Steve Buttry wrapped up his two-day Connecticut tour yesterday with a series of workshops at the New Haven Register.
Steve covered social media for local news coverage in the morning, followed by blogging for local news coverage and finally, digital-first workflow for copy desks.
One common theme Steve addressed both Monday in Torrington and Tuesday in New Haven was the ability of live tweets to double as a publishing tool and a note-taking tool.
Ed Stannard, the Register’s community engagement editor and a longtime reporter, asked Steve how he’d recommend handling the tweets-as-notes practice given the need to quote people accurately and the reality that few full quotes fit into 140 characters.
Steve’s response? “Most good quotes fit in a tweet. If it’s longer than 140 characters, we want to paraphrase.”
It’s worth noting that Steve’s quote about quotes fitting into tweets easily fit into a tweet:
@stevebuttry: Most good quotes fit in a tweet. If it’s longer than 140 characters, we might want to paraphrase.
— Digital Ninja School (@DigitalNinjas) December 11, 2012
The social media workshop had the biggest turnout of the day, with about 25 people in the room and another 25 or so watching via livestream.
We also had about 20 people at Steve’s blogging workshop, at which point we tried to tackle the issue of where blogs fit into newsroom strategy in light of the enormous growth social media has had in the past two or three years.
Reality is in at least some cases, really effective Facebook pages like the “Westies Watch” page run by Register West Haven reporter Susan Misur serve many of the same functions that blogs have served for the past five years or so. Susan, for instance, has both ongoing dialogue with the West Haven community and plenty of news updates.
Steve’s overarching point, though, was that blogs are not dead. They still make up a substantial portion of page views and unique visitors for websites throughout the world, and still have the ability to drive traffic via search that social media can’t deliver.
And though this issue wasn’t addressed in Tuesday’s workshop, it’s worth noting the benefit news organizations get in traffic and potential revenue from blogs that they don’t get when people are consuming information on Facebook but not clicking through to the site. (I’d love to see a breakdown of the pros and cons from a branding and revenue standpoint of the blogs vs. Facebook debate. I’ll look for one later, but if someone knows of a good post on this, let me know and I’ll link to it.)
The third workshop was one we hoped would be successful even though it was unlikely to produce a whole lot of immediate solutions: A session on facing one of our biggest issues: How to preserve good copy editing at a time when our copy desks are significantly smaller than they were even five years ago, and in some cases half the size that they were 10 or 15 years ago.
Fortunately, there’s reason for some optimism across DFM copy desks from a workflow standpoint: Right now, we’re working in entirely different content management systems for digital and print — something that will change early in 2013 when we start using Saxotech for both digital and print. That will eliminate the tedious and time-consuming step of copying and pasting content from one system to the other.
Some of the issues that came up — reporters filing late copy when only one editor is available to edit it and get it on a page — won’t be easily solved, especially when the content is vital to the next day’s print edition.
We did have some good discussion, though, on having stories that aren’t extremely time-sensitive get thoroughly edited and posted in the morning, when web traffic peaks and there isn’t a print deadline rush compromising our ability to get the good editing we need.
Al Santangelo, the Register’s news editor, also had this suggestion, which, if we could find a way to shift people around, could lead to people editing and posting more stories early in the morning, far away from the print deadline rush but optimally timed for the morning surge in web traffic:
@digitalninjas 24-hour coverage for a reporter & editor/webtech combo might be worth looking at, too.
— Al Santangelo (@NHR_NewsEditor) December 11, 2012
I put some highlights of the sessions that I tweeted from the Ninja School account in this Storify:
Wednesday and Thursday will be our busiest days in the training blitz. Starting at 9 a.m., we’ll have workshops throughout the day on video and digital content strategy; social media for the brand; and data journalism, among other topics.
Most of the sessions will be live-streamed, with tweets fed into a ScribbleLive that people that people can follow and use as an avenue for questions.
DFM’s Mandy Jenkins, Yvonne Leow, Tom Meagher and Julie Westfall will be leading the workshops.
Looking forward to a long but exciting day.