A place to corral my personal thoughts and bookmarked links on new technologies in journalism

Recent Tweets @jrstahl
Posts tagged "social media"

Once again I’m going to post the raw links from my English language social media monitoring on the Egyptian election.  Why? Because why not.

These are being used towards a live blog, which you can see here: http://voanews.com/content/live_blog_egypt_election_step_forward_in_path_to_reform/940031.html

Timestamps are the time I sent the links out to our newsroom (in DC time).

Read More

Because I’m passing this stuff around my newsroom, and it seems silly to keep it to myself…

Timestamps are the time I sent around that batch of links.  And yes, of course I recognize that I could stick this stuff in a Storify, but I’m sending links around by email right now, so I’m copying and pasting out of email and into here.  Deal. (Or check out a Storify liveblog here: http://www.middleeastvoices.com/2012/05/live-blog-egypt-votes-for-new-president-83412/)

Read More

Examples of who is using social media and other digital platforms to maximum effect in journalism and storytelling.  Open for public editing to add your own examples.

I’ve been trying to gather together some comprehensive information about the specs for profile customizations on various social media platforms.  I’ve got a bunch, but there are some question marks as well.  If you have any information to help flesh this out, contribute it and let’s build out a really useful resource…



Profile image: Square, displays at 125x125 (but apparently it should measure at least 180x180?)

Cover photo: 851x315 (must be at least 399 wide)

App custom image: 111x74

Specs on every other piece of the timeline design: http://www.dreamgrow.com/facebook-cheat-sheet-sizes-and-dimensions/


Main image: 180w x up to 540h

Thumbnail: A square piece of your profile image, as shown below, shrunk to 50x50.  Can also scale your full profile image to fit in the box.


Main image and thumbnail: square image, max 700k

Background image: Needs to fade to a replicable color on the right edge and bottom, Difficult to predict how much space you will get on either side of the Twitter content – depends on screen resolution and browser size.

Can also decide color of links


Avatar: Avatars can be up to 1600x1600 pixels, displays at 36x36 pixels

Background: content = 970px wide in the center, Endless scrolling, so you should have something that fades out

Banner (Partner channel only): needs to be included as part of the background. Can push your content down by up to 150px to display the banner section of the background. Insert an image map to create links.

Watch page logo (Partner channel only): 25px h by anything up to about 200px wide

Channel guide for the old design: http://www.youtube.com/pdf/YouTube_Brand_Channel_Redesign.pdf


Main image and thumbnail: square image

A spot-on look at both the frustrations of a social media manager, and what we can do (have to do!) to get ourselves more integrated into the news process.  We all know we’re more effective when we’re in the mix rather than on the sidelines, and here’s a good reminder of what we can do to make that happen.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m currently trying to develop a better workflow design for myself. It’s been a little while since I stepped back and evaluated what I should be accomplishing and how I can provide the most value to my organization.

I’ve been thinking that through in my own head, and hope to get some more brain time to finish that thinking process, but also seeing what others have had to say out there. Here are some of the most useful links I’ve found:

Steve Buttry: How a Digital First approach guides a journalist’s work
American Journalism Review: Harnessing Social Media
Mandy Jenkins: What does a social media editor do?

That last one is probably the closest to what I’m trying to do, which is lay out specifics of what has to be accomplished on a daily, weekly and monthly basis (both in terms of tasks and goals).

Do you know of any other great resources I may have missed?

Because I always say in my social media trainings that social media makes the best content bubble to the top, hoping people will respond, “What do you mean, best?”

This list demonstrates why the fact that cute cat pictures and Kim Kardashian stories do well on social media doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Because it also shows how amazing news content that tells incredible stories in human ways is just as compelling.

And yes, I know this has been out for a while and we’ve all seen it already, but I needed it today in a training and realized I hadn’t put it here.

Saving this to look at later. Because it looks useful.

I’ve been trying to come up with an example of a site that did a good job building in the idea of social capital, because a team that I’m working with is building a blog curation network, and hopes to get user participation.  I suggested they’ll get more participation if they build in a way for authors to build up social capital, or reputation, through their posts.  Sort of like how Amazon provides rankings for reviewers, or how forums prominently display credentials for posters.

It reminded me that Africa Rural Connect had done a good job building in social elements around ideas.  Endorse, donate, comment - all prominently displayed and available as sorting options.  It’s built on Wegora, which I posted about quite a while ago on here.

I don’t know if it ever took off or what it’s doing now, but the social capital concept is nicely used. 

This is a really nifty document that lays out useful ways to think about (and sell) community engagement in news.

I’m really excited about this project. The goal is to collect stories from young people around the world about the events that most impacted their lives - the way 9/11 did for young Americans like me. I think it will be a really interesting online collection of experiences, and it will be fascinating to see how the events differ (or are the same) across the world.

So, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been working my tail off on a religion project.  Now thatI’ve got some breathing room, it’s time to look back at how it went and why (“Back” is in quotes because it wasn’t really all that long ago; let’s be honest).

This was the project:

And this was the outcome: http://voareligionquestions.tumblr.com/

Let’s start by saying that I’m pretty proud of it. It looks slick, we got some big name interviews, and I think people really appreciated that we did it.Did it go well though?  That I’m not quite so sure about…

What went right?

The launch:

This was a great example of being nimble and jumping on an idea quickly (and I say that not to be immodest, but because that is not always my strength.  I’m a planner and strategizer).  A Facebook fan mentioned being uncomfortable with some of the comments being made about Muslims and it triggered the idea to do some knowledge-sharing and educating about religion.

Read More

This could be a great resource potentially. Honestly, the site’s not displaying properly for me right now - don’t know if that’s our web filters or a site issue, but I will definitely remember to check this out in the future.

Together with the BBG’s one-pagers and Thomas Crampton’s useful blog, this is a good starting place for getting a picture of the media landscape in Asian countries.

Almost a week after the election, I’m ready to spend some time thinking about how we all did. What worked, what didn’t, and what lessons am I carrying forward.

Overall, it was all a bit much. I got the sense this was a chance for news orgs to try out shiny new tools, which is not necessarily a bad thing (the more we play with them, the closer we all get to figuring out how to use them), but it definitely felt like a herculean effort put behind a not-quite-as-herculean happening.

What won the night? For me it was the Guardian’s live blog. It used cool, shiny, new tools, but didn’t feel like an excuse to try out new tools at the expense of comprehensible coverage (like some other things I saw that night). The platform was pretty cool - it was a blog that auto-updated every minute, and you could choose to turn the auto-update on or off. It was easy to monitor and scroll through to catch up with results. Plus, it had a great sense of humor about everything. Maybe the sense of humo(u)r comes from the luxury of being an outsider, but it was a refreshing change. I think this was my favorite piece of online coverage, and the Twitter buzz I saw on it backs that up.

Here are some other things that caught my eye:


On mobile I was really interested to see a number of news orgs put some effort into making their elections results accessible on the mobile web (rather than building out flashy new apps, which is where everyone’s mind seems to go lately).

The three I noticed on the night of were the Washington Post, with a mobile-accessible results map, the New York Times with a mobile results dashboard and NPR with a special mobile elections page.

I didn’t see this the night of, but 10,000 words says the Wall Street Journal built their web experience with translation to mobile in mind. Their interactive results map was created without using Flash, which sounds difficult…and pretty cool.

Mobile fail? The New York Times’ SMS service. At 10am Wed I was receiving text alerts of races called the minute the polls closed. And they must’ve sent at least 20 total messages. It’s sort of solidified my growing feeling that national (or international) news is rarely a useful thing to send via SMS. SMS is so intrusive that it really only works when it’s highly local or highly personalized.


Someone asked me that night what they should look at to help them understand the role Twitter can play. Instead of directing them to a specific Twitter search or hashtag, I made a point to show her the things that were being done around aggregation and visualization of tweets. I felt that what was different this time was the effort news orgs were making to tame the firehose and mold it into something digestable and useful (although, if she had wanted to look at hashtags, #ivoted and the various vote report tags were interesting as well).

Some only managed to make something cool, some genuinely managed something useful, but there was definitely a recognition that just slapping up a Twitter widget doesn’t cut it anymore. Not only can we do cooler things, but a stream of tweets without any context or curation just isn’t informative enough.

CNN’s Election Pulse map used tweets to put a finger on the mood of the country - a really interesting experiment that actually produced some intriguing results (in no state did the majority of tweets for or against the tea party focus on policy - I wonder how much that has to do with Twitter’s limitations as a medium versus the mood of the elections).

The New York Times also had a cool thing - an interactive chart/timeline tracking how Twitter mentions of different candidates rose and fell over time. You could scroll over a particular candidate and compare them to their opponent, and let the visualization play to see the ebb and flow over time.

MSNBC supposedly had some sort of Twitter art made up of avatar photos (which I would say falls on the side of cool rather than useful), but when I accessed their elections page all I saw was two live tweet streams.

Other social media

The Washington Post (and some others) gave Storify a trial run. I’m torn on this one, and on Storify in general. Storify seems to make curation from the web and social media easy, and I like the idea of aggregating all these resources in one place to tell a cohesive story. But I think that the average person will look at a Storify stream and have no idea how to digest it. In fact, I looked at the Washington Post’s Storify stream and had no idea how to digest it.

I felt like I was seeing a whole lot of data points but had no way to weave them together into a story. I simply didn’t know how to analyze them as a whole, which is supposed to be the whole point of Storify (Maybe I’m being old-fashioned? Youngster @Amadeus3000 says: I like maps and tweets. Its more real time. Text stories are so 10 minutes ago). I heard someone say it might work better for more feature-y coverage, and I think I agree.

More cool things

PBS Newshour was really pushing hard on their use of UStream for live coverage, and encouraging others (pubmedia or not) to embed it. The syndication model seemed to work really well for them, and I’d be interested to know how many embeds they got on websites other than public media stations. WOSU paired the Newshour UStream embed with an NPR news stream and their own live chat. When I checked in at 10:45 the UStream player had nearly 3,000 viewers (@gteresa says: the unofficial total was more than 125,000 views and 3,150 ish at one time).

The one thing I was surprised about was that Newshour didn’t push any of the social elements of UStream, like the live chat and social stream, which seem to me some of its major benefits. When we looked into using UStream, we actually had a harder time exporting our programming to their player versus simply using our own embeddable flash player.

There’s even more on:

Nieman Lab

Lost Remote

and 10,000 Words

And how did our stuff go?

It wouldn’t be fair to critique everyone else and not look at what we did. We did a live television broadcast on election night, but our main push was on a Friday postmortem live event/webcast looking at the international implications of the election.

In the week leading up to that event (including election night) we used #usavotes to share stories on the global impact of the elections and drum up buzz for the event.

The event itself was a live stream paired with a CoveritLive live chat/live blog, in which 3 VOA reporters live blogged and commented on the event, and answered any questions that came in.

Here’s the recap that I sent along to the powers-that-be…the PR-friendly version of how this all went (with my additional thoughts in italics).

Here’s what we accomplished:

1) Streaming the video using an embedded player. This means that our audience can watch the video right on our website, rather than having to click a link and be taken offsite to watch it.

Was really pleased about being able to do this.  It was a Windows Media Player, but next time Flash or HTML5 hopefully.

2) Implementing a live chat. The Cover it Live chat box worked really well. It’s extremely easy to administer and lets a number of people manage a chat together. We had 3 people working the chat - myself, Raza and Doug Bernard, and we were able to talk back and forth to the audience and to each other easily.

No complaints here.  We didn’t expect really wide audience participation, so planned in advance to approach it as more of a liveblog than a place to field audience questions. 

3) Getting audience involvement. Like I said, given that we don’t typically do things like this, we don’t have an audience that’s in the habit of participating with us on things like this. Given that, I felt really good about the questions/comments we were able to solicit in advance using social media and the participation we got during the event.

The main lesson here was that if you want to get audience involvement, you have to promote the heck out of it starting far in advance and targeting the right audiences.  That requires some serious organization-wide buy-in and commitment - and strategizing.  It also reinforced the value of getting the audience engaged in small ways all the time so that the community’s there when you need it.

Update: Ran across this great recap of NewsHour’s election night operations.  Apparently there was a lot more going on behind the scenes, and it’s a really interesting read.