The Online News Association conference (#ONA12) took place in San Francisco last week and all kinds of nuggets came out of it. As a link builder I’m always interested to know what the media is interested in and the criteria they use to cover a story so I was eager to hear about this show. Here are a handful of things that made my linkey senses go all tingly:
1. Jen Preston from The New York Times shared online sources she depends on for user generated content (USG)
Most of the platforms listed in the slide have a trending topics feature, keep an eye on it and watch for your keywords/industry/area because there’s a good chance reporters like Jen Preston are doing the same. The fact she included “Chatrooms” was interesting, they are not a resource you hear much about anymore. If you’re not familiar with the concept, check out this list of popular chat rooms or the chats Yahoo! lists.
2. Journalists are using various ways to fact check and verify information they see tweeted, blogged, on Facebook etc. Social media makes passing information easy but they need to be sure it’s coming from reliable/accurate sources so they’re looking for authorship tie-ins, tweet history, bio’s etc. Here are two slides from the slide deck of Mandy Jenkins and Craig Silverman with a handful of points:
Nothing earth shattering there but it’s good to know what they’re looking for. One of the sites in Mandy’s deck suggested reporters use an image forensics tools called Image Error Level Analyser to see if images have been tinkered with. The service is no longer available, it probably happened recently although a cache date of Sept 16, 2012 shows the site closed.
It seems no one is immune from making mistakes, even journalism experts presenting on “BS detection” at a journalism conference. This little snafu really reinforces the need to check and double check sources constantly as things change at the speed of light on the Web. Moving on.
A number of the tweets from #ONA12 were about Twitter and the changes they were making. Seems they are bringing back the ability to search for past tweets by the end of the year (great news) and limiting the number of tools such as TweetDeck and HootSsuite.
3. Susan Mernit from Oakland Local suggested using TweetReach as a “critical Twitter metrics tool“. I have to agree, I started using this one about four months ago and love it, since I do a lot of audits their graphs and charts are invaluable and help visually explain the reach and influence of some Twitter accounts.
4. I sourced all of these tweets, blog posts and slide decks by using an event aggregation tool. You set it to look for tweets using a string of terms/marks and they all come back in one spot which makes it the ultimate lazy woman’s way to read conference tweets.
There are a number of tools to do this, I use TweetWally on a couple of my hobby sites and love it because it is free, can be customized, is free, can search by term or hashtag, is free.
There’s also What The Trend which is pretty cool, not only does it show tweets using your hashtags, it also brings back blog posts doing the same. Double fun!
5. The Online News Assn ended it’s conference with an awards banquet, I’ve followed this one in the past and knew they give awards by category. I’m familiar with the big-boy news sites and a lot of the smaller players but am always on the lookout for more so I was interested to see the list of this year’s winners.
The first site to carry the list was the WSJ‘s MarketWatch, what a disappointment that was. The list was intact but in true WSJ style, no hyperlinks provided (annoying) so I clicked away and found a list with links here. The list didn’t disappoint, I found several US sites I wasn’t familiar with and also a couple from Europe. I spent time on each culling names and taking note of how they accept articles and information and added it all to my media database.
The awards are broken down by category based on the way media classifies content . If you are pitching stories and content it could be helpful to know what and how the general news industry works so you create content they are looking for and is in demand.
For example, here’s a partial list of the categories and who won them:
Breaking News, Large http://timelines.latimes.com/occupy-la-breaking-news/
Planned News/Events, Small http://www.congressionalprimaries.org/
Explanatory Reporting, Medium http://collegecompletion.chronicle.com/
Topical Reporting, Small http://earthfix.opb.org/
Feature, Large http://www.cnn.com/mauritania
Most people issue press releases and hope for the best and with breaking news or announcements that tactic is fine but if you want to contribute to a news outlet or be the go-to expert on a certain subject, your strategy should include defining the type of story as well as target before you send the first word. Figure out what category you fall under and spend time reading a half dozen news sites to find reporter and editor patterns. They’ll appreciate the time you’ve taken to bring the right story topics to the right people.