Tag Archives: Twitter

Watching a hashtag spoil

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mock those talking in hashtags in this great spot.

More than a few times, I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of selecting a hashtag.

The key goal to selecting a hashtag is hoping people will use it. And use it as you intended.

Without the necessary foresight, a hashtag can go bad in an instant.

Case in point this week is Carleton University’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2017, and its very public launch of its website and branding #DistinctlyCarleton. The University even devoted a full page to the campaign.

I’m sure the communications folks were hoping to read lovely comments from faculty, staff, students and alumnae when they tweeted about the relaunch:

Continue reading Watching a hashtag spoil

5 fundamental things you must understand about Twitter


Such a lovely, silly name for such an important social media tool.

In my last post, I wrote the five fundamental things you must know about Facebook. In it, I called Twitter a ‘sexy flirt.’ Some of my Twitter followers took offence to that, and pointed out how often I’m on the social media tool.

It’s true – I tweet a lot. Last night I live blogged/tweeted a fascinating debate on Canada’s Press Gallery, asking ‘Does it matter?’ It was great to get immediate feedback from twitter followers on the statements made by panelists in real time.

So, to give my close companion – sexy flirt that Twitter is – its due, I’m going to offer five fundamentals you must know about Twitter.

Continue reading 5 fundamental things you must understand about Twitter

Ingram: What journalists must do when information is everywhere

Photo by Flikr user LittleRae
Photo by Flikr user LittleRae

Journalists need to embrace their changing role as a trusted curator and aggregator of news, Mathew Ingram said at a recent Third Tuesday event in Ottawa.

Ingram said the theme of his talk on online journalism ‘what’s different? What’s the  same’ was really “the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” He wanted to start with the bad because… well… the bad is pretty bad.

Speaking at a Byward Market pub, Ingram showed a graph of newspaper revenue, which he called “The cliff of despair.”

The money just isn’t there anywhere, and newspapers are making a mistake in going to readers for revenue.

The paywall, growing more and more common in North America, isn’t a solution, Ingram said. Paywalls are only a sandbag strategy, Ingram said. They don’t generate a lot of new revenue or readers. “Paywalls don’t help you innovate,” Ingram said.

Continue reading Ingram: What journalists must do when information is everywhere

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

Newsana: Who do you trust to tell you what’s important?

Trust is what many traditional news organizations use to promote their relevance, stating they are a trusted brand to cut through the noise.

The pitch goes something like this: ‘We are a trusted brand, we have been a part of the community for x years… We will continue to tell you what you need to know.’

Toronto startup Newsana (think of it as a nirvana for news junkies) places its trust in the hands of its community of virtual editors.

Newsana is a nirvana for news junkies, curated by news junkies, co-founder Ben Peterson explained in an interview from his Kensington office.

To become a Newsana member, there is a rigorous application process where candidates are verified as actual people with credible social media accounts and a general interest in news. (Peterson said the goal is to weed out trolls and create a community of the most engaged news readers.)

Once a member of the Newsana’s community, contributors/editors have free access to ‘pitch’ links to stories in their choice of five of Newsana’s 40 sections (ie social media, future of news, Canadian politics, etc.).

Why access to only five? Peterson said this ensures community editors focus on areas they know best.

Links to stories are not just posted to Newsana’s site, they are annotated by members. Community Editors making the pitch must give a brief intro to the piece, this may also include editorial comment.

Why submit/share/pitch to Newsana? Other editors can vote on your story, which will elevate it on Newsana’s site, thus giving an editor more credibility, and increasing their standing in the Newsana community.

The Newsana team. Peterson is “the tall guy in the back.”

Pandering to a journalist’s ego and competitiveness is a clever move – I was skeptical until I pitched a story on the senate in Canadian politics section and saw it – and consequently my Newsana rep – elevate.

Naturally this made me want to pitch more stories to the Newsana community of about 1,500 members.

Peterson said he knows this isn’t a large community – yet – but as the site is just in beta, he is confident it will grow.

There are a couple of issues with Newsana: first, it’s only as strong as its members.

Also Newsana’s biggest competitors are the more established, traditional larger social media networks like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.

How Newsana differs from these competitors are by its “quality” community news curators, Peterson said. These aren’t just old high school pals.

“Our audience is news junkies. These are people who read the news, comment on news… They want the best, highest quality journalism.”

“At the end of the day, people have to figure out where to allocate their time,” Peterson said.

As with all startups, Newsana is focused on establishing a sustainable business model as it builds.

The goal is to build an active, informed community and monetize around that, Peterson said.

Newsana is exploring native-branded content, which might include custom content in one of Newsana’s sections; Premium elements for paying subscribers/editors; and story sponsorship (As an example, Peterson said readers might find the top five innovation stories sponsored by IBM.)

Without a marketing budget, this small start up is relying on what Peterson refers to as the ‘viral co-efficient,’ with members telling their friends about it, and getting the word out.

“Our biggest challenge is to cut through the noise, and make people aware of what we’re doing.”

Online and in the loop: How social media is changing politics and political reporting

Moderator Andrew Potter, David Reevely, Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Joanna Smith.
Moderator Andrew Potter, David Reevely, Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Joanna Smith.

Sneezing in space, putting a snowplough on the mayor’s car, and the appropriate level of snark in a tweet were up for discussion during two panels at Carleton University last week.

The event, titled ‘On the Hill, Online and in the loop: how social media is changing politics and reporting’ was co-presented by Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication, and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

(full disclosure: I organized this event with the CJF)

Two panels on both end of the social media spectrum took to the stage.

Politicians, including Marc Garneau, Liberal MP for Westmount-Ville Marie, Megan Leslie, NDP MP for Halifax and Jim Watson, Ottawa’s mayor shared their thoughts. Chris Waddell, Director of Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication moderated.

Up first was a discussion with Ottawa’s top social media political reporters: Glen McGregor from the Ottawa Citizen, Kady O’Malley from CBC.ca, David Reevely from the Ottawa Citizen, Joanna Smith from the Toronto Star and Nick Taylor-Vaisey from Macleans.

Andrew Potter, Managing Editor at The Ottawa Citizen, moderated what he called “the most incestuous panel I’ve ever sat on.”

Continue reading Online and in the loop: How social media is changing politics and political reporting

ONA’s Social media debate: Best practices vs. bad habits

This was a great debate at the Online News Association conference. Rather than try to sum it up, I decided to post as a Q&A.

Panel members included:

Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor, Associated Press
Liz Heron, Director of Social Media, Wall Street Journal
Niketa Patel, Social Media PM, CNN
Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor and columnist, Reuters

Q: Liking people and organizations on Facebook – does the terminology need to be changed?

Heron: I don’t get too hung up on it. I don’t see liking as a personal endorsement, people aren’t going to think you’re endorsing that person

Patel:– Should be following people who have the same beat, and follow as many people as you can

Carvin: :At AP, we recommend that journalists follow opponents of a candidate as well as original candidate

De Rosa: I think you have to have common sense, don’t go out of your way to stray from perception

Heron: It allows for more transparency, allows for more scrutinty and bias, but it’s worth it to be out there and more available to people

Q: When is it appropriate to be tweeting/sharing unconfirmed reports?

Continue reading ONA’s Social media debate: Best practices vs. bad habits

Beat reporting in the digital age

Hours before their website won the Knight Award for Public Service at the 2012 Online Journalism Awards, DC Homicide Watch’s Laura and Chris Amico said it’s important to not get lost in the technology and remember that the purpose to tell a story.

Though it’s a massive database detailing every homicide from incident to sentencing (or cold case status) in Washington DC, their site’s logo echoes this sentiment:

‘Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.’

When building the site, Chris and Laura said they were aware that though the deaths were an organizing principle, or their beat,  the focus had to be on storytelling and community building.

“Beats are built for and around a community, with a clear understanding of who a beat is for, and what it’s about,” said Chris Amico.

The DC Homicide Watch founders talked about beats during a session they hosted with Politico’s Juana Summers  at this year’s ONA conference.

Continue reading Beat reporting in the digital age

You just can’t ignore the dollars and sense

If you’ve read an earlier post on metred content how it changes the objectives of a newsroom, you might think I’m all about the cash grab.

Or that I’m a Pollyanna, putting a positive spin on things.

Yeah, people got mad at that post. The thought of public service journalism  (and that is exactly what journalism is when done correctly – I’m talking about more than a Kim Kardashian photo gallery) costing something is outrageous.

To which I say: how much did that coffee cost you this morning?

Here’s the thing, here’s the ugly truth: reporters, photographers, editors, copyeditors, paginators, web editors, developers… cost money.

Continue reading You just can’t ignore the dollars and sense