Posted tagged ‘video’

Blazing a new trail in community engagement, social media and editorial training

March 18, 2013

As I prepare to mark my one-month anniversary as director of community engagement and editorial training for Journal Register Company’s Michigan Group, I find myself questioning if I am doing enough. I’ve always been a workhorse and I’ve worked on deadline for 21 years as a former reporter, assistant editor, editor and managing editor. So, it has taken some mental adjustment to acclimate myself to a role that is more akin to a entrepreneur as I blaze a new trail in a newly created position that includes serving as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. The lab, which was launched last year as part of my ideaLab project, is a training center for blogging partners, community contributors, freelance writers, student journalists and members of the community interested in learning digital media skills.

I’ve spent the last month building relationships and making headway on every responsibility cited in my job description. This includes recruiting 100 blogging partners for all of our websites. Luckily, this isn’t entirely my responsibility, as the community engagement editors across our Michigan group will be recruiting from their coverage areas, as well. So far, I’ve had some success with this task, bringing on board six and I have nine others nearly ready for a total of 15. I’ve also joined the Oakland Press Bloggers and Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune Bloggers Collaborative on Facebook, and I’ve been sharing with them links to free digital tools, webinars and workshops at the media lab to help them be more successful. I also have scheduled appointments to meet with two blogging partners and the group Communities That Care to provide individual instruction at the lab.

I am also charged with setting up live chats across our footprint. The first chat I have in the works is on cancer awareness, prevention and treatment, and it will be held noon March 21. I’ve lined up a doctor, cancer resource nurse, representative from the American Cancer Society and cancer survivor. Also in the works is a chat with editors representing all of our publications and websites. The chats will run on our websites across Michigan, and will allow for a text conversation between experts and our readers. These chats are in additions to the live chats I hold in conjunction with the workshops at the media lab.

Also as part of the community engagement component of my position, I held a reader focus group for Heritage Media in Washtenaw County and I am working with Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, to organize a reader focus group in Oakland County. This involves an online survey, PowerPoint presentation, and conversation with key communicators and stakeholders in our coverage area. At the Heritage focus group last month, I connected with school leaders in Saline and now plan to meet Friday with a group of handpicked students to gauge their interest in news-sharing and blogging partnerships, as well as their involvement in the media lab. I’ve also reached out to Chelsea schools and hope to meet soon with students there.

At the media lab, I’ve been busy lining up workshops and recruiting presenters. I have four events planned in March and April on marketing blogs, search engine optimization, Google Drive and video production. Presenters include local staff, an Eastern Michigan University professor and an Internet marketing expert. Events pages have been set up on the media lab’s Facebook page.

In addition, I’ve organized newsroom training on “Excel for Journalists” for all of our Michigan properties. Mark Ranzenberger, who works at The Morning Sun and teaches journalism at Central Michigan University, will provide the training, with three on-site options combined with livestreaming video and a live chat for those who can’t make it in person. I’ve also been in contact with Robin Luce-Hermann, counsel for the Michigan Press Association, to present on “New Rules for the Digital Media Age,” a workshop she delivered in 2012 at the MPA convention on legal issues relating to the Internet and journalists. Plans are also in the works to have chats at each of our newsrooms on journalists’ and editors’ use of social media to engage and communicate with our audience.

I’ve also been busy seeking training for myself, logging onto the webinars “Pinterest and Instagram for Journalists,” “Overview” and “Branding for Journalists” by the Reynolds Center and Poynter, and attending training at The Oakland Press on Omniture. And for good measure and to stay active in the field, I shot and produced video of the “We Love Dexter” video launch party and interviewed Capt. Keith Colburn of “Deadliest Catch” for a podcast, both of which were posted on Heritage.com.

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.)

Partnering with the community to share oral histories

February 27, 2011

As part of my ideaLab work this past month, I have been exploring relationships with potential community partners to launch an oral histories project. On Wednesday, I met with Dianna Huckstein and Michelle Horazdovsky at Brecon Village, part of the Evangelical Homes of Michigan. We talked about using ipadio.com‘s technology and local volunteers to collect audio recordings of residents at Brecon Village, a retirement community located in Saline, sharing their life experiences, insights, and thoughts and feelings about major moments in history that they lived through.

I came to the meeting only hoping to be able to interview some of the residents there and taking their photos. I thought it would be a lot of work on my part and I didn’t know how I would find the time, but it was something I was determined to do. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at their enthusiasm for the project and willingness to totally take it over by not only finding people interested in sharing their stories, but volunteers who would interview residents and members of a photo club who could take their photographs. All I, or a member of my staff, would have to do is go to the ipadio.com account, grab the embed code and get the photo from Brecon Village, and then upload both on our website under our Podcast category. Brecon Village will be able to feature the content on its website, as well, sharing the stories from residents in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have lived through important moments in history and who have led interesting lives, from traveling the world to running major companies.

We talked about organizing chats around themes, such as changes in industry and innovation witnessed over the years, major moments in history, hobbies/collections, world travels, faith/spirituality, leadership, lifestyle and work/career.

We also talked about featuring “celebrity” interviewers at times, such as the mayor, school superintendent, local radio personalities, community leaders, educators and local business owners.

The plan is for Dianna and Michelle to round up three people by early this week for me to interview on Friday. They will flesh out the best theme to base the interview on and I will do a little research before prepping my questions. I’ll first meet the residents, so they feel comfortable with the whole process, and then call them, using my ideaLab iPhone, which will enable me to use ipadio.com. The entire interview will be recorded and available as soon as we hang up. Once everyone sees how it’s done, we can start recruiting and training volunteers and celebrity interviewers.

My goal is to expand this project to include other retirement communities in Washtenaw County. To this end, I met with Sara Wedell of Chelsea District Library, who is working on a similar project using video, rather than audio, for the library’s website. She shared contacts at Chelsea Retirement Community, Silver Maples retirement community and Chelsea Senior Center. Chelsea Standard Editor Erica McClain will take the lead on making it happen in Chelsea.

I am also in touch with Alan Caldwell of Senior Helpers to build a partnership in Ann Arbor.

Here’s an example of an interview one of our former editors conducted with actor Jeff Daniels of Chelsea using ipadio.com.

Check out the ipadio.com app for the iPhone. I used it this morning and it worked just like a recorder. Loved it. Easier than recording the phone conversation. Check out my first interview using the app.

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 iPadio.com to editing audio files to Google Voice and other efforts.

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.

Reporting live from a sports games, sharing tweets, links and video

September 21, 2010

Last Thursday’s football coverage in Ann Arbor was an experiment in engagement and I would say the jury is still out on the results.

I met Heritage Newspapers-West Sports Editor Terry Jacoby at Huron High School’s stadium in Ann Arbor, where the River Rats were taking on the Monroe Trojans. I was early and took advantage of that by interviewing some cheerleaders on my Flip camera. I asked them what they thought the outcome would be and asked them to demonstrate a cheer. I also shot some “B” roll of the band as it made its way on the field in preparation for a video I planned to upload by half-time to show Jacoby it could be done.

I then made the climb up to the press box. It was my first time there, but no one seemed to mind the presence of a newcomer. They just let me do my thing.

I set up the Netbook and a couple people warned me that I wouldn’t be able to get wireless and that I would have to step outside for it. But no worries, I have a Verizon account built in to my Netbook and it wasn’t a problem. It didn’t hurt that that cellular tower was just feet away from the football field.

So, as the game got under way, I shot more video on my Flip. It was a rather large distance and no zoom, but I could see the plays. I also tweeted first and 10, and the first two touchdowns. But when I monitored the interaction on the A2Journal Twitter account, I noticed some of my followers didn’t like the play-by-play reports. So, in response, I scaled it back to updates on scores at each quarter.

I also popped on Facebook and did the same from the A2 Journal news and sports pages.

Just before half-time, I started producing the video. It took quite a while to process it and then convert it to a size manageable for the web before uploading it to our website.

By the third quarter, the video was up and I shared the links on Facebook and Twitter, and I felt as if I had accomplished something.

Jacoby stopped by at half-time and the end of the game, but spent the rest of the time near the sidelines shooting his own video and staying close to the action. I talked to him at half-time about the tweeting and posting updates on Facebook, but he doesn’t seem to be a “press box” type of reporter. I think the answer is putting the iPhone in his hands next game so he can do it from the sidelines. At half-time he can go to the press box to produce the video and post it online using the Netbook.

Another alternative I offered to him was getting an intern from the high school to assist him in engaging the audience electronically.

Now, I say the jury is still out on engagement because I think we have some work to do first in letting the audience know what we’re doing. Jacoby needs to let print readers know of our plans in advance with some teasers and he also needs to participate because it was me doing all of the work for this particular effort.

I can measure some engagement in terms of the feedback that I received on Twitter, as well 11 views on the video I produced –– low but not bad considering other sports videos have 0 to five views, with one exception in the 40-view range for a video produced by Jacoby covering Chelsea –– and the comments on Facebook.

The true measure, however, will be once every sports reporter embraces technology as a tool, and the audience knows what we’re doing and interacts with us. True success then can be measured in the level of audience engagement through chatter and shared links on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as hits on our online stories and videos.

Shooting video on the iPhone

September 13, 2010

I’ve had my iPhone, one of my ideaLab tools, for a week or so and I’ve shot my first video on it and uploaded it to our website. It was a little more complicated than I thought and it took some counsel from my friend and Mac user Debbie Michaels, as well as Heritage Newspapers’ online editor, Jason Alley.

Shooting the video was easy. I then purchased iMovie from the iTunes store and downloaded it. Next, I edited the video on the iPhone and then exported it. The problem was I didn’t know where it exported to. Debbie helped me find it under “Photos” on my phone. I then tried to e-mail it to myself so I could convert it to the size needed for our website, but the file was too big. That’s where Jason came in to save the day. He recommended I use transferbigfiles.com. I tried doing it from the iPhone by going to the website, but that didn’t work because when I tried to select file, nothing would happen. It took me a few minutes to figure out I needed to download the app. Thank goodness it was a freebie. So, I did that, set up an account and then retrieved the file from my laptop so I could convert it and put it online.

I hope this helps anyone else who may be experimenting with video.