Digital Discussions

Tracking Journal Register Company's Digital Transition

#JRC social media efforts outpacing some of nation’s largest print publications

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The blog Journalistics (self-described as “dedicated to covering all topics at the intersection of public relations and journalism today) recently posted the Twitter totals for America’s top newspapers (in terms of circulation).

The list features The New York Times on top of the list with 2.6 million (plus) Twitter follows and tracks down to Newsday (No. 27 on the list) with 2,302 though they’ve pushed to 2,643 in the days since Journalistics posted the list.

The Journal Register Company doesn’t have a print publication with circulation in the nation’s Top 27 (where Newsday clocks in) but JRC’s locally focused newsrooms have quickly assembled an engaged social media following that rivals — and in some cases surpasses — some of the nations’ largest print circulation newspapers.

The Oakland Press in Pontiac, MI clocks in with 3,206 Twitter followers. (@theoaklandpress)

The New Haven Register in New Haven, CT has 2,853 Twitter followers. (@nhregister)

The Middletown Press in Middletown, CT has 2,659 followers. (@middletownpress)

And the A2 Journal — a weekly serving Ann Arbor, MI — has 2,224 followers. (@a2journal)

These totals put these four newsroom’s social media efforts and audience engagement work on par with — or ahead of — much larger newspapers and newsroom staffs including Newsday (updated Twitter numbers previously listed); San Jose Mercury News (2,662 followers); Contra Costa Times (2,860 followers); which serves multiple mastheads including The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Hayward Review, Fremont Argus, The Tri-Valley Herald and San Mateo County Times (2,993 followers); and the St. Petersburg Times (3,262 followers).




Written by Jon Cooper

October 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm

New Associated Press policy on attribution

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In a presser dated Sept. 1, 2010 the Associated Press “announces editorial guidelines for credit and attribution.”

The announcement, highlights the “new set of guidelines” that AP Senior Managing Editor Michael Oreskes passed to AP staffers.

“In the age of the Web, the sourcing and reliability of information has become ever more crucial,” the announcement reads (note the capped “W”) and continues to highlight two situations where this policy will apply:

  • Attributing to other organizations information that we haven’t independently reported.
  • Giving credit to another organization that broke a story first, even when we match it — or advance it — through our own reporting.

In essence, this policy seems like a ‘no-brainer’ — simply put, give credit to those you cite and those who broke the story first and those who did the work.

It’s taken some time for the AP to formally adjust its mindset — by setting policy — or maybe it just hasn’t done a great job in communicating that to members and non-members alike.

I’m happy to hear AP is taken a more active approach in attributing source material.

This announcement comes after another miss by AP on attribution — an oversight their editorial staff admits — at The Daily Local in West Chester, Pa.

Staffer Eric S. Smith penned a story about Rose Ann Belluso of Downingtown, Pa. who had Sir Paul McCartney autograph her back with a Sharpie following a recent Philly concert stop. Ms. Belluso wanted something more permanent so she had a tattoo artist permanently etch the former Beatles signature on her back.

Stories like this aren’t groundbreaking but they are great reads, great photos and great video. The DL staff produced all three and AP quickly pushed the text and photos out to members. Non-member broadcasters contacted The DL for video copy and this quirky little story quickly grew and went global — it is Paul McCartney afterall.

The story found homes on The Telegraph in London, on FOX in DC and on AOL.

And in all cases it was AP cited as the source — both for print and photo.

This policy is overdue. The test now comes as we watch to see how well AP keeps to this policy and ensures that members will be cited.

Also of note from the new AP policy:

The memo states: “… we shouldn’t use facts from a non-member news organization, even with credit, so frequently that we appear to be systematically and continuously free riding on that organization’s work.” Wouldn’t a better policy statement be to make sure AP is the leader in coverage? Obviously being all things to all people isn’t possible but it shouldn’t be about appearances — “that we appear to be systematically and continuously free riding on that organization’s work” — it should be about providing to best, most accurate, most timely content to the audience — regardless of platform or membership.

Written by Jon Cooper

September 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

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Idea Lab: Why should you be picked?

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If you haven’t read John Paton’s call for nominations for the Journal Register Company idea lab you need to.

And if you haven’t read JRC adviser Jay Rosen’s comment about it (it’s below) … you should!

Jay Rosen Says:
May 24, 2010 at 11:47 am | Reply

It’s great that people from the company are nominating themselves, expressing their enthusiasm, and listing some of the things they have done to push forward with “digital first.”

But to my mind this is not nearly enough.

If you really want to be part of the IdeaLab team–and I have no role in the selections, this is just my advice–you should be identifying some of the key problems you’d like to work on with your 10 hours a week; you should show how these problems have company-wide significance; you should mention some of the new tools and technologies you wish to investigate and evaluate as possible solutions for JRC; you should declare yourself on a hunt for best practices in the particular spheres you wish to focus on and ID those spheres; you should explain how you are going to turn your newspaper and your job into a laboratory for the “digital first” program at JRC; you should add links to the sorts of things you plan to check into; and if you can you should paraphrase in your own words what you think the Ben Franklin project and related moves have demonstrated so far, so that you can also say in your own words how you would extend, re-direct or deepen that initial progress.

What I’ve seen so far in this thread is a good start. But only a start. If you want to be part of the Lab you should be kicking ass on the “pick me because…” part.

Written by Jon Cooper

May 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Seeing, Clicking and Fixing in New Haven

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The New Haven Register reports a cleanup effort at the New Haven Green that was organized by users of SeeClickFix — the non-emergency web portal that allows residents to report issues of concern in their community.

Through a new service — currently available only in New Haven (where SeeClickFix is based) — residents can now take an active role in the “fixing” of what they report. The “community actions” feature allows users to organize events — such as park cleanups.

Written by Jon Cooper

May 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm invites readers to write senate endorsements

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Editor Phil Heron and the editorial board of the Daily Times have elected to endorse U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter but Heron and his team didn’t stop there.

Acknowledging that some among the Daily Times readership may have a different viewpoint — Heron notes in his blog post that the decision to endorse Sestak was “easily the majority of our editorial board” — Heron has invited readers to “literally write their own endorsement.” has featured a “Question of the Day” for some time in an effort to solicit reader feedback and response. But today Heron has taken another step in reader engagement by asking the audience if they agree with the pick in the Democratic Senate race and inviting them to offer their own endorsement.

“We know we have a voice, but the readers have one, too. I though we’d tap into it. We’ll run a sampling of opinions in print tomorrow,” says Heron. “My guess is there is no shortage of opinions out there.”

Heron also blogged about the endorsement and invite in his blog Heron’s Nest and the staff has also pushed the question out via social media, including Twitter. (@delcotimes)

Written by Jon Cooper

May 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Times Herald invites readers to interview candidate for PA governor

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The Times Herald in Norristown, PA previously invited readers to submit questions for U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter when he visited their editorial board meeting and they’ll do it again today.

A post on their site invites readers to participate in The Times Herald’s E-board meeting with Joe Hoeffeel who is running for governor.


The Times Herald Editorial Board will be meeting with Montgomery County Commissioner and PA gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel on Thursday.

The interview will be broadcast live here at starting at 12:30 on Thursday.

Submit your questions now and we’ll ask him the best reader questions to start off the interview.

Post your questions in our comment section or email them to by Thursday morning to get Commissioner Hoeffel’s answers.

Written by Jon Cooper

May 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm

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The story comment dialogue continues!

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If you’re looking for more on story comments and what others are doing then you should read Poynter’s Mallary Jean Tenore’s post — some of it’s here:

In recent weeks, some journalists have argued that news sites should stop allowing anonymous comments. They’re an “invitation to mischief,” Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz wrote after the paper unmasked a judge who had been posting comments anonymously on The Batavian’s Howard Owens, meanwhile, said news sites that allow them are creating a “grievous ethical blunder.”

But as others have argued, the key to creating a healthier dialogue in comments sections might be less about whether news sites allow anonymous comments and more about how they moderate them.

Some news outlets, such as The Huffington Post, The Economist and The Sacramento Press, have tapped into technology, their staff and their audiences to help foster a better dialogue in the comments sections on their sites. Read on to find out what they’re doing and what you can learn from them.

Read the rest of How News Orgs Are Turning to Staff, Technology & Users to Improve Comments here

Written by Jon Cooper

May 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

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