Posts Tagged ‘Buffy Andrews’

I have some advice for Larry Kramer and Gannett on running a nationwide network of newsrooms as a single operation.

Ken Doctor speculated yesterday that Kramer, publisher of USA Today, might lead Gannett’s editorial operation as a single unit.

As Gannett separates its newspaper properties from its broadcast and digital properties, Doctor tried to parse what Bob Dickey, CEO of the print operation, which will keep the Gannett name, meant when he said he would be “uniting our different news businesses into a single, nationwide news powerhouse.”

Doctor observed:

If Gannett’s journalists were to be centrally directed, they would comprise 2,700 journalists, the largest single journalistic workforce globally.

Gannett logoGannett gives a lot of corporate direction to newsrooms. Currently the Newsroom of the Future is the Gannett wave, but earlier thrusts have emphasized Information Centers (2006, after the Newspaper Next report), First Five Paragraphs (2000 or so, when I was a Gannett reporter) and News 2000 (that was the priority when I interviewed for a Gannett job in 1992). And I probably forgot a few. Remind me, if you recall one I missed. Update: I forgot ContentOne (2009).

The company also is consolidating print production in regional Design Studios, a trend throughout the industry.

But, as Doctor noted, Gannett editors don’t work for a national corporate editor:

Those editors now report solely, within a traditional newspaper structure, to their paper’s publishers. Gannett senior vice president for news Kate Marymont (“My job is to elevate the journalism across Gannett’s local media sites,” says her LinkedIn job description.) leads editorial planning and strategy. Like her peers in similar positions at newspaper companies, she may act as an editorial advocate, but doesn’t have line authority.

I worked for nearly three years at a company where the newsroom editors did report directly to a corporate editor. Early in the formation of Digital First Media, I was on a conference call with all the publishers when CEO John Paton told them their editors would report to Editor-in-Chief Jim Brady. Publishers would still be in charge of the local budgets and the local operation, but for all journalism matters, Jim was in charge.

I was one of a handful of editors who reported directly to Jim, and I visited 84 newsrooms, including all DFM dailies, so I suppose I’m as qualified as anyone but Jim to share some lessons from our brief experience trying to run a single journalistic workforce.

I will neither boast of our successes here nor criticize our mistakes (mine or others’), though I will make passing references below to my DFM experiences. The lessons below are my own observations and advice to Kramer and Gannett (if Doctor’s speculation is correct), based on successes and mistakes at DFM and many experiences that were a mix of both. And I suspect some other companies might seek to better unify their news efforts.

Here’s my advice for Kramer and others who may lead national news operations: (more…)


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Neighbors who ask Buffy Andrews for a cup of sugar probably get a full canister.

I emailed several authors, asking their advice on book promotion for the post I published yesterday. Some didn’t respond, which was fine. I knew they were busy. Some responded with a single tip or a few, which I was hoping for, and I gladly included them in the post. Buffy responded in less than an hour “off the top of my head” with a detailed promotion strategy. So I’m using her tips as a separate guest post (yesterday’s post was pretty long already), with a few of my observations sprinkled in and at the end. So here’s Buffy:

I market my books just as I market anything else. You want to fish where the fish swim. So, identify your audience, figure out who would be most interested in your book, then go fishing. (more…)

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In some emails last week and in my post on a workshop last Friday, I asked for examples of effective use of interactive storytelling tools.

Below are examples sent by some friends. I haven’t had a chance to check them all out, but I trust these friends’ judgment, so I pass them along enthusiastically. With the exception of Mike Reilley, all the examples come from my former colleagues at Digital First Media. I was seeking enterprise examples, but they sent interactive stories from a variety of situations. I think in many of these cases, other colleagues were involved. I wasn’t asking just for their own work, but for good work they had seen lately. With light editing, the list is pretty much what they sent me.

Buffy Andrews’ interactive stories

Buffy, assistant managing editor at the York Daily Record and a novelist, sent along these: (more…)

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Tumblr logoTumblr has been an underused instrument in my social media toolbox.

It’s easy to justify ignoring a tool you know is useful, because you have so many tools to use and so little time. But I want to keep learning about social tools and I sort of need to for my job. So it’s always kind of nagged at me that I haven’t done more with Tumblr.

I gave it a try three years ago during the Super Bowl with a Tumblr on trivia about Super Bowl quarterbacks. Somehow that topic caught my fancy back in the 1970s, when I noticed that six of the first eight Super Bowls were won by four different quarterbacks from Alabama (Bart Starr twice and Joe Namath) and Purdue (Len Dawson and Bob Griese twice). So I spent the day of the Super Bowl (maybe the day before, too; I can’t remember) tumbling about Super Bowl quarterback trivia. I don’t think anyone noticed. I got more response to a few tweets this year about quarterback trivia. And besides, that’s kind of a one-day blog. Or at best a couple weeks a year. How could it catch on?

Tumblr works best with visuals and I wasn’t posting photos or gifs of the Super Bowl quarterbacks, just questions. So that was a bust, but I kind of got my feet wet.

I used visuals and was more persistent with my DFM Engagement Tumblr, but again, I saw no sign that people were actually engaging with it or reading it at all. (We’re still engaging; maybe I’ll catch it up sometime and give it another try.)

Colleagues were having success with Tumblr. Ivan Lajara’s News Cat Gifs went viral. Martin Reynolds does a nice job with Rules of Engagement. Buffy Andrews promotes her novels. Zack Harold tumbls his adventures. Mandy Jenkins tumbls her cats and other stuff. But I was pretty much AWOL when it came to Tumblr.

I was amused/flattered by our CEO’s recent reference to me as our newsrooms’ Educator in Chief. Then this week, I was called a honcho and a news futurist blogger (guilty). So I decided to have some self-indulgent Tumblr fun with how the Internet refers to me, noting that I’ve self-inflicted some unusual  titles (with a prod from another CEO).

Please check out Buttrynyms and let me know what you think.

I will try to make it more funny than boastful. I won’t include all of Mimi’s references to me (I make it into her tweets often), though I used a few when I was getting my initial posts up last night.

I welcome your advice. How do I make a Tumblr blog successful? (What is success?) How do I Tumbl better? Where are the best posts with advice for journalists using Tumblr?

I don’t know how often I’ll update (the Internet isn’t talking about me constantly, fortunately). Occasionally I’ll dig up some past references in an attempt to keep it fresh. And maybe I’ll finally master Tumblr.


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buffy book author2smallThanks to Buffy Andrews for this guest post, which discusses different ways to promote your work. Buffy’s promoting her new novel (congratulations on getting that published, Buffy!), but you could use some of the same tools to promote an enterprise project, a special story, an event or your own career and portfolio of work.

Here’s Buffy’s post, with a note by me in italics.

ginamikecoverWhen my debut novel, The Yearbook Series: Gina and Mike, was published, I shared the news via various digital platforms. Of course, I did the usual Twitter and Facebook, but I also employed some other tools that you might not be quite as familiar with.


I love RebelMouse. It’s a great way to aggregate content from your social streams, including Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, blogs etc.

I created a RebelMouse page for “The Yearbook Series.”

“The Yearbook” RebelMouse page features:

1. Pins from “The Yearbook Series” Pinterest board. (via an RSS feed)

2. Tweets with the hashtag #Yearbookseries (set up to post automatically)

3. Posts that I manually add from various sources by inserting the url

4. Quotes from my book

5. Review snippets and links to reviews

6. Link to book on Amazon

and more

It’s a pretty robust way of curating and sharing content around a particular theme or event and its embeddable feature allows you to embed in a blog post or article web page. I also did one for the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg and one for Authorbuffyandrews.


Buffy Andrews

Buffy Andrews

Pinterest is a visual bulletin board. Users pin things they like onto topical boards. (I have 123 boards!)

Authors can create a Pinterest board for each book. I did this for “The Yearbook Series.” They can also create an author board. I have one of these, too.

One way to share content about your book is to share the pin via Twitter or Facebook. You can also share the pin by sending it to friends and followers by hitting the “send” button and then adding either their name or email address. It also gives you the option of adding a message.

I did this for “The Yearbook Series” and added a note that I was sharing my new book and that I hoped they would check it out. Of course, the pin linked to the book on Amazon.

A Pinterest board for your book could include:

  • The book cover
  • Quotes from your book
  • Review snippets

You might even want to pin photos that relate to your character (ie. the little black dress she wore in Chapter 8 or the hotel where she married in Chapter 24).

Buttry note: My wife, Mimi Johnson, created a Pinboard to promote her novel, Gathering String. She did not use quotes or review snippets (though she might steal that idea). But she did pin photos and other images that illustrated aspects of the book.

TIP: To convert text to an image, I suggest using Quozio. You simply highlight the text and after several simple steps you have a visual element to pin (or tweet or share otherwise).

I recommend dragging the Quozio bookmarket to your toolbar so when you want to change text into an image you can do so quickly.

Remember, too, that if you do an rss feed of your Pinterest board on your RebelMouse page, the content on this pinboard will show up on RebelMouse automatically.


Storify lets users create stories using social media. Sources include Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, Youtube, Tumblr, SoundCloud and others.

You can embed your Storify in three different formats or styles (the default setting, grid and slideshow). I use the slideshow embed the most.

You can also export the Storify as a downloadable PDF. And you have the normal social share buttons.

I did a Storify for The Yearbook Series and included tweets, various links, etc. Then, I embedded the Storify on my blog and on the RebelMouse Yearbook Series page.

For more tips on promoting your book (or any content) , visit Buffy’s Write Zone post.

In the companion post on her own blog, Buffy explains how she used NewHive, YouTube, Tout and SoundCloud.

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Some journalists who are strongly active on Twitter reach a ceiling on how many people you can follow.

The ceiling is a response to spammers, who used to follow people endlessly, but it’s ridiculous that Twitter hasn’t developed a way to waive the ceiling for valid users. More later on this frustration (including a weak response from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo last month).

But first, a #twutorial explanation of how the ceiling works and what you can do if you bump against it:

What the ceiling is

Any Twitter user can follow up to 2,000 other Twitter accounts without restriction. Once you hit 2,000, the number you can follow depends on how many people can follow you. The ceiling doesn’t limit me. Since I have 14K followers, I have been able to follow more than 3K without limit. Where you run into trouble is if you’re following more people than follow you.

The limit seems to be somewhere around 80 percent, though it’s not consistent. So, if you’re following 2,000 people but have fewer than 1,600 followers, you’ve probably hit the ceiling. But the ceiling doesn’t automatically come off as you go over 1,600. Once it comes into effect, it’s kind of a mystery how it works.

Chad Selweski, a political reporter at the Macomb Daily (follow him, please), wrote me about the problem earlier this year:

I was told that, beyond 2,000, you need followers that are at least 80 percent of the number you are following. I am beyond that 80 percent mark and I’m still banned from following anyone.

I asked Chad for an update this week:

My ceiling comes and goes. Very odd. The hard-and-fast ceiling that I talked to you about in the past – 2,000 followings — disappeared sometime in April or May.

This morning, after receiving your email, I added 12 followings and never received the dreaded pop-up message from Twitter that said I had exceeded my limit. That’s a good day in Twitterland.

My current ratio is: following 2,117, followed by 1,929. So, nearly 50-50.

Another Digital First journalist who’s hit the limit, Buffy Andrews (follow her, please), explained how frustrating the ceiling is:

Not being able to follow more people has been problematic in many ways.

Even though my followers continue to increase month over month, I cannot get past the ceiling. …

Since I do a lot of digital content marketing, my need to broaden my base is essential to building relationships and connecting with people from various fields. How am I supposed to build and nurture relationships if I’m prevented from establishing these relationships?

Plus, it seems that if I could follow more people I’d be able to grow my followers even faster. But I’ve been stuck at the ceiling forever, and I feel like it is preventing me from doing my job to the best of my ability. We know that Twitter is all about connecting, but I am being held back from making connections that could help me promote and share the great content we produce.

Bottom line, I need Twitter to lift the ceiling so that I can do my job. It is holding me back and I’ve been very frustrated by the lack of response to what I see is a real problem.

What to do

Unfollow some people. Use Friend or Follow or Just Unfollow to identify people you follow who aren’t following you back. Some of them might be important to follow, so you still want to follow them. Don’t unfollow people you recognize as those you’ve had meaningful conversations with or those who share links you find helpful. But some of those people may not be very active or otherwise aren’t a meaningful part of your timeline, even though they count against the ceiling.

Maybe you followed someone in the community, hoping they would follow you back, but they didn’t and they tweet about matters that are trivial to you rather than about community events and issues.

Unfollowing people has been helpful to Chad:

To give myself some extra space, I did weed out some of my lame followings from my early days getting started on Twitter. But my addition of followings comes in bursts.

Caution: Twitter’s rules don’t allow you to regularly follow and unfollow many accounts at a time. Odd that one Twitter rule might force some people into violating another rule. But I think if you unfollow and follow a handful at a time you should be fine.

Use lists to “follow” without following. You can make lists of Twitter users that you can follow in a column on TweetDeck or HootSuite or by clicking on the list from Twitter.com or a mobile app. These users’ tweets don’t show up on your timeline and they can’t direct-message you because you’re not following them. But you can pretty easily keep tabs on their tweets.

What you could do is identify a type of users whose tweets you want to monitor but with whom you’re unlikely to exchange direct messages and put them on a list but unfollow them (you can’t DM someone who isn’t following you, so they wouldn’t be able to DM you). You would need to check the list frequently, but you wouldn’t technically follow those tweets.

If you follow some national political, entertainment or sports figures, they are unlikely to DM you (unless you cover them, perhaps), and you could put them on a list.

Update: Steve Saldivar, social media coordinator at The Getty, added this advice on Facebook: “I would recommend listing organizations (and not people). The former tend to never DM.” What other advice would you suggest?

Twitter is no help

OK, here we move from providing advice on using Twitter to complaining about the company. My dealings with Twitter illustrate how cavalier the company is, from the CEO down, in terms of user service.

Most of my requests for help from Twitter have been met with silence or brush-offs. (Two exceptions: I had a nice lunch with Mark S. Luckie when he became Twitter’s manager of journalism and news about a year ago; and Erica Anderson helped me get whitelisted so I could tweet without limits during the Online News Association lightning round for board candidates last year, a few months after hitting Twitter’s hourly tweet limit during the American Society of News Editors convention.)

I think I asked about the follower limit in 2011 or 2012 on behalf of a Digital First colleague and was ignored. Optimistic that things would be better under Luckie, I emailed him earlier this year, asking for help with Chad.

Mark replied on Jan. 10 by carboning “Tyler Pilgrim from our User Services team who can help you get an answer.”

Pilgrim’s answer, also Jan. 10, was pretty much a raised middle finger:

Every user can follow 2000 people total. Once you’ve followed 2000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow: this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following. You’ll need to wait until you have more followers in order to follow more users—basically, you can’t follow 10,000 people if only 100 people follow you. Unfortunately, we are unable to change this limit.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

The words I italicized above are simply not true. Twitter works how Twitter engineers have designed it to work. They are able to change the limit just as they were able to impose the limit and to design it to work the way that it works. A ratio of 2-1 would stop the spammers without inhibiting legitimate users nearly as severely as the current limit.

Twitter engineers also developed a way to whitelist some users to exempt them from the limit on how often you can tweet. I’m pretty sure the same engineers are able to waive this limitation. But Twitter chooses not to.

My Jan. 10 reply to Pilgrim:

Chad has 1,662 followers and follows 2,001. Surely your ratio is not 1.2:1? That doesn’t make any sense. Why in the world would you want to limit the Twitter use of someone with that many followers?

Despite his invitation to let him know if I had other questions, he never answered that question or answered the email at all. So I emailed Pilgrim, Luckie and Anderson Jan. 18:

I never got a response to this message. Can we get this fixed? If it’s your policy to limit Twitter use by journalists with this kind of ratio, that policy makes no sense. If it’s not your policy, this is a glitch that should be fixed. We’d like to get Chad freed up to follow people again.

Luckie was a guest Jan. 30 for one of our first Inside Thunderdome live chats. I asked the question there, but it wasn’t approved for addressing in the chat because Mark said he’d address it privately. So after the chat I sent him a private email, saying:

I just can’t believe that Twitter can’t lift the following limitation for a professional journalist with 85 percent as many followers as he follows. And I’m really disappointed with never getting a response to my questions from Tyler.

I got no response to that, nor to a brief Feb. 6 email to Mark, reminding him of my request. So I wrote a longer message Feb. 7, mentioning Buffy as well:

For crying out loud, both of these people have more than 80 percent as many followers as they follow. I think your limits aren’t working. What is the “ratio” Tyler referred to? Is it really higher than 80 percent? What sense does that make? Do you really want to limit people this active from using Twitter fully? Aren’t you supposed to be the advocate for journalists? This isn’t how Twitter should work. If we can’t get a better response on this, I’m going to have to blog about how pointless this limit is and how disappointing Twitter’s response has been. To wait this long to get blown off like this is really disappointing.

Again, no response.

Anderson also blew me off on another matter (about which Luckie had referred me to her) around the same time frame. Though I had carboned her on this issue, I never addressed it directly with her. I planned to raise it with her on the phone when we discussed the other issue. But she never replied to multiple emails asking to discuss the other issue with her.

I took another shot last month when Costolo, Twitter’s top executive, was a luncheon speaker at the American Society of News Editors conference. When Costolo was taking answers from the floor, I asked him about the follower limit and Twitter’s lousy user service and why they don’t figure out a way to waive the limit for journalists (and other people) who are obviously using Twitter conversationally.

Frank was right that the answer was longer than my tweet, but certainly it’s fair game to boil an answer from Twitter CEO’s down to 140 characters.

He said something about lots of other priorities for Twitter’s engineers. This was not long after he said that Twitter’s staff is something like 50 percent engineers. You can’t tell me that Twitter’s engineers aren’t smart enough to figure out a solution for this. They just don’t care.

I’ve blogged a lot about Twitter’s value for journalists. Occasionally I’ll get accused of being a shill for the company. Far from it. I’ve ripped the company before and probably will again. I’ve been repeatedly amazed at how unresponsive Twitter is.

When you hit Twitter’s follower limit (or want help from Twitter on pretty much anything), you’re on your own.

Responses on Twitter

Earlier #twutorial posts

Read Jeremy Stahl’s guide to tweeting during a crisis

#twutorial post: How to embed tweets and follow conversations

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

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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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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.


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Digital First journalists Cathy Hirko, Brittany Wilson and Buffy Andrews of the York Daily Record are doing some interesting work with tools that gather news content by its location.

Cathy used GatheringPoint to make maps of tweets, videos and other social media content relating to the removal of Joe Paterno’s statue and the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. Brittany made a similar map of social media content around the site of the Aurora theater attack (the map is embedded at the end of the story).

Cathy explained:

To help show readers what others were saying in social media at or near the scene of the shooting, we created a social media-based map — via GatheringPoint. The map highlights what others are saying via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just to name a few. (more…)

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I’m just doing some aggregation here, pointing to excellent how-tos by Buffy Andrews and Ivan Lajara and a great engagement story by Nancy March:

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As Pinterest grows in use, it grows in value to journalists and news organizations.

I don’t pretend that I know all the ways that journalists should use Pinterest. My Digital First Media colleagues and I are discussing and experimenting with this now and many of them are well ahead of me. But I’ve spent the past few months learning, studying and gathering tips and examples from colleagues, which I’ll share here.

Primarily, I would say that news organizations definitely should explore the possibilities of engaging through a social tool that’s growing as fast as Pinterest. Some of your efforts will generate strong engagement and some will fall flat. But when people are spending as much time with a social tool as they do with Pinterest, you should seek to have them spend some of that time with you.

At least for now, Pinterest seems to be most valuable relating to lifestyle coverage, contests, community information and events and photography. I haven’t seen any indication that it’s useful in breaking news coverage (though that could change, or you might have some examples to show how it’s already being used).

Here are ways that I suggest journalists and news organizations consider using Pinterest: (more…)

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I wrote last week about the work of an engagement editor (or social media editor or some related titles), a fairly new job in lots of Digital First Media newsrooms. Today, I turn the blog over to some of those editors to explain their roles (lightly edited by me):

Karen Workman

Karen Workman

Karen Workman of the Oakland Press:

When I became community engagement editor, one of my longtime sources asked me what that meant. This was my response to him:

I care about our audience. I care about engaging them, getting news delivered to them across a variety of platforms, expanding the diversity of voices on our website, making use of their comments and contributions, audience building and in general, making sure we’re fostering that all-important community conversation that is the essence of what we do.

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

I find this job to be incredibly exciting so far. I don’t know a journalist who doesn’t say that one of the reasons they love their job is because they get to meet new people and be involved in the community; this job is the ultimate opportunity to be intricately engaged with and inspired by my community. I love the creativity it allows, and I find the “uncharted territories” of a brand-new position motivating and invigorating. (more…)

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