It’s me. After years away, I am back to reclaim this little chunk of the Internet that is my personal blog.
Quite a lot has happened since I filed my previous post four years and 11 months ago. For starters, the resumé section of this blog became sorely out of date. I’ll fix that properly before I even post this. But here’s the career primer:
Three years at a slowly-imploding hyperlocal venture
In September 2010, I began working for Patch.com, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news websites. I moved to Virginia and launched Fredericksburg Patch, overseeing its operations in its first year. In January 2012, I then moved back to my hometown of Hyattsville, Maryland to run that city’s Patch site. I continued to work for Patch as it slowly unwound under the weight of its own expansion. As it circled the drain, I was tasked with the management of more and more Patch sites in Washington, D.C.’s Maryland suburbs. Still, my sites had good metrics and I more-often-than-not met or exceeded my traffic goals.
I quite liked working for Patch. If you met your goals consistently, regional management didn’t really meddle with your site too much. As a result, I was free to spend my time doing a lot of engaging reporting on municipal policy. I also began to develop my skills as a data journalist, and produced my first interactive maps.
Also, and this is important, they paid me more than I had ever been paid as a journalist before. Heck, they raised my pay every year and had nice performance bonuses. As a journalist who started his career in the mid-‘aughts, and whose career was punctuated by layoff-induced dishwashing stints, that was a welcome first for me.
I even bought a friggin’ car.
Then, in early August 2013, I listened in as Tim Armstrong straight-up fired a guy out of nowhere on a conference call about the “future” of Patch. Long story short: there was not much of a future for Patch, at least for about 800 of us. Some were laid off shortly thereafter, a small group were kept on indefinitely. I was one of the lucky ones who was given 60 days notice as part of the transition team.
I essentially had 60 paid days to get my resumé circulated to the wider journalism world. I used my time wisely, and when my last day came around I had landed a new job as…
Digital editor of the Austin Business Journal
Yes, two weeks after I was laid off, I shoved as much of my life as you can fit into a 2004 Pontiac Vibe – which, incidentally, is a lot – and drove to meet my girlfriend, who had shoved as much of her life as you can fit into a 2004 Honda Civic, and – along with our two cats – we drove south by southwest for three days to Austin, Texas. Three nights in a La Quinta Inn later, and we had our first apartment.
The couch, on the other hand, we had to buy in Austin.
I’ve been working at the Austin Business Journal for a year and a half now, overseeing the digital operations of the editorial side of the office. I coordinate coverage with reporters, photographers and editors. I assign, edit and post stories. I write up press releases that don’t need the expertise of our beat reporters. I aggregate relevant stories from other news outlets for our audience. I manage the editorial social media channels. I compose and send our daily and weekly email newsletters. I also occasionally shoot and edit photos and video for our coverage. And I also make a lot of maps, as part of my ongoing effort to create a new field of journalism: cartojournalism.
In short, I wear a lot of hats.
The newsroom is friendly, as are the folks in the non-editorial side of the office. Indeed, I’ve found the Austin Business Journal to be the most-transparent news operation I’ve ever worked for. Each month, the entire staff is updated on the just about everything everyone is doing, how well they are doing it, and what they will be doing next. I’ve never worked at a newsroom that clued reporters in to the finances like is done here. It’s a breath of fresh air, for sure.
Anyways, that pretty much catches you up on my professional life. From here forward, I’ll be using this site to do whatever I want with it. It’s not like I have an audience clamoring to read my missives. Calm down.
But I should post more often.
THERE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?