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Posts Tagged ‘American Society of Newspaper Editors’

Journalists love stories. Give us a good anecdote and we know what our lead is going to be. We’re not as comfortable with data. We know a good story is hiding in there somewhere, but most of us don’t know how to find it. And too many of us — reporters and executives alike — are refusing to learn.

My first exposure to the use of data for journalism was when I was at the Kansas City Star (or possibly the Kansas City Times; I worked for both) nearly 20 years ago. The late Greg Reeves, a kind of geeky reporter I didn’t know very well but came to admire, wrote a terrific story about the driving records of Kansas City police. I don’t recall the details, but I was shocked at how many police had offenses such as reckless driving (I think drunk driving, too, but I can’t vouch for my memory over that many years). What I do recall is that I started to understand the power of data analysis. (more…)

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The challenge of mastering social media is that you never get there. You always have to learn something new.

My newest social-networking platform is SlideShare. This is a place to post presentations on PowerPoint and other slide-show programs. When I was training at the American Press Institute, people frequently asked for my slideshows. They were big and I seldom emailed them when people requested the slides for seminars where I traveled. For API seminars at our headquarters in Reston, Va., we burned slides and handouts to CD’s for par participants and they seemed to appreciate it. (more…)

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Here are liveblogging examples I used in my April 21 webinar for the American Society of News Editors:

Liveblogging unfolding news stories

Virginia Tech massacre on Collegiate Times

Northern Illinois campus shootings at rrstar.com

Liveblogs using Twitter (more…)

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I will be leading a webinar on liveblogging this Tuesday, April 21, for the American Society of News Editors. I have compiled these tips as a handout for the webinar. I welcome experienced livebloggers to add their tips in the comments here or to answer the questions I raised Friday. If you are an experienced liveblogger or an editor whose staff liveblogs, please email me. I would like you to  join us in a live chat Tuesday afternoon about liveblogging.

Please plan on joining the live chat about liveblogging Tuesday between 1:30 and 2 p.m. Central time:

ASNE live chat about liveblogging

Newspapers originally responded to the opportunities of the web by posting print stories online after they appeared in print. Then we recognized the need to post news immediately to the web and started posting bulletins when news broke, often followed after the newspaper deadline (or even after newspaper publication) by newspaper-like stories. Liveblogging is a story form for digital platforms, a blend of the styles and techniques of traditional newspaper-style reporting, radio play-by-play and the interactivity of blogging. (more…)

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I seek advice from journalists who have experience with or questions about liveblogging.

I will be leading a webinar on liveblogging for the American Society of News Editors next Tuesday, April 21. I seek the advice of editors whose staffs have liveblogged as well as journalists who have covered events live. You can provide your advice in the comments here or by email, but what I want most are some volunteers to provide advice during a live chat between about 2:30 and 3 p.m. Eastern time (1:30 and 2 p.m. here in Iowa) next Tuesday.

Here are some questions we will address. I appreciate your answers on any or all:

  1. Does liveblogging help or hinder your efforts to cover the same event in a story you write afterward, whether for print or online?
  2. Do you sometimes have one staff member liveblog and another write the story?
  3. How, if at all, do you interact with the public while liveblogging?
  4. Do you use CoverItLive, another program designed for live coverage, or just update in your regular blog or news?
  5. Do you use Twitter to liveblog? If so, please tell how that works?
  6. How do you handle matters such as accuracy and fairness when you liveblog?
  7. Has liveblogging caused any problems for you relating to credential restrictions at sporting events?
  8. Have judges allowed or forbidden you from liveblogging in court?
  9. If you have conducted live chats with the public, how have you done that and how did it work out?
  10. What has been your most successful use of liveblogging?
  11. What sort of traffic have you gotten to liveblogs? Do you know how long people remain engaged?
  12. What has been your biggest problem with liveblogging?
  13. What other tips would you offer to journalists who liveblog or to newsroom leaders planning to increase their staff’s use of liveblogging?

I will provide an updated version of the handout I used for some workshops last fall and the slides I used for a webinar for the Canadian Newspaper Association in February. I welcome your suggestions for either of those (and, of course, I will credit you).

If you are using visual content effectively in liveblogging, either posting photos along with the running text or streaming video along with it, I appreciate your advice on visual issues as well.

Last request: Please send me links to examples of liveblogs, whether you were the journalist who produced it or just enjoyed it as a consumer. I will use the examples in Tuesday’s webinar. I have lots of examples from Gazette staffers (as well as some others I’ve collected), but I would like to show off the work of more liveblogging journalists.

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Today I will lead a webinar for the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Leading your staff into the Twitterverse.

For the first 45 minutes or so, I will share my own advice with the participants, using a slideshow you can view on Slideshare. Then we will wrap up with a panel of Twittering editors. I have asked the editors to tweet answers to the following questions:

1.       How has Twitter helped you connect with people in your community?

2.       How has your staff connected with sources using Twitter?

3.       How has your staff used Twitter to improve coverage of breaking news?

4.       What has been your biggest problem or concern about your staff’s use of Twitter?

5.       What’s the best other use you have found for Twitter?

We will be using the hashtag #ASNE and I will feed those tweets into a liveblog using CoverItLive, so I can demonstrate use of those tools. We will be live from 1:45 to 2 p.m. Central time. You are welcome to answer the questions yourself. Either in a direct message to me or in a comment here, let me know if you will be tweeting answers (and if your Twitter profile doesn’t identify you clearly, tell me who you are). 

For more details, read my previous post about this webinar or read the tips, links or outside advice I have compiled for participants.

Follow the liveblog here:

Leading your staff into the Twitterverse

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I’ll be leading a webinar for the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Leading your staff into the Twitterverse. This is the tip sheet I will suggest that editors read after the seminar. While this is geared for top newsroom leaders, some of the advice should be helpful to any journalists who are not experienced with Twitter. I encourage journalists using Twitter to add their tips in the comments. I also encourage you to check out two related posts, one with advice from another journalist and one with links you might find helpful.

Valid questions about Twitter use by journalists are welcome here as are critical comments by journalists about issues in the use of Twitter. For this post and the two related posts, I will not approve comments by non-journalists that simply complain about Twitter and my frequent writing about Twitter. Feel free to post them on another blog entry.

Journalists need to use Twitter. Even if you don’t understand its value or usefulness immediately and even if some of the content is frivolous, journalists can use Twitter for a variety of uses:

  • You can monitor the activities and discussions of people in your community or on your beat.
  • You can connect with colleagues and share ideas with them.
  • You can “crowdsource” stories by asking your followers for story ideas or information.
  • You can quickly find people who witnessed or experienced an event.
  • You can drive traffic to your content.
  • You can improve your writing as you learn to make points directly in just 140 characters. (I tell my staff that if a lead doesn’t fit in a tweet, it’s probably too long. It really helps me write better leads on my blog and columns.) (more…)

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Updated to add @carolynwashburn to list of Twittering editors.

I’m pleased that the American Society of Newspaper Editors is proceeding with a virtual convention.

I suggested such an alternative in a post I wrote Feb. 27, the day ASNE canceled its Chicago convention scheduled for late April. I can’t take credit for the ASNE decision because President Charlotte Hall, editor of the Orlando Sentinel, told me in an email right after I sent her a link to the post that plans were already under way. But I applaud the decision. Tough times are exactly when leaders of news organizations should be sharing ideas and helping each other meet difficult challenges.

ASNE took me up on two offers I made in that Feb. 27 post. I will be leading webinars to teach my fellow editors how to lead their staffs into the Twitterverse (April 7) and how to use liveblogging to cover events as they unfold (April 21). 

 (A couple recent comments on this blog asked who I write for — my peers or the community. The truth is that I write about community issues as well as journalism issues. This particular post is focused on journalism issues. Community members are welcome to read it, but if my focus on journalism issues and my frequent discussions of Twitter annoy you, this would be a good time to click over to some more community-focused content at GazetteOnline.)

I’ll blog soon about liveblogging and seek some advice from editors and from the community on how to use that tool effectively. But right now I want to explain how urgently my colleagues need to learn about Twitter.

I’ve never known a top newspaper editor who didn’t work too hard and love his or her job.

Editors work long hours and then take work home, worrying about matters as diverse as ethics, grammar, revenue and investigative reporting. They believe to their core that they are performing public service and upholding a right so precious that our nation’s founders protected it in the First Amendment. They are working hard at innovating, but they and their staffs are so rooted in what they know that change is slow and difficult.

Only time will tell whether Twitter is a fad or a revolutionary information source whose importance will grow. But for right now, its value for journalism is clear, growing and easily demonstrated. And most top editors don’t use it at all. And most who have Twitter accounts rarely use them.

This is the truth about being a newspaper editor today: The things you learned over decades on your path to the top are not the things that will help you innovate and thrive in the future. Twitter is only an illustration that editors are moving too slowly on the path to innovation.

As promised in a recent post, I searched for leaders of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Associated Press Managing Editors who use Twitter. My search might have omitted some who don’t use their actual names or locations in their profiles or some with common names who created a profile but didn’t update more than a few times. I’m confident I found every leader of ASNE or APME who uses Twitter in any significant way under his or her real name. Also, the numbers of followers and updates listed below might be a few days out of date, because I checked a few editors here and there over the last several days.

Of 20 officers and directors of ASNE, only three even had a Twitter presence:

  • Ellen Foley has 33 followers. But I should note that all 21 of her updates came after she resigned in October as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.
  • ASNE President Charlotte Hall wrote her first Twitter post Monday. She has 52 followers. When I started writing this, she had 29 followers but had not yet given them a single tweet to follow. She’s moving in the right direction. I hope she’ll be in my April 7 audience.
  • John Temple, who was editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News when it folded Feb. 27, has 55 followers and one update: one word, “test,” tweeted last July 23. I have not seen a news report that he has a new job yet.

In other words, of 20 ASNE board members, not a single active editor had posted a single tweet at the time they canceled their convention.

Of 16 ASNE committee chairs (including some board members), George Stanley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Jennifer Carroll of Gannett (a corporate executive with a digital emphasis who doesn’t lead a newsroom) were the only ASNE committee chairs who were active on Twitter. (I will be collaborating with Stanley in a regional American Press Institute New Newsroom workshop in Eau Claire, Wis., next Friday, March 27.)

Of ASNE board candidates, only Anthony Moor, an online editor for the Dallas Morning News, is active on Twitter. Carlos Sanchez of the Waco Tribune-Herald has 24 followers and no updates. But if he ever does update, you can’t read it unless he lets you follow him because he has protected his updates.

APME’s board is more active on Twitter, but its only members with more than 100 followers or tweets are an editor and a former editor with primary focus on the digital platform. Of 31 APME board members:

  • Jack Lail, news director of innovation at the Knoxville News Sentinel, has 1,066 followers and 2,527 updates (I follow him and recommend following him).
  • Jim Brady, former executive editor of washingtonpost.com, has 550 followers and 107 updates.
  • Randy Lovely of the Arizona Republic has 35 followers and 22 updates.
  • Kathy Best of the Seattle Times has 18 followers, five updates and protects her updates.
  • Bob Heisse of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., has 18 followers and 53 updates.
  • Carole Tarrant of the Roanoke Times has 87 followers and 21 updates.
  • APME Secretary Hollis Towns of the Asbury Park Press has 34 followers and five updates.
  • Andrew Oppmann of the Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Daily News Journal, an executive committee member, has 45 followers and 56 updates.

These aren’t the only top newsroom leaders using Twitter. I will repeat the list from last week’s post at the end of this post.

I should add here that Twitter is far from the only way that an editor can learn about innovation. An editor focused on mastering video or link journalism or user-generated content might feel too swamped to take on Twitter (though it would be helpful in those pursuits). And the leaders of ASNE and APME have taken on national leadership responsibilities in addition to their responsibilities in their newsrooms. They may be the busiest of the busy.

But on some level, Twitter has value as a barometer of how editors are embracing innovation and learning valuable but uncomfortable new tools and techniques. And the simple, undeniable fact is that the leading newsroom leaders are barely using it, let alone learning its value and leading the way in this change.

If you’re an editor who knows you need to catch up in the social media world, please join me for the April 7 webiner “Leading your staff into the Twitterverse.” It’s free for ASNE members. I will try to give you simple and helpful advice. If you’re an editor (or any journalist, but I especially want to hear from top newsroom leaders) who’s already Twittering, please read last week’s post and answer some of the questions I posed there. (Thanks to Andria Krewson of the Charlotte Observer for a detailed, thoughtful response that I will quote in the webinar and in a later blog post.)

ASNE likes panel discussions at its conventions and I am going to try to convene a panel discussion by Twitter. I will recruit some active Twittering editors to tweet some advice to their peers during my webinar, using hashtags. Your advice will show up in my Twitter stream and I will show the participants how to use Twitter search and we will find your advice there, too. I’ll also feed your streams into a CoverItLive liveblog. I will be contacting some editors directly, but if you would like to help, direct-message me on Twitter or email me. 

Here’s that list of top newsroom leaders I know of who are using Twitter (additions welcome; I don’t pretend to know them all). I took out the numbers of followers and updates because the figures I used last week are a week old. The top three are the most active. After that, they are in no particular order. 

  • John Robinson of the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C.
  • Chris Cobler of the Victoria Advocate in Texas.
  • Kirk LaPointe  of the Vancouver Sun.
  • Valerie Casselton of the Vancouver Sun.
  • Gerry Kern of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Melanie Sill of the Sacramento Bee. 
  • Monty Cook of the Baltimore Sun.
  • Rick Thames of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Jeff Thomas of The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
  • Steve Fagan of The Monitor in McAllen, Texas.
  • Marci Caltabiano of the Brownsville Herald.
  • Cyndi Brown of the Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C.
  • Glen Faison of the Porterville Recorder in California.
  • Lyle Muller, my Gazette colleague and successor as editor.
  • Robyn Tomlin of the Wilmington Star News in North Carolina.
  • Alexandra Hayne of the Daily Tribune in Ames, Iowa.
  • Mitch Pugh of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa.
  • Steve Thomas of the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa.
  • John A. Nelson of the Danville Advocate in Kentucky.
  • Bill Watson of the Pocono Record in Pennsylvania.
  • Steve Mullen of the Bakersfield Californian.
  • Bob Davis of the Anniston Star in Alabama.
  • Carolyn Washburn of the Des Moines Register, who started March 25.
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    While I’m suggesting a way to save this year’s American Society of Newspaper Editors convention, I’ll go a step further and suggest how to save two organizations of editors: ASNE and the Associated Press Managing Editors should join forces.

    I don’t know the details of the history of the organizations, but ASNE and APME have been redundant for as long as I can remember. From where I sat, editors who vigilantly stamped out redundancies in newspaper copy have carefully protected it in their organizations because that meant both the editor (or executive editor) and the managing editor both got to have a convention junket during the year.

    ASNE, formed in 1922, was once so exclusive that you had to answer a series of questions that verified that the buck stopped with you in your newsroom. APME came along 11 years later, also for senior editors but accepting those on the next-to-top rung. So for decades the top two editors in most newsrooms each had a convention to attend each year and everyone ignored the obvious fact that both conventions were dealing with the same issues: journalism ethics, public service, diversity, training, changing technology and timely issues that came and went.

    That was great when newspapers were making high profits. I enjoyed gatherings of both organizations, four ASNE conventions and APME meetings in at least four states (APME has a stronger presence at the state level; I was president briefly in North Dakota and I think I just agreed to serve on the Iowa APME board, though the conversation was pretty informal). Over time, the organizations became hardly distinguishable at all to those of us in newsrooms across the country.

    ASNE’s current membership requirements are nearly the same as APME’s. Both organizations serve mostly the same purposes for mostly the same people. And both organizations have too many members looking at our budgets and our to-do lists and deciding we can’t afford the money or the time to attend their expensive conventions.

    So here’s a suggestion: Merge the two organizations. Follow my suggestion for a virtual ASNE convention this year. Find some foundation support to subsidize registration and travel for this year’s APME convention in St. Louis (not yet canceled, but stay tuned). Plan a low-cost joint convention in 2010 (maybe a weekend instead of nearly a full week). Continue those state meetings that really help far more editors than either organization’s national meetings.

    And continue helping us be better leaders for our news staffs. ASNE and APME should show us how to adapt and survive, not how to die.

    Update: Tim McGuire supports this call for a merger and provides first-hand knowledge about background, including links to a 2008 Jerry Ceppos piece for Poynter (I’ll be seeing Jerry this weekend at an API ethics seminar in Reno) and a 2000 ASNE reporter piece on discussions then, as well as a Steve Smith blog post on ASNE’s convention cancellation.

    Seriously, put aside the rivalries and obstacles. Join forces and help this industry adapt.

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    I was disappointed but not surprised when the American Society of Newspaper Editors decided today to cancel this year’s convention.

    Few editors or their organizations could afford the time or money to attend the gathering scheduled for Chicago in late April — still on my calendar because I forgot to delete it before leaving work. I planned to attend, even if I had to go from my own pocket (and even if I’ve taken on a new role that doesn’t have editor in the title).  

    I was more disappointed with ASNE’s weak promise to keep serving editors at the most difficult time the industry has faced in my career. By simply canceling the convention, ASNE practically tells us that it was just a big party anyway. I enjoyed the party. I enjoyed the speeches by politicians (Senators Obama, McCain and Clinton addressed last year’s convention and President Obama was on tap this year.) But I wanted to go to share and hear advice on facing our shared challenges. Leaders of the nation’s newsrooms need help now more than ever.

    The list of woes is pretty familiar: The Rocky Mountain News published its final edition the same day ASNE announced it was cancelling. Philadelphia Newspapers and Journal Register had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy within the past week. And right here in Cedar Rapids, we eliminated 14 journalists’ jobs at Gazette Communications and announced a reduction in our company’s workforce of about 110 jobs since before last June’s flood.

    ASNE can’t give up now. Maybe the editors don’t have the money or time to come to Chicago to party and listen to political speeches. But we have to join forces to support each other and to resist the sucking sound of the drain.

    I don’t say this to criticize my ASNE friends and colleagues. When I was at the American Press Institute in Reston, Va., I worked right down the hall from the ASNE offices. My wife, Mimi, worked at ASNE for more than a year (and for two of their conventions). I consider several ASNE staff and leaders to be friends. Others that I don’t know as well are colleagues whom I admire. I’m in my second hitch as an ASNE member and I’ve attended the last four conventions. I have trained journalists in the newsroom of ASNE President Charlotte Hall, editor of the Orlando Sentinel. She provided helpful information for a presentation I made when I was at API, and she provided support when The Gazette was resisting restrictions on our rights to liveblog at Iowa Hawkeye football games.

    So I am not a critic piling on when ASNE is down. I am Bluto in “Animal House,” shouting to my friends, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” As Bluto said, nothing is over until we say it is.

    Hall’s announcement of the canceled convention said ASNE would “increase reliance on the Web to help editors share what they are learning as they reinvent their news organizations for multiple platforms.” Promising some webinars and email newsletters is not exactly a rallying cry.

    We can’t cancel this convention. Let’s just cancel the party in Chicago. Let’s gather electronically and wrestle with the issues that threaten our industry and share our most innovative ideas.

    Here’s what we should do: Editors (and perhaps the occasional conductor) around the country who are trying something new or have some ideas to share should volunteer to lead (or contribute to) live chats on the issues. The ASNE convention is a lot of panel discussions anyway. We can do that online and probably tackle some thornier issues, maybe even a broader range of issues. ASNE can develop a wiki where people suggest topics for colleagues to cover or offer to address topics. Members can vote on the topics we most want to learn about and we can connect digitally to discuss the issues for two or three hours a day during convention week (maybe we can do it for two weeks, since we don’t need to worry about hotel rates).  

    I’ll offer to lead or contribute to discussions on any or all of four topics: Leading your staff into the Twittersphere; journalism ethics in social networks; liveblogging as stories unfold and reorganizing to separate content generation from product management. I’ll pull together links to various materials for people to read before or after the discussion. I’ll host the live chat and lead the discussion (or collaborate with another colleague or two).

    And I’ll join discussions colleagues want to launch on other topics. Tell us what you’re trying, especially if you’re having some success. I’ll jump online to ask questions, applaud risks and offer encouragement.

    All the editors who were planning to attend the Chicago convention, as well as those who made the tough call to stay home, have great war stories about how they and their staffs succeeded in getting the big breaking story in the face of obstacles. Those are the war stories we would be telling in the Chicago bar. It wouldn’t even take one beer to get me started about how we covered the flood.

    We need to use that same damn-the-obstacles approach to the convention. Let’s gather in a virtual convention center, even if we can’t gather in the bar afterwards.

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