I became an artist because I hate math

CMYK

During my stint at the Dayton Daily News, I used to do career day at local schools. I think everyone at the paper just wanted a day off from me which is why they always nominated me to go. That’s ok; give me an open mic and a stage and I’m all over it!

So I showed up at a Dayton elementary school to speak to a classroom full of fourth-graders. There was the usual collection of policemen with their uniforms and shiny badges and fireman in hats — with firetrucks parked out in front for the kids to climb on later — lined up ready to speak.

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#TwitterMakesYouStupid – a New York Times challenge

Last night, Bill Keller, Executive Editor, The New York Times tweeted out: “#TwitterMakesYouStupid. discuss”

And of course, this started up a firestorm among the twits, many of whom were not particularly skilled with using the grammar of the English language or the proper placement of an apostrophe, but that probably proves Mr. Keller’s bias a bit too much.

I digress.

I don’t care about how stupid twitter makes you or if stupid people use twitter or any of that. Not one bit. My motives for writing this blog post are just way more selfish than that.

I hopped on over to The New York Times library of blogs and noticed a gaping hole in your catalog: NO DOG BLOG!

That can not stand!

Everybody knows that Americans only want to read stories of cute puppies, dogs being rescued from flooded drainage ditches, loyal dogs saving their owners during earthquakes or rescue dogs doing extraordinary things during times of tragedy like 9/11 (shameless, I know, but watch where I’m going with this before you judge.)

So, Mr. Keller, I propose you hire me to write a blog specifically dedicated to dog residents of New York City. In a city of 8-9 million people, many who own dogs, there has to be at least a hundred stories a year worth reporting, right?

I will be in New York City for the annual 140Conf June 15-16. Please call my people to set up an appointment in your offices.. or Gregory’s Coffee on 7th is fine. I’ll buy.

Unless you think I’m just too stupid to write for your little newspaper.

All you, Mr. Keller.

Make it work; why newspaper artists make the best designers

tim gunn and lisa grimm

“Just set your resolution high on your monitor, scale it up, take a screenshot and slap it in there,” I said to the panicked marketing artist who was stressing over the jpg of a 1X3 benevolent ad she was given without the high-res artwork or fonts. The client was not returning her phone calls and her submission deadline was twenty minutes out.

“Trust me.”

….

Imagine this as the future of newspaper

Gatorade Control Center

I read yesterday’s Dayton Daily News today and they had a special section included. I don’t know where it is on their web site and I gave up trying to find it. I had hoped to point it to you as it is really cool stuff.

They have assembled all the COX Ohio Media in one facility and really decked it out with a bunch of studio space, digital equipment and tons of toys. I hope they give tours. But as I read the 10-page broadsheet-sized insert, I noticed a gaping hole in their media– no social media. Just newspaper, television and radio.

Oops. I hope that is just an oversight. If not, call me and let’s do business.

Here is what I think a newspaper/television/radio media company should do. Build out a social media center like they did at Gatorade (photo above) and staff it 24/7/365 with people authorized to reply back. Anytime anyone mentions Dayton on twitter, Facebook or blogs about Dayton, they know it. They know all the influential bloggers, the restaurant directories, the sporting events going on about town. They see tweets from people stuck on 35, wondering what the holdup is. They see a shout-out to a favorite restaurant or a blog post just published touting the really cool things about Dayton, Ohio. They see tweets from a frustrated bride three days from her wedding looking for a wedding photographer because the one she booked cancelled on her. They get behind movements to get Kroger to carry cheese curds.

And they would suggest advertisers quickly and authoritatively. And advertisers would get calls. And business.

And they see tweets when people are coming into Dayton for a family visit and welcome them back. They see birthdays on Facebook and send out tweets and updates wishing each a happy birthday. Maybe they even send out random cupcakes on that special day from a local bakery who advertises with Cox. In short, they act as the bar in the City Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Can you imagine how many people Jeff Pulver would tell at his 140conf Conferences about the time he came to Dayton, Ohio to visit Hamvention and the local newspaper made sure his experience here was warm and inviting? That they tweeted him when he landed, asking if he needed a ride, maybe even tweeted his hotel to alert them he was in town? I wonder how many other people would like to visit Dayton, Ohio, just for the pampering experience?

You are a neighbor here in Dayton, Ohio, not just a resident. And in the process, we all connect just a little bit closer to each other and the outside world.

That is what I think a local newspaper can become. And for not a lot of money.

Postnote: 2011-02-21
Chris Brogan posted a video about the future of media. Here is one facet of my take on hyper-local.

You are not lost, you are here and you know where here is, right?

You are reading DogWalkBlog.com, produced and written in Dayton, Ohio. We are talking with Rufus, one of the key writers of the blog where he reminds us why you, time and place are important for blog credibility and reader orienteering.

I was reading a blog from a linked tweet this morning and halfway through it, my mind jumped to a question we’ve probably all asked ourselves halfway through. “Wait a minute, is this a blog post written by the person who tweeted or is this a guest blog post or a link that was passed along by the person I’m following.”

I’m on an iPhone, so I scroll up to the top hoping to get some quick info, like the author’s name, date it was posted, maybe the location. Nope, nothing. Since I was reading it on my iPhone, everything was in a zoomed-in column and the author’s info was probably in the side bar. What a pain, I’m not zooming out for that. But my sense of irritation was so high at this point (mostly because I was trying to establish credibility for some of the statements that were being asserted) that I just quit reading and went back to my Twitterstream.

And I got to thinking about a post I read yesterday by Julien Smith. In the post, he was reminded during a recent radio interview of the value of constant station identification breaks and the recaps and reminders that a good radio interviewer will always do.

You are reading DogWalkBlog.com, produced and written in Dayton, Ohio. We are talking with Rufus, one of the key writers of the blog where he reminds us why you, time and place are important for blog credibility and reader orienteering.

And if the blog post this morning was an anomaly, I would not be writing this post now. But, it is not. Whether by lack of training, ignorance or good old fashion hubris, hundreds of thousands of web sites that should tell the reader where they are, don’t. “Everyone knows who we are,” is a familiar retort.

No, we don’t know who you are. Is the Springfield College in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee or in fictitious Simpsonville? You would never know unless you crawled all over their Web site. (MA, down in tiny type at the bottom) How is this good for recruiting?

And folks who should know better — newspapers — are the worst offenders. Sure, we all know where New York, Chicago and Los Angles are, but where is The Richmond Times-Dispatch published? What community does it serve? Richmond, Indiana? Virginia? I dunno. And it is too much work crawling around trying to find out.

You are reading DogWalkBlog.com, produced and written in Dayton, Ohio. We are talking with Rufus, one of the key writers of the blog where he reminds us why you, time and place are important for blog credibility and reader orienteering.

Purists of the Internets would argue (did you catch my strawman argument? Pretty clever, right?) that the world is flat and that one’s experience, field of vision, place of residence, etc really don’t matter. It is the ideas, the engagement, etc, etc that really matter. Actually, it is not. When you have a homogenous view of the world that is created by your physical environment and fueled by willful ignorance, you end up writing crap like this book (review will not be forthcoming as I think “crap” sums it up nicely. Yes, I read it all the way through.)

And lastly, perhaps the worst offenders of all are local youth sports clubs. Unless you are THE Arsenal Football Club, please put your location front and center on your Web site. Above all, place very much matters to local youth sports teams.

Perhaps we can have little hide/click Blog Identification tags located in the content every three paragraphs so the reader can click on them and know immediately where he is and who you are. That would be a cool thing that newspapers should adopt. (I may even write a plug in for that.) But mostly, if we think about attracting new readers to our content, we would be less apt to assume everyone knows who and where we are.

Am I right?

You have been reading DogWalkBlog.com, produced and written in Dayton, Ohio. We were talking with Rufus, one of the key writers of the blog where he reminded us why you, time and place are important for blog credibility and reader orienteering. Tune in next week where we will bring you more exciting stuff, seen from the dog’s point of view. I’m your editor and host. Have a good day!

Why do we keep eating?

Why do we eat? The simple answer would be that if we did not eat, we would die. But that is not entirely true. Science can provide us with a pill we can take that would provide exactly the nutrition we need — no more, no less — to keep our bodies healthy. Yet, we resist the notion that a pill, taken three time a day, would replace daily meals.

….

How to profit from stupid and sloth

I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. So do hundreds of my neighbors and I know exactly who they are.

The WSJ gets delivered to my front door every morning by a carrier with the Dayton Daily News. About a year ago, I noticed that the mailing label in the upper right hand corner of my copy of the WSJ was not me. It was a neighbor who lived in another part of the subdivision or worked at another business. 

So, I started saving these labels. Sometimes I would get my own label, but most days, I would get someone else’s. Eventually, I reasoned, I would probably get everyone who subscribed to the WSJ on my carrier’s route. I think I am right.

Now, I have a mailing list of neighbors with whom I have something in common. When I want to refer to an article in the WSJ that I think might affect them, I can send out a cheap postcard, with a URL to my blog to the list and I know they will most likely have read the same article as me.  And, they will most likely go to my blog, read, comment and maybe pass it along.

They may wonder how I got their name, how I knew they also read the WSJ. Or, maybe not.

Or maybe, they have been getting my newspaper and tracking me the same way.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

We dogs keep getting more press!! From the press!!

Paul Begala, political commentator for CNN, writes this article on The Huffington Post. He ends with:

The real debate is over whether the media will be vigilant watchdogs, sounding the alarm when McCain and Palin lie, or fall back to the role they’ve played for most of McCain’s career: lapdog.

I love all these recent references to dogs in this election! Maybe the journalist who said “..all (newspaper) readers care about are puppy dogs…” during the Sam Zell F**K You! video was just dead-on accurate!

Tenacious Spider

Spider builds a web

Every morning as we step out of the front door to go on our walk, I glance at the mailbox to the left and a spider will have built a web during the night. Sometimes there will be breakfast in it, sometimes not.

Every morning, I take the newspapers and swipe the web away.

Not sure what keeps the spider from building a web day after day after day. Is it because the feeding ground next to our mailbox is so plentiful that the cost of having to build a new web every night is an insignificant one? Is the spider just a “never give up, never surrender” type of spider? Is the spider just plain stupid that he just doesn’t know when he is hearing the word “no?” Does the spider just have no place else to go?

The web was there today. It will be there tomorrow.

Hillary is going nowhere

As I was lifting my leg to relieve myself on the newspaper this evening, I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal that said ‘Democrats look to life after Clinton.’ Well, that is an odd thing to say. Life after Clinton? Really?

Hillary Clinton may never become president, but she will become even more powerful than a mere president. She will become a power center where every Democrat that wants to sit on an influential committee or even run for president in the future will need to come and pay her homage and get her blessing. She will, ironically, become Ted Kennedy’s successor.

With Bill right behind her.

Just watch and see.

The real death of the Dayton Daily News

For those of you who may not know, I was with the Dayton Daily News from 1998-2002. It was perhaps the most meaningful period of my life, in which I learned how to write objectively, think independently, treasure really, really talented people around me, learned how to change the world with little more than a thought and a pen, to learn patience, compassion and humility from greater human beings and learned how to find meaning in a job where I was paid almost nothing and expected to accomplish almost everything. I loved every heartache of the 4 1/2 years I spent there.

Yesterday, I visited the DDN building on Ludlow Ave in downtown Dayton. They were having a public sale where furniture, computer equipment, etc was being sold for whatever they could get. I went to walk the halls for one last time, to hear my friends, colleagues and mentors in my head one last time, to reclaim the same excitement I felt coming into the old newspaper building every morning. I was not disappointed.

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NEWS RELEASE: Rufus volunteers to be the first puppy reporting from Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Rufus
c/o
Gerard McLean
DogWalkBlog
rufus@dogwalkblog.com

Rufus volunteers to be the first puppy reporting from Iraq

ENGLEWOOD, Oh. – In a brave move today, Rufus announced his intention to be the first puppy dog reporting from Iraq. Inspired by a call from Tribune Publishing owner Sam Zell, who said in a video posted on YouTube, “..hopefully our revenues are so significant that we [Tribune newspapers] can do (stories) on puppies in Iraq.”

Rufus, 8, the author of the popular blog www.dogwalkblog.com wants to be that puppy dog reporter in Iraq for Sam Zell.

“Puppies DO matter,” barked Rufus emphatically at a recent press conference. “Even if you oppose the war in Iraq, you can still support puppy dogs in Iraq.”

The traditional journalism community immediately dismissed Rufus’s intention of visiting Iraq as silly, citing that stories of puppy dogs in Iraq were not newsworthy. Most Americans disagree.

“We’ve had enough gloom and doom reporting with the war and I think it is about time that we had an upbeat puppy dog story,” said Gerard McLean, Rufus’ handler and blog editor. “Dogs are very observant, have sharper hearing and sense of smell than most journalists and rarely miss signs of danger,” adds McLean.

“Puppies in Iraq are long overdue to bring in a sense of balance and perspective.”

Rufus is apolitical and sees a visit to Iraq as an opportunity to remind Americans and his friends elsewhere in the world, that there are things more valuable in this world than politics, the economy, war and terrorism. A good scratch on the ear, a brisk walk on a Sunday morning and an unabashed sniff of a neighbor’s buttocks are all things that dogs – and humans – can rally around.

“Our world may be changing rapidly,” barks Rufus, “But the loyalty and friendship of a dog is everlasting. That is something that is newsworthy.”

Rufus intends to publish the quest to Iraq daily on his blog, www.dogwalkblog.com and on www.puppyjournalism.com. The video of Sam Zell, which sparked this quest, is also posted on Rufus’s blog.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDy7vn7-LX4