Digital Discussions

Tracking Journal Register Company's Digital Transition

From E&P: NHR among leaders in audience gainers

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From the Fritz & Jen blog:

From Fas-Fax: Top 25 U.S. Daily Newspaper Print and Online Audience Gainers by DMA

Fitz: Only in America: a Salt Lake Cioty Paper and a Spansih-language daily in Miami top the list of biggest print and online gainers.

DESERET NEWS                                           552,507        22.25%
EL NUEVO HERALD, MIAMI                    511,909        19.11%
PITTSBURGH  TRIBUNE-REVIEW8       31,881          12.12%
SPOKANE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW           432,840      10.40%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE                                    3,599,458    9.73%
NEW HAVEN REGISTER (DMA)              415,813        8.07%

Read the rest here


Written by Jon Cooper

April 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Would you let the audience write your lead story?

with 3 comments

Well, that’s exactly what The Daily Local in West Chester, PA did today!

Editor Andy Hachadorian received an email from Stephen M. Del Fra.

As Hachadorian says:

He sent an e-mail to me saying he was stuck in Paris. He mentioned that he kept a “diary” of sorts — something close to a blog entry. I asked him to expand it and write it first-person and ship it over.

And from there … “boom,” as Hachadorian says … the lead story was ready.

Del Fra writes:

Gazing out of the small window of my Paris hotel room, looking out over the City of Lights, I wonder how it is that I ended up here.

Seven cities in 10 days — it really sounds like an adventure. Maybe that’s exactly what I should remember it as; that is, if this excursion ever ends.

Del Fra details his business trip-turned-volcano-educed-exile including passing time with an old college friend while drinking pints near London’s Piccadilly Circus; the news that he has a new niece; and his efforts to get home to see “Little Ava Elizabeth” and how he trailed to Spain and France in hopes of finding a way home.

It’s a great example of letting the audience in to tell their stories.

Written by Jon Cooper

April 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Pulling a post from Paton

with 8 comments

If you haven’t seen John Paton’s latest blog post, we’re going to be having some fun in the next 30 days.

Here’s a quick excerpt if you haven’t given it a full read:

The Ben Franklin Project: A Bold New Experiment … In the next 30 days, we are going to attempt to produce one single edition of one of our newspapers using only tools available for free on the web. Using social media and other digital tools available to us we will crowd source the news assignments, creation, editing and publishing of content. And we will do all of this in real-time with constant updates to that newspaper’s website … We’re looking for volunteers. Will it be your newsroom?

Aside from looking for volunteers to participate in the “BFP” … we’re also looking for tools.

What tools should we added to the tool shed?

Written by Jon Cooper

April 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Get your audience involved

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If you haven’t seen how The Times Herald engaged the audience, you need to take a look.

We (journalists) have access. The Times Herald remembers that they are the voice of their audience and allowed the audience to control that voice by giving them access to interview U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.

Check it out here

How have you involved the audience in your reporting and your coverage? (other than as sources)

Written by Jon Cooper

April 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Using the tools to tell the story

with 6 comments

It made headlines when Sky NewsNews Corp‘s Brit-based news site — announced it was dedicating someone to scour Twitter for news leads.

“Having a member of the team committed to Twittering will not only further increase Sky News’ presence in the Twittersphere, but will also highlight the power of Twitter as a newsgathering tool,” said online news editor for Sky News, Jon Gripton.

Twitter is the premiere omnidirectional communication tool journalists have access to. At their cores, our print, web and mobile platforms push content to the audience. That is why we all strive for reader and user interaction. That is why media outlets have put a premium on user-generated content.

What Sky News did was embrace the fact that communication does not begin and end with the news organization. While the idea of having a dedicated staffer to pour through the endless stream of tweets is groundbreaking, it’s also tied to our legacy of failures. Newsrooms once dedicated one individual to computer-assisted reporting when that was new. More recently newsrooms had dedicated online staffers who produced content solely for their digital offering. By making tools like Twitter a specialty — just as we have with everything in print from obits to sports agate to pagination — we have made it more difficult to adapt.

Being familiar with, and effectively using, these tools will make our organizations better, will make our reporting stronger. It will also help us deliver a fuller, richer news package to our users.

Our job is to utilize these tools and to provide context. Our journalist training and experience is the backbone of what we do. Twitter, Facebook and social media tools are just that … tools.

The BBC’s World Service director Peter Horrocks says:

“We need to apply our ethical principles in the same way to social media as we do for our other reporting. Just because it is social media it can’t be different. So we don’t take a different view. But it is a faster medium. It shouldn’t be too difficult to use social media in the same way as live reporting. So it will be used according to the same principle, only the way we deliver it and how we use it has to change …”

So, how does all of this apply to community journalism?

The folks at The Record in Troy, N.Y. implemented the tools we have all been talking about for the past 60+ days to tell the story of a robbery suspect and the ensuing manhunt and lockdown of  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Record’s news staff — including Tom Caprood, Jessica Pasko, Dave Canfield, Jeff Couch, Jim Franco and Siobhan Connally (and others) — utilized their Flip cameras to capture video; worked to post alerts and updates on; and pushed out messages through Twitter that served as updates and traffic drivers.

But the team didn’t stop there.

They utilized Twitter to find sources. By sending out tweets asking RPI students to contact reporters and to share information the staff was able to provide users with first-hand reports from students throughout the news event.

Jim Murphy, The Record’s publisher and senior publisher of JRC’s NY group, says The Record’s news staff dedicates time each week to discuss steps for further integration of video and social media tools in their daily reporting.

“This response to a breaking news story is an example of how the entire Troy newsroom is embracing the new news ecology … the coverage here is demonstrative of how far we’ve come in a short period of time and the return we are earning on investing resources in training and the time we carve out for having these discussions.”

Congratulations to the team in Troy. Examples like this will help showcase the power of these tools as we continue our transformation.

So, the discussion today: How have you used social media tools to engage your audience — beyond content distribution?

Written by Jon Cooper

April 7, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Story Comments

with 50 comments

To allow commenting was once the question Journal Register pondered. As we continue to evolve that question has also evolved.

The question is no longer whether to allow commenting but how to allow, encourage, monitor — even monetize — comments. The real issue is engagement and quality discourse within the communities we cover.

Story comments allow our audience an opportunity not only to participate in the discussion but to hold us accountable. If they don’t like a story or believe we missed the mark they will have an opportunity to call us on it. Unfortunately there are those whose only purpose is to be distributive, to incite, to enrage and to, well, hate.

And there’s the issue. Throwing story comments aside because a very vocal minority of users abuses the opportunity isn’t the right course. But then the question arises: If we could remove those abusive users from the process, would the quality of the overall discussion improve?

While we focus on shutting down those who aren’t playing by the rules we aren’t really focused on the quality of the rest of the conversation. We are actually ignoring the rest of the conversation.

So, instead of punishing the bad, does it make more sense to encourage the good?

Is their a way to “monetize” story commenting by rewarding those who participate in a way that fosters a better dialogue and thus provides a more robust experience for the rest of our digital community?

The Washington Post is set to unveil a program that will — as the WP’s ombudsman Andrew Alexander puts it — allow trusted commentors to be easier to hear.

It’s a tiered system. Users who play by the rules move up and those who violate the rules move down. While Alexander’s writing doesn’t fully detail the plan — the new format will be unveiled “in a few months” — it still, from what we’ve heard so far, penalizes users and only encourages them not to misbehave for fear of losing their ability to comment.

By rewarding those in the audience who are so engaged that their quality comments encourage additional discourse we could find community moderators or — at the very least — extremely loyal users who become part of our daily conversations. Like the WP’s program, a tiered system could provide a rating system for users. Registration could be the start. When users start commenting their initial comments are moderated by staff moderators.

When a user reaches a specified threshold (to be determined), they move to a community-moderated ranking. That user will only move back to staff moderation should they violate the rules of the road. The incentives for high-level users to continue to participate cannot only be the risk of punishment — moving back to staff moderation — it must be a greater role in the conversation. That increased role could be a blog where the user can opine freely or it could be the ability to moderate chats with users or it could be monetary — and those payments could vary from cash to theater/concert tickets.

This “social marketplace” would realize a currency of quality conversation.

Our goal is to be relevant to our communities and by providing these communities with a central meeting place for quality conversations about the issues impacting their lives we accomplish that. By allowing our story commenting sections to be overrun or to lock them up completely, we will fail our communities.

So, where is the balance and how do we find it?

Written by Jon Cooper

April 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Hello world!

with 15 comments

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Written by Jon Cooper

April 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized