Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crowdsourcing tips and tools for journalists (Digital Ninja School Session with Mandy Jenkins)

Crowdsourcing has always been a fundamental of journalism. But there are now countless digital tools and resources available on the internet and through social media that make it that much more immediate, and accessible.

For journalists learning the latest tools and tips on crowdsourcing in the digital age, this is a great opportunity to learn more about it.

Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media will be leading a workshop in the New Haven Register newsroom for the Journal Register Company's Digital Ninja program in Connecticut crowdsourcing tips and tools.

Update: This session has concluded. Replay the live chat below. Video replay will be uploaded later this week.

Jenkins will lead reporters, editors and photographers from JRC's CT newsrooms in a discussion on crowdsourcing tips, tools and tricks of the trade. The session is part of our program to equip our journalists and editors with today's digital skills.

Social Media As The Brand For Journalists (Digital Ninja School Session with Mandy Jenkins)

Like newspapers, radio, TV, and the internet before it - social media has become a major way in how people get news, information and stories on topics that interest them. How can newspapers tap into Facebook and Twitter as a brand to serve their reader and followers? How can newsrooms use social media for more than just broadcasting links to stories? Should you use differently as a brand than you would as an individual? Can the brand's Facebook be a source of news tips, a platform for community conversation, a more comprehensive information resource for our audience?

For the editors and journalists learning to effectively wield social media as a brand, this is a great opportunity to learn more about using social media successfully as a brand to grow audience and engage readers.

Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media will be leading a workshop in the New Haven Register newsroom for the Journal Register Company's Digital Ninja program in Connecticut on social media as the brand.

Update: This session has concluded. Replay the live chat below. Video replay will be uploaded later this week.

Jenkins will lead reporters, editors and photographers from JRC's CT newsrooms in a discussion on best practices for engaging on social media as the brand. The session is part of our program to equip our journalists and editors with today's digital skills.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How To Host Successful Live Chats And Live Blogs (Digital Ninja School Session with Mandy Jenkins)

In this day and age, it's a piece of cake to host your very own live chat or report live from an event that thousands of people from all over the world can watch and participate in. All you need is a free tool like CoverItLive or a Twitter account. But how do you actually get people to join in and participate, or care?

For the journalists out there cutting their digital teeth in live coverage and live chats, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the basics to hosting successful and engaging live chats and live blogs.

Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media will be leading a workshop in the New Haven Register newsroom for the Journal Register Company's Digital Ninja program in Connecticut on live chats and live blogging. And for you meta fans out there, yes, I'll moderate a live chat while it's going on.

Update: This session has concluded. Replay the live chat below. Video replay will be uploaded later this week.

Jenkins will lead reporters, editors and photographers from JRC's CT newsrooms in a discussion on best practices for hosting highly engaged live blogs and live chats with readers. The session is part of our program to equip our journalists and editors with today's digital skills.

How To Get More People To Read Your Blog (Digital Ninja School Session with Mandy Jenkins)

Do you ever feeling like you're talking to a wall when you post on your blog? Why doesn't anyone comment? Why are your page view stats so low? How do you get more traffic?

For those cutting their digital teeth in blogging, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the basic best practices to building an audience that keeps coming back to you for more.

Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media will be leading a workshop in the New Haven Register newsroom for the Journal Register Company's Digital Ninja program in Connecticut.

Update: This session has concluded. Replay the live chat below. Video replay will be uploaded later this week.

She will lead reporters, editors and photographers from JRC's CT newsrooms in a discussion on best practices for blogging and how to develop a highly engaged audience. The session is part of our program to equip our journalists and editors with today's digital skills.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Journos, Innovators, Disruptors: Digital First Media Wants You

I got something I'd like to say to all the budding journos, problem solvers, innovators and wild-eyed disruptors who can't sleep at night out there. Why aren't you working for Digital First Media?

(Tip: They're hiring.)

(Disclosure: They hired me. I've been an employee of Journal Register Company for 5 years.)

I could riff all day over the differences between the Journal Register Company that hired me in 2007 and the Journal Register Company I work for today. But the key difference between then and now is the difference between starving and hungry. And it's the reason I've stayed with this company.

This is a company hungry to engage communities and involve readers more than ever before. Hungry to dismantle greed, ignorance and corruption. Hungry to give journalism a viable business model and to re-install it as a desirable career path. Hungry to hang the lanterns that light up journalism's future. I don't know about you, but that's something I want to be part of.

How hungry is Digital First Media? Let me count the ways.

For starters, Digital First Media is 'Digital First.'
When a newspaper company goes 'digital first' - it's not about the internet or newspapers. It's not about social media or mobile devices. It's not even about the preservation of journalism. It's about furthering the possibility of what journalism and local communities can accomplish together. That's why Journal Register Company and Media News Group united underneath the banner of Digital First Media - to lead the charge in upgrading journalism as a team. That's more than 800 million multi-platform products reaching more than 57 million people in the U.S. Think about that. That's a staggeringly large network of skills, experience and opportunity in media and local journalism. The career opportunities are boundless -- if you're hungry.

Speaking of Career Opportunities - We're Hiring
Digital First Media is advertising open positions around the country and is looking for more skill sets and ideas than ever before in the industry's history. In JRC Connecticut, we've been re-investing in breaking news, investigative reporting, community engagement and disruption (that's me). We are advertising for multiple reporter positions right now, but like the headline above says -- innovators and problem solvers are wanted. So even if you aren't interested in the positions advertised, that doesn't mean we don't have a need for your skills and innovation. Get in touch with us -- if you're hungry.

Attracting Industry Leaders, Teachers and Visionaries
John Paton. Jeff Jarvis. Jay Rosen. Emily Bell. Jim Brady. Dave Butler. Arturo Duran. Steve Buttry. Mandy Jenkins. Matt DeRienzo. Randy Keith. Greg Moore. Dan Petty. Ivan Lajara. Martin G. Reynolds. And counting. These are leaders you want to learn from and work with if you're interested in the future of  journalism and digital media right now. In this company, you can.

Investing In Digital Skills and Career Development
Steve Buttry leads a workshop. (pic via: The Buttry Diary)
[Insert some cliche phrase about teaching old dogs new tricks here.] Overwhelmed by all the social media networks and mobile journalism tools out there? Not the best with time and project management? Skill and career development is the other side of Digital First's 'innovation' coin, and it's one they've investing a lot of time, effort and money in. In Connecticut, we've gone so far as to establish a Digital Ninja School where we free up all editorial staff to develop core digital skills of their choosing on company time - and they pocket monetary bonuses for demonstrating skill mastery. Think of it as a digital journalism grad program that comes free with employment.

Rewarding Good Ideas and Innovation
The Digital First Media Idea Lab is a handpicked team of the company's hungriest innovators and problem solvers from around the company who are given company time, money and tools to experiment with and propose new ideas, platforms and methods. While Idea Lab members are afforded these extra benefits, the mindset of experimentation, collaboration and innovation is evident throughout the whole company, in every newsroom. Follow the #DFM #JRC #MNG and #DigitalFirst hashtags on Twitter to get a little whiff of it. Or jump in on our weekly #DFMChat, led by Ivan Lajara. Digital First Media's investment in an Idea Lab shows that hunger and brilliant ideas are rewarded.

Collaborating With Innovative Companies, Start-Ups and Bloggers
Digital First Media isn't just looking to hire the digital innovators and disruptors out there. Collaboration and partnerships are just as crucial to journalism 2.0. SeeClickFix, Syndicaster and Critical Media. The Guardian U.S. TheStreet. Community bloggers. These are just a few of the companies, organizations, individuals and start ups that have partnered with Digital First Media newsrooms to upgrade community journalism to something greater. And that's just the beginning.

What? That's Not Enough?
Did I mention Digital First Ventures? What about the recently announced Open Newsroom projects? And Project Thunderdome? How about the Citizen's Agenda project to re-invent election coverage so that it's focused more on informing voters with citizen-chosen issues, instead of name-bashing and the 'horse race' of political endorsements.

The bottom line - Digital First Media isn't one big idea, or a few little ones to save newspapers, upgrade journalism, or anything like that. It's what happens when communities, ideas and journalists decide to work together to build something greater. Do you got big ideas? This is a good place to start. (and this is a better place if you're interested in working with us in Connecticut)

What do you think? Is this just a buncha atomic-flavored Kool-Aid or is Digital First the real deal?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Connecticut Live Music Picks: Feb. 24 - Mar. 1

There's a whole hot mess of things to do and live music to catch around Connecticut this week. But here's what I think is awesome.

Intercambio Launch Event with Mates of State, The Stepkids, Sean Bones 
  • Friday, Feb. 24 (tonight), 8 p.m. 
  • Intercambio, Studio 756, 756 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT
Even if you overlook the fact that this is the launch event of Intercambio -- New Haven's newest venue, and will-be intersection for New Haven's dynamic arts community -- this show has our beloved Mates of State topping the bill. And The Stepkids! We love The Stepkids. And yup, Sean Bones too. So why this is a show you think you can pass on is beyond me. Although if you don't already have tickets, it kind of, sort of already sold out. I'm really excited to see what Intercambio is all about.

Pianos Become The Teeth, Xerxes, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, The Saddest Landscape, Wess Meets West
Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids with The Front Bottoms, Zac Clark & Young Volcanoes
Saint Motel, Stout Cortez (free show!)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 29, 9 p.m.
  • BAR, 254 Crown Street, New Haven, CT
  • Presented by Manic Productions
1974 with Ghost of Chance
  • Wednesday, Feb. 29, 9 p.m.
  • Cafe Nine, 250 State Street, New Haven, CT
  • $4 admission at door
Hate my taste? Tell us in the comments what shows you're all jazzed about attending this week.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Digital Ninja School: An experiment on training 'digital first' journalism

While the lack of blog updates here may indicate I haven't been up to much -- I assure you that's not the case. We've been very busy developing a training program to radically change the skill sets and mind sets of every single position in our Journal Register Company Connecticut newsrooms.

If you work in a newspaper newsroom, you know this transition from a print to digital focused mindset is easier said than done. Much easier. We're talking about learning and applying an entirely different mindset than what many of our journos learned when they were first hired and trained. In lots of respects, it's like sending a traditional print journalist to grad school for further education. This takes a lot of time, willingness, eagerness, money, and experimentation to make this kind of radical change to your business.

We haven't had trouble in the willingness department. That's been very clear. But the time to learn and experiment? Not to mention, money. That's been a problem. Our journalists have been painfully burning themselves out trying to do the whole 'more with less' thing.

That's why we launched the Digital Ninja School program.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Music Notes: Nada Surf - The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

I have to warn you. Nada Surf are one of those bands that were so dear to me at a point in life, that I would probably listen to any new Nada Surf record on repeat and tell you it's a sweet listen. No matter how groundbreaking or run-of-the-mill it actually is.

So for me, the love is not unrequited on their latest record, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. I've been stoked on it for two weeks. But I also recognize that it doesn't deliver on its larger promise. Musically, it's the most amped up the New York trio has sounded since their MTV Buzz Bin days of the 90s. But the persisting theme of reconciling your dreams while approaching middle age is stretched thin and, at times, heavy handed. They nail it with "When I Was Young" but continue to swing at it for the rest of the album, with little variation or color. No matter. This is a record about separating stars from  constellations. While the record is okay as a body of work, it is the handful of stand out tracks like "Looking Through" and "The Future" that give it its shine.

Check out the video for "When I Was Young."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top 5 digital tools & techniques journalists need to know right now

One of the best discussion threads among the ranks of the Journal Register Company IdeaLab right now is on the topic of which digital tools and techniques are imperative for newsrooms to know and use, right now. While there are countless tools of awesomeness to tout and explore in the name of journalism, here are the five - in my humbly disruptive opinion - that every person in your newsroom needs to know right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Replay: SeeClickFix workshop for newsrooms, bloggers

Very special thanks to Emma Richards from SeeClickFix for the workshop she conducted for the reporters, editors and community bloggers at the New Haven Register today. After the break is a replay of the workshop video and live blog.

If you couldn't join us or have any further questions about how to use SeeClickFix as a reporting and community engagement tool - email Emma at emma@seeclickfix.com. I'm also happy to help fellow journalists and bloggers create watch areas for your beat, custom widgets, and other areas you have questions about. So feel free to reach out to me any time as well.

Emma will be passing along help documents and cheat sheets tailored to journalists and bloggers later this week, so stay tuned for those. In the mean time, feel free to browse the general SeeClickFix help forums.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SeeClickFix workshop for journalists at New Haven Register

I’m pleased to announce that our friends at SeeClickFix have arranged to conduct a workshop at the New Haven Register on the many (many!) ways newsrooms and reporters can use the platform as a journalism tool for community engagement.

The workshop will be conducted next Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 1 p.m. and will be presented by SeeClickFix Online Community Manager Emma Richards. For more on her background, read her entry on the SeeClickFix staff page.

Reporters, editors, web producers, community bloggers and anyone else with an interest in covering or improving their community can participate in the workshop too. This workshop will be live streamed on the New Haven Register website (and here too), and I will moderate a live chat where I'll accept questions, concerns, and requests for Emma from those out there on the internets who can't join us in person.

Video streaming by Ustream

Some of the topics we've asked Emma to focus on include:
  • Suggestions, tips and examples on how SeeClickFix can be used by journalists
  • How to browse SeeClickFix reports for story ideas and news tips
  • How to upload, close or comment on community issues reported with SeeClickFix
  • Tips and suggestions for getting public officials more engaged
  • Tips and suggestions for encouraging more reports by our readers

These topics were selected by our Journal Register Company Connecticut newsrooms in a survey I sent out last week. So this is what our journalists are most interested in getting out of this workshop.

But why stop there? If you'd like to learn more about creating customized widgets and watch areas, send us your questions in the livestream. Or leave a comment on this blog post, and I'll make note of it to include in the workshop.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

6 ways to prevent crime and murder with digital tools

34 people were victims of homicide in New Haven, Conn. last year.

That's a near-record number for the city. And that's a lot for a city of this size (129,559 population, according to 2010 U.S. Census). So I was curious enough to see how New Haven's homicides compared to similarly-sized cities across the country. I looked at the recently released preliminary crime report for the first half of 2011. Of all 30 U.S. cities in the population range of 20,000 - 40,000, New Haven had the most reported homicides from January to June of last year with 18. Hartford was a close second with 17. No other city in this population range had more than 8. Six of those cities had zero homicides.

In talking about this with New Haven Register crime reporter Bill Kaempffer, he warned that the problem with viewing homicides like this - as a statistic - is the conversation shifts to how dangerous a place like New Haven is. He's right. You can't truly know a city by comparing a murder stat or crime rate to that of another community or city.

This is why Kaempffer and I created the New Haven Homicides Report - to go beyond that annual homicide statistic and individually document each victim and crime. Maybe then the New Haven community could draw more informed conclusions about the trends, neighborhoods and circumstances leading to these disheartening pockets of crime, and explore ways to help prevent more from happening.

So, instead of comparing New Haven's homicide stat to Topeka, Kan. or Simi Valley, Calif., what I should be doing is outlining ways newsrooms, police departments and community bloggers can work with their communities to help prevent crime and murder.

Read on for six things you can do now to help prevent crime and murder in your town.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Investigate This!: New Haven Register launches tool for investigative story ideas

When the New Haven Register announced the first changes from it's newsroom reorganization this past fall, one of the changes that received the warmest applause was the re-establishment of the Investigations Team for the first time in more than 20 years.

This week, we launched a new tool aimed at making it easier for the community to work with our investigations team and send us news tips.

We've created an Investigate This! submission form for readers to send us investigation tips and ideas that warrant a closer, more in-depth look. All submissions go right to the source and are reviewed by the team. The tool can be found at the bottom of every article on newhavenregister.com, below the Fact Check tool. Simply click it and fill out the form.

In addition to the tool, Investigations Editor Michelle Tuccitto Sullo will oversee our newly launched Investigations Blog (which also features the Investigate This! tool). Follow it regularly as she and our community engagement team may appeal to readers for crowdsourced information or other data on a topic currently under investigation, such as our in-depth look at missing person cases in Connecticut.

So what are you waiting for? Tell us what you want investigated in your community.

What are your thoughts on the new submission tool? What are other ways we can open up our newsroom and investigative work to you and the community?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Join us in improving our Connecticut towns next year with SeeClickFix

This week, Journal Register Connecticut newsrooms created custom SeeClickFix widgets that ask citizens from across Connecticut to propose New Year's resolutions for their town next year. The goal is to harness suggestions from citizens, and spark discussion, on how to improve their community in 2012.

What makes this process different from regular use of SeeClickFix is the pledge the New Haven Register, Middletown Press and Register Citizen are making with this project. In January, we will review the issues reported through these widgets in the towns we cover and select some of the most popular issues with the most 'fix this' votes and track their progress throughout 2012. In towns that do not have partnerships or much engagement with SeeClickFix, that means we will serve as a watchdog for the SeeClickFix users and report regularly on what needs to yet be done to get these proposed issues resolved.

But we can't cover all the resolutions for the towns in Connecticut. So here's my invitation to all the other news outlets, newspapers, TV stations, bloggers and active community members who cover and care about any community in Connecticut -- JOIN US! The more who help, the more we can resolve.

Heck, why stop there? You hear me, America? #OccupyTownResolutions

You can very easily create your own custom SeeClickFix widget for your town to participate and embed it on your site. To steal a line from the quotable Ivan Lajara, "It's so easy, even an editor can do it."

Read on for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own widget for our Town Resolutions project.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to make a New Year's resolution for your town with SeeClickFix

The New Haven Register, Middletown Press, and Register Citizen are teaming up with SeeClickFix to make some New Year's resolutions for your town come true in 2012.

We've worked with SeeClickFix to create custom widgets for our websites that display Town Resolution proposals from the entire state of Connecticut. We'll be reviewing these submissions for the next two weeks, and after Jan. 8, we'll select some of the most popular resolutions that garnered the most 'fix it' votes on SeeClickFix, and track their progress throughout the year with regular news reporting by staff from New Haven Register, Middletown Press and Register Citizen.

Here's the submission form for the New Haven area:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How digitally engaged are our elected politicians?

There are 187 elected members in the Connecticut General Assembly. 151 in the House of Representatives, and 36 in the Senate.

Each one of them has a government-supplied email address. But how many of them actually respond to the emails they receive? Better yet, how many of them even check their inbox? Assistants don't count.

If a recent experiment of mine is to be taken seriously, the answer is not many. About 24.

We know they are busy. But we elect them to represent us, and with all the technology and social media tools we have here at the dawn of 2012, there hasn't been an easier time in the history of politics to connect with and communicate with the people you represent on a large scale.

According to Facebook, the social networking site is home to more than 800 million active users. I'm curious how many of those are elected officials that use it as a tool to reach and engage the communities they are responsible for.

After New Haven Mayor John DeStefano announced his proposal last week to allow non-citizens to vote in the city's municipal elections, I composed a short poll for the New Haven Register and emailed it to every single member of the Connecticut General Assembly. Since they will be voting on DeStefano's proposal next year, we wanted to report to our readers the state legislation's stance on this controversial issue.

I embedded a Google Spreadsheet fed automatically with their individual responses on the Register website so readers could see responses as they were sent back to us.

So, how many responded? Only 6 the first day. We have 24 at the time of this posting, with a handful of new ones each day that passes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Christmas Mix-acle 2011

Christmas and music are among my favorite human spectacles. So it's only natural that I make Christmas mixes instead of cards or cookies to share with my friends and family every year. Which is handy, since my music collection is far more impressive than my scratchy handwriting or my apartment's unpredictable oven. So without further adieu, here is this year's Christmas Mix-acle. (And for those new to this, you can check out Mixacles from Christmases past too.) Merry Christmas.

If you have any requests for next year, say so in the comments.

All files are .zip files with mp3s. Read on for tracklistings.

The Christmas Mixacle 2011

The Christmas Mixacle 2010

The Christmas Mixacle 2009

The Christmas Mixacle 2008

The Christmas Mixacle 2007

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Comment Violation Test: How to handle comments about a black murder victim

The topic for yesterday's Comment Violation Test was Joshua Komisarjevsky - and it revealed that the New Haven Register needs to consider defining in greater detail how we handle comments that celebrate or promote the death of another person and how we treat convicted criminals, particularly ones with a jury-approved death sentence.

Today, I want to take a look at one of the Register's most heated comment topics.

Dallas Boomer became the 32nd person murdered in New Haven last week. He was black, and a lot of the comments about his murder focused on that. Some were blocked, some were allowed and some were very difficult to call.

Review these comments and tell us what you would do if you were the moderator. If you find that they violate the New Haven Register Comment Policy, block it. If not, allow it.

Please note, some of these comments were deemed very offensive.

Comment Violation Test Results: We don't agree on Komisarjevsky comments

The jury for Joshua Komisarjevsky agreed last week that the death penalty was the most appropriate punishment for his crimes against the Petit family. But when it comes to handling online comments on this topic, it seems we are a hung jury.

As of the time of this writing, my comment violation test from yesterday has received 22 responses. If you haven't taken the test, but still want to -- SPOILER ALERT -- I'd recommend not reading this post until you've done so.

Let's take a look at how your votes compared with our moderators.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Comment Violation Test: Would you block or allow these comments?

To delete, or not to delete. That is the question.

The New Haven Register recently changed its comment policy in November so that every comment would be held for review by the newsroom before being posted to its website.

The comments our editors have been blocking from the website are ones they find violate the following rules of our newly established guidelines:

The Register does not permit:
  • Hate speech
  • Personal attacks
  • Profanities
  • Irrelevant sexual references
  • Libel
  • Spam
Going into this new process, we knew there would be challenging comments that aren't an easy "okay" or "foul." Especially, when the comment is on a heated topic or sensitive story, like the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial.

And that means we can't ever close the book on our comments policy. Like the United States Constitution, we need to continue exploring, evolving and addressing these guidelines with our readers in a democratic way, amending it as necessary.

So, lets take what we already started a bit further now.

What do you think about the following comments from this recent story about Komisarjevsky's jury recommending him for the death penalty?

The comments appear exactly as they were submitted to us, and some were kept from posting - but I won't tell you which ones. I'm not interested in whether you agree or disagree with what each comment says, but am curious on what you would allow as a comment moderator of this story.

There isn't anything spelled out in our guidelines which forbids the celebration of the death of another person. Should there be? Should it be different for people convicted of murder in court, such as Komisarjevsky? Your responses in this survey can help us determine how our moderators should approach these tough-to-call comments. You can also view how others responded after you complete the survey.