I spend the most energy in my social media / engagement job at The Roanoke Times / roanoke.com performing the role of Watch Tower most of the day, but especially during the mornings. My best visual metaphor for this role is the dark tower (or Eye of Sauron) from “The Lord of the Rings” — minus the evil!
This is the “always on” surveillance of news, social media, email and what’s going on our website (similar to an assignment editor in a TV newsroom).
As we’re discussing workflows as part of our year-long redesign, I’ve broken down this part of my job — and my mornings — to better replicate this role in our newsroom.
We’ve talked about breaking this role up into smaller shifts (perhaps 2 or 3 hours?), to free up myself and others to focus on longer term projects — and expanding the surveillance during critical parts of the day that are more or less uncovered (lunch, late afternoons, etc.).
The role of Watch Tower would generally mean posting the latest news to the website and pushing those headlines through social channels, email, text, etc. This editor should be checking the wire, internal emails, Twitter, Facebook, our competitors and our own website, ready to pounce on news as it happens.
Frequent examples of the kinds of news I’m reporting myself: Traffic alerts (mostly Interstate 81 backups), weather alerts (severe storm warnings), urgent police briefs (missing persons, manhunts), significant power outages and disruptive water main breaks.
Here’s the breakdown of my morning routine:
By 7 a.m. (from home)
» Check roanoke.com to catch up on stories, rearrange order of stories if necessary, make sure centerpiece links work, misc tweaks
» Watch CNN for big national headlines
» Listen to local radio on drive for traffic alerts / local headlines
Boot up at work by 8 a.m.
» Check calendar for day’s highlights (and note my top personal priorities, meetings for the day)
» Check email for urgent messages, any fresh AP alerts
» Check competitor websites for local headlines — Are we missing anything urgent? Post if possible
» Scan HootSuite dashboard for Twitter mentions, what our journalists might be tweeting
» Check Facebook for reader messages / wall posts
» Routine morning tweets: Weather forecast / today’s front page
» Scan digital version of paper (eTimes) for highlights, hidden gems (make notes on the “lucky charms” to tweet / post on Facebook throughout the day)
» Routine morning Facebook post: Today’s front page / why you should buy today’s paper
» Noteworthy Daily Deal? (Looking for number of buyers, popular restaurant deals)
» Routine tweet / Facebook: The morning’s most-read story on roanoke.com
» Check AP’s “10 Things to Know for Today …” for national/international headlines
» Are there local stories to advance today on Twitter, such as important meetings, trials, other events? (check calendar)
» What’s the top story in Sports? Other noteworthy stories that are trending?
» What are the top searches on roanoke.com?
» Anything new from the blogs to tweet?
» What will be the talk of the day today? How can we play that on Facebook?
» Do we have promotions / contests / behind-the-scenes notes to post on Facebook today?
» What might we centerpiece on the website today? Create loose budget
10 a.m.: Budget meeting
» Walk through our current website, any breaking news, any new local AP stories
» Look at today’s most-read stories
» The top searches on roanoke.com
» Scan competitor websites. What are we missing?
» Scan Yahoo.com, CNN.com for national headlines
» Look at our Facebook page, note any feedback to the group, hot topics
» Look at our shared calendar
» Finally, we go through proposed print budget for following day
Subscribe to these emails
» Associated Press (any mention of Virginia)
» VDOT alerts by road and incident
» Competitors’ breaking news emails / texts (TV stations)
» Key public safety media blasts (Roanoke, Roanoke County, Salem, etc.)
» Access to email@example.com folder
» Access to news fax folder
» Receive firstname.lastname@example.org emails
» Receive news tip emails