Promoting with social media

19 Apr

When promoting a personal blog, social media is an essential piece of the puzzle. There are few ways as effective to get the word out on blogs. Since there are so many blogs out there, I figured the best way to start was marketing to people I personally know. My blog was a cooking blog, and I’m sure there are plenty of them out there. But to start with, I figured if my friends needed cooking tips and knew about my blog, they would be more likely to turn to mine since they know me personally. So for me, making it a personal experience was a good starting point. After making all my friends aware, I hoped that they would pass it on to their friends to grow the popularity even further.

I tried to promote my site on the three main social networking sites I am on, (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr) plus Google+. Let’s start with my favorite social media site, Twitter. I’m on Twitter a lot, but most of my followers are my close friends. I used WordPress’s tool to automatically post to twitter when I updated. I think this was highly effective, but only among my few close friends who follow me on Twitter. It got some people to read it, but it wasn’t reaching the size of the audience I wanted it to.

Next I moved on to Facebook. I knew my audience here would be larger, but still personal. I didn’t post on Facebook as often, but I put up a notice every few posts I put up on my blog. I think Facebook got a few more people interested, but for the most part, didn’t make a huge difference. I think this is due to the fact that when people go on Facebook, they glaze over a lot of the posts. If it’s not a juicy, short status update, very few people pay attention to posts on Facebook.

Next I tried Google+. Since the only people in my circle are the people in my advanced editing class and the people who follow me on Twitter, Google+ proved to be basically useless. I was trying to sell my product to people who had already made up their mind about it. I didn’t waste much time on Google+.

Finally, I used the tool I think was probably the most efficient: Tumblr. I posted blurbs of each blog post onto my personal Tumblr account. My followers here are almost all strangers, but since they are my followers, we probably share many interests, since that is what our relationship is completely based on. Tumblr is also a site that a lot of people go to when they are bored to get lost in the Internet. I think people on Tumblr were much more likely to click on a random link they find semi-interesting.

I learned a lot from this exercise. I know now if I were to do it again, I would concentrate on Tumblr most of the time and throw in a little Twitter and Facebook promotion. But I would probably skip the Google+ efforts altogether and try an approach such as Delicious or promote more on WordPress itself.

State of the Union varies over the years

17 Apr

Since President Obama gave his first State of the Union address in 2010, his vocabulary has changed pretty dramatically. In 2010, the vocabulary in the address was very positive. He emphasized the present with words like now, year and new. He mentioned words such as jobs, work and businesses, but they weren’t his focus. Americans, people and right were also prominent in the speech. I think the word choice in this speech was mostly due to the positivity and optimism that comes at the beginning of a presidential term.

Then in 2011, the vocabulary changed only slightly and jobs became the focus of his speech. People, work, and jobs were some of the largest words in the wordle graphic.  New, years and American remained among the biggest words though.

His speech in 2012 still highlights America and American, but some new words also made an appearance. Now issues like energy, taxes and the economy were seeping into his address. I think all the problems that Obama was experiencing during his term were finding their way into his speech. He also needed to address the country’s biggest issues and how he plans on fixing them since the presidential election is right around the corner.

I think journalists can learn a lot from a tool like wordle. In long texts, like the State of the Union speeches, it makes it very easy to quickly analyze. It also make comparing the subject matter from multiple writings very simple. In just a few minutes, we can learn a lot, from who emphasizes what words and how patterns change over time. It can give us clues to everything going on around the speaker. Looking back from the future, it will also give us a lot of context about the time period certain things were written. I think it’s potentially one of the most useful analytical tools we’ve discussed.

The changing role of journalists

17 Apr

There is no doubt that journalism is changing drastically. Some people argue that readers just aren’t getting lost in the news as the used to. Others argue that with the increased usage of the Internet, readers are being overloaded with information. Journalists need to make some fundamental changes in order to keep people interested in journalism and the news. Americans currently spend 12 minutes a month on news site. Yahoo! News has a lot more traffic than the average news site, but this 12 minutes is still compared to the seven hours a month people spend on Facebook.

In order to fix the problems, journalists can do several things. First, we need to realize that the distinctions between journalists in radio, television and print are becoming blurred. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important that we learn all the skills required for all kinds of journalism. Much like reporters are already having to take their own photographs for their stories, journalists are going to be asked to be responsible for more things and juggle even more skills.

In addition to personal changes, we need to change the way we deliver news. We need to utilize the tools the Internet offers us to make news more personal. News gathering no longer needs to be the same experience for all consumers. We can do this by enabling search engines on news sites. This allows readers to customize their experience to fit with their curiosity.

Studies also found that people spend more time on sites like Wikipedia. This is largely because Wikipedia allows the user to get lost in material by following a trail of links. News articles should read more cohesively like this. By including more links and changing our style, we can make it easier for our readers to follow ongoing stories. We can link to past stories to get our readers up to date.

Overall, by making news more reader friendly and becoming more well-rounded journalists, we can keep up with the future of journalism. We can also ensure that journalism will still have a big role in our futures, and that in turn ensures we will always  have a place in people’s homes.

The future of journalism

10 Apr

As we move forward, I think journalists are going to start to embrace all these tools we’ve talked about. Journalists are going to start realizing they need to utilize social networks to keep up with the times. Some journalists already have. It’s time for journalism to grow and move into the next generation of media. Our profession is going to embrace the Internet and the advantages is offers us. As a result, we are going to start to bring real-time reporting to the center stage. We will stop viewing other organizations as our competition and start collaborating with each other to bring our readers the best news possible. News will leave the home pages of our news sites and pop up on Twittter, Facebook and Instagram. The debate over a Pulitzer Prize for Twitter will be settled and journalists will receive it for excellence in their real-time reporting.

Social networking will make journalism well rounded and complete. By taking full advantage of social networking tools, journalism will be more nuanced and will bring the reader a complete story. Social networking helps a journalist from the beginning of his or her story to the end. We can follow trends on the social networks to see what we can write about. We can gather leads on story ideas too. Then we can use the people we got our ideas from to lead us to sources in our stories. Meanwhile, we can use social networking sites to crowd source for opinions and other sources. We can interact with our readers, forming relationships and ensuring loyalty. This will allow newspapers to form a sense of community with their readers. Finally, journalists can and should use social networking to promote themselves, their news organizations and even their personal blogs. As a result, we will be bringing the public the news they crave as well as that they need. I think if we adopt social media and adapt to the tools the Internet offers, we will save the future of journalism.

Google Trends and Google Correlation are both tools that journalists should start paying attention to. Both of these tools can help us to see what subjects the readers are interested. I especially like that you can track the trends based on both region and time period. By looking at both of these aspects, you can personalize your news to the people in your readership. Sometimes things that seem popular worldwide might be less popular in your local area. Vice versa may also apply, especially for local community newspapers. These organizations can focus on the region trends and not pay as much attention to what the whole nation is interested in.

Broward Bulldog focuses on investigative journalism while trying to survive online-only world

4 Apr
The Broward Bulldog is the epitome of new-age media. A not-for-profit, independent online-only website, it focuses on investigative, watchdog journalism in Broward County, Fla.”We try to look behind the scenes,” said Dan Christensen, editor-in-chief of the Bulldog. “We do a sort of ‘watchdog’ reporting and look at stuff with a critical mind, trying to get to what’s actually happening rather than simply relying on government hand outs.”

It all got started when Christensen was laid off by the Miami Herald in the late spring of 2009. He wanted to continue to report and didn’t want to move anywhere else. He had been a reporter in South Florida for roughly 30 years and didn’t want to stop. That’s how Florida’s first not-for-profit news site, which is staffed by professional journalists, made it online in October 2009.

The Bulldog focuses on doing stories that the main newspapers of the area (mainly the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald) haven’t done, Christensen said.

“The gist of it is that there’s been a large meltdown in the news industry in South Florida and all over the country,” Christensen said. “Thousands of journalists [have been] laid off, and that means there are simply not enough bodies to go out and cover what needs to be covered in government. We’re trying to help plug the gap.”

Just like any startup business, the greatest challenge Christensen faced was making his project work financially – and he still hasn’t quite figured it out.

“We get money from several different sources, but we’re not rolling in it,” Christensen said.

The Bulldog has a business plan, but it’s only been able to implement it partially. Christensen used his own money to pay for the start-up costs, and has since relied on donations, fundraisers, selling stories and ad revenue to pay his staff. Crime writer Michael Connelly, author of the novel “The Lincoln Lawyer,” has given the most substantial donations to date, but the Bulldog has not been able to rely on individual grants alone. Ad revenue is something that Christensen hopes to increase, however, because most of the ads that can be seen on the website are Google ads that don’t make much of a profit.  The Bulldog still hasn’t been able to hire an ads salesman.

While the Bulldog figures out its finances, editing positions are voluntary. It pays reporters a small amount for each article and hopes to increase this amount to make the project viable for all who participate.

“If people weren’t volunteering, [the Bulldog] wouldn’t exist,” Christensen said.

Aside from being editor-in-chief, Christensen posts all of the stories to the Web, writes headlines, manages social media and also has to deal with the business side of the project – stuff he would never have to worry about if he was at a newspaper.

With a small staff of about nine, five of those are reporters, but the number is constantly fluctuating. Every story gets edited at least twice by the experienced editors Christensen has on board.

On average, the Bulldog posts two to three stories a week, a significant increase from last year.

“The goal is to get up to five days a week,” Christensen said. “We aren’t there yet, but we’re moving along.”

Like any online news website, the Bulldog is using social media to share its stories and alert followers when it’s added something new.

It offers a variety of ways to connect through social media, including RSS, Digg, Twitter and Facebook links that are prominently displayed in the upper right corner of the webpage.

However, any visitor can see that social media are not the Bulldog’s first priority. Digg, a site that is “a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web,” has not seen an update from the Bulldog since Jan. 6.  The Bulldog’s Twitter site is updated periodically, with some days featuring several links to stories followed by no tweets until several days later, when a single story link is tweeted. The site’s Facebook page is regularly updated with stories, though several days can pass before anything new is added.

Despite the irregularity in updates, about 600 people on Twitter and 700 Facebook profiles follow the Bulldog. Christensen said social media play a significant part of the promotion of the Bulldog and are a way to tell people there is something going on. The Bulldog hopes to eventually be able to hire someone to manage the site’s social media and improve its search engine optimization, or SEO.

The website is organized to include a front page featuring the latest stories from the staff, a Bulldog Extra section for featured articles not written for the Bulldog or by its reporters or freelancers. A separate section features a blogroll with links to multiple regional independent news sites like and public records resources. Instead of repackaging press releases into articles, the Bulldog has a section on its site dedicated to posting releases.

The news site has been featured in and attributed by publications from around the country, including Quill Magazine, Investigative News Network, The Brechner Report, New York Daily News, The Miami Herald and the South Florida Business Journal.

Christensen hopes to establish the Bulldog as a working news organization in Broward County, becoming a permanent source of news for the community. Although sometimes progress can be frustratingly slow, the community is responding and numbers have been increasing, he said.

In terms of traffic, the Bulldog had about 9,000 to 10,000 unique hits per month last year. In February of this year, it hit about 20,000. In March, it hit about 25,000.

Ultimately, the goal of the Bulldog is sustainability, or being able to have a better income. Christensen said he’d like for the Bulldog to have an actual staff where people get a salary, including benefits. While he’s not sure when this will be possible, the Bulldog is working toward it all the time and hopes to create jobs for journalists in South Florida.

Storify: Telling the story of the NFL uniform unveiling

3 Apr

I used Storify to compile tweets, news articles and pictures to tell a story. I used the tool to tell the reader about the unveiling of Nike’s new NFL uniforms that took place this morning.


The transition from old journalism into new

3 Apr

The differences between old and new journalism are stark. They couldn’t be shown in any more contrast than they are at Penn State University. The 112-year-old campus newspaper, “The Daily Collegian” has found itself competing with the newer, much smaller blog “Onward State.” Though the “Onward State” has a staff a tenth the size of the Collegian’s, it is giving the old paper serious competition.

“Onward State” exemplifies new journalism. Its staff has embraced new journalism. They place great importance on their Twitter feed. They used Twitter to interact with readers and develop such a relationship with them that their readers have started to send in story ideas. They also used Twitter to promote their site and get the word out. Unlike traditional newsrooms, “Onward State’s” newsroom doesn’t exist. They also place little importance on money, having used the only money they raised at a fundraiser to fund a staff party.

“The Daily Collegian,” on the other hand, use a more expert based approach. The staff here is hesitant to trust sources they find online and chose to instead use tried and true sources to follow their leads. They use a centralized newsrooms and embrace traditional journalistic beliefs. They don’t promote competitors’ articles like Onward State does. Instead, they opt to pick topics and go very in depth on these topics.

Bridging the gap between these two ideologies is proving to be a challenge for journalists. There is an argument over whether institutions will be able to change to deal with the times or they will have to be completely reinvented. Some people believe that institutions are so vital to society and they will be able to adapt automatically. These people say we have to preserve the most important attributes of newspapers when we are converting into the digital age. The other side of the argument says we need a radical change. Clay Shirky believes that the institutions of tomorrow will come out the experiments we are doing today. The newspaper industry has been interrupted and journalists shouldn’t sit back and watch. We have to come together and reinvent journalism. After all, the most successful inventions are complete surprises. For example, see the printing press.