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I’m going digital in new media world

Updated: March 25, 2013 6:39AM



I imagine that when Michelle Obama’s hairdresser took scissors in hand last month and made that first cut, the First Lady flinched for a second.

Change, even when it’s change you can believe in, is unsettling. But just days before her husband’s second inaugural, the first lady took the plunge. Tried something different.

With her new haircut she found herself the topic of more intense debate than the fiscal cliff ever got. And ultimately she made a joke, saying her new bangs were a function of a mid-life crisis in which her choices, given the intense security of the White House, were somewhat circumscribed.

So a new hairdo was easier to pull off than speeding off in a new red sports car. Or skydiving over the National Monument.

I’ve always admired people who say, oh, what the heck, let’s do something new.

My all-time hero in that regard is the Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert.

Some people who hit a bad bump in the road retreat or withdraw. But when Roger lost his voice and jaw to cancer, he didn’t leave his work as the nation’s pre-eminent film critic behind. Or stop appearing on television or in public. Or stop communicating.

Exactly the opposite.

He and his wife, Chaz, launched a pilot for a new PBS show. They knew it was risky but they tried it anyway. Meanwhile, Roger continues to this day to show us what it means to be a world-class journalist in a techy world.

He writes about everything. Movies, politics, poetry and old pals. He authors books and blogs. And God knows, he tweets.

Did I say tweet? He has more than 800,000 Twitter followers. I have just over 9,000.

In other words, Roger has only expanded the depth and breadth of his work. Life handed him a change and, as in poker, he took that bet and raised it.

I’ve been paying attention. And trying to do a little changing of my own.

And it’s happening here at the Sun-Times. I’m going digital. It’s not a complete and total immersion, but enough that I thought we should talk about it.

Starting Monday I’ll be doing a 90-second noon podcast at suntimes.com. It will combine news, columnist commentary, some sports. It will be fast, possibly funny at times and, we hope, smart. It’s a work in progress.

But it means I’ll say goodbye to my Wednesday column. But continue my Sunday column on the editorial page.

The Internet has re-ordered the world, and that includes our news world.

At NBC5 and WTTW, where I also work, reporters and producers don’t just do television any longer. They now write print stories for the web.

Here at the Sun-Times, and newspapers everywhere, my print colleagues are, conversely, carving out new niches in digital and video.

The need for good storytelling is the same as it ever was. But our landscape is vastly different.

There’s something scary and yet thrilling about all of it.

So, lights, camera, action. I hope you can join us starting Monday!



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