Best Practices for Businesses on Twitter — Twitter has released a blog post detailing best practices for business on Twitter. It’s well worth your time to check out. Some take home points:
- Think about Twitter as a place to build relationships
- Understand the real-time nature of Twitter
- Before you set up measurement tools, focus on the quality of your engagement, and use your gut to check how things are going. How’s the feedback and interaction with your followers? Are you responding to most or your @messages?
TwitViewer is a scam. DO NOT use the service — Twitter, on its Spam update account, said this, “If you gave your login and password info to TwitViewer, we strongly suggest you change your password now.” Let me repeat, do not use TwitViewer and be very cautious of any site that wants your username and password from Twitter.
69 percent of adults don’t know what Twitter is — From my experience, most people have heard of Twitter, but that don’t really get what it is at all or why it is useful. Some think it’s just like the Facebook status update (it’s not), while others think it’s a way to talk about what you eat (could be).
This problem is compounded by the fact that many of the big name, celebrity users are very poor Twitter users. Sure they have lots of followers, but they are very poor role models for new users.
One of the most interesting tidbits of this study is this: “20% felt Twitter was only for young people.” It’s funny because Twitter is not popular with tweens and teens and is doing so-so with college students. Twitter is popular with professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. I’m not sure why this misconception exists, but Twitter is one of the least ageist social networks out there, and there are plenty of successful older Twitters.
Jon Gruber on paywalls — When one of the smartest Web writers and technologists around writes about a topic, it’s well worth reading. Some key parts:
The consumer psychology of web subscriptions for news just doesn’t work out. It’s right there in the language we use to talk about newsstand prices for print periodicals: per copy. A dollar for a newspaper or a few bucks for a glossy magazine feels like a fair price for a copy. Trees have been cut, presses have been rolled, trucks have been driven to get that copy into your hands. Even subscription pricing for printed newspapers and magazines is always stated in the context of how much you can save compared to per-copy prices at the newsstand.
What feels like a fair price for a copy of a web page, on the other hand, is nothing. They’re just ones and zeroes.
Newsstand and subscription prices have never been the main source of revenue for newspapers anyway — advertising is. But they can’t make as much money from web advertising as from print for several reasons. Pre-Internet, newspapers had inordinate control over the supply of news, and therefore over the supply of advertising, and they grew fat on the profits.
Read the full post. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.
Social Journalism: Curate the Real-Time Web — Publish2 released new tools to allow users to curate the real-time Web:
What’s Social Journalism? It’s what you do when you gather information in social media channels and then report it to your readers. Watching a Twitter #hashtag for posts related to a critical local issue or big event, then publishing them in a roundup or sidebar on your news site? That’s Social Journalism. Scanning YouTube for the latest video from a protest, county fair, or city council meeting? That’s Social Journalism.
We’re sad to see another outstanding beatblogger leaving the industry.
It’s been a rough for years for journalism, and many of the top beatbloggers we have been following have left the industry. People like Kent Fischer and Ed Silverman helped pioneer the practice of beatblogging, but now they have moved on to new, non-journalism careers. Our first leaderboard member this week, Dave Levinthal, was inspired by Kent Fischer and modeled his beatblog after his.
But Levinthal like his inspiration has left journalism.
Dave Levinthal | The Dallas Morning News
- Another great beatblogger, political reporter Dave Levinthal, is leaving newspapers. Thankfully Levinthal will remain in a role as a government watchdog. He is moving on to OpenSecrets.Org as their new communications director.
- From the press release of Levinthal’s hiring, “Through its award-winning, publicly accessible Web site, www.OpenSecrets.org, CRP examines the influence of money on elections and public policy, especially in the U.S. Congress. Levinthal will oversee the center’s original journalism and blogging, and serve as its spokesman to the news media and other organizations that rely on CRP’s research and analysis.”
- I can’t think of anyone else that I would want overseeing online journalism and blogging at a politically-oriented organization than Levinthal. He is one of the best modern political reporters. He combines strong journalism skills with new media skills and should fit in well at OpenSecrets.Org. We’ll have more later this week on Levinthal’s new gig.
- Our previous content on Levinthal: 1) Podcast: Levinthal on starting a beat blog to meet users’ needs, 2) Levinthal shows how link journalism is done, 3) Levinthal makes leaderboard for his innovative coverage of a local election and 4) Levinthal made the leaderboard for hoisting comments.
Jon Ortiz | Sacramento Bee
- Ortiz is taking his link journalism to the next level by incorporating Publish2 into his work flow. This will allow his users to submit their own links to interesting content from around the Web. Together, their link journalism should be very good.
- Ortiz started a Publish2 group for news from around the Web related to state workers. The beauty of a Publish2 group is that Ortiz can allow users of his blog, state workers and other knowledgeable people into his group. Publish2 has a verification process that keeps marketers and spammers out, and that’s a big reason why we like Publis2 for link journalism, as opposed to sites like Delicious. Ortiz can hand select who he wants to let into his Publish2 group, which should help him get the most out of his link journalism efforts.
- One of the things that Ortiz is doing with his link journalism is linking to state worker-related news that isn’t just about Californian state workers. This will allow Ortiz to showcase state workers issue from around the country and compare those to issues facing state workers in California. Ortiz is one of the best reporters on state government in California, but the only way he could tell the larger story of state employees across the country is by linking to the best.
Stimulus Spot Check | ProPublica
- ProPublic was nominated by Ryan Sholin, who said this about the Stimulus Spot Check project, “I’m moderately fascinated by ProPublica’s crowdsourcing process (and platform) for listing, assigning, and gathering information on local stimulus projects.”
- The stimulus is a massive bill with billions of dollars being spent all over the country. Crowdsourcing is the most logical way to track how stimulus spending is going. ProPublica’s Stimulus Spot Check is an interesting case study into how effective crowdsourcing can be. Perhaps more importantly, this project is a great case study into how to build and manage large-scale crowdsourcing efforts.
- ProPublica is looking for users to “help us figure out the status of these projects — whether the project has been started or has been completed, what company got the contract, and how many jobs the company says it retained or created for its stimulus contract. Everyone who contributes will be credited in our story.”
- The project is very young and there aren’t many results yet, but this is a massive crowdsourcing project worth keeping an eye on. As resources continue to be cut at traditional news organizations, harnessing the wisdom and time of the crowd will continue to be more and more important.
Ryan Sholin is the Director of News Innovation at Publish2, a co-founder of Wired Journalists and a 2008 Knight News Challenge winner for ReportingOn. You can reach him at ryan[a]publish2[dot]com or @ryansholin.
Whenever I talk with news organizations of any size about linking to sources, resources and journalism that originated outside the walls of their newsroom, two questions come up: How and Why.
Well, conveniently enough, I work for Publish2, and we build tools that help answer the question of How. If your problem is that systems make adding links directly in the text of your story a difficult task, let’s solve that by adding links in widgets, sidebars, scrolling across the bottom of the browser window, blinking in 96pt red Helvetica, pushed to Twitter — wherever and however you want them.
My standing offer on How is that if the question comes up, you can talk to me and I’ll help you out.
So back to the question of Why.
Why we link: Five reasons your news organization should tie the Web together
1. Because we owe it to our readers to give them as much information as we have at our fingertips.
Don’t we? Of course we do.
If you’re a journalist, a huge part of your job is to filter all the information relevant to your community or your beat and pass along the important parts to your readers. Think about all the press releases you get by fax or e-mail, all the phone calls, voicemail, and messages that land on your desk, and think about how you act as a filter for that flood of information. Do the same thing with the Web.
Bring your readers the best links related to your story, and they will thank you. How? By treating you like a first-class citizen of the Internet, and coming back to your news site, which is no longer a dead end backwater in the river of news, but a point of connection where they can find other interesting streams.
Chris Amico took it one step further in a tip he submitted via the Publish2 Collaborative Reporting form I used to gather some ideas for this post. “Humility is healthy,” Chris wrote. “The more we get out of this mindset that we are the sole producers of useful content, the better off we’ll be in the long run.”
2. Because linking to sources and resources is the key gesture to being a citizen of the Web and not just a product on the Web.
You might think your news organization is super-duper-Web-savvy because you put your stories online, have RSS feeds and push links to your own content out via social networks, including Twitter.
That’s Step One. And it’s a good first step.
But, if all you provide your readers is flat content that doesn’t take them anywhere else on the Web, or back up statements with direct sources, or provide resources for those who want to explore a topic beyond what you’ve been able to provide with original reporting, you’re just shoveling text into another bucket, one labeled “Web.”
If, on the other hand, you want to embrace the traits that make blogs, Twitter, and so many other online communication tools a vital part of the daily life of your readers, your news site shouldn’t feel like an endpoint in the conversation. It should feel like the beginning.
Asteris Masouras put it this way in a Twitter reply to my query about why we link:
3. Because it’s the best way to connect directly with the online community in our town.
If you’re writing about human beings, businesses, organizations, government institutions or any other life form with a presence on the Internet, linking to them in the stories you publish about them is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to participating in your local online community.
Skipping the link to the city council’s calendar when you mention the next meeting, leaving out the link to the Little League’s online scoreboard when you write a story about its resurgence or not bothering to link to the full database of restaurant inspections when you choose three to write about — these are all easy ways to miss an opportunity to connect with your community and your readers.
Start simple: If you mention a person or organization, link to them.
Many, many bonus points to be awarded if you dig deep enough into the local online community to link to relevant content created by the people in your story. Did that angry neighbor’s crusade for a new zoning law to govern branches that hang over someone else’s driveway start with an image posted to a photo-sharing site and a determined comment? Link to it.
There’s a huge upside to linking out to community members, of course. Sometimes they link back.
Wenatchee World Web Editor Brianne Pruitt dropped a tip in my form including the following statement: “The link economy is real, and important for anyone who wants to be a part of the Web ecology.” I’d translate that as: Give some, get some.
And here’s how Web developer Pete Karl answered the question of why news organizations should link to external sources:
4. Because we absolutely do not know everything, but we know where to find out most of what we don’t know.
The days of your news organization existing as a monopolistic source of local information are over, and your readers know it. They browse local, national, international, and topical news and commentary in more places than you call “news.” And if they don’t, they hear it from their friends on any one of a dozen social networks. They know that you don’t know it all. And so do you.
But you’re the journalist.
You’re the filter. You’re the person in town who knows everyone who knows everyone. You’ve got the sources, whether they’re people you talk to at the community center, the city council meeting, the police station, or their Live Journal page. Bring what they know to your readers as directly as possible: Link to them.
5. Because it will make your job easier.
I know, I know. Everyone is asking you to do more with less. It’s extremely easy to tell people like me that you just don’t have time for another toy, another tool, another camera, another social network or another task.
I’m here to tell you that bringing your readers the best of the Web can save you work.
How? By opening a two-way channel to let your readers tell you what you should link to next, you’ll cut down on the time you spend looking for that next thing. By maintaining a real presence in the local link economy, you’ll make it easier for sources who know the answers to your questions to find you, and you won’t spend as much time trying to find them.
By sending your readers to the best information available on the Web, you’ll keep them coming back for more, drawing more traffic to your news site. Last time I checked, more traffic is one way to make more money, and with any luck, that’s still how you get paid.
Bonus Links on Links:
- Josh Korr, my colleague at Publish2, explores what happens when a group of news organizations collaborate to curate links when regional news breaks
- David Cohn from Spot.Us asks whether bookmarking links using social news services is an act of journalism
- Jeff Jarvis explores the ethic of the link economy
Thanks to everyone who replied on Twitter or in the Publish2 Tip Form when I asked for some of the best reasons to link out from your news site.
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.
Note: This is a pilot in a new series we are developing. Your feedback would be much appreciated. How do you like the content? How is the video format? What should we improve?
Link journalism is becoming a big part of modern journalism, and this video should help you get started with one of our favorite social bookmarking sites, Publish2. BeatBlogging.Org has two Publish2 groups that you are welcome to join, Beat Blogging and Beat Blogging Tools.
This screencast will help you understand:
- The sign-up and approval process.
- The different ways to link on Publish2.
- How to install the Publish2 toolbar.
- How to utilize Publish2 groups.
- How to nominate beat reporters to our Publish2 group.
We’ve started our second Publish2 group, and we’d love for you to help us to identify the tools, tips and tricks of social media.
Our first Publish2 group is for highlighting innovative beat reporters with social media, blogging and other Web tools. It is for acknowledging both individual beat reporters and their individual actions that help lead to better reporting or stories being broken. We use it on a weekly basis to form our Leaderboard, by taking the best examples from the past week.
Help us inform people by joining our groups and sharing your links.
We need your help highlighting the most innovative beat reporters in the world for the Leaderboard.
Every day we’ll have new nominees, and every Monday we’ll have a new leaderboard. But we can’t do it alone. Together, however, we can find the most innovative beat reporters. We’re looking for people who are pushing the practice of beat reporting using social networking, blogging and Web tools.
There are several ways for you to contribute:
- Join our Publish2 group — Publish2 is a lot like Delicious but it’s just for journalism. Join our group, submit your best links and we’ll select which ones to nominate each day for the Leaderboard.
- E-mail us – It can be as simple as just sending us a link. If you can explain why this link should be nominated that would be even better.
- Twitter — Send me or our beat blogging account @replies and DMs with your links. Or you can reverse the flow of information and ask us why we nominated a beat reporter for the Leaderboard.
The Leaderboard will be a list of the most innovative beat reporters in the world. It will have links to their best work and write ups from us about how they go about innovating with Web tools. It will be dynamic, with new names appearing each week.
Every day we’ll have nominees for the Leaderboard. This dynamic list of examples of beat reporters pushing the practice is updated throughout the day and appears in the middle column on the homepage. From that list, we’ll find the best examples and form a Leaderboard each week.
We can’t do this without you. We encourage you to send in links of innovative examples from beat reporters. We also encourage you to join our Publish2 group and submit links of your own.
I have always been a proponent of social bookmarking for journalists. When Digg was a young community, I used it as a resource for finding new story ideas. As I explained to Greg J. Smith recently, social bookmarking is a way to find experts in specific fields: "I am friends with Roy Schestowitz.
Roy is an open source maniac….If I want to know what’s
going on in the OS world, I look at Roy’s page. If I want to know about the environment – I turn to either Aidenag, SocialPyramid or Tomboy501. If I want to know about science, I turn to Hanksname."
Having sources who you rely on as "news-recommenders," never hurt. There is editorial value in serving up the best links, but a good link-blogger will tell you – it takes time and effort. Just ask Romenesko. But with social bookmarking you can mimic Eyebeam Reblog, and get great links form a volunteer effort. That’s what Digg is – a space where volunteers find links in their expertise area and share them.
This is all related to a new phenomena that could become more common for the networked journalist: Sharing links and information with journalists in other news organizations.
Why don’t reporters who are on the same beat share more information?
This was one of the motivating factors behind Scott Karp’s new social bookmarking tool: It’s made by journalists for journalists. Publish2.com is in private beta right now, but Scott says any journalist can register.
Publish2.com is set up so that you could use it as a regular social bookmarking tool (think Del.icio.us) or as a way to network with other journalists interested in the same topic.
Beat bloggers who work for a national news organization might not want to tap into this second aspect. Sharing too much information might feel like losing a scoop. But for beat bloggers for local newspapers, it makes perfect sense. If I’m reporting on education in Dallas, why not share the sources (national or local) that I have with an education reporter who covers the topic from Florida?
The beat blogging project is about networking between journalist and sources. Publish2 has found another angle of networking that will benefit journalism – networking between beat reporters. Through tagging, a group of journalists can agree to show each other all their stories – allowing them all to know what sources the others have.
If they are in communication they can really drill down: Imagine our education reporters decide to use "standardized test" as a tag.
Publish2.com is riding the wave in-between Digg and Deli.ico.us according to Scott karp. While Digg has become more of a social networking site, with bookmarking functionality, Del.icio.us is a bookmarking site that can establish a social network of sorts. Publish2, he hopes, can be used personally as a bookmarking tool, but could also be used to aid journalists to find and work with each other.
Think of it as a Poynter 2.0: There is a core niche of journalism, but it is a space to connect to other people and share important ideas and information with them. It could have a tangible benefit to their work.