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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

Excerpt: Investigative Journalism in the Age of the Social Web

Posted on : 24-11-2010 | 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.

Top 20 Sites to Improve Your Twitter Experience

Posted on : 25-07-2010 | 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 : 13-05-2010 | 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.

Mashable.com website redesign: What do you think?

Posted on : 04-01-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Design, Social Media

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Mashable.com, the social media guide that I often write for, has released a redesign of its site today. The new design features a tweaked header with new navigation that is categorized in way that makes it easier to find specific topics. The homepage also gives more prominence to the trending story before a reader gets to see the most recent story.

A new sidebar feature highlights columnists like myself and recent stories they have written and updates in font styles make front-page posts more eye-friendly with a cleaner design. The preview of posts have been reworked, and the author image is posted below and we now can see how long ago the article was posted. It isn’t a huge redesign in layout, and I expected a bit more of a magazine-style layout, but the improvements are a nice update.

What do you think? What other changes would you make? (I will use feedback and send it along to those in charge of the redesign).

My biggest critique is that I think the “above the fold” space could still be utilized better to feature more content, though the site does a great job of featuring ways to connect with the site very prominently (something I cannot preach enough).

18 news media content and business trends for 2010

Posted on : 23-12-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Online Journalism

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This is an excerpt from the second of several posts I wrote for Mashable.com that takes a look at the news media in 2010. It looks at 10 news media content trends:

The news media is experiencing a renaissance. As we end the year, its state in 2009 can be summarized as a year of turmoil, layoffs and cutbacks in an industry desperately seeking to reinvent its business model and content. But despite the thousands of journalism jobs lost, the future has much hope and opportunity for those that are willing to adapt to a changing industry.

Much of that change is happening now. And in the coming year, news organizations will look to approach monetization and content experimentation that is focused on looking at the web in a new way. News (news) in 2010 will blur the lines between audience and creator more than ever in an era of social media. Below is a look at several trends in content distribution and presentation that we will likely see more of in 2010.


1. Living Stories


Living Stories Image

One of the difficulties of the web is being able to really track a story as it develops and creating engaging formats for long-form articles. The article page is often the only thing that a reader sees and not the story in its full context. In 2010, news organizations will design stories that are more suited to the way readers consume online content.

One early sign of this is the recent collaboration between Google (Google), The New York Times, and The Washington Post on the Living Stories project, an experiment that presents coverage of a specific story or topic in one place, making it easy to navigate the topic and see the timeline of coverage on the story. It also allows you to get a summary of the story and track the conversations taking place. This format contextualizes and personalizes the news.

Read the full post here.

This is an excerpt from the first of several posts I wrote for Mashable.com that takes a look at the news media in 2010. It looks at 8 news media business trends:

With the news industry struggling to find new revenue streams that can reshape their broken business model, 2010 will be defined by experiments in news media monetization. This will also include content that is guided more than ever by the audience and ad revenue.

This coming year we will also see the results of news organizations putting pay walls up, as well as new experimental models like accepting Web donations from readers — some of which may prove to be successful. Below are eight emerging news media business trends to look for in 2010.


1. Social Media Monetization


Statesman Twitter Ad Image

The coming year will see emerging business models, including social media monetization. And as advertisers become more comfortable with advertising in social media, news companies will look to capture those dollars.

“Twitter display ads,” said Matt Thompson, interim online community manager for the Knight Foundation. “I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet.”

Thompson pictures a half-page ad that is actually a TwitterTwitterTwitter widget from a retailer’s corporate account. In fact, some news organizations have already experimented with social ads. Robert Quigley, social media editor at the Austin American-Statesman, said they gave Twitter ads a try and have gotten some mixed reactions from followers, but did not lose any of them. The Huffington Post is also going to sell tweets to advertisers.

Read the full post on Mashable here.

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

Posted on : 05-10-2009 | 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:

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.

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

10 ways universities use social media to share information

Posted on : 15-07-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Social Media, Twitter

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Excerpt from my Mashable.com post today that looks at how various universities are using social media:

Instead of focusing their attention on promoting information to mainstream media, some university public affairs offices are using the power of social media to engage the community directly. In many cases, social media tools like Facebook Pages have given universities an opportunity to speak to audiences on their own, reaching thousands of people interested in keeping up with news at the school and connecting with others on the social network.

University of Texas at Austin use of Twitter for emergencies.

University of Texas at Austin use of Twitter for emergencies.


Universities are constantly exploring new ways to use social media to fulfill their missions of engaging and sharing knowledge with their constituents. Below are just 10 highlights of how universities are using social media for public affairs. As always, please share other examples you have used or come across in the comments below.

The list includes things like emergency communication, Facebook office hours and more. Read the full post on Mashable.