, but I something else I’ve learned in recent years is the value of not putting everything out there. Yes, in a world of sharing everything and constant TMI, some things should still remain unsaid.
I still believe every word of this though.
So… if you have questions, you know where to find me. In the meantime, I have a bunch of stories to work on.
I’m doing a panel tomorrow for these folks‘ annual conference. I’m repping community/local media i.e. the little guys We also have someone on the panel from the Chicago Tribune, a public radio station, etc.
The topic? What is ALWAYS the topic when a bunch of journalists and PR people get into a room together? How to pitch us, that’s what they want to know.
They want to know how to not be annoying, what are the best ways to pitch and what are the ways that make us slam our heads on our desks.
They want to know how to cold-call a reporter they’ve never interacted with.
They want to hear horror stories about what NOT to do and good stories about when a PR person was extremely helpful.
I have my own, but please share yours in the comments so I have more fodder for the panel.
While I don’t know if they’ll all be in the room for our panel, there are over 400 people registered for this conference so here’s your chance to tell a TON of PR people something that will hopefully ripple throughout the industry.
Thanks in advance!
I’m doing it, but I’m still not sure.
The trouble is, I want to do so much more. I want to do things that are so much grander, so much bigger.
I want to help solve the business problems in the media industry. How to still do good work and make money to sustain it?
I want to break down the “old” rules of media production. I want to create new types of content, not just stories. And by new types of content, I don’t mean videos and live tweets.
I want to help reimagine journalism as a service, not a product.
I want to teach people media literacy.
I want to make media more participatory, more open, more responsive, not so dominated by large corporations (in short, I would love to work here).
I want to do a million other things besides those.
Does anyone know where I can do any of this? Let me know.
He was talking about writing for television, more specifically Treme, his series about New Orleans, but David Simon still expressed exactly how I feel about the writing process:
I’m not one of those people who likes writing. I just have to do it. I can write in a coffee shop, in an office, on an airplane. I’ll use whatever I can find to write on. I can’t write with music on. My mind follows the music and doesn’t concentrate on what I’m doing. Sometimes I can write if the music is classical or jazz, but if it has vocals, I have to turn it off.
I tend to pace around and think about scenes, I tend to take a nap in the middle of the day. I tend to struggle to stay at the computer. Or I’ll stay at the computer and research a point heavily. I’ll be Googling some history of some rhythm-and-blues artist, trying to find out something that I can use in dialogue. I’ll flail around for an hour and a half to get two small phrases that I’ll end up cutting anyway. It’s not really dawdling, because all that time thinking about it, worrying about it, is me coming up with better ideas or throwing out bad ideas. And then when the script is finally due I’ll be spitting it out as fast as I can.
I can’t listen to music either and I have no idea how others can. I need near total silence in fact, or just a dull roar of background noise. If too many people are talking, I get distracted eavesdropping, getting involved in their conversations, etc. So, I wear earplugs.
Googling things for interminable periods of time: yes, yes and YES.
Spitting it out as fast as you can when you’re on deadline: I think all reporters can heartily nod their heads to this one.
And here’s Simon on writer’s block:
That fear is probably latent in every writer. You stare at the page for the first time and if you’re honest at all, you know there’s a little part of you screaming, “But what if I can’t do it anymore?” And then you start writing, and usually the first things are not great, and then you try again and eventually you’re off and running. But every time, there’s that first moment of vague terror.
Amen, brother. I will now go stare at some blank pages before somehow willing myself to start writing.
We could be here all day answering this question and actually many, many, MANY people have already answered it very well. But what I always find lacking in those explanations are the practical, nitty-gritty reasons. This is my attempt to present some of those logisitcal roadblocks.
If there’s anyone who still doesn’t understand why much of print media sucks online, let me explain it to you.
Imagine that you had to print your blog out every day or every week and it had to look nice, be a certain length and have the ads in all the right places.
Now imagine that you wrote your blog with the thought that it was going onto paper first so you couldn’t put hyperlinks into it. If you wanted links in there, you would have to add them later. Or possibly you couldn’t add them at all, depending on what publishing platform you are using to create your paper.
Imagine that everything you wrote had to be edited by another person (a person who is very busy editing many things) so you couldn’t quickly toss something up online whenever you felt like it. Imagine that there were once people whose sole job was editing things quickly, but most of those people were laid off.
Imagine that there are very few people writing and reporting for both print and online and they are people who make very little money. The paper has to go out and it can’t have blank pages so there is no one writing exclusively for online and the people writing for both don’t have a lot of extra time to produce online-only work.
Imagine that publishing something online doesn’t happen at the click of a button.
Imagine that most of what you write has to be original and factual so it takes much longer to produce and remember again that there aren’t many people to produce it.
I could go on, but hopefully you’re beginning to get the idea.
I’m going to start being a “real reporter” on Monday, October 15. If you have any advice for me, let’s hear it. It could be advice on working in a newsroom, reporting/journalism advice, advice about working with sources, anything at all really.
I want to hear from you even if your only experience with journalism is reading the paper and of course I also want to hear from you if you’ve been a reporter for 20 years.
So please, leave me some comments.
I’ve been on App.net for just a short time now and the first thing that became abundantly clear is that there are LOTS of developers on there. That makes a lot of sense if you know the whole story behind ADN (as we have come to call it). In case you don’t know what I’m taking about, here you go.
The community is still fairly small and a lot of people are reading the Global feed which consists of the posts of everyone currently on ADN. So suddenly it dawned on me that here I have all these developers listening… maybe I can ask them to build some stuff for the news biz, instead of the umpteenth game or social tool (and yes, I know that’s not what all developers build, stay with me here).
So I asked them. I got a few responses that asked me what I would like to see built. I was at a bit of a loss. The ideas are seemingly endless and I responded saying something to that effect.
Then a (female!) developer responded that developers don’t really understand what the news business needs so they don’t know what to build. I introduced her to Hacks/Hackers, but obviously getting techies and journalists together is a big job and one organization can’t do it all.
In the meantime, we need ideas for what developers can do for our business and I asked people for some on Twitter. Some responses:
@annatarkov layered electoral map down to legislative, city council.
— Noah Rothman (@noah_c_rothman) August 27, 2012
When I asked Noah what that would entail, he said the map would show every legislative district from U.S. House and Senate all the way down to a local town council or whatever the smallest unit of government is (perhaps school districts too?). He said it would also show polling data, local demography, previous election stats, etc. In other words, a political nerd’s dream come true. He envisioned it as something both reporters and readers could use to gain all manner of insights. Sounds fantastic.
@annatarkov I’d go with FB-like notifications: you read X, since then, Y happened, read about it here.
— Stijn Debrouwere (@stdbrouw) August 27, 2012
This I just love. We have a big problem of context in news stories. It used to be that people would read the same paper every day or watch the same TV station and be able to follow a developing story as more and more was reported on it. Obviously, few people do this nowadays and a lack of context can be quite detrimental to a deep understanding of the topic of a story. In other words, people read a story and don’t understand what’s happening or, worse yet, get the wrong idea about what has occurred or what it means.
The problem of how to deal with this is monumental if you think about it. You can have links within a story that point to previous reports, but many people won’t follow them. You can group the stories together, but many people will not find that page. And it isn’t just previous articles that are at issue. What if understanding the story requires an even rudimentary knowledge of law or medicine or science or any one of dozens of other topics? How can we impart this knowledge to the reader while not turning off those who may have deep knowledge in these areas?
These are just a few ideas of course. I bet there are a thousand others. If you have a good one, please leave it in the comments and please share this post with other news geeks you know. I may add some of your suggestions to the post and then share this with the huge gaggle of developers on ADN. Who knows? Maybe something amazing will get built as a result.