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.
Seeking photos from the public is easier when you ask for photos people are already shooting. This is why weather photos, holiday photos and travel photos often work well for community engagement.
I like a project by the Oakland Press, collecting photographs people have taken of their children with a statue of a boy at the Rochester Hills Public Library. The statue, part of a memorial to Andrew Moore, who died as a young man, virtually invites children to pose with the boy. So the Press wasn’t asking people to shoot photos, it was just inviting them to share photos they already had.
The community photos made an engaging package with a story, video and photos by community intern Susan Fine, reporter Krystle Anderson and photographer Vaughn Gurganian.
Update from Oakland Press Community Engagement Editor Karen Workman:
Since it was uploaded Friday afternoon, the video for this story is currently the seventh top video for our website with 167 views. Though this may seem low on views, it is actually quite good for a feature story video.
The story also did pretty well in terms of pageviews. For both story files (the first one archived, so I had to re-upload to get it back on the front this morning), the current number of views is exactly 1,000 — again, quite good for a positive feature story.
I will be leading a workshop today for Digital First journalists in Connecticut on engaging the community. I will cover many of the points in this 2011 blog post. Here are the slides I will use (though it’s going to be a free-flowing discussion, so I may not get to them all and may use some out of order):
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…)
Journalism values are not timeless and etched in stone. Values have changed through the years and the Digital First journalist recognizes that they are changing today.
In some ways, a Digital First journalist shares the values of traditional journalism but may pursue them in different ways. In other ways, we pursue values that we think are more appropriate for the networked world we work in today.
We won’t entirely agree on values. Where we share values, we may vary in priority and practice. Digital First leaders trust our journalists and the editors leading our newsrooms to make smart, ethical decisions. So don’t view this as a narrow template into which we must squeeze our journalism or as unanimously held views. These are some thoughts on values that guide journalists — how they are changing and how they endure. I share these views to stimulate discussion about Digital First values because I believe we value candid and vigorous discussion about journalism and journalism values.
I am examining and explaining Digital First journalism in a series of blog posts this week. I started yesterday with a discussion of how Digital First journalists work. Today I address the values that guide Digital First journalists: (more…)
Journalists hate few things more than buzzwords. Many of us regard ourselves as guardians of the language (as if protecting the First Amendment and being watchdogs of the powerful weren’t enough guard duties). Buzzwords feel to many purists as some kind of assault on the language.
This is what “engagement” — the buzzword of media theorists and marketers — is all about. It’s using Twitter and Facebook to build a tribe or family of followers, even disciples, who will keep reading you.
I won’t try here to set Pexton straight on what engagement is all about, though my earlier post explaining community engagement might educate him a bit. What I want to address here is the widespread dismissal of new terminology by my fellow veteran journalists.
Journalists aren’t as puzzled by the phrase as relatives, but I get questions from journalists, too. Some are skeptical, as journalists tend to be (and should be) of any buzzword. Some are enthusiastic about the general topic, but unsure what all it entails. Some suspect that community engagement is more about marketing than about journalism. Some fear that community engagement is one more chore stacked upon the already heavy workload of journalists in shrinking newsrooms.
My new Journal Register colleagues have been quite supportive of my new responsibilities. They are asking excellent questions about what we will be doing together to deepen engagement with the communities we serve.
I’m going to address all these questions in a series of blog posts that probably will take several weeks. Today I will provide an overview of community engagement. In coming weeks, I will dig into the various engagement techniques that I will cover only briefly here.
Let’s start with a tweet-length definition: Community engagement = News orgs making a top priority to listen, to join & lead conversation to elevate our journalism.
Update: JeffJarvis and MattTerenzio said on Twitter that they thought I should have used “enable” instead of “lead” in the tweet above. I agree that enabling conversation is an important aspect of engagement (and I’d say it’s included in good leadership). But I’m not sure it’s more important than leadership. The community is pretty well able to converse already and is already doing so. But I’m pro-conversation, so I welcome this crowdsourced editing help:
Community engagement = News orgs make top priority to listen, to join, lead & enable conversation to elevate journalism.
A Journal Register Co. editor mentioned a common challenge in a newsroom trying to master social media. How do you build an engaged audience on Twitter? My answer to the editor (expanded some as I’ve thought more about it):
Engaging followers is largely a result of two factors: following people who care about your community and conversing with them. (more…)
Voice of San Diego is hiring an Engagement Editor, which sounds a lot like my title, Director of Community Engagement. Whenever the position is filled, I will start networking with this new colleague. Maybe a couple more and we can form an association (FREE, Federation of Real Engagement Editors?) and start holding conventions. Any others out there I should be networking with already? Do social media editors count? (A Nieman Lab post says the San Diego job is more than social media, but I guess most social media editors would say that about their jobs, too.) (more…)
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.