The public, the personal, the private and sharing

It was interesting. I have been trying to write up a few blog posts recently, on the Knight Conference I just attended, on an aspect of media sharing that I find interesting, and a couple of other topics that are in my brain.

But there was also a more personal topic I was thinking about, and since it was front of mind, I started to type while riding on my bus to work.

Then I stopped.

I stopped because over my shoulder, the person sitting next to me was reading as I typed. Sharing a seat again this morning, that scenario came back to me – and got me thinking. If I was so comfortable sharing more personal reflections in a space where anyone could read it, why would it bother me so much that someone looking over my shoulder would be reading it.

I realized that while my thoughts would be public, my creation process was private. My finished product was sharable, but as it was crafted, I was not ready to share it with even one person without my express permission.

We talk a lot about being open and transparent in business and philanthropy. In fact, tying back to the Knight Media Learning Seminar, there was an excellent session on open data that is worth a listen. During the session, Dan O’Neil noted that the instinct of the bureaucrat is to keep data private, because with sharing comes vulnerability. What if the data has errors? What if it leads to negative conclusions? What if it had personal or professional repercussions?

It’s easy to laugh that off or simply state that the public has the right to know. And I think we do. But we also need to remind ourselves that sharing your own thoughts, your own data, creates vulnerability. When you think about the most noted “sharers” of the past few years, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, one cannot argue that they did not put themselves at grave personal risk – but they were still outsiders sharing someone else’s work. They bravely exposed things that they needed to expose, but they were not *their* things.

A lot of people I know in the public and nonprofit sectors are in it because they have a very personal connection to the work they do. Their work isn’t just work, it is theirs. It’s not by them, it’s of them.

It’s something to take into account as we ask ourselves to “be more transparent,” especially when that transparency goes beyond facts and numbers, to process. How do we create a safe space for sharing, especially in an environment where we are ready to pounce on, share and highlight every transgression or error by others?

It’s a question we need to ponder as we ask for more data, as we try to build our communities, as we try to get “late adopters” to become better sharers.

Maybe they’re not trying to be devious. They just might be uncomfortable with someone looking over their shoulder as they work.

On the passing of a friend

For those of you not in Boston today – legendary anchor Chet Curtis passed away. I had the honor to share the NECN newsroom with Chet for 7 years, and the double honor of having a desk across from him “in the pod” for 3. My personal social media streams have been buzzing today with remembrances – all happy, all praising Chet for his kindness, his decency, and his journalism. I posted my share.

Being able to call Chet Curtis my friend is an honor and a privilege.

I also think it may have been when my Dad thought I’d actually done something with my life. (Not really, but he was impressed that I got to type words that would then be shared by that smooth baritone.)

I’m struck by the fact that people are telling many fewer stories about “events Chet anchored”, beyond acknowledging they existed by the dozens, and more about “Chet, the man.” I think that’s because the list of people who can deliver the news well is long, though he would be at the top of it. But the list of people, especially in the news business, who for their entire career left a long string of people feeling better for having known him and worked with him, is far shorter.

There is nothing like a TV newsroom for testing interpersonal relationships. It’s a place where you have no choice but to work in close contact, where little can be done by one person but a small group can accomplish wondrous things. You also tend to spend extended periods of time with small groups, and it’s an environment that brings together 60-year-old anchors with 22-year-old producers talking to 25-year-old reporters with journalism degrees who are paired with 45-year-old photographers who have seen and done it all before. They’re connected by an earpiece with a 40-something director coordinating a staff of various ages and experience through headsets, and all of them have to execute their jobs perfectly so that no one at home has any idea just how close the whole broadcast came to coming off the rails – and ideally, as this dance happens the viewer at home actually takes away something of value about their community, their country and the world. Two minutes later, half the cast changes but the goal is the same.

And the anchor gets to cover up for a lot of things going on behind the scenes. It’s a difficult act, but it’s a more difficult act to actually be someone that all of those people – from the production intern to the producer to the director to the reporter to the co-anchor to the viewer – actually likes, respects, and looks up to. Chet did it. His life wasn’t perfect – but he packed a lot into it and did it without forgetting that people matter.

There were people who knew Chet longer, who worked more closely with him – and there are those who may have just had a moment with him. That’s true of all of us. We are closer to some people than others. We have deep relationships and glancing acquaintances.

But you don’t have to be in a newsroom to be more Chet-like to all of them. Ask. Listen. Care. Say thank you. Be decent. Shake hands. Smile. I look at that list, and realize I have some work to do. It’s not the stuff they teach you in journalism school.

It’s more important than that.

Should I forget blogging?

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So, Mike Troiano has me thinking. In his post on BostInno, he suggests that maybe if you aren’t a blogger, you shouldn’t blog. Instead, work the networks you are involved with and stop wasting the brain cells you are wasting on blog posts.

In my case, that’s not many brain cells, but he may have a point. Yankee 2.0 has been a bit dormant for some time, and maybe just a Posterous or Tumblr plus my other social networks would suffice.

As it is, I have taken his advice to set up an about.me page – at about.me/tmcenroe – I kinda like it.

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Using events to fund journalism

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I have long been fascinated by the concept if using something with a demonstrably working business model, like events, to fund something with a less certain business model, like journalism. It has worked for industry-based media like Xconomy and Paidcontent – so why not journalism?

Andrew Phelps has a good piece in the Nieman Lab blog (click on the link above) about the upcoming Texas Tribune Festival, which is coming up at the end of September. The concept of these events isn’t all that new, and they can certainly be lucrative and popular (try to get a TED ticket, anyone?), and in a city like Boston, it seems like a budding opportunity.

As for me – I won’t be in Texas those days. The Online Journalism Association annual conference is that week – and it’s a must-attend in my book.

Posted via email from Yankee 2.0 on Posterous

Sigh… adventures in blog hosts

So, I went to change my blog hosting to HostGator, but while I am happy about that, I am apparently not skilled enough to get everything over – images and all that.

So, here’s the new low-fi version of the site while I build it back out. Check back soon… there will be news!

-Ted