Archive for the ‘ Journalism ’ Category

Vote for My Mentee!

As many of you know, I spent some time in early October at a conference sponsored by Unity: Journalists of Color. The NewU program pairs up old guys like me with smart, talented entrepreneurs who are making things happen on the new frontier of media. I was fortunate to be paired up with Yvonne Leow, founder of the storytelling/fund-raising site Noowah.

At the end of our conference, Yvonne and her classmates recorded 1 minute video pitches and are now competing for $10,000 in startup cash. (Read Yvonne’s post about the competition here). I particularly liked Yvonne’s marriage of compelling stories and raising funds for good causes and smaller non-profits. If you have a moment, won’t you do me a solid and watch Yvonne’s pitch and cast a vote for her? Feel free to watch all of the pitches and vote for the ones that you believe have the best chance at success.You can vote for one pitch from each of the affiliate groups per day.

All of these NewU entrepreneurs are blazing new trails in media. I can’t wait to see where they are taking us.

New Entrepreneurs

New-U participants at NAJA

Check out veteran American Indian journalist Jodi Rave’s take on journalists as entrepreneurs, featuring the New-U project she and I participated in at the Native American Journalists Association convention in St. Paul last week.

Where I’ve Been All Week

About 150 native journalists, multimedia artists and entrepreneurs gathered in St. Paul for the annual Native American Journalists Association Conference. It was fun to see old friends and colleagues, but bittersweet to see how shrunken the organization has become over the past four or five years. I participated in a pilot program funded by the Ford Foundation through Unity: Journalists of Color to promote entrepreneurship among people of color. I was paired with native radio legend John Gregg, who is working to start a radio station in Sisseton, SD. Also met some other really smart, entrepreneurial native people who are starting businesses or nonprofits, including Rose High Bear, Deb Krol and Priscilla Wolfe. Joining me as mentors and faculty in the program were Rod Colon, Jodi Rave, Julie Sandidge, Doug Mitchell and Alli Joseph. Read more about the program and its participants here.

During the weeklong NAJA conference (hey, did I mention that we designed the conference logo?), we celebrated the life of our friend Minnie Two Shoes with her family, visited, laughed and told stories into the early morning hours.

Take a look at the videos below to see what the student journalists produced at the conference, as well as coverage of some of the speakers at the gathering from Paul DeMain’s Indian Country TV.

The final cut of the student project at the conference

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Ojibwe writer and language teacher Jim Northrup speaks on the Power of Words

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Michael Burgess, former executive director of NAJA and current chairman of the Comanche tribe, addresses the conference attendees

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Piling On

It must be Day to Disparage Newspapers (What are they?)

From one of my favorite new comics, Scenes from a Multiverse:


Hat tip to Charles Apple at and to Jim Romenesko at

This is not Art in his younger days...

This is not Art in his younger days...

Another Paper on the Ropes

The Star Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late this week, after missing payments to creditors and laying off or buying out a quarter of its newsroom. From my former newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

The Minneapolis-based Star Tribune got approval Friday from a New York bankruptcy court to continue to pay its bills and keep publishing.

The paper still is making money, according to court filings, and had almost $27 million in cash at the end of 2008. So Minnesota’s largest newspaper doesn’t appear to be going out of business anytime soon.

Longer term, however, questions remain.

Even if the Star Tribune emerges from bankruptcy, who will own it? And how much will its employees have to give up to achieve the cost cuts its publisher says are needed?

The Star Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late Thursday, two years after New York-based Avista Capital Partners, a private-equity group, bought the paper for $530 million.

“With the significant deterioration in our revenue in 2008 and the challenging outlook for our industry for 2009, we simply could not wait any longer to take this step,” publisher Chris Harte said in a release issued early Friday. “Our plan is to use the court-supervised process to reduce our costs, strengthen our balance sheet and create a financially viable business.”

The paper’s profits are down sharply. Court filings show that it had earnings of $31 million in 2008, before interest, taxes and debt payments. That was down from $59 million in 2007 and $115 million in 2004.

In its bankruptcy filing, the Star Tribune reported assets of about $493 million and debt of $661 million.

If you had told me five years ago that the Strib would be bankrupt and the PiPress still growing and holding its own, I would have said you were crazy — not because the PiPress and its people weren’t scrappy and talented (they were and are, he said modestly) — but because the Strib was so much bigger, seemingly better financed and operating from a position of dominance in our market. But the Strib’s fortunes have been in freefall since then and now there’s serious doubt that it can pull itself out of its fiery tailspin.

That’s a sad thing for the Twin Cities and Minnesota, despite what some know-nothing bloggers might tell you. Who’s going to do the hard reporting and watchdog journalism the Strib now commits millions of dollars to each year if they go away? If the evil “MSM” goes away, what will the bloggers “comment” on?

I wish all of my friends and former colleagues at the Strib the best as they work their way through this financial mess. They are real pros and help to keep us informed and entertained. I would miss them greatly if they went away.