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Archive for the ‘CrowdSource’ Category
10 Feb

Mubarak ‘stepping down’: Dissecting a media echo chamber

NOTE: Republished on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201102/1942/

Here is an attempt to break down the timeline of today’s news from my point of view. Please note that this mainly reflects Twitter and my experiences. I’ve used Twitter’s advanced search, which isn’t great, and gotten some crowdsoucing help. Please feel free to contact me to make this more accurate.

P.S. This is my first Storify … be gentle.

19 Jan

Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201101/1931/

For this week’s blog post, I chatted (through e-mail) with up-and-coming journalist Emma Carew, the driving force behind a new Web journalist of Color spreadsheet.

Recently, there seems to be an ongoing conversation about diversity in our newsrooms (especially Web newsrooms) again. One of the results from that conversation is the spreadsheet you created. Can you describe this project and how it came about?

Following Retha Hill‘s post on MediaShift IdeaLab about diversity at recent ONA and Newsfoo conferences, I was excited to weigh in during the Twitter chat on #mediadiversity. People mentioned hearing, “we can’t find any qualified minorities,” for speaker presentations and conferences. I was shocked to hear this, because I could have easily listed a dozen or more journalists of color doing amazing things with journalism and the web — these are people I look up to, who have mentored me. We all left the chat on Twitter promising to take action and spread the good word. A few days went by and when no list to promote these fine folks appeared, I knew it was something that I could initiate. By reaching out to my network, we were able to assemble about 75 names, all top-notch journalists of color working with journalism and the web. Anyone looking to put together panels of amazing journalists looking to share their story, no longer has an excuse for putting together an all-white, all-male conference.

How have the names been selected? What has been the process? Is there a general criteria for who makes this list?

About eight contributors are continuing to cultivate the list, which is open for public viewing. Anyone can nominate themselves or others by contacting one of the authors. Our loose criteria have been these: journalists of color, doing great work in web journalism, and who would have something interesting to share on a panel. The goal is to identify as many web journalism rockstars of color as possible.

NOTE: Full-disclosure, I am one of the eight that curates the list and am also hosting the spreadsheet on my server. Others include Sharon Chan, Michelle Johnson, Doug Mitchell, Juana Summers and Benet Wilson.

What is your vision, your goal for this project? What would you like to see happen here?

My hope would be to see better representation of journalists of color, both as attendees and speakers, at journalism conferences such as the UNITY organizations, SPJ, ONA and IRE. The leadership of these associations have a great opportunity to widen their circles. I’d love to see the project embraced and promoted by the national journalism leaders. Diversity shouldn’t only be a priority for the UNITY groups.

Diversity is more than ethnicity. Is there any thought to expanding the spreadsheet to include gay/lesbian, women or other communities that are under represented in our newsrooms?

I definitely agree, and we are certainly open to representing diversity of all types. In the current setup, there are eight authors who are collaborating to keep the list organized and “vet” the names when we come across an unfamiliar name. We currently have representation of some kind from all four UNITY organizations. If there are leaders (official or unofficial) from NLGJA or other journalism associations who would like to get involved, please contact us.

So what has been the reaction to your project so far?

I think it’s been well received in the smaller UNITY org circles. The list is growing slowly and each of the authors has continued to reach out to leadership in our respective associations. It’s an important time for the list to be circulating and continue the conversation with summer journalism conventions coming up.

What have you learned from the project?

Working on this project has been a great reminder of a few things. First, being that it’s not enough to idly sit by and try to tweet the the change you want to see. At some level, you have to just take a leap and try. This project has also been a good reminder of the importance of good mentors. This project would not have gotten off the ground as neatly or quickly had it not been for some excellent guiding hands

Tell me a little about your journalism background. I hear you recently took a new job.

I got my start in journalism at a high school program called the Urban Journalism Workshop, now called ThreeSixty Journalism. During college, I interned at the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education, mostly focusing on business, education and data journalism. I spent six months working for the Chronicle of Philanthropy working on data projects, especially on how to best present them online. Next week I will be joining the startribune.com team as a home page producer.

The struggle for journalism diversity has gone for years, decades even. How have you personally benefited by those who have worked hard for diversity?

The program I got my first start has its roots with the Twin Cities Black Journalists association (our local NABJ chapter). From the start, I was surrounded by talented journalists of color who had an interest in my success. Being a member of AAJA for six years has filled in the gaps of all the things they forget to teach you in J school: networking, mentorships, how to be a great intern, and how to fight for the things you believe in. I’m grateful to those who have blazed the trail before me, and I’m excited to continue in their path. There’s still a lot of work to be done around diversity in the media.

When I can, I like ending my interviews with journalists with the same question … In an environment of furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts… where we work more with less … in these ‘tough times,’ where we are in constant evolution … Why are you a journalist?

Unfortunately as a first-year reporter, these times are the only ones I have ever known firsthand. I remain an optimist, especially the more I move toward digital and multiplatform work. I firmly believe in the need for excellent journalism in our communities, for it’s role as a watchdog and the art of our storytelling. I became a journalist because it was the only career I have ever considered. I remain a journalist because I know our work is far from done.

Thank you so much Emma. You should be really proud of the work you’ve done, especially this project.

Robert thanks so much for all your work on this. It’s been a great experience and I hope to see its success play out.

17 Nov

Patch EIC answers all questions, evil or otherwise

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201011/1909/

When it comes to Patch, there have been a lot of opinions and questions about AOL’s hyperlocal venture … besides the “evil” one. In previous posts, I’ve crowdsourced journos’ thoughts on Patch to try to capture the conversations many of us have been having.

Patch's EIC Brian FarnhamFor this week’s post, I took those concerns – and newly crowdsourced questions – to the man overseeing the direction and growth of Patch: Editor-in-chief Brian Farnham.

I had a long list of questions and asked most of them. Of course, even though we went thirty minutes over our scheduled one-hour interview, there wasn’t enough time to ask them all.

But, overall, Farnham addressed the most common questions and criticisms toward Patch, and also expressed his vision for the network.

NOTE: The interview was done using the collaborative document, typewith.me, and you can play back and read the raw, unedited conversation here: http://typewith.me/ep/pad/view/ojrqa02-bfarnham/latest

Let’s start with some background and context. Can you tell me a brief history of Patch, how it came about… and then a little about your background.

Sure. Patch came right [out] of the brain of Tim Armstrong actually. He’s the CEO of AOL now, but a couple of years ago he was the head of North American ad sales for Google. His big brainstorm, which I won’t go into all the details of (he actually addressed this at ONA), was that small communities were really missing out on the kind of comprehensive news and information experience online that people in big cities tend to take for granted.

Can you tell me the current state/size of Patch and the general goal for the hyperlocal venture? How many employees?

Patch is right now 351 live sites strong, with plans to open another couple hundred by the end of the year (which is not far off!) Employee-wise, we have…several hundred. I have to check the actual number. I’m going to say 600+ safely right now, with about 80% of those being editors out in the field. So it’s a pretty big organization already, which makes it feel funny to call it a startup, but we call it that because we’re truly evolving and growing the idea every day, the way startups do. The goal is to become nothing short of the most useful source of news and information for small communities online. And, I hasten to add, that does NOT mean the ONLY source of information there. We see local media as an ecosystem, and we want to be an active part of it.

Is there target size you are growing toward, in terms of the communities you are branching into?

Yep. The stated goal is 500+ by end of year, and I think it’s safe to say we want to keep growing beyond that, but we haven’t nailed down any goals beyond that.

Can you talk about the strategy behind the locations you have chosen? Are they calculated, organic, etc? Also, there have been some criticisms about choosing locations that tend to be more affluent.

It’s a mix of art and science. We start with a pretty detailed methodology of a lot of kinds of data you’d expect. Census data mostly, just to give us a sense of certain variables in a community we think are important to build a business. But the most important factors are around community engagement. For example, we use a list of the top ranked high schools in the country as a proxy for community cohesiveness, figuring that any community that cares about its school must be pretty engaged. But then we do a lot of actual research via conversations with people who live in those communities, and through that we sort out whether it feels like a place that Patch might do well. As for the criticism about choosing affluent markets, that’s by no means a strategy of the concept. It’s more where the methodology tends to point you because of the variables you’re looking at from the business perspective. We’re not a charity, we’re trying to make money doing this, so that means identifying markets that we think can support an ad-driven business. But that’s not the only kind of market we’re interested in. The idea was, let’s establish the business in the places that will give us the best chance for success and the shortest runways to profitability, but then add on to those the kinds of communities that may be less high-ranking along those market-based considerations, but are equally deserving for every other reason.

Can you talk about how the local media ecosystem also factors in to your decision for a Patch location. In communities where there is no media coverage, Patch is an amazing addition. But one of the criticisms is when a Patch moves into a community that has a thriving hyperlocal scene, smaller news outlets or even regional newspapers … The concern I hear is that by a company as large as AOL coming to these communities where indie, hyperlocals are working… well, it could kill them off. What is your take, your reaction to that concern?

I totally get those concerns. I understand how someone running a hyperlocal site mostly as a labor of love would be concerned when Patch opened in their community, but we are truly not trying to be the Deathstar of hyperlocal. What we see ourselves as is a platform for local community. So it’s more than just a news site. We talk about wanting to digitize small towns and have the sites reflect the community the way its residents would recognize. That’s a long term, constantly evolving process, but we wanted to establish it on a foundation of professional, unbiased journalism. ONLINE journalism, I should add — the distinction being that with online journalism, news is more of a conversation. Not just between the news provider/publisher and the users, but between other news and information providers as well. Ironically, if a community we go into already has online media in it, that tends to be good for us, because the community members are already used to looking for their information online. And when we open a Patch, we’re obviously trying to do the best, most comprehensive job we can covering what’s going on, but we know we won’t get everything and we’re quite happy to link to other sources in town who may have gotten stories, angles or other kinds of content we don’t have or don’t think is in our mission.

We can go in different directions here, but let’s explore this a little more. One of the concerns, mind you fears, that I got from people is… Patch is coming to so many communities, taking on so many new employees, evolving… in a hyperlocal concept that, to some people, hasn’t proven itself… committing $50 million to expand… but what if it fails. And in the process whips out the local, indie media scene? There is a great responsibility here… a great weight that is, for some reason, put on Patch… even though it is not the first, nor probably the last, to try hyperlocal at a large scale. What’s your take on that concern?

You know, it’s funny: people often criticize companies in media for not being imaginative enough, innovative enough, or taking enough risks. Patch is a bold move, and I’m not bragging by saying that. There’s a lot of risk and we take that seriously. But we also believe — really passionately believe — that communities deserve and can use the kind of platform we’re trying to build. And I think that if it were to fail (which we have no intention of letting it do!), that won’t kind of suck out all the air from local. If anything, it will give people a lot of lessons on how to do it better, as most failures do. So I think it’s got to be considered a positive no matter how you look at it: if it succeeds, it was a big bet on giving communities an incredible online source to understand and navigate themselves; if it fails, it’s giving everyone else a lot of insight into what works and what is truly needed by these communities online. But I don’t think it will destroy all those other sources in town either by succeeding or failing.

Like I mentioned, Patch isn’t the first in going hyperlocal at this scale… what do you think makes it different from the others? I believe you worked at sidewalk.com. What’s the difference here?

Ah, Sidewalk. You know, I was just talking to someone who worked there when I did, and we were lamenting the loss (as vets of sidewalk often do). We were also remarking that Patch now feels an awful lot like Sidewalk did then (late nineties): full of energy and passion for an idea that really seemed like it could change people’s lives by giving them something they need and didn’t have before. I actually don’t think Sidewalk failed at all — it just wasn’t something that Microsoft ultimately had the confidence to continue because it felt at odds with their real “core competencies,” as they say. But the difference between Sidewalk and Patch is really nothing more than altitude — Sidewalk flew at the pretty-big-city level; we’re much closer to the ground. And even then, Sidewalk was competing with a lot of other kinds of media serving that altitude. While there are obviously newspapers and blogs and bulletin boards and other kinds of media serving our communities, we don’t think anyone is trying to create the comprehensive platform that we are, either because they don’t have the resources or don’t think it’s their mission.

This is a good time to mention our Directory: not sure how much you know about it, but it’s this whole pillar of our business. It’s really our own, hand built local Yellow Pages. We thought it was important, if we were going to do this, that our site represent as much of the community as it could, and that meant all the businesses and organizations that exist there. We could’ve just gone out and bought one of the many directories that exist for the country, but in doing research we realized that even the best of these lists aren’t better than 35% wrong. That’s not news to anyone who has searched for local businesses on online yellow pages sites, but its’ still pretty staggering. So rather than resort to this, we made the decision to invest in a team that, before we launch, goes to every business, org, government agency, public park etc and records as much tailored info into structured data fields as we can, and then takes at least 10 quality photos. That creates a crucial basis for the news operation as well — news happens at places, and by having a detailed listing for those places, we have a head start on anything that occurs there and can geolocate the story instantly. That’s just one small example of the usefulness of this. The bigger point is that we see businesses as a part of the community as much as any resident, and their lives, so to speak, should be reflected on Patch.

For better or for worse, one of the biggest criticism or concerns about Patch is that it is coming into communities under the journalism flag. When I think of citysearch, Yelp, other places that have a directory… journalism doesn’t come to mind. That said, you have made a commitment to journalism by hiring some great journalists… what is your vision for the type of journalism Patch is producing/trying to produce? And, Patch is huge… how do hope to maintain that level of quality. Does it get sacrificed for quantity? What do you have in place to maintain the quality of content that matches your vision?

Nothing excites me more than the opportunity we have in front of us regarding journalism. An early dream was the day when we had enough sites that a coordinated effort on a small local story would lead to something much, much bigger when taken together. The example I always give is municipal salaries: imagine every Patch editor digging into this locally at the same time. They produce a story about what local pols are making, and that’s interesting and a service to the local taxpayers. But then we take all those stories from what are hundreds of Patches and we suddenly have a snapshot of municipal salaries in the United States. That’s kind of the classic AP approach, but at an even more granular level. We aspire to be a new kind of AP.

As for the quality, that’s always a challenge for any site doing content online, because the 24-7 nature of things is an abiding pressure. (At least for those doing news). We take quality very seriously, and we’ve tried to build a structure that can attend to it. That includes having Regional Editors overseeing the Local Editors, and it includes making budget available to hire things like copyeditors locally. We leave those decisions largely up to the local Patches because we firmly believe a one-size fits all model doesn’t make sense. Some regions may have different issues around quality than others. But before any of that, we spend a LOT of time hiring carefully — the Local Editors are absolutely the heart and soul of this operation and we trust them to do an awful lot. Maintaining a high level of quality is job #1.

Can you quickly outline the structure of Patch … from the bottom to the top.

Sure. It starts with one Local Editor for every Patch. (In some rare cases, there are even two, if the market is big enough to demand that. Naperville Patch in Illinois is an example of that.) Then we organize our sites into regions of 12 sites that [are] run by a Regional Editor. Finally, every region of twelve [has] a “13th editor.” This could be a more junior editor who is writing stories and supporting Local Editors sort of on the ground, or it could be junior Regional Editor who is more helping manage the region as well as supporting LEs. The point of the 13th editor either way is to take as much pressure off LEs as possible, by covering vacations etc.

Continuing the structure, regions roll up into “super regions,” and super regions roll up into zones. There are four zones right now, and each one is headed by an Editorial Director, who is kind of a mini EIC for their zone (which can be hundreds of sites at the end of the day). Then there’s, well, me. Plus a small centralized team at HQ. While I head the editorial organization, I see myself as back-office support for the field. That’s how we all feel at HQ — we’re there to support the real operation out there in all the communities we serve.

Well, let me ask one of the questions/concerns that people have thrown around and have had strong opinions about… I’m sure you have heard the term “sweatshop” used when describing certain elements… I gather, though, it comes from those who work below the local editor? Is that accurate? Those who are going to actual locations and interviewing managers for directory information… I was a given a description about the tasks outlined by HQ, and the person felt that it was near impossible — asking the questionnaire, taking photos, writing a general description/review — to do with the perceived amount of time. What is your response to this reaction… and is there anything being discussed/changed to address these concerns, if you find them valid?

Yeah, the particular description you’re referring to came from one of the freelance Community Listings Collectors we hire to do the listings, in the way I described above. While those jobs are challenging, certainly, the Directory team has created an incredibly efficient and intelligent system, and the CLCs who get the system can often do quite well financially. I honestly haven’t heard that many problems, and we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of CLCs work for us. It’s not for everyone and a lot of people quit — but that’s fine. It’s not easy going door to door all day talking to people who need to have this new concept described to them. But that’s kind of the point — it’s totally freelance and those people can opt out. If the tasks we assign were really impossible, we could not have come nearly this far. We’ve launched over 350 [sites], and all of those have complete directories, so something must work about it!

One more note on the sweatshop thing: the LE job is really, really hard. I’m the first to admit it. We spend a lot of time at HQ and at the Editorial Director and Regional Editor level talking about how to relieve the pressures and how to change and evolve the job to make it more manageable. But some of the challenges are not due to any decisions we’ve made in building this operation — journalism, at any level, is hard. It’s not 9 to 5, and it’s not for everyone. That doesn’t excuse us from continuing to work on making the job of LE better in every way, but it is a central fact that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Is there a Patch you can point to that you think exemplifies your vision? The ideal quality and engagement you hope other Patches can aspire to be? And, on the flip side, are there Patches you are working on improving…. don’t name them, but are you aware of some problem Patches, and what are you doing to improve them?

Ok, this is going to sound like a really political answer, but there are so many good Patches I hate to single anyone out. What’s great to me is how all of them end up with their own personality in one way or another. That might be because the LE has a particular interest in and skill with video, or because they bring some savvy about local politics to the table. It’s just always different.

And are there Patches that can be doing better? Of course. But it’s not always clear if performance issues are [due] to something the LE is or isn’t doing or if there’s some inherent reason the market isn’t responding to the site. But so far there are no failed sites — it’s early days, and by and large we have seen phenomenal acceptance and audience growth in our Patches.

In terms of quality, the other negative criticism has been in the quality of journalism… which is subjective… but the concerns and allegations about plagiarism are valid… at least in two cases, [correct]? How do you address those concerns? Perhaps not failed Patches, but those are some significant issues, [are they not]?

Absolutely — for any self-respecting journalism operation, plagiarism a serious concern. But we are really not alone in hiring human beings who make mistakes, which is often where a lot of instances of plagiarism happen, especially online. I’m not excusing the incidents you cite, but in one case the plagiarism was in copying a photo-collaged image of public-domain police mugshots without crediting the blogger who made the collage. Again — flat out wrong, no excuses. But the editor was working hard and going too fast and got sloppy. In the other incident, the plagiarism was by a freelancer, not a fulltime editor. When we found out about it, we immediately apologized, corrected the record, and ended our relationship with the freelancer. That’s about as much as anyone can be expected to do: what really matters to me is how we respond to any mistakes we make, and what we do from that point forward to learn from the mistakes and try not to repeat them. Following the incidents, we created a new online training module about issues of plagiarism and we’re making it a requirement for all editors, old and new, to take the module. That’s rolling out within a couple of weeks.

One final note on the allegations of plagiarism: we’ve been plagiarized ourselves. I’m not throwing that out there as an “everyone does it” thing, I’m more making the point that there is a lot of this kind of thing happening on the web, but we’ve been called out I think because we’re a convenient target. Have to add once more: there’s no excuse for plagiarism and we shouldn’t do it!

Do you want to elaborate on the plagiarism or just let your statement stand?

Yeah, I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to make too big a deal about it. Stuff happens and you deal with it, on both ends of the issue.

At ONA10, Tim talked about exploring the possibility of Patch partnering with other hyperlocal sites. What do you think the ideal relationship would be between Patch and the indies? There have been some folks who have been offered jobs, rather than partnerships. There have been folks, who in essence, were “warned” Patch is coming… what is the ideal ecosystem for Patch in these communities that have multiple sources trying to serve the community?

I’m glad you asked that question! Partnerships are going to be a big area of concentration for us in the coming year. This past year has been mostly about just establishing ourselves — just putting out the shingle and getting our legs beneath us. But now we want to explore all the opportunities in the various ecosystems we’ve joined. I don’t think you can identify one ideal relationship — it’s really going to depend on what’s in the market. Maybe it’s something around sports coverage in one community; maybe it’s just cross-linking in a formalized way in another. We’re open to all these conversations.

As for the comment/criticism or whatever it is about people being offered jobs, I kind of have to laugh. Think of it from our perspective: we identify a community we’d like to launch Patch in. The first thing we do is try to find the most talented, qualified person to run that site. Very often that leads us to the person who has already demonstrated they know how to run an online news or information site in that community! So it’s only natural we’d talk to them. We’re not trying to get anyone to shut down their site or buy anyone out — we’re trying to find the best person for the job. I could see us being criticized for NOT contacting those kinds of people: “If Patch is serious about local why wouldn’t it try to hire one of the established local experts online! They’re clearly not serious about this…” You kind of can’t win with certain critics.

And on the “people being warned’ thing — I hope to hell that’s not happening. If it is, and I find out about it, I’m going to have a conversation with those editors. But I really find it hard to believe that’s a widespread thing. The editors we’ve hired are incredibly smart, passionate people, and I’d like to believe that in a lot of those instances it might have been more of the nature of a friendly competitive wink. But on the other side of that, it might not feel that friendly, and I understand that, so I would advise our people that they not even joke. We want them to be competitive in positive ways — I think that’s good for everyone. We don’t’ want to be antagonistic.

There are many more questions I can ask… and we’re passed our time. Let me ask you two final questions.

First, the question that sparked this conversation about Patch, which was on the mind of many, many ONA attendees: Is Patch evil. (I had to ask)

Ha! You know, I was at ONA and I LOVED your question. I [meant] to tweet you afterward but you were too busy being mobbed by groupies. ;-)

I don’t think I could give a better answer than the one Tim Armstrong gave: the only people who should really be asked that question are our users. If they decide we’re evil or unnecessary, they will vote with their feet and the problem will solve itself. But if we’re doing our jobs, I don’t think people would argue with what we’re trying to do.

But thanks for getting that question out there — I think it totally captured and summed up a kind of general angst about what we’re doing and we were glad to have the opportunity to address it. I think these kinds of discussions are really healthy. We respect the concerns that are out there, so we welcome the chances to talk about them. In fact, we’re about to launch a corporate blog (I almost erased that because I hate calling it “corporate”) — but an official Patch blog to try to proactively describe the things we’re doing and the reasons why. And I’m sure we’ll get a few “you’re evil” type comments on the posts here and there, but that’s ok! We can have that convo there too.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to add as we wrap up?

Not really. My fingers hurt. ;-) But I’ve actually really enjoyed this. Cool way of doing things.

Thank you so much… you have been gracious with your time!

My pleasure, Robert. Any time!

Categories: CrowdSource, Journalism, OJR, ONA Tags: ,
10 Nov

Journalists “cautiously pessimistic” about Patch

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201011/1907/

The topic of AOL’s Patch has been on journalists’ minds before I asked the question at the Online News Association conference in D.C. It has sparked debate and open conversation about whether this hyperlocal venture is part of the future of journalism or a sign of the end.

In keeping with the ongoing dialogue, I asked people to share their experiences and thoughts on Patch, and many of you did.

This post is a collection of tweets, emails and hallway conversations that I think capture the mood of those outside of Patch are feeling.

NOTE: I’ve be in talks with Patch since last week’s blog post trying to figure out the best way to express its point of view. Rather than craft a statement or respond to one or two of these reactions, and due to my deadline, we’ve opted to do a separate, follow-up post that will be a Q&A with Editor-in-Chief Brian Farnham.

While the details are still being worked out, I would like to crowdsource some questions. I will be bringing up the thoughts expressed here, but feel free to send me your questions, thoughts and concerns: r.hernandez [at] usc.edu

Sprinkled throughout the responses was a hopeful, wait-and-see sentiment, but it was overshadowed by a lot of unknowns and questions that have journalists confused.

I think there's lots of potential there, but I haven't heard much about their business model and that makes me nervous. (1/2)
That said, some Patch sites I've seen feel a little too

Corona del Mar Today founder Amy Senk doesn’t understand why Patch moved into her community. “It’s such a small village, just 6,000 homes, with a daily successful news site (mine), a weekly Newport Beach paper with offices in CdM village, and two legacy papers that cover it,” she said in an email.

About an hour north is Pekka Pekkala, who asked the same question.

I wonder what is the point of Patch coming to Redondo Beach, which has 3 local newspapers already. What is it "patching" here

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the question isn’t why come to a succeeding community, it’s why try where others have failed?

Im curious to see how it will do in detroit, which seems to be a target area. Lots of smaller papers aren't succeeding there.@DavidVeselenak was contacted by Patch for a possible job, but he’s not sure how Patch will turn out. Veselenak is open to working for them when “I see them a bit more firmly planted in the ground, esp. in Michigan.”

The perception of long hours for poor pay is an undeniable concern many have.

“It may not be evil, but it is a sweatshop,” said an anonymous commentator in the previous Patch post. “I was just hired by Patch last week as a copywriter and was assigned to write business listings as described in the article. IT IS A JOKE. … turns out they are grossly underestimated the time it takes to create a business listing.”

“I’d rather work at Walmart for that pay. At least I’d get an employee discount.”

That said, a few people have colleagues that expressed a more positive outlook and are loving their jobs.

I have a former coworker that just went To work for Patch. He said it was kind of a risk but seemed pretty excited.
The guy I know (a former Chicago Tribune guy) says he loves it. He manages 12-13 sites I think. Says they're very flexible.

At ONA10, I chatted with a friend who is a regional editorial director for Patch and asked for her take. She was genuinely excited about her job and hinted that Patch had more plans to grow. It is clearly a committed force.

Being journalists, though, there is an incredible amount of skepticism when it comes to Patch. When many in our industry have been laid off, furloughed or heard about the falling revenue, they can’t help but question how a company can being doing the opposite and investing in this venture, especially at such a fast rate.

If you look at their jobs page, they're hiring like crazy. Way too many open positions for something deemed a "startup."
Plus, who throws that much support behind an idea like hyperlocalized news websites? The concept is still too new.
It just seems strange. Why would a company throw so much support and money behind a market that hasn't proven viable?

But there is the counter perspective.

I feel you with your skepticism but I'm also happy someone is trying to build something.
Does that mean Patch will work? No. I give them a fighting chance in the current climate. Time will tell.

“I’ve seen first-hand a blog network try this before,” said Steve James, from The Dagger, a hyperlocal site in Harford County, MD. “They had posting and tweeting quotas, just like patch. They paid too much for the returns they were getting from advertising. The stronger blogs were supporting the weaker way out at the end of the long-tail. It lasted for a lot longer then I expected, but the hatchet fell, and fell hard. Mass layoffs and executives removed.”

For me, one of the toughest criticisms comes from two different people I spoke to at ONA10. They each told me they were literally warned by different Patch employees, saying “we’re coming to your town.” It did not sound like a possible partnership, but more of a competitive fight.

As National Public Radio‘s Vivian Schiller said, there is nothing wrong with competition. It’s a good thing. But if the goal is to serve the community, isn’t it better to work together for the community, rather than undercut each other for individual survival?

Well, obviously capitalism doesn’t make for great friendships. But, truthfully, those who were “warned” admitted that they really don’t feel threatened.

“In terms of putting me out of business, I don’t think so,” said Senk. “I mostly run as a labor of love and my profits are not great. I get a fair share of revenue from two legacy media partners that will want to help me succeed and not let Patch take me over.

I’m cautiously pessimistic about Patch because I think hiring reporters and creating more news outlets is a wonderful thing, but going into communities like mine and duplicating efforts seems predatory and not noble; and I have no sense that if sites like mine go away, that Patch has a long-term plan to keep the local news flowing.”

I asked people what type of relationship they wanted to have with Patch:

A nice one :) I've been to a few conferences recently where local site operators reported Patch swiping advertisers :(

In an email, James said when Patch came to his community, “they originally made offers to our current writers to be editors,” but settled with former writers as freelancers.

“Also, I don’t know about this partnering thing,” said Senk. “I have been running Corona del Mar Today for going on two years and I understand that a Corona del Mar Patch is opening. I used to work with the women running Patch on the West Coast, so I emailed her to ask about it. She asked if I wanted a job but there was no offer of partnering, and the local Patch editor has not contacted me once — although several of my sources including a city councilwoman told her that she should do so. (I was copied on the emails a couple of times, so I believe that it’s true.)”

Taking all these perspectives in, I think this tweet from Andrew Sims said it best.

key to #onlinejournalism if ur going 2 give me ANOTHER thing to read. Gotta give a reason to switch to new content. outreach!

Doesn’t it really matter what journalists think? Probably not. What really matters is how the community embraces or rejects another source of news and information.

It’s on Patch to prove their worth to the community (and also it’s advertisers). That’s capitalism. That’s business. And that’s why we’re going to have to wait and see.

Categories: CrowdSource, Journalism, OJR Tags: ,
02 Nov

Election night newsrooms

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Here’s a photo roundup of some newsrooms from across the country. Thank you to everyone for sending me your pics. I hope you had fun and ate decent pizza.

The Seattle Times // via @joeruiz

 

The Oakland Press, Pontiac, Mich. // via @PaulKampe

 

The Detroit News // via @kimberkoz

 

The Christian Science Monitor // via @andrewjh

 

The Wichita Eagle // via @GrammarMonkeys

 

Wicked Local, Needham MA // via @NeedhamTimes

 

tampabay.com // via @karenmcallister

 

KOMO News // via @jenkuglin

 

The Denver Post // via @schneidan

 

DaggerPress // via @DaggerPress

Our “mobile” newsroom – outside campaign hq in 40* weather in the back of a truck on a wicker sofa

 

CNN iReport // via @Twheat

 

The Star News Online // via @StarNewsOnline
They maintained a behind-the-scenes blog election night.

 

Kitsap Sun // via @adice

 

KXLY // via @kxly

 

NPR // via @acarvin

There are other great photos from Andy’s Flickr feed.

 

MSNBC.com // via @MAlexJohnson

 

Q13FOX // via @Q13FOX

 

25 Oct

Tips and tools to innovate with during election night coverage

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1900/

In our world, there is no better story that reflects the power and value of good journalism like an election.

Regardless of the medium, the stories from an election can include investigative pieces, people profiles, contextual stories, and, because politicians are so colorful, stories of the weird.

Put these under an umbrella of breaking news and see us do our thing.

The midterm elections are just around the corner and they have proven to live up to a newsy season. By now many of us have established a general plan for election night coverage.

But to help foster innovation and advancement in journalism, last’s week #wjchat, a weekly chat about Web journalism held through Twitter, had its first Elex Exchange where we shared ideas and tools to help with this year’s coverage.

Inspired by the chat, here’s a list taking advantage of the latest technology to help election.

TWITTER // reporting + distribution
It’s a basic tool that should be part of your daily journalism routine, but Twitter is still best tool for covering a real-time news event, especially when covering breaking news or election.

As written before, Twitter is the tool to help you find sources and trends in real-time. Either by zip code or by topics/keywords, make sure you are using and monitoring Twitter throughout the election. Use a Twitter-client like TweetDeck with predetermine searches that you occasionally check on.


The next basic minimum is to have a Twitter feed on your homepage specifically for the election coverage. No programming is required to create this widget, you just need to decide whether you want public tweets with a hashtag or you want to create a list of the accounts that will appear in the feed.

Either way, Twitter has got you covered with their ‘goodies.’ Make sure you take the time to customize the colors to have it match your site design.

If you haven’t yet, check to see if a hashtag or hashtags relating to your local races have been created by the community. If no one has, create them right away. If someone beat you to it, don’t worry and embrace them… but either way start using them NOW!

This simple act gives you a head start in becoming the lead authority on these races, in social media and beyond.

Take a page from the Pulitzer Prize winners for Breaking News, seattletimes.com, and get in the habit of creating and using hashtags when covering all types of news.

FOURSQUARE // geolocation + distribution
This election season, news outlets should create ‘check-in’ places for polling locations in their town. The geolocation community is small but growing and will be checking in as they go to vote. Like a hashtag, if you don’t create a location, they will.

Become the leader in coverage by not only creating the locations but add a tip (Ex. Tip links to LAT story about Venice Beach fight) that links back to your site’s live, active, up-to-date election coverage.

Remember, by having these locations, you can also find potential sources as they check in to the venues.

USTREAM // live streaming
Who says TV broadcast gets to have all the fun with their live coverage. Okay, it may not be your idea of fun, but live streaming is a tool more newsrooms need to embrace. No expensive satellites required, services like Ustream allow you to do a live shot from your newsroom with a laptop and camera or from your smart phone.

Stream the candidates’ celebratory or concession speech election night live straight onto your homepage. It’s easy and it should be another standard tool in your journalistic toolbox.

CROWDMAP // crowdsource reporting + mapping
This tool comes from Sarah Day Owen, #wjchat colleague and Augusta Chronicle‘s Social Media Editor, who heard about it from the new hyperlocal site TDB in Washington D.C. She is hoping to experiment with this tool that takes crowdsourced information from cell phones, news and the web and maps them.

This application, originally built to crowdsource crisis information, begs to be used by news outlets, especially for something like election coverage. It’s free and pretty simple to setup… so you still have time to pull this off. Even if you don’t get participation from the community, get your reporters to file dispatches.

STICKYBITS // social media + user-generated content
I recently wrote about this tool and want news organizations to experiment with it, so here’s a second pitch.

Like Twitter’s hashtag or FourSquares’s digital makers, create your own barcode and literally post it at as many polling places in your town, asking a question (Ex.: What do you hope comes out of this election?) and a note encouraging them to download the stickybits app and upload their responses. See if you get people in your community adding election related “bits” – video, text, photos, audio, etc. – to your barcode.

IMAPFLICKR // user-generated photos + geolocation
Okay, so getting the community to download an app to scan a barcode then post a message is a sizable hurdle (I know, but try it anyway!), so here is a simpler tool that takes a Flickr feed and maps it.

In other words, you can open up a Flickr account and have people submit photos from polling places and get them mapped. Like the Twitter feed, no programming is required and the biggest decision you have to make is whether or not you make this a public or staff driven feed.

PHOTOSYNTH // photo + crowdsourcing + magic
This tool, originally created by the University of Washington before it was purchased by Microsoft, is something I’ve been trying to push into newsrooms’ toolboxes for years. It finally made its mainstream debut with CNN’s “The Moment” in 2008, but hasn’t been used much in news since.

It may not work perfectly in this scenario, but I would remiss if I didn’t mention it. PhotoSynth takes a collection of photos – from different contributors – of one location and “stitches” them together to create a virtual experiment.

So, let’s say we’re at a candidate’s headquaters for the party… take a ton if photos of the scene, throw them into this program and post an experience like no other. It’s more powerful if you crowdsourced the images.

STORIFY // social media + curating (Invitation required)
The great thing about Twitter and other social media networks is the real-time stream of content that flows out of them, often like a fire hose of information. The bad thing about these tools is the content can get drowned out rather quickly. Storify, who’s creator we profiled recently, is a tool that let’s you build a story through social media elements, adding context and comments around elements from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and more.

You create an article on their site, but you embed the created piece on yours. It’s in beta and there are a few limitations with it, but if you want to tell the story of how the election night was covered through social media, this is the tool to use.

Do you have a tool you plan to use? Have you experimented with these? What examples of great election coverage have you seen? Make sure you add your thoughts and experiences in the comments, before and after the election.

Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail (r.hernandez@usc.edu) or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

20 Oct

What’s in a name? Backstories to some personal brands

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1897/

By now we’ve all heard that the journalism game has changed and we need to take our careers into our own hands: get a domain, embrace social media and start managing your brand.

But to start, it all begins with one of the most common questions I routinely get. What the heck do I call myself? What’s the name of my brand?

For some lucky folks, their name is unique enough that they are able to secure it as their domain, Twitter handle and more. But for the rest of us, we have to be a bit more creative and invent a new digital identity.

Many times these personal brands are inspired from the most odd places. I know someone whose handle was from Spaceball’s “gone plaid” scene.

Here is a small, somewhat random, collection of personal brands and their backstories.

Digidave // David Cohn
David CohnIt was (from) my college freshman dorm roommate … This was in 2000 and he was much more technically savvy than me. Granted – at the time this just meant he was on AIM all the time and used his computer as an alarm clock but still.

I, on the other hand, was going through my hippie phase and believed that we needed to break away from computers man and just… ya know – be free man.

He kept telling me to embrace the digital-dave. That became Digidave.

The joke name then lay dormant until I became a tech-writer (the irony) and fully had embraced the digital-dave. After I chose it as my handle on Digg in 2004 – it stuck.

writepudding // Liana Aghajanian
Liana Aghajanian“writepudding” is meant to be a play on the delicious treat, “ricepudding.” It’s rather silly really. When I first started blogging around five years ago, I wanted a name that stood out. I thought to myself, “I really love rice pudding and I obviously love to write,” so I just combined the two and came up with writepudding. It sounds more like an inside joke than I’d like it to, but it feels comfortable and it’s just stuck with me through the years.

Darthcheeta // David Andrew Johnson
David Andrew JohnsonI was given the nickname “cheetah” long ago and have always used variants of it as my usernames, gamertags and chat handles for IRC, ICQ, and AIM. It is not after the cool fast cat, though, but the ape in the Tarzan movies – I’m Cheetah the Web Monkey.

In true early online nerdiness, the really skilled web designers, producers and developers in Scripps came to be known as The Jedi since our knowledge of the web “force” was so strong – coders and scripters were very rare in journalism in the 90s.

So of course, when I got promoted out of local properties and went to DC in 2000, the “jedi” around the company said I had crossed to the dark side – and one registered the AIM screen name “darthcheeta” under my new email address as a going away gag. (Not enough characters for the last h). It stuck and I’ve used it for everything since. …

mediatwit // Mark Glaser
 Mark GlaserI think when I first joined Twitter I figured it was another fly by night social networking tool. I had very mixed feelings about devoting a week of coverage on MediaShift to Twitter in 2007. Anyhow I picked mediatwit because it sounded funny and irreverent. I don’t regret it. I plan to change the name of my podcast to The Mediatwits to build on the name.

What I do regret is not getting the feed @MediaShift which was taken by a squatter/imitator. I do have PBSMediaShift, though.

superjaberwocky // Michael Becker
 Michael BeckerThe name superjaberwocky is my regular online handle, or at least it has been since I started regularly using the Internet back in 1998. I was in high school then, and I attended a summer course at Montana State University where they put us all into a computer lab and told us to sign up for Hotmail accounts, basically saying that it would be good for us to have e-mail accounts set up because they’d be useful in the future or some such nonsense as that.

I was sitting in the lab trying to come up with a username for the then pre-Microsoft Hotmail when I hit upon a word from my childhood memories, “superjabberwocky.” Back when I was a little kid, I would go to the house of a neighborhood girl who was my babysitter. Her brother, older than me, would play board games with me, like chess. Occasionally, he would declare “superjabberwocky,” which meant that he won, no questions asked. (Usually, he wiped the board of all pieces after declaring this.)

I entered the name into the Hotmail signup form and was told that Hotmail usernames were limited to 15 characters. Rather than think up a new name, I dropped one of the B’s, and the name “superjaberwocky” was born.

I had no idea what the jabberwock was until much later. I kept using the name at various e-mail services and online accounts. I even signed up for services I never intended to use, just to make sure I had my username of choice in case that service hit big or in case someone decided that they wanted to steal my online handle. (No one ever has.)

Nowadays, I try to get on board with new Web services early and try to get just my last name at those services, “becker,” as a username. I feel like that will better reflect on me professionally in the future. Still, when all else fails, it’s a pretty safe bet that nobody else is “superjaberwocky.”

littlegirlBIGVOICE // Bethany Waggoner
 Bethany WaggonerSo the name Little Girl Big Voice comes from the fact that I’m not exactly massive LOL, but can still project my voice into a room like nobody’s business. I was that kid in class being told to please use her “inside voice” all the time. Even on the playground. Plus I had opinions. Ask anyone who knows me, I usually have no shortage of things to say about what I think is whack or super dank in the world. So It started as the name of my blog, where I wrote columnesque posts about current events, and then just sort of became the perfect representation of who I am.

ohmykevin // Kevin Cobb
 Kevin CobbWhen I first thought about branding myself online, I knew I wanted the same username for multiple accounts, including a url. Many clever variations of my full name were already being used, so I had to come up with something that was both unique and available.

Around the time of my username search, I became an ordained minister through Universal Life Church. My friends started to jokingly say “OMK!”, short for “OH MY KEVIN!” — and it just stuck with me.

Journerdism // Will Sullivan
Will SullivanI have a pretty common name. First, a fairly common last name in Sullivan and a first name that can be interpreted as a proper name, as well as a verb and a noun. So anytime someone asks a question on the web such as, “Will Sullivan …do so and so…?” it flags alerts I have tracking my name. People asking questions about Blogger/columnist Andrew Sullivan flag me all the time.

There’s a lot of Will Sullivan’s around the world. In fact, at Northwestern (where I studied for my masters degree) another Will Sullivan entered the school the semester after me, which made it lots of fun and still to this day leads to confusion among our classmates, professors and professional associates. He’s a great guy though, so it’s not bad to have my name associated with him.

There’s another Will Sullivan who’s a fictional Boston attorney in some mystery novel that I kept seeing alerts for. There’s an Australian rugby player, a Georgia football player, a photographer, an aspiring rapper, and another journalist working at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I actually have a Twitter list tracking some of them that I check out once in a while to make sure no one has scorned their psychotic lover or robbed a bank so I can get a heads up if I need to go on the lamb: http://twitter.com/Journerdism/the-web-of-will-sullivans

So I basically came to the conclusion that I needed to find some sort of personal brand name, like Madonna or Grand Master Flash, to break out and prevent confusion. I figured I’d never beat out all these other Will Sullivan’s treading on my name — especially in search results — so I started brainstorming names. I’ve been a chronic nerd all my life and involved in journalism since puberty, so mashing the two words together seemed to work into Journerdism.

The ironic thing is over time I’ve built up enough name recognition as Will Sullivan (along with Journerdism) that I have taken the lead for Will Sullivan in search results too.

10,000 Words // Mark S. Luckie
Mark S. Luckie10,000 Words wasn’t my first choice for a blog/Twitter name. I actually wanted to use Prometheus after the legendary Greek man who stole fire from the god and brought it to the people. But that was a little much to explain and plus the domain wasn’t available. So after a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with the name “10,000 Words” which derives from the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It became 10000words.net because the .com domain was already taken by a Japanese site. And the rest is history.

 

Allow me to re-introduce myself. In my digital life, I go by:

WebJournalist // est. August 9, 2006
I notice that the .org of it and webjournalism was available. I purchased the domains thinking that one day I’d launch a tool/tips site. A year or so later, I got the Twitter handle and have been trying to establish that as my brand. It wasn’t until I started working at USC that I had a little more time to share my thoughts on Web Journalism. While I’ve gotten compliments on my handle/brand, I think it’s actually shortsighted. It’s the Web now, but what is next?

ElProfe // est. June 26, 2010
This is a recent brand I created just a few months ago specifically for my students. Profe. is Spanish slang for professor. I thought it was representative of how I carry myself in my new role in academia… experimenting with Journalism, Technology and Academia.

iSoar // est. April 18, 1999
My first domain name was based on a logo I created when I was a kid and an obviously lame play on words. I freelance web design, and while an “eye sore” is perhaps the opposite image a designer wants to invoke, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.

Whatever you chose, whatever inspired that decision, make sure you embrace it and start managing your brand. Put yourself out there and share your work with the world.

05 Oct

Two new Social Media emerging tools — possibly useful in Web journalism

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1891/

Think about it, two or three years ago most people had never heard of Facebook. Tweets were still mainly owned by birds, not limited to 140 characters. FourSquare was some vague game from elementary school.

In general, most people had written social media off as some sort of high school fad.

Well, you should know by now, Web-based Social Media is not a fad.

If you still doubt this, temporarily remove your head from the sand and go talk to one of the more than half a billion people that spend hours and hours sharing news, photos or running a virtual farm. (For the record, I am not a fan of FarmVille.)

In its constant evolution, though, technology routinely leapfrogs past itself as it innovates and disrupts the status quo.

In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

What’s next? It’s geolocation paired up with augmented reality, in my opinion.

Those creating these new tools typically don’t have journalism as a possible application in mind. But I, an admitted tech/journo/mad scientist geek, can’t help but apply the journalism prism to some of the latest tools and technology.

So, in that vein, here are two emerging tools I’ve came across that I think are worth keeping an eye on. They may not be perfect now, but I encourage you to experiment with these and see if there is a journalistic application here.

NOTE: I recently posted my Web Journalism’s rules of tech engagement, so feel free to refer to them and keep them in mind as you read. All of them apply, especially #1 and #5.

Whrrl
This new social media site may sound similar to its forefathers, but it has one clear difference (that I think they underplay). It’s not about you, it’s about community… and it’s about moments.

On Twitter or FourSquare, you are telling the world where you are… in Whrrl, you are “creating a story.” Your posted photos and notes from your check-in are auto-grouped with others and, potentially, are telling the story of a moment collectively.

Example: We’re celebrating your birthday at a bar. We capture the moment by sharing pictures, videos, comments, etc. Those not attending could virtually experience the moment and add to the conversation.

Neat… but where’s the journalism?

Change the previous example from “birthday” to, say, “election.” Reporters and citizens are posting their experiences — comments, photos, videos, etc. — at polling sites, leaving a virtual marker filled with content for others to add or re-live. This would also work for a sporting event, a protest/rally or any news event where people gather in one location.

Collectively, we can capture the moment in real-time with rich multimedia. This doesn’t replace the article or video piece, but can really enhance them.

stickybits
This tool launched earlier this year at SXSW and is referred to as digital graffiti. Now, how to explain this… um, think of a digital bulletin board or wall where anyone could post anything.

Like a Facebook wall? Sort of.

Instead of the wall living in your computer, it is at an actual, physical space… because the information is embedded onto a sticker with a barcode. Scan it with your smart phone and read or leave messages in multiple media.

While finding these stickers is a cute game, they’ve recently graduated to using standard barcodes, which are on millions of products.



You can get barcodes for free and even order them in sticker form if you want.

Where’s the journalism here? Well, my brain is still thinking of different applications, but what immediately stands out here is the distribution.

Imagine going to a polling place where people can scan a sticker to read or leave messages. The only way to get that unique experience from that polling place is to be at that location.

From news to reviews, we could possibly embed our stories on anything and anywhere. And, more importantly, we can get user engagement. We’re not talking about from behind a computer, we’re talking about out in real life.

Take some time and play, er experiment, with these new emerging types of technology. Get in the habit of exploring this stuff… and share your experiences.

21 Sep

Real-time Web + Journalism = Real-time reporting

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1887/

The next phase of the Internet affecting journalism — for better or worse — is well underway.

We started out with Web sites, then blogs, then the interactivity of Web 2.0. Now, we are in the era of the real-time Web.

Which, for us in journalism, means real-time reporting.

This next phase has the power to improve and advance our journalism, but also puts our core journalistic values to the test.

Twitter’s original question, “What are you doing?” has evolved to “What’s happening?” Social Media has made telling people where you are, what you think, what you see, a common expression on the Web — again, for better or worse.

Yes, Social Media is routinely filled with TMI and, quite frankly, unless information. But it also has given the average person the ability to document and share newsworthy and historical events the moment they happen are happening.

Just look at the latest example from a few weeks ago: A gunman walked in the Discovery Channel headquarters holding people hostage.

The real-time Web went to work with first-hand witnesses.

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets from scene

I was in my office, across the country when the news began to break. For those that know me and have attended my workshops, you’ve heard me go on about harnessing the power of social media.

Well, here was a perfect example. So, I tweeted two tips:

WebJournalist's tip to D.C. reporters

WebJournalist's second tip to D.C. reporters

Searching Twitter, I was able to find people sending updates from the Discovery Channel’s zip code (Here are some highlights that I found). Using FourSquare, I was able to find someone who had “checked in” to the building before the incident.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

Possible witnesses, potential sources.

The power of the real-time Web was in full swing… and so was its potential danger: People with best intentions can give out incorrect information.

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman

Now, don’t become all traditionalists on me and dismiss this new phase by saying that risk of misinformation is way to high. Let’s be honest here, the concept of possible bad information has been around long before Twitter… and even before the Web.

Remember that saying, “if your mom says she loves you, check it out.” Well, if your mom tweets she loves you, check it out.

These are not facts. These are tips. These are potential sources. These are places you as a journalist bring your core values — news judgment, ethics, accuracy, transparency — to vet information to make sure you have accurate information.

But mistakes will happen — in both paper and pixels.

That’s why our core values are so important. They should constantly guide us through any story, under any deadline.

In the real-time Web speed is highly valued. But responsibility and credibility outweighs that. Be known for getting it right first, not for getting it first and wrong.

This is where being a “professional,” whatever that means, matters. But remember, the real-time Web also can help. Here’s that photo that @techsavvymama retweeted, along with an explanation from a former Discovery Channel employee why the person in the photo likely is not the gunman.

YFrog pic of someone with gun

Former Discovery employee explain why it probably isn't the gunman

NOTE: @techsavvymama messaged me immediately after I published this post to say that she believes the garden is, in fact, open to the public.

For the record, real-time reporting is more than just using social media.

A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, 15 minutes from now and 15 minutes ago.

The journalism game has changed — again. And this won’t be the last time. While technology evolves, what is constant and never-changing are our core journalistic values.

Hold them close as you harness the power of real-time reporting.

23 Aug

Why am I a journalist?

About a month ago I asked journalists, with all the abuse, furloughs and long hours… why are you a journalist?

I got great responses from journalists across the country, and even one from across the pond.

Thank you all so, so much!

Yes, we’re facing some hard times… but, without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting times to be a journalist. These responses were so inspirational to me… and I hope these answers help remind you why we do this… and hopefully these answers keep you going.

Remember, what we do matters!

NOTE: It’s not too late to submit your answer! I will try to collect these to help us all remember why we chose to take on this noble profession lifestyle.

DESIGN NOTE: I’m looking for a multimedia-ish gallery that will randomly display and cycle through the responses. Any suggestions?

Video

Audio

Tweets

E-mails

Comments

Text message (SMS)

Here’s my answer

π