Chat live with me today at Poynter about teaching social media in journalism school

I’ll be doing the Poynter live chat thing at 1pm EDT today over there.

Please, show up, ask some questions, share some success stories, and add to the conversation.

[UPDATE: Wow, that was awesome. Thanks to everyone who showed up, and to Ellyn, Mallary, and everyone else at Poynter for hosting and inviting me. The above link will take you to the archived replay of the chat – check it out.]

The question at hand:  What Are Practical Ways to Teach Social Media Skills in Journalism School?

I have a few ideas, and I’m going to focus on some story assignment and niche coverage ideas based on what I wrote recently about my Five Keys to Authenticity for journalists getting into social media, but I’d really love to hear what you have to say, especially if you have a success (or failure) story to share.

Check it out and join the conversation, or read through the archive if you can’t make it today at 1 eastern.

I’m going to put together a few links for reference here using an open teaching social media tag in Publish2:

Five Keys to Authenticity

A few days ago at the annual APSE convention, I led two sessions on Networked Journalism.  On the way down to Pittsburgh from Rochester in the car, I tried to work out an idea I’ve been playing with for a while.

Authenticity.

Not authority, or reliability, or popularity, but a more difficult to quantify metric that I think is crucial for news organizations trying to engage their community in the social media world.

Here’s a few links I referenced in the discussion as I flipped back and forth between Keynote and Firefox. I’d post my slides, but as usual, my use of slideware rarely tells the whole story.

Later in this post, I’ll include the mp3 I recorded of me talking through the presentation in the car (if you can deal with my hoarse/coughing voice and a couple tollbooths on the Thruway, you might find it interesting, albeit rambling).  That certainly tells the whole story, and a few others as I change lanes and wander off on tangents.

So that’s the backstory.

Five Keys to Authenticity

  1. Be Human
  2. Be Honest
  3. Be Aware
  4. Be Everywhere
  5. Show Your Work

Simple, right?  OK, more details…

1. Be Human

Look, if you’re going to jump into Twitter and Facebook and whatever comes next, in an effort to report or to engage with the community on your beat, or just to have a conversation, you need a name.  And a voice.  Preferably your own.  @nytimes isn’t human, but @pogue certainly is.  @chicagotribune isn’t human, but @coloneltribune absolutely is, which is a bit of a twist since he’s a somewhat fictional character with more than one Tribune employee behind his avatar.  @ricksanchezcnn might be the most human journalist on Twitter.  Using your own name, image, and voice is step one to engaging with the online community on your beat or in your town.  Because if you’re not human, you’re just another robot.

2. Be Honest

It’s easy to treat social media channels like a comment thread or a letter to the editor or an e-mail inbox if you’re not careful.  And if you’re not careful, you might find yourself as defensive and unwilling to admit to a mistake, or a conflict of interest, or an oversight as you might in those other spaces.  Try that on Twitter and you’ll be eaten alive.  Own up to your errors, correct them in public, and disclose whatever needs disclosing without a whole lot of preamble.

3. Be Aware

If you’re the last one to know that your community is profoundly interested in a particular issue, you’ll look like a latecomer when you ask them what they think.  “Be Aware” means this: Listen.  Listen to what’s happening in your online community.  Do it using tools like Google Reader and Tweetdeck, or set up an online nerve center for your department or news organization.  Try using iGoogle, Netvibes, or even FriendFeed to build a one-stop bookmark where everyone in your newsroom can take a quick look at what’s hot in the local blogosphere and social media channels once or twice a day.  If you want to be an active node in your local network, it’s critical that you know what’s important — right now — in the community.

4. Be Everywhere

Once you’re listening for mentions of issues, beats, towns, and people you cover, it becomes infinitely easier to jump into those conversations.  Every time your name, a story you wrote, or your beat comes up in conversation online, you should have the option to drop in and answer questions, ask new ones, follow up, or high-five a member of your community.  Being ubiquitous is a huge part of succeeding in social media.  When every reader is themselves a producer of content and a manager of their own network of friends, followers, and fans, you need to show up like Beetlejuice when they say your name three times.

5. Show Your Work

In print, it’s your job to attribute quotes and information to your sources and provide readers with resources to find out more about the story.

On the Web, and especially in the short-form statusphere, links are the essential means and currency of sourcing your reporting, adding context, and providing your community with a curated stream of complementary content.

If your newsroom’s content management system allows you to add links directly into the text of your own story, you’re in luck.  Go for it.  If not, or if you want to integrate your stream of links into section pages, topic pages, blog sidebars, your Google Reader, Twitter, and Delicious accounts to bring your readers the best of the Web on any social media platform where you engage with them, the collaborative journalism tools at Publish2 have you covered.  [Full disclosure: I work for Publish2.]

Thanks to everyone who came to the sessions at APSE, asked great questions, and shared their successes and failures with the rest of the room.

As promised, here’s the audio of me talking to myself in the car fleshing out the presentation:

[display_podcast]

Further reading

Some of the items in this list might look familiar if you spotted my social media guidelines post a few weeks back.  It’s short and sweet, if you’re interested.

If you still need background for newsroom conversations about why you should link to your sources and resources, here’s something I wrote as a guest post at BeatBlogging.org recently on that topic.

Most of what you’ll find on the Web re: authenticity in social media comes from a marketing/PR point of view, but even so, there’s a lot of solid thought on social media for businesses that applies to your news organization.  Try Jeremiah Oywang’s February 2008 post on what it means to be authentic, transparent, and human, for starters.

What’s next?

Get started.  Sign up for Twitter, use Twitter Search and Google Reader, among other tools, to find and follow the online community on your beat.

Participate, listen, and engage with the community every chance you get.  You’ll get as much out of it as you put into it, so find the workflow that works for you, and get started today.

Recommended social media guidelines for reporters

  1. Be honest.
  2. Be yourself.
  3. Assume that everything you say is public, even if you say it privately.
  4. If it’s not clear to you what’s public and what’s private, don’t participate.

Inspired by recent discussion about the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Times guidelines for reporters using social media.

On IdeaLab: The Pitch mashes up journalists, bloggers, and social media types in Seattle

Over at IdeaLab, an IM interview with Jason Preston of Eat Sleep Publish about a series of events he’s organizing called “The Pitch.”

The premise?  Put together some of the smartest, most engaged, passionate thinkers about the changing media landscape in a room, buy them a few drinks, and let the conversation flow.

Jason:

“And I think that there’s a lot to be gained from putting old school journalists and publishers (good reporting skills, contacts, and they RUN the freaking business) in a room with bloggers and new media types (who might not know the first thing about journalism, but who seem to instinctively *get* the internet).”

Check it out.  If in you’re in Seattle, you can RSVP for the Dec. 10 event here.