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A list of 100+ education reporters on Twitter

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

For months, I’ve had in mind finding all my education reporter peers across the country on Twitter. I decided this afternoon it was time to finally put together what I’ve gathered and to see how many more I could find. What follows is a somewhat comprehensive list of education reporters on Twitter. I say somewhat because there are a few exceptions:

  • Anyone who hasn’t updated in 2009. For all I know they’ve been laid off/fired/quit/changed beats/etc. and abandoned the Twitter account. Who wants to follow someone who hasn’t updated in seven-plus months anyway?
  • Anyone with protected updates. I can’t tell when the last update was. Besides, it’s obviously a private feed not about advancing their work if they’re not letting the world see. That’s fine, but not really useful to this purpose.
  • Anyone who doesn’t state they are an education reporter in their bio. In some cases, I know the person so I included them anyway. But mostly, there really isn’t a good way to find someone who doesn’t put this in the bio short of cross-referencing staff lists with Twitter, which isn’t worth my time.
  • Also excluded were group/organization Twitter accounts and those for an agency not a news organization.

It sounds like a lot of exclusions, but they didn’t add up to many of the ones I actually was able to find.

Aside from suggestions by my own followers, I compiled this list largely by scanning the search results on site:twitter.com “education reporter”. I have updated this list to include individuals who identified themselves as belonging here.

So what is the purpose of spending several hours on my day off putting this together? Honestly, it was kind of selfish. I think it’s interesting to see what other peers on this beat are covering. In many cases, we’re writing about the same things. We struggle with the same FOIA-ignorant officials and try to wrap our heads around similarly incomprehensible state test data. And I figured extending my own network to include more of those folks could help me with ideas, trends to look into, and just some camaraderie.

Oh yeah, and I was curious how these people were managing their Twitter feeds and whether I shouldn’t modify my own tack. (For those who don’t follow me @meranduh, I tend to veer from posting about mundane or insightful thoughts on current stories/meetings/topics to the strange things I see on the streets of Lafayette to pictures of my nephew to details of my mundane days.) Unsurprisingly, there was wide variance in how reporters handled their Twitter account. Some were just an RSS feed or a list of links. Some didn’t include a single education-related post. Some had few posts of any type. Some included lots of links to their sites, and some offered none. All of them used real names, if not in the username (which many did) then in the name field. Most identified their news organization, but many left off the URL or their own site’s link. Many were like mine, a mix of the biz and life. Others were clearly representing their company as part of the overall brand. I even came across one that had both a personal and business Twitter account. The takeaway? There’s no right way to Tweet your beat, but there are lots of different ways to do so.

One more unrelated trend I noticed: We all stink at coming up with original beat blog names. Every one linked from a Twitter profile (my own included) is some cliche/pun on something school related. Not that it matters, but it amused me.

OK, so behind the cut is a location-based list of the 120+ education reporters I found on Twitter. (I realize the link still says 90, but so many people had already linked it, I changed the title but not the link.) Location is by state/country, and then it’s alphabetical by username. Also, if the user didn’t provide a link to a resume/site/employer, I tried to provide a link to the organization where he or she works. Finally, if I added other details to fill out a lacking profile, I italicized that change.

If I missed you or your education reporter, send me a message @meranduh and let me know.

A few laughs at stuff journalists like

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

On a lighter note. During my month hiatus, across my Twitterfeed came a site worth sharing with you all, or at least those who haven’t already laughed at it.

Stuff journalists like. It’s brilliant, and for the most part spot on. I’m surprised it took so long to come to existence. It’s in the same tongue-in-cheek vein as Stuff White People Like, which sadly is also pretty funny. And we could all use a few laughs these days.

A few of my personal favorites from SJL and an excerpt from the posts:

  • Readers’ feedback — I don’t necessarily agree with nasty comments being validation of my work. But I did laugh about the fact that many audience members tend to be “experts” on whatever you’re reporting and relish any opportunity to point out a flaw, even when they’re dead wrong:

    Journalists like nothing more than to stagger back into the newsroom in the morning, not more than six hours after leaving the night before, to get an email from a reader on the difference between straitjacket vs. straight jacket – for the record both are correct. Four five years of higher education can’t even begin to compare to the infinite value of the feedback journalists get back from their loyal readers.

  • “The Wire” — No seriously, if you haven’t already fallen in love with this show, go rent a few episodes. It’s fantastic.:

    [A]s good as seasons one through four are, it is season five that journalists really love. Going inside the Baltimore Sun’s newsroom for season five, reporters feel smug hearing terms like “main art,” “double truck,” or “below the fold.” Journalist like telling their non-journalists friends what these words mean, and that they really use those terms in their own newsroom.

  • Twittering — Sad, but true. Though in my case, my co-workers like making fun of Twittering much more than I actually like it. I’m just sayin’:

    Seeing their work, be it ever so brief, releases that chemical in every journalist’s brain that ensures them they are ahead of 99 percent of the world when it comes to reporting on the presidential debate, hurricane or community bake sale.

If I had to throw my own in there, I’d probably add, “complaining about other journalists” to the mix, especially about those working in another medium in your market. Maybe it’s not complaining so much as feeling superior to them, even if you have no reason other than that you can. At least, I assume this is something all journalists do, certainly it’s been my experience, but I’m young. Others I’d add to my list: Google, reverse phone look-up, charticles, election night and databases/Excel. To my more tongue-in-cheek list: conference calls, press conferences and man on the street interviews.

What’s on your list?

Webby five-word speeches; NYTimes: No longer a newspaper site

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Take a look at some of the funny and interesting five-word speeches by this year’s Webby Award winners.

Let’s start with these ones related to media:

Guides/Ratings/Reviews ConsumerReports.org – :
“It pays not to advertise.”

News BBC News – :
“Every click is really appreciated.”

News NYTimes.com – Webby:
“No longer a newspaper site.”

Newspaper NYTimes.com – :
“Elliot Spitzer, we thank you.”

Best Home/Welcome Page National Geographic – :
“The people get the picture.”

Services MOO – :
“Who said print was dead?”

Education FactCheckED.org – :
“Where truthiness goes to die.”

Branded Content Year Zero – :
“Tell stories on the web.”

Broadband ABC.com Full Episode Player – :
“TV? Online? Never happen, kid.”

Integrated Campaigns A Fuller Spectrum of News | msnbc.com – Webby:
“Uh, fuller isn’t actually a word.”

Best Writing Onion News Network – Webby/People’s Voice:
“together, we’ll make reading obsolete.”

Documentary: Individual Episode Coney Island: An uncertain Future – Webby/People’s Voice:
“the revolution will be webcast.”

Documentary: Series NFB Filmaker in Residence – Webby:
“the internet is a documentary.”

News & Politics: Series Hometown Baghdad – Webby:
“real news helps overcome ignorance.”

News Mobile NYTimes – Webby:
“Please help us monetize this.”

News CNN Mobile – :
“We1? Cnna3 “anywhere, anyplace, anytime”.”

Other interesting/fun ones (disclaimer, I’ve never even heard of many of these winners):

Celebrity/Fan Best Week Ever – :
“Who let the blogs out?”

Social/Networking Flock The Social Web Browser – Webby:
“No shit! We beat Facebook?”

Weird I Can Has Cheezburger? – :
“Mah inglish skillz, lolcats b0rkedem.”

Best Use of Photography PENTAX Photo Gallery – :
“Blog your photos — save trees.”

Best Use of Typography Veer – Type City – Webby:
“Thanks, in 72-point Helvetica.”

Youth Nick.com – :
“Sponge Bob is our sugar daddy.”

Retail Ikea Mattress – :
“We enjoy sleeping with you.”

Associations SkillsOne – Webby:
“Guys like girls with skills.”

Cultural Institutions Design for the Other 90% – Webby:
“Design is changing the world.”

Politics FactCheck.org – :
“No, Obama is not a Muslim.”

Banner Singles Lightbulb – :
“We’re hiring. Send us resumes.”

Webby Person of the Year Michel Gondry – Special Achievement:
“Keyboards are full of germs”

Comedy: Long Form or Series You Suck at Photoshop – People’s Voice:
“we’re auctioning word 5.”

Mobile Marketplace & Services Chase SMS Banking – Webby:
“**** corporate design, hire me.”

Hey, remember that post from yesterday? NYTimes says it’s not a newspaper site. ;) I think that’s my favorite. I also appreciated their tongue-in-cheek thanks to the former governor who no doubt drove a lot of traffic their way, as well as their not so subtle “Please help us monetize this.”

Summing something up in five words makes Twitter’s 140-character limit seem mighty generous. Think of it like a Web headline (our breaking news headlines are supposed to be five to six words, and actually Twitter has much improved my writing of these).

Semi-related: my previous post on summing up journalism in six words.

(Found via USAToday’s Technology Live blog)

Reporting on record gas prices, again (and again)

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I’ve commented before about how every turn in the wind seems to merit a weather story. And if you’ll recall, that means pretty much every weather story ever conceived has been written.

Now, let’s talk about another reporting phenomenon that’s quickly displacing the *eye roll*-inducing weather story: gas prices.

Why is it so tempting to report on gas prices? For the same reason weather is such a journalism staple. It’s easy to find a few real people to complain about it and throw in the national weather service forecast and totals (or in gas prices debate, AAA fuel gauge/Gas Buddy averages). Like severe weather, when gas prices spike, that’s all anybody wants to talk about. Including those of us in the newsroom.

A month ago, my twitter followers may remember, I noted that my jaw dropped to see $3.64/gal. It had jumped from about $3.44 to that new high mid-day. That $3.40 mark had steadily been reached. It had been inching its way there for weeks, perhaps months, years even. It was still a bit of a sticker shock to me because I remember just last year being utterly annoyed every time a $3 went out front. I even remember the summer I interned, when gas hit $3.15 randomly one day, I called my roommate at work (I was out taking a walk) to see if we’d been bombed or something because that was so high.

I know those in other countries or other parts of the country pay more, substantially more, and I shouldn’t complain. (I’m going to anyway, my mileage rate is 28 cents, and my schools are all over the place in this county and others.) It’d be one thing if it was always this expensive. But consider this, I’ve seen the price of gas nearly triple since I’ve been driving. And I’ve only been driving since I graduated high school — five years ago.

So back to the journalism. We report often when it reaches a record high. In fact, we keep tabs every day of the average price on our business page. But how does one report gas reaching a record high when two or three times a week it peaks again? Today for instance, we saw a $4+ gallon in the Greater Lafayette area.

I agree that is a huge deal, and regardless of records, the $4 mark represents a huge mental hurdle. How many people said they’d reduce consumption at $3/gal? I don’t think that many actually did. $4/gallon is just, well a lot. And put it in the context of the national debate about everything from alternative fuels — hello, that $4.05/gallon was in the same county as Biotown USA — to a gas-tax holiday, and there is definitely interest and likely some news.

But here’s the challenge: How do you make and keep it relevant? How many times can you write about Joe Schmoo spending $80 to fill up his pick-up and how hard it hits city budgets? What angles, what interesting standing features can we come up with to make a timely topic remain fresh and new? And when is it time to reign in the daily feature and put someone on an enterprise, long-term look into some of those ideas and this trend?

I don’t have the answers. But I think it’s a challenge that every paper and news organization really needs to consider. And I’m open to suggestions. I’ve already mentioned a few angles.

I’m going to throw out a few ideas here, and I’m just brainstorming right now. I’m sure many have been done. Some probably done to death. So, if you have any novel or different ideas, share them. I’m sure more than one reporter or editor is going to type in google “gas price story idea” or something of that sort in the coming months looking for an idea his/her paper hasn’t hit on yet. Let’s come up with a few good ones. Maybe then we won’t, and the readers won’t, need to roll their eyes are they read about “pain at the pump” for the umpteenth time this summer.

  • Tomorrow, our paper has a story on cities busting their already tight budgets with gas for their police cruisers/city vehicles and street sweepers who aren’t sweeping as often. What’s your city doing? Anything innovative? Are the cops patrolling as often? Is the dog warden out? Are they cutting back on cutting the park grass? Was their budget prepared with $4 gas in mind? If not, what will get cut?
  • What about schools? If you have rural counties like we do, consider how much it costs to bus those kids. Did your district budget for this jump? Are they considering charging more for field trips using school transportation? (One of my districts just discussed this at its meeting last night. In fact the two geographically largest school districts in my state are in my coverage area.)
  • How’s it impacting businesses:
    • Landscapers need to drive to their jobs and they need gas for their equipment. Are they charging more or cutting corners? What about farmers plowing, planting, harvesting their fields?

    • Other companies do a lot of driving may see a big impact: repairmen, pizza deliveries, florists?
    • Do you have a lake nearby? Are boat or jet ski rentals headed up?
    • Are RV sales down as fewer families take to the open road for road trips? ALSO: What about high school and college kids who might have taken a road trip this summer. Are they opting out or taking different routes?
    • What about taxi cab drivers who are especially impacted by a volatile market? (My father is a cab driver, and they haven’t lowered the lease he has to pay daily because gas has gone up. He’s absorbing the difference and just making significantly less.)
    • What about truckers? Are their profits down as their miles increase?
    • Similarly, will the ice cream man be making fewer rounds this summer due to higher gas prices?
    • Will churches/non-profits who serve elderly patients or make food deliveries need to scale back those efforts? What does it mean for social services in your community?
    • Are there more people working from home or telecommuting to work? Or are they carpooling? Are companies upping gas mileage or are they recruiting less from the suburbs?
    • Are gas stations seeing less sales on extras, like sodas and gum, as people struggle just to pay for the gas? What types of incentives are they trying to offer?
    • Car dealerships, at least around here, are offering things like $2.99 gas for three years or free gas for a year or whatever when you buy a new car or trade it in. Here’s a few things to look at related to this: How good is the deal. If you trade in your new SUV at a lower trade-in than it’s really worth you may be losing more money than saving. Alternately, check out those dealer specials. How much would you really save if you could secure free gas for six months or whatever the terms are. Dealers aren’t going to take a major loss. Arm readers with the knowledge they need to not get duped.
    • Is the local AAA seeing more people running out of gas as they tried to stretch out each fill-up? Could be interesting to follow them out to some people to find out their reasons for running out.
  • And don’t forget who’s benefiting in your community:
    • Are the “tree huggers” happy and getting more believers to join their cause?

    • Are car dealers selling more hybrids or economy cars?
    • Are bicycle shops seeing renewed interest?
    • Is ridership up on your city buses?
    • Has there suddenly been a renewed interest in mopeds or motorcycle riding? Or are you seeing more scooters and segways?
    • Local museums, parks, camp sites, etc. may see a boost in attendance when fewer people opt to go so far away.
  • Want to do human interest? Here’s a few quick ideas:
    • Go out and find five people to tell you about their very first car. When did they get their license? How much did it cost to fill it up? What did they do then that kids can’t do now? OR…

    • Find some individuals doing innovative things to avoid high gas prices. Chances are they’re out there installing solar panels or transforming restaurant oil. If you haven’t come across it, put a call out online or in the paper to ask people for suggestions/ideas. You’d be surprised some of the things you never thought of before.
    • Stand at a gas station or two and just do the following exercise. Fill in the blank: “Gas prices are ____.” Then ask the person to explain. Get a name and head shot, throw the question in a fancy, big font out front and then just have the head shots and answers carry the package. Not earth-shattering, but the answers would be unpredictable and fun.

Any of those stories could have a video or package to accompany it online. Some are more visual than others. Or just put together a fuel price map, which would be useful if you cull the Gas Buddy data or get really active users to offer input so it’s constantly updated.

Anyway, that’s just a quick brainstorming session so later this summer when my editor taps me for a gas price update I have a jumping off point. Any great ideas — especially non-traditional ideas since many of mine are quick-hit features — you guys have are welcome and would be awesome to add to my list.

Journalism in six words

Monday, April 28th, 2008

How would you sum up journalism in six words? Poynter asked this question a few weeks back (maybe not even). I meant to comment on this earlier, but now’s as good a time as ever. You can go vote on which if the finalists you think is the best six-word summary of/motto for journalism.

Here are the top 10 finalists to choose from:

  • Doing more with less since 1690
  • We’ll always have Paris … or Britney
  • It’s how I change the world.
  • Get it right, write it tight
  • They’ll miss us when we’re gone
  • Feed the watchdog, euthanize the lapdog
  • Who, what, when, where, why, Web*
  • Facts, schmacts … how is my hair?
  • Dirty commie latte-sipping liberal scum
  • Please stop griping, now start typing

I bolded my personal favorites. The asterisk is the one for which I actually cast my vote.

Also, on the Poynter story there are several honorable mentions. Here are my favorites among those:

  • We’re sorry about all the trees

  • No news is not good news
  • How many inches is the truth?
  • Seek the truth, not the money
  • We don’t make this shit up
  • Dead wood floats. So can we
  • A journalist’s work is never done
  • History’s first version, updated every minute
  • It beats working for a living
  • Speak truth to power, or else
  • But this IS my day job!
  • Mainstream media: We’re your grandfather’s blog
  • Filling the space between the ads

So, what’s your favorite? (Vote at the Poynter story. Right now it looks like “Doing more with less since 1690” is leading, followed by “They’ll miss us when we’re gone.”)

I didn’t submit any to the contest, but here are a few humble attempts I just came up with:

  • Been there. Done that. Rinse. Repeat.

  • Every day something new to learn.
  • Speak up or hold your peace.
  • Who’s watching your government?
  • Nothing is worth more than today.
  • Tomorrow this will be forgotten.
  • I couldn’t make this stuff up.
  • As read about on Romenesko.
  • Blogs: Repurposing real journalism since 1997.

Have any contributions or ideas for your own six-word motto for journalism? It’s harder than it seems.

Midday media traffic spike?

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

The NYTimes has a story today about how media outlets are dealing with a new trend: People “video snacking” at their desks at lunch.

It’s an interesting phenomenon I haven’t heard of before. Though, apparently several newspapers and TV stations, as well as big online ventures like Yahoo/AOL, are responding to this increased noontime demand for fresh video.

The midday spike in Web traffic is not a new phenomenon, but media companies have started responding in a meaningful way over the last year. They are creating new shows, timing the posts to coincide with hunger pangs. And they are rejiggering the way they sell advertising online, recognizing that noontime programs can command a premium.

In 2007, a growing number of local television stations, including WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, began producing noon programming exclusively for the Web. Among newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and The Ventura County Star in California started posting videos at lunchtime that have young journalists as hosts and are meant to appeal to 18- to 34-year-old audiences.

The trend has swept across large as well as small independent sites. Yahoo’s daily best-of-the-Web segment, called The 9 and sponsored by Pepsi, is produced every morning in time for lunch. At MyDamnChannel.com, a showcase for offbeat videos, programmers have been instructed to promote new videos around noon, right when the two-hour traffic spike starts.

I was unaware of this jump. Granted, reporters/newsroom staff here are only sent the basic stats report e-mail for each day. So I don’t know the exact numbers for each hour. But our traffic very clearly seems to spike around 8/9 and then again at the end of the work day. I’ll have to look back through a few days when I’m at work again to see if this midday trend holds true here. If it does though, it begs the question of whether we should and how we should cater to that demand? And if it doesn’t, it still leaves open the question of whether we could compete for this attention, and of course, how.

The first reporter at my paper starts posting around 6 a.m. daily (8 a.m. weekends — but both shifts seem ungodly early when you’re the one on them), and throughout the day local and state, and sometimes big national, stories are posted. On bigger news, the No. 1 slot or the No. 5 slot (that is the top slot w/a photo or the top slot sans photo) will get swapped out or updated and timestamped breaking news. Often, those stories are among the most read. After the 4 o’clock meeting each night, they post a PM Update with four or five teasers for the top stories in tomorrow’s paper. That is also usually well read.

But if there’s a group of people or even a growing appetite for a noontime video/news bite, it’s worth considering what type of demand that is (seems from the NYTimes story that lighter fare is popular) and then how to cater to it. (Wow, so many food cliches.) Here’s some very preliminary ideas I have off the top of my head, or as Carl (former prof/Stater adviser) used to say: I’m thinking out loud here…

  • A noontime round up of odd news off the wire. These are generally short, and pulling out three or so each day would probably be a cinch. People like weird stories. If you want this to be video, grab one of your more camera friendly staffers and get him or her to quickly tell the stories. Throw in a few stock photos/screen grabs/whatever for effect if you want.

  • A midday news synopsis with very brief (think news tickerish) bits about the stories we’re working on or even the biggest national stories — with links to more details for any stories that are already posted, of course, even if it’s a link to CNN. This could easily be paired with a noon-time 2-minute newscast. I don’t think you need glitzy here, down and dirty headlines could suffice.
  • Maybe like our PM Update a Midday Update. Promote the top stories, video, galleries, forums, whatever on your site to let other people know what their peers are reading. Kind of, “Here’s what’s generating the biggest buzz on (your site).”
  • Get an employee who’s always finding cool stuff online (there has to be at least one) to do a round-up of stories, videos, Web sites, whatever people are talking about online today. Maybe it’s just a quick round-up of the top stories on other sites, like YouTube’s most popular item or whatever is out there on Digg or just whatever cool or crazy news/fun item he or she stumbles on that day. This would probably work best as a blog that you promote or cross-post at noon each day. I’m thinking kind of an “in case you missed it” blog. Something along the lines of Clicked over at MSNBC, with a dash of USA Today’s On Deadline or a more focused version of Pop URLs. I could spend hours following all those links. The benefit of doing this locally (instead of Clicked, etc.) would be it would focus the local audience on the same items. Fostering that communal experience, “Did you see…?”, and community conversation on the comments.

I’m sure there are plenty of other more innovative and effective ways to capture that noontime media consumer. Those are just some initial thoughts. I’ll have to look around to see if anyone out there has come up with some cool ideas. If you know of one, pass it my way.

10 steps to become a wired journalist

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

If you haven’t yet stumbled on Howard Owens’ post about how “non-wired” journalists can get wired in ’08, do so now. A very succinct list of reasonable objectives ANYONE can accomplish.

A brief synopsis of what you’ll need: a camera (with video); an SMS-enabled cell phone (do they make ones that aren’t?); a twitter, Flickr, YouTube, del.icio.us, MySpace, Facebook, digg, etc. account; a passion that you can stand to read about, write about and that won’t interfere with your beat/day job; the ability to use Google to look up unfamiliar terms like RSS and mashup. Oh yeah, and an open mind.