Entries Tagged 'Media' ↓

Twitter Talk: Why you should “get” it

I know Twitter will not be used by every person in the world. I’ve never expected that to happen. But for a very long time (search Twitter on this page, and you’ll see years of me bringing it up) I’ve felt the need to explain why journalists should use it.

I’m still talking about it… and not everyone believes me. Unfortunately, the more mainstream Twitter gets, the bigger mistakes people make when they take Twitter information and twist it around without even knowing they missed the point.

Here’s the perfect example… and it’s pretty terrible because New York Times journalist (who really knows her stuff around social media) Jennifer Preston was slammed by a conservative writer who claimed she was biased by retweeting a person running social media for the White House. Preston created a really helpful Storify that explains what happens: Continue reading →

VIDEO: Have I convinced you yet?

I just learned about this fun and informative video that explains why you shouldn’t fight the Google+ revolution. It’s totally worth watching.

Thanks to +Lauren Stenzel for sharing this with me!

Google shut [most of] us all down

I knew it was coming. KOMU’s Google+ profile was shut down Tuesday afternoon. I knew it would happen but I don’t regret it at all. This is what it looks like when I log into the KOMU Google+ account profile:

As of this afternoon, it looks like all brands are gone. But here’s the interesting thing. My KOMU News account may be down… but the link continues to work and when I’m logged in, I can see people continue to circle our newsroom. Also, I can continue to add people into circles and read our stream. I know some newsrooms chose to leave Google+ including the NBC News account. I am not sure if the managers of those brands did that on a recommendation from Google or not.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m mad or disappointed. How can I be mad when I’m having so much fun in this new space? KOMU’s account started on July 1st and ended 19 days later. Google didn’t tell brands to get out and stay out until July 6th. Google’s Christian Oestlien posted this message on Google+ asking for brands to stay out.

I won’t complain about the fact Google made this announcement five days after I had my newsroom up and running inside Google+ because this is being considered a “field test” until it opens to the public on July 31st.

I am glad Google offered a form we can use to alert them to our brand. You can fill it out by going to this link. But what I wonder is even if I’ve had the opportunity to experiment and help spread the word about the uses of Google+, how long will it take a little newsroom like mine to get the chance to test a business page? Also, will a business page be a part of Google Apps? How much will we have to pay?

In the meantime, interactive anchor Sarah Hill and I will continue to experiment, learn and find new ways to reach out to our market and beyond. If you want to keep up with us, follow Sarah and my Google+ accounts to see what we can think up.

UPDATE: Apparently Mashable and The Next Web pages remain alive on Google+. I’d love to know why.

Another UPDATE: Christian Oestlien posted an update a few hours after I wrote this. Take a look at what he says is in the future of business accounts on Google+.

5 Reasons Why Journalists Should Play with Google+

I truly believe journalists need to be open to new opportunity to connect with communities and learn how to share. Any time a legitimate organization launches a new way to communicate, I’m going to jump. I’m curious. I’m hungry to connect. I want to learn its potential.

That’s what I’ve done inside Google+. It is a fresh start and I think Google has taken the lessons learned from communities built in Twitter and Facebook. Facebook offers privacy while Twitter allows openness. Both established social networks created ways to build lists and groups to help organize your contacts after the social networks were built. Google+ allows you to establish circles from the start. I have built a personal profile and a non-official professional profile for KOMU8. Inside each space I’ve learned what may work for journalists inside this new and evolving space. I have 5 reasons why you should give it a try.

1. Get in on a social media space from the beginning.
Very few newsrooms quickly jumped into Twitter or Facebook. Many are playing catch up. This is an opportunity for journalists to be there at the beginning. I created a KOMU News account inside Google+ because newsrooms are good at sharing. We vet information, we share and people trust us. Why not become a leader inside a new space?

2. Reach out and find your audience.
The Google+ search is improving by the day. As a person, I’ve created circles of professionals and friends who I want to follow. For the newsroom profile, I’ve created regional profiles where I have circled people who live in different towns, counties and work in different organizations. I’m still trying to see what works best, but when someone comments on a newsroom post, I almost immediately know where that person is from because I can hover my arrow over their name and see what circle they’re in. Take the time to search for major businesses, topics and locations that may show additional people from your area who could be added into a circle. As additional people follow the KOMU8 brand, I look at their profiles and add them into regional circles. If a circle for their area doesn’t exist, I create one. I haven’t decided if regional or employment (or both) circles work best, but it’s worth creating regional Google+ scanners and see if it works when there are more people inside this space!

3. Play with hangouts.
We’ve gone live in two broadcasts (and another in less than an hour) so far with a Google Hangout discussion. It’s simple to find people we trust to attend these hangouts and it’s so cool to have found the technical ability to not only feed our computer into our broadcast control room, but also because you can hear it. We haven’t figured that technical challenge out before. I love how new technology pushes us to try new things. Our broadcast hangouts created quite a buzz. So much, I ended up on a local talk radio show talking about the uses of Google+. We’re having fun and expanding the conversation way beyond this new social network. You can read about our Hangouts here and I wrote an earlier post about it here.

4. Encourage followers to circle others from your organization.
Since we are all in this social media world together, once you have additional folks contributing content into Google+, make sure your followers know about it. I’m regularly updating a list of KOMU8 News folks and making sure each person’s profile is links for easy circling. What’s really great is I can just edit the original post and add the latest names. Then I reshare the post to let our followers know I updated it. I don’t have to recreate this post multiple times. (Think of all of those topics you’ve tried to promote again and again on Facebook. You wouldn’t have to rewrite and rewrite, you can just share and share and share.)

In an ideal Google+ world, I would ask our followers to tell us what circles they’d like to be in. I’d love to offer our audience the chance to get extra information if they really like weather or sports or specific news topics like courts, development or politics. These opt-in circles could get live blogs and extra video and images that the average news consumer may not want but our newsroom could deliver it on demand to the appropriate circles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say we’re tweeting too much information about a specific topic or someone on our Facebook wall says they have heard enough. We could tone down those complaints and actually play more content to those who want it.

5. Experiment and ask people what they’d like to do with Google+.
We’re all in this together. Be open and share what you’re learning and ask what others are learning. Share your ideas and include your audience in the learning. My profile is very open and explains what I do at KOMU8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. I also made sure the KOMU8 profile mentioned I’m the wizard behind the smoke and mirrors. The most interesting input I’ve had so far are from people in my market AND others who are just really interested in what KOMU8 is doing online. I’m getting great input and ideas from far and wide.

I don’t own an Android, but I’ve been told Huddles could have great implications as well for journalists. Maybe an Android journalist could let me know what he or she thinks.

If this is the first post you’ve read from me, feel free to check out my first impression post about G+ and you might be interested in this Google Doc where Google fans put together a guidebook with more than a hundred people adding content to it. I think that’s pretty cool.

I was on live TV from my kitchen

My newsroom is preparing to launch a very new show in September. It’s called U_News@4 and we’re planning to make it a social media-based newscast and conversation. Thanks to that show, the show’s anchor, Sarah Hill, and I are trying to experiment on as many new tools as possible on the air. When Google+ came out we both knew this was a great opportunity for us to test out the tools.

Fast forward to last night. Our engineers figured out how to route the audio from one of our computers and share a Google+ hangout conversation live on the air. Here’s what it looked like:

I had a chance to discuss what Google+ is to our viewers and pick up my kids from summer camp without missing the 5pm newscast. How perfect is that?

We have a number of ideas on future uses of the Google Hangout tool:
*Create live panel discussions – Hangout is the new round table
*Create a circle of people we trust and open it up to join in on a conversation we start at the beginning of the broadcast
*Use this as an easier way to allow different sides to debate about a topic live on the air.

What other ideas do you have?

A little sidebar: We already livestream behind the scenes of the newscast on our Facebook page. The Livestream participants were jealous and demanded a mention on the air during last night’s broadcast. I thought that was really interesting.

You can read about Sarah Hill’s experience using Google+ in this MediaShift article.


I love Storify. I’ve used it for lectures, capturing class discussions and collecting news. I thought I’d have fun with it as the Royal Wedding Girl meme spread after the big wedding in London. A little flower girl did not like the crowd noise… and her picture is just wonderful. Many fun people played with the picture. I’ve had a number of people ask me to write up a tutorial about Storify – I will work on that soon!

A proud day

I work on a lot of projects. And I never give myself enough time to tell people about it. I realize I should pay better attention to my friend Jeremy Littau. He’s SO DARN GOOD at making sure we see his hard, smart work. Dang it. He’s good. I’m constantly impressed.

So yesterday was a great day for me professionally. I won a regional Murrow award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for a website I built. It was part of a project one of my student, Alex Rozier, did with YouTube and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Alex teamed up with KOMU’s Sarah Hill and our photographer Scott Schaefer to tell the story of the PET Project. The organization distributes body-powered mobile devices to help people who are immobile in third world countries. Alex, Sarah and Scott traveled to Guatemala to witness the challenge of immobility first hand. They met people who struggle every day and the people who are part of the solution. It was beautiful. The stories they told are heartbreaking.

As Alex and Sarah worked on their storytelling, I jumped in to help build a website for all of the stories under the name The Culture that Crawls. The idea was to post additional stories of the struggle and solution while posting the on air stories. I put together the structure and basically fulfilled the vision of Alex and Sarah. I used WordPress and the Thesis template. Scott had taken some really nice still images and I was able to mix those up with the YouTube videos. I’m super proud of their hard work.

I helped in a smaller way in the production of The Culture that Crawls documentary that aired on KOMU 8. Sarah and I worked together to find a way to gather live interaction with our audience members and share what they had to say. It was a really neat addition to a touching collection of stories in Guatemala. Congrats to my co-workers and to other friends who won awards yesterday. All of the regional awards move into the national level. I think it’s especially fascinating to have won in the website category since my site is not your standard news site – it documents a news topic and it beat out a region of traditional news sites. It will be interesting to hear what the judges on the national level have to say about our project!

How to get started with Social Media

I have a chance to speak to the Missouri Press Association today with Joy Mayer at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. We have a chance to speak to editors and publishers – many who are lucky to have an engaged audience of readers in small towns across the state. We’re talking today about social media and how it is worth learning about before the core readers age out and the new readers never take their news product into consideration to use as a way to learn about their communities.

But the key tip I hope to share is how to get started in social media. We think this is important because of a little moment I had last week with a large lecture class I’m teaching this semester called Journalism and Democracy. It’s better known as “Journalism for non-journalism majors.” There are 236 students enrolled. All of the students are underclassmen and planning to graduate with a wide range of degrees. There are all kinds of differences until you ask how they got their news of the day. (I took a picture of a portion of the class during our first test of the semester.)

Last week, a class speaker and I asked the class to raise their hands to see who watched television news in the last 24 hours. Four hands went into the air. We asked how many people had read news from a printed material on a newspaper or magazine. Six people put their hand in the air. Then we asked how many people got news from the Internet. All but two people raised their hand. Two people explained they had been so busy with school and work, they had not opened the Internet in the last 24 hours.

Everyone raised their hands when we asked if they learned something new (news or personal, we didn’t differentiate for this question) that day from a social networking tool.

If this class is a peek into the future of news consumption, we better hop into social media and see what the heck is going on here!

But how do you get started?

Let me tell you how I did it. It starts with curiosity.

In 2005, I heard a lot of my students talking about this thing called “Facebook.” They were sharing and distracted and always talking about it. So I hopped in. You just needed an email from .edu account. I had one. So I dug in and created an account. I watched interactions between students. (I had a rule where I would never “friend” a student, but I would accept friend requests. I would only choose to “friend” students after they graduated.) My husband would harass me for using Facebook. But I saw merit in the natural way people interacted with each other. I created a profile for my newsroom and tried to see what kind of interaction I could get in that space. Eventually Facebook created the opportunity to let brands build pages on the site. All of these developments grew while I was already in the space. I understood how it worked because I played with it on a personal level first.

I did the same thing with Twitter. I created a personal account and a newsroom account in June 2006. I had heard some people talking about the tool and I’d seen how easy it was to share information from your phone by just sending a text message. So I signed up. I would text messages and post quick 140 character messages. For my newsroom, I just posted an RSS feed of links. About a month or two into my personal use of Twitter, I realized how searchable the account was on Google and other search tools. I had used the names of my children in many posts and decided to delete the account so my name wouldn’t be linked to their names. But I returned to Twitter with a new account in October of 2006 after watching how Twitter was used to help relay information during a large group of wildfires in Southern California. I still follow the Los Angeles Fire Department thanks to that event. News and emergency officials used Twitter to share information about safety, the size of fires and rescue efforts. I started talking about journalism and mom stuff on a personal level, but I would call my son “the boy” and my daughter “the girl.” The first time I met up with Twitter followers in my town, they were so excited to meet my children and finally learn their real names.

Working with Twitter is a little trickier to understand how to use on a personal level than Facebook. I highly recommend trying Twitter with  a tool called TweetDeck. Most new Twitter users notice how it makes more sense to read and connect with people. You can search by terms, people and conversations called hashtags – these are chats where everyone includes a word with a hashtag in the front. When you follow the hashtag, you can jump in and converse or just peek in on the conversation. Some of my favorite hashtag conversations are #journchat, #wjchat and #smcedu

I didn’t get to this point where I could easily converse immediately. I warmed up to it. But I kept trying. I would @ a person and see if he or she would respond. I have made friends and colleagues through Twitter. I have learned about my community and found new connections to news consumers.

If you want to read some of my other posts about Twitter, feel free to click here to see my a webinar I did on Twitter a while back that still holds true. Also, I keep track of great tools for journalism that are free or really cheap. I have a great list of Twitter tools included!

I would not be linked to my town the way I am without the help of Twitter and Facebook. It is not the end-all-be-all of journalism. But it is a way to connect with many people who are not consuming my newsroom’s material in the traditional ways. And as my class full of 236 underclassmen become professionals, their communication and information collection styles are going to affect us all. It’s great to jump in before you’re playing catch up.

Checking in to locations… media… and ideas

Check in services first came to my attention when I attended the SXSW Interactive festival in 2009. Foursquare announced a cellphone-based tool that let you “check-in” to your location and let people know where you visited. The more you visited, the more credibility you would gain inside the game. If you check in enough to one spot, you become the Mayor. If you check in enough times based on Foursquare-prescribed settings, you earn “badges.” I have collected 44 so far since I first officially checked into Foursquare in October 2009. (I didn’t join during SXSW because it didn’t allow check ins in my town… In October of that year I started to pretend Chicago was Columbia because I just wanted to play with the technology. Foursquare opened up to all locations in January 2010.)

I like checking in. I love the badges. I love being a mayor. (I fluctuate mayorships between 23 and 26 locations.) I am really busy with work in my newsroom, campus and taking my kids all over the place for activities. I rack up the points, the badges and the mayorships. I love it. I also love the simplicity of sharing my location on Twitter or Facebook if I think there’s a reason behind it (to talk about a sale, concert, activity or something else my friends or followers would like). I’ve met people through Foursquare by checking in and finding other people at that location. I’ve met up with people I know by discovering they were in the same spot as I was just by checking in. It’s all a bit self-centered, but I enjoy the fun behind it. I’m obviously competitive and this is a simple competition to play throughout the day. During SXSW 2010, I discovered the joys of Gowalla and blogged my thoughts about it after the conference. I clearly love this stuff.

But I hit a snag last summer when I had knee surgery. I was stuck in a chair with ice on my leg. I couldn’t check in. But that’s when I discovered the point behind tools liks Miso and Get Glue. You have a chance to check into the media you consume (and with Get Glue, you can also check into the wine you drink) and earn badges. I’m a big Get Glue fan and I’ve earned many “stickers.” You can show them off on Twitter and Facebook just like the location-based tools, but Get Glue also encourages you to play with the site and you can earn real stickers. (Although I’ve requested my stickers a couple of times and they’ve never shown up at my house. I do know other Get Glue users who did get their stickers.) I loved the chance to continue with my checking in obsession but with different material. I instantly envisioned opportunities for broadcast news outlets to encourage people to watch the show live by offering stickers.

But rewind a few months earlier and the Huffington Post started offering badges of honor for people who interacted with the site at a certain level. The Type-A Parent site started doing the same thing recently where members can earn “achievements.”

I’m listing all of these earning opportunities because I think I might have an idea to help engage my local audience as we head into the 2012 presidential campaign season. I’ve written before about how I have learned from failure of my Smart Decision ’08 project where I combined newsrooms to deliver an incredibly deep amount of information leading up to the 2008 election. The biggest problem was I never found a way to engage with news consumer and I could not get people who were interested in educating themselves through out site to participate and share. But what if I worked with a community of engaged citizens and used their help to encourage other people in our market to join in with the help of social awards. These would be badges of honor that would prove a person is educating himself or herself leading up to the election. Those badges could be posted on Twitter, Facebook or even their personal websites. I think it could be a really fun way to share, collect and encourage news consumers to participate in an election project. I’m just throwing this idea out there… but I want to find someone who wants to play! This could grow into a really fun project.

I need to walk the walk

This is the time of the semester when I meet with my students one-on-one to assess their career goals and help them best develop their online portfolio to get them the job they want. I range from helping them build a website on a free tool to teaching them how to set up and manage a server – usually building a WordPress site but I have at least one student who wants to hand build a site using Dreamweaver. Each time I speak to a student, I remind them to document the work they are doing in our newsroom. The more they verbalize their work, the more interested a hiring manager will be when he or she sees this potential employee’s knowledge.

It’s a great idea, right? So why don’t I do that more often.

Obviously it’s because life is busy. But I should walk the walk if I’m going to talk the talk to my students.

Right now I’m helping launch a new content management system (CMS) for my newsroom. At the same time, we had one of the greatest engagement experiences with our audience during a major near-blizzard in our area. I blogged about the snow storm engagement on PBS’s MediaShift blog and I plan to write even more later in the week about that experience. But while I build the CMS, I’m thinking about where to go with our Facebook engagement. It’s really grown in the last month and I want to keep it going.

Now I’m pondering my next steps. There are two questions swimming in my head. Do we want to extend our brand into individual fan pages for our on air personalities? Do we want to start holding contests and other opportunities where our Facebook fans can win something if they click the “like” button?

Contests on Facebook
I talked to one of my favorite Facebook groups about my personal challenge when it comes to Facebook and offering winnings to people who like the page. I’ve seen newsrooms offer the chance for a free iPad and jump 14,000 fans. But I question how many of those fans will actually engage with the page. I realize a huge jump of 14,000 additional people would find at least a couple hundred of those fans engaging. But for some reason I love the organically grown community. You know, the kind that forms naturally because of similar interests and cares. The kind where you build a relationship that is founded on information and communication. I kind of see these prize drawings as a bribery. I’m saying bribery is bad, I just question that it’s the best option for a community’s foundation. In the last year, my newsroom’s Facebook page has grown from less than 500 to more than 5,600 fans. It’s a wonderful natural growth that really bloomed thanks to our snow storm coverage.

Personalities on Facebook
We have a couple of on air personalities who are already finding great interaction with our newsroom’s main Facebook page and their personal pages. I don’t want to fix what isn’t broken, but I wonder if I’m missing anything at this point. We have a strong Facebook news page, but we also have one anchor who is getting even better engagement from viewers who are her Facebook friends. These are people who she friended as viewers instead of viewers who clicked “like” on a fan page. We’re working on security permissions so she feels comfortable asking questions en masse but also posting pictures of her family. I might continue my “organic” feel with this situation. Our hub of Facebook delivery will remain our current fan page while our on air personalities will be asked to use their personal pages with security or create a fan page if they don’t want to use their personal profile. I think as Facebook continues to change, I’ll continue to change how we reach out and connect with our viewers.

I also reached out on Facebook to ask many people who are working in newsrooms… It’s incredible to see the many different ways Facebook is managed (or not managed.) I’ll try to walk my walk and document our successes and failures more often.