I may be a bit of a public radio fan girl, especially when it comes to New York’s WNYC and the Brian Lehrer Show. I’m not going to apologize for this. Because they do really fun, smart things in their newsroom. This fall, they’re taking on the midterm elections. A lot of pundits and newspeople will tell you that the scariest thing about midterm elections is that no one even knows there are elections in the first place. And isn’t our job as journos to inform the electorate?
The Brian Lehrer team is taking that seriously, especially since there’s a district in the Bronx which has the most registered non-voters, people are signed up, but they won’t rock the vote. Enter “Just Vote Already,” a series where they are talking to political insiders, data nuts, and even sent a reporter out to that district to leave “Just Vote Already” cards on their doorsteps.
The best part? They created a little widget where you can robocall your non-voting friends (in NYC only, unfortunately) and guilt trip them into voting come November 4th. There are about four different versions you can listen to here, but the main idea is this “we don’t care who you vote for, just vote! And sorry for the robocall.” If you live in NYC, you can send a friend a robocall below. If you don’t, I want to know how your newsrooms are covering the midterm elections. Tweet us @10,000Words.
This week, Newsweek published the diary of a journalist who read and replied to every PR email that came through his inbox for a week. I clicked on that headline like the sucker I am, though I am usually against* “I Did X For A Week” pieces that seem to be coming more and more popular. From talking to strangers to doing your kids homework, they usually scroll a few digital pages (click! click!), are formatted journal-style to make them easy to read, and often include just the right amount of snark and existential anxiety that make them easy to finish, comment on, and share. They’re digital publishing stunts.
But, anyway, could you imagine replying to every PR email you received?
I’m just a lowly blogger. I don’t know that it would actually set me two or three hours behind each day to answer all the emails and invites I get. Maybe half of an hour. But I still get a lot of them, and usually ones that make no sense to me. Why is it that so many PR emails are so wrong?
Assumption 1) Because PR is actually a skill that too many people think they have. And too many startups or party planners or grad students with a cool Kickstarter idea are just hijacking friends or broke college grads to do it. Sometimes even when a pitch is just remotely related to something I write about, if it’s well done, I’ll consider it for a minute. Good PR is sort of like porn, hard to define, but you know it when you see it.
It’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up with what the kids are doing these days, but I’ve at least heard about ‘Yo’. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the app is a messaging service that bases its platform around the frequent sending of a two-letter word: “Yo.”
No fancy filtered photos. No emojis. Just one, single greeting (with possibly a link/short hashtagged tack-on, thanks to a recent update). Whenever you want to get someone’s attention, you simply send “Yo,” and ideally, your straightforward message would notify your friend, the receiver, as effectively as a text message or email might. According to the American Journalism Review‘s Cory Blair, the app has seen 2.6 million downloads since April 1 of this year. For whatever reason, people are really into “Yo-ing” eachother.
Reported Blair, the Washington Post‘s audience strategy and social media teams want to experiment with using the Yo app for letting readers know when stories have been published. As if Twitter’s 140-character limit doesn’t present enough of a communication challenge, Yo provides even less space for disseminating information. The idea is to have WaPo readers and social media followers who use the Yo app to follow the newspaper on Yo. Then when they have a story to share, they will send a “Yo” to subscribers, and those folks get a notification on their phone. No need to open up (or pay for) a news app to get instant access to news anymore. Others including NBC Nightly News and the Nieman Lab are doing it, too, Blair wrote. Publishers can choose how and when they want to “Yo” — it could only be for beat-specific stories or at a certain time of day.
Is it just me or does it feel like everything in the news this week is a little bit out of control? In the name of a lazy transition, that’s probably how Will Steacy felt as he started to photograph the newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer to document all the changes it, too, was undergoing. The result? You can see for yourself here. It’s not exactly a cheerful distraction, but it’s a gorgeous portrait of how our practice has changed over the years.
There’s just over 24 hours left to donate to his Kickstarter and fund his tribute to journalism, evolving newsrooms, and the power of some good images. Our favorite part? The rewards for donating; you will get a copy of the book and newspaper, Deadline, with most donations, but for $100, you can also write your own obit in 140 characters or less to be featured in the book. Or get a ”No Boss Shall Rule This Town” pin for $10. For bigger bucks, you can get historic back-issues of the Inky, as I grew up calling it, or a piece of brick from the “Wedding Cake,” the Elverson Building where the paper was housed from 1925 until a move down the street in 2012. For $2,500? You can spend a night at the printing press with Steacy as it goes to press.
He’s already reached his goal, but it’s a noble cause. And it’s better than dumping a bucket of ice on your head.
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