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Archive for the ‘Digital First journalists at work’ Category

When I saw Jeff Edelstein‘s music video about New Jersey’s controversial bridge and learned how he crowdsourced it, I asked him to explain. Here’s a guest post from the Trentonian columnist (I added the links, illustrations and embeds):

Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

Basically, when you write a Bruce Springsteen parody song about the governor of New Jersey being embroiled in a massive controversy bordering on cover-up, you’re going to need to find someone to put it to music.

This was the position I found myself in Friday morning, Jan. 10.

The Chris Christie scandal was at a fever pitch. It was a day after his press conference, and still at the top of the news.

So I wrote a song. (more…)

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Search-engine optimization sometimes gets a bad rap from journalists (more on that later). But I always thought a headline’s job was to attract eyeballs, to get someone to read the story.

That’s the job of a digital headline, just like it was when I wrote print headlines as a copy editor for the Des Moines Register 35 years ago.

What’s changed is how people find our headlines. Instead of having the newspaper delivered to their door, and browsing pages for a headline or photo that catches their eye, many people find our stories in answer to the questions they ask search engines. Just as I tried my best to catch the browsing reader’s eyes, now I try to catch the search engine’s eye.

But it’s a two-step process: I need some keywords (utilitarian and sometimes dull) so the search engine will find my story and I need an enticing headline, so people will click on it (getting onto the first page of search results only gets me the chance to compete with nine other headlines for your click).

Susan Steade has a great metaphor for the SEO headline: Business up front, party in the back. In other words, start with some keywords, so the search engine will find your headline, then have some fun, so people will click on your headline rather than the others the search engine presents. (more…)

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Even when you’re not first with the news, it’s important to be fast.

Wednesday night, ESPN broke the news that NASCAR racer Jeremy Clements had been suspended for using a racial slur in an interview. I’m not a NASCAR fan and this is the first time I have heard of Jeremy Clements. But Matt Myftiu of the Oakland Press has a NASCAR blog and he jumped on the news. Matt explains (edited from two emails, with me adding the links):

Last night there was some breaking NASCAR news and I posted a quick blog about it at my NASCAR: Beyond the Track blog.

Wasn’t even a big name involved, but the key fact here is that I posted my thoughts right away.   It only took me a few minutes to do this, and because it was breaking news many people who were searching for information on this breaking news ended up being directed toward my blog, as almost nobody had posted anything about it.

I’ve had more than 7,000 hits on that post, most of them coming from Web searches about the topic.   (more…)

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Those old photos your newsroom has stashed away in file cabinets? They might be engagement gold on Facebook.

Check out this photo posted yesterday by Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily:

Who remembers

In 20 hours, more than 1,000 people shared that on their Facebook walls, more than 3,000 people liked it (nearly as many as like the Macomb Daily) and more than 600 have commented (the combined totals have gone up by more than 200 just since I grabbed that screen grab and started writing). The numbers above don’t show this, but Maryanne reports that more than 84,000 people have looked at the photo.

Feb. 27 update: Maryanne reports that 150,000 people have viewed the post, generating 1,656 shares, 1,139 comments and 5,562 likes. She did a story about all the response to the photo.

Resuming the original post: This isn’t the first time I’ve shared a success story with remember-when photos from the Macomb Daily’s Facebook page. In my post on Facebook engagement tips last October, I noted a photo of the Plum Pit that went viral with more than 11,000 likes.  (more…)

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Jeff Edelstein

Trentonian columnist Jeff Edelstein showed two things with his Facebook engagement before, during and after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey:

  1. He showed how to use Facebook to engage during a big story.
  2. He showed how effective routine Facebook engagement gives you a strong connection with people that is invaluable when the big story breaks.

I’ve written before about Jeff’s great connection with his community on Facebook. He uses Facebook regularly, asking questions of his 4,000-plus friends and they answer, sometimes giving him column material, sometimes giving feedback on a column and sometimes just deepening the connection with chatter among friends.

That routine conversation gave Jeff a deeply engaged community that stayed in touch as the storm approached and blew through New Jersey. With a mix of humor, impatience, empathy and reporting questions, Jeff had a  running conversation with the community throughout the disaster. I’m going to highlight a few of the dozens of Facebook updates that Jeff posted relating to Sandy.

It was a mix of personal and professional, all with personality. So when Jeff asked for help, it wasn’t like a journalist was asking people to do his job for him. It was a trusted friend asking for information. And he got lots of replies, whatever he was asking or saying.

(more…)

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Michelle Rogers leads a workshop for the community at the Heritage Media-West Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Heritage Media-West in the western suburbs of Detroit is providing an excellent model of community engagement.

From Heritage’s new Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti, Managing Editor Michelle Rogers and her colleagues lead workshops for the community to help people in their community tell their stories more effectively using blogs and social media.

“The main focus of the lab is to teach technology tools and reporting skills to members of the community so they can share their voices and document the important events, traditions and news in their communities in partnership with Heritage Media,” Michelle explained in the blog post linked above. (more…)

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I have Storified some of the coverage of Hurricane Sandy on the websites and social media of more than two dozen Digital First newsrooms. The Storify did not publish here, but you can read it at the link above.

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