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Archive for July, 2012

Digital First Media’s curation team starts work full-time today.

They are taking on a new role for our company, curating national content for use by our newsrooms scattered across the country in 18 states and four time zones. I blogged recently with some thoughts about how news curators should work. We also asked candidates for the positions how they envisioned the team working.

Here, with some light editing, are their responses:

Julie Westfall, coming to DFM from the web operation of KPCC public radio in Los Angeles (a former colleague from TBD), will lead the team:

Curation is obviously a huge part of the future, and that’s exciting. Besides that everyone says so, it’s clear that verification, context and new formats for it are the best ways to utilize user-generated content and the huge amount of data and information that flows during breaking, developing and ongoing news. The way most news orgs do this is still slow, clunky, un-user friendly, and not well-distributed, and that means there’s a lot of space for growth and a lot more ways to engage the users who provide the content. 

Viewing content from a curator’s point of view is among the first ways to move into the mobile world. While these people may figure it all out, the article is not the ideal format for consuming breaking/developing news on mobile, but curating and its tools already give us what we need to start getting beyond that on mobile, and having a curation structure in place already rocking and rolling puts an org in a good position to create apps and take advantage of other mobile-friendly, article-busting storytelling innovations as they come along. Or hopefully as we create them! On that note … (more…)

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Hashtags help journalists find people tweeting about topics they are covering. They also help people who are interested in the topics you cover find your tweets.

My second #twutorial post on Twitter techniques explained how to use lists, saved searches and alerts to help you organize the chaos of Twitter. Hashtags also help organize Twitter.

We’ll start with the basics: A hashtag is the # symbol, followed immediately, with no space, by a word or phrase: #twutorial. In tweets, the hashtag becomes a hyperlink you can click to go to a search of recent tweets using the hashtag.

Journalists use hashtags in two primary ways: to find tweets and to help others find their tweets.

Non-journo tweeps use hashtags in at least four primary ways that are helpful to reporters: regular hashtags, event hashtags, breaking-news hashtags that catch on and humorous hashtags.

I’ll address these four types of hashtags in how they are helpful in both of the journalists’ uses: finding tweets and reaching people with your tweets: (more…)

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TCRover at the Minnesota Vikings training camp, with C.J. Sinner ready to engage fans.

Update: I’ve added several photos and paragraphs since this was originally posted.

MANKATO, Minn. — I usually don’t use datelines on my blog, but this post is about a mobile engagement project, and it seemed appropriate.

TwinCities.com rolled into Mankato this week with the first of four mobile community newsrooms Digital First Media will launch this year.

Staffed by reporter John Brewer and multimedia producer C.J. Sinner, TC Rover is engaging today with Vikings fans at the training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

(more…)

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On more than one occasion, reporters have screwed up facts when writing about me. At least once I knew I was misquoted. So I have some empathy for Washington Post reporter Daniel de Vise, who is being taken to task for his fact-checking technique.

Getting our facts straight should be a top priority of every journalist. We get them wrong more often than we know (I usually have not corrected the journalists who reported inaccurately about me). We should weigh all factors in considering efforts to ensure accuracy.

As recounted in a story by the Texas Observer, de Vise emailed an unpublished draft of a story to University of Texas officials, inviting them to raise with him any concerns they had about it. The Observer obtained copies of emails between de Vise and university officials through an open records request and quoted extensively from the emails, which indicated this was a common practice for de Vise.

A Thursday memo to the Post staff from Editor Marcus Brauchli, reported by Jim Romenesko, makes clear that Post reporters should not share drafts of stories with sources except with Brauchli’s permission.

I question de Vise’s judgment, and I would have handled things differently. But people who reject the notion of sharing a story in advance with a source as unethical are trying to simplify journalism ethics to matters of black and white. Way too often journalism ethics are murky shades of gray or any of the many colors of the rainbow. We often wish life were simple. But it’s not, especially in many of the tough questions of journalism ethics.

(more…)

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This was a handout I developed in 2006 for a series of ethics seminars for the American Press Institute. It appeared online originally at No Train, No Gain, but has not been available online for the last couple of years. I am republishing it without updating to accompany a new blog post of the issue of advance review of news stories by sources

Some ethical issues in journalism are black-and-white: Every newspaper agrees that you don’t fabricate and you don’t plagiarize. Do either and your career may be over. Advance review of copy is an area of wide disagreement. For some editors, it would be a firing offense for a reporter to show a story to a source prior to publication. Other editors want their reporters to show stories to sources before publication, at least in some circumstances. Some prominent reporters make it a regular practice. We’re not going to resolve that issue here. That’s for your editors and you to decide. We will examine arguments on both sides of the issue and things to consider if you do show stories to sources, either as a routine or in special cases.

Why you shouldn’t show

For many years, journalists had pretty strong agreement on this subject: You didn’t show stories to sources before publication. Many journalists, probably a majority, still feel this way in most, if not all, cases. These journalists cite multiple reasons not to disclose the contents of stories in advance of publication: (more…)

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Digital First journalists Cathy Hirko, Brittany Wilson and Buffy Andrews of the York Daily Record are doing some interesting work with tools that gather news content by its location.

Cathy used GatheringPoint to make maps of tweets, videos and other social media content relating to the removal of Joe Paterno’s statue and the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. Brittany made a similar map of social media content around the site of the Aurora theater attack (the map is embedded at the end of the story).

Cathy explained:

To help show readers what others were saying in social media at or near the scene of the shooting, we created a social media-based map — via GatheringPoint. The map highlights what others are saying via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just to name a few. (more…)

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Northeast Ohio political candidates visit the new community meeting space at the News-Herald in Willoughby.

The News-Herald welcomed local political candidates to a lounge area Tuesday, part of a three-phase approach of opening its newsroom to the community.

The News-Herald, with Editor Tricia Ambrose, Managing Editor Laura Kessel and Community Engagement Editor Cheryl Sadler leading the way, has a strong record of engagement with its community, east of Cleveland in northeast Ohio. (Check out the community-submitted Olympic-rings photos, where entrants are competing for prizes from a salon, a restaurant and a hotel.) (more…)

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I loved my job as editor of the Minot Daily News. I reported to work 20 years ago today thinking I was at the pinnacle of my career and would stay there for many years to come.

North Dakota seemed like the right place for me, even with sub-zero wind chills much of the winter and huge mosquitoes through the summer.

Mimi was a popular columnist and had a thriving freelance writing business. Our sons were doing well in school. We had a nice home on a hill with a lovely view of the city in the valley below. We had fallen in love with Teddy Roosevelt National Park, just a couple hours’ drive away.

My staff was performing good journalism. We were doing watchdog reporting for our community. We were providing a strong editorial voice. We were learning and improving together as journalists.

Other newspapers in North Dakota were noticing the rise of the smallest of the state’s “big four” newspapers (yes, “big” is relative; in most states all of those papers would be mid-sized or small). I had been elected president of the North Dakota Associated Press Managing Editors my first year in the state. My staff won more awards at the North Dakota Newspaper Association’s summer conference than anyone could remember us winning.

After tumultuous experiences when afternoon newspapers had died in Des Moines and Kansas City and I questioned decisions by top leaders, I wanted to run a newsroom myself. I had ideas about executive leadership that I wanted to try and they seemed to be working. We had smoothly managed a change earlier in the year from afternoon to morning production. I was enjoying the momentum I felt my career had.

Then I got fired. Twenty years ago today.

I never got a good explanation for the firing, and probably wouldn’t have believed it if I did. In retrospect, I can see clearly that the owners were planning to sell the paper. It was jointly owned by the Buckner News Alliance and Donrey Media, and that partnership was probably never a good idea. Unloading big salaries was part of a plan to make the newspaper more attractive financially to a buyer. In less than a year, the publisher fired the editor, advertising manager, business manager and production manager, replacing us, if at all, with people who clearly made less money. Then the owners sold the paper to Ogden Newspapers, which still owns it.
(more…)

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Journalists at the Denver Post demonstrated some excellent uses of Twitter in their coverage of the massacre at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo., Friday.

I was planning to write about hashtags today in my #twutorial series on how journalists should use Twitter, but I’ve pushed that one back to next week. Breaking news is one of the most important ways journalists can use Twitter, and the coverage of the shooting illustrated several things individual journalists and news organizations should do in covering a breaking story.

Tweet the unfolding story

This was perhaps the strongest aspect of the Post’s Twitter use during the shooting coverage. Several Post journalists tweeted from the scene of the theater, from where families waited for news about victims and from outside the suspect’s apartment. Reporter Jordan Steffen explained in an email: (more…)

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I am excited to see Project Thunderdome starting to take place.

We announced our curation team Thursday. Though we had a July 30 launch date, curators Angi Carter and Karen Workman pitched in Friday, helping with our coverage of the horrific theater shootings in Colorado.

Now Thunderdome Editor Robyn Tomlin has posted 11 new jobs. We will have channel managers in seven topical content areas: national, world, politics, sports, entertainment, business/finance and technology.

In addition, we will be hiring a mobile content producer, SWAT team leader, data team leader and editorial assistant.

I think we are assembling a truly remarkable journalism operation, both in concept and in the people we will be hiring. If you see an opportunity in these listings (or more to come), I hope you will apply to join us.

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Visitors use computers available for public use at the Mercury’s new Community Media Lab.

I was a guest speaker today at a ceremony in Pottstown, Pa., to celebrate the opening of the Community Media Lab of the Mercury, a Digital First news operation.

The celebration was a joint opening with the new Pottstown Visitors Center across the street in the Merc’s original building.

I have published a couple photos here, but others are in my DFM Engagement Tumblr started today. I also Storified tweets and photos about the opening celebration.

Here are my prepared remarks:

Perhaps you’ve heard that newspapers are in trouble, or even that they are dying.

I’m here to tell you today that the Mercury and Digital First Media have a bright future. The changes reflected in the Mercury’s new Community Media Lab are part of a transformation of our business that is delivering results and that will ensure a continuing role in Pottstown and the surrounding communities for the Merc and our journalists.

(more…)

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News curators must collect, summarize, make sense, add value, attribute, link, intrigue and entice.

Digital First Media announced today that Julie Westfall will lead our curation team, joined by Angi Carter and Karen Workman.

I am delighted with our selections for this team and look forward to working with them as they explore and demonstrate what a news curation team should be.

Mandy Jenkins introduces the candidates in her blog. Here I will discuss our expectations for those team members as well as for other Digital First journalists who will curate local content.

Successful curation will make sense on its own if you don’t click through to any of the content you are curating, but will entice many people to click through and read or watch more. Finding and presenting the collected content is important, but effective curation boosts the experience of each of the pieces by presenting multiple pieces in a context that enhances your understanding of each piece. (more…)

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