Indy #ONAcamp: A few cool things

Lots of information from Friday’s ONAcamp in Indianapolis (see a Storify here). Here are a few things I found interesting:tumblr_inline_nlfe70fWXj1s49mrd_500

-NOLA Listening Post: You’ve seen those “We buy old houses” signs on the interstate off-ramps, right? Now imagine that with questions for your community. “Why did you stay in NOLA?” “What’s missing in New Orleans?” What an interesting way to engage in the community and get story ideas.
-No Slack-ers: Billy Penn is engaging Millennials in Philly by having conversations about stories (even if they didn’t write them). They’re starting to use a public Slack channel as a way to have conversation with their communities.  Plus they’re showing people how to take action after they’ve read a story:

-Why didn’t I think of that: When searching Twitter for people on the ground in breaking news situations, think what they’re broadcasting to the world: “I just saw…” “I’m OK…” “My (relation) works at …” Plus remember to SCREENSHOT EVERYTHING. In a matter of seconds, someone deletes a tweet or takes their account offline. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
-Video vision: Lots of people don’t listen to the audio on Facebook videos (because they’re at work, on the train, slyly scrolling in a meeting), so your video has to convey a point without sound. Add text, add graphics—make sure people can get the gist.
-Talking traffic: At USATODAY, 65 percent of traffic is on mobile. Mobile gets priority in their newsroom, for example when it comes to creating graphics. They have #MobileMonday where staffers are encouraged to use their phones to see how work translates there. (The same day, NYTimes announced it was blocking homepage access at its office.)


-Homepage? What homepage? NowThis News is only on social media now. They figure that’s where the audience is, so why coax them to their page when they can live on the social network? That in mind, each social network and its audience are unique—there is no one-size-fits-all approach to social. Their rule: If you wouldn’t share the story, don’t do the story.

Domestic violence in grassroots organizations’ crosshairs

Black, swollen eyes. Puffy, torn, bleeding lips.

A collective gasp rippled through the Internet in February 2011 when photos surfaced of pop singer Rihanna, taken two years earlier, after she reported her then-boyfriend, hip hop artist Chris Brown, assaulted her before that year’s Grammy Awards.

Now, more than three years after the fight, the Internet again buzzes with rumors that Brown and Rihanna, a native of Barbados, are reuniting.

Magazines dedicate their covers to photos of the couple. Gossip bloggers questions whether she should take him back.

But the issue of domestic violence hits home for Sukree Boodram, a Guyana native and domestic violence survivor. She established an awareness group in 2010 for other Caribbean women who have been abused.

“(Rihanna is) a drama of the media,” said Boodram, who established Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness (CADVA) in 2010. “But most people are not doing anything about it.”

Domestic violence is a problem not uncommon in the Caribbean. The United Nations estimates a third of women are victims of abuse in intimate relationships in Barbados. [Read more…]

How to cover suicide (via the Dart Center)

There was a great post today about covering suicide from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma out of the Columbia Journalism School.

It’s an issue I’ve raised in classrooms and newsrooms: Suicide is a serious public health issue, yet we often look at our feet and wait for the moment to pass without a word being said.

My former ethics professor, Edward Wasserman (Knight Foundation professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University) talked about the issue in one of his columns for the Miami Herald, and it’s something we debated in class as well.

Most news organizations won’t touch suicide, and if they do, only if the victim is in the national spotlight or the attempt was in public. But in doing so we marginalize the others who have fallen to the same fate. Any time a member of our community is dramatically or violently taken from us, it is news and should be ethically and sensitively reported.

The article has some good tips about reporting on suicides in a way that raises awareness without inciting copycats or re-victimizing families. Here’s a few I really liked:

  • Include a sidebar with warning signs for depression or resources for getting help.
  • Don’t say the suicide came out of nowhere or was prompted by a single incident, like losing a job – depression exhibits warning signs, and the single cause oversimplifies the victim’s struggle.
  • Inform without sensationalizing (don’t refer to “skyrocketing” suicide rates or graphic crime scenes).
  • Use facts and an expert to educate your audience about depression and suicide.

Weather forecast wrong, people angry

I was once told in a television news class I took as an undergrad that the number one reason people watch the local nightly news is this: the weather.

My fiance’s mother is one of these people. Each night she turns on the local NBC affiliate, promptly takes a 40 minute cat-nap and has someone awake her to hear the next day’s temperature.

Today angry tweeters took to the Internet to proclaim their dismay that popular Chicago weather guy Tom Skilling got today’s nearly 100 degree forecast wrong. It was barely 75 degrees at 2 p.m.
[Read more…]

Writing about beer and cicerones

For a class I’m taking at DePaul University (Reporting for Converged Newsrooms), we had to write a local story of our choice.

I chose to write about a new certification program that’s essentially the beer equivalent of a sommelier – the cicerone. (Read it here.)

Lo and behold, about a week and a half later, the New York Times decides it’s a topic worthy of their pages too. (Read it here).

But let the record stand: I had it first.