News Leadership 3.0

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.”

April 29, 2009

An ambition to change

At Gazette Communications, Steve Buttry’s blueprint for a community news organization seeks to reshape roles and goals

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Steve Buttry’s “Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection” is its ambition.

At a time when energy, resources and innovation are in short supply in the news industry, many news organizations play defense or nibble around the edges of change as best they can.

Despite cutbacks and layoffs and the aftermath of massive flooding in the past year, The Gazette blueprint describes a radical shift in thinking about the role of the news organization and the jobs it will do.

It takes the often-articulated and usually lofty goals of community journalism and marries them with specifics about practice and potential business models. It marks an auspicious beginning for an ambitious and worthwhile experiment.

A few headlines:

-“For consumers, we will be their essential connection to community life - news, information, commerce, social lfe. LIke many Internet users turn first to Google, whatever their need, we want Eastern Iowans to turn first to Gazette Communications, whatever their need. For busiensses, we will be their essential connection to customers, often making the sale and collecting the money. We will become the Complete Community Connection.”
Finally, a news organization that will emulate Google’s considerable success on a local level.

- “News remains essential to our mission and our identity, but cannot limit our vision. We do need to add to our information content storehouse daily with news and other information, some of it perishable but much of it evergreen. We need to be a portal through which you can easily reach any information or activities in the community.”
Finally, recognition that information on demand is as important to consumers as today’s headlines.

- “Content and revenue must be planned together, so any innovation plan must address both needs.” And “Journalists can protect our integrity and still collaborate in developing a new business model.”
Finally, a willingness to partner with the revenue side while finding ways to maintain journalistic independence in service to the public.

Buttry, a veteran of the American Press Institute’s Newspaper Next project, has the title of Information Content Conductor (a recent switch from editor). His community content plan incorporates key features of Newspaper Next.

But his vision for the Gazette is more community-focused, less about delivering a particular product and more about connecting and re-connecting the multiple facets of community—the social, the business, the civic.

I hope the plan evolves and grows in Cedar Rapids. I hope it bolsters the ambition of other local news organizations as well.

I am still digesting the 30-page blueprint so these are just initial thoughts. I’ve also asked Steve to share his thoughts on the cultural and attititudinal changes this blueprint will require in his newsroom. More on that next week.

In the meantime, here’s a link to the full Complete Community Connection blueprint.

April 29, 2009

Social media class: Linking and aggregation

Recommended reading from the KDMC/NewsU social media class focus on the the changing news ecology and the value of the link

The connectivity of the Web offers opportunities as large, traditional news platforms become less dominant. This week, readings for “Using Social Media to Build Audience” focus on interconnections and links on the Web and what they mean for news.

Old Growth Media And The Future Of News,”  Steven Berlin Johnson, March 2009

New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest,” Jeff Jarvis, February 2007

Link Journalism Drives Page Views and Engagement,” Scott Karp, November 2008

Local Link Journalism: Pulling Together the Threads of Local Blogger Reporting,” Scott Karp, March 2008

America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire,” Mark Penn, April 2009

Don’t underestimate the importance of small talk,” Steve Yelvington, April 2009

April 28, 2009

Social media class: Local networks

KDMC/NewsU class searches for local networks and bloggers for this week’s assignment

It is Week 3 for the online class “Using Social Media to Build Audience.” For those who want to follow along, here instructor Paul Gillin’s assignment:

In virtually all communities, residents use small networks to communicate about common interests. These networks may not be visible to news organizations that cover larger markets, but smaller market newspapers often know about them and the role they play in connecting residents to news, information and each other. These local networks and blogs may exert influence in their online communities and could be important sources of information. If they are not present in your community, that may pose an opportunity for your organization.

This week, your assignment is to identify four online networks that serve the town you live in. These may be blogs, themed sites, community resources or even online services that don’t have a Web presence, such as e-mail lists.

In my hometown, we have:

This is Framingham

This is MetroWest


Framingham Events

You have the same kinds of things going on in your town. Watch this screencast by Paul Gillin for some ways to search for these networks. Here’s a link to the list of sites he searches. You may find local blogs at as well.

Once you’ve found these networks, please answer the following questions:

  * Describe the service each site provides and give your opinion on how well it delivers on its promise.
  * Contact the owner of one of these sites and conduct an interview to determine his or her motivations and rewards.  What keeps this person going?  What kind of response does the service get? What does his service accomplish that the local news organizations do not?
  * Think about how these sites may or may not fit into your own organization’s content strategy.  Is there something your organization could do to leverage the content and the audience these establishments have built?

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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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