Posted tagged ‘Digital First Media’

Digital First Media opens second media lab in Michigan

August 16, 2013
This photo is courtesy of The Macomb Daily. Unfortunately, I don't remember who took it, possibly David Dalton. But that's me talking with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab launch party Tuesday.

This photo is courtesy of The Macomb Daily. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who took it, possibly David Dalton. But that’s me talking with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab launch party Tuesday.

I had the honor Tuesday of helping Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor at The Macomb Daily; Jeff Payne, editor of The Voice Newspapers; and Jody McVeigh, editor of Advisor & Source, launch Macomb County’s first community media lab with an open house at The Macomb Daily, 19176 Hall Road, in Clinton Township.

The event attracted more than 135 people, including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon. Both joined 21st Century Media Michigan Group Publisher Jim O’Rourke and Group Editor Glenn Gilbert at the ribbon cutting. I put together a video for the media lab’s YouTube channel featuring all four speaking about the media lab and its aim to bring the audience inside the newsroom as news-sharing partners.

Maryanne had more than 61 people sign up for workshops at the media lab. My intern, Adrian College student Elise Waller, manned a table promoting the workshops and took names of people interested in attending. Time slots for one-on-one instruction with Maryanne were also booked. What’s great is Maryanne’s help and the workshops are free to the public.

MediaLabParty2

I thought Maryanne and her team did an excellent job of putting together the community event. It was much better than when I launched our first media lab in Ypsilanti April of 2012. Maryanne, Jeff, Jody, Elise and I all brainstormed ideas for the launch party, as well as the lab, earlier this summer and it was great to see it all come together. I really loved a video they created that played on a loop during the party. This is something I did with the launch of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, and I suggested Maryanne consider doing the same. On it, staff members talk about the expertise they can share with people who come to the media lab for instruction.

One of the more interesting draws to the party — and which will continue to attract people to the media lab — was a rotating art exhibit. For the launch party, the Black and White show, a collection of artwork donated by three Macomb County-based art organizations affiliated with the Anton Art Center, was on display.

Another big draw was a workshop, held during the party, for anyone interested in contributing community sports coverage to 21st Century Media publications in Michigan. 21st Century Media is managed by Digital First Media. George Pohly, Macomb Daily sports editor, led the workshop, which attracted about a dozen people.

Maryanne also created a hashtag (#MediaLabLaunch) for staff and the public to use during the event to share Tweets, Instagram photos and Touts, which is short-form video DFM reporters are using and encouraging the public to use.

The party also featured community partners and bloggers, who were sharing information and hawking their wares.

At the end of the evening, guests were given a chocolate bar with a wrapper noting the occasion, another great idea by Maryanne and her team. It was a nice memento and, as my intern noted in her Instagram photo, you can’t go wrong with chocolate.

MediaLabCandy

While the party marked the official opening of the media lab, Maryanne has been helping bloggers for quite a while as part of her role with the company, but now she has a dedicated space to do it. The new space, which is set up like a classroom, will allow her and the three publications to expand their community outreach and build partnerships. A regular schedule of workshops will be offered on social media and digital media, as well as community-driven workshops. The next workshop is 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 12 on news writing and alternative ways of sharing news, such as video, photo slideshows and audiocasts.

Elise and I set up the media lab’s Facebook page and Meetup.com profile, where workshops are listed, as well as its YouTube channel, blog, Twitter and Instagram accounts, RebelMouse page and uStream channel. These are all basic digital tools, in my opinion, needed for a media lab, as well as any new venture.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Maryanne noted my help and referred to me as her mentor. Her words touched my heart. I had just viewed my role as helper and I was honored when she called me a mentor. I also got a kick out of reporter Jameson Cook noting my presence at the party in his news story. It’s not often that a former editor and reporter becomes part of the story, but I did, and it was fun to see my name in print, outside of a byline.

MacombMention

I know the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab will be a success, and it was badly needed. I had a few people drive the 126-mile round-trip from Macomb County to the Southeast Michigan Media Lab in Ypsilanti, which I operate, for workshops and instruction. It’s nice that they now have support in their own community, and I am glad that I played a small role in that.

Next up, hopefully, is Mount Pleasant. I would love to work with the team there to launch a media lab affiliated with The Morning Sun. Let’s see what the next year — or several months — brings.

Guests check in and enter a raffle at The Macomb Daily office Tuesday for the launch of the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Guests check in and enter a raffle at The Macomb Daily office Tuesday for the launch of the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Steve Buttry visits for community engagement workshops

July 22, 2013

Engagement Workshops

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, which manages parent company 21st Century Media, paid a visit July 9 to the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, where community engagement editors from across the company’s Michigan and Ohio properties met to deliver a series of workshops.

I had the pleasure of livestreaming the event using the Southeast Michigan Media Lab‘s uStream channel, and moderating a live chat on ScribbleLive, while also presenting three of the 14 workshops. I was a little nervous about whether everything would run smoothly as I was on vacation the week prior to the event and had short notice on what I would be presenting. But because I provided Steve with a list of what I felt comfortable talking about, and had some slides from old PowerPoints I had delivered on the subject, I didn’t spend too much time putting together the presentations and was able to still enjoy my vacation with not a lot of prep work for the event.

The lab was packed with presenters, as well as some handpicked staff and editorial staffers from The Macomb Daily and Advisor & Source who were curious about particular subjects and wanted to watch in person, rather than online. Everyone used the hashtag #DFMengage throughout the afternoon to Tweet highlights, share photos and video. Some of our followers on social media chimed in with their own comments using the same hashtag, with all the posts appearing in our live chat blog.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Steve kicked off the afternoon with introductions, and it was great to meet in person many people who I was familiar with only by name or social media handle.

I led the first workshop on ScribbleLive, followed by fellow media lab director Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor for The Macomb Daily, speaking on her successes with community engagement using Facebook and, in particular, archival photographs that go viral. Lisa Yanick Jonaitis, community engagement editor at The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, spoke next about engaging your audience through contests, followed by Cheryl Sadler, community engagement editor at The News-Herald in Ohio, who walked us through her successes with Pinterest.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke about a new short-form video tool we are using across DFM called Tout and Karen Workman, former community engagement editor at The Oakland Press who now works on breaking news at DFM’s Thunderdome, gave a presentation about using Google Voice for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Steve followed with a chat on using video to engage your audience.

Laura Tressler Kessel, managing editor of The News-Herald in Ohio, gave examples of engaging the community as contributors and using their content, as well as a community weight loss effort. Steve followed with a talk on the social conversation and how to engage your audience online through social media.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl returned later in the afternoon with a presentation on the photo engagement tool Olapic, which encourages reader-submitted content. Karen was up next with an overview on Thunderdome, soliciting ideas from the editors on how the national news-gathering group could better serve staff at the local level.

At 5 p.m. I threw a bunch of tools at the editors as I spoke about Google Forms, NewHive, RebelMouse, SurveyMonkey and Dipity for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Before Steve’s wrap-up was Jeff Kuehn, regional sports editor for the Michigan cluster, and Cheryl, who spoke on the sports department’s efforts to solicit user-generated content, use of social media and community engagement efforts. Steve concluded the program with an example of community engagement using GeoFeedia to capture what the crowd was saying about the anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg story.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

After the workshops, Steve asked everyone to think about a tool or idea they could apply to their job today. It will be interesting to see what everyone came up with as the weeks progress, and as we add a new tool to our tool belt over the course of several months based on what we learned from one another.

I decided to delve deeper into Pinterest, based on Cheryl’s presentation, and I’ve been working with the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor. I helped the group start a Pinterest page and one of their volunteers will be meeting with me regularly to post photos from their volunteer activities, follow other interests, repin items and start engaging individuals on the social media tool while building an audience, and, hopefully, attracting more people to the group. For example, they recently visited Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and I am sure their photos of the beautiful flowers will attract some followers, and repins.

If you attended our workshops, post here which tool you decided to embrace and how you are using it. I’d love to hear from you.

Special thank you to Jan Wick for ordering our lunch and making sure we had everything we needed, Steve Buttry for flying in and sharing his expertise, and everyone who attended and participated in this great learning experience. I look forward to another series next year. So, that means continue exploring new tools, experimenting with new ideas and engaging your communities in conversations as we work toward elevating our journalism.

A productive month at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab

May 8, 2013

HelpFischers
The month of April proved to be very busy for me as I worked with multimedia journalists, bloggers and readers as part of my new role as director of community engagement and editorial training for 21st Century Media, formerly Journal Register Company, in Michigan.

From a reader focus group at The Oakland Press that I helped coordinate with Community Engagement Editor Monica Drake and a workshop on legal issues for media in the digital age at The News-Herald in Southgate, to working one-on-one with bloggers and journalists, delivering presentations to community groups, and hosting live chats and workshops, there is usually something fun and interesting going on every day.

Two visits to The News-Herald netted a better understanding of how social media tools are used by journalists and legal issues they may grapple with working in digital media. The informal chat on social media was insightful for me because I learned that our reporters are embracing social media and using it to connect better and faster to our audience. I was particularly impressed with Dave Komer, an online editor at The News-Herald, who shared a story about reporter Jackie Harrison-Martin live tweeting from a crime scene and him pulling in her tweets for breaking news updates. I also liked how they connected their social media stream on Facbook with print readers by offering polls and sharing responses in print.

A week later, I returned to facilitate Michigan Press Association attorney Robin Luce-Herrmann’s chat on digital media legal issues. I livestreamed the presentation so reporters and editors across our chain could watch it live or a recording later, and I shared her PowerPoint on Scibd. What was challenging about it for me was figuring out how to make it all private. After consulting our ideaLab group, I discovered it was pretty easy to create a password-protected uStream channel and make the document private on Scribd.com.

Michigan Press Association attorney Robin Luce Herrmann talks to journalists on legal issues involving digital media.

Michigan Press Association attorney Robin Luce Herrmann talks to journalists on legal issues involving digital media.

Also that same day, I drove to The Oakland Press for one of two reader focus groups planned. The afternoon session saw people fill the room to capacity, but no one showed up for the evening meeting. Monica and I had created a survey using SurveyMonkey and I promoted it on The Oakland Press Facebook page and Twitter account. Nineteen people showed up in person. I found the results interesting, but, in the end, it was decided the sample wasn’t big enough to warrant any immediate action. It was still a worthwhile and educational experience to hear from the readers about their likes and dislikes concerning The Oakland Press. I was particularly pleased to hear them say they are willing to contribute to the news website and print publication by writing news releases, submitting photographs and sharing items for the calendar of events.

Readers, reporters and editors gathered for a reader focus group at The Oakland Press in April.

Readers, reporters and editors gathered for a reader focus group at The Oakland Press in April.

I made three trips to The Macomb Daily, all very worthwhile and leaving me feeling inspired by the efforts of others. The first visit was to talk about social media use in their newsroom, the second visit was to work one-on-one with Gordie Wilczynski and the third was to livestream and shoot a shorter video of the Macomb County All-Academic Banquet sponsored by the newspaper.

Community Engagement Editor Maryanne MacLeod and Online Editor Bruce MacLeod are both impressive and are doing a top-notch job of steering the newsroom’s efforts as they focus online and interact more with their audience through social media. Some staffers, however, confessed to me that when we were talking about social media and new media tools, it was like I was speaking another language. I then offered to return as often as they will have me to work individually or in groups with reporters to get them up to speed on social media and introduce emerging technology tools. Both Gordie and Gina Joseph impressed me by taking me up immediately.

I returned a few days later to work with Gordie on building his Twitter and Facebook followings, and Gina and I spoke about the social media tool NewHive and how she could use it to build and reach a wider audience. Gina has since created several NewHive expressions linked to her work at The Macomb Daily online, and yesterday I saw Gordie using Facebook to crowdsource a story. Both have impressed me with their enthusiasm and willingness to embrace social media.

When I wasn’t on the road traveling to newsrooms this past month, I was working with individuals at the media lab, recruiting bloggers, adding new bloggers to our news websites across Michigan, holding live chats, livestreaming workshops or presenting information about the media lab to groups and individuals. Some of the highlights include an informative live chat on Alzheimer’s disease and a chat on techniques on getting through grief at Mother’s Day. Both were hosted on ScribbleLive, with my Alzheimer’s chat seeing 1,353 page views and my grief chat garnering 807, but growing every day as people read the archived version.

ScribbleLive chats were also held in conjunction with workshops and featured livestreaming video. We held workshops on search engine optimization and creating video news stories. These were presented by Monica and Aftab Borka, a multimedia journalist and videographer at The Oakland Press, respectively.

Videographer Aftab Borka teaches a workshop at the media lab.

Videographer Aftab Borka teaches a workshop at the media lab.

In addition, I met with blogging partners Chris Watkins, Adrianna Lypeckyj, Douglas Gill, and community contributors Linda Tubbs and Lori Maranville. Lori wanted to learn how to use Google Voice to create a sound slideshow on her church’s anniversary and Linda wanted help putting together a feature article, to be published at Heritage.com, on her nonprofit group’s efforts, highlighting a few of the standouts.

Also adding to a mix of interesting goings-on at the media lab was a workshop by Chuck Newman and his company on preserving and recording history through new media tools, a presentation about the media lab to Communities That Care in Ypsilanti and an in-person pitch to Bernadette Quist, director of the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce, on me delivering a presentation about the lab at a chamber breakfast in May.

Members of Communities That Care

Members of Communities That Care

In between, I set up an account on Meetup.com to publicize the media lab’s workshops, edited a video from one of our workshops and created a Southeast Michigan Media Lab channel on YouTube to share videos. In addition, I created two RebelMouse pages and several NewHive expressions.

New social media tool NewHive my latest obsession

April 14, 2013
My NewHive expression on my favorite digital tools.

My NewHive expression on my favorite digital tools.


As part of my role as a member of Digital First Media’s ideaLab, I am encouraged to experiment with new digital tools. My latest obsession is NewHive, which is still in beta and is by invite-only.

NewHive allows you to create “expressions,” which start off as blank canvasses until you add headlines, subheads, text, video, audio, photographs and other graphic elements. You can change font, use color, use shapes and draw shapes. In the end, you can make the page look like a piece of art, a newspaper page, invitation or any kind of creative expression you can imagine.

So far, I have three expressions. My first one was about the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. It features photos and video of the lab to give people an idea of what the lab has to offer.

My second expression was about me, how to connect with me on social media and my favorite digital tools. I like to share this with people who are just as excited about visual storytelling as I am.

My latest expression is an invitation to The Oakland Press reader focus group on Wednesday. I thought it would be great to share the invite on Twitter, Facebook and via email through a link.

The only drawback I’ve found, so far, is that it doesn’t appear we can embed it in an article page using our online publishing system. I have a request in now seeking help, as the embed appears to show up before it’s published on the page, but an error message appears after it’s published using TownNews. Despite this setback, what’s great about NewHive is that it can be shared using numerous social media tools. So, while we won’t get the online traffic, anything we link to. including article pages, will.

NewHive is an up-and-coming creative social media tool that I hope catches on. I especially like it to showcase creativity in photography and video. I think it’s also a great tool for journalists to use to showcase their work. Let me know what you think.

Blazing a new trail in community engagement, social media and editorial training

March 18, 2013

As I prepare to mark my one-month anniversary as director of community engagement and editorial training for Journal Register Company’s Michigan Group, I find myself questioning if I am doing enough. I’ve always been a workhorse and I’ve worked on deadline for 21 years as a former reporter, assistant editor, editor and managing editor. So, it has taken some mental adjustment to acclimate myself to a role that is more akin to a entrepreneur as I blaze a new trail in a newly created position that includes serving as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. The lab, which was launched last year as part of my ideaLab project, is a training center for blogging partners, community contributors, freelance writers, student journalists and members of the community interested in learning digital media skills.

I’ve spent the last month building relationships and making headway on every responsibility cited in my job description. This includes recruiting 100 blogging partners for all of our websites. Luckily, this isn’t entirely my responsibility, as the community engagement editors across our Michigan group will be recruiting from their coverage areas, as well. So far, I’ve had some success with this task, bringing on board six and I have nine others nearly ready for a total of 15. I’ve also joined the Oakland Press Bloggers and Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune Bloggers Collaborative on Facebook, and I’ve been sharing with them links to free digital tools, webinars and workshops at the media lab to help them be more successful. I also have scheduled appointments to meet with two blogging partners and the group Communities That Care to provide individual instruction at the lab.

I am also charged with setting up live chats across our footprint. The first chat I have in the works is on cancer awareness, prevention and treatment, and it will be held noon March 21. I’ve lined up a doctor, cancer resource nurse, representative from the American Cancer Society and cancer survivor. Also in the works is a chat with editors representing all of our publications and websites. The chats will run on our websites across Michigan, and will allow for a text conversation between experts and our readers. These chats are in additions to the live chats I hold in conjunction with the workshops at the media lab.

Also as part of the community engagement component of my position, I held a reader focus group for Heritage Media in Washtenaw County and I am working with Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, to organize a reader focus group in Oakland County. This involves an online survey, PowerPoint presentation, and conversation with key communicators and stakeholders in our coverage area. At the Heritage focus group last month, I connected with school leaders in Saline and now plan to meet Friday with a group of handpicked students to gauge their interest in news-sharing and blogging partnerships, as well as their involvement in the media lab. I’ve also reached out to Chelsea schools and hope to meet soon with students there.

At the media lab, I’ve been busy lining up workshops and recruiting presenters. I have four events planned in March and April on marketing blogs, search engine optimization, Google Drive and video production. Presenters include local staff, an Eastern Michigan University professor and an Internet marketing expert. Events pages have been set up on the media lab’s Facebook page.

In addition, I’ve organized newsroom training on “Excel for Journalists” for all of our Michigan properties. Mark Ranzenberger, who works at The Morning Sun and teaches journalism at Central Michigan University, will provide the training, with three on-site options combined with livestreaming video and a live chat for those who can’t make it in person. I’ve also been in contact with Robin Luce-Hermann, counsel for the Michigan Press Association, to present on “New Rules for the Digital Media Age,” a workshop she delivered in 2012 at the MPA convention on legal issues relating to the Internet and journalists. Plans are also in the works to have chats at each of our newsrooms on journalists’ and editors’ use of social media to engage and communicate with our audience.

I’ve also been busy seeking training for myself, logging onto the webinars “Pinterest and Instagram for Journalists,” “Overview” and “Branding for Journalists” by the Reynolds Center and Poynter, and attending training at The Oakland Press on Omniture. And for good measure and to stay active in the field, I shot and produced video of the “We Love Dexter” video launch party and interviewed Capt. Keith Colburn of “Deadliest Catch” for a podcast, both of which were posted on Heritage.com.

ideaLab goal morphs into job at Journal Register Company Michigan Group

February 19, 2013

MichelleAtBloggingStation

My cubicle at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab.


My cubicle at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab.

When I was named to the Journal Register Company’s ideaLab in summer 2010, I had no idea that the goal I chose would morph into a full-time job, but it has and I am really excited about the fun in store for me.

As managing editor of Heritage Media-West, my ideaLab goal was to “incentive coworkers to learn new technologies and understand the value of digital. Train coworkers to utilize new tools by showcasing the strength and potential of each offering.”

My new job title is director of community engagement and editorial training for Journal Register Company’s Michigan Group. And among my responsibilities is to head up training efforts in video, developing partnerships, pertinent online tools and SEO for all of Michigan.

This is in addition to leading the community engagement team across the state, running the Community Media Lab, which has been renamed the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, as well as directing blogger recruitment and training across the state, working with editors to recruit citizen journalists, developing a regular live chat schedule for all of our websites, and monitoring and training staff in social media usage.

Had this position, which is newly created, been available 2 1/2 years ago, I wouldn’t have even been considered for it. It’s only through my ideaLab training, networking, collaboration and individual efforts have I become versed in everything that is now expected of me in my new role.

In fact, I was so green to the digital world in the summer of 2010 that I didn’t even know how iTunes worked and what an app was for a smartphone. But still upper management saw that I had an enthusiasm, curiosity and passion for moving journalism forward in a digital world. And through regular conference calls with our leader, Jon Cooper, and his team, members of the ideaLab were encouraged to play, experiment and make use of digital tools — from Storify, Dipity and uStream to CoverItLive, GeoCommons and Many Eyes — in our storytelling. We were equipped with a Netbook, smartphone and iPad, and given 10 hours a week to do our own thing. This led to many discoveries for me and a passion for visual storytelling.

Last April, my ideaLab project — which had focused on podcasting and the phonecasting application ipadio.com and culminating with a virtual walking tour of Saline historic sites — changed direction as I launched the Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti, Mich. A month or so later, I put forth a proposal and my lab was among a dozen across the United States approved for funding by Digital First Media, the company that manages JRC and Media News Group, as part of an effort to open media labs throughout our footprint.

I initially set up the lab so that my staff of reporters would work four-hour shifts and I would put in a full day every week, working one-on-one with members of the community interested in becoming community contributors, blogging partners, or simply wanted to become more familiar with social media, digital photography, or wanted to create video or podcasts.

In the last 10 months, we have helped senior citizens and businesses set up Facebook pages, chambers of commerce, nonprofits and political organizations establish a presence on Twitter, and helped create a YouTube account for a local business to showcases its product demonstration videos. We have taught individuals associated with nonprofits and businesses how to write news releases using AP Style, and helped students and local writers set up blogs so they could partner with us at Heritage.com.

We also have hosted a slew of workshops on marketing, social media, editing audio, citizen journalism, the Freedom of Information Act, news writing, photography, video, column writing, Google Drive for collaboration and online safety, and these workshops have been livestreamed via video with a simultaneous live chat with our audience. Workshop leaders have included myself and staff from across our company, as well as professors from Eastern Michigan University, and marketing, public relations and social media experts.

In my new role, we are expanding the lab and hoping to attract participants from across Southeast Michigan. The goal is to provide a learning-based environment, as well as a vehicle for the community to document and chronicle the important events that will shape their history, using our newspapers and websites, if they choose. The lab is a community service and no one is charged for our help or for entrance to a workshop. It’s also open to anyone, with no obligation to contribute to our publications. Someone could walk in and sit down at our blogging station, check email and work on a personal photo slideshow or video, with or without our help, if he or she wanted.

I will be publicizing our efforts on all of our social media accounts, including The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, The Morning Sun, Heritage Media, Advisor Source and The Voice newspapers. Our workshops have attracted up to a dozen people at times and a small online audience, but I would like to double or even triple that number as the year progresses.

My hope is to encourage members of each community we cover to get involved in sharing the news, much like they do on social media. I also have a goal of recruiting 100 blogging partners across Michigan.

When I first started as a reporter in 1992 in Dexter, Mich., educators, parents, local business owners, church leaders and volunteers with nonprofits wrote news releases and shared photographs with The Dexter Leader about every facet of the community. This supplemented my local reporting of city government, the schools and police news, as I was the lone reporter for the newspaper. Dexter had an actively engaged community who took pride in their town and wanted to share news about it. We see this today in the communities we cover, but more so on Facebook and Twitter because of the immediacy and convenience factors. My goal is to re-establish these relationships and develop more news-sharing partnerships. Anyone can start a blog, Twitter account or launch a Facebook page, but they won’t have the same reach — online and in print — that we do in our communities.

So, why not take advantage of that? I think the key is letting people know that we want them to think of us when they hear of breaking news or a touching story in their neighborhood or school. We invite you to share your own story or guest column; take a photograph while cleaning up debris after a spring storm; share video of the winning shot in the varsity basketball game; create a Storify compilation of local chatter on Twitter about the mayor’s State of the City address; create a timeline of the community’s 150 years; create a map pinpointing all of the community’s landmarks; or hold a live chat on an issue impacting your community.

Contact me and I’ll walk you through the process, help you learn a digital tool to achieve your goal and connect you with the local editor who will share your contribution. Let’s work together and build community. Message me on Twitter.

Giving back to the Heritage Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti

December 16, 2012

As we end 2012 and I reflect on the successes of my ideaLab project, the Heritage Community Media Lab, what I am most proud of is the relationship we’ve had with a few regulars to our lab and their efforts to give back to us for helping them learn new media skills.

Michelle Rogers, managing editor of Heritage Media West, leads a workshop at the Community Media Lab.

Michelle Rogers, managing editor of Heritage Media West, leads a workshop at the Community Media Lab.

Chris Wechner, director of marketing for The Ultimate Analyst, had this video created and posted on YouTube by someone on his team as a way of giving back to the lab. The video is an amazing promotional tool. Chris has come in for workshops on writing news releases and contributing content in visually interesting ways, and has received individual, one-on-one instruction from several Heritage Media-West staff members working shifts at the Community Media Lab.

I have found Chris to be a strong supporter of the lab who wants to give back just as much as he takes. He has helped promote our workshops with a couple of blog posts. Here’s one post on his partner’s blog, ActiveRain. Chris also wrote a post after attending my workshop on his Michigan Marketer blog.

Bob Cummings, a community blogging partner with Heritage.com, who writes the blog “A Look at Spirituality and Health,” is also a frequent visitor to the Community Media Lab who gives back regularly. Bob has written very supportive email messages about our efforts, and expresses his gratitude for the help he receives when he visits, as well as the value of our workshops.

Joe Baublis, who is an active commenter on our coverage at Heritage.com who has also written guest columns and letters to the editor, attended my workshop, “Contributing Community Content in Visually Interesting Ways,” and created this amazing video posted on YouTube.

I love that all three gentleman have so much enthusiasm for the Community Media Lab that they want to give back and support our efforts. It’s rare to find that, and to have three people with the motivation to do so is incredible to me. And I am so grateful.

While their efforts have been extraordinary to me, the time workshop volunteers have donated to the Community Media Lab has impressed me, as well. Sarah Rigg, a freelance journalist and editor, has taught two workshops and just signed on to teach a third; Eastern Michigan University professors Michael McVey, Carol Schlagheck and Toni S. Jones; Eastern Echo adviser Kevin Devine; social media maven Leslie McGraw; Oakland Press photographer and videographer Doug Bauman; Oakland Press Community Engagement Editor Monica Drake; Arborwiki Editor Edward Vielmetti; Adrian College journalism professor Renee Collins; public relations professional Char Luttrell; and Ypsilanti Courier Editor Krista Gjestland have all led workshops at the lab since our launch earlier this spring. Topics have ranged from editing audio in Audacity, writing news releases, AP Style and Google Docs to Citizen Journalists and FOIA, column and narrative writing, blogging and photography.

We have several workshops set for January and February, and our friend Chris Wechner is teaching a couple. Sign up on our Facebook events page, and come check out the Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti.

A discussion takes place at the Community Media Lab workshop, “Contributing Community Content in Visually Interesting Ways,” Dec. 12, 2012.