College Newspapers: Still Teaching Obsolescence

Note that I differentiate between the print newspaper and journalism. Journalism is a practice; newspapers are a delivery mechanism.

Colleges ought to be focusing on teaching journalism and doing so in an appropriate manner which will best prepare students for life in the post-university “real world”. Teaching students how to produce a print newspaper is teaching them to be obsolete. Students should be learning electronic distribution through modern content management systems.

Aaron Hockley – College Newspapers: Still Teaching Obsolescence.

Scaling my long-form writing

Earlier Daniel asked me about starting a blog circle of sorts to help each other work on longer form writing that requires research, editing, and more careful thought. I think it’s a great idea. There’s a few things that I’d love to explore in more depth here that I don’t have a good structure in place for right now.

A benefit to attending a liberal arts school like Whitman was the sheer amount of writing I did every semester. Many classes required 4 papers a semester each of 5-7 pages. It meant I was writing something almost every week.

Since graduating the frequency of writing I’ve done has gone up drastically. Whether it’s on this blog or in my work at Automattic I’m writing far more and in far more varied contexts than I ever have before. That’s fun. What I’m not doing is the type of sustained, long-form writing that causes me to dig deeper and push my abilities. That’s also fun but is more difficult to do on a blog than as part of coursework.

There’s a few ideas that have been kicking around in my head that may fit for getting back into the swing of things with research and in-depth writing.

First, I’ve been thinking more about how news organizations need to think of themselves as crafting a product. It’s something I’ve written about before and is something I’d love to dive more deeply into. There could be an interesting line to trace here between the history of news publications and the growth of technology companies that more readily grok what it means to create a product.

Second, it’d be great to spend more time researching how WordPress can play a role in a rebooted school system. I think our current system of schooling is on its way out. Something may take its place and I think WordPress can, and in many cases probably is, playing a role here. Collecting those stories and theorizing a bit about what a more sustainable school system could look like would be fun.

We’ll see how this goes. It’d be a blast to get back into writing pieces longer than 500 words.

Pub Rules

Pub Rules. In a follow-up of sorts to the quote I posted yesterday Brent Simmons writes about what he would do if in charge of a publication. I think it will only be a matter of time before we see someone try this with a large-scale site. I bet that when they do they’ll supplant whatever the main source is for that community. The trick will be sticking to these principles as the site grows and not becoming a bloated mess of “business opportunities.”

I’ve solved my podcast problem

Since I started using Rdio I’ve run into a problem: I never open iTunes. This is mostly okay as Rdio replaced my local iTunes library. The downside is that my podcasts live in iTunes. By not opening the app the podcasts never update and I forget they exist.

A few days ago someone, I have no idea who to credit because Twitter search is a clusterfuck, who I follow on Twitter mentioned Instacast. It’s fantastic.

Instacast gives you a native iOS app that is built around one thing: subscribing and listening to podcasts. It’s a great example of a focused app that does one thing and does it really damn well. Best of all it’s not connected to my iTunes library. My podcasts now update every time I open Instacast. No need to be chained to iTunes.

The player is also tuned specifically for podcasts. The built-in Music app places a volume slider at the bottom, Instacast has a time slider. It still has all the necessary things like AirPlay and local caching.

Overall it’s just a really well-polished app. I’m excited to get back into podcasts now that they’re more easily updated right on my iPhone.

News sites as “Angry fruit salad on meth”

Don’t let your drive for advertising dollars undercut your purpose:

I made the mistake of going to a website today. It’s understandable, of course — everybody does it, from time to time — and I’m sure I’ll forgive myself, eventually.

I don’t mean just any website, of course, I mean a publication. A place where a business publishes interesting things that I like to read.

I couldn’t hit the Reader button in Safari fast enough. In fact, I couldn’t hit it at all, so stunned was I by the flickering colorful circus the page presented. It was like angry fruit salad on meth.

Brent Simmons – The Pummeling Pages.

The Feast

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Early Thanksgiving Pie

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It’s not Portland’s PIE but it’s still good. 🙂

Yosemite Valley from the air

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Snapped while flying into Fresno, CA this morning.