How do you change a company’s culture?

I’m asking because I don’t know and I’d like to: how do you change a company’s culture?  I think it’s a good question for any journalist to ask right now. If you work in this industry like I do, you know this year isn’t as rough as the last.  But what do you do when it’s time to make competitive changes in your newsroom and the old staff can’t keep up with the new?  Here’s a scenario about AOL that I think has the potential to take place in any newsroom today.  Change is going to come, like it or not.


The death of the journalism school? Why not?

Why justify keeping journalism schools open?  I agree with pretty much every word of this article on Gawker.  I’m not much of a fan of staying within the lines myself.  Aside from teaching the legalities of journalism, the basics of AP Style, and a few policy/procedure items, what can journalism classes really teach?  The best line on Gawker is this:

“Which is why they [j-schools] produce the most plodding, report-by-numbers literalists imaginable.”

Every newsroom has these types and they are the worst people to have to work with! Journalism doesn’t need the by-the-book literalists anymore.  The industry is struggling (understatement).  What journalism needs is the creatives.  It needs the rule benders, creators, and leaders who live by gut instinct.  Journalism needs some renegades and rebels right now.  I’d like to see journalists who understand technology, marketing, and business. In short, it’s nice to know how to string a sentence together, but does that sentence make money?  We need people with entrepreneurial spirit and not the “well, we’ve always done it this way” types.

I took journalism classes at Paradise Valley Community College.  But I chose to avoid ASU’s Cronkite School.  Instead, I went the route of a bachelor of liberal studies degree at Boston University for the sheer sake of being able to complete a degree entirely online at a top-tier school.  Given the current climate of things, I think I made the right choice.  The degree itself doesn’t make a person successful. After 12 years of broadcasting now, I can tell you one thing.  The most successful people I have seen have been innovators.  They are the ones unafraid to lead.  They believe in their ideas and stick their necks out for them.  If you can create, innovate, and lead  —  you will have a future.

Twitter tips for journalists has a decent post about Twitter tips for journalists.  I would add to it though.  Not that there are forgotten tips here.  When the list says to verify sources  —  something important for a story whether it involves Twitter or not, it doesn’t hurt to be more specific.

There are  lots of people by the same name on Twitter.  It doesn’t mean any one of them could be the specific one I am looking for. I write about music for my job, specifically pop music, but sometimes other genres I’m not as familiar with.  But one thing I have noticed across multiple genres is how easy it is to get the wrong musician.  You might think you’re reading a tweet by your favorite pop star.  But instead, it’s actually a tweet from a fan or fansite.

Want to read the real Justin Bieber’s tweets?  (Yes, I do.  I write about him almost daily in pop music). Check out his official Twitter account:

See the Twitter-turquoise check mark badge on the upper right-hand side of the page?  That verifies that this is really the Justin Bieber.

Oh, and just because someone famous has a verified Twitter account doesn’t mean they are authoring their own tweets.  Take a look at Sugarland’s Twitter account:

It lacks the Twitter-turquoise verified check mark badge.  But it does say it’s the band’s official Twitter account.  Yet all kinds of people tweet on this account  —  they just sign their names on their tweets. There’s one signed by “Kristian,” which could be guitarist Kristian Bush.  The Twitter page does lead to the band’s official website.  But I can put up a Twitter account in two minutes that does the same thing.  That official website does list links to the band’s MySpace and Facebook pages, but lists nothing for any Twitter accounts they may have.

I’m pretty sure it’s Sugarland’s Twitter account, at least enough to add it to my list of country celebrities I follow every day.  But I doubt I’d ever quote it for a story.  I’d use it for a story lead and report it out.  But I wouldn’t live and die by it.

I’ve found Twitter is often best just for leads.  It gives me a lot of story ideas and directions to go in that have saved me a lot of time.

Rock star salaries?

This guy has a point.  Journalists could keep their jobs if companies would pay them instead of paying millions to people like Diane Sawyer.  I’ve never understood why the people who do all the heavy lifting must suffer pay cuts and layoffs while the rock stars make millions.  I think this is true of news organizations and radio companies.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer  —  if they are lucky.  If not, they become a statistic.

I also know people in my industry who will argue that the Diane Sawyers of the world deserve their pay and that paying them like this is a competitive move.  So is it good business?  Does it even matter if journalism suffers?

I finished my degree at Boston University!

I finally finished!  I’ve been attending the Boston University Executive Undergrad Degree Completion Program online since January 2007.  The program is run through BU’s Metropolitan College and is designed for adults who wish to finish their college degrees.  I was in my 20s when I began and I wasn’t even the youngest person in the EUDCP.  (Actually, I think they dropped the “executive” and just call it “UDCP” now).  We all began college somewhere and took a detour for whatever reason  —  jobs, kids, family, life.

Now I have a bachelor of liberal studies, or BLS, from Boston University.

There were semesters I sat out because of financial aid problems or because a class wasn’t available for me to take.  I moved three times during the program.  I went from working at home as a freelance writer to going back to work full-time outside the home.  People I loved passed away.  There was a point in the program where I worked three jobs during 19-hour days.  I even took my laptop and reading material on a Princess cruise ship once during a family vacation in order to complete my degree.  I even managed to pass a physics class despite having a math learning disability.  I probably lugged my laptop to more events in my life over the past three years than could ever be deemed “normal” or “healthy.”

But I finished.  Finally.

If I can do it, anyone can.  I encourage you to go back to school if you’re thinking about it.  You may even want to take a look at Boston University.  We’ve got one helluva hockey team.

Graduation is in May.  I’ll get a diploma.  But I think I’ve already had the best, most memorable day. It was March 2, 2010.  I submitted my final exam for my very last class at 11:57 a.m.  It was a happy feeling I will never forget!  Everyone should have the chance to feel like that.