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 28, 2009

Social media class: Project development

Here’s a list of questions to ask when you’re developing a new product

Participants in KDMC’s “Using Social Media to Build Audience” class are going to start working on projects for their news organizations. Each organization’s team is assigned to develop a product or practice that takes advantage of social media tools to engage users. Here is a list of project development questions we are using to guide the class:



1. What is our project?

2. What problem will it solve or what need will it serve?

3. Who in particular is our project for? What do we know about the potential users? What do we need to know?

4. How do we anticipate people will use our service?

5. What else like it is out there? What ideas will be borrowed from our competitors? How will our product be different or better than the competition?


6. Who are the key people on our development team? What expertise do we have on board? What expertise do we still need?

7. What technology will we employ? Will we build or buy this technology? Is it available for free?

8. What is the timeline for developing our project? What are the major steps in achieving our goal?

9. How do we expect to make money from this project?

10. Who are the key people on the operations team? What are their specific responsibilities?

11. Will there be a beta test? Will users be part of the testing process?


12. What will the launch look like? What specific actions are planned to get the word out?

13. After the launch, how will users find out about our product? How will we continue to reach people and attract users? Who is responsible for these tasks?

14. How will the organization’s leadership help ensure success?

15. What is the worst thing that can happen and how will we deal with it?

16. What will success look like? How will we measure success?

17. If the project is successful, how can we determine the logical iterations?

18. If our project is successful, what will its impact be?

19. If the project does not meet our expectations, how will we decide whether to continue it, modify it or kill it?

20. What key lessons have we have learned in putting together this project and how can we apply them to other projects?

May 22, 2009

Weekend reading: Comments, please

This week, readings in KDMC class on social media offer guidance on commenting practices and managing good community discussions.

Here’s what the class is reading this week in “Using Social Media to Build Audience:”

Essential skills of a community manager,” by Chris Brogan

The trouble with trolls,”  by Sean O’Driscoll

What Does it Take to Manage a Community?” Fast Wonder
“What Is Web 2.0?” by Tim O’Reilly

Comments on News Stories a Double-Edged Sword,” SFGate

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.”

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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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