Archive for May, 2012

I have written perhaps too much about paywalls. I even sort of vowed once to stop writing about them (fortunately I hedged it). I think maybe I kept writing about them in hopes of someday expressing my doubts about paywalls as clearly as Mathew Ingram and Dave Winer did today.

Ingram cites three reasons newspapers shouldn’t charge for their digital content:

  1. “Paywalls restrict the flow of content.”
  2. “Paywalls are backward-looking, not forward-looking.”
  3. “Newspapers need to adapt, not retrench.” (more…)

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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…)

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Today I am taking two visiting Polish journalists, Mirek Kowalski and Jarek Tokarczyk of Gazeta Olsztynska, to visit our Digital First newsroom at the York Daily Record.

I will live-tweet much of their visit to the Record, though I obviously will be joining the discussion at points as well. However, since our hosts at the Record, Editor Jim McClure and his colleagues, will be doing most of the talking, I think I should have time to live-tweet. So I’ll feed my tweets into this liveblog:
Polish journalists visit the York Daily Record

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I learned a long time ago that digital entrepreneurs don’t succeed by developing tools I understand immediately. So I wasn’t worried last summer when I first created a Pinterest account but couldn’t figure out why I would use it.

If it was going to become an important social tool, I’d learn by watching how smarter people used it. And I am.

I knew something was happening with Pinterest late last year when people in my social networks (and some people I’d never heard of) started following my pinboards (which at the time meant they were following nothing). I started seeing some Pinterest chatter on social media and in blogs.

Adam Burnham, senior vice president for local digital sales at Digital First Media, asked me early this year what I knew about Pinterest. I told him I didn’t know much but had noticed the growing use of it and chatter about it. A Google search found some articles that gave me some quick background.

If you haven’t been prompted yet to figure out Pinterest, here’s a quick explanation: It’s kind of a social media scrapbook of online images. When a photo or other image on the Internet catches your eye, you “pin” the image, saving it (with a link and whatever text you add) to a “pinboard” of related images.

An interesting factor in Pinterest use I noticed in reading about it was that women were using it more than men by about a 4-to-1 margin. I queried and checked out some colleagues about their Pinterest use and saw a similar gender gap. The most active users were female colleagues: Buffy Andrews, Mandy Jenkins, Cheryl Sadler, Lisa Jonaitis, Maryanne MacLeod, Helen Bennett and Jen Westpfahl. (Ivan Lajara was the outlier, a guy who’s using Pinterest actively and well. Daniel Finney, a friend at the Des Moines Register, is another outlier.) (more…)

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We’re getting ready to take some of our Digital First Media newsrooms on the road.

Four newsroom vans will roll into neighborhoods in the coming months, loaded with the equipment and people of community engagement projects.

We will launch the Mobile Community Media Lab projects in Connecticut, the San Francisco Bay area, the Twin Cities and York, Pa.

Digital First Media announced plans today for 12 community newsroom projects that will engage our communities in a variety of ways. In addition to the four mobile labs, we will be launching university partnerships, remodeling newsrooms to provide space for the community and planning special projects in our existing space. (more…)

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Death tends to bring out a tendency by journalists to exaggerate.

If you had asked NFL fans last week to list the players from the decades of the 1990s and 2000s who were “icons” or “legends,” they would have named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, Barry Sanders and a few others. I don’t think many would have named Junior Seau.

He was a star and a probable Hall of Famer, but I didn’t think of him as an icon or legend, and I don’t think most fans did. But his suicide made him both in the front-page headline of USA Today (I stayed in a hotel last night, so it was delivered to my door).

I should add that I would have no criticism of the use of either term by the San Diego media. He clearly was iconic there, with Dan Fouts probably one of the two greatest Charger players ever. But not nationally. It’s not a big deal, just an indication that journalism isn’t as objective as we sometimes portray it. Journalism is practiced by humans, and we react with human emotion, surprise and exaggeration sometimes. (more…)

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An editor asked my advice on how to respond to staff members who were using crude language and behaving unprofessionally on Twitter.

The editor was planning an appropriate response, reminding the staff and the individuals involved that they should always behave professionally.

But he was wondering if his approach might conflict with John Paton’s rules for employee use of social media, which some misinterpret to mean that anything goes. John’s point is not that we shouldn’t rebuke staff members for unprofessional behavior on Twitter, just that we don’t need a special Twitter rule for that. We already have expectations for professional conduct by our staff members, sometimes spelled out in employee handbooks and sometimes so obvious they shouldn’t need to be spelled out. (more…)

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I congratulate my Digital First Media colleagues on today’s launch of American Homecomings, a yearlong storytelling project that will chronicle the lives of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The soldiers will share their experiences as they reintegrate into American society, shedding light on the challenges they face upon returning from the battlefield,” said Jim Brady, editor-in-chief of Digital First.

The project has been directed by Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post, and Lee Ann Colacioppo, the Post’s senior editor/investigations.

Journalists from the Post, the Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich., Salt Lake Tribune, New Haven Register, Chico (Calif.) Enterprise Record, Contra Costa Times and the York (Pa.) Daily Record tell the stories of eight veterans who have agreed to tell their stories. (more…)

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Discussion of curmudgeons and people struggling with changing newsroom cultures drove my blog to record traffic in April.

My previous record, from December 2011, was just shy of 25,000 page views, but last month I topped 31,000. In previous months when my traffic has been strong, I’ve tried to note the patterns or lessons I could learn from the success. The big drivers of this record were four posts relating to change in newsrooms:

  1. Dear newsroom curmudgeon set traffic records for a single post on my blog: the highest single-day total of page views and the most views in a week or a month. At nearly 8,500 views it is on the verge of becoming the most-read post I’ve ever written, less than a hundred views behind my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, published three years ago. The C3 blueprint achieved its traffic by staying popular over time, getting 2,500 views in 2010 after more than 4,500 in 2009. And that was a proposal for a new business model for community news (though no one has actually implemented the model, it received a fair amount of attention). While the curmudgeon proposal was not as broadly useful, I believe it succeeded for at least two reasons: First, it connected with people — curmudgeons and reformers who are tired of curmudgeons — on an emotional level. Second, it offered advice; I wasn’t just scolding curmudgeons; I tried to understand some reasons for their resistance to change and I ended up offering advice. (more…)

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