Archive for the ‘community engagement’ Category

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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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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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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We’re opening the News Lounge of the San Bernardino Sun today.

This is the second News Lounge for the Los Angeles News Group of Digital First Media. We opened the lounge at the Pasadena Star-News Tuesday.

I’ll update with some photos occasionally during the open house. Gabriel Luis Acosta of the Sun shot lots of photos as well.

Tout has been on my to-do list for a while now and Michael Anastasi, executive editor of the Los Angeles News Group, shot my first Tout video:

People are enjoying snacks:


The lounge is filling up:


We have two computers for public use:


Mike tells the News Lounge visitors our commitment to truth, integrity and watchdog journalism remains strong:


City Editor Ryan Carter welcomes visitors to the News Lounge opening:


The News Lounge includes some pre-digital journalism tools.


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The Pasadena Star-News is opening its News Lounge this afternoon.

I’ll update this post occasionally during and after the opening reception. We have three computers available for public use and will be using the lounge for public events. At today’s open house, we’re serving wine and refreshments. I will be joining local and regional editors to discuss the importance of engagement for Digital First newsrooms.

“Community is at the heart of our mission,” says Los Angeles News Group Executive Editor and Vice President Michael Anastasi:


We’ve got swag:


And food:


The public is beginning to gather:


We have three computers for public use:


Mike cuts the ribbon (those scissors are heavy):


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If you didn’t catch the miracle shot, there’s a good chance someone did.

Nearly every high school sporting event has some mom or dad or kid in the stands recording the action on a cell phone video camera or something better. So if you miss the winning shot, be sure to ask for it.

That happened Monday night to Dan Fenner, who covers high school sports for the Oakland Press. He thought he caught the winner, when he shot some video of Todd Moore’s shot with 2.2 seconds left, giving Farmington Hills Harrison a two-point lead over Walled Lake Northern.

Sports Editor Jeff Kuehn picks up the story:

As he was preparing to interview coaches, the ball was put in play and a kid launched a half-court shot to win the game.

Dan tweeted the result and his own dismay.

Meanwhile, colleagues Jason Schmitt and Jeff Dullack got busy crowdsourcing: 

A player from the first game of the double-header came to the rescue:

Jeff continues the story:

Within minutes, it was up on our website, tweeted out to ESPN (possible Top 10 plays) and placed in the later game story. Obviously, it was the number one story on MIPrepZone.

Of course, Dan and his colleagues tweeted their thanks:

A video like that deserves more than thanks, though. This calls for some swag:

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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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