News Headquarters

Contributing to the Information Diet

i love the newsThere's a book I read about two years ago called, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. I remembered that I liked the book and found it informative, but after two years, I've forgotten the premise and main points. Since it's a short book, and since I've gotten back into the news business, I've borrowed it from the library to read it again. I think this is an important re-read as I am fulfilling the role of creating news and content for the consumption of others. I've already gone through the introduction, which refreshed memory that Information Diet makes the case that the consumption of news/information should be treated like how we ought to consume food. The over-consumption of food can lead to a variety of diseases, and the same can happen with a hyper-consumption of information in general, or in the over-consumption of the wrong information. As summarized in the introduction of the book:

If unhealthy information consumption creates bad information habits the way unhealthy eating creates food addictions, then what good is transparency?... You cannot simply flood the market with broccoli and hope that people stop eating french fries. If large numbers of people only seek out information that confirm their beliefs, then flooding the market with data from and about the government will not work as well as the theorists predict.

The overall point is that it's not enough to put the good information and the good news coverage out there. You need to change behaviors as well, probably concurrently as you put out the information that's part of a healthy information diet. A point that I'd like to make about this concept is that over-consumption can lead us to a point where we aren't filtering the information to come to a logical conclusion or to weigh various sides very well. It's much like choice overload, as the act of filtering information means that you are making choices about which information is most credible, most relevant, or even the most truthful. If you have too much choice, or too much information to go through, then it's easier not to choose or to settle on ideas that confirm your beliefs or affirm what you already know or think to be true. Or, even to choose not to read any information at all.

"We choose not to choose even when it goes against our best self interests," as Sheena Iyengar says in this speech below about why people chose, or don't choose, in the first place.

Commitment to Good News Coverage

As I get back into the news industry and assess trends, study what I'm doing, and watch what competitors are doing, I need to look for a way to contribute to the information buffet and to encourage a healthful information diet. I'm not one to do what everyone else is doing, so I need to figure out what's happening and then fill in what's missing. Curation and aggregation are hot right now, but I'm not much of a fan of either. Too easy to spread information that's just incorrect while creating a system where too few people are the actual news writers and creators. It also can lead to an echo chamber where something that's wrong is shared and repeated before it's corrected. Curation and aggregation involves sharing and repurposing what other people are doing. When there's too few people, certain topics will be missed simply because everything can't be covered. When there's an echo chamber, there's also an incentive to report things that do well in the echo chamber, versus topics that need to be said and covered. I wish I had the answer to everything now. Perhaps I'll have a few more once I finish re-reading the book and work in the industry a few more months or years.

Bullet Journal, New Gigs, and Getting Things Back Together

Thanksgiving Been spending my time over the past few weeks working to get everything back together. I think much of it crumbled from under me because I wasn't spending enough time working, and because I didn't spend any time planning my branding. For my branding, I just threw something together, never really thought about, and so the mantra, positioning, and statement weren't as solidified and unique as they could of been. I don't think I would have gotten into trouble if I had planned those things because I would have had more concrete ideas about Stirring Media as a brand and business. I'm now spending time thinking about the business' brand as well as my own personal brand.

One Month of the Bullet Journal

I've given the Bullet Journal note-taking system for over a month now, and I like it very much. I actually find it to be a good complement to my inferno of productivity because it's two to-do lists instead of one, and also that the Bullet Journal can accommodate scheduling and longer lists. Longer lists can be lists that all have to do with one topic i.e. I have a list of the web pages I need to write for one client's project, but there also a tidy, safe place to keep my big-fat lists that come up from time to time. The big-fat list often contains many little things that I need to get done, most often things like updating my social media profiles or figuring out how to set up Google Authorship when you contribute to several blogs and publications. I would highly recommend the Bullet Journal for anyone who has never been particularly satisfied with the selection of planners and calendars that are currently available on the market.

Two New Gigs!

I"ve gotten two new news writing gigs, and I am very excited about both of them! One I started last weekend, and the other I'll be starting over the next few days. For the first gig (which needs to stay nameless because it hasn't yet launched), I essentially find news stories, read the story, write a 300-character summary, and upload the summary to the content management system. Kind of like a dream job for me, because I have to cover anything and everything, and the sooner I can summarize a breaking news story, the better. I work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, so the only downside is that Friday night is particularly slow. It's the weekend for the whole world, and not much is happening on a Friday night or Saturday morning. Saturday and Sunday are a bit better, primarily because all the sports games are finishing up during my shift, and I can easily write a few summaries by simply reporting on a college basketball or professional hockey game that just finished.

My second gig is with News Headquarters, where I"ll be doing some general news article writing for one of their sites (not sure which one yet). The work sounds similar to the articles I wrote for Technorati, although this time I'll be getting paid, where I find a story and then create something new using a variety of sources. On the surface, it sounds like article rewriting, or rehashing, as I like to call it. The job totally can be, and that's the easy way out to do the job in my opinion. However, I do think that this practice could be done in a way that doesn't involve selling out your soul, where the sources and story are used to offer a new perspective instead of just write another article saying what everyone else has said. It means you have to be more creative and try to present an angle that hasn't been presented yet. I think that's where you'll differentiate yourself while creating something that will actually generate buzz and properly newsjack a story. Perhaps I should just think of this gig as getting paid to piggyback on the news.