Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LOVERS LOOKOUT: A dad story from the Sunshine Coast

On the corner of Trail Avenue and Dolphin Street in Sechelt, B.C., across from Hackett Park at the newish four-way stop is an atrocious display of sidewalk architecture and a sign that makes the locals snicker but their hearts gleam.
The sidewalk, established in 1987, covered a gutter of delightful tadpoles for one smalltown block and culminates in a jarring two-foot slope of concrete so dangerous that poles and chains were erected to protect the unsuspecting pedestrians from the drop whilst breathing in the spectacular view of the town’s singular traffic light (we now have three) and a burgeoning mountainside gravel pit.
Flabbergasted by this show of civic planning, my father, a man of impeccable taste in design, went to task. In the basement shop of our rented home – one of the town’s oldest – across from the jilted sidewalk, he sawed, whittled, and painted “LOVERS LOOKOUT” SECHELT on a wood sign and, with a few screws, christened the sidewalk a local legend.

This past Father’s Day my brother and I set out to spruce up the sign, faded to a dull brown over its 25-year sojourn. Many will recognize Lovers Lookout but few know the story behind it. Such is life in a quirky smalltown, where highway bus stops are stocked with chairs left by mystery Good Samaritans because there are no bus shelters, where chainsaw-made stump gnomes can be found in the woods, where the free shed at the dump is a trove of treasures and burly men in big trucks scour switchbacks at Christmas for stranded skiers.
My father’s name was Dave Petrescu. He was a carpenter by trade, a photographer by hobby and a shop teacher at Pender Harbour Secondary School for 16 years. He was many other things as well; an incredible father, husband and friend included. Lovers Lookout was just one of his many design triumphs. He and his students built the Madeira Park information sign, he designed a yellow cedar hope chest just for me (though I later discovered most of the Harbour had made their own in shop class), he built our kitchen cabinets with a 500-year-old stump from the Sechelt waterfront, bronze cast his own thumb to replace a gearshift knob on his three-in-a-tree GMC truck and once sculpted a bronze bust of my mother.
My brother and I were just eight and five-years-old when my dad made that sign and it has reminded us of him with embarrassment, pride and sadness in the 25 years since. He died nearly nine years ago from skin cancer. He was at peace, in love with his family, his community and his life. May this story be one example of how we never really lose a loved one; they stay with us in the stories, humour and signs that come after they’re gone. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sharing the Professional Development luurrvvee...

Notes from Facebook for Reporting and Storytelling, May 16, 2012
Poynter NewsU Webinar with Facebook Journalism director Vadim Lavrisuk
Follow the Twitter convo at the #nuwebinar feed 

Recent Facebook Statistics

• The average Facebook user spends 26 minutes on the site per day.

• The amount of Shared Content on the site has doubled in the past two years. 450B pieces of content are shared daily. The average user shared 150 items/month.

• There are 900M active monthly users on Facebook. 500M use mobile apps.

Useful for Journalists and News Organizations

• Facebook search is a Rolodex of 850M, searchable by place and keywords

• Sources increasingly respond quicker to Facebook content as it humanizes Journalists.

• Journalists can now use one profile to distinctly share personal and professional information by using the Subscribe features. Subscribers are not Friends and can only see posts directed to them via the Public Only button when you status update.

• Facebook’s social discovery program will recommend those who Like the Times Colonist Page to also Subscribe to anyone on Facebook who lists the Times Colonist as an employer.

• Reporters who publicly post behind-the-scenes photos and videos of their work increase subscribers the most quickly as it lends a more credible and human edge to their professional work.

• Posts with a journalist’s  or news organization’s analysis receive 20 per cent more hits.

• Posts with 5 lines of text and a thumbnail receive 60 per cent more hits.

• There is an 85 per cent increase of clicks on links on Saturdays!

• The highest traffic times on Facebook are (EST) 7, 8, 10 a.m. and 4, 5, 12 p.m., Midnight and 2 a.m.

• Facebook drives a lot of traffic to news websites (and advertisers) with a 500 per cent increase in referrals in the past two years.

• $$$News organizations can monetize their Facebook presence by using a sponsored Social App, such as the Washington Post does. Billion-dollar software companies such as Zinga exist on this.$$$$

• News organizations can increase their Likes (ie. Targeted readership) by offering premier content and interactive polls, contests and posts if the reader Likes the page.

• Real-time news updates on Facebook (and Twitter) drive readers to news sites throughout the story development and encourage them to respond with response and valuable content.

• The Timeline feature can be used to document the news organization’s rich history by adding important dates and content, as well as to document an unfolding project.

Check out the Poynter Institutes NewsU Webinar Series here: https://www.newsu.org/social-media-webinar-series-2012