Carnival of Fail – #jcarn Roundup 4

9 May

It’s my last time hosting #jcarn. They’ll be another blog post soon announcing next month’s host and the topic. It’ll be a good one!

Meanwhile I want to thank everyone for re-starting the Carnival of Journalism with me. I think this last topic and round of posts shows the value. I learned a lot from and about each of you. Failure is tough. For me – I always remember “Let it go, this too shall pass.”

We have a nice little community growing here. So let’s get to it with the roundup.

Denise ‘the unstoppable’ Cheng wrote about her experience organizing a townhall with the Rapidian. In the end “I was so engrossed with crafting the conditions for an atypical town hall that I had overlooked one crucial thing: Even if it is staggering for city dwellers, this was not an issue bubbling up organically on The Rapidian. We were being proactive rather than responsive, so we didn’t know what questions would be most important or galvanize an audience that took us up on a town hall.”

Steve ‘the silver’ Fox took the post to a more personal place, reminding us that success in the job is great, but not if it means failing in other parts of our lives. “My failure, in a way, was my inability to see outside the job.  My sole focus was the story, then the anthrax attacks, the 2002 mid-term election cycle, the start of the war in Afghanistan, the start of the war in Iraq… was kind of easy to get caught up in the latest, biggest story.” I can only imagine being a WaPo editor after 9/11 – I think many of us would have been lost in the series of stories.

Courtney ‘the copyeditor’ Shove wrote about her fear of failure/risk and how it has been overcome in personal affairs. “After tackling some of the aforementioned fears, you know what I learned? I’m more critical of myself than anyone else will ever be, so why not step out and try new things? The times I think I failed, no one else probably even noticed.”

Jack ‘Congrats on the non-media affiliated best blog SPJ award in East Tennesee’ Lailstarts by examining what failure is “I think true failure is the inability to recognize or escape from a mistake and thus keep repeating it again and again and wondering why it doesn’t work. Failure is never changing.” Later on Jack admits that part of the digital steps we take are run by folks who ‘walk like egyptians’ and have a “framework of reality as newspapers and newspaper people.”

Carrie ‘the Memphis’ Brown-Smithtackles her fear of failure. “It took me far, far too long – but, hopefully,  it’s not too late – to learn that sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good.” She talks about this in relation to the tenure track for professors (as an example) and walks away saying “the big lesson, then is that when we are freed from fear we can really start #winning.”

Juana ‘I graduated early’ Summers – writes about her graduation from college 1.5 years early. Perhaps the flip side to Steve Fox’s post about making sure the job stays a job, make sure college isn’t a job too. “College can be one of the best places to figure out who you are, who you want to be and what you’re passionate about. Find those things, then make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you graduate in two years or six.”

Michael ‘ahead of his time’ Rosenblum – shares a story from 1994 in the heyday of the Internet. It’s a great story and really puts in perspective how far we’ve come in just 20 years. I don’t want to give it away, but if you want a face-slapping fail story, this is a good one.

Michael ‘the MuckRock’ Moriseytells the tale of a college graduate that had everything going for him but still couldn’t nab a newspaper job. “I eventually realized that no one owes me anything, much less an increasingly coveted job in an increasingly shrinking field…. I’ve learned to think like a CEO, since I am one. I’ve learned to manage a budget and a staff of a hundred. I’ve learned to program in a couple of languages and, more importantly, learned that the best code is the code you don’t write. But more important then that, I’ve learned that even though not everything happens for a reason, you can make a reason for everything that happens, turning failures into starting blocks for your next great adventure.”

Mary ‘is a WRITER in my heart’ Hamilton – shares her dream of becoming a Writer and ending up a writer. “It’s been – it is – hard, and joyous. And I’ve never regretted the failures that led me here. That’s my lesson. Sometimes failure is better than success. Sometimes you get better opportunities through failing than you do through succeeding. Sometimes the only way to win is to fall. ”

Mark ‘awesome last name’ Coddingtonwrites about a missed opportunity when he was a college journalist. A timid sportswriter, he was afraid to go out and do the kind of reporting he knew he could, instead hoping he would magically wake up and become the awesome reporter he knew he could be. “There is no secret knowledge of journalism, and it will never be magically bestowed on you. There’s only one way to become a good journalist — going out, doing it, and then going out and doing it some more.”

Benét ‘the Aviator’ Wilson  – shares a #fail that is as old as journalism itself, the embarrassing typo. Spellcheck is there, but don’t rely on it.

Nicole ‘who’s on first’ Neheliwrites about a moment of poor news judgement. It’s an understandable situation, one I think all of us could find ourselves in. “That incident made me a better producer. I weighed my options, and responsibilities, more carefully. It makes me a better teacher because I can use a real-life example of what not to do. Maybe if I’d talked about it with someone I worked with at the time they could have learned from my experience too.”

Dan ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ Gillmorresurrected a letter he wrote about a failed project Bayosphere. I’m personally glad he did. Whether he knows it or not, that was part of the inspiration for this month’s #jcarn. I remember reading that letter in 2006. It changed the way I think about the media entrepreneurship space. It’s hard to put yourself back in the mindframe of 2006, but give this post a read.

Jackie ‘lemonade from lemons’ Borchardtwrites about taking on too much and making the best of crappy situations. “It’s not failing to change midcourse, make a plan, move forward. Also, it’s better to seek help at the first sign of trouble — not when the ship is halfway (or two-thirds of a semester) to the bottom of the ocean.”

Chris ‘he’s actually from Jersey’ Wink – writes about his rejection to almost every university he applied to in 2004. Utter rejection, maybe? But he slow clapped himself into Temple University. And then something magical happened – he fell in love with Philadelphia. His post is about reaching beyond what you might be capable of.

Hans ‘wins this #jcarn for quoting me’ MeyerAlmost got the owner of the Detroit Red Wings kicked out of the NHL on a mistake. Not a bad way to start a post! The real thrust of his post, however, is about taking chances and pushing forward despite obstacles. “My biggest failure as a newspaper editor was not pushing hard enough….This should serve as a warning to my students at Ohio University then. If you take my classes, expect to fail. In fact, I want you to try to fail. Don’t go for the safe projects. Go for the crazy ones because you won’t regret the failure. You’ll regret never trying in the first place.”

Jonathan ‘Grover’ Grovesgives his take on failing fast which took place in 2001 creating a virtual tour of a golf course for a website. The video was great, but the views weren’t. “I learned a valuable lesson, though. From a news site, most people just want the information quickly, sans multimedia doo-dads. In many conversations with online editors since, I have found staff-produced videos typically are not major draws. It’s the raw video from breaking-news scenes or the goofball YouTube amateur that pulls in the audience.”

Lisa ‘The Rasputin’ Williamstakes us to a little known country ‘Failistan.‘ It’s a great little meditation and Lisa shares with us rules she has to avoid the borders Failistan in the future. Words to the wise.

Jack ‘the Doctor’ Rosenberrylooks back at a potential missed opportunity to try something (and potentially fail). “Rather than take the opportunity that was presenting itself to really see if I had it in me to be a self-supporting independent free-lancer, I sought out (and fairly quickly found) another newspaper staff job….But it’s impossible not to wonder where things could have gone had I chosen the other path.” Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to real failure is, as Jack says, a failure of nerve.

Shaminder ‘this is not a joke’ Dulai– Shaminder and I share something in common. As kids we both wanted to be stand-up comedians. But in 1999 he actually gave it a whirl. “I started writing this post thinking that bombing on stage was my failure and how it taught me to be myself and not to try and emulate those that  I admired. I was unfocused and trying to do too much and instead of doing material that I thought Pryor, Kaufman and Sienfield would do, I should have been trying to find my own voice. But now reflecting on it nearly a decade later, maybe my real failure was not giving it another shot. Last night as I was falling asleep I starting writing in my journal again with ideas for routines, something I haven’t done in years.”

Steve ‘four for four jcarn posts’ Outingshares a story from 2007. It’s an important lesson about grassroots media while working on a startup the Enthusiast Group.

Jacob ‘the JTMer’ Caggiano discusses his feelings towards openness and failure. “For a while I’ve been trying to sort out some cognitive dissonance in my brain. From one angle, I hear a lot of online innovators buzz about collaboration, building conversation, openness, transparency, etc…and I think, “Awesome I want some!” Then I remember those career counselors and corporate types talking about how your first impression might as well be your last if it’s not PERFECT. How you’ve got to PERFECT your elevator speech and then I start thinking “Oh gawd I need to censor myself or they’re all gonna laugh at me.”

Kathy “invest in her on Empire Avenue” Gill –  takes on a journey worthy of a movie. Who knew she was a badass biker? From her trip we can take away five lessons ranging from “To see the lesson we have to reflect” to “failure is required for personal and business growth.”

Michael ‘eventually goes back to S.B. so he can’t complain’ Marcottewrites about a specific presentation he gave as part of his Knight Stanford fellowship. “There’s two parts of this failure — the opportunity I missed and the presentation I botched.” He has a real idea and presentation and is looking for feedback. Give it a read.

David “Digidave” Cohnwrites about Spot.Us expansion. The expansion is occurring – but it isn’t how he imagined it. He likes to write about himself in third person.

Sally ‘we are still friends” Duroswrites a touching post on what it means to be friends with yourself. “I err therefore I am” – we truly know ourselves when we screw up.

Bryan ‘the college innovator’ Murley – writes about the very real feeling of being a teacher and literally failing students. This fall will be my 11th year teaching collegiate journalism classes, and I still feel the need to reinvent my courses constantly. And that’s the thing I think is the lesson from this failure: Even if you think you have things down, there’s always a time to look back, evaluate, and try things differently.

Adam ‘never a boring read’ TinworthHe doesn’t tackle one big failure, but many small examples over the course of his career. “And, actually, that’s why I’m pleased that I’ve defied the brief with some small failures, because iterative rounds of experimentation and failure are exactly what we need right now.”

Anna ‘soon to be mother’ Tarkov  wrote about her many job opportunities gained and lost in the field of journalism for being an independent thinker.

Three post round-up entries.

1. André Natta

2. Will Sullivan

3. Charlie Beckett

10 Responses to “Carnival of Fail – #jcarn Roundup 4”

  1. chbeckett May 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    You forgot me. Again. No doubt it was my failure not yours😉

    • cshove May 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      And yours was so good, too.

  2. dennetmint May 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Onward and Upward!

    I only finished reading everyone’s jcarn posts yesterday, and it’s such a wonderful collection of knowledge. I hope all you profs incorporate this roundup into next semester’s required reading! Something from Seth Godin that a colleague shared with me following my heart wrenching fail:

    People seem to be in one of two categories:

    – Those who seek stability, affiliation, work worth doing and the assurance it (whatever it is) will be okay.
    – Those who explore, need to know that failure is an option and quest to make a dent in the universe.

    You can be in either category, the world needs and rewards both. But pick a brand and a job and a posture that matches your category, or you’ll fail, and be miserable until you do.

    Hint: there is no category of: “does risky exploration, never fails.”


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