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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

So You Want to Be A Journalist?

Posted on : 12-13-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Journalism school, Online Journalism, Social Media

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Before you decide, watch this video. Aside from it being humorous, it unfortunately reflects the attitude and misinformed expectations many young journalists have today.

Excerpt: Investigative Journalism in the Age of the Social Web

Posted on : 11-24-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Social Media, Tools, Trends

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This is an excerpt of my most recent feature on Mashable.com. Read it in full here.

Investigative JournalismIn a society that is more connected than ever, investigative journalists that were once shrouded in mystery are now taking advantage of their online community relationships to help scour documents and uncover potential wrongs. The tools and information now available to journalists are making the jobs of investigative outlets more efficient.

The socialization of the web is revolutionizing the traditional story format. Investigative reporters are now capturing content shared in the social space to enrich their stories, enabling tomorrow’s reporters to create contextualized social story streams that reference not only interviewed sources, but embedded tweets, Facebook postings and more. Journalists are also leveraging the vast reach of social networks in unprecedented ways. In many respects, social media is enabling watchdog journalism to prosper. Here’s how.


Distributed Reporting


On the social web, investigative journalists are tapping citizens to take part in the process by scouring documents and doing shoe-leather reporting in the community. This is advantageous because readers often know more than journalists do about a given subject, said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University.

“That was always the case, but with the tools that we have today, that knowledge can start flowing in at relatively low cost and with relatively few headaches,” Rosen said. Rosen admits that we are just starting to learn how to do this effectively, but there are certainly some great experiments being done.

Talking Points Memo Muckraker had success with this approach by having its readers help sort through thousands of documents pertaining to the investigation of the U.S. Department of Justice’s controversial firing of seven United States attorneys in 2006. TPM provided clear instructions to its readers to cite specific documents that included something interesting or “damning.”

Even though they had hundreds of readers contribute in the comments, it’s important to remember the often invisible factors that contribute to that success. The site’s readers had a shared background knowledge because they had been following the story as Josh Marshall and his team developed it over months of reporting. They were also motivated to show that the attorney general had done something wrong, Rosen pointed out.

A similar example on a grander scale is that of The Guardian deploying its community to help dig through 458,832 members of parliament (MP’s) expense documents. They’ve already examined roughly half of those, thanks to the 27,270 people who participated. The Guardian rewarded community participants by creating a leader board based on the quantity and quality of their contributions and also highlighting some of the great finds by its members.

Read it in full here.

Social Media Skills for Journalists Course and Community Engagement

Posted on : 09-08-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Higher Education, Journalism school, Social Media

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After its first year of inception, I am excited to be teaching “Social Media Skills for Journalists” course at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. It is a five-week course aimed at helping “journalists use social media (including such social sites as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Foursquare, YouTube, among others).”

The course was developed by Sree Sreenivasan [Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn] and Adam Glenn[Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn]. Sree was one of my deans at the Journalism School who is a social media enthusiast. He is a believer that social media is an important part of storytelling. I’ll be teaching teaching two 5-week courses, and am joined by the awesome Zach Seward, Outreach Editor, The Wall Street Journal [Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook, LinkedIn, About Me] and Jennifer Preston, Social Media Editor, The New York Times [Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn].

The course is aimed at teaching five key things:
* find new story ideas, track trends and sources
* publish real-time news updates and community engagement
* connect with readers and viewers in new ways
* bring attention and traffic to their work
* help them create, craft and enhance their personal brand

One of the key things that’s been updated in the syllabus is more emphasis on community engagement. This is something that I thought was missing as I graduated from the Columbia Journalism School and think it is an important aspect that needs to be part of the fabric of the curriculum. I am excited about this opportunity and hope to instill not just skills, but an experimental way of thinking about technology and its applications to journalism. Now is the time to innovate.

Would love to get your thoughts on the syllabus.

Top 20 Sites to Improve Your Twitter Experience

Posted on : 07-25-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media, Twitter

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This is an excerpt that originally appeared on Mashable.com. Read the full post on Mashable.

“140-character status updates to a network of followers.” That makes Twitter sound simple. But in fact, the social information platform has grown to be much more complex than its 140 character-limit suggests. The site not only connects people, but has also become an intricate information resource for everything from news to shopping deals.

Yet in many ways, the site’s actual functionality hasn’t exactly kept up with user interactions. Twitter’s interface has remained simple, which is why a lot of tweets take place through third-party sites and applications that make the experience more useful.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 third-party websites for making your Twitter experience more useful and easier to manage. Although this does not include the many desktop or mobile applications that are available for Twitter, we hope that it will make your browsing experience more enjoyable as you dive into the Twittersphere. We’d love to hear what’s missing from this list, including sites that you find useful in the comments.


Web Applications: HootSuite and Brizzly


With its recent update and HTML5 support, social media dashboard HootSuite has become one of the most useful Twitter web applications not only for individual users, but teams managing several accounts. In some ways, HootSuite has the look and feel of TweetDeck with the big differentiator of it being a web-based application, not requiring any downloads.

HootSuite enables you to update to multiple accounts at once, and supports Twitter, Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress, MySpace and Foursquare. Similar to TweetDeck, these features make the application useful for maintaining your overall social presence. Moreover, you can allow other users to jointly update an account, integrate Google Analytics for your stats and schedule tweets and updates ahead of time.

The HTML5 interface enables you to easily include an image or file with your update by simply dragging it from the desktop into the message box, which will automatically upload the file with an “Ow.ly” shortener for sharing. The fast loading of the dashboard is perhaps one of the most notable improvements, making the site more usable for users who manage dozens of accounts. If you don’t like Hootsuite, you should also check out Seesmic, which has a lot of similar features, but a different interface.

This is is an excerpt from an a piece that I wrote originally for Mashable.com. View the full list here.

Brizzly has a different functionality from Hootsuite, but may be more appealing because of its simple interface. Brizzly is specifically focused on Twitter and no other networks, which makes the experience somewhat less distracting. It also includes subtle, but worthy features like automatically expanded URLs, which shows you exactly where you are going if you click, and displays replies and direct messages in a threaded form, making it easier to follow the conversation.

Read the full post on Mashable.com

My next chapter: Joining Mashable

Posted on : 05-13-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media

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Today was my last day working at The New York Times, and in a little over a week I will start a new job as the Community Manager at Mashable.com. I am going to miss the brilliant folks I have gotten to work with at the Times, but am quite excited and honored to be joining the Mashable team.

At Mashable, I’ll be working directly with the CEO Pete Cashmore, Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow, and Managing Editor Sharon Feder, and will be responsible for engaging readers on-site and off, creating programs and strategies for making outreach more effective, cultivating an environment for a strong community, identifying emerging social platforms to build a presence on, and of course, writing.

I am excited about what’s taking place at Mashable, which recently celebrated its new headquarters in NYC (come visit me in Union Square) and is also partnering with my soon-to-be alma mater Columbia University Journalism School on a paid online video fellowship for j-school students that will begin this summer.

I’ll still continue to write on this blog every so often, but I hope you will continue to follow along as I produce content for Mashable.

The missing link in journalism curricula: Community engagement

Posted on : 05-12-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Higher Education, Journalism school, Online Journalism, Social Media

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Next Tuesday, I will graduate with a master’s of science degree in digital media from the prestigious Columbia University Journalism School. As I graduate, I have gained skills in reporting, video production, audio, editing, Flash, Web development (including five different websites), design and almost every other fundamental and new skill journalists need today. But one thing I still see missing from journalism schools around the country is coursework on community engagement. The philosophy behind the walls of many schools is still “we produce content, you come to us to consume.

At Columbia, the faculty quickly recognized the importance of this and this year started offering “Social Media Skills for Journalists” taught by my professor and dean of student affairs Sree Sreenivasan. It’s a great start and is teaching students to engage the audience like never before.

However, there are three components I think that are still largely missing from most journalism curricula today that could help in user engagement: learning the social media tools available for journalists to engage the audience, an understanding of what it means to cultivate community, and lastly a negative stigma to the use of data and analytics.

5 ways to embed your tweet

Posted on : 05-04-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

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The Twitter Media blog announced Monday that it would release a tool that would enable users embed tweets more easily. Today it released a script that isn’t perfect called Blackbird Pie that allows you to get a code and embed a dynamic tweet without the post of a blog or article. It’s an alternative to taking a screenshot.

Despite buzz about the new feature (I think a lot of people expected it to be more widely implemented on the site), other sites have allowed you to easily get an embed code for individual tweets for some time, especially if you’re using a WordPress-powered site.

So Facebook is everywhere? Well, its content needs some context

Posted on : 04-28-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Social Media

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Facebook has a problem: displaying user activity in a non-contextual way. Right now your recent activity displays on your wall whether you like it or not. For some people this causes dating problems, and others they simply take in bite-sized information about their friends friending so-and-so or “liking” this and that story without any contextual information as to why.

And now this interaction is available with content across the Web, such as liking or commenting on articles — something that news organizations like CNN and Washington Post have jumped on. The problem is the content lacks context. Similar to how Jay Rosen talks about news online needing context for us to better digest it, social media does as well.

Facebook needs a “social nut graph” – a way for users to provide their friends with contextual information about their recent activity. Something that is an optional way for users to include a bite-sized piece of information along with any activity before it is published. Or it should change some of the language in recommending posts, such as killing the “like” and using something more specific such as “recommend.” If we are truly in “the age of Facbeook,” then the social giant needs to do a better job of allowing us to creating contextual content.

CNN.com shows glimpse of Facebook’s new connectivity features (PICS)

Posted on : 04-21-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Social Media

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Facebook is announcing many of its new features today, and some news organizations are wasting no time in integrating and testing them. Nieman Lab reported that Washington Post has integrated Facebook in a new tool that let’s users see how their friends have interacted with a story. It is part of Facebook’s latest push to be connected and integrated throughout the Web in a way beyond what Facebook Connect allowed.

10 Commandments of Twitter Etiquette

Posted on : 04-07-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media, Twitter

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In a lot of ways, millions of users have found Twitter as a useful tool. Take journalists, for example. According to a recent survey, 37 percent of journalists said they are on Twitter. It’s no longer a small tech company that is troubled by servers being down (keeping fingers crossed). Now your non-techie friends are using it. It’s referenced in commercials. It’s mainstream.

However, Twitter’s challenge is in helping new users see the social tool’s usefulness and getting them hooked. A big part of this is connecting new users with great people to follow, as recently attempted in Twitter’s homepage redesign. The early followers are crucial in determining whether a user gets hooked or not (a birdy from Twitter once told me). But for a lot of new users that are unfamiliar with the Twitterverse, it takes time to learn its etiquette.