entertainment weekly

Instagram, Vine, Periscope: the trifecta of elusive social media for journalists

One of my favorite posts on this site — for not the quality of its writing but the entertainment of its content — is an entry from two years ago titled, “10 Turn of the Century Predictions, and 10 Lessons Learned“.

In it, I examine the crystal ball work done by the staff of Entertainment Weekly in 1999, as they spotlight ten “companies and visionaries leading the electronic charge”.  These range from innovations in music (POP.com) to gaming (godgames.com) to interactive television (mixedsignals.com).

Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the three web sites I just mentioned; they no longer exist.

Some of Entertainment Weekly‘s predictions turned out remarkably right, and others proved woefully wrong. My conclusion, upon re-reading the issue? “It should remind us what we thought the media landscape would look like — and how similar yet different it actually appears today.”

I think of the article — and my subsequent post — when I encounter the new forms of media expected to transform my job as a journalist.


Many individual journalists I know today still struggle with both how to incorporate social media and which ones to incorporate. Most have invested at least somewhat in Facebook and Twitter, with both providing some return in terms of followers, shares, and conversations. Beyond that, for most in my field, it’s a crap shoot.

None of these options, mind you, existed when I started in the businesses a dozen years ago. But a journalist, already working with a limited time frame and hard deadline, must constantly make choices as to which audience needs to be served. Do I spend a few minutes crafting a Facebook post? Do I take a minute here and there during the day to update Twitter? Do I shoot an iPhone video and send it back for the web site? Or do I eschew all of it and use that time to research and develop my daily story?

That does not even get into a trio of social media options that seem to be beyond most journalists’ reach: Instagram, Vine, and Periscope. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring ATL, EW, and the inventor of Twister

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

I always appreciate when a journalist can frame a familiar subject in a completely new light.

This applies to major issues, of course, but it also relates to more seemingly frivolous topics.

If a common thread exists among the following three stories from last week, it would be the storyteller’s ability to bring new appreciation to seemingly simple matters.

How you know where you’re going when you’re in an airport (6/12/14, The Atlantic): For the second straight year, I have purchased a book based on nothing but a brief passage.

Last year it was Andrew Carroll’s brilliant Here Is Where. This year it is David Zweig’s Invisibles.

And this passage is what got me to click “PURCHASE”.

Zweig tours the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, and studies the meticulous ways in which its designers enable it to function without error.

(Almost without error, anyway. This is an airport we’re talking about.)

This particular selection is not long, but it remains informative and well written. A reader can choose to take the preferred next step — buying the book — or walk away having still gained a nice perspective into the inner workings of airports. (more…)

10 turn-of-the-century predictions, and 10 lessons learned

As we all attempt to predict the future, we probably should remember that we generally do not predict the future very well.

I received a reminder of this last month.

I spent a long weekend at my childhood home and, amidst catching up with friends and family, was also asked to do some overdue cleaning. As a child I saved virtually every magazine I received, but now those magazines were simply taking up space in my parents’ basement. My parents kindly encouraged me to examine the magazines and throw out which ones I no longer wanted.

(By “kindly encouraged”, I mean that my parents basically said, “Throw out the magazines, or we’ll throw ’em out for you.”)

As I combed through the magazines, most of which went straight to the trash, I noticed a stray section of an old Entertainment Weekly that, for some reason, I had ripped out of the magazine and saved separately. The section was titled “EWinternet: 10 for 2000” and consisted of a Top Ten list of “companies and visionaries leading the electronic charge” at the turn of the millennium.

I was intrigued. I felt as if I had just unearthed a time capsule.

But, like most time capsules, this one wound up being painfully outdated.

As I read this list, I remembered the various 21st-century predictions made about the world of journalism. Some have come true, but some have become laughable — massive misjudgments about a landscape that constantly evolves.