“Now is the tim…

“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be?”

– Epictetus, The Art of Living

Racing family


Funerals change lives just like racing.

Yesterday I attended the service for a 7-year-old Peewee racer; I wish I could have recorded the whole thing. Walking into the church, I nearly fell over and not because I had to climb a few steps on crutches. No, hobbling into the viewing, I saw hundreds of sharp-dressed people, both strangers and friends, who filled the room. The loving energy filled my heart. Watching the slide show of photos it was hard to keep my tears from falling and I heard others sniffling so I knew I was not alone.
That’s what I learned yesterday, again. As much time as I’ve been spending by myself lately, I am never alone with my FTR family.
My friend Jacob, his girlfriend and I drove more than 3 hours to spend less than an hour at the funeral but we were there. We showed up and we came together for Evan and his family even if we never met them or knew their name before then.
Driving home, I started to question life while at the same time I had never felt more alive. I hoped our presence was somehow comforting for the family. I hope they know they are not alone.

“A part of us has died. But he lived. He really lived.”


I recently spent two days living my best life: I went without creamer in my coffee, ate all (pre-prepared) raw meals and drank more than enough water each day. Then I drove downtown for the Tuesday night urban ride and broke my ankle and it all went to crap…

It all happened in a parking garage – we ramped up the first floor and as we were going around the first corner, I tried to take a short cut in between the concrete pillars and my front tire slid out and the next thing I know I’m on the ground in EXCRUCIATING pain and holding my right ankle. Note to self: there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

After getting a once over from one of the cyclists who happened to be a medic but assured me that my ankle probably wasn’t broken, I rode back to my truck with a few of my motocross friends who bailed on the ride to keep me company (thanks, guys) and managed to drive my stick shift truck home, get myself up three flights of stairs to the couch where I remained with ice packs for the rest of the night. The next morning, I woke up to a swollen and bruised ankle that I could barely move; at the doctor’s office later that day, X-rays showed a broken tibula and fibula.

The lateral malleolus fracture

The lateral malleolus fracture

Two days later I went in for surgery and I have been stuck sitting on the couch watching House Hunters and Law and Order ever since.

Frankenstein ankle

Frankenstein ankle

The bad news is I’m out for the season most likely, and I was on my way to battling for the Enduro championship. The good news is I have more than enough quiet time to myself, which is one of my New Year’s resolutions…

At least my cast is FTR orange!

At least my cast is FTR orange!

Crash is back!

I joined 16 other bicyclists last night for an 18-mile urban ride through the streets of downtown Orlando and beyond. This was my first urban ride in more than 2 years but what made me more nervous was meeting an entirely new group of cyclists (we are competitive by nature and often a little standoffish until we get to know you.) Plus, I had no idea how fast this “fast Tuesday” ride was. Before, we used to meet on Church Street but that ride started getting “too fast” for some and so the folks at Retro City Cycles started hosting a ride for the “not too fast.”

Tuesday's ride around Orlando

Tuesday’s ride around Orlando

Ironically, it was still FAST and, according to my heart rate monitor, my heart rate peaked at 190 BPM and averaged 161 BPM. Also, my max speed was 30 MPH – riding down the John Young Parkway overpass around mile 13 – while I averaged 10 MPH, which is hard to believe but we did do a lot of stop-and-go while waiting up for people. Thankfully, I was not the slowest and I only crashed once, less than a mile after the start in front of everyone, but at least I got that out of the way early!

There have been recent studies that suggest that indeed the body does crave consistency, and even that those whose lives are more consistent (sleep approximately same time/duration, eating is consistent, weight fluctuates less, etc.) live longer. – The Case for Continuous Progression

Countdown to Spring 2014

It’s been more than a week since the start of 2014, but I still don’t feel like it’s the New Year yet since classes don’t begin until Monday, Jan. 13. So, these past few days, I’ve been stuck in my office updating syllabi and moving over last semester’s course content to the new blank shells. (I was able to get away to Miami for one day for a journalism conference sponsored by Google!)

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting my new crop of students and hoping I can continue to feel like I’m exactly where I belong in front of the classroom giving back the education that’s been handed down to me. I realized over the winter break that as much as I love teaching and caring for others, I still need to live for myself and do what I want to do. This means that I’m going to start riding my bicycle more and renewing my CrossFit membership because those things bring me happiness. I also traded in my car over the winter break and scored myself a Yamaha blue Ford Ranger so I’ll be riding a lot more in the coming months as well.


Part 3: YouTube strategies for news

Reach: More than 40 percent of YouTube viewers use mobile devices, and this is only going to increase.

Revenue: YouTube’s partner program allows you to monetize your content and expand your reach.

Rights: There’s a CMS for YouTube that allows you to customize your content.

Reporting: YouTube has a robust analytics platform built into it for measuring performance and revenue.

The lifecycle of a news video on YouTube and the steps that are crucial at every stage:

  1. Build a home – create a channel icon, banner (cross promote social media sites), welcome video, sections (string together pieces of content: breaking news, stories for today, most popular videos)
  2. Create and package content – local doesn’t have to stay local; it can be global if you program the content to reach a specific audience. Attention spans on YouTube are very short; try repacking long pieces into top 5 highlight reels.
  3. Upload: search and discovery – the most important thing when you’re uploading video onto YouTube is to remember that YouTube is the second largest search engine, right behind Google. Influencers: metadata – every single video starts off with 0 views; the title is the most important and provides context and engage curiosity; you want to make sure the thumbnail describes the video; recency - if there’s a breaking news event, YouTube bumps it up, focus on publishing breaking story with great metadata; watch time and user-generated data - the backbone of how we recommend videos in suggested, related and homepage feeds, the easiest ways to extend watch time are to use playlists and annotations (at the end of the video can be programed in through the Video Manager and allows people to become a subscriber with one click.)
  4. Promote and retain viewership – Look at the videos that you are investing in through packaging and put some promotional weight behind those videos. The focus in promoting your content isn’t to have a viral hit that brings in a bunch of views once. The real goal is to acquire a sustainable audience, and you do that through the Subscribe button. If you look at the data of where the views are coming from in the first hours of the upload, the majority is coming from the subscribers.
  5. Measure success – YouTube Analytics can concretely answer who is the audience, what demographic are they, what they like, how do they find us, what platform are they watching on, how well each ad format is performing, click-through rate and annotation effectiveness. Just remember that analytics will help you iterate and improve so that your next upload is more popular than your last. Learn from your recent uploads and key in on who your audience is and create content for that.

Tools – The live landscape is changing especially with Google Glass for streaming live events. When you’re a YouTube Partner, you can stream on YouTube live for free. Google News and YouTube has been integrated in two ways: YouTube videos from Google News partners are becoming more prevalent. Google News pulls YouTube partner’s videos. Trending topics on Google News influences YouTube’s recency algorithm so if something is trending on Google News, it’s going to be trending on YouTube as well.


  • YouTube.com/playbook
  • YouTube.com/creatorhub
  • YouTube.com/yt/playbook/guides.html
  • Google News integration: goo.gl/t0tbwh
  • NPR local news: goo.gl/tzb1nm
  • YouTube for nonprofits

Part 2: Google search and trends

Daniel Sieberg of Google said, “We take the idea of using search (conversational search, voice search, mobile device search) somewhat for granted. With search, our motivation is to push you to the content that you need quickly.”


  • The Google Knowledge Graph/panel is a database of structured knowledge about the real world.

Whenever you type in a query in the Google search bar, you can utilize the Search tools button and ask Google to be a time machine and custom search. If you want to ignore words, you can include a minus sign (salsa recipe-tomatoes). If you want a definition: type definition:(insert word). For related pages, related:simplerecipes.com. For specific sites, search site:nytimes.com and search terms. Another way to isolate information is to search by file type, search filetype:ppt or csv or whatever file type. You can also search site specific and file types (site:sanantonio.gov filetype:doc injuries)

For public data, sometimes it’s as simple as typing in the right keywords. Google Public Data Explorer (http://www.google.com/publicdata/directory) can be a great place to start for research. Sometimes just a graph can be as compelling and interesting as a visualization. (Check out Advanced Power Searching and Power Searching on YouTube.)

For image searches, type in bike diagram or how does an earthquake work? You can also use images.google.com and click on the camera icon, insert a photo link or upload a photo and force Google to find the image and verify or compare the image to see if it’s been doctored. Cool!

Google.com/trends you can see what’s trending now or you can customize your search and zero in on a neighborhood by clicking on Explore In-Depth.

Google Correlate can filter out what people are searching for and what’s trending around it.

“Sometimes hashtags are added depending on the content of the post, and it should be clickable in most cases.”

Part 1: Google for Media Miami

There’s a low barrier to entry for people who are new or uncomfortable with the tools available to journalism. “A single journalist can reach everyone on the internet in rapid fashion and measure relevant impact,” according to Daniel Sieberg, head of media outreach at Google.

No matter what your beat is or what you cover, you can find some way to use maps and data.

The keynote speaker, Alberto Cairo, professor at the University of Miami, kicked off the day with his presentation: “Believe it or not, you are (or should be a visual journalist.”

  • Tips to understand how infographics and visualizations of (maps, charts, graphs) can be used:
  1. Be truthful – many graphics out there do lie and do mislead (WTF Visualizations, Fox News)
  2. Reveal what data hide with visualization tools – explain what the truth is behind the data, hidden facts within data sets
  3. Choose graphic forms carefully – what is most effective graphic form to represent that data (the pie chart is not the best way to represent data with two or more functions; if you have to read every single figure to understand the graphic, it’s not effective.) It may be appropriate to represent your data more than once – line graphs, bubble charts, etc.
  4. Don’t just visualize; write – data needs to be correctly labeled with headlines, introductions and whatever is relevant. You need to provide insight to your readers, what are the outliers, exceptions.

Nando Vila, vice president of programming at Fusion, talked about the pros and cons of the social web: “It’s easier than ever to report, gather info, build context, do the research, verify basic info.” Journalists don’t really need a distribution mechanism anymore. So, the media needs to understand that “forever empty” and find a way to fill it. Media is being used as a form of communication just as much as a form of consumption. There are three types of sharable content:

  1. Informational nugget (especially when the informational communicates something the user already believed)
  2. Identity manifesto (when content communicates something important someone’s identity. Like pizza.)
  3. Emotional nugget (when a user can transfer a clear and powerful emotion to their peers through content. “If you can make someone feel something in a short period of time, they will then want to transfer that to their friends.”

We need to stop trying to get people to engage with us. We need to create content that allows people to engage with their friends, peers, crushes, etc. If you deliver on that, promise consistently and allow people to make themselves to feel smarter and better looking, they will keep coming back to you. These days, stories that aren’t good (or don;t make people connect) don’t get read. It forces us to be better writers and find more interesting angles and insights on the stories that everyone else is covering. The stories that are good rise to the top. On the downside, the social web forces us to be better, so it’s harder! Also, it’s very easy to fall into a rabbit hole of misrepresenting the truth and conning others.

Whenever you create something, ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Why would someone share this? “It doesn’t mean that it has to be the cute cat picture. If you’re doing serious work, you still have to ask yourself that question.
  2. What are they communicating about themselves if they do decide to share this?
  3. Am I making the emotional reward obvious enough? “If you promise to deliver an emotion, you better deliver it.”

John Maines, journalist and database editor at the Sun-Sentinel, talked about the Pulitzer Prize-winning story that investigated speeding cops in Miami.

A panel delivered tips on how local news outlets can harness the internet to better twll stories and reach their audience. “It’s not about telling it first, it’s about telling it better.” We need to go and learn what we don’t know that we don’t know. Local is not what happens next to you. Local is what the locals care about. For Univision, it’s not about the audience anymore. It’s about finding the community and there’s more than one community and finding what communities are on which platforms and preparing and distributing content on the platforms that they use (G+, Twitter, Facebook). You begin with creating general content but then you polish it for each platform. How complete can I make the story? The telling of a story will now include many things, link to a map, info to download, audio, link to a form to download, a video to watch. People want to feel but they also want to do. We make sure people don’t just come to our sites to read. The simplest of the things we use everyday like search and analytics.

Go back to the basics. When you think that you work for content, you work for the story, you start to bring everything in. Everything is gathering. Pay attention to what the readers say, where do they go on the website, what do they click on?

Focus on the community that you’re trying to reach. Don’t rely too much on the internet and tools. We still have a long way to go in using tools to unlock the potential of the city itself. It’s about using Google Street View or whatever tools to see how people could live better or more intensely within their cities.

A reporter is so much more valuable if they can prove the hits that their blog gets.

Hirania Luzardo, a Huffington Post blogger, talked about collaborating in the newsroom in the digital age. “Social media for us is a new front page. Our audience gets to our front page through social media. People are constantly looking for our info through Twitter, Facebook or any other social tool. We don’t want to be first, especially when we are covering hard news. We want to be right.”

On Facebook, the most effective posts, in order of highest natural reach: open status with short link, link, photo and video. Every editor at Huffington Post is a social editor. *Posting just to fill a time slot is no longer a best practice. It’s more important to post quality content, even if that means repeating something that did well earlier.

With aggregated news, we are asking what our piece adds to the piece from somewhere else. The write ups are not just one source. When another outlet does a legitimate piece better than HuffPo, they will link out to other sources.


Just sat down at today’s Google for Media journalism conference at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. I’m looking forward to learning more tools to do the job better heading into the Spring term that starts next week. Stay tuned!