Listening Post: Back from the beltway

It’s been a busy couple weeks. Faithful readers may have noticed the lack of a Listening Post last week. I was in our nation’s capital, sequestered in the old soon-to-be-demolished NPR headquarters along with station manager Ellen Rocco, digital news editor Nora Flaherty, corresponding crews from about a dozen other public radio stations, and a team of NPR trainers. It was the launch of an eleven-week training seminar with the aim of upping our game as internet news providers. I thought I would have time to post Thursday night from my swank digs at the Henley Park down the street from NPR, but homework took me until after 7 pm, and by the time I got back, I only had the energy for a couple minutes of Angry Birds in Space (Star Wars Edition) on my iPad, before I fell asleep.

Harry Truman and Lauren Bacall at the National Press Club bar. Bacall remembers that Truman played badly, “the Missouri Waltz or something.”

I could have done the work the evening before, but that night was reserved for a big schmooze dinner at the Old Ebbitts Grill and a tour of the bar at the National Press Club, which oozed old boys’ club charm–lots of dark wood, leather, and the after-aroma of 50 years of stogie-smokers. I would show you a photo of the bar, but cameras are banned. The last photo ever taken there hangs over the upright piano. Harry Truman is at the ivories and Lauren Bacall is sitting atop the case. Bess was not amused.

It was a lot to take in, and by the time we got back to the North Country late Friday night, I was as tired as Bill Haenel probably was. He did his job, my job, and Nora’s job while we were out of town, and didn’t even have a crew of interns to help (all of them having selfishly gone home on winter break from school.) Big ups to Bill. (I’ll make it up to you somehow, even if I didn’t bring back any chocolate-covered bacon from the novelty shop.)

The remainder of the training is via weekly webinar; the first was Wednesday, with all us packed into Joel’s office watching on his big Mac monitor and fighting for the keyboard to type in questions. Note to self: in-person training is way better. Future topics will focus on such things as headline writing, best practices for writing on the web, using photography for visual story-telling, gathering and disseminating news via social media, and all the other voodoo that marks a successful transition from a radio-only news operation to one that serves a multi-platform world.

See if you notice the difference over the next few months. We’ll be doing as we learn. It might be a little rocky at first, but I expect the training to make a big difference to us, and the result should be noticeable to even the casual visitor. I gotta say, though,  it’s good to be back from inside the beltway. I think there’s something in the water down there.


2 Comments on “Listening Post: Back from the beltway”

  1. Kathy Clarke says:

    So….what do u imagine IS in the water
    down there, Dale?

  2. Dale says:

    Bromo-Seltzer, caffeine, and a touch of bile. I think I also detected a faint aftertaste of over-weening ambition. Dale

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