News Leadership 3.0

June 02, 2009

Socia media projects reflect new outlooks

Aggregation, Facebook content, and personalizing reporting are part of social media inventory

I’ve been reading project proposals from 10 news organizations participating in KDMC’s class, “Using Social Media to Build Audience” which I am helping teach.

After a crash online course in social media, it’s exciting to see participants ready to adopt approaches that reflect a deepening understanding of how fundamentally the Web has changed the way people communicate and how news organizations can help them find and share information.

I’ll write more about specific projects as they take shape. For now a few themes are worth noting:

Aggregation. Editors see the potential value of becoming a guide to the local Internet, helping their users find blogs and online communities of interest off their sites, “creating a hub of networks that people might want to hook into,” as one editor put it. Coincidentally, one emerging model for this may be the Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow. Mark Potts explores this project in “The Future is Chicago Now.

Pushing content onto popular networks. News organizations have often been reluctant to do this, instead thinking they must lure users onto their own sites. But some users probably aren’t going to come. So reaching them with content on such mega-popular sites as Facebook and Twitter becomes more of an option. Many news organizations have adopted Twitter news feeds and Facebook groups or fan pages. But there’s more to come. One class participant, for example, will explore publishing a youth-oriented edition on Facebook, using a new application developed by NewsCloud.

Personalizing reporting.The conventional voice of your standard news story sometimes sits stiffly in the informal spaces of the Web. Letting go of that detached tone feels risky to the traditional journalist, as risky as actually letting go of the effort to be impartial. The increasing personalization of content online reflects the rise of the individual brand. A couple of news organizations will attempt to navigate this challenge with class projects that take users behind the scenes via blogs and other reports on how they got the story.

The formal work of the class is finished until the project teams meet at Knight Digital Media Center at USC/Annenberg in July. In the meantime, class participants are working on their projects with coaches with expertise in social media.

May 25, 2009

Topics pages 101

Steve Yelvington drafts an excellent list of features for topics pages on your news site

In “A tale of two audiences (and beatblogging and topics pages)”, Steve Yelvington looks at the two major groups of users for news Web sites: The far flung occasional users who may visit once or twice a month and the loyalists who visit 20 times or more per month.
Yelvington journalistic prescriptions for serving each group.
The occasional users need topics pages, and Yelvington has this nifty list of features:

The topics page is the piece that offers the greatest opportunity to connect with the big circle. A good topics page has several obvious components:

  1. An editorially crafted synopsis. Who/what is this about? Why should I care? You won’t get the answers by throwing together a link barn and calling it a day. This is where a reporter’s expertise pays off.
  2. Images, maps, or infographics. A picture is worth a thousand words, so choose the best that help a casual visitor understand the framework surrounding a story.
  3. Links to Web resources. Be part of the Web, not just on the Web.
  4. Links to conversation. If this is significant, won’t people be talking about it? Where do I find them?
  5. Links to multimedia components.
  6. Links to incremental coverage. Let the drill-down begin.
  7. Who covers this topic? How can I reach this person?

Done well, the topics page provides the casual, occasional user with a gentle, almost encyclopedic introduction to the topic (public issue, person, place, thing). But the regular, loyal user benefits too.

And there is more for the loyalists: the beat blog.

The beat blog focuses on the small circle, offering speed, depth and conversation among the reporter and people with high interest in the subject matter. While regular users are the primary beneficiaries, there is a secondary benefit to the casual user: the reporter gets better at his or her job. Better leads, better feedback, better ideas can lead to more interesting journalism.

May 14, 2009

Social media: Tapping people and tools

JD Lascia explores how news organizations are using social media to engage people in sharing and conversation

JD Lasica’s Webinar, “Engaging Users with News” was rich with examples of news organizations doing just that. I recommend you take a look at the entire NewsU replay ($24.95). A pdf of his slides is available free of charge.
The Webinar on Tuesday, sponsored by Knight Digital Media Center and News University, underscored several points that bear repeating:
- Free Web tools and services are available in abundance. Whether it’s Seismic for video, Flickr for photo aggregation, or Ning for an instant social network, cost is no longer a barrier to adopting social tools.
- People do want to share. JD’s examples of a map mashup featuring photos of the Minneapolis bridge collapse and NewWest’s photo sharing group on Flickr underscored that point. Also, NPR’s Hurricane Information Center that relied on volunteers during Hurricane Gustav (and used Ning to create the network).
- Local experts are more than sources. Linking experts and users directly is a valuable service a news platform can provide. One example: Linking to the blog of a wildfire expert. -
- Social media is all about sharing and conversation. A news organization can be a community platform for that.
- Social media is a job for everyone in the newsroom, from the top editor on down. I am convinced that the only way to fully appreciate the power of social media is by using it. Even if you don’t like a specific tool or service, figure out how others are using it and way. Use that information to inform your online media strategy.
As Lasica said: “We’re not talking about a social media beat. It’s really got to be ingrained into the newsroom culture that everyone now is part of this greater social media ecosystem and you’ve to go find ways to get hooks into these networks.”

May 10, 2009

Social media class: Engaging users with news

A Webinar with JD Lasica and more sites to explore are featured this week in KDMC’s class on social networks for news organizations

This is a busy week for the KDMC class, “Using Social Media to Build Audience.”

On Tuesday, social media pioneer JD Lasica presents a Webinar, “Social Networks: Engaging Users with News,” that explores how news organizations are using social media tools on their Web sites. It’s not too late to sign up at News University. The Webinar starts at 2 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday and will last about one hour. We hope to have time for a few questions at the end.

JD also chose five sites for class participants to explore this week. Here are his picks:

NEWWEST - This site, covering the Rocky Mountain West and run by Jonathan Weber, former editor of the Industry Standard, is setting the bar for innovative journalism for organizations with few resources. News managers hold training workshops as a supplemental revenue source. You won’t find the phrase “citizen journalism” here, but they regularly engage readers throughout the site, including a Flickr photo gallery.

POLITICO - This startup took the political mediasphere by storm last year with scoops, smart analysis, a lean staff, clean design, use of video on the front page, and a fair amount of mirth and opinion. Blogs and polls are front and center.

TECHCRUNCH - This upstart has supplanted the San Jose Mercury News and CNET as the go-to place for all things tech. The vibrant comments on each article, where the authors mix it up with readers, are a good starting point for conversation.

APPSFORDEMOCRACY - This is a great site for seeing the creative technological ferment bubbling up from the grassroots. See if any of the proposed projects resonate with you and your staff.

HURRICANE INFORMATION CENTER
- This Ning site, developed by NPR’s Andy Carvin and dozens of readers over the course of a weekend, is now a permanent site that serves a singular function well. Carvin is now looking into whether such projects can be engineered at a local level. (Note: Ning is a free social application.)

 

 

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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