Category Archives: Sharing

Now this is a cool story form experiment

The BBC conducted an interesting experiment in story form yesterday:  A quick video report it labelled the #Instafax on its Instagram account.

This is smart in many ways, but mostly because it’s using the social network to share the report, and that it offers a quick news bite for those with short attention spans. (Of course, the Beeb directs followers to its main news site for those wanting more than a snack – sadly Instagram doesn’t allow users to hotlink.)

If you think about it, most Instagram users would be on their phone, and don’t have time to sit through a 2:00 report.

#Clever BBC, very smart.

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How to make things go viral

virusWhat you write is meaningless if it isn’t getting an audience.

In the multimedia journalism course I teach at Carleton’s journalism school, and in the Ottawa Citizen newsroom where I work my ‘day job’, I’m often speaking about headlines and SEO.

We started asking reporters in our newsroom to start writing headlines about two years ago. At first, they were nervous. For decades newspapers have employed journalists whose sole purpose was to write a beautiful headline.

I tell students to think about crafting a headline that will attract search engine robots. Yes, I said robots. (I tell students to visualize these bots like the spiders that creep around in Minority Report, pulling open eyelids to scan and confirm identities.

Continue reading How to make things go viral

10 observations from my 14-day social media break up

For 14 days, this was my social media avatar.
For 14 days, this was my social media avatar.

Those who know me know my relationship with social media tends towards the addiction end of the scale. At the very least it wasn’t normal.

It’s not normal to wake up at 4 a.m., go to the bathroom and check your twitter feed before returning to bed. (Or before heading out for an early-morning run.)

It may have been kismet that I read Baratunde Thurston’s piece for Fast Company on leaving the internet for 25 days shortly before my own summer vacation began. This, I thought, is something I should/could do.

I wasn’t ready to give up the internet. I am a news lover, after all.

I did cut off all social media, allowed myself to check my gmail twice a day only, closed down my work email (after telling my bosses they could reach me on my cell or at my gmail account), and relied completely on my mobile browsers on my phone and iPad for news.

My phone became a mobile browser, camera and of course… a phone.

I went through various stages of grief during my break,  and noted the following observations:

Continue reading 10 observations from my 14-day social media break up

Simple graphic of platform differentiation: how readers’ news needs vary by device

easelly_platforms

I’ve been hearing a lot about platform strategy in the news business lately, and I think before we create a strategy, we need to look at how  people are using these devices to consume news – including what they want, and when they want it.

Continue reading Simple graphic of platform differentiation: how readers’ news needs vary by device

The ethics of using user-generated content

While social media platforms have vastly increased the speed by which a reader can submit content, an ONA ethics panel agreed that traditional verification of sources is more important than ever.

During a panel of the Ethics the Community Newsroom, Jennifer Preston of the New York Times pointed out that her paper has been publishing user-generated content for centuries – in the form of letters to the editor from readers.

User-generated content (UGC) is not new, but the need for verification is more important than ever before, Preston said.

Fergus Bell, Senior Producer and Digital Newsgatherer for the Associated Press in London said that when he finds content he’d like to put out on the AP wire, he has a system of sourcing and verification that includes:

Continue reading The ethics of using user-generated content

The power of Bieber: a case study

This is the story of a lovely, simple story by Postmedia’s Misty Harris about a 71-year-old grandfather suffering from advanced prostate cancer.

Peter Johngren,  found a YouTube video of Justin Bieber performing for U.S. President Barack Obama during his chemotherapy treatments.

In her piece Bieber beats the blues: Grandfather finds hope in cancer fight as a Belieber, Misty writes:

In the years since, Bieber’s music has become a soundtrack of hope for the retired medical doctor and grandfather, whose collection of fan paraphernalia is as impressive as his spirit.

This is also a story about how this lovely, simple story exploded today – a day after  it was originally posted – when the Biebs himself thrust it into the spotlight.

Continue reading The power of Bieber: a case study

A foot, the government, and strong Twitter reporting

  1. I was so impressed with how our reporters worked together on Twitter to break this bizarre tale, I had to timeline it with storify. We owned this story from the start, something our reporters should be proud of.
    Hearing news that a suspicious package was delivered downtown, and the police unit’s HazMat team on scene, Citizen reporter Chloe Fedio offered to go check it out. She started tweeting from the scene.

Product and its place in your Facebook timeline

Photo: Pat McGrath/Ottawa Citizen

The products in our everyday world are as much a part of who we are as the friends we keep, according to Jordan Banks, the managing director of Facebook Canada.

For this reason, it’s as natural for brands to be a part of our Facebook timeline as important life events like marriage, the birth of a child, or a new career, he said Tuesday during a lunchtime address to The Canadian Club of Ottawa.

In his presentation titled ‘Organizations are better in a connected world,’ Banks spoke of the early days of Internet, which began as rudimentary browsing and searching. It has evolved, he said, into a domain filled with social context.

“It was all about search,” he said. “it had no social context; it was using an algorithm that had nothing to do with you.

“People want personalized, timely results that reflect who they are and what their friends are interested in,” he said.

Continue reading Product and its place in your Facebook timeline

Sorry Facebook, there are some things I won’t share

You may have seen a friendly offer from Facebook to ‘help subscribers find you by verifying your account.’

Click on the link to verify your account, and you’ll see a screen asking you to upload a photo of a government-issued, photo ID from your passport, driver’s license, work/military ID.

Don’t worry, the message continues, if you don’t have one of those, you can upload two of these alternate IDs:  a school or work ID card, library card, credit card (!!), birth certificate, Social security card.

These IDs must show my name, picture and birthday, be in colour… but here’s a key point:

“Have any sensitive information (ex. your credit card number of driver’s license number) blacked out or covered up”

I suppose I should be reassured by this message from Facebook:

Once we verify your account and name, we’ll permanently delete your documents.

Uh huh. Yeah.

Continue reading Sorry Facebook, there are some things I won’t share

The challenge of opening up Government

Open government, open data and and open dialogue : These are the goals of Canada’s Treasury Board President and Member of Parliament Tony Clement.

“Today, citizens demand more accountable and transparent government to know their tax dollars are being well managed,” Clement said to a crowd gathered for a Third Tuesday event in Ottawa on Monday night (yes, I know.. not a Tuesday).

Clement spoke optimistically about social media platforms making it easier to engage with Canadians, and giving citizens more immediacy, and a “powerful way to create dialogue that can bring about better government.”

He has big goals, great goals. But it’s a huge shift. Clement’s task is not unlike trying to turn an aircraft carrier around with a canoe paddle.

Continue reading The challenge of opening up Government