Ashmo's Blog

For a couple months now I have been following “We Are Not Martha“, “Grub Street Boston“, and “Dishing“. These blogs all have my favorite thing in common…FOOD.

When looking for blogs to start following I was just looking for food blogs in general and these three blogs all have that it common but cater to different needs. “We Are Not Martha” is a great place to go if your looking for new recipes and other fun posts. This site also has a link to their Twitter and Facebook pages. Another great tool on their site is the links to other bloggers. The girls of “We Are Not Martha” described blogging as a community and they are happy to link to others blogs and support them.

Grub Street Boston focuses more on restaurant openings and food news. You may think there is no such thing as food news, but there is. My recent post the nacho drama was a story I saw on grub street. I go to Grub street for reviews and new openings of restaurants in Boston. They also have a link to a Flickr photo stream and Twitter.

“Dishing” is a combination of all of these things. There are recipes, food news, restaurant reviews, and new openings. “Dishing” is great for people who are not “bloggers” and want all their food stuff in one place.

There are many great food blogs you just have to get out there and find them!

Grub Street Boston reported on the recent Nacho drama The Boston Globe had with El Tour Del Nacho, a local blog. So basically what happened was Courtney Hollands was doing a story on the best nachos in Boston for Boston.com. She went to El Tour Del Nacho for some recommendations. She used the places they talked about in her story but they are mad because she didn’t give them credit. They are claiming she used certain terms that are specific to them, stole their ideas, and was unprofessional.

The Globe responded and basically said….thats crap. El Tour Del Nacho also had some things to say about the issue on their blog.

The problem with this is that no one can own restaurant recommendations. It makes no sense that El Tour Del Nacho wanted to receive credit for their ideas. Maybe Hollands could have linked back and said for other great Nachos check out their blog. She had no requirement ethically or lawfully to credit this source. Over the course of the semester we got into the topic of ethics and how to deal with ethical dilemmas but….there is no dilemma here. Hollands got recommendations and went to report on them herself. It’s not like she copy and pasted stories from their blog.

On a better note, those nachos look damn good.

With thousands of food blogs today who needs to open a cookbook or look up a restaurant. I am what you would call a “foodie” and am always in search of the best new places to go and recipes to cook. In my search for food blogs I came across “We Are Not Martha”, first of all I loved the name. It’s a cute way of saying we can cook but we are not Martha Stewart. It caters to people who want to learn how or progress their cooking skills for simple dinners or entertaining guests.

Food blogs may seem like they are a specialty commodity for people who love to cook. Food blogs can cater to all kinds of food lovers. Jonathan Herook a Stoneham, MA native enjoys dining out in the Boston hot spots. Sometimes there are hidden jewels and places you may not expect to enjoy thats where food blogs come in. The Boston Globe food blog called “Dishing” gives great information about local restaurants. This blog is Jonathan’s go to blog for food info.

“We Are Not Martha” was created by two best friends, Chelsee Adams and Susie Anderson. Their blog has great recipes, pictures, and fun videos. Along with maintaining a blog Sues and Chels also frequently use Twitter and Facebook to expand their “We Are Not Martha” community of followers.

One night Adams and Anderson were hosting a party they realized how many of their friends did not know how to cook. Their friends were always amazed at what they made so Adams and Anderson got the idea to start a food blog. And “We Are Not Martha” was born.

They started out their blog mainly for family in friends to follow them. Developing an audience was easy for them because their friends and family would send the link to people they knew. Tracking your traffic is important Sues explained “ there is a way to monitor your traffic, you can embed certain tools on your website and you can see how many people look at your blog, how they got there, and where they are from”. Engaging with your audience plays a large role in maintaining followers so Sues and Chels make sure they get back to every question that is asked on their blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

“We try to post on our blog at least once a day and twitter we do whenever we have time”. Blogging may seem like a fairly easy thing to do that requires little time but not for Adams and Anderson. They have to think of what they want to cook, get the supplies, actually make the meal, and when all they want to do is eat they have to take pictures and upload the pictures to a post.

Balancing “We Are Not Martha” and full time jobs is not easy task but Adams and Anderson said “it fits into our lives very well because we both work from home”. Sues is a freelance writer for a website and Chels does freelance graphic design work. With their skills in journalism and graphic design these two are more than qualified to have a successful blog. Oh and they are great cooks!

Most people I have encountered do it as a hobby aside from their full time careers. The girls said they “do have a profit but its not enough to live off of…we don’t know many people who are making a lot of money off blogs”. Their revenue for “We Are Not Martha” comes mostly from advertising which is offered depending on the traffic of the site. They also said “we don’t look for opportunities like that they usually come to us”. Being genuine and true to their followers Adams and Anderson did not start out looking to make money and they would never blog about something they didn’t think was “the best of the best”.

The girls have been able to take advantage of some amazing opportunities through “We Are Not Martha”. They were invited to Butterball in Chicago and put through turkey school where they train the people who work on the turkey line. This was a great experience they told me. The girls were also approached by Dove who sponsored a party for them. Being fans of the Dove brand they happily said yes. Dove sent a flip cam and provided money for food. They uploaded the video and a blog post to their site after they party.

With all the amazing recipes on their blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts I would have thought the girls would be recognized by a cookbook writer by now. They said other blogs will link to them but that’s about it. Naturally because of the name of their blog, “We Are Not Martha”, I had to know if they had even been contacted by Martha Stewart. They said, “one of her production assistants contacted us to come to the show. It was a live episode all about blogs. The whole audience was bloggers”. They were in the audience with famous bloggers like Perez Hilton!

“We Are Not Martha” has already exceeded the expectations Adams and Anderson had when they first started blogging and using social media as an outlet for their passion of cooking and entertaining. When I asked what was next for “We Are Not Martha” they said their goals are “for it to continue to grow, every week we get opportunities, and every week our posts get more interesting”. The opportunities and success they have had would not be possible without social media.

The girls told me social media has changed their lives. They have met friends through blogging and have become a part of a community and provides a good way to connect with not only their followers but their friends as well. Blogging truly is a community and the girls said “you can’t survive without the other bloggers. We have a lot of readers who are not bloggers but we have a lot who are and if the other bloggers don’t like you your not going to go very far”. Chels said that on Twitter you can be more personal and show a different side of yourself. Their blog, Facebook, and Twitter all reach out to different communities of social media and have helped with the success of “We Are Not Martha”.

Whether its using social media to find a good bite to eat or get the perfect cookie recipe for a raining friday blogs are an evolving part of our daily lives. I didn’t really understand the purpose or need for blogs but now after exploring the blogging community and following “We Are Not Martha” I’m hooked on blogs and social media.

We had our last of many guest speakers in class yesterday. Dan Gregory is a member of the school of technological entrepreneurship. He is also the faculty advisor to Idea at Northeastern.

Our discussion was based on the skills journalists can provide to other jobs out of the journalism world and into the entrepreneurial world. This was reassuring because going into my senior year at Northeastern I recently started to think about what I am going to do with my life.

The journalism school at Northeastern provides students with essential skills many people in other industries fail to focus on. Over the course of an education in journalism you learn interviewing skills, meeting important deadlines, and the ability to tell a story.

To a journalism student these skills seem like second nature and we don’t even appreciate the true value of what we can do. Being able to communicate through writing is a skill that can open many doors in any industry.

Dan told our class that businesses look for people with our skills because it is an essential piece of the whole package. There is someone good with numbers and finances from a business background and combined with someone who posses journalism skills can make an idea come to life.

How can we form our love of journalism into a long-lasting career. Lets face it..the second we walk out the doors of Northeastern no one is going to be begging us to work for them (well maybe but not too likely). As Dan Kennedy and Dan Gregory both agree the best jobs are the ones you create yourself.

After Gregory’s speech I was driving home and I thought of about five great business ideas I could pursue using my journalism skills but I can’t tell you them yet!

In today’s economy adapting our ways of thinking to create jobs for ourselves is a great skill. There is no denying that the ability to use traditional journalism skills and the new age of journalism skills such as blogging and using new programs will open doors to new opportunties.

Mike LaBonte, an editor and reviewer forNewsTrust came to speak to our reinventing the news class. NewsTrust is a website where news stories are posted and users are able to review these stories based on certain criteria. It’s about time a site was created solely to review the work of journalists.

Stories are rated based on quality (facts, fairness, information) and also popularity (recommendation, credibility, number of reviews). The score of a story is based on all reviews averaged together. The only way your weight in the final score can be affected is if someone rates your review giving you a low score as a reviewer.

NewsTrust is interesting because it’s composed of all types of reviewers. There are professional journalists and people with no experience in the journalism world. Around 50% of the reviewers have no experience, 46% are adults 50+, and 42% are post-grad.

LaBonte was of the people invited to be a host, which means they have a little more authority and are asked to watch over NewsTrust. LaBonte then became an editor which gave him more permission on the site.

NewsTrust was created based on studies done to determine if people would be able to tell the difference between good and bad journalism. NewsTrust did a study in which they purposely degraded stories and had people rate them. There was a control group and a treatment group. After this was done the results determined that there was a detectable difference in the score. And so NewsTrust began.

NewsTrust is not falling off the map anytime soon. They are coming up with new pilots for 2010 including MyNews, which is available now on the site, it allows reviewers to personalize to their interests.

I went on NewsTrust and reviewed a few articles to get the feel for what it’s all about. I rated a story on a reporter fired in Bangor, Maine., a story about Americans being propagandized about Afghanistan, and a story about a case involving the FCC.

After I reviewed a few stories I posted stories that I found myself. This was relatively easy task. I posted three stories. One was about a mother returning an adopted boy. A story about the workload of physicians . Lastly, a story about apple apps.

Each story was different in the sense that they were all different publications, different writing styles, and different content. The criteria that they were rated on applied to them all. I was asked about fairness, relevancy, and trust to name a few of the questions. There is also a space to leave comments, which I took advantage of when I had a little something extra to say. Overall I thought the experience was useful and NewsTrust is a tool which should be used in the journalism world to give people a voice about the kind of journalism they like.

Matt Carroll from the Boston Globe

The other day we had Matt Carroll, a Boston Globe reporter, visit our class. Many of us see charts and graphs with data but don’t really think about how they are constructed and produced.

Carroll showed the class how these data sets are formed on a site called Many Eyes, a free website where datasets can be created and previous ones can be used.

Some may think, who cares about a graph in the newspaper, but they are more useful than one may think. For those of us who are visual learners graphs and numbers are a way to break down the bulk of a story and visualize.

Many Eyes has a vast amount of data sets that are actually pretty fascinating. I searched restaurants and a data set that had the number of McDonalds in every country. What a surprise U.S had the most. So looking at this data set from a news story standpoint it could be used to go along with an article about obesity in America which in a trendy topic right now in health care.

We may think numbers are useless after statistics in highschool but numbers really can be used as a news tool.

Coming to Northeastern University is a quite overwhelming experience. Finding your way around in a new city is not an easy task by any means. Being a student with little time and cash flow at times eating becomes a privilege. I found a great place in the Prudential Center food court that is quick, easy, and cheap. It’s called Paradise Bakery & Cafe. I know what your thinking, how good could food court food be? I was not expecting it to be as good as it is. I didn’t go there just to find this place I was just shopping around the mall and wanted something quick to eat.

I ordered the Fire Roasted Garlic Tomato soup, and it was literally the best soup I have ever tasted. It was creamy, but not too think and had a few tortilla chips on top to add a little crunch. I really almost considered getting another bowl, but I had to save room for the cookie. Obviously I had to get an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, which was amazing.

They have a pretty big menu ranging from fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, and of course the most important deserts. Hours: 7am – 9pm Mon – Sat and 9am – 7pm Sunday. It’s located in the food court of the Prudential Center and the address is 800 Boylston St., Ste FC 10 Boston, MA, 02199. The phone number is Phone: (617) 267-3335.

I promise you won’t be disappointed!