Archive for Breaking

Project: multi-stream news alert tool

I led the design, development and roll-out of a new alerts tool.

The tool is built in the newsroom’s online content management system and it lets users send a breaking news alert to audiences on Twitter, on Facebook, via text message and (ultimately) via push notification.

Before this tool was created, editors would use multiple websites and processes to send an alert – such as that a wildfire had broken out in the forest. The tool auto populates with the best information (pulled from the story and headline) in the best format for each medium. A central bit.ly account lets the Register measure how many people click on each attached link. The new tool’s faster workflow implications also lets us created more niche text message streams for our audiences.

Project: Revise disaster plan

As part of my new mobile and social position in the newsroom I led a collaborative effort to revise the Register’s disaster plan.

In the past, the Register has had two normal work modes: general news coverage and big breaking news coverage. One of the main efforts with the new disaster plan was to make the Register’s coverage of every day and small breaking news coverage mirror the way we cover large wildfires and mudslides. Mirroring our disaster workflow with every day workflow will ensure more consistency and better preparedness among newsroom staff.

We also adjusted the disaster plan to account for an increasingly mobile audience who want breaking news alerts and more timely information available on phones. More staff was trained on how to send breaking news text alerts and we added alerts channels just for wildfire updates and mudslide updates.

The disaster plan was also updated to make social reporting, public service and customer service a role fulfilled by newsroom reporters and editors rather than just the web team. During large disaster events the Register will staff one reporter who only reports using information and sources found online and in social networks – rather than sending every reporter out to the field.

Project: #shareoc system for user-generated content

Link: ShareOC alpha test

One of my main frustrations is that all efforts to allow Register’s to share content have not been as successful as hoped for. So, I set out on brainstorming over a few weeks about why those efforts failed. Rather than being upset about the situation, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to come up with my idea for user content.

My idea is #shareoc. Rather than building a website, or a mobile app, or a group on a social networking site – I want to build a system. And, I want the focus to be about why people share content.

My ideas on why people share content:

Status: People naturally want to be seen as having some sort of worth by other people. This is not about people being conceded – but it is about having ideas and contributions validated by the community.

Results: People want to share something so that it impacts someone else. People tweet about being stuck in a bad accident so they can complain and so that others might be able to be saved from sitting in the same traffic. People report potholes to city hall so that the potholes can be fixed.

With ShareOC – I want to provide a way for people to easily share content with the Register’s valuable audiences. I want the system to be built across channels – rather than being based around one thing (like how iReport is built around a website – which means less social and mobile integration at the core level).

Thanks for following and we’ll see how the project goes!

Clip: 7.2 Mexico earthquake jars O.C.

Link: 7.2 Mexico earthquake jars O.C.

Link: Round-up of tweets about San Diego earthquake

Link: O.C. residents roll with the quake

I was working a Sunday night cops reporting shift when suddenly the building started shaking. A normal Sunday shift turned into a quake shift. While the building kept shaking I tweeted this: “Wow – #earthquake felt here in Santa Ana at the Register. Still feel it movin. Details to come.” Once the shaking stopped, I sent another tweet linking to the USGS quake information page and sent a text message to the breaking news SMS subscribers. I sent more tweets – retweeting others’ tweets and asking for damage information, personal stories and user-generated content. In some cases, I found user content on Twitter and asked if we could use it. I sent this tweet asking for us to use a video of pool water splashing during the quake — the same video you see that we were able to embed in this main quake story.

Without Twitter and people geotagging their tweets via mobile devices — my coverage would have been 25 percent as valuable. I was able to round-up tweets about the quake – specific to Orange County.

My favorite piece of reporting was my round up linked above and titled “O.C. residents roll with the quake.” The quake did little to no damage in Orange County, but it still created interesting stories. Editors were asking me to go drive around the county and look for stories. I was able to prove with this round-up of four stories that Twitter is a more effective tool (in some cases) than driving around and looking for stuff.

Role: OCRegister mobile and social leader

After working on the Freedom Communications mobile team I proposed that I work as the mobile and social content leader for the Orange County Register. My plan was accepted by Register Editor Ken Brusic. The objectives for my position are as follows:

  • Lead training to increase the speed in reporting and disseminating news to audiences using social media and mobile tools and technologies – and other methods as they emerge.
  • Be the mobile and social media content champion. Train staff, engage newsroom, evaluate success and create guidelines.
  • Be the point person for news alerts and text messages, mobile applications, e-mail news alerts, and OCR Twitter accounts and Facebook.
  • Use social media as a tool for reporting and innovation in the breaking news realm.
  • Train and mentor staff on mobile tools and adapting of workflows.
  • Develop and execute strategies for mobile/social coverage of disasters and other news events.
  • Manage content planning for mobile products. Work with content teams to deliver content for new and existing mobile products.