The third session at the 2012 BB Summit was interesting to me in that it discussed how bloggers and traditional media really aren’t so different after all. There were a few areas that I disagreed with – notably, spending 33% of your tweets promoting your blog – but the information was interesting, especially seeing how social media has started to become so embedded in the world of traditional journalism.
The panel included:
@wiredPRworks – Barbara Rozgonyi
@BornJustRight – Jen Lee Reeves
Nancy – I am a traditional journalist since I work on WGN in Chicago. I have been a journalist for about 30 years now. I became a journalist because I love words. Since many of you are former journalists, well, I’d like to point out that there are both good and horrible in both worlds. There are some great bloggers and some terrible bloggers. There are some great journalists and some rotten journalists. I really enjoy blogging (at Big Tiny) because there are parts of the stories that never make it into the story on air. It lets me share things that are part of the story or part of my day that I couldn’t put into the story. I’m in amazing places and there are so many things about my job that are fascinating and sometimes tragic and sad, and the blog gives me a place for that spillover material. It’s therapeutic to me. I enjoy social media very much. It gives extra mileage to the work I do.
Scott – My job title is social media specialist at the Chicago Tribune I don’t actually blog. Blogging as a traditional journalist is diffrent from a real blogger. I’m watching a lot of blogs, and especially what they’re saying on social media and then filtering that voice. If I see a blogger who has something a reporter doesn’t, I may mention it to a reporter. Every job I’ve ever had in my life has had some sort of journalism tie. I was a paperboy at 11; I asked to be a reporter at 16; I went to school to be a journalist. I was a copyrighter and an editor. I moved to social media when I was at Red Eye who wasn’t there (doing anything in social media). I said there’s this thing called Twitter and we’re not there. I pitched my editor, and he said no thanks. Being someone who really does appreciate authority but doesn’t take no for an answer, I signed up for a Red Eye Twitter account and told the editor when we reached 1,000 followers after 2 weeks. And my editor hired me full time to do this. Then I moved to the Chicago Tribune.
Jen – I have @jenleereeves and @bornjustright. I am a traditional journalist at the base of my career. I started out as a tv producer focusing on how to deliver broadcasts to my audience. Relevancy has always been importnt to me. In 2004, I learned how to blog, and it was a side thing that evolved so organically into my job. By 2005, I had created a new job at the U of Missouri and the NBC affiliate where I worked, and then I made up a job called interactive director. I went from teaching old school producing a newscast to being an innovator geek at the journalism school. Blogging is why I am the journalist I am today. I’m good at both jobs because I am a parent. I learned to experiment and be risk taking as a parent and then transitioned it online and to my more traditional gig at the station and j-school. I’m learning to blend those two worlds together.
Barb – I made the decision to leave the corporate world on Mother’s Day when my daughter was 10 months old. I have had my own business for 22 years now. Next Tuesday night there is a party at Old Town Social – $10 for a head shot, apps and drinks. It’s socialmediachicago.com. I founded it in 2008, and I’m having a great time in this wild, fun time. We do public relations to help get the stories out for the reporters.
Barb – What is the news? We didn’t know that we’d wake up yesterday to the tragedy in Colorado.
Nancy – It is something that touches your life. Who isn’t touched by what happened in Colorado? It’s horrible and tragic. If we don’t learn about these things, how can we evolve as a society? In general, I personally as a consumer, I appreciate news I can see – the weather that impacts what I’m going to wear today or if there is severe weather. If it’s something that is a health scare or something that is a food issue. I am always open to ideas and appreciate people who tweet me and send me ideas. We’re going to discuss how to reach us and what things aren’t necessarily news. Earlier I was chatting with someone about flash mobs. To invite a news crew to a flash mob makes it not really a flash mob. Is that news? Does that impact your life?
Barb – How can they know they’re watching the right news?
Nancy – This is a very savvy crowd. You are savvy news consumers. Did any of you hear the police chief in Colorado talking about social media? Someone had created a fake police chief account on Twitter. We should all be aware of where we’re getting our news and the sources of what we’re seeing. I wonder about the rest of the population though.
Jen – I believe that as a traditional journalist, it’s our jobs to help our readers and communities learn and make better choices about what is right and correct and what is a good source.
Barb – Scott, you had some discussion about a photo you posted.
Scott – When the mug shot of the guy who was arrested was posted, people started posting it everywhere. I post on my Twitter and everywhere who I am and that I am a journalist, etc. I posted this picture with his smile and smug look. I got a lot of comments asking why I was giving him more time and why I was celebrating him. I explained that as a journalist, I have to share this information because it’s a part of the story. Not everyone understood. You have to decide what you do and don’t share.
Jen – I was thinking about how could the blogger journalist relationship have been enhanced yesterday? Time shared some great tips on how to share this news with your children. There are many of us who have talked to children about tough topics. If you have a relationship with a newsroom, it’s appropriate to let them know that you have written about this and that they have permission to share it. It’s something a newsroom wouldn’t have the time or ability to create it quickly. This is something you can do to enhance your relationship with local journalists. Time did a nice thoughtful job of this, and my community could have done something similar. You may have those ties, but the journalists won’t always know it if you don’t tell them.
Barb – Always have a crisis communication plan. As a blogger, think about what you would have done next. Did anyone see the commercial (YouTube video) where the FedEx man threw the tv over the fence? In 2 hours, FedEx had a video from a senior guy explaining more. You can really comment on what’s happening. In the online space, how would you describe the gap between traditional and online publishers?
Nancy – In some cases, there is no gap. I am a journalist who blogs. Many of you were journalists and are now bloggers. We’re two circles crossing – some are covering both and some are way at the edges. It’s back to getting in touch with news organizations; you have to develop relationships before news breaks. Liz Strauss tweeted me 5 years ago, and we developed a relationship, and it has grown with her and so many others. There are so many people on Twitter. Every news station and paper has a website. There are reporters from the Tribune on Twitter. People love feedback on their stories. Ask more about particular things. Then when news breaks, it will come to you and it will come to me, too, of “Oh – I know who would fit this perfectly.”
Scott – What Nancy said about the gap and the circles, there is this perception that journalists are accurate and bloggers are first, and that seem to be where the separation comes in. When I am looking at what happens with a story, there is so much that reporters otherwise wouldn’t know about without insight from bloggers. There are some reporters who love social media and some who are in denial and pretend that it doesn’t exist. There is so much conversation happening. If you go to chicagotribune.com/twitter, you will find a list of all the reporters, and you can talk to them. My response to reporters who don’t know why anyone would want to talk to them: What if there is someone who has another angle or wants to ask a question about something…. A reporter is not going to be able to take your pitch and say thanks, I’m going to write about this tomorrow. There are all sorts of things going on, and editors that need certain stories to happen. That doesn’t mean that a journalist isn’t looking for a seed of ideas.
Jen – I have an interesting experience because I’m teaching people to blog at Mizzou. I’m teaching journalism students how to blog because I believe that without understanding the process of blogging, you can’t be as good a journalist because it’s a skill that journalists should understand. It is hard to learn how to properly blog. A good blog has good attribution, but there are journalists that wouldn’t put hyperlinks inside what they’re writing, but they should. I teach them to blog with their passion so when they need to do it for their work, they can. You have to understand passion in a written form. I think that the gaps are more a literacy situation. Not all bloggers are good bloggers. Not good bloggers will have a harder time communicating with journalists. And it’s hard for poor journalists to communicate with bloggers, too. I believe everyone should try very hard to do both. I challenge you to report on something that is important to you. Do it in something that is not just an opinion, but report it as an event. When you bring it together, it’s awesome. I take my family to a camp for limb different kids, and I blog about it journalistically, and it ends up being a wonderful review for anyone who attends the camp. I try to do that with my life story and my work.
Barb – We talk a lot about journalists and bloggers. Do they have the same rules? Why or why not? Nancy – Essentially we’re operating on the same rules. I couldn’t accept a free car or fridge and just disclose it. A lot of journalists don’t make as much money as many bloggers. I work under a professional services contract, and there are things that I can’t accept. My blog discloses what I do receive. I do a lot of photo blogs, and I love sharing things. As a journalist, I’m going places often where people generally can’t go. Will Ferrell was in our studio the other day. And I’m seeing and experiencing things that people generally can’t. I do operate under same rules as bloggers because I’m in the same pool.
Jen – I as a blogger have been much more rigid about how I interact with brands because because I blog about advocacy. It’s hard to find a sponsor unless I can convince a prosthetic company to sponsor my daughter’s next arm. What I do think is interesting is that other people blog about limb differences. I love reading you because you report your life like a journalist. The brand relationships are something journalists should know about more. My students are learning to become bloggers, and they need to have the guts and knowledge of how to interact with brands. You guys are brave.
Barb – How are you changing the curriculum of journalism?
Jen – We are changing it as fast as possible. I’m doing a lot under the radar, and we’re trying to raise awareness of what bloggers are doing. We’re trying to get students to do things that five years ago they wouldn’t do. All students have to have a Twitter account. All anchors soon will also have to have a Facebook page. If you’ve ever wanted to talk to someone on the media side, G+ is a place to get them. Broadcast has always felt like we’re just talking to you. With social, we can now listen, even live. G+ has a live reaction. Our anchor may have two earbuds, one with an earbud to the producer and one to a hangout where we’re discussing the broadcast. We’re trying to encourage more people to see that it’s so cool.
Scott – My jaw has dropped trying to watch some of what Mizzou is doing, especially on Google+.
Jen – We’re trying to take broadcast to a social interactive media.
Barb – Look at Loyola for blogger tips. @InteractiveAmy is the G+ interactive manager for Chicago, and she will be at the Chicago Social meetup. What can bloggers and journalists learn from each other?
Nancy – Follow right. Everyone knows right from wrong. Follow that. Higher education is struggling to catch up with social media. News stations are just the same. I’ve been asking for two years to have Twitter handles or hashtags on the news tags below our name identifications on the broadcasts.
Jen – Integrity is built on respect and trust. The only way we can trust is by doing our best. The more traditional journalists understand how social media works, the more they will get it. Reaching out to those who are socially engaged is worth your time. I’m listening though.
Scott – Jen’s right. There are so many things coming at you at once. I will promise you that if you send me an idea or pitch, I will take the time to write back. If there is something I can read and understand, I will tell you if I can help you with it, if someone else in the building can help, or if it really isn’t a good fit.
Barb – What is a good pitch?
Nancy – It doesn’t even have to be a pitch. Just send me a link to your post. It’s a fascinating story about how Shawna Coronado had planted a strip of flowers beyond the fence in land that belongs to the town. As a journalist, I tell her side of the story and the village’s side of the story. Don’t just tweet a link because I’m so afraid of spam, but let’s develop a relationship. Tell me, “This is going on in my town,” and then I can click on that link.
Jen – I follow a lot of people in my community. Some people I know, and some I know only through the interwebs. There is one instance where I saw people posting pictures of an organization that stood to protect the church from a known group that protests military funerals. The photos are incredible from one woman in particular. I asked if we could post her pictures and if she wanted to write something for this. She had her 10 year old write something incredible.
Scott – I do all the social media. I’m not the one who does the actual reporting. I’ll say this about pitching. I get so many emails that I cannot keep up with it. I would prefer it in a tweet because I can learn more about you in 140 characters than in an email. It makes you be more careful. Most times you look at it and change it or make it look ok. If you’re pitching and you have one opportunity to get to someone, the pitch over Twitter is the way to go.
Barb – How can bloggers become better storytellers?
Nancy – A lot of them don’t need to. A lot of them are already great story tellers. I appreciate good writing, and I’m not perfect though I try hard not to make a grammatical or spelling mistake. The things is, a well written post is so appreciated, no matter who writes it.
Barb – Will you share frequently committed sins you see?
Nancy – Someone went through my Facebook page, like like like share share share. Then they came back o me and said, “I just liked five things and shared two things, here’s the link to my page.” I asked if they did that because they wanted to or because they expected reciprocation? I don’t even know this person.
Jen – Spam is a problem.
Scott – When someone has a pitch that sounds normal, your name is in the tweet and comes to you. The first thing I see if what else they’re talking about. If you see 250 tweets and they’re identical, I ignore it. All you’re doing is copying and pasting with a new name? I don’t think people get that this is spam. I have social media tips column. I give advice even when it’s not wanted. I said “Hey, I don’t know if you know this or not but this is considered spam.” My basic thought and what I come back with is, social media is nothing if it is not social. There are so many people out there who are typing things just for the sake of typing them. You have to have a reason for doing it.
Jen – Another sin would be creating an account for an event. Follow everyone without an avatar or explaining who you are. If you are going to create an account, do not start following people until you are established with a profile, etc.
Scott – Don’t be a Twitter egg. I won’t go back an follow you if we aren’t having a relationship – and I don’t typically interact with an egg.
Barb – Your rule of thirds, Scott?
Scott – That’s a rule that social media rule. You want to think of what you’re saying. 1/3 of the time you talk about your blog. 1/3 talk about things that are related to your blog – if you garden, talk about gardening but not your blog. 1/3 of the time, be yourself. Talk about what you like, the food you enjoy, the weather, what you like. You need to be real. You need to be a person, and we need a frame of reference of who that person is. If you follow my account, you’ll see a lot of stuff from work, but you’ll also see a lot of photos of me going out for cocktails. That’s probably a true 33% of my Twitter feed. The rule of thirds shows people that you are real. Any journalist who sees that you have interests outside the story, that’s interesting.
Jen – If you are a news social media acount, I tell them the same thing. Don’t be a news monkey. I don’t want to just see the news unless I’m in the newsroom. Be a person.
Questions from the audience:
Me Myself & Jen – For Nancy, you work under your professional services contract. What counts first, your blogger profile or your professional services contract?
Nancy – When I’m working on air, I’m fulfilling my professional services contract. My blog is under the Tribune network. I actually joined the Tribune Company when I was with the other station and have always been aware of the FTC guidelines. I’m using social media all the time, and the line between right and wrong… I know that if I do that, that’s just not right. There are grey areas – entertainment reporters who go on junkets. Countless reporters go on trips to Rio de Janeiro when the movie Rio came out. They’re the ones reviewing movies. Is it generally known? They don’t have to disclose that they got a free trip. This is something that will have to keep evolving, but I just follow my conscience.
My Myself & Jen – I tend to do reality show recaps that I send links to the cast members, other affiliates, etc. How do I avoid this looking like spam?
Jen – Can you do this via email? Can you create a hashtag that they might follow?
Scott– If you have to do this, at the very least, I would not do it all one right after the other if you can help it. Even reword it a little so you don’t come across as that person who looks like a spammer.
The Rusted Chain – Scott, you mentioned the rule of thirds. I’ve always set my own rule of 90/10. 90% of the time it’s everything under the sun and 10% about my blog.
Scott – You could up it a little, but you don’t want to flip it the other way. You can still accomplish it a little more when you tweet about things related to your blog.
The Rusted Chain – Do these same rules apply to magazines?
Jen – At this point, everyone produces things at a fast pace now if they are legitimately in social media.
Make Dinner Easy – I err on the opposite side. I don’t reveal that much about myself. People are following me because they want decent dinner ideas. How do you create a balance to not bore people?
Scott – I’m one of those people who signs up for a service that tells you when people unfollow you. I have a reason for that. I like to find out why people unfollow me. Am I saying something wrong, did I do something? I usually reach out, especially if I had a relationship with them before. Usually the reason was you tweeted a little too much about the Colorado shooting or the business story on page 1. There are a lot of people who follow me because of what I do, too. They are then surprised when they see a photo of a cocktail. It’s going to happen, and some people have separate accounts for that reason.
Nancy– Don’t be formulaic and go third third third. I just try to follow my gut and just interact as much as possible. There are so many people who are on Twitter who are just tweeting things about themselves, and it’s a stream of me.
Barb – Scott Stratten wrote the book, and 90% of his tweets are replies, and that’s how he has grown to where he is.
Jen – I have been on Twitter for a long time. My voice has changed over time. I ask my people if what I’m doing is ok.
Connected Chicago Mom – Can you elaborate on how you turn it off in your personal life?
Jen – I run.
Nancy – I time it down to the minute of when I shut down. I am almost always with one. Here I am with three devices. I usually have at least two devices with me. I cannot sleep with my smart phone. The station knows to call my landline if there is a major news overnight. I need the notifications when I’m working. I want to be the one people turn to to give their story, and I get that by interacting.
Jen – I’ll admit to tweeting while I run. And I Instagram when I run. I put my kids to bed, and the phone does not come with me. My employees and students and online world knows that they will not get a reaction between 7and 9, but I’m on otherwise.
Scott – I have this thing called the news spidey sense. You kind of just know that something is going on. My alarm is set for 6:15. I woke up an hour and a half early yesterday, and it was all bulletins from the shooting on my phone. I then worked on it the entire day.
Jen – I was on the phone the majority of the time with the newsroom after I got to my hotel room.
Barb – I read about that most people are on between 11am and 3pm EST, and that’s when to post on Twitter and Facebook. You want to go see when your people are online. On the weekends, I pretty much unplug. I use that as catchup time. I think you can be offline, but for bloggers, figure out when your people will be online. If there is a time that you’re online, your community will start to look for you then.
Question – How do you encourage journalists to interact? If you tweet out a link to a story and I have a question and you don’t respond, it turns me off to the entire station. Why not encourage just people who use it right to be on social media?
Jen – I watch all my on air employees, and I will call them out if they don’t react. I’m mean. I go to newsrooms and explain how I became so social. You have to have fun to get social. If you are just told to do it, you won’t enjoy it.
Scott – I wish I could do that kind of thing, but my Tweet Deck has about 94 columns. I watch all that stuff. There are reporters who should use it more, because they’re missing out on this great conversation. I will sometimes email them and say that you are missing a great conversation. I try to sit down with these people every once in awhile and explain why and also share the missed opportunities. I think it depends on where you are and who you’re writing to. I’m trying to make it so that you don’t feel that way.
Nancy – Many journalists will turn to me and ask me. I tell them that it’s an investment in yourself. When I left Fox Chicago, my contract was not renewed and I was unemployed for awhile. I got my job at WGN partly because of my social media. My Facebook subscription is up to 490,000. Any station that hires me knows they’re getting a social media army. I always describe it as an investment in yourself. You’re getting extra mileage from your work. They’re the journalists who are on the beach (unemployed). Had they jumped on the bandwagon and really understood it, they might not be there. It’s work and it takes cultivating and developing.
Hyacynth from Undercover Mother – I find that I’m not primarily a blogger but also a freelance writer. I am constantly walking a fine line between journalist and blogger. People ask if I can write about a blog topic for CBS. I often say that I don’t accept payment or product to go on a journalist site.
Jen – Do you have that on your about page? I would say I am also a freelance writer who follows the journalistic guidelines. I accept reviews for this site but not for any freelance opportunities. It’s clear and open.
Hy – Should I have a separate page for a freelance writer?
Jen – If you are getting your gigs from your blog, I would keep it on the blog and add a page about your freelance work and some of your best examples.
Hy – How do I handle it when I really love a product and want to pitch it to a freelance gig?
Jen – Pitch it to them, but don’t write it yourself. It’s a bummer, but that’s the right thing to do.
McMaryes.com – As journalists and bloggers, how do you handle being so connected?
Jen – I have a vacation rule that I don’t go on my phone unless I’m taking pictures or on my computer until they’re in bed and it’s dark. If you are too on it and always there, you will get burned out. You have to tell people that you’re fried and step away or you will end up in the looney bin because social is nonstop.
Scott – My wife made me promise I wouldn’t take my phone out when I was on our honeymoon. My hands were almost shaking wanting to get out the phone and taking pictures.
Love Encore – I have a relationship show that I do, and I’m trying to get in touch with Patti Stanger.
Jen – Check Google+. I’m not kidding.
Barb – If you have a show, people like to be on them. You can contact the producer to see if she would want on. Or go old school with mail since no one sends mail anymore.
Love Encore – How do you follow up without being a pest?
Barb – Someone wanted to be on the Oprah show and contacted them every day. After 400 days, they finally got on. Persistence can pay off.
Love Encore – How do you draw the line between who goes into your Facebook page and fan page?
Nancy – The Facebook subscribe is great. I got rid of the fan page so that when you post, you can tailor it to everyone or to just family. I found it really cumbersome to post everything twice. There were people who were on both personal and fan pages. It’s just a far more convenient way to operate.
Barb – Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Nancy – I’m always on the lookout for the next thing. I love Instagram. I love keeping tabs on social media apps and outlets. You never know what’s going to be the next Twitter. I’m developing networks that are in embryonic places. I like Tout and Vimeo and Social Cam. We just don’t have the patience for posting and watching videos. I still want to dabble in it though. My advice is to look for the next thing.
Scott – I do a lot on Instagram, and I’m big on Pinterest and some video things, too. Be on it (a social media platform) not because it exists but because it’s where your people are talking about things. There are all these different platforms. Pick one. If you follow me on the platforms where I’m at, I’m happy to help where I can.
Jen – I’m passionate about many things – special needs advocacy, storytelling no matter the format. Gatherings like these are great because we learn so much from each other. I’d encourage all of you to take that challenge I mentioned earlier. Our readers and interactions deserve the same level we have. I blogged about how to start blogging becuse a lot of my readers have been asking how to be a blogger. I shared some of my know how. I do that on my geeky Jen Lee Reeves site all the time, and you might be surprised that your readers might benefit from lessons that you might think are simple but aren’t that simple.
Barb – Think about yourselves as media empresses. You all have a wonderful gift to share with the world. Imagine what could be. Blog on!