Archive for March, 2013

I led a workshop Tuesday at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., for engagement editors in the Pennsylvania cluster of Digital First Media.

(The cluster actually includes the Trentonian and some weeklies in New Jersey, but the editor planning to come from the Trentonian had to cancel. And it includes the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia, but they watched the livestream rather than making the long drive to join us in person.)

Thanks (again) to all the participants and to Mandy Jenkins, Ivan Lajara, Buffy Andrews, Diane Hoffman and Vince Carey, who helped me lead it.

If you participated in the workshop, I don’t recommend going through all this at once. I asked you in the workshop to choose one or two things to do this week. I’d read the links and/or re-watch the slides related to those one or two things. And then move on next week to the thing(s) you decided to try next week. I encourage digging into a single topic rather than trying to absorb everything at once.

Here are slides from Mandy, Ivan, Vince and me:



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Daniel Victor wrote a thoughtful (and much-criticized) piece about hashtags for the Nieman Lab Tuesday.

I Storified some of the reaction (Storify apparently no longer offers the option to post to a WordPress blog, and it doesn’t embed here, so I’m just linking to it).


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Update: The March Engagement Madness winner is the Peeps contest of the Bay Area News Group. The Peeps defeated March Pet Madness, 540 to 329.

Boxes of candy will be heading to both newsrooms, the bigger one to the champions. (BANG covers several newsrooms, but the candy is headed for Walnut Creek, where Joan Morris, who spearheaded the project, works.

Read about the champion and the runner-up below:

Let the voting begin for March Engagement Madness championship: March Pet Madness vs. Peeps.

In the semifinals, the Morning Sun’s March Pet Madness, which has won the most votes in each of the first two rounds, came from behind to beat the York Daily Record’s Remember Series, 136-104. In the other semifinal, The Bay Area News Group’s Peeps contest beat the Loveland Herald’s Easter Egg Hunt, 83-38.

Vote for your favorite entry in the championship round. I’ll cut off the voting an declare a champion at 3 p.m. Friday. I’ll send a Priority Mail box stuffed with Easter candy to the winning newsroom.

Pets vs. Peeps

Peeps diorama contest

Source: mercurynews.com via Joan on Pinterest


“Peeps Blanket Babylon” by Dora Grinnell of San Jose, Calif.

Ann Tatko-Peterson explains:

Love them or hate them, Peeps are everywhere during the spring.

So as part of an annual contest, we ask readers to build dioramas using Peeps and submit photos of their creations. Three winning dioramas are featured in print; photos of the others make up an online slideshow.

All of the photos are posted in a Pinterest board. We also use Facebook and Twitter to draw attention to the contest.

Entries show each year how imaginative readers are — from a pirate ship and Dr. Frankenstein’s lab to a fire rescue and election-themed diorama.


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A while back Scott Leadingham of the Society of Professional Journalists asked me to contribute to a feature asking journalists for our personal codes of ethics. He posted my reply at the SPJ Works blog:

A journalist’s job is pretty much like a witness’s oath in court: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. …

I hope you check out SPJ Works for the rest of my response, which was brief.

I called on SPJ in 2010 to update its Code of Ethics. I also recommended some changes in Poynter’s Guiding Principles for the Journalist, which are being updated.

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March Engagement Madness started a week ago with four first-round matchups.

The Morning Sun’s March Pet Madness had the strongest first-round performance, blowing away the Roving O’Herald project of the News-Herald, 74-34 in the Great Lakes Region. Roving O’Herald goes home with its head held high (note the deft use of sports clichés), though, winning more votes than two of our first-round winners.

Another first-round loser that outpolled two winners was the Los Angeles News Group’s Beer Bracket, which got a respectable 36 votes but still lost 44-36 in the West Region to the Bay Area News Group’s Peeps contest.

The closest contest was in the East Region, where both projects were entered by the York Daily Record. The Remember series beat another Peeps contest, 31-28.

In the Central Region, the Loveland Herald’s Easter Egg Hunt project beat the Pioneer Press’ Sexy Accountant project in a defensive struggle, 25-11.

In the next round, we have the East and Great Lakes winners facing off (a rematch of the top two entries in last year’s Valentine engagement contest) and the Central and West regions in a David-vs.-Goliath match between a small community daily and a regional engagement project:

Vote for your favorite entry in each semi-final. I originally planned to allow a week for voting in each round. But nearly all the votes come on the first day and we should wrap this up in March. So I’ll update Thursday with the championship matchup and will name the champion Friday afternoon.

Pets vs. Memories

 York Remember Series

Source: ydr.com via Matt on Pinterest


Buffy Andrews explains this project:

Our Remember series engages the community by asking readers to share memories of the past. Our topics have included everything from remembering World War II and S&H Greenstamps to Woodstock and TMI. We have done about 50 of these so far and our readers love it.

We ask readers to call a designated phone line and share their memory. We upload these audio files and share them with our readers online. Some of them are transcribed for print.

We then choose one person to interview for a story and shoot a video of that person to go along with the story. We also maintain a Remember series Pinterest board in which we pin an image from the story. The pin back links to the story online. Some readers have found the story via Pinterest. And we developed a Remember New Hive page.

We promote via all social media channels and find opportunities to get the stories back in front of our readers when it makes sense (ie. Remembering Blizzard of 1996 during a snowstorm, etc.)

When I started this project several years ago, I wanted to capture local oral histories and create an online repository. I felt like so much was being lost as the older generation passed away — memories of World War II or what it was like during the Depression, for example. I think it’s up to us to capture their oral histories and memories and preserve them for generations to come.

I proud of this project and what we have accomplished. And I’m grateful to my staffers who shared my vision from the beginning and have worked hard to build this valuable resource. Now, when students go looking for local history, this is one place they can check.

I’m always amazed at what we discover. For example, in March’s Watergate remember story that came out Sunday, we discovered something that Nixon did that I’m sure few, if any, knew about. What? You’ll have to read the story.

March Pet Madness

Source: Uploaded by user via MorningSun on Pinterest.


Holly Mahaffey of the Morning Sun explains:

Our overall plan is to do a March Madness-style bracket where readers submit photos and information about their pets, and we hold voting on each round to narrow down the bracket. The idea is for it to be a cute pet vs. pet competition where readers will vote who should move on based on cuteness, pet skills, things like that. Voting will take place through our Facebook page.

Our goals are to engage our readers in something fun and lighthearted, to increase our Pinterest following, bring additional exposure to our other social media accounts and to drive traffic to the website.

We solicited photos through social media and email, and got 64 submissions to fill out the brackets. We also made a Pinterest board with baseball card-style profiles of each pet so we can get some more eyeballs on our Pinterest page.

When we near the end of the project we plan to do a feature story about the final two pets and their owners, written sports-style, to encourage more of a frenzy of voting for the final ‘game.’

Easter Eggs vs. Peeps

Easter Egg Hunt

Reporter-Herald photo
Reporter-Herald photo

Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald explains:

We don’t want to be cliche and use words like “egg-stravaganza” and “egg-straordinary,” but the Loveland Reporter-Herald is hosting an egg-stra cool hunt for the prettiest eggs in time for Easter.

Our project will be in a couple of stages. We’re crowdsourcing through Facebook, Twitter and our website for egg decorators willing to give us tutorials on how to decorate awesome eggs. We invited the community to submit their photos of best decorated eggs to us by March 24, which will be placed in an ongoing slideshow and album on Facebook and Pinterest.

We will put those photos in an online poll March 24-27 to find the reader’s choice. We will interview the owner of that reader’s choice photo as well as four other unique eggs to feature in an Easter Sunday story of best eggs in Loveland.

BANG Peeps

Source: mercurynews.com via Joan on Pinterest


“Peeps Blanket Babylon” by Dora Grinnell of San Jose, Calif.

Ann Tatko-Peterson explains (and yes, we do have the possibility of Peeps vs. Peeps for the championship):

Love them or hate them, Peeps are everywhere during the spring.

So as part of an annual contest, we ask readers to build dioramas using Peeps and submit photos of their creations. Three winning dioramas are featured in print; photos of the others make up an online slideshow.

All of the photos are posted in a Pinterest board. We also use Facebook and Twitter to draw attention to the contest.

Entries show each year how imaginative readers are — from a pirate ship and Dr. Frankenstein’s lab to a fire rescue and election-themed diorama.

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I’m spending this week at the Bennington Banner. I’m leading workshops each day (plus one Thursday at the nearby Manchester Journal). Here are the links and slides:

Monday: Using social media for journalism

I’ll repeat this workshop (with some Twitter worked in) Thursday in Manchester.

Facebook news-feed changes mean newsrooms need new engagement strategies

Correction on AP photos: Newsrooms don’t have rights to post them on Facebook

Pottstown Mercury’s wanted-poster-style Pinboard is resulting in arrests

I’m starting to like Pinterest: a digital scrapbook (but potentially a baseball card collection)

How journalists and newsrooms can use Pinterest

Helpful links for learning and exploring Pinterest

Google+ Hangout helps with video interviews

Slides for these workshops:


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Register Citizen photo

Register Citizen photo

Jessica Glenza of the Register Citizen did some excellent reporting in a story published today about sexual assault allegations against two high school football players in Torrington, Conn.

A critical aspect of the story and of Jessica’s reporting was her documentation of cyber-bullying of the 13-year-old girl named as the victim in the alleged assault. The story includes screen shots of nine tweets (four of them pictured above) that attempted to blame and shame the girl. One of them was retweeted 21 times and favorited 13 times. Without the tweets themselves (some of them using vulgar language that the Register Citizen wisely didn’t water down), second-hand allegations or rumors of cyber-bullying would have weakened the story. The tweets make the bullying a well-documented fact.

I have asked Jessica and her editors to provide a detailed account (when they have time) of how they tracked down the tweets used in the story. Editor John Berry gave a quick explanation by email this morning: (more…)

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We have eight Digital First Media projects competing in March Engagement Madness.

I asked newsrooms to enter projects seeking community engagement around the NCAA basketball tournament, the start of spring, religious holidays or other promotions going on now. I wish we had 64 projects to play off in a full bracket, but we’ll play it out with eight. As with our Valentine’s engagement contests, the winning newsroom will be paid off in candy.

I edited some of the entries to change tenses because some entered before contests that have now started or even concluded. Each of the four contests has a poll. Vote for your favorite entry in each region. Next week, I’ll update with the four winners and the following week we’ll play off the top two.

East Region

We have two projects from the York Daily Record (winner of last year’s Valentine engagement contest). While I considered putting them in different brackets for a potential matchup for the championship, I want to keep as many newsrooms as possible engaged with the voting here as long as we can. Also, the eight entries group pretty well geographically. So Round One is York vs. York: (more…)

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Verification of information gathered through social media is one of the most pressing matters in journalism today.

Josh Stearns has done the most comprehensive job I have seen of compiling links to tips, blog posts, examples and case studies relating to social-media verification. This will be my reading list for the next few weeks, so I thought I’d share it.

(Thanks to Josh for the shoutout and for the link to my tips on verifying information from tweets.)

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Hanover Facebook updateCommunity fun is a good way to engage on Facebook.

Wanda Murren, Managing Editor/Digital Media at The Evening Sun in Hanover, Pa., reports on the success of the post shown above:

I think we’ve broken some sort of world record with our FB post yesterday previewing the Treat’s season opening. OK, maybe not a world record, but it’s almost certainly an ES record. I remember some big reactions, but nothing like this. We were amazed all day long at how the numbers were taking off. (more…)

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We’re rolling out the Mobile Journalism Lab at the Bay Area News Group this evening at the Hometown Heroes event in Oakland, Calif.

This is the third mobile community media lab for Digital First Media, joining TC Rover in the Twin Cities and NewsVroom in York, Pa.

The Bay Area News Group will use the News MoJo for community engagement and news coverage throughout the San Francisco Bay area.

The van debuts at an event in downtown Oakland celebrating BANG’s Hometown Heroes partnership with Comcast.

The external graphics aren’t ready yet, so tonight’s event is a soft launch.

The NewsMoJo will provide classes in digital media tools throughout the Bay Area as well as provide a rolling newsroom for journalists on our staffs to use in covering breaking news and events.

I’ll update with photos through the evening.

Digital First Regional Engagement Editor Martin Reynolds, left, shows off the NewsMoJo to Jessie Mangaliman:


NewsMoJo is equipped with iPads, smartphones and ThinkPads for public use and hot spots to provide free public wi-fi:


Posters inside the Rotunda at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza tell the stories of Bay Area Hometown Heroes:


Katherine Rowlands, East Bay Metro Editor, explains the Bay Area News Group’s commitment to community engagement and local news:


Visitors check out the iPads in the NewsMoJo:



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I will be leading workshops on Twitter this week for four newsrooms in the Bay Area News Group. 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

I may 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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