Posted tagged ‘Netbook’

ideaLab Report and Update

September 27, 2010

It has been 30 days since my first ideaLab report and a second one is due to update our progress. Some breakthroughs include our sports editor using the iPhone Friday by himself to tweet the halftime score to HeritageNews followers on Twitter, which total 1,114, and three Facebook posts from the iPhone announcing he would be posting, giving the halftime score and reporting the final score. He had three people post “likes,” one of which was me. I guess this will be baby steps because what I had asked him to do was tweet at each quarter, as well as post to Facebook. Another reporter had the Netbook, so I didn’t expect the video by halftime like I did last week when I accompanied him to the Huron-Monroe football game.

The podcasting local history project has generated interest from the Saline Area Historical Society. A member saw my blog post before I even contacted the organization and that helped facilitate the project. I met with David Rhoads, the historical society’s president, Saturday during the Harvest of Arts Festival in Saline. We came up with a list of 10 historic places we could feature first, and he recommended historical society members Bob Lane and Wayne Clements for researching and sharing the history. The next step is for me to meet with my ideaLab community partner, professor Michael McVey, who has experience in podcasting and has volunteered to help. We will review the list Thursday and consider the order, and come up with a time frame for recording.

I am still waiting to hear about copy editor Daniel Lai’s experience with the Netbook while working on vacation in Texas, as he will be back Tuesday, and Heritage Newspapers online editor Jason Alley’s experience with the iPad.

Here’s my official report:
Goal: To incorporate technology into our jobs as reporters, editors and advertising representatives to achieve better efficiency, reader/customer engagement and interaction, and produce products rich in hyperlocal content relevant to people’s lives in a variety of formats. Our first project is a regional story on medical marijuana use in Michigan and the impact the new law has on local communities. Our first step was to shoot a video of our editorial meeting pitching the idea and that was followed by a live chat with readers Sept. 9. Ypsilanti copy editor and reporter Austen Smith is working on the story using our new technology, including video and audio, and is incorporating as much crowdsourcing as possible. During our live chat, we had 30 people participate in a two-hour period.

Allies: My fellow ideaLabbers, staff and the community. I won’t hesitate to call on anyone who may have experience or knowledge about what we’re trying to achieve. To be successful, I will engage everyone I can who has an interest in this project and moving journalism forward.

Obstacles: I reported last month that I still needed to work on getting the sports department on board. This is still a goal and I plan to meet with the department on Monday to reiterate this goal and seek a volunteer to follow on Friday to show him how to cover a football game live, like I did last week with the sports editor.

Training needed: We need training in podcasting, but it looks like Eastern Michigan University professor Michael McVey will help with this. We haven’t established the logistics yet, but it needs to happen in the next few weeks. I’ll also have copy editor and reporter Daniel Lai train employees on phonecasts using iPadio.com. We had talked about this, but none of our reporters showed any enthusiasm for it. We’re about to hire two new reporters to replace two who have left and I can guarantee you they will be enthusiastic.

Resources needed: I purchased a camera connection kit for the iPad and I still need to get Internet outside of WiFi for the iPad. I also need to continue searching for apps for the iPhone and iPad that will help us achieve our goals. The Netbook is still relatively unknown to me because I’ve been lending it out.

Accomplishments: Last month, I reported that we shot our first video pitching our regional story on medical marijuana in the state of Michigan and hesitation local governments are experiencing as dispensaries seek to set up shop and local leaders don’t have zoning and other issues worked out. We followed up with a live chat Sept. 9 to engage readers and ask them what kind of questions they want answered and what their thoughts are on the issues, and saw 30 people chime in. Copy editor and reporter Austen Smith hopes to have the piece done by next week, and it will incorporate video, audio, sidebars and crowdsourcing. I also showed the sports department how to cover football live, and started a podcasting project.

What you’ve taught: I reported last month that I taught sports reporter Dave Merchant how to upload pages to Scribd and then posting them on our websites as an online teaser to print. I also taught reporter Lisa Allmendinger how to send breaking news alerts and enter her sources’ e-mail in our Mail List at TownNews to build our online audience through our e-newsletter. She, however, is leaving us, so the training continues with existing staff and new as two positions are filled. This past 30 days, I taught sports editor Terry Jacoby about reporting live from high school football games, with tweets, Facebook posts and using the Netbook to upload video by halftime. He, in turn, used the training to venture out on his own this past Friday using the iPhone. Both Austen and I also looked into Cover It Live to execute our live chat on medical marijuana.

What you’ve learned: I previously reported that I had learned how to upload pdfs using Scribd to provide more content for our online readers, as well as phonecasts, or phlogs, using ipadio.com. This past month, I learned how to use Cover It Live to do live chats and iMovie on the iPhone to shoot and produce a video, and then I learned about transferbigfiles.com to send it to my laptop so it could be converted and uploaded to our website (see my Sept. 13 blog post).

Metrics: As reported Sept. 21 on my blog, which has more than 1,300 hits, we can measure engagement from reporting live at the Huron-Monroe football game in terms of the feedback that I received on Twitter, as well 14 views on the video I produced and the comments on Facebook. The number of video views is disappointing, but it seems to be the average. On Cover It Live, there were 30 people logged on following the conversation and participating. These blog posts are attracting readers and facilitating engagement, as demonstrated with my contact from the historical society president regarding the podcasting project.

Narrative: Like I reported last month, I feel progress is being made in terms of learning the technology and getting it in the hands of staff who can use it in the field. I was excited to see the level of engagement in our live chat and the live coverage we provided from the Huron-Monroe football game using the Flip, Netbook and iPhone. I was also pleased to see our sports editor take the iPhone out on Friday, and will get feedback from him tomorrow. I saw he had tweeted and posted scores on Facebook. The podcasting project has a lot of potential, and I should be able to report back next month on the progress in training and execution. As I stated last month, I think the key to being successful overall will be staff and audience engagement. I need to continue to engage my staff and encourage them as we incorporate these tools into what we do, and make sure our readers/users know what we’re doing and join the conversation.

ideaLab Report

September 3, 2010

I am on deadline and it’s not my typical print deadline, which is early, by the way, because of the holiday. It’s a deadline to produce my first report for the ideaLab as it marks its first month.

I have all of the tools now — an iPad, Netbook and iPhone (the phone just arrived yesterday) — and now the powers that be want to know what I’ve learned and what I’ve taught people, so far.

At our meeting in Philadelphia last week, I set the following goal as reported on the Ben Franklin Project Blog:
Michelle Rogers: (@ideaLabHeritage) — Incentive co-workers to learn new technologies and understand the value of digital. Train co-workers to utilize new tools by showcasing the strength and potential of each offering.

Today I am proud to say I am making progress. The iPad is now in the hands of Donna Genaw, an advertising consultant at The News-Herald, a sister publication based in Southgate, Mich.; the Netbook is in the hands of Steven Howard, one of my reporters at The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader; and the iPhone, having only received it yesterday, is with me.

Donna will experiment, play, learn and teach using the iPad, and will report back on this blog about her discoveries incorporating the iPad into her position selling advertising. One thing she mentioned to me was a desire to upload customers’ photos on the iPad into a program that will allow them to create an ad on the spot. She is searching for free apps as I write.

Steven will experiment, play, learn and teach using the HP Mini Netbook. He has already begun checking out Skype and the webcam feature. The plan is for him to bring it to his next council or school board meeting, write while he is there and upload his story directly to the website that evening. I will come in behind him and clean up his copy after the fact. I am sure he will find other uses, as well, as he continues to explore the possibilities.

One tool that wasn’t given to me as part of the ideaLab but was handed to me from our publisher, Jim Williams, is a Echo SmartPen. I’ve put this in the hands of Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader reporter Sean Dalton, who will take notes and record conversations on it, which will be automatically uploaded translated to text files on his computer. This should be a huge time saver for him as he manages his time covering two cities, six townships, two school districts, local events and writing features.

The iPhone is still in its box, but I have plans to see a friend tonight who has an iPhone to help me through the set up and become familiar with some of its features. The possibilities involving video, and editing and uploading from the scene excite me, and I can’t wait to share it with other reporters on staff.

So, back to the formal report. Here are my answers to the questions posed by Jon Cooper, vice president of editorial content for the Journal Register Co. and our ideaLab leader:

Goal: To incorporate technology into our jobs as reporters, editors and advertising representatives to achieve better efficiency, reader/customer engagement and interaction, and produce products rich in hyperlocal content relevant to people’s lives in a variety of formats. Our first project is a regional story on medical marijuana use in Michigan and the impact the new law that allows it has on local communities. Our first step was to shoot a video of our editorial meeting pitching the idea and this will be followed by a live chat with readers to find out what questions are weighing on their mind related to the issue and how they would like us to approach the story or how they can get involved. Next up, we will produce the story using our new technology, including video and audio, and incorporate as much crowdsourcing as possible, depending on the level of engagement.

Allies: My fellow ideaLabbers, staff and the community. I won’t hesitate to call on anyone who may have experience or knowledge about what we’re trying to achieve. To be successful, I will engage everyone I can who has an interest in this project and moving journalism forward.

Obstacles: I still need to work on getting the sports department on board. I was knocked down by the sports editor when I joined his meeting Aug. 26, offering up the Netbook. He saw no value in tweeting or posting notes on Facebook of quarterly scores or big plays from high school games or providing any kind of live coverage, saying that’s only worthwhile at the professional sports level. I’d like to have one of our ideaLab sports reporters talk to him in hopes of getting him to see the value.

Training needed: Since all of this is relatively new, I haven’t identified training needs. The first two steps are playing and experimenting, and that’s what we’re currently doing. I am sure training will be needed further into this project as I’d like to know more about the capabilities of Windows 7, as well as everything the iPhone and iPad have to offer, rather than just stumbling across random things. For now, the plan is for my own ideaLabHeritage group to play, experiment, learn and teach. The group is currently comprised of about a dozen people representing the newsroom, advertising, online and the community at large.

Resources needed: I can see the need already for Internet access, other than free WiFi on the iPad, as well as the camera connection kit.

Accomplishments: We shot our first video pitching our regional story on medical marijuana in the state of Michigan and the uncertainty and hesitation local governments are experiencing as dispensaries seek to set up shop and local leaders don’t have zoning and other issues worked out. The next step is a live chat set Sept. 9 to engage readers and ask them what kind of questions they want answered and what their thoughts are on the issues, and whether they want to help us cover the issue by gathering video, audio or man-on-the-street interviews. I feel I have the support of the newsroom and that’s a huge accomplishment. The plan is to put the tools in their hands and they seem interested. I’d like to see more enthusiasm, however, with each engaging me one-on-one in conversation about goals and their own ideas. Right now, it seems to be me pushing this. I’d like to see their curiosity piqued and a light in their eyes when they ponder the possibilities of this new technology and how it can help us do our jobs.

What you’ve taught: I’ve taught sports reporter Dave Merchant how to upload our eight front pages from sports to Scribd, grab the embed code and then upload the documents on our website a day before print as a teaser and incentive for our online readers to pick up a print copy. I do this for three of our publications’ front pages, and I plan to train the three other copy editors to do the same for their publications. I’ve also uploaded press releases and government documents. In addition, I’ve taught reporter Lisa Allmendinger how to send breaking news alerts and enter her sources’ e-mail in our Mail List at TownNews to build our online audience through our e-newsletter. She paid it forward by teaching copy editor Jana Miller. The plan is to have Jana teach someone and so forth until everyone has this knowledge and capability.

What you’ve learned: I’ve learned how to upload pdfs, including our pages for print and government documents, using Scribd to provide more content for our online readers; I’ve discovered a few applications using the iPad, including Documents To Go, which I’ve used while on the run, as well as FlipBoard and Pandora for fun. I need to explore the photo editing capabilities. I’ve also learned how to do phonecasts, or phlogs, using ipadio.com as one of our copy editors, Daniel Lai, has been incorporating this technology regularly in his coverage area. My goal is for everyone on staff to begin using this.

Metrics: In terms of metrics, I still need to figure this out, but since establishing this blog in mid-July, I’ve had 1,000 hits.

Narrative: Although it has only been a month and the tools have been trickling in, I feel I am making progress. Now that the tools are in the hands of the people who can test them in the field, I am excited to hear about the results, which will be posted on this blog. Our first project is under way as we’ve shot the video. I just need to edit it and get it online. Copy editor Austen Smith, who is leading the project, is checking into the technology to do the live chat. This will be our first and I am excited about the possibilities that will bring once we learn more about it. I think the key to being successful will be engagement. I need to continue to engage my staff and encourage them as we incorporate these tools into what we do.