Saturday, December 29, 2007


Howard Owens lays down a challenge of 11 objectives for non-wired journalists in 2008. He'll award a $100 Amazon gift certificate to anyone who meets the goals.
Other j-bloggers have joined the chorus, including Mindy McAdams and Amy Gahran.
The most important goal, in my view: Start using RSS.
As Mindy McAdams says, "I am continually shocked when I meet journalists who say they don’t read blogs. It’s inconceivable."
Indeed. But before RSS, I found keeping up with voluminous postings daunting. RSS is efficient, fast and easy. It's so important that I'd recommend RSS classes on company time for all newsroom staffers, particularly department heads and above.
This goal is not about anyone feeling stupid or out of touch. I know a technically savvy staffer with his own blogs who is just learning about RSS and pingbacks and all that stuff. He's learning now, because he knows that keeping up with what's online is crucial to his career.
The challenge from Owens launched many questions and online comments. How much company time should be spent learning and teaching this stuff? Is spending two hours a week on Youtube really worth it? (I'd say no). Should people who take their own time to learn this stuff somehow be compensated beyond those who only spend company time? Does everyone have to know all of this stuff, or can groups and organizations use the power of their size to specialize? Will the challenge launch a thousand blogs, adding to the noise level with no extra light?
Despite all the important questions, I repeat: Everyone in a news organization should know how to use RSS.
In addition, I'd add: editors and reporters should know how to follow a Twitter feed. They should know how to shoot a picture with a digital camera and upload it to a blog -- before a news event requires that they do so. Reporters should monitor Facebook and be able to judge story value beyond, "Well, there's a Facebook group about it."
Anyone who would like to experiment with posting to a blog and uploading a photo is welcome here at Innovate This. See Andria or Rich for how to get started.
And yes, those who learn this stuff should be rewarded. An Amazon gift certificate will in no way compensate for the time. But a continuing career will.


Rich said...

OK, but what's RTFRSS mean? Rich text format RSS? Ready-to-fly RSS?

agahran said...


You're absolutely right about learning to use feeds. In fact, I listed using a feed reader as a cornerstone skill for journalists in this August 2007 Tidbits post:

Rich: "RTF" is geek-speak for "Read the f*cking..."

As in: RTFM = read the f*cking manual


- Amy Gahran

Rich said...

Hah! Clearly, I need to brush up on my dirty acronyms...

Andria said...

A possible partial solution:
The Special Libraries Association found:
"20% of the libraries sampled organize and maintain RSS feeds for executives or others in their parent organizations, which is higher than I expected. The median number of individuals this service is provided for is 5."

Leslie Wilkinson said...

I'd add: be able to send a text message or check email on your cell phone. Also, be able to take a photo on the phone and upload it to a blog.

How many times in the past two weeks have I clung to my cell phone because I haven't had computer access handy. The phone's one of the best tools we all carry around these days.