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Archive for February, 2013

Even when you’re not first with the news, it’s important to be fast.

Wednesday night, ESPN broke the news that NASCAR racer Jeremy Clements had been suspended for using a racial slur in an interview. I’m not a NASCAR fan and this is the first time I have heard of Jeremy Clements. But Matt Myftiu of the Oakland Press has a NASCAR blog and he jumped on the news. Matt explains (edited from two emails, with me adding the links):

Last night there was some breaking NASCAR news and I posted a quick blog about it at my NASCAR: Beyond the Track blog.

Wasn’t even a big name involved, but the key fact here is that I posted my thoughts right away.   It only took me a few minutes to do this, and because it was breaking news many people who were searching for information on this breaking news ended up being directed toward my blog, as almost nobody had posted anything about it.

I’ve had more than 7,000 hits on that post, most of them coming from Web searches about the topic.   (more…)

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Denver Post photoMy Tuesday blog post about the value of archival photos for Facebook engagement caught the attention of Allen Klosowski, Digital First Media’s senior director, social media and mobile.

Allen, who is based in Denver, called my suggestion to the attention of his colleagues Eric Lubbers and Dan Petty in the Denver Post newsroom. “They ran with it, and it’s now going to be a standard feature,” Allen said in an email. “Nice engagement and it seemed to boost the post that came up next.”

The photo above, as you can see, got lots of shares and likes. (It also got more than 40 comments, but I can’t show them all in a screen grab.)

I think the short, pithy questions that Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily uses with some of her archival photos (below) tend to get stronger engagement. But I also like the idea of inviting people to click for more old photos on your website. I’d like to see how it works if someone combines the two techniques. This much is clear: Remember-when photos are an effective engagement tool. Please let me know how your newsroom is using them and what works well (or doesn’t work) for you.

Who remembers

Plum pit

Update: Susan Steade of the San Jose Mercury News sends along some more experience with photo archives (edited from two emails):

We started compiling archival slideshows at MercuryNews.com last summer, and now have a collection of them. The favorite so far, on the defunct amusement park Frontier Village, has gotten about 26,000 page views. Beauty queens; bars, taverns and discos; and cheerleaders and twirlers have each gotten 12,000-15,000 so far.

The slideshows have an article template that displays links to the previous collections. In a month or so we’ll be adding favorite “remember when” stories to the section.

I don’t think they’ve been getting much play on Facebook. We do have a Pinterest board for the archival photos, though, and we’ve been tweeting them out.

That’s Halle Berry at age 20 in a Miss World pageant from the Merc’s Archive Photos Pinboard.

Early responses on Twitter:

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Twitter has made your archive of old tweets available.

For the fun (or embarrassment) of reviewing your first tweet and other early tweets or to find tweets from your early coverage of a story that’s back in the news, you should acquire and check out your Twitter archive.

Shea Bennett and Buffy Andrews give detailed instructions with illustrations, which I won’t repeat in detail here. Basically, you go to your Twitter settings, click the “request your archive” button and Twitter emails you a link to download the archive as a zip file. The zip file includes an html file where you can view the files and a csv file where you can get them in a spreadsheet.

Here’s my first tweet:

My decision five-plus years later:

My Digital First colleague Ivan Lajara immediately started Storifying first tweets as we started confessing them. Hashtags sharing first tweets included #myfirsttweet and #firsttweets (did you notice or use any others?).

As Mandy Jenkins suggested in a Google Group discussion yesterday, this would make a good local engagement project, asking people in your community to share their first tweets and Storifying them. You could choose some finalists and have the community vote for best first tweet, most embarrassing first tweet, etc.

That’s fun, and if you’re doing something like that in your community, please share some links and descriptions here.

By the way, I beat Mandy onto Twitter (by three days), but she beat me at examining her archive to note some personal and professional milestones that she had tweeted. If you’ve blogged, Storified or otherwise curated your early tweets (or seen such a compilation from someone else), please share those links.

I’m going to explore my old tweets and will probably do a couple of self-indulgent memory-lane blog posts (travel tweets for sure) in the next few weeks. But here’s my question for you (I’ll try to think of my own answers): What are some uses you might make of the Twitter archive, other than nostalgia or fun?

 

 

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Those old photos your newsroom has stashed away in file cabinets? They might be engagement gold on Facebook.

Check out this photo posted yesterday by Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily:

Who remembers

In 20 hours, more than 1,000 people shared that on their Facebook walls, more than 3,000 people liked it (nearly as many as like the Macomb Daily) and more than 600 have commented (the combined totals have gone up by more than 200 just since I grabbed that screen grab and started writing). The numbers above don’t show this, but Maryanne reports that more than 84,000 people have looked at the photo.

Feb. 27 update: Maryanne reports that 150,000 people have viewed the post, generating 1,656 shares, 1,139 comments and 5,562 likes. She did a story about all the response to the photo.

Resuming the original post: This isn’t the first time I’ve shared a success story with remember-when photos from the Macomb Daily’s Facebook page. In my post on Facebook engagement tips last October, I noted a photo of the Plum Pit that went viral with more than 11,000 likes.  (more…)

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I was busy during the fuss over the Journal News publishing (and eventually unpublishing) a map of gun permit holders in its coverage area.

Other than a few comments on social media, I didn’t join the discussion. While I thought some criticism was valid, I was troubled by the outcry among journalists. At several points, I wanted to weigh in, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to say. So I kept mostly silent and kept my focus on the work I needed to do.

Geneva Overholser (a colleague from our first hitches at the Des Moines Register back in the 1980s) has said what I wanted to say. Whether you agree or disagree with the publication of the gun permit data, you should read Geneva’s Online Journalism Review post Secrecy is trumping public interest in gun control coverage.

From local sheriffs and gun owners intimidating publishers about concealed weapon permits that are  and should be public records to an increasingly opaque White House, momentum is shifting away from openness. Journalists and citizens should worry about that shift, however you feel about a particular issue.

We need to make the case for openness better than we have. I’m glad Geneva made the case well, and I’m sorry that I didn’t.

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I will be a panelist today for an American University Career Center program for graduate students in the School of Communication. I am collecting some of my career-advice blog posts here to share with the students:

Use digital tools to showcase your career and your work

Tips on landing your next job in digital journalism

Job-hunting advice for journalists selling skills in the digital market

Confessions (strategies) of a branded journalist (or a journalist with a reputation, if you prefer)

Your digital profile tells people a lot

Career lessons from Daniel Victor’s swift ascent

Career lessons from a former ‘Twitter monkey’

Matt Thompson advises job-seekers how to land a journalism gig

Elevate your journalism career

What are some other helpful career-oriented links for journalists?

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Trentonian bracketLet’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).

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Update: Now the #twutorial slides are on SlideShare’s “most popular” page, with more than 14,000 views.

SlideShare ranks way behind Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and lots of other social tools in the social media pecking order. But some slides I posted there last week (above) got more views than all but one blog post I ever wrote. And a slide show I posted last year got more views than any blog post I ever wrote.

My experience with SlideShare shows how even second-tier or third-tier social tools offer important engagement opportunities that journalists, educators and trainers should keep in mind.

I am as likely as anyone to make fun of PowerPoint presentations. I’m more likely to be annoyed by someone who reads his slides to me than I am to remember a speaker’s slide presentation. I’ve never browsed SlideShare myself to look at others’ slides and I seldom browse very far into a deck when I find one online with a blog post or linked to from a tweet or Facebook update. I’m not the audience of SlideShare, but I certainly am a user.

I believe in results. And SlideShare metrics show that slides work for some people. So I keep using slides in my workshops and SlideShare keeps showing those slides to far more people than my workshops reach (my 130 presentations and other documents have more than 220,000 views on SlideShare). (more…)

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Omaha World-Herald columnist Matthew Hansen tracked the origin of this photo, which went viral on Reddit and Gawker. The orange spot in the middle is a burning manhole. The orange spots behind it are reflections of street lamps. Hansen resolved Internet speculation about whether they were more flaming manholes or whether the picture had been faked.

Matthew Hansen is the only person in the trio of Omaha World-Herald metro columnists I didn’t work with in my two stints at the World-Herald, which ended in 2005. But I met Matt last year when he did a story on the funeral of my nephew, Brandon Buttry. I was already a fan and friend of Mike Kelly and Erin Grace, the other two columnists, and I’m quickly gaining admiration for Matt.

I was pleased to see him get some praise from New York Times media columnist David Carr today for his work on tracking the source of a viral photo (above) that showed flames shooting from an Omaha manhole (as the photo went viral, people said it showed a series of flames, but Matt debunked that). Carr’s column tells an interesting story, but Matt’s own column is better. (more…)

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Jason Plotkin's new Cover.

Jason Plotkin’s new Cover.

Journalists should go to extraordinary lengths to protect our integrity. But when a courtesy or kindness doesn’t threaten our integrity, we should say “thank you.”

Jason Plotkin, an extraordinary (Emmy-winning) visual journalist for the York Daily Record, blogged recently about a marine giving him his “Cover” (“The Army wears hats. The Marines wear Covers,” the marine explained).

Jason wrote about all the gifts he had given away over the years, or passed on to a YDR charity auction, guided by the ethical imperative to maintain independence from sources. His colleague, Buffy Andrews, called the dilemma to my attention, asking what I thought.

Here’s what I think: We should absolutely – and insistently, if necessary – politely refuse gifts of significant value that could threaten our integrity, if only by appearance. But journalists don’t have to be assholes. Our jobs too often force us to annoy – asking difficult questions, refusing pleas not to publish embarrassing information, intruding on grief and other private situations. I defend (and have practiced) all of those actions and many other unpopular things journalists need to do. But we don’t have to insult people who are being kind in ways that don’t threaten our integrity.

(more…)

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I’m leading a workshop on crowdsourcing this afternoon for the Daily Times in Farmington, N.M.

I’ll be using a lot of the tips from my 2011 post about crowdsourcing.

Here are links to some crowdsourcing examples I will be using (what are some other good examples to add?):

Guardian project on MP’s expenses

Morning Sun crowdsourcing on winter storm

Crowdsourced flooding map

#wheretheyserved map

Guardian coverage of meteor explosion

Atlantic coverage of meteor explosion

Here are helpful links for crowdsourcing (what are some other links I should include?):

Lessons from the Guardian’s expenses crowdsourcing project

Daniel Victor explains a project that used crowdsourcing

Crowdmap

5 ways to crowdsource easily, legally & with quality (Jeremy Caplan)

Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson

Crowdsourcing Hurricane Irene recovery map in Connecticut

Of course, I crowdsourced tips for the workshop, with pretty good results:

Here are my slides from the workshop:

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I am leading a workshop this afternoon for the Daily Times in Farmington, N.M. I will use tips or techniques from many, perhaps all, of my #twutorial posts:

Step one for using Twitter as a reporter: Master advanced search

Use lists, TweetDeck, HootSuite, saved searches, alerts to organize Twitter’s chaos

Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques

Hashtags help journalists find relevant tweets and reach more people

Advice and examples on how and what journalists should tweet

9 ways to find helpful people and organizations to follow on Twitter

To build Twitter followers: Join the conversation, tweet often, be yourself

10 ways Twitter is valuable for journalists

Updated Twitter time management tips

Don’t be selfish on Twitter; tweeting useful information is good business

What’s the best way to view Twitter’s users? 16 percent or 30 million

Twitter data shows journos’ ‘burstiness’ boosts followers

#Twutorial guest post from Alexis Grant: A simple Twitter strategy that will dramatically grow your network

#Twutorial guest post from Deanna Utroske: Tips for twinterviewing

#Twutorial guest post by Menachem Wecker: How to use Twitter to find the best sources

#Twutorial guest post by Jaclyn Schiff: How using Storify can help you find great sources

Getting started on Twitter: #twutorial advice for a friend

Should a journalist livetweet a funeral? If so, how?

Use Twitter for conversation about an event, not just promotion

How to verify information from tweets: check it out

In addition, these two posts that predate the #twutorial series cover some of the points I’ll make in the workshop:

Suggestions for livetweeting

Updated and expanded Twitter tips for journalists

And I’ll use this Andy Carvin Storify acount as an example as well as this Denver plane crash.

Here are the slides for my workshop today (I may not use all the slides and probably won’t get to the case study that the last several slides cover):

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