shake, shake, shake
I think it was this morning during @showertime, or maybe Sunday, that I thought to myself, it's finally time to get some earthquake supplies together.
Since we hadn't had a notable quake in quite a while, I figured I'd look like I was all on top of things. But that all changed about 10 a.m. today.
If I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to think my preparedness urge must've caused or been caused by all that imminent seismic activity, but over on the other, more realistic end of the self-centered thought continuum, there's the fact that I'll soon be among the heretofore unprepared masses stocking up in the wake of this quake. At least I'll know I thought of it before the ground shook.
Streams and digests — and my hope for The State Press
Little did I realize how concrete and impending those plans were until I saw these tweets from a State Press sportswriter tonight:
Big change coming at @statepress next semester. Weekly paper (Thursday) will bedistributed to dorms now. Almost exclusively online in Jan.— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) November 15, 2012
Paper will be distributed on-campus to over 12,000 people. That includes buildings like Vista. Layout will change once again as well.— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) November 15, 2012
From everything I hear, it's a smart business decision. Jason told me it's what advertisers have been asking for, and it opens up a new distribution channel — dorm-room delivery.
Still, being a daily newspaper is a traditional source of journalistic pride. When I worked at The State Press, we were in the same league as The Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune, despite our smaller size in terms of circulation and staff. That was when the Tribune was still a daily newspaper, though. Things have changed since then, and more change is due.
I'm confident the current crop of State Pressers can do as good a job online as any news organization, collegiate or otherwise, but I hope they'll do a better job.
As good as newspapers and broadcasters have become at publishing online the news we did/will/would have run in print or on air and as good as some have become at creating content that takes advantage of the Web's capabilities, something is still missing. It's something more structural. It's the sense of completeness and comprehensiveness.
The New York Times' front page carries the slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print."
Even if they don't have a similar tagline of their own, most newscasts and periodicals present themselves as at least somewhat comprehensive. The fact that someone consciously picked the news items for this regularly recurring package implies that reading or watching will fill the audience in on what was most important in a given area over a given time period.
Newspapers and evening newscasts arrive once a day, and even the old Headline News started anew every half-hour.
But now, questions of timing are often anyone's guess in the age of TiVo and the Web.
Timing is something we're wrestling with presently at MyDesert.com, where I work: Barring breaking news, how often and how much do we change the composition of the home page? Who are we trying to reach at certain times of the day? How often do we expect our audience to return to us on a given platform?
Truth is, there can't be easy answers to these questions.
Traditional news products were able to set their own frequency, and some still can, but the Web puts that power in the audience's hands and allows infinite and asynchronous changes to how often people seek or receive news.
The trouble for a modern news consumer is staying up-to-date without overwhelming oneself.
Letting 24 hours go by without opening Echofon, TweetDeck or Twitter.com would have roughly the same effect for me as skipping a day's newspaper, but sometimes tuning out for just an hour or two can be the equivalent of getting a newspaper with no front page. I can miss the big story of the day if the tweets fly by too quickly for me to catch up.
The rest of the Web is similarly geared toward streams of information. Blogging, the reverse-chronological collections of posts and the software they've yielded, is a dominant force online. Even StatePress.com runs on WordPress, a blogging platform that has grown to be capable of much bigger things.
What's harder to find on the Web is a reliable digest — the way it is, all the news that's fit to transmit — in real time. Most are just digital equivalents of traditional news products — all the stories in today's (or tomorrow's) paper, everything on the last (or next) newscast.
Those traditional products demand a lot of attention, which can keep those of us who work with them from really figuring out how to get our audience caught up — to deliver all the news the reader or viewer sees fit to consume, to tell our audience the way it is and was, going back to the last time they caught up on the news and still fitting into a user-defined time period.
It's a software challenge and it's a journalism challenge, and my hope is that The State Press' move to weekly print publication not only brings in the big bucks but also allows the space for big thoughts on how best to deliver news online.
This needs to happen at my wedding.
another day in paradise
This morning, a colleague started off a phone interview with a presumably faraway source with a very chipper, "I'm in Palm Springs!"
I quickly quipped to another reporter nearby, "That's not usually how I say it. It's usually, 'Hey. Are you in town this weekend?' 'No, I'm in Paaallllmmm Sprinnnggggs.'"
But as much as I enjoy and have taken advantage of my newly achieved ability to drive out to LA or Arizona on the (actual) weekend, I do still love it here, and I'm glad that I'll be staying home this weekend to play host to #BoysWeekend. (Cookies, beware.)
What's more, tonight as a combination of street lights and moonlight illuminated the palm trees along Ramon Road as I drove home, I realized that even a long and/or rough day at The Work (and there have been a couple lately) is still a day in a beautiful place.
This may not bode well for my future children.
When I got a potted plant for my apartment back in May, it was quite the production. But I figured that things like finding the right size pot and figuring out which soil to get were part of my journey toward a more responsible adulthood. Sharing my apartment with and caring for another living thing would be the first step in a sequence that I figured would go something like plants → pets → children.
I was later informed that some very successful parents of children still have trouble keeping plants alive, and thank goodness because I have failed miserably as a plant parent.
Not only could I not figure out the right amount of water and sunlight to keep the poor dracaena's leaves from turning brown, but I also brought a living thing into my home that was accompanied by some very unwanted guests — tiny flying bugs.
Once my mom tracked the bugs to the plant, she put it outside my apartment for a spell, and I was happy to let it sit out there until I could figure out just what to do with it.
Well, today it was gone.
I'd like to think that the plant was just whisked away by someone in need, as usually happens to things left in the Bermuda Triangle on How I Met Your Mother. But really, I'm just counting my lucky stars that plant endangerment isn't a thing.