Category Archives: Social networking

Covering a Disaster: Lessons From Reno, Part 2

Lessons from Beryl Love, @BerylLove, editor of @RGJ, the Reno Gazette-Journal, from Beryl's tweets on #ASNEchat.  Beryl managed his newsroom's coverage of the plane crash at the Reno Air Race. After I posted some lessons from Reno based on my own reading of his newsroom's posts and tweets, Beryl added important details in the chat. I distilled these five lessons from his conversation.

1. Dedicated staff. Beryl wrote: "Staying on top of UGC required someone's complete attention." He added that the best image of the crash came from a spectator (first photo in this gallery). One person focused on user-generated content will help the newsroom find and distribute great content from readers. Beryl added that the newsroom worked hard to contact and confirm the identities of people sending in information but that reporters and editors were "merciless aggregators" when confirmation was not possible.

2. Sign up for CoverItLive. "Using CoverItLive to automate aggregation and publishing twitter updates in real time" was a big help, Beryl tweeted.

3. Social media super users. Know and follow the active social media users in your market. A hospital used Twitter for real time announcements about the number of patients from the disaster who were being treated there. If you curate Twitter lists of active feeds and monitor those lists for news on normal days, you will have that tool at the ready when disaster hits. From @BerylLove: Very interesting to me…

4. Live updates. Use Twitter for fast, live updates during news conferences. Beryl said his team made no effort to link these live update tweets back to his newspaper's website. Break the mindset that every tweet or Facebook post has to include a link back to your site.

5. Plan. Finally, Beryl added: "We are updating our breaking news plan to better define roles." Devote a planning meeting to what roles everyone will play during a disaster. Be flexible, but have an emergency plan that is updated to work with today's social media tools. 


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Filed under Crowd sourcing, Search, Social networking, User-generated content

Rich List Rankings, DADT and Local Story Ideas

Follow the Money

Every September, Forbes publishes an update of The Forbes 400, the list of the richest people in America.
Every spring Forbes runs the richest people in the world and every fall, the publisher lists the richest people in the United States. Each list is an opportunity for local coverage.

A year ago, this MLive post was typical of the way local outlets used the material: Metro Detroit boasts 5 on Forbes 400 richest list: Ilitch, Taubman, Moroun, Penske, Ford |

Here is a similar post about the spring list, from a Florida TV station: Central Florida billionaires make Forbes’ richest list.

The Forbes site allows you to search by state. For example, here are the Connecticut people on the 2010 rich list.

Publishing at a time President Obama is pushing his Buffett rule for a minimum tax on millionaires, the Forbes list is also an opening for a local reporter to ask the wealthiest people in your area to weigh in on the tax debate.

Ask, Tell

Starting today, (Tuesday Sept. 20), the US military is open to openly gay service members. The topic can be mined for Facebook and Twitter prompts that will stir conversation in your area. What does it mean to a local recruiter? To students in your area considering enlisting? To veterans groups?

The AP has a strong piece about elite military training: Academies don't expect much change from DADT end 

Even the Pentagon is tweeting about this: Twitter / @DeptofDefense: #DADT is Repealed. 

The Army is there, too: @USArmy Today marks the end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell." The law is repealed. #DADT #Military

A local reporter can use advanced Twitter search, the hashtag #DADT and local geographical information to find people in your area who are also Tweeting about the day.


 Copy editors in staggered shifts, starting at 6 AM? Dismantling the night rim was just one step Sherry Chisenhall took in Wichita. Read more and ask Sherry questions at #ASNEchat today at noon, Eastern time.
Wichita Eagle: Testing a new organizational model for a digital-first newsroom | Knight Digital Media Center

Hat Tip

Many thanks to Yvette Walker and Steve Buttry, who continued the discussion about the use of Twitter for breaking news stories, based on my note about the Reno air crash and the @rgj Twitter feed.

Yvette: NewsTeach – Disaster plan 2.0 — does it include social media?

Steve: Carl Lavin studies Twitter use in covering Reno air crash « The Buttry Diary


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Filed under Current Affairs, Hyper-local, Social networking

Lessons From Reno: Time For A Disaster Drill

The Reno Gazette-Journal is a Gannett paper with a 54,000 Sunday circulation and a Facebook page that has 2,982 likes: – Reno | Facebook

On a typical day, there would be four or five Facebook posts, including direct invitations to readers: Take our Reno casino history quiz

When a plane crashed into the crowd at the Reno Air Race on Friday, the RGJ Facebook page and the @RGJ Twitter stream became essential parts of the information flow. One of the first posts was a call for reader photos or information. A community member who responded with a comment from the scene and made it clear that the toll was extensive:

It was on Twitter, though, that @RGJ made more of a mark. Gazette-Journal reporters filed sentence-by-sentence updates on Twitter from the National Transportation Board briefings. Example below.

rgj NTSB: They found multiple memory cards at the accident site. Not sure if any of them are from the plane's video system. #renoairraces

rgj Rosekind: The memory card is the same kind you might have in your own video recorder. #renoairraces
rgj NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind is the official conducting the press briefing. #renoairraces
Has your newsroom udpated your disaster plan to match readers' digital expectations? How will you use social media? Will your FB and Twitter feeds be linked? When disaster strikes, will you handle these platforms following the same processes you do now? What is an appropriate pace for Twitter and Facebook updates? Will there be a 12-hour hole in your updating schedule?

Andy Carvin of NPR was one of the first to tweet about the audience video of the crash. He also tweeted a note saying how he found it

@acarvin: For those who asked: I found eyewitness to #renocrash and the long video by searching for "OMG" & various expletives in Reno.

Is your newsroom ready to beat the national media use of Facebook and Twitter to report from your own backyard? This is a good week to raise these issues at a staff meeting.


Filed under Crowd sourcing, Social networking

Vaccinations, College Rankings and Back to School Night: Tips for Editors

Vaccine The Republican debate in Florida sparked new national debate over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines for pre-teen and teenage girls that prevent cervical cancer. (Short url's included to help with sharing.)

That discussion can extend to your Facebook page, site or Twitter feed. Some sources of independent information: CDC – Reports of Health Concerns Following HPV Vaccination – Vaccine Safety

American Academy of Pediatricians releases statement on HPV vaccine

What do lawmakers, parents and doctors in your community say? Who should make the decision if, or when, a child is vaccinated? What are the vaccination rates in your community?

Play Nickelodeon encourages children to get active by going dark for three midday hours Saturday, Sept. 24, for Worldwide Day of Play, supported by ‘Let’s Move,’ the President’s Council On Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and the National Park Service. (Hat tip Mike Allen, Politico.) Build a conversation around "play." How many hours a week did you play when you were growing up? How many hours a week do your children play? Favorite game, outdoors? Favorite game, indoors? 

Football How can readers join the conversation with your staff experts? Try Skype. That's what the Plain-Dealer uses to connect fans to the newsroom. From the Facebook page: Got a question for Tony Grossi, Mary Kay Cabot or Dennis Manoloff about the Browns? Our Skype lines will be open from 10 – 11 a.m. to take your questions.

Local Colleges The Cincinnati Enquirer noted how local colleges fared in U.S. News & World Report rankings: The USNews rankings,, and similar rankings from the Forbes College Rankings,, can be used to prompt discussion. Do readers agree? What is the hidden gem in your area that these rankings miss? What local college is riding an out-dated reputation? What do families look for when they make decisions — what information do they use to rank colleges for their students?

Tweet for talent Good use of Twitter by a top editor to recruit community photographers: Carole Tarrant (@caroletarrant) RT @theburgsNRV: We're looking for people who shoot photos of h.s. sports around #nrv. Give us a shout at

Back to School Night Knees to chest, folded into tiny chairs, parents endure the annual ritual of back to school night in the hope that their involvement will help their children. Teachers sum up their philosophy of education, grading system, and classroom rules in neat seven-minute presentations. 

Some ideas and possible prompts that can stir conversation about Back to School Night:
*What would you miss most if Back to School Night was canceled?
It happened in one NJ town:
*Do you know how to reach your child's teacher — by phone? by email? Ellicott City: Back to School night opens lines of communication - 
*Did you join the PTA? Why or why not? Back-to-School Night Basics |
*Has your child's teacher explained how much time is expected for homework each day? Questions to Ask at “Back to School Night” | Power Moms Unite
*Do you plan to volunteer to help in the classroom? Back-to-School Night Basics – Back-to-school prep | GreatSchools
A content and social media plan around some of these questions encourages conversation, helps parents and educators share tips and information, and builds community. What is Back to School Night like in your area?

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Facebook Tips for Newsrooms

Do you mange a Facebook page for your newsroom? FB explains in this video how to post updates from a mobile deviceUpdating Your Facebook Pages via Facebook Mobile.

Facebook is a conversation platform, not just a distribution platform. Many news sites post links. The sites that ask questions, use FB for reporting, and respond to comments are building community even faster.

What prompts or content attract reader engagement on Facebook? What topics do well? Local geography consistently attracts readers. 

Did you know …? or Where is this … ? features in print, on a site and on Facebook will stir discussion.
Example: From the page on Facebook, a short post about a slice of history that sits on a main street in a nearby town, the house where Edison courted the woman who became his second wife (he taught her Morse code so they could communicate in secret): five likes, one comment.
Example: Where is this clock? (TheDailyPelham).

We want to meet you

Announce regular office hours in a neighborhood coffee shop:
Use a Facebook poll to ask readers if they will come to a local fair (and visit your booth)

Spot traffic news

Facebook comment update: Users on pages that use Facebook markup language for a FB module will be able to comment more easily:

From Vadim Lavruski of FB: "The dialogue box that enables a user to add a comment to their Like on a site is now sticky. Before it only appeared if you hovered over the button. This means it will be easier for users to add an additional comment to their Like."

Who to follow?

More tips available from Columbia J-school's Sree Sreenivasan's page, including this list of 10 signs you are becoming a Facebook addict.


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Labor Day Look Ahead: Sparking Conversation

What does Labor Day  mean to your audience? In Pennsylvania, it means you don't have to pay for a fishing license:  Fish for free on Labor Day. In Cleveland, it means the Air Show.

Around the nation, as we approach this Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5) columnists will point to stagnating wages for the average worker, as this Roanoke writer did in 2006: There's not much to celebrate on Labor Day –

Ideas for prompts for your site, Facebook page and Twitter feed that will spur reader engagement (short url's included to make sharing easier):

*Ask for nominees for the oldest worker. Five years ago, a nonprofit identified what it said was the oldest worker in each state, including  Louise Carpenter, 91, in Pennsylvania –

*Ask what bosses are doing for the day — or what they should do for workers. Ernst & Young, with 140,000 employees around the globe, is giving its US workers an extra day off as a Labor Day celebration (in addition to the usual three-day break). The company announced this with a tweet:

*Are gas prices leading families to alter plans for a road trip? Gas prices are up over a year ago but down about 3% in the last month: Daily Fuel Gauge Report–national, state and local average prices from the AAA

*History: do readers know what worker conditions were like 120 years ago, when the holiday started?Federal Department of Labor has this history of the holiday: The History of Labor Day

Ask workers if they or their families are better off, the same, or worse than they were five years ago.Is there a family in your area with three generations of union members? Four generations? Five?

*Politics of Labor Day range from national (Obama To Attend Labor Day Festivities In Detroit to very local. In Wasau, WI, the fight is over a move by parade organizers to bar Republican office holders from marching in the town's parade. The mayor threatened to withhold city funds and now Republicans are invited, too | Wausau Daily Herald |

Is there a parade in your area: ask readers if they plan to march or attend the parade? Do they have a favorite part of the celebration?

What works for you? How have you sparked a conversation with readers about Labor Day?

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Do you like social networking? There is a job for you. is looking for an Assistant Editor for a social networking project.
Our audience and our contributors are C-suite executives around the globe,
brought together through the CEO Network,’s “gated community” for
chief executives.

The assistant editor will prompt discussion, cull the
most incisive posts and comments, post timely and relevant questions;
commission, write and edit commentaries, and use social networking tools to
bring together the broadest possible audience of these top executives in a way
that encourages them to contribute to and find value in this part of our site.
You will be responsible for the day to day running of the Network and will be
part of the newsroom, which reaches 20 million unique visitors a
month. You will report to the editor of our Leadership channel.

Writing, editing and social networking skills required, as is a proven
interest in the people who run companies and the issues facing them.

Send resume, cover letter and references to

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