Tag Archives: feed me

Feed Me, Digital Edition: RSS feeds for tracking the online journalism revolution

Photo courtesy SXC.

If you’ve followed Write Livelihood for the past few months, you’ll notice an increased emphasis on links to information on writing for social media, the future of journalism, and the convergence between print and digital media. Although I seek to cover the entire enchilada of issues–from craft to personalities–related to nonfiction writing, those three issues seem to be an increasingly important part of the “filling.”

As I learn more about the impact of online developments on traditional journalism, I find myself turning to a small cadre of sources for information and inspiration. These four blogs/websites are well worth plugging into your RSS reader in order to keep up to date about what’s happening to professional writing and content creation today.

Word Count: Freelancing in the Digital Age

Michelle Rafter’s blog is a new one in my RSS feed, but I like that she covers freelance writing and editing. Much of the coverage I see on how the Web is changing journalism focuses on newspaper reporters and editors losing their jobs. Which is of course important, but it doesn’t help the thousands of freelancers find their way in a shifting media environment.

Michelle mixes thoughts about the state of digital media with pointers on how to interact effectively with editors (yay!), recommended reading, and tips on the basics of the writing craft. Recent posts have covered how to write first-person profiles; how readers can participate in selecting what topics the Online News Association offers presentations on at its 10th annual gathering; links to free or low-cost classes freelancers can take to pick up skills they need to create content online; and tips on how to get editors to respond to you faster.

10,000 Words: Where Journalism and Technology Meet

Mark Luckie’s blog is new to me, but already I’m in love with it. The author of the Digital Journalist’s Handbook, Mark mixes news about where multimedia journalism is going with plenty of how-tos. Best of all, he practices what he advocates–most posts are liberally sprinkled with photos, illustrations, infographics, videos and slideshows that demonstrate his assertions. He also frequently provides lists of journalists to follow–which is helpful for those of us looking for role models in this new media landscape.

The Center for Social Media (at American University)
The Center, located within American University’s School of Communications, says its mission is to “investigate, showcase and set standards for socially engaged media-making.” It covers topics such as fair use, copyright issues in YouTube mash-ups, how different communities of producers gauge the impact of their media projects, the future of public media and photojournalism, and much more.

I like following the RSS feeds from the center because the organization is charged not only with keeping tabs on new media trends, but also questioning them. The academic environment in which they’re located also assures that their website has a hefty resources section, which provides information on fair use and copyright, documentary film research, audience engagement and social media distribution strategies.

Nieman Journalism Lab

I was originally drawn to this blog/site because of the Nieman Foundation’s reputation in running the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University. I like the combination of academic rigor, real-world sensibility and fundamental optimism that this blog offers.

As the “about” page of the blog says,

“The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.

The Internet has brought forth an unprecedented flowering of news and information. But it has also destabilized the old business models that have supported quality journalism for decades … We want to highlight attempts at innovation and figure out what makes them succeed or fail. We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them …

“We don’t pretend to have even five percent of all the answers, but we do know a lot of smart people. Primary among them are our readers; we hope your contributions will make the Lab a collaborative exchange of ideas. Tell us what’s happening around you, or what should be.”

That last point is worth highlighting as well. Too often, reader input on what’s working and what isn’t is an afterthought, even in an age of “user-generated content” and other interactivity with one’s audience. The fact that Nieman puts it front and center in its mission means it’s providing an example for other news media organizations to follow.

The question to you …

What are your favorite blogs/RSS feeds for information on the online-inspired transformation of journalism?

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Feed Me! Non-Writing Blogs That Can Nourish Your Work

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Photo by Jan Willem Geertsma via SXC.

Despite my admitted tendency to read books about reading and write blog posts about writing, I do think it’s important for writers—especially nonfiction writers—to expose themselves to other sources of information when they go online, if for no other reason than to have something to write about!

Today’s post was inspired by a post I read recently at Fuel Your Writing Blog, “6 Non-Writing Blogs You Should Be Reading.” I enjoyed visiting several sites suggested in the post, particularly PostSecret and Craziest Gadgets. I’ve decided to offer my own list of non-writing-centric blogs to add to their RSS aggregators, with an explanation of why each one might benefit you as a writer.

Zeitgeist Zen

When thinking of writing topics or story ideas, it’s nice to have your finger on the pulse of what your friends and neighbors are talking about, so that your stories have some resonance for your readers. Open Culture bills itself as the “best cultural and educational media on the web,” and it never fails to stimulate my mind with links, videos and tips relating to arts, culture, education and history.

If you want to pick the brains of today’s “thought leaders,” or research high-profile story sources, visit the TED blog. Developed in 1984 as a conference to bring together leaders in technology, entertainment and design, TED has become a portal for spreading ideas through brief, information-packed presentations. It’s become an intellectual badge of honor to be invited to do a TED presentation, so whether you’re scouting sources or just fishing for interesting topics to write about, TED is a great place to park your eyeballs for an hour.

If your writing has an advocacy bent (either covering change movements or participating in them), you will want to check out GOOD, which bills itself as “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” Covering design, the environment, business, food, people, politics and much more, the blog summarizes the best of the organization’s magazine.

Artistic Notions

The relationship between writing and other artistic disciplines can be a pretty tight one, and cross-pollination is highly likely if you’re paying attention.

Tammy, the author of Daisy Yellow blog, describes her site as “a vivid life with kids,” and her art projects prompts cover both experiments for adult artists to try and family art-making projects. Her site is always alive with color and creativity—if you’re feeling verbally dry, rest your eyes on her posts, maybe even try a few of her suggestions, and see if that doesn’t get your writing mojo working again.

Chris Zydel at Creative Juices Arts blog is a wild woman! And her blog can help you release your inner wild writer! She writes passionately about the creative process and the need to maintain a direct connection with the playful spirit inside each person in order to make living, authentic art. Her latest post (as of this writing) is “Abuse your art supplies,” and many of her entries are in that vein—intense, dead-on and incredibly encouraging.

If you have a passion for music, revive your writing by visiting Elaine Fine’s Musical Assumptions site. Her posts remind me of wonderful conversations I’ve had with other musicians after we’ve rehearsed together—and that sort of relaxed idea-interchange and creative intimacy is often just the ticket to get a writer’s mind flowing with narrative or wordsmithing ideas for their own work.

Eyewitnesses

I’ve sort of fallen in love with infographics. In addition to being something that every 21st Century journalist should understand, they are terrific examples (much like Twitter updates) of delivering a message filled with impact using few, or even no, words.

Two of my favorite infographic sites are Information Aesthetics and Information is Beautiful. Each is set up slightly differently, but both link to dazzlingly beautiful graphics that take complex issues and boil them down to the basics one needs to grasp them and discuss them intelligently. If only our writing could do that more often!

In a related vein, I also love the Hand Drawn Map Association’s website.  With maps ranging from blocking diagrams for stage plays to directions to church, I find perusing the site a very interesting study in how people represent spatial relationships and how they approach writing directions for something that must be done in real-time (i.e., navigating a 3-D environment).

Exercising your options

One other blog that I like to read for its quality writing on a topic many would consider a hobby (or perhaps way of life) is Jill Homer’s Up in Alaska blog. Jill works for a newspaper in Juneau, but the purpose of this blog is to chronicle her cycling and other endurance sports pursuits—which she does, lyrically and enjoyably.

I’m not a regular bike-rider, but her descriptions of days-long tours into the backcountry make me want to don my helmet and take off for parts unknown—on-road or off. She does a good job of capturing the intensity and satisfaction that cycling must bring her, and for that reason, it is a good blog to follow in terms of translating a visceral experience onto the page.

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Feed Me! A five-course RSS meal for the hungry writer

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Photo courtesy of SXC.

In today’s hurried, media-rich world, it’s nice to know that a news and information can still be accessed in bite-sized pieces. I have written  here and elsewhere about the usefulness of RSS feeds and how to use them to build a dashboard of incoming news on topics that are important to you.

Here are five feeds, most (but not all) of which link to blogs, that you might consider following to further your writing and editing career. They can serve as the foundation of a “balanced diet” of information relevant to non-fiction story-crafting, ready to be consumed when you have time to snack on them and (like food in your pantry or fridge) all accessible in one handy place.

Editor Unleashed
Maria Schneider, former editor of Writer’s Digest magazine, has assembled a terrific blog dedicated to sharing what she knows about writing and editing. Now a freelancer, she posts on a variety of topics and in a variety of formats, including author interviews, marketing advice, tips on social networking, blogging, and grammar, writing technique tune-ups, and thought-provoking writing prompts. She’s not afraid to speak about what she’s learned from her own experiences, as she did earlier this year when she posted about getting in over her head by taking on a difficult writing assignment at a trade magazine.

Quips and Tips for Freelance Writers
Canadian freelancer Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen’s blog has as its sub-head “Where writing quotations meet practical writing advice. And live happily ever after.” And she means it! Laurie and her band of guest bloggers cover a wide range of writing-related issues, mostly through helpful tip-based posts. Last month, Laurie had several very practical “housekeeping” posts on invoicing clients and keeping track of query/article submissions, as well as 6 tips for coping with the stress of freelance writing.

Columbia Journalism Review
CJR has several blogs on its site and updates its content elsewhere on the site frequently, just like you would expect a nice RSS-enabled online magazine about journalism to do. But this publication is more than just a “web 2.0 correct” magazine—it carries ongoing coverage of the life and times of American journalism. If you want perspective on the death-spiral that print newspapers are currently in, and informed debate about what comes next, CJR is a good place to seek it. I prefer the “master” RSS feed, which covers all new content on the site and gives a nice overview of what’s available.

Teaching Journalism Online
For more than three years, Mindy McAdams has been blogging about her experiences as a multimedia journalism educator. She uses her site to showcase or link to good work done by online journalists or promising students, discuss current trends in cyber-journalism, and talk shop about the programs reporters and producers use to assemble their Web stories.
One of her most recent posts, “Your (Journalistic) Past Can Haunt You Online,” generated a great discussion of whether student newspapers should permanently archive work by fledgling reporters. She also wrote an interesting post on lessons learned from teaching multimedia reporting, which could have implications for print-era writers trying to get up to speed in online journalism.

Write to Done
Any blog started by Zen Habits author Leo Babauta can’t be all bad, and in this case, his mix of positive thinking, practical tips and philosophical musings have continued on his writing blog, although he has turned the day-to-day reins over to managing editor Mary Jaksch. I would say these nice things about the blog even if they hadn’t published a guest post of mine on how to come up with fresh story ideas, but I do believe their mix of outside bloggers is key to tip posts covering fiction, non-fiction and other forms of writing continuing to draw interest and comments.
Recent offerings on Write to Done have included posts on improving your blog’s About page, whether or not to release copyright on some of your writing, and how much personal information to reveal in your work.

Second Helpings

Which RSS feeds do you follow to enhance your writing? Answer in the comment field below.

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