Entries Tagged 'Media' ↓

Making a change

A new year is a great reason to make changes. So after months and months of discussions with my husband, we’re making the move to living a DSL-only lifestyle. We use DirecTV for our television (mostly sports) viewing and more of our movies and television shows are coming from Netflix Instant. We rarely use our landline and we dislike the company we’re working with. So today I made a call to a locally owned phone/internet provider and signed up for their DSL. When it moves in, we’re getting rid of the landline and living a new cellphone-only lifestyle. It’s kind of strange but only because we’ve never lived without a landline. We have hundreds of current and former students who already go this route. I shouldn’t be concerned. But for some reason, it feels a little strange. I was raised in a telecommunications family. My dad used to sell telephone switches and other components when I was a kid. We had dozens and dozens of phones in our house at a time. But everything changes. My home with be land line free. My parents sell real estate these days. It’s just another symbol of how we all need to be flexible with changes at work and at home.

So with a cell-only lifestyle, is there anything I need to change in my at-home world? I’d love your input. My only guess is I need to make sure my cell phone is nearby – have plugs everywhere to keep the phone charged. Any other advice is appreciated!

[Photo credit goes to spanut on Flickr]

QR Codes

There are SO many people who have blogged about QR codes and have used them a LOT more than me. But this evening, I spoke to a group of young journalists who were really interested in how I put together my current business card. My QR code that takes you to the About page of this website. I use a WordPress plugin that helps mobile users view this site in a phone-friendly format. My business card gets a biographical enhancement for anyone who has a QR code reader on their phone. I’m including a look a portion of my card to give you an idea of how I it looks.

The Missouri School of Journalism’s student association held a really smart event last night. Professors and professionals from the area met with students for a “Networking Social.” The idea was to meet and greet and get experience talking to people you don’t know. I spoke to a number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors from the journalism school. We had all kinds of conversations. I loved it. Everyone introduced themselves, gave me solid eye contact and seemed to pay attention to what I had to say. Somehow, my experience turned into a mini-career counseling session to the many students I met.

After meet and greet time ended, the “pros” sat on a panel and gave tips on how to network.

My main tips:

  • Don’t stare at your phone all the time during conferences. I’ve made more contacts walking in the hallways and meeting areas by looking up and making eye contact.
  • Don’t travel in packs at events. Separate. Don’t see the people you know during a conference until at the end of the day during a conference. That way you have no choice but to meet new people during sessions and hallway wandering time.
  • Find creative ways to meet people. I bring power strips to conferences that eat up battery power. So why not share? During the SXSW10 conference, I came up with one simple rule: If you plug into my power strip, you need to introduce yourself. No requirement to trade cards, no further networking required. But by the end of the conference, I was using the #powerfriends hashtag on Twitter. Anyone who happened to use my power strip could network with me on Twitter thanks to the hashtag. It was fun. And nerdy.
  • Follow up. One you’ve made all kinds of contacts, follow up with an email. Make notes on a notebook or even the person’s business cards so you remember who they are when you send that note. You never know when one of those new contacts can become your new best friend. (By the way, I don’t always successfully follow through with this tip. I wish I was better at this. I honestly think I need to schedule full days away from the newsroom just to focus on networking.)

The big question at the end of the event was: How the heck did you make that QR code on your business card?

Here’s how I did it. First I searched “QR code generator.” That’s how I discovered Kaywa‘s generator. All you have to do is type in the information you want added into the code. (In my case, it’s a link to my website.) You can choose which size QR code you would like to create. Once you create it, you can embed it into a website. Or you can just save the image. Once I had my image, I went to Moo to create my  new business card. The site lets you give it whatever look you want and you can attach an image on the details side. It isn’t that complicated, but it makes a clean looking business card that has a talking point the moment you hand it over to your new contact. (Plus it’s just fun to compare QR code readers and talk about tech tools that I like.)

Have fun!

Manning the election fort

My newsroom is buzzing around preparing for election night coverage. My nerd-self is buzzing about the cool ways you can participate in election day online. The one we’re looking forward to the most at KOMU is our CoverItLive chat we’re planning online tonight. We have experts, candidates and candidate representatives jumping in to give our online viewers a chance to ask questions and get a new perspective on election night. You’ll be able to view the chat starting at 7:00 p.m. CT.

If you use Twitter, there’s the Twitter Vote Report project. All you have to do is go to your polling place, tweet about your experience and add “#votereport” to your tweet to get registered onto a national map of polling places. The site is also asking you to participate even if you don’t use Twitter. You can send a text message starting with #votereport to 66937 (MOZES). Also, you can call 567-258-VOTE (8683) or 208-272-9024. There are even apps for iPhone and Android users.

Facebook is targeting all users ages 18 and up to vote. There’s a notice at the top of each person’s newsfeed reminding you to vote. You can also tell others you voted by posting a vote badge onto your wall. Facebook also created a voter page where you can search for your polling place using Google Maps.

To top things off, Foursquare has created a map that tracks the number of polling place check ins across the country. It created a special “I Voted” badge and website for members to add to their collection. To get the badge, all you have to do is say #ivoted into the Foursquare message. You can also post it to Twitter by adding #votereport to include it into the Twitter Vote Report at the same time. (By the way, if you like Gowalla, you can get an “I Voted” pin if you use the word “vote” or “voted” when you check in.)

These are just a few of the interactive ways to share your participation on election day. I hope you get a chance to go out and vote!

Baby Jessica and Chilean Miners

In 1987, I watched a live broadcast of a little baby rescued from a well in Texas. I cried and celebrated the return of this little girl to her family. I was engaged in watching the wall-to-wall coverage on CNN. It was a new cable channel that focused on the news 24 hours a day. The constant news coverage was a novelty. Little Jessica McClure’s survival and rescue was amazing to watch. (Did I mention I was in seventh grade at the time?)

Fast forward to 2010. For the last 68 days I have watched the world’s coverage of 33 miners trapped for 68 days in Chile. The men have survived in a section of a mine where there was air and the ability to receive nutrition and communication from up above. Workers have struggled to find a way to bring every man back. That process started tonight. And I am glued to the media coverage. But this time, I have watched all of it on my computer while my husband watched baseball on the TV. I watched it on a lot of different sites. I started with TweetBeat’s miner page where I was able to watch tweets from everywhere and watch a UStream of the BBC’s broadcast. I also followed the live coverage on The Huffington Post’s live blog, CNN.com’s live stream and live blog and MSNBC.com.

I haven’t watched any coverage on television… It’s completely online. I feel incredibly connected to this experience just like the day rescuers brought Baby Jessica back to land. I cried watching the little 8-year-old boy cry as his dad was the first miner to return. I laughed as the second miner cheered and yelled and ran around celebrating.

I shared that experience with my husband who is sitting next to me on the couch and with friends on Twitter and Facebook. One of my friends, Zara Arboleda, expressed it best on Facebook from her newsroom in Fresno, California: “Technology is amazing. I’m watching this Chilean mine rescue with friends around the country. And good, old fashioned technology (a capsule, a hole and a rope) has saved the first of 33 lives… what a news night!”

It’s incredible how an emotional story is an emotional story – with old school broadcast or the many new communication tools of today. It’s just even easier to be a part of the experience… especially when someone else has taken over the TV.

(UPDATE: One other thing I discovered as I surfed this miner rescue online. The country of Chile is sharing the live feeds and even a constantly updated Flickr feed of the rescue. That’s incredibly savvy.)

Exploring the New Facebook Groups

I was thinking about going to sleep tonight… when something changed. A former student of mine invited me to a rolling conversation on Facebook. Rolling you ask? Well, Facebook changed in the last 24 hours.

Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team announced a number of new changes that include being able to download the content you’ve posted to your profile and the development of groups. I asked my new Facebook group on Social Journalism about a link that summarizes the changes, and Craig Kanalley from The Huffington Post shared his explanation. Groups have existed before on Facebook. But this time, it’s alive.

I’m not kidding.

I was going to go to sleep. Instead I jumped in and found a lively, flowing conversation underway. It’s hard to explain, so I took a screen capture. (I asked permission first.)

Let me explain what you’re looking at. This isn’t your normal wall post. When you post, you just hit enter and it pops up. Seconds later, another person’s post pops up. It’s live. And you don’t have to be friends with that person to have the conversation. I’ve always said Facebook is a space where I can communicate with people I know and I’ve met face-to-face while Twitter is a place for me to have great conversations with people I don’t know. Well. This changes it all. For the last hour or so, I’ve had a conversation with people I know on Twitter but the conversation is on Facebook. This conversation is hosted through a tool I played around with during SXSW earlier this year called Hot Potato (I an assuming the live chat function is what makes this new group experience possible). The Hot Potato concept was creating specific online “rooms” where people could have Twitter-like conversations but only people who are interested in the topic would read it. That’s what’s happening with the Facebook group concept. I had envisioned Hot Potato as a great thing for conversations during conferences so my Twitter feed wouldn’t be so loud. Mark Zuckerberg saw it in a wider perspective.

So one person on this new Facebook group asked me if I know what kind of implications this brings to journalism. My initial reaction is this is an enhancement to the current Facebook fan/like pages. It’s an opportunity to talk about topics in real time with people who have similar interests… or a similar newsroom. I immediately created a new group for my newsroom. I run a mommy blog Facebook page and I’m trying to wrap my mind around the pros and cons of adding a group to the page as well.

There are different types of groups. The one I played in tonight is closed – that means I was invited in and you need an invite to participate. There are also open groups and secret groups. The open and closed groups are searchable. The secret groups are only known by those people who are invited. I created an open group for my newsroom and one I might use for current and former students of my #jenclass. The amount of oversight for these groups may be impossible. I’m not saying that is good or bad at this point. I am curious to see what could happen when my “traditional” newsroom hooks up with the general public with the new Facebook group experience. I am hoping we could create a new even more personal interactive experience.

*One quick warning – if you get invited to a new group, you’re immediately in the group. You can remove yourself or change the permissions of the group. I immediately turned off email notifications. That helped save an incredible mess inside my inbox as the conversations got really rolling online tonight.*

Talking about blogs

I often speak to classes about ways to build your personal brand… and I consider blogs as the core of that brand building process. A blog is a space to share your brain, your interests or at least examples of your professional work. The more you post and share and collaborate, the easier it is for search engines to find our who you are and what you’re all about.

Today I spoke to a group that is assigned to post weekly blogs. It’s a task I enouraged a few years ago. Students early in the Missouri School of Journalism should try to think about web-based writing early on in their journalism career. I’m glad it was added. About a year from now, the students in today’s class who start blogging will end up taking my class. That means I end up reading what these young bloggers write. After a few semesters of reading these old blog posts, I realized I need to better explain blog tone. That’s what I tried to do in class today.

What is blog tone?
What I mean is I think there’s a difference between a “dear diary” tone and a conversational tone. I’ve found many new bloggers who are given an assignment to use a blog tool start off sounding a bit giggly and nervous. Often the blog posts talk about fun with friends, student life and comments that sound similar to “Oh my gosh! I just reported my first shift in the newsroom.” I challenged the students today to try to think about their tone as a professional from the start. They can be conversational: “My newsroom shift included the challenge of traveling two hours into our viewing area to shoot a package, get back and turn it within an hour and a half. It was exhausting but I’m proud of the final result.”

The only way to learn about the difference between diary and conversational is tricky. So I told the class that this is a great time to jump into blogging. For most students in the classroom, there’s at least a year before they head into the “real world.” They can learn a conversational tone with enough time to practice, get input and then jump in feet first into the less officialy, but just as important ways of delivering news, information, thoughts and experiences.

By the way, if you’re curious about how I’m trying to tackle student fear of failure, feel free to visit my new blog post on PBS’s MediaShift blog.

[Photo courtesy of Adikos via Flickr.]

Focus, focus, focus

I lost focus.

It’s summer break. I taught during the first half of the summer session and took a FANTASTIC vacation with the family. I followed that up with a not-so-fantastic knee surgery to reconstruct my left ACL and meniscus. (Not fun.)

So I’m finally emerging from the fog of vacation and knee pain medication.

I need to focus.

I returned to my newsroom with a lot of focus on. Our newsroom attempted to launch an updated CMS and it didn’t go as planned. Many CMS launches happen that way. I’m trying to be patient and not freak out – since I’m not able to control the situation. But I have to retrain hundreds of students. The hardest part is the rules are changing on a regular basis until we get a handle on what works best for the system. Luckily our entire newsroom how-to guides are built into a wiki-structure so any of my employees can help me update the many changes. While I try to keep up with these challenges, I still have daily assignment desk duties where I need to help manage our general assignment reporters, make sure they tweet, answer questions and get stories from callers and try to keep up with conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

I need to focus.

My job requires me to focus on so many tasks at the same time, I’m losing focus. I started using CoTweet to keep up with all of our reporters and anchors to keep a constantly updated Twitter feed. I’m now looking at tools like Seesmic and Hootsuite so I can do the same oversight with our Facebook page at the same time. So far, none of the tools I’ve found meet all of my needs. And it needs to help me stay focused.

I’d love to hear from others who are finding tools that help coordinate and focus the many things we have to do at the same time these days.

UPDATE: I got a great tip from Nathan Byrne on how he’s using more management collaborations in Google Wave. I’ve done many things in Basecamp and Google Groups, but not in Wave. Thanks for the idea! Keep them coming!

A true Facebook experience

I brought my newsroom into Facebook long before “fan” pages were created. I knew it would be a space to share and interact with our audience. During breaking news, bad weather and interesting stories everyone wants to talk about, it’s a great place to interact. I have seen a growing participation in our small market in the middle of Missouri.

In the past year, I was able to build interaction with our page and take the number of “fans” (now they people who clicked “like”) up from 250 to 1330. It is not very large, but a nice start. I expected younger, more digital news consumers to participate. But in the end, I’ve found people 30 and older are more likely to comment. They are also more likely to share photos and stories with our Ning network. But on slower news days, the interaction stops. Also, very sunny and nice days slow down the conversations as well. It makes sense.

But I didn’t really understand Facebook interaction and its potential until I took my mom blog about my daughter to Facebook. I invited people I knew to “like” it. Then I started adding little stories that would never make it to the blog. I shared and met and created better online relationships with people I know and don’t know. In two weeks, it has boosted the blog’s site traffic by 100 percent. Readership time increased by more than a minute per visit. I think it’s fascinating.

On our news page, when we link to our site, it boosts traffic. But I have found building a relationship with our news readers are not as easy as it has been on Twitter. Our news users visit and maybe comment but there is little community I seem to be able to build there. It may be my fault. It may be our market. Maybe I just haven’t found the right way to take full advantage of the Facebook experience. But when I work with my mom blog page, there is consistent interaction. There are people who have liked the page who have never met me or my daughter. There are people who made new connections with us and the website that would have never happened without the Facebook experience.

With these positive experiences, I’m trying to find ways to take my new knowledge of Facebook page success and move it to our newsroom’s page. I added my name to our news page’s info box to try and add transparency to the “wizard behind the screen” feeling a Facebook page can give. I try to not over post, but worry about days when we under post. I have not given many people access to our Facebook page. I don’t have a tool that helps me manage access like CoTweet which I use to manage our many, many KOMU Twitter reporters. I’d love to hear other ideas out there.

A question of privacy

There were incredible discussions of privacy during SXSW this year. Dana Boyd led the entire event with a keynote speech about privacy. (You can read what she told the crowd here… It’s worth the read.) Since then, I’ve seen more and more people discuss and post thoughts on privacy. Even Craig Newmark of Craigslist threw his thoughts into the ring earlier this year. Dana wrote an incredible blog post yesterday. Her thoughts and collection of ideas encouraged me to start blogging about privacy.

I have had a chance to get involved in great conversations about privacy as well. A long time ago, privacy was easier. The majority of our actions were behind closed doors and they stayed there. Work activity stayed at work. Home life stayed at home. But with the ease of sharing and communicating, we are all much more connected. That means we are also a lot loss private. So what is privacy now?

I am okay with parents at my kids’ schools knowing that we spend a lot of time participating in sports and other after school activities, but I wouldn’t be happy if Nike and LL Bean knew about it without my permission because I talked about hiking boots or a soccer game on Facebook. I get creeped out any time strange businesses try to tweet me about services just because I mentioned server space on Twitter. But I know every word I see and every action I mention on Twitter is public. I’m more aware and I’m careful with what I say in that social space. So I’m learning about a new level of privacy. And I think many people are starting to realize there’s a new level of privacy that we may not have control over.

That’s why the changes in Facebook’s privacy structure scared a lot of people. I’m fascinated with the Like Button site… and I have shown it to many people who were shocked by how easy it was to see what our Facebook friends “like.” I added the “like” buttons to this blog and my mommy blogs. But now I feel like I may have made an error jumping into the “like” craze so quickly. Am I invading my readers’ privacy? My fascination may be a privacy invasion to another person.

I have not decided where I stand in my opinion about Facebook. I’m deeply involved in that space. I joined in 2005, I teach my students how to use it as a tool to connect with my newsroom’s audience and how to stay in touch with potential contacts that can help get them jobs someday. I use it to link to people I would never stay in touch with but Facebook makes it possible. I do feel a bit used by the Facebook leaders. But I also feel like I am willing to give up some privacy for the service it provides… I’m just not sure Facebook is transparent enough about what privacy I’m giving up by using the site. Have you seen the New York Times graphic that shows all 170 steps to customize your privacy? Wow.

Where does the news business play in all of this? Well, we need to understand how the general public feels about privacy. The challenge right now is each person has a very different opinion about privacy. Our audience/readers/viewers/whatever you want to label people who consume information you produce are in the middle of such an amazing shift of privacy that we are serving them while privacy expectations range from “Not in my house” to “Please make sure you tell me before you share anything to advertisers” to “Aw heck, I don’t mind.” We need to be mindful. We need to participate in social spaces while being aware of these many different perspectives. We need to be as transparent as possible. We CANNOT do what Facebook is doing. We have to be open at every step. As Dana Boyd wrote as a follow up to yesterday’s blog post, Facebook is a utility. Journalism is a service. There’s a difference there. I think it’s an important one. And it’s a conversation that we need to talk about a lot. And Facebook is just one element of a much larger shift in our culture.

(Image courtesy of Horia Varlan‘s Flickr page)

Another twist in news delivery

This past weekend was full of HUGE news:
The oil leak in the Gulf
An attempted car bombing in New York City
Flooding in Nashville
The White House Press Corps dinner

What was on television. The DC event. Nothing else really.

So how did I know about the rest of what was happening in the United States? Twitter was on it. Facebook was telling me a lot.

The average person in social media was telling the story without layers of people preventing the information from going public quickly. Could I trust the facts? Well, I trust most of my Facebook friends because we have a face-to-face relationship in some way (or family ties). I trust many of my Twitter friends. But for those Twitter people I didn’t know who had some connection to a national news story, I had a friend help confirm it.

CNN, MSNBC or Fox didn’t help inform me this weekend. Social media did.

And when I spoke to my students, the Twitter followers knew what was happening, the others had no idea Nashville was under water.

Is Twitter a must follow tool for news hungry/informed people? I think so.