Social Media Report: Gator Golf

19 Apr

While writing my ’90s blog, Gator Golf, I tried to use as many types of social media (that I actively used, at least) as possible. By doing this, I think I definitely had a higher readership than I would have without it.

I actually wrote my blog entries through the Independent Florida Alligator. I decided to blog for the paper this semester, and when I found out that it could tie in with my editing topic blog, it worked out really well. One of the pluses of blogging for the Alligator was having an editor look over my entries. Jillian was great to work with, and she would modify the headlines I wrote, which was great for SEO, and used tags that would most likely turn up in search engines. She did a lot of that work for me. In addition, the Alligator blog site had a share button through which I could immediately link to my blog through many types of social media.

Through the share button, I initially used Facebook. That is the social network I use most frequently, so I figured that would be the easiest way to promote my blog among my friends. I would always post the link with a one-sentence description, followed by a “read my blog” sentence. Many friends of mine would “like” the posts and then comment on whatever I wrote about, from Power Rangers to Furbys. I felt great that my blog created discussion.

I also heavily promoted my blog through Twitter. (Here is a Storify I created of my various promotion tweets throughout the semester.) With the Alligator’s “share” button, I was allowed to use a “bit.ly” link, which also allows you to track how many people view your link (however, I never did get to sign up for bit.ly and use this feature). A few of my followers would tweet back to me.

Image

Another great thing about having an editor at the Alligator was that she would email us bloggers every week with our stats. Because of the Alligator’s advanced technology, I had at least 100, sometimes over 400, views per week. Many of these were total strangers, which was awesome.

I didn’t promote my actual WordPress blog that I made for this course, since I mainly wrote through the Alligator blog. However, I did end up making a Tumblr of my blog as well, and through my use of search-friendly tags like “’90s nostalgia,” “childhood” and “toys,” I had readers liking and reblogging many of my posts. Tumblr users could track tags included on my blog also.

Overall, my use of social media to promote my blog worked out well for me. If I continue blogging on ’90s nostalgia, I will keep using these methods and maybe even move on to other networks, including Delicious and LinkedIn.

State of the Union, Wordle style

16 Apr

Image

In January 2010, President Obama used many encouraging, happy words in his speech, including “new,” “work,” families” and “reform.” Since this was his first year as president, and the economic depression was still in its early stages, I think this was appropriate. A lot of verbs are also used here, like “know,” “take,” “make,” “help,” and “give.” The word “change” was a big part of his campaign, and he made this clear in his speech.

Image

2010 was a rough year for Obama. After the oil spill and the depression, many people began to question whether this man was a good president for the U.S. The use of “America” and jobs” is not unusual here, but by using words, like “new” and “people,” he is trying to address that the American people are what matter most, and we also need new sources of energy, along with new jobs. He doesn’t use as many action words as he did in the previous SoTU.

Image

Obama’s latest State of the Union was entirely focused on America, as seen by the prevalence of certain words in the above Wordle. This was Obama’s last chance to get the country’s spirits up. He definitely focuses on the depression here, with words like “work,” “tax,” “country” and “years,” being used in this speech. Also, his use of verbs is almost completely gone; the words seem more business-like. However, words like “America,” “jobs,” people,” and “new” are pretty consistent in his speeches, which show he is dedicated to getting America out of its current economic state.

If journalists put speeches into Wordle, they could figure out the prevalent words and thus figure out specific themes and the circumstances these words were spoken under. This could greatly help with understanding different topics and writing stories.

Aside

New technology, same old journalism

16 Apr

Even in this new era of online journalism, what surprises me the most is that 84 percent of Brits get their news via television. Americans definitely use more online media, and more and more techniques are needed to improve it.

I have been told countless times by my teachers to “acquire all the skills,” as BBC business editor Robert Peston said. If I applied for a reporting job at a newspaper, not only would I have to have superb writing skills; I would have to have experience with shooting video and other forms of multimedia as well. Since many people submit multimedia to news websites all the time, it has become pretty acceptable for anyone to become a journalist. In addition, blogs have become quite popular in journalism as well, and reporter-focused ones like Peston’s Picks let the journalists focus even more on their own stories while allowing them to have some bias. Clearly, hard news isn’t the go-to writing form anymore.

As important as leaning these skills is, there is still a difficult task to be accomplished: getting readers hooked on your content. Jonathan Stray does a great job of describing what newspapers must do to make their websites more interesting. Articles should definitely have more links in them. These are part of why Wikipedia is so addicting and enjoyable. More importantly, having links on your page will keep your viewers reading, and they’re not likely to get bored and go to another site. Probably the most effective device would be a personalized newspaper, in which readers could pick which stories they want to read. Hopefully there will be more developments on this in the future.

Of course, since Stray’s post, many changes have been made to news websites. Now, sites do not just have videos and slideshows; there is a larger capacity for sharing and sparking discussion. Even though I still don’t spend too much time on news websites, they do have enough interactive features now to keep me pretty interested and wanting to read more of a story.

Although how we receive our news may have changed,  news values, like ethics and great storytelling, remain the same.

“Social news”: Why it is important, why it should be fact-checked

11 Apr

If there is one thing social media is responsible for, it is making personalization so much easier.

Many news organizations have their reporters and other staff members create blogs in order to connect with readers and have an outlet to express their opinions on different issues. After all, if reporters can reach out to the public in this way, readers are more likely to be able to relate to them. As Mathew Ingram of Gigaom said, “You should be the best possible version of yourself.” Everyday people express their opinions all the times in all kinds of personal blogs. Why shouldn’t reporters be able to?

As seen through blogs, news is not just in one central location anymore. Quora, Twitter and Facebook are great examples of new, journalistic outlets these reporters are using. Through these, journalists are allowing a much wider audience to view their work and talk about it. This goes beyond just reporting news. These sites have become so effective that there will now be a Pulitzer Prize category for real-time reporting. In addition, ongoing events like Occupy Wall Street have allowed the people to become journalists,  with many passersby shooting videos and blogging. Journalists like Elliot Volkman of Play This Magazine are now being praised for their extensive use of social media to find sources and information for stories.

As I have said before, story ideas and ideas in general can always be spread through social media. The fact that many Egyptians used Facebook and Twitter to send their message of revolution to thousands (if not more) last year shows just how effective social media can be. In this case, journalists and average citizens were able to collaborate by both finding out about and talking about the revolution.

However, as per everthing journalism, online news must be fact-checked, double-checked, cross-checked.  It is always safer to be a little skeptical of any story, especially one read online, than to not question it at all. Like any social network, Facebook is known to have its “fake” users, and if any of these become “sources,” it could potentially cause problems. However, since many young people have practically grown up with social media, they may be able to find ways around this in the future, since they know the online-media spectrum much better than many adults do. The introduction of websites like MediaBug is helping bring reporters and readers even closer by discussing errors they’ve made, along with corrections. This almost makes admitting a mistake not so shameful.

News created via social media outlets has become so powerful that I think it deserves a new name: “social news.” Because that’s what it is, isn’t it?

 

Trend and Correlate

Trend: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=gay+marriage&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

Correlate: http://www.google.com/trends/correlate/search?e=gay+marriage&t=weekly&p=us

Since gay marriage has been a pretty consistent topic over the past eight years or so, according to these graphs, it might be interesting to take different angles on this topic. This could also help with finding out how much progress has been made in other states to legalize gay marriage.

World Hum media ride-along report

5 Apr
        The co-founders of World Hum are Jim Benning and Michael Yessis. Benning was a freelance magazine writer who started at the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register. Yessis was travel editor for the USA Today. Both were friends and big fans of Salon.com’s “Wanderlust” section. When Salon killed the section, Benning and Yessis complained until they decided to start one on their own for $30.
        The site was cheap to start up partly because Yessis knew website coding and set up and coded the website by hand. The site began with three stories and a call for submissions. Their goal was to bring writing and editing expertise to the site, so they had high standards. Its big break was when a World Hum story was published in “The Best American Travel Writing” anthology.
        World Hum did not have advertising at first, since traffic was minimal. In 2005 and 2006, however, Benning and Yessis redesigned the site, so that it could include ads. Currently, they are not selling ads on the website, but there are Google ads on the site, and these are triggered by key words on a page. Even with the ads, they weren’t making big money. The site’s revenue was modest, bringing in about $1,000 to $2,000 per year.
       With the owners mainly spending only their spare hours on the site, it was more of a “labor of love,” Benning said.
       Things changed when the Travel Channel purchased World Hum in 2006 and employed the two men full time to run the website. This brought an editorial budget and other support that allowed the site to thrive, but only for a few years.
In 2010, Scripps Network bought Travel Channel and chose not to support World Hum, and Benning and Yessis were laid off. Although Travel Channel still owns World Hum, Benning and Yessis are licensed to run the site and earn profits from it.
Eva Holland is the senior editor of World Hum. She first heard about World Hum while still in England; the website was in a book called the “Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing,” and she became a huge fan. While at the Book Passage Conference in San Francisco in August 2007, she met Jim Benning, and she officially started blogging for World Hum the following month. Since becoming its senior editor in 2009, Holland now manages the unsolicited submissions inbox, which has many stories from new writers.
        World Hum is not your typical travel site. World Hum has maintained its presence on the web by using social media to promote stories. One interesting aspect of their site is that on the homepage it has boxes where you can “like” its Facebook page, see what stories Facebook users are recommending to readers and view new and old posts from the @worldhum Twitter feed. Along with the integration of social media, the page layout is easy to navigate and nicely organized by categories. The website also has a “Destinations” tab, which allows users to browse every location that World Hum covers, which is just about every country in the world.

Storify

4 Apr

I had a lot of fun creating my Storify. It allowed me to be an observer of a situation that I was actually sort of involved in. A few of my followers even tweeted to me about how much they liked my commentary. I think Storify lets people use Twitter as a fun platform. It doesn’t necessarily have to tell a news story, it can also let people share life’s silly moments.

Facebook: a journalism platform

4 Apr

Honestly, I think the people that utilize Facebook the most for its journalistic possibilities are its everyday users. In the five years I’ve had a Facebook account, I’ve rarely had to go to news websites to find out that people like Whitney Houston or Joe Paterno died, or that Tim Tebow got traded to the New York Jets. Sometimes, though, people constantly updating their status like this frustrates me because many of the statuses are the same.

However, many newspapers now have their own Facebook pages, and even morning talk shows like “Good Morning America” have their own videos and pictures that users can comment on. This is one of the great things about Facebook: It allows for discussion. Because of this capability, journalists should definitely take more advantage of it. Take, for example, CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour. She and other journalists have their own Facebook pages so that people can keep up to date on their stories, and reporters can then include even more elements of their stories onto the pages. In fact, Facebook even has its own page specifically telling journalists how they can use this website efficiently.

However, using social networks for news does have its ethical issues. In my Writing for Mass Communication and Reporting classes, we were told that it was never okay to use a Facebook friend as a source for a story, and I still believe this is true. I do think that finding sources through Facebook friends is not a bad idea if it is a person you truly do not know. Facebook is full of friendly users willing to help people out.

Journalists should definitely keep their opinions to themselves, even when social media allows us to express our thoughts on pretty much any issue.

I have used Facebook extensively to promote my blog. Each week when I post an entry, I write a one-sentence summary about it, along with the attached link, and people end up reading it. It has helped me out a lot with readership.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.