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Social journalism: Community building through social networks

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A presentation to the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association Summit in Seattle on 10 ways to use social networks and social media to engage local readers.

The 10 ideas for building local community:

1. Be first with breaking news
2. Leverage Twitter
3. Enable conversations
4. Get widget-happy!
5. Community video
6. Geocoding & citizen photography
7. Create local map mashups
8. Hook up with Facebook
9. Tap into sharing economy
10. Study, borrow, steal

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Social journalism: Community building through social networks

  1. 1. Social journalism: Community building through social networks Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association Summit Seattle, Sept. 17, 2009 JD Lasica President,
  2. 2. Relax! Flickr photo “relaxation, the maldivian way” by notsogoodphotography (all sites in this talk have been tagged for later retrieval)
  3. 3. Making sense of all the new terms “Social media: Any online technology or practice that lets us share (content, opinions, insights, experiences, media) and have a conversation about the ideas we care about. ”
  4. 4. Explosive uptake in social media About 200 million blogs 5 of top 10 websites are social media sites 57% have joined a social network 39% subscribe to an RSS feed YouTube = 10% of all Internet traffic Every time someone opens a computer, 60% of time it’s for social reasons 120,000 new blogs launched every day 1.5 million blog posts per day (17 per second) Sources: Universal McCann: Wave.3: Power to the People, 2008; various
  5. 5. Social networking and journalism Cartoon courtesy of John Cole, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Penn.
  6. 6. New metrics for participatory age Old metrics: eyeballs, page views, stickiness New metrics: engagement, participation, passion, interaction, comments, uploads
  7. 7. 10 ideas for building community 1. Be first with breaking news 2. Leverage Twitter 3. Enable conversations 4. Get widget-happy! 5. Community video 6. Geocoding & citizen photography 7. Create local map mashups 8. Hook up with Facebook 9. Tap into sharing economy 10. Study, borrow, steal
  8. 8. 1. Be first with breaking news SMS alerts Latinos, African Americans > greater use of mobile devices Twitter to break verified news Best usage is to drive users to story on your site Live-blogging of public events Several free useful tools Moblogging to upload photos from mobile device Buzznet, Foneblog, Fotopages, mBlog, mlogs,, Snap, Textamerica, Webshots. Cross-posting?
  9. 9. SMS alerts for niche news • ImpreMedia: 20 alerts/day, 1 million impressions/month • Popular topics: general news, breaking news, New York, politics, entertainment, sports, Mexican futbol league
  10. 10. Live-blogging to drive conversation Useful free tools: • • • Google Docs Examples: Obama’s health care speech, Sonia Sotomayor hearings, Rod Blagojevich impeachment, NFL playoffs. Use your site as a community forum!
  11. 11. 2. Leverage Twitter San Diego wildfires: KPBS + USD Red River flooding in North Dakota Flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson” BusinessWeek: 40 journalists on Twitter. feed of Twitter posts by journalists
  12. 12. Make Twitter work for you Train your staff on how to use Twitter Not a broadcasting medium to distribute headlines Start by listening & observing, but then: Be human, be conversational, not detatched Unlearn the conventions of journalism @ElDiarioNY: after 5 mo., 5% new traffic from Twitter #1 traffic driver: retweets “Twitter is just amazing. It's the perfect tool for journalists.” — Arturo Duran, CEO, ImpreMedia Digital (El Diario, La Opinion, et al.)
  13. 13. Don’t ghettoize social media @jamesjanega General assignment reporter, Chicago Tribune @kimpainter Health columnist, USA Today @dsarno Business reporter, LA Times
  14. 14. Tweeting done right: 70-30 Rule Omar Gallaga Austin American Statesman
  15. 15. Twitter accounts page Austin American Statesman content/standing/twitter.html
  16. 16. 3. Enable conversations Avert registration fatigue & BugMeNot syndrome
  17. 17. Identify & engage influencers Scope out Twitterers with large # followers. How do their interests intersect with your site’s? Learn about how people in your community use social media Connect with social media influencers through,, etc. Ask people around you (neighbors, students, young people in your newsroom) how they use social media
  18. 18. Use hash tags to join conversations Find relevant hashtags through or Twitter Search Join (but don’t spam) conversation threads Start your own hashtag Some hashtags to latch on to: #health #sports #latino #education #democracy #politics #Obama #news #media #journalism #journchat At left, widget found at:
  19. 19. 4. Get widget-happy! Highlight community events staffers pick the best local events to highlight on the site’s front page.
  20. 20. Tap into community conversations Real-time conversations Tap into the conversations that are already taking place in your community: Widgets let you post tailored discussions — both by topic and by geographic location. Create widgets for your business, opinion, politics, sports sections.
  21. 21. Promote community service Left: helps you find and share ways to do good in your community. Right: UnitedWeServe: Bottom-up volunteer opportunities at
  22. 22. 5. Community video Video + chat = engagement Think of your site not just as a way to showcase your own journalism but as a platform to connect users with interesting events taking place in the community. Streaming video tools include,,, and This is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, student journalism channel.
  23. 23. Live video streaming ImpreMedia teamed up with the PBS NewsHour to live- stream the Sonia Sotomayor hearings. Went from 20,000 streams during 2008 campaign season to 45,000 streams this past spring. PBS provided the signal & video player, ImpreMedia provided the Spanish translations.
  24. 24. 6. Geotagging & citizen photography Visitors to Flickr could see photos of the 2007 disaster taken from Minneapolis multiple vantage points. Many new digital cameras and mobile bridge collapse devices, like the iPhone, come with geotagging enabled by default.
  25. 25. Geotagging an art walk An afternoon with smart phones Dan Gillmor took a class of journalism students at Arizona State University out for a stroll and created a cool Flickr map with more than 120 photos captured with G1 smart phones. “It was absurdly easy,” he says. News organizations should enlist community members with geo- location capable devices to cover designated community events.
  26. 26. Community photo albums NewWest.Net NewWest.Net created a group pool on Flickr for readers to add photos to. People have added more than 16,000 photos. groups/newwest
  27. 27. 7. Create local map mashups Everyblock Atlanta Boston Charlotte Chicago Dallas Detroit Houston Los Angeles Miami New York Philadelphia San Francisco San Jose Seattle Washington, DC
  28. 28. Over the line? An anonymous publisher compiled a mashup of public campaign donations records, including the donors’ street address, and published it.
  29. 29. 8. Hook up with Facebook
  30. 30. Reward points Readers win points if they post a news story, share it, invite friends, send a letter to the editor, etc. Top scorers win prizes like Twins tickets, T- shirts, a bag of goodies. 15,000+ additional monthly visits, greater # comments, revenue potential
  31. 31. Charlotte Observer
  32. 32. 9. Tap into the sharing economy Creative Commons • Rich source of free commercial material. • Flickr: 15 million Attribution licenses • Flickr: 10 million Attribution ShakeAlike licenses
  33. 33. Don’t do all the heavy lifting Flickr photo by Jason Means Partner with smart people. Use your community. Use free: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, CC Use open source: WordPress (and its plug-ins), Drupal, et al. Steal good ideas. Build on what’s come before.
  34. 34. 10. Study, borrow, steal Moms Charlotte Mashable NewWest.Net The Local:
  35. 35. Riverside Press-Enterprise Hyperlocal Partnerships with local businesses Emphasis on dining, movies, music User-submitted photos, video, content
  36. 36. Momarama
  37. 37.
  38. 38.  Recent comments  Tags  Embedded video  Twitter lifestream  Pointers to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, presence  Global Voices en Español
  39. 39. 2-year horizon Flickr photo by jonrawlinson Embrace change as an opportunity Launch pilot projects, get a toehold Talk with your users about what you’re planning Get top brass to use social media New metrics: engagement, participation, comments
  40. 40. Innovate! "Rocket Man" on Flickr by Dave-F  “We have to change our entire corporate-industry behavior. We’ve got to stop overplanning and over-analyzing and turn our battleship into a speedboat.” —J. Todd Foster, managing editor, Bristol (VA) Herald Courier  Dare to fail. If you’re not failing at something, you’re doing something wrong. (“Fail often, fail fast.”)
  41. 41. Resources Knight Citizen News Network: Social Media Club: & crowd-funded reporting CiiJ:
  42. 42. Thank you! twitter: @jdlasica Image: Universal McCann: Wave.3 report, March 2008