Update: The Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colo., wins the fall engagement contest with its Vietnam veterans project (which I’ve moved to the top of the listing below).
The Reporter-Herald took second in our Valentine’s Day engagement project, but will win a bigger box of candy this year. Second-place in fall engagement goes to the Berkshire Eagle for its scary photo both (moved to second in the listing below).
The Reporter-Herald won 105 votes (41 percent), well ahead of the Eagle at 88 votes and 34 percent. The Daily Freeman and Marin Independent Journal tied for third place with 21 votes each.
Congratulations to Jessica Benes and her colleagues. The candy will go out today.
Halloween is a good day to launch voting for the best fall engagement project at Digital First Media.
Early in October, I sought nominations. Now it’s your turn to vote for the best. Please read all the nominations, then come back up to vote.
Some of them have been edited slightly, mostly because they referred to events that were upcoming but have now passed. I have asked the nominators for updates where appropriate. I have included the updates I received, and will add others if I receive them. (And, if I’ve missed an entry, please let me know right away!)
I should make one point clear before you vote: The entries didn’t have to be specifically fall-themed (Halloween, leaves, elections, football, etc.). If you engaged your community this fall, your project is eligible. So go ahead and vote (and encourage your colleagues and community to vote). I will close the voting Monday night and announce the winner on Tuesday. I’ll send a Priority Mail box stuffed with Halloween candy to the winning newsroom.
The nominees are posted below, first those submitted in the comments on my first blog post, in the order I received them, then those submitted through a DFM Google group, then one submitted by email:
Jessica Benes’ nomination:
The Associated Veteran’s Club in Loveland is honoring Vietnam Vets this Veteran’s Day, welcoming them home since the Vietnam War was not a pleasant war to be part of. I am writing a weekly series on Vietnam vets, highlighting a few local ones, and inviting the community to call a Google Voice number and leave messages of thanks to Vietnam vets. Those calls will be posted online with photos and transcribed in the paper for a Veteran’s Day story.
This will be our Sunday package on Nov. 10. So the big story will be Nov. 10 rather than Nov. 11. Here are some links following. In addition, I’ve been adding a Storify slideshow of Tout videos and quotes to each story, adding to the Storify as I complete another vet story.
The Berkshire Eagle hosted a Spooky Photo Booth at Pittsfield’s annual Third Thursday — an event where the city closes down our main street and kids and families come dressed up to trick-or-treat at area businesses and shop. We’ve never done anything like this really.
Online editor Laura Lofgren and I worked with the community members in charge of the event to get us the perfect spot and help promote it. We used social media, columns in the paper and in our calendar events to let people know we were going to be there. We used a free standing door (borrowed from circulation) and decorated it with spiderwebs and set up camera/lighting. We also had a table with our Berkshire Eagle tent to let people know where we were on the busy street.
To join the fun, I dressed as a lobster in a pot and Laura a surly New England fisherman. (We were able to run a story about the costume in a last-minute costume ideas theme.) I handed out 200 glowsticks and 736 lollipops and Laura was able to take 299 photos of trick-or-treaters big and small passing by.
We hosted the photos on a SmugMug gallery and told parents where they could find the photos.
In the first day after we saw more than 70,000 page views on the gallery alone. I also chose 16 photos to run in a Sunday lifestyle section also reminding families where they can go to see all of them and purchase photos if they would like. We got a huge, positive response from this inside and outside of the newsroom.
It was great fun!
We’re having a lot of success with a pretty simple concept. No one just “watches” a football game anymore. Now, through Twitter, everyone is a color analyst.
We’ve set up chats for both Friday night high school football games and Sunday Eagles games. We suck in comments to our chat with hashtags – #Delcofootball and #Eagles – and we have raging discussions both nights.
We’ve found this is getting much bigger audience then some of our live-stream shows, with the exception of when we do a show actually during a game. Again it’s this desire that people have to comment on the game and second-guess the decisions being made.
Nomination by Ivan Lajara:
We covered the Woodstock Film Festival, using traditional reporting mixed with help with the community, tools and social media, through stories and a live blog Oct. 2-6. The white label link amassed 7,866 accumulated engagement minutes. (That doesn’t count the embed).
The festival and the Freeman (in print and online) encouraged people to use the hashtag #wff2013 to feed our blog and our curated photo album in Olapic: Your photos from the Woodstock Film Festival. The curated and contributed photos amounted to 177 images from 79 contributors (some of them ours).
We’ve also added a slideshow which provided more than 4,000 hits out of the 12,745 from all the stories and photos on the site.
We also have a RebelMouse page that compiles the rest of the web. I shared the code with the festival, so they have it on their site also. Woodstock Film Festival Highlights and posts from social media and beyond (full screen). The RebelMouse page posts received 58,340 impressions.
And with Tout, we’re piling up video highlights and interviews at the scene with stars, directors, and revelers.
The Freeman’s Community Media Lab met the film festival’s Youth Initiative and Google Glass (we had a Glass photo on the Oct. 4 front page!). We’ve partnered with the festival and on top of the partnership, we’re using their social media team to feed our blog whenever we’re sleeping or doing other news.We produced 34 Touts from the festival.Paul Rudd, Andy Garcia and Peter Bogdanovich were popular topics, as expected. And even though our home coverage was just done by Paula Freeman, Tania Barricklo and myself, the aggregate with the community made it a 24/7 affair.The awards ceremony was live tweeted (with Glass photos! And bad lighting!) and residual traffic carried into the a couple of days after the festival was over.My wearing of Glass became a bit of a thing there (even with the people I was interviewing, so it was a wise move to make it a thing before-hand and on the Saturday on the street and at the awards ceremony).A Google Glass photo also made it into the print front page.It was an exhausting and rewarding process.The key? Planning, an informal collaborative partnership with the festival, dedication — and a good connection and battery life.When looking at it all from afar, I’m proud and somewhat surprised we accomplished so much.
Marin Independent Journal
Robert Sterling’s nomination:
In Marin County, Highway 101 is the road everyone loves to hate. It’s akin to a four-lane Main Street through the county — a freeway that everyone depends on in their daily lives, but is frequently infuriating with wrecks and roadwork that bring traffic to a standstill. It happens anytime and often — not just during typical commute times.
Lifestyles Editor Vicki Larson invited readers to share their 101 stories in 101 words, whether it be in fiction, nonfiction, prose or poetry. She received some two dozen responses, which will make for a fun presentation in a couple weeks. Here’s her short story inviting reader submissions.
We brought in the three mayoral candidates for Hamilton Township (our largest municipality, some 88,000 residents). We put a camera in front of them and called it a Digital Town Hall. Hamilton residents asked the questions via Facebook and Twitter. We collected some ahead of time, and then during the live feed we took some more.
I got all the questions via my Facebook page, probably had about 30 or so to choose from, cut it down to eight.
The candidates all said they enjoyed it, all asked if was going to be archived so they could point people to it (it was) and I’d say overall — especially for the first time doing something like this — it was a success. We’ll probably do something similar again for the Trenton mayoral election in spring 2014.
The News-Herald in Downriver, Michigan, is doing a couple of things worth mentioning.
1. We are livestreaming a debate between two mayoral candidates in a race that has been burning up our social media channels. (The venue hosting the debate does not want the location announced for fear of picketers.) A live chat will also be part of our coverage.
2. We did a preview story, Tout and edited video of the local Jaycees’ haunted house. It anchored our haunted house coverage throughout the season. We also asked people create Touts and Tweets, using #HauntedDownriver, for when they went through Haunted Houses. When I was given a tour for my story (light’s on), they scared the bejesus out of me early on and I was a wreck the rest of the time. Yet, I remained objective. Kudos to me.
Here’s the results of the election engagement:
Mayoral debate: The initial debate story file had 1,662 views. The replay of the debate story file has had 457 views so far. (This will remain active on the site until the election). We also had a live chat going on during the debate, which had about 150 participants.
City Council candidates forum: The initial broadcast had 130 views (the city in question is one of our smaller ones) and the rebroadcast has had about 80 views so far.
Campaign video project: All candidates for election were invited to be filmed by us for a 3-minute campaign video. We had about a dozen different scheduled opportunities at various locations.
We had 54 of a possible 180 candidates between the three Heritage websites, a total of a 30 percent turnout. The 54 candidate videos, combined with the 12 parts we broke the Taylor debate into to post separately in Syndicaster, generated 66 videos with 3,044 total views.
Furthermore, for the in-print election preview articles, we included a FYI box of which candidates have a campaign video on our website.
Finally, not so much on an engagement level, but in terms of making money, our advertising reps were able to sell pre-roll ads to go on these videos.
Not too shabby for our first stab at such a project.
We began a photo contest on the first day of fall, asking people to share with us their favorite seasonal photos (from this year or years past). We let people submit their photos directly to upickem, or they could email them in to us.
People had two weeks to submit photos, then one week to vote for their favorite. The winner received a gift card.
We promoted this in print and online, and I created a Facebook album for the photos. I put up a slideshow on SmugMug as well.
For our contest, 98 fall photos were submitted, we had 351 users and a total of 610 votes. I was thrilled with our participation, especially since we came up with the idea two days before the season’s official start. In addition to promoting the contest itself on our site and via social media, we also created an online gallery for all photos.
Los Angeles News Group
LANG is working on a Halloween project for many of our properties where we ask kids to submit scary stories. Staff will read them, declare winners by age groups, and publish the winning stories. We’ve also talked about inviting the winners in to read their story to us on video and/or have staff act out their story, which would also be videoed.
Robert Meeks also submitted a nomination for the same project:
At Los Angeles News Group, we’re doing a Scary Story and Art contest. Something we do in Long Beach every year. We are expanding the contest to other newspapers in the group and are inviting entrants ages 7-18 to send their scariest stories and artwork and we select winners and publish the results on Halloween.
In addition, (something we tried last year) we are recording audio plays of our favorite winning story entries casting voice actors and narrators from the staff.
Here’s some links to a few of the audio stories from some of our Scary Story and Art winners:
“Kevin and Kaede” from the ages 15-18 category read by Rich Archbold.
“Stolen” from the ages 9-11 category read by Karen Robes Meeks.
“The Boy Without a Shadow” from ages 12-14 category read by Robert Meeks, Karen Robes Meeks and Andrew Edwards.
A long-running contest in Long Beach evolved into using audio plays to enhance the presentation after a suggestion last year by Executive Editor Mike Anastasi.
Staff throughout LANG collaborated to judge entries and some who heard about what we tried out were excited to lend their voices to this year’s audio presentations of select winners. And Long Beach community liaison director/editor emeritus Rich Archbold and reporter Karen Robes Meeks played parts in three audio plays this year and (thankfully) helped me record their work in single takes.
The idea is to have fun along with community. Last year, one parent wrote to us in comments to tell us how excited her daughter was to hear someone reading her work.