Lots of Lenny on the Web

I had a long and hard day, and accomplished a lot… including my second blog in 2 days! But don’t expect a daily dose of Lenny. Actually, you can (just not on this blog), and I’ll get to that in a moment.

I’m getting my act together with this blog and realize not every post has to be a book. For now, little by little.

You may be a little surprised reading lots of Lenny on the Web. I don’t usually throw myself out there.

Today is exactly three months since I started at WCYB and things are slowly changing. We had a visit and some interesting lessons from the corporate Web guy. I was skeptical at first, but everything turned out fine. Seems we’re in the same situation as the other four Bonten stations.

The big news is: I got a byline! Not that I wanted one. For two-and-a-half months, I was perfectly happy writing and posting stories anonymously. Nobody would know who I am or complain to me.

But apparently stories without the writer’s name aren’t taken seriously and Google searches like them, so it really wasn’t my choice. OK, the picture was (like the anchors and reporters have), but it’s not a tight shot. So when I say lots of Lenny, I mean my name and picture. When I say on the Web, I mean the desktop site, www.wcyb.com.

The fact is, I’ve been working too hard, too much, and need to manage more. No one can be responsible for writing news stories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Same with teasing stories that are already on the site or just plain interesting on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

How is that going to happen? I don’t see myself getting an assistant. Assistants cost money and budgets have to be approved. So I will probably remain my department of one.

Lately, we’ve been asking reporters to write more and more often. They already race around the region, shooting, writing, and editing their stuff. It hasn’t been easy but I haven’t heard complaints. Now, they write their own stories for the Web, add the video, and post them to the station’s Facebook page. That seems to have worked so far.

The next step is spending time with the reporters to get them to write differently, and they’re not the only ones!

Telling a story on TV is definitely different than writing one in AP style, like for a newspaper. Everyone should know that. But I’ve been writing like for TV online and there hasn’t been a problem. (Although I was told it cost me a job in Jacksonville. Their loss. And this is a higher position.)

Turns out, AP style is supposed to be better for getting our work shown by search engines. We want to show up when you do a Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or any other search. That means more people will click on the stories, and it’s good for everyone and worth a try. (But I still don’t have to like it.)

So I have to change the way I’ve been writing for more than 20 years (and change others, as well)! There’s writing mostly past tense. Not easy getting used to that. (And I won’t on here. I’ll continue telling it like it is in my own voice.) I’m going to leave it there, but constantly making sure sentences are in the past tense is a biggie.

Then, speaking of trying new things, I’m taking a class through the Poynter Institute on how to write a headline. Truth be told, I wasn’t bad and don’t know how much the course is helping, because writing is so subjective. It’s online and runs two weeks, so it’s half over. The gist of it is to be specific, not vague. (Check!) Use strong words. (Check!) Use first and last names. (Interesting, because it’ll do better in searches.) And don’t be afraid to go longer and be more descriptive. (That’s new.)

One last thing: This week, I started boothing the news at noon until another line producer is hired. Haven’t done that in years. It’s only one block of real news. Then weather, the new Mr. Food, and two interviews. The anchor produces and takes care of everything, including the teleprompter with his foot. So it’s not bad, but I have a feeling he’s going to produce and I’m going to booth for a long time, since it’s working.

Anyway, you can see my work and name (and email address) on the WCYB mobile site and news app, but you have to go to the regular desktop site to see the picture (which was already posted here). Click the stories on the right side of this blog to see it more. Remember, we like your visits!

Something to add? Disagree? Let us all know!

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