I led a workshop Tuesday at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., for engagement editors in the Pennsylvania cluster of Digital First Media.
(The cluster actually includes the Trentonian and some weeklies in New Jersey, but the editor planning to come from the Trentonian had to cancel. And it includes the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia, but they watched the livestream rather than making the long drive to join us in person.)
Thanks (again) to all the participants and to Mandy Jenkins, Ivan Lajara, Buffy Andrews, Diane Hoffman and Vince Carey, who helped me lead it.
If you participated in the workshop, I don’t recommend going through all this at once. I asked you in the workshop to choose one or two things to do this week. I’d read the links and/or re-watch the slides related to those one or two things. And then move on next week to the thing(s) you decided to try next week. I encourage digging into a single topic rather than trying to absorb everything at once.
Jason wrote about all the gifts he had given away over the years, or passed on to a YDR charity auction, guided by the ethical imperative to maintain independence from sources. His colleague, Buffy Andrews, called the dilemma to my attention, asking what I thought.
Here’s what I think: We should absolutely – and insistently, if necessary – politely refuse gifts of significant value that could threaten our integrity, if only by appearance. But journalists don’t have to be assholes. Our jobs too often force us to annoy – asking difficult questions, refusing pleas not to publish embarrassing information, intruding on grief and other private situations. I defend (and have practiced) all of those actions and many other unpopular things journalists need to do. But we don’t have to insult people who are being kind in ways that don’t threaten our integrity.
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…)
Nancy tells about a community cleanup project (on Mother’s Day morning!) led by The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. The Merc is building on the success of its food drive to continue engaging the community in community improvement. Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman also has pinned lots of the photos, including a snake, on the Mercury’s In Our Community board.
As Pinterest grows in use, it grows in value to journalists and news organizations.
I don’t pretend that I know all the ways that journalists should use Pinterest. My Digital First Media colleagues and I are discussing and experimenting with this now and many of them are well ahead of me. But I’ve spent the past few months learning, studying and gathering tips and examples from colleagues, which I’ll share here.
Primarily, I would say that news organizations definitely should explore the possibilities of engaging through a social tool that’s growing as fast as Pinterest. Some of your efforts will generate strong engagement and some will fall flat. But when people are spending as much time with a social tool as they do with Pinterest, you should seek to have them spend some of that time with you.
At least for now, Pinterest seems to be most valuable relating to lifestyle coverage, contests, community information and events and photography. I haven’t seen any indication that it’s useful in breaking news coverage (though that could change, or you might have some examples to show how it’s already being used).
Here are ways that I suggest journalists and news organizations consider using Pinterest: (more…)
I wrote last week about the work of an engagement editor (or social media editor or some related titles), a fairly new job in lots of Digital First Media newsrooms. Today, I turn the blog over to some of those editors to explain their roles (lightly edited by me):
When I became community engagement editor, one of my longtime sources asked me what that meant. This was my response to him:
I care about our audience. I care about engaging them, getting news delivered to them across a variety of platforms, expanding the diversity of voices on our website, making use of their comments and contributions, audience building and in general, making sure we’re fostering that all-important community conversation that is the essence of what we do.
I find this job to be incredibly exciting so far. I don’t know a journalist who doesn’t say that one of the reasons they love their job is because they get to meet new people and be involved in the community; this job is the ultimate opportunity to be intricately engaged with and inspired by my community. I love the creativity it allows, and I find the “uncharted territories” of a brand-new position motivating and invigorating. (more…)
Digital First Media newsrooms have several engagement editors and social media editors, most of them fairly new to these posts.
The duties vary depending on the needs of the community, the size of the newsroom, the initiative and interests of the editor and other duties (some of these editors wear multiple hats). Engagement and social media can be different positions (the New Haven Register has two full-time community engagement editors, Ed Stannard and Angi Carter, plus a city editor who also serves as social media editor, Helen Bennett Harvey.
I’ll blog here with a job description to help these editors as well as to help other top editors decide whether and how to name engagement editors for their newsrooms.
We’ll start with a tweet-length job description, then I’ll elaborate:
Engagement/social media editor’s job: Lead newsroom to join, lead, enable, curate & listen to community conversation for better journalism.
Update: Buffy Andrews and her colleagues at the York Daily Record will be getting a box of Valentine’s candy soon, winning my Valentine’s engagement project with 365 votes just over 50 percent. But the voting and engagement was strong enough that I’m going to send a second box of candy to the second-place finisher, the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., which got 283 votes for 39 percent.
Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis tweeted that her newsroom cared most about winning:
I also should add that this is not all the Valentine’s engagement that Digital First newsrooms did, just the ones that provided the information for the contest. Delaware County Times mentioned in a Feb. 8 message:
Tonight (Wednesday) on our live-stream ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show, we are assembling our special gastronomic panel to delve into the mysteries of romance for Valentine’s Day, and in particular what food has to do with it. One chef is preparing a rack of lamb and talking about what foods will – and won’t – put you in the mood. … For Valentine’s Day, we are soliciting readers via social media to share the ultimate sign of devotion – a tattoo. Hopefully we’ll have some decent video and stories that take a look at the love stories behind the tattoos.
Reporter Paul Luce elaborated in a Feb. 9 email:
For the Daily Times’ Valentine’s Day Community Engagement Project, we decided to take a fun look at “love tattoos.” Utilizing Facebook and Twitter, we’ve solicited responses from folks who have tattoos of loved ones, or — even better — have had tattoos of loved ones removed.
It has generated quite a buzz on our Facebook page, from which I have gleaned a couple of great sources for interviews for the story. Internet Editor Vince Carey, Assignment Editor Jon Tuleya and myself have been monitoring the Facebook and Twitter pages, using them as interactive tools to converse with readers online — which has been a lot of fun. One reader even went so far as to send us pictures of her tattoos! She has a great story to go along with them. I’ve also garnered a few more followers to my Twitter account from this process.
In addition, I’ve contacted a laser surgeon who removes thousands of love tattoos each year.
For a video component of the story, we have some videos of a father getting a tattoo of his late son for Valentine’s Day, as well as interviews with the above-mentioned surgeon and others with tattoos of loved ones.
We’re looking to wrap up interviews and video shoots today, and have the project finished by Friday.
I asked Paul for an update Tuesday and didn’t hear back, so I forgot to include it the Delco project. But I looked up the final project to show you that we had more engagement going on than what I included in the contest.
Digital First Media newsrooms have been competing for a box of Valentine’s candy. I offered to send a Priority Mail box stuffed with candy to the newsroom running the best community engagement project centered on the holiday we associate with romance.
Several newsrooms and their communities responded to the challenge with interesting projects. I’d like your help to pick the best one.
Here are the entries, in the order they were submitted (in some cases, I’m combining multiple messages updating the project): (more…)
Another excellent post, Steve. I totally agree about establishing a routine to check on digital sources. I do this every day (you are one of them) on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, etc.
What I love about using an interface such as HootSuite is the ability to set up various columns that search for people or hashtags or companies. This makes it easy to check every day. I’ve been doing this for a few years now. I’ve catagorized my searches. For example, I have the following (among others): (more…)
Thanks to Buffy Andrews for the invitation to write a guest post for her blog. I blogged with my advice that journalists should train themselves. I’m a big believer in the value of training for a news organization, and I am pleased that the Journal Register Co. is placing high importance on training as we pursue a Digital First strategy. But I say journalists should also train themselves, regardless of whether our bosses are providing training opportunities:
The benefits of teaching yourself go beyond the skill you just learned: You underscore your own responsibility for your professional growth; you are less intimidated the next time you encounter a new tool or technique you know you should learn; lessons stick better when you learn by doing.
You can read the rest over at Buffy’s World, but I’ll make one more point here: I was pleased to see Buffy reach out to start working with me before our bosses work out details of our new relationship. Buffy is an editor and social media coordinator at the York Daily Record, a news organization owned by MediaNews Group. Last month JRC and MediaNews reached agreement for a new JRC subsidiary, Digital First Media, to manage MediaNews. Bosses are working out exactly what that means, but Buffy could see that it meant that we’re colleagues now. She didn’t need to see the new org chart to send me a Twitter direct message, inviting me to write a guest post.
I admired the initiative and look forward to working with her and other MediaNews colleagues.
I am Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. I also led community engagement for TBD.com. I have been an editor, reporter, writing coach, blogger and innovation coach for seven community and metro newspapers, most recently Editor of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I spent three years doing research, teaching and writing for the American Press Institute. I have pursued my journalism career in 44 states, 8 Canadian provinces, Ireland, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Siberia. I write about journalism and innovation (and sometimes other stuff) on my blog, The Buttry Diary. My wife, Mimi Johnson, and I live in Herndon, Va. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law and two granddaughters.