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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

Battle of the toolbars: NYPost vs. MSNBC

Posted on : 29-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Design, Tools

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Update: Just came across Washington Post’s Post Alert, which popups on the bottom of the browser for big stories.

Today I went to the NYPost.com and noticed that their top-of-the-page toolbar moved as you scrolled down (or rather stays in the foreground, as Greg Linch pointed out). I think this was an interesting idea and implementation for a news site and asked my Twitter friends what they thought of it. Below is some of the feedback that took place, along with someone pointing out MSNBC’s toolbar, which rests at the bottom of the page.

Check out both of the implementations above and let me know what you think in the poll below or comments. I think that overall it is a good idea as long as it doesn’t ruin or distract the reader in their experience of navigating the site. It should be a useful tool.

News organizations seek new revenue in wine clubs

Posted on : 28-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business

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This post is also appearing on a Columbia Journalism School website I write for, which is still currently under construction but will launch some time this week.

USA Today launched a Wine Club earlier this month, joining the list of publications hoping to entice readers to an online community of wine drinkers who buy wines directly from them.

The national newspaper partnered with My Wines Direct to create a Web site wine club where readers can learn about wines that are selected by a tasting panel. Members can then purchase six bottles quarterly online for $69.99 plus shipping.

People gather to taste various wines at Slate's Wine Tasting at Sotheby's Aulden Cellars in August (Photo: Vadim Lavrusik)

People at Slate’s Wine Tasting at Sotheby’s Aulden Cellars in August. (Photo: Vadim Lavrusik)

Large publications are launching similar wine clubs and attaching their publications’ brands to the clubs as part of their exploration of new revenue to help close the gap from a decline in ad spending.

The New York Times launched its wine club in mid-August and other publications, including Forbes and The San Francisco Chronicle, have started their own clubs as well. The Wall Street Journal has had a wine club since last September, while online publications such as Slate are hosting wine tastings.

USA Today had been considering getting into the wine business for some time, said Christy Hartsell, director of brand licensing at USA Today, in an e-mail. The project was in the works for several months and the paper even held various tasting events before the launch, Hartsell said.

7 things you need to know before you start a media business online

Posted on : 25-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Journalism school, Online Journalism, Social Media, Video

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At the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism we are lucky to have access to some great minds in the media industry, including Ken Lerer, the co-founder and chairman of The Huffington Post, who is teaching six sessions on media entrepreneurship. On Tuesday, Lerer used the first session to outline the five points he wants to focus on.

I think that all of these are quite important to the media industry moving forward and wanted to share them with you, along with a few others that he pointed out during the discussion with journalism students. However, starting an online journalism site is not easy, despite how-to guides making it seem that way sometimes. Most of these are trends that Lerer himself and others are seeing in online journalism. One reason being is that there may be some opportunity to add other topics. So, if you think there is something very important missing, please do share.

1. The Shift From Mainstream to Social Sites

This is pretty self explanatory. “Content companies have to get into the social business or fall by the way side,” Lerer said. He also talked a bit about how some news organizations are taking advantage of this by integrating social tools into their sites, such as Huffington Post using Facebook Connect. Read my recent post for Mashable on 7 Ways To Make News Sites More Social. I think this needs to not only go one step further, but perhaps there is a possibility that some of these social sites may eventually provide CMS for publishing.

A mix of WordPress, Facebook and Twitter into one awesome content site – now that may be a Knight Foundation News Challenge winner. Why? Well, the social sites are outpacing news sites in terms of use and are growing at very fast rates (check out graph below) and social networking use has tripled from only a year ago. Lerer also pointed to news being consumed or passed on through friends on these sites. This is the way many people get and share their news now, through social networks. Lerer also noted that for a news site like the Nytimes.com to implement many of the tools and figure out how to incorporate them into the content will take some time.

Social sites vs. MSM

2. Advertising Effectively

This is a bit of a difficult topic. How to fund the work that takes place in journalism is a much debated topic. However, Lerer said that he thinks advertising is the big money maker. It hasn’t quite caught on on the Web though, or at least people aren’t willing to pay as much for online ads. However, making money off social sites will be the next big business on the Web. You have to think of your future customers, Lerer said. Paywalls? Lerer thinks it is “insane” to fight the link community. He said that he think that news sites will end up offering some content free and require subscription to view certain parts content on the site.

3. Local Content

Lerer continues to be a firm believer that local will be the next big thing. It hasn’t advanced as quickly as some anticipated and there is no big business model for it yet. Yet Lerer is optimistic. “You’re going to see local explode,” he said. He said if he were starting another Web company, it would be something with local. The key is looking at a market and asking yourself what is missing or what could be covered better? What service can you provide that another site is not doing well on or doing at all?

4. Community

Without community on a site, it is likely that will not be as successful as you would hope. Lerer said for a content site, community is hugely important and should not go overlooked. Some sites have great content, but little community and lose out on traffic as a result and in search rankings.

5. Citizen Journalism and User-generated content

Also, trying to figure out how the relationship between staff journalists and contributing citizen journalists should function is another thing to figure out. There are no clear-cut answers but I think that more journalists will first start out by contributing to a site as a citizen before getting hired on staff. The best will still rise to the top, if not more so than today.

6. Video

So how does video fit in? Lerer said that he thinks video is the future of the Internet, or at least there will be a lot more of it on content sites in the future. There is a spectrum with Hulu on one end and YouTube on the other. One is high quality and longer pieces, but costs a lot to produce. The other is usually not as good of quality, but is usually very cheap to produce. The key is figuring out where the middle is.

7. Content is King

This goes to a point made earlier: What kind of content does a market area not have? Or perhaps you could do a better job producing that content and providing a place where the community is stronger or delivering it more efficiently. Whatever it is, Lerer said ultimately content is king.

Below are the other key points that will be outlined in future sessions, but ones that the discussion didn’t go into. I will make sure to touch on these more in the future:

  • How to make traffic go viral (SEO, etc).
  • Social and real-time distribution
  • How to raise money to start you business

So what’s missing? Would love to hear it in the comments.

Google Search now with more options?

Posted on : 24-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Search

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Notice anything different in Google Search? Not sure when this change took place, but I just noticed that the Google Web Search gives no defaults to give you more options for sorting the search, similar to some of the options it provides in its Google News categories. The default “web” search category now takes on a similar look to some of the others.

Google SearchIt gives you the option to sort by category content such as blogs, jobs, news, etc., as well as its timeliness. It also provides related searches. This adds a new element into the default design of search.

Advanced Facebook for Journalists

Posted on : 18-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Journalism school

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Sree Sreenivasan, my dean of student affairs and professor of digital media at the Columbia School of Journalism,  organized some great guests for a webcast today on how journalists can use Facebook. In fact, the Journalism School is teaching how to use Facebook as a tool for journalists, among other social media. The panel included:

Below is the webcast via Blogtalkradio. And also here is a short post from Ben Parr briefly mentioning what the conversation was about (why journalists should use Facebook, the new features, etc.):

7 ways to make news sites more social

Posted on : 16-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Social Media

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This is an excerpt from a post I wrote for Mashable.com:

Journalism is supposed to be a conversation, but often news websites don’t provide the tools for that conversation to take place. Implementing social media tools and allowing readers to connect to the organization through Twitter, Facebook (Facebook) and other networks, can make it easier for users to engage with the news content and their community members. However, some fundamental tools that allow readers to share content through social media are not being utilized. A recent study that looked at almost 200 newspapers and TV stations with Twitter accounts found that only a third offered readers a way to share a story link using Twitter, while 80 percent provided a Facebook sharing button.

Making it easier for readers to comment, take part in live chats and in some cases even contribute user-generated blogs can enhance the conversation and strengthen the relationship between the news organization and its audience. Here are a few tips on how a news website can become more social and examples of how some news organizations are doing it. Of course this isn’t comprehensive, so we’d love to hear about some innovative examples and successes about your sites in the comments below.


1. “Connect With Us” Links and Directories


Though many news organizations have a social media presence, their websites often bury the links that would allow readers to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Featuring these links prominently on a site can ultimately build a stronger presence on these networks and bring more traffic back to the site.

For example, CNN and The New York Times, news organizations that have a very large presence on social sites, do not feature easy-to-find links on the front page for users to connect. Of course these sites have a lot of content to feature, but offering those social connection links prominently can help create a lasting social relationship that brings readers back to the site.

Some news sites like The Wall Street Journal provide a Twitter link in their footer along with their other tools, which is a step in the right direction, but could be even more prominently placed. The Denver Post website includes a sidebar item titled “Follow the Denver Post,” which includes a link to its Facebook and Twitter pages and links to other connections.

Read the full post here.

How to: Create an online presence to develop your brand

Posted on : 08-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media

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An excerpt from a post I wrote for Dan Schwabel’s Personal Branding Blog, it is a good follow-up to a post I wrote for Poynter on using a blog to build your brand:

As an online journalist and news junkie, there are multiple platforms that I use in gathering news and digesting the plethora of information out there. Whether it is to keep up on my areas of interests (tech, social media, business models in journalism) or areas of news that I simply enjoy being informed about (local news, politics, Middle East, etc), there are plenty of options to find this news and keep track of it.

3346820651_55e14ff847But what journalists and other professionals often don’t think about is that these tools help build your online presence, which results in further shaping and developing your brand. And of course, there are various social sites and platforms that can help you achieve this (Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Delicious, Digg, FriendFeed, Publish2). Most of these are interlinked, allowing you to share and bounce around the different platforms, but of course there is a method to the madness.

Though I am not going to dive into the very details of each of these platforms and the best practices, the idea is to give you a crash course of how these influence your brand and online presence.

Read the full post here.

What news sites can learn from marketing campaigns: Previews and social media buzz

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Social Media

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Last week I tweeted about winning a Samsung digital camera. I entered into a contest to win a dual LCD Samsung ST550 by tweeting a reply to @tapandtake, a Twitter account started to market the camera and generate buzz by giving 25 free cameras away. I did some digging on the campaign and looking it over and couldn’t find how they chose the winners, but it seems random.

The campaign appears to have started on July 31, 2009 (at least that is when the Facebook Fan Page was launched). Since that time the Facebook Fan page has 2,100 fans and a Twitter account with 2,100 followers. This is a great example of how previewing something before it hits the stores, or the stands could help generate buzz and excitement about a product. To me, that’s pretty impressive. Sure, the marketing campaign is giving away free cameras and so it will attract a lot of followers and fans just based on that, but the fan page is very active. The page is updated regularly and gets lots of comments and reactions from its fans. The Twitter account is the same, getting a lot of retweets and replies as well.

Tap and Take Campaign

The news could learn a thing or two from this. At my college paper, we would post previews of stories to the Web before posting the full thing. What’s interesting is that according to the analytics, the stories with preview posts would generate more views than those without.

It’s simple: with the fast-paced Web the stories were able to get more exposure on the site. But perhaps even more importantly, the same thing could be done with news organizations’ social media accounts. These should be used to interact with the audience, including making them feel valuable by offering them inside sneak peeks perhaps or simply the heads up that a specific story is coming out soon to build interest. This could result in a better return on pageviews. What other ideas could we take from such campaigns? Giving people an incentive to engage certainly helps.

Is it worth going to journalism school? Join me for a discussion

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Journalism school

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Credit: Sean Horan

Credit: Sean Horan

Updated: Here is a summary of the show from from FishbowlNY. Or listen to it below.

Alright, so usually I don’t use this blog to promote stuff, but I am interested in starting a discussion around the topic. I will be on Mediabistro’s Morning Media Menu tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. talking about why I went to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, instead of going the job route.

Recently, there has been a lot of skepticism out there about whether journalism schools are actually beneficial for a journalist’s career. A lot of people point to the failings of many journalism school curriculum’s in incorporating relevant skills needed in today’s industry, while others simply say that much of what is being taught can be learned on one’s own time or in a work environment.

I personally think that journalists have an opportunity to not only gain valuable skills at journalism school, but also experiment in ways that they might not be able to in the workforce. Innovation and experimentation in newsrooms is often clouded by bureaucracy. What do you think? Is journalism school valuable today, especially at the graduate level? Listen in tomorrow at 9 a.m.

What traditional news organizations can learn from online magazine FLYP

Posted on : 03-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism

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FLYP articleExcerpt from my post for Poynter Online. Read it in full here.

There is no silver bullet for a journalism revenue stream or the struggle to reinvent storytelling for the Web. But there are fragments of a bullet that we can piece together.

Jim Gaines, editor in chief of FLYP, an online magazine that combines traditional reporting and writing with animation, audio, video and interactive graphics, thinks he has found a piece of that bullet. It includes rethinking the way storytelling is done online.

Magazines and news organizations may want to keep an eye on what Gaines and his team are doing with FLYP and learn from the site’s successes and shortcomings.