Posted tagged ‘Twitter’

Glenn Gilbert, ‘architect of the modern newsroom’ in Michigan, to retire after 45 years

December 23, 2013
Glenn Gilbert, executive editor of The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich., and group editor for 21st Century Media's Michigan Cluster, is retiring Jan. 3, 2014, after 45 years in journalism.  (Photo by Tim Thompson/Oakland Press)

Glenn Gilbert, executive editor of The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich., and group editor for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Cluster, is retiring Jan. 3, 2014, after 45 years in journalism. (Photo by Tim Thompson/Oakland Press)

Glenn Gilbert, known for transforming 21st Century Media’s Michigan newsrooms into data- and visually-driven 24/7 content producers that welcome community contributions and engage their audience through two-way conversations and outreach, is wrapping up a 45-year career in a field that has undergone major changes in news gathering and delivery.

“I believe Glenn Gilbert’s legacy will be guiding the newsroom at The Oakland Press, as well as the newsrooms throughout Michigan, through a difficult period of transition – both it was an instable time in the industry, as well as the economy,” said Stephen Frye, online editor at The Oakland Press, “and, also, journalism in general changing with the new digital tools available and the digital outlets.”

In the last seven years, Gilbert, 63, has reimagined newsroom positions – from old-school reporter and copy editor jobs to community engagement editors and multimedia journalists who interact with their audience and use a variety of storytelling methods to convey their journalism through videography, photography, audiocasts, data visualizations, and live-tweeting and blogging.

Just as importantly, he has opened the newsroom to the public, launched community liaison boards, established a blogger network and encouraged media labs to train the audience in covering secondary news and use of digital storytelling tools.

“He had the vision, I believe, to open up the newsroom to the public,” Frye said. “That was the strongest first act that opened people’s eyes in our newsroom when he said, ‘We have to invite the public in to participate.’

“This was in 2007 that he said that – that the readers are part of the storytelling. We rely on them to give us stories, to give us ideas, but also to share their stories, whether that be in blogs or submitted works – (and) for every reporter to work with members of the public.”

Glenn Gilbert is known as the "architect of the modern newsroom" for 21st Century Media's Michigan Group, which includes The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune in Royal Oak, The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, The News-Herald Downriver and Heritage.com.

Glenn Gilbert is known as the “architect of the modern newsroom” for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Group, which includes The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune in Royal Oak, The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, The News-Herald Downriver and Heritage.com.

Frye said reporters, at the time, were witnessing the rise of social networks – and joining the ranks of users – opening up another medium for public expression and storytelling beyond newspapers. It didn’t take long, he said, for Michigan editorial staff to embrace Gilbert’s philosophy of an open, more collaborative newsroom sharing news in real time.

“It was realizing we’re the professionals, but guide those who want to participate,” Frye said.

“It was very quickly that people in our newsroom realized that the readers were part of the future of storytelling.”

Julie Jacobson-Hines, local news editor at The Oakland Press, respects Gilbert for his efforts early on to embrace the change ushered in with the Fifth Estate’s rise, and work to transform 21st Century Media’s Michigan newsrooms.

“I think he has set us up for success in the digital world and social media. Obviously, that’s where the business is going,” Jacobson-Hines said.

“As a newsman, I think he wanted to give more power to the reporters and people in the community to be able to come up with stories rather than us dictating to people what we think the stories should be,” she said.

“He, one time, said he wanted to return the paper to the people, and that’s how it began in the United States. And this, I feel, is his legacy.”

Jeff Kuehn, regional sports editor for 21st Century Media’s Michigan cluster, has worked with Gilbert for seven years, since their days at The Macomb Daily. He has been impressed with Gilbert’s early push, as readers embraced online news sites and social media, to transform traditional newsrooms into 24/7 operations that use social media for crowdsourcing, engaging the public in conversations and sharing news as it breaks.

“He has changed the mindset, not only of us (at The Oakland Press), but he has gone to the weeklies and said, ‘You know, you no longer are a weekly. You should be thinking 24/7. You should be getting your copy up immediately,’” Kuehn said. “He has told dailies, ‘You are no longer a daily. You are a what’s-going-on-now operation.’

“And that has been embraced by some more than others, or I should say some have been quicker to the table than others.”

Transforming weekly and daily newspapers into 24/7 news operations online while maintaining excellence in print – as demonstrated with Local Media Association bestowing its Best Digital and Print Combination award to The Oakland Press in 2013 – is not an easy task, especially with shrinking newsroom budgets resulting from lost advertising revenue as more competition crops up for ad dollars and some businesses are slower to embrace online.

Gilbert, through his position as executive editor, has had to make painful cuts to editorial staff positions, while alleviating some of the hemorrhaging by creating efficiencies with a universal copy editing desk and centralized pagination center serving all of Michigan, with plans to bring in the Midwest sister publications.

“He has had to make some tough decisions because, of course in our business, we’ve had to have some cost-cutting measures, and he has gone into all of those very thoughtfully and thinking each thing through thoroughly,” Jacobson-Hines said. “He has never taken this lightly, but it’s just something that had to be done to keep the doors open of the properties we currently have. It took a lot of guts, I think.”

Despite cuts to editorial staff positions, Kuehn says the Michigan cluster has maintained its editorial integrity and reputation for solid journalism. The cluster continues to earn state and national awards for its journalism. In fact, Kuehn says the group, under Gilbert’s watch, has been a leader on many fronts across the chain, from use of Tout for short-form social-sharing-enabled video, to its macrolocal website Michigan PrepZone, named Top 10 Website distinction in 2013 by Associated Press Sports Editors, featuring high school sports coverage written by staff and community contributors.

“Under trying times, he has done a fabulous job,” Kuehn said. “The Oakland Press, I think … we’re a leader … in the company as far as what we do digitally and maintaining our print product.”

Keeping up with the media
While a student at the University of Michigan, Gilbert learned early on the importance of embracing change to keep up with innovation and efficiencies in industry. In particular, he recalls a conversation with one of his professors.

“I said to the professor … ‘How do you avoid getting stuck into what you’re doing so that you’re blind to what is new?’ And I’ll never forget his answer, although I didn’t understand it at the time … He said, ‘Keep up with the media.’”

But, as Gilbert’s career has been winding down while technology has been racing at a breakneck speed – and after a health scare this past summer – he began thinking more about retirement.

“As I grew older, that comment kept coming back at me – that you had to keep up. And, in my case, it has become increasingly difficult, frankly, and certainly is a contributing factor to the retirement,” he said.

Gilbert is proud of his social media presence since joining the Twitterverse in 2010. He had 4,552 followers and 17,161 tweets as of Dec. 21, according to Muck Rack. He took to Twitter quickly, he said, because he saw the value of it as a tool to steer audience to content.

“Twitter is simple yet difficult to comprehend, but I’ve tried to keep up with Twitter,” he said.

“And, so, it’s a matter of keeping up with the media and turning over the operation to those who know it better than I.”

The philosophy of “turning over the operation to those who know it,” or empowering your digital staff, was first shared by Digital First Media CEO John Paton, as Gilbert recalls.

“I think, honestly, the best decision I ever made was to follow John Paton’s advice. And he was somewhat criticized for the way he put it. He said that the guys with – I think he said, the guys with – the white hair aren’t going to get you where you need to go. Well, I have white hair.

“What he was saying was empower your digital leaders and then get out of their way. And I think that’s what I’ve tried to do. And I think that has brought us great accolades.”

The making of a newsman
Gilbert started his career in 1968 as a high school senior and worked steadily in the field through college before earning his degree, bypassing the traditional stint at the college newspaper. With 45 years in journalism, it’s no surprise that he has had to navigate change.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT A TIMELINE OF HIS CAREER ON DIPITY.

Gilbert’s first job was as in 1968 as a student columnist at News-Herald Newspapers in Southgate for $1 an hour. He was a reporter, and then an editor, at The News-Herald’s Flat Rock Guardian, through 1972, a big responsibility for a student maintaining a full course load and still developing his reporting chops.

After graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1972, Gilbert was hired as a reporter by The Ann Arbor News. He also worked as an assistant city editor and editorial page editor before departing in spring 1983 with a master’s degree in social sciences under his belt from Eastern Michigan University.

Gilbert had a short stint at The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Ill., serving as assistant city editor of the privately held suburban daily from September 1991 to January 1992. He landed at The Beacon-News in Aurora, Ill., for the next eight years, working as city editor, and in February 1992, he took a job with The News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio, as assistant managing editor. In the Buckeye State, Gilbert was recognized for his leadership abilities and was promoted to managing editor in 1994. Five years later, he was named executive editor.

The Journal Register Co.-owned publication, now part of 21st Century Media, managed by Digital First Media, allowed him more advancement opportunities across its chain, as he accepted a new position as executive editor of The Macomb Daily in Michigan spring 2006. Three months later, he arrived at his permanent home in Pontiac at sister publication The Oakland Press, where he was promoted to group editor of all 21st Century Media nameplates in the Great Lakes State and regional editor for the Midwest, including publications in Ohio and Minnesota.

A hankering for politics
While Gilbert’s long and storied career has been a dream realized for him, it’s not his only aspiration. Since he was in junior high, Gilbert has desired a career in politics. In fact, he decided on a career in journalism because, based on his research in the 1960s, it was where many politicians had their start, in addition to jobs as teachers or lawyers.

“I think I was in junior high when I wrote my first piece for the school newspaper … so that’s what got my taste for it (journalism),” Gilbert said.

“And I ran for student council president in junior high and I was elected.”

Gilbert signed up to work on the high school newspaper as a junior and ran for class president, and succeeded in both endeavors, again marrying both of his passions – journalism and politics.

Throughout his career, Gilbert has stayed actively involved and held close to his journalism roots while also keeping a close eye on politics and public policy.

“If you are covering a City Council meeting, you can experience the politics. You can vicariously,” he said.

“You put yourself in that position. You hear about the problems they solve and deal with, and later as an editorial writer and so forth you are dealing with public policy issues.”

Jacobson-Hines said Gilbert’s nose for news and reputation as a respected newsroom leader precede him.

“People think he is a good newsman,” she said. “In addition to everything else he has done, every week he writes a column about a current topic and it’s usually very well-researched. And he is extremely well-read, as far as he gets his news from a variety of sources.

“No one could second-guess his news judgment.”

The next chapter
With his official retirement day, set for Jan. 3, 2014, fast approaching, many of his colleagues are wondering what the future will hold. Will this visionary and change agent – the “architect of the modern newsroom” at 21st Century Media’s Michigan cluster – ride off into the sunset or will we see him reinvent himself and realize his childhood dream?

Gilbert said in addition to possibly maintaining his blog, “Between Extremes,” tweeting Oakland County news and continuing with his job teaching mass communication at Rochester College, where he has worked for four years, he may finally pursue the path he has been called to since his adolescence.

“That’s the one thing that I thought would be a possibility if I could run for say the state legislature,” he said. “My motive, frankly, would be to tell people the truth, which means … I don’t think I’d attract lobbyists’ support. That just makes it harder to win.”

The West Bloomfield resident – married to Linda, a part-time teacher, and a father of three adult children – isn’t interested in local politics. He said city council and planning commission positions are difficult when dealing with contentious neighborhood issues. He says, however, that he respects and admires those who are willing to take the heat.

One question remains, however. Will he run as a Republican or Democrat? Gilbert said he has always leaned Republican, but with the party’s opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, he’s not quite sure anymore if he fully identifies with the right wing.

“I don’t know how to characterize myself …,” he says now.

Whatever Gilbert’s future may hold, Kuehn says his boss has at least one advantage. While some of his colleagues have been unceremoniously ushered out of the business, Gilbert has come to a decision on his own.

“He is very fortunate to go out on his own terms,” Kuehn said.

Adds Jeff Payne, editor of The Macomb Daily, “I think his combination of experience, wisdom, insight and tenacity are going to be missed. And whoever is put into that role – You know, I would trust in the people making that decision that they will find someone who is well qualified and will do a great job, but that person is not going to be Glenn.”

Editor’s Note: The writer of this story, Michelle Rogers, is director of community engagement and editorial training for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Group, and Glenn Gilbert is her direct supervisor.

PARTING THOUGHTS
Best Decision: Followed Digital First Media CEO John Paton’s advice to empower the staff’s digital leaders, and then get out of their way.

Worst Decision: Fought the management at The Ann Arbor News, when he was employed there. He said it cost him from a career perspective. As a manager, he has tried to represent the employees’ views to upper management.

Best Gamble: Hiring Aftab Borka, a broadcaster, to assist The Oakland Press with an online video-based news show, called “News at Noon,” that grew into a short-lived partnership with Detroit TV station WADL and now a partnership with public access television. “It was an unconventional hire and I think it has worked out,” he said.

Advice for Staff: Ask yourself where you want to be five years from now and keep that question in the forefront.

Accolades: Best Digital and Print Combination, Local Media Association, The Oakland Press, 2013; Oakland Press named one of 10 newspapers in the country that “do it right” by Editor & Publisher, 2010: Second place, General Excellence, Associated Press, News-Herald, Ohio, 2006; Best of Ohio, Cleveland Press Club, The News-Herald, Ohio, 2005; Distinguished Community Service Award, Lakeland Community College, The News-Herald, Ohio, 2004; Society of Professional Journalists, General Excellence, News-Herald, Ohio, 1999.

Creating reader engagement contests on MichiganRewards.com

October 8, 2013
Graphic artist Kevin Martin created this.

Graphic artist Kevin Martin created this graphic.

One area of my job that I need to work on more is community engagement, specifically creating contests that excite people, engage them with our news sites and social media channels, and inspire them to invite their friends to join in the fun.

And through a new reader rewards platform called Michigan Rewards that we recently launched, I have an opportunity to create contests that engage, and drive audience to print and online. I posted our first two contests Friday.

My selfie with Michiganmade Jiffy Mix.

My selfie with Michiganmade Jiffy Mix.

One is our #Michiganmade Selfie Photo Contest. It’s designed to encourage audience participation in our Made in Michigan coverage, a special section highlighting products made in Michigan. I’ve also created a RebelMouse page to complement the section, bringing in all #Michiganmade and #MadeInMichigan hashtags on Twitter, @PureMichigan tweets and Pure Michigan YouTube videos.

I’ve had fun promoting the photo contest, creating my own selfie with a box of Jiffy Mix, Pinterest board, and promoting it on all of our Twitter and Facebook channels with a beautiful graphic created by The Macomb Daily’s Kevin Martin.

This graphic was created in PicMonkey and shared on our social media channels.

This graphic was created in PicMonkey and shared on our social media channels.

The other contest is just in time for Halloween. We’re encouraging you to dress up your pets in Halloween costumes and shoot a video, upload it to MichiganRewards.com, and ask family and friends to vote. I’ve promoted it with a meme, a collage that I created in PicMonkey and a gif, my second ever.

My bunny Ari stars in the meme I created to promote the video contest.

My bunny Ari stars in the meme I created to promote the video contest.

I’ve also created Touts promoting both contests. In the Tout below that I embedded from Twitter, I humiliated my cat, Samson, by dressing him up as a sports reporter with a baseball cap, notebook and pencil. As you can imagine, he wasn’t too excited about it.

We’re awarding $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. So far, we have four entries in the #Michiganmade Selfie Photo Contest and none yet in the Best Costume-Clad Pet Video Contest.

I am excited to dip my toe in the engagement waters, so to speak, with these two contests and look forward to offering more. I’ve also set up a Word of the Day, featuring the name of a Michigan landmark in print and encouraging readers to enter the word(s) online at MichiganRewards to earn points toward prizes.

Look for more to come as I get to know the true potential of this new platform. And please share your ideas with me.

Check out my #Michiganmade board on Pinterest

Check out my #Michiganmade board on Pinterest

Twitter, Tout and Bloggers add to fun of media lab job

August 7, 2013
Twitter training at The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor Source, part of 21st Century Media.

Twitter training at The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor Source, part of 21st Century Media.

Nearly every day, I am appreciative of having the job I do and all the fun it brings. I don’t think of it as work because I really do love every aspect of it (except maybe still having to put together the Heritage commentary page for print. Are you still reading print?!).

In particular, this last week or so has been a blast as I traveled to The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant to train the newsroom on short-form video using Tout, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor & Source yesterday to give a refresher on Twitter to staff journos, and I am looking forward to tomorrow, when I will teach Tout to staff at The Oakland Press. And, in between, I’ve been working one-on-one with our community bloggers, which is always lots of fun exploring their work and figuring out ways to help their blog reach more readers and provide richer content.

At The Morning Sun, which brought me to Mount Pleasant for the first time Aug. 1, I enjoyed meeting and interacting with the staff, who are all hardworking and dedicated. I was very impressed with their accomplishments and excited that they were embracing Tout. Our company, 21st Century Media, which is managed by Digital First Media, has a partnership with Tout and all of our newsrooms across the United States have embraced the tool for short-form video. My role is to help provide training and encouragement, and recruit our audience to use it as news-sharing partners in Michigan.

What I love about Tout is that it’s easy to share on social media, via text and email or through an embed, and you can reply — all in real time. So let’s say you are at a festival, sporting event or community gathering, either as a journalist or citizen, you could use the Tout app on your smartphone to record what you see and share it via Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. Mention your local media company via Twitter handle and they could reTout it and share it with their audience. People can reply their own Touts sharing their observations or comments. I love the community engagement potential.

To get our communities more involved with Tout and sharing community news, I will be traveling to newsrooms across Michigan to provide free training on Tout to the public. My first session is scheduled 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at The News-Herald in Southgate. Check out my Meetup.com profile to find out about other training opportunities.

The Twitter training at The Macomb Daily was also a good time because I love using Twitter and I think it offers enormous benefits as a tool for journalists to connect with their audience, interact, crowdsource, share and find breaking news, and build community. I held two sessions — one in the morning and another in the afternoon — and met with blogging partners in between. During the presentation, I asked the reporters to tweet highlights, take photos and share them on Twitter, either via Twitter or Instagram-to-Twitter, and shoot Touts and share them via Twitter.

A few did, but not many, so that was a little disappointing. Every time I attend a journalism conference or workshop, most participants do this via a hashtag, adding their insights and information, which I think is valuable — and it’s fun.

This morning, to reinforce the presentation, I Tweeted at everyone — those who attended and those who did not — asking them to share one of their successes using Twitter or one thing they learned that was helpful.

Out of about 20 Tweets sent about four hours ago, I’ve had seven replies. A little discouraging.

Maybe I will follow up with an email: “Have you checked Twitter today!” I had asked them to be on Twitter at least once a day and told them between 1 and 3 p.m. were the best times to Tweet, according to research by Bit.ly.

A couple of days ago, I shared on Facebook a photo of an email that now hangs on my cubicle wall at the media lab. It’s from my boss and says, in part, “You are far exceeding my expectations …” That note, coupled with the rewarding feeling I have helping my co-workers and our news-sharing partners learn new tools to reach their audience on the platform of their choosing, makes me spring out of bed every weekday morning (some weekends, too), excited about what the day will bring.

Photo by Jody McVeigh of individual Twitter help with Norb Franz, Joe Ballor and me, Michelle Rogers (right).

Photo by Jody McVeigh of individual Twitter help with Norb Franz, Joe Ballor and me, Michelle Rogers (right).

Covering a tornado while thinking digital first

March 23, 2012

ImageMy staff has been tested over the last week and passed with flying colors.

When a tornado struck Dexter, a small town west of Ann Arbor, Mich., March 15, my reporters’ and editors’ digital storytelling skills, community engagement efforts and digital first mindset, which they’ve been building on for the last couple of years, were tested as they covered the devastation, emergency response, community reaction, cleanup and healing as the community pulled together to overcome.

As a group of weekly publications in print, it has been an ongoing challenge to get our audience to realize we’re now a daily online. I think the tragedy of the tornado served as a reminder to readers that they don’t have to wait until Thursday to get their local news, and we were happy to oblige, providing breaking news coverage, from news stories, Storify compilations, photo galleries and videos to Tweets and Facebook posts, and SMS texts to email alerts.

Our coverage started at 5:16 p.m. March 15 as online coordinator David Veselenak sent a SMS text message to readers signed up for alerts that the National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Washtenaw County. This was followed by another text message at 5:42 p.m. that a funnel cloud had been spotted near Dexter. About a half-hour later, I received a phone call from David that he was en route to Dexter as a tornado had struck. I was on my way to the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner to shoot video of the program and honorees, and my phone battery was just about to die. I asked David if he needed help, and he said he and Dexter Leader Editor Erica McClain were in contact and had it covered.

Still, while eating dinner and hearing from state Rep. Mark Ouimet that the car wash and Laundromat in Dexter were wiped out, I felt that I had to help with the coverage. So, I left and headed for downtown Dexter, filming uprooted trees, debris, traffic backups and police blockades while I found a place to park. I was able to speak to a Michigan State Police trooper directing traffic and then drove to Dexter High School, where a command center had been established, and interviewed the community engagement officer for the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, schools superintendent and village president. Since I didn’t have a way to communicate with David and Erica, I decided to return to our office in Saline at about 9:30 p.m., put together my video and posted it on our website, confident my reporters were taking care of the news story and communicating with our audience via social media. My video loaded just before midnight, I shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and then drove home to charge my phone — and get some sleep. Little did I know at that time all of the efforts my staff had made.

Erica, who had turned on the Radio Reference scanner the night of the tornado for updates, grabbed the now-famous video from YouTube that an Ann Arbor resident shot of the tornado in Hudson Mills Metropark and she aggregated it to our website while staying in communication with David in the field. As David was en route to Dexter, Erica started making calls to dispatch and the fire department to verify information from over the scanner. She pieced together a story, adding information as she heard it and updating our audience on Facebook. With David’s eyewitness accounts, Erica added his byline to the story. Sheriff’s Community Engagement Officer Derrick Jackson released some information in a press release, which reporter Ben Baird added to the story. Erica updated Facebook and the story into the evening as more information was released and she answered readers’ questions on Facebook.
 
Also that night, reporter Amy Bell, who met David at McDonald’s in nearby Chelsea, aggregated content, posted on social media and searched for user-generated videos on YouTube. Reporter Sean Dalton was also in Dexter shooting video, conducting interviews and collecting information, funneling it to Erica over the phone. He checked out the temporary shelter at Mill Creek Middle School and the tornado-ravaged Huron Farms subdivision. Erica kept the scanner on until about midnight concerned about injury or fatality reports, routinely posting on Facebook and adding details. Before going to bed, she changed the headline online to reflect the additional damage Jackson had shared.

The next morning, Sean was up early shooting dozens of photos of the devastation and cleanup efforts for a Flikr photo suite set up by Eric and David to share photos with our sister publications and among staff. Sean covered an emergency council meeting on the tornado Friday and then returned to Joe and Rosie’s Café in downtown Dexter, where he filed his story, photos and two videos. Meanwhile, David filmed a few interviews on his Flip and both Erica and David wrote sidebar stories. They connected with residents who were returning home to survey the damage, and shot photos of the Laundromat and car wash before returning to their command post to start filing stories online. David attended a press conference, which Erica live Tweeted using the @HeritageNews account. David also wrote the story and produced a video from the press conference.

The Oakland Press, a sister publication, sent videographer Aftab Borka to help. Erica showed him and an intern the Huron Farms subdivision and the worst-damaged houses. More residents were in the subdivision at this time, so Aftab was able to shoot a video for the Michigan cluster of Journal Register Company newspapers and WADL-TV, one of our partners. Throughout the day, David shared our news coverage, as it was posted, with our sister publications to also post on their websites and for use in print.
 
On Friday, Amy went back to Dexter and wrote a story about volunteer efforts going on in the community. She also spent some time at Huron Farms subdivision, where she took a number of photos for our website. Sean’s coverage continued over the weekend, as I edited and posted his stories and shared links on social media. Also on Saturday, Ben contacted Dexter businesses and asked how they were helping the community. He first posted a story Saturday and updated it Sunday. In addition, both Ben and copy editor Tonya Wildt aggregated content shared by sister publications.
 
Reporter James Dickson, who wrote the story “Ann Arbor man who filmed Dexter tornado to appear on ‘Good Morning America,’” wrapped up the vast amount of our coverage by taking all of our raw video and some user-generated clips to produce a documentary-style video of the tornado, the aftermath, community response and cleanup.
 
In all, there were about two dozen stories, more than a dozen videos posted and scores of links shared on social media between Thursday night and Monday afternoon. Our text message subscriptions increased slightly and our @HeritageNews Twitter account saw followers increase by about 20 just over the weekend. The @ChelseaDexter account saw 14 new followers. Both accounts saw several dozen retweets over the weekend, as well.
 
By Monday morning, the metrics looked like this:
 
TOTAL PAGE VIEWS: 12,843

TOTAL VIDEO PLAYS: 2,605

TOTAL NEW ‘LIKES’ ON THE DEXTER/CHELSEA FACEBOOK PAGE: 40

All of this effort has paid off as we have heard from scores of readers, near and far, complimenting us on our coverage. The story about the tornado’s destruction in Dexter made the national news, and I think the community newspaper that was looked at for news every Thursday has become known as a source for up-to-the-minute news and information any time of the day.

Attorney speaks on ‘New Rules for the Digital Media Age’ at MPA convention

January 28, 2012

Note: These are live notes from a workshop at the Michigan Press Association convention. Follow the live Tweet stream at #mpa2012.

Michigan Press Association general counsel Robin Luce Herrmann led a discussion Jan. 28 with her team of attorneys at the 2012 Michigan Press Association convention about latest Michigan media law matters. Topics included “How to protect your Internet assets.”

Media in the digital age

Terms of use and privacy policies
Need rules for people accessing and using your digital products. How will you manage posts that you may allow, copyright issues, editing and removing posts.

Report Abuse buttons: Used to manage content. Allows people to alert us to potential problems on website.

Terms of Use posted on website. This is a contract between media and user. You tell them what they can and can’t do. You want to protect your intellectual property, copyright.

Using social media for newsgathering: Many reporters now look to social media to gather news. We use it to find out what’s going on in the communities and world around us. How can a reporter use that for a news story or can he/she use it and what are the risks. If a Facebook page is public, with no privacy settings, then, according to Facebook’s terms of use, you are allowing everyone to access and use that information and associate it with you. When using social media for newsgathering, keep these things in mind: What does that site say in its terms of use; you don’t want to violate the policy if take something from the site. Facebook’s terms of use are straight forward, but Twitter’s less so. Attorney suggested consult with MPA attorney when you want to use something from social media website. Make sure you’re not violating terms of use. Even so, the site won’t provide “absolute protection” to you if someone complains.

You should treat information collected on social media sites the same way you would if someone came in and handed it to you in person. You verify the person who gave it to you is a reliable source and has the right to give you the information, and whatever they give you, you independently verify.

You have to be careful of confidential sources as there are degrees of protection. Keep in mind that smartphones are good newsgathering tools, but they could harm your confidential source because they can track where you have been, and that info could be subpenaed. If trying to keep a source confidential, you may want to leave your smartphone back in the newsroom and just take notes.

A lot of law enforcement agencies have outdated policies and that can come into play if videoing at a scene of a crime and they see it as interfering with an investigation. Our most concern is to be able to get the story and then educate police on the issue if they overstep bounds and try to restrict us in doing our jobs.

Michigan is a one-party consent state, so we can record phone calls as long as the other party agrees.

Anonymous posters: Some publications are using Facebook to police posters because there are some protections. If you allow anonymous posters, you have to be upfront with your terms of use and whether you would out them if it came down to it or you thought it was newsworthy. Everyone has some degree of protection for its anonymous posters.

In a lot of jurisdictions across the country, there have been some tests developed. We have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously. In order to reveal an anonymous poster, you have to notify the poster, tell that poster. Court has to review the complaint first, before considering whether to reveal anonymous poster. Media’s terms of use may require you to post on the anonymous poster’s behalf.

Intellectual property
Intellectual property involves domain names like your website, Twitter and Facebook accounts, Twitter handle and copyright. Question of copyrights. Who owns the photo and can I use this? If it’s a work-for-hire and copyright is transferred. It’s a question of fair use. Fair use determines whether we can use it. Fair use is whether in advances discussion. A mechanical process involved, forces of nature and a machine can’t be copyrighted.

Stock photos and Google images: Images taken from the web can be risky to use. If you Google, sometimes you’ll pull up database images and you can’t necessarily use those images.

Can’t trump access to public records under copyright. Law enforcement, for instance, can’t copyright photos from crime scene if you get your hands on it and publish it.

Domains and social media handles: Domain names registered on first-come, first-served basis. If you have a trademark, you may be able to take your domain name from someone else if someone else got it first.

Facebook and Twitter have detailed terms of use policies and you can get your name back if someone else owns a social media account using your company’s name. If employee opens social media account, do you have an agreement with employee who created it to get it back if they leave your employment? Non-competition agreements protect newspapers when sales people with connections to customers placing advertising leave your employment. Urged protect property (social media) accounts. Need to specify whether you can use your social media accounts and blogs after the employee leaves employment. If want control, though, the paper could be held responsible for posts.

Posting gone wild: Defamation and Devaluing Your Image
Online comment section: In print, any third-party content can be vetted. However, online comment section, there’s no review and it’s automatically posted. This raises questions of liability, if it’s defamatory content. If you’re a web host, you are generally not responsible. But if you’re a content provider, then you’re responsible.

You have to be careful what you do with respect to what is posted under the Communications Decency Act. It’s OK to remove for relevance, you can edit, but can’t insert defamatory materials; if you remove content and change message and it becomes defamatory.

You can be held liable for republishing third-party content into your own larger posting. A website owner who incorporated a third-party email is an example.

If an employee uses social media to make favorable comments about a service or product of his employer and does not disclose his employee relationship. If you’re a reporter and retweet a story, are you endorsing that information and if doing it under a newspaper account, is the newspaper endorsing? You have to be careful.

Publishers may be liable if give employees tools and encouraged to Tweet. Social media is becoming inseparable with some job functions.

You should have a social media policy.

Workplace issues
Concerns: Employee productivity and blending of work and personal lives
Pluses of social media: Marketing and business development, recruiting tool, knowledge gathering tool and increases communication among employees

When looking to hire people, if you look at their social media you may find out things you aren’t supposed to learn in hiring process, such as health issues, political affiliations, religious background, etc. If you make those attempts and the potential employee finds out they may assume you discriminated against them. Google has a policy not to Google information about a potential employee, because you can’t use that information in making your decision.

Social media at work: Employers allowed to monitor employees’ Internet use at work; no expectation of privacy; company policy may give privacy rights. There are still potential issues an employer could be exposed to information regarding protected classes or the information gathered could be misused.

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.

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.