Molding Young Minds at UALR High School Journalism Day

Much thanks to the Sonny Rhodes and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for inviting me to speak during two sessions of UALR’s annual Journalism Day event, which took place Thursday.

Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press gave the event’s keynote address on “Why Journalism Matters,” and other session leaders included Frank Fellone of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kelly Kissel of the AP and Malcolm Glover of KUAR-FM, 89. 1, the Little Rock NPR affiliate.

I spoke in two sessions, the first on “Why Your High School Newspaper Needs to Be Online,” and the second on ” … So You’re Online, Now What?” The students were great and asked some solid questions.

I also took the opportunity to ask some questions about teen media habits. And needless to say, everything you’ve heard about how teens engage (or don’t engage) with media is probably pretty close to true.

  • Most of them don’t read newspapers — less than half of the 20 in my first session said they read the local daily on a weekly basis, and none of them read it daily.
  • Many of them said they spend at least 4 hours a day online. One student said he’ll often spend half a Saturday online.
  • They text message one another like crazy. When I told them about a study that showed the average teen sends 2,000 texts a month, many told of numbers double that. And because they’re heavy texters, their parents are, too. One student said his Mom sent 5,000 messages one month.
  • Facebook is the hotness, but MySpace is dunzo.
  • They watch TV, but usually while surfing the Web.
  • Many of them say they read magazines.
  • Oh — and none of them Twitter.

None of their high school papers were online, but a couple of schools seemed poised to invest in the Web soon. One of the big concerns for students and their advisers was finding a way to fairly moderate reader comments.

In all, it was an enjoyable session. Despite the turmoil that traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) find themselves in, I still believe it’s an exciting time to be a journalism student. The possibilities the Web offers young reporters and editors are boundless. No longer are students defined by the medium for which they work. On the Web, the lines have blurred, and they can each be involved in writing, video, photography, audio production, Web programming and more. And given the current state of media, with all the economic and organizational challenges that exist, they have a chance to help reshape the profession as it asserts itself on mobile and online platforms.

It’s a thrilling time for those kids, and 14 years out of high school, I’m a little envious.


Pew Study Shows Emerging Trends in Political, Civic Engagement Online

On KARN radio on Monday, political bloggers Blake Rutherford and David Kinkade commented on how new media has finally arrived in Arkansas, and how blogs and social networks will play an even bigger role in the 2010 election cycle (one that’s already sure to be exciting given a certain U.S. Senate race) as more Arkansans become politically engaged, bloggers break news alongside traditional media and candidates rally supporters in online spaces.

This week, a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project outlines emerging trends in political and civic engagement, and it will be interesting to see if some of these findings play out in Arkansas, so often the final destination for new social and technological movements. Below, some of the Pew study’s key findings and some brief comments:

Whether they take place on the internet or off, traditional political activities remain the domain of those with high levels of income and education.

There’s obviously been some hope that the Internet might be the great equalizer in terms of political engagement by the haves and the have-nots. But the Pew study finds that this simply hasn’t happened yet. Pew notes, of course, that much of this is tied to broadband availability. In Arkansas, of example, you’re much more likely to have high-speed Internet access if you are more affluent and live in a larger city.


At the same time, because younger Americans are more likely than their elders to be internet users, the participation gap between relatively unengaged young and much more engaged middle-aged adults that ordinarily typifies offline political activity is less pronounced when it comes to political participation online.

So youth might be a leveler, in terms of political activities by folks in vastly different economic classes. And, Pew says, so could blogs and social media, because the bigger group of people who use those Internet media are aged 18-29:

There are hints that forms of civic engagement anchored in blogs and social networking sites could alter long-standing patterns that are based on socio-economic status.

Pew says “hints,” because we don’t yet know whether we’ll see a generational change in civic involvement, or merely a “life-cycle phenomenon that will change as these younger users age.”

(After the jump, more findings by the Pew study.)

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Video: The Do’s and Don’ts Of Using Twitter in the Workplace

Click to watch the segment

Click to watch the segment

Today on “Today’s THV This Morning,” I sat down with Charles Crowson (who tweets @CCrowson016) to talk about what can happen when your Twitter life affects your work life. Or, rather, when you say something stupid on Twitter and your boss finds out.

Just as users are having to learn to watch what they post on Facebook, MySpace and blogs, so too are they having to be more careful about what they say on the fast-growing microblogging service. Twitter’s very nature — a quick, easy-to-use service that allows you to post stream-of-conscience thoughts almost as a reflex via desktop and mobile platforms — lends itself to accidental misuse. And once you say something on the Internet, it’s hard to take it back. has numerous examples of workplace horror stories stemming from Twitter misuse. In that vein, I offered some simple do’s and don’t for professionals who use Twitter to help them avoid such workplace gaffes.


1) Bad-mouth co-workers or your company – Lots of people mistake the Web as a place to vent. But it’s simply not professional to go online and rip your boss, your co-workers and your employer. Even though these people might not be your Twitter followers, they can see your updates by going to your account. And even if you’ve protected your updates to followers only, there’s always the risk that what you say in the heat of the moment could be retweeted.

2) Complain about your the specifics of your job – We all have boring aspects of our jobs, and everyone has a bad day every once in a while. But again, your tweets can reflect poorly on your employer. If you want to stay employed, you’ll want to keep those feelings in check.

3) Talk about your salary, good or bad
– Just as you wouldn’t talk about your raise in front of a co-worker, you shouldn’t brag about that bump in pay you just got. At the same, hard as it might be, refrain from gripes about salary or benefits cuts.

4) Conduct a job search out in the open – As great as social networks and Twitter can be in the job hunt, be careful about openly inquiring about new jobs at other companies, unless you want to be outed early and possibly dismissed before you’re ready to make a switch.

5) Overshare personal tidbits that could reflect poorly on your company
– It’s probably not a good idea to talk about how drunk you got last night. And watch those late-night postings to Twitpic that might not seem so funny the morning after.

After the jump, some suggestions about what to do to keep your personal and professional lives in harmony on Twitter.

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Media Notes: Inside Saline Debuts; ‘FaceFriend’ Announced; Local, Local Local!

Old school THV logo

Old school THV logo

Please excuse us while we navel-gaze. The latest bits from around the media world, Arkansas and beyond:

AirheadsBlake Rutherford guests today on 103.7 The Buzz from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tune in for a taste of the his new radio show, starting this weekend.

Web Jones –  Whit Jones, the former editor of the Benton Courier, has launched, an online-only news site, promising to “take you inside news and politics in Saline County. Behind the headlines, if you will.”

Tower of PowerWAMU’s Diane Rehm is coming to Little Rock Sept. 3 to help raise money for KUAR’s new broadcast tower.

Local, Local, LocalSmall newspapers have figured out that if you report local news, people will read it! Also, having no competition – or Craigslist – helps.

The Only Game in Town – Are people really surprised that, now that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has failed and there’s no longer a JOA weighing them down and they’ve cut staff to the bone, the Seattle Times has posted a profit? Really?

Flip the Scripp – Also posting profits – cutbacks help! – the E.W. Scripps Co. But the newspaper company reports print revenue down 29 percent.

Picture ThisA world without professional photogs, thanks to all you smarty-pants amateurs with your iPhones and your Twitters and Flickrs and your iReports. Boo! Even Annie Leibovitz can’t put food on the table.

Meanwhile, Back at the RanchDon Imus might be coming back to cable TV news, this time on Fox Business.

Let’s Be FriendsFacebook spends $50 million to buy FriendFeed, which most of you haven’t even heard of. For what it’s worth, you can follow my FriendFeed here.

Wishful Thinking – A look at some of the wishful business models at play by those who want to charge for online news content.

Jim Karrh On Social Media and Making It Work For Your Business

Arkansas Business marketing columnist Jim Karrh this week takes a look at social media and how to make it work for you business. Social media has been the business topic du jour, but info about 1) deciding whether social media is right for your company and 2) how to choose what social media channels to use has been at a premium.

So too has balanced, level-headed considerations about how useful social media can be. Karrh signals that he’s taking a sober view of the topic in his first graf:

This column is neither a breathless ode to social media nor an overly skeptical “have you noticed the dropout rate on Twitter” rant. My recent speaking and consulting engagements tell me that it’s simply time for a reality check and guide to social media – from a business decision-maker’s perspective.

Now that we’ve all taken a deep breath and calmed down, Karrh quizzes Mack Collier, a blogger at, er,, and The Viral Garden about the keys to business blogging success, social media and social media’s relevance to business in Arkansas.

More from both after the jump.

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Be Our Friend: Arkansas Business on Facebook



Arkansas Business is now on Facebook. So if you’d like to be a fan, search for “Arkansas Business” on Facebook or click or go directly to the Arkansas Business on Facebook page. We’ll be sharing news headlines and, soon, hosting discussions and seeking more interaction from readers.

You can also find us on Twitter, @ArkBusiness. And our Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 alumni group on LinkedIn continues to grow, so if you’re a past Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 honoree, click here to join.

Meanwhile, while you’re on Facebook, check out the Pages for our other Arkansas Business Publishing Group magazines, newspapers and Web sites:

Innovate Arkansas | Little Rock Family | | | Arkansas Bride | FLEX360 Web Development

In Sunny Minneapolis at the AABP Summer Convention

Summer 2009

Summer 2009

Beginning Thursday, I’ll be in Minneapolis at the annual summer conference of the Alliance of Area Business Publications. The organization represents 70 publications that deliver customized regional business news to more than 1.2 million business pros in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Australia. Members include the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Crain’s family of newspapers and magazines like Florida Trend.

The conference includes various sessions for publishers and editors. I’ll be moderating one on the emerging role of social media in business news reporting. Our panelists are Alan Baker of Crain’s Detroit, Eric Olson of the Springfield Business Journal, and newspaper consultant Kevin Slimp.

I'll tell 'em you said hi.

I'll tell him you said hi.

Other panels address the challenges of staffing and managing a print and online newsroom, what online journalism tools are available, integrated sales and how to maintain value in a down market.

We’re hoping to learn a lot from these sessions, in addition to networking with our fellow business news organizations to see how they’re making it in this choppy economy. And I’m looking forward to checking out Minneapolis, a city I’ve never visited before.

More updates from Minnesota coming soon.


AABP Web site at

New Bulletin Providers Exclusive National Business News

Little Rock hosted the conference in 2005.

Last year’s event took place in Charleston, S.C., and Denver played host the year before.