Should we give up YouTube?

At my small-ish newspaper, my department is trying to decide whether to keep using YouTube as a host for our videos, or if we should fully switch to NDN, which gives us revshare when our videos are using by other media throughout the NDN network.

Personally, I hate to give up YouTube simply for ease of use. I don’t know that we can monetize our videos on YouTube (we don’t have a big enough traffic draw to make it worthwhile.) My job is to think about the social implications of giving up Youtube and so far, I can’t really think of any apart from ease of use (being able to post directly from phones during breaking news etc. Easily embeddable within stories)

Would love any kind of feedback on this topic…

Tweetdeck

First Twhirl, now Tweetdeck is kaput. I’d *just* gotten used to running multiple accounts in Tweetdeck, and now I’m reading that Twitter will no longer support it, all my reporters in the newsroom use it, and now none of them can get tweets to load, I can’t post tweets and it’s just useless to me now.

I don’t want a web-based Twitter client. It’s just another tab I’d have to keep open and flip over to to check. With a desktop client, I can glance on it on my second monitor and keep an eye on the three main accounts I run every day as well as my set searches. No extra clicking or tabbing.

Does ANYONE have suggestion of a desktop client for Windows XP (I know, I know. But my company is slow to migrate to newer versions of Windows) that works like Tweetdeck (or Twhirl for that matter)?

EDIT: HUGE thanks to Mark Luckie for helping me figure out I was using an old version of tweetdeck, and that it’s actually NOT going away, and he helped me make my reporters happy, so yay! If anyone else has this problem, This is the direct link to download the latest version as of 7/26/13.

Moving to a new CMS

In all of our ownership changes, I think this is actually just third time we’ve switched our entire website from back-end to front-end. We’ve gone through many iterations of the website itself, but the back-end hasn’t fluctuated much. And until now, we’ve always been sort of “stuck” on out-dated and clunky systems. Every time I have bemoaned Town News’ NewsSys software on Twitter I generally get a lot of sympathy.

At the end of 2011, we began working on a transition to Town News’ much improved BLOX system, complete with a fair bit of website revamping (but nothing too drastic that would freak out our readers.) But most of all, it required a fairly big change for the way we publish stories online. The copy desk had to alter their routines quite a bit, and while BLOX is much nicer and definitely more powerful, there’s a learning curve that we’re still traversing.

But gone are the days of having to publish the website every time we update the site. Gone too are the constant re-ordering of priorities to position stories where we want them. We still struggle with the new way of prioritizing, but we’ll catch on and get it flowing smoothly. And because we don’t have to publish the site when we add a story (once a story is added either manually or via .xml, it is live on the website) we now need to change the publish date or set a story as Do Not Publish if it’s not ready for public viewing. Learned that the hard way after some lifestyle stories went up on the site with our internal slug as the headline. Oops 🙂

Some of the things I really like:

  • Searching for articles, images – anything really in the back-end just became a whole lot easier. Love it.
  • The ability to move ‘blocks’ around easily according to our needs is fantastic.
  • The incorporation of ‘If you go’ boxes, bio boxes, youtube videos etc into a story is wonderful.
  • Not having to publish all the time is a timesaver.
  • It just *feels* refreshing, both the back-end and the redesign. I am a fan.

Some things I either don’t like or am still learning:

  • Prioritizing for the slider and the subsections is confusing. Still learning.
  • The whole caching issue Town News has is, well it’s irritating. I understand the reasons for it, I really do. But waiting anywhere from 1 to 30 to sometimes 60 minutes for a story pushed from InCopy/Falcon and never knowing which it’s going to be is agonizing in the news biz. And even cut & pasting a story manually yet still having to possibly wait 5 minutes before it’s live on the site is agonizing when you’re waiting to tweet the story. I understand they offer a preview function so you can check it before it goes live, but that doesn’t mean anything if you’ve got a breaking story, competition from other news outlets, and no way to send readers to the story as soon as it’s proofed for web. I hope this is something Town News will consider addressing in the future.

Other than that, I’m really pleased with BLOX as a whole. We have had a few readers complain about the new look, but I’ve never heard of a redesign that didn’t have people that simply dislike change. For my part, the transition was fairly smooth, with a few bumps, but I know it was rockier for my boss and the tech manager in my department as they worked with Town news to get everything we want. But I would like to say Town News has a great team and has made this normally painful process easier.

Learning valuable lessons in the newsroom

Yesterday, I learned a few things about the ever-uphill road of getting reporters on board with Twitter and/or Facebook.

Here is an email I sent out to everyone that, I swear, started off with just wanting to share a helpful link with them and keep Twitter in their minds:

This is an EXCELLENT resource for the newsroom and using Twitter to research, mobile tweeting, hashtags and more.

http://media.twitter.com/newsrooms

Some of you have Twitter accounts – even if you didn’t know it – and I have your login info and am available *anytime* you want to learn more about this important and really valuable tool. Come find me. And to those of you who don’t have an Indy Twitter account yet (like our awesome new photog), I’d be happy to get one set up for you.

Please consider learning more about Twitter and social media in general – I can sit with you one-on-one if you like. Lately, we are constantly getting scooped on Facebook and Twitter by other media outlets, and while I know it’s important to get the story for print, in today’s media, a breaking story is old by the time the reporter gets back in, writes the story and someone reads it before it’s posted online. Our readers are starting to turn elsewhere when something breaking happens.

Even just a quick tweet saying, ‘Accident at 281 and Webb – details online soon’ would help. We have to shift our thinking just a little bit if we’re going to stay relevant in the future. So that’s why I might seem a little aggressive in this email. I may go into nag mode until I get all of you using Twitter, even just a little 😉

I hit ‘send’ before I could talk myself out of it and for the rest of the day, I went from frustration to elation when one of the reporters I believed was the least interested in social media approached me and told me that her concern wasn’t the technology – it was that she felt she didn’t have access to the technology. Blew. My. Mind.

It’s something I bemoan a lot here. I believe every reporter should be provided with a smartphone – or at the very least, access to a smartphone to take out in the field when needed. We managed to get a Droid that is used by our online reporter/videographer and he often tweets as @girightnow when he’s out. And that is fabulous and that is a LOT more than some small newsrooms get. But some of my journalists are using Razr phones with no texting plans. I mean seriously. Razrs. And while it’s awesome that we have our online guy, we also need our beat reporters to be more involved in tweeting.

So we gave the Droid to the reporter going to a board meeting today to see if she could manage a few tweets – so far she is rocking it and I am over the bloody moon. As I talked with my boss about this yesterday, I learned that we need to make sure the reporters will actually use the technology before we go out and splash a bunch of cash on it. We’ve been burned before (I’m looking at a dusty Zi8 video camera we bought in hopes of having the reporters grab it and go all the time) and so this time, we’re not going to get all excited and get ahead of ourselves until we’re sure they are on board.

The last thing I learned was that our paper’s Twitter/Facebook follower count has reached 1/5th of our print subscribers. That doesn’t include our “audience reach” of course, just the hard number of current subscribers, but that fraction also blew. my. mind.

I think we are finally past the “I don’t get it” stage or the “Who cares what they had for breakfast” stage. We’ve moved onto the “I need the technology first” stage. They get that Twitter and Facebook aren’t frivolous and unimportant. Now they just need to learn how to use them to their advantage.

Today I have two three reporters tweeting – one who had never done it before, and one who usually has trouble getting it to work for him. Today is a good day.

This is an EXCELLENT resource for the newsroom and using Twitter to research, mobile tweeting, hashtags and more.

http://media.twitter.com/newsrooms

Some of you have Twitter accounts – even if you didn’t know it – and I have your login info and am available *anytime* you want to learn more about this important and really valuable tool. Come find me. And to those of you who don’t have an Indy Twitter account yet (like Matt, our awesome new photog), I’d be happy to get one set up for you.

Please consider learning more about Twitter and social media in general – I can sit with you one-on-one if you like. Lately, we are constantly getting scooped on Facebook and Twitter by Steve White and 10/11 and other media outlets, and while I know it’s important to get the story for print, in today’s media, a breaking story is old by the time the reporter gets back in, writes the story and someone reads it before it’s posted online. Our readers are starting to turn to NTV when something breaking happens.

Even just a quick tweet saying, ‘Accident at 281 and Webb – details online soon’ would help. Another example is at big press conferences – Steve White is livetweeting all the info from them now and by the time we get something posted, everyone already has the info. Maybe it’s my inner competitor talking, but I want our 4.100 fans and followers getting their news from us, not Steve. We have to shift our thinking just a little bit if we’re going to stay relevant in the future. So that’s why I might seem a little aggressive in this email. I may go into nag mode until I get all of you using Twitter, even just a little 😉

Missing the point

A fundamental thing that Newspaper Journalists Against Twitter fail to remember is that while live-tweeting a presser or breaking news event is important, it’s never the whole story. Also, not all of our readers are using Twitter. Granted that number is dwindling every day, but there will always be someone who prefers to read the actual paper, or who will read an update online on their own time. That’s when it’s essential to take those tweets and the questions you got answered and turn them into a full story with details and facts and research and everything reporters actually do.

I just overheard a reporter say, “I hate that tweeting shit” in reference to the fact that the questions he had answered for his story were already tweeted. My heart died a little because I feel like I must not be doing my job properly.

I’ve been tweeting for the paper since 2007 and have trained and advocated and occasionally nagged everyone to get on the Twitter train. Some did, and some never ever will. But this person has a love/hate relationship with it and I can’t make him understand a) how it works and b) why it’s a good thing.

Things have changed. People want their news and information about 2-10 seconds after it happens, so that they can simply know about it. Once they are interested in an unfolding story, they will usually take the time to look for the in-depth articles that our reporters are so good at. They will want more details that can only be provided after everything is verified, fact-checked, sourced, and put together in a cohesive story. There’s room for both instant news, and fuller, in-depth news. One reaches a certain audience, and the other reaches them and everyone else.

Journalists should be embracing this stuff because it’s not going away. Learn how to adapt already, because I’m tired of banging my head against brick walls.

A small paper’s take on Google+

This is a very raw post on some preliminary thoughts on Google’s new toy. I’ve been playing with Google’s latest venture into the social media realm, Google +, for several days now and I really like it. Then again, I really liked Wave too so bear that in mind. My favourite feature so far is definitely the Hangout area where you can easily connect to several people in a video chat and share in there.Sure there are other video chatting options out there that folks have been using for ages, but Google makes it so simple that even my grandmother could figure it out.

There are some things I’m still trying to figure out, such as how to truncate long comment streams on some of the more popular users (like Scoble) – I’m sure there is a way, I just haven’t figured it out yet. I ended up removing him from my stream altogether even though I like his posts. The Circles feature would let me just view my family’s posts or just my friends’ stuff, but I kind of like having all my circles show up in the stream, so scrolling past hundreds of Scoble’s comments to see what my daughter just shared was getting on my nerves. And some posts DO truncate the comments, but Scoble’s never did and I can’t work out why.

I realize Google’s trying to roll this out slowly, but I really want to be able to add more people to my circles who can also use the service. So hopefully when it’s open for all, I will use it even more. And I’m really looking forward to the iPhone app. Safari mobile interface is ok, but can’t add photos.I haven’t played much with Sparks yet, but as an avid Google Reader user, I’m wondering if I need yet another thing I have to check all the time. I suffer from Notification Syndrome bad enough as it is.

Will I end up using G+ over Facebook in the future, or Twitter for that matter? Personally, I doubt it. Twitter is so integrated into my routines that it would be difficult to break the habit. And I have too many Facebook friends who won’t give two craps about Google+ because they’ll stay with what’s familiar.

Ryan Huff, in a comment on Jeff Jarvis‘ G+ stream said:

“I see G+ as the water cooler. Twitter provides the headlines, G+ provides the discussion. Facebook? They provide the gossip. With that said, what G+ becomes will depend on the tools that emerge. With integration into Seesmic and another established tools, it could morph into something more familiar.”

I completely agree.

Today, I managed to get my newspaper going on Google+, and that’s a whole different ball of wax compared to using it personally. I think it could be very useful if I can stream our headline tweets and Facebook fanpage posts into it. My philosophy for the paper is that we will bring you the news where ever you are. And if G+ is successful, we’ll provide our coverage there for you. But we’ll definitely need some API tools developed to coordinate everything. It took a long time to grow our Twitter followers and Facebook fans. I’m curious as to how quickly we can grow an audience and drive traffic on Plus. I suppose it’s finally time to add the +1 button into our stories 🙂

I hope it doesn’t fail. Google has a solid effort this time so here’s hoping.