N – Newspapers

NI think it’s safe to say it’s been a tough few decades for newspapers. I talked about how Journalism jobs seem to be becoming more specialized and in some ways this makes sense, as the news in general gets smaller and tighter as an industry. But what has led to the steady decline in newspaper business? The obvious answer is our old friend the Internet. But I see a few specific elements that are causing more trouble for newspapers because of the Internet than other industries are seeing – say, books versus e-books.

The obvious one is that the Internet provided a new means of accessing the news, forcing them to react and start to try and provide the news in multiple channels. And, to provide it at an Internet-appropriate speed: so, basically instantly. Not the easiest thing, and for getting your facts straight, for doing good editing, a deadline and publication schedule and time is kind of a useful thing. That changes significantly with the Internet.

And then there’s the fact that search engines arose – increasingly giving people the feeling that they can find things on their own, and don’t need anyone else to do that sort of work for them. All of a sudden, is there as much value in the person doing that work, digging up the stories, reporting on them? When all of a sudden, everyone feels like they can do this.

And then you get people creating the content, too! Bloggers and the like, doing the work for free, on their own time. Saying whatever they want, with no editorial standard. Eroding our expectation of there BEING an editorial standard.

But no, the number one problem facing newspapers, in my opinion, is the fact that people expect things online to be free. Oh, and we don’t really like ads. Why buy a newspaper when the same paper gives the news online for free? So then some of them add pay-walls, and we’re up in arms. Paying for something that costs money to create, and which we used to pay for anyway… I will also say that regularly, the most ad-filled, cluttered websites I have seen are news sites. This has gotten better with time, or else I stopped going to their sites: I’m not sure which it is.

I’ve given a few of my thoughts, and I think these things are hitting newspapers harder than a lot of other types of writing. There’s free fiction online, after all, but I still see the value in paying for a good book. However, the news? If I can’t get it one place for free, I’ll just look elsewhere until I can get it for free. Right? That’s what they’re up against. At least in my opinion – what do you think is their greatest challenge?

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H – Hook

HFor many of the letters of the A to Z challenge, I had ideas pouring out for what to write about, and I started organizing things to not overlap too much, discuss different topics, to be short, personal and opinionated, and of course writing-related. For a few letters, I was left hunting a bit for words. Just so with H, where I found the essential writing term “Hook.” I had forgotten this term, but it is of course one I know and employ, or even over-employ, in my writing. I know when I first did NaNoWriMo, every chapter started with a hook sentence, In Media Res, and the action caught up with it.

However, that got me thinking of the other sorts of ways the idea of the Hook comes up in our world today. What began its life as a writing technique has become something of a way of life in our information-heavy world.

For instance, in blogging, or other sorts of writing online. They say that for search engines, you really want to have your keywords in the earliest parts of your post. That effectively, the search engines are optimized to consider your hook. Also, in RSS feeds, you generally only see the first bit of the post, and this is the Hook that gets people to click-through and read more of your post. Thus, in blogging, the Hook is an essential tool to get read – without a good Hook, the post is likely dead in the water.

By this standard, I’m pretty sure this post fails!

Thinking about the Hook in terms of blogging got me thinking about it in terms of the rest of the Internet in general. And in particular, some of the ways in which the Internet approaches these things like a Journalist. That is to say, we think about webpages in terms of what is “above the fold” (like with a newspaper) – the content that you can generally see without scrolling down, as this is the most-seen content. And really, the first paragraph being the Hook is a heavily used Journalism approach to writing.

And what about Social Media? Twitter in many ways functions as a giant Hook machine – at least, any tweet with a link or picture or anything else you need to click. It has to be interesting enough that someone clicks! It has to Hook them, and it has to do it in under 140 characters. Less, really, with a link in there too!

So be thinking about what you write and put online. Yes, the first paragraph might be the first that you write. But it also has a pivotal role in whether you get read. So go back and look it over before you publish!

Searching Social Media

So an interesting question came up and I learned something. And maybe you can help.

How do you search social media?

Hashtags were added by users – and later adopted by the companies, and have been a growing thing. From their start on Twitter, you can now see and use them on Google+, Tumblr, Facebook, and other places. And of course, there’s the tags on blogs and other things that are user-generated attempts at keywords and searchability. However, even if we assume that what you are looking for are posts where users are self-defining their content – say, with the upcoming Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this weekend (#eccc) – how do you best search these things?

So with the question came this link, so I can’t say I found it myself: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/socialmedia They don’t necessarily have all the answers, but they did post the important question: Twitter only has the last 10 days searchable! Living in a 140-character world may be bad, but living in a world with a ten-day life-span? That’s really rough. 

 

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Reviewing the Reference Interview

Tonight I start my first evening at the reference desk, and I was brushing up on the Reference Interview and found an old assignment I had done on the subject. It looks like it had been my duty to read everyone’s write-ups and post a collection of our experiences. We had played at “secret shoppers” talking to librarians, seeking their help with a question of our own choosing.

It looks like I had a lot of data to go through! Lots of insights. I am going to share this write-up, figuring it’s helpful insight about one of the more important and constant aspects of any librarian job: reference. I am making a couple of edits, but for the most part, with a bit of intro here, I figure it’s pretty good. This is something originally written by me, and the data is mainly from students in my course with me. If I had kept up my blogging more while getting the degree, this might have ended up posted far sooner! I do have a couple of references, and I will leave those as-is.

It’s also kind of fun to read it and think that it’s definitely in my same “voice,” something that is solidifying more with more and more time spent writing on a constant basis! Read more of this post

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