Interesting stories you may have missed–March 24 weekend edition

Forget the politics and gloom in your daily news. Every day we will be bringing you stories from around the world that you may not see. We love small town America so look for lots from towns you may not know exist. Here’s today’s roundup.

Check your fingers. You may have cocaine on them.

A new report says 1 in 10 people who don’t use drugs have cocaine or heroin residue on their fingertips. You are checking your fingers right now, aren’t you?

You can always count on a dog  to save the day

A Beaufort, S.C. man’s dog is credited with saving his life after the man fell out of the board. Woody is getting a big ol’ steak, the man said.

Speaking dogs, four local canines in Chesapeake, Virg. are being honored as heroes.

The key to sustainable energy may be in a box

A Green Valley, Nev. man has created power in a box. And Angelo Campus, the CEO of BoxPower, Inc.,  is just 25 years old.

From around the globe, tax scams are not just an American problem

Tax scammers are targeting Canadians, too, according to The Nugget (I love that name!). But the good news is there are some ways you can recognize and avoid them.

Happy reading!

Kim J







Does Jesus like pizza? Stories you may have missed–March 23

Forget the politics and gloom in your daily news. Every day we will be bringing you stories from around the world that you may not see. We love small town America so look for lots from towns you may not know exist. Here’s today’s roundup.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend as we approach Easter

A man in High Point, N.C. claimed he was Jesus Christ and that he broke into a pizza place. While we can laugh at the 911 call, it’s also sad as the man says he has a mental illness.

Millennials won’t be young forever

A study by Prudential Financial takes a look into the future.

Gumbo Gladiators will battle

It’s festival time and Shreveport, La. is having a few. If you like Gumbo, you can help some gladiators battle it out at Festival Plaza this weekend.

From around the world: America is not the only country where newspapers are shuttering

The Malaysian Insight will stop publication next week. The executive editor and chief cited financial reasons. This will sound very familiar to U.S. newspaper executives.

But in Burlington, Colo., their weekly paper is celebrating a milestone

The staff at the Burlington Record is serving cookies to anyone who drops by on March 28 between noon and 5 p.m. to celebrate the newspaper’s 130 anniversary.

Happy reading!

Kim J



Best content you might have missed–March 22

Forget the politics and gloom in your daily news. Every day we will be bringing you stories from around the world that you may not see. We love small town America so look for some of the best from there. Here’s today’s roundup.

An eight-seat chairlift for skiers. How cool! Montana’s Lone Peak Lookout reports that Big Sky Resort will replace their current 4-seat chairlift with one that seats 8. It will be the first one in North America and should be ready by December of this year.

Who knew cornhole could be so competitive?  But it is! And Thomasville, N.C. is a champion as reported by the Salisbury Post.

If you are going to steal a phone, turn off the “find me” app. And don’t have a stash of drugs with you.

From around the globe:

Apparently “killer caterpillars are invading Australia’s sunshine coast, according to the Sunshine Coast Daily. Many of them are being spotted around Noosaville.

Finally, there is a newspaper in Texas called “The Orange Leader.” And no, it’s not about our Commander-in-Chief.


Do you want to eat carrots ALL of your life? Diversify your marketing plan.

The Internet is full of “experts” ready to help you create the perfect marketing plan. I am not an expert but a realist.  I know that unless you plan and set goals, you are like an exercise bike—you are pedaling hard but getting nowhere. And I know that a marketing or publicity campaign that worked for one company may not work for the other. The public may grow tired of one social media platform and all of the dollars a company has invested in that platform may be useless after a while. Facebook’s announcement that it was changing what we see in our news feeds is one example. Companies who placed an emphasis on Facebook are now worried their ads will not be seen.

Full disclosure—I have run campaigns that were only on Facebook or a couple of social media platforms that were pretty successful at the time. But those decisions were largely based on the client’s preference and not my recommendations. My recommendation is to always have a healthy menu that has a variety of “dishes.” Carrots are great and very healthy, but is that the only thing you want to eat for a long period of time? Don’t you want a little steak?

How do you start? First, make sure you know your customers and know where they are consuming their information. For some of them, social media is the “meat and potatoes” of their existence. Depending on your demographics, you may have some “old school” customers who still get their information mainly from newspapers. Determining where your customers get their information may take trial and error but it is an important part of your plan.

Once you know where you want to spend your dollars, determine your budget. It’s okay to spend 2/3 of your marketing budget in one place if you can reach most of your customers there. But never spend 100% on any one platform. I plan a marketing budget similar to the plate method dieticians use when helping you develop a healthy diet. One half should be your protein—the marketing tool that works best for you. It can be social media ads or a billboard. The other half of your plate should be split between two other nutritional items or platforms that have some return. These platforms may only give you a few responses but those responses turn into customers. Or it could be platforms with a high response rate but a low ROI. Again, you determine what works for you.

If you want, you can leave room for dessert. This could be a platform you like but doesn’t give you any results. A good example is an advertisement you take out in your local newspaper only because your cousin is the salesperson. You may not get any response but you like your cousin.

I also make sure I have enough set aside for “snacks.” From a marketing standpoint, these are platforms I may want to sample every once in a while. Even though many people think print media is dead, I am seeing several new glossy publications in the area where I live. I would not recommend purchasing a long-term contract, but at least give it three months. You need to give people an opportunity to see the ad several times. “Snacks” are also opportunities for you to try some new ‘foods.” Maybe you have seen ad on your local cable station and you have been considering it. Go ahead! Give it a try.

So why should you try different marketing methods? First, as I mentioned, you need to find out what works best to maximize your ROI. And in some cases, you want to keep goodwill with your resources, like a local magazine or TV station.

I have only mentioned a few marketing opportunities here but you have hundreds you can try. So sit down at the table and create your marketing plan.






How mindfulness can sharpen creativity

mindfullnewssThis post was written by Lee Webb.  

According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis…” The way I view it, mindfulness can be as simple as paying more attention. It’s this idea that taking time to better sense the world leads to a better appreciation for it and a more positive outlook on life. The concept of mindfulness also proves extremely useful for creatives. Whether you write words, mix sounds, capture photos, or do anything that involves making something new, allowing yourself to be more mindful has the same benefits. Taking the extra moments to process affords you a deeper understanding of the object of your art.

Say a small town journalist named Pam has been assigned an article on local luxury home. Pam can interview top designers and high-class residents. She can photograph and examine the diverse angular features and stylistic preferences of many. But, Pam has a deeper technique in mind for producing this article. She takes time to stop and pay attention to what she feels when she steps into a room. She notices the way the light seeps in and how the smells seem to transport her to another time. She takes the time to search her emotions and notice how the various environments affect her thoughts. This is mindfulness at its finest.

All this uniquely personal information transforms Pam’s somewhat basic assignment into something much more connected and real. It makes her work something special that stands apart from the cold, only-technical work of her peers. She has created something that her readers will not only be informed by but feel connected to on a deeper level. Years down the road, Pam may be an award-winning writer for the New York Times with an enormous, loyal following.

Mindfulness can seem like some sort of hipster joo-joo at first, but it’s actually so simple and easy that it seems foolish to ignore the benefits. Being sharply aware of the world around you has a way of deepening the already infinite creative well inside, allowing us to transform simple things into art that is layered, unique, and unforgettable.

The post I didn’t think I would write

I am not a New Year’s resolution kind of person. I start every day, every week and every month fresh. Sometimes I even start over in the middle of a day. I always hated writing those year-end and looking ahead stories when I was in print media.

And I can’t believe I am writing this now.

But 2017 was another year of change and to some degree loss. After losing my parents, mother-in-law and some dear friends in 2016, I was hopeful for a better year. I was sputtering along the first three months knowing I was not happy and questioning  my career goals. I was talking to my husband one day and I told him I was willing to go wherever God led me. I just wanted an answer.

The very next day I was laid off from my job.  I began planning my future on the drive home. In the weeks that followed, I looked for full-time jobs but I knew that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. I wanted to freelance, do exciting projects and work with clients from all over the world. The past nine months have been some of the happiest for me. I have had my ups and downs. But it’s been a blessing and so rewarding.

I love unlimited in my work.  To Al Gore or whoever created this Internet thing, thank you.  I have worked with clients from all over the United States and in several countries. I have written about everything from state lemon laws, self-driving cars, the telecom industry, SaaS, balsamic vinegar, apple growing and a lot of things I am sure I am forgetting. I thought I wanted to do some event planning but after about 42 of them, I hung that up. I learned what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is, what the Dodd-Frank Act is, and what a fintech is. Every day is fun and exciting and I don’t have to shower, do my hair or even change out of my pajamas. (I do shower daily but sometimes I just put on another pair of pjs if I am busy.) I have met so many great people virtually and a few of them in person. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this crazy ride this year.

I am so excited for next year as I already have some fun new projects for January as I continue some current ones. I believe it’s all because of the prayer I said in March. I don’t mean to get mushy but it helps to have support in life and I have the best in my husband, Steve, and son, Lee who are there for me daily. And thanks to anyone reading this, especially if you got this far and for supporting me.

Here’s to a great 2018 for all of us!





The media today: How did we get here?

Fake news is a term that is tossed around a lot in this culture. A few weeks ago I spent 30 minutes explaining to a client with a much higher pay grade than me the difference between a New York Times editorial and a story. Social media should be easy but I have to explain to clients why I won’t use content that appears to be copied or not verified. And since anyone can buy a domain name these days and call themselves a news organization, I have to advise my clients to also scrutinize the media source. Yeah, you don’t have to have any kind of license or experience to call yourself media. I stick to accredited sources when curating content. I really don’t use the word “fake” but it is implied. I thought my strong stances would hurt my reputation but I have found the opposite is true.

I think media is in this place for four key reasons (remember, this is my opinion):

  1. A news organization should never label itself conservative or liberal. I was taught news is objective. I had to interview plenty of people whose views who made me sick while I was a reporter but it was important to tell all sides of the story. I was taught to keep my personal feelings out of it. But now that we have created Fox News and MSNBC, how do we go back? And does anyone want a truly objective media anymore?
  2. The media has not done a good enough job of protecting its turf. I cringe when I see legitimate news sources linking to wannabe sites. I understand it though because newsrooms have been cut dramatically and it’s hard to cover the news without working 18 hours a day. I don’t know the answer but we shouldn’t have gotten to this place. The wannabe sites that are in almost every city in the country now have done more damage to news credibility than some of the sites that spread celebrity death hoaxes and other clickbait content. Come on! How many times can we kill Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman?
  3. The public cannot distinguish fake and real news sites and it seems they don’t care at times. The general public often does not understand that some “news sources” have no professional training, no experience and in some cases, no ethics.
  4. The public is sometimes confused between editorial and news. It’s easy to mock them for not knowing but the media need to do a better job of explaining it sometimes.

Finally, how do we educate a public that sometimes doesn’t care about the truth and quality journalism? For me, I just do it one person at a time.


The “gig” economy (and why it’s a good thing)

Note: I asked my 16-year-old son to write about the “gig economy.” This is his view of it with just a few edits from me. Let me know what you think.

Stable salary, health-care benefits, steady hours — these are the things that might come to mind when you think of jobs that are largely considered desirable. But all these things come with a price some aren’t willing to pay: repetitiveness, little opportunity for advancement, and short, scarce vacations, among other things. However, there is another option outside of a traditional workspace.

Many people work outside of the organized system, and they’re all the better off for it. A wedding planner, for example, chooses what events they organize, how much they will be paid, and when their hours of client service will be. These same freedoms are afforded by freelance writers, photographers, and anyone who chooses to take “gigs” as they see fit, for prices they see as fitting.

This idea may seem scary. It may seem to threaten the very foundation of the American workplace. But it has enormous benefits for all of us. Freelance workers have much more freedom than those who work for an employer, and that tends to magnify their skills. Because they have no one to look up to — no one to rescue them if they get into a bind — they tend to work harder, and with more passion for the life they’re pursuing.

Ambition is the driving force behind so much of the progress we see in this modern day. People with original ideas, who choose to work on their own accord and not under another’s thumb, have brought us many of the products we use every day. If it weren’t for these brave people, you’d be hard-pressed to find top-notch creative minds. Organized corporate jobs can be stifling.  Freelancers are not only defying tradition, but they are paving the way for those who feel too constricted by workplace structure to pursue the ideas that may very well be the next big thing.

However, there are many challenges in working for oneself, and health-care comes in high on the list. It’s expensive. Outrageously expensive. You pay your own taxes and Social Security and file quarterly.

There’s also the aspect of loneliness associated with this workspace. The self-employed often have no co-workers. Their only regular human interaction would be with clients, and those they spend their free time with if they have any to spare. However, organizations such as collectives and networks can help these people communicate with and work alongside others like them.

Yes, the “gig” economy may seem like a threat to traditional jobs. But, traditional jobs are not for everyone. Freelance workers are facing the challenges of expensive health-care and questionable stability to bring upon us a more innovative and passionate America. They are bringing us the America of tomorrow.


Afternoon productivity hacks for morning people

I am one of those people that wake up every day with my to-do list already written the day before or I have it in my brain. I am great until about 1 p.m, usually after lunch, then the bed in my “office” starts to look very inviting. The problem is I can only do so much from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. I need to work a few hours in the evening or afternoon.

I am not a doctor, psychologist or life coach even though I played a talk show host once at a dinner theater. I learned some productivity hacks by trial and error how to not crash after lunch and actually get things done—like my blog posts for my sites!

  • Watch your diet. It’s just science that a heavy lunch will cause you to be sluggish, especially if you suffer from a chronic disease like diabetes. Try a lower carb option like a salad instead of that all-you-can Chinese buffet. Some people eat a large breakfast and skip lunch, something that has actually worked for me.
  • Watch your caffeine. I get up at 5:30 every day. Most days, I only drink a caffeinated drink at this point of my day. Then…
  • Drink more water. It’s easier than you think to get dehydrated, trust me. And I always just feel better when I drink more water.
  • Do “administrative” or non-creative task in the early afternoon. I find it easier to muddle through tasks such as answering emails or planning social media campaigns when I am sluggish than trying to write an article or blog.
  • Take a break.  I am lucky to be self-employed and be able to make my own schedule. A couple of days a week my schedule may look like 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. than 3 p.m. until I am finished.

Are you a morning person or a night owl? How do you remain productive no matter what time of day it is?




This school of life

I loved school. All of it. Even the draining term papers on some random moment in history and the calculus I don’t really understand even now. My recent work has been a re-education of sorts for me. I am lucky to have worked on a variety of projects and realize that I need to read more! Understand, I am not stupid. I just spent many years in the daily news grind. Once you write the arrest report, cover a county commission meeting and write a story about the latest charity event, the last thing you want to do when you get home is think. Here a few of my recent subjects.

  • My first big challenge was an assignment that included a referent to IoT. I had to look it up and I learned the Internet of Things applies to every industry differently.  I haven’t found a way to drop it into a conversation yet, but I will.
  • I have written for the financial sector before but now I am deep into it daily. I apparently missed the news stories about the Dood-Frank Act but I am on top of the Financial Choice Act. What is happening in Congress is very interesting right now.
  • Did you know that gun holsters can save an officer’s life? Safety companies can rate a holster’s “retention,” or the amount of time it takes for an officer to get the gun out of the holster. Those few seconds can save an officers life.
  • Some of the permafrost in Siberia is beginning to thaw. This can be big trouble for a country that’s infrastructure is built on the frozen tundra.

I wake up excited every day about what I will learn next. For me, this is the life.