I didn’t write about this last winter but, roughly two weeks before the calendar hit 2014, my long-time colleague and best friend Jake May and I sat in a bar in Clarkston, Mich., bought a few beers, busted out two sheets of paper and wrote down our lists of goals for 2014.
To be clear, these weren’t “New Year’s Resolutions.” At least not to me. They were actual goals for self-improvement that I would carry on past the month of January and even past 2014. Some are pretty basic, such as “bench 200 pounds,” or “run a 10K,” or “read at least 10 books” (I’ve read six so far, by the way). Others are much more specific and more private. But nonetheless, I wrote down 18 goals and sought out to complete at least 10.
Why do this? One year earlier, when New Year’s 2013 hit, I only had one goal in mind: Fitness. I weighed roughly 190 lbs. at the time, had hovered around that size for several years (I graduated college at 210 lbs.) and couldn’t figure out a way to get in better shape. I went running 3-4 times a week, used weight machines at the gym and watched how many calories I ate each day. Weeks and weeks of that and… nothing. I knew I had to figure something else out. I wasn’t overly self-conscious about my body, but it was to the point where I could tell it affected my confidence and limited my focus. I needed a vice.
Then I discovered this article: "Everything You Know About Fitness Is A Lie." I recommend reading the whole thing but, long story short, it denounces the treadmills and ellipticals and weight machines you find in abundance at gyms. To build real-world strength and fitness, you have to use free weights such as barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. So I reworked my training regimen, started reading a couple books on healthy eating, stopped counting calories and, within the first three months of 2013, I lost 20 pounds and began lifting more weight than I ever had in my life.
Before 2013, fitness was something I got in and out of; never did it become a routine or a lifestyle. It felt like something I had to do but didn’t want to. Now? I can’t live without it. Lifting is one of my favorite parts of the day. I hate rest days. And, being a single male in his middle 20s, health and fitness became fun for me. I started taking better care of my teeth, cooking healthier food, reworking my wardrobe and trying new exercises and activities.
In other words, I felt more alive.
Fast forward to December 2013, with Jake in the bar, writing down goals for 2014. I found 2013 to be a rousing success in terms of self-improvement; I was eating healthier, working out harder, improving at my job every day and, best of all, enjoyed the trickle-down effect all of it had on other aspects of my life (Few things beat going to the dentist and having him tell you “your teeth are great. No problems. We’ll see you in six months!”). Now it was time to expand upon that.
Even though I wrote down 18 goals that ranged from watching 50 classic films to making a Freep.com post go viral to learning new dance techniques (yes, really), all of them rounded into one purpose: To become a more valuable individual through new experiences, tastes and skills. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone; rather, I wanted to step outside my comfort zone, test my limits and try new things. As humans in this age of technology, we have a greater tendency than ever to fall into the same day-to-day routine when there’s so much more we can do with the little time we have. I’m 27 years old, about to turn 28 in two months. I refuse to enter my 30s without at least trying my best to grasp everything life has to offer. (That’s the most sentimental I’ll get in this post, promise.)
Looking at my goal list now, I’ve completed 6 of my 18 goals, with several still in progress. With four goals to complete and four months to do it, I’m confident I can finish the year strong.
So why am I rambling about all this stuff now? Well, as you can tell if you scroll down BrianManzullo.com a little bit, I haven’t been updating this site very often. I’ve used it in the past, both on Tumblr and WordPress, as an aggregation of interesting articles on the media, journalism and sports, as well as a showcase for some of my work as a digital journalist.
I want to expand upon that — just like I did with my goals for 2014. I want to use BrianManzullo.com as a showcase for my work outside of work as well. After all, as a human, you aren’t just your job, right? All of your experiences mold you into the person you are today, whether in your career or not.
If I learn how to cook a few new dishes, I will share my experience, with photos and/or video. If I read a new book, I will share what I learned and what I’ll apply from it. If I had a great day at work and created an innovative project, I’ll share it and go behind-the-scenes with you on the thought process behind it. If I actually run that 10K (I haven’t yet), I’ll write some words about it. If I set out to accomplish a new goal and/or accomplish it, I will expound upon that, too.
My hope is that anyone following me is inspired like I am to improve with their lives as well — whether it be in their careers, at home, with their families or their personal lives. I’ve already received positive feedback from friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter, where I irregularly share my experiences. And one thing I’ve learned in all this is when you have momentum, you have to find ways to keep it going!
In closing, hopefully you continue to read my work (hell, if you’ve read this far already, that’s a start). And if there’s anything you want to share, feel free to do so, whether on here or on Twitter. I’d love to hear what everybody else is accomplishing in their lives.
With the “dog days of summer” in sports, you have to get a little creative to keep your fans engaging with your brand. Here’s one way I did it in late May and early June, taking advantage of the rich history of Detroit sports.
We had fans on Facebook and Twitter construct all-time lineups, setting all-time athletes at certain values depending on 1) how great they were, obviously, and 2) how popular they were among fans.
The photos of the games are below, but click on each team name to see the Freep.com post with share/comment numbers.
Yes, it’s social but it’s not just about social media. Yes, it’s about engagement but not engagement with us but instead about a community’s engagement with its own work. It’s about results, outcomes, impact.
Now that metrics are part of the news agenda, all of the sticks are in the air. Just because something is popular does not make it worthy, but ignoring audience engagement is a sure route to irrelevance.
But unlike the days when legacy media loyalty called for reporters to reserve their biggest scoops for their employers, Greenwald says he’s proud of the way the Guardian (and now, the Intercept) didn’t hog the story. “There are dozens and dozens of journalists who have worked with lots of Snowden documents,” he said, because he has felt the entire time that “the obligation is to the story and not the institution competitively.” By sharing his knowledge and materials with multiple (but vetted as trustworthy) outlets and individuals, Greenwald says the goal is to “maximize the impact. That has been crucial to not just engaging Americans [with the NSA story], but the world.”
I have been arguing that we in news should stop seeing ourselves as content factories and start seeing ourselves as members of our communities who are in the relationship business, who use what we know about people to better serve them. Thus, I ask media companies how many relationships they have with the people they serve and what they know about them — what signals they have, enabling them to improve relevance and thus value and often impact. Those are metrics that start with the public rather than with media. Those are metrics that matter.
This is Jeff Jarvis’ response to a TIME piece by Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile, titled "What You Think You Know About the Web is Wrong." While Haile describes the “bad metrics” news organizations use to measure engagement, Jarvis explores what the “best metrics” could be.
The only important thing I can add here is that there may never be a way to truly measure engagement and relationships with readers. It can mean many different things for many different websites, as Jarvis points out. The best we can do is ask ourselves what our mission is - what we want to do as a news organization, as a whole - and use that to determine the metrics of which are most important to us.
It might be a surprise to some that three of Vox Media’s entities make money. It has invested oodles of cash on things like beautiful design experiences, video studios, and the best reporters it can find. But to Bankoff, that’s all part of the monetization strategy. “The whole Internet content industry and the whole Internet advertising industry has been racing to the bottom,” Bankoff says. “At Vox Media we want to race to the top.”
It’s with excitement that I tell the world that I will soon be joining L.A.’s KPCC as a community editor...