Archive for August, 2011

I will be presenting a full-day workshop today for the Committee of Concerned Journalists and Georgetown University for a group of visiting Portuguese journalists. We’ll be talking about social media and reporting.

I will be discussing points made in several earlier blog posts:


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I’ve curated Journal Register newsrooms’ use of social media in covering Hurricane Irene and last week’s earthquake. I’m not sure why I can’t get this to publish to my blog (I’ve done that several times with Storify), but you can read it at the link above.

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Like many institutional Twitter accounts, Journal Register Co. newsroom accounts need to be more engaging and conversational.

We tweet a lot of links to our content. But we’re not very personable. In the coming months, I will be working with JRC colleagues to strengthen engagement on newsroom Twitter accounts. I’ll start by sharing some best practices here. I’ll blog later about using Facebook. I’ve already shared some advice for individual journalists using Twitter. Today I focus on branded newsroom accounts (whether that’s the lead newsroom account or a niche account focusing on a topic such as sports or a beat).

The specific practices start with some guiding principles in use of social media: Use good sense. Practice good journalism. Be creative, aggressive, accurate and ethical. (more…)

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Someday Twitter tips will seem as unnecessary for most journalists as notebook tips. But in the past few weeks, I have encountered several journalists who were not using Twitter yet. A couple just within the last week asked my advice, so I decided to update my tips for journalists using Twitter, originally published in July 2009.

Most of the advice here is elementary to intermediate. If you’re an experienced Twitter user, this might not be helpful to you. The tips here are intended for journalists with no Twitter experience or those who have dabbled a little, but haven’t made Twitter part of their regular journalism tool set. I cobbled pieces of this from another previous post or two, and have tried to update throughout and added some new sections.

If you aren’t familiar with the jargon of Twitter, I have a brief glossary at the end of this post and you might want to skip to the end and read that early. I think Twitter has been around long enough that most people know the terminology, even if they don’t use it, so I put that at the end rather than early. (more…)

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I started my professional journalism career 40 years ago. I don’t recall the exact date I started work, but it was in August and I’m pretty sure the anniversary is sometime this week.

I don’t know what that means, other than that I’m getting old and I’ve seen and survived a lot. But we like round numbers, so I’ll blog some about the changes I’ve seen in journalism and the news business over the past four decades.

I started writing sports part-time for the Evening Sentinel in Shenandoah, Iowa. My boss then, the Sentinel’s young sports editor, was Chuck Offenburger. How the media have changed since I started is illustrated by the fact that Chuck is now an Internet entrepreneur, following a long career as a reporter and beloved columnist for the Des Moines Register. His Offenburger.com website is must reading if you love Iowa. I’m delighted to see that Chuck’s lymphoma is so much in remission that he could ride on Ragbrai this year. I do not understand his love for bikes, but I’m glad to see he’s riding again, and I will always be grateful to him for letting me sneak my foot into the door of the news business. We’re hoping to connect this weekend while I’m in Iowa for a wedding. Update: Offenburger had a great time at lunch Sunday, where our friend Daniel P. Finney took the photo above.

While individual stories ranging from the Iowa caucuses to sexual abuse by priests to girls basketball to an iconic photograph have dominated my attention for stretches of months or years, when you look back from the distance of 40 years, you remember more of the people, the travel and the trends than the particular stories. The trends have been technology, disruption and opportunity. (more…)

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A year ago, my TBD colleagues and I launched one of the great adventures of my career.

Few remain there. TBD barely remains, its staff and mission diminished and redefined. Founding leader Jim Brady parted ways with owner Robert Allbritton last November. By February, Allbritton changed the mission and cut the staff. By May, I was gone.

A year ago, I thought we would be celebrating an exciting first year and planning more growth and expansion. My point here is not to dwell on the past. Instead, I will quietly lift a glass to my TBD colleagues and share some lessons for other digital pioneers (and for my Journal Register Co. colleagues) from our TBD experience. (more…)

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I don’t have time for a detailed exploration of the New York Times beta620 project.

But, since I have been critical of the Times on multiple occasions, I’d like to say that on first glance this looks like an excellent work of innovation, journalism and transparency. It’s a place for the Times to show off projects in the works and to seek feedback from them. I love the idea and will follow its projects with interest. Mathew Ingram and Megan Garber have written nice pieces about it and I commend them to your attention.

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As often happens among journalists on Twitter, we spent a lot of time Monday talking about Twitter.

The discussion was sparked by a blog post by Jim Romenesko, which noted the light Twitter use by editors of the 10 largest U.S. newspapers. This post reviews the Twitter discussion, including a calling-bullshit exchange between New York Times Editor Bill Keller and me. In separate posts, I say why editors should be active on Twitter and update my 2009 study of Twitter use by leaders of the American Society of News Editors. All three posts were initially combined in one too-long post that remains on Storify. (more…)

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Most leaders of the American Society of News Editors are not active Twitter users.

This post was originally part of a longer post discussing editors’ use of Twitter. I have broken that post into three parts, but the long version is still available on Storify. The discussion was prompted by Poynter blogger Jim Romenesko’s blog post that noted the weak Twitter use by editors at the 10 largest newspapers in the United States. In separate posts, I say why editors should be active on Twitter and review yesterday’s Twitter discussion., joined by New York Times Editor Bill Keller.

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Most top newsroom editors have ignored (or never heard or read) my repeated encouragement that they should be active users of Twitter.

The sorry fact is that, as many times as journalists and newsmakers have proven what an important tool Twitter is, most top editors still don’t engage on Twitter.
Prompted by Boston Globe Editor Marty Baron’s first tweet (upon which I commented on Twitter), Poynter blogger Jim Romenesko Monday checked the Twitter profiles of the editors of the 10 largest newspapers in the United States. The second or third most-active Twitter user of the group was Bill Keller of the New York Times, who has tweeted only 42 times and who famously tweeted and blogged about how stupid Twitter is (more on Keller later). (more…)

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