Archives for posts with tag: community

In August, I wrote to Missourian readers about what I hoped my new community outreach team would do. Now I’d like to share some of what we’re doing day to day.

Here’s a running list of the tasks we’re assigned, beginning with some routine ones and leading up to some exciting experiments. Many of these come straight out of the community engagement discussion guide I published as part of my fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Many are also inspired by or directly borrowed from what I learned through a series of interviews.

Daily and weekly newsroom duties

  • Monitor and, when appropriate, participate in comments on ColumbiaMissourian.com.
  • Take charge of and strategize for the Missourian’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Monitor email that comes to the newsroom for story ideas and for posts for our citizen journalism site, MyMissourian.
  • Attend daily news meetings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as individual beat meetings, looking for ways we can contribute.
  • Review the daily news budget for stories that would benefit from discussion about audience, in terms of collaboration, online conversation, comments, etc. — or in terms of finding the right audience and taking the content to them. Suggest to the reporters and editors how the community might help us report or share the news.
  • When appropriate, tweet out reports after the news meetings of what our staff is working on.
  • Search social media for what people are talking about. Report back about what you’re hearing. Monitor Google alerts and Twitter searches for the newsroom, and see if any beats or topics would benefit from having new ones set up.
  • Be ready for breaking news. Be prepared to help find sources, solicit community content, live-blog and use social media to report to the community, hand out fliers door to door — whatever makes sense for the situation.
  • Look for chances to share the story behind the story, by doing a podcast, Q&A or video interview with the journalists.
  • Look for archive coverage or CoMoYouKnow posts that could be relevant to users today. Consider adding them to our coverage online and sharing them on social platforms.
  • Look for ways that content being produced today will be relevant or could be repacked in the future, and for ways that content in our archives might be useful today.
  • Leave the newsroom. Find a place to listen, and report back about what you’re hearing.
  • Compile weekly analytics reports for the Missourian. Share highlights at a news meeting.
  • Aggregate the best of Missourian comments, for Web once a week and print twice a week.
  • Look for opportunities to create Twitter lists to help people follow or digest the news.
  • Look through plans for event coverage for opportunities for live blogs or live chats.

Longer-term project ideas

  • Assess whether the Missourian should be offering an email subscription or text message service.
  • Update and improve our about page, contact us page and staff bio pages.
  • Craft or update newsroom policies for social media and for contributing to comments.
  • Come up with new ways to share analytics information, both internally and with our users.
  • Make a list of all the ways users can get in touch with the newsroom and individual journalists — all of them, from online comments to letters to stopping journalists on the street. Figure out which ones we want to encourage, and turn that into a list for publication and for internal use.
  • Make a list, with descriptions, of campus and city media, blogs and other information sources, and figure out how to make that a community resource.
  • Determine if there’s a Columbia or Mizzou network of people on social media sites such as YouTube, Quora, Google+ and LinkedIn. See if there’s a way to share that information with our users.
  • Create a Facebook welcome page. Assess what we’re learning and could be learning from Facebook Insights (the analytics tool).
  • Come up with a plan for introducing users to each other. Should we feature a Facebook fan, Twitter follower, frequent commenter, blogger, etc., each week?
  • Think about what we’d like to enlist our community to help us cover, from sharing photos of JV basketball games to live blogging community meetings.
  • Brainstorm how we could bring more users into the newsroom — for budget meetings, story help and special events.
  • Brainstorm how we could use our photo archives to interact with the community.
  • Brainstorm how we could share information about Columbia’s history or Mizzou’s history. Could we do an oral history project? Or ask people to share memories about a specific time, place or event?
  • Figure out how the Missourian could take news tips and photos via text message — and promote that.
  • Consider creating a Twitter account just to retweet interesting things from campus — or the whole city.
  • Consider how we could steal an idea from video stores or bookstores and create a “staff picks” or “what we’re reading” section.
  • Brainstorm ways to make our staff of editors more accessible to the community. Stories? Videos? A Facebook album?
  • Brainstorm ways the Missourian could be using check-in platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla to interact with the community and add a location-based element to our information.

I know we won’t get to all of this, and I truly hope it’s just the beginning of our experiment.

What are we missing?

Directors from two funeral homes — Parker and Heartland — offered advice and explanations this morning about obits. Shortly after, I talked with Reporting students about some of them, and they came up with ideas of their own.

So I’m putting them down before I lose them — suggestions, questions, and decisions, not in any particular order:

  • Directors: Why aren’t you putting the “condolences may be sent to XXX website”. Answer: According to our Missourian stylebook, we should.
  • Directors: Some families want more names  of survivors — grandchildren, for instance. Response: Getting more names in our newspaper sounds like a swell idea. Are space limitation concerns overwrought or well-founded? Agenda item for next editors’ coffee.
  • Directors: We either don’t have or can’t give more information than what’s on the obit. All we do is pass along the information that is given by the families. Response: Agenda item for next coffee.
  • Directors: We’re the only newspaper that still considers obits as news. My response: Hooray! They like being able to say that, too, especially when their clients see the price of the crosstown paper.
  • Idea: Aggressively seek obits written whatever way the family wants for mymissourian.com. Directors’ response: positive. Joe Kinney of Heartland said he would link from his site to the obit in mymo. We built on the idea and considered a landing page/section approach.
  • Idea: Give families a pamphlet describing the Missourian approach to obits. Include mymissourian idea. Directors were positive. Reporters were more mixed on the idea. One described the reams of paper families already receive. But directors liked it because they could pass out the info at the right time while going over the obit notices part of meeting with families. Result: We’re going to try something here. What I’m not sure.
  • Reporter idea: Give those explainer pamphlets to pastors etc and hospices. My response: very smart idea.
  • Idea (from Jeanne): Change the name from “Life Stories” to “Tributes.” Parker’s Bruce Rice said it was our decision what we called them, not his. Reporters had a lively discussion. Alternatives included “obits” and “life story obits.” Result: Agenda item for coffee.
  • Directors: If it says “family out” (or similar) that really means the family doesn’t want to be contacted. Some of the discussion revolved around family — is it the immediate next of kin, or does it include “second cousin Claude” and everyone else? Unresolved. (Pop culture reference: second cousin Claude is in chatter between songs on the Circle Be Unbroken album. Culture reference: An album is a great big CD. Culture reference: A CD is a really short memory stick.)

I hope Jeanne, Liz and Laura will chime in. They were at the directors meeting. I also missed several good ideas from the reporters; perhaps Jeanne or Katherine can help fill the gaps.

I’ll be having coffee with one of the directors who couldn’t make it this morning. The professional staff (and whoever else wants to attend) will take up the matter at Wednesday’s 1:30 coffee session.

Bruce Rice of Parker Funeral Home and Joe Kinney from Heartland Burial and Cremation Society joined me this morning

Good post here from MU alum and Memphis journalism prof Carrie Brown. I won’t steal her thunder, but this is the gist of it:

In (Ken Ward, Jr’s) blog, Coal Tattoo, he decided early on not to ignore comments. He said:

I handled it completely differently — I started out being very involved and hands on and interacting with readers. And, to a large extent, it drove the trolls away.

And this engagement has had a direct payoff in terms of cultivating leads from sources and material for stories.