Posts tagged poynter
Posts tagged poynter
My top 5 takeaways from The Art and Science of Editing webinar with consultant/educator Merrill Perlman (@meperl), formerly of The New York Times
This Oct. 3, 2012, webinar is “for writers and editors who want to learn to identify when you need to edit something, when you don’t and how to explain your changes to others.”
Most important: Your job as an editor is to stand up for the reader. Your goal is to make something more accessible — what is the writer saying? What is the reader hearing?
Good editing follows guidelines, not rules (except when it’s a law).
You want to edit, not change. A change is something you *want* to do … an edit is what copy *needs* to be clearer. “An edit always keeps its main focus on the reader. A change is made for convenience sake or to obey a rule.” And editing improves copy as *invisibly* as possible.
“Good editors understand why they do what they do … and can explain it.” When you do explain an edit, avoid terms like “you did” or “I fixed.” Instead: “The idea is unclear” or “a reader might misunderstand …”
How to give a story a fresh read? Change the font size to make it bigger … or print it out and read on paper.
I was really energized by Joy Mayer, Director of Community Outreach for the Columbia Missourian (and professor at Missouri School of Journalism). Her enthusiasm for serving readers is contagious. Here are my top take-aways from her June 28 Poynter/NewsU webinar.
1. Listen, don’t just talk. Turn content into conversations — and go find where people are already talking about the story you are writing. Join that conversation and share. Use social media not just to promote your content, but to eavesdrop. (I found this especially relevant in our Pinterest discussion yesterday. If we paid attention to what folks are repinning like crazy on Pinterest — how might that change our coverage? )
2. What do you read to stay informed? Why not share that with your readers on your blog and through your social channels?
3. Issue specific invites. Don’t just ask: What do you think? Try to craft a specific, thought-provoking question to advance the conversation. Instead of making general requests for reader photos, get specific about the photos you want. Inspired by this advice, we asked readers to submit photos of stars (in murals? street signs, etc.) to help celebrate July 4. We could have easily just asked, “Send photos from your July 4 celebrations,” which is a little too broad. Because of the power outages, we scrapped this project. But we will definitely trot this star idea back out in the future. Christmas, perhaps?
4. Try to identify the audience for your stories. Who, specifically, would find this useful? Not just “all of Southwest Virginia.” But maybe Roanoke taxpayers. Or Southwest Virginia parents.
How might this influence your storytelling choices? Some examples:
Handouts: When covering stories where many folks might show up to public meetings (and are captive audience), why not create a fact sheet to distribute, to help keep the debate fact-based? Low cost, high engagement. Missourian also did this with “How to talk to you children about 9/11,” targeting parents with handouts at libraries, daycare centers, etc.
Surveys: When covering an election with many issues at stake, why not create an online survey for readers, to see what most care about?
5. To measure engagement success, look at the ratios. For example, of the total people who viewed your blog post, how many commented? Or filled out a survey? For crowdsourced photo galleries, how many were submitted, versus staff-created?
My top 4 takeaways from
1. TWEETS ARE JOURNALISM. Are you verifying your Twitter sources before you retweet? You should be. Are you correcting your inaccurate tweets by sending a follow-up tweet? Ditto. What happens if our competitors are reporting something that we haven’t yet confirmed? Do we stay silent? Depending on the urgency of the news, we can tweet that we’re hearing reports of an incident and working to get details. Transparency and reporting precisely what we know is key. Also, Suki had a message to editors: Are you paying attention to what your reporters are tweeting? Because that’s journalism, and it should be part of the workflow.
2. TWEET SOURCE CHECK: Which government agencies — or PIOs — or other official sources — should you be following on your beat? For example, I pay close attention to @511southwestva for VDOT traffic alerts … @rpdsafercity (Roanoke police) … and @RoanokeFireEMS. Other than official sources, are you following your competitors — or reporters covering your beat at other news organizations?
3. LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT LISTS. This webinar was a good reminder that we should be creating and continually pruning our Twitter lists, which can be extremely valuable to ourselves as we expand and share our sources … and need to find them quickly in breaking news situations. Lists also serve as a helpful directory for the public, which can use them like phone books. You can find our lists here » https://twitter.com/#!/roanoketimes/lists. And yes, our lists are far from complete (what should we add? You can help!). We’re hoping to compile a #swva Influencer list — local folks with big followings. Who should be on this? And how are you using lists on your beat?’
4. TIME FOR A #MEETUP? The Seattle Times hosted a public meetup with various government agencies (specifically the folks who tweet on those accounts). They had a former editor facilitate a conversation in which they discussed mutual challenges, standards for tweets and expectations. By reaching out to the people behind the curtain, they’ve been able to develop those relationships and improve their communication. Let me know if this is something you’d like to help organize.
I organized an all-day live stream from Poynter’s TEDx “The Future of Journalism” event on June 1 for our newsroom. I baked brownies … popped popcorn … and had crayons and paper at the table for creative doodling. There wasn’t exactly a stampede of participants, but the folks who did drop in throughout the day seemed thankful and inspired. And that’s what keeps me going!
The highlight of Poynter’s free online course, Innovation at Work: Helping New Ideas Succeed ?
Stumbling onto Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. (And Stanford *continually* comes up in my creative quests … a definite innovation hothouse).
The most helpful maxim?
All problems are opportunities. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.
(And Seelig credits that to Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who said “No one will pay you to solve a non-problem,” in a video in her presentation.)
This year, as our newsroom faces a radical redesign of roanoke.com — and a new content management system — and a continually changing industry — there will be major problems. Institutional and individual resistance to new ideas and workflows and processes. The key will be viewing those problems as opportunities — and helping my colleagues do the same.
My first step will be a simple brownbag titled, “How to encourage innovation in the newsroom?” This seems like a pretty big topic to tackle in one hour, so my first question to the group might be: “When are you having the most fun in your job?,” to help folks hone in on their superpowers … and what drives their journalism. Followed by, “What is the most frustrating part of your job?” See what comes up … try to frame the problems as opportunities … and then brainstorm some solutions. Hopefully we’ll see some opportunities to innovate as individuals and as a newsroom by the end of the hour.
You can skip the entire innovation course and go straight to Seelig’s full podcast here, which was totally worth the time (especially as someone attempting to teach creativity). I found the bit called “Don’t Wait to be Anointed” the most inspirational and validating:
“When you get a job, you aren’t getting the job. You are getting the key to the building. And as soon as you are in the building, it’s up to you to figure out all of the other things you can do.”
I think this approach is exactly why I’ve flourished at The Roanoke Times — I’ve seen problems (and opportunities) for the organization and created my own jobs for the past 12 years: First in Features, seeing the need for an expanded entertainment presence (Extra Weekend) … which grew to a cheeky tabloid (Inside Out) … which eventually culminated in a jump to online editing and social media — a job (and title) which seems to change every day. I”ve managed to stay entrepreneurial in a corporate environment — and I credit my bosses and the company for letting this happen.
Watch Seelig’s brief “anointed” clip here.