Highlights from Morning Edition’s interview with author, Jeff Hobbs:
On what made him want to figure out the life of this man he had known who had been killed in this way
That’s an important question. I was brushing my teeth next to my wife when I learned he had died violently and pointlessly a mile from where he’d grown up. And the funeral — 400 people — [was] very painful, also beautiful — people from all over the world in downtown Newark. But, outside that church, it seemed like a lot of people were almost eagerly condemning him as this cliche of potential squandered. We were there; it was sort of a reunion aspect to it with mutual friends. We just knew Rob Peace was not a cliche. We write about what conflicts us, whatever medium. And nothing’s ever conflicted me more than this loss.
Good afternoon! Here’s what we have for you today.
NPR & FRIENDS
Have you seen the Viz team’s Look At This Tumblr? It’s pink. It’s also home to some amazing posts. This is what you’ll find there:
These are stories about people and the things they make — and the byproducts of our obsessions. Sometimes having to do with photos and sometimes not, these are investigations into how you see the world.
Mel Kramer says we should all give some thought to how the “Fark.com NotNewsletter” highlights great user comments. The email points readers to the top-10 “funniest” and “smartest” comments from the previous week as voted on by the Fark community. That’s a great way to keep people coming back and staying involved. Highlighting top comments also allows everyone to see what’s valued by the broader community, hopefully fostering a better dialogue across the board.
Last time around I mentioned that reddit’s search function can help you make sense of the many, many communities living there. At a meeting with NPR’s National Desk staff, Russell Lewis told us he recommends using an app to plumb the depths of reddit. His app of choice? Alien Blue.
That’s all, folks. Hit us on Twitter with your questions and suggestions.
NPR’s Ari Shapiro and Marilyn Geewax hosted a Facebook chat on Tuesday to answer readers’ questions about the upcoming Scottish independence referendum.
The chat lasted for more than 30 minutes, and sparked some interesting conversation about Scottish nationalism, the Union Jack, natural resources, and more. Most importantly, Marilyn said it helped her better understand the interests of her audience:
“Sometimes you get into your own bubble… I often talk with economists, people from a speciality groups who know exactly what you’re talking about… When you get questions from an audience that are fairly basic, it’s a a reminder that you have to be clear, especially when discussing unfamiliar territory such as currency.”
Other things we liked/learned:
1. Unlike Twitter, the comments are threaded so the discussion stays in one place (and can be shared with one link). No need for any curation after the chat, i.e. creating a Storify.
2. It’s OK not to know the answers to everything. Marilyn often linked to other news outlets’ articles to answer questions.
“If we want to look forward to the future, we have to figure out where younger people are and how to connect with them. There are good opportunities to reach a nontraditional audience by repurposing what we already know.”
THE WIDER WORLD
Last night, I was sitting on the couch at home when I noticed a bunch of my Philly friends tweeting pictures and videos of suspected hate crime suspects who attacked a couple last week. The story was complex — a video was released by the Philly Police, someone else found a possible photo of the suspects, and folks on Twitter were working to ID who the people were. I decided to do some reporting and Storified what was happening. It took about 20 minutes total to find and bring in the tweets. 180,000 people have seen the Storify since last night at 10:30PM. Why was this good to do?
It allowed people to know what was happening in a very-quickly-moving story.
It was a way to report on a story that was primarily taking place on social
It was quick.
It became one of the definitive sources on the events of the evening.
At 10:30 PM in the evening, many news organizations don’t have a social/digital person working, so I got to own this story.
It wasn’t saying “This is what happened.” It was saying “This is what may have happened” — and was very clear that it relying the timeline and not definitive.
1. Via Luis Clemens: http://followerwonk.com/bio is a site that allows you to search Twitter Biographies, analyze followers, compare Twitter users and sort followers.
A week before Shereen’s piece aired, we did a Reddit AMA with WaPo advice columnist Steven Petrow. In addition to driving people to the previous stories and generating a great discussion that informed the last two-way in the series, it also had one of the longest engagement time of any AMA Reddit’s communications director had ever seen – 6:10.
We again used one of Shereen’s pieces as a springboard to ask men (and women) about the objects that make them feel manly. We solicited answers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and were able to compile them all nicely with Storify. I think this worked, in large part, because of the amazing image Kainaz and Emily got for the first story.
We did an online and on-air call out about the “movies that make men cry” and received more than 3,600 responses. In reading through them, Colin Dwyer and I noticed a theme: Tom Hanks everywhere. The radio producer used that tidbit in the on-air letters segment and we wrote the web-only companion about the Hanks scenes people cited over and over again.
Other social media endeavors that worked well: This callout helped us collect a ton of movie/TV clips for intro montages, this callout helped Richard Gonzales find the person he profiled for a piece on older dads, and this commentary owes its success to the NPR Facebook, which gave it a “964% social boost” at one point and helped make it the #4 piece in the series.
THE WIDER WORLD
The Bitter Southerner is a new-ish publication out of Atlanta that you should eyeball. They’re about a year old and are focused on good storytelling that captures the South as it is today. Mainly they publish long reads, once a week.
But they’re using social to keep the wheels turning in between stories. It’s a smart model that gives them the space to craft their feature content without looking like they’re dead in the water in between stories. Their FB feed has a life of its own and they’re present on Twitter in a way that lets you know real people stand behind the brand. Check ‘em out:
Reddit can be a little overwhelming. One trick that’s useful for journalists and news organizations who want to see how their work is playing on reddit is to use advanced search terms, just like you’d do on Google. Examples:
Based on the feedback we received, we’re changing the Sandbox a little bit. Instead of lots of information crammed in every which way, every day you’ll receive three sections of news you can use:
In NPR & FRIENDS, we’ll highlight great ideas from across public media.
In THE WIDER WORLD, we’ll highlight great ideas from outside of public media.
In PRACTICAL ADVICE, you’ll find tips, techniques and tools you can use to help your reporting.
As always, if you spot something, please email us — so we can include it and give you a hat tip! Thanks!
Mel and Wright
PS: If you haven’t given us feedback, please fill out this survey. It will help us redesign the web version of this newsletter — and determine what information is most useful.
NPR’S SOCIAL SANDBOX
NPR & FRIENDS
1. Rachel Rohr, Here&Now’s digital and social media producer, is taking a month-long road trip across the United States to find stories of young Americans and the issues that matter most in their lives. You can follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
2. Tomorrow, Ari Shapiro and Marilyn Geewax are going to have a chat at 12:30 PM ET on Ari’s Facebook page about the upcoming Scottish election. Come with your questions.
3. Izzi Smith sends along news that the BBC has launched a pop up newsroom traveling around the United States for six months and dig around for good stories. Think Storycorps for Newsrooms. One of the members of the pop-up team? Matt Danzico. Does that name sound familiar? He’s Liz’s brother! (Tumblr is here.)
THE WIDER WORLD
1. Look at a prototypeThe Guardian created to receive audience feedback and comments on articles.
2. Anastasia Tsioulcas sends along this interactive for the NYTimes Fall Arts Preview. She writes, “I thought this was a really nice way of putting together an interactive that otherwise would read as an endless litany of DATE- blurb – DATE – blurb – DATE –blurb. I also love the fact that they mixed up everything cultural – visual art is next to dance is next to Robert Plant’s album release etc.”
PRACTICAL ADVICE: LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Beginner: Just getting started on social media? Here’s a social media syllabus from the University of Florida Journalism School. There’s A LOT of stuff in here, but it’s a nice overview if you’re just getting your feet wet. (One of their assignments? Analyze NPR’s social media!)
Intermediate: Tools and resources from The Local News Lab on community engagement, measuring impact, and building a news business.