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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

4 ways news organizations are using Twitter Lists

Posted on : 11-03-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media, Twitter

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Excerpt from my Mashable post from today:

Though Twitter Lists are new to most users, some news organizations are trying to stay ahead of the curve by taking advantage of the new feature and implementing it quickly. Whether by creating staff directories to make their journalists easier to find, or recommending tweeps to follow on specific subjects, Twitter lists are giving news sites the ability to curate news and further open up to Twitter users that can help them to gather news. News (news) organizations are beginning to learn the fundamental characteristic of social media: it’s social.

What journalists need to know about online advertising

Posted on : 10-28-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Journalism school, Online Journalism

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By VADIM LAVRUSIK and SHANE SNOW

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ken Lerer, co-founder of The Huffington Post, is teaching sessions to Columbia University Journalism Students on media entrepreneurship, often bringing in experts in the industry on various topics. Yesterday’s topic was on what journalists need to know about advertising online, and the guest was Jim Spanfeller, former CEO of Forbes.com. Also, if you’re interested, here is a post and live blog recap of last year’s talk on the same subject.

The discussion was enlightening, but we want to highlight three main points that were made by both Spanfeller and Lerer during the session:

Read reactions to the Reconstruction of American Journalism Report

Posted on : 10-19-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Higher Education, Journalism school

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(Silly disclaimer, but one that demonstrates a lesson learned: This post had some 20 retweets, but the cache was cleared because of me changing from Lavrusik.com to VadimLavrusik.com and back to Lavrusik.com – Apologies if your RT is now undocumented on this blog.)

Today the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism released a report by Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, a journalism school professor, that aim to propose new steps to take on the challenge of supporting public affairs reporting. Below is a compilation of links to stories of reactions on the report. With quotes from each for you to get an idea of what some of the media folks out there are saying. Feel free to post others in the comments that you agreed with or found helpful. I am going to keep updating this as much as I can with new reactions. ….

Virality, SEO and its place in online journalism

Posted on : 10-14-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism

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Ken Lerer, chairman and co-founder of The Huffington Post, came for a second session on media entrepreneurship at Columbia Journalism School yesterday. This time he brought with him Jonah Peretti, also co-founder of HuffPo and BuzzFeed. This session focused on SEO and how content becomes viral.

One of the most interesting tidbits that Peretti and Lerer revealed was how they use real-time analytics to determine the performance of stories, and today Nieman Lab’s Zach Seward has more on how HuffPo uses A/B headlines to see how each performs. This allows the editors to react to performance of a story and edit a headline to make it more effective for its readers and the search engines too.

Peretti wouldn’t say what the secret is with virality and it’s difficult to gauge how readers will respond. But SEO is a combination of a well written headline (this includes multiple factors and is a post on its own), well tagged for search engines, writing with SEO in mind, and easily shareable for readers (social tools, etc.).

Research: Social media publications may have advantage over traditional news sites

Posted on : 10-06-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Higher Education, Social Media

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faceboookdailyUniversity of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow and her team released their findings based on analytics of interaction with The Minnesota Daily Facebook Application today. For those new to the project, it was a Knight Foundation funded application built by NewsCloud in collaboration with The Minnesota Daily, a college paper I was editor of last year. This wasn’t the only application built by NewsCloud, but one that focused on a niche geographic area and topic: news and issues surrounding the University of Minnesota community.

Some of the key findings are echoed in a recent post by Steve Rubel who wrote a post about the next great media company won’t have a website, but will likely be an application or some form of publication directly on a social site. The key things that stand out to me is that the Facebook application was not only able to attract “influentials” to engage and participate but that “as a vehicle to express opinions, stay informed, and connect with a local community, social media publications like The Daily may have an advantage over traditional news sites.” The best part is that this source code for the apps is open.

If you’re interested in the research, check out the full summary of the findings here (PDF). The data backing these findings up will be released later. Or here is an excerpt below:

Key Findings

1. Correlations between visits to social network sites and visits to news Web sites, as well as other online behaviors, suggest the potential of integrating applications like The Daily into young people’s online social networking routines.

2. As a vehicle to express opinions, stay informed, and connect with a local community, social media publications like The Daily may have an advantage over traditional news sites.

3. Interest in The Daily application’s focal topic — University of Minnesota community issues — increased. Daily users mostly used the application for what it was intended, namely, to engage them in campus-related issues.

4. The Daily application attracted a base of users who were already active in the community. The profile for these users and the high rate of viral invites, suggest that social media publications such as The Daily might not only attract “influentials,” but that these highly connected individuals will also invite their friends.

5. Examination of digital literacy practices reveals Daily users engaged in scanning stories rather than reading in full. Users participated in a range of non-school online reading and writing activities via social network sites, suggesting the potential for future applications.

Ben Parr on the importance of social media in today’s world

Posted on : 10-05-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Social Media

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Here is a live chat that I participated in today at the Columbia Journalism School. We had Mashable’s Co-Editor Ben Parr come speak about the importance of social media in today’s world. A good thing to read through on his thoughts.

One thing that stuck out to me was that Parr thinks that we may be making money through “Facebook credits” in the future and that will be a form of social currency. He didn’t elaborate, but certainly a fascinating concept. Read more about his ideas below:

Battle of the toolbars: NYPost vs. MSNBC

Posted on : 09-29-2009 | 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 : 09-28-2009 | 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 : 09-25-2009 | 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 : 09-24-2009 | 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.