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.

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.

Careerbuilder.com 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.

Don’t

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 Twitter.com 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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Reports: Rupert Murdoch to Charge for All Online Content

No more free ride

No more free ride

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media baron who controls the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News and dozens of other print and broadcast properties, says he will begin charging for all the online content of his newspapers and TV news channels sometime within “this financial year,” as his News Corp. posts a $203 million quarterly loss in part on plunging ad revenue.

From the Financial Times:

The comments by News Corp’s chairman came as he predicted a “high single digit” rebound in the group’s operating profits next year. The worst of the media sector slump might be behind the company, he said, as he reported “some good signs of life” in advertising.

“All content” apparently includes FoxNews.com, the Web site for the popular cable news channel, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster News Corp. earnings report. Fox reported operating income up 50 percent and primetime ratings up 45 percent from the same quarter last year.

Of his decision to charge for online content, Murdoch said:

“Quality journalism is not cheap. An industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good reporting.”

Murdoch’s lockdown would be a drastic change in strategy. While the Wall Street Journal has charged for online content for years, Murdoch’s other sites, like the New York Post and Fox News, are free. Murdoch had said he would begin experimenting with new paid models on his Web sites next year, but this week’s News Corp. earnings report have obviously prompted a change in thinking.

After the jump, more about what the move means, some questions it raises and other notes from Murdoch’s earnings report.

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MySpace Lays Off 30 Percent Amid Flat Membership

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

MySpace.com, snapped up by Rupert Murdoch a couple of years ago for half a billion dollars has seen growth flatten amid Facebook‘s soaring popularity and Twitter‘s recent takeoff. So what to do?

Pare down, get lean and get ready to fight. The ad-heavy site, said to be relatively lucrative while Facebook and Twitter continue to resist aggressive monetization, is laying off 30 percent of its workforce, saying the company grew too bloated.

The move comes after MySpace’s new executive team, including CEO and former Facebook-er Owen Van Natta, took over the former No. 1 social media destination about six weeks ago.

The chart above, from Compete.com, puts things in perspective. MySpace is stagnate. Wired is unsure it can make a comeback.

Meanwhile, Twitter growth shows signs of slowing. But — as Wired also points out — when your service is seen as integral to Middle Eastern affairs, you gotta be doing something right.

Google Profiles: A Facebook Killer?

Me on Google Profiles

Me on Google Profiles

If you don’t read Farhad Manjoo in Slate, you’re missing out. His coverage of the Web and tech is among the best out there.

Today, Manjoo checks out Google Profiles, which Google bills as a tool by which you can manage your online reputation. But Majoo thinks there’s another facet to Google’s strategy:

Why would Google want to encourage people to create profiles of themselves? Because it aims to take on Facebook. By promising improved vanity searches, the thinking goes, Google is getting us to tell the company a lot more about ourselves. In the process, it’s garnering enough information to build the world’s largest social network—and make a fortune besides.

Fun stuff. Google might not need to go whole-hog into creating a social media, Facebook-, MySpace– or even Orkut-like entity — its current search setup, leavened with Google Profiles, will likely be enough to mine the social, “connected” aspect of its users’ interactions and thereby serve even more targeted, relevant advertising to individual users, Manjoo says. It could make for one heck of a sneak attach on traditional, closed social networking sites.

Meanwhile, you can check out Google Profile for yourself here. My profile is available here.

THVideo: Alyson Courtney and I Talk Twitter

Click here to watch the segment

Click here to watch the segment

Whew! Two and a half minutes does go by fast. Especially on TV. It’s almost like trying to keep your tweets at a 140 characters!

That’s right, I said “140.” Although sharp-eared Twitterati will hear me in the video to the left saying “240” for some reason. “240”?! How do I mess that up? That’s basic Twitter 101! All I can say is, it was 6:40 in the a.m. and I’d yet to break into the coffee. It happens.

But thanks to “Today’s THV” for having me on and being such enthusiastic New Media experimenters. And check out Charles Crowson — he’s discovered Twitpic — much to Alyson’s dismay.

Like I said in the video, it’s easy to get “social media fatigue” trying to keep up with all that’s out there. The key for anyone thinking about using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, whatever, is to think about your goals, the way you work, and your possible audience, then experiment to see what service best fits you based on that criteria.

You don’t have to do it all. But you should be aware of what’s out there.

Also noted in the segment: How the government is using Twitter to keep citizens abreast of the swine flu, how Tyson Foods is using Twitter as part of its charitable work, and Delta Trust & Bank‘s plans to Twitter this weekend from the Berkshire-Hathaway shareholders meeting.

Find THV Twitterers here. See more Arkansas Twitterers via the Arkansas Twitter Guide. And follow me on Twitter @LT.

More: Jessica Duff on “Today’s THV at 9” has more on Twitter. (Includes video.)

Media Notes: Job Cuts at the Morning News, A Voice Silenced & More

Final edition. (Photo from KTHV)

Final edition. (Photo from KTHV)

Media news from around Arkansas and the nation:

Mourning News – Twitterer Chris Spencer is among nine newsroom staffers at Stephens Media Group’s Morning News to be laid off this week. The newspaper is also implementing a limited furlough program for employees, combining several sections of the newspaper during the week and cutting costs in other ways. Spencer is keeping a chin up, according to his Twitter account. The Arkansas Times has the full memo from management detailing the changes. The Morning News posts its own story on the changes here.

A Voice in the Dark – In other Stephens Media Group news, the company decides to suspend publication of the Saline County’s The Voice newspaper. KTHV’s report is here. Publisher Dennis Byrd tells the TV station that “This was strictly because this newspaper was so young and it was in a competitive market and we knew that going in.” The Voice started under Stephens in 2007. The Benton Courier, The Voice’s competition, remains in business. Byrd says The Voice could re-open if the economy improves.

Deadlines Are Important to NewspapersThe New York Times Co. is sticking to its May 1 deadline to get millions in concessions from union workers at The Boston Globe. If it doesn’t get what it wants, it might close the paper.

Worse – McClatchy, which owners newspapers including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Miami Herald, sees its losses deepen in the first quarter.

Off the Air, Out of a Job – National Public Radio lays off 13 and begins a furlough program of its own. And “Day 2 Day” is still canceled. Sigh.

Unfriending – Yahoo! is pulling the plug on the MySpace-before-there-was-MySpace, GeoCities. The death knell for the animated .gif industry?

Tina Sells Out – Tina Brown’s HuffPo wannabe The Daily Beast finally starts selling advertising. Paying the bills is important.