Posted tagged ‘#ideaLabJRC’

MPA conference presents “Making Social Media Work for You’

January 27, 2012

At the Michigan Press Association’s annual conference Jan. 27 at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids,

Gov. Rick Snyder was the keynote speak at the Michigan Press Association conference.

after a luncheon featuring Gov. Rick Snyder as the keynote speaker, social media was among the topics reporters, editors and publishers were interested in. Matt Resch moderated a panel discussion looking at social media — how it’s used now and speculating how it will be used in the future. The panel was billed as being composed of “a college student, a young newspaper entrepreneur and others who understand the importance of new technology for reaching out to readers and advertisers.”

Journal Register Company’s own Rick Kelley was among the panelists speaking on social media.

Resch referred the audience to “Social Media is a Cocktail Party,” written by a social media consultant who advises large companies on social media efforts. The book explains how people use it and interact with it. The book notes a lot of simple rules: The party will go on whether you are there or not and the same is true with social media. It will go on whether you decide to be part of the conversation or not. You first get to “the party,” listen and see where you fit in. Jump in and speak in circles where you feel comfortable. Don’t be slick or fake, because people can sniff it out and walk away.

News media is the content provider. Look at Twitter or Facebook pages and they have links and topics coming from content providers, Resch said.

Social media strategy important, panelists say. How has audience influenced how you have inserted social media in your business plan. Kelley said we have two audiences: print and online. Knowing we have two audiences allow us to do a better job of targeting. Look at platform demographic, not just age demographic.

It’s about engaging the audience through social media. Facebook polls allow topics and questions to go viral. Find comfort level of readers. Ask people to “like” you. This will drive you to top of news feed.

Resch asked who owns social media accounts: news organization or individuals? Kelley says the law is not keeping up and it will be a major issue as case law sorts out this and other related questions.

Tweeps follow you for a particular reason: They find value in what you’re tweeting, whether news links or particular interests or insights. Panelist notes that the beauty of social media is held in transparency. It’s evolving and moving faster than we can keep up with. One panelist says business owns its account but individual accounts held by the individual.

Twitter account Panelist Kate Jacobson, editor in chief at Michigan State University’s State News, says it’s fun to produce multimedia journalism — to do audio, video, social media, use smartphones in the field while posting breaking news.

Multimedia element should be different than story. Don’t repeat the story. Should be a sidebar of sorts, Jacobson said.

Let people behind the scenes to see how the newspaper industry works. Let them into your editorial meetings. It’s about transparency.

A lot of people don’t understand their privacy settings. People need to learn about privacy issues on social media, one panelist said.

Community Media Lab and citizen journalists discussion prompted by Kelley brought some questions from the audience about libel and potential lawsuits when you’re dealing with people who are not trained journalists. One audience member said she thought in the future it will be the citizen journalists who will be held liable, not the news organization, just as bloggers are responsible for their content.

Mashable.com best resource for social media do’s and don’ts, one panelist said

Tips from panelist

Spotify playlist for local musicians; fashion editor should have an account on pintrist; photographers should shoot behind-the-scenes photos using smartphone and upload to Instagram. These are social media tools and they are designed for sharing. Suggested staying active on Twitter. You can create filters on TweetDeck to customize news feeds.

MPA conference presents ‘Behind the Microphone’

January 27, 2012

Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Director of Corporate Affairs Helen Stojic, Fennville High School basketball coach Ryan Klinger and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell talked about what it’s like to “deal with the media” and the Jan. 27 Michigan Press Association conference in Grand Rapids. It was billed as a way to get “pointers from a perspective that can yield better stories for newspaper readers.” It was moderated by Ron Dzwonkowski of The Detroit Free Press.

The face and the voice of City Hall is interpreted for its citizens through print and electronic media, said Heartwell.

Stelma: Command staff or officers authorized to speak if media liaison is available. Primarily, though, media requests come to him. He attended FBI Academy and was trained in how to deal with the media. “We always tell people. ‘We work for you.'” “We use the media as much to assist us get the work done … as they need us to do the job you must do.”

Stojic: BCBS cares what’s reported about the business. “We want people to know we do care.”

“When I get calls … I direct them to the right person to help them out,” she said.

Klinger asked how many dealings with media he had before the tragic death of basketball player Wes Leonard thrust the school district in the media. The coach said he heard from people around the world about it. Stories were written from around the world. Klinger said he told players to be honest and show your emotion” when responding to press questions about death of teammate. Klinger: “For me it was about representing Wes Leonard and his family … To me it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do, but something I felt we had to do.”

Stojic said she runs into people who say they wouldn’t want her job because she has to “deal with the media.” But she thinks it’s important to be proactive and keep reporters informed. She was asked if it’s her job to make BCBS look good. She said it’s her job to tell the company’s story and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, like on the Internet, that they have to counter.

Stelma asked if he always tells the truth. He said he does, but often media has a tip or information and they know he knows, but for some reason the sheriff can’t reveal the information at that time. “I just tell them I can’t devuldge the information at this time.

“I can tell them, but they know. … It’s the balancing of what information is important to the community for safety reasons.

“There’s a delicate balance.”

Mayor Heartwell asked if he always tells the truth. He was bound one time by a nondisclosure agreement to not talk about a project in the city and he said he would never do that again because he needs to work in public’s best interest as a public servant. He often says he can’t comment, and would not lie.

Heartwell said he often gets his first knowledge of an incident from the media, rather than from his own police force because they’re busy on the case. When asked for comment, he doesn’t like to admit or tell the media this is the first he is hearing about an incident in the city, but he understands why he’s placed in that position.

Stelma said he often gets caught up in the media’s frenzy to get the story out first. “I actually get involved in the tension of the media (battling for the story).” He has a media line and encourages reporters to call that line, which is answered regularly. He does not share his cell number, but he does share email address.

Stojic asked how much authority does she have to speak for BCBS or does she have to ask her boss at some point. She said she has a lot of leeway, but she doesn’t like “playing a doctor on television.” She’ll help the reporter get an expert source when needed, such as a doctor or nurse. “I don’t know everything off the top of my head.”

Stojic said an employees sometimes circle a story in print and tell her how the reporter got it wrong. She says she always tries to get it right and it’s rare her boss or an employee points to anything she got wrong.

Klinger asked about his dealings with reporters and were they all the same. Most, Klinger said, were respectful, even though he could sense they were competitive for the story. “For me, it was about if I could get the message across about the player we lost, the family, how great our community was, that was special for me, whether I had to do it five times or a hundred times. I never said no to them because I didn’t want to turn away that opportunity.”

Stelma doesn’t distinguish between media and citizens in covering story pr shooting video or photos.

Sheriff Stelma doesn’t go off the record with reporters because it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Stojic says she has gone off the record to give background on a topic to a reporter when doesn’t want to give official comment just yet. “We want to make sure the information is correct,” she said.

A reporter with today’s tools should use them

August 29, 2011

A multimedia journalist today has so many tools at her fingertips that it makes a reporter from the 1990s envious and wishing the tables were turned.

I’ve been an editor for 11 years and, although I’ve filled in when we’ve been short-staffed to cover a government meeting or write some police briefs, most of my 60-hour work week is spent editing copy, posting articles and photos online, assigning stories to staff and freelancers, engaging the audience on behalf of our publications via social media, keeping abreast of issues going on across the county, checking out new technology, processing press releases and reader-generated content, and administrative tasks such as tracking website traffic, managing my email account, which brings in about 300 messages a day, reviewing and submitting payroll, employee reviews and processing stringer invoices.

While I try to promote and model the approach that I would like my reporting staff to take in today’s world, with social media and new technology at their disposal, part of me is torn in understanding why it’s not being done completely the way I ask. On one hand, I think, “It’s so much less cumbersome and a lot more fun to report the story today and do it a more engaging and meaningful way, so why aren’t they all doing it?” But, on the other hand, I think, “Well, I am not in the trenches, so who am I to ask?”

And this is what I would ask:

*Did you crowdsource this topic so you could ask more relevant questions of local officials?

*Did you upload the City Council’s agenda to our website using Scribd.com before the meeting and share it on social media so readers would know that city leaders were considering raising their own salaries despite a general fund deficit?

*Did you “check in” to the meeting on social media and then Tweet and post on Facebook some of the discussion points during the meeting?

*Did you shoot video of local residents during the meeting protesting the decision, process it during the meeting and post it our our website before the meeting ended?

*Did you post a paragraph on our website under breaking news about the vote during the meeting and then write the full story shortly after, post it online, and push it out using social media, SMS text or our breaking news alert via our e-newsletter subscriber list?

*Did you follow up on the issue by hosting a live chat the next day with local leaders and residents?

I don’t buy the excuse, either, that it has to be a controversial topic like the one I described above to report it like I want it done. For instance, this past weekend was the Relay for Life fundraiser in Milan. I saw posts in my Facebook news stream about it from people in the community. I didn’t, however, see a single Tweet from us, a single Facebook post, or a story and video. By late Sunday, after the event had wrapped up, I thought — and expected — we would have something. Again, I was disappointed, as, I am sure, were our readers. And now it’s Monday and I still haven’t seen anything about it.

So, in an attempt to promote and model what I expect of my newsroom, yet be empathetic to the pressures and time constraints on young journalists today, I’ve come up with a scenario of how I would cover an event and expect the same from my reporters — A day-in-the-life of a modern-day community journalist, if you will.

Covering the Relay for Life: What to do
*Tweet and post on Facebook days before the event that I am going to be there and ask who else from the community will be there. Use these sources and officials from the American Cancer Soiciety to write a piece for our website telling readers about the event and sharing the stories of people involved (maybe a cancer survivor or someone who has been volunteering at the event for a decade).

*Use social media the day before and morning of the event to post the schedule of events and remind readers I will be there looking for stories. Ask readers to share their stories, photos and video from the fundraiser so we can share them on Facebook, our website and in print.

*Show up about 15 minutes before it starts to chat with organizers, volunteers and participants, take photos, capture audio interviews for a podcast and shoot video of the opening ceremony.

*Find a place to sit down to upload audio, photos for a slideshow and video to our website using my Netbook and Flip video camera. Have this posted within the first two hours of the event.

*Push out on social media a link to the content I’ve generated so far: a short story about the opening ceremony, with an embed of video, audio and the photo slideshow.

*Crowdsource cancer survival stories, information on how much money individual teams had raised, what events were taking place and all of the effort that goes into organizing such a a huge event that means so much to a small community.

*Hold a live chat with the main organizer and team leaders from the location using Cover It Live discussing what was going on, who was saying and doing what, and sharing statistics and information from the American Cancer Society about cancer rates, research, needed funding, and efforts to raise awareness.

*Create a timeline using Dipity.com or Capzles.com to document the entire event, from start to finish, featuring “capsules of moments” with headlines, text, audio, photos and video. Embed this in my finished story for online with embeds of all my other media, including a Twitter stream from people Tweeting at the event using storify.com.

My reporters have learned all of these tools and I encourage my freelance writers to learn and use them, as well, especially as we move forward in this new world. Now the trick is to get them to do just that. Hopefully, they will see the value. As an editor, journalist and, most importantly, as a reader, I certainly do.

Tell me how you would report the story. What other tools and opportunities should we take advantage of while in the field?

(Note: Based on some feedback from readers, I’ve edited and updated this piece.)

A Twitter Newswire

August 3, 2011

As a member of the Journal Register Company’s ideaLab (#JRCideaLab), I’ve been tasked with establishing a Twitter newswire in my newsroom. The idea is to have reporters create lists within their individual professional Twitter accounts or, as I did, establish an account (@ElectionFollow) dedicated to following local political candidates and active party members and political watchers, with the goal of generating story leads from their tweets. I’ve asked my followers to use #mielection in their story lead tweets to make it easier, but I can’t depend on them to do that, so I’ll have to continue to look at their individual tweets.

The thought is that there are many untapped sources and stories in cyberspace, and reporters should start paying attention on social media to what the audience is interested in — what’s relevant to them — and utilizing the audience as sources, experts or for their story leads. While the plan is to start off small with stories focused on the upcoming general election in the weeks leading up to the election, the goal is to establish a thriving and robust Twitter (or social media) newswire, where reporters regularly turn to for potential stories, producing at least one a week.

I introduced the idea to staff about a month ago and our online coordinator/reporter, David Veselenak was asked to be the first to set up the lists on his account and generate a story. He has produced one, so far, but has had a difficult time writing a story each week from it. While I established @ElectionFollow Twitter account to “lead by example,” I suspect the enthusiasm for this project is not at the level I would like to see. I will continue pushing it at our editorial meetings and begin to hold staff accountable for results. In the meantine, it would be helpful if the audience encouraged the effort via Facebook, Twitter and email. If you like the idea, tweet it or post on our local reporters’ personal Facebook pages or our newspaper fan pages.

Often, I think, reporters get in a habit of doing their jobs a particular way and aren’t open to new ideas — or maybe curious but not motivated to actually pursue them — especially if they think their current approach works good enough. But, in my opinion, they need to get out of their comfort zones and start innovating, experimenting with new technology and utilizing all of these new opportunities, such as social media, to produce more crowd-sourced, multimedia journalism.

A reporter can find some interesting news tips on Facebook if they’re following local residents, officials, and community leaders and stakeholders. For example, in my Facebook news stream Monday, I saw a post from Saline City Councilman David Rhoads: “One of the softening units at Saline’s water treatment plant is out of commission for repairs. The less water we can use, the closer the water will be to the normal softness, until the unit can be repaired.” Six comments followed, and I emailed the comment stream to Saline reporter Kevin Doby. The next morning, he fleshed out the story and posted it online.

This example is exactly what JRC wants to see more of in our newsrooms. The challenge is getting everyone to embrace it. Hopefully, through this post and more opportunities to come, they will see the value and get their own newswires up and running.

Evernote software introduction

August 3, 2011

Do you make notes to yourself? How do you retain and retrieve them? Over the years, I learned that when I wrote down assignments, they got done – eventually.

I’ve learned that problem-resolving is often a process. Sometimes it takes several steps, and several people, to resolve an assignment.

So I had several 3×5 pads at home and at work to make notes to myself. I found that the safest place to keep them was in my wallet.

Absent a computer or a smartphone, it worked for me. But I learned recently about a software called Evernote and provided a brief introduction to it to the Heritage West staff. It allows one to take notes, record audio and snap photos on your smartphone, with access to it all from your computer, where it’s automatically shared via the Evernote application.

Check out Getting Started on Evernote for tips on how to get the most out of Evernote.

P.S. – I got a smartphone a few weeks ago. I recorded all my notes on Evernote on the smartphone, and threw away this morning about seven slips of 3×5 paper. I still have much to learn, but I’m making progress.

First 30-day ideaLab project completed

May 5, 2011

For my first 30-day ideaLab-JRC project, I have partnered with local retirement communities and senior centers to gather oral histories from area senior citizens using ipadio.com’s iPhone “record and publish” application in person and recorded phone conversations using ipadio’s three-way calling and recording capability.

Topics have included conversations on faith and spirituality, living with someone with Alzheimer’s disease, motherhood, genealogy, immigration, fleeing one’s country of origin during the war, raising children in the 1960s and 1970s, and local politics.

My goal was to train volunteers in the community to record the interviews and provide the photos, so staff only has to grab embed codes and receive photos, and then upload to our website under a “Podcast” drop-down menu. This, however, has been a huge challenge. So far, I have two volunteers working with me in Saline, but I would like to have more. My editor in Chelsea and Dexter has done two, and is looking for volunteers. My editors in Manchester, Ypsilanti and Belleville will be making contacts with senior communities soon to launch the project in those communities in the next couple of weeks, also building a volunteer base.

I have spent every Wednesday for the last four weeks at Brecon Village retirement community or the Saline Area Senior Center interviewing at least two residents each week, with 14 recorded. My volunteers have done an additional three and my Chelsea/Dexter editor has done two. The profiles include photographs of our subjects.

My 14-day goal was to get the same process going in Chelsea and Dexter with help from copy editor Erica McClain. This has been achieved, but at a slower rate than I anticipated.

At 21 days, I had planned to implement this in Milan. I have conducted one interview there, and have had volunteers supply me with names of potential subjects. I still need to round up volunteers to conduct interviews so I am not doing it all.

At 21 to 28 days, I was to set up a volunteer orientation session in Saline, Milan, Dexter and Chelsea to train community volunteers. I have found that my two volunteers have been able to learn it on their own. However, I have created a presentation that I can use for training purposes and it’s posted here on my ideaLab-Heritage blog on WordPress.

My longer-term goal was to implement this project in Ann Arbor, Manchester, Ypsilanti and Belleville. These editors have assured me that they plan to do so in the next couple of weeks.

I have utilized our ideaLab iPhone for this project to record the interviews and shoot the photos. I’ve used DropBox to move the photos from my phone to laptop computer. I have managed the activity on my ipadio account, where I’ve gotten the embed code to post the podcasts on Heritage.com.

Metrics: The project has generated 6,250 listens. One podcast, shared with a sister publication near Philadelphia, helped drive a lot more traffic than most, with that podcast generating 1,279 listens. The average audio recording generates 250 listens. Most vary from 630 to 65. They have been promoted on our website, Facebook, Twitter and this blog.

I have trained 10 staff members on ipadio.com and Google Voice, the technology I picked from the ideaLab tool list, and posted my presentation on collecting audio to enhance storytelling on my ideaLabHeritage blog. I have also solicited a list of more staff to train at a sister publication, The News-Herald in Southgate, and plan to set up training soon.

What’s next: My next 30-day project will be to learn how to create photo slideshows with audio, Google maps, and my tool to learn will be Kaywa QR Code, so readers can scan the code in print to be taken to the slideshow online. The goal is to have the audience provide the photos and text from Memorial Day activities in our communities.

Saline podcasting project comes to fruition

April 23, 2011

It has been seven months since I first contacted David Rhoads, president of the Saline Area Historical Society about a possible joint venture, and today I am pleased to have shared with our readers — and listeners — the fruits of our labor.

As part of my work with the Journal Register Co.’s ideaLab, a group of 14 reporters, editors, circulation directors, IT professionals and advertising consultants from the Midwest and East Coast, I’ve been experimenting with technology to improve our storytelling and help move journalism forward in this age of technology.

What I’ve come up with has been a joint effort in partnership with the community.

Professor Michael McVey (right) records a podcast with Wayne Clements, a member of the Saline Area Historical Society.

The idea came over hot drinks on a balmy September day at The Drowsy Parrot in Saline with Michael McVey, a Saline resident and an assistant professor in Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Education. I was telling him about my ideaLab charge and knew he had an interest in podcasting, as he has developed “The Considerate Podcast” series available on iTunes U.

I am not sure whether it was his idea or mine, or we got there together while brainstorming, but we decided a podcast series featuring a walking tour of Saline’s historic buildings would be an interesting project.

The Saline Area Historical Society seemed to be the perfect partners, so I blogged about it here and then Rhoads reached out to me, and we came up with a list of 10 sites worth featuring first.

From October to February, historical society members Wayne Clements and Liza Collins researched seven of the sites and wrote scripts for the podcasts. In early March, McVey and I met with Clements and historical society member Bob Lane at the Rentschler Farm Museum to record the podcasts. I also shot video and took photos to document our work.

Within a week, McVey had edited the recordings, and during the last month I have gathered historic photos from the Saline District Library website and sized them for the web. Photographer Hiroshi Onuma shot current-day photos, which I also sized, while the scripts were being written.

David Veselenak, our new online coordinator and Manchester reporter, created Google maps pinpointing each of the historic sites.

The end result is the Saline Historic Walking Tour podcasting project on our website at www.heritage.com. Under the podcast menu, you will find audio of either Clements or Lane reading the history of the Union School, Wallace Block, Rentschler Farm Museum, Davenport-Curtiss mansion, town founder Orange Risdon’s home, Saline Railroad and Depot and Union Block.

The old and current-day photos take readers on a visual tour of the sites, and the locator maps help readers easily identify where these buildings are located.

We plan to add to this series and we would like to expand into the surrounding communities. Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to reach out.

I hope everyone enjoys it. I welcome comments. Email editor@salinereporter.com or post a note on our Facebook page.