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Posts Tagged ‘Nancy March’

As I noted in yesterday’s post about crowdfunding, I was participating in a #MuckedUp chat on the topic last night. You can read a Storify curation of the chat if you missed it.

I made brief reference in the post to a community-funded project by the Pottstown Mercury:

Nancy March

Nancy March

Thanks to Nancy March, editor of the Merc (and a previous guest blogger here in our days as Digital First Media colleagues), for letting me use this email about the project as a guest post:

We extended a paid internship to our Chips Quinn intern Miica Patterson for an additional 23 weeks to work on this project. I don’t assign her any other work, and every story runs with a note at the end saying reporting is funded in part by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. She is learning new journalism skills and strengthening others — video, interviewing, engagement, writing, photography.

Miica Patterson riding for Bike Pottstown

Miica Patterson riding for Bike Pottstown

The work involves a lot of community engagement aimed at promoting cheap and accessible ways to exercise and eat right. Miica organizes and manages a “Mercury Mile” lunchtime exercise break every Thursday at noon to emphasize that you can get exercise in your work day.  Last week we did yoga in a downtown park.

We have had zumba and agility classes after work in public parks, features on the community garden and cooking with vegetables, and a wonderful community engagement effort in the Fourth of July parade in which Bike Pottstown, health and wellness foundation staffers, Stop the Violence marchers and The Mercury family joined forces to show off our causes.  Here’s my column about that.

We feature our Fit for Life coverage on a subsection of the website, and it has its own Facebook and Twitter identity.

Rather than a conflict of interest, the foundation funding is a joining of community interests. It allows us to report on and engage people in a project that we would not be able to manage with our staff resources.  The project was inspired by news — a health needs assessment that showed obesity and health-related concerns on the rise in the Pottstown tri-county area — and is intended to lead the community in improving itself.

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The point of Project Unbolt is not to wrench the four pilot newsrooms free from print culture and workflow. We want to unbolt all our newsrooms from print.

We decided to concentrate our attention initially on the four pilot newsrooms: New Haven Register, Berkshire Eagle, El Paso Times and the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio.

I was planning some specific steps to encourage other newsrooms to start their work in the next few weeks, but was delighted by an email yesterday from Nancy March, editor of The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. She is already hard at work leading the Merc staff in unbolting. (more…)

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This continues my series on advice for new Digital First editors.

One of an editor’s most important jobs is developing other leaders in your newsroom. A top editor should:

Understand your staff’s aspirations. Except at the largest newsrooms, an editor should take the time to learn what everyone on your staff wants from their careers. Not everyone wants to be an editor, but if someone wants to be an editor (and shows potential), you should know that and watch for opportunities to develop and show their leadership skills. On a bigger staff, you should know the aspirations of your mid-level editors, and perhaps a few other stars, and expect the mid-level managers to know the aspirations of their staffs. You can’t always control whether you hang onto your best people, but your odds are better if you know what they want from their careers and are helping them pursue those goals.

Provide opportunities. Weekend or holiday editing slots or late-night and early-morning shifts give some budding staff members their shots at running the show (as I did on Sundays as a young assistant city editor at the Des Moines Register). Give some authority (and some clear guidance) to potential leaders and see how they perform in these positions.

Know when to let others lead. Some big news stories require all hands on deck and require leadership from the top. But sometimes a top leader can show leadership by stepping back and letting the budding leaders lead. You put people in key leadership positions to do a particular job. Remember to let them do that job.

I remember hearing Libby Averyt, then the editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, describe her staff’s coverage of the big national story that broke in their back yard when Vice President Dick Cheney shot a hunting buddy in the face by accident. That broke on a weekend and Libby checked in by phone but resisted the urge to bigfoot the weekend editor by rushing in to run the show. If someone’s not getting the job done, you can often direct from home. Or you might need to come in if someone’s in over his head (then follow up with some coaching). (more…)

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Nancy March

Nancy March

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms. Nancy March, editor of the Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., and cluster editor for Digital First Media in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia, offered this post after I made brief reference to the editor’s personal life in my post last week on respecting the staff’s personal life. Thanks to Nancy for this guest post.

I have a saying honed during 37 years in the news business: “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

That may sound like encouragement to procrastinate or an excuse for laziness, but it’s not. Put it in context of our work: We  build a product from start to finish in a day’s time — every day — and with so much emphasis on what we have daily, we have to also know what we can set aside until tomorrow. (more…)

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This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Staff members are entitled to a life outside the newsroom.

When work has to intrude, acknowledge the intrusion. Apologize for calling at home or for interfering with dinner or vacation or weekend plans. Thank the reporter who came in on a day off or skipped lunch to deal with your demands or questions. Thank the editor who worked late on a breaking story even though he had a Cub Scout meeting that night. Commend the reporter who took the initiative to cover news that broke on personal time. She might have irritated a spouse or missed an important family event. Thanks are in order.

Sometimes thanks should be personal, sometimes public, sometimes both. I like the way Nancy March, editor of the Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., publicly praised staff members who worked through the night to provide her community timely digital coverage of developments in the Boston Marathon bombing case. (more…)

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Brandie Kessler

We all want our journalism to have impact. Well, here’s impact for you: the Wanted by Police Pinboard launched by the Pottstown Mercury’s Brandie Kessler is resulting in arrests.

In a recent Mercury story, Pottstown Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller said arrests were up 58 percent since the Mercury started publicizing mug shots of people with outstanding warrants.

Brandie explained in a lightly edited email how the Merc is using Pinterest like a post office bulletin board:

When Mandy Jenkins stopped by The Mercury a few months ago and told us a bit about various new social media, myself and reporter Evan Brandt thought Pinterest, because of its photo-focus, would be perfect for a wanted by police list.

I had put a list together in a slideshow on our website long before the Pinterest board, but the slideshow kept freezing or not working and it was difficult to update and difficult to highlight on Facebook and Twitter.

I decided to create a list on Pinterest. It’s great because it’s easy to update, easy to view on a smartphone and you don’t even need a Pinterest account to view it. Plus, it’s simple to post the link on Facebook and Twitter, and our readers love it.

Police departments have told me they have made many arrests as a direct result of the Pinterest board, which is pretty awesome.

Here’s what Brandie told area police chiefs in asking them to send fugitives’ photos for use on the Pinboard:

Pinterest is a sort of digital corkboard and is among the fastest growing social media sites in the world. Many of its users use Pinterest to post or “pin” recipes, craft ideas and other things which they can easily organize using the site. However, we’ve found it’s also a great way to display mug shots.

Pottstown police department has a public list of persons wanted by their department for a variety of offenses. I created a board using a collection of mug shots of Pottstown’s wanted persons along with a snapshot of what each individual is wanted for. I then posted that “board” to our Facebook page, where more than 6,600 (Buttry note: That number is now more than 7,000) of our readers are able to view it regardless of whether they have their own Pinterest log in.

Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman demurred to Brandie when I asked questions about this, but I’m pretty sure one of the reasons this works so well is that Diane has built a strong following for the Merc’s Pinterest account, with nearly 800 followers. Diane is one of Digital First Media’s Pinterest rock stars, generating strong engagement with Pinboards about topics such as pets, graduation, prom and brides. That sizable audience clearly set the stage for the fugitive pins to work effectively.

Beyond the social nature of Pinterest, Mercury Editor Nancy March explained why the Pinboard approach is effective:

We initially had this Most Wanted list as a photo gallery on website but one of advantages of Pinterest board is the view on mobile devices. Far surpasses what reader sees on our site.

Nancy has shared the idea with other Digital First editors in Pennsylvania. She reports that colleagues at the Times Herald in Norristown and the Daily Local News in West Chester are planning to start similar Pinboards. When we get several of the local Pinboards going, we’ll create a “regional Most Wanted list” that the mug shots will be repinned to, Nancy said.

Brandie noted multiple levels on which the mug shots help police, the community and the police reporter:

As a police reporter with The Mercury for the past 6 years, I often find myself asking the police to help me. This board allows me to help the police, which really improves the working relationship I have with them.

It’s also great to give the public an opportunity to help improve the quality of life in their community. One thing I hear from the local police chiefs is there are only X amount of police officers on their respective forces, and they would love the community’s help in being more efficient. This board facilitates that. It’s also wonderfully interactive.

Earlier posts about Digital First journalists at work:

Asking people to share memories: always a good idea on an anniversary

GatheringPoint and Geofeedia help you find social media by location

Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques

Geofeedia, slideshows, cleaning up and a snake

‘American Homecomings’ tells veterans’ stories nationwide

York Daily Record quiz helps voters pick candidates reflecting their views

York Daily Record’s ‘Finding Their Way Out’: an old-school digital journalism project

Trentonian’s best-bar tourndy heightens March Madness engagement

Coverage of deadly fire shows Daily Mail’s  Digital First progress

What does an engagement editor do? Digital First editors answer

Michigan tornado coverage shows off Heritage journalists’ digital skills

Oakland Press collects community photos of children with a statue

Troy Record’s breaking news coverage drives Facebook discussion

An engaged reporter: no longer ‘just a fly on the wall’

Pottstown Mercury engages bloggers in community food drive

Facebook engagement tips: Use breaking news photos and calls to action

Jeff Edelstein uses Klout to reach people interested in his content

Valentine’s Day: a perfect opportunity for community engagement

Community internships: Oakland Press helps bloggers develop skills

Google+ Hangout helps with video interviews

Banjo app helped Andy Stettler find local tweets

Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson

Buffy Andrews’ tips for daily beat checks using HootSuite

Larry Altman’s account of live-tweeting a breaking news story

Examples of live-tweeting government meetings

A first try at live-tweeting from the courtroom

Romeo and Juliet on Facebook: great fun and community engagement

San Pedro landslide shows power of social media

Reach out through Facebook to gather information on tragic stories

Engagement opportunities: weather, elections, sports, school fun

Denver Post social media use delivers on mountain lion vs. kitty story

Opening our Journal Register newsrooms to the community

Include staff members’ usernames in tweets promoting your content

Crowdsourcing Hurricane Irene recovery map in Connecticut

JRC journalists use social media to cover earthquake and hurricane

Trentonian uses Google+ and other tools to cover apartment shooting

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Visitors use computers available for public use at the Mercury’s new Community Media Lab.

I was a guest speaker today at a ceremony in Pottstown, Pa., to celebrate the opening of the Community Media Lab of the Mercury, a Digital First news operation.

The celebration was a joint opening with the new Pottstown Visitors Center across the street in the Merc’s original building.

I have published a couple photos here, but others are in my DFM Engagement Tumblr started today. I also Storified tweets and photos about the opening celebration.

Here are my prepared remarks:

Perhaps you’ve heard that newspapers are in trouble, or even that they are dying.

I’m here to tell you today that the Mercury and Digital First Media have a bright future. The changes reflected in the Mercury’s new Community Media Lab are part of a transformation of our business that is delivering results and that will ensure a continuing role in Pottstown and the surrounding communities for the Merc and our journalists.

(more…)

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