Digital Broadcasting vs. Digital publishing

Reading Craig Mod's wonderful tome on Subcompact Publishing, this footnote really struck a chord: (Yes, I read the footnotes. And his were nicely done, btw. Moving on.)
One can argue that — technologically — we've been building and refining certain infrastructures and tools for digital publishing in anticipation of better consumption devices. Blogger was released in the late 90s. Live Journal. Geocities. All of those old platforms were ahead of their time. Twitter, too, is something of a platform built for the bubbling emergence, but with their reluctance to offer good archives, I'd place it more in the broadcast category than publishing category.

I'm not sure why, but I'd never thought to distinguish between broadcast mediums and publishing mediums online, because 'online' has so often been talked about like it's a medium of it's own.

The way I heard people talk about 'Online' in j-school, it seemed to come with a set of genres but not many rules; like radio meets the wild west cliché. You have your voicers (traditional news) and your trashy banter talk shows (Perez hilton) and your music or other 'genre' shows (Pitchfork, GvB). Unlike radio, no one can agree on how to do much of anything, and building and writing things for the web is complicated by outdated expectations of what publishing should be.

That vocabulary seems to be shifting now - like the movement away from 'click' to 'tap' and 'hit' in the meantime. As different models form we're beginning to see different publications create new management models and distribution strategies, and the vocabulary around them is changing. Online isn't a medium, it's becoming a utility.

Broadcast mediums tend to be defined by the assumed passivity of their listeners. Publishing mediums by their stylistic consistency and coherent editorial tone.

To those I'd add a third use of the medium as well, if it doesn't muddy the waters too much: conversational mediums. Confessionals, almost. Sites that use publishing models in a slightly more collective-navel-gazing way, like XO Jane or Thought Catalogue. To be clear, I love both of these publications, but often it does feel like navel-gazing: cathartic, mildly titillating, subjective and community-forming.

I read Quartz, Smashing, Gizmodo, Foreign Policy, Reuters, the Gaurdian and the New York Times for published news and interesting views; I read XO Jane, the Awl, Thought Catalogue, and This Recording to gain perspective, reassurance or food for introspection. I comment on the latter, or at least tend to pin them. It takes a really insightful or deeply delved long-form piece from one of the former for me to form the same kind of emotional connection (or, pin to a reading list. Super deep connection eh!)

These are not to be confused with all the 'new media' subgroups, and traditional "Newsprint" mediums' classification by the frequency of publication/distribution, which creates different expectations and formats as well. Online, there are the social mediums - 'lighter' third-party content delivery mechanisms - plus different formats - video, audio, visual, and the subsegmentation of sites by reputation, topic and again publishing frequency. Like music subgenres (italodisco post-punk tropicalia house indiepop, anyone?), how we talk about and categorize our information consumption structures is shifting.

The common coefficient is that in every case, the 'medium' is being used for very different tones in ways that grow out of the people using them. Oddly, the format I most often consume 'newsy' publications in is as emailed newsletters, or I skim the headlines in my feed reader. (Industry, longform or music publications get the same treatment as more emotionally resonant publications, though: I save them to read in the appropriate frame of mind.)

The point of Mod's piece seemed to be that no one was doing it as elegantly or simply as This Magazine, but I'd argue that the case (for lack of a better phrase) is very similar to a gorgeous email newsletter. But I love email newsletters and feed readers, and it's the same 'form' of publishing taking place, with similar constraints. Mod seemed to be exploring how they set their distribution and constraints in the essay, which was wonderful; more broadly, setting the constraints appropriately for each publication without getting bogged down in legacy framework is really the next new challenge, and it's something all writers, designers and web-building-people should think honestly about. Sending out a blast is very different to starting a discussion, and should happen in very different contexts.

Publishing is evolving, obviously, as discussions like this (and essays like his) detail. Sometimes the simplest forms really should win out, and sometimes I want to get lost in Symbolia.

* Sidenote: So excited about the A11y project, all of the readings have been saved for this weekend.

Zolas +

This has been on heavy repeat - add some Brenton Wood, Johnny Hallyday, old Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and a little bit of Crystal Stilts/Scratch Massive/Let's Buy Happiness. Plus, oddly, Solange Knowle's

Losing You

, which has been on repeat for the past month. Mixes coming.

End of the internship

So that miracle from last week? Got picked up by two other shows. Well, one picked it up and another's interviewing the guy again for a slightly different format. Still. I'm such a proud momma.
I'm also really proud this week because I'm doing a piece for syndication. Whoo!
In other learning-experiences, apparently lately I've been good on editing streeters but not good enough on getting peoples' names. It's a smack myself on the head kind of thing. If only I'd gotten random person x's name! I should've learned this two weeks ago (/ages ago) when I had to find a teacher I'd talked to out on the street so we could use her clip - using only the fact that she taught grade three, coached grade 5&6 badminton, and was at a private school. Thank god there aren't many private schools in Halifax and her school's secretary was a sweetheart. Oh well. It worked out on both the streeters where we ended up going back and isolating people.
I complain about all these streeters, but I have to say it's made me a much faster, better editor. I'm much more ruthless about cutting out the useless anecdotes and cute bits. I hate letting people I've talked to/ambushed/interviewed down, which is a dangerous feeling that I should probably let go of. People-pleasing and journalism don't mix very well, unless you're talking with bosses.
Which... anyone else starting to see real jobs in the future and getting mildly freaked? I'm not entirely sure I'm ready for the real world. Empirically, all signs point to me being a Real Adult ready for Real Jobs but it sure doesn't feel that way. Maybe I'll just go shine my resume up a bit more. Just a bit. Then I should make a plan, right? Then chart out options. Pro/Con lists. Potential cities, fields of work, emerging markets and jobs. You know, research. It'll just take me, uh, a while. Then I'll start applying for real things.

This was originally written as part of the internship blog we were expected to write. Click the "internship" tag for more posts from the past month.

Internship: Making up with Dalet

So I've got a confession to make: I've been a brat. To be fair, Dalet started it!

Dalet is the CBC's audio editing software. It's slow, and stupid, and much less sophisticated than audition or hindenburg or pretty much anything. I'm convinced it just wasn't designed for human use. I have better editing software on my phone.

And that's been the basis of my attitude towards it. After the first week or two when it was still fun to sort through my notes on what Mark taught us, I 've used it as little as possible. My demeanor towards it had deteriorated to a scowling, unpleasant denial that it could ever be useful for more than brute editing.

Of course, as so often happens, it's not Dalet, it's me.

We didn't break up for long, though. We went through a marriage counseling session with my lovely producer, and now we get on much better. I've learned to pay more attention to it's needs, to really look at what the sound is telling me. I was shown how to get the crossfades to work properly, how to zoom in enough to actually see what I'm doing. Dalet, for his part, stopped looking like pac-man pixels and promised to make more sense.

The end product, my baby if we're really going to take this metaphor that far, is a soundscape that doesn't sound choppy, one that I didn't have to pre-edit at home before bringing in the sound. It's a miracle!

This was originally written as part of the internship blog we were expected to write. Click the "internship" tag for more posts from the past month.

Internship: Boredom & Cato

I really dislike being bored. Like, really, really, really hate it. So the last week's been a little annoying. We had an extra body on the show, and with more cuts announcements and the fact that everything is scheduled so far in advance (OK, a few weeks - which is eons in journalism time, isn't it?) there wasn't a lot of extra work, and no one was really in the mindspace for me to be bugging them about what I could do. It doesn't help that I am at a desk in Siberia, and it takes a good five minutes to walk over to our show's zone. (Maybe not five - I should time that, actually. Accuracy, right?)

So I put my head down and did streeters, streeters, and more streeters. And read old scripts to get a feel for things, and looked for back-up people to come in and talk on the show... and did more streeters.

I'm not a huge fan of them, and someone actually said to me as I approached them, mic in hand, "you look like someone gearing up to do something you'd really rather not do." Good icebreaker, random person. Made life a little easier.

Some of the streeters were fun though - I got to spend while  hanging outside a school with a bunch of tweens talking about the Hunger Games. A sample: everything from "OMG Cato is soooooooo hot he's the background on my computer!" To, "well, you watch any documentary on like the war in Bosnia for example, and the violence depicted is going to be much more graphic." 13 year old girls are amazing. It helped that they thought I was the coolest thing ever because they were going to be ON THE RADIO (huge gasps and whoas and big blinky eyes here,) but I could still discuss the castings and whether the actor playing Peeta was too muscly for the part. (Yes, I am a huge geek.)

That was the most fun assignment of the week. Make of that what you will.

The worst bit of this week was having to re-edit a 47 minute interview with 4 teenagers down to 1:37. Again. Don't even ask, I'm so mad at myself for getting that much tape. It seemed like it was going so well at the time! I looked at my recorder and we were at 21 minutes (with about the first 15 being useless - it takes a while to get teens to open up, especially when the Principal is sitting behind them.) I tried to stop, but they were saying interesting things so... the next time I looked down we were at 46 minutes. Ugh.

At least the topic was great? "Should kids be using cell phones in school" -- the kids said ban it. Which was interesting. I just got a new phone, a Galaxy google-phone, so there were a few good cracks about how I was clearly the right person for the story, being a fancy-phone newbie. (Side note: it is the best thing ever, I'm completely obsessed. Also Google's control of my life is now complete: all I need are those creepy Google Glasses and I'd be a G+ Android...)

But on the bright side I must be doing something right! Our host just came by and commented, "wow, you've gotten a lot done this week. I hope you're getting something out of it? Thanks."

That makes everything really, really, really worth it. Glad I'm not hanging out in Siberia for nothing.

This was originally written as part of the internship blog we were expected to write. Click the "internship" tag for more posts from the past month.

Internship: Decisively indecisive*

It's been a tough day at the CBC. Sitting in on the staff town hall, listening for the news on what is being cut or not was tough. But also brutally fascinating.

The whole day's been centred around working, life decisions, that ellusive, misnamed "work-life balance"** idea. It's fitting on so many levels -- graduation and the pile of bricks that is "what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-am-I-employable-aaaaaaah!" has really just hit. I have no plan. I'm learning that I do not like having no plan.

A big part of this is the atmosphere here - the CBC cuts are falling hard and so much uncertainty is hard to take well. I've mostly spent the first week watching everyone worry about how it will affect their lives, jobs, family, friends - everything, really.

It makes me feel slightly better about worrying over grad, and also like I need a beer.

Of course a lot of that is environmental - all this talk of austerity (everywhere, not just at the CBC) seems to only have the net effect of stressing everyone out. A lot of that was reflected in today's phone-in about workplace burn out - callers talked about job stress, losing jobs, trying to find creative ways to deal with it, how to support themselves.

On a lower, more drawn-out level, apparently this is happens every few years as more cuts roll in. It forces people to re-evaluate why they want this job.

So do I want it? I'm not sure. But there's one thing our host said today, as a kind of post-show wind-down, which really helped. We were talking about a few line-up decisions that had to be made on the fly, and wether the right call was made. "Just make the call," she said. We can talk about it later.

I really do need to just be more decisive. Cheers to that.

*Yeah, awful title... I just couldn't decide? heheh.
**Seriously - since when is work not part of your life? It's really just a hoky term for time management skills... which, um, just mean what you do.

This was originally written as part of the internship blog we were expected to write. Click the "internship" tag for more posts from the past month.

Internship day 1

Whoooooooooo CBC! I don't know why I'm writing this, I should probably be asleep and preparing my tired brain for tomorrow. Last night's bizarro stress dreams didn't help much. I mean, really. Not the night before my do-this-to-graduate-and-become-a-real-journalist internship started. I did not need to dream about the craggiest mountaintop ever, ice storms, and watching friends around me try to climb and slide down into this awful abyss and have half their brains fall out. It was always the right part, all grey and intact. In the dream this was both terrifying and hilarious.

I can't believe I still remember that.

It wasn't even a terribly exciting day, except that I spent the whole day (9-6) at the CBC. For work. I'm exhausted and trying to get myself pumped up and organized for the next month, so I can really nail this internship and get a lot out of it. That's what coffee's for, right? Keeping me going, fuelling story ideas, forbidding the yawns... Does anyone else have that issue where they tear up as they yawn? I really hope our supervisor didn't think I was getting emotional about audio editing software.

There's so much to do and I don't have my feet on the ground yet. We've got two days of training before we really hit the ground running on Wednesday, eek that morning's going to be so much more nerve wracking than today was. I'll have to actually do work on a show that's out there in the real world. It's not just a school project anymore.