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21 Sep 2019 20:01


About: For the first time in seven years, the old ShortFormBlog

I missed having the old SHortFormBlog archives online. The Tumblr site is great and all, but this is just where it all started. And in that spirit, I’d like to leave the first three-plus years of ShortFormBlog publicly accessible for anyone who wants to read them, wants to do research, or remembers having them around back in the day. It’s part of the blogosphere trend that I came in on the tail end on, just before social media took over the world. Anyway, if you see any issues, email me and I’ll do my best to get them fixed. Thanks!

07 Feb 2012 14:17


About: New writer at ShortFormBlog: Manic, Chill’s Scott Craft

  • Greetings Internet! My name is Scott Craft, and I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be joining the amazing team here at SFB as a weekend contributor. A bit about me: I’m an IT professional, native Texan, and current Denver resident who you will rarely spot without headphones. An avid fan of hip hop, in my spare time I blog about music, being bipolar, politics, and more at my personal blog “Manic, Chill“. Now back to the news you care about, in the shortest form possible!

25 Nov 2011 16:12


About: National Day of Listening: An anecdote from SFB’s Ernie Smith

  • I went through a lot between the ages of 15 and 21. Heck, my entire family did. By the time I reached age 21, I had lost two parents and a grandparent. With regards to school, I’ll remember two things: The high school teacher who left me out in the cold when my grandmother died and the professors who were there when my mom died. Without dwelling too much on the first one, let’s focus on the second. I was a J-School student at Michigan State University, learning about graphic design at the time — that thing that eventually became my career. As a coping mechanism, I was back in school less than 24 hours after my mom’s funeral. The professor in my publication design class, Darcy Greene, was aware that my focus would fade at times, but she kept me motivated. She (and another professor in the same department, Cheryl Pell) helped me build my skill set, noticed this whole talent thing I’m rumored to have, and helped me get my first job in journalism. And in the process, they got me through a tough year … on an upswing. I can never thank them enough for that. (Just a reminder to all: We’re taking your submissions too. Read more here.)

21 Aug 2011 16:19


About: What I learned this summer, from departing intern Justin Jones

  • Editor’s note: Justin Jones, our summer intern, has spent the past few months updating SFB and learning a couple of tricks along the way. As he begins his time back at the University of Florida again and leaves our humble abode, he wanted to share with you a few things he learned over the past few months. Enjoy. Oh, and thanks for the help, Justin. Much appreciated. — Ernie @ SFB
  • On people Community and the people who make it are critical, and it’s awesome here on Tumblr. I already had experience with that. What I didn’t have experience with is manning a Facebook and helping with the Twitter, and I learned how to do it in a way that interacted with all of you! I thought it was challenging, but in the end it ended up being really fun and a great learning experience.
  • On accuracy When you’re trying to post something quickly, it’s easy to misinterpret something from the source you’re getting it from. Having a fact error is the worst sin a journalist can commit (other than mispelling someone’s name), so I learned to double check everything before I posted it — and realized that sometimes only an editor will catch your mistakes.
  • On relevance Not every article you run across is relevant to your audience, or even important to post about based on what we’re trying to achieve with SFB. It’s a careful judgement you make each time you write a post, and one I honed with time — and I think this is my favorite thing I learned, because it’s that important. Not only that, but I hadn’t even thought about it much before.
  • » In addition to all of this, I also learned how to write in such a tight space. ShortFormBlog’s style is to keep things, well, short. It’s not as easy as it looks to summarize an entire news story into a quote and 100 words. I think it’s invaluable skill to have, and I learned from some pretty awesome guys. So now I’ll thank Ernie, Seth and Chris for having me around this summer — and for teaching me so much. I know now that I’m better prepared for my last three years in school, and I’m ready to take on some of the more challenging classes in the journalism college here at UF!

21 Aug 2011 00:09


About, World: Tips and tricks: How to follow the Twitter action in Tripoli

  • Recently, our friend Matthew Keys had a pretty good idea called Quotse. Pretty much, the whole idea is that he drops his news-gathering secrets to those who might find a use for it. The piece he wrote about YouTube searches for breaking news stories was particularly helpful. In that spirit, we’d like to drop a couple of suggestions of our own. How do you parse through Twitter during really complex cases like Tripoli, where you’re hearing things from so many directions that you may not know where to start? As you guys might have noticed last night, we had to change our techniques on the fly because Twitter changed the way its search engine works. Anyway, here are some tips we’ve built up from that experience, as well as things we’ve learned over the years:
  • Basic tools Some like TweetDeck; we don’t. You can get lost way too easily. Fortunately, there are alternatives like HootSuite, which does the same thing with less visual clutter. It’s good to be fluent with multiple Twitter apps. We also dig Echofon. Also, if you find certain users to be trustworthy, put them in a Twitter list. Here’s our Tripoli list.
  • Intermediate tricks One of our favorite tricks for following a breaking news story is to do a search for a topic with the name of a popular image service behind it. Examples: “tripoli yfrog,” “libya twitpic” or “#feb17 youtube.” The result? Sometimes you might catch things — amazing photos, for example — before anyone else. Be sure to credit the source.
  • Advanced queries Twitter supports searches which don’t seem particularly obvious. For example, you can search by latitude and longitude. Use this tool to find your location, then paste it into this setup: “geocode:(your code),15mi”. Now, put that into Twitter. Pretty awesome, right? It’s not perfect (there are false positives aplenty), but it’s a great start.
  • » The key part? Use your head. Not every piece of information is a gem. Confirm information as much as possible, don’t accept info based on one report, keep an eye on Twitter accounts that have proven trustworthy with information in the past, and keep changing your searches as stories evolve.

02 Aug 2011 20:47


About: New staff writer said hello, then waved

  • I promise to keep this short. It’s tradition to do so around here, since it’s our name. I’m Sami Main, a spunky writer that is way too excited to be joining the SFB team. I’m a journalism junior at the University of Florida; when I’m not having an opinion about the Oxford comma, I can be found on Tumblr and Twitter. I’d rather be raising the roof than the debt ceiling.

11 May 2011 12:46


About: Tumblr blog moves closer towards legitimacy with new intern

  • Yep, that’s us. We’re cool like that. Hello all! I’m Justin Jones, and I’m going into my sophomore year as a journalism major at the University of Florida. I’m interning with ShortFormBlog this summer, and I’m excited to learn a thing or two along the way. In my free time, I like to read news, argue politics and drink too much coffee with my friends at IHOP.  If you’re interested you can check out my personal tumblr and drop me a line.  source

30 Mar 2011 00:10


About: On Dublin, or why the blog’s overall quality will improve this week

  • ShortFormBlog’s European Adventure: Hey all, Ernie of SFB here. You might know me as the guy who screws with the design of the site every weekend. Just wanted to give you an update on the next few days … I’m headed to Dublin to pretend to be a busker for a week. I plan to listen to a lot of U2 and sit in my hotel room and watch “Once” multiple times in an attempt to get the true Irish experience. But seriously, the blog will continue over the next week with our intrepid staffers Chris Tognotti and Seth Millstein taking the helm, and everyone’s favorite breaking news dude, ProducerMatthew, playing utility infielder. I’ll be back on Tuesday, but keep in mind that if you bug us, there might be a slight delay in getting back to you. It’s nothing personal. Oh, what am I kidding, it totally is! Either way, I’ll pound a Guinness in your honor, kids. All 5,600 of you! source

17 Jan 2011 13:23


About: New writer at ShortFormBlog: Everybody say hi or something!

  • GREETINGS EVERYONE! My name is Chris Tognotti, and I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be joining the excellent team here at ShortFormBlog! To be brief, I’m a dedicated writer, and am especially passionate about politics and media criticism, based out of the San Francisco bay area. In my free time I also operate The Crater, a blog of indeterminate subject, goal, and merit. Very happy to make your acquaintance, all!

03 Dec 2010 16:40


About: EasyDNS and why having a small writing staff sometimes sucks

  • We’d like to fess up to something. Earlier today, we wrote a blog post about the latest bit of the Wikileaks saga. In the post, we mentioned a site called EasyDNS as being responsible. When we wrote the entry, we weren’t intending to blame them, but just to note that it happened. If Amazon of all sites can’t handle Wikileaks, we’d expect their beleaguered DNS provider to have even more of a claim than Amazon did. (And others weren’t quite so kind.) Here’s the problem, though. It wasn’t EasyDNS. It was EveryDNS. Without intending a pun, it was an easy mistake to make. EasyDNS soon after wrote a blog post about how everyone was making the same mistake as us, including Gawker, and called us out for it. (Deservedly, mind you. Let’s own up to the fact that we’re not perfect.) We’d like to offer up some thoughts on this whole mess:
  • How we work We’re a small staff, and whenever me (Ernie Smith) or fellow blogger Seth Millstein blog about stuff, we’re usually working alone, with the goal of trying to cover a lot of stuff quickly. We’re looking up interesting links but offering up commentary or interesting quotes, numbers or blurbs in the process.
  • Our weaknesses Unlike a larger site, like, say, Gawker (who made the same mistake and isn’t owning up to it), we don’t have an army of editors and are often working around other jobs, so sometimes we’re forced to write our posts in a limited amount of time while self-editing. Some days it doesn’t work out for us, but we try.
  • Owning up to it Look, our friends at EasyDNS have had a rough day, and we made it a little bit rougher on them. There are some weaknesses in how we work, and instead of chalking it up to a two-second mistake, we’re going to work on our self-editing processes to ensure diligence. To EasyDNS, we’re sorry. source
  • » One other thought: We’d like to think that when we screw up, there’s opportunity to be found in it. Maybe the problem is collective workload. So, let’s try to make some lemonade out of this: We’re always interested in having more voices on ShortFormBlog, so let us know if you might be interested at trying your hand at the short-form storytelling we do.