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Archives: March 2011

4 Traits of an Effective (or Obsessed) Community Manager

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

Last week one of my friends on Twitter, Brett Mickelson, tweeted at me in response to my blog post “Why Newspapers Need Community Managers.”

He asked me to talk about what news organizations should look for in someone that they’re considering hiring in a community management-type role. I told him that I would write about it soon.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s difficult to do, because every organization will need or want something different from someone for the role they’re trying to fill.

Instead, I’m going to write about the four traits that a effective (or obsessed) community manager should have, based primary on my own experiences managing online communities.

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5 Innovative Journalism School Partnerships

J-School students aren’t just attending lectures and writing for the school paper anymore: some students enrolled in innovative programs at institutions like NYU and The University of Texas at Austin also hone their reporting chops by writing for big-name news organizations. The shifting journalism landscape has dictated a necessary re-thinking of journalism education, and many schools–like the University of Colorado at Boulder– are engaging in full-on upheavals of their programs in order to better train their students.

In recent years, several universities have announced partnerships with media outlets that give students the chance to write for places like The New York Times and The Bay Citizen. The benefits for these initiatives are mutual: journalism students score a chance to build out their portfolios, while understaffed newsrooms have access to free content on under-reported beats. Here are five examples of innovative journalism school partnerships.

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4 Ways to use UMapper to create online maps

UMapper is a freemium tool for building embeddable online maps and is a favorite among tech-savvy journos. Its unique features make it stand apart from similar mapping tools and its flexibility means it likely has the right function to suit your mapping needs. Here’s some examples of what UMapper can do:

Create a quick embeddable map

UMapper makes it easy and fast to create a map that contains any number of points or markers. You can add text, images, audio, and more to your markers, and add lines and shapes to your map just by clicking on the map and entering some information. You can also batch upload data for multiple markers using UMapper.

Create a Twitter map

UMapper can be used to create a map that displays the latest tweets that contain a selected hashtag or keywords. To do this, create a new map and select the “Twitter search” template found under the Templates tab. Then, in the title of your map, write your headline, followed by a colon, then your search operator. For example, a map with the title “Hawaii: tsunami” and centered on the state would result in the map below.

Create a Map quiz

To mark the recent visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Washington Post created a map that asked people to identify famous Chinese landmarks and locations of recent events. The map was created with UMapper using its “GeoDart Game” template. For instructions on how to create your own, click here.

Display the latest weather

Most major news sites have some sort of weather page or feature, but for those of us who quickly want to show off the weather in any part of the world, UMapper has us covered. Just select “Weather Map” under the Templates tab and center your map on the location you want to display. The resulting map looks like the one below.

For more information on UMapper and its features, visit

3 Ways to Determine If Your News Organization Belongs on Facebook

It’s a hard question for a news organization to answer, especially now, when so may blog posts and news articles breathlessly explain how vital Facebook is to any and all businesses today.

Your newspaper or magazine has a Facebook Fan Page. It’s going good, but not great. You’ve got a couple hundred people following it, but nothing significant is happening.

Should you even bother to maintain it?

This question was raised in an interesting post written by Tom Johansmeyer on the SocialTimes blog. In his post, he’s speaking more to brands and companies. He used reinsurance as an example. While I’m not saying reinsurance and the news industry are the same, the points he’s making are applicable to news organizations, too.

Nobody likes reinsurance on Facebook. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t the sort of field that gets people dancing in the streets, but it is pretty interesting, and I enjoyed my time in it. I figured at least a few hundred people would have come through, but the absence of any shows the contrary. In fact, it also makes me face the reality that I’m part of the reason it’s zero.

Deleting or abandoning your news organization’s Fan Page isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. To ensure that you’re making the right decision, you should do a bit of research into your readership. Tom puts it nicely:

Do your homework. For real. Instead of making assumptions about your target market, get into the weeds. Once you’re there, get even dirtier. Think broadly, from the perspective that Facebook is an appropriate marketing platform for your company. Then, try to disprove it.

Here are three ways to find out if your news organization belongs on Facebook:

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Five must-see presentations on digital news

With the flurry of journalism and tech conferences that take place across the world, tools on the web make it easier than ever to access that prized information. Here are a few informational and interesting presentations on digital news and technology curated from SlideShare and Scribd.

Mobile-first strategy

TBD‘s Steve Buttry has a great little presentation on why to execute a mobile-first strategy in your newsroom, complete with statistics and examples from his personal experience.

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