Answer the call for training

John Seigenthaler CenterFor the last couple of months, I have been helping plan a workshop that will be held April 9 at the Freedom Forum’s John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville (pictured above).

online  news associationA joint effort by the Online News Association and the Freedom Forum, it is called “Smart Phones for Smart Journalists.”

It’s extremely affordable training at $35 per person ($25 for Online News Association members and for alumni of the Freedom Forum’s Diversity Institute). You can see the schedule for the day and register at the Online News Association’s site.

The affordable registration cost was made possible in part through support from the Scripps Howard Foundation and Nashville-based Cell Journalist Inc., a photo and video platform used by more than 60 media outlets nationwide.

Here’s a look at the speakers, a lineup I’m extremely excited about. I hope you can join us in Nashville in April. If you have questions, drop me an e-mail.

Bill TallentBill Tallent, CEO of Mercury Intermedia, Brentwood, Tenn.

Tallent is CEO of Mercury Intermedia, a firm that develops native mobile applications for some of the nation’s top news-related companies. The insights gained should be of interest to all attendees.

Tallent has worked in technology since he helped start the first computer class in his senior year at Western Kentucky State University in 1963.  He worked in technology at Genesco, Inc. for 20 years and started a new tailored apparel division.  Bit by the “start-up” bug, he has spent the last 25 years starting, operating, and selling small businesses.

He sees the iPhone and Android phones as fourth generation computers that will expand computer usage dramatically given that they are truly personal and carried by the owner 16-18 hours per day.

Rob KingRob King, Vice President and Editor In Chief, ESPN Digital Media
Rob King was named Editor In Chief of ESPN Digital Media in September 2009. In the role, he is responsible for supervision of all content and the overall editorial direction for the leading portfolio of digital sports properties, including all text, audio, video and multimedia content.  He also oversees the management of the award-winning team of more than 200 editors, writers and designers across and its network of related sites.  He reports directly to John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Digital Media.  King had previously served as vice president and Editor In Chief of since June 2007, adding oversight of digital video and audio content as well as all editorial content on ESPN’s local sites in 2009.

King works closely with ESPN’s many news, information, content and programming units under Norby Williamson, executive vice president, programming, to develop greater cross- platform integration and development of cross-media franchises.

King brings extensive experience and sound news and editorial judgment to the job. Since 2004 he served as a senior coordinating producer in the studio production unit, responsible for (at various times): ESPN’s award-winning NBA studio programming; the award-winning Outside the Lines; ESPN’s on-location coverage of major golf events, including the Masters and the U.S. Open; and ESPNEWS, the nation’s only 24-hour sports news television network.

King began his career in the newspaper business.  From 1997 – 2004, he was at the Philadelphia Inquirer, serving as graphic artist, deputy sports editor, assistant managing editor and deputy managing editor.  Prior to that, King worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal as a graphic artist, director of photography and presentation editor.  From 1987 through 1992, he worked at the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., a major suburban Philadelphia paper.  His first job was with the Commercial-News in Danville, Ill., as a general assignment reporter and graphic artist.

King received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wesleyan University in 1984.

Jeff HerrJeff Herr, Director Of Interactive Media, Lee Enterprises.

Jeff Herr joined Lee’s corporate office in April 2006 as the director of interactive media.  Previously, Herr had been director of online operations for Tucson Newspapers Inc., the agency that handles business operations for the Arizona Daily Star, owned by Lee, and the Tucson Citizen, owned by Gannett Co., Inc.  

Herr began his career in 1985 as a newspaper reporter and editor covering business, politics and state and federal government, working for the Arizona Daily Star and other metropolitan newspapers in the West.  In 1994 he began his Internet career with an online international trade law online service and newsletter.  In 1995 he joined Paul Allen’s Internet company, Starwave, working through 1999 on major sites including,, Outside Online, and  

In 1999 he returned to Arizona to develop a suite of Internet-based financial calculators and tools that were licensed to more than 100 of the largest banks in the United States. He also worked as digital strategist with an online agency working with clients including Electronic Arts, Rational Software, Coty Cosmetics and America West Airlines before joining TNI in 2003.

Ray MeeseRay Meese, Director of Photography, Ventura County Star

Ray Meese is the director of photography at the Ventura County Star in Southern California. A graduate of Western Kentucky University, he has worked at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Utah, Oregon and California. He has more than a decade of experience as a photojournalist and five years as a picture editor.

Meese has not let the constant advances in information technology escape him and is excited about how mobile devices can provide news to web readers within seconds. He currently oversees the use of mobile devices to: capture, edit and transmit still images and video; post information to Twitter and Facebook; update the Ventura County Star’s photo galleries; and edit pictures and videos from staff photojournalists.

On the committee planning this training opportunity with me are Patrick Beeson of the Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group in Knoxville, Cory Haik of the On
line News Association and The Seattle Times, Val Hoeppner of the Freedom Forum, Jack Marsh of the Freedom Forum, Jane McDonnell of the Online News Association, Ken Sands of the Online News Association, Sherry Salko of the Online News Association, Knight Stivender of The Tennessean, and Tracey Trumbull of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Cell Journalist Inc.    Scripps Howard Foundation

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A Social Media innovation worth Google Buzz

Andrey TernovskiyThe Net buzz is about Google Buzz, which launched this week. It’s an important product, another turning point in the development of Social Media, no doubt. But it’s a week in which we were also reminded that game-changing ideas aren’t the sole province of big companies with legions of brillantly smart people.

The New York Times discovered that Chatroulette, a site that connects you randomly to a Webcam user and has rapidly grown in popularity worldwide (often hosting 20,000 users at time at night) was developed by a 17-year-old … in Moscow.


I created this project for fun. Initially, I had no business goals with
it. I created this project recently. I was and still am a teenager
myself, that is why I had a certain feeling of what other teenagers
would want to see on the Internet. I myself enjoyed talking to friends
with Skype using a microphone and webcam. But we got tired of talking
to each other eventually. So I decided to create a little site for me
and my friends where we could connect randomly with other people.

— Andrey Ternovskiy, developer of Chatroulette.

(via venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who said: “I think we’ll reach out to Andrey and offer him a visit to NYC. I’m
still not sure if this is something we should invest it, but I’d sure
like to meet this guy.”)

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Mobile workshop for journalists coming up

From the Online News Association Newsletter today:

Save the date: “Smart Phones for Smart Journalists

Stay tuned for details on a training session that will bring you up to speed and place you a step ahead on mobile technology. Smart Phones for Smart Journalists will be held Friday, April 9, at the Freedom Forum’s John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Admission is $35, $25 for ONA members and Diversity Institute fellows and alumni. Keep an eye on the Events Calendar for more details and to register.

This is about a workshop a committee I’m on has been working on for a couple months. We’ll be releasing our speakers soon (and it’s a great list). We have received critical sponsorship support from the Scripps Howard Foundation and CellJournalist Inc.

The workshop is a joint effort of the Online News Association and the Freedom Forum that we hope will be an attractive one-day training opportunity for journalists in Tennessee, the border states and beyond.

Working on this project have been Patrick Beeson of the Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group in Knoxville, Cory Haik of the Online News Association and The Seattle Times, Val Hoeppner of the Freedom Forum, Jack Marsh of the Freedom Forum, Jane McDonnell of the Online News Association, Ken Sands of the Online News Association, Sherry Salko of the Online News Association, Knight Stivender of The Tennessean, Tracey Trumbull of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and myself.

Again, mark your calendar for April 9.

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Tsk, tsk, disc, disk

AP Stylebook, 2004 edition

Image via Wikipedia

The AP Stylebook czars put out a notice today that included an entry on disc vs disk.

disc, disk Use the disc spelling for phonograph records and related terms (disc jockey), optical and laser-based devices (a Blu-ray disc) and for disc brake. Use disk for computer-related references and medical references, such as a slipped disk.

This is an updated entry in the online version of the venerable style guide. There you have it, the definitive answer in disc vs disk..

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On Friday, the Talk stops

Nashville is TalkingOne of the pioneering efforts in new ways to deliver news and connect with audiences in Tennessee (and the country) is “going dark”

WKRN-TV’s “Nashville is Talking” Web site, termed a  “quaint reminder” of days gone by shuts down on Friday.

On the Web site WKRN general manager Gwen Kinsey writes:

NIT in its infancy introduced individual blogging to our mass media vehicle. The site generated buzz, a fair amount of regular readers and a provocative discussion about what role new media might play in the future of mainstream media. It was fun and it was messy. Our community’s level of sophistication with social media has taken off. NIT is a quaint reminder of how we all got started. Now, we find ourselves using Twitter, Facebook and live streaming to enhance our connections with our viewers in ways that blogs do less and less. It’s time to move on.

As of this Friday, NIT will go dark.

Its host, Christian Grantham said he has turned in his two-week notice. What’s next he didn’t say.

The first host of “Nashville is Talking,” Brittney Gilbert, wasn’t mourning the news. In a Q&A with the Nashville Scene’s Pith in the Wind blog, she said:

I think Nashville is Talking, no offense to Christian, died long ago. It may be “going dark” now, but when the blog became a multi-media site that required log-ins to comment, it took a big hit. And while Grantham has a great nose for news, I am not sure he was as versed in community engagement. Nashville is Talking moved away from promoting local bloggers, and that is where I think it suffered most.

Frankly, if I were to move back to Nashville, I might start up something similar to what Nashville Is Talking once was. I miss the community that was cultivated and grown to something amazing. Because I do think there is a need for an aggregator of all the online talent in Middle Tennessee, and not just the political one at Post Politics.

I wonder if the Tennessee bloggers will miss NiT.

In June 2007, Brittney Gilbert, the first host of “Nashville is Talking,” abruptly quit her job and later landed in a larger market, at KPIX in San Francisco doing its “Eye on Blogs.”

Less than a year later in March 2008, the station dropped its “VolunteerVoters” site and author A.C. Kleinheider,, who moved on to the Nashville Post, where he has one of the most influential  political blogs in Tennessee (arguably, the most influential).

While “Nashville is Talking” as Gilbert knew it may have died with her departure, the spirit of innovation at the site continued to burn. During Grantham’s turn at the desk, it expanded into social media, live streaming and mobile video, again generally well ahead of local competitors and even broadcast outlets and newspaper Web sites in general.

The station also was the first in the nation to launch a platform for accepting user generated photos and videos (, all of E.W. Scripps’ newspapers and many TV stations use the same vendor, Cell Journalist, that worked to develop the WKRN system).

On his personal blog, Grantham wrote:

Our experimentation with blogs is likely the most widely noted. At a time when the industry as a whole scoffed at empowering any other voice but the reporter or anchor, WKRN embraced it. Now, virtually every TV station across the country has one or staff who author them.

Twitter and Facebook has helped place WKRN in a dominant and trusted position within our local community as viewers seek the latest information that directly affects their lives. WKRN was the first station in Nashville to bring you regular on-air commentary on top news stories directly from our viewers via Twitter. Since then, use of Twitter on cable news and elsewhere has become a new tool in instant viewer interaction.

One of the sure bets of the digital age is nothing stays the same so, like Gilbert, I don’t mourn the change. The efforts that were ignited by broadcasting consultant Terry Heaton and Mike  Sechrist, then general manager of the Nashville station, however, were truly innovative and have continued to be.

Heaton,  Sechrist, Gilbert, Kleinheider, Grantham demonstrated that the future of media was as likely to be built or discovered in Nashville or Tennessee as in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. I’ve certainly studied what they were doing and borrowed unabashedly from their innovations.

I hope that spirit of innovation is not what is “going dark” at WKRN. It’s quite a legacy, quaint as it may seem to some. As with Heaton, Sechrist, Gilbert and Kleinheider, I’m sure Grantham will move to do even better things and I wish him well.