First, my doctor told me the variety of breast cancer I have, triple negative, is more aggressive, harder to treat and more likely to return than other types.
Then I found out the pain in my neck that had developed the weekend before was not, in fact, because I slept wrong, but was a swollen lymph node pushing up under my collarbone, indicating the disease had already spread beyond my chest.
Later, a genetic test would reveal the BRCA1 gene mutation that had been hiding in my DNA all my life, like a ticking time bomb.
Those weeks of terror are not unlike the news cycle we are all living in now.
Every day reveals new horrors and challenges brought on by the spread of COVID-19. As time passes, we find out someone else from our overlapping social circles has it, or has died from it. Much like the cancer support groups I joined after my diagnosis, the attendance in our daily lives is slowly decreasing.
I am pretty sure I first heard about the JSK fellowship back in 2007 and the idea of leaving a good job to go to school seemed so odd to me at that part of my career. My youthful ambition told me if I wanted to “make it”, I would never be able to take time off – nor would I want to.
But over the course of many years since then, I have met many Knight fellows and all of them, to a person, have told me how the experience changed their lives. I’ve known for years now that it was something I would want to do when the time was right. When I saw one of the themes for this year’s program was disinformation, it felt like it was meant to be.
It may seem odd to depart Storyful just a few months after being elevated to Editor in Chief, but then again, there’s never a good time to separate yourself from a job that is your whole life.
My past [nearly] four years at Storyful have been so rewarding – and a nonstop sprint. I have rarely gotten a chance to spend time digging in on the initiatives and stories that most interest me. As the newsroom has expanded its scope to include investigation into social media movements and disinformation – I haven’t had much of a chance to really get into the hands-on work the way I wish I could. Now is my chance.
In addition to my research, I plan to spend the next year or so focusing on answering some important questions for myself: What am I doing? Why does it matter? Where do I fit into the journalism industry today? What do I really want to do with the rest of my career?
You know, the easy ones.
I look forward to a year on pause. I want to read more, get outside and hike on the weekends, and just generally spend more time being present and less time juggling the emails, all-hours meetings and constant notifications that dominate my life these days.
This is an example of how it went the last time I was in college.
I’d love to be able to revert to my college-aged self, but without the incredible angst and “working four jobs just to pay rent” part. I want to rediscover the open-mindedness I had about myself and the industry back then. Revisiting my college wardrobe would also be great (I hope cargo pants are still around!).
Best of all, as part of my agreement to join the JSK program, I agreed to publicly share my progress against my research question (more to come on that). That means this site will go back to being an active blog again, not just an occasional dumping ground for errant thoughts (though it will also be that). This should be good news for those spammers who constantly keep asking if I want a website redesign (the answer is still no).
I have a couple of weeks left at Storyful before I head out for this next chapter, but in the meantime, watch this space.
Looking for a job is, in a lot of ways, a lot like dating*. You meet a lot of people and you talk – a lot – about yourself, about them, about your expectations for a future together. You re-examine what worked and what didn’t about past relationships, and try to find a partner that embodies the best of those memories. It’s all about looking for a good fit. After a lot of looking and a few false starts, I think I’ve found it.
If you aren’t familiar with Storyful, it is a 24/7 social media news agency that discovers, verifies and delivers user-created content to newsrooms, brands and storytellers of all sorts. Storyful built its initial business providing verified UGC and information to partners via subscription service. The Open Newsroom is a consumer-facing companion piece, operating as a public space for crowdsourced verification and publication through the likes of Google and Facebook. I’ll be continuing to grow that outward-facing aspect of Storyful and its relationships with platforms, partners and stories.
I can’t wait to get started on this new bright future.
Eds Note: The past few months, since Thunderdome was shut down, have been an especially tough stretch for me, both personally and professionally. Big thank-yous are in order for many people, but especially Robyn Tomlin, Jim Brady and Jennifer Preston – who have helped me out by listening to my whining, giving advice, making introductions and buying drinks as needed. And I wouldn’t have come out the other side without my husband/crisis counselor, Ben, who has patiently dealt with my many phases of layoff grief.
During my professional sabbatical in the month of April, I had the opportunity to travel to Moscow, Russia to talk with Eurasian journalists about community engagement.
This is my name in Cyrillic!
On April 22-24, the New Eurasia Media Program held its annual International Conference, where I, along with other journalists and bloggers from around the world, shared experiences and tools around the theme of “The local newspaper in the middle of the action”. I also gave a post-conference workshop on social media tools to a smaller group of Russian journalists (but that’s another post).
My presentation looked at the idea and launch of TBD, focusing specifically on ideas that worked and what, ultimately, led to it’s shift away from the original mission. I wanted to give attendees some good ideas they could try out at their newspapers amid the doom and gloom of a startup that didn’t exactly go as planned.
As one attendee put it, “We only ever hear about big projects that worked. It’s as if they think we have noting to learn from ideas that failed.”
This weekend, I was fortunate to be invited to speak to the Kiplinger Fellowship program at Ohio State University. Twenty-four working journalists are learning new skills and strategies on social media, new media tools and community engagement.
My presentation, featured after the jump, is aimed at reporters to help them better connect with audiences, brand themselves and work more efficiently in the social sphere. I hope others may find it helpful/interesting.
Today is my last day at TBD – so you’ll have to forgive a little bit of sappiness. I’m one of the last eliminated employees to depart and sticking around to watch everyone leave has been something of an emotional roller coaster.
The early days here, around when TBD launched, will always be a treasured bright spot in my professional life. The group of people assembled for that original staff was one of the brightest, most energetic and creative collections of journalists I think I’ll ever meet. Each person, from the reporters to the community engagement team to the editors, seemed to have been searching for a place that would set them free. For a little while, they had it.
Technically, TBD still exists, but it won’t ever be the TBD it was meant to be without those staffers who created it. It was an honor and a privilege to work with these people. I hope to someday look back at this list of names and, upon seeing all these people have accomplished, be amazed we managed to once work under one roof. Maybe we were meant to be sort of a new media version of “Freaks & Geeks” – promising, well-cast and sadly short-lived.
I owe a big thank you for the career boost TBD has given me – and it wouldn’t have ever happened without Jim Brady and Steve Buttry. I don’t know how I can ever repay them.
I’m going to miss my almost-daily interactions with some particular TBD Twitter followers and the great members of TBD’s Community Blog Network. I hope we’ll still be friends on the interwebs.
Thank you to the tireless TBD editors: Erik Wemple, Andrew Beaujon, Sommer Mathis and Julie Westfall.
And the creative, wonderful reporters: Sarah Godfrey, Maura Judkis, Ryan Kearney, Ally Schweitzer, Sarah Larimer, Kevin Robillard, Jenny Rogers, Sam Chamberlain, Mike Jones, Amanda Hess, Rebecca A. Cooper, Elahe Izadi, Dave Jamieson, John Metcalfe and photographer Jay Westcott.
Also,thank yous go out to the TV folks who managed to teach me a thing or two: Steve Chaggaris, Melissa Reyes, Katherine Amenta and Morris Jones (aka Mojo).
Hail to the unsung heroes that made TBD tick: Bageshri Ghate, Mitch Schuler, Carol Touhey, Jen Dreyer, Ryan Mannion (& co.), Nicole Young, Maya Carpenter, Justin Karp, Allene Bryant, Markham Evans and Heather Farrell.
And finally, the community engagement team:
TBD's Community Engagement Team (R-L): Lisa Rowan, Jeff Sonderman, Nathasha Lim, Steve Buttry, Dan Victor, Eliot Kort and me. (Photo courtesy Dan Victor)
I’ll be chatting with Joe Grimm and the good folks at the Poynter Institute at 3 p.m. ET today about the role of the social media editor in the newsroom. I expect to get questions about what I do and possibly some inquiries into what’s going on at TBD.
If you’ll be around, hop on to the chat or read the transcript afterward and we’ll see how it all turned out.
Sorry it’s been so long, but it’s been crazy busy as TBD’s preparing for the holidays and other events. This’ll be a quick one, just a few links I’ve been reading of late. Have a happy Thanksgiving, folks.
Social media roundup
How Investigative Journalism Is Prospering in the Age of Social Media – Great ideas from several resources gathered by Vadim Lavrusik at Mashable on how to use social media in investigative reporting and newsroom projects. Includes tips on Crowdmap, Storify, Twitter crowdsourcing, data searches and more. A great post to pass on to the social media haters in your newsroom.
In this disturbing bit from FishbowlDC, a Washington Post editor says “crediting the original source of a scoop isn’t “a requirement or even important” because “all news originates from somewhere” and “unless one is taking someone else’s work without attribution (that is, plagiarizing it) any news story should stand on its own and speaks for itself as an original piece of work.” Hm.