Breaking news drills

First of all, why don’t most news organizations do this as a rule?

You never know when your newsroom finds itself responsible for covering a large, breaking event.

Rick Hancock of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that in their drill, they built a scenario, gave reporters a heads up at the beginning of the week to let them know something was coming, and sent them out to a scene to cover their “news.”

Things to look at:

  • What to do if the site went down (Do you go straight to social media?)
  • How to handle when/if to take down the paywall
  • How reporters communicate with the newsroom
  • Who’s verifying information/who’s curating it
  • Who you’re talking to in public safety, getting verified information from them
  • Where people are positioned in the newsroom to get the information out as quickly/accurately as possible
  • The best way to get
  • What if reporters don’t have cell coverage (In the event of a natural disaster, this is super applicable.)
  • What to do if your wi-fi goes down
  • When to tweet scanner traffic (Just kidding, the answer to that one is never.)
  • The human toll of covering events, especially when they hit close to home for reporters

Do breaking news drills for your organization. Create as many scenarios as you can. Have contingency plans. Be prepared.

– Naudia Jawad, The Commercial Appeal

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Should we think of articles as particles or waves?

In the optimizing your narrative session, the speakers were divided about which analogy fits best for news. Purposefully, they arrive at the same conclusion physicists reached about light: Both.

Vox Media made the waves argument, demonstrating their StoryStream concept. They explained it as a step of refinement between live blogs and final wrap ups.

“Atomic unit of content is not the article” Trei Brundrett said.

In a hypothetical about an Apple event, Brundrett explained notes or play-by-play are taken in a live blog. Meanwhile short stories are pulled out and fleshed out in the StoryStream tool they custom-built.

The principal idea is that news comes and travels in waves.

Quartz’s Zach Seward argued in favor of particles, acknowledging the desire for atomized news and displaying examples of success with targeted story nuggets. He also discussed the methods of distribution.

“The new news habit is no habit at all,” he said.

He went on to argue, “It’s less likely that they are actively trying to obtain news in a set time of the day. It is more likely that the news is coming at them” as in social media and push notifications to  smartphones.

For those, he said, the prepared and targeted particles have the best success.

The arguments overlap, just as the design and editorial decisions that determine what we can do with both approaches.


–Phil Tenser, KMGH

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This thing and that

`Things` are a surprising factoid a statistc
a chart that shows a clear trend
a photo that you have to look at
a long, authoritative feature
an exclusive bit of news
a very strong argument
a good headline

Zach Seward of Quartz  says that we should be doing these `things`…

Friday morning quick midway visit

Tableau lesson: explanation on how the software geolocates info, shown where to find examples of projects. 
Chartbeat demonstrates new labs, including new big board and cards visualizations. 
Drones remain the most popular table, today was answering questions about privacy issues and FAA regulations over/above 500 feet
CoverItLive demonstration
ScribbleLive demonstration (from founder & CEO)

–Phil Tenser, KMGH

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No hard answers given in Analytics in the Newsroom: What’s Next

#analytics4news Panel:
USC Annenberg – @danachinn @mcunningham8 @mediametrics
New York Times – @JamesGRobinson
Google – @siebergd

So when I went to this panel, i was under the impression that I would get a concrete answer… the holy grail so to speak of analytics, which is the answer to the question, if Pageviews and Unique Visitors are the “blunt instruments” we use to analyze the performance on our digital platforms, what are the more refined tools we should be using instead?

The answer is “it depends.”
The real question is, what is it you want to do? What is it you’re trying to accomplish?

Many media organizations are using metrics that are “evil,” says @danachinn
Why are they bad? Why do they do harm?
Pageviews, unique visitors and time on site are based on old mass media.
They are punitive, demoralizing metrics, they don’t help you as a journalist, she argues.

So whenever looking at metrics, always ask ‘So what?’ And the answer to any metrics question is usually “it depends” says @danachinn.

Metrics may give you an answer, but what is the question? What is the audience you want to attract? What can you learn from your audience to build better relationships?

The newspaper pay model is based on developing relationships with those readers. More than just numbers in the audience analytics, what is the qualitative analytics? These are segments of people we can learn from by talking to them directly.

You can’t roll up all the social metrics into one number, they argue.

So before you start an article, start a project, launch anything, state your objective. What is it you’re trying to do with this piece? Change opinions? Grow awareness? How will you measure that?

Measuring engagement is also tricky. The problem is trying to boil it down to a single number, whether that’s the number of returning visitors, etc.

Engagement is a state of mind, argues New York Times’ analytics pro, @JamesGRobinson. It’s like measuring how much I love my wife by how many flowers I buy here each week, he says.

If you’re a small organization, ask yourself, what is the basic ways to measure how the business works?

At MTV Networks they measured engagement by screens, says @mcunningham8. The more screens they watched a show on or more screens they’re talking about your show, the more engaged they are, but sometimes, the shows don’t lend themselves to that. Celeb Rehab, for instance, was not a show that people shared socially, because it was like making fun of people’s illnesses/struggles.

One thing you can do immediately, is to sit down with the journalists in your newsroom and explain what the analytics mean.
Get them to care, maybe analyze two pieces they’ve done.. which one got more time spent, which one had more referral traffic, etc. and why. Was the headline better written? Was there a social component? Journalists need to understand the numbers beyond pageviews and unique visitors.

–Kim Nguyen, 7NEWS

Being a Digital Media Host

Being a Digital Media Host

A Storify of the key points (at least IMO) from ONA13 panel on being a digital media host. “Learn how to build community and engage users while shining a spotlight on the most important news of the day.”

Wendi C. Thomas, metro columnist at The Commercial Appeal


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‘The jazz age of journalism’

I heard a talk about a really interesting, but maybe not universally agreed upon analogy between jazz and journalism.

Of course, I chose to attend and that meant I was going to be potentially receptive. But I have it well engrained that arguments by analogy are always troublesome — thanks to my other studies in philosophy.

Still, I think that Laura Amico – CEO, Glass Eye Media, made a strong case.

At the core was this premise: jazz and news both exist within the environment.

On the surface, that comment seems obvious. But in the context of jazz, she argued, it should influence our thinking.

Jazz is about improvising in a stepwise manner, reacting to the audience, venue and previous notes.

“Each note, though incremental, shapes the note which it proceeds” she said, clarifying it is called “yes, and” in jazz.

She said, “In order for jazz to happen, each player in the ensemble must be doing their job.”

Again, I found myself reluctantly agreeing that this fit a (good) newsroom model.

Amico offered these three lessons from her comparison to the musica genre:
1. Innovation happens when the mind is free of preconceived plans
2. When we listen to what our colleagues – on and off stage are doing – we create space for all of us to do our best work
3. Take action, say “yes, and”

I’m left, however, with a single philosophical question stemming from a very memorable and unresolved philosophy of aesthetics class discussion: is journalism an art form? Is photojournalism or videography or writing, even if another one isn’t?

Addition from a question from the crowd: he asks about other genre comparisons, Iike punk. It is confrontational, loud, but also can be formulaic.  Doesn’t that sometimes apply too?


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Tools and tips from UGC Gold panel

Some tools discussed during the Crowdsourcing the Experts for UGC Gold panel:

Verification Junkie: Verification tools and background info

Advanced Search on Twitter:

Geofeedia (premium):

Social Mention:

Tips from the panelists and the audience:

Get it right!

Talk to people how you would talk to them in person.

Ask yourself “Would I answer that publicly?”

Think about things your audience is passionate about.

Tell users you need help, because you do.

Search for swear words in the case of breaking news, as people will often swear on social media when shocked/surprised/upset.

Be human, and be skeptical, but not overly skeptical.

Be ready to let the audience shape the story.

Structure your callouts using specific questions and let people know what to expect from their efforts.

And remember, sometimes social isn’t the tool to use to get what you want. Something to ponder.

Tap into existing crowds and communities, but also be ready to grow a community and then ask them for help.

Pay attention and interact on slow news days, so when news breaks, people come to you.

– Naudia Jawad, The Commercial Appeal

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The Drone Journalism Lab made a short midway presentation called “How you too can be shut down by the Federal Government!”

Professor explained FAA issues that keeps drones from flying for journalism.

His link:

Also, there’s a must read in the last IRE magazine about same subject and maybe by the same professor (but I’m not sure until I find a copy online)

Google+ makes a strong argument

The Pro Level Social event invited short presentations from representatives of Storify, Twitter and Facebook.

Notably, the Facebook representative took considerable pushback from people who wanted more firm answers on how to game the EdgeRank system and get more impressions. 

More interesting than that, however, was the pitches made my the almost forgotten Google+. They are leveraging their search engine dominance to make that platform a valuable, but possibly indirect, click driver.

G+ boasted: authorship tools with analytics, auto hashtags based on syntax, YouTube merging, card appearance in search.

The problem: they didn’t offer any concrete stats for success rates, like Facebook did (14.5 mins spent on mobile each month, 57% higher engagement level on posts that include “breaking news” and 10% more on rapid posts in breaking situation)

….. Also at this session I met Mark Luckie, now of Twitter, who I’ve long admired. It was a nerdstruck moment.

–Phil Tenser, KMGH


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