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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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Digital First Media newsrooms across the Northeast are covering Hurricane Sandy today (and have been covering the preparation and approach all weekend. The New Haven Register’s home page (screenshot above) shows how our news sites are giving this approaching disaster the huge-story coverage it merits.

Our national Thunderdome newsroom is providing coverage to all of our sites through a Hurricane Sandy News blog.

Coverage by Digital First newsrooms has included: (more…)

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Kaitlyn Yeager

Hustle has always been important in journalism. Its importance has grown as news breaks quickly and search engines and social media bring traffic to the first media outlets to report a story.

Kaitlyn Yeager‘s hustle in quickly posting a story on tonight’s New England earthquake — and smartly making it easy for search engines to find it — brought more than 16,000 views to the story in just over the first couple hours.

After hearing about the swift success, I asked Kaitlyn, a member of the Digital First Media Connecticut breaking news team, to explain what she did and how. She responded in an email I have edited lightly:

Honestly, I think the biggest things were speed and search-engine optimization. Matt DeRienzo (DFM’s Connecticut Editor, who is from Maine, where the earthquake was centered) emailed that his Facebook friends were reporting it, and I clicked to Twitter and saw my feed blowing up. (more…)

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Tom Barstow

As I’ve been suggesting new ways for Digital First journalists to work, I’ve been aware that my advice for copy desks has been incomplete. I made some suggestions for copy editors earlier this year, but I’ve been pondering something more meaningful for copy desks. Now I know what to say: Check out what the York Daily Record/Sunday News is doing.

A recent email listed the work done in the past week by the YDR’s Night News and Digital Desk. I asked for some elaboration and received multiple responses (lightly edited) from Tom Barstow, News Editor, Night News and Digital:

As you know, the YDR hasn’t had a copy desk in more than a year now. Instead, we are the Night News and Digital desk with multi-platform journalists on the staff. That nomenclature change has been important to re-define what we do daily beyond traditional page production and copy work. (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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Sometimes you don’t need a new story idea. You just use a good idea that has worked before. Newsrooms around the country provided extensive coverage last year of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, much of it focused on sharing people’s memories of that unforgettable day.

That doesn’t mean the same technique wouldn’t work again this year. Monica Drake, community engagement editor at the Oakland Press, sent along this message about this year’s community-memory project.

I figured that most people remember exactly where they were when they first heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. On the front page of The Oakland Press last week, we asked readers to submit their stories of where they were when they heard the news. I also set up a Google voice account where people could leave voicemails of their responses — and made a video with these. (more…)

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