Lots of journalists and Web sites have link journalism posts to start the day.
Maybe it’s a Daily Dish after you Rise & Shine or a stop by from the City Hall Monitor, but whatever the name and theme, these posts almost always start in the morning. Their purpose is to give readers content to kick off the day and read throughout the day (some link journalism posts contain enough links that it would take hours to read through the contain being linked to).
Beatbloggers are already reading a myriad of sources, and many have a bunch of RSS feeds in a program like Google Reader and Google Alerts set up. The primary purpose is to keep up on one’s beat and to find potential stories, but it doesn’t take much work to make a post linking to the best content a beatblogger finds through this process. The very best news and information will most likely make for full-fledged posts (or for a topic to be researched further), but the best of the rest is still going to be very interesting to readers too.
These posts are either constructed with left over stories and news from the day before or with new stories that show up in a journalist’s RSS reader in the morning. A new trend is starting to emerge, however, where journalists are adding a nightcap of link journalism to their work. It’s something for fans of a blog, for instance, to read as they unwind at night, and if the curation is done well, it can provide a lot of content even after a blogger is done for the day.
Gotham Schools has the standard link journalism post first thing in the morning, Rise & Shine, but a few months ago it added a new bit of link journalism called Remainders. Content on Gotham Schools is bookended by link journalism posts. One contains tidbits of news at the start of the day, while the other contains links to stories to round out the day, and in-between users are treated to original reporting.
Gotham Schools covers a massive beat: New York City schools. There is plenty of quality content and documents to link to every day about a massive school district like that. How else could two beatbloggers cover a school district with thousands of schools without linking to other content?
“Since our goal is to be a one-stop-shop for New York City school news, we decided to run two daily aggregation posts,” said Philissa Cramer, one of the two writers for the site.
Cramer generally does the Rise & Shine post for Gotham Schools, while Elizabeth Green usually does the Remainders post. The two of them have a different set of news sources and Google searches that they use to build each post (with some overlap of course). This means that the sources for each link journalism post are often different, and it helps give their link journalism a bit more variety and uniqueness.
Link journalism can be a great way to add a lot more content to a blog without a lot of additional work. Cramer was already looking over a myriad of sources for news and information about the school district. While some of what she finds may make for a full-fledged post, link journalism allows her to put the best of the rest out there for her users to read.
Why waste a resource like that? Cramer and Green are two of the most knowledgeable and well-read people about the school district. Their ability to curate the best content about it is a major selling point.
Rise & Shine takes about 45 minutes to put together, according to Cramer. She and Green have gotten good feedback about the link journalism posts, and the Department of Education uses the two posts to monitor the city schools.
Well-known political blogger Andrew Sullivan also ends his daily blogging with a roundup of leftover news, The Daily Wrap. It’s a wrap up of the most interesting political stories of the day.
NYU Professor, PressThinker and BeatBlogging.Org founder Jay Rosen called Sullivan’s “The Daily Wrap” a “smart, incredibly simple blogging practice for a busy, newsy blog.”
And it’s a very simple post that any journalist can do. It doesn’t take much time, can drive serious traffic and provides additional content and insight for readers. With sites/tools like Publish2, link journalism has become incredibly easy.
Most journalists and bloggers eventually call it a day (except, it seems, for a few tech bloggers). But people don’t stop consuming content just because content producers have gone home for the day. A daily roundup post can give a blog hours more of quality content.
And, as Cramer pointed out, if a blog wants to be a one-stop shop for everything about a beat, the only sensible way to do that if with a mixture of good original reporting and quality link journalism to fill in the gaps.
Below you’ll find a post I created to go with a beatblogging presentation at the Education Writers Association conference.
For a more in-depth quick start guide on what beatblogging is, how to do it and best practices, check out my post: BCNI Philly: Why beatblog? (and why news should be social)
Best networks for education reporters
- Facebook — Facebook is a no brainer. It originally started as a social network just for college students, then added high school students and now has expanded to allow everyone to join. You’ll find a much higher concentration of college students in particular on Facebook than you will on MySpace. Even many teachers, professors and administrators are joining Facebook these days. It’s the perfect network to find education-related people to interview and even find stories. Every education reporter should at least have a presence on Facebook.
- Twitter – Twitter is a great social network for almost any journalist. In particular, it’s a great tool for crowdsourcing, asking questions and monitoring trends. Check out our screencast on how to use Twitter for reporting and our other screencast on how to use search.twitter.com.
Education beatbloggers to follow
- Tawnell Hobbs/Kent Fischer | DISD Blog — The DISD blog won this year’s EWA award for best multimedia education blog and for good reason. It has been the gold standard for education beatblogs the past 1-2 years. Here are just a few of the lessons you can learn from the DISD blog: Fischer’s readers helped him uncover an A1 story, hoisting comments to build a better community, live blogging to help form a closer connection with readers, providing a public service for readers, etc, etc, etc.
- Alexander Russo | District 299 Blog — Russo has a different kind of beatblog. He centers his blog around “hosting the conversation.” The District 299 is a place where people in Chicago can go to discuss education and the Chicago school district. Russo does original reporting, linking to others content and conversation starting.
- Gotham Schools — This non-profit, new media startup is one to watch. They don’t have an institutional memory and aren’t beholden to how things “used to be.” Instead, they can concentrate on transforming education reporting. We’re big fans of their daily link journalism post too.
- Khristopher Brooks — Brooks use of Facebook is one to emulate. He convinced the University of Nebraska to give him a nebraska.edu e-mail address. This allows him to see most students on the Nebraska Facebook network. Brooks does not grab students profile information without prior permission, however, and he mostly uses Facebook to find students who are studying certain majors or taking certain classes. If Brooks is doing a story where he needs to talk to a student about a controversial class, for instance, he can search the Nebraska Facebook network for students in that class, contact them and get interviews. He essentially uses Facebook as a phone book on steroids. Listen to Brooks discuss how Facebook has made his job much easier.
- Be transparent and accessible — Brooks is extremely accessible for Nebraska students because he has put himself on Facebook. If students want to contact him about an issue at Nebraska that he may not know about, they can easily do so via Facebook. It takes far less work on their part to send him a private message via Facebook than it does to hunt down his e-mail address or phone number. The easier you make it for people to contact you, the more likely it is that they will contact you. Get on multiple social networks (with your real name), put a bio and about page on your blog and make sure you have contact info on your blog.
- Be social – This could be as simple as being active in the comments section after stories and blog posts. It also means being an active participant on social networks. If you’re on Twitter, just don’t ask people questions, but answer their questions too. Be social and get to know people. Social media is all about being social. The old way of doing journalism was one-way communication, but today it’s all about two-way communication. Be a part of a conversation.
- Cultivate a community — Being social is the first part of cultivating a community. If you’re lucky enough to be given your own blog, use it to its fullest potential. A blog is a fantastic place to cultivate a community of knowledgeable sources that will send you tips, links and documents. Monica Guzman is the master community cultivator and is someone worth following for ideas on how to build a community.