This is NPR…

Josh Ritter, photo by Andy Carvin

Some initial observations:

-Diving right into work means traveling on the fourth official day on the job. We’re off to God’s country to talk journalism with a member station. Looking forward to the team adventure, especially since my partner-in-crime is Ken Rudin, resident political junkie and jokester.

Josh Ritter tiny desk concert on my first day! It was the same day I received a package of bacon-flavored chocolates from Stiles, and I had planned to use the chocolate as an “in” to talk to Ritter, but totally forgot when it was time to report to the fifth floor for el concert.

-Still not quite over sitting in the newsroom right behind the newscast folks, the voices we hear every half hour with updates on the latest headlines. Paul Brown! Jack Speer! And wait for it… Lakshmi Singh!

-But here’s one oddity I could do without: hearing NPR programming in the bathroom stalls. The ladies room has speakers built into the ceiling so you don’t have to miss a single second of NPR programming, not even during your bathroom break.

-Everyone here is more organized than I am.

-Unrelated to the new work environment, but it must be said. Really missing my Starbucks baristas, Mike and Orlando, at the 10th and Congress location in Austin. If you go by there and see them, please tell them I say hi.

Reality Check

So, you want to be a journalist?

They forgot to mention having to cover those Saturday job fairs in Spartanburg, SC.

California

Why does this guy have a star on the walk of fame, and other burning questions, coming up this week.

I’ve returned to California for the first time in a long time for the national Asian American Journalists Association convention. We Asians (and Stiles) will be convening here through Saturday, getting some quality training in and talking about the future of news, which is one of my all-time favorite topics besides chili cheese dogs, Mad Men and Harry Whittington. Come back for some #newsfuture posts and assorted photos. I’ve unintentionally engaged in a Twitter war to tweet the shizz out of this conference, so my blog will be an extension of the 140 character updates.

My fellow Texans also happen to be in California this week. Lawmakers are partying an hour south in San Diego, for a lawmaker convention (far fewer Asians, but rife with opportunity for drunk driving arrests!)

Stay Classy, KVUE

“I found what I wanted. It was the aspiration to become a political news journalist. Let’s examine the facts.

a.) I love politics. I find it interesting and feel it is a field that takes a lot of work and critical thinking. I also like it because of the involvement of the people in the field.

b.) I love news and current events.

c.) I like to write about the news. Actually, I like to write about any interesting topic, and the news is constantly changing so I think it would be very interesting to write about.”

–Me, Mrs. Blackmore’s 7th grade Language Arts class, Age 12

Even after all these years, the a, b, and c remain the same. But I won’t be writing for broadcast anymore, at least not with the same regularity. After spending my entire adult life in television news, it’s my last day at an organization with “-TV” at the end of its name. It’s kinda weird to think about.

The strength of friendships forged in the field between TV reporters and photographers is unmatched, largely because we rely so heavily on one another to turn our news products. So I’ll miss my photographer friends the most, but hope that they will teach me as I start shooting and editing in my new capacity as a multi-platform journalist at Texas Tribune. My friend (and TV reporter idol) Otis put it well when he said, “The thing about TV news is that it is not nearly as glamorous as you might think. The pay stinks, the hours suck, and, more often than not, the reward for work well done is more work.”

A goodbye wave to TV News
A goodbye wave to TV News (photo by JL Watkins)

Still, I’m generally hopeful about television news’ future. I’m not leaving because there’s ‘no way to saveĀ  TV’. I just think it needs a serious gut check. My own experience at big broadcast companies has led me to worry these corporate behemoths might be systemically crippled from making the kinds of innovative and agile changes necessary to compete in this Web 2.0 world. In many ways they run like battleships, and the thing about battleships is that they take awhile to turn.

My hope is that leaders in the industry think beyond the next few years and consider the best ways to distribute a product for a smarter, more engaged and more discerning ‘next generation’ of news consumers. In the meantime, I’m grateful for ideas like Texas Tribune, which will dedicate itself to civic engagement, explanatory and enterprise reporting, and using the tools of the social web to allow our users to be active in the ongoing political conversation in Texas. As we consider the future, the Tribune model is as worthy as any other idea in trying to keep journalism alive.

My favorite mentor, Marty Haag, died in 2003 before he could see what’s happened to the world of television journalism in which he was a titan. I hope my decision to leave TV, but not leave journalism, won’t let him down. As he liked to say to his sons, who passed this on to me: “Just make a decision and move forward.”