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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Edelstein’

This week I saw a post from a Digital First Media newsroom in my Facebook news feed, and was surprised to see it there. I “liked” dozens of DFM newsrooms during my time there, but don’t particularly care to follow their news that much now.

So I decided to unlike the page. And, while I was at it, I went into the list of pages I liked and decided to unlike a bunch more — at least two dozen, maybe three (it was probably an oversight that I didn’t like all 75 DFM dailies and some weeklies). And most of them, I had no idea I was even following because, well, they never showed up in my news feed. In fact, I’m not sure how that one showed up the other day because I hadn’t seen it in ages. I only recognized two or three of the ones I dropped as occasionally showing up in my feed.*

That illustrates a problem for news brands. I know every one of those newsrooms I unfollowed has staff members faithfully posting all of their stories, or several stories they think have the most appeal, to their Facebook pages daily. And most of their “fans” never see most of their posts.

The most recent estimate I’ve seen of the percentage of fans seeing a typical post was 16 percent, and that was in 2012, and the figure has certainly dropped as Facebook has made several algorithm tweaks, all designed to make it harder for non-paying brands to get their posts seen.

Maybe the number is something like 10 percent these days, but it will frequently be many of the same people, and probably 70 to 80 percent of your fans almost never see a post. They’re surprised when you show up in their news feed, as I was when my former colleagues’ post showed up this week.

But Facebook traffic is growing in importance for news sites. Parse.ly reported last August that Facebook drives 70 million page views a month to news publishers, second only to Google and more than twice as much as Twitter.

In addition, Parse.ly reported this month that stories with a higher Facebook referral rate have a longer shelf life, attracting traffic over more days than stories that don’t get strong engagement. Higher Twitter referral rates also help shelf life, but not as long as on Facebook.

So Facebook is an important source of news-site traffic, but engagement on Facebook is more complicated than simply posting links there (since most people don’t see them). (more…)

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Today more than two dozen veteran journalists share a lot of advice on interviewing, especially about dealing with nerves.

It turns out the journalism student who started the conversation has a lot of company. Even veteran journalists get nervous when they interview, sometimes extremely so. But lots of us learn to overcome our nerves and invite people to tell their stories, and we’ve enjoyed careers even though the nerves never go completely away.

The conversation started this week in a private Facebook group, where a journalism professor sought aid from some former colleagues, asking for advice on helping a student who “is really struggling when he has to interview people in his intro to reporting class. He gets very nervous and just can’t do it.”

Veteran journalists in the group offered great advice. I updated an old handout on interviewing and sought still more advice. Some of the advice overlaps, but I regard that as reinforcement, not repetition.

The responses here (lightly edited, often at the writers’ request) come from the original conversation on Facebook and comments on yesterday’s blog post from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and email (comments and photos used with permission):

Advice for the student

Yvonne Beasley

Yvonne Beasley

Yvonne Beasley

Yvonne, city life reporter and Reno Rebirth digital project manager at the Reno Gazette-Journal, gave this tip:

A wise, introverted photog once told me “you can put on another personality. You’re acting. Be a great actress.” Another thing is: That uncomfortable feeling goes away with age.

(more…)

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In a discussion in the comments on a blog post this week, Dan Mitchell dismissed “reader engagement” as a “squishy phrase” with vague meaning and no true value. He called engagement an “overblown concept.”

I’m pretty sure I failed to convince Mitchell of the value of engagement. He has plenty of company in being dismissive of engagement as a buzzword without real value for news organizations. Many also confuse engagement with promotion (some of Mitchell’s points addressed web traffic).

But, as I’ve said for years, engagement is about doing better journalism:

Krystal Knapp, publisher and founding editor of Planet Princeton, provided an excellent example. NBC News had proclaimed that Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman was in a “voluntary quarantine” following her return from covering the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

Krystal reported that Snyderman, who lives in Princeton, had been seen out in public in the community. Jeff Edelstein, a columnist at the Trentonian, wrote about the situation and called it to my attention:

I praised Krystal for breaking that national story (the state of New Jersey made the quarantine mandatory today and NJ News Commons curated the story):

And she gave credit to her communty:

That’s why community engagement isn’t squishy and isn’t a buzzword. It’s an essential technique for getting and doing better stories.

Update: After I sent Krystal a link to this post, she added this in a Facebook message:

I agree 100% about community engagement. I measure success based on engagement. If I am not engaging readers in my community I am not doing my job, given that I am a community news site.

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When I saw Jeff Edelstein‘s music video about New Jersey’s controversial bridge and learned how he crowdsourced it, I asked him to explain. Here’s a guest post from the Trentonian columnist (I added the links, illustrations and embeds):

Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

Basically, when you write a Bruce Springsteen parody song about the governor of New Jersey being embroiled in a massive controversy bordering on cover-up, you’re going to need to find someone to put it to music.

This was the position I found myself in Friday morning, Jan. 10.

The Chris Christie scandal was at a fever pitch. It was a day after his press conference, and still at the top of the news.

So I wrote a song. (more…)

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Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

Shaky journalism ethics and hypocrisy in the name of religion are a couple of my pet peeves.

I’m a little peeved now at Todd Starnes of Fox News.

Some background will help. My Digital First colleague Jeff Edelstein, a columnist at The Trentonian, broke the story Oct. 22 that MacFarland Intermediate School in Bordentown had dropped three overtly religious Christmas songs from its winter concert. You can agree or disagree with that move, and I’m not going to argue the merits of the school’s decision here, but it’s clearly newsworthy.

Starnes was one of many journalists jumping on the story after Jeff broke it, along with his Fox colleague Bill O’Reilly. The story fits their imaginary “war on Christmas,” so you can see why they would want to give it attention. But they didn’t bother to acknowledge the source of their information in any way.

I think an ethical journalist should acknowledge and link to sources. You can disagree with me on that and you’ll have some company. It’s not one of those ethical points on which journalists are mostly united, like that we should publish accurate stories and shouldn’t plagiarize.

But let’s get to the question of accuracy. Starnes tweeted this week: (more…)

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This is a guest post by Jeff Edelstein, columnist at the Trentonian (who’s appeared in this blog before), prompted by these tweets and an email exchange following my blog post about linking and the Manti Te-0 story:

I asked him if he’d like to write a guest post about his fact-checking experience. Here it is (links added by me):

Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

It was my first job in journalism. Fact checker for New Jersey Monthly Magazine. I was 19. (Yes, yes, this is about Manti Te’o. Bear with me.)

So yeah. A fact checker. The job was exactly what it sounded like. I checked facts. An article would be assigned, the writer would write, it would go through at least two edits, and then it would land in my hands. Sometimes the author was kind enough to provide phone numbers and relevant materials, other times I had to call the author and beg them for phone numbers and relevant materials.

Fact checkers are not universally loved. (more…)

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Jeff Edelstein

Trentonian columnist Jeff Edelstein showed two things with his Facebook engagement before, during and after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey:

  1. He showed how to use Facebook to engage during a big story.
  2. He showed how effective routine Facebook engagement gives you a strong connection with people that is invaluable when the big story breaks.

I’ve written before about Jeff’s great connection with his community on Facebook. He uses Facebook regularly, asking questions of his 4,000-plus friends and they answer, sometimes giving him column material, sometimes giving feedback on a column and sometimes just deepening the connection with chatter among friends.

That routine conversation gave Jeff a deeply engaged community that stayed in touch as the storm approached and blew through New Jersey. With a mix of humor, impatience, empathy and reporting questions, Jeff had a  running conversation with the community throughout the disaster. I’m going to highlight a few of the dozens of Facebook updates that Jeff posted relating to Sandy.

It was a mix of personal and professional, all with personality. So when Jeff asked for help, it wasn’t like a journalist was asking people to do his job for him. It was a trusted friend asking for information. And he got lots of replies, whatever he was asking or saying.

(more…)

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