News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Social Media

November 04, 2011

Journalists can now link their Google+ profiles to their stories. Should they?

On Nov. 2 Google announced that journalists can now opt to link their Google+ social network profile with their articles.

These links will start appearing next to Google News over the next several weeks—something that’s a bit controversial for journalists, and which could change how a lot of people perceive the news…

This move is an extension of another Google change from earlier this year: highlighting authors and other content creators in search results.

Google software engineer Eric Weigle explained what happens when journalists link their profiles to their articles:

“When reporters link their Google profile with their articles, Google News now shows the writer’s name and how many Google+ users have that person in their circles. For the lead article for each story, Google News also shows that reporter’s profile picture and enables readers to add them to their Google+ circles right from the Google News homepage.”

If you want to try this, here are Google’s instructions to participate. Note that this program is strictly opt-in. Journalists must take action and meet requirements to create this link—including using a “good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo.” (It’s unclear whether altered photos, like mine, would make this cut.)

But: Google has not yet explained whether or how journalists can revoke this connection if they change their mind.

Technology journalist Alexander Howard points out that making this choice has different implications from deciding whether to be on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

“Media now have a choice before them: join Google+ to connect profiles with their stories or stay out of the social fray,” he wrote. “It will be a different decision than joining Twitter or Facebook was in years past, before it was clear to the general public that social networking would not be a passing fad. There will be more pressure for journalists to join now, given the rewards that will accrue to having your face in Google News and search results.”

Emily Bell, journalism professor and director of the Tow Center at Columbia University, agrees with Howard that this move puts pressure on journalists—but she doesn’t see that as a good thing.

Bell recently wrote: “By telling journalists that their visibility will only increase (a good thing) by using a particular social platform which demands specific protocols, it is a form of coercion. Profiles on publishers own platforms will not be featured. Neither will profiles on Facebook or Twitter.”

She continued: “The reason why the move to promote journalists who use the service rather than those who don’t is wrong—from Google’s perspective as well as the consumers—is that it does not help filter ‘better news.’ ...It is not beneficial for journalism in the way that Google and its supporters would have you believe. It is only beneficial for Google.”

In a Nieman Lab article, Megan Garber pointed out that this shift may change how people perceive news:

“A Google News populated by headlines and journalistic imagery is quite different from a Google News populated by headlines and journalistic imagery and also imagery of journalists,” she wrote. “And it encourages in consumers a slightly different way of seeing the news itself: not just as a product, but as a product of, you know, someone.”

If journalists’ faces become a common sight in Google News, it’s also possible that news consumers will grow more aware of the diversity (or lack thereof) in news organizations.

It’ll be interesting to see whether a groundswell of journalists who cover topics besides technology opt to make this link. And whether news organizations will prohibit this—or perhaps require it—in their social media policies.

Also, there might be implications for journalists who change jobs or who work for multiple news outlets. Google + is all about individuals, so far: organizations and brands cannot create profiles there. Therefore, at this point creating this link certainly would make journalists more findable and recognizable as individuals. In a shaky media job market, that could raise the visibility of staff journalists in a way that is not subsumed by their current employer’s brand.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

December 14, 2011

Dec. 15: Tweet for free speech, win scholarships from ASNE

This Thursday the American Society of News Editors is raising awareness of the importance of free speech by giving away 22 $5000 scholarships to students who tweet about why the First Amendment matters to them…

The Free to Tweet campaign begins at midnight ET Dec. 15. Eligible for scholarships are students aged 14-22 can participate simply by tweeting their support for the First Amendment with the hash tag #freetotweet. “Students are encouraged to freely express themselves in their entries, which can be posted on any publicly viewable social media platform, including blogs.”

Dec. 15 is National Bill of Rights Day. Free to Tweet is an effort of ASNE’s ongoing 1 for All campaign to build First Amendment awareness.

ASNE First Amendment Chapter president Ken Paulson recommends three easy ways that journalists and news organizations can support Free to Tweet:

  1. Tweet something right now, and whenever you can between now and Dec. 15. Example tweets: Tweet for freedom. $110K in scholarships on Dec. 15 http://www.freetotweet.org #freetotweet. OR: Easiest scholarship competition ever. $110K available for tweets about First Amendment on Dec. 15 http://www.freetotweet.org  #freetotweet
  2. Share this message with your most creative social media staffers. Encourage them to spread the word through your social media network and their own personal tweets.
  3. Consider writing about the 220th anniversary of the First Amendment (and the Bill of Rights) on Dec. 15, and include a link to Free to Tweet. ASNE also has an op-ed available.


The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

December 21, 2011

Feed the beast: Team-managing Google+ brand pages, Evernote for journalists

One of the hardest parts of the news business is “feeding the beast”—supplying a steady stream of quality content and engagement. Two recent articles shed light on how journalists and news organizations can use two popular and powerful online services to making feeding the news beast more efficient…

When Google launched brand pages last month, many news organizations quickly staked their turf. The catch was, only one person could administer a given brand page, and that had to be the account holder who set up the page.

With this week’s update to Google+, that’s changed. You can now specify up to 50 people as managers for any brand page. You can also transfer brand page ownership to a different Google+ user. These features will be a huge help for news publishers who are branching out into Google+ to deepen engagement and improve the visibility and findability of their content.

So news execs and staff responsible for social media and online engagement should check out ReadWriteWeb’s step-by-step guide to adding managers to Google+ brand pages.

Meanwhile, on the tech site Lockergnome, writer Kelly Clay explains how to use Evernote to be a better blogger. Her tips apply equally well to journalists or anyone who has to provide a steady stream of coverage.

Evernote is a “freemium” online service for capturing and annotating anything you might want to find or use later, via any internet-connected device, including smartphones.

Clay had been using a combination of tools to keep track of what she wanted to cover, and to produce her Lockergnome posts. Her old toolkit included a text editor, e-mail threads, browser bookmarks, and even paper notes. But she found herself overwriting files, or unable to successfully find stats or quotes when needed for specific stories.

“I was finding that my lack of an organizational system was getting chaotic—I was missing e-mails, losing notes, and missing stories because my incoming social media streams were sheerly overwhelming. I wasn’t necessarily doing things the best way—and I was wondering how I could be better.”

Then, at SXSW 2011, Clay heard author Tim Ferris mention that he relied on Evernote to help compile his latest book. While she didn’t immediately switch her processes to Evernote, that concept resonated with her. And over the next several months she shifted much of her research and writing process into Evernote.

“With Evernote, all your notes about a single article or topic can be in one place,” wrote Clay. “And since Evernote is based in the cloud, everything is saved automatically, and can by synced to other devices connected to your account.

“This has translated to the development of a notebook devoted specifically to LockerGnome blog posts, where I now create notes for any possible idea for a LockerGnome blog, whether this happens in my home office, at happy hour with friends, waiting for the bus, or anywhere else I have either Wi-Fi or 3G access. (Since Evernote is also on my iPhone, I can access and edit my blog post ideas anytime, anywhere.) I can drag and drop in links to references or research, quotes, pictures, or related thoughts I may have to build out the article over the course of a few days, and features like the Evernote extension for Chrome and my personal Evernote e-mail make it easy to add (or add to) notes in just a few clicks or taps.

“Previously I cranked out a blog post in just a few minutes (usually under 20), mostly because I didn’t have a system to organize resources related to a topic that was worthy of both explanation and analysis. There is something to be said for breaking news, but several other blogs have that beat covered. Evernote has allowed me to take time to develop stories over the course of the day, gathering resources and quotes and building upon ideas without feeling rushed that I need that space—that .txt doc or real estate on my screen—for another article.”

Evernote allows you to capture info in several ways—links, photos, audio, video, and more—and organize it on the fly with folders and tags. For group projects, you can also share specific folders with selected individuals. Journalists may want to consider paying for the premium version of Evernote ($45/year), which allows local storage for offline access to notebooks, as well as PDF text search.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

January 04, 2012

Storify experiments with adding Livefyre comments

In the curation-as-content movement, Storify has emerged as a leading tool for weaving coherent stories from disparate bits of digital media from social media and elsewhere. But so far, storified stories have been mostly self-contained content islands -- and not especially "social."

Today news comes that Storify has added an experimental new commenting feature...

ReadWriteWeb reports that Storify has quietly integrated the Livefyre commenting platform. (Storify hasn't announced this yet, but LiveFyre has.)

RWW's Marshall Kirkpatrick notes: "It only makes sense to allow Storify publishers to permit readers to comment on their collections, too. What was originally social becomes social again when commenting is turned on. Otherwise it feels oddly frozen in time."

This new feature is opt-in. Here's how you activate it:

  1. Log in to Storify.
  2. Click the down arrow next to your avatar (top right corner). Select "settings."
  3. On the settings page, select "labs" (bottom of menu on left)
  4. Check the box that says "Activate comments on my stories (powered by Livefyre)"

Kirkpatrick wrote: "Livefyre appears to have most of the same features that other platforms offer. (We use Disqus here at ReadWriteWeb. Echo is another leader in the field.) But there is at least one additional element: the ability to 'listen' to conversations without commenting on them publicly. Livefyre will e-mail you comments on posts you're listening to either in real time, hourly or daily depending on which you select."

Livefyre also supports comment moderation (and multiple moderators) and a social sync feature that automatically displays related Twitter and Facebook comments automatically -- which helps get around the issue that most people tend to comment via social media rather than directly on the site where a story is published.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

April 11, 2012

Center for Investigative Reporting: YouTube channel, Google event

Today the Center for Investigative Reporting announced it will launch an investigative news YouTube channel this summer. Also, tomorrow CIR is co-hosting an event bringing together investigative journalists and technologists…

According to CIR, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is providing $800,000 to support the new investigative news video channel on YouTube, which CIR will curate. It will launch in July.

Besides selecting videos to run on this channel, CIR also will train journalists in “audience engagement and other best practices for online video.”

The Investigative News Network will work with its member organizations to “leverage the channel to reach new audiences and increase the amount of earned revenue to subsidize their public-interest journalism.” CIR and INN will both promote this channel and engage users via social media and online chats.

TechRaking, April 12. This invitation-only one-day conference is being held at the “Googleplex” in Mountain View, Calif. It will “bring together technologists and muckrakers to form a more perfect union by exploring the problems and opportunities that lay before us.”

See the schedule. Topics include collaboration; money, politics and data; 15-minute interactives, and much more.

Track the action online:


The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 12, 2012

New Facebook plugin for WordPress: Expand community engagement on your site

Many community and niche media websites rely on the WordPress content management system, and on Facebook as a key community engagement tool. A new plugin announced today makes it easier to integrate Facebook features into Wordpress sites…

According to Facebook engineer Matt Kelly, the Facebook for Wordpress plugin requires no coding skills to install or configure. It’s also mobile-friendly and supports internationalization (especially useful for many ethnic media outlets).

“Once the plugin is installed, you can cross-post content published to WordPress to your Facebook Timeline and the Facebook Pages you manage. You can also mention the names of Pages and friends as you post to further distribute your content.”

For instance, with this plugin installed, if you mention a Facebook friend in a post to your WordPress site, that post automatically appears on that friend’s Facebook timeline.

In addition to this plugin, Facebook also offers several WordPress widgets which can integrate Facebook commenting into your site, display a custom activity feed )so people can see their friends’ activity on your site) and more.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 22, 2012

Mashable contest: How has social media impacted your local community?

June 30 is Social Media Day, an annual celebration from Mashable, a popular tech news site. Today Mashable announced a contest that’s highly relevant to community news outlets that use social media…

“This year we want to dig deep and find out exactly how social media has affected your community,” writes Nina Frazier of Mashable. “Whether it’s using Twitter to break down barriers to your local government or creating new ways to communicate with your neighbors, let us know. We want to hear from you. How has social media impacted your local community?”

If you’ve got a good story to tell, write it up as a comment to Mashable’s contest announcement post. Mashable will select five of the most inspired answers as winners. Each will receive a 4G Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (a $300 value, you’ll need to get your own Verizon plan for it) as well as recognition from Mashable.

Mashable is hosting Social Media Day meetups in nearly 500 cities around the world. You can also host your own—and gain visibility for it by using the hashtag #SMday. Organizer tools available from the Social Media Day webpage.

(Disclosure: I already entered this contest to describe how YouTube videos and other social media turned outrage in Oakland, California over the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant into a powerful local movement—and also sparked the founding of OaklandLocal, a community news site and platform I co-founded. But if you come up with a better story, more power to you!)

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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