The new DailyEmerald.com

We’re excited to announce a collaborative project to rebuild DailyEmerald.com and experiment with multimedia, code and design to tell stories with the newsroom. We want to be the Vox of college media.

The project is part of an effort by Sam Stites, the Emerald’s current editor, and Sami Edge,  who was selected last night as the incoming editor, to shift to multimedia and mobile storytelling in the third year of the Emerald’s “Revolution.”

The project will be lead on the newsroom side by digital managing editor Eliza Collins. The business side will be lead by Ivar Vong, programmer and head of The Garage, and Andy Rossback, designer and project manager for The Garage.

Look for the beta on Tuesday, April 22 and the official public launch in late May.

Follow our work on Twitter with #EmeraldCode. For other posts related to this project, visit the EmeraldCode topic page.

For the Record: 2012 Libel case against Emerald dismissed

Note* The purpose of this post is to clarify public allegations made by Keith Appleby against the Emerald on multiple comment sections of our articles.

In January of 2012, the Emerald published a story about a lawsuit filed against the University of Oregon by a former UO doctoral student who had been disciplined by a Student Conduct Hearing Panel for unwanted contact with two fellow graduate students. Keith Appleby had been barred from enrolling in classes by the UO for failing to complete sanctions imposed by the Panel. Appleby appealed his case to the Oregon Court of Appeals and filed a racketeering lawsuit against the University seeking damages in excess of $1 million— thus prompting Emerald news editor Kenny Ocker to reach out to both parties to write the story.

The story published and Appleby reached out to the Emerald to take the article down, claiming there were factual inaccuracies. Ocker took into account the errors, corrected them and kept the story online.

Appleby expressed that he was unhappy with the changes and asked for a retraction and apology. Since the facts of the story were correct, the Emerald refused to remove the story.

In January 2013, Appleby filed a libel suit against the Emerald claiming the story had false information. The Emerald’s attorney filed an Anti-SLAPP motion against Appleby’s case and a Lane County judge ruled in favor of the Emerald in July.

The case was dismissed, but Appleby continues to leave comments on Emerald articles claiming libelous statements were made against him.

Below are the rulings entered by the court dismissing Appleby’s case and awarding the Emerald and Mr. Ocker their attorney’s fees.

p 130722 Limited Judgment Filed (00890654xa0152) by sstites500

p 131004 Corrected Limited Judgment Awarding Fees Filed (00890657xa0152) by sstites500

Why this Revolution has only just begun

The word “innovation” is so overused it’s almost useless.

But the Webster definition is refreshingly simple: The introduction of something new.

That’s what newspapers need. Because the introduction of something old just isn’t cutting it.

We’ve introduced a few new things here at the Emerald in the two years since my first post on this blog.

But as I end my time here today and hand off the publisher’s standing desk to Charlie Weaver, I’ve learned that “innovation” really needs another word: “continuous.”

Our Revolution seemed overwhelming and important at the time. And it was. We killed our traditional daily newspaper; created new print editions and a digital-first newsroom; launched an events division, a photo booth business, a creative agency and more.

But for the Emerald to thrive through disruptive changes in the media and technology industries, that Revolution has to be just the start. We must adopt the Lean Startup concept of “continuous innovation.”

The most enduring and successful organizations are the ones that never settle for good enough. They’re comfortable with a culture that requires a continuous search for improvements. 

That’s what newspapers need. That’s what the Emerald needs. And that’s what Charlie Weaver will bring.

I can’t wait to see what he and our students introduce next.

No more double standards: What we learned during our fabrication investigation

When a source calls a newsroom and asks to be removed from a story, an editor’s first instinct is to trust their reporter’s work and challenge the source.

But even when a claim seems implausible, it’s our duty to investigate (We’re journalists, after all).

Trusting reporters is an intrinsic part of being an editor. You’d hope a foreman trusts the men and women pouring concrete and working the heavy machinery at a construction site. Or that the person holding the scissors while you sit in a barber’s chair knows just what you mean when you ask for a little off the top.

So when Ashley Adelman called the Emerald newsroom, her claim of a misquote was met with slight skepticism.

But even when you doubt  a claim, you investigate. And when we asked Jessica Fisher to come by to clear up what we were sure was a misunderstanding, her response was typical.

She said she had class and that she’d stop by during her break and let us peek at her notes. Simple enough — she’s a student.

When Adelman emailed us to expand on her original complaint, things got a bit more serious. It wasn’t a misquote she was addressing.  Adelman told us she was never interviewed for the cover story her name appeared in.

Fisher’s break came and went. She wasn’t responding to phone calls or text messages. We began to worry that we had misplaced our trust.

It was approximately 7 p.m. when we found Fisher’s confession.

I was on the phone within minutes. I had apologized to Adelman for the inconvenience a couple of times already. We pulled the story and clued her in on the investigation at 3 p.m.  when Fisher couldn’t be reached.

And as hard it was to swallow, the next logical question was simple: Is this the only time this happened? Fisher’s note said it wasn’t, but  we had to investigate.

We recruited our three news editors to pore over every story Fisher wrote for the paper, contact her sources and find out if there was any more fabrication.

We didn’t want to publish the probe’s findings until we were absolutely sure of them.

That’s why it took six weeks from the time we posted Sam Stites’ letter from the editor to the time we went live with the story about the investigation.

When our editors couldn’t find a source, we had them double their efforts. As the evidence mounted, we asked Fisher to come in for an interview to tell her side of the story. She obliged. And a few days after the interview, she sent us an email expanding on her situation.

In deciding how to go about publishing our findings, Sam got in touch with professionals from across the country (ranging from veteran editors at the Oregonian, Seattle Times and Willamette Week, to ethics experts at the Poynter Institute) to get their thoughts.  Many commended us for the way were handling the situation and we took their advice in crafting the finished post. We also took cues from The New York Times’ handling of the Jayson Blair case — we weren’t taking any chances.

Do it once. Do it right.

That’s the motto we’ve adopted when it comes to situations like this. When our news editors hit road blocks in finding some of Fisher’s sources — and there were plenty at times — we asked them to soldier on.

We asked them to check databases and cross-reference with other sources. We asked them to call again and again until we found the sources, or reached a point where their existence seemed far fetched. The results of their work are published and we couldn’t be more proud of them considering the circumstances.

Ian Campbell, Sami Edge and Jordan Tichenor took on the duty of tracking down the men and women whose names appeared in print and online over the five months that our former food writer produced content for us.

Sam didn’t name Fisher in his original letter due to the fact she couldn’t be reached to notify her we would be naming her. She turned off her phone and disabled her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We feared for her well-being.

We did, however, publish Fisher’s name in the latest piece on the matter after letting her know we would do so.  We did it because we hold ourselves to the same level of transparency of the public bodies that we cover.

We’ve also changed our workflow to prevent this from happening again. Desk editors are more rigorous with their fact checking and line editing. Reporters also provide copy editors with contact information for sources. The copy desk then randomly audits stories.

Why didn’t we ask them to do this before? We didn’t think we had to. Making up quotes is something we thought every one of our staffers — even the new ones — knows not to do before he or she starts reporting.

Everything from the investigation to Monday’s publication of our findings and our workflow changes was done with one thing in mind: To repair and maintain the public’s trust in the University of Oregon’s independent, student-run news organization.

Did we succeed? We’ll find out in the coming weeks, months and years as we continue to do our due diligence in providing the best news, sports and entertainment coverage on campus.

One thing’s for sure: That trust should go both ways. So when a source calls to report a problem with a story, the response will be a little less skeptical and a lot more understanding. There shouldn’t be double standards when it comes to the trust between a news source and its audience.

-Sincerely, Eder Campuzano

P.S. On the note of transparency, we’ve fielded multiple requests for the letters and notes Jessica Fisher sent to the Emerald’s management team. We felt it was necessary to give our audience and the journalism community the full context of what we were dealing with. Below is the original note Fisher left on the Emerald’s staircase, and an email she sent to myself on Feb. 25. We wish Fisher well and hope we can all walk away from this incident having learned a great life lesson.

-Sam Stites

Jessica Fisher Letter to Julianne Parker

 

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Why I’m leaving the Emerald and who might take my place

I’ve loved my last three years at the Emerald. I’ve learned more than I imagined possible about journalism, technology and business. But this will be my last term here at the University of Oregon.

I started here in 2011 knowing that I wanted to eventually return to a professional newsroom. I’ve been looking for a newsroom that offered the opportunity to focus on enterprise reporting and experiment with new ways to produce civic journalism. I found the right fit at the Las Vegas Sun, where I will become the political editor on March 31.

Charlie Weaver

At the same time, I’ve been working with our students, professional staff and board to search for my replacement. We opened a nationwide search in April 2012. We’ve been looking for people with credentials in journalism, business and technology but with the understanding and energy to inspire young people.

We received 20 applications and our board has narrowed its choice down to two finalists: Charlie Weaver and Steve Woodward.

Weaver has been the digital media and design director at the Iowa State Daily since 2007. Between 2005 and 2007, he served as art director at the Iowa State Daily. He is responsible for the operations, management, budgeting and development of the Daily’s digital media team. He also acts as an adviser to the editorial, advertising and creative departments. He graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Steve Woodward

Woodward lectures on media at Central Washington University and is CEO and founder of Nozzl Real-Time Technologies Inc. He previously worked as an editor and reporter at The Oregonian, Hartford Courant, The Kansas City Star and American City Business Journals Inc. in Kansas City, San Francisco and Portland. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wright State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

The Emerald’s board of directors is expected to announce its selection by March 1.

We’re lucky to have two great candidates, and I’ll be eager to see how they build on and improve upon what our students started with their Revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A collection of the best investigative reporting in college media

This is an open thread to collect the best investigative reporting in college media. It can be from this year but really we’re looking for any remarkable work ever produced in college journalism. Share it here in the comments on Twitter with #collegemediawatchdog.

The Student Press Law Center Tumblr has a great running collection of watchdog stories.

The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists
The Crimson White / University of Alambama

Special projects collection
The Lantern / Obio State University

 

Three ways to support independent student journalism

We started three funds to support important Emerald ventures. If you’re interested, please consider contributing. All contributions to our nonprofit are tax-deductible.

SunshineCampus Fund // Supports in-depth enterprise reporting and public records requests

Equipment Fund // Supports investments in photo, video, audio and computer equipment for digital journalism, Emerald Photo Booth and The Venture Dept.

Education Fund // Supports seminars, speakers and travel for conferences (ONA, IRE, ACP) and football game coverage

The first step to rebuilding our news website

Today we started planning to rebuild our main news website. We’ll keep blogging about the planning project over the next six months.

We’d love to hear your thoughts along the way. Join the discussion on Twitter with #EmeraldCode.

Emerald Media Group // Project 13U // DailyEmerald.com rebuild
Meeting 1 Notes // 12.13.13

GOALS

- Build for the social/mobile web

- Build for community engagement

- Build for the user

STRATEGIES & TACTICS

Build for the social/mobile web

- First priority: Looks sick on mobile
- Visual presentation
- Write in chunks

Build for community engagement

- Create recommended story engine
- Integrate comments into content
- Create community publishing platform
- Community calendar
- Section front page templates
- Trending on Twitter widget
- InstaO revamp and integration

Build for the user

- Home page layout
- Build it so a web producer can manage the site day-to-day
- Branding
- Kill the site wrapper
- Integrate banner ads into story view
- Discuss the idea of native advertising
- Discuss site sponsorships
- Kill remnant ads (?)
- Integrate “news” with “information” (Ducks Housing, Emerald Presents)
- New URL

PRODUCTION SCHEDULE

Target dates.

Jan. 6 Beta site live
Jan. 13 The Garage blog post goes up
May 1 Launch date
May 23 Marketing splash

STAFFING & PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Project leaders: Sam Stites & Ryan Frank
These people will lead the project at a 30,000 foot level. No touching the code or the pixels. Back away from the keyboard.

Project managers: Andy Rossback & Ivar Vong
These people are in charge of the day-to-day work. They are the pixel and code people.

Advisors: Eder Campuzano / Jake Crump / Chelsea Wicks / Eliza Collins
These people advise the project managers and project leaders. People can be involved formally or informally. People in this group can do project tasks as assigned by the project managers.

How it works: The project leaders and managers will have a weekly 30-minute check-in to review their progress. The meetings are open for anyone on staff who wants to attend.

Transparency: We’ll be open about every step of the project with our staff and the public. Open source is a core value of the project.

Project files: Code will be on GitHub. Project meeting notes will be in a Google Drive folder open to the entire staff.

OTHER STUFF

- NewsAssign
- Print -> web workflow integration
- Photo / video file management (online / offline)
- Mobile-first reporting: Staffing, training, equipment

 

Eight things we learned when our video went viral with four million views

The University of Oregon campus got blasted by a snowstorm last Friday during dead week. Emerald reporters began covering the story at 6 a.m., shooting photos in the pre-dawn light. That day, the Emerald posted 10 snow-related stories.

One of them went viral.

This video of a snowball fight gone wrong got posted on Reddit, eventually making it to No. 2. By Saturday night, it had 300,000 views. On Sunday, it hit 1 million. Today, it has reached 4.2 million. It has been replayed by media outlets around the globe.

The story and its aftermath created a learning opportunity for our students. Some readers criticized our coverage for lacking context, among other things, while other professionals praised the students for reporting the story as they saw it.

We’ve talked for days about lessons we’ve learned and today we hosted an open forum at the School of Journalism and Communication.

With six days to think it over, here are eight things we’ve learned.

Find new ways to deliver context: We tend to think of context as covering events of the day completely in 10 separate posts. But our readers wanted context in new, different ways. The day we posted the video, we reported on all kinds of fun and important things happening around campus: Administrators cancelling class, football players hanging out with students during a snowball fight and lots of car crashes. But all of that context was lost for the thousands of readers who only viewed the video, and the context in our cover story in our Monday print edition was too late for many readers. For the future: Write a short story with videos, add audio or text to the video, add links to the topic pages.

Whether we like it or not, YouTube is the home page for the story: We’d love it if everyone who viewed the video came to our website. But in the era of the social web, that’s not realistic. YouTube became the home page for this story because that’s where viewers wanted to watch it after landing there from Twitter and the various other news sites that picked it up. The numbers prove that. Our website had about 300,000 page views in the last six days. The video had more than 10 times that. For the future: Make sure the YouTube description can stand on its own as a story and provide links that flesh things out even more. We have since added a longer description to this video with more context and links. But in the future, we should do that from the start.

Carefully consider when raw video is okay: Daily journalism moves fast and newspapers converting to digital newsrooms aren’t yet built to quickly produce video packages like a broadcaster. (Some lessons on video in converged newsrooms.) So what does that mean for raw video? When is it okay to post raw video? When does it need more context? For the future: Carefully consider those questions for all videos. Consider improving equipment, training and audio studio space.

How to respond to requests for video/photos/interviews: We had so many requests from media outlets for the video that it was hard to keep up with them all. When they called, a different person always answered and we didn’t have a specific policy communicated. For the future: Write a detailed policy on how to respond to requests from other media outlets.

Comment moderation: We hadn’t been monitoring the video on Saturday and didn’t realize how many views it was getting. Once we checked, the YouTube page was full of racist and derogatory comments. The same was true for the comments on our website. For the future: We need system to monitor comments, becoming experts in our commenting system, Disqus, and train others, too. We’ll probably need to send email alerts to the author of each story.

Engage with readers more: We got overwhelmed by the comments. They moved fast. For the future: We need to do a better job responding to concerns and looking for story tips and potential sources. We should apply that to comments on all platforms: Our website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to readers and respond: Emerald editors listened to their readers and on Monday produced a post on the 10 awesome things that didn’t go viral. That post ended up going semi-viral with 1,800 Facebook recommendations and 23,000 page views, second only to the video post with 108,000 views. For the future: Continue to find ways to respond to valid reader concerns quickly.

Debrief with sources: We learned directly and indirectly that some administrators and professors were upset with our coverage. For the future: After a big story like this, we will immediately schedule an in-person meeting to debrief. Ask for their feedback on how the story went and what we can do better. For this story, we also hosted the open forum at Allen Hall. We’re considering making this a regular feature next term.

How we covered the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination

When news breaks, we fix it.

That’s the philosophy embedded in every reporter up here in Suite 300. The slogan was only adopted by Emerald Media Group staffers last year, but 50 years ago, the Oregon Daily Emerald’s student staff held the same values, as demonstrated by the Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963 edition of the paper on the day following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

That’s not a typo: The Emerald printed on a Saturday to cover the event.

And just as we’re sure the conversation that led to that decision was a short one, so was the one we had Sunday night when we were approached with the possibility of producing a four-page insert in the Wknd edition published this Thursday.

The original plan was simple: Pore over the November 1960 and 1963 archives for articles on Kennedy’s election and assassination. Publish them on Friday and engage in the national dialogue honoring the nation’s 35th president.

It wasn’t until Sunday night, when Ryan Frank mentioned the possibility of a print pull-out, that we jumped on the opportunity and began planning. This is how it went down:

Sunday, Nov. 17

We asked the staff for volunteers to help transcribe articles from the archives. Because there was only one copy of each issue, students took shifts transcribing content into WordPress as it was originally published.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

This is when Ryan gave us the final okay on the insert. We immediately held a meeting to discuss the articles we wanted to publish and what the design would look like. The pro staff ordered the additional pages from Oregon Web Press and re-paginated the entire issue to ensure it would print the way we envisioned.

We worked on the insert for several hours through trial and error for the rest of the day. We decided on a retro approach, borrowing heavily from the 1963 issues’ aesthetic while incorporating flares of our modern style. It was up to us to deliver on the promise we made to the newsroom and our pro staff.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Wednesday is our production night for Wknd editions of The Emerald. It’s also when we put the finishing touches on the following day’s GameDay football section. Needless to say, adding a four-page insert was a little hectic. We took extra care on the Kennedy content to ensure our publisher’s and ad staff’s efforts were justified.

On Friday, we republished 20 transcribed articles, including JFK’s inaugural address and a profile on his wife and first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.

Although we’ve powered through the last 20 months in the name of reinvention and revolution, the lessons we learned from this project are numerous and invaluable. At its core, Emerald Media Group is serving the same purpose and fulfilling the same campus needs as the 1963 staff of The Oregon Daily Emerald: We’re here to report and contextualize news that matters to the University of Oregon community.

We can only hope that, 50 years from now, the students practicing journalism at Allen Hall, on the top floor of the Erb Memorial Union and elsewhere on campus hold these same values.

This post was co-written with Eder Campuzano.

A reporter’s guide to breaking news fast on the web

We created this breaking news guide for our newsroom and thought we’d share it with others. So, here you go:

The news breaks at 2:11 p.m. Dec. 3: Marcus Mariota will stay for his junior season.

How fast can we get the news up? How do we do it? In what order? And who does what tasks?

Breaking news protocol: We’ve established one. Read it now so when news breaks, you’ll understand what to do.

How to apply it to Mariota

The steps from the start.

1. Find and confirm the story

Find it: We heard about it first from a random Facebook post. This one:

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.18.02 PM

Confirm it: Next, we must confirm that it’s true. (NOTE: Very important. You must confirm the report is accurate before you can publish it in any form.) How do we do that? First check Twitter. It’s the fastest source for real-time news like this. Check your feed for credible sources on that topic. In this case, that would be @WinTheDay@DuckFootball@jwquick, @rgduckfootball. If you don’t see it there, go to the Twitter search bar and type “Mariota.”

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.24.04 PM

 

For this story, we quickly found the tweet that led us to GoDucks.com and this story.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.24.50 PM

We’ve now found the story and confirmed its accuracy with a credible source.

2. Alert your editor: Text your direct editor within 5 seconds. In this case, it would be the sports editor. The sports editor will then take the lead on managing the story, collecting archive photos, preparing social media posts and coordinating with any other desks necessary. Your job: Focus on reporting and writing the story.

3. Write the stub: Open WordPress and start a post. Write the headline. Be sure to use the person’s full name and “Oregon Ducks football” to ensure your story shows up in search engines. (AKA: SEO). Then write one sentence that summarizes the story. Hit PUBLISH and make the the story go live. In this case, here’s a sample of a headline and stub.

Headline: Marcus Mariota, Hroniss Grasu will return next season to Oregon Ducks football team

Stub: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu announced today that they will return to the Ducks next season, according to a statement released by the Oregon athletic department.

After you confirm the story, your goal should be to write the headline and stub and hit publish within 90 seconds.

In this case, that’s all you need. Why? Your objective is to own the story on social media to collect all the shares, likes and retweets. That way, all Oregon football fans will first discover your story.

4. Alert your editor so they can push to social: As soon as you hit PUBLISH, send your editor a text to confirm the post is live. Your editor will push out your story on social media within 90 seconds. By now, your editor will have found a photo for the story.

First: Shorten the link on Bit.ly. (NOTE: This needs to be on the Emerald Bit.ly account. If you need more training on that, please ask.) This shortened link becomes the ONLY link we use on social media.

Second: Post on Twitter. The editor should do this. This should happen within 3 minutes of when you first confirm the story. For a story of this size, be sure to post it to @dailyemerald and @odesports. (NOTE: Very important to post the story link. Links help drive engagement. Our tweet on this story without the link drew 3 retweets and 5 favorites. The tweet with the link drew 21 retweets and 14 favorites.)Mariota and Grasu to return in 2014 for the Ducks | Emerald Media (via @Jon_Hawthorne)

Third: Post on Facebook. The editor should do this. This should happen within 4 minutes of confirming the story. Required: Post it with a photo. Photos make the posts bigger in people’s feeds and increases the clicks, links and shares.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.51.20 PM

Fourth: Post to Instagram. The editor should do this. Take the same photo and post it on the @DailyEmerald Instagram account. This should happen within 5 minutes of confirming the story. In this case, we did not have a photo posted to Instagram.

Recap: By this point, 5 minutes have passed since the you confirmed the story. You’ve done five things:

1. Posted a stub.
2. Create a Bit.ly version of the link.
3. Posted the link to Twitter.
4. Posted the link to Facebook with a photo.
5. Posted the photo to Instagram.

5. Go from stub to story

As your editor is pushing out the story out on social media, the reporter should flesh out the stub into a more complete story. With every paragraph added, hit UPDATE to update the story in real-time. Repeat that step until the story is complete with context, stats and more. Here’s our final version of the story.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.15.17 PM

NEXT STEPS

The basics are done. Here’s a few other things to consider. One approach: Ask the original writer to continue updating their story and pull in other reporters and editors to brainstorm these next steps.

Follow up reporting: Call sources to see why Mariota decided to stay and what it means to the program. Update your original post.

Write a column: What’s your take on this. Here’s what John Canzano did less than two hours after the story broke.

Follow-ups: What other stories could you spin out of this? A recap of the five best Mariota moments, a column on what it means for Mark Helfrich or a piece on what this means for the back-ups who may have gotten a shot otherwise.

Print: How will you spin this story forward for the next print edition? Think about: What does it all mean for the Oregon program?

Photo galleries: Create a gallery of our best Marcus Mariota photos from the last two years. Post that on our website, then push out that link on social media. Remember: Photo galleries draw huge traffic. Use them to flesh out big stories.

Engage: Talk with readers directly on Twitter and Facebook. Respond to readers comments. Retweet funny or smart comments.

Storify: Collect posts on Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere and publish a collection on our website with Storify. You can find it by searching “Mariota” on those sites.

Curate: Search the web for stories and columns that other people are writing. Easy way to do that is to search Google News for “Marcus Mariota.” Or visit the best writers on the Ducks that you already know about. Write a post that links to all the relevant stories and columns from around the web.

Random thoughts on moon shots

We’ve been talking in The Garage recently about how to pick the biggest, most important projects to work on.

Why? Picking the wrong project to spend time and money on is ridiculously expensive. But how do you know which projects are the biggest and most important?

1. Understand who you are — and who you aren’t: What is your mission and what are the values of your organization? Why do you exist? If you haven’t worked through those questions yet, Jim Collins - author of Good to Great – can be a big help. Here’s some of his work on building your company’s vision, a vision worksheet and an essay on building companies to last.

2. Figure out your moon shot: From Wired on Google’s moon shots: “Larry Page lives by the gospel of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent. Not the CEO and cofounder of Google. The way Page sees it, a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else. You probably won’t fail spectacularly, but you are guaranteed not to succeed wildly.”

3. Focus: Focus only on the winners. Kill everything else. Steve Jobs was famous for his focus. Biographer Walter Isaacson summarized Jobs’ real leadership lessons in Harvard Business Review. As Isaacson reported, Jobs took his top 100 people on a retreat and asked: “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?” People fought to get their projects on the list. Then Jobs slashed the bottom seven and announced: “We can do only three.” Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman also talked about “weeding the garden” to remove the “gunk.”

4. Be lean: Once you pick your moon shot, be agile. Adopt a lean startup mentality to start and stay lean by focusing on your customer first and always.

5. And for fun: JFK on the original moon shot. My favorite part starts at 8:20 and goes for about a minute.

Some of the best web and mobile design links from SNDLOU

I’m reporting from SNDLOU this week. The Society for News Design is a global organization for design professionals in the publication world. I’ll be bringing you some of the best web and mobile design stuff that you can bring to your college newsroom.

Here’s stuff so far from Friday:

» Pitchfork’s Michael Renaud had a session this morning where he underscored some of their stunning web features design and announced a new, quarterly print publication. My big take away was one of his favorite lyrics: “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.”

Here are some of those sexy paralax features: Janelle Monae, Daft Punk

» Gannett Digital Creative Director Andres Quesada share some of the philosophy behind USA Today’s product redesigns — including web, mobile, iPad and Microsoft’s Surface, as well. Great ideas about keeping an eye on metrics and moving fast.

» Digital team from National Geographic shared some insights on their efforts to move the magazine’s web strategy forward. Takeaway: If you’re thinking about a relaunch on the web, do the best with what you have now, too. For instance, make small tweaks to article templates to improve certain story presentations when you need to. Don’t just forget about it exists until you relaunch.

» A couple dudes from The Onion shared some thoughts on social media and voice. Particularly interesting was the idea of the What the Fuck Moment: Don’t tweet headlines. Use quotes. Use hooks. Make people say “What the fuck?” and click.

Saturday’s stuff:

» Twitter’s David Wright Jr. talked about the distinction between platforms and content. Ship it. Wise words.

» Vox Media guys talk about the birth of their long-form approach. Takeaway: Build CSS tools into your CMS. Build ads into the experience.

Don’t miss:

» These tricked out presentation slides from Joey Marburger of The Washington Post. The design is sweet, the content is just as cool.

» A great presentation from Steve Dorsey featuring advice for college journalists — specifically designers.

» Tips on freelancing from Larry Buchanan of The New York Times.

» Analyze Twitter and learn about the PR strategies of brands you cover.

» National Geographic immersive experience. Click here for lions.

Check back on Sunday for the completed post. For live coverage of the convention, head over to snd.org and follow @snd on Twitter.

How to own the online college market in news and advertising

Today at the ACP/CMA 2013 conference in New Orleans we’re talking about how to own the online college market in news and advertising.

Twitter: Contribute at #NOLA13online.

OWN THE ONLINE NEWS MARKET

How can you own the online news market:

1. Consult with the best: Read up on the best in the business of online journalism. In the college ranks, check out The Daily Tar Heel, The Red & Black, The Lantern and others. Here’s the list of 2013 online Pacemaker finalists. And another ranking of best college newspaper websites. For professionals, check out Quartz, Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, BuzzFeed and Huffington Post.

2. Understand the present: People are reading more news in digital, but they generally aren’t paying for it. So it’s important to understand the challenges (and some opportunities) of making money in online journalism. Matthew Ingram breaks it down in this piece:  ”The unfortunate fact is that online journalism can’t survive without a wealthy benefactor or cat GIFs.” And media analyst Ken Doctor writes: Digital advertising is still growing — but not for publishers, many of which are struggling to get past zero growth. How can a news company compete with the Googles and Facebooks for advertiser dollars?

3. Make a goal for the future: What kind of news website do you want? Is your priority to run fast with breaking news, live video and real-time reporting? Or is it a slower approach that values features, profiles and multimedia? Do you want to simply drive traffic and page views from readers anywhere? Or do you want to prioritize gaining local readers who visit and stay on your site for longer sessions? Politico’s Jim VandeHei says high traffic is overrated: “It works if you are truly a traffic hose, like BuzzFeed. But, for speciality sites, it is all about the right readers. The advertisers we want are the knowing ones seeking to influence a very attractive and hard-to-reach set of readers. If we deliver those readers, the traffic numbers will mean little.”

4. Write the tactics on how to get there: What staff, structure and culture do you need in place to accomplish your goals? What metrics do you need to set to reach your goals? If you want to drive up page views by 100%, how many times will you post each day? How will you use social media to increase traffic? If you want to increase local readers, how will you let them know about your content? What types of content will keep them coming back?

5. Go do it: There’s always a reason to delay change. Start on Monday.

READING LIST

How to keep readers on your site: Digiday explains what BuzzFeed, Quartz and New York Magazine are trying.

Entrepreneurial journalism: Mark Briggs has the best book on the topic. He lays out the future business models for news in clear terms.

The Forbes model: The business magazine has a new approach to the business of news. Here’s their blog post and their book goes into more.

BuzzFeed: They’re the masters at creating shareable content. For more, check out the New York magazine profile of BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti.

 

NOLA13: How to structure your newsroom for print and digital success

We’re talking today about how to structure your newsroom for both print and digital success. The slidedeck from today is above.

Twitter: Contribute with #NOLA13structure

Here’s a few key points and follow ups from today’s session.

What we did: At the Emerald, we created two separate teams for news: Print and digital. Andy Rossback, editor in chief, put a managing editor at the top of each team. The print managing editor became accountable for the quality of the print editions. The digital managing editor did the same for the website, social media and all other digital products. The digital team focuses on speed and accuracy and on the who, what, where, when. The print team focuses on storytelling, depth, investigations and the why and how. When we announced our changes, Rossback described them in this blog post. For more on our change: Why we killed our daily paper for a more digital future, 5 lessons from the Oregon Daily Emerald’s digital transformation, a look inside the Emerald’s change.

From the 2012-13 year.

What others are doing: There are all kinds of structures. But generally speaking, there seems to a movement to create two teams: print and digital. Breaking news and enterprise reporting. Fast and slow. What and why. That doesn’t mean that print staff doesn’t do any digital journalism. Or that digital journalists’ work doesn’t end up in print. It just means that digital team knows that its first priority is great digital content, and the same goes for print and the print content.

Digital-first in college media: The Red & Black at the University of George started the first Revolution in 2011. They cut back to once a week in print with a digital-first focus. Others who do digital journalism well: Arizona State, Ohio State, University of North Carolina, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, TCU.

Thunderdome: Digital First Media created its own hub of digital journalism to serve its newspapers. Here’s their description and here’s Nieman Journalism Lab’s profile from 2011.

Nieman Reports: Shawn McIntosh, director of culture and change at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, describes how her newspaper restructured. It fits generally into the print/digital model described above.

Steve Buttry: He’s the Digital Transformation Editor at Digital First Media.

Matt Walks: He’s our former sports editor. Right out college, he landed a job at Digital First Media’s Thunderdome in New York City because of his experience leading our digital transformation.

Reading list

Digital First Media: It’s a newspaper chain with a laser focus on a digital transformation. David Carr’s profile of the company’s CEO is a must read.

Steve Buttry: He called on student newspapers to become digital first, because that’s how students consume media. He followed up after sparking a debate with Dan Reimold at College Media Matters.

Who to follow on Twitter

David Carr: New York Times media writer

Jim Brady: Editor of Digital First Media and president of the Online News Association.

Steve Buttry: See above.

 

NOLA13: How to bring disruptive innovation into college media

We’re meeting on Day 2 of the NOLA13 to talk about how to “Disrupt Yourself.”  At the Emerald, we’ve worked hard to instill a startup culture into everything we do. We’ll talk about why push so hard to innovate daily, what we’re doing now and how you can start doing the same thing on Monday.

Twitter: Contribute with #NOLA13disrupt

Why we need disruption

Print advertising revenue has plummeted and digital ad revenue is flat. This is not a new trend.

The Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media provides the best annual overview on the state of the industry. Here’s one report said: “The challenge is that the continuing loss of audience and the aging demographics suggest that, in time, something must give. It is possible that newspapers will have to change a great deal more than they have or their financial health will not be sustained.”

That was written in 2004. We need a sense of urgency to change. Now. Today.

Three case studies

These are three Emerald business ventures that help us build one or more of the three Rs: Readership, relevance, revenue.

Ducks Housing: A housing search site for students. We built it to solve a problem for our customers: To make the college housing search simple. The site makes us relevant for students because we’re solving a problem and generates revenue because we charge property managers to be listed. Here’s more on the business case for Ducks Housing.

Emerald Photo Booth: A business spin off. We make events better by creating memories to last a lifetime. We build relevance by being part of campus events and make revenue by charging for our services.

The Venture Dept.: Our creative ad agency. We help administrators and small business owners connect with college students. We offer photo, video, design, programming and other services to help clients reach their goals. The service makes us more essential to our clients and makes revenue. The Venture Dept. produced the video below for the UO Health Center’s new SexPositive mobile app.

 

Reading list

Stuff we recommended reading and watching.

Clayton Christensen: “Innovators Dilemma.” Christensen has done lots of research specific to the news business. In 2012, he wrote “Breaking News: Mastering the art of disruptive innovation in journalism” for Harvard’s Nieman Reports. Here is Nieman Journalism Lab’s post on Breaking News.”  He also provided some insight to Newspaper Next project in the mid-2000s, an in-depth blueprint for transformation sponsored by the American Press Institute.

Alan Mutter: Reflections of a Newsosaur. He peels apart the struggles of newspaper digital sales. And he covers many other newspaper challenges, typically brilliantly.

Ken Doctor: “Newsonomics.” It’s a book and website. He wrote for Nieman Journalism Lab on college media innovation.

Pew Research Center: The annual “State of the News Media” report.

Lean Startup: The book that changed how business works. It’s about using continuous innovation to create breakthrough business ideas. If you’d like to bring startup thinking to your college newspaper, this is required reading. This Harvard Business Review piece provides a good overview.

Jim Collins: “Good to Great.“ The book provides insight on how to create your own values, vision and goals. He also lots of free resources. Here’s his guide on aligning your mission and values and more here. David Simpson blogged previously about how to apply “Good to Great” to college media. And here’s a second Simpson blog post on Collins’ and college media.

Columbia Journalism School: They’ve got some read long, analytic reads. “The Story So Far: What we know about the business of digital journalism.” “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the present.”

Mary Meeker: She authors the single most important report written about the Internet each year. See it below.

 

 

NOLA13: Reinventing student media

We’re spending 8 hours today at ACP talking about one thing: How to reinvent student media.

OVERVIEW

The speakers: Jason Manning (The State Press / Arizona State), Jake Sorensen (The Daily Chronicle / University of Utah), Arvli Ward (UCLA / The Daily Bruin) and me.

Meeting notes: I’ll share some key points here from today’s session. We’ll have more on Twitter with #NOLA13reinvent.

KEY POINTS

Define your values

What’s your identity, value and mission. Utah’s vision is: A campus connected. It’s mission: Foster campus community through student-generated content and provide practical experience for students in communication.

Find new revenue streams

Ideas we talked about to find new revenue to support college media.

Creative advertising agency: Start an in-house creative agency. Produce video, photography, design, account management for clients. Charge money for your services, create new revenue streams and train more students with new skills. The State Press created ASU Creative Services. Check out their video portfolio. Analyst Ken Doctor wrote about newspapers offering creative services, among other potential new revenue streams.

Digital display ads: Sell your clients ads into the digital display network around campus. ASU and Utah both have digital display sales. Utah uses this vendor. To do this, you’ll need strong partnerships with university administrators.

Outdoor advertising: Sell advertising for outdoor venues around campus. Options: A-frames, outdoor racks, posters, fliers, street teams (hand-to-hand).

Niche publications: Create publications to serve narrow audiences. Utah has an outdoor magazine.

Event sponsorships: Sells corporate sponsorships to campus events, including concerts. Utah has been done this successfully. Here’s one example, The Grand Kerfluffle. Video below.

 

 

Mobile

Arvli Ward talked a lot about mobile. Industry data points to the same thing: Ad spend is moving to mobile. Mobile is now 15% of all online spending, double the share from a year ago. But half of mobile advertising goes to Google. If you had Facebook and Twitter, more than 60% of mobile ad revenue is collected by three companies. For more depth, check out Pew Research Center’s 2012 report: “Demographics of Mobile News.”

Do your homework

Stuff we recommended reading and watching.

Clayton Christensen: “Innovators Dilemma.” Christensen has done lots of research specific to the news business. In 2012, he wrote “Breaking News: Mastering the art of disruptive innovation in journalism” for Harvard’s Nieman Reports. Here is Nieman Journalism Lab’s post on Breaking News.”  He also provided some insight to Newspaper Next project in the mid-2000s, an in-depth blueprint for transformation sponsored by the American Press Institute.

Lean Startup: The book that changed how business works. It’s about using continuous innovation to create breakthrough business ideas. If you’d like to bring startup thinking to your college newspaper, this is required reading. This Harvard Business Review piece provides a good overview.

Jim Collins: “Good to Great.“ The book provides insight on how to create your own values, vision and goals. He also lots of free resources. Here’s his guide on aligning your mission and values and more here. David Simpson blogged previously about how to apply “Good to Great” to college media. And here’s a second Simpson blog post on Collins’ and college media.

Ken Doctor: “Newsonomics.” It’s a book and website. He wrote for Nieman Journalism Lab on college media innovation.

Simon SinekStart with Why. It’s a book and a TedTalk.

Chip Heath: “Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die”

Columbia Journalism School: They’ve got some read long, analytic reads. “The Story So Far: What we know about the business of digital journalism.” “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the present.”

Pew Research Center: The annual “State of the News Media” report.

Mary Meeker: She authors the single most important report written about the Internet each year. See it below.

Conversion funnels

Arvli Ward talked about conversion funnels. Here’s a slide deck with more.

New models for business, service and editorial

Arvli Ward talked about creating new models for business, service and editorial. His business model is below.

 

Emerald Revolution

I talked about the Emerald’s Revolution that transformed our traditional college daily into a modern college media company. I outlined the business case when we launched it and shared some lessons learned after year one.

Our Revolution video is below. We’ve linked to other coverage about our Revolution on our About page.

Emerald Media Group from Ivar Vong on Vimeo.

 

 

 

Why I’m leaving the Emerald and what’s next

I still can’t believe they hired me.

In January 2011, I applied to be the Emerald’s publisher. I was 33 years old and reporting was the only job I knew. I had never managed a budget, a person or a business. But the job description required that the publisher manage budgets, people and the company.

Somehow I convinced the Emerald’s board it’d be a good idea to take a chance. And that decision changed my life.

I’ve learned more than I could have hoped about the business of journalism, the challenges of innovation and the motivations of millennials. In many cases, it was the students doing the teaching and me doing the learning.

The job turned out to be far more challenging than I expected. And that’s why I’ve loved it so much.

But my third year here will be my last. I’m ready for the next challenge. (More on that later.) My position as Emerald president is open and the board is seeking applications. I’m happy to talk confidentially with anyone who’s interested. Just message me rfrank (at) dailyemerald.com.

As I look back, here’s what I’m most proud of:

The business model: The 2000s weren’t kind to the Emerald. We reported annual operating losses in nine of 10 years. In each of the last three years, we’ve finished in the black while reinvesting more than $80,000 into equipment, technology and more. Ad director Brittney Reynolds, who started here with me on the same day, deserves most of the credit for this. The Emerald is in far better financial shape today than when we started.

The Revolution: Our students in 2012 transformed our traditional college daily into a modern college media company. The first-year results have been promising, though, we’ve got much, much more to accomplish

Innovation: We created an R&D department to dream new business ventures that build readership, relevance and revenue. The Garage has spun off dozens of new ventures from one-day web pages (SunshineCampus) to large new departments (Emerald Photo Booth).

America’s best college media team: None of this would have been possible without our team of students and professionals. There’s a ton of talent in college media, but I’d put our group up against any others in the country. There’s too many to thank individually, but you know who you are.

What’s next

I hope the Emerald continues to be one of the crazy ones who thinks different in college media. But that will be up to the next person in my chair, our students and our board.

As for me, I hope to stay in journalism working on new models to support investigative reporting. I will share more soon.

Thanks to everyone who shared ideas along the way. Let’s keep the conversation going at #collegemedia.

 

The backstory and the safeguards for the news adviser, editor in chief

The Emerald’s newsroom has always been proudly — and sometimes stubbornly — independent. And that’s what I’ve always loved about the place.

The backstory: Part I

Paul Brainerd, who went on to become the father of desktop publishing, led the Emerald to independence in 1971. Generations of journalists covered campus anti-war protests, sweatshop labor sit-ins, union rallies, NCAA investigations and much more without fear of interference from administrators or the Emerald’s business staff. Journalists who showed that spirit include Randy Shilts, Drex HeikesMike Fancher, Annette Buchanan, Ryan Knutson and many more.

In the early 1990s, editor Pat Malach painted the sign in the editor’s office that captured the Emerald spirit. I worked for a year in that office, staring up at that sign. About a decade later, I helped create and lead an Editorial Independence Committee to protect the newsroom’s independence after an ugly 2009 strike.

As more and more college papers added one or more news advisers, the Emerald stayed student only.

When I started here as publisher in 2011, I planned to continue honoring and celebrating the newsroom structure.

But two years later, I believe that model is dead.

The backstory: Part II

To be clear: It’s not dead because the effort, dedication or skills of students has change.

It’s dead because the job of editor in chief has grown too complex, the expectations too high and the margin for error too slim for students to succeed without professional support.

The job of editor in chief is much tougher than what Brainerd, Malach or I faced. In our eras, the paper was the only game in town. Students, faculty, staff and alumni had few, if any, other options for news about the University of Oregon. Local, regional and national advertisers who wanted to reach 17-24 year olds in Eugene had to buy space in our pages.

But today, the paper competes in a fierce marketplace for people’s time and money. Students use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to learn what’s happening. Advertisers have the same variety of options.  For students’ careers, the market for jobs and internships is just as competitive. For college papers that operate as nonprofit companies, like ours, those changes put a lot of pressure on the business model.

College papers still have plenty to offer. We have strong brands and no one else has the reach on campus that we do. But we must do more, better, faster to meet those rising expectations. And to accomplish that, student editors need professional support.

At the Emerald, our the student newsroom leaders agreed. We spent months this year building a plan to improve our recruitment, orientation, training and professional development without an adviser. But when it came to implement that plan, it became clear to our students and I that it would be impossible to accomplish that plan without an adviser.

Editor in chief Sam Stites, summer editor Jake Crump and senior managing editor Eder Campuzano asked our board in September to make me a part-time adviser. They were careful to also solicit feedback from the newsroom staff and Emerald alumni. As Stites described, the feedback was overwhelming supportive of the idea — on the condition that students retained control of news decisions.

The safeguards

In setting up the adviser position, we tried to honor the Emerald’s culture of independence and stay true to the wishes of the staff and the alumni. Here’s how we’re trying to accomplish that:

1. We consulted with leading college papers to see how they protect student editors’ independence, then wrote a job description modeled after theirs. The Daily Tar Heel and The State News were especially helpful.

2. We created a detailed working agreement to govern the advisers’ role, responsibilities and limits. The editor, the board chair and I all signed the agreement. A few key points from the job description and working agreement:

- The adviser’s job is to support the newsroom in all aspects of news production to ensure we meet the highest possible journalistic standards for quality, professionalism, accuracy and ethics. The adviser works with the editor in chief to help the newsroom achieve his goals for the year.

- The adviser’s primary duties, as set by the editor in chief, will be: basic reporting classes, leadership training seminars, critiques and drop-in office hours.

- The editor in chief remains the final authority on all editorial decisions. His authority is governed by the Emerald’s bylaws and remains unchanged.

- The adviser is a pilot project for just the 2013-14 school year. The newsroom may request to continue the position beyond this year, but they must make a written request to the board of directors. The newsroom should drive the decision about the future of this position.

- The editor, publisher or board chair can terminate the agreement and the position at any time during this pilot project for any reason.

- We recommended that if the position continues that it be a stand-alone position. The president/publisher should not continue to operate as the news adviser beyond this year.

We’d love to hear your feedback. Reach me at rfrank (at) dailyemerald.com or reach Stites at sstites (at) dailyemerald.com.

 

Why we think a newsroom adviser is necessary, and why we reserve the right to tell him to go to hell

The executive committee of the Emerald Media Group board of directors approved a proposal from the newsroom management staff, Tuesday, that requested our publisher, Ryan Frank, to step into a formal role as news adviser. The board discussed the proposal and heard feedback from more than 40 Emerald alumni, former editors and staff members (27 for, 3 against, 11 no opinion). The majority of the feedback was supportive of the idea that the Emerald needs more professional involvement to keep up with its peers and become a perennial Pacemaker finalist and award winner, as well as to train our students to get stellar jobs once they leave.

The proposal was brought to fruition by summer editor in chief Jake Crump, senior managing editor Eder Campuzano and myself. Over the past few weeks the three of us — along with Ryan Frank — have talked about what type of support we need from the professional staff at the Emerald. The one facet that consistently plagued our conversations was the need for a professional to dedicate time to critique our work, provide feedback on how we can improve and implement our new training program, EmeraldU.

After looking around at some of the best college media companies in the nation, we realized that newsrooms with no adviser are few and far between. In fact, a majority of the perennial ACP pacemakers have newsroom advisers that are heavily involved in their organizations.

We believe that Ryan is just the person to help us focus on our journalistic and professional standards for quality and ethics. One of my biggest goals for the Emerald this year is to improve the daily journalism and, in turn, build the good faith of our community as a fair, accurate and enterprising news organization.

With 11 years of experience as a reporter at The Oregonian, Ryan brings a lot to the table. Not only does he have a firm grasp on the problems that consistently crop up in college media, he also has an immense amount of institutional knowledge on the Emerald that we lack as students.

The biggest part of this new partnership is the question surrounding student independence and control over editorial decisions.

Last time I checked, the sign above my door still reads, “The editor reserves the right to tell the GM and Board to go to HELL.” That spirit is something we champion here at the Emerald — and Ryan shares that attitude.

The reason we feel this is not an issue with Ryan’s involvement is his deep-seated interest in preserving student independence and control over all editorial decisions. A former Emerald editor himself (1998-’99), he also helped establish the Emerald board’s editorial independence committee — a group dedicated entirely to making sure the decisions stay in students hands.

This arrangement would probably not work for any other college newspaper publisher and we recommended our board not pursue a similar relationship in the future. This is a temporary agreement that was mutually requested by the newsroom and Ryan.

Over the past few years, Ryan has served as a mentor to many students in the newsroom and has always held their decisions in the highest regard. While he may not always agree, he understands the need for mistakes to be made in order for learning to take place.
With that said, we also want to minimize mistakes. And with his experience and this new role, we hope to ensure the viability of not only the Emerald’s finances, but as a beacon of good journalism on the University of Oregon campus.

For more information email Sam Stites at sstites@dailyemerald.com. 

Nate Barrett: I’d like to donate the $150 bonus

Emerald photographer Nate Barrett was moved by The Oregonian layoffs. So much so that he wrote me this email this afternoon. Hope you have a tissue near by:

Hey Ryan,

I’ve been thinking about everything that happened last night with the O. I’ve been fortunate to see Bruce and Boyd maintain their jobs so far, but I’m sure others in multimedia and various departments didn’t. I hate seeing this kind of thing in the newspaper industry.

I’d like to donate the $150 bonus I got from the Randy Shilts Newsroom MVP award to the Family Support Fund.

The Oregonian played a huge part in my growth as a photographer and as a professional. To see something like this happen to so many of the people that were instrumental in my development of skills to get me where I am now just breaks my heart.

I won’t be able to donate the money until tomorrow night or Sunday when I can get into the newsroom and grab my check form the typewriter.

Incredible work with the bar tab fund yesterday too. I hope my donation can help ease some of the stress and hurt inflicted on the families of those laid off.

Let me know if there’s any other way I can help,

Nate

SunshineCampus: A new way to fund public records reporting

 

Today we launched  a fundraising campaign, SunshineCampus, to help pay for public records and investigative reporting.

If you are interested in public records reporting, here are a few resources:

- Student Press Law Center: Lots of public records and FOIA resources

- Sunlight Foundation: Supports open government

- SPJ: Open Doors campaign

- IRE: Public records posts

- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Open government guide

- The Garage: 5 simple steps (and some resources) to pry loose public records in Oregon

- The Garage: Sample public records requests for Oregon

 

Why I love Harry Montevideo

Harry Montevideo, an icon of college media, is out as publisher of The Red & Black.

Over 30 years, Montevideo helped build the University of Georgia newspaper into one of the country’s elite programs. It excelled both in its editorial and business operations and became a powerful voice on its own campus and in the college media industry. After I started at the Emerald two years ago, Montevideo was one of my first phone calls. He quickly became my mentor, tutoring me on the history and business of college media. As we considered our own future here at the Emerald, Montevideo was a critical adviser at every step.

As an independent nonprofit company, Montevideo and his crew had to make their own future. When few of us were willing to take the risk, Montevideo bet big on the future. In 2011, The Red & Black converted the storied daily into a weekly newspaper with a digital newsroom.

The transition wasn’t without its rough patches. But very few revolutions are. We used lessons from The Red & Black’s revolution in our own this year. And we’re better off because of it, thanks to Harry and his team.

I have no inside knowledge about Montevideo’s departure and do not mean to pass judgement on the board or Montevideo. But I did want to share two thoughts in light of his departure:

1. The Red & Black provides a window into the pressures felt by all legacy media, especially newspapers. But for the ranks of independent college newspapers, that pressure is intense and will only continue to grow over time as we balance our educational mission against the brutal realities of running a business in a highly competitive industry.

2. Thank you, Harry. I and many others deeply value your 30-year contribution to our industry and to the generations of students who learned the craft under your leadership.

You say you want a Revolution? Let’s go

Nearly a year ago, we killed our daily newspaper. On Thursday, we’ll announce what’s next for us.

But mostly, we want to start a conversation about the future of college media. We all need a little revolution. Please, share your stories about what you’re doing at your college newspaper, TV station, radio station, blog, newsletter, whatever. What works? What’s failed? What lessons have you learned that you can share with the rest of us? We’re looking for ideas in news but also in tech, marketing and advertising.

We’re hosting a discussion on the future of college media during a Google Hangout on Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Email may23@dailyemerald.com to RSVP.

Or, send us your questions or discussion topics to may23@dailyemerald.com or comment on Twitter with #collegemedia or on Facebook.

We’re all looking for good ideas. Let’s learn from each other and it will be alright.

5 simple steps (and some resources) to pry loose public records in Oregon

I joined Kate Willson of Oregon State’s Daily Barometer last week to visit with some college journalists about public records at the annual ONPA conference. Here’s a quick follow up.

5 steps to pry loose public records

1. Make the call: Before you write up a request, call the person who has the records and just ask to see them. You’d be surprised about how often that works. Filing a written request makes the process more formal, involves lawyers and takes longer.

2. If you must, file the paper: Some public agencies request you to put it in writing. If you must, go for it.

3. How to write it: If you can, make it simple and to the point. One page is best. See below for templates and samples.

4. Follow up, follow up and repeat: Do not give up. Ever. It takes time and tenacity to obtain public records. Too often, public agencies move far slower than you’d like. Be patient but also be determined.

5. Write the story quick: Once you get the records, jump on the story right away. Put them to use. You’ll often find that the first batch of records prompts your interest in more records. Writing that first story will build the momentum for the next.

Resources

- Samples: Here’s a generic template for public records requests in Oregon and here’s a specific request made by the Daily Barometer at Oregon State.

- Public records manual: The Oregon Department of Justice publishes a pretty helpful manual every two years that breaks down the law and how it works into pretty easy-to-understand terms. (PDF version. Warning: 480 pages.)

- Open Oregon: This nonprofit group of journalists and government types offers all kinds of help. There’s a public records request generator. Just fill out the form and it cranks out a request. There are also quick reference guides, key court rulings, and more.

- Jeff Manning: He’s the spokesman for the Oregon Department of Justice and can provide background on how the law works or connect you with state lawyers who can do the same. Phone: 503-378-6002. Email: jeff.d.manning (at) doj.state.or.us

- Jack Orchard: He’s a long-time media lawyer in Oregon at Ball Janik in Portland. If you’re  a member of ONPA, you may be able to get law-cost or no-cost legal advice on public records. Phone: 503-228-2525 x6026. Email: jorchard (at) balljanik.com

- Duane Bosworth: He’s also a media lawyer in Oregon at Davis Wright Tremaine in Portland. Phone: 503 778-5224. Email: duanebosworth (at) dwt.com

- The law: Chapter 192 of the Oregon Revised Statues is the actual law governing Oregon public records. It sometimes help to read the law itself to make sure you understand the context when you file a request.

- Student Press Law Center: The national nonprofit is the best resource nationally on any student press law issues, including public records. Their website has a ton of resources.

Happy hunting. Feel free to email me if you have any questions: rfrank (at) dailyemerald.com

Thoughts on innovation and disruption in college media from the staff at Emerald Media Group.