New position, new frontiers

Back when I was a senior in college, I went to a job fair in Orange County seeking a lead on my first job in the newsroom.

As I was going through the rounds, it becomes obvious there are some things that I just didn’t have — an internship at a daily newspaper, fresh clips, etc.

After some so-so interviews, I come to a table where the editor reads over my resume and some clips. He noticed my Internet experience — interim online editor at the Guardian, working for SMART Marketing Technologies, etc. He pointed to it and said, “You should really emphasize this” noting that newsrooms will need more and more people with that type of experience.

Since then, I was more focused on other aspects of the newsroom — reporting, copy editing and pagination. The Internet was still on my plate at The Daily Mining Gazette when I helped produce the Web edition and provided assistance to the other reporters in the newsroom.

That brings me to 2006 and the realization that the editor was correct. Since starting at the Enterprise-Record in Chico, it became pretty apparent that there was a lot of work that could be done to improve the Web site and the paper’s online efforts.

After helping with some parts of the Web site, including launching occasional blogs to cover news events, I was promoted in September to the newly created position of online content editor.

With just over a month under my belt, the new position is presenting new opportunities and challenges to the newsroom and myself. Moving ahead, I hope to help further bridge the gap between newsprint and the Internet.

Considering that the commercial Internet over 10 years old, the window to make a strong impression has never seemed more tantalized and urgent. In any given market, newspapers have the deepest staff to go forth and seek the news. Newspapers are often in the best position to be a dominant player in the online market in certain categories, like providing local news to readers.

We’ve already revamped our photo galleries, launched podcasts and increased the amount of breaking news on the site. This week, we launched the newspaper’s most comprehensive election coverage ever — with candidate video clips and full audio interviews with candidates.

These are exciting times. I hope to help move the Enterprise-Record forward so we can keep the public informed.

The latest from E-R Labs

Things are crazy busy here in Chico. Here’s the latest video I produced:

It’s about the deluge of Pleasant Valley High School students rushing off campus every day for lunch. It’s an interesting sight to behold.

There’s a lot more stuff going on in the newsroom. I hope to share more with you all later.

Interesting convergence

It was interesting to see two stories about the dangers of journalism cross by this week. First was the news that the Iraq war is now the deadliest conflict for journalists in 100 years. On the heels of that news came a package of stories from the Arizona Republic marking the 30th anniversary of the brutal car bombing of investigative journalist Don Bolles.

According to a May 29 article on the Editor & Publisher magazine Web site, The Freedom Forum reported 71 journalists have been killed in the Iraq theater since 2003. This tops the 69 journalists killed during World War II.

The article also cites a Committee to Protect Journalists statistic that 26 support staff have died. Reporters Without Borders noted at least 42 journalists have been kidnapped.

The following day, E&P posted a link to The Arizona Republic’s special report on the slaying of Don Bolles on June 2, 1976. Reading the articles, Bolles was lured to a hotel on a false tip. A remote-controlled bomb attached to his undercarriage exploded as he was driving away.

Thankfully they found and convicted the people who committed the crimes — apparently in retaliation for Bolles’ stories. An article discusses the controversy around one suspect.

As I read through these articles, I pondered what these reporters’ sacrifices meant. I still haven’t reached any solid conclusions. I certainly salute their bravery and their dedication to reporting.

I certainly appreciate the reports on these reporters, especially Bolles. It was shocking to realize that such a horrific and brutal hit could happen in the United States. Reading about Bolles’ life and dedication to uncovering corruption at all levels was inspiring. I was in awestruck to read that he apparently tried to write a humor column every few weeks despite the constant rejection.

I wonder if I would be able to step up and face a gauntlet of incredibly harsh conditions. I also dwell on the fact these reporters were all likely killed in violation of international law and the codes of war. Ideally, reporters should be noncombatants dedicated to make some sense of a conflict’s chaotic nature.

Reading stories like Bolles’ certainly make me want to keep pushing as a reporter.

Fall cleaning

I’ve noticed the professional side of my site isn’t as current as it should be. There have been no updates since I started at the Enterprise-Record. With some looking to the site for inspiration, the content is getting long in the tooth (not that I don’t mind going through my old work).

That’s going to change shortly. I’ve got a couple of posts roaring to go on this blog. While I haven’t written the next great expose over the past eight months, I’ve got some stories that I would be proud to post up here. I also want to detail some of my work helping to develop additional news content for paper’s Web site — including the “live” event blogs for Labor Day and Halloween.

More soon.

Do they know it’s freedom?

I’m frankly disturbed by the latest survey reports regarding teenagers’ take on the First Amendment. This USA Today article details the results of the U. Conn. survey. Key highlights include one-third of the 112,003 saying the government should approve newspaper stories before the public sees them. Thankfully a majority of students say the press shouldn’t be subjected to government censorship.

What are they teaching these kids in school? The teachers and principals in the USA Today story say that they’re teaching kids about the First Amendment, but is the message getting across? What’s the message?

I think part of the problem might lie in that the First Amendment isn’t seen as relevant to today’s youth. It’s sad on many levels because the need for freedom of speech and expression has never been more important. Perhaps the best way to help demonstrate the relevance of the First Amendment is to include discussions of how it’s in their daily lives. Some ideas — Howard Stern getting fined by the FCC and his move to satellite radio, students’ blogs being censored by schools, students wearing Pepsi shirts getting suspended on a school-sanctioned Coca-Cola appreciation day. The point is there’s a ton of examples, they just need to be pointed out.

Part of students’ apathy toward their first freedoms may be due to the fact the groups that strongly support the First Amendment, such as the Society of Professional Journalists, aren’t developing persuasive arguments for their cause. When I was actively involved in SPJ, they were sponsoring writing contests with an essay prompt along the lines of “What does the First Amendment mean to you?” Doesn’t your brain bubble with thoughts with such a scintillating question?

Unfortunately the problem I see is that many modern discussions involve how the First Amendment is limited by some practical concerns. Broadcast regulations, active combat concerns and the fact that primary and secondary schools can limit student newspapers are all issues that muddy the First Amendment picture. At the same time, a greater comprehension of the Bill of Rights would only help students and adults navigate their way through such muddy waters.

Gazette wins!

The Daily Mining Gazette was in top shape in the recently announced Better Newspaper Awards from the Michigan Press Association. Staffers, past and present, from the newspaper won seven awards including three first place wins. Based points from the paper’s awards, the Gazette won third place honors in the General Excellence category.

Former staff writers Erin Alberty and I won a first place award in spot news for our package of stories entitled “The Ultimate Sacrifice.” The two stories told the story about the death of Staff Sgt. Paul J. Johnson and its impact on his family and friends.

In the same category, I won a third place award for my coverage of the Michigan Tech University Board of Control’s removal of President Curt Tompkins. I assembled three stories on deadline about the decision and its effect.

Results from the Michigan AP awards

This is my first “number one” award from the Michigan Press Association and the first time I’ve won more than one award in a competition. To date, I’ve won a total of six awards from the MPA and the Michigan AP Editorial Association for my work at the paper. To see the award-winning stories, please click here.

Here’s a breakdown of other Gazette award-winners:

  • The paper won first place in Special Sections for the annual magazine entitled Copper Country Snapshots. The magazine included short stories and photos sampling the different walks of life and activities in the region. I contributed several stories to the section as well as other reporters and photographers.

  • The professional walleye championship was another winner for Gazette writers who earned a first place award for its coverage of the pro walleye trail. Writers included writers Garrett Neese and Jim Junttila as well as former Gazette writers Kevin Colbert and Erik Johns. The series previously won a first place award from the Michigan AP for sustained coverage of a single sports event.

  • Gazette Writer Brad Salmen won a third place award in feature writing for his profile on Stephen Dresch of Hancock.

  • Former staff writer Zac Anderson won an honorable mention award in enterprise reporting for his series “The Final Bell” about the last days of White Pine High School. Anderson’s series previously won the sweepstakes award from the Michigan AP.

I’m extremely pleased by the number of awards that the newspaper has received. During my tenure at the paper, I always believed that The Gazette was the best publication in the Upper Peninsula. I was always willing to go the extra mile to make sure we were.

It is a shame that there are so many former staffers from the paper (including myself), but I hope these awards are a tribute to the hard work everyone contributed to the newspaper. When I think of these awards, I’ll always remember Archy, Barry, Beth, Bruce, Cathy, Dan R., Dan S., Dave, Elliot, Erik, Erin, Garrett, Ginger, Jeff, Jesse, Julie, Katie, Kevin, Mark, Marshall, Matt, Michele, Mike, Olivia, Pat, Peter, Roger, Serg, Steve, Will, Zac and everyone else.

DMG reloaded

Although I don’t visit this site as much as I used to, I’d like to note that The Daily Mining Gazette’s Web site has been relaunched.

I’m not going to comment too much on the new design, aside that it’s very similar to other Ogden Newspaper Web sites. I think a site refresh was needed — the old design was kicking around for awhile.

On the other hand, four years of excerpted Gazette articles have disappeared. A one-month archive takes its place.

Closing the blog…

With this year’s UNITY fading behind us, I wanted to close the book on my UNITY blog. I hope for many positive returns from the convention, and I want to stay in contact with the numerous wonderful people I met during those four days in August.

A note on the last update — I’ve transferred the posts stored on my eMate, but wasn’t able to immediately enter because of a lack of Internet access. To keep the entry dates straight, I’ve kept the original post dates but added a note that these posts weren’t uploaded until later.

Please direct comments to ryan -at- Thanks to everyone that made this convention such a wonderful experience.

Down to the wire

I was in a mad dash to the finish of the career fair Saturday morning, but coming under with a cold didn’t help matters much.

I think I did pretty well — I met a lot of great people and I think there’s some prospects out there. Finally there’s a couple of hours to catch my breath before I get to a seminar — hopefully it’ll be more vital than the broadcasting panel I found myself in on Wednesday.

Dinner with Connie

At the AAJA Gala Banquet at the downtown Hyatt. Although he didn’t speak, Chef Morimoto got a great reception.

Connie Chung dazzled the huge crowed with her take on the upcoming presidential election set to the tune of Love and Marriage. Although she’s no Sinatra, her lyrics were on the mark and the crowd responded appropriately.

I was very impressed with Chung after her speech, more impressed than I thought I would be. Her remarks were right on regarding how race and gender are portrayed in the media.

This post was originally created on Aug. 6, 2004. It was uploaded later.