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Posts Tagged ‘local’

Who’s Tweeting About Your Beat? TweetCharts Tells You

There’s a new tool for local reporters and editors, or those on specific topic or business-related beats, to figure out who the top tweeters are about their beats. Thankfully, you won’t need to hire a social media analyst to track this information down. It’s free and as easy* as crafting a phrase or hashtag you want to know about.

TweetCharts, a new site from Hubspot, does the data crunching for you. Just plug in your phrase or hashtag. It searches the past week’s tweets, and then, pops out lots of pretty charts to show your bosses you’re not just wasting your time tracking or participating in the Twitter conversation. The site explains at a glance who’s talking about the topic and generally, what they’re linking to or how engaged they are in the words you’re looking at.


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Chicago News Cooperative hyperlocal site suspends publication

The hyperlocal Chicago News Cooperative site, which supplies Chicago-area content to the New York Times, announced today it will suspend publication. The non-profit site was founded in 2009. It will stop production to reassess the situation on Feb. 26.

In a letter posted on the site, editor James O’Shea says:

Unlike similar start-up efforts like the Texas Tribune in Austin, the Bay Citizen inSan Francisco and ProPublica in New York, we never recruited the kind of seven figure donations from people of means concerned about the declining quality of news coverage around the country. As a result, CNC never raised the resources to make investments in the business side of our operation that would have generated the revenue we needed to achieve our original goal – a self-sustaining news operation within 5 years.

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Where To Find Original, Local Story Ideas Online

Whether you’re an intern new to a community hoping to impress your boss or a long-time reporter hoping to avoid writing about air conditioner and ice cream sales this summer, knowing where to look for original local story ideas can be a game changer. The best way to avoid being given bad assignments is to be busily working on better ones. Luckily, there’s a wealth of such story ideas available right from your cubicle. Here’s where to look: Read more

NBC seeks to partner with local, non-profit news organizations

NBC announced it’s looking to expand on its successful partnership with the non-profit, investigative news site Voice of San Diego to markets beyond California. Its looking for similar set-ups in other markets where the complany owns local TV stations, including potentially New York City ; Los Angeles ; Chicago ; Miami ; Philadelphia; San Francisco ; Dallas-Ft. Worth ; Washington, D.C. ; and Hartford-New Haven, CT.

In a video announcing the news, NBC VP of News Greg Dawson described what they’re looking for as an organization that complements and expands what the local stations can do. Voice of Sandieo and the local station, for example, partner on three main features, including Fact Check. “The purpose of this is good journalism and serving the city,” Dawson says. “We wanted to do stories that are unique, that you can’t get somewhere else, that you wouldn’t necessarily get on our air, if we were doing it ourselves, or on Voice of San Diego’s website, if they were doing it themselves.”

While they don’t specifically say the applicants for the partnership need to be websites, the application makes it very clear they’re looking for already established, robust online communities by whomever is chosen. They specifically want to know about page and video views and about how much content your organization is putting out on various platforms, including specifically asking about blogs and in a separate question flat out, “How do you use social media?” It’s clear that the TV stations realize that’s how they’re going to reach people interested in these unique, untold stories.

NBC says the deadline for local non-profit, news organizations to apply is July 22. (So pass this link on to your favorite!) It wants to pick at least four other cities to launch these cooperatives in. It will be interesting to see which cities it finds an able and adept partner in, who those partners are, and whether the work there is as fruitful as what comes out of San Diego. What’s encouraging, either way, is that this is an example of a major company deciding to partner with rather than try to start-up and compete with local, home-grown news organizations.

Get a local phone number with Google Voice

Here’s a great tip for all the journalists out there clinging to their hometown cell phone numbers but living in a faraway area code: Use Google Voice as a cell phone number for local sources to call. It’s sort of like a forwarding e-mail address or a redirected domain, only it allows you to a) not share your private phone number with strangers, and b) take advantage of free features your phone provider doesn’t offer, like free text messaging and voicemail transcription.

Step 1: Get a Google account.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you already have one. If you don’t, you’re missing out on tons of great services, so sign up already.

Step 2: Pick a new, local number.

Since the point is to get a local number in your new city, type in your area code, zip code or city name and scan through a catalog of numbers in that area code. You can even search for words (based on the number each letter represents on the keypad) or sequences of numbers to make the number more memorable. Chances are there is some form of some word you want, but it make take several tries to find something that works and that is available. The more specific you are, the more likely your attempts to come up with an awesome number will be unavailable. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a number to mask your personal cell number, you could choose one in any area code in order to get that awesome sequence. The great thing is, it’s flexible, and you can test several configurations before committing. IF, on the other hand you don’t want a new number and only want the cool features, you can do this later on by porting your cell phone number into the system.

Step 3: Forward calls to your real number(s).

You can forward calls to pretty much any number (other than existing Google Voice numbers). I chose to send it to my cell phone. It will prompt you for the main number you want to connect it to, and then you’ll go through confirmation steps that are pretty easy to follow. Once you have it set up, you can even send your calls to multiple phones to be answered on the first picked up, so if you have your own office or desk phone, that may be an option for you. This is great if you’re a reporter who always gives out your cell phone number to avoid missed callbacks: Send your new number to both cell and desk phones, and then pick it up on your work phone if you’re in the office so you’re not wasting any of your cell phone minutes.

Step 4: Customize your experience, preferences, etc.

You’ll want to set up your voicemail box at a minimum, and one cool feature is the ability to customize different messages for different people. You might want a personal greeting for friends but something more formal for the mayor, for instance. But also look around at the preferences (e.g. do you want it to answer immediately, answer and give you a menu, send everyone to voicemail, etc.) and set those that work for you. For example, I set it up so my voicemails and SMS texts are e-mailed to me. This way it doesn’t use my phone’s texting plan and it transcribes my voicemail, so I don’t have to listen to them immediately — or sometimes at all. (Note: Sometimes the transcription is humorously bad. That’s half the fun. Usually, I can at least tell who it is, though, and always I can go in and listen if needed.) Another handy feature that seems custom made for reporters is the ability to record your voice calls and store them on Google Voice. It will prompt you to do this, if you set it up, and will tell the caller — so make sure you know your state laws when it comes to recording conversations. This is especially handy on cell phone calls where recording isn’t very feasible.

Step 5: Start disseminating your new number.

You could send it out as a mass note to your local sources. Or just start giving it out instead of your old number. You don’t need to explain Google Voice to anyone. They won’t even know they’re not calling a “real” number. Just start telling them, if you want to reach me on my cell phone call xxx-xxx-xxxx. Eventually, they’ll start calling and texting that. In addition to all the cool points above, the nice thing here is people no longer have to call an out-of-area-code number. It’s local, which is easier to remember, and local for those landline-lovers (and businesses with landlines) means the call is free. It also means, you don’t have to give out your real number to every man on the street.

Bonus: Get the Google Voice app for your phone.

Or at the least check out the nice mobile site. The app allows you to make calls that show up from your Google Voice number, without having to dial into Google Voice. With the Android app, it actually asks at the start of every call whether I want to call from Google Voice or not. That way folks recognize your number, and they also don’t see your personal number. It also stores all those other messages in one place (though it’s somewhat overkill to have e-mails of your sms/voicemails if you have the app, but your mileage may vary).

Bonus #2: Make free calls!

Connect Google Voice to your Google Talk account (the chat that pops up on iGoogle and Gmail) and make calls for free. It’s like Skype, only better because it calls the person from your new cell phone number, so people won’t dodge your “anonymous” calls. You can even plug in the number on the computer and have it call your phone and then connect you. (That’s a handy feature if, for example, your cell phone company doesn’t charge you for incoming calls.)

Bonus #3: Moving? Get a new local number.

The other cool thing about this service is if you move to another news organization in another community in the future, you can change your Google Voice number. It’s $10, but honestly, $10 seems a reasonable price to pay to keep your contacts, settings, etc. all tied together but front a new number. It’s certainly easier than changing your real cell phone number every time you move. It also has some overlap time so you can transition into the new number without disconnecting those who missed the new number message.

Note: This is an update to and expansion on a post previously published at MerandaWrites.com in 2010.