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Archive for September, 2012

This is the third of three 2007-8 posts about social media I am republishing in connection with my address today to the Arizona Newspapers Association, which refers to the middle post. I have not updated, except to remove or update outdated links. The earlier posts included my first post about social media and my first post about Twitter. I think this one holds up better over time than the first two.

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned about social networking: Connection grows from activity.

When I reached out to connect with people on Facebook, we connected. When I twittered a lot, people connected with me. When I joined Wired Journalists and formed some groups and started some discussions, other journalists joined the groups and started discussing journalism with me. When I started recommending friends on LinkedIn, they started recommending me. When I created a MySpace page and left it there without reaching out, only one friend and one jailbait spammer found me.

The thing I can say most certainly after a few months of serious social networking is that I know enough about it to know that I really don’t know much. The cliché of political campaigns (especially for the early losers) is that a campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve run hard enough to recognize that social networking is a marathon where you sprint. And the finish line sprints faster, always staying well out of sight.

I’ll write separately about Facebook and LinkedIn shortly (I’m trying to learn to write shorter, more frequent posts). But my different experiences on MySpace and twitter will illustrate how activity leads to connectivity. (more…)

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At the Gutenberg Museum

I originally posted this Nov. 30, 2007, on my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. Since API’s web archives are gone, I am reposting it here because it is part of a series of three blog posts from 2007-8, one of which I mentioned in my keynote address for the Arizona Newspapers Association today. It originally was published without photos (I don’t think we could publish photos in that blogging software, but maybe I just didn’t know how). I have updated the links and added photos. I’ve added one update in the text and a lengthy update at the end. I think this was my first blog post about social media.

Can a graying guy who can operate a typewriter, recognizes a pica pole and remembers the smell of molten lead figure out the social-networking world of Web 2.0? I’m trying.

In the last few months, I’ve been adding friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn and sharing (presuming that someone has actually found them) bookmarks on Facebook plunge. Almost right away, people started finding me. This time I wasn’t passive. I used Facebook’s search for college classmates and found a woman who had worked on the staff of the Daily Skiff with me more than 30 years ago at Texas Christian University. We quickly reconnected, exchanged catching-up emails and became Facebook friends. I also found a former city editor with whom I’ve been sort of out of touch and reconnected with some other former colleagues.

While I found a lot of professional acquaintances on Facebook, I also found personal evidence that Facebook participation still has a wide generation gap: Of my 14 brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, I was the second to post a Facebook profile. I quickly added my sister-in-law (the youngest of the 14) as a friend. However, I found 10 nephews and nieces on Facebook (interestingly, though, none of my three sons; I’m not sure what that says about them or me). I did not invite any of my nieces or nephews to become friends; I’d read or heard somewhere that the presence of old folks like me is taking some of the luster off Facebook and MySpace for younger users. And I’m curious how long (if ever) it will take them to notice me and invite me to be their friends (can an uncle be a friend?). (more…)

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I originally published this blog post Jan. 25, 2008, on my Training Tracks blog when I was at the American Press Institute. It’s no longer online there, but I have republished here, because I am referring to it in my keynote address for the Arizona Newspapers Association.

I have not updated my outdated and/or ignorant references to Twitter (I botched the 140-character limit; was very tempted to fix that huge error and the clumsy uses of twitter — always lower case then — as a verb). I did take out some outdated links (I may later add links to blog posts that are no longer available, if I republish them).

A couple months ago I wrote about my efforts to learn more about LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Delicious and the world of Web 2.0. I’ll update you later on how those efforts are going, but right now I want to invite you to learn about twitter along with me.

As I mentioned in that last post, I’ve joined some social networking sites aggressively, trying to connect with people I know on them. I didn’t get twitter, so I joined it passively. It’s a site where you enter brief (240 characters or less) blurbs about what you’re doing. I didn’t get that. So I entered passively. My first twitters, Dec. 28 and 31 and Jan. 16, reflect that I didn’t get twitter and was waiting for someone to find me. And if they had found me, they would have been bored. (more…)

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This will be my keynote address to the Arizona Newspapers Association fall convention in Scottsdale today. I didn’t follow the script closely and I trimmed the court-liveblogging section for time, but this is the written version. I also will lead a breakout session on revenue-building ideas.

It’s kind of early on a Saturday morning to start thinking about the weighty matters of the news business, so I’m going to get us started with a little exercise. If you don’t feel comfortable with Twitter, please stand up (if you’re physically able).

OK, if you’re not comfortable using Foursquare, I want you to raise your right hand above your head if you’re already standing or stand up if you’re still sitting.

If you’re not comfortable with Facebook or Pinterest or Reddit or Banjo or Google Voice or Spundge or Storify or ScribbleLive or some other tool with an odd name that you’ve heard might be important, raise your left hand if your right hand is already up, your right hand if you don’t have a hand up and stand up if you’re sitting.

Now, if you’re not comfortable letting the public come into your newsroom every day and use your computers, browse your archives, drink your coffee, chat uninvited with your news staff and attend your news meetings, (in person or online), wave your right hand if both hands are up, put up your left hand if it’s not up yet, your right hand if it’s not up yet and stand up if you’re sitting.

OK, if you don’t feel comfortable with a future built on revenue sources beyond advertising and subscriptions, wave both hands if you’ve already waved your right hand, wave your right hand if both hands are up, raise your left hand if only your right hand is up and raise your right hand if neither hand is up and stand up if you’re still sitting.

Finally (no, I’m not going to make you jump): If you’re not comfortable with crowdsourcing, curation, live chats or user-generated content, clap your hands, whatever you’ve been doing so far.

OK, everyone sit down. Is there anyone who stayed sitting through this whole exercise and didn’t clap? Please stand. OK, you’re excused. You don’t need to listen to anything I’m going to say. But everyone else look around and identify some of these people. You might want to sit next to them at lunch or buy them a drink tonight and talk to them.

I’m going to talk today about what makes us uncomfortable as journalists and news business leaders. I’m going to talk about embracing your discomfort and working through that discomfort to find the hope and promise that lie on the other side.

My father was an Air Force chaplain and later an American Baptist pastor, so once a year he had to give what ministers call the “stewardship” sermon, preaching about the importance of tithes and offerings to support the chapel or church. His favorite line was: “Give till it stops hurting.” I’m going to steal and adapt that line from Dad today (I’m sure my sons have heard many lines that I stole from Dad). Here’s my advice from Dad filtered through my media lens: Journalists and leaders in the news business need to change till it stops hurting. You need to get comfortable in your discomfort zone.

(more…)

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Brandie Kessler

We all want our journalism to have impact. Well, here’s impact for you: the Wanted by Police Pinboard launched by the Pottstown Mercury’s Brandie Kessler is resulting in arrests.

In a recent Mercury story, Pottstown Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller said arrests were up 58 percent since the Mercury started publicizing mug shots of people with outstanding warrants.

Brandie explained in a lightly edited email how the Merc is using Pinterest like a post office bulletin board:

When Mandy Jenkins stopped by The Mercury a few months ago and told us a bit about various new social media, myself and reporter Evan Brandt thought Pinterest, because of its photo-focus, would be perfect for a wanted by police list.

I had put a list together in a slideshow on our website long before the Pinterest board, but the slideshow kept freezing or not working and it was difficult to update and difficult to highlight on Facebook and Twitter.

I decided to create a list on Pinterest. It’s great because it’s easy to update, easy to view on a smartphone and you don’t even need a Pinterest account to view it. Plus, it’s simple to post the link on Facebook and Twitter, and our readers love it.

Police departments have told me they have made many arrests as a direct result of the Pinterest board, which is pretty awesome.

Here’s what Brandie told area police chiefs in asking them to send fugitives’ photos for use on the Pinboard:

Pinterest is a sort of digital corkboard and is among the fastest growing social media sites in the world. Many of its users use Pinterest to post or “pin” recipes, craft ideas and other things which they can easily organize using the site. However, we’ve found it’s also a great way to display mug shots.

Pottstown police department has a public list of persons wanted by their department for a variety of offenses. I created a board using a collection of mug shots of Pottstown’s wanted persons along with a snapshot of what each individual is wanted for. I then posted that “board” to our Facebook page, where more than 6,600 (Buttry note: That number is now more than 7,000) of our readers are able to view it regardless of whether they have their own Pinterest log in.

Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman demurred to Brandie when I asked questions about this, but I’m pretty sure one of the reasons this works so well is that Diane has built a strong following for the Merc’s Pinterest account, with nearly 800 followers. Diane is one of Digital First Media’s Pinterest rock stars, generating strong engagement with Pinboards about topics such as pets, graduation, prom and brides. That sizable audience clearly set the stage for the fugitive pins to work effectively.

Beyond the social nature of Pinterest, Mercury Editor Nancy March explained why the Pinboard approach is effective:

We initially had this Most Wanted list as a photo gallery on website but one of advantages of Pinterest board is the view on mobile devices. Far surpasses what reader sees on our site.

Nancy has shared the idea with other Digital First editors in Pennsylvania. She reports that colleagues at the Times Herald in Norristown and the Daily Local News in West Chester are planning to start similar Pinboards. When we get several of the local Pinboards going, we’ll create a “regional Most Wanted list” that the mug shots will be repinned to, Nancy said.

Brandie noted multiple levels on which the mug shots help police, the community and the police reporter:

As a police reporter with The Mercury for the past 6 years, I often find myself asking the police to help me. This board allows me to help the police, which really improves the working relationship I have with them.

It’s also great to give the public an opportunity to help improve the quality of life in their community. One thing I hear from the local police chiefs is there are only X amount of police officers on their respective forces, and they would love the community’s help in being more efficient. This board facilitates that. It’s also wonderfully interactive.

Earlier posts about Digital First journalists at work:

Asking people to share memories: always a good idea on an anniversary

GatheringPoint and Geofeedia help you find social media by location

Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques

Geofeedia, slideshows, cleaning up and a snake

‘American Homecomings’ tells veterans’ stories nationwide

York Daily Record quiz helps voters pick candidates reflecting their views

York Daily Record’s ‘Finding Their Way Out’: an old-school digital journalism project

Trentonian’s best-bar tourndy heightens March Madness engagement

Coverage of deadly fire shows Daily Mail’s  Digital First progress

What does an engagement editor do? Digital First editors answer

Michigan tornado coverage shows off Heritage journalists’ digital skills

Oakland Press collects community photos of children with a statue

Troy Record’s breaking news coverage drives Facebook discussion

An engaged reporter: no longer ‘just a fly on the wall’

Pottstown Mercury engages bloggers in community food drive

Facebook engagement tips: Use breaking news photos and calls to action

Jeff Edelstein uses Klout to reach people interested in his content

Valentine’s Day: a perfect opportunity for community engagement

Community internships: Oakland Press helps bloggers develop skills

Google+ Hangout helps with video interviews

Banjo app helped Andy Stettler find local tweets

Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson

Buffy Andrews’ tips for daily beat checks using HootSuite

Larry Altman’s account of live-tweeting a breaking news story

Examples of live-tweeting government meetings

A first try at live-tweeting from the courtroom

Romeo and Juliet on Facebook: great fun and community engagement

San Pedro landslide shows power of social media

Reach out through Facebook to gather information on tragic stories

Engagement opportunities: weather, elections, sports, school fun

Denver Post social media use delivers on mountain lion vs. kitty story

Opening our Journal Register newsrooms to the community

Include staff members’ usernames in tweets promoting your content

Crowdsourcing Hurricane Irene recovery map in Connecticut

JRC journalists use social media to cover earthquake and hurricane

Trentonian uses Google+ and other tools to cover apartment shooting

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Matt Thompson

Some of my most popular posts here have offered advice on how to find and land a job in journalism. So I thought I should point out that Matt Thompson has offered great advice on this topic.

Matt’s tips overlap with some of mine, but he says them better, so I encourage you to check out his advice if you’ve found mine helpful. Here’s my favorite of Matt’s 10 points:

The very best interviews feel like great conversations. This may be one of my quirks as an interviewer, but I’ve found this to be true both as an interviewer and as an interviewee. Interviews often start out as interrogations — a back-and-forth series of questions and answers. But great interviews don’t tend to end that way. With the interview, I’m not merely trying to unlock the bits of knowledge in your head, and I’m certainly not trying to see how well you anticipate the answers locked in my head. I am trying to assess how you think, what you’re passionate about, how we gel as colleagues. (more…)

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Deanna Utroske

Thanks to Deanna Utroske for contributing this #twutorial guest post about the art of the Twinterview. Before we start with the guest post, I want to note that Ivan Lajara has Storified lots of Twitter tips for journalists shared in yesterday’s #dfmchat. I also thank Cynthia Parkhill for sharing two links relating to Twitter use: Summarizing takes practice and  Best crowdsource ever: Cat ears hat.

Twinterview v. To arrange or conduct an interview, the exchange of questions and answers, via Twitter

Twinterviewing, in broad terms, is any use of Twitter to initiate, facilitate or conduct an interview. (more…)

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Alexis Grant

Shortly after I posted my Monday call for guest #twutorial posts, I saw a Facebook link that took me to an Alexis Grant post encouraging people to use a “Notice-Me” list. I have cited Alexis’ advice before in this blog, including her tips on using Twitter lists, her job-searching blog posts and blogging tips. So I sent her a direct message, asking if she’d like to share a blog post for my #twutorial series.

She quickly agreed and shared the post below. She gives sound advice, though 90 percent feels a little high to me. (Not saying she’s wrong; I think she uses social media smarter than I do. My point is that everyone should develop your own social media style and decide how to apply the advice you receive. Even if 90 percent feels high to you, too, the rest of the advice here is outstanding. Whether you’re following my tips or Alexis’ or someone else, you need to apply them in a way that fits your style.)

If you’re looking to use Twitter more strategically, check out Alexis’ networking course, Become a Twitter Power User, starting Monday.

Sometimes simple changes make a BIG difference. And what we’re about to talk about today falls into that category. It’s a simple, easy way to make the most of your time on Twitter, yet it’s vastly underutilized.

If you use this tip consistently, your network will grow dramatically — and you’ll gain quality followers, ones that actually interact and click. (Even new research supports this.) Even better, you’ll attract the attention of influential people, ones who will help you reach your goals — whether you’re looking to connect with new sources, sniff out scoops or help your blog gain traction.

So what is this easy tweak?

Using the @mention. (more…)

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I learned a lot when the Des Moines Tribune died 30 years ago. The last edition of the Trib published Sept. 25, 1982, but that followed a summer filled with lessons (some of which took some time to sink in).

A little background before I review the lessons: I started working at the Des Moines Register in 1977. The Register, distributed each morning in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, covered the whole state. The afternoon Tribune covered central Iowa.

We competed feistily in a few areas such as Iowa politics, state government and Des Moines news, but it wasn’t exactly a fair competition: The Register had a larger staff and a national reputation. Even though the Tribune had several outstanding journalists who measured up with the best anywhere, the Register simply had more firepower. It also wasn’t a genuine competition: However fiercely we competed as journalists, we were owned by the same company. Whatever profits we made helped the same bottom line and whatever resources we wasted hurt the same bottom line. (more…)

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At my invitation, Arnold Garson, former Des Moines Register managing editor, shared his thoughts on lessons from the Des Moines Tribune (which died 30 years ago today). As a reporter, Arnie broke the story that the Tribune was closing. My observations on lessons from the life and death of the Tribune are a separate blog post. In a third post, I publish some Trib memories from Arnie, Ron Maly and me.

Arnold Garson

The most important lesson to emerge from the closing of The Des Moines Tribune was the lesson not learned.

I arrived at the Des Moines Tribune as a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald in October 1969. Ed Heins, then the top Fourth-Floor news executive for The Register and Tribune, actually hired me for The Register. But before I arrived he changed his mind saying that he wanted to inject some new energy into the Tribune.

Under the leadership of its newly appointed managing editor, Drake Mabry, The Tribune, which had grown a bit lethargic, would become a harder edged news product for Central Iowa and hopefully would stabilize its future.

The Tribune’s new mindset: We will focus on hard news and enterprise. We will concentrate on the market our advertisers care most about. We’re as good as anybody in the business. Happily, the Tribune had a news staff that could execute superbly against this strategy and the transformation came quickly.

It was a great formula for the time, and it was kept strong through periodic reevaluation and refinement over the years that followed. (more…)

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The Des Moines Tribune published its final edition 30 years ago today. In separate posts I reflected on some lessons from the life and death of the Trib and Arnold Garson reflected on a lesson the news business failed to learn. I asked some former Register and Tribune colleagues if they wanted to share some memories of the Tribune. Arnie, Kathleen Richardson and Ron Maly responded. Their memories follow some of mine:

I never worked for the Des Moines Tribune, but I came close once. I interviewed for a reporting job (consumer reporter, as I recall) at the Trib in 1979 while I was a copy editor for the Register. I preferred the Register over the Tribune, but I really wanted to become a reporter and I gave the job serious consideration.

I was really impressed with the pride and passion that the metro editors, Tom Tuttle and Rich Somerville (co-metro editors, as I recall, or it might have been a different arrangement), showed for their paper. They desperately wanted to hire someone away from the Register (we hired more away from the Trib, giving rise to the “practice paper” insult), but I turned down the job (angering Tom, but Rich and I later became close and remained friends until his death). As I recall, concerns about the Trib’s longevity were a factor in my decision.

Soon after turning down the job, I became an assistant city editor for the Register, supervising a lot of the fiercest competition (including the Trib’s last season of legislative coverage).

The Tribune’s top three editors (except Jim Gannon, who was editor of both papers) have since died: Bill Maurer, City Editor Chuck Capaldo and Rich Somerville, who by then had become News Editor. (Tribbers, please correct me if I’m forgetting any top leaders.) (more…)

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I want to crowdsource some #twutorial posts:

Want to write a guest post?

Do you have a Twitter topic or technique you’d like to address in my #twutorial series? I’d welcome some guest posts.

I’m not interested in another general list of Twitter tips. What I would like is some detailed advice for journalists on a particular technique or issue relating to Twitter use. I would consider a second look at an issue I’ve already covered, such as hashtags or building followers, if you think I missed some tips. But mostly I’m interested in something I haven’t covered yet (you can see the links to other posts at the first link in this post). (more…)

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