Posted tagged ‘Macomb Regional Community Media Lab’

Success of media lab found in community engagement

March 17, 2014

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A couple of my colleagues have questioned why we are using precious resources to run the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, my ideaLab project that morphed into a full-time job along with the addition of new responsibilities. But others, particularly those who understand the value of community engagement, totally get it.

I think the numbers from the last six months — keeping in mind the media lab doesn’t have a full-time staff and only has my attention part of the time — speak for themselves.

Media lab stats
I launched the Southeast Michigan Media Lab exactly two years ago under the name Community Media Lab after winning funding from the corporate offices of our parent company, at the time Journal Register Company, now Digital First Media. My proposal was the only one, out of about four in Michigan, to get the coveted funds. Last summer, I had the pleasure of helping Maryanne MacLeod at sister publication The Macomb Daily launch a second media lab, the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, adding to DFM media labs across the United States.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab, housed in Ypsilanti, strives to bring the audience inside the newsroom as content-sharing partners, as does the Macomb media lab. But there has been some discussion as of late about the words “inside the newsroom” since the media lab in Ypsilanti is housed at SPARK-East, a business incubator, not a newsroom.

I interpret “bringing the audience inside the newsroom” as having an editor or journalist working with individuals and establishing partnerships, and embracing their contributions just as they would from a member of the newsroom. For example, I work with individuals interested in writing news, sharing photographs or media galleries, producing video and audiocasts, and work with them to get that content ready for publication. All of our news sites link to our blogging partners, and I work with bloggers to improve their sites.

In addition, at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, we — in partnership with professors at Eastern Michigan University and professionals in the community — hold free workshops in digital media and social media for the public. Some of our outreach also includes working with journalism, marketing and public relations students, as well as members of the senior community interested in learning more about digital communication.

We chose Ypsilanti for the Southeast Michigan Media Lab for a number of reasons, which I outlined in my original proposal, and I still believe those reasons are valid. Beyond what was mentioned in my proposal, The Saline Reporter building, where our Washtenaw County newsroom is located, doesn’t have adequate space and it would have been too costly to remodel to include the media lab. Moreover, the lab, based on its central location, attracts people from as far away as Oakland and Macomb counties, as well as Wayne County’s Downriver community and western Washtenaw County.

But back to the numbers.

We’ve had a total of 527 visitors to the Southeast Michigan Media Lab and Macomb Regional Community Media Lab (at our brick-and-mortar locations) in the last six months, since we started tracking. I think it’s safe to assume one could double that to get a year’s picture.

We’ve hosted 35 workshops for the community in the last six months, which is an average of nearly six per month. In fact, on Meetup.com, where we draw some of our audience, we have a combined 155 “labbers” — 119 associated with the Southeast Michigan Media Lab — who have voluntarily asked to be notified via the service every time we schedule a workshop. That says something.

We’ve had 2,117 views of our two blogs (CommunityMediaLab and Macomb Regional Media Lab) that chronicle our media lab activities. Admittedly, both Maryanne and I could do a better job of producing more content for these blogs and keeping them fresher, which will attract more readers. If we did, we could easily triple that number.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab has had 25,864 views of its PowerPoint presentations uploaded and shared with the public, and our workshop attendees — virtual and those who come in person — on Scribd over the last two years.

On the Southeast Michigan Media Lab’s YouTube channel, where we house videos from our workshops and blogger events, we’ve had 1,053 views since its inception a year ago. In all, viewers have watched 3,671 minutes of our videos. I could do a better job with this, as well, promoting the channel and directing audience there.

Combined, we have 524 likes on Facebook and 1,683 followers on Twitter , which is more audience than six of our branded new sites’ Twitter accounts. We’ve also tweeted a combined 5,424 times — 4,818 of the tweets coming from the Southeast Michigan Media Lab Twitter account, which was established two years ago. In comparison, a reporter at one of our dailies, who admittedly doesn’t tweet much but is working on it, has 211 lifetime tweets.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab also has a Tout account and shares original video, as well as those from across Digital First Media. Since August, that account has shared 1,094 Touts and has 294 followers. The account also ranks 18 out of 30 at The Oakland Press for views, as the account is linked to the Oakland Press group on Tout. So, we capture more views — and share more content — than some of the reporters who are supposed to be incorporating Tout into their daily coverage.

With numbers — which demonstrate the outreach — like that in just the last six months, during harsh winter conditions that sometimes lead people to hibernate, who could deny the value of our media labs? Not only is the work we are doing building stronger relationships between Digital First Media and the communities we cover, but it’s bringing more content to our sites and providing our audience a forum to share their voice and outlet to learn new skills.

Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab (the writer of this blog), teaches a workshop on emerging social media tools.

Michelle Rogers, director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab (the writer of this blog), teaches a workshop on emerging social media tools.

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.