Posts tagged social media
Posts tagged social media
In this Sept. 14 Poynter webinar, James Janega (@JamesJanega) of the Chicago Tribune talked about developing voice in social media (something I’m always thinking about, as I tweet/Facebook as The Roanoke Times throughout the day).
Here are my top 5 takeaways, which I emailed to the newsroom:
Whenever you doubt the amount of time and energy we spend interacting with folks on Facebook/Twitter/whatever, remember this quote:
“Journalism is no longer a mass medium; it’s a series of personal connections that add up to millions.”
Janega said this was the most important idea to take away from his webinar, and I couldn’t agree more.
Not sure what to tweet? I liked his Rule of Thirds (he stressed this was a guideline … not a rule.): One third your material, one third other people’s material (retweets), and one third personal highlights (showing your personality, what you’re reading, etc.).
How do you develop a social media voice without compromising your news credibility? Janega used the example of Chicago Tribune news reporter @StacyStClair, who tweeted pure facts from the recent Drew Peterson murder trial. BUT, she was able to develop a voice worth following by describing fascinating details about the jury (apparently they wore the same colors before verdict was reached), Peterson’s reactions, etc.
So look for the fascinating nuggets … or as I like to say, hunt for the tasty the Lucky Charms.
Want to see what’s trending on Twitter locally? Check out trendsmap.com — this morning (Monday, Sept. 17), it was all sports around Roanoke: #steelersnation, cowboys, redskins, nfl and pittsburgh. I’m not sure how to use this information, but it’s worth bookmarking.
Cheat sheet! Some scribbles from the webinar provided by Janega:
My best metaphor to help explain the basic skills journalists need to master in the digital age? Olympic gymnastics. Some of us can become the Gabby Douglases of journalism, but most of us will really shine on a particular apparatus (this is probably what we were originally hired to do). Photo credit: AP/Julie Jacobson
As I have mentioned before in this blog, The Roanoke Times / roanoke.com is in the middle of a website redesign and long-overdue CMS overhaul.
I serve on a couple of key teams to make the transition in our newsroom: Engagement (covering comments/user-submissions/social media/etc.) and Workflow.
What’s becoming clear is that in order to become a true “digital first” enterprise, we have to go beyond looking at a workflow reorganization or a community engagement strategy.
We have to completely re-imagine our individual jobs. We can’t just be a reporter. Or a photographer. Or a copy editor. Or a social media editor.
We need all of these skills — and apply them at different times and situations.
We’ve known this for years, but it’s always been a vague notion. Sort of like the word “multimedia” — what does that mean?
This weekend, I’ve forced myself to drill down and categorize some basic core competencies — traits and skill sets that should be shared by everyone in our newsroom.
My best metaphor at the moment is inspired by the Olympics: I look at it as the all-around gymnastics competition.
In order to win, these gymnasts must hold their own on multiple difficult apparatuses — horizontal bars, the vault, floor exercise and balance beam.
Some of us might become the Gabby Douglases of digital journalism, but most of us will truly shine on a particular apparatus (this is probably what we were originally hired to do).
I like this metaphor because the sport combines strength with flexibility. It’s tough, but beautiful. And that’s what we should should aspire for.
So what are the digital journalism apparatuses to train for — and master in varying degrees?
This is what I propose:
1. News hunter/ gatherer: We should all know how to research, interview, verify and curate. Accuracy is paramount, and an entrepreneurial approach is ideal. Stars on this apparatus include investigative watchdogs.
2. Visual storyteller: We are visual creatures — images speak to our creative, subconscious minds, and we retain visual information very easily. No surprise that photos and editorial cartoons are the most popular posts on our Facebook page. Or that readers overwhelmingly contribute photos more than text submissions. All digital journalists should be equipped and ready to snap photos, shoot video, present data with charts/graphs, and have an appreciation of good design. And realize the power (and importance) of collecting mug shots and providing maps whenever possible. Show, don’t tell! Obviously, photo/video/multimedia journalists, graphics artists and designers shine here.
3. Social collaborator: Reach out and engage through social media, individual blogs, polls, surveys and old-fashioned, in-person networking. Listen, share and empathize. Overall, be a team player inside and outside the newsroom. Our best beat reporters, social media editors/community managers and frontline editors (who must lead a team along with the content) excel in this realm.
4. Wordsmith: Write with clarity, voice and minimal grammatical/spelling errors. Can craft effective SEO headlines, captions, tweets, etc., and adhere to local and AP style. Stars on this apparatus include our top writers and copy editors.
In the middle of my apparatuses are four non-negotiable values that link all of these competencies:
2. Curious, critical thinking
3. Creative problem solving
(Sort of like the Olympic motto: “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”)
Articulating these competencies will help our newsroom better define (and break down) our roles and help guide our training.
Notice that the mastery of digital technology is assumed — it’s a set of ever-changing tools that we should use in the service of journalism, not a core competency or value.
Am I missing anything huge?
More questions: Where do you excel? What should you be developing?
Using our gymnastics apparatus metaphor as a guide, I envision a future exercise with the staff where we draw pie charts of how we individually spend our work time. And what our ideal pie chart would look like. Pizza and fruit pies would be served, of course. :-)
I’ll expand on this idea in future blog posts.
Meanwhile, if you’re wrestling with the same “digital first” transition, I highly recommend this series of blog posts by Digital First Media Jedi Steve Buttry:
And this post was really helpful, too:
» 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist by Vadim Lavrusik
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
Like finding a “lucky charm,” I zeroed in on this lovely metaphor in the wonderful “News, Improved” (required reading for anyone interested in staying excited about their journalism job … and transforming their newsrooms).
The quote is from Dana Robbins, editor of the The Hamilton Spectator (Ontario, Canada), which has pulled off some creative “Revolutions” over the years:
Training is like pixie dust. It makes magic happen. [emphasis mine]
It took us 18 months to gear up for the launch of Revolution 1. Revolution 2 we did in less than three. A huge part of that was the function of the training, development and cultural work we did in between.
Any news organization that believes it can move forward without investing in the development of its staff is kidding itself. In fact, there has probably never been a time when it has been more absolutely crucial to grow the capacity of the people in our newsrooms. (p. 98)
How best to transform our newsroom from “a static, defensive organization to a nimble, constructive one?”
The authors of “News, Improved” summarize quite nicely:
Lead and communicate. Set goals and measure progress. Improve culture. Involve staff. Make the news more readable, useful, convenient, relevant. Train. Teach. Learn. Innovate. And then train some more. Repeat continuously. (p. 111)
This is why I added “engagement” to my “social media editor” job title. My mission is best summed up in the “About Me” section of this blog:
I want to help our newsroom innovate and engage with our communities, creating more imaginative and useful journalism. I’m convinced these missions go hand-in-hand: Creativity is spurred by social collisions and learning opportunities, real and digital. That means more and better sharing, coaching, training … and partying. If individual journalists are growing and having fun, the journalism should reflect that.
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.
Besides my Cruise Ship Director metaphor, I’ve also used Lucky Charms to help explain how I do my job as social media / engagement editor for The Roanoke Times / roanoke.com.
Let me explain.
In college, I was thrilled I could fill a bowl with Lucky Charms from the grand cereal buffet …. and just pick out the tasty marshmallows.
Nobody (mom) was there to stop me.
Wasteful, yes. I’m not exactly condoning this behavior.
But that’s exactly what I’m doing when I have to choose which stories and other bits of information to share on our newspaper’s social media channels.
Look for the lucky charms — these can be entire stories, or even just one photo or quote or factoid buried in that story.
Where did I get my Cruise Ship Director metaphor? I was inspired by a 2008 Caribbean cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas (pictured).
I’m sort of addicted to metaphors, similes and analogies.
They help me conceptualize my own work — and they help explain it to others.
When I was named “Dayside Delivery Editor” in 2009, I thought of myself as a cowgirl — trying to herd random bits of information.
After about 6 months, I changed my analogy to Cruise Ship Director.
I was inspired by a 2008 Caribbean cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas (pictured). Each evening, we returned to our cabin to find a towel folded into some sort of animal — and one sheet of paper on our pillow. This was our cruise agenda for the following day, filled with everything to help you make the most of your vacation: The weather forecast, any safety alerts from the captain, the yoga schedule, available excursions, which restaurants were open — and the drink of the day.
I started using our social media in similar ways: In a sea of information, I was helping our readers with up-to-the-minute safety information (weather and traffic alerts, breaking news) along with useful updates and discussion starters on the more entertaining side of life (restaurant news, rich feature stories, etc.) — all with the friendly tone and sociability of a cruise ship director.
The editor in chief mentioned my metaphor as part of a newsroom award I received in 2011.
Even now, I see Page 2 of the newspaper as that one-sheet cruise ship agenda: Weather at the top, important contact information on the side, our Daily Deal at the bottom — and teasers for online content that also double as timely reminders. Developing that page — along with a related blog (tentatively titled “Engagement Station”) — is one of my top priorities in the coming months.
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?