Looking for a job is, in a lot of ways, a lot like dating*. You meet a lot of people and you talk – a lot – about yourself, about them, about your expectations for a future together. You re-examine what worked and what didn’t about past relationships, and try to find a partner that embodies the best of those memories. It’s all about looking for a good fit. After a lot of looking and a few false starts, I think I’ve found it.
If you aren’t familiar with Storyful, it is a 24/7 social media news agency that discovers, verifies and delivers user-created content to newsrooms, brands and storytellers of all sorts. Storyful built its initial business providing verified UGC and information to partners via subscription service. The Open Newsroom is a consumer-facing companion piece, operating as a public space for crowdsourced verification and publication through the likes of Google and Facebook. I’ll be continuing to grow that outward-facing aspect of Storyful and its relationships with platforms, partners and stories.
I can’t wait to get started on this new bright future.
Eds Note: The past few months, since Thunderdome was shut down, have been an especially tough stretch for me, both personally and professionally. Big thank-yous are in order for many people, but especially Robyn Tomlin, Jim Brady and Jennifer Preston – who have helped me out by listening to my whining, giving advice, making introductions and buying drinks as needed. And I wouldn’t have come out the other side without my husband/crisis counselor, Ben, who has patiently dealt with my many phases of layoff grief.
At first glance, it looks like this site hasn’t been updated in awhile. For those few people who subscribe via social or RSS (hi Mom!), you probably forgot this even exists.
Though not a lot has changed on the surface level – this still has my terrible original web design for the most part – there have been some changes you might find interesting. A big part of the original intent of Zombie Journalism was curating and sharing interesting links on digital journalism, social media and the future of the news industry. This was before a great deal of the curation tools out there today were in existence – and back when I had the time and the interest in giving my view on journalism happenings that had already been talked over to death. Nowadays, I have less I want to write about, but I still want to share interesting links.
If you like the sort of information I tend to curate, I hope you’ll read it here, but it isn’t like I’m monetizing this site, so feel free to subscribe to them via Rebelmouse (using the button on the page) or, if Twitter’s your thing, you can get all of those subsets and more at @NewsonNewsYouCanUse (or via my account, as always).
If you have suggestions or feedback on all this, let me know.
Also, I have a couple of actual new posts (!) in the works, so this blog as it is now isn’t going away. Maybe we should consider it more of a quarterly?
Fishman* talked with a lot of industry leaders who noted that “social was no longer peripheral, but core to their strategy. Concentrating authority in a single personage no longer made sense.”
They’re right, to some extent, but most of the people interviewed in Fishman’s piece are from larger news organizations with long-established roles in social media. Coming from a perspective of smaller local newsrooms, I beg to differ. Many news organizations out there still need someone on staff to be thinking about how to use social media effectively and strategically across the entire news organization.
It isn’t the social media editor that is dead, but rather the Newsroom Social Media Rockstar Ninja Guru (and thank goodness).
As Fishman notes, many of the early social media editors were able to build quite a name for themselves:
More followers, more about them, more about their “personal brand.” Instead of finding a niche within the newsroom, these hires carved one out for themselves, largely outside of existing structures. They became self-appointed spokespeople, faces and names.
The exoticism of social media created a whole class of (mostly young) journalists who suddenly were a big deal – but who were ultimately supposed to be working themselves out of a job. Many instead worked themselves into bigger and better ones (and good on them). ** These days, there are a lot of tasks heaped on the social lead that aren’t so glamorous.
Even outside the news industry, the pedestal on which social media ninjas have been placed is slowly sinking. According to this excellent piece by Amber Naslund, the spotlight for social specialists is dimming as they move into the larger machinery of the digital space – and the enthusiasm of the would-be Brand Builders is fading along with it.
There’s definitely still a lot of work that needs to be done in many newsrooms when it comes to social media. The evangelization to join social media is no longer a job to be done in most newsrooms. Using social media well isn’t enough anymore either. It’s become a more widely-held skill to be able to write a good tweet, get response from an engaging Facebook post or set up a new Tumblr to capture a fly-by meme – but it is much more difficult to determine where it fits in the overall picture and long-term goals of the organization.
As my friend Daniel Victor noted, social media editors are not created equal. That title has a lot of different meanings and job duties across the industry – it can range anywhere from the Twitter monkey manning the newsroom accounts 24/7 to a strategist working social in at the highest levels to the Thought Leader/Guru (or some combination therein).
So what do newsrooms really need from the modern social media leader? I say it involves the following:
Elevate the use of social media across the organization. Help staffers craft and evolve their own social media plans around their jobs – don’t just get them on a tool and throw them out on their own. Monitor their use over time, make suggestions and encourage them to grow in their comfort and skills.
Manage your news brand’s social presence – not necessarily with hands on the Tweetdeck all of the time, but driving the overall message.
Be the evangelist for community engagement in all newsroom endeavors. Make suggestions for how social media, curation, crowdsourcing and UGC fits with particular coverage plans, experiment (or help others experiment) with new tools and offer feedback based on metrics.
Be the voice of encouragement for using social media, but also the voice of when not to use it.
Act as the customer service agent – both inside and outside the newsroom. You aren’t the ombudsman, but you can certainly help connect someone with the solution to a problem. Be the sounding board and staff researcher for social media issues, be they ethical quandaries, UGC concerns or larger trends in the crossroads of social media and news.
Craft and/or carry out a social media strategy for the entire news organization – preferably as part of a larger team across the newsroom, sales, marketing, corporate structure and management. Work toward an overall vision for what the various aspects of the organization are trying to do with social media and how they all fit together.
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.
The truth is, most social media editors working in news today aren’t being paid to be thought leaders or personal brands — they’re being paid to make their newsrooms better. The rest is just gravy (mmm, gravy).
* Full disclosure, Fishman hired me on at Huffington Post two years ago, though we never had the chance to work together.
** I’m not saying the whole Social Rockstar thing isn’t great. In fact, it’s fantastic and intoxicating. Early on, when I first started in a social role in 2008 at the Cincinnati Enquirer, the social media role gave me a position of visibility in my newsroom and community I didn’t have as a web producer. Then, when I moved from Cincinnati to DC for TBD, it gave me that visibility on a much larger scale – it gave me a brand. I was suddenly invited to conferences and asked to speak to classes. People introduced themselves to me at conferences because they recognized my name from Twitter. My name was referenced alongside people who I considered to be famous journalists. That was pretty cool. It was also fleeting.
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.
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.
I see it as a sign we’re getting better at this verification business.
* I feel this deserved a special shoutout to Anthony De Rosa, who is the unfortunate example of a journalist biting on a bad hoax in my regular verification training slides. Now he’s included here on the side of good.
The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of conversation between journalism thinkers over a reportedly huge drop in users for many news leaders’ Facebook social sharing apps in the month of April.
Some tech watchers and news app experts blame this drop in users’ fatigue with the “frictionless sharing” these apps encourage on Facebook – thus telling all your friends you read that HuffPost article about Kim Kardashian. On the other hand, many of those sites who are running these apps cite a recent rejiggering of how Facebook displays these social sharing results in the newsfeed for the decline.
As I’m still trying to wrap my head around how real these user numbers really are and exactly what could be behind them, all I can offer here is a look at my own ongoing research on the subject. Here’s the best articles dissecting this subject I’ver found so far (in reverse-chronological order). I hope this might help those of you who, like me, are just trying to keep up with What This All Means.
Hi all! I’ve been traveling a lot for Digital First lately to spread the gospel of social media to my colleagues. So, if you’ve seen my presentations before, you’d know that I make very wordy Powerpoints so that people who weren’t there to see me prattle on about my favorite things can still follow what we went over (also, they keep me on task in-session).
So here are some recent training sessions that might be of use to you, your staff (or students, if you teach). Please let me know if there’s anything out of date or if you know of new tools I should be touting around DFM and on the interwebs at large.
So your news brand has a Google+ account. Great. Now what? Maybe you’ve been sharing posts to see what works to stir up engagement and/or root in that SEO, but you’re thinking there has to be more (there is).
Since my overview of Google+ for news brands, I’ve curated some best practices and tips that can help your news organization get a little more comfortable using Google + and taking advantage of what it has to offer.
Being There is Half The Battle
You may have noticed that a lot of news organizations have somewhat abandoned Google+. This makes it prime spot on the social media map to make your mark.
“Google Plus users notice when a news org puts resources into the platform,” says Amy Duncan, Social Editor for BreakingNews. “They reward those news orgs by becoming regular commenters and content sharers on their pages. Simply put, if a news organization is willing to dedicate resources to Google Plus, it is very easy to become the best game in town.”
Choose Posts Wisely and Use Good SEO
You don’t need to post every story here, but be sure to post news you have exclusively or first in your local area, content you think will get a lot of people searching and talking about it.
When you post stories here, remember to use your SEO (search engine optimization) skills, as you want to help Google users find your story. In the text you post with your link, be sure to include the names, places and keywords people may be searching to find this info. Bold your headlines and any keyword phrases to add SEO value using these G+ specific shortcodes.
Google recommends asking questions of your followers when you post an update, and taking care to + mention the people and organizations mentioned in the stories (using @ before their name). You might even want to + mention people who may want to weigh in on your post, like experts in a field and/or certain active followers.
Like retweeting, take the time to share posts from your reporters and readers to your stream. For instance, if you see a G+ post from a staffer that might not be SEO-optimized, click “Share” and put it on your stream with better search terms included.
Make It a Priority During Breaking News
BreakingNews has made Google+ a core part of its social arsenal, winning it a dedicated following on the platform.
“In our experience, Google Plus is far from the ‘ghost town’ it is frequently described to be,” says Duncan, who manages BreakingNews’ Google+ account. “In fact, we have seen a very high level of engagement. According to All my +, each post on +Breaking News has received an average of 34 comments, 38 +1s and 27 shares. When a big story breaks, we see those numbers go through the roof.”
BreakingNews keeps posted content fresh by taking advantage of one of the key attributes G+ has over Facebook: The ability to edit after posting. It isn’t uncommon to see BreakingNews add updated info to the top of an already-posted G+ post, like so:
And this doesn’t just work for a curation giant like BreakingNews. Last summer, The Trentonian in Trenton, New Jersey (a Digital First newspaper) took to Google+ in its breaking coverage of a shooting in a nearby apartment complex. By using G+ in addition to the usual Twitter and Facebook to cover the news and crowdsource for information, Interim Editor Joey Kulkin got a big break on some insider info.
“Someone in one of The Trentonian”s Google+ circles wrote that she thought her cousin was the shooting victim laying in the parking lot. So I immediately latched onto her, and we kept in constant communication. She was really trusting and answered all of my reply questions. G+ is where she confirmed that the victim was her cousin about 10:20.”
Post During the Work Day
According to a February 2012 report from Simply Measured derived from the activity and engagement of the top 100 brands on the platform, Google+ is primarily used during work hours and not at home (which differs somewhat from Facebook, which has nighttime surges in activity).
86% of the engagement that takes place happens during working hours (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
89% of all engagement happens on the weekdays
Wednesday is the most popular day for brand posts and for user engagement with those posts
The highest engagement with brand posts happens between 9-10 a.m. local time
Google’s own best practices (released my way via a cheat sheet from a Google rep) say the most G+ users are online from 1 to 3 p.m. local time and say the best time to post are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time.
Circles can work both like Twitter and Facebook lists. Create them not only to direct who sees your posts, but to help you monitor the accounts you want to monitor.
First of all, know that as a brand, you can only add people to your Circles if they are also brands or if they have already added you to a Circle.
You might want to create a Circle for your paper’s employees (or even smaller segments, like reporters and online staff), other news orgs, local companies and organizations and those who have Circled your brand on G+. Note: People who’ve added you, but whom you don’t reciprocally add to circles, will still receive your public posts in their stream.
Google recommends creating Circles of your most engaged users to direct your post to them specifically (in addition to posting updates publicly).
Jen Lee Reeves, Interactive Directer at KOMU-TV, uses G+ circles to organize sources and contacts.
If you’ve built some great Circles, be sure to share them with your readers. Like a good Twitter list, if you’ve curated a Circle of local newsmakers, athletes or even your staff, others may find it interesting and useful as well.
Hold Hangouts With Your Staff and/or Newsmakers
The Hangout feature of Google+ is, in my opinion, the best part of the whole shebang. Hangouts can connect your staff and readers face-to-face, using tools that don’t require a lot of technical know-how or fancy equipment.
Though you can only have up to 10 people actually participate on camera in a Hangout, you can live stream Hangouts to the rest of your readership using the built-in “on air” functionality, which streams and saves the video to your brand’s YouTube page.
Lots of promotion for the chat, on-site, on other social media and, of course, on G+.
Published a piece on their site after the fact, featuring the video from the chat (now in their own video system to boot). This final post was also posted to G+ for those who couldn’t tune in live. This pretty simple final step is key, as it makes more readers aware of what you’re doing on G+ and how they can get involved in the future.
Try it out! Hold a Hangout with a few of your local reporters to talk about a local issue, live stream an editors’ meeting, bring in a couple of city council candidates to talk with your reporters on camera, bring in a few readers while you’re at it.
If you really want to make it interactive, team the Hangout up with a Twitter or Cover it Live chat, where a staffer on camera can relay questions from the readers who couldn’t join in on the camera chat.
Alex Byers, Senior Web Producer at Politico, offered this helpful tip for Hangouts:
Hangouts also work well as an internal meeting tool. The spread-out Digital First engagement team does this for our staff meetings. I even used G+ to conduct my fantasy football draft last fall.
Don’t Just Duplicate Twitter and Facebook
For one thing, it can take a lot of time to replicate the same updates on three tools. Also: These tools are different from one another and their audiences expect different content and approaches. Switch up what kind of content you post to where based on the engagement you get from what you post on each channel.
Also, consider mixing up the order of your social workflow.
“Many Google Plus users use Google Plus in addition to Facebook and/or Twitter, if Google Plus is always the last place you publish, these users will notice, especially in a breaking news situation,” says Amy Duncan. “Not only will your Google Plus page become redundant to users in the context of your other online presences, but it will also become redundant on Google Plus itself, if your competitors are consistently beating you to the punch.”
Not every news outlet can afford to dedicate a staffer to Google+ like BreakingNews, but it’s worth testing out some timing changes to see if it works for your site.
Interactive content, made up of video and photos, continues to not only be the most frequently posted content but it also drives the most engagement. For the Top 100 brands, it makes up over 65% of engagement happening on Google+.
Use All My+ to track your brand’s engagement on Google+. When you try something news, run a comparison here to see if it worked.
If you want to see just how and where an individual update traveled on Google+, click the arrow to the right of a post to get the option to “View Ripples”. On every post that has been shared on G+, you can see who else shared it by looking at this actually pretty awesome visualization.
Interact in Your Comments
I shouldn’t have to tell you this – it IS a social network, after all. When you reply to commenters or want to thank those who spread your post around, be sure to + mention their name (much like you would on Facebook). Add +1s on the comments you want to highlight for others to note.
Ask Your Readers What They Want
Honestly, you should be doing this on every social channel you use as a brand on a fairly regular basis. When you try something new, ask your followers what they thought of it. Post open-ended questions like, “What would you like to see us do here?” Include a note on your About page asking for feedback and ideas.
The New York Times’ social media crew did this early on with their use of Google+ to mold a strategy over time.
So we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the launch of Google+ (in June). While many journalists and news brands have embraced the platform, many more either waited to hear more from the canaries in the coal mine or signed up only to abandon it for more engaging pastures.
In short, Google may not have a lot of engagement going on (yet), but it does help your readers find your stories in Google searches, so that’s a good enough reason to invest some time on this platform as an individual and as a brand.
I’d like to pass on some best practices and tips for using G+ for reporters and brands, so please share your tips and success stories in the comments.
First, let me introduce (or re-introduce) some of the basics.