By Bob Walsh

One of the key tenets of Getting Things Done is getting your head clear so you focus on getting things done. Nowadays, with text, audio and video feeds from every major and minor news organization a click away, Google News, news alerts, RSS, IM and all the rest, you have about as much chance of getting your head clear as surviving 10 fire hoses turned full on at your face.

Too much news, way, way, way too much. All the news doesn’t fit: on paper, on your screen, in your head. Unless you consciously take control of when, where and how you get your general, sports, high tech and other news, your chances of getting things done, of creating work, will drown without you even realizing it.

h3. Take Control of Your News

Twenty plus years ago, I was a reporter in San Francisco for United Press International. I’d write (or rewrite from local papers) 40 to 60 stories a shift and put them on the wire. Big news, little news, didn’t matter: my job was to keep shoveling coal into the news engine.

The process worked for two reasons. First, at the other end of the wire, where you are now, there was an editor who would screen out 95% of the stuff because it didn’t matter to the readers or listeners or viewers. If they did not chop left and right, they’d have too much news to fit and they would not do the journalistic equivalent of Getting Things Done called Getting the Paper to Bed and be out of a job pronto.

Second, there were gradations of news so that when something really important happened, three, or four or God Forbid, five bells would ring in the UPI or AP teletype machine in every newsroom in the country and everyone would stop and rush to the wire copy machine because they knew something important had happened.

In our future-shocked, wi-fi, broadband, IM, email news alerts, terror alerts, information at our fingertips until your head is underwater world, guess what? You’re the editor. And here’s what you need to do:

* Audit all those little news feeds that have crept into your online life. Which are worth keeping? Which are noise? Turn off the noise.
* Decide when and how you will let the information megahose of online information be on, and turn it off the rest of the time. If there’s another 9/11, you’ll hear about it, in the meantime, get on with your life.
* Re Google Desktop Beta 2 Sidebar: it’s a great replacement for the old teletype, but don’t forget you need to cultivate ignoring the stuff that goes by, just as you do 99% of the time when you perceive but ignore what’s in the rear view mirror while your getting somewhere driving.
* Look for not just news, but analysis. The mainstream media has largely given up analysis because analysis upsets its corporate masters. Look to the blogs – whether its high tech news, sports news or politics – for people willing to call a spade a spade and own their words.

Your job is to own your attention.

Author Bio: Bob Walsh divides his time between improving and selling MasterList Professional, a personal task management application, writing a book for Apress (Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality) on how to start a self-funded startup, blogging here and at http://www.todoorelse.com, writing custom software applications for companies with needs and budgets and trying to remember what the words “time off” and “vacation” mean. He can be reached at bobw@safarisoftware.com.

4 Comments on All The News Doesn’t Fit

  1. This is the reason for the creation of the service known as newsmastering. Newsmastering functions as an editorial service, cutting out of the mix that news which is not relevant to the intended audience.

    Each website which provides newsmastering caters to a specific interest or audience. News which is irrelevant to that audience is eliminated by the newsmastering service.

    For example: Hanscot.com provides design news which is of interest to a consumer audience which prefers the designs of the 1900-1960 period and which is primarily located in Northern Midwestern United States. So design news of a corporate or of an industrial or of a european interest area in eliminated by the newsmaster.

    Another example: Driven By Success provides a news portal to information which is of interest to freelancers, independant professionals and small business owners located in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Information which is found in many business journals does not end up in this news portal because it is frequently not relevant to this audience.

    Website owners benefit from this service because it increases their website’s return traffic stats from the niche audience which they most prefer to attract.

  2. Bob Walsh says:

    J.H. Very interesting! I’d never heard of Newsmastering before. Can you suggest some good links?

    Having been an editor (as well as a reporter) covering a “beat” can be hard. What’s the payoff for doing so?

  3. Bob,

    One of the best sources for info on newsmastering is masternewmedia.org. Go to google and enter this search query to find more info than you need: newsmaster OR newsmastering site:masternewmedia.org

    The advantage for the site owner is that by creating a mini-PORTAL of info that serves a niche audience, you encourage those visitors to visit your site frequently. (What you do on your site to encourage repeat business is also important. But if your visitors only visit once, your online selling tactics are going to waste.)

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