Monday, October 26, 2009

Cyber connected, but let me keep newsprint-stained fingers

I’m Linked In. My face is on Facebook. I can Tweet anytime I want to. And, last week, folks other than my best friends read my blog posting and commented on it.

I’m feelin’ the love of cyber connecting.

I can Google myself (try it sometime), and I find what I wanted to find: web listings for Jackie Walburn, writer, editor, communicator and JOB SEEKER. Google no longer just finds quotes and media mentions from my most recent job as a spokesperson/public affairs/region corporate communications manager for a big company.

I’m there in Google-land representing myself, and that was the goal when I set out recently to create a cyber presence to assist in the continuing adventure of life after downsizing. I listened when experts in my field -- communications, public relations, writing, editing – said, you’ve got to be out there, or rather in there, in the interconnected social media world. I got the message. I posted the profiles, asked for friends and connections, and continue to learn ways to maximize these connections.

However, even as I celebrate with a virtual happy dance, must make one non-hip disclaimer.

First and foremost: I will not start “getting all my news on-line.” Sure I can go to for Alabama news or any number of sites for national and international news and comment.

Just give me a newspaper, please. I still want to read the newspaper; I want to turn the pages. I don’t even care if I can newsprint on my fingers. I love newsprint on my fingers.

The economy and this cyber world have combined to make this a tough time for newspapers everywhere. But hey, for what it’s worth, newspapers everywhere still have a loyal reader in me. Although I have not worked regularly for a newspaper in about more than a decade, I grew up in newspapers. I majored in journalism (and meant it) and worked exclusively as a newspaper reporter, editor and photographer for many years, until economic realities and opportunities combined to launch me on a career change as a communications consultant, then into public relations, then corporate communications.

But bless the reporters and editors working away at today’s newspapers. Fewer pages, fewer advertisers (those are directly linked) and an increasing emphasis on the on-line versions of newspapers make it challenging for newspapers and newspaper reporters these days. I understand that, and know that “breaking news” is indeed that when it can be posted on-line instead of waiting for the next edition of the newspaper. Writing for print and then writing and updating it for on-line is the new norm.

However, newspaper reporters and editors are nothing if not resourceful, and evidence shows they are embracing the new media, even while some of them, surely, still like the idea of newsprint on their fingers.

A recently-published study, "Life beyond Print: Newspaper journalists' digital appetite,” written in-part by a fellow Auburn University journalism grad Vickey Williams, shows that almost half of today's newspaper journalists think their newsroom's move from print to digital is happening too slowly, and they see their future selves engaged in news reporting even as the print-to-digital-and-mobile-devices changes continue and speed up.

The study, published by the Media Management Center at Northwestern University, identifies six types of journalists inhabiting the typical newspaper newsroom in 2009. These range from the "Digitals" (12% of the workforce) who spend a majority of their efforts online today, to the "Turn Back the Clock" contingent (6%), who long for the day when print was king. I’d probably find myself in the middle.

One of the reasons this blog appeals to me is how similar it is to writing a newspaper column, which I did for years in college for The Plainsman, then as a part of a small staff at a small weekly and then a small daily. Now this blog gives me a chance again to write about whatever I want to (within reason), even if it’s not printed on newsprint and my readership is limited but growing, a few friends at a time.

All that’s missing is newsprint-stained fingers, and, somewhere in cyberspace, there’s probably an app for that.

Picture of the day:

Fishing off the pier: Here's what I did Saturday afternoon and Sunday, fished for crappie off our pier. Few bites, one catfish for me and a bream for Mary Claire, but great view from pier.  This photo is actually from last Spring, but you get the picture.
Song of the day:
Summer Days, Bob Dylan
"Standing by God's river, my soul is beginnin' to shake

Standing by God's river, my soul is beginnin' to shake

I'm countin' on you love, to give me a break"


  1. Love your idea for an "ink-on-your-fingers" application! Or maybe some of these cyber newspapers can include the sound of those old wire machines spewing out breaking news! There was nothing more exciting than waiting for the next line of copy to appear when a major event was happening!

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