1. Want: A Repository of every Public Media Social Handle

    Conundrum: I am trying to put together a repository of every social media handle of every person who works in public radio. 

    This is difficult because:

    1. There are 875 stations with varying numbers of reporters + NPR + PRX + independent producers + APM + CBC + BBC + etc. etc. etc. 

    2. People leave and enter public radio all the time and these lists of social handles + employees have to be maintained and current and updated when new people come or old people go.

    Things I have tried:

    1. Asked everyone to put their social handles in Reddit. But we broke Reddit because the list is now too long and new stations cannot add their handles (and it appears to be deleting existing accounts.)

    2. Thought about ways to use LinkedIn’s API to make sure the lists were current. i.e. Check whether someone’s job is CURRENTLY at a public media entity. (This seems like the best way to get people to update job info about themselves?)

    3. If a Twitter list could be added to or subtracted from when a Google spreadsheet is updated, it would be easier for newsrooms to make lists of current employees, employees covering X topic or make lists about certain topics. If an employee leaves, they would be removed from the spreadsheet (maybe even automatically, if the spreadsheet is generated by HR…)

    1. Can Twitter lists be dynamic?
    2. Can Twitter lists be added to or subtracted from based on a Google spreadsheet? (I’m assuming yes, because 1) Google Scripts and 2) Twitter’s API)
    3. Can I automatically make a twitter list of Y size by seeding it with X number of people and then the list automatically adds (Y-X) people based on people like the X people I seeded it with? (Auto Fuego?)

    Things we could do if we had this:

    1. Big database that could be used internally and externally during breaking news. (Ex: Breaking news in Portland? Here’s the list of OPB reporters.)

    2. Serve up handles on the web/social in various ways

    3. Create new content streams using APIs of various social providers

    Any ideas on how to solve this problem? I need:

    1. A way to collect handles from every station without breaking (like with Reddit.)

    2. A way for stations to either maintain the lists themselves and have those changes reflected in the lists OR a way to make the lists dynamic (which would be more ideal.)

    3. A way to let every station know this exists. 

    HELP ME INTERNET! 

    Edit: I am hesitant to use wikis because it would require someone from each station to update the wiki continually which is a pain in the tush. Is there a more dynamic solution? 

  2. CLEVELAND SPEECH: What does it mean to be a member of something? And what could it mean? - Google Docs →

    My speech on how to make membership more inclusive: i.e. what if you could become a member through coding, donating time / skill etc.?

  3. Speaking Gigs / Conferences 2014

    January - Columbia University School of Journalism

    February - University of Pennsylvania

    April - ISOJ, American University, University of Maryland, NPR Foundation Board

    July - SRCCON, API Analytics Symposium

    August - NLGJA, Weapons of Mass Creation

    September - ONA

    November - newsfoo

  4. A Father’s Day video that my brother Mike made for my Dad.

  5. Anonymous said: If a sandwich is physically hard to eat, does it automatically disqualify it from being a great sandwich?

    Yes.

  6. Anonymous said: What is your best advice for becoming more comfortable with speaking in front of groups and gaining more confidence?

    In 6th grade, we had to recite all of the prepositions in front of our class — you know, aboard, about, above, across, against, along, amid, among, around, at, etc — and I knew them cold.

    I got up in front of my class and blanked. Completely. Just sat back down at my seat. It wasn’t the last time I completely blanked out on something I knew. For many years, I would get so nervous speaking in front of people that I would physically shake, feel like I was going to throw up, and sometimes forget everything I was going to say. This is why I always preferred radio to other mediums, and writing jokes to doing stand-up comedy: the person writing the jokes gets to sit down.

    This year, I decided that I could no longer sit. First, part of my gig involves experimenting with stuff and then explaining the results to an audience. And second, I get most ideas by bouncing off other people. So I was losing out on possible ideas and possible experiments by not getting over my fear.

    So I put myself out there and said I would happily speak to groups. So far, I’ve spoken to five universities and been on three panels, with about six more coming up. Each time it has gotten a bit easier. Here’s why:

    1. I write my entire speech out ahead of time. I include inflections and phrases and say my speech out loud three or four times in my head and 2-3 times in front of other people. By the time I’m talking, I’m not actually looking at the speech. But I tell people where to look for it while I’m speaking: this helps people who are hard of hearing or who don’t speak English as a first language, and it gives them something to focus on that’s not me.

    2. I realize no one is as critical as I will ever be. They don’t care if I pause or stutter.

    3. I try to focus on 1-2 people in the audience and only look at them.

    4. I acknowledge my nervousness.

    5. I always offer to follow up with a written email synopsis of the speech. 

    6. I tell jokes.

    7. I try not to be boring because I know how bored I get during lectures. Interactive moments are key. Ask questions. Pause. Etc.

    8. It will all be over soon. The longest I’ve spoken so far is an hour which seems like an incredibly long time but even that passed with not-too-much trouble.

  7. Anonymous said: The other day I evicted a mouse from my apartment. I walked him (her?) down the street and about 5 blocks away, then let him go and watched him race away along the curb. Now I'm worried about him. What should I do?

    Dear Anonymous,

    You should write a children’s book called The Mouse In My House, which will eventually become a best-selling series published in over 30 languages. I’ll start it for you.

    Alf the Mouse lived in a house,

    On the corner of 2nd and Vine.

    "It’s a good life," he thought to himself.

    "For a mouse, I’m doing quite fine."

    Indeed, Alf had quite the nice life.

    For a mouse who lived in a flat.

    Until the day when Alf was expelled.

    And said goodbye to all that

    Alf found himself out on the street,

    Awash in the noise and the din.

    "My goodness," he mused to himself one dark night.

    "What have I got myself in?"

    ……

  8. Anonymous said: What does Terry Gross smell like?

    Anonymous,

    I picture you writing this question in a cubicle. Every so often, your boss walks past — maybe to say hello, maybe on her way to get coffee — and you inhale deeply, trying to get a whiff of her scent. Five seconds later, you’re deep in a reverie, trying to remember things past — “after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection,” to quote my buddy Proust. 

    Terry and I don’t have that kind of relationship. I would say: neutral, like soap or a clean human being. 

    Mel 

  9. Anonymous said: Melody, how can I learn about developing a radio program? There are many books that explain how to create a book proposal or TV proposal, as well as explaining the business issues. But I can't find nada about radio! (I'm thinking nonfiction educational content, aimed at business people.)

    Hello Anonymous,

    Books are made of chapters. TV shows follow an arc. A radio show is no different. What would be the theme? Who would you interview? Who is your audience? Sketch it out and just make a show. Equipment is practically free at this point — you could pilot a show taped on your computer. Make one show. See how long it takes you. See if you like it. You may like it. You may not. But I think you may want to put the cart (your show) before the horse (a proposal for a show or funding for a show) at this point.

    For inspiration, look at jessethorn — who taped a show for years out of his home. Transom.org is a good place to start for radio equipment and audio production needs.

    Mel 

  10. Anonymous said: What are the data sources powering your NPR analytics dashboard? Google Analytics and Twitter/Facebook API?

    Hello Anonymous:

    The data sources powering the analytics dashboard are the NPR API, the Google Analytics API, and the Twitter/Facebook APIs. With more time, we’d like to add some additional APIs. It’s nice to have all of the information in one place — in an easily-accessible format. 

    Mel 

  11. What Gives Me Joy. →

  12. prx:

(via With “This American Life,” a Big Bet on Digital Pays Off for PRX | Xconomy)

    prx:

    (via With “This American Life,” a Big Bet on Digital Pays Off for PRX | Xconomy)

  13. Anonymous said: What kind of dog(s) is Sadie? She looks so sweet! Also, I once saw you tweeted about a "slower pace of life" and it is something I have been thinking about lately. Do you think you will always stay in such a high stress position? Does it mean we're "leaning out" if we decide to tone it down? Why am I asking you this? You seem like you'd know the answers!

    Sadie is a rescue mutt from North Carolina. I’m not sure what type of dog she is exactly. She is very affectionate and spends most of her time cuddling up in a blanket or human.

    re: slower pace of life —  I would start by thinking “What makes me happy in life?” and not care what other people think. I stayed in school for way too long last year, worried about what other people would think if I left. I spent a lot of nights crying myself to sleep — literally crying — or staying up because I was so stressed.

    A slower pace of life really appeals to me, as well — but for the moment, I try to a) keep work and life separate b) stay off computers in the evening and on the weekends and c) take lots of hikes and walks and things I enjoy. Will I stay at NPR forever? Probably not. Forever is a long time. But for now, it’s flexible and comfortable and I am slowly making headway on certain projects that I care about deeply. Is it stressful? Sure. But I think most jobs are stressful. I’m also open to possibilities — I have no master plan, which I think is always the best way to go, because you can’t really be disappointed. If you have a bit of autonomy and a bit of creative freedom — the job/workplace is irrelevant. I’m working on having more of those two things right now, but even that challenge is enjoyable at the moment — even though there are frustrations built in.

    tldr; Don’t have a preconceived plan; go with the flow; things change; nothing is permanent; feeling stuck is bad; life isn’t all about work; do what makes you happy. 

  14. Building Smart Newsroom Tools - Learning - Source: An OpenNews project →

    I wrote a piece on building NPR’s analytics dashboard. Hoping to get some more dev time this summer to build in relative data, events, and learning tools.

  15. musings on Buzzfeed

    I think the smartest thing Buzzfeed does is mention lots of well-connected people and shows in their posts who then, in turn, are so excited to be mentioned and socialize posts for Buzzfeed. Essentially this becomes Buzzfeed’s way of reaching new audiences who are loyal to specific brands, shows, or people.

    In the short term, this seems good for the well-connected people and shows. In the long run, I’m not so sure.