We news folks tend to deal in fact – that is, what is reported and verified. Most of what you find on news sites (the good ones, anyway) is in this realm. Increasingly making an appearance in people’s news consumption habits are social media like Twitter and YouTube – that which may not be verified, but it is immediate and, for better or worse, largely unfiltered.
Combining selected local Twitter accounts, social searches, news feeds, blogs and videos, the Social Media Wire gives our readers a new way to find and interact with immediate local news from a variety of sources (yes, including competitors).
This concept was one that originally started back at TBD, where the community engagement team dreamed up a vision of a constantly-moving feed of local, social news called TBDNow. In the time since TBD’s original staff split up, many of us have tried to get TBDNow built. On my very first day at Digital First, I was told we were finally going to do it – and I just couldn’t wait to see it come to life.
CrowdyNews, a social news vendor out of the Netherlands, helped us to adapt the original TBDNow wish list into a tangible beta product. Is it perfect? No. We’ve got a lot of tweaking to do. But it’s a start.
We’ll learn, over time, exactly which keywords produce the best results in our neighborhood. We’ll find which blogs and news sites have crappy RSS feeds we should avoid – and which hidden gems might be most useful for our readers. We’ll see who has the most to offer on Twitter, and who could stand to be trimmed from our topic rolls.
There’s certainly work to be done on fine-tuning the user experience… and that’s where I hope you can come in. Please visit nhregister.com and click around our widgets on the home page and section fronts and spend a few minutes on the full-page Social Media Wire.
Let me know what you think could make the user experience better, which feeds should be added or removed, etc. in the comments, or contact me via Twitter, Facebook or email. As with any beta product, we need all the eyeballs and feedback we can get.
Julie Westfall will be joining Digital First as the curation team leader. Angela Carter and Karen Workman, two of DFM’s local superstars, will be moving to new roles as curators.
I was familiar with all three of these remarkable journalists before I ever began hiring for these positions. They were selected because they each had a vision for what could be done – and none of them are the type to be scared off by such a vague concept as “go be a curation team”.
Steve Buttry and I interviewed A LOT of really amazing applicants. We heard a lot of really innovative and interesting ideas on curation tools and strategy from journalists and non-journalists both inside and outside Digital First. You guys didn’t make our choices easy, but I’m confident we’ve got a killer team here.
I am excited to get back to working with Julie Westfall, who was, in my opinion, the engine that drove TBD’s daily news coverage. Sitting across from her for most of our short time there, I was constantly amazed at how she just never seemed to stop. Julie had a vision for how our news could be better and faster and she worked tirelessly to see that vision come to life. She was always tinkering with the tools we had or brainstorming the tools she wanted to see if there could be a better way to tell our stories.
But it wasn’t our work history that got Julie into this job, but rather it was her continuing ideas for how online news could be made better. Julie still has a vision for how we can develop new and better ways to tell stories online. We need someone with that vision to help our team craft dynamic, interesting and useful news resources for our local sites. It helps that Julie’s pretty familiar with forging her own path in this crazy digital journalism world – she held experimental roles at TBD and KPCC – because we need her to shape this team from an idea into a key part of Digital First’s news strategy.
Angi had been a city-side and business reporter for years before taking on the role of community engagement in her newsroom. When you meet her, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been in that role for years. She’s a natural.
Not surprisingly, Angi also went the extra mile with her ideaLab project. Originally it was thought that ideaLab activities would take up a designated amount of hours each week but Angi made it the focus of her everyday work. She also contributed the equipment she receives as an ideaLab participant to the Register’s overall engagement efforts like conducting a Community Needs Assessment, holding public online news meetings and growing the Register’s community blog network.
When this curation team is in full swing, we’re going to need Angi’s organizational skills to guide us on breaking news and long-term projects. She has a habit of planning the details far out in advance of planned news events. Take New Haven’s coverage of the Supreme Court’s health care decision: When the decision came down, the site had a live chat with experts on the case all ready to go.
I don’t know Karen Workman well yet, but I know a great deal about her work. She started her career as an editorial assistant at the Oakland Press, where went on to become a reporter and, later, community engagement editor. When she took interest in this position, Karen wrote a report full of ideas for how the DFM curation team could best benefit our local newsrooms. She’d know, as she’s already sort of been doing it.
Working the early morning shift at the Press, Karen noticed that DFM’s Michigan newsrooms were all curating stories and videos from the same sites each day. She took the initiative to change the system to be more efficient. This past spring, she started a curation team for the Michigan newspapers to better utilize the time of the newsrooms’ small staffs.
As an early adopter of new tools in her newsroom, Karen’s also proven herself to be a natural teacher. What started as helping her colleagues learn SEO, social media and digital tools has turned into a much larger effort to educate journalists at other DFM papers. Karen’s patience and talent for explanation is really going to come in handy as a DFM curator, as we’ll be helping all of our local newsrooms with their own curation efforts.
Karen was also part of the first class of ideaLab participants. She’s using her project to build a sense of community amongst members of the Oakland Press’ blogger network. Aside from bringing a disparate group of bloggers together in person and online, Karen’s also setting up workshops they want and need to bolster their own skill sets.
I’m pretty sure Karen and I are going to get along just fine, as she’s a fellow animal lover (even if she prefers dogs). She writes The Dog Blog, a care and training blog for dog owners – and she’s also got a really cute Lab/pit bull mix with a great name (Sensibull).
This curation team will be getting to work the last week of this month….just in time to start experimenting with curation around the Olympic Games. These three women will have a lot of logistics to figure out, tools to break and workflows to hammer out – but I have full confidence they are more than up to the challenge. I can hardly wait to get started.
What do you think when you hear the term “curation”? Do you roll your eyes at the “future of news” talking head types likely posing the word to you (like right now)? Or does your mind reel with the possibilities?
Under the strictest definition of the term, curation is what journalists have been doing since before Gutenberg. We’ve always been responsible for collecting bits of information and reassembling it in a way that makes sense to our readers, but now we have so many more tools to use and streams to incorporate. It’s hardly a new idea, just a new way going about doing it.
Curation is a huge part of Digital First Media‘s plans. I/We see it as a way to give our readers a well-wounded view of a story or topic, while also freeing up our local staffs to do the original reporting they do best. It is with this in mind that I, along with my esteemed boss, Steve Buttry, will soon be hiring a national curation team comprised of a team leader and two curation editors.
While I do have something of a loose job description put together for these positions, the people who we’ll be hiring here will be trailblazers. Like a lot of us who are taking on experimental new roles, they’ll be determining (and always re-evaluating) what tools, practices and stories will work best for them and the company, rather than following directions from the top.
If you dare to wonder what a curation editor might do — we’d like to hear from you. Even if you aren’t necessarily interested in one of these jobs, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how curation and curators might best help you and/or your newsroom best serve readers.
Some ideas we’ll be exploring:
How should we provide curation around big national stories, where primary coverage will be handled either by our staffs or by our content partners?
How should be capitalize on local stories that might have national appeal?
How should we curate the social conversation around the day’s big “talker” stories in a way that would interest even those who aren’t on social media?
How should we help local newsrooms in their curation efforts without just taking it over?
What curation tools should we use? Which do YOU use?
What kind of content should we curate? Is there anything we should avoid?
How should we evaluate, verify and attribute content we curate?
The curation team will be part of Project Thunderdome, which will handle national content for the websites of 75 daily newspapers of Digital First Media (scattered across 18 states), as well as some niche content that may be used by the sites of our weekly papers.
I look forward to seeing where this conversation takes us.
On Wednesday, Facebook debuted Timeline for pages. This new design and setup has been available on profiles for awhile and now it is coming to your news account pages. While this is an optional changeover for now, all pages will convert to this new design on March 30, so it gives you a little bit of time to get your pages ready for primetime.
What does Timeline change?
Timeline brings a whole new look and feel to your Facebook page on the front and back ends. The biggest change in appearance is the addition of the cover photo – an 851 x 315 pixel banner image across the top of the page. Converting to this new design will also rearrange your page in a timeline format, with all status updates and important milestones ordered in a tree fashion by date.
There are changes on the admin side of these pages as well. In the top right of your screen, you’ll see a button that says “Admin Panel” – click it to find your analytics and page controls. You’ll also have a few new options on this admin panel, including an ability to see banned users from your page, a log of user and admin activity on your page and (finally!) a place to send and receive private messages from your users.
What you need to do now
Ivan Lajara, a community engagement editor at Digital First Media and Life Editor at the Daily Freeman in Kingston, N.Y., offered a great deal of the following steps and tips for local news outlets to get started on Timeline.
1. Select a cover image
With an image this big (dimensions are 851 x 315 pixels), you have a lot of options. You might opt to include an insider photo of your newsroom or employees, as the New York Times did (above). This might also be a good spot to highlight an excellent local photo from your staff photographers or a historic image from your archives.
You might also opt to ask your fans what they’d like to see in that space — or even ask them to submit photos to feature there, as the Daily Freeman has on their Facebook page.
Note: This image isn’t set in stone, so you can change it as often as you’d like. One thing you shouldn’t do is use your brand’s logo or masthead here – that’s what the square profile photo (which will still show up as your image around Facebook) is there for. Also, Facebook’s TOS prohibits using this place for advertising or to shill for Likes, not that you’d do that anyway.
2. Write a good description for your page
Your description is a bit more prominently featured now, so be sure to write a snappy bit about your publication here. Edit this space by clicking on About.
3. Arrange your apps to highlight the most important ones
Your photos, likes, videos and any apps/contests you had are now displayed as images below your cover photo. You have the ability to feature 10 apps in total, but only four are displayed above the fold. In this space, you should highlight Photos, Likes and two apps.
You can move these featured apps around by hitting the arrow hovering near them on the right. Hover over the app you want to move and click the pencil button that shows up in the top right corner. From here, you can select what app you want to swap in.
Note to Digital First newsrooms: Ivan suggests you highlight SeeClickFix, Obituaries (Legacy has built-in app) Ustream/Livestream, etc.
4. Add a milestone or two to your Timeline
You can do this by going to the status update box (now on the left instead of the top) and clicking Milestone. An obvious one to start with might be when your publication began. Fill in the date and any info you’d like, along with an image if you have it. You might also add in some big events that occurred in your area in the past, such when you launched your website or notable local happenings just to get started. Upload an image of your publication’s old front pages or a historic photo to mark the occasion.
You can highlight photos or stories from the page or fans by making them fill both sides of the timeline. Do this by hitting the Star button on any post. This looks great with photos!
Ivan’s tip: Go back and add dates to the images you’ve already posted to the page by clicking the pencil icon on the image. You can’t tag a current image with a date older than when the Facebook page was created. At least not from the photo. You have to go to the Timeline date, add and event and THEN tag a photo (or cover or front page) to it.
5. Pin a top post
You can pin any of your postings to the top of the page by clicking on the top right of the post on the pencil icon and hitting ‘pin to top’.
Ivan’s tip: This is a great way to highlight stories that haven’t gotten as much attention as you’d like or to bring attention to the biggest item of the day.
6. Hide embarrassing, outdated, or negative posts by you and your fans
One major upside/downside of Timeline is that is makes it easier to find past posts by you and your fans. Check over your timeline for past posts you might want to hide from view for any number of reasons. To hide one from view, click on the pencil icon and select “hide from timeline”.
Right now, page administrators can hit Preview (on the top of your page) to make all these changes without anyone seeing them. If you are a page admin, you’ll see the new page, but you can see how everyone else sees it by clicking into “Until you publish your Page, you can see your old design any time” at the top of the preview screen (below).
Publish your changes along the top of the page when you’ve completed the basic steps. Have fun!
It’s been my experience that every now and then, you have to be terrified to really feel like you’re challenging yourself professionally. I haven’t felt terrified in a long time – until today.
I’m leaving the Huffington Post – my home for the last 10 months – to take on a challenge that’s so different from anything I’ve ever done, I want to start breathing into a paper bag just thinking about it.
I’ll be rejoining my old bosses from TBD – Jim Brady and Steve Buttry – at Digital First Media as a player-to-be-titled later. I’m excited to be “getting the band back together” – I felt that TBD had an excellent group of journalists that just never got the time to finish what we started. Maybe this is my chance to do complete some of those goals.
If you aren’t familiar with Digital First, it’s an exciting new company joining together Journal Register and Media News properties. The company includes papers from the likes of the Denver Post and Los Angeles Daily News to the Trentonian (in New Jersey) the (Lorain, OH) Morning Journal and tons of small dailies and weeklies all over the place.
I’m getting out of the business of running social media accounts and getting back to my local journalism roots. I’ll be working with local journalists all over DFM’s many daily and weekly papers to help them learn new digital practices and social media skills. I’ll also get the chance to be a part of local news again by working on special projects, digital strategy and breaking news at local properties and company-wide. It’s a change that’s a long time coming – and one I hope can get me back into learning as much as I’m teaching.
I also plan to still be writing here (hopefully more often) about what I’m learning, what’s going on in social/digital media and the occasional rant about Things on the Internet.
It isn’t a glamour move – I’m sure all of my Facebook subscribers will no longer find me exciting when I leave HuffPost – but I know I can’t stand still. I’m scared to death but also kind of relieved to get out of the social media editor game (more on that later). I still need to grow as a journalist – and the only way to learn to swim is jump right in. I hope you guys will be there to learn with me.