News Leadership 3.0

November 19, 2009

Publish2: Capturing the power of the link

News organizations use this free aggregation service to deliver more links and information to their users

I’ve been remiss in not writing sooner about Publish2, a free service that enables journalists and news organizations to pull together, organize and publish links to interesting material. I’ve been playing with Publish2 for a couple of weeks and thought about it only for my own use in bookmarking articles for future reference or to share with colleagues. But Publish2 has produced summaries of how news organizations are using Publish2, so a little light bulb went off and I want to share the glow.

The Publish2 list includes The Washington Post’s Daily Read of investigative reporting from around the Web, Dallas Morning News’s Dollar Wise feature that offers links to information how to save money, Knoxville News Sentinel pulling together links on breaking stories. The News Hour on PBS used Publish2 to collect and publish reaction when President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at Publish2, says 10,000 journalist users have registered at the site and the organizations using it are a mix of newspapers, hyperlocal neighborhood news sites and blogs, TV, radio, alt weeklies, and international users.

The New York Times, Miami Herald, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Spokane Spokesman Review, and the Washington Post have been active users recently. “We see a ton of use on blogs, section pages, and individual topic pages, like elections, or swine flu,” Sholin said. The Des Moines Register builds topic pages for hometown heroes like Shawn Johnson.

In Washington state, Sholin noted, six news organizations have formed a collaborative Northwest Newsgroup to share links to regional news and deliver it with widgets on their sites. “It’s pretty amazing what they’ve been able to put together across newsrooms and even different parent companies,” said Sholin, who was a Knight News Challenge winner for a different project.
News organizations do not need a developer to get started with Publish2, he said. “If you can copy and paste a chunk of code into an article or section page template in your CMS, you have everything you need.”

I asked Ryan how he liked working for a start up after leaving a traditional news organization (Gatehouse). “It’s a lot of fun. If we have a great idea on a Monday, we build it by Wednesday and launch it by Friday.  That’s just a bit faster than a large media company can move, so it’s been great to work in an agile environment.”

He said Publish2 welcomes suggestions and other feedback. “Everything we do is by-journalists/for-journalists, so we love the feedback and input we get from news organizations. Most of the features in the Publish2 system are there because a journalist said ‘...wouldn’t it be cool if…’ “

“We see the collaborative curation of news as a trend that we’re out in front of, and it’s great to see news organizations using Publish2 as a newswire for the Web,” Sholin said.

It’s also great to see more news organizations discovering the power of linking and aggregation to provide users with a richer experience and to enable those who want to go deeper and wider on a story to quickly access more material.

June 15, 2009

Miami Herald: New blog channel brings order, fosters connections in the local blogosphere

In a guest post, Herald editor Shelley Acoca describes’s latest online initiative - a South Florida Blogs channel that links 280 blogs

Note: I’m excited about that more and more news organizations are looking to aggregate local blogs and community news sites. News organizations can play a major role in fostering public debate and building and sharing Web traffic if they seek out and partner with local citizens who also are bringing news, information and debate to their communities. So I asked Shelley Acoca, Instant News Editor at the Miami Herald, to write this guest post about the Herald’s just-launched South Florida Blogs network.

By Shelley Acoca launches its South Florida Blogs channel this week, pulling together 280 blogs as a guide to the region’s growing blogosphere. The idea was to build a network that would give users a quick look at what was happening in South Florida’s blogosphere and help to drive traffic to the dozens of blogs in the area, as well as building content for our website and developing a relationship with local bloggers.

Here’s how Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal describes the effort in note to readers:

“The local blogosphere produces some of the most lively, irreverent, edgy commentary you’ll find in South Florida on just about every topic imaginable, from politics to the arts, sports to the media, food to sex.

“It’s such a sprawling universe it’s hard to navigate, search and keep up with for all but the most dedicated readers. That’s why The Miami Herald launched a sharp new guide to 280 South Florida blogs this week that I think you’ll want to spend time with.”

Herald Multimedia Editor Rick Hirsch and I started working on the idea nearly a year ago. As the concept was developed, we began talking with David Mastio, a former USA Today journalist who founded BlogNetNews, a company that develops community blog networks for newspapers and others. The company had successfully launched networks that were along the lines of what we hoped to build in South Florida - objective RSS aggregations of locally based blogs presented by category.

I began working with Mastio in April to compile a list of the nearly 300 blogs that network contains as it launches.  Local bloggers were invited in to offer up their opinions on the beta version; they were asked to be frank and let us know what they thought didn’t work, as well as what they liked. We incorporated their thoughts into the version we launched, and based our FAQ on their questions.

Overall, the beta groups response was positive. Several of them—Carlos Miller, Dayngr and MustangBobby - posted their thoughts after our 90 minute meeting. A couple of others who were invited to the meeting but couldn’t make it - Rick from The South Florida Daily Blog and Bill from Random Pixels and Loose Talk from Miami Beach - also shared their thoughts with us privately and on their blogs. Romenesko linked to Carlos’ Miller’s blog, bringing lots of eyes to the beta version of the page.

What they liked best:
- Widgets they could use to enhance their own blogs.
- The idea of helping build the already thriving community.
- The archive search that allows users to find posts dating back 60 days

They also helped troubleshoot problems: Some of the blogging platforms weren’t allowing the feeds to go through; some of the widgets needed tweaking. And they suggested other bloggers and categories to add to the channel.

Our hope is the page will grow over time and help users to get a more comprehensive view of what’s happening in our region. And we’ll continue to enhance the site as we get more feedback from bloggers and other users.

June 13, 2009

Weekend reading:  “Why we link”

Link: Ryan Sholin offers a compelling list of reasons news organizations and journalists can benefit from the linking network

Be sure to check out “Why we link: A brief rundown of the reasons your news organization needs to tie the Web together” from Ryan Sholin of Publish2
A taste:
- Because we owe it to our readers to give them as much information as we have at our fingertips.
- Because linking to sources and resources is the key gesture to being a citizen of the Web and not just a product on the Web.
- Because it will make your job easier.

Are you part of the link network? What benefits do you see to linking to the content of others?

Also, check out “9 Crucial UI Features of Social Media and Networking Sites.”


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.

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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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