Part 1: Google for Media Miami

There’s a low barrier to entry for people who are new or uncomfortable with the tools available to journalism. “A single journalist can reach everyone on the internet in rapid fashion and measure relevant impact,” according to Daniel Sieberg, head of media outreach at Google.

No matter what your beat is or what you cover, you can find some way to use maps and data.

The keynote speaker, Alberto Cairo, professor at the University of Miami, kicked off the day with his presentation: “Believe it or not, you are (or should be a visual journalist.”

  • Tips to understand how infographics and visualizations of (maps, charts, graphs) can be used:
  1. Be truthful – many graphics out there do lie and do mislead (WTF Visualizations, Fox News)
  2. Reveal what data hide with visualization tools – explain what the truth is behind the data, hidden facts within data sets
  3. Choose graphic forms carefully – what is most effective graphic form to represent that data (the pie chart is not the best way to represent data with two or more functions; if you have to read every single figure to understand the graphic, it’s not effective.) It may be appropriate to represent your data more than once – line graphs, bubble charts, etc.
  4. Don’t just visualize; write – data needs to be correctly labeled with headlines, introductions and whatever is relevant. You need to provide insight to your readers, what are the outliers, exceptions.

Nando Vila, vice president of programming at Fusion, talked about the pros and cons of the social web: “It’s easier than ever to report, gather info, build context, do the research, verify basic info.” Journalists don’t really need a distribution mechanism anymore. So, the media needs to understand that “forever empty” and find a way to fill it. Media is being used as a form of communication just as much as a form of consumption. There are three types of sharable content:

  1. Informational nugget (especially when the informational communicates something the user already believed)
  2. Identity manifesto (when content communicates something important someone’s identity. Like pizza.)
  3. Emotional nugget (when a user can transfer a clear and powerful emotion to their peers through content. “If you can make someone feel something in a short period of time, they will then want to transfer that to their friends.”

We need to stop trying to get people to engage with us. We need to create content that allows people to engage with their friends, peers, crushes, etc. If you deliver on that, promise consistently and allow people to make themselves to feel smarter and better looking, they will keep coming back to you. These days, stories that aren’t good (or don;t make people connect) don’t get read. It forces us to be better writers and find more interesting angles and insights on the stories that everyone else is covering. The stories that are good rise to the top. On the downside, the social web forces us to be better, so it’s harder! Also, it’s very easy to fall into a rabbit hole of misrepresenting the truth and conning others.

Whenever you create something, ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Why would someone share this? “It doesn’t mean that it has to be the cute cat picture. If you’re doing serious work, you still have to ask yourself that question.
  2. What are they communicating about themselves if they do decide to share this?
  3. Am I making the emotional reward obvious enough? “If you promise to deliver an emotion, you better deliver it.”

John Maines, journalist and database editor at the Sun-Sentinel, talked about the Pulitzer Prize-winning story that investigated speeding cops in Miami.

A panel delivered tips on how local news outlets can harness the internet to better twll stories and reach their audience. “It’s not about telling it first, it’s about telling it better.” We need to go and learn what we don’t know that we don’t know. Local is not what happens next to you. Local is what the locals care about. For Univision, it’s not about the audience anymore. It’s about finding the community and there’s more than one community and finding what communities are on which platforms and preparing and distributing content on the platforms that they use (G+, Twitter, Facebook). You begin with creating general content but then you polish it for each platform. How complete can I make the story? The telling of a story will now include many things, link to a map, info to download, audio, link to a form to download, a video to watch. People want to feel but they also want to do. We make sure people don’t just come to our sites to read. The simplest of the things we use everyday like search and analytics.

Go back to the basics. When you think that you work for content, you work for the story, you start to bring everything in. Everything is gathering. Pay attention to what the readers say, where do they go on the website, what do they click on?

Focus on the community that you’re trying to reach. Don’t rely too much on the internet and tools. We still have a long way to go in using tools to unlock the potential of the city itself. It’s about using Google Street View or whatever tools to see how people could live better or more intensely within their cities.

A reporter is so much more valuable if they can prove the hits that their blog gets.

Hirania Luzardo, a Huffington Post blogger, talked about collaborating in the newsroom in the digital age. “Social media for us is a new front page. Our audience gets to our front page through social media. People are constantly looking for our info through Twitter, Facebook or any other social tool. We don’t want to be first, especially when we are covering hard news. We want to be right.”

On Facebook, the most effective posts, in order of highest natural reach: open status with short link, link, photo and video. Every editor at Huffington Post is a social editor. *Posting just to fill a time slot is no longer a best practice. It’s more important to post quality content, even if that means repeating something that did well earlier.

With aggregated news, we are asking what our piece adds to the piece from somewhere else. The write ups are not just one source. When another outlet does a legitimate piece better than HuffPo, they will link out to other sources.

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