New job alert: Leaving Boston.com for Fox 25 News

Good news. I’ve accepted a position at Fox 25 News in Boston as a senior web producer, ending my almost five-year tenure with Boston.com and the Boston Globe.

I’ll be moving out of sports and into the news department again, which is a move I’ve been looking to make for some time. I’m excited about that and I’m excited about working for a broadcast outlet, which I believe is ripe for some digital innovating.

I think a lot of people will wonder why I would give up a job that lets me cover professional sports and travel. For me, it’s about growth. I am fortunate enough to have covered a Super Bowl, two Stanley Cup Finals and an NBA Finals while with Boston.com and the Globe. Only sports journalists in Boston are that lucky. So those are memories I will never forget. But I’m also very much interested in doing stories of impact, something I don’t think I can accomplish at Boston.com.

I’m certainly thankful to the many people at Boston.com and the Globe I’ve had a chance to work with. There’s way too many to name, but I’ll give a special shout out to Matt Pepin, Joe Sullivan, and Bob Holmes, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with very closely and getting to know well. I really want to thank them for their support over the years. And the same goes for past editors at the Globe and Boston.com like David Beard and Greg Lee. I really appreciate them, too, for what they’ve done for me.

So onward I go. Soon enough, you’ll find my work on myfoxboston.com. Just five more letters to remember.

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer prize for breaking news

Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory salutes his staff for their work during the Boston Marathon, noting that it was such a trying period.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory salutes his staff for their work during the Boston Marathon, noting that it was such a trying period.
The Boston Globe won the Pulitzer prize yesterday for breaking news coverage of the Boston Marathon. While I’m glad to have played a part in the coverage, I’m so sorry I had to.

We’re now at the one-year anniversary of the tragic bombings that took place. It’s a good time to reflect on what an honor like this means and to keep it in perspective. So many people spent countless hours reporting, editing, and updating the public on every single piece of information that came across our paths. And over time, as the accolades have piled up, the awards continue to be a somber reminder of what has taken place, both for those who were intimately involved in the coverage of the tragedy and those who were only on the periphery. Three people were killed — Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and later Sean Collier — while more than 260 others were injured.

That somberness, despite any hint of joy or pride in the recognition bestowed, remains. It won’t leave us. And if there were a better way to win an award, I would take it. I can only speak for myself in that sense. But that sentiment was shared widely yesterday in the newsroom after the awards were announced.

“There’s nobody in this room that wanted to cover this story. And each and every one of us hopes that nothing like it ever happens again on our watch,” Globe editor Brian McGrory said.

How we covered the Marathon in the very beginning

Boston.com was truly a pivotal part of the Marathon coverage for the Globe and was a prominent portion of the Globe’s entry to the administers of the Pulitzer prizes at Columbia University. As the leading web portal in New England, we were first with the news online and we truly were a 24-hour news operation going forward. In those immediate hours, I was manning the desk with then Boston.com sports editor Matt Pepin. We were putting together projects and photo galleries from the day’s race and were getting ready to wind down from the cranked up nature of the Marathon. That changed when the first tweets and photos came from the finish line. Matt and I culled those tweets together together before one of our producers, Steve Silva, sent his first dispatch.

What many people don’t remember about the Globe’s coverage is that those first tweets and photos were posted in Boston.com’s live race blog before we transitioned to the actual live coverage of the bombings. We ran both live blogs for a period of time because there were so many of our online readers — a substantial amount actually — who were on our site for the race coverage. Those numbers only increased dramatically in our race blog before we switched over completely. Maintaining both was seen as the right thing to do for our readers until it was no longer feasible.

This is where the quick thinking of Adrienne Lavidor-Berman, the Globe’s social media editor, came into such great use. She was able to deftly handle the transition and set us up for success. Matt and I handled the race blog (the sports guys) and Adrienne handled the bombings blog. We made sure to cross post until we finally made the split.

Also worth remembering was that both Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com, because of heavy internet traffic, were down for a period of time. During that period, the Globe actually had our live blogs hosted by ScribbleLive’s servers, which enabled us to keep publishing live and keep our readers informed. ScribbleLive describes this in full here.

You can only imagine all of the technical, emotional, and logistical difficulties that arose during that time. In that sense, it was remarkable we were still able to produce the content we did. So I think it’s important to note that while the reporting on the ground was pivotal, there should be quite a bit of recognition to our developers and web staff for being able to traverse such a difficult set of circumstances.

Again, I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish, but I’m really sorry that such a tragedy is what caused it. And as what was noted yesterday by the Globe’s sports editor, Joe Sullivan, when a stressful, adverse, and unwelcome situation arises, you never know how you’re going to react. The staff of the Boston Globe and Boston.com reacted by doing its job. I think the Pulitzer just recognizes that.

Have you seen the re-designed mobile site for Boston.com?

A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.
A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.

As part of the change that is occurring at Boston.com and the Boston Globe, the site is going through a re-design.The mobile portion of the site launched last week. You can catch a glimpse of it above or visit mobile.boston.com.

The cool thing is the site also has responsive design, just like BostonGlobe.com. So it’s built in the mold of new-ish sites BetaBoston.com and BDCWire.com.

Here’s some sample screenshots.

2014-04-03 14.35.00

2014-04-03 14.34.08

Change is coming

So I’ve been meaning to address a number of professional changes for me for some time. The tricky thing is you never know how much you can say and who is gonna throw a fit because you said it. (And then after awhile you just lose track of the time.)

No mas!

About two weeks ago, we had a major shakeup at Boston.com that will help the site better differentiate itself from the Boston Globe. For all of my friends and family that are wondering, yes, there is a difference between the two sites. While Boston.com has been the portal site of the Boston Globe newspaper since 1995, that relationship between the paper and the site changed significantly when the paper decided to launch BostonGlobe.com in September 2010 (it went live just a year later). When the site went live, we began the company’s two-site strategy, with one site remaining free (Boston.com) and the other subscriber based (BostonGlobe.com). Obviously that confused everyone involved because multiple pieces of content, whether they be stories, photos, or video, were on both sites.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain to Claudia what the difference was between the two sites. Let’s just say she never fully understood.
Continue reading “Change is coming”

Talking convergence journalism

On Monday I gave a talk to the staff of the Berkley Beacon, the student newspaper at Emerson College in Boston. The talk/workshop was about convergence journalism, or backpack journalism. While making my way home, I realized I only touched on maybe half of my notes on the topic. So I wanted to share here what I wrote down in its entirety, including the powerpoint I brought along with me.

Intro

Convergence journalism… or as many in the industry call it: backpack journalism.

A lot of what backpack journalists do can be traced back to the resources they have at hand at their news organizations. But I like to think that a good portion of multimedia journalists are just extremely hard workers.

There are certain traits I see in others that do the job. Some I have myself and some I hope to attain. And then there are specific skills necessary, a lot of which you are learning right now at Emerson. So I’m going to run down what I believe to be the skills necessary to:

  1. Cover live events
  2. And put yourself in a position to do video well

But first, let me just fill you in on who I am and my background to give you a sense of where I come from and how it is I have come to do what I do.

Times-Herald

I was a freelance sports correspondent with the Vallejo Times-Herald in 2004 back in California. Prior to that I had worked on my school newspaper at City College of San Francisco, a junior college. I did everything at City. Write, edit, and paginate pages. It was the first time I used Quark. At the Times-Herald though, I got my first taste of non-student or peer editing. But I was solely a reporter and didn’t have any other responsibilities but writing my story for the day.

timesherald

Chico State

I went to California State University, Chico where I was a sports reporter, sports editor, and online editor for the Orion, the student newspaper. I sat in critiques like yours so I know the process of getting your lunch handed to you after a bad week. But it was around that time that blogging was really just kicking off in newsrooms. And there was this sorta new thing called WordPress. Long story short, I blogged the hell out of a trip to Hot Springs Arkansas to cover the women’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament. That was my introduction to rapid reporting. We also did podcasting and “quick updates.”

theorion

Oakland Tribune

I had internships at the Oakland Tribune and the Marin Independent-Journal. I was a general assignment reporter for the Tribune, covering cops and doing small features for the metro section. There was a bit of politics added in their too. I interviewed the Honorable Ron Dellums once. He was the second person I had ever known that wished to be called Honorable before their name. Anybody know the other? The Honorable Minister Louis Farrahkhan. Yeah. That’ll throw you off. Anyways, the Tribune was my first opportunity to be edited by a major metro desk. I learned a lot from one of the best cops beat writers in the country.

oaklandtribune

Marin IJ

At the IJ, I was thrown into my first professional sports coverage. I covered NASCAR, I covered my first criterium. (Anybody know what that is?) I did some features on the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, both my hometown teams. So I built up some good experience to that point, both in professional locker rooms and in the breadth of work I had done.

marinij

The Union

Not too long after that, in August of 2007, I got my first job at The Union, a community newspaper in the Sierra Foothills of California, as a sports reporter. It’s a small town in Grass Valley, California. Only 10,000 people about 2 and a half hour drive from San Francisco.

Anyways, I got to cover one of the bigger high school football programs in the state in Nevada Union. It was a great team that ran the Wing-T. It was fun because I got to cover them like a beat, which is not really what you do when you cover high school sports. Everything is pretty general. That’s when I first joined Twitter, true story. I am one of those few people that can say they were on Twitter in the first year of its existence.

But I didn’t know what to do with it. So I left it idle while I focused more on all the things that you guys are going to get thrust into: designing newspaper pages with InDesign, figuring out photoshop for something more than just re-sizing an image, and utilizing video for the very first time.

I would, whenever the football team got near the end zone, whip out the company camera and record the rest of their drive while taking notes. I was able to put together some pretty cool highlight reels of just the touchdowns from each game.

But the problem I ran into was I didn’t have any formal training editing video. And I didn’t have an appreciation for the time it took to process GOOD video. So I took a class at a community TV station. I thought it was important enough at the time to learn how to use Final Cut Pro. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Now, while at The Union. I took on multiple jobs. I went from just being a sports reporter to being a reporter and the paper’s online community manager. And then I switched from the sports desk to the city desk. I actually started doing my first live coverage using CoverItLive of a Nevada City Council meeting. The big issue of the time was whether or not the city was going to allow a marijuana dispensary. The news went out in the live blog as the vote occurred.

theunion

Boston.com/ The Boston Globe

And then I came to the Globe not too long after. My technical title is Content Producer, which means to say I provide content for the website Boston.com. I was hired specifically to help the Globe compete with ESPN Boston.

I run our live coverage of the Patriots and high school sports, and help elsewhere as needed. I shoot video. I put together features for our website. And I’m always seeking out creative ways to tell stories on our website. But I understand the premium is on the three core assets of a good news organization: Great copy, great photos, and good video.

Skills

So the necessary skills to do my job now, which many people want, basically reflect the tools and skills I picked up over time and through a ton of experience.

  • Rapid reporting
  • HTML and CSS
  • How to lay out newspapers*
  • Broad experience in news and sports
  • Professional decorum
  • Video editing
  • The ability to edit others, both copy and video
  • On air and camera experience
  • The ability to move quickly doing it all

Patriots work

So where does that leave us?

It all gets summed up in a work week of mine. Because I help cover the New England Patriots at Boston.com, I get the opportunity to do some traveling. I was at yesterday’s game in New Jersey as the Patriots lost to the Jets, 30-27. You might have seen that there was some controversy. Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3-B.

The great thing about a live blog is you look can up the rule on the internet and have it on your website in no time. For the Globe, we utilize the tool ScribbleLive. It is not a free tool. But it’s highly customizable and it provides us with some flexibility.

For myself, I was able to gather some quotes from players, including the now infamous Chris Jones, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and others on the team. Those quotes, along with the rule and other reactions, were added to the blog as they came in. The nice thing about a tool like ScribbleLive is there are apps for smartphones, on both iOs and Android. So when I leave my computer in the pressbox to get some quotes, I can update the blog from my phone. Which is coincidentally why I don’t use my phone as a voice recorder.

But to really understand the convergence, to really grasp all of what I do, consider my work day: I get to the stadium 3 hours before kickoff. I write a wrapup for each offensive and defensive series in the live blog. And in addition to that, I add at least four entires to our Patriots blog. By the end of the day, I’ve typed more than 5,000 words.

And then I do video. I appear on camera with CineSport, a video portal that has partnerships with news organizations across the country. My work day ends up being close to 11 hours. The game is just a fraction of that.

Different types of live blogs

Now, stepping back, what I’ve described is how you would use a tool like ScribbleLive, or Storify, or Twitter, or even just a regular old WordPress blog that you keep updating, for one event. But there are times in which you need to have rolling updates for a number of events. Not everything is broken down into quarters and periods. The Government Shutdown comes to mind. Be mindful that as long as you’re getting content up in a timely fashion, and updating continuously, it’s quite OK to stretch the definition of live for your blog.

But also consider that there are breaking news situations where the information is coming faster than is humanly possible to disseminate and discern. That’s how the first moments of the Marathon bombings were. I was on the desk at Boston.com, doing a pretty cool photo map interactive of runners that you’ll never see. I got my first confirmation of the explosions on Instagram, a picture I’m sure many of you have seen.

I’m proud to say that my colleagues and I were able to cobble together some fine reporting during those horrific hours by exercising patience, particularly when it came to the areas of taste (bloody pictures) and the number of casualties and injured. Actually, on Sunday, the Online News Association awarded us with their breaking news award. So consider again that going live, no matter the tool, is a huge part of being a backpack journalist.

Video

Now as I noted, doing video is a huge part of all levels of journalism. At the Globe, we do it on a number of levels, economically speaking.

When I chat with CineSport, I do that via Skype in what I hope to be the quietest area of the press box.

But we also do shows like Globe 10.0, Boston Sports Live, Take 2, and the Tech Lab. And then we do stand-ups, which are usually one or two talking figures discussing an issue or news event, like the Patriots game or a case at trial. Our Big Story video series would fall into that category. It’s the easiest kind of video to do, because all you need is a camera, a tripod, a microphone, and some decent light to get it done.

On a much lower level, you can always just use the camera in your laptop, smartphone, or digital camera. Just make sure to consider, again, your light and your background noise.

My one piece of advice: It’s better to have bad light than it is to have bad sound. A good mic is your friend.

Recap / Social media

So we’ve gone over the skills you need, the experience you should try to attain (everybody’s journey is different), some of the tools that I use that help me do my job, and some short and sweet tips on video.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss social media with you. It’s such a huge part of driving traffic. Understanding the social ecosystem and search engine optimization and then capitalizing on it is a point of emphasis for every content producer. My only point to you is embrace it. It’s apart of the present of journalism and it will be apart of the future. Be open to new platforms and new tools. I’m sure when you’ve all landed your first jobs, there will be something new for us all to consider.

Questions.

RadioBDC Sports: Patriots power rankings and preseason preview

RadioBDC Sports: Patriots power rankings and preseason preview – RadioBDC blog – Boston.com.

I joined RadioBDC’s Adam 12 to talk some Patriots ahead of their first preseason game Friday against the Eagles. This should be a somewhat regular segment, with the Globe’s Chris Gasper filling in when I can’t and vice versa.

Just on a side note, I find the entire concept of RadioBDC awesome. We have an internet radio station. The Boston Herald just launched their online news talk station. These are some cool endeavors. Check it out.