Posted tagged ‘reporters’

Live blogging from the Michigan Press Association conference

January 27, 2012

Note: This is a live blog post and notes from the Michigan Press Association convention. Follow live tweets at #mpa2012.
Heritage Media reporter James Dickson asks question of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

It has been about six years, but I am finally back. And a lot has changed in the industry since I last attended the Michigan Press Association’s annual convention in Grand Rapids. I am ready to learn some new techniques to apply to my craft, and I’ve brought two colleagues along for the ride. Heritage Media-West reporter James Dickson and copy editor Tanya Wildt are with me after making the 138-mile trek from Ann Arbor at 5:30 this morning.

Our first session, hosted at the spectacular Amway Grand Hotel, is “The Shape of Things to Come,” and the presenters are current and former college newspaper editors, and the talks is being moderated by Joe Grimm, professor at Michigan State University, who was introduced by Ken Winter, North Central Michigan College and Michigan State University Journalism School instructor, consultant and Petoskey News-Review editor and publisher. Listen to the talk here.

Do you think of print or digital when you think of a job in journalism? This was the first question posed to the student panel. Kelsey Schnell says, “Yes, I will work online,” notes they’re talking about eventually ending print edition of student newspaper. “Ideally, I’d like to stay in print, but I guess I will go where the job takes me,” says Mike Martinez.

How and where do you get your news? The second questioned posed to the panel: Mostly online, phone, through news apps; Twitter and picking and choosing what’s interesting.

Poll: How did you find out Michael Jackson died. Many heard on television, from radio, Twitter, Facebook and print. Make sure to fact check Twitter reports.

Important to uphold standards of journalism. Example, how it was tweeted that former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno died before he had.

Student editor suggests write a 200-word preview with a photo and put it online, and response from audience will tell you whether to write a followup and produce video, possibly write a column. Let the audience help steer your efforts. Don’t waste time on a story about something no one or very few care about.

It’s important to know your readers, market and demographics. Serve both print and online readers, and cross promote everything.

Question from the audience: When is the last time you used a phone (to do an interview)? “It’s still old-school journalism in this new realm,” Kate Jacobson says, stating she prefers phone or in-person interview over email. Don’t let people hide behind technology and craft carefully-considered answers. Journalists want authenticity.

Advice for smaller or private colleges: Work in social media if you have fewer resources. “It’s free, so it’s not hard, and just brand yourself,” said Jacobson. If it’s a commuter campus, report and Tweet on local road conditions. This will help drive traffic, bring in an audience that you can share other news with. “Don’t worry about the size (of your audience; it’s about the activity (and engagement).”

Jacobson: MSU State News seeing a shift to online advertising and it’s “pumping serious gas in our car.” Print is down to six pages because print advertising is down. Subscriptions help a little bit.

What alerts do you have out there to get the news, Grimm asked. “Hard news matters.” More students interested in writing features. News aggregators like Gawker, Google and Yahoo have good news alerts, pulling from a variety of websites. Gawker has clever writers who aggregate content.

Most news originates from websites. In the new world, students were asked, “What will people pay for?” Students “don’t like paying for stuff.” Students willing to pay for some news content if it’s exclusive content and just what they want. One student pays for ESPN sports. He pays for small-town news because it’s not as shared on social media and those subscriptions are reasonably priced. Long-format writing, one student pays for. Has had a subscription to Esquire since he was 15.

Some college newspapers hoping to monetize Twitter stream by putting ads in feeds.

Thoughts on local community journalism. How do we build community and conversation like our local newspapers have done. Students say great thing about social media is community can share content, comment on content on social media. This builds community and conversation.

One student’s parents didn’t renew subscription because the newspaper isn’t “fun” to read anymore because it got so whittled down as advertising support dropped off and pages were cut, limiting local news coverage.

The session concluded with: “We’ve got to write something good before we tell someone to read about it.”
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder answers question of Eastern Echo reporter at Michigan Press Association convention.

More experimentation with Google Voice

January 20, 2011

It has been a rough couple of months as I’ve had to replace four reporters. The process of soliciting resumes, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, checking references and making the offer is very time consuming. Combine that with vacation time for myself and covering for staff while they were off, as well as short deadlines and days off with the holidays, and I am behind in what I’d like to do in the ideaLab. With that said, I’ve renewed some of my earlier experimentation with Google Voice.

A podcasting project in cooperation with the Saline Area Historical Society is in the works. I am just waiting on scripts to be written based on research by the historical society on 10 historic places in Saline. I’ve been told those should be ready by mid-February, and then we will meet with my ideaLabHeritage citizen volunteer, Eastern Michigan University professor Michael McVey, to record the oral histories. The plan is to edit the audio using the free software Audacity and couple the audio file with a photo slide show of old and new photographs of the historic sites.

This project has me thinking of a simpler way for us to produce audio, and share more stories and information. I think Google Voice can accomplish this. For example, we could invite area senior citizens and residents at retirement homes to call our Google Voice number and record their stories. This could be based on anniversaries of historic events, Memorial Day or other themes. I could put together a questionnaire and they simply read the questions and then answer. They have a three-minute window to do this.

Beyond recording local history, we could do this to produce Q&A’s to complement stories online. For example, maybe we have produced a feature story on a local artist. The story is online with a photograph and a video interview of the artist demonstrating her craft, and then there is an audio clip of her answering questions about who is the most influential person in her life, the name of the artist she most admires, the tool she couldn’t do without, her favorite artistic medium, etc.

Since I’ve been working out at the health club every day for the last five months, I’ve noticed some people listening to their iPods and reading the newspaper while on the treadmill or stationary bike. I’ve also brought the iPad for my workouts and seen others using them to listen to music, check their Facebook news feed and read the morning headlines. This got me to thinking about incorporating an audio function on every story for people who would rather listen to their news than try to read it in print or on the iPad. So, I called our Google Voice number and read a story, then downloaded the MP3 file and uploaded it with the story online. I also had our 14-year-old movie reviewer do the same for his review of “I love you Phillip Morris.” Readers now have the option to click the audio player leading the story and listen, rather than read it. Check it out.

Those are my efforts for the month and I hope to step it up more. The next step, however, is to train the new staff on everything I’ve learned in the last five months, from to editing audio files to Google Voice and other efforts.