Archive for April, 2009

Bloggers continue to praise my Blueprint for a Complete Community Connection. Michele McLellan calls it ambitious on News Leadership 3.0. Robert Ivan calls it a must-read in Metaprinter. As I noted yesterday, Mark Potts  and Mark Briggs also were generous with their praise. Thanks to all. I hope we can turn the blueprint into a beautiful building that will last for generations.


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I did an impromptu test/illustration today of how Twitter provides instant, helpful answers.

I was speaking to Pat Pisarik’s media convergence class at Loras College. I hadn’t planned a presentation on Twitter, but mentioned it in passing and someone asked a question about it and then someone else asked what tweets are and how Twitter works. I quickly opened Twitter and tweeted: Explaining Twitter in a Loras class. Tweeps, tell me how you’ve found Twitter helpful today.

The responses started coming in seconds:

@danielrandolph, a student in the class who was asking thoughtful questions, had the quickest response:  tweeting back to you in class.

I was not at all surprised to see @hidama from Coe College next in line, answering: “I just asked @urbanbigfoot the name of the hair salon he goes to – I wanted to suggest it to a friend. Now that’s useful.”

Next came @ellynangelotti of Poynter in St. Petersburg, Fla.: “Today we are using twitter in our live chat to solicit questions (none have come in yet) http://is.gd/v8ZF”  (I hope some came in.)

@gmarkham of Vancouver added: “twitter helps me stay in touch with smart journo/commentators; great alert system for breaking news; just plain fun.” (3 points in under 140 characters.)

From Wichita @lkelly chimed in: “I’ve received natl / local news alerts, offered restaurant recommendations for conf, learned friend was laid off, sent news tip.” (4 tips, 5 if you count national and local news alerts as 2.) She also retweeted my request, passing it along to another 218 followers.

From Cedar Rapids, @Vinnyschick joined: “I like getting concise, very current news so I can be on top of things without wasting time searching and perusing websites.”

You’d think someone who’s as good at headlines as Gazette copy editor @dvdlee wouldn’t need two tweets to answer me, but he did: “It was through Twitter that I found and shared the youtube video of New Yorkers running from low-flying AF1 backup plane.” And: “…and if I can plan/present things properly, I’d include a link on the first tweet: http://tinyurl.com/dxpkwh

@suzannetobias, also in Wichita, retweeted my request to another 857 followers and replied herself: “Local tweeps provided great updates during tornado and flood warnings here in Wichita on Sunday.”

@judylubben of Cedar Rapids, who doesn’t tweet a lot, tweeted that she still finds it useful to follow others: “I like being up to date on what is happening without searching all over to find out.”

@jaredtaylor, a South Texas journalist, tweeted: “we found somebody who said she was tested for swine flu today.”

@MomFromOz, apparently a Kansan, responding to @susannetobias and me, tweeted: “I got an opportunity to volunteer at ROKICT this weekend! Woot! That’s how I twit!” Not sure what ROKICT is, but she apparently had fun. (I gotta say, I spent a lot of time in Kansas, and I’m pretty sure those beach photos on her page were not shot in Kansas. She must have gone over the rainbow for her honeymoon.)

@JKonchar, who took my Edge Business Magazine Twitter class earlier this month, is already getting the hang of it: “Keeping up to date on News and what is going on in Iowa and all around us.”

Another one of my staff members, @mollyr, needed two tweets to respond: “I’m always using Twitter to garner sources, story ideas, direct people to my blog,” and “It’s become a real important writing tool for me.”

And in a direct message, @suebb, former managing editor of the Detroit News, replied: “Re Twitter helpful. 1st place for news more + more. Today, found out Detroit CEO going to USAT via Twitter.”

Most of those tweets came within minutes and I was able to show them off to the class, illustrating the swift nature of Twitter as well as getting great variety in my answers.

Chuck Offenburger, who gave me my first job in this business some 38 years ago before I started my senior year of high school, asked me a while back to help him get started in Twitter. About an hour after those swife responses, while I was driving back to Cedar Rapids, @chuckoburger (who used to teach at Loras, if memory serves) gave one of the best answers: “You can’t still be tweettalking the Loras class, but I’d have said Twitter today reminded me I can sing the Loras fight song.”

I couldn’t resist responding to the Iowa Boy: “Apologies to anyone who had to listen to @chuckoburger sing the Loras fight song. I didn’t mean to start that.”

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Thanks to Mark Potts for his lavish praise on his Recovering Journalist blog for my Blueprint for a Complete Community Connection. I would quote it here, but that would be too immodest even for me. I hope my Gazette colleagues and I can justify his kind words. Mark Briggs piled on with more praise, too. Again, thanks.

I posted the blueprint yesterday as a series of blog posts. If you are interested in innovation in the media, I encourage you to read it, either by starting on the link above or by reading the pdf below:

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This is the ninth and final section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

News does not come last in my Complete Community Connection plans because it is less important than other content. News remains at the heart of what we do and of our role in the community.

But we know how to cover news in print and broadcast and we have made great strides in learning to cover news in the digital world. We must continue learning and changing in this core job as we transform into C3. We will develop our coverage of news in six primary ways:

  • Tell what’s happening right now.
  • Engage the community in helping us cover breaking stories and community news.
  • Engage the community in watchdog reporting.
  • Engage the community in deep and rich coverage of sports.
  • Use multimedia and narrative storytelling regularly and extensively.
  • Aggregate the best accounts of what’s happening in our communities and Iowa. (more…)

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This is the third and final part of the business section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

In addition to offering advertising and direct sales opportunities at a host of niche and communitywide sites, the Complete Community Connection should offer a wide range of services to businesses of all sizes: (more…)

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This is the second part of the business section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

With this year’s launch of iGuide, we have started providing a solution for local search. We need to make this more than a business advertising vehicle. We need to make it an indispensable place to connect with businesses and organizations throughout the community.

This is an important example of how we can develop content (and revenue opportunities) based on evergreen use, rather than focusing on our current model in both print and broadcast of selling slots on a particular day or a particular time. Starting with the database already loaded into the iGuide, we need to expand the iGuide and build an audience for it through aggressive promotion on several fronts: (more…)

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This is the first part of the business section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

I am convinced that media companies could have avoided the disruption we are facing today if we had seized 15 years ago upon the possibilities for direct sales online. They are the logical way to do business in the digital world and we have already lost billions of dollars in sales and an opportunity to develop a new business model by standing idly by while Amazon, eBay, Ticketmaster, hotel reservation systems and hundreds of other vendors bypassed us and figured out how to sell directly to the consumer online.

But our bread and butter has always been local businesses and many local businesses in our communities and every community are still struggling to catch up in the digital marketplace, just as we are. A media company that can provide a digital marketplace for its community and help guide local businesses to success in that marketplace still faces tremendous opportunities. (more…)

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This is the eighth section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

The Complete Community Connection needs to become a one-stop shop for businesses and community organizations in the communities we serve to connect with customers and other people they serve. Traditional advertising in print, broadcast and online will remain part of that. I won’t address traditional advertising here, just as I won’t address traditional news coverage in the section on enhanced news. We know how to do traditional advertising and we need to continue offering that service. But our growth opportunities lie in our ability to develop new ways to serve businesses:

Continue reading the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection with C3’s business services: Direct sales.

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This is the seventh section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection. 

Entertainment has always been an underrated part of newspaper content. But every editor who changes crossword puzzle syndicates or drops a comic strip knows that entertainment is a valued and essential part of newspaper content. And, of course, entertainment remains an essential consumer use of television content, though not on the local level.

As the Complete Community Connection develops our network for the future, we need to keep entertainment in mind in a variety of ways. (more…)

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This is the 16th and final part of the personal content section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

Obituaries are not a one-day story. They are the final account of a person’s life. Whether the newspaper writes its own obituary or publishes one submitted by the family or funeral home, that should be just the start. The Complete Community Connection needs to provide opportunities for deeper personal content.

The dearly departed should get her own memorial page (linked to the page on our site that she had in life, if she had one), where family members can add remembrances, photos and videos. (more…)

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This is the 15th part of the personal content section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection. 

Holiday shopping has always been big business for newspapers and television. The Complete Community Connection can make it bigger. (more…)

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This is the 14th part of the personal content section of the Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection.

Reunions are another event that’s big news in small circles that the Complete Community Connection needs to pursue.

Families, graduating classes, military units, fraternities, sororities and other groups need to get web pages or social networks to keep members posted on reunions and other events. When they register an event, prompts will guide them in sending automated emails to members (sponsored by local businesses interested in reaching the kind of group that’s gathering), booking and mapping the venue(s), offering members blocks of room and reservation opportunities. (more…)

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