...the best writers left their websites for jobs with established media companies; established media companies asked these writers—along with many who really shouldn’t be in these jobs—to make content sound blog-ish; cross-site discourse fell off, with the power to shape a conversation aggregated among sites from which so much content now flows down a hierarchy; memes and traffic-generation schemes quickly eroded what had once been innovative ideas; a shared conversational tone predominated, suggesting that certain content was supposed to sound certain ways; a once open and growing system became a series of echo chambers as writers and readers congregated in various places where they could feel good about participating with each other. Websites have grown incredibly stale as a result, and most with passable content have lost differentiating elements.
Worst of all, as these changes crept across the internet and cemented a way to do business, so to speak, they reinforced the notion that everyone can be an expert while staying at home and living life behind a series of screens. [emphasis mine]
Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down.
Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither.
It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving.
You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."
But starting in the first part of June my title will be Executive Vice President of Marketing and Outreach.
I know, right?
For real, though, I've accepted a new job. I'm going to be the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Outreach for a sincerely fantastic non-profit organization called Modest Needs.
Modest Needs is a charity that, rather than getting people out of financial trouble, prevents them from getting into that trouble in the first place. Modest Needs is the only charity that allows you to donate to individuals on a one-to-one basis--choosing the person or organization that you directly want to help out. It's a lauded organization started by a former professor at my university. In fact, when he launched Modest Needs eight years ago I put a link to the venture on Metafilter. I've been a cheerleader for Modest Needs since Day One (save for that single dubiousness I expressed to the founder when he initially ran the idea by me--sorry for being a Debbie Doubter, Keith!)
This means that I am no longer going to be a news blogger, blog producer, professional blogger, or however you want to describe what I have done for about five years now. While I will be blogging for Modest Needs as part of my role, the position of EVP of Marketing and Outreach will encompass a whole lot more. I will be in charge of promoting Modest Needs primarily online, but also offline, to the best of my abilities. This means I get to decide how best to use the internet to spread the good word about a charity that I fully believe in--the sky's the limit in terms of how I do this or how far it goes. To say that I am excited and overwhelmed by the prospect would be a vast understatement. I get to work from home, make my own hours and work toward promoting something that makes the world a better place.
Am I sad that I will no longer be blogging from a newsroom? Yeah. In a way. It was how I started this career that has suddenly taken a new trajectory, and it has served me well. Recently, before I knew I'd be leaving news blogging, a doctor asked me if I liked my job. I blurted out almost immediately, "I love my job." And that is the truth. It is a blessing and a joy to do what I do day in and day out.
That said, I'm tired. The constant 9-5 publishing of content--even content that primarily links to others' content--can be draining. It will wear you down. It is safe to say I got burned out on news blogging.
That doesn't mean I am not forever grateful to both WKRN and KPIX for allowing me the opportunity to do something not many others get to do--sling opinion and links without an editor. Both stations put a lot of trust in me, and I won't soon forget that. WKRN gave me my break, and KPIX moved me out to my new home in California. Thank yous will never be enough.
My last day writing Eye on Blogs will be Friday. Then I board a plane to Tennessee to see family and friends for a week. Then I fly back to San Francisco the following Monday to unpack, then repack, because on Tuesday I will be in Manhattan for 6 days for my initial week at Modest Needs.
It's all too much, but I relish every morsel.
Onward and upward and all that stuff.
UPDATE: I will have lots, lots, lots more to say about all this, but if I said it all now this would not be a blog post it would be a non-fiction tome. More to come for sure.
A Bay Area blogger asked me to share a few sentences about corporate or professional blogs. Basically, those built for PR purposes. He works for a museum that is thinking of starting a blog, and he asked me to impart some wisdom. I gave him this instead:
Things I think are important to consider when working with a corporate or otherwise professional blog:
- Be authentic and genuine. Have personality. Bland, boring press releases will be ignored. Consider have the blogger write in first person.
- Have fun with it. People need a reason to come *back* to a blog like one for your museum. Sure, they may go there the first time for info, but having engaging writing is key. Don't be afraid to loosen things up a bit.
- Participate in the blog community. If you don't read, link to or otherwise engage other bloggers your site will not see much traffic.
- Be transparent. Don't lie to people, they'll figure it out. Don't use wormy wording as businesses are so inclined to do. Don't use a bunch of industry lingo unless your site is geared specifically toward a niche group.
- Encourage participation. Don't make people jump through hoops to comment. Welcome dialogue and exchange.
I think there is a lot more to explore here, but this is a good jumping off point. Just remember that blogging provides an opportunity for readers to get to know the person behind the site or learn things they can't get elsewhere. Make it engaging and make it genuine and you will be surprised how much mileage you will get.