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.
Boxes of candy will be heading to both newsrooms, the bigger one to the champions. (BANG covers several newsrooms, but the candy is headed for Walnut Creek, where Joan Morris, who spearheaded the project, works.
In the semifinals, the Morning Sun’s March Pet Madness, which has won the most votes in each of the first two rounds, came from behind to beat the York Daily Record’s Remember Series, 136-104. In the other semifinal, The Bay Area News Group’s Peeps contest beat the Loveland Herald’s Easter Egg Hunt, 83-38.
Vote for your favorite entry in the championship round. I’ll cut off the voting an declare a champion at 3 p.m. Friday. I’ll send a Priority Mail box stuffed with Easter candy to the winning newsroom.
“Peeps Blanket Babylon” by Dora Grinnell of San Jose, Calif.
Ann Tatko-Peterson explains:
Love them or hate them, Peeps are everywhere during the spring.
So as part of an annual contest, we ask readers to build dioramas using Peeps and submit photos of their creations. Three winning dioramas are featured in print; photos of the others make up an online slideshow.
All of the photos are posted in a Pinterest board. We also use Facebook and Twitter to draw attention to the contest.
Entries show each year how imaginative readers are — from a pirate ship and Dr. Frankenstein’s lab to a fire rescue and election-themed diorama.
Let’s have some fun with March engagement projects.
My Valentine’s engagement contest resulted in 10 great engagement ideas. I’d love to get enough ideas for March engagement to use some kind of bracket in the contest.
Tell me about your newsroom’s March engagement project. It can be something related to the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament (as the Trentonian did last year in its best-bar bracket, shown above). You can do something relating to the start of spring or to St. Patrick’s Day. Your project can involve engagement around the March religious holidays: Lent, Easter, Passover or another holiday that’s important in your community. Or maybe you’ll engage around something else such as a community event.
What you need to do is use this entry form to tell me about your project (including a link). The engagement project doesn’t need to be finished to join the contest, but you do need to have announced it. The deadline for entries is March 11. I will launch the contest with a blog post the following day (a week before the start of the NCAA tournament). The entry form invites your suggestions for how the contest will run. I’d like to involve a bracket in some way. And I’m open to a two-phase tournament, weeding the field to some finalists (and allowing the finalists to provide updates on how their projects are going) for a second phase of voting.
The Valentine’s contests this year and last were limited to my blog. But we’re running this contest on both my blog and Inside Thunderdome (where you can regularly find weekly live chats with leading journalists, spotlight features on Digital First Media journalism, our monthly DFMie winners and other news about our company).
My Valentine’s contests were open to Digital First Media newsrooms. But we’re interested in learning from successful engagement by other newsrooms, too, so I’m opening this contest to non-DFM newsrooms. Any journalistic venture can join this contest. (I may have separate brackets for DFM and non-DFM newsrooms. And be warned that DFM staffers might be disproportionately represented among readers of these blogs. So you’d better plan on some campaigning for your entry.)
I also welcome your suggestions for reasonable prizes for the winning newsrooms. My default prize is boxes of candy, a bigger one for the winning newsrooms and a smaller one for the runner up. The Saratogian (winner) and Reporter Herald newsrooms celebrated their Valentine’s victories:
A final point: That entry form was really easy to make using Google Forms. If you’re not using them as an engagement tool, you might consider how to use them in your engagement project. They’re simple to use. Go to Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), click “create” and choose “form” from the options. From there, the options are pretty self-explanatory. You click Send Form to get the link to share. Or you can just click “view live form” and send that link. You can view the responses by clicking “responses” (one of the options is to create a spreadsheet for your responses, which I did).
Update: The runaway winner for the best Digital First Valentine’s engagement project is the Saratogian, with The Crazy Things We Do for Love. The Saratogian won 365 votes out of 750 votes cast, or 49 percent, a landslide in a 10-way race. A box of Valentine’s candy will be shipped out today to the new (and obviously successful engagement editor Aubree Cutkomp for the newsroom to share.
A second-place box will go out to the Reporter-Herald, which got 133 votes or 18 percent. Defending champion Smart magazine in York, Pa., got 78 votes, just over 10 percent. Thanks to all the newsrooms who participated, and congratulations on lots of successful engagement. Scroll down to read about the winning projects and the rest.
Here’s the original post: As lovers prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Digital First newsrooms are engaging their communities in romance and fun.
Last year, I sent off boxes of Valentine’s candy to the York Daily Record and the Morning Sun to reward their Valentine’s engagement, voted the best by readers of my blog. I was probably going to let the holiday slide by without note here, but Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colo., asked if I was going to reprise the contest. So I asked my colleagues to send me their accounts of what they were doing. I’ll let them make their pitches here (in the order submitted, with light editing).
After you’ve read them, please scroll back up here to vote. Again, the winning newsroom gets a Priority Mail box stuffed with Valentine’s candy.
It’s too late for you to compete for the candy if you’re not listed here, but it’s probably not too late to steal one of these ideas (give credit, please, as Jennifer Connor did in the final entry here) for some Valentine’s fun this week.
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…)
People gather for a reception at the Oakland Tribune’s downtown community newsroom Thursday evening. The Community Media Lab where the refreshments are served is usually set up with computers for community use. In the background is the Tribune’s newsroom.
I heard it again and again Thursday evening: “I’m glad to see the Tribune back in downtown Oakland.”
Martin Reynolds emcees Thursday’s opening reception at the Oakland Tribune’s downtown community newsroom.
Yes, the Tribune is back. I went out to Oakland for a reception to celebrate the return to downtown and to welcome the people of Oakland to a community newsroom with computers and meeting space for public use.
As companies like Digital First Media seek to develop a business model for the future, the brand names of newspapers are valuable assets to build upon. But the Oakland Tribune stands out for its rich heritage and emotional connection with its community, giving it almost iconic status.
When I worked for the Des Moines Register in the 1970s and ‘80s, it was a similar icon, delivered in every county in Iowa and covering statewide news like no other newspaper in the country. The Register won Pulitzer Prizes for agricultural reporting and gained national prominence for our coverage every four years of the Iowa caucuses that launched presidential campaigns. The Register had a brand identity throughout Iowa that was hard to measure and impossible to match. As a reporter, when I showed up in a small Iowa town, the Register name commanded respect (even from Iowans who considered our editorials too liberal) and persuaded people to talk unlike any other brand I ever worked for. (more…)
Randy Parker, center, interviews sports writer Steve Navaroli as GametimePA producer Matt Goul shoots video for a livestream.
I’ll be blogging tonight from the launch of NewsVroom at Panther Field in York, Pa.
NewsVroom is the mobile community newsroom/classroom of GametimePA, ydr.com, Smart magazine, FlipSidePA.com and the York Daily Record. But tonight it’s a GametimePA van, carrying tents, digital equipment, ice, water, coolers, freebies, tables and chairs for journalists and the public as Central York and West York launch the high school sports season.
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.
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.
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…)
I am the Lamar Visiting Scholar at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication. I have been an editor, reporter and writing coach for Digital First Media, TBD.com, seven community and metro newspapers. I spent three years doing research, teaching and writing for the American Press Institute. I have pursued my journalism career in 44 states, nine Canadian provinces, Ireland, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Siberia, France and Italy.