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Your Tweets Are Not Your Own And You Will Get Fired For Them

I’m shocked that public figures are still getting fired for what they say and do on the internet. Especially people who work in media. Sure, Pax Dickinson, brogrammer extraordinaire, was just CTO over at Business Insider, but this is a publication for the internet and of the internet. Someone there should have told him to put a sock in it — just blocking him is not enough for a news pub.

Gannett’s social media policy was posted on Romenesko yesterday. Perhaps they were shocked, too, and thought it was time for a refresher. Read it. Basically, anything you post can and will be held against you. I think that’s fair policy for media people. The rub for us is that while it’s all held against you, you don’t have the right to remain silent, either.

Like probably having to work weekends and holidays, the lack of delineation between our personal and professional digital selves is part of the job. It’s about being your own brand. From the Gannett policy:

Remember that social networks are forms of public expression and should be used for strategic reasons to enhance your journalism, engage your community of followers, enlighten your news outlet’s audience, and promote your news organization’s brand in a positive way. Like other forms of public expression – attending political demonstrations, voicing opinions on a talk show, making political campaign contributions – they are subject to the limitations that are placed on newsroom employees through the Principles of Ethical Conduct. These are designed to maintain credibility with the reader.

Putting “all tweets are my own” or some spin on that in might help you if you need to make a case for being fired for something you said, but it doesn’t protect you. So use the characters to make your bio more interesting. Especially if you’re employed by a news publication, your tweets are not yours. They belong to the digital strategy and marketing team. Don’t you know that nothing is proprietary on the interwebs?

FOIA Machine Helps Journalists File Information Requests

We all know what a headache it is to file Freedom of Information Act requests to governing bodies. Wired calls this tedious practice that reporters endure “government hell.”

The whole process is a time-suck: crafting the request letter in such a way that it will be read and actually considered, figuring out where in the bureaucracy to send the document in the first place and finally, waiting on a response – which will more than likely be a big fat “no,” for one reason or another. Or, if it’s a “yes,” it takes months or longer, and by the time you’ve received a response, you’ve moved on with your life.

Some people pay big bucks for any substantial amount of information from government agencies (usually 100 pages or more). Despite its necessary function, FOIA can be a real inconvenience, but the information that can be gleaned from a successful FOIA request is invaluable to reporting and more importantly, operating as a watchdog for those with the most power.

To aid with the method of asking for non-classified docs, specifically for the purpose of accountability reporting, the Center for Investigative Reporting has launched what they call the FOIA Machine, a mechanism for automating and organizing the process of requesting public records.

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Native Advertising is Not the Future

The Online Publisher’s Association released a study on native advertising this week that pretty much validates everything we (or I, at least) thought about native campaigns  for news publications these days.

1) Native Advertising is Not the Future

OPA President Pam Horan spoke with me over the phone and says that what the study really surfaced is that native advertising “is really an outgrowth of the custom and integrated marketing that OPA publishers have been leveraging for years.” The thing is that now marketers are coming to publishers, the experts in content creation, for the “skills, content assets, infrastructure that are necessary to create effective native solutions.”

Based on their survey of publishers, the study reveals that native solutions aren’t for every publication, or for every campaign. “There’s a place for it, but I don’t think we’re moving away from banner advertising…publishers know their audiences better than anyone and they know what’s going to drive engagement.” Horan says.

Lesson: If you’re publication is going native — you probably need a really good team in the newsroom to help create and oversee the process.

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Knight News Challenge Winners Make Courts, Local Government More Accessible

Anyone who’s ever tried to follow a court case, interpret a legal document or even obtain one in some jurisdictions, knows how difficult it can sometimes be, even for the dogged journalist determined to see what’s in those dockets. Those legalese-filled decisions and depositions are gold mines of information and stories, but they’re often out of reach or understanding of the average person. This week alone the Supreme Court of the United States this week alone handed down major judgments invalidating parts of the Voting Rights Act and bans on gay marriage, to name a few of the decisions released. How many other court cases out there are setting precedents in your state and community? Chances are you don’t know, or even more likely, don’t know how to know. Figuring out what’s on the docket, where things stand and what they mean … well, who has time and the skills for that? Enter Oyez Project. Now, thanks to funding from the Knight Foundation, the group that has long brought clarity to SCOTUS proceedings can take it down a level, so to speak, and expand its interpretations to state supreme courts and federal appellate courts.

Oyez is one of eight projects aimed at opening up government data and resources that received a combined total of $3.2 million in funding in the latest Knight News Challenge contest. While not all of them are, strictly speaking, related to news, they are all related to making government more transparent and easier to understand and work with. That’s the goal most journalists aim to achieve as well. Here’s a brief glimpse of this round’s winners, announced this week:


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Google, Native Ads and What It Means For Publications

Earlier this week, Google solidified their take on so-called “native advertising,” one that they have been slowly crafting due to the rise of these advertisements in places like BuzzFeed and the Atlantic.

To put it simply: Google has created resources for publications to build native ads with Google’s blessing, but you’re not going to see it anywhere near Google News.

Tools for native advertising are a first for Google, as companies have had to scramble to bring native advertising templates to their own publications. Google will now support these ads through DoubleClick for Advertisers, allowing publishers to adopt a plug-and-play code system that makes setting up and tagging the ads much more easier to execute.

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