Tag Archives: media

Neighborhood Notes: Saving seeds, selling e-books

Did you know you can hand-pollinate plants with a paintbrush? Did you know that you can read e-books and support a neighborhood book store at the same time? True facts! These are things I learned when writing two new pieces for NeighborhoodNotes.com, my favorite hyper-local news site.

As of this morning, you can read this piece about small, independent booksellers who are testing the waters as online merchants and e-booksellers. I had a great time getting to know the owners of Portland’s Broadway Books, St. Johns Booksellers and Microcosm Publishing while diving into the economic and even political issues that have arisen with changes in the publishing industry. My research for this piece harkened back to the Brave New World session on publishing that I attended last year at Wordstock. Honestly, I don’t think the option of indie book stores selling e-books came up at that panel less than a year ago, so I hope this is a sign of new positive options for the industry.

For all you gardeners and locavores, check out this piece on seed saving. I’ve always wondered why anyone would do such a thing when seed packets are so cheap at big-box stores, but it turns out that seed saving can contribute mightily to the biodiversity of a region, or even a neighborhood. And if you’re looking for new ways to dig in to gardening, this story includes advice and workshop dates from experts at Portland’s Independence Gardens, Handmade Gardens, Portland Nursery and Herb’n Wisdom.

Each of these pieces was featured on The Oregonian‘s website, thanks to Neighborhood Notes’ partnership with the Oregonian News Network. The ONN (not to be confused with the Onion News Network) is a hyper-local news stream from several Portland news outlets and blogs, and it’s a good model of the collaboration and web-based innovation that’s helping journalism move forward.

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Too many stories! Too many ads! Too many pages!

Flexibility. That’s what all this comes down to.

When our student team initially took to publishing at Issuu.com this year, it was because our newspaper had lost its printing budget. Issuu provided a means of publishing when there wasn’t money for paper and ink.

In April our team used Issuu to publish a two-page tribute to a student who died this year. We remarked over and over again how nice it was to have the option to publish a mini-issue of two pages rather than the typical minimum of four required in print shops.

But in May we found that Issuu helped students solve an entirely different problem. It wasn’t that we didn’t have money for printing, or that we had too few pages to print a full issue. This time was that the students had about 22 pages of content to lay out (that’s right — 22 pages of their ideas and hard work). AND they had raised enough money through ad sales to cover the cost of printing as many as 16 pages.(Our ad sales were almost nil before the budget was cut — necessity truly is the mother of invention, and that should be a blog post in itself.)

So now the puzzle was figuring out how many pages to print (8, 12, or 16?), which pages would be published on paper and which ones would be online-only. There was also the wonderful challenge of juggling page layouts in order to accommodate last-minute ad sales. Can I just say it? These are the BEST PROBLEMS a student newspaper could ever have.

The students handled these challenges deftly, using Issuu as a cornerstone for most of their solutions. (I promise, no one is paying me to say this.) Because it gives them an online publishing option that essentially has the same production process as their print pages, and because Issuu publications aren’t bound by page quantity, students can easily shift the order of their page layouts. If a story needs more time to come together, it can be bumped to the online edition with a longer production timeline. If a page is suddenly dominated by a large new ad, students can add a new online page for the content that gets bumped by the ad.

Once again, it’s all come down to flexibility.

Our final publication of the school year will be released May 31. In the meantime, here’s a link to the newspaper’s previous editions, which have garnered more than 2,000 page views since our online launch in March.

My only complaints about Issuu at this point are that it’s difficult for viewers to post comments, and some readers find the full-screen view hard to navigate. It seems easiest to navigate with a laptop mouse, but a little awkward with a traditional mouse.

If you’re using Issuu for classroom projects or other presentations, let me know how it’s working for you, or if there are other free publishing sites you recommend.

Here’s to having wonderful problems to solve!

Classroom Publishing: “Life of Youth” on video

Today I’ve contributed my first story to the Classroom Publishing blog of Ooligan Press at Portland State University. While it’s easy to think of classroom publishing as a process that’s stuck on paper, we at the CP blog like to think of it as an empowering creative process that allows students to put their voice out in a form that generates feedback. This could be a chapbook, a literary magazine, a newspaper, or a podcast, a blog, or a video, or any number of things.

In the case of 14 youth working with Outside In (a Portland non-profit that helps homeless youth move toward health and self-sufficiency), classroom publishing has taken the form of a 90-minute video series, which premieres Aug. 31 inside the Portland Art Museum. The 10 videos address teen sexual health with creativity and without scare tactics. I am proud to even have the small role of helping announce the project, but the filmmakers and their project partners are even prouder. Here’s the story!