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Facebook + Journalism 101Facebook + Journalism 101 Academia could be more social. So recently, I setup a Facebook Group for "Social Journalism Educators" to be able to connect and share resources around how they are teaching...

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My Next Chapter: Facebook JournalismMy Next Chapter: Facebook Journalism This was originally posted on my Facebook Page. Also, read CNN's coverage of my new role. ------ I am honored to announce that I will be joining Facebook as Journalist...

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Is Sharing More Valuable for Publishers on Facebook or Twitter? [STATS] Is Sharing More Valuable for Publishers on Facebook... This is an excerpt of analysis I recently wrote on Mashable about how our Twitter users interact with our content vs. those on Facebook. The result: Facebook's click-per-share...

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Facebook & Its Growing Role in Social JournalismFacebook & Its Growing Role in Social Journalism This is an excerpt from a post I recently reported for Mashable.com. Read the full piece here. A Facebook-only news organization? It was only a matter of time. The...

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New to Twitter? Here Are 12 Tips From the CommunityNew to Twitter? Here Are 12 Tips From the Community For someone just starting out on Twitter, the social information network can be intimidating. It has its own language, limitations, and features that are very unique to the...

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Vadim Lavrusik Rss

Tips, tools to keep your Twits organized and noise to a minimum

Posted on : 31-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Tools, Twitter

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twitterTwitter is continuing to grow and sometimes it is difficult to keep the noise down. It can be an effective approach to follow everyone back that is following you. For example, it allows your followers to direct message you if they need to contact you and generally keeps accessibility and communication open. And I have been frustrated at times trying to contact someone on Twitter through a direct message but unable to because they weren’t following me (also an ever so subtle blow to whatever ego I have).

However, I myself don’t follow everyone back simply to keep the noise level on Twitter down. Technology blogger Robert Scoble recently unfollowed more than 100,000 people to start from scratch. It stopped his spam and he was able to start building a quality community.

I try to follow people that share similar interests and that add value to my network and the information I am receiving from them. While some use Twitter as a way to connect with their friends, I use Twitter as a way to soak in information from users that have similar interests in social media, journalism, technology and more. Yes, this does mean that I don’t always follow even my friends back. I keep up with my friends on Facebook. Twitter is a social broadcasting tool that I can use to see what exactly is the buzz during any given moment. It is a social RSS, a place where I can have a discussion about issues in technology and how it’s changing our social interactions and especially the journalism industry I am a part of.

There are some great tools out there that I have used to keep track of my Twitter followers and those I am following. There are also some common practices that each user should get used to, at least for now. I came across this great post on Mashable today about tools to analyze your Tweets, and there are definitely some useful ones on the list, which I will mention. Here are just a few tips I have gathered along the way (this of course is not exhaustive by any means, but perhaps still helpful):

1. Use Untweeps.com – This site allows you to connect to your Twitter account and filter the users you are following who are stale in activity. For example, you can select the option for Untweeps to filter only the people you are following who have not tweeted for the last 15 days or 20 days or 26. Whatever amount of days for you is far too long for a user to go without activity, you can have Untweeps reveal those users. You then have the option to unfollow these people. Some of these may be people that you value in your network, and you can opt out to uncheck them from the list of people you are unfollowing. I, however, like to follow users who are active and are constantly going to provide me with useful information and are always in the know. I use this tool regularly and you will find that it can trim down the number you are following by quite a bit. You can also use the tool to track who you have blocked, and more. Twitoria is another similar tool, but only shows those that are inactive.

2. Try Twitterless – This is a tool that gives you an update regularly of how many people have started following you and has stopped following you. You get a list of users that stopped following you. Unfortunately, the site is in beta and so it is difficult to know why they are unfollowing you, but still a helpful resource to track your network. It also graphs your history over time. Qwitter is another similar app that is supposed to notify you when someone stops following you as well as the tweet that may have caused it, but I have found it unreliable in notifying me.

3. Tweet Blocker – This is a great tool in blocking the spammers that are on Twitter, and now boasts having blocked more than 70,000 spam accounts. Twitter has been known to purge a lot of spam accounts all at once. So if you notice that you have lost a huge amount of followers, it is likely because they were all spam accounts. Tweet Blocker allows you to login and grades your followers – a lot of the times the accounts that are given an F, are in fact spammers. Other times they are just new users that haven’t tweeted much yet. If you don’t want to mass purge, you should at least try to keep up with your followers and if they appear to be spam – then block them. They aren’t helping your network. And remember, it’s not all about the numbers. It’s about the quantity of followers, but the quality.TweetBlocker

4. Use Columns in TweetDeck, Hootsuite, etc.: This might seem like a simple thing, but is often an underutilized feature in these third-party apps that allow you to organize your network into columns. For example, you can have a general column, a column for what your colleagues are saying, a column for friends, etc.

5. Search for Twits by location and check on their grades: There are several ways of doing this. Of course, I don’t expect you to spend all your time checking all your twits’ grades in Twitter Grader, but the tool is useful. If anything, it is helpful in allowing you to determine who the big players are in your location as well. There are other location-based Twitter directories and searches like LocalTweeps, which allows you to search by zip. Or if you are simply curious about what’s being talked about in your location and would like to connect with some twits, check out NearbyTweets, which is more automated and visually appealing. These are especially useful for twits in a new location.

Update: ReFollowHere is a great site that has a lot of functionality that Jim Santori, publisher of the Mankato Free Press (Minnesota), pointed me to. I like the visual layout and the site gives you a lot of options to keep those you are following and those following you organized.

A case for innovation to news organizations

Posted on : 25-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Higher Education, Online Journalism, Video

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I know that this video is directed at college publications, but I think this is great to watch for college and professional news organizations. Creating an innovative environment and experimenting is key (I mentioned this point and used the Hack Day at the Guardian as an example in my post on newspapers’ survival for Mashable). I think that college media have a great opportunity to experiment and be bold in ways that professional media are often limited.

Credit to the CoPress folks for making this video. Make sure to check out their site, especially if you are in college media:

A Case for Innovation from CoPress on Vimeo.

5 ways journalists can use personal websites to build their brand

Posted on : 24-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism

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Evan Wyloge clips page

This is an excerpt from an article for Poynter Online. Read the full post and the 5 points here.

As more news organizations are laying off full-time reporters, many of them are being replaced by freelancers. On top of that, with the ubiquitous tools that allow anyone to publish, journalists now have to set themselves apart and establish their credibility more than ever. Journalists have to communicate directly with the audience and in many cases become a part of it. They no longer have just a byline, but a face and a personal brand. There is an increasing shift from the organization that you represent to you as an individual.

Alfred Hermida, a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia, notes that it is a good idea to start building your personal brand as a student. However, it is just as important for a veteran journalist to build your brand as well.

A veteran reporter may be familiar in his or her local town, but unknown to the outside world. And if that hometown paper closes, the local credentials become almost irrelevant. Journalists need to have an online presence and a personal brand.

One of the key ways to start developing your brand is providing a place where all your online personalities and platforms meet –- a central Web site where potential employers and the public can learn all they need about your professional credentials, as well as learn how to contact and connect with you. Here are a few ways journalists can build their personal brands. We’d love to hear others in the comments below.

Read the full post here. The points include: showcasing your blogging skills, expertise, showing off your portfolio, build an audience, and present your new media skills.

A critique of MiamiHerald.com

Posted on : 20-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Design, Online Journalism

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MiamiHeraldI tweeted a couple days ago about a critique I was working on of MiamiHerald.com. Below is a breakdown of key things that stood out to me while browsing through the website. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this critique and I am sure there are plenty of other things that you folks could find. I looked at design, which includes placement, usability and features. I organized it by the header, top fold and the rest. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

More journalism schools should partner with business schools

Posted on : 16-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Higher Education

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Credit: Sean Horan

The title says it all. Today, I start classes at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. And after reading Patrick Thornton’s post on being honest about journalism school and its worth, I started thinking about what I think is missing at many journalism schools today: partnerships with the universities’ business schools.

Thornton talks about how to best acquire necessary journalism skills and why folks shouldn’t go to journalism schools, as well as some mentions of journalism school curricula that are working (Extended Note: Thornton seems to have something against Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, which is where I am currently studying and cites its curriculum as outdated – though it isn’t quite clear why because the opposing examples he provides – one being NYU’s Studio 20 – aren’t much different than the options available at Columbia’s j-school, such as the workshop Nightly News. I think graduate programs in journalism are still valuable in gaining skills, and personally for me, helpful in having M.S. credentials to hopefully teach journalism one day). Anyway, the point is something is missing at many journalism schools that should be available at all. Thornton gets this right:

Here is the rub: If you’re going to attend a journalism program — especially a graduate program — you want to be in a program that will teach you how to start your own projects and be entrepreneurial. You want a program that realizes that the (social) Web is the present and future of journalism.

One thing that schools like CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism have it right is a curriculum that includes an entrepreneurial program as well as The Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Comm at ASU and Medill’s Graduate Journalism Innovations Projects. These are just a few example. But a partnership for journalism students to work together with business school students on websites that provide engaging and quality content but at the same time experiment in creating online revenue models that work should be available at all journalism schools.

In fact, I think it should be available as a specialization track at journalism schools. Though journalism schools have been implementing entrepreneurial and innovations elements into their curricula, one class or projects on the subject is not enough to fully experience what it would take to create a successful startup. Most journalism schools have figured out the need for teaching students essential web skills, and in many cases learning how to start a website and produce content for it in various ways. However, learning how to make that website profitable is just as important.

12 things newspapers should do to survive

Posted on : 14-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Newspapers

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Excerpt from a Mashable.com post that I wrote, which was published today:

Though there are countless articles and blog posts sprawled across the web about the dying newspaper industry, this will not be one of them. Some people have even come to the conclusion that journalism itself is dying, yet in reality, journalism is expanding with social media platforms and technology allowing the former audience and sources to become the reporters themselves. Instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom, this post is an attempt at gathering voices in the journalism industry and on the web to give some thought as to what newspapers should be considering in order to survive and evolve with today’s technology-driven, short-attention-span world.

Those who think there is one silver bullet to fix the newspaper business are mistaken. Newspapers have almost always had multiple streams of revenue to support themselves and the future will likely not be any different. That doesn’t mean, however, that the money-making models newspapers will use on the web will look the same as the ones they have used for print.

Newspapers are struggling financially, but ad revenue is predicted to recover slightly in 2010. The underlying issues are not just business-driven, but include issues of structure, culture and the industrialized foundations of distributing newspapers. This list is not a comprehensive one, but these are some of the things that newspaper leaders should be considering. And though print itself may not survive, the organizations behind them provide value to a democratic society, often covering and providing news that blogs with more limited resources can’t always dig up. We welcome comments below with other suggestions of things you think newspaper leaders should try or invest in. Let’s have some dialogue about this topic.

1. Putting web first and reporting from multiple platforms


That might seem like a no-brainer, but this fact is a double-edged sword. Newspapers are often still treating their websites as an afterthought because their advertising revenue is largely still coming from print. At the same time, the shift to getting more revenue from websites won’t happen until the websites are the first priority.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said one of the issues is that reporters have been given a job description that revolves around a single platform (i.e. print journalist), when really journalists need to conceive of the editorial act apart from questions of platforms.

Ultimately, the word “print” needs to be removed from the role of print journalists, said Kevin Sablan, leader of the Orange County Register’s web task force. Reporters need to focus on primarily gathering information and how to present that information in multiple formats: websites, mobile platforms, social networks and finally print.

The reason? Technology is changing the way people consume news, and though many are still getting their news through traditional print outlets, many others are shifting to get their news through various media, such as television, mobile phones, and the web. Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at Publish2, a company that specializes in link journalism, said journalists now have to be ready to produce journalism on multiple platforms, whether that is tweeting a headline, uploading a video through their iPhone or something else – journalism comes in all shapes and sizes.

Read the full post at Mashable here.

Sources going direct: FDNY and the Hudson River air collision

Posted on : 08-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Trends, Video

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A small plane and a tourist helicopter collided over the Hudson River in lower Manhattan today. Though Twitter played a big role like it often does with breaking news coverage, this time some of the best coverage of the breaking event was from the source itself: the Fire Department.

The FDNY has a live video stream and coverage of the rescue efforts that allowed those who tuned in to listen and watch updates from the air and comment real-time in a “shoutbox.” Sure the New York Times and Fox News were updating their breaking stories  on their websites, however, the traditional news reports often lagged behind. Why? They were relying on the facts from the source, who itself was reporting on their live video feed, garnering more than 300 viewers.

As a journalist, I have to ask myself, is this a trend that is going to continue in the future and will it replace the role of journalists? I think not, mostly because professional reporters are trained to get the details and provide it in a coherent way, which was often lost in the jargon of the FDNY feed.

Also, I will add that the NYTimes and other news sources offered much more context in their stories and eventually included a video and photos of the rescue scene. But this live feed is a good example of how sources are playing a role in reporting themselves, and most of the time they have much more access than reporters do:

FDNY Live Radio

Kudos to Joey Baker for pointing this out via Twitter.

6 ways to monetize online video

Posted on : 05-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Video

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Excerpt from my final post for Online Journalism Blog on how online video can be monetized:

Movie Icon: RSS(Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part series on local online news video, summarizing the findings of a thesis study that examined the Minnesota media market and their use of online video. Part one looked at content and part two examined design and usability. Love to hear feedback in the comments below.)

______________________

It is clear that the economy has damaged efforts to expand and improve online video. Many local news sites have had to cut staff, and they are working to produce content in survival mode. However, video advertising is expected to have the largest growth out of any sectors in online advertising. In December, eMarketer released predictions for video ad spending, saying that it would rise by 45 percent in 2009 to reach $850 million. Though ad spending has slowed a bit, video advertising remains strong. The opportunities are tremendous. However, half of the local news sites have yet to implement or even sell a video advertisement.

In summary, the six ways are: internal hosting, pre-roll ads, complementing ad forms, the 15 second rule, search ads, internal production of ads. Read the full details here.

5 reasons why Twitter will continue to grow

Posted on : 04-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Twitter

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Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote for Mashable.com, which appeared today.

With all the skepticism of whether it’s just a social media fad and questions about how the company expects to generate revenue, Twitter has left many critics silent by continuing to grow. Though the company has made some improvements, including its recent redesigned homepage, many wouldn’t credit these changes with the successful growth of Twitter.

It’s all about the people and how the service has been put to use by the millions. Whether using it during their everyday lives, marketing a business or reporting on tragic events, users have shown the value of Twitter and will continue to contribute to its growth. Below are just five reasons why Twitter will continue to grow. Please add your thoughts below in the comments, as well as other reasons you believe Twitter will continue to grow.

1. Consistent growth:

The microblogging site reached 23 million unique users in June, according to Compete, which was a 16 percent growth compared to May. This doesn’t even include the millions that do not visit Twitter.com and instead use third-party services to update. The site has had a consistent growth, and we expect it will continue to do so for July numbers.

Read the rest at Mashable.com

What’s working and what’s not in local online news video content (Part 1)

Posted on : 03-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Video

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(Apologies for the break in blogging. I have been in the process of moving from Minnesota to NYC. Moving is not fun.This is excerpt from a blog post I wrote for the Online Journalism Blog that summarized the findings of my thesis study on 10 local news sites. Read the first of three posts in full here. Aside from this series, I will have several other posts this week that might strike your fancy.)

Though local news sites have expanded their production of content and made great strides in technological advances on their video platforms, they haven’t exactly reached the next threshold or industry standard in online video. In many cases, this “standard” is being set by media giants like CNN and user-generated social media sites like YouTube. In fact, a recent study shows that watching online video is more popular than Facebook or Twitter. The trend is continuing in that direction and the time spent watching online video has increased as well. And with YouTube now getting into the local news business with its News Near You feature that will grab news clips from sources that are 100 miles from your computer’s IP address, local news organizations should worry.

Many of the local news sites are still experimenting and beginning to define the type of video content they would like to produce. Below are lessons learned from a thesis study that examined how 10 local news sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA market used online video. The conclusions made here, are also gathered through interviews of editors at the respective organizations (Note: Several did not want or could not appear for publication as a result of organizational policies). The full study can be found here (beware it is about 60 pages in length). Here are the sites studied: