Our style on The Roanoke Times Twitter account is always evolving, but I thought I’d explain my new goal:
Not only do I strive to find the (verified) Twitter account of any business/politician/etc. mentioned in the tweet, but now I’m trying to add reporters / photogs whenever possible. This gets your attention —- and gives our 8,500 followers an opportunity to engage with – or follow – you, too.
Here’s a good example:
Ideally, I would have added this businessman’s Twitter handle, but alas – couldn’t find it in a quick search.
After analyzing our breaking news successes, I realized teamwork and clear communication was KEY to how quickly and comprehensively we could report.
My goal was to equip our journalists with the essential apps — and confidence — to help save time and maximize the mobile tools at our fingertips.
What happens if you find yourself on the scene of breaking news, with adrenaline pumping and your mind racing? What should you do first?
I advise our journalists to …
SNAP: Capture the event in photos or video — You may lose the opportunity, depending on the news event.
CALL (or text)* your team leader or online editor to alert them to the news. Make sure someone else on staff knows what’s going on, so you can focus on reporting. *A critical part of the training was taking the time to update phone contacts, which include an email that alerts a wide group of editors, along with an email address that allows you to automatically upload video to the Roanoke Times YouTube account.
ROLL: Quickly tweet your photo/video w/ a caption (going public ASAP), which the desk-bound editors can retweet on the main account and post on the website. Roll on with your reporting, relaying to editors primarily through Twitter or over the phone, whichever method you’re most comfortable with.
As I emphasized in our training, our mobile tools are incredibly powerful, allowing us to report faster than ever before. But our *brains* are the most important weapon we have — learning to quickly communicate and improvise as the news unfolds, using these tools wisely.
My favorite lesson: “Good reporters research each assignment in advance. The same goes for live tweeting. Students should know before arriving all related hashtags and who among the event’s organizers and key participants have Twitter handles.” Roanoke Times reporting intern (and master tweeter) @JordanFifer compiled a specific Twitter list before live tweeting Barack Obama’s campaign stop in Roanoke.
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!
Webinar: Political Fact-Checking: Tips and Tricks for the 2012 Election 2 p.m. Thursday, May 31, News Conference Room
Join Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times, to learn how to be clear about what you’re checking (and what you’re not) … and how to find independent and non-partisan experts and resources. http://www.newsu.org/political-fact-checking
The future of journalism is … TEDxPoynterInstitute
Friday, June 1, News Conference Room
From Poynter: During this interactive one-day TEDx event, we will tap into the minds of influential thought leaders from the broadest sections of the media industry. They will all inspire us with their stories and share their visions for the future of journalism. Throughout the day, participants will collaborate with others at the event (and those following along with live streams, blogs, etc.) to complete the sentence: “The future of journalism is …”
The beauty of this event is that it’s cut into 20-minute segments, so you can drop in and out whenever you have a little time to spare. I’m planning to broadcast these live streams in the News Conference Room throughout the day for anyone who’s interested. Snacks are planned … and an (off-site) happy hour could happen, too.
We can all be breaking news rock stars … Are you prepared? Tuesday, June 19 No matter what your role or beat in the newsroom, you should be prepared to cover a breaking news story. Are you ready? We’ll look at some examples of our breaking news successes — and the Top 5 things you should know to report from your phone. Bring your phone and your questions in this workshop led by engagement / social media editor Stephanie Ogilvie. * Multiple times may be scheduled to accommodate all shifts (and a trip to NRV?)
Community Engagement and Your News Organization 2 p.m. Thursday, June 28, News Conference Room
With Joy Mayer, Director of Community Outreach for the Columbia Missourian
Community engagement is key to survival in a complicated news and information environment. Whether that means social media, community coffee shop hours, live chats or more robust comments depends on you. Each news organization should be able to articulate what it most values in community outreach, conversation and collaboration. This Webinar will help guide your news organization to the kind of relationship it needs with its community and the strategy to build that relationship.
Let’s talk Pinterest! Noon Thursday, July 12 , News Conference Room Food writer (and Pinterest addict) Lindsey Nair is spearheading our Pinterest efforts across the company. Are you following our pin boards? We’ll hear tips about this exploding new social network in a discussion led Lindsey.
I invited the newsroom to chat about innovation during a brownbag session this week. While the turnout was lower than I’d hoped (five, including myself) — I was really encouraged by our conversation.
Before we started our discussion, I played “The Power” by SNAP! —- a cheesy blast from the 90s, yes —- but it helps motivate me through a rough patch in life and work. Whenever someone says, “Wouldn’t it be cool if …” or “Someone should really do this ….” …. I hear the song in my head: “I’ve got the power!”
These are the highlights I emailed to the newsroom following the brownbag:
Innovation isn’t just a huge, expensive Project (with a capital “P”) that results in a game-changing product like an iPad. We innovate every day in small ways, in minute processes that save us time and improve our journalism.
Example: What happens if you’re on the scene of breaking news, you want to send a photo, but your mobile phone service is spotty in rural areas? Rebecca Barnett didn’t give up — she quickly asked a bystander to borrow their phone and sent some to Natalee. Small, yes — but huge.
Why is innovation important?
Because we have the power to help shape our community and lead with ideas. In order to preserve our values and sustain the business, we must embrace change and expertly improvise … and stay excited and curious and joyful about our role.
Howcanwe encourage innovation?
My Top 5 highlights from the conversation …
1. Don’t fear the #Fail. We talked a lot about developing a culture more tolerant of failure. You learn the most from your mistakes, right? How can we see meddlesome, embarrassing corrections as opportunities to prevent future corrections? If we see consistent copy mistakes (like spelling “judgment” wrong in every instance), why don’t we take the time to (diplomatically) tell that person — so we don’t have to correct it again? Would we embrace failure as a normal part of progress (like scientists) if we each kept a Failure Resume (as suggested by Tina Seelig)?
2. Knowledge Directory — Jeff Sturgeon proposed this great idea, which is an evolving directory/wiki of different storytelling tools (like Facebook, Storify, Excel). We would add tips, FAQs, etc. for each tool — and list the folks in the newsroom who could be helpful teachers for each, building a community of trainers. (Travis Williams was cited specifically as a social media star … watch out Travis, I’ll be calling.)
3. Another Jeff Sturgeon idea: Are you starving for honest feedback? Would you be interested in a Feedback Club that might meet every month? Jeff will send an email with more details about this idea …
4. Question:What’s the most fun part of your job? How can you do more of that? Example: If you are energized the most by being out in the community — at the scenes of crimes and “closer to the real,” as Jeff says — what tools do you need to keep you away from the office? And maybe it’s not technology — maybe it’s just taking the time to reimagine how you structure your job. And if you are consistently frustrated by something in your job, isn’t it worth the time to focus on some creative solutions?
5. Breaking news protocol?The idea of a breaking news simulation — or an experimental group project covering a real event — came up. More questions: What should be our priorities when we cover breaking news? Should there be a more defined process? We’ll be talking more about this during our June 19 brownbag, when I’ll try to answer: What does breaking news success look like? We have some great examples — today’s coverage of the bus wreck comes immediately to mind.
In fact, I don’t think I recall I time when I was bored.
But I’m learning that the key to success … and my personal happiness … is the ability to set priorities and make time for what’s most important.
Developing a culture of learning and creativity is what I value most. Do I have time to do this? Not really. I’m too often distracted by the ding of my latest email … or breaking news … or so-and-so’s latest Facebook link … or something that needs to be fixed on roanoke.com.
Is creativity czar part of my job description? No — but I’m reimagining my role.
I’m committed to make time because I know it’s important to the success of this newsroom … and it makes me happy.
And that’s why I’m going to spend two hours of my weekend taking this free, self-directed Poynter course:
I’ve been on an innovation kick lately, so I’ve put together a weekly series of brainstorms and webinars in May to help get those creative juices flowing. Let’s get our mojo back by the summer, shall we?
Brainstorm brownbag: How can we tell better stories? Noon Tuesday, May 8, News Conference Room
I’d love to talk more about generating creative story ideas (and creative ways to tell stories) — and I think this podcast from South by Southwest is a good place to start.
Before we brainstorm, please have a listen …
Storytelling Beyond Words: New Forms of Journalism
I was most inspired by Jim Brady, who just spoke at VPA over the weekend. In this podcast, he reminds us that we’re not just producing a newspaper — we’re producing stories.
It urges us to always ask: What is the best way to tell this story? It might be text, it might be photos, it might be data. The key is to ask this early in our reporting. What does the story want to be? How do people want to interact with the information?
Here’s a description from the SXSW program:
We are in the midst of a digital revolution, and yet journalistic storytelling remains trapped in the Stone Age. We have all sorts of digital tools at our disposal — video, social media, interactive graphics, etc. — and still our stories are boring. Our panel will help you think in new ways about storytelling forms. Instead of sending users to a separate link for a video, why not embed video into the story at strategic points? Instead of writing long articles analyzing the accuracy of a politician’s statements, why not invent a meter that allows the audience to quickly see that for themselves? We’ll offer examples of how journalists harness digital tools to reinvent storytelling in ways that delight audiences, elucidate complex issues, improve communities and strengthen democracy. This panel is for geeks who care about storytelling; it’s for storytellers who care about digital tools; and it’s for anyone who cares about the future of journalism.
Webinar: Facebook for Reporting and Storytelling 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, News Conference Room You’ll learn how to use Facebook tools that can help you develop story ideas and research sources. https://www.newsu.org/facebook-reporting
Idea festival: The future of journalism is … TEDxPoynterInstitute (DTED-12) Friday, June 1, News Conference Room
During this interactive one-day TEDx event, we will tap into the minds of influential thought leaders from the broadest sections of the media industry. They will all inspire us with their stories and share their visions for the future of journalism.
Throughout the day, participants will collaborate with others at the event (and those following along with live streams, blogs, etc.) to complete the sentence: “The future of journalism is …”
Perhaps we can broadcast these live streams in the news conference room throughout the dayfor anyone who’s interested. Make it a theme potluck?