There is no value in working for free for publicity

“I don’t take a piss for free.”

Most journalists at some point will be asked to work for free, especially young journalists starting out. They’ll tell you its for publicity. That it’ll help you get work in the future. But what exactly does that mean?

I’ll get publicity for not getting paid so that some company in the future will ask me to work for money? If they act the same way, this publicity will lead to me being asked to write more pieces for publicity. Working for free only leads to more working for free.

I’m not saying that there are never any reasons to do something for free, but publicity is a specious reason, particularly for a company that has money and will make money off of your free labor. I do speak at and host panels at conferences for free, but I value the experience of being at and participating in conferences.

I have written guest posts for friends, and I will continue to collaborate with friends on the Web in the future. But when I write a piece that has value for a company that makes money, I expect to be paid.

My rule is this: If you’re going to work for free, you might as well do it for yourself, on your own terms. Start a blog and do the same exact thing there, exactly as you want to do it.


Carnival of Journalism: Modernizing college media organizations

The Carnival of Journalism returns! This is our first post back, and our mission is to try to have thoughtful discourse around different journalism topics. This month we turn our attention to the future of journalism: Journalism students.


Student news organizations have traditionally existed to give students experience before entering the workforce. The kinds of journalism jobs and journalism companies have changed considerably in the past 10 years, and most student news organizations are set up to mimic traditional print or broadcast news outlets. How would you set up a student news organization in 2013 or how could an existing college news organization modernize itself?
Issues to consider:
  • Ideally experience at a college media organization would help a student learn relevant skills for the workforce and help students land a job.
  • If you work at a news organization, what kinds of skills do you and your organization look for in new hires?
  • What kind of “clips” should college students have by graduation?
  • You can approach this as your advice to college media organizations or as if you were a theoretical adviser or manager of a student news organization. Or as a theoretical employer imagining the ideal experience a just-graduated student should have gotten.

We also have a plan b blog post related to the general topic: “Should we teach J School students how to aggregate?”

Use #jcarn on Twitter to join the conversation or comment on this post and others.

The responses:

Michael Rosenblum says that journalists learn by doing. This means getting out in the real world and writing, taking pictures and photos and just doing journalism:

As a not theoretical but real (that means that there is real money being spent here) employer let me say that the very first thing I do with any new hires is to put them through a very intensive training program that I conduct myself.  And the very first thing I tell them is to forget everything they have learned so far – it’s generally pretty much wrong to begin with and about 95% of it is pretty worthless for what they have to do for me anyway.

And what they have to do is to make product.

They have to take a camera and a laptop, which we give them, and go out and make content for our shows.

That’s the job.

In many ways, Michael is saying to grab some modern tools and go experiment. Push yourself.

David Cohn points out that there is a big distinction between aggregation and curation and the two should not be confused:

In some respects, “curation” is what journalists have always done. Journalism is a process of collecting information, filtering that information and then distributing that information (caveats that the information is accurate and collected ethically, etc). So when we talk about teaching “curation” at j-schools – aren’t we describing what is already done? Why is this confusing?

Probably because of newfangled jargon: Now we are talking about curation on “social media.”

Victoria D. Baranetsky has some simple advice: Don’t talk about being a journalist; act like one. She gives us some legal history on how not acting like a journalist can cost student journalists in the eyes of the law:

Given the Court’s recent decisions, it has never been more important to act like an independent journalist, even if you are in school.  Blog, aggregate, heck, maybe even collect data, but make sure to do it and do it on your own.  Akin to what C.J. Chivers was recently quoted saying (“Social media isn’t journalism.  It’s information.  Journalism is what you do with it.”), my advice is that school and social media is there only to facilitate the identity you have already independently asserted.

Steve Outing wants student journalists to be “radically experimental.” And that starts with not trying to emulate “dinosaur news media:”

It seems that many students who join an independent student news organization view it as an opportunity to practice being a journalist in the traditional sense. Get better at reporting and interviewing; learn to hone their writing quality and personal style; practice standing in front of a video camera to impart campus news in the way it’s long been done on local TV news; etc. A common instinct is to look at professional news organizations and try to be like them. A smaller portion of incoming student journalists are more aware that the news industry is in turmoil and that journalism is undergoing reinvention, and these are the few who glom onto innovation experiments and seek out advisers and partners to try new things (especially in the storytelling-technique area).        If the top student editor is of the latter mindset, and has the support of a like-minded professional staff advisor, then there’s hope that the editor-in-chief can rally the news troops to a mission of NOT being a school clone of the local commercial newspaper and/or TV news outlet.

Outing also advises to “ignore the curmudgeons, whether faculty or students.”

Jack Rosenberry says that student media experience must include multimedia and that they must think digital first:

Good writing is essential to journalism and other media genres (e.g. public relations), so learning to work with words and create text is the starting point. But while writing well is a necessary skill to impart a message effectively, it’s no longer sufficient for effective storytelling. Working across media, especially in text and video, is crucial.

One of the two most prominent criticisms I’ve had for the Courier in feedback this year has been, “Why wasn’t that story on the Web?”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the hiring line in a news organization, but when I talk to friends who still are they emphasize the need for today’s entry-level news professionals to have this sense of digital-first urgency, cross-platform ability and excellent wordsmithing skills underlying it all. Today’s college media organizations need to provide this set of skills if they want to claim they are adequately preparing their students for what lies on the other side of the graduation stage.

Steve Fox is on a quest to “bring responsible journalism to live-tweeting:

There’s a lot being written these days about the future of Journalism Education. Ideas range from teaching students code, data visualization, computer programming — they all jockey for the trending subjects of the day. Which is all fine. I support all of that.

But none of it means a damn if news organizations continue to get it wrong. At times I wonder whether spaghetti-against-the-wall journalism is the wave of the future. Some think so.

Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram wrote last year that:

“The way that inaccurate news reports about a mass shooting in Connecticut filtered out through social media has brought up many of the same criticisms as Hurricane Sandy — that social media isn’t an appropriate forum for journalism. But this is simply the way news works now.”

I refuse to buy that. I’m not going to throw up my hands and surrender to inaccuracies being the norm.

Benet Wilson believes it is time for her school’s student newspaper to shed the past: Become independent from the school, invest heavily in new technology, get rid of the print edition and more:

Third, I would get rid of the Gramblinite’s print publication. Even at my advanced age, I don’t read print publications anymore. And schools, including Baltimore’s Morgan State University (another HBCU) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have done it. My reading is done on my iPad and iPhone. Students these days get almost all of their news online, so go where your customers are.  I’d build a dynamic website that is easily viewed across all digital platforms. I’d include video, audio, photos, graphics, comments and social media.

And speaking of platforms, the fourth thing I’d do is get rid of separate media. No more radio news, television news, print news and magazine news on campus. I would make one converged newsroom to allow students to gain skills across all platforms, and disperse the news accordingly, using rolling  deadlines.

Sue Robinson wants journalists to think of journalism as a process. She says that journalists and journalism educators need “to stop thinking about the news as a discrete product and to start considering its production and dissemination as a never-ending cycle of community dialogue among different platforms:”

Jeff Jarvis first coined the term several years ago (many journalists and mediawatchers have taken it up, as well) and the industry itself has been moving toward this conception. But it’s been slow to catch on among some newsrooms, some professors, and many college papers. In their Carnival posts, Jack Rosenberryemphasized digital first and multimedia, Steve Fox encouraged accurate reporting even on Twitter, and Steve Outing listed ways to be innovative. All of these pieces of advice subscribe to the notion of journalism as process.

How do you do this? All of the blogs in the Carnival will have great suggestions, given the incredible breadth of experience represented in this group. You can find a round-up of them here this weekend. It’s not just about doing video with your story. It’s not just about slapping a commenting section under your articles or a forum on your site. It’s not just about pushing your stories in your social-media platforms. It’s about embracing in a real way the (actually VERY) traditional notion that journalism is about inspiring citizens so that they become more civically engaged in democracy and public life on all of its levels — politically, culturally, socially. It’s about not only informing people with the who, what, where, and why, but to provoke thought, encourage conversation, and improve our public deliberation so that we can have better government and also just be better people. We have more ways of doing that than ever before.

Paul Bradshaw says there is no such thing as a ‘student journalist:'”

Students of journalism no longer practise their work in the seclusion of a classroom. They do not write solely for lecturers, or even for each other.

Any student on a course with some awareness of the modern media world publishes their own blogs; their student media is accessible around the world. They contribute to networks, and build communities.

Even if their course provides no opportunities to do any of these things, they will have Twitter accounts, or Facebook accounts.

All of which means that they are publishers.

Emma Carew says student publications should be a playground, a place where it is safe to fall and get hurt. She also says students need to graduate with “a deep and diverse portfolio:”

I would love to see student publications require all staff to spend their first year rotating through different positions in the newsroom: copy editing, web desk, visuals, multimedia, etc. And I believe student publications benefit from having the involvement of a professional journalist on some kind of advisory level. We joked about our newsroom being “Kid Nation,” but there were definitely times when it wasn’t a joke, and things really did feel all Lord of the Flies.

But the end game is this: students need to graduate with a deep and diverse portfolio, which many are failing to do. Stories about the Math department offering free pizza on the lawn and canned classroom exercises aren’t enough to instruct the next generation of journalism. Publication and creation must be mandatory for students graduating with a journalism degree.

Aram Zucker-Scharff wants college journalists and student media organizations to know that you’re the local journalism now:

With the collapse of Big Media hyperlocal (Patch, EveryBlock and the continuing compression of Gannet local papers) there isn’t anyone covering most of the communities that surround campuses.

The biggest missed opportunity in student journalism is that they are perfectly positioned to step in to hyperlocal with commercial success.

College media should cover beyond the campus borders to everything that is relevant to students, which absolutely includes the community surrounding campus.

More than that, they should be a news organization for the local municipality because there is a journalistic responsibility to cover local that has been falling by the wayside.

Finally, they should do so because there will be no better way to get the clips, skills, experience and hand-on knowledge that they will need to succeed once they leave campus.

Kathy E. Gill asks, “what is the role of journalism education:”

But if we think about the public nature of many – not all, but many – institutions of journalism education, then to me there is a clear path. The academy has a responsibility to the public, as do students.

This means that there should be an emphasis on watchdog journalism and the role of a free press in a democracy. The academy should be serving the greater community by doing investigative or informative work that is no longer performed by the commercial press. Surely the linkage of NPR radio stations and university campuses reflects this ethic.

Carrie Brown wants to see college media organizations reinventing themselves like startups:

This doesn’t mean that they have to or should throw out everything that they are doing now, but it does mean that they need to do some hard, creative thinking about the audiences – and the advertisers – they serve, what their needs and problems are, and what kinds of key digital products and features they could offer that will meet those needs.

In other words, instead of getting mired in the endless debates about what skills they need to master [are blogs journalism? do you need to code? etc. etc.], they can learn the PROCESS of innovation , and THEN develop the skills they need to make the create the kinds of news products they and their audiences decide they want.  Bonus is that it is far more motivating to learn skills in this context than purely in a classroom setting, and as a professor, I’d also be happy to adjust my teaching to what students told me they wanted to learn for this purpose.

Shaminder Dulai wonders about the wisdom of getting wrapped up in tools when they are changing so quickly:

Rather, let’s teach students the fundamentals of how to gather and report information. How to look for information, how to gather it, what to look for and how to conduct yourself ethically.

Journalism is no longer a ladder, it’s a gauntlet. The old model: get an internship –> start at a small paper –> medium paper –> large paper –> retire and write a book or something. Those days and that model of paying your dues are gone.

Today it’s about finding the means to tell the stories you want to tell and finding ways to pay for your next story. Weather that’s inside a news org or as an independent, it’s largely driven by you and it’s not an easy road to navigate.

Jonathan Groves says that j-schools need to teach the art of curation and the importance of verification:

Good curators such as Maria Popova ( and Nathan Yau ( are creating something new in their compilations. You hear their voice in their posts and glean insight from their analyses. In Yau’s case, he weaves his own posts about data analysis and visualization into the mix. As I noted in an earlier post on curation, the curator is adding something of value to the collection process.

It’s a skill necessary for developing your own journalistic brand. You learn what your audience wants to know, and you provide value by scanning the information-overloaded landscape and teasing out the valuable tidbits. Though journalists have been doing this type of work for decades, it is more difficult today to find the uniquely insightful slices that haven’t already gone viral and provide value in the collection.

Sheree Martin has a list of “10 things we should be teaching today’s college students. Here’s a taste:

9. We have more opportunities today than at any time in history.

Today, it’s possible to create our own media empire using free tools readily available on the internet.

For the price of less than 2 lattes each month you can buy a custom domain and a web-hosting package to create an online portfolio and/or business and, with desire, effort, and perseverance, create a life you love.

Paul Bradshaw was so inspired by this conversation that he wrote a second blog post, “We’re not just teaching journalists any more – we’re teaching citizens #Jcarn:

Kathy Gill has written a rather wonderful post about the public service responsibilities of journalists educated with public money. It’s worth reading in full (that summary doesn’t do it justice) – and I wanted to add my own experiences around a change in journalism education which I only realised a few years ago.

It is often overlooked when people talk about journalism and media degrees that many students realise during the course of their studies that the journalism profession is not for them.

Donica Mensing writes about the ebbs and flows that student media experiences when some years editors and staff members are engaged and others they are not. She has some suggestions for how to spur innovation in college media:

Value the work: Consider offering course credit or internship credit for participating in campus media. This would enable students to commit more time to their efforts and cause educators to take the work more seriously.

Improve recognition of high quality, innovative work: When students produce exceptional work, take notice. When they do something radically experimental, recognize it. Encourage regular post-production quality review; build a school culture that recognizes and makes explicit standards of excellence in regards to journalistic quality and to innovation.

Dear Huffington Post, you get the commenters you deserve and real names won’t change that

The only way to good comments after news stories is to actively care about getting good comments — not by forcing people to use real names when leaving comments.

Take a look at the comments after many stories. It takes a combination of setting a clear tone of what comments should be like, active moderation of tasteless comments and allowing a community to vote up the best and to hide the worst.

Slashdot, a site filled with young, argumentative boys and men, has a strong commenting community. The comments are the main event. And it most people post under handles, not real names. It takes good tools and policies to make a strong comment community.

Requiring real names will do nothing to create a good comment community. First, you would be surprised at how many people will leave a tasteless, racist, bigoted, idiotic, conspiracy theorist, etc. comment under their real name. It’s shocking, but Facebook commenting has shown us that people using their real names attached to actual social networking profiles — complete with family and work information — is not enough to stop people from leaving terrible comments.

And let us not forget that anonymous and pseudonymous comments are important. Some people can contribute important information to a conversation, but can’t or won’t use their real names. Perhaps there are professional concerns with their employer or personal concerns with people stalking them. People have all kinds of reasons for using anonymous and pseudonymous names online and many of them are quite legitimate.

I was one of those people who thought that requiring people to use their Facebook account, and thus a real name in the vast majority of cases, could lead to better comments. It has not. All it does is prevent some people from commenting.

Compare the commenting communities on a blog to a random news website. A quick look will tell you that just caring and being engage is half the battle.

Here are some quick tips for better commenting communities:

  • Be a part of the community — If editors and writers are not a part of the commenting community, almost assuredly the comments will go to hell. It’s kind of like abandoning your house and expecting it to be kept up. If you don’t care, don’t expect people who don’t own your house or your news site to care about your property. Part of a writer’s job should be to interact with commenters after stories, answer questions and dispel FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). When commenters know a writer actually reads their comments, their behavior changes. They don’t want to be judged negatively. They’ll also be much more likely to ask questions and start conversations.
  • Reward good comments — When a user leaves a good comment, call it out. Let people know that you and your news organization appreciates thoughtful feedback. This could be as simple as leaving a response to that comment or as much as starting a comment of the day section where you highlight thoughtful comments.
  • Allow users to leave feedback — Allow users to rate comments and flag them. Show users the highest rated comments and hide the really bad ones.
  • Wield the ban hammer — Ban trolls, racists, bigots and other people who only want to contribute negatgively. Do everything in your power to ban them and make sure they never come back.
  • Never feed the trolls — Don’t engage them — that’s what they want. They want to see you angry. Either ban them or mute their posts so that only they can see them. When they stop getting a rise out of people, they’ll leave.
  • Maybe not all stories need comments — A lot of crime stories don’t really need comments, and they lead to poor comments from users. If you see a particular class of stories that constantly has issues, take down the ability to comment on them.
  • Comments should be a part of your editorial product and mission — If you don’t know what this means, get rid of comments.

Some further reading on commenting:


Why I am so happy that I chose Flickr over Instagram for my photo of the day project

day 52.

Day 52. Hailey hanging out with her grandmother in the morning. I snapped this while drinking my morning cup of coffee. This was shot wide open on my Canon EOS M and 22mm lens combo. It was shot at f/2.0, a shutterspeed of 1/100 and 1600 ISO.

If you want to learn to be a better photographer, skip Instagram and head over to Flickr.

Forget the filters. Skip the smartphone.

If you want to become a better photographer, even when you use filters and smartphones, dedicate a week, a month or even a year to carrying around a dedicated camera everyday and capture everything interesting that you see. And promise yourself that you’ll never use filters as a crutch.

(Here are all of my photo of the day photos and here is my feed with them plus b-sides.)

A filter can give a photo a mood or a certain feeling (many, if not most, movies are color graded to give a movie a particular mood, but it’s much more subtle than your typical Instagram filter). When filters, however, are used as crutches to make poorly shot and conceived photos look more interesting, they do nothing to make you a better photographer.

I am about a fifth of the way through my photo of the day project. I have carried a dedicated camera with me almost everywhere. I am a much better photographer today than I was a few months ago. And I am someone who has taken photos professionally in a vaerity of situations (but not as a main job). There is a big difference, however, between covering a specific event and attempting to capture a photo worth sharing for 365 straight days.

A b-side photo that didn't quite make the photo of the day cut.

A b-side photo that didn’t quite make the photo of the day cut. I shot this with the Nikon D40 and the 35mm prime lens. It was shot at f2.8, a shutter speed of 1/320 and 200 ISO.

When I began to think about this project and the amount of time and energy I would spend on it, I wanted to focus on creating and sharing photos that would be worthy of printing and hanging on my apartment walls (I’m creating a collage with all 365 photos in order). I also wanted to create photos worth sharing on their photographic merits to strangers.  Some of my photos of the day may not have ultimately met this bar, and I have a few regrets, but by and large I’m sharing much better photos on Flickr than I was on Instagram.

I think there is a real possibility that many people will one day regret filtering all of their photos. A lot of Instagram filters intentionally make photos looked dated and aged. Are we going to look back a decade or two from now and wonder why everyone intentionally made their photos look old and aged? I hope people are keeping original copies of all of these photos they are sharing on Instagram.

One of the primary goals of a photo of the day project is to make one a better photographer. If that is your goal, you owe it to yourself to focus on online communities (DP Review is a great place to be too) that can help improve your photography. I also share my photos to Facebook, where I get the most feedback, but the compression and resizing that Facebook applies to photos makes it less than ideal as the only place for this project.

What makes Flickr so much better than Instagram for learning photography? It’s a site dedicated to the art and practice of photography and is filled with people who are good at photography that you can learn from. Following people and looking at their photos is a great way to learn to become a better photographer and to get impression for different kinds of shot to attempt. I have started following a bunch of new people on Flickr for inspiration, and one of the best features of Flickr is the ability to see a photo’s EXIF data (data embedded in every digital photo about how it was shot).

If you see a photo you like on Flickr, take a peak at the EXIF data and see which camera and lens it was shot with. Also look at the aperture and shutter speed. You might be wondering how someone was able to shoot a photo in such low light without a flash. A quick peak at a photos’s EXIF data might reveal that the photo was shot on a large DSLR sensor at an aperture of 1.8 (which lets a ton of light in for low-light shots).

Part of what makes a photo of the day project a strong learning tool is that if you force yourself to publish a photo each day, you’ll regret every bad photo you publish. And the only way I get a bad photo is if I don’t try to get a good one. Some days I’m tired and lazy or maybe just traveling a lot in the car, and those are usually the not-so-good photos of the day.

To make a photo pop on Flickr and get people to view it and share it, you need to focus on lighting, composition, depth of field and all those things that make  for good photography (and even simple things like a clean lens, which is an even bigger issue with smartphone photography).

I upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 for the better camera, thinking it would be good to have for this project. But early on I realized that if I wanted to improve all of my photography, I needed to concentrate on taking purposeful photos. The iPhone 5 and similar smartphones are good at capturing quick photos, and any camera is better than no camera. It is impossible to take a good photo of something that you don’t even take a photo of. But there is so little manual control on smartphones that you really limit the kinds of photos you can take.

Photos with shallow depth of field are difficult to do on mobile. Photos in low light are difficult to do on mobile. Photos where you intentionally want some motion blur are hard to do on mobile.

This project is making me a better mobile photographer, but it is also making me a better photographer with any camera. Your composition, lighting and shot selection (what to shoot and which ones to keep) will improve over the course of a photo of the day project.

There are other considerations to keep in mind with Flickr. It doesn’t compress your photos, and you can store full resolution versions on the site. Flickr is essentially a free photo backup solution that has social features and a community around it. Instagram shrinks and compresses photos. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks.

Because Flickr doesn’t compress photos and most users don’t use filters, a photo has to stand out as its naked truth on Flickr. My Flickr news feed is a sea of memorable photos from photographers all over the world. To stand out in that crowd, I need to have photos that are memorable too. Many of the photographers on Flickr are simply better than me and use more expensive equipment, but trying to capture photos that stand up against their work makes me work harder.

I've spent a lot of time trying to get better at low-light photography to more accurately capture moods. A flash in low light almost always kills the mood. This was shot with the Canon EOS M with the 22mm lens at f/2.0, a shutterspeed of 1/50 and 1600 ISO.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get better at low-light photography to more accurately capture moods. A flash in low light almost always kills the mood. This was shot with the Canon EOS M with the 22mm lens at f/2.0, a shutter speed of 1/50 and 1600 ISO.

This isn’t to denigrate Instagram, which has successfully brought photography to lots of new users. It has made mobile photography more popular and interesting, and I cannot deny that mobile photography will be the dominant form of photography moving forward.

But when I looked at the overly compressed photos with more care put into filter selection than composition, I began to be turned off by Instagram. A good photo is about capturing a moment, an experience, a feeling. Too many of the photos I see shared by my friends on Instagram (and then reshared on Facebook and Twitter) are about the filters and trying to make a photo into something it isn’t.

Some of the filters absolutely baffle me, seemingly serving no other purpose than to make a photo look bad. There even has been a backlash against filters on Instagram, with the #nofilter hashtag becoming popular. Part of that movement is that people are saying look at this photo on its merit and not on how it interacted with a filter.

I was an early Instagram user and was guilty of many of these transgressions. Over time I began to use less and less filters. When Instagram first came out, Flickr was dying. It wasn’t worth most people’s times.

But the Flickr of mid-2013 is worth your time. It too has a great mobile app. The new design for Flickr looks great, presents photos beautifully and creates memorable photostreams of users to get lost in. The ability to store 1 terabyte of uncompressed, full resolution images is incredibly valuable.

If you’re looking for a community of people sharing mobile photos, Instagram is a great place to be. If you want to embark on a journey to learn to be a stronger photographer, I highly suggest Flickr and a dedicated camera instead.

You can find all of my photos on Flickr, including the ones that didn’t make it into this project.


Where are my photos of the day? On social media

You may be wondering where my promised photos of the day are. I’ve been sharing them all along on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter.

I think posting every photo of the day here would overwhelm the blog, especially since I don’t write as much as I used to (I blame grad school while working full time for this). I will be posting my best photos here, but you can find the rest on social media. I recommend checking out the photos on Flickr, as they are uncompressed and look by far the best there.

I also post a lot of b-side photos to Flickr. I’d love to hear if you think I selected the right photo each day or if a b-side is better. The photos that I have selected as the photo of the day are in the set Photo 365.

I’ll be following up soon with a post on why I choose to share my photos on Flickr instead of Instagram and why none of my photos of the day have been taken with a smartphone.

Why The Washington Post uses WordPress (or why your CMS doesn’t have to suck)

“Ben Bradlee is 93 years old. Do you think he wants to use your crappy CMS?”

The Washington Post’s Yuri Victor describes in the above video why The Post uses WordPress and why they are using it more often (you can read more about his thoughts here). Complaining about content management systems is one of journalists’ favorite pastimes. So why not go with a CMS that is user centric and that users actually like to use?

I’m a big fan of WordPress and have used it professionally for users. What makes it so appealing is that it’s a CMS that users can use and understand. And by users, we’re not referring to people viewing your news stories; we’re referring to the people who have to interact with the CMS and enter in content. If you make it hard for people to create content, they will create less of it and lower quality content.

One of the best parts about WordPress is how easy it is to create a new story template. If you had a big story coming in, in a matter of hours or even less, you could have a custom template for that story to really make it sing. Now that won’t happen every day or even every week, but WordPress also makes it really easy to have variety of story templates for every-day stories.

There are other options out there beyond WordPress, but with such strong open source technology, why would you use a crappy proprietary CMS? Get a good open source CMS, and customize it for your needs.

There is no reason to hate your CMS.

Dupont Circle bench


I had a hard time choosing today’s photo of the day. I went with this shot of the curved bench in Dupont Circle, because it’s rare to see some many strangers sitting next to each other in a park. People come here every day to take a break from work or to get some reading done or to play chess and other games. It’s quite a sight.

I may, however, prefer the technical aspects of this photo. That’s part of the tension of this project. Do you go with the cooler scene or the photo that you took better?

It’s also a callback to an earlier photo I took in the winter, where no one was sitting on the snow-covered benches.

This is part of my photo of the day project.

Photo of the day project

I’m starting a project today where I’ll be taking and posting  one photo every day to this blog, Flickr and Facebook.

The purpose of this project is to get me to think more visually. I’ve taken photos for years, but never with a day-in-day-out focus like this. I think just about everyone can take a good photo every now and then. Can I take a good photo every day?

It’ll be a serious challenge to take a photo worth sharing every day. But that’s the point of this. I have to post something, and I don’t want to be embarrassed by my output.

And I want to take share photos that tell stories and showcase life.

This is inspired by the assignment Jeremy Littau gave his students, where they had to take photos daily on Instagram. I won’t be limiting myself to smartphone photos, as I want to use every photographic tool at my disposal. Whatever camera or lens I have available, I’ll use.

This will be a mixture of DSLR and smartphone photos, with maybe a point-and-shoot photo here and there. Although I haven’t picked up my point-and-shoot camera in a few years. Thanks smartphones.

Part of the challenge is this project is also selecting which photo is the photo of the day. Some days I may struggle to find one good photos, while others I may have several that I like. Being a good editor of your work is also very important.

Here are some of my options today: