Homemade pasta

Homemade pasta with lemon basil and tarragon rolled between it. Dinner is going to be delicious!

Digital Journalism Camp Session Summaries

After a morning unconference session that involved a 5 mile hike with Daniel I caught the afternoon sessions at this weekend’s Digital Journalism Camp.

Journalism startups

First up Melissa Chavez moderated a panel about lessons learned from three journalism startup founders. Michael Andersen of Portland Afoot, Barry Johnson, and Robert Wagner talked about their startups and what they’ve done well (and wrong).

Andersen emphasized how there is plenty of journalism happening, but that it’s mostly for rich people. He’s motivated to create meaningful information for those making under $50,000 a year. In other words, “there’s journalism for those with iPhones but not Samsungs.”

While discussing approaches to building audiences and readership Wagner mentioned that in journalism it really helps if your business is the hub. Being the place where people come to find more information will not only make your property valuable but will tell you a significant amount about your readers. Johnson argued that a journalist should not be afraid to sell. The worlds of journalism and sales are not mutually exclusive in his eyes.

Technology was a key point for all three as well. Wagner mentioned that Cascadia.fm relies heavily on WordPress. He thinks it doesn’t get enough love for all it does. He also pointed out that they don’t have any mobile apps. Cascadia.fm wants to provide the best experience for people to connect with them on the web regardless of device. Andersen said that, “I’ve got to focus on relationships with readers and hope the technology becomes commoditized so I can grab on to that.” Barry Johnson put it succinctly when he said that, “Technology is a practice that is a part of journalism. Journalism will thus be adapted to whatever new technologies come along.”

Unheard voices

The second session of the afternoon was about whether digital tools give marginalized communities a voice. Cornelius Stewart led a panel of 5 that was absolutely fascinating.

Israel Bayer, director of Streetroots, talked about their efforts to bring the homeless into all aspects of journalism. He also noted that, while some think a web presence would undercut street sales, their sister paper in Seattle launched a website and saw their sales increase 40%. He pointed out that it’s the technical parts of a project that are the easy. It’s the relationships and building of a community that are difficult.

Craig Fondren of Sabin Community Development Corporation talked a lot about how they educate their community in the tools of journalism. They focus heavily on bringing many generations into their workshops. As he put it, “If you can get online we have a class for you. If I have your kid in one of our classes then I’m going to get you in a class and I’m going to get grandma too.” They put a lot of work into senior instruction.

One of their driving goals is to get people interested in the tools. Fondren believes that his community will get left behind if we don’t latch on to this tool set. Sabin CDC never charges for a class and they expect those they teach to come back and volunteer. They try to make sure their kids have the skills needed to take part in real world projects. They’ve done work with Trimet, the Oregon Film Council, and many other companies.

The panel also featured Brian Conley and Steve Wyshy of Small World News. They collect video coming out of war and underserved areas and bring it on to the web. Brian had perhaps the quote of the day by describing the proto-journalist:

10,000 years ago a citizen journalist was the guy who went over the next hill and was like, “Hey there’s cool stuff over here!” He was viewed as crazy or was made the village’s chief.

Small World News works for those in Libya, Afghanistan, India, and Egypt. Brian will fly into these countries and train residents in the use of camera equipment and professional-level software like Final Cut Pro. The people then shoot hours of video, make the edits, and send the finished versions to Brian and Steve to post online. In other words, Small World News is working for these people, not the other way around. Once the content is online volunteers subtitle the videos into various languages.


Portland is known for its rain but it is absolutely dumping snow right now. Would make for an awesome weekend in the mountains.

Pumpkin muffins to ring in fall

It has quickly turned to fall here in Portland. Leaves are falling, it’s below 50 degrees, and getting dark at 4:00 p.m. All of this meant only one thing: pumpkin muffins and chai.


Pretty easy to make and are actually gluten-free. Props to Leah for a delicious recipe.

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 cup canned, solid-packed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease muffin tin.

Combine flours and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add flour mixture to pumpkin until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin tins (each should be about 3/4 full). Bake until puffed and golden brown (about 30-35 minutes). Makes 12.

Off Grid Time Around Portland

Spent a few days off the grid wandering and hiking around Portland (Washington Park and the Columbia River Gorge). Getting unconnected every so often is refreshing.