FEATURED ARTICLES, NEVER HAPPENED, NEW MEDIA, NEW MEDIA TOOLS, NON-PROFIT JOURNALISM, OUR MODERN WORLD

Best Backpacks for Your Next Hunting Trip

0 Comments 14 April 2016

As we are getting busy earning money sitting behind a desk for 14 hours a day, our health is declining. Some people improve their cardiovascular health by slogging it out at the gym, while others choose a more closer-to-nature cardio regime. I am talking about hiking. Hiking is an excellent cardio workout that is suitable for a person at any fitness level.

One thing to remember about to hiking is that you cannot do it without proper gear. You will need a lot of supplies to get you going. Since you will be spending a lot of water and energy, you will need drinks and food to keep you going. A good backpack will let you carry everything easily and in style. A good backpack will not only improve your carrying capacity, it will also help reduce fatigue. Make sure you have the Burris 200116 Eliminator i.e. the best rifle scope out there!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While veteran campers and hikers choose military grade backpacks, if you are a beginner, you don’t need to buy those backpacks; you can choose backpacks that will serve a hiking backpack for your treks, and normal bags on other occasions. This way you will be able to save get better value from your purchase.

JanSport Classic SuperBreak: This is one of the finest quality hiking backpacks available in the market that doubles up as a regular backpack. It is one of the best-selling and top rated hiking backpacks available in the market. It is rated 4.8/5 and comes with 5 year limited warranty.

Camelbak Products Classic: This is a hydration backpack that comes with a lot of space to store water. This backpack also has a compartment to store instant energy food like glucose cookies. So, if you buy this hiking backpack, you are going to stay hydrated and energized.

TETON Sports Oasis: This hiking backpacks falls under the 1100 series of products from the brand. This dark green coloured backpack comes with dedicated water pockets for storing water, which you will need in large amounts during your hikes.

Naturehike Outdoor backpack: This is budget-friendly hiking backpack that comes in blue colour. If you are a newbie hiker then this is the perfect hiking backpack for you.

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900: This is a medium range hiking backpack that comes with several additional compartments for storing equipment that you normally require for outdoorsy stuff. It is rated 4.5/5.

Outlander: This is a lightweight travel backpack that won’t weigh you down during your treks. If you wish to remain stamina when you reach the top, go with this backpack. It is not the top rated hiking backpack in the market, but you will definitely find it useful.

TETON Sports 2.0: This hydration back comes with a dedicated bladder to keep you hydrated well.

Osprey Farpoint 55: If you want a premium quality hiking backpack that is going to last you years, then Osprey Farpoint 55.

Cycling hiking water resistant backpack: You can use this backpack for sports like camping, hiking, trekking, running and even cycling!

The North Face Unisex: This is a premium hiking backpack that’s not gender specific.

IN THE NEWS, NEW MEDIA

An exciting move to MassLive

0 Comments 12 January 2016

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I’m pleased to announce that beginning Aug. 4, you can find me at MassLive.com where I will be a managing producer. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this move. Well, actually, I can.

There are far fewer of us journalists than there used to be. That’s because there are far fewer jobs. And for those of us who just refuse to leave the industry, you take a job for a lot of different reasons — sometimes it’s convenient, sometimes it’s a step up, sometimes it’s the only thing out there. But very rarely do you get to take a job at a company that for several years you’ve been saying, “that’s where I want to be.”

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about waiting — waiting to see what happens with the business, waiting to see what new business models emerge. No one ever got anywhere by waiting. I’m pleased to be joining some folks who are blazing the trail.

I hope you’ll follow us.

IN THE NEWS, NEW MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA

Worcester Superintendent of Schools Melinda Boone raises issue of journalists contacting students on social media

0 Comments 07 April 2015

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What are the ethical responsibilities journalists have when reaching out to students on social media for stories? The issue came up at the tail end of a panel discussion on the media and civic engagement organized by the Worcester Regional Research Bureau at the College of the Holy Cross this morning.

Worcester Superintendent of Schools Melinda Boone questioned media tactics in contacting students through social media when working on stories. Boone said she had a screen shot from a local reporter asking students from Doherty High School to direct message the reporter about a story they were working on. It wasn’t a direct message to any student, it was a call-out from the reporter saying, if you want to be heard, here’s where to reach us. The callout didn’t come from MassLive, but we’ve used such posts before.

Most panelists, including Worcester Magazine Editor Walter Bird Jr. and Charter TV3′s Andy Lacombe said they rejected the notion of using social media to contact students or talking to students without a parent’s consent. Telegram & Gazette Publisher James Normandin disagreed saying that media must use a lot of different avenues to cover a story, with editors and reporters using their own discretion as they go. He’s right and for a lot of very good reasons that may not be obvious to the public.

Boone referred to students as “underage children.” But what are we really talking about here?

Here are five reasons why it’s not only OK, but vital that we include students in our coverage of schools:

  1. It’s crucial for the media to engage with and be a part of the communities they cover. When it comes to school issues, we can’t do an effective job of representing the issues without actually talking to students. Issues of violence at Worcester’s North High are a good example. We’ve heard plenty from administrators, from the police and even from teachers. When you think about it, trying to cover this issue without any input from students is going to lead to really skewed coverage. It’s bad journalism.
  2. What is an “underage child?” It’s been awhile since I was 16 or 17, but I do remember thinking very clearly that getting my views and those of others my age heard by adults was a major effort. What are these students “underage” for? At what age can people have a viewpoint and stand accountable for it? Most media have always been very careful when dealing with young children and getting parental permission. High school students, however, are able to speak for themselves and we need to listen to them more.
  3. “Social media” is a scary term when we put it next to words like “children” and rightfully so. But what we’re really talking about here in the context of talking to high school students is using modern forms of communication to connect with our communities. Teenagers are using social media and it makes sense that we would connect with them there. All the usual rules of using editorial discretion when dealing with sources apply here whether we’re talking about social media, the phone or just talking to people face to face.
  4. Reaching out to the public on social media gets voices beyond the reporter’s usual circle included. Rather than go to the “usual suspects” using social media allows journalists to cast a much wider net, thereby giving more people a voice.
  5. Filtering student voices sends the wrong message. This issue reared its head in Holyoke recently where the superintendent robocalled parents to ask them to not allow their children to participate in a student-led walkout protesting potential state receivership of the school district. Our students need to know that not only will we listen, but we value what they have to say. Trying to stifle them sends the exact opposite message.

IN THE NEWS

Why we dropped ‘alleged’ from before Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s name

0 Comments 18 March 2015

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev flanked attorneys Miriam Conrad and Judy Clarke at the defense table on March                                                             18, 2015. (Jane Flavell Collins)

It’s one of the first rules you learn as a reporter. Until someone is convicted of a crime, they are “alleged” to have committed it. We throw a lot of words around crime stories to support that such as “police said,” “accused of” and “according to.” All of this is to distinguish the fact that although someone has been accused of a crime, it has yet to be proven that they are guilty of that crime.

The trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has turned that rule on its head. Notice I did not say “alleged” Boston Marathon bomber. Beginning with the first day of testimony at the Tsarnaev trial, MassLive decided to drop the use of “alleged” from before Tsarnaev’s name. The reason was right in the opening statement made by Tsarnaev’s attorney Judy Clarke:

“There’s little that we dispute. It was him,” Clark said.

It was a game-changer. Tsarnaev’s defense team right from the get-go made it clear they weren’t disputing the fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was one of the two men who planted the pressure cooker bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others. Although at this point, the defense has yet to make its case in the trial, it seems clear Tsarnaev’s attorneys will instead be attempting to question Tsarnaev’s role and responsibility in the bombing and subsequent killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier.

True, he has not been convicted yet in the bombings. But the use of “alleged” before a defendant’s name, we believe, is there under the presumption that the defendant is denying the charges against them or at the very least has not responded to the charges against them. We have this understanding even with the defendant has remained silent. They’ve been “alleged” to have done something until a judge or jury essentially say, “Yes. We’ve found this to be true.”

With Judy Clark’s emphatic statement, “It was him,” the silence has been broken. There is no denial of the act of planting the bombs and, in fact, an admission to it. The jury will decide just how responsible Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is and what his fate will be. But when it comes to what he did, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the Boston Marathon bomber.

IN THE NEWS

‘Good news’ sells, it’s just often harder to find

0 Comments 23 October 2014

The Everyday People series on MassLive.com

The Everyday People series on MassLive.com

People often criticize the press that all we’re interested in is blood and guts. You’ve heard the old adage: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

But I’ve always been a firm believer that people gobble up good news just as eagerly. Those stories are just more difficult to find. And they’re more difficult to tell well. It’s much easier to sit around the police scanner, wait for something horrible to happen, run out, grab quotes and file the story. Finding the compelling stories of everyday people takes a little more work.

At MassLive.com we recently launched a series called “Everyday People.” In it, we’re looking to tell the tales of people in Massachusetts whose stories might not otherwise be told. They’re not famous, they’re not infamous. They are you and me. And we all have a compelling story waiting to be told.

So far we’ve told the story of an inner city woman in Springfield who “got out” and then moved back after she started a family. We’ve told of the 12-year-old boy who loves My Little Pony (he’s not alone, it’s a thing. Google “Brony“). And this week we told the story of a couple who suffered through three miscarriages to finally give birth to triplets (be careful what you wish for).

How are they doing? Phenomenally. These stories are among our top five most-read stories on any day we publish them — often number one for a good part of the day. It’s worth a little digging. Because everyone loves a good story.

IN THE NEWS

Online commenting for dummies

0 Comments 22 April 2014

(GETTY IMAGES)

(GETTY IMAGES)

The online world is so rich with opinion. And here you are sitting at your computer with nothing to say. Don’t sweat it. Just choose one of these handy comments that appear on just about every online news story from politics and crime to bake sale notices. Don’t think they quite fit the story you’re reading? Don’t worry. You’ll fit right in. Just cut and paste.

  1. Where were the PARENTS?!!!!
  2. [Comment deleted]
  3. Obama’s fault.
  4. Why is this news?!!!!
  5. This is why we need the death penalty.
  6. Prayers
  7. Can’t WAIT until they get a hold of him in jail … OH YEAH!!
  8. Because smurf cant blurt pharma too chicken. Right? Am I right?

IN THE NEWS, VIDEO

Do you know why we celebrate Patriots’ Day?

0 Comments 18 April 2014

Why do we celebrate Patriots’ Day? Well, the Massachusetts and Maine holiday commemorates the battle at Lexington and Concord when the very first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. Just who fired that first shot is a matter of timeless debate, but the sound waves of that “shot heard ’round the world” continue to echo today.

The T&G’s David Niles and I took to the streets of Worcester to see how many people knew why we celebrated Patriots’ Day. The responses were … interesting.

NEW MEDIA

‘Local’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

0 Comments 06 March 2014

 (Photo/RENEE S. SUEN

(Photo/RENEE S. SUEN

If there’s one catch word that everyone in marketing knows people love, it’s “local.” There’s something about it that just sounds so warm and personable. When Community Newspaper Company (now GateHouse) looked to reimagine its online presence for its 100-some weekly newspapers in the early 2000s it dumped it’s townonline.com branding and becameWicked Local.

When Josh Fenton launched an online-only series of news sites he named them GoLocal. Because why would you want to go anything else? When “local” started getting old, news sites began pitching themselves as “hyper local.” I’ve often joked at the Telegram that we should take it up a notch and start rebranding ourselves “ridiculously local.” People just love local. It’s right up there with “new and improved!”

But it’s all a lot of baloney. In the newspaper biz over the past 20 years I’ve heard a lot about the need for “local ownership.” There comes with that this presumption that the local guy will know exactly what to do, he’ll care and anyone from the outside just won’t get it. But is that really true?

I suggest that when it comes right down to it, we really don’t care about local. Whether it be your newspaper, your government officials or a good place for coffee, what we all really want is someone who is invested in us. We want someone who cares. We want someone who’s in it with us. And, in turn, we want to be invested as well. We hope that “local” will bring all of those things, but a street address will never guarantee you that.

When I was editor of the Bedford Minuteman a few years back I had a reader call me and complain that there was nothing “local” in the paper. It perplexed me. This was a weekly 32-40-page paper and virtually all of the stories, ads and info in it (with the exception of the crossword — and even that we eventually made Bedford-specific) were generated by our own reporters and specifically about the town of Bedford. I wanted to find out what he meant by “local.” I started going through the paper with him, reading off headlines of “Bedford this” and Bedford that.” What it came down to was that none of those stories were things that he personally was interested in. Ah-ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. It was all “local.” He just didn’t care about any of it and didn’t know how to voice it in any other way than to say it wasn’t local. We weren’t tapping into the things that he cared about. I now knew there were other stories — other beats — in the town that we needed to pay attention to as well if we wanted to reach this reader, too.

Perhaps we should spend less time telling people the content we’re giving them is “local” and just give them stuff they care about.

Conversely, after working for about eight different media owners in my career I no longer care if they’re local. I just want them to be in it with me, sink or swim. And if they happen to live in Florida or Southern California, just fly me down there to thaw out for a week each February, will ya?

NEW MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media burnout and the importance of unplugging from the beast

0 Comments 25 February 2014

Race Point Beach, Cape Cod, from my "unplugging" holiday. (Photo/NOAH R. BOMBARD)

Race Point Beach, Cape Cod, from my “unplugging” holiday. (Photo/NOAH R. BOMBARD)

I’m a paid addict. You can bemoan our society’s addiction to social media all you like, but when it’s your profession, being glued round the clock to Facebook, Twitter and a bevy of other social media platforms is excusable, but no less problematic.

“Hang on, I’ll be there in a minute. I’ve just got to [post this, send this text alert, fix this headline, etc.]” is common at my house. When Worcester Public Schools cancelled due to snow a few weeks ago I got the call while driving home on I-290. I pulled off the highway, opened my laptop and began texting out school closing alerts from a gas station parking lot. It was timely info and needed to be sent immediately.

The upside to this kind of work is flexibility. I’m no longer the last person to leave the newsroom like my print days. “Must be nice,” people say. Sure. So long as you don’t mind never really being “off.” There are just various stages of being “on.” And when big news like the 60-plus car pileup on I-290 hit last year, it means dropping my weekend plans and sitting at my laptop at the kitchen table for 9 hours on a Saturday while I sent my son off with friends to the movies. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a living and I enjoy the action. But it can also lead to social media burnout or fatigue.

Last week, I finally had to unplug. If you’re in the digital world, I highly recommend it and pledge to find opportunities to do it more often. Heading to the Cape, I left my laptop and iPad behind for four days. I brought my iPhone but shut off all notifications and pledged (and succeeded) to not check email or social media accounts once while away. I was in social media detox.

I’m back now, rested and fired up. And, yeah, I had to deal with a few “why didn’t you post this?” questions on the Telegram’s Facebook page when I got back. But no matter what your job is, you can’t keep the creative juices flowing if you’re “on” all the time. You need to recharge. Here are a few of tips to keep going:

  1. Try to schedule posts of non-breaking news to keep your feeds going round the clock so you don’t have to be.
  2. If you get pulled away from family time for breaking news, make it up to them. When things die down, push the laptop aside and do something with the real people in your life.
  3. For at least a week a year (or several weekends throughout the year), plan to really unplug. Get someone to cover for you if you can, but DON’T CHECK THOSE PAGES OR YOUR EMAIL. Your audience will still be there when you return.
  4. Make time to read a book — something non-digital that is completely non-interactive, doesn’t ask you to “like” or “follow” it and would survive an EMP bomb. It’s cathartic.

SOCIAL MEDIA

For much of your audience, social media is your new homepage

0 Comments 24 February 2014

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If you see social media as an extension of your news website, you may want to take a closer look at how those social media users view you. Although we in the news business tend to see our print and web products as our primary platform for news (with social media as an outreach of that), increasingly many see our Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages as the primary platform for their news.

I was reminded of this point last week when I took a rare “unplugging” holiday. When news broke of a woman found unconscious in the Auburn Mall parking garage, the story was on telegram.com within 90 min. The woman was later determined to have been shot to death. As the digital and social media editor for telegram.com I usually push news like this out on our Facebook and Twitter platforms as we’re reporting them (sometimes before the story even appears). When this story broke last Tuesday, I was sitting by the fire at an inn on the Cape detoxing from social media overload (something I highly recommend). By the next day when I re-entered the digital world, I was inundated with messages on the Telegram’s Facebook page asking why we had nothing on this story. Of course, the story had been front and center on telegram.com since the woman’s body had been discovered. We were all over it. But for these people, if it wasn’t on Facebook, we didn’t have it.

It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this. And if your organization is doing a really good job at social media, you’re likely to hear this often. Is it a good thing? Yes and no. Social media is an avenue to build your brand and audience in an environment where print audiences — and even direct to your website audiences — have shrunk. Increasingly we are not the platform, we’re the content provider. I can’t help but think the game would be a lot different, however, if newspapers had pioneered these platforms instead of leaving it to innovators like Mark Zuckerberg.

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